2018: A Year Of Ups And Downs

2018 began, as years often do, with a party. A great party. So many of my good friends were there and, for some reason, I was wearing a glow-stick tiara. At midnight, a bunch of us wandered out onto the street where we could see some of the fireworks and I remember a brief, ponderous moment when I wondered: What will the new year bring?

Well, turns out it brought a shitload of ups and downs.

The first big thing happened on January 10, when I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. One of the really diabetic diabetics. And while at first that was a down – an embuggerance – it very quickly got turned into an up. It was an opportunity to lose weight, get fit, and spend more time with friends. And this year I’ve gone swimming on a near twice-weekly basis with Raya and with Jo, done lots of walks up the 1,000 Steps and with heaps of friends, and gone on a few long walks with Lucas and Lu-Ann. I even did a 5km Fun Run in October which certainly wasn’t fun and was barely any run.
Ups: health improvements, many delightful social experiences. Downs: health concerns, extensive exercise.

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Photo credit: Me, with help from Andy Casely

Also in January Hamish and I camped out in an empty carpark and watched the super blood moon. A cosmic alignment of Sun, Earth and Moon while the moon was close to Earth made for an impressive display as we watched it slowly turn orange-red. A fun night and a chance to get a little astrophotography going. I’m very happy with my photos!
Ups: good companionship, photography and a beautiful celestial performance. Downs: Nil.

Lucas and I helped Steve build a Lego scale model of the Saturn V rocket. It was huge, and a heap of fun to build!
Ups: Rocket, good times with a mate. Downs: Nil.

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We built a small model of the Up Goer 5

The Australian Skeptics National Convention in Sydney was a fabulous weekend, for a bunch of reasons. I saw some great talks, made new friends and caught up with great people I don’t see often enough. There were also a number of catch-ups and parties throughout the year which made me aware of how lucky I up to have some great friends.
Ups: Friends! Downs: Nil.

So far everything was looking quite rosy, on a personal level. But there was a darkness in the background. A lurking inevitability that finally came to a head in November, when Penelope died. It hit me hard – and I don’t quite know why. It shouldn’t have. It wasn’t a surprise, she has announced in September that that she had withdrawn from chemo treatments. We’d known the day was coming, but it still struck me as sudden, abrupt and above all so unfair. It’s not like we we close, either. We had drifted apart a fair bit in the last 6 or so years. Maybe it affected me more than I was expecting because she was of a similar age, when my previous experiences with grief had been for elderly grandparents or the parents of friends. Maybe it was the sudden realisation that I wouldn’t see her ever again, that the end I’d ignored because it was always a long way away had finally come. Maybe it was just the unfairness of it all, that someone with such strength and intellect and courage could be so cruelly taken when so young. Maybe – and I think this is probably the strongest reason of all – maybe it was because she was so dearly loved by so many of my friends that to see their hurt, and their suffering, compounded everything. And I felt guilty for feeling so awful, when some of my closest friends were feeling unimaginably worse.
It really fucking sucked.
Ups: Nil. Downs: Everything.

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A touching card handed out at Penelope’s funeral. I love that photo of her.

Globally, the planet burned, literally and figuratively: it was the fourth hottest year on record. Bigots rallied against, shot, ran over and bombed innocent civilians. The Far Right grew in popularity (and populism) around the world. Trump did Trump things, but at least the blue wave actually happened and the Democrats gained the most seats in the US House of Representatives since 1974.
And for the first time ever, less than half the world’s population is considered poor or at risk of sliding into poverty. Global suicide rates have plummeted. Progressive activists, especially youngsters, took to the streets multiple times to protest gun violence, violence against women, climate change inaction and Brexit. The Liberal Party began repeatedly slamming its hand down on the Self Destruct Button.

But for me, on balance, 2018 was a good year. Not a great year, not by a long shot, but a good one. Now 2019 brings its own set of challenges and opportunities. I’m hoping to continue the fitness improvements, and wanting to focus a bit more on getting my finances under control. But I look towards 2019 with determination, trepidation, and hope.

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New Year’s Eve at Peter’s Tiki Party. A great time, and an incredible Tiki God!

Happy New Year, dear reader, from Peter’s Angry Tiki God and me.

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