The year started on a high note, with the unveiling of the first bionic hand capable of a sense of touch outside of a laboratory environment in Rome on January 3rd. Just ten days later, however, a false alarm sent out to cellular phones over the emergency alert network about an incoming missile attack in Hawaii caused widespread panic. A month later, a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left seventeen dead, but inspired several of the surviving students to become national leaders in their fight to prevent such tragedies from recurring. Also in February, the U.S. Olympic team brought home twenty-three medals.
In March, Toys R Us, already in the midst of bankruptcy, announced that it would be ceasing operations and closing its stores worldwide. April 4th marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee. Three weeks later, on April 26, entertainer Bill Cosby was convicted of all charges in a sexual assault case that stunned the nation.
A gunman killed five people in an attack on a Maryland newspaper on June 28th, but the survivors of the attack defiantly published the next day. Two people were killed when a racially-motivated attacker opened fire at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky on October 26th, and eleven were killed when a gunman shouting anti-Semitic slurs attacked a synagogue in Pennsylvania on October 29th. A security guard was shot and killed by police on November 12th after he stopped and detained a gunman. A caravan of migrants fleeing violence in their homelands crossed the Mexican desert in hopes of applying for asylum in the U.S., only to meet closed borders and shifting goalposts for entry.
The election on November 6th saw the Democratic Party take control of the House of Representatives, ushering in a younger, more diverse Congress; Republicans, by contrast, elected a dead Nevada brothel owner. Wildfires raged across the state of California, and from November 8th through 25th, the Camp Fire in northern California and the Woolsey Fire in southern California devastated communities. All told, 6,228 fires burned 876 thousand acres and claimed more than 100 lives. November ended with a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Alaska.
With more than twelve thousand movies released in 2018 according to IMDB, it was a good year for science fiction and superhero genre films. Dozens were released, including Black Panther (Jan. 29), The Cloverfield Paradox (Feb. 4), A Wrinkle in Time (Mar. 9), Pacific Rim: Uprising (Mar. 23), Ready Player One (Mar. 29), Avengers: Infinity War (Apr. 23), Deadpool 2 (May 17), Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25), Incredibles II (Jun. 14), Jurassic World: The Lost Kingdom (Jun. 22), Ant-Man and the Wasp (Jul. 6), The Predator (Sep. 14), Venom (Oct. 5), Ralph Breaks the Internet (Nov. 21), Once Upon a Deadpool (Dec. 12), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Dec. 14), Aquaman (Dec. 21), and Bumblebee (Dec. 21). Marvel dominated the superhero film releases, with six of the eight superhero films being Marvel properties, half of which were set in Marvel Studios’ shared Marvel Cinematic Universe. Incredibles II brought a new chapter to Disney/Pixar’s superhero family, Fox found an inventive way to create a PG-13 version of the R-rated Deadpool 2 in Once Upon a Deadpool, Venom managed to launch a new franchise based on Spider-Man characters without Spider-Man himself being involved, and Aquaman breathed new life into DC’s flagging cinematic superhero universe while Bumblebee found a way to reboot the Transformers franchise that honored both the previous five films as well as the franchise’s animated roots.
The first superhero, the one for whom the entire genre is named—Superman—turned 80 this year, an event celebrated with the April release of issue 1000 of Action Comics, the series in which the Man of Steel first debuted in 1938. The character also featured heavily in this year’s “Arrowverse” crossover between the Supergirl, Arrow, and The Flash television series, culminating in the revelation that he and Lois Lane were expecting a child. Meanwhile, in the comics, Lois and Clark’s son, Jonathan, has been acting as Superboy for several years. In other Superman news, in the Smallville universe, Lex Luthor was elected U.S. president this year.
This year saw a number of celebrity deaths, and the worlds of science fiction and superheroes were far from unaffected. On May 14th, Margot Kidder, best known for her portrayal of Lois Lane in the 1980s Superman films, passed away. On June 28th, legendary science fiction writer Harlan Ellison died, and on November 12th, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee joined his late wife in the great beyond.
The second half of the year saw a number of major changes in my life. I went into August working on my comic books and a roleplaying game supplement for the Icons system based upon my comic book universe, and I transitioned from a position as an instructional assistant for special education, a position I’d held for eleven years, to a position as a special education teacher in an internship program while I worked on completing my teaching credential at California State University, Fullerton. This involved working full-time as a teacher, with all of the responsibilities associated with that position, while also taking 18 credits in the credential program. This workload quickly became overwhelming. On October 26th, I resigned my position as a teacher and reduced my class load at Cal State. I took some time to evaluate what had happened, and I realized that, as much as I enjoyed working with the students, teaching was not the best fit for me after all. I began searching for a position as an emergency manager, a field I worked in during my enlistment and want to return to. Although I haven’t yet found a position as an emergency manager, I’ve taken a position as a security guard at the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park for the time being, and will start on January 7th.
I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) once again, and came far closer to finishing a book in one month than I had before. I still plan to finish the book and release it, and it serves as a prequel to my comic series, The Protectorate. Megan and I spent Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, with my dad’s side of the family before joining her family up at Lake Arrowhead for the rest of the weekend, and celebrated my birthday there.
We drove back home on Sunday to join in the NaNoWriMo write-in at the Grand Californian Hotel at Downtown Disney. As we pulled in to the parking lot, I noticed the car’s temperature gauge was quickly rising, and approaching the red zone. I was able to find a spot and park, and when I popped the hood I quickly spotted a three-inch crack with coolant bubbling and spraying out from the top of the radiator. There was nothing I could do at that point, so we went in, I wrote another chapter of my book, and we had dinner before calling AAA to come to tow my car back to our apartment. After having it towed once again to a repair shop and settling nearly $1000 in repair costs, I was back on the road.
As 2018 draws to a close, Megan and I are visiting my mom’s side of the family in Wisconsin for the first time since 2015.
Looking Forward: Hopes and Plans for 2019
My hope on the employment front is to find a job as an emergency manager in 2019. I’ve been out of the field for some time, but I have several years of experience from my time in the military and I’m certain that I can easily get back up to speed. I want to continue working on my writing, potentially to the point where I can eventually turn that into a full-time career. Between writing for my blog, which I intend to update on a weekly basis going forward, writing my novels, which I have several more planned after the one that I’m currently writing, and writing and drawing my comics as well as the roleplaying game tie-in, I have more than enough writing planned to keep me busy.