here’s to you, 2018

I’m pretty sure I’m getting this “end of the year” post in literally under the wire (it’s still 2018 in America for a few more hours, oKAY), though as I write, I’m thinking of something I read this morning in the weekly Smarter Living digest emails I get from the New York Times — a question about why we seem to set goals/re-set around this time or feel a need to, and an answer:

“It’s an arbitrary resetting date. From a practical sense, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s kind of silly, but I think any time that gives us a convenient excuse to re-evaluate where we are in life is great.”

In some sense, I feel a little cliche at how strongly I take to the fact that January 1 has to be a “new start.” I relish in it, I feel excited by the chance to put a new foot forward — new goals, new ideals, new attitudes. But in another sense, I’m glad that I have such a strong will and desire to re-set. I always get reflective at the end of the year, and this year, I seem to be more reflective than usual.

It was a good year. In fact, 2018 was a really good year, a better year than a lot of years in recent memory. For the entire year, I was employed full-time, a first since I lost my job in 2016 and was stuck between freelancing and job searching. I was (mostly) healthy, mental health stuff aside, but nothing was as bad as it’s been in previous years. I got married and I wrote and sold my first book, which I get to see published in April! I made new friends and created a new found family that I adore and that I am so grateful for. I saw a lot of friends who I don’t usually get to see thanks to vacations and life events, and each time I hugged them, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have people who care about me so much. On the whole, I’m hesitant to be too self-congratulatory, but I like to think that I ended the year stronger, happier, and a little more confident. Dungeons and Dragons gave me amazing strength in so many ways, from friendships to my career, my friends were my rock, I worked in my dream job even if there were things about it that sometimes drove me insane (no job is perfect, and mine certainly isn’t)…heck, I finished an entire manuscript! (And copyedits. Trust me, until you’re an author, don’t underestimate how big of a deal it is to get through copyedits. Even though I loved my copyeditor.)

So 2018 was really great, but then…something happened. And it wasn’t a bad thing. It was just that in the last 2-3 weeks of the year, I faltered. My roadblock hit. Best laid plans went off the map, and while I know that’s partially my fault for being so cocksure about a future that was never set in stone, I also don’t know any other way to think. A lot of things in my life have happened because I wanted them and went after them and I’m not saying I’m lucky (though luck has certainly played a role in everything, I won’t lie) but I did work hard. I put in the effort to study, network, connect, write. I wanted a professional degree in journalism, and I got into the best graduate program in the country. I wanted to work at EW and I got the coveted internship right out of school. I wanted to work at EW NOT as an intern and it took awhile, but I eventually got to do it. I wanted to work at Marvel, and again, it took awhile, but I eventually got to do it. For most of my life, I’ve I latched onto the things I knew I wanted and knew I was passionate about and said “I’m going to make this happen.” And…I made them happen. So when I decided I knew exactly what I wanted for my next big step, it was only logical that I felt things should naturally work out. After all, I was already on a path that seemed like everything was meant to be.

I know that’s a bad way of thinking. You can’t control life — if you had asked me years ago, I would have never told you that I’d leave New York to go to Chicago, work at two of my dream jobs, or marry at 36 instead of 30 like I always planned. There are things I want for myself next year — a house, a baby — that I know I can’t pin on a job or a career or a dream, and who knows how those things (if they happen) will intersect and affect where the path of my life curves. Logically, I know that, but because I was too caught up in my own confidence, I went from knowing exactly what made me happy, knowing exactly what I wanted for myself and my future, to feeling completely lost and upended thanks to something out of my control.

And that was hard.

I spent a lot of days leading up to the end of 2018 looking at inspirational/self-help books, searching different websites, getting off social media to distance myself from too much noise, and searching for some sort of sign. I so badly wanted someone to come tell me that it would be okay — that this is what you were meant to do and this is how you’re going to get it, and don’t worry, everything will work out. I told some of my close friends what I was going through and I knew they weren’t going to magically fix anything for me, but I wanted them to, because I didn’t want to do it alone. I didn’t think I knew how to do it without help.

And that’s partly true. I’m a firm believer in that we don’t get anywhere in life without supportive, real people we can lean on, people who push us when we feel like we can’t move forward and motivate us to be better. I know I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t have a support system and I don’t intend on losing that. But as we move into 2019, I’m realizing that I need to also take steps for myself.

I need to make the decisions that make me happy, even if they’re hard.

I need to take care of myself the best way I can, even if that means making changes.

I need to have the conversations that move my life forward, even if I’m scared of where they might end up.

I might not know how it do it on my own, but hell, if I fail, at least I’ve failed trying, right? (Also, let 2019 be the year I push myself to fail, because failing is actually good. You’d think I would’ve learned that with over a year of job searching and rejections and close calls, but apparently, I still get hung up on being scared of it.)

