I am not much for making new year's resolutions. The whole idea of goal-setting is just so left-brained and logical. I really like to make impulsive and highly emotional decisions. It works for five-year-olds and mental patients, and that's good enough for me!
Nevertheless, I have done some thinking about what I'd like to accomplish this year, so I thought I'd write out my goals here. My little sister, who always has more money than I do and who is successful in all her professional endeavors, has a mantra. She says "An unwritten goal is just a dream." My mantra is, "An unwritten goal usually stays unwritten because I've usually forgotten the goal by the time I find a pen." I'll try, though, to capture a few ways I could improve myself this year. Let's just wait and see what happens.
In 2007 I would like to study a foreign language. I was a French minor in college, but I haven't kept up with it, so I'm going to try to brush up on that one. I also know some Swedish, but am not at all fluent. Norwegian is similar, but is just different enough to be frustrating, so maybe I will try to study that language this year. After all, my heritage is Norwegian, which might explain why tears filled my eyes when I watched the film about Norway when I was at Epcot last week. The thing is, I am really wanting to start from scratch and learn a language that I'm completely unfamiliar with. Since I am planning a trip to Germany in 2010 for the Gay Games, I plan to start studying German. Immersing myself in German culture and the language will be very fun and interesting to me, and I'm hoping I can find a course that I can load onto my iPod.
Another accomplishment I'd like to strive for this year would be getting something published or having another play produced. Writing is something I feel I do well, but I'm still very insecure about my ability to create a compelling story. The idea of trying to write a book or even a magazine article is daunting to me, but I think it is mostly fear of the unknown. When I write a play I constantly feel tentative about the choices I'm making for the characters, and I usually feel that my plot is weak. Generally, I require a shove from someone like my friend Juju or her fiance Metro before I start writing. It would be nice if I could be my own coach this year in that area.
Last year was a good one, and I've identified a few highlights. There were many great moments, but I think the most impacting and memorable experiences for me were these:
In January I was able to travel to Tokyo, thanks to a very convincing e-mail from my buddy Metro. This was my first trip to an Asian country, and I had very little idea of what to expect. Traveling with five other guys made the trip more fun, and since Metro speaks Japanese we were able to have a lot more fun as well as avoid spending too much money in touristy areas. I also learned how to play both poker and dice games. This was a great way for all of us to unwind in the inn, or ryokan, every night before dinner, and it is one of my favorite memories of the trip.
Softball brought a tremendous amount of personal growth into my life in the spring and summer of 2006. I surprised myself in many ways, and I found great satisfaction in competition. My team honored me with the title of Most Improved Player, and I am already looking forward to this year's softball season. If it were not for the Toddtender, my great friend who is also a bartender at CC Slaughters, I would never have attempted this journey into the world of sports. I'm so glad I did!
In July I experienced a life-changing event. I traveled to Chicago for the Gay Games, and I cheered for my friend, Muscle Chick, who competed in the bodybuilding competition. She was a friend who really helped me pull myself together in the early part of 2006 when I was really doing poorly emotionally, physically and mentally, and because of her pep talk, I decided I'd be an all-around healthier person by the time I visited Chicago. Muscle Chick took home a bronze medal from the games, and I took home a powerful feeling of pride. There was a time in my life when I would have given anything to be able to be heterosexual. I'll never feel that way again, because being at the Gay Games made me feel honored to be a gay man. There are no words to describe the power of my experiences at the Gay Games, and I will never forget the deep truths I learned from being part of the celebration.
As I mentioned previously, Juju has always been an inspiration to me, and it's because of her that I was published in 2006. From Boys to Men is an anthology of stories about growing up gay. I'm ashamed to tell you that I almost didn't submit my story for this book. I actually missed the first deadline for submissions but Juju reprimanded me, so I made sure to send something to the editors in order to get her off my back. I'm so fortunate to have friends like Juju who push me to achieve!
The Todd & Pony Show debuted in 2006 and has been a wonderful experience. Surprisingly, I've developed some discipline and am learning more about putting together a show than I learned as a Broadcast Communications major in college. Pony is an awesome partner, and he is the true driving force behind the podcast. He keeps us on schedule, and sometimes he is even successful at keeping me from drifting too far off topic during the show. He edits the show and handles every technical aspect of our podcast, and I do nothing but show up with a couple page of notes for podcast topics and segments. Every week we tackle a new topic, and we have a great time with special guests too. The Golden Boy was our first guest. He is a great guy, and we had a lot of fun with him! Juju's guest appearance was so popular with our listeners that we brought her back again and again. She has become a regular on the show, and it seems nobody can get enough of her wit and charm! Zeroes recently discussed porn and sexuality with us on the show, and I hope we can have him back sometime soon.
In looking back over the year, I realize that all of my favorite experiences were brought about through friendships. My friends push me towards the light, and they pull me from the pit. Having a friend who makes your life happier is a blessing that should never be taken for granted. True friendship should be honored with fierce loyalty and heartfelt gratitude. The biggest blessing of my life is that I have so many friends, and it would take me hours to write the names of those I love who love me in return. A handful of my friends have been mentioned here, but there are so many more who have made me smile throughout the year, and many of you who read Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven are included in that number. Your e-mails and phone calls and comments have meant so much to me on a daily basis. I hope that we all continue to inspire each other in 2007, and I look forward to making even more friends this year!