My First (well, second, actually) Public Reading!

You got no blog post from me last week because I was sick. I know everyone loves DC’s cherry blossoms, but they are the absolute worst when it comes to allergies. So, no, I wasn’t lamenting the fact that I haven’t had a drink since March 5; I was on my couch watching a marathon of Project Runway season 2, barely able to breathe.

Anyway, last night, I went to Readings on the Pike,* a reading series featuring local writers. It was, of course, awesome, but it made me realize: I forgot to blog about my own reading experience! I was one of the featured Readings on the Pike readers for February, my first real public reading (Well, the first one that was planned, not spontaneous) (And, actually, I guess it depends on if you count the one I did at Bread Loaf as public. Anyway…).

I waited until the Friday before the reading (they’re always on Monday nights) to choose what I was going to read. I didn’t mean to wait that long; life just kept getting in the way. I asked a friend who’d also done it what she recommended.

“Don’t staple your pages together; it’s awkward when you’re up there,” she said. “Print it out single-sided and in at least a 14 point font. Go over it once and you’ll be good.”

I wasn’t nervous until she said that last part.

“Only once???” I replied.

“Yeah. You don’t want to overdo it. And there will be wine, so you’ll be fine.”

I chose to read the beginning of “The Right of Way,” my most recently published work. I thought it might be weird to read aloud because it’s a braided essay, meaning, more than one thing is happening over the course of it: I slow down the instance of getting hit by a car to reflect on other times that I’d been angry. I like the essay as I wrote it, but I thought it would be weird to read it since it goes back and forth in time.

But then I remembered a key strategy from my public speaking class in business school: When you want to change a subject, pause and then physically shift your body to a new location. This will allow the audience to know that you’re about to talk about something different. (And is also why you shouldn’t pace back and forth all willynilly. You confuse your audience that way.)

Of course, I practiced the piece more than once because I couldn’t trust myself to only do it once. I had to shave down some of it, too, to fit the 7 minute time limit. I practiced in a callbox in my coworking space. I can only imagine how I must have looked and sounded to onlookers.

On the night of the reading, I was thrilled that my spouse and some folks from my Writer’s Center essay class came out to support me! It was great to see friendly faces in the crowd, though, to be honest, everyone there is a friendly face. I could be wrong, but I think the majority of people who attend Readings on the Pike are writers themselves, so they’re a sympathetic audience. But I was so glad they all made the effort to come all the way out to Virginia – VIRGINIA – to see me read!

As the two readers in line before me read, I felt great, but as it got closer to my turn, my hands started to shake. Which was weird because my brain and the rest of my body felt fine, not nervous at all. When I went up the mic, I felt good. And then I realized that the mic was too short and that I couldn’t actually move the way I needed to because the mic was in a stand, and when I was doing that business school presentation, I had one of those body mics.

But I reminded myself that none of that mattered. Everyone was there to hear what I had written, regardless of where I stood while doing so.

So, I read.

I took pauses in the places where I would have shifted my body to signal the new sections, and I read.

And it went great!

Everyone who read after me was fantastic, too. And I had this moment of saying, Hot dangit, I am a writer, a real one, who has this great community of other writers who are supportive, and of readers who are supportive, and of my spouse who is supportive. And I could have cried.

But I didn’t, because I’m not a crier. I’m a laugher.

52920526_10156248269168613_2748175029534457856_n

Photo by Hannah Grieco

*Readings on the Pike occurs the third Monday of the month at Josephine’s Italian Kitchen on Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA.

Advertisements

47 Days of Sobriety Ahead

Happy Mardi Gras, all!

I was thinking this week about what I might give up for Lent, the 40 days (minus Sundays) before Easter. (Sundays are considered their own little resurrection day, even during the period, so fasting only has to happen the 40 days. And I’m guessing it’s 40 days to reflect the number of days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan before Jesus formally started his ministry…if I’m remembering that correctly.)

I’m not Catholic, so Lent isn’t a “requirement” for me, but I like to do it anyway. For the past couple of years, I haven’t given up anything, though, because I’ve been buffeted by the passing of time so much that Lent’s arrival always came as a surprise (it’s not the same day every year, like Christmas).

