Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saying Hello to 2010

What a year, 2009. It's hard to believe it comes to an end in four short days. It worries me that time seems to fly so fast.

As I sit here in Oklahoma City, I can't help but feel reflective about the year. So many gifts, so many lessons. I've now written four pages, and I know I might be the only one to read it. lol

January. What a month! Started off the new year with a trip to Oklahoma City to see Grandma Ewing and Colleen. Not quite a snowy visit like this one! Then, Grandma Eisen was very sick and gave us all quite a scare.

Obama! Obama! I sat (more like curled in a ball) in my studio apartment very ill watching his inauguration online. It looked so cold in DC, but so wonderful to watch W board the helicopter and get the hell out. Ciao, Bush family. Hello, Obama. What a global sigh of relief.

January was also the month where I started seeing another man from my past, another gift from the Chicago streetcorners. lol. I really am getting afraid of hearing somebody call my name from the other side of the street. Anyways, in January it began, and I felt something like romantic hope again.

In January I also began my last semester at Columbia. The thesis semester. I handed off my first draft to my advisor in December, and I began the first round of edits. How did two years go so fast?

February. I attended my first AWP conference, which was conveniently held in Chicago. It's basically a three day conference where writers come together of all genres and listen to panels and reading by some of today's most important writers. Court Green had its launch party for its new issue, for which I served as one of the graduate student assistant editors and event photographer.

Then Valentine's Day. Nice to have a romantic reason to celebrate it and to make poetry a part of it. I also witnessed my first poem published in Slurve, an online poetry journal--a poem about Obama and I both in Kenya in 2006.

March. The romantic relationship fell apart, much due to the fact that he couldn't reconcile who I was (poet, vegan, independent, democrat, feminist) with what he wanted out of his life (a woman who would give him kids and put everything else before her writing). I've never quite felt that crushed, as if my entire self was unworthy and unwanted. It did validate for me (eventually) how much I deserve and how important my life choices are to me. I deserve to be seen, accepted, and respected for who I am, as we all do.

A week later, Mom and I were off to El Paso to see Matthew and hang out with him before he went off to Iraq. So nice to be in his company, even in El Paso. We hiked, we saw a movie, we just hung out.

Also in March, my Pre-Raphaelite Literature class, the best lit class I had at Columbia, went to the Newberry Library to see some rare books by Rossetti (Dante and Christina) and Tennyson. It was a highlight of my experiences at Columbia and the Newberry to be able to see, touch, and smell those books. Gosh, I love being a nerd.

April. A blur of final revisions on the thesis. New poems, rearranging, editing. Then, finally, it was done. 57 poems. How did that happen? My romantic interlude did much to help me create the structure and the tone in this reorganization, and for that I am grateful. It felt so good to finish that thesis, to have written those poems.

Then, in April I went to a coffee house in Unity Temple with Dad and Margaret, only to meet the woman with whom I share space in the new issue of Columbia Poetry Review, Susan M. Firer. A week later, I felt quite humbled to be reading my poem in the issue and then hearing her read her wonderful poems again.

May. GRADUATION. How fantastic to go through my MFA graduation. The Friday before we had a special poetry reading for all the graduates, and it felt wonderful to have family and friends meet over poetry. Then, the big graduation with Ray Bradbury as our speaker via a taped speech (too ill to travel). The graduation was quite a fun affair with no traditional music, but a fun dance song. We MFA poet graduates were the first ones to be hooded, so across the stage we went and out the back door! Afterwards, my friends and family joined me on Foster beach for a graduation picnic.

Then, I took myself down to Florida to visit Bill and Cheryl. We went down to the Everglades, and I just enjoyed being in their company and the good weather.

June. My article on Thelma Henderson's death was published in Mindful Metropolis. It's the beginning of a new journey with Mindful, and in mid month I joined the magazine as their new sales rep. What a wonderful gift to be given these people, this magazine, this community in my life.

I read in Columbia's tent for the LitFest in Printer's Row, and I managed to NOT by any more books. I spent a quick weekend up in Milwaukee with Amy, Brett, and Lillian.

In late June, I traveled out to Colorado with my mom and about 40 Girl Scouts and their leaders. Snow Mountain Ranch is one of my mom's favorite places in the world, and I couldn't have asked for a better gift than to see this place with her. I helped her shuttle girls around, and I managed to even whisk her away for a hike and some down time. Cornelio was heading through Colorado, so I even got to have a nice lunch with him and Tom. I saw moose, elk, mountains, waterfalls, rainbows, lightning, and a piece of history. Wonderful (see my posting from June to hear more).

July. As my 35th birthday approached, I was back online and trying my hat in the dating ring again. Some good dates and lots of summer fun in the city. Alas, no romantic connections.

