Monday, January 01, 2007

Rants, Raves and Resolutions

I, for one, am glad to put the year 2006 behind me. Here are my rants, raves and resolutions for the year.

1. The death of my friend Mark Evans. He was murdered in June in a home invasion. I still miss him terribly.
2. The loss of my teaching job in Cicero, Illinois. I taught sixth grade there for four years.
3. My father being diagnosed with cancer.
4. The murder or Marcell Collins, one of my students at my new teaching job. He was a nice kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
5. The suicide of an old acquaintance, Malachi Ritscher, in a horrible public self-immolation to protest the war.

1. The Chicago Police caught the assholes who killed my friend.
2. My friend Garrett came home safely after serving a year in the Army in Iraq.
3. My father survived his cancer surgery.
4. My wife and I celebrated a year of marriage on December 30.
5. My kids had a productive and happy year.
6. Reconnecting with my old friend Dobie. We'd lost track of one another. I tracked him down to Singapore.

1. To begin taking classes to change careers. I want to go to pharmacy school.
2. To spend more time with friends.
3. To play guitar more often.
4. To read more.
5. To spend more time with my kids.

Last year I was reading an article in the New York Times about the parents of a woman who was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. When they gathered her possessions, they found a laptop in her apartment. They did not plug it in and turn it on until last year. One of the things they found was a list of goals. Some were mundane, like "exercise more." Others were loftier, like "hike the Andes Mountains." I was inspired by that list to start my own. Tonight, I was looking over that list to see which ones I've knocked off this year.

#6, "Start a Blog," I think I can say I fulfilled that one.
#8 teaching my stepdaughter to ride a two-wheeler, I fulfilled.
#13, get a laptop for my son, was fulfilled for Christmas. He loves his Ibook.
#17 Buy more art-- I think that went along with #4-- be a better husband. I got my wife a painting she really badly wanted for Christmas-- it's the one at the top of this post.
#19 Buy new glasses and contacts-- done
#25 Play more baseball with my son Adam-- done
#26 Eat more dark chocolate. This is strictly for health purposes, of course-- anti-oxidants, you know. Same reasoning for the red wine.
#30 New health insurance coverage for my son (he was covered by my old job before)-- done

There are some I need to work harder on.
#7 Exercise more. I went out running yesterday, but need to be more regular about it.
#9 Take my son camping-- we bought a tent and sleeping bags-- now we need to actually use them.
#15 Journal more often
#18 Take my son Adam to the Louisville Slugger factory. We drive past Louisville all the time on the way to my parents' house in Eastern Tennessee. We need to plan a stop there sometime soon.
#28 Take my son to the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle. Among a lot of other rock and roll memorabilia, they have the guitar Hendrix played at Woodstock. He's a big Hendrix fan.
#29 End hunger and hatred. I'm working hard, but obviously I need to do more.
#37 Get more Curtis Mayfield music. I need to hint more strongly about a Curtis Mayfield box set next birthday.
#35, #39, #40 See Tom Jones, Los Lobos and Bob Seger. They are the three performers I haven't seen that I've been meaning to see for years.
#38 Set up a scholarship in the memory of my friend Mark. We had gathered reward money to entice someone to rat out his killers. The cops caught them before this happened, so we decided to use that money to set up a scholarship fund. We've got to iron out the details in the next year.


lulu said...

Great list. I always think about making to do lists, but I am not a list person. I guess 1. Make list, would sum up my whole list at this point.

My friend Steve, of Steve and Jane, is featured on the cover of an old Curtis Mayfield album.

Bubs said...

Happy New Year Johnny!

Great list, btw...I think I'm inspired now to start a list like that for myself. I'm trying to get back on track for 2007--it seems like I started the first few months of ought-six with a great sense of purpose and spiritual direction, and I seem to have lost my way.

If you need camping ideas, let me know. I got lots of em.

Dave said...

the painting at the top.... Title? Size? Oils or acrylic? tell me about it. what about it drew you wife to it?

Flannery Alden said...

Reading more is definately on my list as well. I don't think I read more than one or two books in 2006 that I hadn't already read.

Tenacious S said...

Nice reflection on the past year. I can tell you that going back to school is a very time consuming activity, so if you decide to go, be easy on yourself in other areas. My goal will not be to read more books this year. I think one of my goals may, however, be to make sure I spend at least a good half hour with my family each day besides while we are all rushing out the door.

Mob said...

Impressive that you have your list of resolutions and have made headway with a lot of it.

I can honestly say that I had a list perhaps once during my teens or early twenties that got completely ignored and was never repeated.

Bubs said...

Hey Johnny, I just got to cross off # 17 on my 2007 list: Join a dead pool.

I am officially in the 2007 Golden Ghoul Celebrity Pool!

Thanks for the heads-up

Grant Miller said...

