MeWell, here we are, at the end of the year that was 2014. Soon, this year shall gasp its last, and from its still-warm corpse shall burst forth 2015. And while you’re busy trying to excise that disturbing image out of your brains (it’s no use, just relax and let it take you), I shall regale you with how this year has been for your Uncle NecRo. Hope you brought snacks.

The year that was 2014 started off like any other year that ultimately turned out to be a crap-shoot: with hope and promise. I was engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world. We were planning our lives together, and we couldn’t wait to begin our new adventure together, for better or for worse. At least, I knew I was. We went through the preliminary pre-marital classes at her church in January; in February, after months of putting out resumes and interviewing, I finally found work as a manager-in-training at an Arby’s in Lincoln. It was going to be a challenge, I knew, but the money was good, and–not trying to sound cliché here–hard work never scared me. I was willing to do what it took for our future together.

March was rough, but still good. My time at Arby’s was, as the trainer put it, more like Boot Camp–I was being trained on every part of the business and store in a very compressed amount of time, putting in long hours that were very erratic, having all manner of Arby’s-related information pumped into my skull, and putting through the proverbial ringer by a general manager whose training style can be described as Full Metal Jacket-era R. Lee Ermy Drill Sergeant as filtered through Major Margaret Hoolahan from M*A*S*H.

I was determined to make a go of it–I figured anything worth acquiring is never going to be easy. After over a month, though, it was clear that I wasn’t acclimating enough to keep up; I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t keep food down, and it was getting to the point where I was experiencing extreme anxiety with the prospect of going through another day there. I was showing some beginning physical symptoms of a potential breakdown. But, I kept going as long as I could. I needed to be the “man of integrity” that Kim needed. Even if it killed me, it seems. I had the loving support from my spouse-to-be and my family and soon-to-be family.

April 1st was when this life of mine imploded. Collapsing, everything crushed into a dark singularity, where light cannot escape its sucking pull. The fact that it was April Fools Day is an irony that isn’t lost on me.

It was a Tuesday this year. April 1st can be listed, without any kind of hyperbole whatsoever, as My Worst Day At Arby’s, which also doubles as My Last Day At Arby’s. Only, I didn’t really know about that second part, there. I couldn’t seem to be able to do anything right, second-guessing myself, making stupid mistake after stupid mistake, with every little mistake getting a royal chewing out by not only the GM, but also other members of the managerial staff, usually in full view of everyone other employee and customer there. And if you know me at all, you know that constant verbal berating like that makes me much more jumpy, which makes me make even more mistakes, which results in further verbal berating…a vicious cycle, this is. Finally, the shift ended in late afternoon, and halfway to Kim’s apartment I finally had what turned out to be the first of many breakdowns to come this Spring and Summer. But more on that later. This first one came on, and it was a miracle I was able to make it to the apartment while my eyes were stinging and mostly blinded by tears and such, and I found it hard to breathe after a bit. I made it to the apartment, though.

April 1st was also the day I discovered one of my long-time online friends–Anderson Mar–had died from smoke inhalation due to a fire in her apartment complex. The information was posted on her Facebook page, and given the day it was, I spent a good hour or so to make sure it wasn’t some Troll’s idea of a sick joke. Sadly, it wasn’t.

On April 2nd, the decision was amicably made that I wasn’t really cut out for the pressures of being an Arby’s manager. Maybe if I had been working from the ground up for a few years, I could have made it; but it was agreed that I was not ready, if ever. Without a job, and only two months until the wedding, things were looking dark, but I still clung to hope that this would work. I met Kim that evening to tell her, and discuss things before the Bible study that night. She took the news in stride, and reassured me that, despite this temporary setback, she wasn’t going anywhere, that she would still be by my side. We even talked with the pastor who was going to officiate our wedding after the Bible study, making plans to meet with him later in the month for planning and such. I left for home that night, shaken but still optimistic.

