Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Birthday, Another Year

Today's my birthday, folks. Thanks for your well-wishes and positive thoughts.

Having my birthday so close to both Christmas and New Year's, and during the winter season, has always meant that I'm both reflective during my anniversary of life, and that I also have lots of things to distract me from the fact that I'm aging. Funny, though, maybe it's the fact that my Mom never 'blended' my birthday with other holidays and was always sure to get me separate presents, have separate parties, etc. that I never confuse the three holidays. Instead, although it's sometimes irritating to get 'combo' birthday / Christmas presents from friends who don't realize how annoying that can be (just give me one present for one holiday, dammit!), I see this time of celebration and cold weather as a time to reflect on the year that's just past, and the year to come.

Yes, I make new year's resolutions (or 'goals', as I like to call them, since that feels a little less daunting), but overall I like to just think about where I've been this past year, and where I want to go. And there's been a lot for me to reflect on this past year.

First, there was my trip to visit my father and then right after that, my first-ever trip to the Philippines, where I met a lot of other family for the first time. Before my PI trip, I had a a great send-off with friends, which made me feel strong and protected for what ended up being a very emotional and physically taxing (tropics in the summer) journey. I also had tons of support from friends who donated more than $2500 to me for my trips. It was hard to fundraise for myself in some ways, even after I've raised literally millions of dollars for organizations and other people. But it was a big part of me claiming for myself my right and my need to take these journeys, and I got huge validation from my community through this fundraising drive. I also started the year right with a belated birthday party for myself.

Those two trips were the double-whammy of my spring, hitting me with a load of intense emotions, from joy to sorrow to anger and everything in between. I learned a lot about my family during those trips, and therefore about myself, about my roots and where my weird quirks and values come from.

As I said in an earlier post, I did a lot of other traveling this year, much more than I ever have before, logging a bunch of miles on my Southwest Rapid Rewards account in the process. I traveled a bunch for work. I moved into a new position at work this past year, one that was both stressful and challenging in a positive way. My time management and control issues were definitely put to the test, and I realized that I can't do everything, and shit, that's really okay. It was also the first time in many years that I worked a full year at full-time at one job, only doing a few contract gigs here and there. That was interesting. I don't think it's necessarily the right career option for me for the rest of my life (I like having more flexibility and independence), but it's been good to get grounded in one place again after working on a bunch of different projects for the past few years. And CFJ is also a great place to work.

I did a two-week stint at VONA this year, one week with my long-time creative hero Jessica Hagedorn, and a second week with my new creative hero Chris Abani. I learned more in those two weeks than I had all year about my writing, and what I need to do to move it forward. Thanks Jessica and Chris, for reals.

Lastly, but definitely not least, H. and I got engaged (there was no proposal involved, just FYI, we just discussed it and decided it was the right time, in our typical non-conventional fashion). We've been planning our wedding for the past couple months. You can read more about that on my wedding blog.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind year, but a lot of good things that I've been wanting to do for a long time happened. And the best part of it is that I had a major if not the main role in making them happen. It was a good year for self-empowerment. Damn, it was just a good year! Thanks to all of you for supporting and encouraging me throughout the year, and for reading my blog.

I look forward to a happy, fulfilling, (hopefully) peaceful, and prosperous new year with all of you. I really believe that the best is yet to come.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

List: Why I Hardly Write About Politics on this Blog

1. A lot, and I mean A LOT, of other people write about politics from a much more well-informed and articulate voice than mine. For starters, see some of the links right here in the margins of my blog. Not that I read much political stuff either, except for sometimes Harper's because it's just really well-written and takes interesting perspectives on stuff. I have to admit that a lot of other political writing puts me to sleep. Maybe I'm afraid of putting people to sleep too!

2. I am self-centered. At least I'm honest about it. I've read plenty of other blogs by so-called 'conscious' or political people who really just talk about their friends and their opinions anyway, so why not just put it all out there and be transparent? This blog is about me and my life, and as much as politics touches my life--which of course politics do quite frequently, in very real ways--I may post something about politics here. I try not to be too self-centered in my everyday life, so I figure I can use this space to be a bit of an ego-hog if I like. Besides, I feel like a lot of leftists are so obsessed with politics and not enough with examining the problems and issues in their own lives that they end up being some really frakked up people, if you know what I mean.

3. I don't feel like I have a lot to contribute to the 'political debate' that may not completely offend others, and I'm not trying to offend people in this blog. I really am not trying to invite some crazy right-wing and/or racist lurkers to read my blog and start trying to post some ill comments. Of course, I could just moderate them out of existence but I'm way too honest to do that, and then it might just get out of hand.

