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2017 in Review

It’s safe to say it’s been a big year. Not entirely in a positive way. Since the last Friday in June 2015, right through until August 2017, my life in one shape or form has been on hold. It took me a full 18-months to reach some level of understanding and comfort with the separation from my wife of 20 years. Just as that period ended we got the news in early 2017 that my brother had cancer, a strange, totally unnoticed ‘alien virus-like’ form of virulent cancer.

I’d normally not do these things as they’d not be that eventful. Games played, TV shows watched, etc. But this year feels like it’s worth looking back on.

The Channel Video

This blog has alternative content on the YouTube channel where the same topics are discussed but no doubt with variation!

Watch…The Year

The year in watching has been absolutely fantastic, primarily due to the dominance of TV in these modern times. We truly do live in fantastic times.

TV On The Rise

My addiction to TV really started in the 80’s, took hold in the 90’s and now with Peak TV and Netflix it has gone absolutely crazy. I freely admit I spent a lot of time watching stuff in 2017, primarily on Netflix. There was a time I’d look on this as bad thing. Now I realise it isn’t. I’ve come to realise that watching TV has, to some extent, replaced the time I used to spend reading books.

You know what? That’s okay. Yes, sometimes I could manage the time better but actually doing it is a good thing and I’ve moved on from seeing it as a distraction to a valid way I spend my time.

I’ve watched too many good TV shows this year to mention them all, but I’ve also watched some phenomenal shows, five of which I’ve picked out, that have been absolutely astounding.

Film On the Decline

I don’t go to the cinema much, that’s the long and the short of it. I tend to see the big things like the latest Marvel film, specific things like IT and Star Wars. I should log what I see over the year, but I suspect it’s a handful of films. If it’s I double figures it’s not by much.

This decline in cinema going happens when my local, modern, stadium seating multiplex charges £5 per film, which is incredibly cheap.

The film that has stood out the most this year isn’t a Star Wars or Marvel film but IT. I really liked IT and it’s one of those films that still sits with me ages after watching it.

Read…The Year

The great thing about 2017 is I started reading again. Not at the volume I used to read but it is happening. I have the glasses to thank for this and, while not a recent thing, The Kindle. There is something about every book being presented similarly that works for me on The Kindle, along with the convenience of it all. The frictionless purchasing certainly works for me when it comes to books.

The key books I’d pick out in the year are All Our Wrong Todays and Dark Matter. These are very different books but they both focus on the consequences of significant and small choices in life and being given the chance to change them. While I can’t say the selection of these books was a function of the last two years I’m pretty sure the reason I liked them so much was related to the fact I’ve spent a while doing exactly that!

I’ve also done some re-reading this year, which I never do. This was driven by a group of people re-reading The Belgariad under the #belgarithon hashtag. At the risk of causing an outcry The Belgariad was one of my favourite series of books as a teenager, which makes sense as it’s Young Adult fiction before we called it that. Reading and discussing it was great. I’ve really enjoyed it. True, the book aren’t as good as I remember, but I still enjoyed them and there are some killer moments.

Play…The Year

Without a doubt I’ve not done enough playing in 2017 as looking back I’d have liked to have played more tabletop and video games. It probably needs to be a focus of 2018 now I have the new computer and gaming room!

Tabletop Role-Playing games have been a success this year primarily because I’m back playing them on the closest we get to a regular basis. This is a good thing as they are one of the key elements of my ‘experiencing stories’ focus of my life that is more towards the creative and active end rather than the passive. We’ve got one campaign in and are currently playing the second. All is good. If there is room for improvement it’s that I want to start running some games myself.

Tabletop board games. Simple. Needs to do more. These things tend to start, see a small amount of momentum and then fall away. This means I tend not to get the use out of the games I buy. I’ve not bought many but they are expensive so they really need to be actually played. I think some of it, a bit like tabletop role-playing games is the fact it needs the organising of other people, while other ways I pass my time can just be done when I want.

It’s been a weird year for video games as they fell well and truly into the category of really enjoying them when I sit down and do them, but I rarely actually do it. I’m not sure why this is. I think part of it I always think I should be doing something more creative. Yes, it seems I’ve got over this hangup for TV but not for video games. Again, I should log what I’ve played but I believe 2017 has been about playing and finishing Uncharted 4 which was a great game. The rest, some Telltale games, Rise of the Tombs Raider, Mass Effet: Andromeda and Life is Strange have either stayed on the metaphorical shelf or found themselves in various states of actually being played.

Certainly room for improvement in this area.

Travel…The Year

I had three trips this year: Disneyland Paris, the me and Daisy Dog trip to Filey and Florida. They were all very different.

Disneyland Paris

I promised myself some time back that I’d never go back to Disneyland Paris. Going way too many times in the past had ground my enthusiasm for the place down to anaemic levels. A combination of my last visit being some time ago, my nephew Jack wanting to go and the fact they were doing a Star Wars Soiree got me entering the gates of Disneyland Paris.

It was an interesting trip because I enjoyed it, but I was also reminded why I don’t need to do it very often. I just can’t get excited about going to the same place and doing the same things frequently.

I don’t get that.

As for the Star Wars Soiree? It was one of the best things I’ve done in a good, long while and was easily one of the highlights of the year.

The Bay, Filey

I did a solo break with Daisy Dog in 2016 in The Lakes and really wanted to repeat that in 2017 but finding appealing accommodation proved difficult. I’m glad it did because that meant I found The Bay, Filey and went there instead.

This trip turned out to be way more awesome than I expected.

I must admit, if I was rich, I’d probably have a house at The Bay, Filey. Some people have statically sited caravans, I’d have bricks and mortar at The Bay. It was absolutely awesome. It was serene. It looked great. It interesting places to go and is near the North York Moors. Just brilliant. I really liked it.

