There’s an improv warm up exercise that I learned this year, thanks to Baltimore Improv Group‘s Mike Harris, who directed the Lodge this past season. It’s called “Ten Things,” and the basic gist of the game is to rattle off, as quickly as possible, ten things that could fit into a certain category, like “The Top Ten Rejected Disney Movie Titles” or “The Top Ten Names Given to Children Whose Parents Hate Them.” The goal is to answer off the top of your head, even if you don’t make sense or if you start answering in gibberish.
In the spirit of improv, and since it’s almost 2009, I present my ten things of 2008 (in no particular order):
10. Wall*E. I saw this movie by myself – twice – on the big screen. Both times, I teared up at the penultimate scene where Eve rebuilds Wall*E after a harrowing self-sacrificial act, only to discover that the trauma all but erased his memory. Other than being the creepy guy who goes to the movies by himself and cries, I think what was most powerful for me about this movie was its unabashed message (not the Al Gore one) that we all have a deep need to connect with another being, that we weren’t built to be alone.
We are all hurtling through space on this planet for a finite period of time. What matters isn’t the wealth we amass or the influence that we earn in our professional lives. What matters is how we spend our precious little time cultivating relationships and building connections with each other. It took me years to realize that, and it’s such a freeing feeling. Now everything gets put into perspective, like…
9. My Stupid Dissertation. I defended my proposal, collected my data, and now am in the home stretch. I can almost taste my graduation regalia. It’ll be a rough next few weeks, but Dr. Archie, here I come.
8. Improv. I have become an improv addict. And I like it. This past year, I “graduated” from the Washington Improv Theater course curriculum, became a founding member of DMG (formerly Donna Martin Graduates), tried out and got into The Lodge, and have been recruited to teach improv starting in January.
7. My Personal Health Plan. I focused on my personal health (and vanity, apparently) this past year, in the process of which I acquired two gym memberships and two massage therapists. Hey, at least it’s not crack. And at some point when my LGN plan comes to fruition, like Samantha on Sex and the City, I’ll need to get someone to take saucy photos of me.
6. Starbucks. Since I gave up fast food* and soda three years ago, I needed something else to fill the emptiness in my heart. The solution: a venti soy caramel macchiato. Every morning. Oy. This has got to be unhealthy for me.
*a monthly Taco Bell visit is excusable
5. Investments. I bought four shares of Apple, Inc. this year, in an attempt to be all grown-up. Of course, this was before the economic apocalypse we’re currently enjoying. And speaking of investments, other things I invested in this year include: a new iPod (after mine got stolen in a car break-in), an iPhone, a 32” LCD flat screen TV, and a Playstation 3. Needless to say, me likey my new toys. (On a side note, I totally forgot how much I enjoy gaming. Highly recommended: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. It was the first game that I gladly paid full price for.)
4. Jesus. Jesus and I… Well, we’re kind of on a roller coaster right now, primarily because I’m being a punk. I spent the first half of this year getting caught up in an intense religious experience, but I’m still not quite sure if it had anything to do with JC himself. So I’ve spent the latter half slowly pulling away from the organized religion aspect of my spirituality. I’m not a “New Year’s resolution” person (we should resolve to do things more often than once a year), but I’d like to work on my relationship with JC this upcoming year.
3. Music. Earlier this year, I was prolific in my songwriting and performing. Then, I think, along with my personal hiatus from all things Jesus-related, I kind of gave some of it up. And for someone who’s a music lover, that’s kind of a big deal. I’d like to kick start the music again this upcoming year.
2. Adulthood. I turn 30 in 2009. Granted, my birthday is still six months away, but I think I’m freaking out more about it than I should. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of getting older. In fact, I’m really looking forward to finally leaving my 20s and moving on to bigger, better things. But in my head 30 carries with it such huge, awesome responsibilities (e.g., marriage, family, career, etc.). Doesn’t the universe know that I’m really 12?
1. Gratitude. Really, for all this random pointlessness, there are so many things that happened in 2008 for which I am speechlessly grateful. Most of all, I am grateful for the friendships and relationships I was privileged enough to be a part of this past year. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to connect with another human being in such a meaningful way. I hope that everyone I encountered this past year was positively affected by me. I know that I’m a better person because of everyone who’s come into my life. And really, that’s what made this past year so damn memorable.