Posts Tagged With: New Year

Courage

I do not know what it is exactly, but in the 2 work days since Trump officially took office it feels like Facebook is burning down with politics and horribleness.  I know we expected this, but I didn’t expect it so soon, guys.  I had planned to write a blog post about the women’s march, but I feel like people are fighting over even that these days.  And that, to be honest, was more fun, communal, and inspiring than the militantly hostile or revolutionary event non-supporters seem to think it was.

So I will spare you the politics and plan to write about the march another time.

Then I thought I would just put a photo gallery up of some nice things I saw last year, to soothe.  But I realized that I didn’t post much on Instagram last year or even take many photos at all.  The photos I take with my good camera are so much better than the crap I get from my cell phone that I was feeling like I shouldn’t post unless they were the awesome and fancy ones.  I know… I’ve cured myself of that.  I cured myself by realizing the thing I like most about my Instagram feed is that it’s a little record of all the positive stuff that has happened in the year.  So I’m trying not to care about quality and just going for affection.  Quality is bonus.  But most of the nice things that happened last year? Undocumented.

I cannot tell you exactly why I feel this way, but this year seems to be one that is gearing up for a lot of change, and not just in the government.  Nothing definitive has happened yet, but I feel it in the air… the pause before the thunder, the crouch before the jump.  I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown in the new year, and I came across this quote of hers, below.  I intend to take it as a motto for this year.  And in this time of tribulation, I especially recommend Rising Strong if you’re looking for some Neosporin for those political wounds.  I read Brene and my path, in life in general, seems a lot easier to bear.

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An Old New Year

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Well, it is a new year.  The one thing I like about new years is that they are, even if only for a second, completely perfect in every way.  I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a hard one, so I was intending to savor the goodness for as long as possible.  We made it longer in perfection than we usually do.  I achieved it for a day and a half before I forgot to do my daily writing and then got into an inane fight with Brian over bookshelves.  I think that’s pretty good.

We celebrated New Year the old person way at my friend Emily’s house – by calling up the ball drop in real time, cheering, toasting, and singing at 9:00.  And then Emily, Brian, and I got to talking and accidentally also celebrated the real New Years at midnight.  It was fun, scrambling for sparkling cider in her kitchen filled with the detritus of the tasty pizza and carrot cake we had just eaten, clinking glasses and singing Auld Lang Syne lustily, but at a volume that wouldn’t wake the children (or Joey who had work early the next day).

It made me think of all the other new years Emily and I spent together.

Especially the one where four of my best high school friends and I went to Knotts Berry Farm with Liz’s youth group.  There was some sort of major Christian rock concert going, which was great with us.  No one was in line for the rides, so we gallivanted across the park riding everything.  In the days before security checkpoints, Emily snuck a bottle of Martinelli’s through the gates in her backpack. She forgot the churchkey.  We struggled valiantly to open the thing without making any headway before we finally managed to borrow a pair of scissors from a vendor.  With much brute strength and (miraculously) no blood, Becca eventually stabbed the metal lid through.  There was cider everywhere, frothing from the jagged opening, covering our hands in stickiness.  We toasted and drank in the night, the lights of the carousel shining over us, the rollercoaster rattling past, midnight come and gone.

And then months later when we all graduated, they presented the bottle to me as a present.  It was mostly cleaned up but the lid still held tight, the jagged scissor opening gaping.  It’s lost to time now. Gone in one of the many moves I made in the mysterious way that happens.  But I remembered it still as we sang in Emily’s golden kitchen this year.  We were, all four of us, such different people back then.  And now we are scattered to the winds; happy, still in touch, still thinking of each other, but hardly in the same city and most of us not even in the same state.

The year rolls forward, though, and so does the changing of ourselves and our worlds.  I know that 2017 will bring bad things.  I just hope it brings plenty of good along with it.

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Break Finished

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Brian and I had a, well, interesting break.  We had one giddy day of fun down in San Juan Capistrano.  We took the train down, roamed the Mission gardens, ate lunch at the best little Italian café in the old train station building, and then wandered the kitschy shops before hopping the train home again.  I trounced Brian at Lost Cities, and then he trounced me at Love Letter.

The rest of vacation we spent putting the house in order.  I did massive dishes, put the all-year decorations up after the Christmas decorations came down (thanks Brian!), and cleaned out my closet.  Brian dug up sprinkler lines, marveled at the stupidity and redundancy of them, and then installed a billion anti-siphon valves (okay, just 4) so all the random cut-off lines we found can be useable lines.  I feel a lot of gardening in my future.  In between, there was much catching up with friends, tons of cookies, and a little bit of D&D.

I am NOT ready to come back to work.  It’s times like these I wish I was independently wealthy.

