The stockings hang empty, the gifts have been opened, Starbucks cups will soon be white again, and — if you’re like me — you’ve probably got your eye on that Christmas tree, trying to psyche yourself up to take the damned thing down. Although it can be hectic and stressful, the holidays can also be rewarding. Especially when it comes to kids and our closest loved ones, it feels good to show them how much you care by giving thoughtful tokens of your love and appreciation. In fact, it’s the tireless search for the perfect gifts — and those addictive cranberry bliss bars at Starbucks — that I find most enjoyable when it comes to Christmas; however, at this point we can pat ourselves on our backs because we made it. We survived Christmas 2015.
With Christmas (barely) in the rearview mirror, it’s time to start looking forward to more than just the next major holiday. New Year’s Eve is coming, bringing with it a fresh year and the burden of trying to remember to write the correct date. It’s kind of bittersweet for me; even though I usually prefer to look forward rather than back, 2015 was actually a good year for me overall. That’s not to say it wasn’t without its trials, but I’d say that 2015 was better than the several years that came before it, so I’m almost a little sorry to see it go. However, I’m cautiously optimistic for 2016.
The year 2015 saw some pretty tremendous growth in terms of my career, which grew from an aspiration to my actually becoming a writer by profession, complete with a business license and clients and an income and a work schedule, the proverbial whole nine yards. In other words, I’ve gone legit.
I would also say that 2015 was a great year for my relationship. Michael and I have reached the point where we know each other very well and have developed this routine where we can both be and make each other happy with virtually no effort at all. It’s a much simpler, easier life than I’d ever imagined for myself. When I used to picture the future, I always saw myself having to scrape and claw for whatever crumbs of happiness I could get; I never expected it to come so naturally.
This year was also the year that our dreams of cohabitation became a reality. We’d been hoping to live together since late 2013, but it wasn’t as simple as packing a bag. There were many variables and other people to be considered with a few kinks that needed worked out before it could happen. Finally, we devised a plan and it began coming to fruition. In August, I moved into Michael’s house in Stephens City, Virginia, and it’s been really, really great. It really was the next logical step in our relationship and it’s allowed us to spend a lot more time together without having to plan for it and account for the time it would take for him to drive from his house to mine. Overall, it’s even better than I imagined it would be.
As each year winds down, I always begin to think about the one to come. The years no longer creep, but rather seem to be speeding by much faster than they used to and it’s making me feel like I need to take advantage of all the time that I have, whether it’s work time or time spent with Michael. Being a lot happier now that I’ve been in previous years, I really want to continue the momentum and hope that 2016 will be a great year, full of payoffs for hard work and plans coming to fruition and patience rewarded. There are a number of specific things to which I’m looking forward, ranging from the usual fitness goals to the return of spring and summer weather to even a few movies coming out next year. Therefore, I figured I’d write about some of the reasons why I’m most excited for 2016. Without further ado, here they are…
Taking My Career to the Next Level
Over the past year, my career — I hesitate to actually call it that as I don’t feel I’ve earned that right, but I can’t think of a better word for it — has grown significantly. What began as simply monetizing a skill and passion to make some extra cash has become something with which I can actually support myself. In spite of the unlikelihood that someone could actually financially sustain him or herself with a skill, interest, or passion, I’ve managed to turn one of mine into a source of income as well as a stepping stone toward some of my larger career aspirations.
While this is certainly a great start — and I’m immensely proud of the progress I’ve made thus far — I would like to continue developing my writing career. In 2016, I would like to find more opportunities for exposure. Time and again I’ve read that aspiring writers need a so-called “platform” and that this will make one’s odds much better when it comes to publishing a book or getting better-paying writing work. It makes sense as publishers would naturally be more inclined to publish a first-time novelist who already has a following and who’s demonstrated an ability to self-market. Additionally, more published work means more exposure, which can often mean increase in one’s credibility.
Ideally, I’d like to find some more opportunities for print publication, especially magazines. Although magazines and newspapers are widely considered to be a dying medium, there’s still a level of respect that comes with getting published in magazines. Granted, these opportunities are much more elusive — Vanity Fair probably doesn’t look for writers on Craigslist — and these writing projects would involve more time, more research, more effort. However, the benefits would be tremendous, which is why this is one of my primary goals for the new year and something I’m really looking forward to pursuing.
Taking the Website to the Next Level
This website began as a blog on Blogger. When I decided I wanted to began freelancing as a writer, I bought a domain on GoDaddy, attached it to that blog, and turned it into my personal writer’s site. As my freelancing began to take off, I began investing a little more into my website here and there, eventually buying server space and turning it into a legitimate website.
The initial purpose of the website was to build my author’s platform and have a place where I could be found by prospective clients. However, web visibility is an odd entity. Since I’d also wanted to write content for myself instead of only for my clients, I designed my website to be my own personal web space where I could publish content related to my various interests: tech reviews, movie reviews, writing tips and guides, and other miscellaneous goodies. It became like killing two birds with one stone. I could write about a variety of things that interest me, and these other topics would bring more traffic to my website; it’s even possible that some of the visitors might have their own web or print publications and want to hire me to write content for them.
