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Bells are ringing

December 31, 2011

Last New Year’s day, I made a bid for a year of positive transition. And boy did I get it.

In January, I continued my marathon of job applications and meetings with my advisor that began around Thanksgiving the previous year. A recording I made a long time ago was played on a major Chicago radio station. I taught Superman to play the violin and we battened down the hatches for the coming storm.

February started with the storm of the century, the Groundhog Day Blizzard. I received some excellent valentines. I taught myself to play “Blackbird” on the guitar and wrote about it in my favorite post from 2011.

In March, after much deliberation, I finally decided to go to a conference in Cincinnati. The day before I left, I found out I was being called back to audition for Jeopardy. The bus to Cincinnati was a small adventure. The conference itself was quite entertaining, especially dinner with Jeanne and Ron. We had a cool and soggy vacation at the beach.

In April, I flew to New York and met Cranky’s Baby J for the first time and auditioned for Jeopardy. Interestingly, I went to the airport by way of a meeting with my dissertation advisor, at which he told me about a job announcement that would be forthcoming that he thought I should apply. I mentioned it to Cranky while I was there. Little did I know that if the last year of my life was a novel, this was foreshadowing. I auditioned for an a cappella singing group, was accepted, but turned it down so I could finish my dissertation. A proposal I wrote in 20 minutes in January on the day of the deadline was accepted for a conference in San Francisco. I started working on some short stories.

May began with glory and led me to discover Sarah Jarosz, whose lyric “find a way to win,” began running through my head like a mantra. I cheered on an old friend at her dissertation defense. I had to put my aging cat Mrs. Stein to sleep. I I took AJ camping and came home to an unexpected pre-screening phone interview. I started a meme about music that I thoroughly enjoyed writing for the next month. The month ended with a real phone interview.

I posted the details of that interview on the first day of June. In June, I coached my Studio 2 students through spring recitals. And while I was sitting poolside at AJ’s end-of-the-year class party, I found out I was getting flown to New York for a second interview. AJ and I participated in an Improv Everywhere event in Chicago. I went to New York for the second interview. And then I waited for what seemed like an eternity but was really less than a week. I was offered the job. And then more waiting, as I tried to convince Mr. Spy that this could work. In the same week, I won a grant and found out that a book coming out in early 2012 will include a chapter by me. AJ built a fort under my dining room table. And on the very last day of the month, I said yes to the job of my dreams.

July was a scramble as I prepared to deal with the life changing events that were bout to rain down on us. We took a brief vacation in Milwaukee. I gave notice at all my jobs. We had a terrible storm that knocked out our power for a week. I taught my lesson at School of Rock, the job that saved my life.. And then I taught my last lesson at Studio 2. I flew to New York for my first day at my new job. I turned 44. And although I didn’t write about it until August, at the end of July one of our neighbors plowed into the back of our car and nearly totaled it.

August brought trouble for AJ as he developed severe weather anxiety in the wake of the horrible July storm. I got reacquainted with an old friend from college who works at my new job. I got a real cell phone and used its camera to document AJ’s and my boating trip on a local lake. I moved into my temporary housing in the West Village. I survived an earthquake and missed a hurricane.

September started with a very nice family bike ride. I observed the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in New York. We put our house up for sale. Mr. Spy and AJ came to visit me in New York. I walked the High Line, and met the editor of P1tchf0rk.

On October 1, Mr. Spy joined me in NY to got to the fancy schmancy wedding of a friend of ours. I got stuck overnight in New York after my plane had mechanical trouble. I saw a dog wearing a tutu at the airport. I discovered that it’s too late for great ideas. I had an airport-free weekend and missed the freak New York snowstorm that knocked everyone’s power out. AJ was a gangster for Halloween.

November was nuts. One of my projects at work kicked into high gear just in time for conference season. I went to San Francisco where I ran a board meeting, convinced a major university press that they wanted to publish my dissertation, and gave a paper that was both well-attended and well-received. On the way home, I ran into a long lost colleague who was seated in front of me on the plane. A few days after I returned to Chicago, I flew off again for another conference, this time in Philadelphia where despite a raging case of bronchitis and a fever, I managed to defend my right to my job, get a lot of work done for the Toy Factory, and also visit with both an aunt and uncle and old family friends. AJ started writing a movie with his friends, a project he is still working on a month later. I cooked Thanksgiving for family, and, at the end of the month, returned to New York after a nearly six-week absence to fall in love with it all over again.

December began with a baby shower for fairlywell. Work was overly abundant and stressful, but still exciting. But I hit the limit of what I could take as we approached a deadline. Giving up the deadline felt like failure, but I found my heart again before I left New York for the holidays. And I refound my sense of luck and grace on my way home for three whole weeks. This last week, I’ve been enjoying my first time off in a long time, and while I know it will come with a price of a great deal of work on Monday, I think I needed it. I have only checked my email twice and have managed not to respond.

In the New Year, I hope to manage better balance. I need to settle into a pace I can maintain. I got an email yesterday from my dissertation adviser who was, after several months, returning a nearly 200 page dissertation chapter with comments and a note that he thinks I’m in good shape to graduate in June if I can find the time to finish the job. I need to make that time. I hope our transient lifestyle will be resolved in one way or another, preferably in a way that won’t bankrupt us and one that will bring AJ better educational opportunities. This spring will see my first major publication come out and with luck, a second one will be in the works by year’s end. At the end of the year, I should also see the manufacture of the toy that’s currently making my life nuts. I also hope to learn to play the mandolin by then, not for any particular deadline, but because I need artistic goals too.

What are your plans for next year? How do you feel about this last year?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2011 3:25 pm

    A dog. You knew that. 🙂

    One of the aspects to life with a canine I miss is how much structure their needs add to my life. Dogs need a walk, rain or shine, and so do I. Dogs need to eat at regular times and so do I. Dogs need time to play, and so do I.

    Ergo, my plan for next year is to be better structured, something I very much need and want.

    All good!

  2. freshhell permalink
    December 31, 2011 5:52 pm

    Not as many firsts this year as last. I’m still not sure what I did in 2011. As for the coming year, I plan to simply keep my nose to the novel grindstone and hope it’ll become something people will want to read.

  3. January 1, 2012 12:58 pm

    Some year! My resolution — do more fun things.

  4. January 2, 2012 5:58 am

    Question one answer: See Harriet (and family if possible) when we are next in the same time zone. Celebrate my twentieth year of marriage ALL YEAR LONG. Ignore turning 45. Continue to keep my lip buttoned about Himself’s insane work travel schedule. Grow more vegetables. SEE HARRIET!

    Question two answer: Spent too much time on projects that did not enhance my life, health or marriage (or, not to put too fine a point on it, my pocket). Too much time refashioning, not enough from-scratch sewing. Grew too many tomato plants in too small a space and as a result had tiny tomatoes. Spent 52 nights apart from Himself when he was away on business.

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