But this year, I’m 33—there’s something about this year that makes this Lenten season all the more important to me.

Jesus was 33 when he was crucified. So basically, he was the age I currently am, causing a ruckus by telling people to love each other and to pay their taxes [the only thing Jesus said that I take issue with] and by respecting women as humans and by being generally a nonviolent revolutionary (minus that whole turning tables over in the temple. But even that was because he was offended that they were selling things where women and Gentiles were trying to pray. Jesus was the original feminist/woke one.). And roughly 45 days from now he was killed because of it.

If you’re a consistent reader of this blog, you’re no stranger to my career-related existential crisis that began when I was 30, when I left my NYC finance job. As a result, I sometimes find it hard to believe that someone who would in today’s terms be defined as a Millennial spent three years changing the course of human history, the magnitude of which upset people so badly that he was executed for it. I can only ask, What on earth am I doing with my life?

I’m not God incarnate, as Jesus was, so I’m not putting that level of pressure on myself. But it is remarkable to think that someone my age was out there changing things.

I sometimes feel powerless at all the horrible going on in the world. I feel powerless to change the way I am perceived by society, white men in particular. And so, to cope with these feelings, I do things like lift weights (the heavier the better), go to spin class, write, go to therapy. But I also indulge, mostly in wine and cocktails.

So, this year, I am giving up alcohol for Lent, in recognition that I lean on it a bit too much for a feeling of peace, or something close to it.

I gave up alcohol for Lent ten years ago, in 2009. I was 23, had just started a new job, and felt that I was on the cusp of a new type of life. It was really hard not drinking for 40 days; my friends and I went out a lot in our 20s. But it was during that period that I met my spouse, who’d also given up alcohol for Lent. It really was the start a new era for me.

I can’t say that I feel that way now, but I want to. I want to make the shift from writing back to full-time work. My spouse and I are interested in becoming parents at some point in the near future. I’m still working on my book. I’m still on the ground of the pending upslope, if that makes sense, and I want to be prepared for the ride.

So tonight, I’ll have a nice cocktail, then that’ll be it. It will more challenging this time than it was at 23 because now I attend writerly functions, including AWP, which involves lots of parties and free drinks. But I’ll stand my ground, rooting myself in sacrifice, honoring the one I’m trying to be like, the one who turned the world upside down at tender age of 33.

Happy 10-year Anniversary of My Great Recession Faith Growth

The ten-year anniversary of losing my job to the Great Recession was on February 8.

On that day, a Sunday in 2009, I’d gone to a sales associate meeting at my second job at Banana Republic downtown DC. As I left the store, my phone rang. It was my boss, the one who lived in Oklahoma.

“I’m so sorry, Vonetta, but we had to make some really difficult choices, and we have to let you go.”

“Oh,” I said.

It wasn’t a surprise: two months prior, everyone at the company had taken 20% paycuts and started paying the whole bill for our health insurance, not great during the holiday season, but at least they’d tried to help us keep our jobs.

“It’s okay,” I continued. “Something is going to work out for me, for all of us.” I swallowed. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to see something you’ve worked so hard for going through hard times.”

With that, she cracked. Her voice had already started quivering, but with that, the modicum of empathy I was giving, she spilled over, crying into my ear.

Again, since it wasn’t a surprise, I wasn’t horribly broken up over it.

The next day, I went into the office to give them my laptop, office keys, and company credit card. Others who’d been laid off cried openly, and I felt bad for not feeling worse than I did. I didn’t feel worse because I knew something great was going to open for me.

I had lunch with my friend Rachel that afternoon, then went to the Library of Congress for the first time, since I finally had time on my hands. I called my managers at Banana Republic to ask for extra shifts, and they honored my request—I worked eight days straight, eating into any unemployment I got, but work money provided much more anyway.

The following Monday, President’s Day, it hit me—I’d lost my job and all I had was my part-time retail job. I went to BR that day, then came home to my apartment and literally drank myself to sleep (Southern Comfort. A horrible idea, all of it.) I woke up with a hangover, but, when my phone rang, I answered it.

