good year, and good night

It feels like just yesterday, I was typing up my special “What I did this year” post for my old blog, and hemming and hawing over the perfect resolutions for 2014 (“Don’t argue so much.”)

Someone explained to me that, mathematically speaking, the years get shorter as you get older because they become a smaller and smaller fraction of your life. To a ten-year-old, one year is 10%. To a 25-year-old, it’s 4%. And that’s why as I go through my 20s, it feels like someone’s shoving me from behind at a more and more aggressive rate every day.

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It’s terrifying.

2014 was an amazing year, better in so many ways than 2013, which was far better than 2012. If I had to define success, something I’m loathe to do at this age, I would say it’s having each year improve over the last, overall. I can say with confidence that I think 2015 will be a more exciting year for me than 2014, even if I can’t predict what might happen.

Speaking of which, what did I do in 2014?

  • I stayed away from home and my home country for the longest period of time in my life: one year exactly.
  • I got pneumonia for the first time.
  • I taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade, and kindergarten, for the first time.
  • I discovered that I have scoliosis.
  • I visited Kochi, Hokkaido, Osaka, Sendai, Aomori, and Kobe for the first time, and went back to Hiroshima (twice), Tokyo (three times), and Kyoto.
  • I bought a new computer, my first ever Mac (and I haven’t looked back since. This computer is the best I’ve ever had.)
  • I started working with the magazine run by my program, and learned just how much work it is trying to put together even one small section of a publication.
  • I got terribly sick at least four times.
  • I went white-water rafting in Tokushima and ate so many homemade bagels I almost puked in the rapids.
  • I discovered and recovered from a 6-week bout of Jumper’s Knee.

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Why are so many of these about sickness and injuries? Maybe I should re-assess how amazing my year was…

  • I finished my first ever NaNoWriMo with two days to spare and 200 words over the minimum.
  • I filled up my first ever “creativity journal,” a journal meant for random ideas that you want to save for later. I read about it in a book called The Creative Compass (by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada), a book about becoming a writer, and they recommended keeping journals of writing ideas. I bought my second journal a week ago in preparation.
  • I learned the value of holding on to things, while also teaching myself to let go of things.
  • I went to a cherry blossom viewing party at one of the top sites in Japan for watching cherry blossoms: Hirosaki Castle, in Aomori.
  • I gained a kitten, by way of my parents adopting another cat.
  • I started going to baking classes, thanks to a friend of mine introducing me to a woman who makes bread professionally.
  • I finished my first school year and my first JET year abroad
  • I made the electricity in my apartment shut off by using too much of it. That is a first. The accompanying almost-heart-attack, however, was not a first.
  • I went fishing twice, and caught a fish…once.
  • I got a raise! But everyone on my program gets a raise at the beginning of every year.


Sitting around and waiting for things to happen can also be a valuable achievement…sometimes.

  • I learned how to make udon twice.
  • I experienced my first Sports Day at school, where I screwed up the teacher-student relay race. I hope they don’t resent me…
  • I finished reading 14.5 books, and gave up on another book.
  • I gained 11 pounds!! And I can see all of it on my stomach.
  • I lived through my first official typhoon, holed up in my apartment with my friend who visited from Osaka. And then we made breakfast the next morning.
  • I started working at a new elementary school where I learned just how hyper elementary school students can be.
  • I saw one class of students graduate and leave, and one class of students start junior high school…and I learned just how hyper junior high school students can be.
  • I went to Naoshima, finally, for the first time for Naoshima Meets the World, the greatest event ever thrown in Shikoku…ever. We did culture and language activities with the elementary and junior high school students on the island, and they took us on an art tour to see some of the most famous art in Japan.
  • I started this blog! And I almost threw my computer out the window trying to get it set up.
  • I made two big decisions. One of which has already panned out, and the other of which is still to come, but I won’t say anything about it yet.

I have so, so much to be grateful for and at least as much to be proud of. Teaching myself to be proud has been difficult, but an important experience for me, and I find that these kinds of posts help me see that I’ve actually done and accomplished things.

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So what about 2015?

Tonight, I’ll watch the ball drop on TV with my high school friends, loaded up on candy and sparkling grape juice (we’re 23…but I have to drive that evening), make fun of how orange Ryan Seacrest looks, and maybe plan a recipe or two for the rest of the week.

Tomorrow, I’ll resolve to make more. I resolve to write more, to get through another NaNoWriMo in November, to fill out my second idea journal, and to publish at least as much in 2015 as I did on this blog in 2014. I resolve to read as many books in 2015 as I did in 2014, and more if possible. I resolve to take far too many photos just so I can get more likes more often on Facebook. And I might revive my defunct photography Tumblr, unless I can find another way to showcase my photos. And finally, I’ll actually use the baking books I’ve spent so much money on this past year.

How about you? What do you want to do next year?


And here I say, good evening, and happy new year!


Nick P.

Categories: about me, photography

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