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Crossing off 2018, optimism for 2019

A new year starts next week, which means I get to write another to-do list. It’s my cliché yet hard-to-follow list of New Year’s resolutions.

I enjoy a list of objectives to progressively check off for that sweet feeling of personal achievement. New Year’s resolutions are the same for me but are closer to my long-term projects than my day-to-day obligations. They’re far more amorphous and harder to plan out across 12 months.

My resolutions aren’t original, either. I want to lose the extra pounds I picked up between Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I want to eat out less and cook in more, and I want to get back into a consistent workout regimen. The rest of my resolutions are different shades of the same goal: a better, healthier me.

I’m also unoriginal in that I rarely accomplish my resolutions. In years past, I told myself I was going to become fluent in a second language, but my Spanish is still spotty. One year I was going to moderate my caffeine intake. I typed that sentence while taking a sip of my venti-sized Starbucks drink.

There’s no guarantee that all of these resolutions are going to be crossed off in 2019, if any at all. But I can guarantee that I’ll have this list written by Jan. 1. My plans to cross them off will change when reality hits them hard and fast, but I remain optimistic nonetheless.

My optimism is tied to the same enthusiasm I have for 2019 in general. This past year has felt longer than others. So much has happened since last January, and going through all of the news stories triggers a staggering range of emotions. The boys’ soccer team rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand. The scumbags put in the spotlight as the #MeToo movement has grown. Puerto Rico was without electricity for 11 months, and in brighter news there was a royal wedding in the United Kingdom.

The stories I got to write myself this year made for a wild collage. I interviewed filmmakers shooting a movie at the Suffolk Executive Airport, a veteran honored by French President Emmanuel Macron and a three-legged, competitive diving dog named Sampson.

There was a lot that happened this year. Heck, I still can’t believe “Black Panther” came out just this past February. But along with the highs have been a quagmire of frustrations, including the ongoing travesty of President Donald Trump.

Trump continues to impress me in his outright incompetence and disgusting behavior across the board. All of that led to a partial government shutdown this past week that hurt hundreds of thousands of federal employees — right around Christmas, no less. The outlook for Washington these next two years isn’t going to improve until a solid candidate steps up and starts campaigning for 2020.

It’s been a brutal year for so many people, but they keep fighting and pushing forward. I wish them the best, and I hope to emulate that strength on my own terms. I’m ending this year with confidence that I’ll carry into 2019.

Happy New Year to all those moving forward. I’m confident you’ll start crossing things off your list.