I’ve been meaning to write this for days. I haven’t sent a Christmas card and I’ve barely shopped. Each year I want to shop less and less. Each year my children (thankfully) seem to want less and less. Our bellies full, our pockets marginally empty at times, okay at others. There’s a fire in the hearth and my husband tends it well through out the cold weekend. There’s a kitten in the house attacking all manner of things moving and unmoving. Earlier this evening, beloved friend and godfather of the children Matthew, up visiting from Los Angeles, played guitar and sang, and I sang and Julian sat grinning and the kids on each chair made into a bed in the living room hummed, sang and stared dreamily into Christmas tree and up at their godfather. It was that kind of evening. Snow and dropping temperatures outside, cozy what’s best about the world inside. Like my kids have all of Matthew’s songs memorized.
Singing. There’s not been enough song in my life in the last few years. It almost seemed weird to admit earlier this year that I missed singing. Do you know studies show that those that sing and play music are less prone to panic and heart issues? It’s a weird thing though when you’ve given yourself over to one creative art you get known for that thing you do. So the others take a back seat. But why? So a friend of mine has been at me for nearly a year, like hey, why aren’t you playing something? Singing? I finally relented. Duh. MAKES ME HAPPY. Hello?! Sheesh. You’d think I’d know these things by now. KNow what else makes me happy? DJing at Plumas Community Radio. Seriously fun and I’m like the only 44 year old in this county that knows of bands forming in garages across this nation. Okay maybe that’s just arrested development on my part, but it’s fun.
Lots of things make me happy actually, which is probably at odds with my not so sunny disposition. It’s hard to think over a year. I opened up my calendar to skim over the year. There are big things: Julian wrecking on Feb. 1st and making life flash before all of our eyes. The house we are living in was put up for sale. Big student loans come due. Thought about going back to school. Getting nowhere at work. You know, the kind of things that just make it all feel temporary, the kind of things that make you feel like what the hell am I doing here?
Some of you know. I’m an army brat. I get that itch to get the hell out of Dodge every 3.5 years. Plumas County is the longest continual time I’ve lived anywhere. If I didn’t have the grounding of family, I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing. I feel that way about where I live now. It’s grounding. It’s alive and dying and I feel it all the time–whether it’s Julian flipping the truck over and coming to rest three feet from death, or it’s my lungs hurting from the crispness of the air. My kids that can identify every plant. My friends here provide the context. It all comes together in our isolation.
Um yeah. So when you have long term projects that you are getting less than nowhere on: going back to learning Japanese, learning guitar, losing 60 pounds, and getting my fucking book to the agent (s). These things can make me feel like a loser because I’m just not fast enough or disciplined enough or something enough. I know I suck at Japanese, guitar and I only lost 10 pounds, and yes the first 100 pages are fucking golden, but I’m a perfectionist after all. I don’t like to suck at anything. I like to be perfect.
But if I look at my calendar of appointments and done deeds, it doesn’t look so bleak. It might actually be, on a good day, inspiring. I met or worked with some really cool people this year–like getting in on the HipMama relaunch with Ariel Gore, working with Pauline Campos over at Girl Body Pride, bringing the Listen to Your Mother Show to Plumas County and working with Roxanne and Plumas Arts on that one. Met Erin & Amie & Co. from the Gay Dad Project and participated in the upcoming documentary. 2nd Annual Wayward Writers Campout held in La Greenville with my fellow crazy writerchicks (and Rocky). Did Lit Quake in SF. Did a bunch of other cool readings all over the place with good writers. Hung out with my dad and his lovely wife in Wisconsin this summer. Took classes with Lasara Firefox Allen. My chapbook the Alzheimer’s Cul de Sac is out! Dude, short story collection comes out SOON. My work is all over the place this year. Really! Throw a rock and you’ll hit a piece of mine somewhere online or rotting in the doorway of your favorite snobby bookstore. So perhaps I’m not the loser I make myself out to be. More like a broke winner with some dents and some recognition.
In some ways 2013 was the year of recovery. But that begs the question, what are we recovering from? Complacency? Sudden Deaths? Sudden ends of sudden friendships? Lessons have been learned: a) you can’t save people. you can’t even really help them unless of course, they want help. Duh. b) I’m not going to be over deaths and near deaths anytime soon. Double duh. c) I need to spend more time in San Francisco and Wisconsin. That only makes sense to me. Good coffee and cheese in both places by the way.
In some ways this year was one of renewal. Found my way back to Women’s Studies. Found my way back to sexuality. Found my way back to other creative outlets. Found my way back to really loving my mother despite me writing a memoir of my not so easy childhood. Found my way back to my father and loving him and his wife and feeling really, really alive.
Found my way out of secrets which is both recovery and renewal and apparently now the theme of my book. Found out that my children are really cool people and not just because they’re my kids but because they are both Julian and I and so much more themselves.
It was often a difficult year. An inspiring year. A full circle kind of year full of all possibilities of love and sadness.
Which just might be what I live for.