Welcome to 2009

Looking back, 2008 was an odd year. Interesting, sure, but odd. Not exactly easy, either – but it did pass rather quickly, unlike some other years. So, here are some of the good things that I will remember:

  • Verena and I got engaged.
  • The month we spent in Greece was also nice, if not as nice as the year before.
  • Verena finished writing her novel.
  • I finished The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge, to positive (if limited) reactions.
  • I worked quite a bit on my novel. I’m sad that it’s not done yet, but it’s easily my most ambitious project so far, so it’s OK. It’s just enormously complicated to write, even though I’m hoping that it will be enormously easy to read.
  • Our cat continued being most cute and wonderful, and has grown to be even more human-centered than before. (Just don’t tell her I said so. She’s still a cat.)
  • We watched quite a few excellent movies, including Terra, possibly the best film I saw in 2008, and one of the best science-fiction films I have ever seen.
  • We didn’t do any theatrework. I do miss it quite terribly on the one hand, but on the other I am glad that I didn’t have to deal with any of the rumour-mongering back-stabbing bullshit that has become so prevalent there.
  • We went to London twice – one to see Stephen Fry’s Cinderella panto (awesome), and once to see Hellboy II (not so awesome, unfortunately). Both times proved rather stressful, but there are plenty of good memories to make up for that.
  • I discovered the music of The Nightwatchman (thanks, Ivo!) and became a huge fan.
  • I finished running my second pen & paper RPG campaign and started on the third. To people not involved in this sort of thing it may not mean much, but I can say that it was a great, if sometimes frustrating (on an organizational level) experience. The story that was told was epic, tragic, funny and full of wonderful moments and characters. It confirmed in my mind that role-playing, at its best, is something very much like improvisational theatre, only bigger and more structured and more dramatic. It is a game that has the potential to become something akin to the storytelling of old.
  • I read a lot of good books. I can’t remember them all right now, but some I really enjoyed were Stephen King’s On Writing, G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and Heretics, Max Brooks’ World War Z and E.R. Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros.
  • Verena and I played a lot of computer games together. (In many cases thanks to Ivo, who got the damn things running.) We were generally disappointed by Fallout 3 and Oblivion, but did get several hours of fun out of them. Despite its flaws, Verena played Oblivion through and through, finishing every single mission (except the Dark Brotherhood ones) and finding every single location. Fallout 3‘s crappy storyline and horribly disappointing ending kind of prevented that sort of thing, which is a shame, since it’s the better of the two games otherwise. But Verena also spent a great deal of time playing Fallout 2, which remains as fantastic as ever. And I had a great deal of fun with the underrated Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Ah, kicking people down places…
  • We also played a great deal of X-Com: Apocalypse, and will continue to do so in the next year.
  • Despite the great tragedy that precipitated the riots, the people of Greece reminded me of what I like about them: when the time comes, they’ll stand up for what’s right. Sure, the country’s got plenty of idiots (just like every other country, obviously), but you won’t see people taking to the streets in the same way in Germany, no matter what happens.
  • But the best part of the year was that I spent 99.9% of the time with Verena, even managing to go along to university with her a number of times, sitting outside and writing while she was in her seminars. We really spend only a very small amount of time apart – never willingly – and despite doing so for several years now, we have not grown even remotely bored of each other. Not that this comes as a surprise to me; when we were first falling in love, the following thought crossed my mind: what if the afterlife consisted of you and one other person, sitting in a dark room together for all eternity? And the answer is: if that person was Verena, I would be perfectly fine. Because we could talk to each other, tell each other stories and jokes and exchange ideas literally forever, and we wouldn’t get bored. I’ve always thought this would be a good philosophical question for people to ask themselves when they are thinking about a relationship.

So, I guess we’ll see where 2009 will take us. Ten minutes into the new year, my friend Julian called me to say that he felt that this would be a really great year. Now, having known him for many years, and knowing what he’s usually like, that either means it will be an amazing year or it will be the end of the world.

Possibly both.

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