I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been a pretty interesting year. Actually, I wouldn’t be the first to admit that. I think everyone knows it. From the 2016 election to the countless celebrity deaths to the wars in Syria to the terrorism around the world to Brexit to “Stranger Things” to the Olympics and Final Five and so much more, I don’t think "interesting" would correctly classify this year: more like polarizing.
As much I wouldn’t mind completely discussing the year from a national and global perspective, I’m just going to give a review of my year. It, for me, has been an interesting year and I’ll demonstrate how through my social media posts and grand memory.
FINISHING THE BOOK
Let us begin with March because that was when things really started getting interesting. I quit my job at a small marketing firm and began pursuing the completion of my novel, The Hostile Light, full time. A little perspective on how important that was. In the seven months I had worked for that marketing firm, I had written approximately 100 pages. I had posted on Dec. 1, 2015, that I had recently passed the 500-page mark.
Little did I know that I was still about 300 pages from finishing.
It wasn’t until April 4, 2016 that I passed the 600-page mark. Now, I had stopped working for approximately two weeks before then, so much of those 100 pages were written during that two-week span.
A month later I cleared the 700-page mark and then on June 13, 2016, I finished the book at 813 pages. Seeing that it took me 812 days to write it, I ended up averaging a page a day. Of course, post-marketing job I was averaging 100 pages per month, which was about 3.5 pages per day (approximately 1,000 words per day).
KOREA AND THE SPEECH
As most of you know (those who read my postings), my novel greatly discusses the Korean War, as one of the main characters is a Korean War veteran. I was greatly surprised when my good friend, mentor, book editor, former English professor, and now PhD recipient, Danel Olson, invited me to discuss Korea at Lone Star College-North Harris with several professors specializing in political science. I was thrilled.
It went so well that I was asked to come back and speak at the college’s annual International Education Week on the subject of Korea. I had one hour and I was able to fit about 3,000 years into 60 minutes with enough time for questions. Even I was surprised at how much I remembered without peering at my notes.
Below is the first video of my presentation entitled Korea: A Long Journey to Division:
Since Korea was continually in the forefront of my mind, I figured it only responsible for me to visit South Korea to finalize my research for the novel and ensure substantial credibility for my speech. So I bought a ticket and left for South Korea in late October.
Thanks to my good friend and former co-worker (from the marketing firm), Jarred Trapp, I got a new website (the one you are reading now) and was able to blog my entire trip on it. That was a lot of fun, spending the day touring South Korea and then coming back to the apartment (thanks, AirBNB) and blogging.
There were plenty of interesting moments in South Korea. Here are just a few:
The fish market:
Eating, or trying to eat, raw octopus:
The cycle transport hub in Seoul:
My first bottle of Soju:
A bowl of fish stew:
A view from my apartment in Seoul:
My very first time on a train:
A couple of views from inside Seoul:
THE SADDEST THING OF 2016
Yes, the year was a really good one for so many reasons, but there was a big tragedy for me when I lost my good friend, Jack London Bass. My constant companion of nearly three years began to suffer tremendously from what was evidently a brain tumor.
I had always wanted a Siberian Husky, and by some kind fate, which seemed almost cruel at the end, I was given the opportunity to have one. He was a rescue, found by the train tracks in Magnolia by a friend of a friend. It took several months for us to come to grips with the reality that I was the Alpha Male. We had our scuffles, but soon he began to understand his place in the world, and I began to understand him. He was such a wonderful dog and loved to go for rides in the car, sticking his head out of the window regardless of how fast we would go. He loved his walks, which took place three times per day. He was my co-writer, always nearby as I worked on the book, though he rarely pulled his weight. But he was there to see it through to the end.
Then in October he began acting strangely, seemingly out of energy. He had to lay down more and more on our walks till he could no longer take our walks. The final week of his life he began to deteriorate rapidly (circumstances I don’t care to go into) and on the day that I left for the airport for South Korea, I put Jack to sleep. It was heartbreaking. I brought him home and buried him in the backyard. I remember crying almost uncontrollably as I placed dirt over the last part of him: his lovely white-haired face and those clear blue eyes. Oh, what a boy he was. I’ll always remember him. [Here is the tribute I wrote to him.]
A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER
This Christmas Day was one that I will never forget. It was the first time in a decade that my entire family was able to be together. There is no sense in going into more detail, since I already wrote about it. Here is that blog post: My Evolution with Christmas Day.
AND NOW THE END IS HERE
It is New Year’s Eve and I am preparing for 2017. I anticipate such wonderful things this year. I hope you do as well. From me to all of you, Happy New Year!