I can’t believe it was only last year that MB and I broke up. True, we broke up in the beginning of 2013 and now 2014 is basically over so it’s more like two years, but it feels even longer than that, I suppose because so much has happened and changed since then.
I went to a whole bunch of places in 2013 and 2014.
Last February I visited my brother Greg in Los Angeles, and later that month went to Boston for the AWP conference. That trip was such a good antidote for the breakup: I worked like crazy but also saw friends and schmoozed with writers. Then, because I was on the east coast, I had the chance to visit my parents (which might have been better before the much more fun conference and visit with ES).
In April I went to New York and New Jersey for my birthday, and in May I visited Paris and London with YP. In November I spent Thanksgiving on the east coast for the first time in years. And bonus: Greg was there too, which was nice since it was the last time we were both home before our parents sold the house.
I kicked off 2014 with a super-fun Presidents’ Day vacation in sunny (yet chilly) Orlando with YP and a college pal (and of course we hit Disney), and then AWP again at the end of February, this time in Seattle, where I participated in a reading with Bellingham Review and had the chance to catch up with a college buddy I haven’t seen in years.
April meant another birthday trip to NJ and NYC; August was the big Spain trip; Thanksgiving, a nice long visit on the east coast; and just last week, a visit with Greg and his girlfriend in Los Angeles.
I’m not sure yet what my travel plans will be for 2015. I have no plans to go to AWP. (I’m not working nor have I been invited to any readings.) I had been thinking I’d go to NJ and NYC again for my birthday, but now I’m considering someplace else. Japan is at the top of my list and — I just thought of this — maybe Montreal or Prince Edward Island. Greg raved about Montreal, and PEI because of Anne of Green Gables.
The biggest project I completed in the last year or so was my paranormal teen romance.
I had had the idea for a while, but thought I should revise this other novel I had completed in December of 2012 although I hated it. Every single word was a struggle to write. In all honestly, I probably should have given up on it long ago instead of wasting time and energy.
After MB and I broke up, I couldn’t work on that book. For a while I did nothing, then finally decided, Fuck it, I want to work on something fun and new, and started the YA book.
It was a pleasure to write from start to finish. When I wasn’t writing, I missed my characters. I got tingles imagining some scenes. I was always excited to work on it.
I have such good memories of working on it too. In Paris I was jetlagged so I’d be awake at four in the morning. I’d make some coffee and eat chocolate and write in my notebook while YP slept in the next room and it rained outside.
I would like those kinds of mornings for the rest of my life.
I finished the novel in March of this year. I spent a month revising it, then queried a whole bunch of agents. No luck. Needless to say, I was really disappointed. I loved the book so much, and everyone I talked to got excited about the premise. I wanted to make the book better but didn’t know how.
Then my brother read it and gave me an excellent critique. Basically, he said, it’s more like a first draft. There are a lot of lost opportunities for “coolness” and imaginative stuff. Perhaps a red herring I set up isn’t necessary, and, most of all, the protagonist is dull. I tried hard not to make her passive, but I think in the end she’s too much like me, and so, as always, I wasn’t able to get enough distance to make her her own person.
After hearing all that, I thought, Of course! It’s all so obvious! Duh!!!
I’m not quite ready yet to start revising it, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. When I’m ready to work on it again, I know I won’t be able to help it.
In addition to my book, I published a number of short pieces on everything from language to libraries to the television show Hannibal. For 2015, I plan on more of the same, as well as, perhaps, getting back into personal essays.
Health & Fitness
I probably didn’t achieve as much in the fitness area of my life. Sometime I last year I gave up going to classes at my krav maga place. While the location was super-convenient for where I used to live, it’s just not anymore. So when my membership expired in September of last year, I didn’t bother renewing it.
Instead I joined a gym near work and it’s fantastic. Clean and spacious with gorgeous locker rooms and Kiehl’s in the showers. So while I don’t do harder workouts now like conditioning and carido punching bag, I’ve been going more consistently — four or five days during the week, whether early in the morning, at lunchtime, or after work.
I do miss those conditioning and punching bag classes though, especially since I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago. Walking and even running were okay, but sitting was excruciating, especially on a jerky bus ride. My theory is that because I stopped conditioning and punching bag, my back and core muscles have weakened. At the same time, I started rowing in the last several months, probably with bad form, and have been carrying around a heavy backpack quite a lot, whether during my travels, to and from work with my computer and other gadgets, or grocery shopping.
If my back feels better soon, I’ll try to take this conditioning class I like at the gym. I’ve taken it several times but stopped because it’s not until 5:30 and I get home so late. But how I’ll fill the punching bag shaped hole in my heart, I’m not sure. I sometimes work on the heavy bag at the gym, but it’s not the same as a solid hour of doing routines and conditioning. I’m almost tempted to rejoin my old krav maga gym, maybe for six months or so.
