Thursday, December 20, 2012

Putting Off the Apocalypse

Tomorrow is 12/21/12, and there's no way the world can end. I have big plans for 2013, and after the rather harrowing year I've had, I'm looking forward to many good things in the year to come. It's become a bit of a tradition for me to look at the past year while setting some goals for the next. So here's a look back as well as a peek at what's to come.

PAST: My year started with a trip to the ER followed by emergency surgery. While it took my mom a couple of days to come take care of me (I'm always glad to have my mom visit), there was an amazing community of people right here in Northern Virginia who stepped in when family couldn't. Friends brought me to the hospital, picked me up, made meals for me, changed my bandages, picked my mom up from the train station, and kept me company while I recovered. I will always be grateful for the family I've discovered in my own back yard.

FUTURE: I look forward to the many opportunities I'll have to show my love and appreciation for my friends. I look forward to attending kid's soccer games, going out for celebratory dinners and finding the perfect gifts for baby showers and bridal showers and graduations and birthdays. While I might not look forward to it, I'll happily help friends move, grieve with them when they lose a loved one and take them to a movie when they need a little break.

PAST: Working with writers' groups have not only made me a better writer, but they have also made me some wonderful friends. Together we've explored new worlds and learned about the past, laughed at silly boys and gone on great adventures. These men and women encourage me and teach me and love me, and in the past year, I've never needed them more. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention what an honor it is to be a member of SCBWI and work with my local chapter. Becoming a member of that organization four years ago was the best decision I ever made.

FUTURE: There are so many amazing books I'm looking forward to reading next year. I'm fortunate to have a lot of really good friends with upcoming publications, so bare with me as I do some name dropping. Sara Zarr, Mike Martin, Megan Shepherd, Lisa Papademetriou and Anne Marie Pace already have books slated for release, and I'm sure I'll read a dozen more.

PAST: Starting grad school was terrifying and thrilling all at once. I never realized it was possible to be stressed out and totally at peace at the same time. I had an amazing adviser who taught my to write broadly until you find your story and encouraged the poet within me to be brave. I quickly made some of the best friends I could ever imagine in my fellow VCFA classmates. School also allowed me to discover Vermont summers and cross the boarder into Canada where I actually used my rusty French in real conversations.

FUTURE: Right after the New Year I get to see what White Christmas was really all about when I go to Vermont for my second residency. I'll bring my new ice skates and winter coat to play in the snow as well as a fresh notebook and plenty of hot cocoa to get me through lectures. For summer residency I'll go up a few days early, and (hopefully with my brother in tow) visit Cooperstown and hike in the Adirondack Mountains.

PAST: I discovered my Natitude this baseball season. Excuse me while I get a little misty-eyed just thinking about it. I have loved baseball all my life and the White Sox will always be my first love, but I've watched the Nationals grow from their very first season into a championship team. I was in agony when Jayson Werth snapped his wrist, heartbroken when Rick Ankiel didn't make the cut, excited when Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore were called up, and astonished when Teddy finally won the race. I was at Game 4 to cheer on their first post-season run, and it will be an experience I'll never forget.

FUTURE: What more could a life-long baseball fan ever wish for? Oh, yeah, to see their team play in the Wold Series. I can't wait for April.

PAST: With my project for grad school, I've learned a lot about my family this year. I've spent a lot of time combing through documents and listening to family members tell stories. In doing this, I've also learned a great deal about myself. Mainly I learned that I come from a long line of kick-ass women (my mother, grandmothers, aunts and sister among them) whom I can only hope to be like.

FUTURE: My little brother comes home from Hawaii next summer, and I'm excited to be a lot closer to him once again. I'm sure my sister and parents will be down for visits, and I know I'll see a few aunts, uncles and cousins throughout the year. I love my family, and more than anything, I hope the New Year brings them happiness and success.

I know the past year has been very difficult for many people. People I know and love continue to struggle financially, and words cannot describe the horrible loss that happened last week. The world is full of war and hunger and unhappiness. But there is also goodness, kindness and hope in the world. I hope in the coming weeks we can all remember the things that are worth living for. From this natural-born pessimist to you, may 12/21/12 be just another day in this holiday season and may it bring you a little closer to family, friends and joy.

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