Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another year gone by...

Every time December rolls around I am amazed how quickly the year has seemingly passed by, but here we are. 2014 beckons even though it seems I barely started 2013. It's so cliche, but really, where has the time gone?!? Oh well; 2013 has been quite an interesting year for me, though a tad more stressful and frustrating than I would have liked. As it comes to an end, as rough as times during it were, I feel like I have some momentum heading into the new year and that finally, at long last, this new year might bring about the changes I am hoping for and have been waiting what feels like an eternity for. Though stressful and quite frustrating at times, there have been some big highlights from 2013. Here they are!

This is Kirtland!

Anyone who's been following my blog knows I have something almost every year about This is Kirtland!, but this year, it was a lot more than usual. Since 2004 I've had some sort of involvement in the show every summer except 2008. Beginning in 2005 I was a member of the cast and through the years I've filled a number of roles, but this year I took on the role of director, something I had never done before. It actually started late 2012, but really started into high gear in mid February when we started having production meetings. Auditions started mid April and rehearsals started right at the beginning of May. We opened July 5 and had 8 performances, closing July 20.

While there are certainly many aspects of being a director that I was comfortable with and quite a accustomed to, the whole thing was overwhelming at times, mostly from a managerial aspect. I guess one thing I learned how to do better was delegate responsibilities to others, something I have difficulty doing at times. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, so often I just think it's easier to do it myself. I quickly discovered, though, that not only did I not have to do it, but I could count on others to do it better than me. Even so, I still had a role in just about everything whether I wanted to or not. At times it was exhausting.

Another thing I really wasn't expecting were personality conflicts between members of the cast (aka "drama") that somehow ended up involving me. That was especially frustrating given the religious nature of the show. We dealt with them and got through OK, but there seemed to be an ongoing problem here and there that hindered us along with other issues and I felt like some of them lingered past the end of the show, which was disappointing to me. Through it all, and some other challenges (like many late rehearsals despite my best intentions), though, we ended up having a really good run of shows. In all honesty, I never felt like the cast had a show that was as good as they were possibly capable of. That's not to say we didn't have great shows, but, you know, there were things about each show that could've been better. Oh, I also had a brief cameo at the end of the show each night, so I was in the cast too for most of the last scene.

I learned most of all that I much prefer to be on the stage rather than behind the scenes. I am happy with my efforts and how it went, but yeah, being on stage is much more of a thrill for me. Would I do it again? I don't know. I think if I were asked to direct again I would do it, but like my initial endeavor, it isn't something I'd campaign for. The good news is I don't really have to worry about it for 2014 as TIK will go on hiatus after 10 seasons. It's someting that needed to happen for a variety of reasons, but mainly for many of us who have done the show almost every summer. I feel good that our 2013 run was successful in that people really did stop to ask "why?", meaning it was good enough that people seriously wanted to know rather than seeing it and thinking "yeah, it definitely needs a break," which I think it was at prior to this season. Maybe it will spur more people to get involved and take it to the next level. But yeah, that was quite an experience for me, and as much fun as I had, I was definitely ready for it to be over.


A year would not be complete without some travels. My longest trip was down to Shreveport, Lousiana to visit my old missionary companion Will Graff, who is stationed down there in the Air Force. It was part of a visit I made with my mom to my brother's in Nashville, so a trip within a trip. Of course, as has been customary for me these past few years, I also made multiple visits to my sister's in Valparaiso, Indiana and my brother's in Nashville.  On some of the trips, I took my mom with me for the visit, but also had several solo trips!

Mom and me on our way to Nashville in August
Will Graff and I in Bossier City, LA, 10 years after we were missionary companions

On my birthday (March 2), which is also my youngest sister's birthday, my sister Katie and I drove to Valparaiso and totally surprised Becky. It worked perfectly and she had absolutely no idea we were even coming until she opened the door and there we were! I was glad to be able to execute that plan and that it worked out for Katie and me to pull it off (thanks to some help from our brother-in-law David). I made a trip to Valpo in late July, then again in September for the annual Popcorn Festival, and then Becky, David, and I attended an Indians-White Sox game in Chicago (Indians won 7-1!!), which was a lot of fun. I returned to Valpo in November for my nephew's 4th birthday, and Becky, David, and I attended the Ohio State-Purdue game at Purdue (along with several thousand other Buckeye fans). Ohio State rolled 56-0. The game was supposed to be a "blackout" for Purdue, but there was as much scarlet (if not more) in the stands than black. It was Becky and David's first Ohio State football game ever and my first true OSU road game. The only other OSU games I've been to were their 2009 game in Cleveland against Toledo, and two home games: 1996 against Penn State and 1997 against Iowa at Ohio Stadium.

