Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Tipsy Historian 2008 Year In Review

The New Year is always a special time, and this time around, more than ever. A recurring personality in these posts is my wife, The Jess, and 2008 was a most challenging year for her, for me, and for us as a couple. If you look in the archives there is a writing vacuum from late January into April, and the astute observer will note in the sidebar "Why The Jess Is Cool" the one notation that's in all capital letters.
We pushed through a tough stretch together and I've never been more proud of anyone or anything in my life than I am of her. We've both worked hard to keep some balance and brightness in our lives as some dark energy pushed against us, and we've been pretty successful. I'm grateful and happy that this space was a large part of my cognitive recreation and creativity, which I'm sure is evinced by the nearly 200 posts I wrote in just over 8 months.
This blog has served as an effective relaxation and mental escape technique over the past year, and I'm sure it will remain so, but hopefully without a sense of urgency or anxiety driving the work. And what a lot of work we've done! When I started blogging, I wondered what themes would develop within the subjects that draw my interest, and over the course of 2008, there were some most engaging threads developed.
The American Civil War rose far to the front here, and I'm incredibly happy and proud of our ongoing study of The Lost Cause mythology and our collective memory of the ACW. There are some fantastic blogs out there that I discovered over the course of the year that share this focus (Cenantua's Blog being right at the top of the heap), which has made the journey that much richer.
There is no shortage of controversy and emotion in this subject matter, and we've tackled a quite a few provocative issues. When you begin challenging long-established perceptions and beloved folklore, you're gonna stir up some emotions. I believe that this is important work and I'm glad that a visceral chord is struck here from time to time.
Though my reading list is chock-a-block with Civil War material, and the majority of posts here do cover this topic, no small amount of attention has been paid to the importance of a tasty beverage. Between roasting my own coffee and inventing drinks filled with black apricot, basil, cantaloupe, and cachaca, The Jess and I have not gone thirsty this year.
We also haven't been short of drama on the tennis court, whether I'm out grinding with Simon the Great or watching and writing about the four Grand Slams. Nothing comes anywhere close to the fun that I had writing about the surging rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and no sporting event I've ever seen can even approach the sheer brilliance and stunning drama of their clash in the Wimbledon final this year.
So what's been my favorite post of the year? There are a few that I'm quite pleased with, several that have attracted some attention and comment, and a few that will quench a powerful thirst. None of them has the appeal that writing about my cousin Guy's journey to a world championship held for me. I was a sportswriter before I went to grad school, and it's a pursuit that I love and missed, up until this event happened. It was also an incredibly dramatic moment amidst a year that was well-drenched in sporting achievements.
The thrill of this occasion and the sheer joy we all felt seeing my cousin pull over this amazing feat will always be special to me for these reasons and one more. That moment helped break through a pall in my life and was the jump-off point for a tremendous source of recreation and fun for me. That April 21st post was my first in several months and stands up as a powerful symbol for me.
I look forward to moving into 2009 and anticipate another rich year of subject matter to write about. Before we make that transition, I would like to give a word of thanks to those who have spent a few moments reading my prose. This is a public place and I'm grateful to anyone who should happen by and spend some time here. I hope to see you again many times in a healthy and happy 2009!

1 comment:

Bill Haley said...

Hi Mark. I enjoyed your talk tonight at the OCCWRT. I asked you a question about whether you knew of another book by Savas-Woodbury concerning the Harvard Regiment. When I got home I did some searching and found that the book I was thinking of wasn't about The Harvard Regiment. The title of the book is By The Blood Of Our Alumni: Norwich University Citizen Soldiers In The Army Of The Potomac, 1861-1865. Here is a brief description from Amazon: Product Description
The nation's oldest private military academy, Norwich was second only to West Point in producing officers for the Northern war effort during the Civil War. This account of Norwich graduates at war is supplemented by comparative casualty analyses and cross-referenced listing of alumni.

By the way, although I didn't graduate from UCLA, I've been a season football ticket holder for about 40 years. I also am a big UCLA and college basketball fan, play tennis when I don't have injuries (plantar fasciitis for the second time in 5 or 6 years, so I've been off the courts for 6 months) and will be going on a CW tour in June with some friends.

I'm sure this was more than you really wanted to know about me.

Bill Haley whaley77@verizon.net