A colleague posted recently about how she doesn’t do resolutions because she can’t keep them, but she does do tangible goals. She takes things she wants to accomplish for herself and gives them monthly deadlines, breaking them up into things she can accomplish in smaller doses, one by one. And even though Passion Planner has tried to instill that in me and I’ve tried to write out certain monthly goals, I’ve never been able to make myself follow through. Maybe I was never doing it correctly. Maybe I was using it the wrong way, making my goals too big and too lofty and then putting my planner away and only looking at it and reminding myself of things when I needed to. But so many of the goals I make for myself are overwhelming; there are big goals and small goals and goals I could accomplish in a day and goals I could accomplish in six months. And so, on January 1st, once I wake up and actually get myself into a headspace where I feel like I can concentrate, I’m going to write down a list of everything I want in 2019. And then I’m going to write down what I want to accomplish for this month. And the next one. And then next one.

And I’m going to do that while hoping that sometimes, when you stop looking, the answers appear right in front of you and come at the time they’re supposed to.

Here’s to 2019.

a happy new year

Well, since we’re basically halfway into 2018 and I’ve done a rather terrible job of blogging in the last few months, I should write about those reflections/goals/resolutions I mentioned awhile ago, right?

Right.

Last year, I adopted the practice of throwing the word “resolution” out the window because I didn’t want to be held to making myself “better” by doing certain things. That’s something of a different beast, independent of whether I eat less or drink less or save more money. I wanted a list of things that I could potentially accomplish and work towards, whether it was something small (drinking more water) or big (write a book/comic.) When I wrote out what I had in mind for the year, I titled it “2017 Things To Accomplish” so it would stick in my head more like actual goals and not pressured improvements.

If I look at this page at a glance, it’s easy to see how many blank boxes there are instead of ones that are colored it. And yeah, I put a lot of lofty goals on there, not knowing if I’d actually accomplish them – but why not?

I may not have interviewed all of my “dream core four” (Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans) or covered an awards show, but I DID interview Scarlett Johansson! In person! At a premiere of her movie, on a red carpet! I stood in front of someone I’ve admired for ages, one of my favorite actresses, and talked to her and asked her a question and she directly responded to me – and I didn’t even fall over! I may not have published or sold a book, but I queried, got an agent, and started submitting to publishers. I may not have completed the “Coast to Coast” challenge because of timing and laziness, but I did run my second half marathon at Disney. I may not have written a story at my “dream” publication, but I did write numerous celebrity cover stories for a luxury magazine, in what has become a great anchor client, who have allowed me to continue to write for them every month. I didn’t read once a day, but I did read more this last year than I have in awhile, and I’m so glad I got my head back in the game where good literature was concerned.

And just because there were things that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean that I won’t stop doing them – or trying to do them, even in a year that will be otherwise filled with wedding planning. I still would like to try to get myself in a position where I have the opportunity to moderate or sit on a panel at a con. I’d still like to travel overseas or to somewhere fun (at least I’ve got my honeymoon destination, if nothing else). I’d still like to do things I’ve always wanted to do even though my career has shifted in a way that they’re not readily associated with them anymore, like visit a movie/tv set or write a comic.

This year, I took a page from my friend’s book and divided my goal list into different categories: personal, financial, professional and mental health. I may add more as I think of them, I may not – but as I learned last year in getting my dream job and interviewing one of my favorite A-listers – nothing is impossible. (Also, apparently I like running so much I put it on there twice by accident…whoops.)

Oh, and I promise to be better at blogging. Promise.

a year in reflection

I know 2017 wasn’t a good year for a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons.

But in that same different way, it was a good year for me.

I got a job — my dream job, in my dream company — after over a year of unemployment. I got engaged. I started to write a book, got literary agent representation, and went on submission. I interviewed Scarlett Johansson in person on a red carpet, fulfilling a long-standing professional goal of talking to one of my favorite actresses face-to-face. (I still listen to the audio file and kick myself because it’s REAL.) I finally came out to the whole wide world as bisexual, something that was a long time coming but that I felt like I didn’t have the courage to embrace being open about, not until Supergirl showed me that I wasn’t alone being older and open about my sexuality.

2017 wasn’t great all the time. I had some major mental health setbacks. I’m still in major debt and struggling with those consequences, and angry at myself for not being able to make headway on anything no matter how hard I try. Before I got my dream job, I took a job at place that made me miserable. Friendships that I thought were long-lasting drifted away. My book got rejected from publishers in two separate rounds of submissions. I felt in some ways removed from my friends I loved so much due to different reasons.

And the world at large just flat out sucked. Comics twitter was exhausting, and there seemed to be dread everywhere I looked, and I saw it manifest itself everywhere: in my friends, in text messages, at work. I buried myself in writing, in newfound obsessions like Critical Role, in the fandoms and happy places that I’ve always turned to. I cherished the moments that I got to spend with the people I loved.

