Way back in the day, when I was a wee 13 year old, I had a Xanga. If you don’t know what Xanga is, I’ll just be over here dusting off my cobwebs and trying not to feel ancient. If you are in the know, you know that it pre-dates Insta, Twitter, even Facebook. It was a blogging site that for some reason, I adored, and it was my first foray into the blogging world. I used to write on that baby all the time, even up until college, letting it serve as a means of chronicling my life and years. And so, as I reflect back on how much I miss than dang blog, I thought I’d bring back an old tradition, which was writing just before my birthday about everything I’d done in the past year, and then looking ahead to what comes next.
What a damn year, yo. Let’s break down some of the highlights, starting with last year and working up to the most recent highlights…
Mere weeks after turning 26, I went to my first New York Comic Con, where I proceeded to meet Guillermo del Toro, Ron Pearlmean, Steven Yeun, Andy Serkis, and this little guy you may have heard of named STAN F**KING LEE. *breathes a moment* Sorry. I get carried away about that last one. We also hosted our first live show for SpeakBeasty at that con, which was unreal and magical and definitely didn’t make me cry. (Narrator voice: she definitely DID.)
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER 2016
As any American without a MAGA hat will tell you, November was hard. Gut wrenching, heartbreaking, soul crushing hard. I went from standing in the shadow of Independence Hall the night before the election, hearing the Obama’s and the Clinton’s speak, thinking, this is it. History is happening right in front of me. I’m here the night before the first woman president gets elected. As we all know, the story didn’t pan out that way, and that has led to our very frightening current climate. To add insult to injury, the depression I experienced that month was so intense, that I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo.
But, because my life is weird like that, there was one thing that happened the day after the election that managed to be a beacon in the darkness. A patronus memory in the making, if you will. For on November 9th and 10th, I got to see an advanced press screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I got to cover the goddamn red carpet, where I saw J.K. Rowling in person. Yeah. I don’t talk about this moment of my life enough. But it definitely happened, and no fronting whatsoever, I SOBBED. I wish I’d gotten a picture with her or a signature or said hey thanks for my childhood and life and stuff, but that’s an adventure for another day. 😉 Seeing her was enough to turn on the light even in the darkest of times.
Oh, and I saw Hamilton. That happened. #StillNotOverIt
It’s true what they say that when one door closes, another one opens. The only thing of note that went down during this month was finding out my short story wasn’t going to be published by Inkshares, and subsequently entering it to be published in a literary magazine, which led to…..
FEBRUARY & MARCH 2017
The month I found out/got my first work of my life legitimately published. I still look at my copy of Wizards in Space sometimes, in sheer disbelief that it exists. That my story is printed within its pages, and that strangers out there somewhere who I may never meet have heard a story I had to tell. And apparently at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria, John Green bought a copy of the mag, which means that there’s a small chance John Green has read something I wrote. Being 26 could have dropped the mic here and been fine cause IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THAT KIDS. (Or does it???)
APRIL & MAY 2017
As if getting a story published wasn’t enough, these two months finally saw me getting a new job, the job I’d honestly been wanting ever since graduating college and starting to work at the company I’m with. It’s not a dream job, nor a job I plan to stay at forever, but its the first time in my life that I have ever made a livable wage. I’m by no means making big bucks or anything, but it allows me to function more like a normal person, and man, it sounds insane to say, but being a person without wanting to die every minute because of financial stress is just bliss, I tell you.
Much of this summer blurs together, since most of it was spent doing one of two things–being at the new job, or working on the rewrite for They Are the Last. I made a lot of progress during these summer months, taking the story a bit slower and steadier without the worry of a publishing campaign looming over my every moment. July and August blazed by as I worked lots of extra hours and then spent what weekends I could stealing away to cafes to write. I also got a lot more into my love of poetry, which led to me doing my first spoken word event.
This one was a bit of a month, as I finally moved into a new apartment and at long last, started getting treatment for my anxiety and depression. These two things happening at just about the same time made for a really interesting combination, and as exhausting as the move was (I managed to sprain an ankle the day I was originally supposed to) it was a process I needed. It was the closing of a door, while opening a shiny new one. It was a sign of progress that I desperately needed to feel like I’m moving forward with my life. And the medication has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I’m finally starting to manage my conditions, in a way that doesn’t rip me apart as much as it used to. It’s been incredible.
Only 19 days of this month, and already, unparalleled moments and memories I’ll treasure forever. My vacation to Orlando to attend MuggleNet LIVE 19 Years Later was too unbelievable to comprehend. I spent a magical day at Disney with a number of my SpeakBeasty friends, ushered in the only canon date in Harry Potter that fans have been able to live through together (September 1st, 2017, the day Albus goes off to Hogwarts) and spent lazy days strolling through Universal with people I love more than anything. I got to live out my dream of spending a day writing in the Wizarding World, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s with a Butterbeer ice cream working on edits, and enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Leaky Cauldron as I worked on the book. It was too beautiful for these measly words to convey. I wish life could be like it every day.
Which brings me to the now. Or rather, the tomorrow. Tomorrow, I turn 27, an age that doesn’t come with much pomp or circumstance, and which forces me to face the fact that I was 17 10 years ago. But I feel energized for it. I feel an anxious kind of ready that’s trapped in my bones. I look back at how my life has progressed over especially the last 3 years, and each time, life gets ever more complex which makes it ever the more beautiful.
My life still gets messed up. I’m still broke some days. I still get majorly stressed. I still don’t always accomplish the things I set out to do. But the one thing I have yet to do, and which I pray I never do till my time on Earth is done, is give up. I hope that 27 is a year in which I keep pushing forward, and boldly going after my dreams, even though the thought of it scares the hell out of me. But as my fave said in a tweet earlier this year, which I put to paint…
“Courage. Even when panic’s at the back of your throat, courage.”
-Lin Manuel Miranda
I hope as I go forth into my 27th year that I can have even a shred of the courage exhibited by my heroes. I hope that even as I struggle, beautiful things come of it. I hope that no matter what comes my way, I don’t give up. Because for all the amazing things that happened to me while I was 26, there’s still a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait… 😉