It’s the last day of 2013. Already. Wow, where did this year go? I feel like I was just writing up my resolutions for 2013 and now it’s December 31. How did that happen? The older I get, the faster it goes.
It’s a day for reflection. For remembering the good and the bad of the past year. To congratulate ourselves on changes we wanted to make that we did. To console ourselves for the things we weren’t as successful with (damn you, dusty exercise equipment!). I find that as I age, I tend to ponder more. To ruminate. To contemplate. And all those other words that mean “think about more than necessary.” I like to analyze things that I’ve said/done/heard and how they affect me (or don’t). Here are some of the things I learned in 2013 in no particular order.
1. Despite still hating my forties and what they’ve done to my body, I’m learning to live with it.
Also, I found out something interesting. I bitched and moaned and complained about the extra weight I’d put on over the past year or two. I meticulously watched everything I ate (frankly, I got a little ridiculous), to no avail. But as soon as I gave up in a huff and stopped worrying about it, just ate what I wanted to (within reason) and went about my day, I dropped almost ten pounds. Funny, that. Moral of the story: QUIT WORRYING SO MUCH.
2. Being legally married absolutely does feel different.
Bonnie and I will celebrate twenty years together in 2014 (OMG!). Though I wanted to get married, I sort of viewed going down to the courthouse and doing things legally as just some necessary paperwork, no big deal. Not so. Our entire ceremony took about three and a half minutes, but I felt completely different afterwards. I hadn’t changed. Bonnie hadn’t changed. Our relationship hadn’t changed. But the way people look at us legally did. And that, my friends, was pretty freaking amazing. Still is.
3. Being a vegetarian is harder than I thought.
I gave up meat in September. For the animals. I have gotten sappier as I’ve gotten older (see #4) and I can no longer stand the idea of something being killed so I can have a burger or fried chicken or a slice of bacon. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t dislike meat. I miss it. Badly on some days. And there have been difficulties I didn’t anticipate. My meals with Bonnie, for one. She’s a meat eater. She always will be (though she doesn’t eat much red meat, and she’s also found some of the research…disturbing). There are a few meals we have always enjoyed together—her homemade Reubens (drool), pulled pork (double drool), anything done in the crock pot. And don’t get me started on what a giant, cruel tease the smell of bacon is. I admit to having snagged a slice or two of turkey bacon in a weak moment. I also ate some turkey pepperoni a couple weeks ago because I thought I’d go mad if I didn’t. But whenever I feel myself slipping, I think about the articles I’ve read, the news reports I’ve seen, and if I’m desperate, I’ll watch the animated Chipotle ad again (the sad cow eyes!). Those will usually set me back on track.
Also, not everybody “gets it.” Some just think I’m being difficult (which is weird because I rarely say anything, don’t push my views on anybody, and I don’t expect a special meal). I have one aunt who, when told the treatment of the animals bothered me, said something along the lines of “Well, that’s just stupid. It’s been done this way for a long time.” (Um…okay.) I have another aunt who bought me three vegan cookbooks for Christmas. So there you go. It takes all kinds, I guess.
4. The older I get, the sappier I get.
What the hell? Aren’t you supposed to get harder as you get older? Not me. I’ve always been easily touched and cried at the drop of a hat. But I expected that to get better as I aged. No. Not happening. It’s getting worse. I am a bottomless pit of marshmallow fluff. I mist up over everything. More than once! That stupid Christmas Apple ad with the kid filming his family and making a Christmas video? I’ve seen it a dozen times and I still get all teary. I used to be able to tune out the Humane Society ads on TV, but now I actually have to change the channel (stop singing at me, Sarah McLachlan!). I can’t watch anything at all to do with an animal being in harm’s way or (god forbid) dying. I. Cannot. Do it. It makes my heart hurt. Even just talking to Bonnie about loving her. Or kissing on Baby Charlotte’s face. Or having Finley or Duncan snuggle up against my leg. It all gets me teary-eyed. I have grown into a giant mushball.
I guess maybe I should just own that shit, huh?
5. Letting bad stuff go is really, really hard for me, but it needs to be done.
This isn’t really news, but for the first time in my life, I’m starting to understand the importance of releasing negative energy and embracing the good stuff in life. I am half Italian. Like my mother, I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business. Even if I’m not holding a grudge, I can still remember exactly what you did or said to hurt me and believe me, I will call it up when needed. But I am beginning to realize how unhealthy that is for me. Example: a little while back, we were bumping through a rough patch, Bon and I. Bonnie went out with a friend so she could vent. During their night out, this “friend” said some very unkind things about me. To my wife. Hurtful things that changed the scope of our friendship (read: it ended). This now ex-friend lives on our block, so we see them on a regular basis. We are civil, but we are not friends, and every time I see their face, I am reminded of the cruel things that were said and that anger and hurt bubbles up all over again.
I need to let it go.
I need to forgive, forget, and move on. I know this. I have to remind myself that the reliving of all that anger hurts nobody but me. It can’t be changed. It’s over and done with. It would be healthier for me to let it go. But it’s hard for me. I’m terrible at it. (Just like my mom. I blame her.) (Love you, Mama!) I think that’s one thing I’d really like to work on in 2014. Life is too short, too much fun, filled with too much good to let the crap slow you down.
