It was a somewhat strange year. A Knoxplexian one, which to me strongly resembled Perham’s circumnavigation. Nothing untypical about that, to be sure. And yet it was a rather untypical one. For it had a climax that overhadowed all the rest, and because there was a significant shift in my perspective. These things have happened before, more than once. But they don’t happen each decade.

At first backward glance, it looks as though it had one immensely good part and many small, not-so-good or even outright bad ones. As usual, a closer look reveals a more complicated picture. There were several small good parts – and a few not-so-small bad ones.

The fantastic part was of course being in Scotland again. For the third time only and after thirteen years, but also after hours without end when I was there ‘virtually’ via the Web or simply in my mind, everything was so familiar and so unfamiliar at the same time. Maybe because I myself was the same and yet so different from the previous two times round. Had nothing else good happened, this alone would have made this an outstanding year.

Much as the trip occupied and still occupies my mind, other things did happen. For one thing, I lost my job. It’s a bother, but I would most probably leave of my own accord before a couple of years, so I’ve no right to complain. Anyway, I kept it longer and earned more than I had expected even as it is. I just have to find anything which will bring in more than I have to spend during this interim period, which hopefully won’t last more than a year and a half.

Outside Scotland and outside working hours, I spent most of my time at my laptop (or rather, laptops). I daresay I’m reasonably settled computer-wise and Net-wise by now. My habits, Web identity, applications (and their settings), homepages, bookmarked places of interest, dictionaries and other reference sites etc are more or less set and only change gradually as time goes by. It often felt as if this was a year when every now and then some glitch or other occurred, but in retrospect this seems less distinct. Sooner or later those bothering me most, like the problems with antivirus or with watching BBC, were resolved.

I should also mention wiki-editing: the number of my Wiktionary mainspace edits have already exceeded 13.4K and as far as I can tell, thanks to myself Gaelic is now among the 30 languages with most entries there; and the PandaNet which enabled me to start playing go again after several years. Closely related too to spending so much time on the Net were the gaff’s improvements.

Even so I somehow found time to read more books than the previous year. My LibraryThing account says more than two a month, which makes it hard to pick those most deserving to be mentioned; of those I read for the first time I mustn’t forget The Steel Remains, Sailing the Dream and Trainspotting. Untypically though, my greatest art discovery this year wasn’t related to literature, but to music. Ay, my favourite Scottish band of all time, The View. (Incidentally, I did push Hats Off to the Buskers one level up after reading the lyrics.)

There was another book worth mentioning – Daonnan ann an Trioblaid. When, years ago, I began learning Gaelic, I never meant to get as good as to actually read whole articles, let alone stories. Yet I am already doing both, and not only in my well-liked Cothrom. Tha a’ chuid Ghàidhlig agamsa a’ leasachadh fad na h-ùine is thar mu dhùil. Chanainnsa gum fuirichidh i còmhla rium a-chaoidh. Air an làimh eile, I had little time for French, made hardly any progress there and for the time being at least, I’m putting my French studies on ice.

Scotland, Web, books and Gaelic are also filling in the gap created by lack of real-life social intercourse. Apart from blood relations, Dànaidh is almost the only one that I’m exchanging emails with with some frequency; in a way I’ve lost Rob, the best and last friend I had in this city; there was next to no contact with my Tech friends this year; I even failed to attend to the Reid Yaird biennial reunion and my later week’s stay there was rather disappointing. My social life outside pubs had been for years virtually non-existent; pubbing no longer, I’m left with the four things mentioned above.

I’m not so self-centred as not to record here the year’s noteworthy ‘issues of public concern’. I am so self-centred as to put down only those which were of the most interest to me. From this point of view, the two major events were the launching of the Caledonian Mercury website and the May elections. There were others: the Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull volcano’s eruption; the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the unusually cold winters, His Bigotry’s unwelcome visit, Iran and North Korea still playing cat-and-mouse with the West, and more. Oddly, the most interesting GLBT story for me wasn’t marriages vs civil partnerships or the DADT but the David Laws one. Somehow it asked more questions.

But as I was saying, ‘my 2010’ was primarily about the summer trip and about the shift in perspective. Last December, my vision of the next year was overcoming my social phobia and taking part in a package tour to Scotland (‘how the hell did I ever do that?’), and for the following ones it was going on like this, living on the Web, every few years revisiting the country of my heart. This December, my vision of the next year is preparing myself for not prolonging my leasehold contract in 2012, and for the following ones… but I winnae jinx it. Not yet. Tha àm gu leòr ann fhathast.



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