So far, the content that’s been driving the most traffic has actually been my reviews — Planet Fitness, OnePlus 2, Marvel’s Jessica Jones — and a couple writing guides, but I’ve also not been able to write quite as much as I’d like. Lately, I’ve been lucky to write one decent piece for my site per week. Therefore, another plan I have for 2016 is to find a better writing schedule that will allow me to write more of the content I want to write in addition to what I need to write. More quality content means better chances for visibility, which means more views and shares and likes and all that, which can also lead to more clients. Meanwhile, it also gets me more practice and hone my skills, which is another benefit of this plan.
Deadpool: The Movie
At roughly six weeks into 2016, we will be treated with a unique, highly-anticipated film that combines the superhero genre with an R-rating, which is something that hasn’t yet been done despite the recent spike in the number of superhero films released on an annual basis. Ryan Reynolds plays the titular character in Deadpool, which promises to be an unusual film for its genre for a number of reasons.
Deadpool is a Marvel property and, at least in the comics, has teamed up with both the Avengers and the X-Men at various times. Under the mask, Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a trained mercenary who undergoes an experimental procedure to cure his cancer; while the procedure cures the cancer and gives him superhuman strength, reflexes, and Wolverine-like healing ability, it also disfigures him horrendously. However, that’s not really what makes Deadpool a unique character. For one thing, the character frequently breaks the “fourth wall” by addressing the reader directly, which is to be incorporated into the film. Additionally, Deadpool is usually portrayed as being mentally unstable, reflected by his tendency to have conversations with the several voices in his head. He’s also known for his liberal use of profanity and his appreciation for violence. Clearly, this contrasts strongly with Captain American and the X-Men.
Since Deadpool is owned by 20th Century Fox — who also own X-Men and Fantastic Four — he won’t be joining the Avengers or included in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe anytime soon, but there’s reportedly some overlap with the X-Men films as Colossus is seen in both the first and the most recent Deadpool trailers. The upcoming film, which is being directed by fan-favorite Tim Miller and will come out two days before Valentine’s Day on February 12, promises gratuitous violence, plenty of profanity, perhaps a couple steamy scenes, and the signature wall-breaking humor that will surely make the film one of the most unique additions to the superhero genre. It’s sure to appeal to even the staunchest opposers of films featuring caped crusaders, especially lovers of the action-comedy hybrid. Personally, I couldn’t be more excited for Deadpool. It’s going to be amazing. If you don’t believe me, head over to the official Deadpool website for both the red band (R-rated) and family-friendly versions of the trailer.
Planning the Perfect Vacation
Michael has been saying for a while now that he’s overdue for a vacation and it’s actually been awhile since I’ve been on a vacation myself; the last time was probably the last trip to New York I took with my aunt — if that even counts — and that was three or four years ago at this point. This is why a major goal for 2016 isn’t necessarily to actually take a vacation, but rather to plan and prepare for one.
The reason for planning instead of actually taking a vacation this year is because I want it to be amazing. The kind of luxurious vacation that elicits blatant envy when you tell family and friends where you’re planning to go. Michael’s last big vacation was an all-inclusive trip to a five-star resort in Mexico; I want our first major vacation together as a couple to be either as good or better than that, which will require ample time in order to plan and prepare. I highly doubt that the actual vacation will take place until 2017 because we can be pretty indecisive and because I want to really take some time with this, beginning with choosing the actual location and proceeding through the selection of the resort and any activities we may want to enjoy.
Captain America: Civil War
It’s no secret that I’m quite fond of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although I’ve enjoyed most installments, the ones for which I was most excited were The Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and Ant-Man (2015). However, Captain America: The First Avenger was one of the better films leading up to the first Avengers team-up. I was never very interested in the character, but the film actually made Captain America interesting and his story compelling, even captivating. The second installment, The Winter Soldier, was easily as good as the first, perhaps even better, with the third installment being an adaptation of one of the most popular, well-received storylines in all of Marvel comics: The Civil War.
In the comics, “Civil War” recounts the creation and implementation of a certain government mandate. Uncomfortable with the prospect of superheroes operating with unlimited power and no one to whom they have to answer in instances of collateral damage, there’s to be a database in which all superheroes must register, providing their real identities and the skills or abilities they have. Those registered in the database can be called upon for their services by a governing group; in effect, instead of heroes coming to save the day in the event of a disaster, they’ll have to wait until they’re actually called upon, essentially making them government agents or soldiers. However, a number of heroes, including Captain America, don’t agree with this like Tony Stark/Iron Man does, causing heroes to turn against one another in a so-called Civil War.