I’ll post eventually with a summary-type thing of the year, based on my goals and stuff that I set back in January. But in my Passion Planner, there’s a section where you’re supposed to keep notes of the good things that happened during the week. While I was unemployed, I used to lament to Shelly that I had nothing to write about that was good, and she reminded me it didn’t have to be something like “did good at work” or “got another freelance job.” It could something as mundane as “had a nice conversation with a friend” or “petted some cute dogs.” As I went through the year, I tried to chronicle things during each week — some mundane, some not — and while I’ll eventually post a summary-type thing based on the goals and stuff that I set back in January, I decided compiling those things in one large list here is the biggest way I can give insight into my year.

  • Lunch with Eileen twice
  • Got a cover story assignment
  • Shelly’s back!
  • Paid bill hanging over my head
  • Planner date with Shelly
  • Went to the gym twice/ate healthy
  • Women’s March
  • Skype date with Jill
  • Positive feedback about my writing
  • Got responses from book queries
  • Spent time with Eileen
  • Had serious boyfriend talk
  • Got asked to write more on proposal
  • Got another job interview
  • Long lunch with Eileen
  • Had engagement talk
  • Got good response from agent/publisher
  • Set up call with publisher
  • 2 interviews!
  • Agent phone call
  • GOT AN AGENT!
  • SIGNED WITH AN AGENT!
  • ANNOUNCED MY AGENT!
  • GOT A JOB!
  • Started a new job
  • Buffy Burlesque
  • Margs with Hayley
  • Snow day (slept in)
  • Got package from mom
  • Sent proposal to agent
  • INTERVIEWED SCARLETT JOHANSSON AT THE PREMIERE
  • Got to see Margie
  • Finally paid a lot of overdue bills
  • Brunch times with Candice
  • 80 degree weather
  • Got to spend time with Ali and Kayleigh
  • Saw mom and dad
  • Got lunch and wine twice with Cate and Eileen
  • Hopeful interview at Marvel?
  • GOT MARVEL OFFER!
  • STARTED WORKING AT MARVEL 🙂
  • Got to see my back-up bunnies
  • Good week at work
  • Felt better about stuff at work
  • Got to see dad
  • Got to see Eileen, Cate, Alix and Christine!
  • Booked Disney trip!
  • Saw Wonder Woman!
  • Drinks with Eileen
  • Had a good night with Esther
  • Black Panther trailer was AWESOME
  • HeroesCon and my back-up bunnies
  • Finally posted fic
  • Eileen’s birthday!
  • Saw Chip and Candice and Bri
  • Ran 3 miles
  • Good interview with Danika
  • Got official SDCC confirmation
  • Good email from my boss about work stuff
  • SDCC and seeing my slothes!
  • Cuddles with Jill
  • Got good interviews/reviews from colleagues at SDCC
  • Jill’s Facebook post about friends
  • Turned 35!
  • Spent birthday with family and friends
  • Good vacation weekend with family
  • Disney planning night with Katie
  • Had a good chat with my agent
  • Drinks with Sina!
  • Went to Disney!
  • Noelle’s birthday
  • Saw Groundhog Day
  • Got to see dad
  • Spent Rosh Hashanah with Shelly and Ziv
  • Fun XWP podcast recording
  • Ren Faire
  • Critical Role essay getting love
  • Laura’s DMs and Matt’s tweets
  • Jess and Danielle got married!
  • NYCC!
  • Saw Chip and Marvel friends
  • Wine night with my girls
  • Finally ran
  • Got some good book work done
  • Saw some cute dogs
  • I GOT ENGAGED!
  • Meeting Ashley Johnson at the Blindspot event
  • Celebrating with Eileen
  • Everyone congratulating me on my engagement
  • Ran my SECOND half marathon!
  • Boss was in a good mood at work
  • Saw Becca and Dan
  • Family time at home
  • Booked wedding stuff
  • First wedding dress shopping trip
  • Got wedding stuff done
  • Took a mental health day
  • Met AlphaFlyer for dinner!
  • Got a wedding photographer
  • Had a good therapy session
  • I SAW A STAR WAR!
  • Won the raffle at holiday work party
  • Made progress with wedding planning

So, yeah. In the words of Lin-Manuel, it was a “bit of a year.”

a (brief) look back at 2016…the good stuff

In my last post, I talked about how 2016 wasn’t a great year. And it wasn’t. But I didn’t want to end the year with an entry that, even though a little hopeful, dwells on the bad. So.

At the beginning of 2016, I made some resolutions. I started a “monthly check-in” (that I promptly failed at keeping up) where I tried to see how I was doing with the small-ish goals I had made for myself, and I’m proud to say that if I look back at where I ended up, I did pretty damn good.

