Wednesday, 30 December 2009

My Decade in Review

This is a personal exercise. Indulge me. Or perhaps you want to join in? Feel free to treat this as a meme, and do your own review of the decade (2000-2009) in the comments or on your own blog.

. I returned to my native Canada for the first time since my family emigrated, in 1983. I spent 10 weeks with my aunt in the tiny, but beautiful BC town of Princeton.

2001. I graduated from Regents Theological College with a 2:1 in Biblical-Theological Studies. In May I returned to Princeton and became Associate Pastor of a small Pentecostal church.

2002. I had moved on from Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity, and was beginning to balk at evangelicalism, too. My relationship with the Senior Pastor was difficult. I made some wonderful friends in Princeton, but it was time to move on. I left in September to take up an internship at a small evangelical church on Bowen Island, off the West Vancouver coast. My ancestors (the Davies family) were among the first settlers there, my mom grew up there and I still had cousins and aunts there. I loved the place and the people, but I couldn't live off the modest stipend, and found it hard finding other work.

2003. I was stressed and broke. I had no choice but return to England in February. In May I was confirmed an Anglican. I joined my local parish church and began singing in the choir. In September I enrolled for a PGCE at Edge Hill College in Lancashire, and began teaching Religious Education and Citizenship.

2004. My PGCE was going formidably. After a shaky start, I was receiving consistently good reviews from my mentors and tutors. As the school year came to an end, however, I let myself down. I wrote great applications, but my nerves were my downfall in interviews and observations. I attended several day-long interviews for teaching posts, but unlike most of my peers, who found jobs within the first two or three attempts, I was left floundering, progressively stressed and depressed. My dear aunt visited us that summer for three months. Her health was deteriorating and it would be the last time I ever saw her. In September I began work as a substitute teacher, and by the end of the month I secured a one-year post teaching RE at a Catholic school. There, for various reasons, things went from bad to worse.

2005. By February I was at my lowest point. Teaching was going badly. I was so stressed, I would frequently stop on my way to the station to vomit or to cry. Then one chilly winter's morning I couldn't take it any longer. It was 6am and I was sat at my desk at home, the sweat pouring off me. I phoned in sick that day. And the next. And the next. Eventually I was signed off indefinitely by my doctor, and my resignation followed. I did not want to return to the classroom. But the best possible thing had happened: I had told my doctor about my depression and anxiety. I got help and for the first time in years I had self-confidence. There was literally a spring in my step. I began to write - about faith, fundamentalism, film. I got a job as a writer-researcher for 63336, then known as AQA. I joined my old schoolfriend Robert Howard in pioneering the Prescot Festival of Music and the Arts. In the spring of that year, at the age of 27, I took a step I never dreamed I would have the courage to take: I came out gay. I dated a lovely guy for a while, but it fizzled out.

2006. I had my first serious relationship since 1997. By the time it got serious, Tim had moved to Edinburgh, and it was to be a long-distance relationship, with us taking it in turns to travel between Edinburgh and Liverpool every other week to spend the weekend. It was demanding, but it helped that I loved the city. The Prescot Festival continued to grow under Robert as Artistic Director and myself as Assistant Director. I had a few writing successes, with a feature article published in Third Way magazine and a commission to contribute to a book called Leaving Fundamentalism.

2007. My aunt from Princeton died in January, aged 77. I was devastated. It was the closest death had ever touched me. In August I was Best Man at Robert's wedding. The Festival was still growing, and ran to 10 days for the first time. The star guest was actress Honor Blackman, performing her one-woman show. Nevertheless, I planned to leave Prescot for Edinburgh, to be with Tim. It would most likely be in summer 2008 - but eventually it was not to be. We broke up in October. I was gutted, but hopeful for the future.

2008. The Prescot Festival was big this year, as Liverpool was the official European Capital of Culture. I was resigned to being single, and actually quite content with it, eager to invest my time and commitment in my writing and the Festival. But I met someone online and it soon became clear it would be a lasting relationship. Hours of conversations turned into plans for me to return to Canada.

2009. The year began with a bang. My mother had a severe nervous breakdown and spent almost four months in hospital. Robert was also having a tough time, but we somehow got through yet another successful Festival. It was to be my last, however. In September I moved to St Catharines, Ontario, to be with Chris. With freedom from other commitments and a new sense of independence, my writing career has finally taken off. In October I was published by The Guardian (online), and again in November. I have other writing projects lined up. I've supplemented my income with copywriting. The year began badly, but it's ended successfully.


  1. Crikey, I hadn't even thought that a new decade starts tomorrow. I might do the meme. It might all be a bit much. I'm not sure. But I'm fucking impressed by your decade mate!!


    did it xx

  3. Cool, thanks for sharing. I'd like to post my version on FB but probably too many people would get pissed off that they weren't mentioned ;-) So here's my version:

    2000-2003 (spring): Was in high school. Did high school stuff (mostly playing Counter-Strike).

    2003 (fall): First year of college; decided to dual-major in Math & Comp Sci. Got cocky and took 19 credit hours of math & comp sci courses. Didn't work out so well: lost my full-ride scholarship due to GPA. I think I'm finally over that now. But only just.

    2004: Sophomore year. I think I averaged 40 hrs/wk playing World of Warcraft. Dropped the Comp Sci major and went for pure mathematics. It was a much better year than freshman year.

    2005: Junior year. Lived with two excellent room mates and made many good memories. Switched to Classical Studies major after an exhilirating Roman History course; finished the Math minor. Set new goal of a Classical Studies PhD.

    2006: In the summer, I went to Turkey for a month on an archaeological expedition, which was the best month of my life. In the fall I met a girl at a party who really struck a chord with me, and we started talking a lot online and traveling to see each other, as she lived in Chicago and I in Lafayette, IN.

    2007: Started to worry about job prospects of life after grad school. Especially because I was now engaged to that girl from 2006 and wanted to support a family. Graduated with Classics major in December and thought about the future.

    2008: Best year of the decade: got married in May to the best girl ever. Wedding day will probably forever be the best day of my life. Got a job making maps for a cable company using the same techniques I'd used to make maps of ancient fortresses in Turkey. Started grad school in the fall for a MS in Actuarial Science. On December 31, 2008, I was very happy with the preceding year.

    2009: Not a great year, although we did get to go to London on vacation in March, which was fantastic. In June my wife and I suffered a painful tragedy (I'll leave it at that). I got an internship with a large health insurance company in their actuarial department, where I still am employed today, despite layoffs there, thank God. Continued with the MS program, one more semester left. Today I'm looking forward to May of next year more than anything!