2015/retrospective (on the theme of luck)

This is the personal retrospective, not the goals and metrics one. That one is for the first of the year. This is for the liminal time between.

It’s the last week of the year, and I’m in New York City. This is, for me, a sacred time. Everything is on hold. We are winding up the last of the old year and making hesitation-mark sketches for the new one. Despite climate fuckery, it almost snowed last night. I ate a tiny hailstone that had fallen in my hair, and there’s my communion with the city made manifest one more time.

I’m doing a very absurd thing, this week. I’ve done it every day and I will keep doing it until the New Year (and maybe afterward): I am standing in line for the Hamilton lottery each evening. I of course would like to win it, but I’m secretly doing it because it’s about luck, and about open-eyed surrender to luck, which is the flipside of everything else about this past year: luck is the other side of the coin from forward momentum, from saying yes to everything, especially big risks.

You have to throw yourself into the future as hard as you can, but you also have to propitiate the gods, y’know?

I did okay this year. It was not easy and I was scared a lot of the time — including on the good things, having wonderful and crazy stuff happen to you is frightening, making choices all the time is frightening. I said yes a lot. I took big risks and they paid off. I didn’t fuck up anything unfixably. I am in a markedly better place at the end of 2015 than I was at the end of 2014.

I am in fact okay. All the way down. Which is new. (I’ve been happy. I’ve been, in fact, happier than this! But I think I might be okay for the first time in my life, at thirty years old.)

in 2015 I:

  • came to solid and true realizations about what I want my career to look like and what I’m willing to do to get it (move across the Atlantic, not have a pet I really want, live without my furniture and books or any idea of what I will be doing three years from now) and what I am absolutely unwilling to do even if it means changing careers in my mid-thirties (live in an isolated place, teach 90% of the time)
  • taught successfully, with excellent student evaluations, despite being completely burned out by a year of full-time teaching at a small liberal arts college; I didn’t let my students down even when I knew I’d never be willing to do this job again
  • practiced radical self-care (which involved running away to Boston to a SFF convention during a snowstorm; trust me, it was so necessary and I’m glad I spent money to do it)
  • moved to Sweden
  • finished five academic articles in the period between April and December (approximately 30,000 words of publishable academia), had two accepted (the others languish in Peer Review)
  • wrote an additional 20,000 words of academia, which will become part of my first monograph
  • gave invited lectures at universities I wasn’t employed at
  • was a productive member of my department and felt welcome and useful in it
  • organized and ran, along with my direct supervisor, an international experimental workshop on narratology and Byzantine studies
  • taught in a writer’s workshop (I want to do more of this!)
  • published three short stories, one poem, and one professional review
  • wrote a review for myself which went kind of viral in a way that was important to me
  • wrote 45k of a novel
  • sold every piece of fiction I finished in 2015 (though this may not stay true if I finish the story I’m working on before the 1st)
  • was mostly kind

I’m satisfied with that.

I didn’t do everything I wanted to do in 2015 — I meant to finish that novel, and improve my Armenian, for starters — but I did enough, and I was brave.

Brave is something I think I am, now. As a character trait. I get to keep that. That’s me.


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