One man's year in review

Well, another 365 days are in the can.

Readers often ask me about my little life, which I men-tion in this space in oblique, and not-so-oblique, ways every seven days - usually without getting super-personal.

I thought, why not do a year-in-review thang for the curious? The rest of you can skim, if you don't wanna overload on Wilken News.

Let's start with the Big Dog, God.

What hath God wrought in 2005?

On the world scene, there was the tsunami.

On the national scene, there was Katrina.

Scratch about 500,000 lives.

As far as disasters go, Pinhead comes in a distant third with his continuing police-action war in Iraq, trailing God badly in damage done and lives ended, wrecked or at least derailed for a time.

On the personal level, I worked eight months at a godawful Seattle market-research place, phoning strangers and some strange folks to ask lots of unnecessary questions about their brand-name choices. I did it for the money, yo.

I worked another three months in Olympia doing home health care for a executive friend's elderly, sick mom.

The patient liked me, but the 24/7 nature of the job, 24 days a month on, only six or seven off, strangled the Florence Nightingale right outta me. I very recently (yesterday) quit it, despite the money, yo.

I also wrote 52 columns for this paper, and another 20-plus for a twice-weekly in Kitsap County. Add on about 10 feature articles for this paper, and a couple more Northwest travel pieces for a pair of upscale city magazines back east, and it was a productive, if not wildly remunerative, year in journalism for little me.

I also finished a crime novel about a guy trying, and failing to go straight after 10 years in the can (at Walla Walla, no less). I've been struggling with this wordbaby for five years. It is in New York, and hopefully some-body will buy it. But this latest word-baby has two older brothers that got NYC-agented and yet still didn't sell, so I am not holding my breath. (Sorry to those unfriendly readers, you know who you are, who wish me to hold my breath indefinitely.)

Like exes, finished books can linger in the mind if you don't move forward pretty quickly, so I've started a new novel, very different from the one just completed.

The newest one is about a teenage boy back in the Midwest, back in the '60s, coming of age. More personal-experience-based than my unhappy ex-con's little 205-page tale. I am already 95 pages in and wonder every morning what's gonna happen next.

On the social front, I took a month off and traveled to Cincinnati to celebrate my Mom's 87th birthday with her. While there, I had the last supper with my only remaining uncle (John); we drank us a little red wine despite doctor's orders. He died less than two weeks after we broke bread. I've written about Uncle John here before. He was a good man, and I will miss him.

On the dating scene, God forbid, I still try and dance some. I asked out eight women, and the five craziest said yes at least once.

But no relationships ensued. I'm older, sorta cash poor right now, and a two-time loser at the altar, in a pair of relationships that totaled 18 years in my 20s, 30s and early 40s, not to mention the three years and change after that, when I single-parented my two daughters.

Twenty-one years in the service of domesticity is probably my limit un-less I fall crazee in love one more time.

The only real love affair I had in 2005 was with golf.

I am a tee-off late bloomer who always made fun of golfers.

But the bug bit me this March (I had played occasionally over the past five years), and I got out more than 150 times in the nine months.

Only golfers will understand what I mean when I say I dropped from a 36-plus to a 26. The goal next year is to be a 22 or better.

I shot a 33-for-9 at Interbay once, had an 86 at Lynnwood, with a three-over-par 35 back nine, and shot 96 at Jefferson once. I even played in two Thai golf tournaments in Auburn and finished last only the first time. I got a Not-My-Day Trophy (a little, gold-plated golfer breaking one of his clubs) to prove it.

I am actually getting better, especially around the green, and I am loving it.

The best two movies I saw in 2005 were "Head-On," a German-Turkish co-production, which was amazing, powerful and sad. Rent it from Blockbuster or Video Isle!

The other film I loved was "No-body Knows," a Japanese film directed by Kore-eda, who did the wonderful "Afterlife" a few years ago.

"Nobody Knows," based on a true story, is about four little kids in Tokyo who decide to take care of themselves after their immature mother abandons them. Their ages range from 4 to 12.

If you don't cry watching this movie, you are a pro-death-penalty Republican.

Easily the best book I read was "Easy Streets," by Bill James. Not the baseball guy - a Welsh genre writer who, about 20 years ago, transcended his limitations and has now written 21 books in his series about small-town detectives Colin Harpur and Desmond Illes.

These books are crime novels and much more. Deeply psychological, characters as important as plot, feel-ings coming off the page. Genius stuff. They come out once a year, and they are the only novels I buy in hardcover.

James is in his 70s now, and I've added him to my daily prayers. I don't want him to die. I love his books and look forward each summer to the next one. "Wolves of Memory" is slated for publication July 6, and I will be buying it before July 7.

Both of my daughters did well this year: one got into grad school at the U-Dub, her alma mater in 2002, in the program she wanted; the other got a new job in her field and seems to be doing well.

That's 2005 in a nutshell.

If you've hung in with me all the way to here at the bottom, feel free to e-mail me back - c/o - and tell me how your 2005 went.

And good luck in 2006!

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