Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - an eventful year in review...

What a life-changing year it's been, both personally and politically. I've gone from almost having to wave goodbye to the charms of L.A., due to unequal laws, but instead got hitched after fourteen years together and now have a brighter future on the horizon. Now at the end of 2013, here's a look back at the past twelve months and all my trials and triumphs that have made the year fly by so fast.

My first visit to the Venice Canals
Venice Canals California
Even after living in Los Angeles for six years, it continued to be another year of 'firsts' for me.

Even though I've visted the sculpture gardens outside, in January I went inside LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for the first time to enjoy the fantastic Stanley Kubrik movie exhibition, a retrospective of the filmmaker's work.

In February I visited the Venice Canals for the very first time and we took our Labrador Cooper thinking it would be a nice relaxing walk, instead he was very confused at why he wasn't allowed to dive into the water and have a swim.

March marked the five year blogging anniversary of Jason in Hollywood, but this year also saw me question continuing this blog, with changes to Google's search algorithms almost obliterating traffic across all three of my sites at one stage. I've since decided to not worry so much about this blog and instead concentrate my efforts on the growing success of Daily Billboard and Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props.

I ran my 3rd L.A. Marathon with a personal best of 3:42:18
After running LA Marathon 2013
Website frustrations were more than made up for by my record breaking time at my third L.A. Marathon, shaving over five minutes off my personal best. It must have been the luck of the Irish, as this year's marathon took place on St. Patrick's Day.

Cooper turned 5
5 year Yellow Labrador Cooper
In April our adorable English Yellow Labrador turned five and he celebrated with a playdate with his doggie friends at his favourite off-leash park in L.A., Runyon Canyon. We still walk there most weekday mornings five days a week, but I'm certainly starting to see age take its toll on him, especially in the summer heat when he struggles towards the end.

Ran my first ever Vancouver Marathon in 3:50:26
Vancouver Marathon 2013
This year also saw some horrific and senseless acts of violence in the U.S. The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, took everyone by surprise and really hit a personal note, with friends running in the prestigious race and the thought that my fellow marathon running community and their supporters had been so mercilessly targeted.

In the true spirit of runners we kept on competing to show terrorists that they couldn't stop us from living our lives in freedom and I joined thousands of fellow runners wearing a yellow ribbon for Boston when I ran my first ever Vancouver Marathon on May 5, 2013.

The marathon was a beautiful course, but it was an extremely hot day in Canada, so a tough race. I still finished in under four hours and I've already signed up for the May 2014 race, where I'll hopefully improve my time.

Enjoying the delights of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay
11th Doctor Who Matt Smith waxwork TARDIS
At the end of May I travelled back to the U.K. to visit friends and family. One of the highlights of the trip was being able to journey further through time and space at the BBC Doctor Who Experience in Wales and see costumes, props and even sets from the British sci-fi show from over five decades.

We also had to return to Britain to renew our visas in December and so I took the opportunity to visit the out-of-this-world exhibit for a second time in 2013.

West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade in June
West Hollywood gay Pride Parade June 2013
In June were were back in L.A. in time to celebrate West Hollywood's annual Pride Parade festivities, but a historic event on the horizon would soon give us all something far greater to celebrate.

I mentioned earlier that it had been a life-changing year and the cause of most of that change was the phenomenal gay rights victories with the overturning of certain parts of DOMA (the inappropriately titled Defense of Marriage Act) and California's heinous Prop 8, which made gay marriage illegal and prevented same-sex couples from tying the knot.

Both were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June and suddenly we were able to get married in California, plus be entitled to the same rights as straight people when it came to taxation, legal and immigration issues.

Anti-gay DOMA and Proposition 8 overturned
DOMA Prop 8 Victory rally West Hollywood June 2013
On June 26, 2013, Charlie and I attended the victory rally in West Hollywood and it really did feel like we'd all won a major milestone against inequality and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. With equality we now had options and were finally able to plan for our future, and not worry about being kicked out of the country because the Federal government didn't recognize gay marriage rights.

Enjoying 4th of July in Palm Springs with Marilyn Monroe
Giant Forever Marilyn statue Palm Springs
We're not Americans, but we joined in the 4th of July festivities this year in Palm Springs, enjoying the heat lying in the pool for a few relaxing days with friends.

A fan of outdoor public art, I loved this giant Forever Marilyn statue and saw it twice this year, in July and then August when we returned for our 'mini-moon' (mini honeymoon).

