2015.

Although 2015 seems to have flown past, it seems like half a lifetime ago when I was sitting down to write my year in review. On the whole, I believe 2015 has fared quite well. I’m ever the optimist, however, as 2015 has also seem some challenges and unfortunate changes that I’ve had to adapt to. With that said, as I charge a glass to the New Year, there seems to be quite a lot to look back on and smile. This year has been a bit of an adventure, Barry Cuda joined in the fun by moving in with me. It was also his first year of teaching, so we’ve had a lot of new experiences and challenges to overcome.

2015 started with my close friends gathered on my back deck – talking shit, sharing a lovely meal, and laughing quite a lot. It’s really the best way I can think of celebrating, so there’s no surprises when I say I’m doing the same thing again tonight. Just like a year ago, I have the food all prepped, the champagne is in the fridge, and I’m looking forward to spending time with some amazing folk.

Soon after we’d recovered from last year’s hangover, it seemed we were taking in more bad news about poor old FrogDog. Jamie has been diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, which is an incurable and fatal disease of the left ventricle of the heart. The Vet has been amazing throughout – but predicted that the little man would have between 12 – 18mths of quality time left. His medications are quite expensive, but I’m only thankful that I can fit it all into the budget. He’s my little furbaby, afterall. We are now at the 12mth mark, and although the little monster has slowed down significantly, he’s still got enough spark to be a cheeky, lovable, gentle dribble-pot who would do anything for a cuddle. As a result of the diagnosis, I’ve also come up with a bit of a “Doggy Bucket List”. There’s lots of fun things, like Pup-cakes and R2D2 costumes, but there’s also lots of huggles and trips to the dog park.

As I write this, he’s sitting at my feet below my desk. My furry little shaddow!

This year has been quite successful for travel, although predictably the majority of the time spent away has been for business rather than pleasure. I did manage to get to LA to attend the Star Wars Celebration, in Anaheim – which was absolutely amazing. Not only was I surrounded by 50,000 other Star Wars nerds, I got to see quite a lot of props and costumes from the new movie (you may have heard of it!). I also lost my mind entirely when the BB8 droid rolled onto the stage, proving once and for all that the spherical droid was not a digital effect but a real-life, interactive robot. Not only was it Geek Meccah, but I got to hang out with a lot of international 501st Legion friends that I’ve become close to over my time in the Legion.

A lot of the time spent at Celebration Anaheim was spent talking, drinking and laughing. Once again, I was reminded that the Legion isn’t just a bunch of nerdy costumers, but they’re really dedicated to charity work, and bringing smiles to kids faces. I’m so very glad that I could trading in all of my frequent flyer credits and attend. Celebration Anaheim is a memory that I’ll treasure for a long time!

Not only that, but DISNEY!

If ever there is a place on earth for overgrown children, it’s Disneyland – and I was lucky enough to spend several days there with my crew. There are very few opportunites in life when you can take your closest mates, and invade a themepark located halfway across the planet. This was the secod time I got to do that, so I made the most of it!

Sadly, as soon as I was back in town I had to fly out to the Solomon Islands for work. Travelling for work is always hectic and completely exhausting, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to see a little bit of the local culture. I was lucky (unlucky?) enough to be stranded there for a day, so I seized the chance to see some historic sites. I’m so glad I did.

Sadly, it was also on this weekend where I decided to go for a quick dip in the lovely hotel pool, and completely dislocated my shoulder. It hurt. A lot. I cried. It also popped back in, which also hurt a lot. I did some more crying. I also resolved, at that point, that I had been putting up with my crap shoulder for far, far too long. It was time to do something.

So I did something. I went to see the “Shoulder Whisperer” here in Brisbane, who went through all the non-surgical options that he knew. While he identified the problem easily the solution evaded him. In the end, all the movement and strengthening caused bursitis. I knew, even before the MRI and ultrasound, that I needed surgery. The medical imaging only confirmed the extent of the buggeration. I had surgery to remove 23mm of calcium deposits within my right shoulder on the 1st December, and the rehab is ongoing – but going well.

I decided to wait until December, because I really didn’t want to spend my birthday in a sling. While I didn’t know it at the time, my birthday was certainly one to remember. I spent it with all of my 501st Legion friends, as we were also celebrating Supanova – a nerd convention here in Brissy. I was so happy to be having my birthday with the gang, I even went to the extent of sewing myself a custom-fit Star Wars party dress.

I never would have guessed how the evening would end. It ended with Peter Mayhew, (the one, and only Chewbacca himself) and his lovely wife Angie, singing me happy birthday – and also buying my dress so they could have it as an option for their daughter to wear on the red carpet.

Not sure I’ll have a birthday next year. There’s no way this one can be topped. It’s a shame (*cough*) but I may have to stay this age forever!

2015 saw me do a few things for the first time – It was the first time I’d ever been to the Solomon Islands, first time I’ve broken into my own home by picking a lock, first time I’ve been to an observatory (in Kingaroy!), first time I’ve ‘popped a shoulder’, first time I’ve been invited to a private Midnight Screening for a major film, first time I’ve been to Brodie’s house (and spilled coke everywhere), first time I’ve been an AirBnB host.

Yep, that’s right, I’m part of the Share Economy – I’m renting out my granny-flat downstairs through AirBnB and using the proceeds to assist my renovations. It’s been a… different… experience, but as a very simple way of generating a small income, it seems quite positive. I’ve only been doing it for a few months, so there hasn’t been a huge volume of guests – however I can say, with the exception of a single guest, that all of the AirBnB guests have been a delight to host.

Work has been fairly steady this year. With the cooling of the Queensland economy, work has been harder to come by – and the industry more competitive. Despite this, there’s been some interesting and challenging projects to keep me interested. I can only hope that continues, so I dont get bored or complacent.

I go back to work on the 4th January, with light duties while my shoulder slowly heals. I know the Reps want me back at full speed as soon as possible, so there’s a bit of guilt-management happening, while my body heals. I hate saying no to folk, so this is a big lesson for me. Thankfully, they’re all very supportive.

I’m looking forward to next year for a few reasons – the first being our trip to Japan scheduled for June. I’m really looking forward to Tokyo Disney, and Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. It’s the simple things in life, right? :)

That summarises my approach to life these days. Laugh more than you frown, and do the small things to make other people smile too.

Happy New Years, everybody! Hope your 2016 is suitably challenging, joyous, rewarding and fun!

For the folk who cant be arsed reading:
TLDR version:

2015 was busy. I had shoulder surgery. I’m still a nerd, and I got to go to Disneyland.
Happy New Years!

Jac xx

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