This is a bit of an unscheduled post, but I spent most of the week running myself ragged and fighting a cold (the cold, sadly, has won), and I haven’t had the chance to blog in a few days. I’m closing out 2011 much in the same way that I ushered it in: curled up in bed, pajama-clad and sneezing. This year, however, my cold is waning, and I’ll hopefully make a full recovery by the beginning of the week. In an effort to feel a little less lame, I am blasting Britney Spears and quaffing glasses of sangria (a gal’s gotta find a way to feel a little festive, right?).
2011 In Review
Marking the turn of the year is always a time of introspection for me, and I know I’m not alone in that. In so many ways, though, 2011 has been a decidedly odd twelve months. Because of the academic trajectory that I’ve been on over the years, I’m used to feeling like I’m on an escalator flying upwards. Each year brings a set of challenges and benchmarks for me to tackle and to overcome, and at the end, I almost always have a list of successes to tally: important academic achievements, conference talks, and other such things. I won’t lie — I’m an overachiever, and I hoard those little accomplishments the way a miser collects coins.
This past year, though, has been different. I declared that this would be a non-conference year (I’ve presented on at least two panels over the last 3 years) so that I could have more time to focus on my research. At the same time, the thesis dragged on much longer than I anticipated. Without having the thesis finished, I haven’t been able to move forward in my grad program, and so I’ve felt a little like a plane circling around and around in an endless holding pattern, just waiting for the signal from the control tower to swoop down for a victorious landing.
On a personal level, I’ve had my share of ups and downs as well. I started the year with loss, as my boyfriend of almost two years and I broke up during Thanksgiving 2010. I don’t think I quite realized the emotional stress I would experience, especially given that he was, in essence, my first love and my first relationship. I spent six months fighting back unexpected waves of anger, which of course gave way to bitterness and sadness and grief and a whole host of other things that I’d rather not feel.
The highlight of the last year has been my writing. I began 2011 wringing my hands and lamenting that I would never find a good idea ever again, that I would be doomed to be without words for the rest of my days. Somehow, through a combination of hard work, unexpected strokes of inspiration, the support of some wonderful communities, words have returned to me. Between two NaNo events and ROW80, I’ve written well over 100k on various projects, which is more than I’ve written since maybe 2008 or 2009. I finally feel like I have a foundation for building work that is far more mature than anything I’ve tackled before, stories and tales that reflect who I am, and where I am, today.
Looking Forward to 2012
2012 is all about change.
With school, I’m on schedule to finish my coursework by June 2012, and to advance to PhD candidacy sometime during the summer, as I close out my 4th year of graduate school. This means that my chapter in Santa Barbara will be coming to an end. I’m fully-funded for my 5th year (huzzah for small miracles), and so I’ll be moving back in with my parents, where I’ll stay for a year or two to write and finish my dissertation. I’ve been waiting a long, long time for this, and it’s scary and exciting and wonderful all at once. I have six months left in SB, and I hope to make the most of it.
More immediately, I’m marking a major milestone in February — the big Quarter-Century Birthday. Given that I spent most of my teen years wishing that I was 35 years old with a husband, family, and a career, I’m not scared to get older… but twenty-five is kind of a big deal, and it’s the sort of birthday that gives me pause. I am mostly on track with the Life Schedule I made for myself in high school (yes, there really is a spreadsheet with my life goals between 18 and 30 sitting on my hard drive), though I feel a strange need to treat this birthday with some form of reverence, or something.
One of the things that has become clear to me during my holiday break is that I need to get back to being me. This is a quest I will be talking about at length over the next few months, but the bottom line is that I’ve dropped a lot of things that I’ve loved since I got to grad school. Writing was one, and I’m delighted to have that back, but there are a host of other things that I’ll be working to re-integrate into my life.
So with that in mind, here’s my somewhat-random list of things I want to tackle in 2012:
- Get a tattoo (or three). I’ve been nursing the idea of getting inked for over a year now, since my break-up, but I wanted to hold off so that I was sure that I wasn’t going through a rebellious phase. But I’ve figured out what I want (an art nouveau-inspired peacock, plus a couple of quotes), where I want it (a quote on each forearm, and the peacock on the back of my left shoulder), and the artist (Siri, a former illustrator who works at Black and Blue Tattoo in San Francisco, and did this amazing peacock). My first will hopefully be a quote from A.S. Byatt’s POSSESSION: “Words have been all my life.”
- Finish a novel. I suck at finishing things, just for the record, and I want this to be the year when I finally stop sucking at it. I have 2 partly-finished WIPs that need some tender-loving-care, and I’m going to make sure that they get enough of it so that I can have at least one completed draft to my name.
- Stop being so scared of love. I think I’ve healed up from my last break-up, but I have been reminded that I’ve sorta sealed myself off like some uber-fragile object, all encased in bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts and other forms of insulation. My best friend’s aunt, who is quite adept at reading people, has told me that I have been “too much alone,” and it’s true — living in my happy fantasy worlds with my lovely made-up characters is endlessly entertaining, and means that I don’t have to worry about getting my heart stomped on. So I’m not saying that I’m going to be hunting down a boyfriend, but I am saying that I am not averse to the possibility of one somehow landing… nearby.
Better yet, I’m thrilled to have another year of blogging, socializing, and supporting all of my online friends. I’m looking forward to another round of ROW80, which starts on Monday (get your engines revved, people!), to jumping into the 50/50 Challenge (reading 50 books and watching 50 films in 2012), and all the other magical, unexpected surprises that will crop up along the way.
Happy New Year, friends!