May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art (write or draw or build or sing) and I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. – Neil Gaiman
This has been a whirlwind of a year.
Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do today? Lament how quickly this past year has left us? Then we’ll talk about all the wondrous things that await us in the new year.
We’re creatures of habit so here goes:
2011, we hardly knew ye. 2012, I am looking forward to meeting you.
For me, 2011 started off sideways. I lost my job of seven years immediately after the new year dawned. It was a job, looking back, that pretty much sucked the life out of me. My workplace defined my identity, became the center of my world. This might have been okay if I’d been doing something I was passionate about, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t saving the world or curing cancer or creating something beautiful. I was being passed over for promotions and not getting a raise for four years.
I had some truly, truly phenomenal coworkers over my years there, many of whom I count among my friends. And, I might add, many of whom escaped following my departure. Chapter closed.
And then I had my wisdom teeth pulled. Because being suddenly unemployed didn’t quite suck enough. Did I mention that I was fired by my Secret Santa? Worst. Secret Santa. Ever.
So, lost job and lost wisdom teeth. Happy January. The year was shaping up to be a bust already.
But I’m blessed by an abundance of good friends who reached out, offering encouragement and support and words of wisdom. I reconnected with many I hadn’t seen for a very, very long time.
I spent mornings in coffee shops with Layn, also unemployed at the time, talking books and movies and music and zombies. I spent afternoons with Sean, discussing writing and world affairs.
I wrote. A lot. Sean sponsored my entry into the NYCMidnight short story contest and I came in fourth in my group in the first round, a pretty good finish for someone who writes as slowly as I do and has never entered such a competition before. But where I placed seems inconsequential to me when I remember that someone who knows my writing was willing to step up and say,”Hey, I believe strongly enough in your ability to string words together that I’m willing to put money on it.”
Sean will be on the acknowledgments page if this book ever gets published. He won’t be the only one. So many of you have encouraged me this year: Heather and Laura, Dora and Jennifer, Patrick and Jeanette and Richard. That sweetheart bartender at the Horse Brass who remembers I like cider and rye toast with my breakfast. Aaron and Stacy and all those who offered me space to write (or didn’t fuss when I showed up, disheveled and crazy, looking for a quiet space in which to put the words together). I sincerely offer thanks to each and every one of you.
As a news junkie, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention some of the big stories of the year: Gabby Giffords, the Japan and New Zealand earthquakes, the Joplin tornado, the royal wedding and the uprisings in Egypt, in Syria, in Libya. The downfall of several world leaders, the deaths of terrorists and dictators. That crazy World Series game. The Occupy movement.
I watched them all happen, from the comfort of my home, and was grateful for all that I have.
I saw a few shows (opened the year with Social Distortion and closed with Shed Culture Live) and more than a few movies. I read a few books, though fewer than I would have liked. I sent out hundreds of resumes. I spent a couple hours in the presence of Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer who inspired me and reminded me that it is possible to find love in the unlikeliest of places with the unlikeliest of people.
I volunteered with the Bus Project, at Sock Summit and at the Oregon Food Bank. I spent an October day in Oregon’s wine country making wine and spent Halloween night in a graveyard as a guide for the Tour of Untimely Departures. I performed two weddings. I completed NaNoWriMo, 50,000 more words for the novel, all written in November.
I joined the Timbers Army. This turns out to be the best decision I’ve made in the past year.
At a time when it would have been easy to curl up into a ball and cry myself to sleep, the Portland Timbers’ first MLS season began and I found myself caught up in the current of green and gold love flowing through the City of Roses and through the world’s soccer community.
I’d put down my season ticket deposit years ago when the idea of MLS coming to Portland was little more than a dream for a faraway future. I went to matches occasionally but wasn’t a true supporter. I usually knew if they were winning or losing, but that was about it.
But MLS did decide to come to Portland and the time came a year and a half ago to fully commit: I bought two season tickets, not knowing if I would go, or if anyone would go with me, or if I would just sell those tickets later if I decided I wasn’t into it.
As it turns out, I was into it.
I bought in wholeheartedly. I got caught up in the excitement of the game and the love of the Timbers Army for their club, their city and all of Cascadia (minus the rave green encampment to the north).
I met some fantastic people through the TA: writers and artists and winemakers and more IT guys than you can shake a stick at. I marched in a parade alongside them, packaged food for the hungry with them by my side and, yes, managed to find myself in an episode of Portlandia. I watched home matches from my perch high in 221, the prefect vantage point to witness the Timbers Army in their native habitat, the North End of Jeld-Wen Field. Sharese, who had the good sense to buy my second ticket, and I had our pictures taken for the We Are Timbers campaign and, in addition to having said pictures hanging on the concourse, our likenesses are also sold in the team store. We’re all in.
We’re moving to the North End with the coming season where we will be yelled at by Pong and where Barnacle Brian will spill beer on us and where we will jump and sing our way into the playoffs surrounded by the greatest soccer supporters group the world has ever seen.
So, that’s my year in a nutshell: I lost my job and joined the Timbers Army. Lots of other stuff happened, but those are the two events that will forever define 2011 for me.
What’s on the horizon for 2012? More time with friends. More opportunities for creativity. Perhaps a little more financial stability.
I’m not one to make resolutions. Resolutions are nice, but they set you up for failure. Me, I’m just going to wait and see what happens next.
As for you, I offer you the above wish from Neil Gaiman and add my own:
May you know love and laughter and joy this coming year. May you see a place you’ve never before seen, may you meet someone who makes you laugh, if even for a moment, and may you raise a glass and toast to your past as you look to the future. Your past is what brought you this far, but your future is where you will shine.
Much love to you all.