Andrea "Superhero" Scher (whom I've never met, but whose jewelry I wear on a semi-regular basis--particularly when I have to participate in academic processions) is encouraging her readers to participate in a Mondo Beyondo exercise, and I am more than happy to do so, not least because the turn of my year was so hectic and love-filled (and so empty of Academic Mayhem! did you notice?) that I didn't have my usual end-of-year collapse-and-reconsolidate experience.
Herewith, the end of 2007: the first step is to say goodbye to the old year, and she's offered a set of suggestions for doing so ritually. I'm just going to take her questions one by one.
1. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2007?
Moving. For me, 2007 was the year of moves, both within my U.S. home and to my (temporary) England home. Packing up and coming over here was, as you may recall if you've been reading since last January, nearly impossible for me even to consider a year ago: it took me about a month to let the idea sink in far enough to concoct applications, and another few weeks beyond that actually to finish the applications and send them off. Packing up my house and moving out was another enormous step. In both cases, facing down a fear of change (and of not being able to master the complexities and logistics of major physical shifts) has paid off immensely. For one thing, I've learned once again (and this time for good, I hope) that I can transplant and still be liked--still be something of a social center, even--in fairly short order. For another, I got to introduce my parents to England, which was a bigger thrill than I've been able to acknowledge even to myself, much less to them, in the aftermath of their whirlwind trip.
I also moved into greater artistic exploration, first with the photography class and now with the piano. I've kept writing here, even if it's only a few words some days. I even faced down some of my fears and reluctances about my critical writing, in part because of my community here. I tell you, they don't take "I'm not sure" for an answer.
I did my very best, always, to be the best teacher, daughter, sister, friend, writer, and artist I could be. I didn't always succeed, but I also want to acknowledge that I learned how better to sidestep feeling guilty so that I could try to fix my mistakes and stop making the same ones over and over. 2007 taught me, once again, how much I love my friends' children--how delighted I am when my friends get pregnant (ahem), how delighted I am when their children are born and start growing up (ahem), how happy it makes me when I can support and entertain either those children or their parents (or both) in person or via Skype.
I learned a lot this year about how not to want to be perfect. I learned a lot, thanks especially to my flaming-sworded friend, about how to be angry in the right directions, how to strike back at the real monsters instead of at myself. A few years ago, I told one of my Chicagoan friends that I wanted to be more serene than I felt myself to be. This year helped me find my center, which has made a lot of things clearer than they were before--and which has indeed grounded me more strongly and serenely.
Speaking of grounding, I want to acknowledge, though it's not necessarily in celebration, that 2007 saw me get lots more white hairs, a small collection of new wrinkles, and a changing body composition. I'm proud to say that most of the time, I don't fret about these things: 2007 also saw me appreciating a wider array of beauty (human and otherwise) than ever.
2. What is there to grieve about 2007?
It was a painful year for my ardent heart. I try to keep things half-veiled around here, but you can find traces of my romantic intrigues (or lack thereof) without a lot of effort, and some of you have heard my various tales of woe ad nauseum. I want to believe that there's a reason for my being single, and that the reason is that I'm somehow not ready for whoever this person who's "out there" is going to turn out to be. But sometimes it feels like getting kicked, and then kicked again, and then kicked once more for good measure. (That's one kick for each hope up in 2007, for those of you keeping score at home.) Fortunately (and this should go in the answer to #1 as well), I bounce back from each kick a little faster, largely because I'm realizing more and more that they're not actually kicks, not in any intended way. They're just bad timings, or mismatches, or unwarranted projections of some longing on my part. But that doesn't mean that I feel any less lonely when I feel lonely, or that I don't wonder where my partner in crime is. If he's as lonely as I am, we're wasting good years.
I didn't get as far on my book as I'd hoped, which is especially frustrating given that I had all but three weeks of 2007 off from teaching (shocking, when I write it that way). After a lifetime of swift progressions and earned praises, this year felt like a relatively unproductive one. What I have to show for it is the perch where I'm sitting right now--no small thing, to be sure, but I actually earned the time in 2004-06. This place was just the icing. It feels as though I went into slow motion the second I started my research leave last January.
I have such a hard time being patient while everything realigns.
I regret the plenitude of ways in which I wasn't a good friend.
3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?
Regardless of the things that felt awry at particular points during the year, 2007 was remarkably good to me: it was possibly the first year of my life wherein I took the chance to enjoy my powers and accomplishments and to explore new options for myself. It really felt like a year of realignment, of slow and steady shifts toward some big change that's still on the way. And in the meantime, it also felt like a year of being loved and valued by all the people in my world whom I love and value most. I don't think I've ever been able to perceive, much less appreciate, how much love is in my life--and I wonder whether that's the very reason that my covivant hasn't shown up yet. But now I get it, and I am full to bursting, and so it is difficult to continue being patient.
Now I get to say it aloud:
I declare 2007 complete!
And I get to make a new declaration, naming my primary intention or theme for 2008. I've been sitting with this question for several days now, trying to decide whether or not I actually want to say what I'm about to say, or whether I just want to say it because I think I'm supposed to. I've decided that I actually do want to say it--and having said it, I hope I'll be able to identify the currents in my life that drag me away from this intention.
2008 is my year of writing. Not of wanting to write, or of thinking about why I don't want to write, or of wondering what I will write. But of writing.
Hell, let's make that two things: 2008 is my year of writing and of love.
Can I refine that one more time? See what's happening here? Andrea is one smart woman, which is why I like wearing her jewelry. She knows that writing this stuff out makes you clarify what you actually want. I do want love in my life, but (as I've already told you) I have love in my life. What I want is romance. Can I actually declare 2008 a year of romance? It seems so unlucky, somehow, to make that wish out loud. Again. As I have many times, in this space and elsewhere. But I'll do it again, as another act of hope.
I want 2008 to be my year of writing, of love, and of romance.
When Andrea posts the next set of instructions, you'll get another post like this one, only the next one will be forward-focused.
Oh, and that title? Tomorrow, I crack back into writing this project, no matter how much effort of will it takes me. I need to get this thing off my shoulders yesterday.