Friday, January 25, 2013 for A Year Full of Gifts

Yesterday was my 25th birthday. (I meant to write a post the day of, but I was busy actually celebrating instead of blogging about celebrating, so you can just imagine that today is my birthday.) I'm not entirely sure why, but a quarter of a century seems sort of important. Maybe it's because in my head I feel like this is the year I've got to start taking myself seriously. Not too seriously (we can't have that), but seriously enough that I stop making the kind of excuse for myself that starts with "But I'm still young, so..." or "But I'm still a broke quasi-artist, so..."

Call it a turning point. I have some serious dreams and ambitions, and if I want to see them come out of the realm of pleasant fantasy and actually put forth roots in reality, at some point I have to stop imagining that I am working/what it will be like to work/that I might start working on them someday, and actually, well, get started. And 25 seems like a good year for that. But it's a scary thing. It's almost impossible for me to avoid falling into the trap of comparisons when it comes to creating a meaningful life for myself. How can I catch up to those friends of mine (or, hell, annoying middle school acquaintances) who are already published poets, or make $200K a year, or are famous performers with bands I'd die to get on stage with, or are getting written up in the New Yorker, or started their own wildly successful company...

...etcetera, etcetera?

"What other instruments are there, pray tell? Scratchy violins?
Screechy piccolos? Nauseating trumpets? Etcetera? Etcetera?"
(Hi, I made you some 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T gifs. You're welcome.)

And yet, when I was thinking about this birthday, this year, for some reason, what kept coming up was all the people I have met this year who have given me something challenging, mind-boggling, encouraging, fascinating, exciting, or delightful. There have been, I think, far more of them in the twelve months since my last birthday than in any other year, and I've been feeling sort of stuffed full of gratitude and inspiration recently -- especially after the insane five-day dance intensive with Zoe Jakes & Mira Betz I just came out of, on which more later. I couldn't help but think that this has been a year full of gifts, and there are so many people I have met who have been sort of like, well, presents from the universe. And it's been a good year. I finished three drafts of a novel, learned how to build a house with my hands, moved across the country, got a job at the world's best science museum, worked with some of my favorite dancers in the world, found a place to live in a city I love. And I've had a lot of support. A lot a lot. So, since it is the day after my birthday, consider this my thank you card to the people who have come into my life like gifts from the gods. And yes, I'm going to call you out by name.

To the folks I met through the A-Z Challenge, who went on to become wonderful blog friends and are a great part of the reason this blog became meaningful to me -- Matthew MacNish, Andrew Leon, The Death Writer, and Naomi of Brushfire Painting in particular. And then, as I went on and discovered that blogging was awesome, the writers I discovered who have made me feel like the internet is not such a scary place after all -- essjay, the Insatiable Booksluts, Amy, Kate, Jim, and the rest of the Puttin' The Blog in Balrog folks. I have been away from blogland recently, and I miss you guys. Which is peculiar given that I have never met any of you, and also kind of wonderful. All of you have brought out my desire to be a better f@!&ing writer, and I doubt I would have ever got so far into my novel without you. Thank you, thank you -- for, along with the dancers in my life, you've reconnected me to the value and meaning of practice. 

I want you to practice and practice and practice until you are perfect!

Sahina of Sahina Bellydance, Chaya Leia, and my astonishing, beautiful, hardworking students; Zoe Jakes and Mira Betz for throwing me against enough walls to let me see that I could smash 'em; Rose Harden, Kami Liddle, Elizabeth Strong, and the other StrangeBrew teachers I have been blessed to discover and learn from; and the ladies of the Soul Food dance intensive, all of whom have challenged me, daunted me, supported me, uplifted me, and above all constantly reconnected me to a dance form that continues to make me feel like the world is a place worth living in: you have all shoved me towards joy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Kevin Devaney, I am stupidly, foolishly lucky to have you. You're a damn fine poet, and I might never have realized I was an artist if you hadn't come along and pointed it out. Thank you for taking me far more seriously than I've ever taken myself, except when I make owl faces.

And on the subject of poets, Lauren Singer, your facebook posts make the internet a better place. Speaking of better places, Christina, you are kinder and more generous than anyone I've ever met. Lydia, your wisdom has rescued me more times than I could count. Mike, you've taken me on some fabulous adventures and made me feel like maybe, just maybe, this city really does belong to me. Dan, you loaned me your house long enough for me to find my feet here, and may the gods heap blessings on your head for doing so. My friends, both new and old, whose music, art, ambition, intellect, and creativity have made me proud, envious, and totally excited, I'm so glad I know you.

To everyone at the Exploratorium, for welcoming me so completely. I wanted a museum job; instead I found a community, a family, an intellectual home, an inspiration, an education. And while I'm giving thanks for education and community and a feeling of coming home, to the folks of Sundog, who taught me how to make a home with my hands, and to Clarke, who doesn't want me to stop there: all of you, my gratitude for giving me the tools to sculpt a life for myself.

And my family. I owe you everything. I must have been a half-squashed cockroach in a previous life to have earned enough karma to be your relation.

Now, having written this thank-you note, I find I am slightly staggered by the magnitude to which I have been blessed. I feel like a half-drunk bee bumbling out of an impossibly sweet blossom. I cannot imagine a better way to begin a year dedicated to the unlikely beauty of reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  1. Oh, wow! I'm all blushy and stuff!
    And Happy Birthday!
    I, um, don't even remember 25 anymore. :/
    I'm glad you posted, because I've been thinking for a while now that I should email you or something to find out if you'd fallen in a hole somewhere, so I'm glad to see that that was not the case. Or, if it was, that you got out of it.

    I got sidetracked from your manuscript by deadlines, but I should be able to get back to it soon.

    1. Things have been frantically crowded in my non-internet life...I haven't been able to keep up with any of my favorite blogs, let alone work on my own. Hopefully the madness will settle soon and I'll have something resembling leisure time again. Until then, you are missed!

  2. Happy Birthday! You are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay older mentally than most 25 year old people in this world. You are incredibly smart and I personally expect big things from you.
    Here's to a fanfreakintastic year!

    1. Thanks, Pamela. I'll try hard to live up to your expectations...and I'm glad you have 'em.

  3. Happy birthday! I didn't think that you were as young as you are. 25 is a great age to be....I'm like Andrew, I don't really remember it! I've left an award for you on my blog. I don't always comment, but I really do enjoy your blog, it's a one of a kind!

    1. Thanks, Eve! I appreciate that so much! I'll try to show my thanks by actually, you know, posting here occasionally...


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