I guess I did learn something in 8th grade

As the year draws to a close, I thought it would be a cool idea to reflect upon some things that transpired, either locally, nationally, globally, or even within my own little existence.

In April, I started my journey here at The Evening Sun as a reporter. Within one week, I went to the Chenango Sheriff's Department and took photos of “copious” amounts of cash and marijuana, and attended a forum on the SAFE act, where hundreds of residents spoke out against legislation they deemed not only ridiculous and pointless, but unconstitutional.

Not long after, I interviewed a NHS alum who – while living in New Jersey where she worked as a nurse – worked alongside a man who turned out to be killing patients at random. The woman ended up opting to wear a wire to help catch the man, Charles Cullen. He is referred to as “The Angel of Death” and has been considered by some to be America's most prolific serial killer. He claimed he doesn't know exactly how many people he killed throughout his 16-year spree spanning more than a handful of hospitals.

That was a fun story. Probably my favorite to date.

I interviewed a man who was on board the USS Bainbridge, the vessel that assisted in the rescue of Captain Phillips, upon which the feature film was based.

I covered fundraisers, plays, a couple arrests, the Chenango Blues Fest, some meetings in Oxford, and some stories in New Berlin for The Gazette.

I interviewed Eric Lindell over the phone for the story I wrote about the Thursday night free show he was playing in the park with The Sunliners and Anson Funderburgh. I knew he was going to be getting in touch with me late, so he had my cell number. I was driving when he called, and I was giving a friend a ride home. Her house was up West Hill, so cell service wasn't great. I had to tell him I would call him back. Talk about awkward on my part. His response? “Sho 'nuff. Hit me up.” Such a cool guy. (Sidenote: I've listened to him since probably 2006, and met him a couple times; but I am so awkward on the phone it's not even funny).

In May, I attended an arraignment for an alleged murderer, and sat approximately five feet away from the defendant. I remember writing in my notes, “Wow. Remember how close we are. This is weird. But so neat.”

I still have that notebook.

I wrote some columns about some topics that were either greeted with open arms and kind words, or a whole bunch of disagreement. Either way, it's just this one gal's opinion, and no one really has to agree. Sharing ideas and starting dialogue, though, is certainly what I was going for.

It is my opinion (and only mine, not that of the staff or The Evening Sun) that incarceration will not help drug addicts and that the war on drugs will not work. I do acknowledge the drug addiction in the area, and have an idea that might help. But I'll save that for another column.

I'm a proponent of the idea of “no victim, no crime,” and I also feel that those who have committed “crimes” lacking a victim should refrain from accepting plea deals, and take their case to trial.

I'm also a pretty big advocate for individual responsibility. This includes people who infringe on the rights of others by, let's say, stealing their property. It also includes accountability for those who hold “positions of power.”

I wrote a piece on the process of applying for a pistol permit in Chenango County (part two coming soon), and about delivering food to needy people for Thanksgiving while in New Hampshire for a weekend.

Now I don't consider myself all that emotional, but what I wrote for sweet little Baby Corbin after he went on his journey... that even made me cry.

There were also weeks I wrote about blanket forts and my love for chairs.

I took over as editor in September, and it's been a busy, fun ride since then. It seems like I can never get ahead, but that's the way this goes, I think. And I'm totally fine with that.

I vowed to become more organized, but two days later vowed to not vow things anymore. That's working out pretty well.

One thing I'm proud of, is that I am dedicated to my work but even more dedicated to living for a living. Therefore, I make sure I allocate enough of my “free” time to continue to pursue things I'm passionate about. I travel to New Hampshire often – more than a dozen times since June. I make sure my fingernails are painted to my liking each week, even though it takes hours and many coats. I check out live music I dig as often as possible.

My life is awesome. This year was stellar.

Not everyone is in that same boat. Weekly – without fail since my first check – I have donated a portion of my paycheck to a family in need, or organizations I am passionate about.

I wish the fruits of my labor were not stolen from me by the government (via taxation) so I would have the ability to help out more, but I still will happily continue to do what I can.

2013 brought a whole bunch of learning on a personal front. I read more than 40 books, only three of which were fiction since that's not my style.

I learned how to operate a number of various firearms in a safe and responsible manner (one of my favorite things about this year).

Who will not let herself be a victim? This gal.

I became an aunt, and met my niece last week for the first time. I'm not a huge fan of babies, but she is cool.

Hmm … what else happened?

Oh, that's right … tons of things.

On a national level, we have the Affordable Care Act, “affectionately” referred to as Obamacare. I could go in detail with my views on that, but will refrain. One “30 Seconds” post a while back said that free health insurance is a right for everyone. To keep it brief: No.

The SAFE Act slid through this year, which turned many law-abiding gun owners in New York into criminals. It was a sneaky move by Governor Cuomo, and it will do no good. None. That's all I'll say about that.

I heard the word “twerk” more times than I ever would want to.

A man from a reality show I've never seen answered some questions in an interview and the nation freaked out.

Meanwhile, a drone strike in Yemen killed 17 individuals in a wedding party – not the “intended target,” and few batted an eye. That really bums me out.

Manning's trial was held this year, and I really wish that got more media attention than it did. But, it's to be expected that it would be out-shadowed by things like new diets or award shows.

We learned the mayor of Toronto has smoked crack-cocaine. I suppose that was interesting. I'm sure there are hundreds (or thousands) of other elected officials in that same boat.

Christopher Dorner passed away this year. I remember following that. If you haven't read what is being referred to as his “manifesto,” I recommend it. Highly. Not a waste of time to read it.

The Supreme Court ruled that now to exercise your fifth amendment right – the right to remain silent – you must acknowledge you are doing so. A little tip: carry around a card that says you are invoking your fifth amendment right, that you are requesting a lawyer, and that you do not consent to any searches (fourth amendment). Hand it over if need be. As a law-abiding citizen, I carry one, just in case.

I could write forever about things that transpired throughout this past year. But I'll spare you.

In eighth grade, my social studies teacher said something to the class that randomly pops into my head every now and then. I know I wrote once before that I owe most of what I know now about the world to my English 12 teacher. I suppose I'll add this eighth grade experience to my list, too.

He said, “Just because you're not paranoid, doesn't mean no one's watching you.” He's the same teacher who said, “Don't put something in writing unless you want the world to see it.”

Anyway, this brings me to Ashley's “Human Being of the Year” award.

No drum-roll needed. No list of nominees. Edward Snowden wins. Hands down.

I admire his courage, audacity, selflessness, integrity and his actions. He is just straight up a damn good human. He successfully has feathers ruffled, and I dig that. I have no trust or faith in the government, so I am thankful for Snowden for riling things up within the system, and making the world pay attention.

It is my sincerest hope that Snowden stays safe and realizes how much he is admired by so many from all over this little sphere we call home.

All in all, 2013 has been a hell of a year. Bring it on, 2014, this gal is ready.

Also, I'm not one to tell others what to do, but it is not wise to drink and drive. Please be sure that if you plan to indulge this New Year's Eve, you either walk or have a designated driver. Make it safe out there, please.

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