Then we have the walk from Scarborough to Filey, which was 8-miles of ‘who needs California’ level coastal countryside that still impacts me to this day it was absolutely glorious.

Illness in Florida

I went to Florida again with my nephew which we’d been talking about for a while. It was just really annoying that the holiday proved to be very challenging due to being hit with an illness for just over half of it. It first manifested as a few days of flu and then transitioned into the awful chest infection that was really dilapidating both physically and in terms of mental enthusiasm. Dealing with it sort of became a focus and thus it set the pattern of the holiday.

This seemed to be a thing this year, as just anecdotally I know of a handful of people who had their Florida holiday disrupted with flue and chest infection type illnesses.

Illness aside I really enjoyed the trip, but it did also inform me doing a theme park focused Florida holiday every year is not going to be part of my future (unless I mix it up a bit).

The holiday also taught me a few things about my vlogging. It taught me I have to be doing new things that stimulate me so I have something worth saying and some context to add. This sounds obvious but anyone familiar vlogging knows this does not have to be the case. It also got me moving on acknowledging the fact that my channel isn’t a Disney channel, if for no other reason that going to Disney World every year to get content would drive me absolutely nuts.

Live…The Year

If the year has been dominated by anything it has been life issues. I often say my day-to-day life is pretty mundane and boring. If I’m honest about it hasn’t been the case this year but for all the wrong reasons. 2017 was dominated by the end of a two year divorce process and the death of my brother.

Thee Divorce Concludes

It took over two years before the divorce finally concluded. As it happened rather unceremoniously on 2nd August 2017. The extended length of this was entirely her fault, but I’m sure she probably doesn’t see it that way. She probably sees me as some vindictive person trying to hold on to the financial assets (not that I care at this point).

It’s probably long forgotten that somewhere around three months into the process she had an opening offer that only ever went down due to processes she introduced and insisted on. But that’s life. I guess I should thank her for that.

One feature of the divorce process for a good two thirds of it was a recurring dream. It’s not a dream that needs much deciphering, but it largely seemed to be a Sunday morning thing which really impacted my Sundays for a good, long while. The set-up was simple. My wife would return for one reason or another, many and varied locations and events would feature as for whatever reason, often varied, she wanted to come back but this would always fail and be stressful as she would never open up about why she left.

It was like one of those haunting TV show episodes where a relationship looks like it’s going to recover but fails due to issues lingering from the separation. Yeah, as I said, it’s easy to figure out.

These dreams stopped some time ago as I came comfortable with the explanation I had settled on. In short, a mid-life crises spurred on by crashing into menopause after an operation and I’m sticking to it!

I had another dream a month ago though. It came from nowhere and it only happened once. The exact same sequence of events happened but this time she opened up about why she did, funnily enough the reason was the conclusion I’d come to, obviously. It never concluded in a way that signified if her return worked out this time, as that was relevant or important at this point, but it did feel, in some small way like the final bit of closure.

I guess that was an epilogue of sorts. It’s not happened again so far.

A Death in The Family

Last, but by no means least, we had a death in the family. I’ll be completely honest it’s mentioned last as I wanted to get the other items out the way before I hit it. I wasn’t initially sure what to write here as I didn’t want it to be a re-telling of the events. Been there and done that. As I thought about it I realised there was something worth saying in how I deal with these things.

I’ve come to realise I deal with death by closing it off and by and large not engaging with it. I’ve done this on both occasions. How many times have I visited the grave of either my father or my brother? Once, when they were actually buried and never again. I’m not saying I don’t think about either of them at all, but I’d have to be honest and say I don’t think about them probably as much as I should.

I guess I occasionally just think it’s a bit callous. It isn’t, far from it, quite the opposite, but I do move on. I do believe it’s useful in terms of my resilience to life’s challenges. While less serious than the topic at hand, this element of my psychology is the same thing that makes me happy to see things change and not get overly embroiled in nostalgia.

A Year on YouTube

2017 is the first full year I’ve spent on YouTube and it’s been a fascinating experience. Since I’ve started I’ve often wondered why I started. It’s a bit of a strange thing for me to do really and it would have never have happened if the divorce hadn’t taken place.

I think there are two reasons.

First, it was true that I saw it as an integral part of my solo Disney World trip. The theory was it would be the perfect tool to solve the ‘no one to talk to problem’. This proved to be true. So true, as I’ve got more distance from the solo endeavour, I’m not sure the holiday would have been as a big a success if I hadn’t been for the vlogging. The camera was like having another person with me which meant I could talk about stuff as and when I wanted. It was also like a mini-project I conducted during the holiday which gave my mind something else to focus on.

I’ll also admit to be someone who doesn’t just like doing his hobbies but also talking about them. I don’t really get to do that these days with anyone who I physically know either at the puerile or intellectual level. It just doesn’t happen. In a way YouTube is a way for me to do that and compensate for it to some degree.

Has that worked as emphatically as the first reason? Probably not. The idea that YouTube would facilitate community and communication has not proved true on the scale I would have probably liked. This isn’t necessarily entirely a negative but it is a thing. It is fascinating, interesting and great that the vlogs have resulted in a core of people who follow that are now part of my life in some odd, unique and fascinating way. The big thing is it has transformed my use of Twitter. This isn’t directly related to YouTube but it is part of it.

And, Finally…

All I can is roll on 2018. For the first time in a very long time it feels like a renewal. A sort of fresh start. I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to go, but it no longer feels like everything is in stasis or in a holding pattern for one reason or another.

There are a few challenges but I think they are positive ones and, I believe, within my power to either solve or heavily influence. This is a good thing.

2018. Bring it on.

About Ian O'Rourke

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