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Dome Pondering - 2017 Year in Review


Well, here we are closing yet another year. 2017 was freakin' weird in so many ways, and the thought that it is coming to a close is quite relieving. Like, really, really relieving. After all - for me at least - 2017 provided an unusual everyday grind, like no other in my lifetime, that defined it.

Politics. News. Terror. Society. Fill in whatever it is, 2017 offered something daily. 

Regardless, we're at the finish line, and like always, we're wrapping it up with the biggest post of the year on this tiny slice of the internet - the Dome Pondering Year in Review! The 12th of it's kind! Imagine that?

I know I haven't punched the keys in 2017 as much as I have in the past, an obvious effect of the grind and burnout caused by 2017. Yet, I still thank you for continuing to read my thoughts, my opinions, and my creative output here on the DP. I do plan to get back to writing more in 2018, and already have inspiration to do so. More on that soon. 

Nonetheless, with that said, let's hand out the traditional Pondys!

---

THE PONDY AWARDS


*Crucial Moment of the Year: Charlottesville, Virginia Incident

This was the turning point for me in 2017 in regards to the world around me. In a super-politicized climate, I gave President Trump a chance despite the immediate naysayers. After the white supremacist march, the terrorist car attack (not called a terrorist attack - of course), and the gross denial of white supremacists by the President in the days to follow, I really believe this incident spurred what was to come politically the rest of the year, and more so, cause a rather significant divide. 

Honorable Mention: Las Vegas Mass Shooting Terrorist Attack, Manchester, England Terrorist Attack, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and Texas Mass Shootings Terrorist Attack

*World Affairs Issue of the Year: Immigration/Travel Ban

Our President attempted to push through a plan that banned people believed to be from terrorist hotbeds from coming to our country. Besides the fact I can't believe this is a thing in 2017, the ban has ultimately affected many around the world, as well as those here in this country - included thousands of our international students, who feared for their well-being. 

Honorable Mention: Manchester, England Terrorist Attack, Puerto-Rico Post-Hurricane Relief Efforts, and Libya Slave Trade

*Inspirational Story of the Year: J.J. Watt Houston Fundraising

What JJ Watt did for the city of Houston with his fundraising of over $37M is absolutely remarkable. Even more inspiring is the spirit and follow-through of Watt in lifting the city after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. 

*Random Story of the Year: Libya Slave Trade 

I cannot believe in the year 2017, the auctioning of living bodies is still real, and still happening. So random. So shocking. So true. 

Honorable Mention: Charles Oakley/MSG Dispute and OJ Simpson Parole/Sudden Fame Again


*Most Controversial Story of the Year: Taking a Knee During National Anthem

I think we've all voiced our opinion on this all year. From several posts this year, you already know where I stand. Somehow, this protest to bring attention to equality spun into a discussion on disrespecting our flag, to NFL backlash, to football becoming a topic of identity politics. 

*Most Overrated Story of the Year: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Engagement

It's amazing to me how many people dedicate so much time to this. Their getting married, like plenty of people do. 

Honorable Mention: Floyd Mayweather/Connor McGregor Fight

*Tune of the Year: "4:44" by Jay-Z

4:44 was easily my favorite album of the year. I was glad that we got the true Jay-Z back, the guy who is honest and true, and man, was everything on this album just that! 4:44 (the song) is a soul-baring ballad on Hov admitting to infidelity and owning up to it, along with all of his demons. Great listen. 

*Invention of the Year: "Fake News" Moniker

Sure, there have been some really cool inventions this year. Many that may cure diseases and disabilities. But did anything further divide our nation than calling news we don't like, or that doesn't support our political standpoints like the statement, "Fake News"? 

*Comeback of the Year: Previous Sitcoms and Movies

Nothing in Hollywood is really new. We're now rehashing all of it from the past. Then again, Hollywood didn't have such a good year, did it? 

Honorable Mention - Patriots Super Bowl Comeback from 28-3

*"Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Decency in the World

It might be a bit of a "stock answer" this year, but yo, the world can use some human decency in the very worst way. 