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Okay, so technically, I completed very few of these things. I started to be better about my water intake thanks to daily messages/check-ins with my girls, but a lot of these things didn’t happen: I lost my job so I could barely pay anything let alone pay down my debt, and I didn’t finish NaNo due to November being an absolute pain in the ass. I didn’t write one fic per month like I planned but I DID break my word count goal, which makes me feel really good about myself. I also finished a huge, huge writing project — my longest story ever at 250,000 words. And in case you missed it, I ran the Disney Avengers half-marathon. I guess that counts as “running at least one big marathon somewhere”, right? (I think when I started this I definitely had intentions of doing another run before/after Disney in the NY area, and I tried, but the timing never worked out.)

One of the biggest goals I set for myself was to read more in 2016. I had fallen off the train due to laziness and (sad to say) an increase in screen time that took my time away from reading. I didn’t read AS much as I wanted to — I really would have liked to read more. But between re-reads and new books, I think I did pretty well, and I read more books than I have in the past two years. As for 2017? I have a whole new list of books I want to read, and thanks to the holidays, I have a crop of books already queued up and ready to go. Bring it.

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I haven’t fully finished my goals/resolutions for 2017 yet, because I haven’t really sat down to look at things in my new planner. (I haven’t even gotten a chance to finish things in my old one, and I might not…we’ll see. I’m debating just starting fresh at this point since we’re so close to the New Year and it won’t do me any good to “catch up” on the week.) But as much as 2016 sucked, I did a lot of things I was proud of. I had a lot of personal accomplishments (some of which I’m not writing about just yet, but they belong in this year), and although some of the bad outweighed the good, I prevailed. I accomplished the things I didn’t think I could do. I didn’t let the bad guys win when I could have, even though I came very close.

I’m still here. I’m a little more tired and broken-down and cynical, and I still have things to work on, but I’m here.

goals, part two

I was going to write an entry surrounding some of my feelings as of late, but as New Years Eve is today (and because I just finished writing out stuff in my passion planner, hooray!) I figured I would post a little bit of reflection about 2015. While my recent post was more of an overview of wide-reaching goals, I do have a varied, concrete list of things that I’m setting myself up to accomplish in 2016. Hopefully, most of them hold.

  • call my sister once a week
  • be better about budgeting/finances and budget once a week
  • pay off at least one of my credit cards in full
  • have a clear idea of my future re: marriage/kids/etc
  • write every day for at least an hour
  • complete nanowrimo
  • run either a 5 or 10k (preferably avengers marathon in disney, if i can get in)
  • limit Internet usage during the week so i can go to bed earlier/generally be more productive after work
  • more regular appointments with my therapist
  • read at least one book a month/read for at least an hour every day outside of commuting
  • get up earlier to have time to sit/rest/relax/write/etc before work (i kind of do this now but i could be better about it)
  • keep in touch with friends better on a daily basis
  • less regrets

One of the hardest things for me to accept is change. This goes for anything: routine, living situations, even something as simple as when I went to grad school and realized I wasn’t going to be able to happily sit on my computer and write fic every night (this actually didn’t happen, I ended up basically giving up nothing fandom-related while in school, but I was freaked out for a long time about it.) To that end, I’m absolutely a different person than I was in January. I’d like to say that change is for the better, and in some ways, it is: I gained some great new friends, I’ve had some amazing experiences (I highly doubt anything’s going to top sharing a drink with Sophie Turner at the EW SDCC party, but one can dream — my superficial professional life goals are still high). I cultivated a year-long relationship that’s still going strong, I started therapy again after putting it off for way too long, and I stabilized myself in a job that I fought for. In some ways, the change was for the worse: living somewhere nice/convenient but expensive meant that I could barely save despite a decent salary, I came dangerously close to losing a few good friendships based on the fact I didn’t take care of myself properly, I recognized the root of a lot of my anxiety which, while great, also sent me into a spiral of regret I’m still struggling to work through so that it doesn’t affect my daily life. (Sorry to those of you who get whining texts. You know who you are.)

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conquering the world with passion planner! i still need to figure out how to make it pretty

But I also believe that I gained as much as I lost. I’m going into 2016 with a clear head and a determined attitude, willing to take charge of the goals I’ve set for myself and the resolutions I’m striving for, no matter how big or how small those resolutions are. I have a renewed dedication to getting my life in order via a lot of different tactics, thanks to recognizing for the first time in a long time the steps that I need to take to help myself function properly. I have people in my life who I feel I can trust again, friends that inspire me and are there for me, and I have a supportive boyfriend who, despite some of my misgivings, I know I’m lucky to have because he would do anything to make sure I’m happy and loved. I’m not expecting 2016 to be easy, especially based on what I know I need to accomplish in terms of “big life goals.” But I feel optimistic, supported and energized, and really, that’s all I can ask for.