4. It seems like this blog ends up mostly being used by my friends and acquaintances to keep up on my life and hear more about what I'm thinking about life. And that's just fine by me. In our frenzied and over-scheduled urban American society, I have so little time to keep up with friends and folks that my blog ends up doing that for me. To me, that's a good use of technology!

And one more thing--tomorrow's my birthday! So wish self-centered me a nice happy one.

Monday, December 24, 2007

List: What I'm Going to Do for the Next 2 Weeks

1. Get Christmas out of the way first. Not that I don't like Christmas, I actually enjoy it quite a bit. But I'm not very religious about it and I don't get too caught up in the gift-buying craze, especially now that H. and I are saving for the wedding. I like to get small, thoughtful gifts that please people and make them feel as if someone listened to them. I like to give people what they want. I like to just give gifts to people, really. I'm a giver. No wonder I'm a fundraiser then, eh? I'm a professional counselor to givers!

2. Stay at home and clean my house. It's been a long, sometimes tough, and very busy year for me. At last count I'd made 12 out of town trips this past year, including going to meet my father for the first time, going to the Philippines, to the Rockwood Leadership program for four days, to Portland for a conference I trained at, and to LA three times for work. I also got to go to Louisville, Kentucky for work which was interesting and fun (really!). So my house is a mess. I haven't organized squat in my house in months. And what better time than the cold winter to hole up with the heater on and get to cleanin'?

3. Write. I have a lot of material knocking around in my head, waiting to be poured out onto the page. I've realized that I need to just do my writing when I have the time, and not beat myself up so badly about not being able to make the time when I'm super-busy and stressed-out about work, the wedding, my father-in-law being ill, and the holidays. It's pretty crazy, and telling, that even during this wacky month of holidays I find myself guilt-tripping myself--'What, you can't do all of this AND write 100 pages too?? What's wrong with you?"

4. Read. I set a goal of reading/finishing four books (two of which I've already started) this break. I'm off until Monday, January 7, 2008 so i think I can do it. I've been reading a lot more lately than I have in a long time. It feels good.

5. Wedding planning. We're going to book our photographer this week (had a great meeting with Hasain Rasheed and his partner, Joanna Kaplan, about working with them; it's pretty much a go--I mean, look at those amazing photos! And they were really cool, nice people to boot. Had a good feeling about them as soon as we walked in the door).

That's it! That's enough. I decided it was too crazy to try and pack more stuff into my winter break. I know for some people this already might seem like a long list, but, hey I'm a Type-A Capricorn. I like to keep busy!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

You are cordially invited... check out my new blog on weddings, marriage, and the insanity of the 'bridal industry'.

And no, we are not going to have the word 'cordially' on our wedding invitations. ;)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Constant Planner

What can I say? I love planning things. Almost as much--no, sometimes as much if not more--as implementing those plans. Case in point: as we near the end of the calendar and our fiscal year for my organization, I find myself getting excited about drafting a new annual fundraising plan and quarterly workplans in Excel worksheets. Sick, huh? Actually, I know that without people like me the world would be a very unorganized, slightly confused, and not as great place. I really do feel that in my heart.

Second case in point: I was the chair of the event committee for a big fundraiser for a nonprofit on whose board I sit, which was held back in October. It was a good fundraiser, went off well, although I think the planning process itself wasn't that fun for me. I was just way to busy with other things to be very present during the process, and sent lots of late night emails to the various people I was working on it with, and begrudgingly went to meetings. I also knew that planning this fundraiser was keeping me from moving forward as quickly as I wanted to on my wedding planning and I felt a little resentful of that. But when it was over, it felt good, and I told myself--time to move on!

So I started planning the wedding in earnest. You can read more about that on my my other blog. It's been a little stressful, but it's been fun. I especially love going to venues to check them out for the ceremony and reception, and I can't wait 'til we start trying different caterers' food. But it's been a time suck, to be sure, and I find myself reflexively searching for wedding favor ideas or wedding dresses online when I probably should be writing or cleaning the house or something. I get a bit obsessive; it's a personality trait I'm working on.

So it's funny that within all this big-event planning what I'm getting excited about this week is planning yet another event; H.'s birthday is in a week and a half and I'm going to throw him a small get-together with friends (not completely a surprise but he doesn't know the details of the event). I love making the invite list and then sending that initial email out to everyone to get the ball rolling. I also love looking for stuff to do that night online (if anyone knows of any good stuff happening in the City on Sat., Dec. 15 lemme know). So really, I think it's not just planning, but event planning that gets me going.

It feels good to plan things, feels good to get things done and know that I thought it through so that I could get things done easily and with less hassle. I don't know if this puts a damper on my sense of spontaneity--who am I kidding, of course it does!--but I know that it helps me relax when I finally get to the big day, knowing that every detail has been thought of, every emergency has a point person to handle it (even if it's me), and that everything is going to be okay.