April 3rd, I began the process of emailing and sending out resumes and pounding the streets to look for work again. I was determined. I kept this up on the 4th, and the 5th (mostly emailing and filling out applications online on the 5th, as it was Saturday). On Sunday, April 6th, after accompanying Kim at the early traditional side service as she played piano for the men’s choir, and then taking in the contemporary service afterwards, we went out for a nice lunch at Grisanti’s, window shopped in a nearby music shop, then went back to her apartment, where she then proceeded to tell me that she couldn’t marry me, giving me a reason of “I’m not able to love you the way you deserve.” I still don’t know what that means, to this day. She hasn’t spoken to me since then, not in the way she used to. Just like that, in less than a week, my world was ripped asunder. I’m sorry if I sound overly dramatic, here, but that’s the way it was. No warning, no explanation that didn’t seem like an insult to my intelligence; in one fell swoop, the person I loved more than I ever loved anyone else outside of my immediate family pushed me out of her life and locked the door, with one of the lamest reasons given.

And while that would be enough to wish for a reset on the rest of the year, Murphy was just getting warmed up, it turned out. I did manage to get my old position at another Jimmy John’s back if but for a brief period to generate some income while I looked for something more substantial. Because, while the labor there sucked, at least I did get some good money from my time at Arby’s. And let’s face it–I am far more awesome and talented to waste away as a sammich jockey, regardless of how well I got along with the co-workers. And better work I did find soon thereafter: I am currently a POS Terminal Help Specialist at First Data. It’s challenging, the money is really good, I’m still trying to acclimate to a job where everyone is not trying to continually tear you down to get ahead themselves, and the best part is being able to use my rather expansive vocabulary without worrying if I have to dumb things down and explain what I just said all the time.

At the beginning of the Summer Holiday, two classmates of some of the kids in my youth group died in a very tragic road accident. I never met the two victims; the accident effected the kids in the group, and when they mourn and are in pain, I too mourn and am in pain. Just the way it is.

In mid-June, a thunderstorm blew through that caused so much devastation, it caused enough property damage that certain areas were declared disaster areas. On my family’s farm, several trees were felled, some of which I remember playing on as a child, much structural damage was done to the buildings, and more than just a couple of windows and the roof were in severe need of repair. The power was out for us for a good three days before it was restored. Unfortunately, the damage the storm wrought on the church that my ancestry built in Uehling was enough that, over one hundred years after being built and serving as the worship center for several generations of my family, the decision was made to close the church for good, and sell the land with the building being torn down after the first of 2015. Again, in one fell swoop, another part of my life, despite having not attended Uehling Congregational Church since graduating High School in 1992, will be gone.

The final kick in the tender spot that this year made, the one that sent ripples that were felt well beyond where I can even see, was the sudden and devastating death of my cousin Jerry in August. I’ve already posted my thoughts on that; needless to say, I still catch myself still thinking of him as still alive, and not gone.

Fortunately, nothing more has happened to equal the kind of devastation that has hit my world this year. The darkness that has descended this year will carry over to the next, to be sure–not a day goes by where I’m not thinking about Kim and if I did all I could have done on my part, and I’m still very much haunted by memories of the very recent past–but that’s to be expected. Go forward, I must. And it’s not like I’m unaware of the abundant blessings that my Lord and God has bestowed upon me; certainly, He has blessed me with an abundance of the kind of friends and family that were there for me the best they could, giving support and not just empty platitudes. I’m also thankful that I was gifted with the ability to make my family members laugh and hopefully take some of the sting off of the loss of our beloved family member. And, of course, the job I work at now is a good fit, and I’m finally beginning to make the kind of income to start to move forward substantially. And while I decided to stop doing NECRO SHOCK RADIO permanently this year, as my I found my heart was no longer in it, I somehow know that the future may end up with something different, and better. As with all things.

So, to summarize this rambling down Memory Lane: 2014, for the most part, sucked. Sucked in a way that I pray I never experience again, and anyone I know and love will never have to experience themselves. But, in a morbid, twisted kind of way, it could be I will look back on the year that was 2014, and think, “yeah, this was more beneficial than I thought it would be.” But, for now, I find myself ready to enter 2015, not with a smile and a song in my heart, but with a war face, and \,,/METAL\,,/ blasting through my speakers. Possibly wielding something blunt and heavy, festooned with spikes.

Happy New Year from your UNCLE NECRO. I’m still alive. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Cheers, all.