The storyline from the comics is basically the premise of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. After the city of Sokovia was destroyed in Age of Ultron and another disaster at the beginning of the film results in major collateral damage, the so-called Sokovia Accords are created to force heroes to register as agents of the government, effectively putting them on a leash and limiting the extent to which they can intervene in catastrophes. Much like the comics, Captain America and Iron Man disagree on the Accords with Captain America vehemently against allowing another (potentially corrupt) government agency control him, which is why he and a team of fellow rogues — the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Falcon, Ant-Man, and Agent 13 — go on the lam, pursued by Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, and newcomer Black Panther.
As you can see, Civil War will be a very important storyline for both Captain America as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. The film is big enough and has such a large cast of heroes that it’s being called “Avengers 2.5,” which rings even more true considering that it introduces a couple really important characters, including Black Panther and Spider-Man — both of whom will be getting their own feature films in the years to come. With a release date set for May 6, Captain America: Civil War is definitely a feature of 2016 that I’m really, really excited about.
Yes, a third movie, and another comic book adaptation at that. Believe it or not, I’ve actually never read a comic book in my life. Personally, I don’t care for the medium, but I’m intrigued by some of the stories and the extensive mythologies and how separate series often exist in the same universes. Doctor Strange is a character that’s I’ve found especially intriguing. When it was written in the 1960s, it was influenced by psychedelic art, surrealism, and 1960s culture as a whole. Additionally, Doctor Strange is a very mystical and almost spiritual character that I’ve felt would lend itself wonderfully to a medium that can take full advantage of the character’s potential for otherworldly visuals.
In case you’re not familiar with the character, Doctor Strange is the superhero alias of Dr. Stephen Strange, a world-renowned surgeon who suffers extensive damage to his hands after a car accident. Hoping to restore his ability to operate, Strange tracks down a line of sorcerers who awaken or imbue him with vast mystical abilities and power, eventually dubbing him as the Sorcerer Supreme. With this power, Doctor Strange can warp reality and is a master of complex magic as well as being adept at astral projection. Compared to characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk, Doctor Strange is very unique, unusual, and maybe even a bit bizarre.
I’ve been excited about the upcoming film adaptation of the Doctor Strange comics for several years when the film was only a rumor. When Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as the good doctor, I was even more excited as I feel Cumberbatch is the absolute perfect fit for how I imagined the character would look in real life. Over the course of the past year, Kevin Feige — who essentially runs the Marvel Cinematic Universe — has teased some minute details regarding Doctor Strange, including that the film will have some Inception-like visuals and be very faithful to the source material.
Filming commenced just last month (November 2015) in preparation for its release next fall on November 4, 2016, in IMAX to take full advantage of the film’s unique visuals. I can’t express how excited I am for Doctor Strange, which will open up the supernatural or mystical side of the Marvel Universe. Early images in this week’s Entertainment Weekly are very promising as it appears the film will be faithful to the character while keeping him relevant and contemporary. We’re also due for another infinity stone — our heroes are yet to encounter the soul and time stones — and I think Doctor Strange is a prime candidate for the soul stone in particular with the character’s astral projection and learning the ancient arts, so don’t be surprised if that’s what’s inside his infamous Eye of Agamotto amulet he wears around his neck.
Better Workout & Fitness Routine
I’d bet that two out of three New Year’s resolutions pertain to health or fitness in some way and that January is the biggest month of the year for new gym memberships. However, according to Forbes only about 8 percent of New Year’s resolutions are kept or achieved. Apparently people start a new year feeling upbeat and motivated, but soon end up right back to where they started.
I’ve been a member of Planet Fitness roughly since April and was so impressed by the gym and the value that its memberships offer that I wrote a Planet Fitness review, which has since been one of the most highly viewed pieces on my website. It’s been nearly nine months since I joined and I still feel just as pleased with Planet Fitness as I did then. However, I’ll admit that I don’t go to the gym nearly as much as I was before I moved to Virginia. Before moving, I was going to the gym between four and six days each week, either with Michael or my aunt as company. Since moving in August, I’ve probably only been going to the gym a couple times each month, which is just unacceptable.
As such, one of my goals for 2016 is to get back to working out on a more regular, consistent basis. Michael and I were actually talking about this just the other day, trying to figure out the best way to work going to the gym into our schedules so that we could both go at the same times. I’ve always liked going to the gym so the battle is really just getting there. Since I pretty much make my own schedule, we really only need to work around Michael’s. It may take a bit of strategizing, but I’m sure that once we work out the times it won’t be an issue.
What I listed above aren’t the only things I’m looking forward to, but they’re some of the biggest. I’m also hoping to find more time to read, start drawing or making art again, and I’d also like to hone my cooking skills a little more.
Overall, I feel like there are many possibilities for the next year. I’ve also begun to think that whether a person has a good or bad year depends on how they handle or react to the situations they find themselves in. It seems like life is quick to give me a bunch of lemons, but I’m getting better and better at turning them into lemonade.
If I think of other specific things coming in the next year for which I’m excited, I’ll share them on my blog like I am right now. Hopefully all who read this have a wonderful, prosperous year ahead of them. Enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations and feel free to share the things coming up for which you are excited in the comments below.