I am tripping along on my resolutions.  One of my gifts was a Kindle, and I am THRILLED with the way it syncs to Goodreads.  So much easier than trying to put them in one by one as I finish them.  I think getting to 100 books will be easier than ever this year.  I have written 3 of 4 days of the new year, too.  Considering a couple of those days were weekends (when I usually don’t write), so that’s pretty good.

It feels right to be back in the swing of things, though, in some ways.  I’m looking forward to the new year, and all the things it will bring.

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2015 Wrap Up

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I am officially off work as of this afternoon, and very excited about it.  Christmas Eve is at my house.  There will be ginger cookies, powdered sugar snowballs, wassail, a heap of presents, and much merrymaking.  There may even be ukulele carols.  I don’t have to return to work until the 4th, which means that Brian and I get to adventure all over the place.  We have a train trip planned to San Juan Capistrano for the day, and I’m sure we’ll do other things as well.

This also means that I may not update until the new year.  Which then means that I should do the end of year wrap up thing now, right?

Right.  Here goes.

First, I want to say thanks to everyone who is following along with this thing.  The blog has grown in HUGE leaps and bounds this year, and it’s all because of your interest.  Every time I log in and look at my stats, I get warm fuzzies in my cold, cold heart (just kidding about the cold heart).  But seriously, you are full of awesome and you make me smile.  Thank you for reading.

I consider this thing not just a blog about bookishness, but also a blog that charts the efforts of a burgeoning writer (in the hopes that what I’ve learned might help someone else).  In that spirit, I want to look at my writing goals for last year.  I don’t think I ever wrote the official goals down on the blog, but I have them in my personal journal.  Here they are:

  1. Read 100 books (via Goodreads)
  2. Have a novel ready to shop around
  3. Make $1000 from my writing in any capacity
  4. Get 5 stories published, have 1 paid for

Those were all pretty lofty.  I tend to think lofty.  I know I won’t make the goal, necessarily, but I also know that by reaching for it I will accomplish more than I would have normally.  The only problem with these is that they failed to take my writing habits into consideration, making them impossible.  I didn’t even write 5 short stories in 2015, let alone get them published.  Here is the breakdown of the outcomes:

The Goodreads challenge is the only one I hit.  I’m currently in the middle of book 109, with another week of vacation left.  I’ll make 110 easily, and maybe more.

My book isn’t ready for publication, nor even for beta-reading.  The structure of the last half of it is SUCH a mess.  All the parts are there, they’re just in the wrong order and not detailed enough.  Some of the beginning also needs to be re-written.  Brian and I know the world so well that we don’t always get that the description of some things are unclear to newbies.  I do have a pitch letter and the first draft of a synopsis, which is the next part of things, and made immense strides towards getting it finished.  I am very close, and still plugging along.  But I didn’t meet the goal.

I had 1 thing published this year.  If you count the fact that Bewildering Stories also added that story to their Quarterly Review you could argue that it was published twice, although that’s a stretch.  I shopped a lot of stories around, got some really heartening rejection letters, and all-around had a great experience.  But you can’t say I made that goal at all.  No stories were paid for.  What I am proud of is that I have done slightly better this year than last.  The Wages of Sin was up and readable for a total of 15 days.  Plenty of Fish got much more attention than that.

This year, I’m prepared to be a little more realistic.  And I think I have a better idea of what realistic looks like.

So… in 2016 I will:

  1. Read another 100 books
  2. Have a novel ready to shop around
  3. Beat or match my previous record for published short stories (2) and/or be paid for 1 short story
  4. Write at least 20 days of each month

Right now, I’m expecting that I will complete everything but number 4, although I will hit 4 most months – I already do when I’m keeping track of my writing like a good girl.  It’s the making myself keep track that’s the problem.  I’ll report back next December and let you know how it goes!

Now go have a Jolly Holiday and consume more sweets than are good for you.  I’ll see you next year.

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An Old Year

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This week I can finally feel the year getting old. I don’t know why that feeling has eluded me for so long. After all, it’s December. I put the Christmas stuff up already, and by next weekend the season is upon us with a vengeance.

Perhaps it is because it’s finally getting to be sweater weather in California. This is the first week in as long as I can remember that we got four straight days of rain. I got a little Fall in Maine, but I mostly felt like I went from summer to fake-Fall-land and then back to summer again. It is so easy to believe that Maine is a place outside of the world, because I fly in and I fly out and neither life touches the other, except when it does.

This morning, I drove to work in the rain, wipers swishing. Last night, it got cold in the house, and somewhere in the depths of night, and the kitten burrowed under the covers and snuggled up to me. I slept badly, afraid that I would forget she was there, turn over, and crush my favorite fluffy pincushion. But it was cold out. And the other cats won’t let her snuggle yet (maybe never). I didn’t have the heart to move her.

It could also be the time change and those dark evenings, or the fact that Trader Joe’s has started stocking eggnog, spiced cookies, candied sweet potatoes, and real evergreen wreaths.

