(Heeeey- check out the new banner art by Will Manus, my funny, talented friend. It’s me! I’m on a horse. The Lone Rangerette. Let me know what you think.)
2011, you maestro of mania: I will not miss you, but I will take a moment to acknowledge the lessons you taught me (an abbreviated version, inspired by Squeaky Robot), before I move on.
1. Extreme activities are something I was not built for. I know what you’re thinking, 2011, that your predecessors 2005 and ‘10 covered this one, but those were snowboarding accidents. Totally different. Yes- ok, I did face plant and have my legs sail over my back and head in a scorpion move, completely reversing the c-curve in my neck; and then there was the cracking of my tailbone and hyperextension of my arm when I used it as a ski pole (to protect said broken butt bone as I fell), but I still felt confident this year when I signed up for volleyball and when I went indoor kart-racing with a friend. Joke’s on me. Strange sensation when a tendon snapped in my leg at volleyball, I could have sworn someone behind me took a swing at my calf with a baseball bat, but nothing could have prepared me for the special pain explosion when I nailed that wall karting. Ooo-eee bub. Knocked my helmet and neck brace clean off and then slammed my never-before-broken ribs into the metal kart frame with alarming force, changing that break status. I recall the race employee recovering my helmet some 15 feet away and mouthing, “How do you feel?” I replied, “I can’t hear you and my body is numb.” Which made him nod and slap my helmet back on my noggin. Race on.
2. I don’t have the attention span for kickball. Remember last spring, I was so excited to assemble my new portable grill for pre-game tailgates, delighted someone scored matching headbands for the team, and jubilant when I came across a pom pom in our team color, yet I groaned when I had to set down my Solo cup to head out to the field on game days. I’m hanging up my sweatbands for now and focusing my energies on upping the social event planning instead of converting a sporting event into one. Wisdom.
3. To say “no” and not feel badly about it. Also in the spring, 2011, you found me canoodling with an old flame who I’d been over for quite some time. Subtly, you smacked me in my conscience with the reality that he really did absolutely nothing for me, was a bit full of himself, and that I should not be spending time and/or energy on a relationship I cared nothing about. Excellent point, and I’ve taken it to task, also purging my heart and calendar from events or dalliances that leave me unfulfilled, bored, disappointed, or all of the above. Finding myself with loads of free time…
4. If it doesn’t have a sippy lid, I have no business drinking out of it or setting it anywhere near my electronics.
I feel as though there may have been a gentler way of teaching me this one, you minx, but if dumping the contents of a 16oz Coke Zero all over the keyboard of my Dell Vostro
was how you wanted to go about it, then let me at least thank 2010’s rationale that had me purchase full coverage. I mean, I typically do not drink soda, unless there’s booze in it, and I certainly never leave the cap off and set it next to my livelihood, so props to you, 2011, for seeing that coming and seizing the opportunity to school me. I hate you.
5. Perseverance. This one is a tricky bugger that you really spent most of the year hammering home and it will probably never finish resonating. Not ever. I finished the B-O-O-K the first week of June, which felt amazing for exactly 23 minutes. The sense of satisfaction swelled in a lot of places and I recall feeling capable of just about anything I put my mind to. I could do it, after all. I was a finisher, which I had never thought I could be before (Exibit A: a tattoo with only the outline of what it was originally designed to be; B: countless half-written manuscripts fizzled in my docs folder; C: hair that I keep intending to grow out and then hack off when it’s at the threshold, and D: many words often left unsaid when they shouldn’t be). Finished felt great. But those triumphant and boundless minutes were interrupted by a phone call that would hurt and rent me from my new-found solidarity. That call would have me immediately on an airplane to the bedside of my best friend as she delivered her baby boy who’s heart had stopped beating. In all the time that followed, I would learn all the more how important it is to keep hanging on and hanging on and hanging on and…teaching yourself and teaching others you love how to start breathing again. How to open your eyes at the start of each day, get crushed all over with the immediate recollection of everything that’s gone wrong, and still will yourself to not only keep moving, but also to make everything you do matter, because it has to. There has to be some tangible impression, some outward sign that goes beyond eyes wasted with grief, to justify and testify that you’ve lost big and that it changes everything, and that you promise to make it count. That he lived. That you loved him. That his brief life changed yours. And in time, I have faith 2011, that the perseverance will pay off.
6. To be grateful. The really good friends are the ones who will drive a couple hundred miles to wish you happy birthday, leave chocolate, wine, or flowers at your door when they know you’re sad or just want to show some love. They will call/text/come over when you’ve told them to get lost, cuz they know you didn’t mean it and actually need them now more than ever. They will also cook carbs to comfort you, ply you with just the right amount of hooch, threaten to hurt people who’ve disappointed you, and will lend a laptop cuz you’ve just ruined yours. They will sometimes swap tops in a restaurant, cuz you like theirs better and asked nicely. These friends will give you a look when you’ve crossed a line, will let you know when they love something you’ve written, and will say, “Hey, babe- you’ve got a little something clinging to your left canine.”
7. Metabolisms are not forever. And I can’t continue standing on the shoulders of a triathlon I completed 3 years ago. The effects wear off, and slowly but surely, your clothes get uncomfortable. Thanks for the push (out of my jeans) at the end of the year to finally sign up for boot camp. Here’s hoping last year’s injury tally carries over, meaning I’m safe for a spell.
8. Strangers are worth listening to. Remember when we were cornered by a lady at that hotel in Sacramento? Standing in a black velour track suit that fit 20lbs ago, she talked for an hour straight about her husband, her kids, her divorcee nephew that I should date, and her business ventures. And I listened, since there was nothing much better happening at the moment. At one point, while she was gushing about her affection for her husband (even after 27 years of marriage, she had a crush), she interrupted herself to tell me that she had a strong feeling about me. Out of no apparent place, she received a sense and blurted to me that February 2012 was going to be a significant month for me. Life-changing. She couldn’t get specific about whether I should be excited or filled with dread. Despite the several ways you tried to wire me for cynicism, 2011, I choose the former…and now walk brusquely toward whatever is next. Filled with hope.
So, while I would happily punch you in your sensitives for some of the harsher moments of last year, 2011, until you can’t see color, I’ll concede that there were important moments that will likely carry me through the years to come. On the whole, thanks.
Gotta tell you though, I’m pretty psyched that I’m through. Take it personally.
(I love your comments, so fill me in on some of your lessons learned in 2011.)