My life has been on an upward trajectory since 2015. In spite of setbacks I encountered along the way, I’ve consistently recovered and advanced to the next stage of my journey. This year, I accomplished far more than I thought possible and far more than I originally planned. So, as I stand on the cusp of 2019, here is my annual post of the past year in review. This time, I’ve decided to narrow it down to my top 13 highlights in chronological order, to limit my rambling!
1. Saw My Favourite Bands Live
The first half of 2018 was without a doubt dedicated to live music. I rang in New Year’s at a live show and continued to see shows all through to July. Some of the best bands I saw this year were:
2. Began Working on the Novel Version of The Moreau Witches
In 2016, I wrote The Moreau Witches series in 5 instalments purely for fun in celebration of Halloween. It received overwhelmingly positive responses from readers all around the world. I was pleasantly surprised but otherwise unmoved despite all the pleas to turn the book into a novel or continue the series.
In 2017, I completed a 5-book series I had been working on since I was 14 years old, but realised that in this political climate, publishing it as an immigrant on U.S. soil was a bad idea. So, I decided to look for an easier and less controversial project to work on. I remembered The Moreau Witches stories again, partially prompted by yet another request from a reader to turn it into a novel.
And so, after spending some time fleshing out the plot, I announced on February 14th 2018 that I would begin working on the novel, with a tentative publishing deadline of December 31st 2018.
Instead, I published the eBook version of the novel on October 31st and the paperback became available just this month. If you haven’t yet grabbed your copy and you live in the U.S., I’m maintaining pre-order pricing until the end of the year.
3. Got Lost in the Desert
Getting lost in the desert is nothing new for me and Tristan. However, when we hiked Tower Arches at Arches National Park, I’m pretty sure I saw my life flash before my eyes. I had misread the map and we had miscalculated the length of the hike as a result.
Before we realised what was happening, the sun was about to set. We could either take the long, sure route out and risk nightfall in the desert, or we could look for the shorter route out. Problem is, we didn’t know that route at all. Even so, we chose the latter and made it out just before sunset.
The hike was supposed to be 7.5 miles. We walked almost 12 miles that day, with our hearts thundering in our chests. While it’s no longer the most difficult hike I’ve ever done, it certainly is still the most scary. That experience inspired What to Do If You Get Lost on a Desert Trail.
4. Saw a Glacier for the First Time
I had originally planned on going to Canada, but the political climate and the repeated immigration reforms forced us to settle on Alaska, instead. For a long time, we weren’t sure what part of Alaska to visit until Tristan decided we should go to Juneau. I can tell you this: once we arrived, it didn’t feel like settling at all.
The last frontier is a whole new part of America, unlike anything else we had ever seen. We loved the people and the trails, but most of all, we were fascinated by the glaciers. Behind me in the photo above is Mendenhall Glacier, which has continually receded over the past few decades.
Red state or no, ask any Alaskan about climate change and global warming and they will tell you how Mendenhall has been shrinking rapidly, and how concerned they are. I’m glad I got to see a glacier before many of them become mere popsicles on the Earth’s surface. It was the most difficult hike I have ever completed and I am glad I did it!
5. Went Ocean Kayaking in Alaska
When most people think of Alaska, a beautiful seaside experience is just not one of those things that come to mind. Well, have I got a surprise for you! In fact, Alaska was full of surprises: from lush green forests to bright blue seas, it was more than we had ever hoped for.
After the hike to Mendenhall, we knew our bodies would launch an outright strike if we hiked the following day, so instead, we went ocean kayaking. We were only out there for an hour or two, but it was an hour or two well spent. I even managed to catch an eagle up close.
6. Hiking Up a Mountain
Yet another of my 2018 highlights happened right there in Alaska. This time, I hiked up a real mountain for the first time in my life. Tristan and I had done Lone Mountain in Vegas, before. I have also hiked Georgia’s Stone Mountain and Kennesaw Mountain, but this was the majestic Mount Juneau, which put all three of those to shame.