But whatever it is, I’m glad to see 2014 go. It was a weird year, full of high highs and low lows. The year started with me finding out I was losing my job, but somewhere in the middle we bought the house. Now the year is mostly full of hard work; between sprucing up the yard, work itself, and the huge writing push I’m forcing on myself. I’ve taken on Ukulele Christmas Carols and some crocheting of Christmas presents as well. I’ll never get it all done, but it’s fun to see what lands completed in the bits of time that I can steal. Often it’s not what I think it will be.

And then we are on to a year with no mistakes in it yet.

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Happy New Year

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I had meant to write a blog post filled with optimism.  “It’s a new year with no mistakes in it yet,” I wrote for the first sentence.  I was asking for it, loud and clear.  So far, this year has been riddled with mistakes.

We celebrated the new year at a friend’s house, playing Cards Against Humanity while we ignored Ferris Beuler’s Day Off playing in the background, lounging and laughing.  “Happy New Year!” we all yelled as we watched the ball drop in Times Square on the television.  I leaned in toward Brian for the traditional kiss.  I took a step closer.  I squished his bare toes with my sharp pointy flats.

“Ouch,” he said.

“Sorry,” I replied.

At that point, the new year was 50% mistake.

Brian and I thought we would like an adventure on our last day off, so we bundled ourselves in the car and went to LACMA.  I specifically checked the website for holiday hours.  It said they would be closed on the 31st, but it didn’t say anything about New Year’s Day.  In my quest for holiday hours, I missed the gigantic banner at the top that said “closed Wednesdays.”  I found it in all its bright, pixilated glory when we returned home.  The empty parking structure should have tipped me off, but it wasn’t until the security guard at the entrance stopped us that I realized.

“Is the Tar Pits open?” I asked.  Plan B

“Maybe, I don’t know,” he said.  “You can check.”

So we checked.  It wasn’t.

The LA Farmer’s Market (oldest farmer’s market in the US, they proudly proclaim) is a few blocks away.  We walked there, and they were open.  We had blueberry pie at a diner that was the best I’ve ever had – buttery crust and berries that burst as I chewed amid the sweet, dark filling.  I bought a teapot and some loose-leaf Imperial Earl Gray at one of the shops.  Not the regular kind, the Imperial kind.  And then we walked back to the car, drove home, and fell into bed.

This morning I packed a lunch in a large Trader Joe’s bag, brown paper with convenient handles.  It was a tasty one.  Fusilli pasta in basil with fresh cherry tomatoes, popcorn, and a Honey Crisp apple.  Dried cocoanut strips as a snack.  I got to work and realized that it’s still on the floor of my living room.  Evidently, I’ll be buying lunch today.  I have little hope that cats won’t eat all the popcorn before I can get home tonight.  Sigh.

In short, this year has been nothing but mistakes so far.  I suppose that’s what I get for writing that fate-tempting sentence.  There is something so tantalizing about the promise of the new year, though.  The unflinching optimism that this year, surely, will be better than the one that just passed.  Maybe it will even be the best one yet.  The evidence might be for the contrary and still I persist in thinking I can make better the reality; when the reality is, who knows?

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Resolve

What is it about the new year that’s so incredibly inticing?  It brings a wash of happiness to me every year as the clock strikes twelve and the bedlam erupts around me, a joyfull din.  I guess it’s that the new year brings so much promise with it, so much hope that the next one will be better than the last.  If I wasn’t afraid of tempting fate, I would say that anything is bound to be better than last year.  I compromised on every deal I ever made with myself, tried to sell my soul for money, almost lost everything I really care about, only to realize that none of this was neccisary in the first place.  Another year older, another year wiser, I guess.

I have a few New-Year’s resolutions this year, and I intend to tell you about them.  I think I will be more likely to keep them if there’s some record of my wishes.  It will be fun to see what takes off soaring, and what falls like a lead balloon.  The only one I can remember from last year was not biting my fingernails, and I accomplished that admirably until E. P.  started up again, and I lost every single fingernail to costuming emergencies.  Oh well, they went for a good cause.

This year I intend to:

  • Keep my car clean.  The poor thing, with a nickname like “trashmobile”, and nothing it can do about it except long silently for the vaccum.  This shoud change.
  • Appreciate the husband more.  He’s really such a wonderful fellow, and I don’t give him nearly enough credit for all his amazingness.  (yes dear, I know Amazingness isn’t strictly a word, Mr. English Major, but it applies to you just the same.)
  • Go back to school for real this time, and not just because my parents want me too, and that’s what girls my age do.

I think that’s just about it for now.  Of course I still intend to work insanely hard and be the best Lead that E. P.  has ever seen, but I like to list tangeable, measureable things as resolutions.  That way a girl can tell if she’s succeeding or not. 

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