Old Year, New Year. Reviews and Reflections.

So, apparently there’s this newfangled thing called a New Year, what was wrong with the old one I dare say, that it must make way for this great noisy article?

All joking aside, a statement which in this instance means we must be serious now. But, as my last name is not Black, I need not be completely somber.

This has been an interesting year, no doubt, I have learned many things and met many interesting people from all over the world. Usually I like to write post with some measure of depth to them, but today perhaps I’ll just focus upon a few highlights of the year.

The first part was spent in deep thought, and consideration, and that is when most of my blog post were written, no surprise there. I’ve spent much of the year trying to learn Chinese, and it is going well.

In regard to my blogging experiment, I do not know whether to call it a success or not, on one hand, I like how it has stretched me in regard to thinking and such, on the other hand, the idea behind it was to be able to speak in other places to people, and I have not done that quite nearly as

much as I would like. Surprising to me the Blimey Cow Photo-A-Day instagram challenge in July proved helpful in this regard as I would talk to other Blimey Cow-ers, some of whom I still stay in touch with. Lovely people, and I don’t mind in the least the number of selfies, food photos, and such that get posted.

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The picture of my cat Mozart, is the most popular one I’ve put up for some reason. He was a cute cat, what’s the surprise?

The good things this year have been the Happier social network, and the many wonderful people I’ve met there. The progress I’ve made in my language learning, and the learning about other cultures and countries, that aspect has been quite as enjoyable as the language itself. I’ve come to learn about and love so many cultures, and people, and places as a result. Another good thing, I think, has I have become more confident and less fearful over the course of the year.

The bad, has been the relentless questioning of myself, I never seem to be content with myself, nor do I seem to quite trust myself, and this I think has been a bad thing, rather than a good thing, not that self-reflection is bad, but when it turns towards self-condemnation, in that case, yes, it is a bad thing. Another bad aspect, I have never felt so old, I feel like I’m growing too old even.

Good and bad, I think I have grown over the course of the year, and I look forward to seeing if I continue to grow over this coming year. I can’t quite say I have a new years resolution, I suppose, if I did it would be to introduce other people to the wonder and beauty that is languages.

Language learning is about so much more than just a bunch of words, there is in it the transformation of the learner, and I find that it produces compassion and appreciation towards others, I find I identify myself even with those who before I might have considered as being quite different than myself. In some ways, it is like being reborn, you have to learn how to see the world from scratch, and everything you see is transformed. I highly recommend learning other languages to anyone. I’ve long been passionate about words in and of themselves, so I suppose it is not to be wondered at that I would love languages as well.

This blog has been an attempt to learn how to speak to others, and I hope to still do so, here, yet over this coming year I also hope to learn to speak to others using my voice, which is perhaps one of the things that holds me back the most, I have such a hard time just speaking up, and while I know some of it is because I don’t like to say anything if it is not something worth saying, a lot of it is just silly insecurities and fears. I’m very good at communicating with the written word, but spoken words, not so much. So, that is one of my goals for this coming year, to say something. I do have other goals of course, and do have dreams and hopes for the coming year, some I suppose are not likely to happen, but it’s too early to say for certain. For example, I would like to visit China, Singapore, Japan, Iceland, France, England, or Germany, but in all honesty, I expect I won’t be visiting any of them this next year, but  if you had told me a few years ago I would be learning Chinese, I would probably have not expected that either, and lets face it, it was only half-a-decade ago that I learned to cook at all, and now I cook rather well, and can even cook using French (language) recipes.

However, I also thought I would be starting out in pursuing my longtime interest in filming or photography, I even have money set aside for the equipment, but I haven’t done anything with that. (I haven’t even spent the money, except for when I suddenly needed a hard drive replacement for my main computer. So when I say I haven’t done anything, I really haven’t done anything.) I think it comes down to the thought in the back of my mind that it is an interest that can’t be easily done alone. Yes, it can be, but it is generally better when it is not all selfies. I suppose I’ll just keep adding to my fund so that when I do figure out exactly what camera I’d like to get, I can get it, rather than getting something I do not really need just to start early and find it’s not really what I was looking for. For now I can use some of my existing, though somewhat old, equipment to learn the art.

It is difficult to say with certainty what to expect to take place as the year comes, but one thing is for sure 2014 is sure to have a number of moments some of which are good, and others which are not. When I think about the many people I have met this past year, I am grateful. A year ago, I didn’t even know some of them existed, but all of them were alive and well without my knowing them then. I suspect I’ll meet new people this coming year as well, and that is an exciting thought. In regard to 2014, there are guarantees. People will do stupid things. Evils will take place, and I am sure some of those will make us stop and wonder how it is that people can be so utterly cruel. I also think that it is fairly guaranteed that people will do some brilliant and wonderful things as well, and some of those will make us stop and wonder how people can be so wonderful.

