Friday, December 16, 2016

My Year in Review: 2016, PART 1

This year has definitely been one for the books (no pun intended) as it was easily the worst year of my life. Full of pitfalls and heartache, sorrow and conflict, I’ve emerged into a stronger person—a different person—yes, but my god, what a journey.

I ran away a lot this year, and to some extent, I realized that I’ve been running away for a very long time in my life, and only now, as I write this, do I finally feel like I’ve reached a destination where I can stop and catch my breath. I sit here now and look at the decisions I’ve had to make, and the wounds and scars still feel as fresh now as they did when they happened, but truth be told, it hasn’t been all bad; in fact, there were moments that were full of such happiness and love that I know I’ll carry them with me forever.

 So let’s take a look.

I started 2016 in one of the worst emotional states of my life, and as a result, I spent the next eight months in a permanent state of war with myself physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life, and it broke me so bad that I ended up in therapy for months, and for those of you who know me, going back wasn’t an easy feat, but it was something that needed to be done. While I was in therapy, I learned a lot about myself and my behaviors that put my decisions and habits into perspective for me, and as a result, I was able to make the changes and adjustments to my life that I needed to become a happier, healthier person.

Which thank my lucky stars, because I had no idea what was coming for me…

January: After finishing up the winter residency at Carlow, I jumped ship and locked myself in a beach house with Jennifer in Delaware for a weekend of tea, movies, and girl time. We walked the beach, stayed up way too long talking, and went antiquing and book shopping.

Jennifer, you’re my rock and I wouldn’t have gotten through *any* of this without you. That trip meant more to me than you’ll  probably ever know.

April: Now back to Pittsburgh, it was time to start planning my trip to Los Angeles, California for AWP. I was super excited about this both because it was a location on my bucket list, and I thought that it would give me the clarity that I needed at that time. To my surprise, one of my favorite people in the ENTIRE world, Ryan DeMoss, jumped a plane and met me in the city, and our weekend was filled with Death Museums, snakes, matching BFF tattoos, failed voodoo attempts and lots of Japanese candy and ice cream. We ran around Hollywood Blvd, took lots of hysterical pictures, searched for THE DOORS, and as Ryan always does, he chased after me, picked me up, and put a smile back on my face.

Ryan, your friendship means so much to me, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without you in my life.

May: Still feeling blue, I hopped a plane and flew to Las Vegas, Nevada for StokerCon and the Bram Stoker Awards. Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood for this trip at all, but Kristin Dearborn and Mike Arnzen swept me up in a haze of buffets, booze, and laughs, and Jennifer flew down, too, and we got to have a spa day, eat some ice cream, and catch a show (Zumanity).  Plus, I debuted my poetry collection, Brothel, and got to meet one of my other favorite people in life, Brian Kirk, in addition to seeing tons of old friends that make my heart smile. I came home feeling refreshed and with tons of stories about raptor forests (thank you, Trevor), human combustion, and The Flamingo Hotel. Funny thing though: when I came back home from my trip, I was informed that due to budget cuts and some other factors, that my position at Carlow had been eliminated, and come July 1st, I would be unemployed.

Kristin, you’re the easiest person to talk to and you forever make me laugh as we travel the world together. I’m forever grateful for everything you’ve stood by me with this year.

Brian, there are no words, man. We’ve formed a beautiful friendship and got matching glow stick necklaces. Your smile and kindness forever warms my heart and reminds me that there is still good in the world.

June: With a heavy heart, I swallowed my fears and decided that I would make the best of this moment, and that perhaps this shift in my life was something that was needed in order to make room for opportunities that I couldn’t quite see yet. So I applied for some jobs, landed an editing gig, and a graduate teaching position at Western Connecticut, and then grabbed my passport and packed my bags. It was time for Ireland.

This trip was special to me for so many reason: 1) it would be a farewell trip to the students and the faculty that I’d met over the past two years and to the job that I loved; and 2) this trip (outside of my professional duties) was going to be all about me. I made a list of the places that I wanted to go, and the things that I wanted to see. I had my camera and my journal and I wrote the entire time I was there, and I walked into churches and prayed and cried and lit candle after candle. I relived painful memories, and I made beautiful ones to replace them, like seeing Francis Bacon’s studio, and singing Livin’ on a Prayer in the Temple Bar District, and hiking through Glendalough. I put myself on a whiskey tour, got beautifully lost, and I danced and sang and laughed my way through the city as I located a first edition of Rosemary’s Baby and attended the Dublin Literary Awards. It was the trip of a lifetime and I loved every minute of it, but before I knew it, it was time to come home and face what awaited me….


* be continued.

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