You can never play too much baseball. Congratulations on your anniversary.

Coaster Punchman said...

Sorry about your 2006. That was quite the challenging year. I had a pretty bad 2005, but 2006 was good - so I have high expectations for your 2007.

Leazwell said...

I like the painting and I could not have resisted giveing her a bottle of Red Truck wine to go with it. Have you seen it? Neat label.

Johnny Yen said...

Thanks! I am totally a list guy-- shopping lists, lists of goals, etc. Problem is that I frequently make shopping lists, then walk out the door without them.

Which Curtis Mayfield album?

Happy New Year to you, too! Thanks-- hope you find your spiritual direction-- or at least the direction to more spirits.

Seriously, though, your devotion to your family strikes me as totally having your sense of purpose and spiritual direction in the right place. You "get it" as I say about certain people.

I definitely can use camping ideas. And welcome to the Pool!

It's called "Melrose." I think it's acrylic-- I'll get the little info sheet from my wife. It's 20 x 24 inches. She like the "Hopperesque" quality of it, plus she met the painter, whom she really liked. Maybe she'll (my wife) will post here and explain a little.

Yes, read more is on my list. I promised an acquaintance a long time ago to read more fiction-- as a student of history and political science, I read almost exclusively non-fiction. My acquaintance suggested Tony Hillerman, so goal #20 is to finish Sacred Clowns, the Tony Hillerman book I started last year. Any other suggestions for ficiton?

Ten S--
Thanks for the suggestions-- helpful since you're dealing with the same thing

Never too late to start! I actually every couple of years do an exercise in my journal that I read about when I was a teenager-- three parts
1. Where am I right now
2. Am I where I want to be?
3. What changes to I need to get to #2?

Thanks, and absolutely. I agree with the t-shirt-- "Baseball is life. All the other stuff is details."

Thanks, and now I'm holding you responsible for my 2007 being better!

Thanks, and what a great idea! I know the wine and know who carries it around here. I think we used to carry it at the restaurant.

Another color-themed wine-- Little Black Dress, a merlot that's worth looking for, if you're a wine person.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You had a very tough year. 2007 can only be better.

That is a very laudable list - I don't think many of us make that much effort to really evaluate our goals. May you reach them.

Flannery Alden said...

I can recommend many fiction books. I think you might enjoy some John Irving: A Son of the Circus, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Water Method Man.

Beth said...

I'm glad to read about your dad. I lost my dad to liver cancer about 15 months ago, and I'm still a bit in shock.

Hope you have a lovely 2007!

Lovely painting, BTW.

Yasamin said...

#29 End hunger and hatred. I'm working hard, but obviously I need to do more. stop slacking. lol

Danny Tagalog said...


Good luck with the list, and any Curtis Mayfield is worth shelling out for.but why the Tom Jones fixation? Don't get me wrong, being half Welsh I like the guy, but he hasn't done much this past few decades apart fromn a duet with Cerys Matthews. Still, I may be missing out...

Hope you have a far better 2007!

Johnny Yen said...

Thanks. I think that Mark's death was the biggest part of what really motivated. I drove by his house every day on the way home from work. He worked at home (he was a web developer). I kick myself for every time I drove by without dropping in to say hello.

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm at the library right now with my stepdaughter-- I'll run upstairs to Fiction and check one out right now. (One of the many perks of living in Chicago-- free wifi in the libraries!)

Thanks! I'm sorry about your father. And thanks about the painting-- my wife loved it.

Okay, but only because you said so!


I know he's old, but he's a legend. My grandmother, back in the late sixties/early seventies, when Tom had a tv show here, would never miss it. His cover of Prince's "Kiss" in the eighties was the cat's meow, too! I think Art of Noise was the band on that one.

I'm guessing from your pen name that the other half is Filipino?

My wife read my blog entry a couple of nights ago while up in Minnesota visiting her family and ordered me the box set, bless her heart.

Alasdair said...

Obviously, they are the baby club of the wrong organization, but Louisville also has a AAA club... at the very least, they have droll hats.

I like your lists, though I'm sorry to see 2006 had so many hard times.

Toccata said...

Condolences for your tremendous losses in 2006. I really hope 2007 is easier.

I feel like I share your number 2 in Raves: My cousin made it safely home after serving a 6 month stint that turned into an 18 month stint in the United States Army in Afganistan.

I hope you get to take your son camping. Some of my best memories as a kid have to do with camping.

Dale said...

Thanks for an amazing post on your year Johnny and thanks for some great blogging too. People like you go a long way to helping people like me avoid being full time cynics. Happy 2007 from a part time cynic.

Bats in the Belfry said...

For resolution # 2 does that mean me too? Seems like we don't talk anymore since we started working together again. Totally blows chunks.

Saunar Buboy said...

Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.