2013 has been a year of any different things, of course, and while day to day, it doesn’t really feel like anything has changed or happened, as a whole I find that I have changed over the course of the past year, and for my part, I believe I’ve changed for the better. It has been a good year, I think, though there were times when I wondered at the time whether I would look back upon the year and shudder. A year ago, I was just starting out on my Chinese, and I think there has been a lot of progress on where I am with that over where I was a year ago. I forget that a year ago, I couldn’t read French, but now I can read enough of it that I can read some of the books I have without too much difficulty. Sometimes I wonder where I even picked up the improvement from, as French isn’t something I practice nearly as much as I do the Chinese. French, is more my “Operational” language. It’s what I have my gadgets and such set to, and I like watching movies and such in French when the option is available. I was watching a Chinese show the other day, and I was surprised that I was understanding a lot of it, and even yesterday, I heard someone speaking Mandarin Chinese at Marshall’s, and I understood a lot of what was being said. They are talking with their family, and I felt a little awkward at the idea of interrupting a family discussion, so I didn’t say anything, but even in my little somewhat rural area of America, there are people who speak languages like Mandarin Chinese. I often hear Spanish when I’m out and about, but I haven’t studied it at all so I understand very little of it as a result. In the larger area around here you hear many more languages, but Mandarin Chinese and Spanish are the ones I hear, outside of English, the default language of most Americans, when I’m out and about.

Sorry, sorry, I have a bit of a passion for languages, and can go off and talk about them for a long time. The point is, I have made progress in my language learning over the course of the year.

It was last January when I started this blog, though I do not write a post a day like I used to, but I hope to change that. This blog, after all, was an experiment, to speak without speaking, to talk without talking, and to share the whole of my mind without holding back out of fear or even politeness, to be honest. Regardless, I do talk in enigmatic terms, especially when I’m talking about situations and such involving other people, but still, the experiment itself has been a success, and would be much more so, if I were to stick to it rather than letting it go off for a month or two between post.

In February, I made a little progress on cleaning my room, but somehow, it’s gotten messy again. How does it do that? No matter, I’ll just have to clean it up, again. Should be done anyway. Let’s see, what else happened in February? Not much of anything, we had meatloaf for dinner on the fourteenth, but that’s not really worth talking about, I suppose, other than to say we will be eating something else on the fourteenth of February this coming year. Oh, for pete’s sake, something must have happened in February that is worth talking about. Let’s see what my Facebook says of what occurred in February: Hot chocolate is the solution to the world’s problems, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about how the universe is flat, the words ‘…and such’ are exceedingly useful words, a philosopher takes simple things and makes them more complicated, and such. March was much the same. In April I was introduced to the marvelous social network: Happier. A work of genius, and one of the best things I learned of this year. I’ve been using that a lot since, and have to say I’ve met ever so many awesome people from all over the world through the app and website.

March of course is the month I was born in, and if I recall it was a good month this year, I do not really remember much about it actually.

April was when I learned of the Happier social network, which is where I met a number of new friends this year, so that I think, is a moment worth mentioning.

May is May. I’ve never liked May much, May through August have always seemed depressing with exceptions rather than the rule. Almost every year those months are the most dreadful, perhaps its the heat, I don’t know, but I do not usually enjoy them very much. This last July wasn’t too bad, just because of the Blimey Cow photo-a-day challenge.

I never like the summer months, but September and October were far more pleasant, and we had a party in October that was quite fun.

November is when I wrote my latest NaNoWriMo novel, I wrote about an interesting new character and I like that I was able to start addressing a problem that I found once I started my language learning, that being the lack of cultural diversity that my books held. I look forward to exploring how this character progresses as her story unfolds.

This December has been a quiet sort of month, but good. I’m a little displeased that some longtime christmas traditions got displaced, but perhaps if next year follows the new pattern we can form new traditions, I didn’t like doing it this way, but decided to give it a try before protesting it. What is one years difference eh?

I still wish to go to Quebec at some point, but I’m not sure where that little dream fits in. I like Quebec, and I’ve been growing more and more fond of Canada as a whole over the course of this past year. I think that might have come about as a result of my French studies. Like my interest in the Chinese language produced a curiosity about many of the other Asian languages and cultures as well, so too did my French studies produce an interest in places where French is spoken, such as Quebec.

One observation I have is that I do tend to remain a great deal as I ever was, particulars might change, but there seems to me, core desires, core dreams, core parts of my personality that do not, they remain as they ever were, even from my earliest years.

All that said, though I feel it is a bit of a random post, but so reviews of years and considerations of years to come are. Life itself is comprised of many little moments, I shouldn’t be surprised that a reflection of these things would reflect that aspect as well. All that said, I do look forward to next year.

Happy New Year!

The Happier Social Network I mentioned: http://www.happier.com