I’m no Alexander Chee, and by comparison my brushes with achievement are mere crayon self-portraits on the fridge. Chee’s are more Matisse in the MoMA, with categories such as “Best of Me on NPR” and “Best idea I had in public where people could hear it.” You know that whole Amtrak residency thing? Yeah, that was Alexander Chee’s idea. My big NPR and rail travel accomplishments of 2014 involved listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and watching Hell on Wheels, but the year in review Mr. Chee offered on his blog, Koreanish, inspired me to take stock. “It’s good for perspective,” he said on Twitter.
And so here we go, for perspective:
Surprising Career Development: After a few years of writing and editing consulting-only while chipping away at my MFA, I went to work for a publishing company that hired me as copy wonk for a newly created content marketing team. Best. Boss. Ever.
Meaningful Day: Butler MFA grad ceremony. Toasting and roasting with friends and writing compatriots after years in the workshop trenches, it was nearly as sweet as my wedding day on the Gunnison River.
Prescient Failed Blog: I started 2014 with a verse and then began a blog, “To Number My Days,” to keep that verse in mind and try to abide by it. I didn’t promote my posts much—they were more for me. Then life got busy (see Surprising Career Development), I forgot the blog, and the verse took on uncanny meaning (see Exciting Medical Event).
Exciting Medical Event: On July 23, the morning after spinach enchiladas, margaritas, and much laughter with best friends at Buen Tiempo, our favorite Ouray, Colorado eatery, I survived a heart attack, my second. After three days plugged into the ICU at the hospital where I gave birth to my daughter fifteen years earlier, I spent one week admiring deer and Grand Mesa vistas from the deck of my dear friends’ home before flying back to Indiana. I spent the next six weeks sleeping before heading back to work. Five months post-MI, I’m feeling 100%.
Visible Changes: two dress sizes dropped in an effort to prevent a third heart attack. Here’s to staying a 6 in ’15. I can’t afford another wardrobe makeover.
Biggest Writing Accomplishment: my thesis revision, wherein I murdered about 40 pages of darlings with the ruthless help and incisive input of advisor Andy Levy and reader Lili Wright.
Best of Someone I Know on NPR: The latest book by my dear MFA thesis advisor just dropped. Read what Linda Holmes had to say about it on NPR — “In ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ A History in Echoes.” And, from the buy page:
An eye-opening, groundbreaking exploration of the character and psyche of Mark Twain as he was writing his most famous novel, Huck Finn’s America brings the past to vivid, surprising life, and offers a persuasive—and controversial—argument for why this American classic deserves to be understood anew. See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Huck-Finns-America/Andrew-Levy/9781439186961#sthash.VekSn1Tg.dpuf
Best (only?) Publication: an essay selected for the Brevity-promoted American Vignette. Wordpress Freshly Pressed it. I suppose submitting more than one or two essays to five or six publications in 365 days might improve my odds in 2015, because math.
Personal Best: stopped dogging my senior about homework. In direct proportion to grades slipping peace in the home increased.
Second Personal Best: unfriended Facebook. I’ll get back on when I secure an agent for my MS. Maybe. I’m enjoying the fresh air.
Feats in TV Viewing: I mentioned Hell on Wheels, but it was also the year of recovering from Breaking Bad with my Mr. Bates, with a little help from Frank and Clare Underwood.
New Cyber-Friends: It was a good year in friendships with imaginary people, all of whom made my life a little less confusing (Heart Sisters), richer (Coffee), lovelier (Butterfly), and a whole lot weirder (Shouts). By far, Greg Adam York takes all, though: I don’t know how he’s surviving his life at the moment. Thank you, fairy godpeople.
Reading That Stuck: I can’t keep track of all I read—I’m a bad Goodreadser—but the stuff still lodged in the brain folds came from Goldfinch, Orphan Master’s Son, Unbroken (finally), TMR, Harpers, three volumes of Creative Nonfiction, and issues of CNF Magazine (thanks again, Lerner, for the subscription).
Writing: back to the novel, half-written over a year ago and patiently waiting for me to finish my essay collection. On to act 2.
Peace and health to you and yours in 2015. I’m going to keep on numbering my days. How about you?
- And what did you read that most stuck with you in ’14?
- What are your 2015 reading plans?
Which reminds me, writing plans for the new year. That’s next.
So long, 2014. (Thank you, A.C., for the idea.)