*"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Roy Moore

Dude, it's time for you to take a walk right out of everything that is America. Just go away. And take everyone who supports you, your character, and your thoughts with you. 

Honorable Mention: Lavar Ball, Tomi Lahren, Ted Cruz, Sexual Misconduct, and the New GOP Tax Bill

*Largest Fortitude Award of the Year: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, Rick Best, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher

Let's NOT forget these guys who stepped in when a white supremacist harassed two Muslim women on a train. All three were stabbed, with only Fletcher surviving. They gave their lives for what was right. That's guts. That's fortitude.

Honorable Mention - LeBron James Comments on Donald Trump

*"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: Net Neutrality

So long free reign throughout the internet! Web surfing as we know it, as it has evolved, may no longer be that as we head into 2018 and beyond. 

*"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: 49% Who Voted for Roy Moore

Seriously, let's just drop party identity and everything that is political and think about this. Who in their right mind votes for Roy Moore and all that he had going for him, or lack thereof? He was literally - LITERALLY - the worst candidate human that can run for any leadership position. We have to be better in this country.

Honorable Mention - Betsy Devos Appointment as United States Secretary of Education 

*"What a Shame" Award of the Year: President Trump Passes on White Supremacists

I touched on this earlier. Talk about a crucial moment, and shameful omission. I gave him a chance after the inauguration. He lost me at that moment uttering, "fine people on both sides". 

*Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Opioid Crisis

Drugs just went from being imported or grown illegally, to the American Pharmaceutical industry being the culprit. Told ya 2017 was a lot to understand. 

Honorable Mention - Lavar Ball, Aaron Judge, Voting Black Women, Get Out, Political Satire, Solar Eclipse, Gal Gadot 

*This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Removal of Confederate Monuments

Like, a long time ago. a LOOOOOOOOONG time ago. In fact, they never should have been built. But you know...'Merica. 


*"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: Jonathan Smith (Las Vegas Shooting)

The Las Vegas shooting was horrific, and in many ways, I can't believe how easily it disappeared from our conscience and focus as a nation. Even more forgotten is Jonathan Smith who risked his life and saved over 30 people during this horrifying event. Incredible.  

Honorable Mention - Patriots 5th Super Bowl, Russel Westbrook Averages Triple-Double, Get Out Film, Scooter Gennett and JD Martinez - 4 Home Runs in a game, Double Hand Transplant for Boy, and Shalene Flanagan Wins NYC Marathon, and Wonder Woman Film

*"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Slanted Journalism

MSNBC, CNN, FOX News lead the way on this. It's tough getting actual news that isn't slanted. Even more so annoying when all three blame the "mainstream media". 

*Biggest Letdown of the Year: United States Men's Soccer Team

Letdown is an understatement. Not making the 2018 World Cup is inexcusable. 

*Idiot of the Year: Powerful Men Guilty of Sexual Misconduct

So many men fell to the hammer and shame they deserved in 2017. We learned of their actions, their true character, and really, the levels to which they stooped in using their power for such actions. Idiots. All of them. 


*Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Women

For the second year in a row, the DP Person of the Year goes to a generic identity, but it is well-deserved. Women had quite the year in 2017. They were courageous in the #MeToo campaign. They toppled some of the most powerful men for sexual misconduct transgressions. They explored space. They changed elections. They competed and won while pregnant. They protested and rallied together worldwide. They stood for justice in sports organizations. They reinvented and changed engineering. They redefined music. And so much more. 

Women, in this year of division, fear, hate, and more - you brought us plenty of examples of how to overcome. 

*Wrestling Show of the Year: NXT Takeover: War Games

For this fan, pro wrestling was weird this year. Rather uninspiring. Very few shows were awesome top-to-bottom. NXT Takeover War Games was one of those shows - and it was the best. 

*Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega (New Japan Pro Wrestling - Wrestle Kingdom 11)

Their trilogy was absolutely awesome. But it was their first match in January which set the stage for the rivalry, and really, set the bar for everyone else in 2017. No one came close. 

