The office is mostly empty today, as it has been all week, and I don't mind. This is Mohawk Week. One cannot celebrate Mohawk Week surrounded by a lot of people in suits and ties constantly checking their BlackBerries. One needs a certain amount of silence. One needs time for introspection.
You will not find Mohawk Week on any calendar. While I would like to say that is because the people who create calendars just aren't hip to my trendsetting ways, the real reason is because I made it up.
Last year I lost my fantasy football semifinal game in large part due to Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the time, Antonio sported a funny looking Mohawk that made him appear similar to a Lego mini figure. I used my loss to the hands of Mr. Brown to justify cutting my hair in a short Mohawk as well. I kept it for the week between Christmas and New Year's, and then reverted back to my typical vanilla-like short haircut. Mohawk Week was born.
This year I didn't bother with an excuse, I just showed up Tuesday morning with a thinner, taller version of a Chuck Liddell warhawk.
It is outlandish. It makes me crack up every time I look in a mirror. In an office dominated by corporate IBM company men and senior civil servants, it is outré. And this is why Mohawk Week is important. As the last week of the year, it is a time to look back and laugh at mistakes made. As the week immediately preceding the New Year, it is a time to shed the comfortable in exchange for the outrageous as a way to think about things in a different perspective.
Mohawk Week, 2016
Without a doubt, this past year closes as one of the most challenging of my life. For the first time in a long time, my struggle with a life of chronic pain threatened to get the best of me. Honestly, at the time, I did not believe I would make it through. But here I sit, wrapping up a full 40 hour workweek for the first time in two months. I've managed to go without pain medication during the day for the last four days in a row. I "graduated" from physical therapy this week. I've recovered enough to laugh again, which was in short supply for too many weeks.
While the physical and mental trauma from this past fall and early winter dominate my memories of the year, good things did happen in 2016. My wife and I celebrated 10 years of marriage by taking a springtime road trip through Virginia. We visited the places from our courtship, including the seemingly mundane locations in the small town where we met that for us represented our first date, our first kiss, or the place where she said "Yes!".
During that trip we also visited the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond and Monticello outside Charlottesville. Meanwhile, my daughter spent the week in my father-in-law's garden. We all made memories to last.
Other events of note during 2016 include our first Father/Daughter camping trip, a Father's Day trip to the 150+ -year-old cabin I lived in as a child, and a complete bathtime read-through of the Little House on the Prairie series.
I succeeded in my New Year's resolution to get outside as much as possible; from May until August we took our daughter to the park almost every single afternoon.
Financially, I took the collection of ERE and personal finance related ideas bouncing around inside my head and formalized them in planning documents. I use the documents every month to track our personal savings and this week I discovered that we were just over $1000 off from our end of year target, despite missing almost 6 weeks worth of paycheck savings. In opposition to the numerous obstacles life has thrown my way, I'm providing a solid financial foundation for our family. This makes me happy. Cautious, aware that the vagaries of fortune could change at any minute, but happy nonetheless.
At the beginning of the year a friend and I decided to read through Ulysses together as part of a larger, more ambitious personal reading list. Ulysses was a book that I had started and enjoyed it twice before but never made it past the notorious Oxen of the Sun section. While I succeeded in finishing the book this time (and ultimately loved it), my friend read it twice over in the time it took me to finish one go. As a result, my snail-like pace resulted in me not reading as much other material this year. But here is what I did finish reading, or in some cases started but never finished for one reason or another:
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (unfinished)
- Giants in the Earth by R E Rolvaag
- The Dark Tower, part one: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
- The Dark Tower, part two: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King (unfinished)
- Siren of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (unfinished)
- The 158 Pound Marriage by John Irving
- Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist
- Magician: Master by Raymond Feist
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman
- The Magician King by Lev Grossman
- The Magicians Land by Lev Grossman
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
- True Grit by Portis
- The Maestro by R A Salvatore
- The Ruins by Smith
- Selkirk's Island by Souhami
- Ben Franklin: An American Life by Isaacson
- Leviathan Wakes by James Corey
- Caliban's War by James Corey
- Abaddon's Gate by James Corey (unfinished)
- Annihilation by Vandermeer
- Authority by Vandermeer
- Acceptance by Vandermeer
- All about Asset Allocation by Rick Ferri
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (unfinished)
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
- High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby (unfinished)
Of those, the Southern Reach trilogy by Vandermeer was really well done, and one of the finer examples of modern day Lovecraft. Grossman's trilogy I found surprisingly enjoyable as well, though I admit I'm a little nervous about the TV adaptation.
I had dictated out two long paragraphs detailing my thoughts on each of the readings. Involved in that, I neglected to save my progress and the voice recognition software just crashed, losing all of that work the process. This is why I can't have nice things....
In all seriousness, the frustration that occurs when I have a crash like that can really be the demotivating. I'll just TL;DR the rest of this write up by saying:
2016 had its highs and lows, but I'm optimistic 2017 can be better on a personal level.
HAPPY NEW YEAR E2!