It was the HR woman from a job I’d interviewed for a month prior. She was calling to see if I was still interested in the job because she was rounding up final candidates.

Sitting up in bed with my head in my hand, I said, “Yes, I’m still interested. And I can start sooner. I was laid off last week.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Vonetta.”

“It’s okay,” I said, “something is going to work out for me.” And I believed it.

She called me the next day to offer me the job, with a salary well above what I’d asked for. I have never been so relieved in my life.

I began work at that job on Wednesday, February 25, 2009. It was the job that would seal my interest in finance and lead me to business school.

It was that one faith-filled belief I held—“something is going to work out for me”—that literally changed my life.

Since, in 2016, my career took a turn I wasn’t expecting, I’m reminding myself of this because I need that faith again, to know that not only will something work out for me, but that it is already in the works.

If you’d asked me ten years ago, what I would be doing on February 25, 2019, I would have said, “I hope I’m on track to be a partner in investment management!” Not, “I hope I’m a writer, a nonprofit finance director, and associate editor of a startup online literary magazine!”

But something is working out for me in this awkward place I’m in. I’m holding onto that until my promise comes through completely.

Who I Want to Be & Forgiving White Men

This weekend was a moving one on a number of levels.

First, my spouse’s aunt, Frances, passed away two weeks ago, and her funeral was held on Saturday. We drove up to Philly for the service. I knew Aunt Frances (and referred to her as such, “Aunt Frances,”), but I’d only interacted with her a few times over the past 10 years of being with my spouse. But I couldn’t help but cry at how warm and loving her funeral was.

The last funeral I went to was my father’s, over three years ago, and it wasn’t at all moving. It wasn’t about a celebration of my father’s life, it was about showmanship—who could say the most the loudest? Who could get the most attention? Dad’s funeral was depressing, not because my father was dead, but because it seemed that everyone but a few were celebrating the lie he lived—the beloved pastor and bishop—not the person he actually was.

Given how weirded out I’ve been about the concept of time recently, after Aunt Frances’ funeral, I felt more inclined to think about how I want to be remembered. I pray it will be a long time before I am only a memory, but when the time comes (and it will, unless Jesus returns first, but God only knows when that will be… [See what I did there?]), I want to be remembered for my joy, my laughter, my love of learning, my authenticity, my enjoyment of challenges, my desire to break down barriers and blaze trails for women and people of color in business, my resilience, my emotional fortitude. And they will all be true. The most true thing anyone said about my father at his funeral was, “Al…He was Al.”

I realized that I also want to be remembered for not holding grudges. Though it comes naturally for me, I don’t want it to be so much a part of my character that people recall it as one of my top character traits.

On Sunday, the sermon at church was about being Better Together, Despite Our Differences. I’ll be honest: it was clearly aimed at white people, encouraging them to build bridges with those who aren’t like them. But I felt convicted, too. I realized that I’ve allowed my heart to harden toward white men, those who have caused me harm or facilitated it or stood aside and let it happen. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that I needed to forgive white men the same way I forgave my father—knowing that they may never apologize or come to any type of reckoning with their wrongdoing, but forgiving them for me, so I don’t become bitter and resentful and allow those negative feelings to pervade my body and life.

So, I made a step toward it. I went to the altar and asked God to forgive me for holding on to feelings of resentment toward white men. And then I prayed with a white man, humbling myself before the Lord. Perhaps writing about this sounds like the opposite of humility, but trust me, it’s an additional part of the humiliation exercise. Admitting this is risky, as it makes me sound subservient, but in reality, it’s the opposite—I’ve gained a level of power by being obedient. I’ve found that forgiveness takes time, though, and it’s not like I’ll pretend the past never happened. I’ll just have way more internal freedom, which is what matters most.

I’m not a very emotional person, so the fact that I had these encounters back-to-back took a bit out of me. It almost feels like I went through a growth spurt, and suddenly my head feels miles above my feet. It’ll take some getting used to. Then I’ll move onto the next leg of the journey.

Busy is the Millennial condition

You didn’t miss a post from me last week—I was entirely too busy to write one. So, today, I wanted to talk about busyness.

