How 2011 looks from the rearview mirror

Given that everything changed in 2010, 2011 had a lot to live up to. My expectations were high. And while not everything I planned to accomplish in 2011 came to pass (thought I’d finally buy a car– oh well), much more than I expected did.

A funny thing happened yesterday: for about a minute, I was feeling sorry for myself because David and I just ended things about two weeks ago after close to a year together (we started dating at the end of January). Single again, just like last year, I was thinking. In the same job, making the same wage (well, except for that 3% cost of living increase back in October). It’s like I’m right back where I started. Haven’t gotten anywhere. Aren’t you supposed to look back on the year and think about how much you’ve grown? Which is, of course, ridiculous. What have I managed to do with myself this year?

Well . . .

I was in my second musical: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I kept up with my jazz and ballet classes, and even added tap to the mix, though I really didn’t want to, at first.

I saw lots of great live theater, including Mark Morris’ dance troupe at the Mondavi Center, Urinetown, The Wizard of Oz, Cabaret (twice; I really liked that one), and The Doorway, which knocked my socks off.

I made it to two baseball games– the Rivercats in May, and the Giants (to see Timmy pitch! for my birthday!) in September.

I traveled plenty, with trips home in March, October and December, plus first-time visits to Lawrence, Kansas in March, and Amador Wine County in May, and then there was the best vacation of the year: the really lovely train/road trip that David and I took to the Northwest in August.

But the real story of 2011 was writing. That’s where all the real growth happened. Yes, the blog has been sporadic at best. While I’d hoped that by now I’d have begun serious revisions of the memoir I completed in September, the draft still languishes. But that the draft exists still blows me away. And all the writing that enabled it– I’ve been journaling daily. Three pages, every day (The Artist’s Way). And while I’ve slipped on some days, I’ve always managed to dutifully get back into the habit. Now that I’ve got my first complete year of daily practice under my belt, I can do a little simple math, and recognize that I’ve written more than a thousand pages this year. I’m not so good with numbers so I don’t know how many words that translates to, but when I think back on it, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of hours I’ve spent hunched over my desk, pen to paper or fingers to keys, putting words on paper. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes incidentally. And some of the time, I have been extremely pleased with the results.

So much so that I am ready to make a go of more seriously pursuing the craft! If you had told me a year ago that I would be applying for MFA programs right now, I would have found that highly improbable. If you had told me that I would be applying with confidence that my writing sample is strong and merits real consideration, I would have doubted you entirely.

And that‘s what happened in 2011.

Oh! and I can’t let the year in review go without nods to Poetry Night in Davis, for the wonderful experience I’ve had listening to poetry and sharing at the open mic there, and to my writing instructor, Rae, for whom no adjectives suffice. The three Creative Nonfiction workshops I’ve taken this year have altered the course of my life in the best possible way, and I cannot wait to begin my fourth.

So I guess you could say I have grown this year. As sad as I’ve been lately about the breakup, I know it was as good an ending as one could hope for: no hard feelings, no ill will. I even have hopes that we’ll manage to maintain a friendship.

I’ve gotta say, 2011 set the bar pretty high.

You’ve got some big shoes to fill, 2012. Let’s do this thing.

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