I will call 2013 life-changing

Public domain

Public domain

I am quite ready to say goodbye to 2013. It was the year in which I was told I had to change my last name. No more would I be “Mark Bialczak of The Post-Standard.”

And yet life went on.

Bring on the New Year’s Eve tradition for my dear wife Karen and I.

We start with a fairly early dinner at a mystery restaurant (which shall remain that here because it doesn’t take reservations and I don’t want any oh-yeah effect making the line any longer than it may be naturally).

We continue with a couple of beers at the Syracuse city neighborhood pub Chadwick’s (come on down if you’re nearby and we’ll hoist one together).

We drive home safely, all four blocks worth.

Our midnight show of choice. (From ryanseacrest.com)

Our midnight show of choice. (From ryanseacrest.com)

We watch the ball drop with Ryan Seacrest on TV and give each other the Happy New Year’s smooch.

I expect a sense of relief.

This has been some year for me.

At the end of January, I was laid off from the daily newspaper for which I had worked just shy of 30 years.

That shook me to the core. To say it sucked is a major understatement.

The toughest lesson to learn was that the job I had sacrificed so much for, the job that put me in the public eye, the job that I lectured about to students of all ages, the job that I woke up scheming about all those mornings and fell asleep exhausted from all those evenings … well, that job did not define me.

I have battled back. I have worked hard. I have learned many things about myself.

In February, I started markbialczak.com with the entry Yeah, I’ve got a blog. (Click to read, those of you who’ve just joined in the fun.) I knew that I needed to write. I had no idea how much this would mean to me.

A former colleague at the big daily had become editor of Syracuse’s alternative weekly. He enlisted me to become the first Syracuse New Times film blogger. I write two weekly posts. It’s so rewarding.

Last winter, before the layoff date, my longtime colleague and great friend Mike Waters asked me to co-write “The Syracuse Fan’s Survival Guide to the ACC.” It was published in June by Reedy Press of St. Louis.

There were reminders about how much I meant to the community during the 21 years I covered music and entertainment for the big daily.

In March, the community honored me with the Syracuse Area Music Awards’ Founders Award. In April, the Central New York Guitar League gave me the Music Hero Award. I knew they should be moments to rejoice more than be sad. I was both.

Grandeur of the Seas passes under a bridge leaving Baltimore for Bermuda.

Grandeur of the Seas passes under a bridge leaving Baltimore for Bermuda.

But life wound on. My dear wife Karen made sure of that. We took that annual trip to Cape Cod, went on that cruise to Bermuda, and celebrated our fifth anniversary in Niagara Falls.

Through it all, I discovered that age 55 can be a fine time to learn about yourself.

I took stock in my writing.

I honored my friends.

I kept my sense of humor in potentially stressful times.

I turned 56 and thought hard about that.

Of course, I still carried my love for music. When I went with a great friend to see Grace Potter at the New York State Fair, well, I wrote about it. And when a trip to see the latest movie from the mind of Woody Allen encountered a big crowd at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill at Destiny USA, well, I wrote about the big man’s acoustic set there instead.

The memory of my affection for sports well played encouraged me to share about my New York Mets, about professional golf, about my own golf rounds. I even wrote about Karen and I’s trip to see the Syracuse Chiefs with Ellie B, aka Dogamous Pyle.

My eyes and ears are open to the possibilities of 2014. Good things lie ahead. I am resolute.

I know I wouldn’t have gotten to this place without the turbulence of 2013.


See ‘ya.

Was 2013 a memorable year for you?

37 thoughts on “I will call 2013 life-changing

  1. I couldn’t wait to kiss 2013 good riddance! It sounds like while you had a sucker punch to the gut early in 2013, you rebounded well AND you were recognized for you contributions to the community. It’s hard when we give up so much of ourselves for a job and make it personally, only to be ‘let go’ without much after thought. Cheers to a new year my friend! All the best for 2014!


  2. My sister got canned this year after 29 years of dedication–the same week she lost her husband to cancer. Seems she was “too old” for the younger staff at work. She kept up a great attitude and enjoyed going to the company’s alumni dinner, to see some old colleagues. Now she is very happy doing something similar but on a smaller scale–less stress, less travel, and also less money, but fortunately she’s okay in that department.

    I hope you find your life continuing to explore new adventures which in not that possible when we have to hold down a 9-to-5 (which I did for only 2 weeks in my life and promptly got fired–I’m an entrepreneur at heart).

    Here are two pieces I created regarding our jobs:


  3. My year was the opposite of yours Mark. Started great, ending sucks. And Friday will be the telling date about the shoulder. Hoping 2014 will end better than it started. Have a great year.


  4. Wow… quite a year. I’m relatively new here so I didn’t know the backstory about how you lost your job. 30 years… wow. And yet you can look back after a year and see that life has sorted itself out. We need to always remember that feeling for the next big wave of “WHAT IS HAPPENING!” that life chooses to throw our way. Happy New Year, Mark! I hope this one is better than all the last 🙂


  5. Well said, Mark … you have made some fine lemonade from what was handed to you at the start of 2013. See you soon on these pages and in person… Jim


  6. Inspirational blog post Mark. Family and friends are so important when life changes course. You are still a writer. And a good one at that.


  7. mark, that must have been a huge change, to say the least, for many reasons. i love your attitude and you are right, all kinds of possibilities emerge if we keep our eyes open to them, and it sounds like that’s exactly what you did this past year. sometimes it takes what feels like an upsetting event, to cause us to change and grow into what we are to become. that doesn’t make it any easier, but nonetheless it is a catalyst for change. you are lucky you have karen as a partner on your journey and it is easy to see that you have many all around you, in close proximity to you, as well as in the blogoshpere, who recognize your talent and your contributions to the world. best of the new year and new things to both of you ) beth


    • I must do the best I can. It’s that simple, Beth. The changing of years certainly carried so much freight for me this time around. I do have many blessings at home, and now I have friends I feel close to around the world. Happy New Year, my Ann Arbor friend and associate in words!


  8. As bad as the year started for both of us….we did move on and realize life had a greater purpose for our skills! Your golf game improved greatly and your writing has never been better….a loss for the big daily (someday they might even admit it) but a gain for the NewTimes and the blogasphere. I’ll toast tonight to the great year ahead knowing it’s already better…plus aren’t the Mets going to the World Series?


  9. Wow Mark, how cruel to lay off someone that has been a dedicated and loyal employee for 30 years! That makes me hate that newspaper! However… I see you doing far better things in the future and to heck with that backstabbing newspaper! They will wish they had not laid you off!


  10. That is some year, full of life from my perspective. May not be a politically correct for me to say so but getting laid off might have been a good thing in retrospect ?! Thanks sharing the journey with us, looking forward to more adventures in 2014! Happy New Year!


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