In other health news, since April I’ve cut out instant noodles and other high sodium processed foods. I’m paranoid about my blood pressure (I know, I know, I should get a checkup). Also because of what I’m theorizing is low stomach acid, I’ve cut my rice intake as well. If I eat too much rice or other carbs, my stomach feels like it’s going to explode (however, that didn’t stop me this past week from eating delicious stuffing, noodles, and sandwiches).
I’ve also started eating more fruits and vegetables, and gotten into the habit of having an apple or whatever is in season after lunch and dinner. I feel like the fruit neutralizes any saltiness and probably helps with digestion as well.
My dad’s health has been up and down for the past couple of years. In late 2012, he had a bad fall during a vacation in Taiwan, and ever since then has dealt with a variety of issues.
When I saw him in April, he seemed to be improving. He was sleeping better and had a good appetite. But when Greg saw him over the summer, he was in bad shape. His doctor had him on strong antibiotics in preparation for a biopsy that could lead to possible infection. As a result, he had lost his appetite and was eating almost nothing.
Greg said he was really skinny, could barely keep his balance, and seemed really muddled. On top of that, he was having trouble sleeping again (he was worried about his biopsy results, which by the way turned out fine) and was on some sleep aid, which made him crazy, especially in combination with this appetite stimulant he was on. AND on top of all that, he had a cataract he was being stubborn about so he couldn’t see either.
Now he’s like a new person.
As soon as he was off the antibiotics, he got his appetite back. I had suggested eating yogurt and sweet potatoes to help with his digestion. He resisted at first, saying that yogurt was too sour and just not digging sweet potatoes, but now he eats both multiple times a day.
He got the cataract removed at the end of August, and now he’s reading and typing intelligent emails again. Before, his emails were crazy. I didn’t know if he couldn’t see or was, like, losing it. Now they’re back to being eloquent.
He still can’t walk as much as he used to, but he still takes short walks a couple of times a day, and goes to physical therapy. He started playing mah-jongg again and singing karaoke. He goes out to dinner with friends.
When I told Greg that, he couldn’t believe it.
Finally selling their house also helped. It was a huge worry for them. But now it’s off their hands and they’re settling in their new place in an independent living development (ie, a retirement community).
When I first saw the new house last month, it was weird. It was as though my parents were living in some stranger’s home, and the idea of some other kid living in my old room also weirded me out. But I got used to the new place fast. It helps that the upstairs is almost like its own apartment, complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom off one of the bedrooms, and a living room.
“You could live here!” ES said when I gave her the tour.
Yeah, a 40+ single woman living in her parents’ retirement community. Pretty pathetic (and possibly a rom-com).
While my father is doing much better, I doubt he’ll be up for visiting me before I move. However, I’m glad my mom had the chance to come out here last October. She came for my aunt and uncle’s anniversary party (they live in San Jose), and stayed with me one weekend. We mostly hung around the apartment although we did go into Oakland Chinatown, have dim sum, and pick up stuff for dumplings, which I had wheedled her into making for me.
During that time I also had the chance to see lots of extended family because of my aunt and uncle’s party (after which I got sick because of one glass of wine and a very winding car ride back to the house).
After MB and I broke up, I couldn’t afford to stay in our Nob Hill apartment anymore and moved into a friend’s condo in Oakland.
While there’s no denying the apartment is fabulous and the area beautiful, living not-in-a-city was a huge adjustment for me. After five years of living in Manhattan and three and a half in very walkable Nob Hill, I was used to having everything I needed within walking distance and to be able to pop out for food or just to get out.
You can’t really do that here. If you have a car, that’s another story, but I’m phobic about driving so that wasn’t an option for me. I have to admit at first I felt somewhat isolated. Walking into town and to the BART is doable but it does take a lot of time. And I hated the idea of paying for so many cab rides.
However, a year and a half later, I’ve gotten used to it. It helps that I’ve started taking a different walking route into town. The one I used to take was on the highway for quite a bit and went through this part of town with steep hills. The new one doesn’t go through any pretty developments, but it’s sidewalks all the way down and only a gradual hill. I’m not sure why I took my previous route for so long.
So now I’m a lot less hesitant about doing what I call the schlep. Plus it’s good exercise. Ever since Spain and marathon walking days, I’ve really been into these super long walks.
Despite my love for this apartment and the Bay Area weather, I’ll be moving back to the east coast next summer. There are many reasons. I have lots of friends on the east coast, I’ll be able to afford to live in a city (Manhattan rents are currently cheaper than San Francisco’s), and I’ll be nearer to my parents who, let’s face it, aren’t getting any younger. Plus the east coast just feels more like home.
I will miss the weather and my huge apartment though. Shit.