Honorable Mention - John Cena vs. AJ Styles (WWE Royal Rumble), Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles (WWE Survivor Series), New Day vs. The Usos (WWE Hell in a Cell), and Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream (NXT Takeover War Games)

*Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: The Usos 

The Young Bucks made it close, but the Uso fellas have been getting it done on several big stages, even stealing the show with The New Day once in a pre-show match. 

Honorable Mention - The Young Bucks, The New Day, and Cesaro and Sheamus

*Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Alexa Bliss (WWE)

Some call her overrated, but Bliss has been awesome all year. Winning on both of WWE's brands, Bliss dominated and makes the best argument for the most must-see female performer in pro wrestling in 2017. 


*Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles (WWE)

Much respect to Okada who produced some epic stuff all year, but so has AJ Styles. The man literally pulled a watchable match out of Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania. Styles endured the WWE's rigorous schedule, yet, still did what he did best - perform at an incredibly high level. 

Honorable Mention - Kazuchika Okada (NJPW), Kevin Owens (WWE), Kenny Omega (NJPW), Braun Strowman (WWE), and The Miz (WWE)

*Sport Event of the Year: World Series - Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Another year of game sevens for the World Series. It didn't seem like last year's World Series could be topped, but it was. It was. 

Honorable Mention - Super Bowl 51


*"The Derek Jeter Flip Play" Award of the Year: Chris Coghlan Jump Over Yadier Molina

It was a normal everyday regular-season game. But damn, this was awesome. And still is. I can watch it all day. 

Honorable Mention - Adam Jones World Baseball Classic Catch and Kevin Durant's shot over LeBron James in NBA Finals

*Coach of the Year: Steve Kerr - Golden State Warriors

He continues to lead what is probably the greatest powerhouse team in all of sport, the Golden State Warriors. Ripped straight from the coaching and experiential tree of Phil Jackson, Kerr has managed multiple egos, talents, and personalities, all while keeping them motivated to achieve greatness.

[Edited 2020 following Houston Astros Cheating Scandal] AJ Hinch - Yo, the dude won the World Series without a legit bullpen. Like, he at one point used his starters as relievers. He didn't even have a closer as Ken Giles couldn't be trusted. Again, in a bullpen age, he won the World Series WITHOUT a bullpen. Crazy. 

Honorable Mention - Bill Belichick

*Team of the Year: Golden State Warriors

All these guys do is win. Win. Win. And Win. And come on, who is going to stop them? 

Honorable Mention - New England Patriots, Houston Astros, Toronto FC, and Pittsburgh Penguins


*Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: Russell Westbrook

Is it me, or did everyone forget that this dude averaged - AVERAGED!!! - a triple-freakin'-double for the duration of an entire NBA season. THE ENTIRE SEASON! And is once again close to those very numbers in the 17-18 NBA season to close out 2017. 

Honorable Mention - Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, Shalene Flanagan, Serena Williams, Tom Brady, and Aaron Judge

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THE FINAL COUNTDOWN...

It took me a couple of days to really gather my thoughts for this final piece on 2017. As mentioned in kicking off this post, 2017 has been an absolute drag and journey of a year. A year that carried over from last year's self-admission of soul-crushing external issues - but not as heavy - yet, a year that has been more consistent in its effect. 

2017 was every day. 

It felt like all 365 days were trying, or in the very least, a contribution to my overwhelming existence in attempting to disengage from the world around me, and even so, what my personal life has become, and evolved into. 

It's not as doom and gloom as I just realize it may come off as, but 2017 did take it's a toll on me in various ways and shoved my emotions in different directions on the whim like an empty bottle on the floor of a speeding vehicle. 

Angst. Anger. Laugher. Envy. Frustration. Confused. Perplexed. Overjoyed. Devastation. Curiosity. Humbleness. Annoyed. Proud. 

In 2017, I become a dog person. Love me some Zoro! 

So many emotions that switched gears daily, sometimes hourly, within my soul. It was the kind of existence in 2017 that never truly allowed me to become comfortable, or even gain footing in the year. 


