The Year of Changing Dangerously

I’ve been trying to write this post for a month.  That’s how my December has been. It’s now New Year’s Eve and I’m still gathering my thoughts.

So here it starts: 2015? Pretty good fucking year.

As soon as I write those words I think of tragedies local and far away that can rise up and say that no, 2015 sucked.  And yes…tragedy and heartbreak did and do consume the year. I don’t need to go into the global ones–be it terrorism domestic and abroad. Trump, gun nuts of all persuasions, racist cops, etc. I hope to one day live in a world without any monsters against humanity. It is something to strive for.

My thoughts also go to the personal tragedies of 2015: losing a student to suicide just leaves a hole in my heart. Having the college respond like automaton jackasses even more so. Of the reminder that this world is a hard place on those that truly see.

Of realizing, like many an American families, that we have an addict too and it fills me with much —I don’t even know how to describe it. Like you want to go back to that time when she was 15 and shake her out of it. If you only knew this was going to last a life time and wasn’t going to be a passing love affair.

Of realizing that one should demand respect in the workplace. I know. Sounds like a no-brainer but I worked for a college for 11 years that didn’t so much as say ‘thank you’ –and for a department where the co-chair went out of her way to say racist and dehumanizing remarks. You get used to the behavior over time and totally forget that how inappropriate it is–or that you deserve better. I’m only now realizing my value. Jeezus. And I’m how old?

So the title of this piece is ‘changing dangerously’. So let’s get to that. We know why change is dangerous. It makes us halt what we’ve been doing and start something new. It makes us let go of what we know and embrace the unknown. Umm…that’s fucking hard. I had no idea whether I’d even be up to change. But I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that I didn’t want to be that adjunct prof dying in her basement apartment having taught for sixty years on food stamps and pity. I woke up to the reality that I would never hold a full-time tenure track teaching job. Part of it was the system’s fault for not recognizing talent and ability. Part of it was my fault for choosing to live some place beautiful over some shit hole cow town that needs teachers. Still it wasn’t easy to let go of a quasi career I held for 17 years. So 2015 was my last year as an over full time adjunct who worked 60 hours a week at three colleges.

Now that I haven’t taught in four months, odd things are happening. People are telling me I look younger. I sleep more! I go to bed not feeling like I need to wake up at 4 am to grade papers no one will ever look at. It’s kinda weird.

The other changes and happenings in the force…

Julian and I decided to pull together and re-marry rather than pull apart and divorce. That’s no small feat for American couples with tween children.  And I’m glad he’s so supportive of having a writer wife in his own special way.

Children are coming along nicely albeit with the usual cultural angst of tweendom. I enjoy having a chess playing drummer artist in the household. I enjoy having a dance comp winning, gymnast, singer, quilter cake decorating, super brain kid too.

This was a strange career year for me. I used to cringe when people gave me the artist/writer label–a knee jerk reaction of simultaneous feeling like a big loser and not good enough at the same time. I envy people who want to be things like accountants and RNs and things with a decent road map and path to go on. I envy people who have homes and savings accounts too.

This was my year to say fuck it, you know what? I’m a writer and an artist and sometimes I make money and sometimes I don’t and I’m not going to let that fuck with my psyche anymore. Your day job makes me want to put a bullet in my head and I don’t really want to do that so I might as well embrace the strange.

So now I’m living doing whacky things. I’m back writing for a newspaper. I’m freelancing more. My first short story collection Sad Girls & Other Stories came out in February 2015. The second one Mary of the Chance Encounters will come out in 2016 hopefully before AWP.


I acted in three plays this year.

I worked as a production assistant on two films and was interviewed for a documentary.

I had pieces in several anthologies as well.

I sang a good deal and look forward to singing more in the new year.

I wrote short stories and poems and worked on the remaining chapters of my memoir and began taking notes to turn my first novel idea into a screenplay instead.

I ghost wrote for other people.

I modeled. I cut my hair. I embraced wearing make up sometimes. I got rid of the frumpy clothes in my closet. I started exercising.

I cooked a good deal. I tried new things. I encouraged my children.

Much of this felt dangerous. Different. Outside of my comfort zone.

Much of this I want to continue.

Recently I was taking to someone at mental health in the county concerning my addict relative. The woman on the phone said, “Ma’am do you need to talk to someone too? Would you like help coping?” I thought about it for a moment and realized that I’m lucky to have art and music and writing and theatre. That I’m lucky to have such a great array of smart, artistic and supportive friends and family.  I don’t feel alienated in that sense. And I don’t feel alone.

The year 2016 will be with us in a few short hours. I’m not making resolutions to change or to start new things. I’m resolving instead to finish projects I’ve started and to hang with people I love and people who are interesting and passionate. To resolve to be a good friend and listener and parent and to continue to introduce my children to positive and constructive and passionate people so perhaps they might never wallow 11 years in a job that disdained their very nature. So that they never become addicted to something unhealthy. So they may not be afraid to change dangerously.

Happy New Year. Here’s to finishing projects, moving on , and moving forward.




About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of short story ebook collection Sad Girls and Other Stories, and the audiobook Mary of the Chance Encounters, and the co-founder and lead playwright of Las Pachucas, theatrical troupe. She teaches creative writing and theatre in a California state prison.
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2 Responses to The Year of Changing Dangerously

  1. C.L. Quigley says:

    Awesome, Margaret! I’m lucky to have you too!

  2. Margaret, I’m so glad our paths crossed in 2015. Just thinking about you taking the plunge and quitting your job makes me envious, and maybe I’ll just follow your lead sometime soon. Keep on being true to yourself – it’s very flattering on you!

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