On July 24 we were married at Beverly Hills Courthouse
Happy Couple wedding day
So after applying for our marriage license and having to wait two weeks because of the backlog of same-sex couples trying to finally get hitched, we were married after fourteen years together.

It was a quick, simple ceremony with two friends as witnesses and it was much more emotional than I thought it would be. When you've been told all your life growing up that you'll never be able to get married like opposite-sex couples by religions and politicians alike, you never think you'll be able to, or even want to get married. I'm not interested in the religious aspects of marriage, but I do want the same equality and legal recognition we're entitled.

Celebrating with Cooper and champagne 
on our roof deck after we tied the knot
Happy Couple celebrating after wedding
In August three of our best girlfriends flew over from the U.K. to help celebrate our wedding at a cocktail and canapé reception outside on Cafe La Boheme's patio, which was a wonderful evening. Glasses were raised, speeches were made and once again tears flowed, but tears of joy.

Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim
Disney D23 Expo 2013 Anaheim
This year I continued to fuel my love of movies by seeing over 30 movies on the big screen and going behind-the-scenes whenever possible to track down original costume and props displays at cinemas, Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland and also Disney's D23 Fan Expo in August.

Oz The Great and Powerful movie costumes on display at D23
Disney Oz Great Powerful movie costumes
Some of my favourite exhibits this year have been costumes and props from Oz The Great and Powerful, original costumes from 1985's Return to Oz, the Iron Man 3 Hall of Armour and costumes and props from Thor: The Dark World.

Fun cocktails at Paradise Cove in Malibu
cocktails Paradise Cove Malibu
In August and September we ate, drank and were merry with our visiting friends, taking in the delights of Palm Springs, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach and even we went boating around Newport Beach's waterfront for the first time.

At the start of October I saw Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson perform at the Hollywood Bowl, my only trip to the outdoor venue this year, and I have to say, she was the better act.

Diagnosed with Runner's Knee
Knee xrays
Following the challenges and achievements of running marathon after marathon in recent years, my body finally succumbed to the fatigue and stress, and delivered a double-whammy of knee and shoulder injuries putting me out of commission for several months.

After months of deep tissue massages, physical therapy, x-rays, MRIs, acupuncture and countless thousands of dollars later, my shoulder slowly improved and the diagnosis for my leg troubles was 'Runner's Knee', a common symptom for marathon runners where the cartilage has worn away behind the knee cap causing pain when to run, or in my case run, walk, climb up stairs.

At least this information helped me put things in perspective and allowed me to move forward again. So with the knowledge that running would ultimately cause further damage if I continued, I promptly signed up for two more marathons, just to hold a middle finger up to fate.

Carved pumpkins - a Halloween tradition
Carved Halloween pumpkins
One of my favourite times of the year is Halloween. Aside from carving pumpkins and making soup for days from the innards, you also get to dress up and parade your costume with 450,000 or so other revelers all in the name of fun. This year I chose to be a 'Zombie Bride' in honour of our wedding this year.

West Hollywood's annual Halloween festivities
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval costumes 2013
My horror outfit was certainly a hit (I've never posed for so many photos in my life), and if you think my gory look was great, be sure to check out these other outrageous and inventive costumes from West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval.

First time at Pantages Theatre to see Evita and The Lion King Musical
Lion King Musical billboard
2013 really was a year of firsts, as I ventured to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for the first time in six years and actually went twice in November, to see Evita (which I wasn't that impressed by) and The Lion King on stage (which I've seen countless times before, but still retains that Disney magic).

My photos in print
50 typefaces changed world book
People often wonder what I've been doing these past few years, being unable to work. Aside from running to raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles, I also have three blogs which keep me busy and on occassion some of my images find themselves in print in books, magazines and textbooks, with all proceeds going to charity.

Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay in December
Mermaid Quay Cardiff Bay
In December we were unexpectedly back in the U.K., which was remarkably mild for that time of year (I think we were lucky to miss the big storms), to renew our visas and actually change mine to a spousal visa, which now means we can approach the immigration desk together as a legally married couple and not be sent back to wait in line separately (believe me it makes a big difference).

Christmas Day
After celebrating the last birthday of my thirties in London at Gordon Ramsey's Bread Street Kitchen restaurant, we made it back to West Hollywood for our very own jet-lagged Christmas in the sunshine with Cooper.

Laguna Beach sunset
Laguna Beach sunset California
So as the sun goes down on another year in Southern California, I wish you all health, wealth and happiness for the future and raise a glass to a wonderful 2014, whatever delights it may bring.

Have a Happy New Year...

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