2018 Year in Review

A couple of weeks ago I came across this 2015 post, “Requiem for Young Adulthood.” Looking toward my approaching 37th birthday and the stage of life beyond it, I mostly drew a big blank:

…ambitions are difficult to establish here. I have some sense that this transition to the middle phase of life is often marked by a realization that one has probably reached one’s station in life, and that while one might achieve more, achieving significant new status in life is long odds. […]

At the moment I can see maybe four, maybe five years out at most. Basically, I’m researching a third book, and I recently had an idea for a different type of large project to pursue whenever “Book Three” is finished. Hopefully it will pan out, because life seems kind of thin these days aside from such pursuits. (Seems kind of thin even with them, actually.)

Life seems very different in some big ways. Certainly I would not describe my life since 2015 as thin.

Thinking back on the year, I completely forgot about attending the March for our Lives until browsing through photos for this post.

Instead it’s busy, and it’s a blur, and I am so very, very, very tired. This year’s holidays were nice but after looking forward much of this year to a break and some rest it was over so quickly and now another year rushes toward me with multiple big projects already underway and who knows what else in store.

Change comes to Lakewood: two members of council who were not approved by the establishment. I helped the fellow at the right of the lineup get there anyway.

The substantial political content of my life’s concerns and activities is becoming the default, having been a major feature in each of these busy three years. My broad impressions of 2018 are of flitting among political groups, projects, and meetings; of spending the first half of the year immersed in primary campaign activity, and the second half of the year immersed in general election campaign activity; and of everything else passing in a blur.

The Browns “Perfect Season Parade.” I not only attended this shockingly cold satire festival, I canvassed for redistricting reform initiative signatures.

I sort of threw myself into everything this year, politically, and tried to help groups and campaigns stay aware of what each was doing. I suppose for the sake of order I could group most of this activity into five categories:

  1. Primary campaign, mostly the coordinated campaign of Mike Skindell, Nickie Antonio and Steve Holecko, but some involvement with at least a dozen other candidates. Some of this paid reasonably well, which was good. I should also fit redistricting reform in this category; it’s hard to believe it was less than a year ago that I went from scrambling for signatures in the snow to evaluating the compromise which became Issue 1 to supporting it in the May primary.
  2. Ongoing political stuff, mostly the Lakewood Democratic Club and the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, I suppose. I did most of the communications for the former and some for the latter, plus various other duties in both cases. I’m now on a formal CCPC committee, and in a month I will formally take office as secretary of the Dem Club. Perhaps ironically, in both cases even as I have gotten deeper into these organizations this year I have also trimmed my estimate of what practical value they are going to produce any time soon.
  3. The Resistance, year two. This year The Resistance really merged with electoral effort, but we still demonstrated and called and wrote in protest and opposition, too.
  4. Local politics, in which this year I suppose I went from being an outside player to an inside player in some sense. After helping elect a member of city council, last year, I found myself in the position of collaborating on ways to use that platform. It is a very interesting change. Most notably, I helped developed a substantial proposal for ethics reforms, and now instead of kicking policy around with local armchair QBs I’m watching them kick around policy that I helped to craft.
  5. General election, for which I tried, tried, tried. I will evaluate the results in a separate post, but over four months I contributed more than 100 hours just in active, on-the-clock canvassing and phonebanking. Plus financial donations, planning and organizing, and other activities from texting to postcards to parades. Swing Left, OFA, Planned Parenthood; Betsy Rader, Sharon Sweda, Danny O’Connor, Rich Cordray, Michael Donnelly et al.; on the ground in at least four counties…

After the election, I was just worn out, and maybe this explains why a little bit. When others were leaping back into resistance efforts in the weeks which followed, I simply found myself with nothing to give. At this point I suppose that I am as recovered as I am going to be, but that’s not to say I feel just like I was six months ago.

After nearly two years effort, we did take back the House… but not by making gains in Ohio unfortunately.

These five categories are a summary, of course! In terms of specific memories, there is so much I could mention. Perhaps the most vivid is my last-minute role as campaign surrogate for Skindell, speaking on his behalf to the fascinating Cleveland Ward 14 Democratic Club. Such an honor. There’s yet more which does not even fit the above categories, such as the work since the election analyzing the disappointing Ohio results and consulting others on what we’re going to do. Perhaps also the second year of maintaining an ongoing summary chronicle of this terrible political car-crash; any number of causes might explain it, but the 2018 entries are more than twice as long as those for 2017.

But I think this is the limits of what a year in review post can hold for this subject family.

Otherwise, the “otherwise” section for 2018 seems mostly an extension of that from last year. My social world has expanded—I get asked to spend time with people socially now—and my finances are a challenge. Allowing for the big loss of client custom at the end of 2017, things have gone in the right direction this year, but there’s further to go. A lot of life feels like hanging on, in fact. My 2000 Camry is now in its declining years, and had a near-death experience this fall. My laptop grew likewise senescent this year, though I lucked into a replacement for it. I patch, stretch, make do and mend.

Finally toured the small museum at which my mom has been volunteering for years.

I began my 40th year, and the most notable associated development is a decision that I can use “too old” as an excuse to skip various time-wasting bullshit which previously I indulged. Example: before my birthday I may not have blocked anyone on Twitter, and in the months since I have blocked hundreds.

The moments of, you know, a personal life feel so fleeting. In early June, a splendid long weekend in Colonial Williamsburg. Wonderful place.

Otherwise, I hardly know. Reading recovered somewhat, after going to the wall in late 2017 and again for parts of this year. I found time somehow to post to this blog, if not often then more often that I might have predicted. On Black Friday I paid my first visit to a comic book store in almost a full year, and splurged on 10 or 12 back issues for $1 each.

Browsing through photos, this pretty much was my year.

Considering this year and the few preceding, I find myself worn down and left a bit at a loss by the activist busy-ness which has come to occupy my life. I miss the quieter and smaller world of earlier years, even though it often felt dull. I think that I made it to the local farmer’s market a whole one time this entire season; the middle of Saturday was prime canvassing time, you see.

Where to from here I don’t know. Three-and-change years ago, I estimated that I could see “maybe four, maybe five years out.” In fact things turned out quite differently from whatever I envisioned, and at this point I can’t even imagine where another three might land me.

Exciting, maybe at times. Tiring definitely.

2018 out, over to you 2019.

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