For me, there was the surrounding nature that is our society. I mean, who can avoid it? Politics, is what it's usually called, but come on, can we even use that description as of late? It feels more like haves and have-nots, two different teams, or sometimes, two sides unable to empathize in reality-based discussions. 

As stated, the Charlottesville, Virginia attack opened this all for me. And repeatedly, like the constant slamming of a bass drum on both sides, it was day after day of news that brought about inner discussions and dialogues that enraged me at times, confused me, enlightened me, and even caused me to laugh with no end in sight. But it was the same news that would also completely burn me out many times throughout 2017. 

It was already very difficult navigating the issues for myself, but I also have the responsibility of leading a thoughtful dialogue with my students. 

Ironically, in doing so, I managed to win a very prestigious (and very selective) award given to student affairs practitioners from the higher education institution in which I work for. I still don't think I have grasped that selection today. The thought that I was recognized by thousands of students and my peers for my contribution to helping students (them) develop as individuals have not sunk in completely. Maybe next year? We'll see.

Despite just a few examples of these up and down moments, there is a growing theme in my last three YIR posts and reflections, and that was the continuing adaptation to my new life as my father suffers through early dementia. I took the summer off from classes as well as cashed in heavily on my abundance of comp days accrued from the academic year to help my parents adjust and transition into this new phase of their life - this new life. Thus, I spent the summer clearing out their junk and even rebuilt their backyard deck. The circle of like, folks. 

The summer was an interesting time, as I worked side-by-side with my father, making some memories, enjoying his abilities and stories, and even so, becoming more familiar with his illness. It was really some Tuesdays with Morrie type-of-stuff, and yes, I'm still unpacking that as well. 

Regardless, it was during this time I learned how much I became Superman for my family and friends. Somehow, everyone revolved and depended on me. And at times, it felt good to provide that refuge, but with it came a sense of isolation. This summer forced me to really reevaluate those I keep in my inner circle. Who was in fact there for me when I needed a hand or just a cold beer and a laugh? And who only needed me when, well, when they needed me? I became hardened, and more reserved from most people than I've ever been. 
I know people backstab you, I felt bad too,
But this f--- everybody attitude ain't natural.
'F--- wrong with everybody?' is what you saying,
But if everybody's crazy, you're the one that's insane.
Crazy how life works. 
-Kill Jay Z by Jay Z 
While I felt more alone than I ever did in my thoughts this year - again, probably ever, I also adopted a dog. Zoro now is my favorite living thing after God, my wife, and my family. And yes, I became a dog person. I told you 2017 was insane. 

But most of all, without going into other examples and scenarios, 2017 brought me patience. Damn, did it ever. This year was the most patient I have ever become in my life. 

Despite the isolationism and the dependency, and the adjustment to new life, patience became my biggest weapon in 2017. Thoughtful in my process and return. Cerebral in handling problems of those around me, and listening and reading way more than I spoke on most topics. Despite the sheer misery at points this year, I look back and notice the vast improvements in many areas of my life that I've made because of this newfound part of my life. 
The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him,
So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—
And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.
-Lamentations 3:25-27
God really had a plan for me this year. In the midst of it all, I still remember going to bed many, many times and asking "Why, God, Why?" to so many things going on around me, and of course, to the many feelings inside of me. The days felt like whirlwinds. The times felt cold. The surroundings felt wicked. 

Yet, I managed to get my act together. To change. To persist. To, ultimately, grow. 

And despite it all, patience lead the way. It was patience that allowed me to become everyone's Superman. All while reshaping my life for whatever step is next. 

And just when I thought that was the moral of 2017 for me - I learned in the final moments of this very year, that in 2018, I'm going to be a father. 

Yo, God is so, so good. 

It's remarkable how God works in our lives. The picture he's painting when we can't even see the whole canvas. We need to just have patience and trust HIS plan. 

Even Superman needs help. 

In 2018, how will you respond? 

Happy New Year! 

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