2013 in Retrospect

fuckitWhile 2012 was my year of living dangerously, 2013 was more a year saying, “Fuck it,” but in a good way.

As some of you may know, the beginning of the year was tough for me, but in a way, that allowed me to let some things go and allow myself to do other things I might not have.

I lost myself in Boston. Back in March I attended AWP and had a blast. Being in that huge conference, working the book fair, seeing friends, and schmoozing with other writers was such a nice reprieve from the previous month. It didn’t even bother me that it snowed like crazy and was freezing.

I had an east coast birthday. Normally I wouldn’t have done anything special for myself for my birthday, but this year I spent it in New Jersey and New York. There was the scary moment (or day, I should say) in the hospital with my dad (who turned out to be perfectly fine), but if it had to happen, I was glad I happened to be there. Then the little surprise party that YP had waiting for me in New York more than made up for it.

I went to motherfucking Paris and London. When YP invited me along on his trip, I said hell yeah. It was just what I needed. Highlights: the Catacombes, Musee D’Orsay, and all of London, where I could see myself living someday.

I played the tourist. I was on my own over Fourth of July weekend so I had to make sure to stay active. I ended up visiting a couple of places that I had been wanting to see but just hadn’t had the chance, namely the Winchester Mystery House and Alcatraz and Angel Islands.

While the Winchester House was touristy and cheesy, I loved Angel Island and especially Alcatraz. I’d return to both although I wouldn’t do the tour for Angel Island again. I’d rather go hiking on my own or with a group.

I moved to a completely new part of town. I didn’t really want to move but I couldn’t afford my Nob Hill (more like Tendernob) apartment on my own. I looked at several places in San Francisco, but as you may know, rent is batshit crazy lately.

A few years ago, I saw a beautiful one-bedroom in Russian Hill for less than $2,000. Now that same place would probably be over $3,000. I contemplated living in a studio (they were mostly just under $2,000), but they all seemed so small and shitty, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My parents had been pushing me to buy a condo. That idea was on hold but since condo prices were lower in Oakland, I thought rent might be too. I was right. I got the idea to live in Oakland for a year or so, and if I liked it, possibly buy a place there. In the end I only looked at one apartment: my friend’s condo.

While the location isn’t the most convenient, the place itself and the surrounding area are beautiful and very peaceful. I mean, I can see the Pacific freaking Ocean from my window. It even passed the Mom test when she visited in October.

I don’t know if I’ll stay longer than my lease (the commute feels really long sometimes), but at least I gave it a go.

I gave up krav maga. I’m not saying I’m never doing it again, but this year I let myself not worry about it. I decided that as long as I went to conditioning and punching bag classes, that was fine.

And you know I’m in better shape now than I was at this time last year. It’s not because I don’t do krav maga, but because I’ve been going to those other classes regularly, as well as taking full advantage of my condo gym.

I let myself write the fun book. This was the biggest fun thing I let myself do this year. I haven’t written about my new novel here but I did write a post about it for work, I’ve tweeted about it, and have described it to friends.

You might remember that in 2012, after much struggle, I finished a different novel on Christmas Day. I felt accomplished but I didn’t feel excited about the novel. I was just glad it was done.

I had an idea for a YA fantasy novel for a while. The plan was that I’d “indulge” myself after I got the other novel into good shape. But I couldn’t bring myself to look at it. I tried working on other things. An essay, a short story, an essay I tried turning into a short story. Everything was blah.

Finally, in March I decided, Fuck it. I’d let myself work on the fantasy novel, and I’d just have fun with it. I didn’t do an outline or character chart or anything. I just jotted down a whole bunch of ideas (some in chronological order, some not) and started writing.

I became obsessed. I wanted to work on the novel (which I’ve described as Pretty in Pink meets The X-Men) every day, even if just a little. I wanted to be with the characters, to visit with them like they were good friends. I thought about them all the time. I’d listen to certain songs during my commute and imagine scenes from the book, like a trailer for a movie. I imagined scenes from the sequels. I got tingles as I did.

With the other novel, each and every day was a struggle. I was never excited about it; I often hated it. It never gave me tingles.

By September, I had a first draft. By December I had a second draft. Now I’m letting myself take a break before tackling a third. After that it will probably be ready for people to read.

I will stay interested. As for 2014, I have no resolutions or goals. My only plan is to keep doing what I’ve been doing and to focus on staying interested in things rather than being happy.

I love this quote from George O’Keeffe:

I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.

May we all stay interested.

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Jochen Handschuh]

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