Two months from now, remind me I said that, would you?
6. I have the most incredible wife on the planet.
Yours may be awesome, but so is mine. Maybe they can have an awesome-off. My money’s on Bonnie. I am not an easy person. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I’m pretty easy most of the time. But I have my quirks. And my career is very solitary, not terribly lucrative, and affects my confidence level all the time. If I don’t write, I’m miserable. If I get a bad review, I cry. If I get frustrated with a story, I’m cranky. Bonnie takes all of this in stride, encourages me, brainstorms with me, and works her tail off so I can stay home and be a novelist. She is supportive, a terrific listener, she makes me laugh each and every day, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life. I am a very lucky girl.
7. My family rocks.
I think we sometimes take our families for granted. And we all know you can’t pick your family. You get what you get. We all have a creepy uncle or a derelict cousin or whatever. Anyway. 2013 was not a good year for us financially. In fact, it sucked financially. We had intended to have a big, gorgeous wedding in the park with all the trimmings. I’d been looking at invitations and favors and stuff for months. We’d even reserved a place. Long story short, we needed to have a quick-and-dirty ceremony at the courthouse so I could be on Bon’s benefits. And weddings are crazy expensive. And after the courthouse, it just felt like we’d done it. We talked about having a party, but the money wasn’t there and it just made sense to cancel whatever plans we had made and be done with it. We were disappointed, but okay with our decision.
Enter my mom. My awesome, amazing mom, who said to me in September, “You know, I’ve been feeling really terrible that I didn’t do something for you guys for your wedding. So I want to throw you a party.” And throw us a party, she did. It started as a small gathering at her house. My dad got in on the deal and helped with the plans and the finances. My stepdad worked his tail off, finally suggesting that maybe the house was a bit small and we should move the festivities to a lodge in the park. So we did. My grandmother and aunts and cousin and sisters made all the food. My mom took care of the guest list. Our nieces decorated. My cousin made the cake. Bonnie and I didn’t lift a finger. And so many people came! My entire family was there. And they were so happy for us. It had no bearing at all that we’re a lesbian couple. My grandmother is 94 and is thrilled for us. Her sisters came and were thrilled for us. My aunt hugged us and got all teary, she was so happy. My rather stoic cousin kept coming up to us and saying, “I’m really, really happy for you guys. Truly. It’s great.” (He’d had a lot of wine, but still.) If there was one day in 2013 that will stick in my memory forever, it’s that one. My family rocks.
8. I miss manners and common courtesy.
Social media has its place. I know this. The fact that we can communicate with people all over the globe in an instant is mindboggling. Texting is incredibly convenient (and the only way I can talk to my nieces and nephews, really); I do it often. I love that I can find just about anything I need with a few swift maneuvers on my keyboard.
That being said, people online are MEAN. Wow. Especially kids. Especially girl kids. If you’re a teenage girl and you don’t have body image issues, just get on Twitter and see what some of the girls say to each other. Holy cow, they’re brutal to each other. I saw a bit by comic Louis CK a while back and he was talking about how he really didn’t want his daughter to have a cell phone. He said kids are mean because they’re “trying it out, seeing how it feels.” And when one says something mean or nasty to another and sees that hurt look in their eye that they caused, they think, “Okay. Wow. That felt crummy. I won’t do that again.” But with texting and Facebook and Twitter, they don’t see that hurt look. They say something mean, laugh about it, and go on about their day with no repercussions. He’s so right and it horrifies me, the nasty things people say to each other online. Read any controversial news story on the Huffington Post or Yahoo or wherever, then scroll down and take a look at the comments. They’re awful! Mean, racist, homophobic, just generally horrible. I know the general consensus is that humans are inherently good. Not if you go by what’s written online.
And you young people today: look up from your freaking phone once in a while! You’re missing life! Whomever you’re texting can wait ten damn seconds while you actually look at me when I talk to you. Don’t you know that it’s extremely rude not to give your full attention to the person you’re talking with? Eye contact is polite. Use it every now and then. And if you ask me a question and then check your phone while I’m answering you, I will slap that thing right out of your hand. Fair warning.
9. 2014 is going to be a very good year.
2013 was pretty good to me, despite the pitfalls. I made some terrific new friends in 2013, and I expect we will keep cracking each other up next year. Bonnie and I will celebrate twenty years in June (OMG!). I will (hopefully) visit Portland, OR, for the first time. I will have at least one, possibly two new books out by winter. And there will be a bevy of new books, movies, TV shows and more to keep me entertained. Hopefully, you guys—my wonderful readers—will continue to write to me and let me know what’s on your mind. Your e-mails keep me writing. And I hope to continue to learn from the writers I admire.
Thank you to each and every one of you who bought my work, supported me at the GCLS, read this blog, sent me gifts, and wrote to me with your thoughts. I am eternally grateful and I wish all of you a safe and very happy New Year. May your wishes come true in 2014.