Indians at White Sox...our first visit to US Cellular Field

Ohio State at Purdue...notice any scarlet in the stands?? LOL

New family!

2013 saw the arrivals of two nieces: Olivia was born November 12 (11-12-13) in Nashville to my brother Andy and sister-in-law Heather, and Lorraine was just born December 30 just north of Valparaiso to my sister Becky and brother-in-law David. I'm hoping to meet Olivia ("Lady O") in March when I can visit Nashville again, and am fortunate enough to be here in Indiana for Christmas, so get to meet Lorraine right away!

Olivia ("Lady O"), the day after she was born. I'm hoping to see her in January and/or March!

Me with Lorraine, just yesterday (Dec. 30, 2013), about an
hour and a half after she was born

It's been great getting to spend time with my two nephews this year several times, not only my visits to Indiana, but their trips to Ohio. I've also enjoyed visiting with my niece Evelyn ("Little E"), especially being there for her first birthday in August! All my nieces and nephews are so much fun to be around and make me laugh and smile, a lot!

Niece Evelyn, aka "Little E", age 1

Nephew Ryan, soon to be 2

Nephew Nate, age 4

My sister joined the Peace Corps and left in March for Ukraine, where she'll be until mid 2015. It's been great being able to keep in touch with her so easily via Skype, Facebook, and Instagram, and even Google Voice. I'm so proud of her, though I do miss seeing her! I'd love more than anything to be able to visit her and the school she is working at in Ukraine, but who knows when, or if, that will ever be possible. One can certainly hope!

The day Katie left for DC to begin her Peace Corps training

National Anthem

While I wasn't able to repeat my 5 appearances for the Indians like I had in 2012, I still had several opportunities to perform the anthem, though in different places. I did perform for the Indians again in 2013, singing in May for a game against the Reds. I almost sang again, but it didn't happen. Had the Indians finished in a tie for one of the wild card spots and hosted that game, I was scheduled to sing. As it turned out, the Indians won the first wild card spot, and the singer for that game was determined by Major League Baseball, so someone else did it. I was a little disappointed I didn't get to sing for the tie breaker game (since it didn't happen...it would've had the Indians lost on the last day of the season), but as a Tribe fan, I was glad they won and made the playoffs. Hoping to sing in 2014 for the Tribe, though.

Cincinnati at Cleveland in May

I was able to sing for 3 minor league games. I sang for the Columbus Clippers (AAA team of the Indians) in April, the Akron Aeros (AA team of the Indians) in May, and the Toledo Mud Hens (AAA team of the Tigers) in July. The games for the Clippers and Mud Hens were my first time ever even going to games for those respective teams. I enjoyed each performance and am hopeful to sing for all of them again in 2014.

Aeros game in May

Another first for singing in 2013 was this past November when I sang for the Lake Erie Monsters, the top minor league hockey affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. That was also my first time singing at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. It was a lot of fun! Of course I have continued to sing for Kent State men's basketball games, and did a wrestling match and a women's basketball game this December. It was my first time doing a wrestling match and my first time doing a women's basketball game in a few seasons. Really, it never gets old. Every time I sing the anthem it's as exciting and enjoyable as the first time.

Lake Erie Monsters game in November, my first performance at the Q


No progress on teaching, though 2013 was another year of change for me as far as subbing goes. I started the year out subbing in Stow, Tallmadge, and Maplewood, and ended up dropping all three for various reasons. This fall I renewed my teaching license and added the Streetsboro and Rootstown districts as well as the Bio-Med Science Academy in Rootstown, that's attached to the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). So far I have really enjoyed my time at these new places and have worked with some really great students and teachers. Still looking for that elusive full-time job somewhere out there, but in the meantime, subbing will hopefully fill that gap.

First day subbing in Streetsboro in November...was the first time I had worked since
late May.
As 2013 ends, though, I do feel momentum heading into 2014 and that good things are in store. Obviously a new year doesn't solve problems, but it does give us a way to gauge progress and compare periods of time. I've also learned to really look at what I have that is positive and know the difference between being content and being complacent. Content doesn't mean I'm not trying to improve or make positive changes, it simply means I find the good in the current situation and build on that instead of focusing on what's wrong. That in itself has been a huge help in my outlook and motivation. Here's to the experiences in 2013, the lessons learned, and the excitement for a better 2014.

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