This remains the most difficult hike on Tristan’s list. As for me, I knew we had to return the car soon and had limited time to hike, so I turned a six-hour hike into a two-hour hike and met him on the way back down the mountain. You haven’t lived until you’ve run up a mountain—at least part way!
7. Attended the Final Vans Warped Tour
Shortly after returning from Alaska, I attended my final show of the year, which was also the final Vans Warped Tour. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to a music festival I have attended every year since I’ve lived in the United States.
What made it worse is that I couldn’t stay to enjoy the whole event. That’s because I had a driving test the following day that I had not practiced for and was 100 percent sure I would fail. To add to this, most of the bands I wanted to see didn’t play on the Atlanta leg, so after Simple Plan played their last song, I left for home.
8. Bought My First Car
In spite of my worst fears, I actually managed to pass my driver’s test. I was ecstatic and immediately set about looking for my first car. My original plan was to purchase a Nissan Juke, but every one I looked at had transmission problems and my mechanic eventually warned me against all Nissan models, as did my father who currently owns one and had his transmission go out on him.
So, highly disappointed, I returned to the drawing board. That’s when I came across Seth, this nimble little hatchback in white sitting on a lot in Stone Mountain, Georgia. This is the first and only car that passed my mechanic’s testing and aside from hitting a curb and blowing out my tire a few weeks ago, I have not had a single issue with this car.
You will hate me even more when I tell you my weekly gas bill for the past two weeks has been a whopping $6. Yes; you read that correctly. Six. Dollars. Just in case you’re wondering, Seth is a 2016 Hyundai Accent Hatchback SE.
9. Took Up Mountain Biking
I have faithfully gone mountain biking every week that we have great weather. Unfortunately, we haven’t had dry and sunny weather in Georgia since before I left for Jamaica, which brings us to number 10.
10. Went Home to Jamaica
If you’ve followed my blog for at least a month or so, one of the things you may have noticed by now is that I am absolutely in love with my country. The awesome thing about Jamaican nationalism is that it embraces everyone, and as the victims who became the victors, we have nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. This exceptional love for my country, however, only truly blossomed when I left.
After leaving home on July 28th 2015, I did not set foot back in Jamaica again until I visited in late November to renew my passport for an upcoming cruise. It was amazing to see how far Jamaica had come, and to see my friends flourishing and growing along with it.
Sure, Jamaica has its First World pains, but returning home is hands down the best decision I made this year. And, I did it on expired documents, knowing full well Uncle Sam might deport me when I returned. Well, he didn’t, so I tried my luck on yet another adventure.
11. Explored Mayan Ruins
A few weeks after going to Jamaica and making my way back to the United States, I boarded a cruise ship to see more of the Caribbean and Central America. I have yet to blog about these, but will do so in due time.
When we stopped in Mexico, I made it a point to see the Mayan ruins. Unfortunately, we had limited time and I had to rush through it all without truly getting to appreciate the backstory and the history. But, I did appreciate the opportunity to see the remains of an ancient civilisation with my own eyes.
12. Began Working on Alanis, Land of the Undead
With the #MoreauWitches first and second draft completed, and the beta draft underway, it's time to get started on my next creative project.
— Alexis Chateau 🇯🇲 (@alexischateau_) April 18, 2018
In all honesty, I began working on this new novel all the way back in 2005 as part of a just-for-fun project. During the beta review process of The Moreau Witches I revived it to provide a break from the witches’ tale while I did background research and handled queries from my beta readers. By the end of the month I dedicated to this, I had written more than 40,000 words.
Like The Moreau Witches, the tentative publishing date is the end of the year (this time, of 2019), but also like The Moreau Witches, you just might find yourself with a copy in hand by next Halloween. 😏 For updates, feel free to follow the #AlanisUndead hashtag on Twitter—or you can keep an eye out right here.
13. Returned to Being a Full-Time Entrepreneur
This month, I announced that I had given up my part-time shift to focus on my business and my writing. So, once again, I am back to being 100 percent an independent contractor/freelancer/business-owner. In fact, this is the best year of business I’ve ever had. I have nothing but high hopes for 2019.
What were your highlights this year? Tell me all about it in the comments below!