I went to the Highland Games in Oak Brook with Dad and Margaret. Nothing like the bagpipes to bring out the Scottish in me. I've always wanted to see the games, and it was a hot, fun day.

I traveled up to Madison to visit Suzie and Amy for another Art Fair on the Square. We all took turns shoveling kettle corn in our mouths, Matthew included! My other Godson, Bobby, came downton in mid-July, and despite the rain, we danced our way through a summer dance night of complicated latin steps then had Thai. I am quite lucky in my two Godsons, Bobby and Matthew. They give me such joy.

Of course, the movie event of the summer: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Fantastic. I saw it twice in three days, and I believe as I type this it's time to see it again on DVD!

Then, the birthday! A week before, Jackie was in from Birmingham, so we had a short but sweet visit. Then, the big day! It felt good to be 35. It was a Tuesday, so I invited friends out to the Outdoor Film Festival showing of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It's not the most uplifting birthday film, but it sure was a good time. I stayed out with Mike and Steve until the wee hours of the morning.

August. My month started off doing an interview with Andrew Harvey for the September issue of Mindful. We hit it off, talking about South Africa and so many other things. I had 10 pages of interview transcript to whittle down to 3 pages for the magazine, and it was quite an experience.

Then, I heard Derek Henderson had died. I wondered what South Africa would be like without Thelma and Derek on my next visit.

I began tutoring my first student in August, and it reminded me of the English style tutorials. While I pushed her with her writing and reading, I really just enjoyed being one on one with a student and not having to manage 18+ at the same time.

The month flew by in a whirl of dinners and magazine work. I left the law office at the end of the month, and while it was a great place to be for two and a half years, I did breathe a sigh of relief.

At the same time, I went looking for a new apartment. Time to move out of the studio that had served me well. Tim proved to be another mover of things in my world, and I ended up with an apartment I couldn't have expected.

September. As the new semester began at Columbia, I no longer needed to be a student and a teacher. How lovely. I came down to campus twice a week and worked from home.

Mindful work continued to grow. I worked on another article for the October issue on local places to view the fall colors, drink local wine, and maybe even stay in a green hotel or b&b. Mom and I drove down to Starved Rock where we hiked, and I attempted to find some leaves changing color. Alas, no luck. We hosted our first magazine event on the film Fresh! and thus MindfuLive! was born.

I worked with much of the rest of the family at the annual Misericordia Family Fest. What an event!

At the end of September, it was up to Madison and west to Prairie du Chien for a weekend of camping. Despite the rain, we were able to get in a small walk, see a local historic house, and make smores. I brought my own tent and smelled the fire in my hair. I do miss camping.

October. A new apartment. Two bedroom bliss. Of course, I was the only one who thought that as we moved out of the apartment with the funky elevator only to move into the apartment on the third floor. I lost count of how many times I heard "I hate you" or "Burn the Books." lol. Well, we made it. The apartment was filthy, however, and smelled of cat, so the landlord sent his painting and cleaning crew the next few days to rid me of it. Then mom and I came in and went crazy doing a deep clean and unpacking.

October was a busy month from beginning to end. I worked the magazine booth at the Flatwater Classic and at Veganmania. The Veganmania event really made my vegan heart joyful! Mid-month I gave a talk at REI and Whole Foods on South Africa, and I think I used the phrase "my favorite" around twenty times.

November. The month started off well with a new man entering my life via the online world. As I type this, we're still learning about each other and putting up with each other (from one smartass to another), so we'll see what happens. Of course, he may read this and say, ciao.

Then, big fun! Toronto to meet up with Claire and enjoy two weeks with her up in Toronto and then back in Chicago (see my Toronto posting below). What a great thing to see her and to have her in my new apartment. Last time she was here, her, Chris, and I were squeezed in my studio! Back in Chicago, we went to the Signature Lounge for a drink, two magazine events, the Walnut Room with mom for lunch, followed by the Christkindle market and Precious. Then, finally, Claire experienced her first Thanksgiving. At the end of the evening, we sat in my apartment, and she said, "I don't think I can move." I felt so much pride. We'd given her a proper Thanksgiving. lol.

December. Another full month. The end of the semester. A second Mindful event. Christmas. Dinners and lunches with friends and family. Dates. Mindful events. Still three days to go.

It's been a good year. Hard at times, challenging at others. Much joy, much gratitude, much hope. Not a bad way to end 2009.

As for 2010, I have a poem coming out in So to Speak soon and an essay in the January issue of Mindful Metropolis ( I have no firm travel plans yet for the new year, but I know I'll be getting itchy feet soon. Everything else is a mystery.

Most of all, I am grateful for the freedom and determination to live my life as I see fit. I am grateful for so much love for and from so many people. Thank you!

Happy New Year!