When I read Anne Helen Petersen’s viral essay on Millennial burnout, I couldn’t say I related. I don’t generally get errand paralysis because my mother drilled it into my head, in so many words, that “adulting” isn’t something you do, it’s who you are when you get to a certain age. I’m baffled by my peers who even use that stupid word, “adulting,” as if they are not actually adults themselves.

But what did strike me was the overall theme of the piece—that Millennials are so freaking busy that we can’t even get basic errands done.

I realized that I actually have to take a day off from work every couple of months to complete them. And they’re nothing crazy: going to the drycleaner (which is just a hair far enough away from my coworking space that it’s not always easy to go on work days), going to Target (instead of ordering supplies on Amazon, like I did yesterday), going to the dentist or my annual check-ups, maybe cleaning my bathrooms.

So, for me, it’s not that I don’t do these things, it’s just that I have to take time out from doing work in order to accomplish them, which is just the other side of the coin of what Petersen was talking about.

I’ve shared on this blog before that I often feel that I’m on a treadmill: going and going and going, but without actually going anywhere. At least on a treadmill, I’d be improving my cardiovascular health. Instead, I feel I’m just wearing myself down with nothing to show for it. (Ironically, going to the gym is one of my “busy” things. I go three to four times a week because I believe in taking care of myself, but that’s easily six hours out of my week gone, just by trying to take care of myself.)

I know my generation is known for our entitlement and our strongly held subconscious belief that everything must come to us quickly. (Sue us, we were raised with microwaves and Chef Boyardee.) These things definitely play a part in my restlessness. I’ve been working on a memoir and building an author platform for over two and half years. I’m still not done with the book, and the platform will only be built over time. I left my job two and half years ago and haven’t found another one, and can’t fully explain why not, but I only feel [anxiety] that I should have had one by now. I should have all of these things by now. And yet, I don’t.

Older generations, including Gen Xers like my sister, who aren’t that much older than me, probably think we’re idiots. But I think Millennials are just young still. We’re young in a time of the internet, when working doesn’t mean 9-to-5, or even getting paid. Like I said in my last post, we haven’t done this thing called life before, and we don’t know how to do it.

I’m finding ways to come along, though. I’ve set some boundaries with the nonprofit I’m helping out, and it’s coming along well, so I won’t have to spend part-time job hours on it. I’m seeing my schedule for what it is: making time to exercise in the evening calls for waking up earlier. I’m making time to restore my dreams and vision of what I want out of life.

I’m not complaining, just coping. Not even coping. Living. I’m living.

My Mind-Boggling Epiphany

I thought coming back from a great workshop and vacation would be easier because of the four-day week that followed. Man, was I wrong.

I was glad to get the time to get my bearings last Monday; my spouse and I did laundry and planned out our meals for the week. We had one extra day together before descending into our regular schedules in which we might not see each other for a day or two.

And then real life started again, and my vacation glow vanished, not even slowly dissipated.

I became my usual amount of inordinately busy. I’m helping out a literary arts nonprofit, and I had to catch up on everything I’d missed over the course of 10 days; when so much happens every day, it was a lot I missed. I physically ran to and fro, getting things done.

At the same time, I wanted to get some of my own work done. I told myself I would do my own work in the morning, then nonprofit stuff in the afternoon. This way, I was able to polish off Chapter 1 of my memoir and my synopsis to apply to Tin House Summer Workshop. I cobbled together a draft of an essay to exchange with one of my writing groups, and I felt bad because I wasn’t able to refine it at all. I also started revising the short story I workshopped at Tin House Winter, which I’d like to use to apply to another summer workshop.

All the while, I fell behind on nonprofit stuff. And because I’m prioritizing taking care of my body, I still went to the gym, which took up even more time.

My perfect schedule failed me, as it always does. And time continued to pass, as it always does.

While talking to my trainer on Friday, I had a startling epiphany: we only get to do this thing once.

Intellectually, I’ve always known that you only get one life. You have to “live it to the fullest,” blah blah blah. But, in my heart of hearts, I’ve always felt that those older than me, particularly my mother, had done this before. I’m not saying reincarnation, but something in me felt that they’d lived more fully than I had and, therefore, were living their current lives more accurately or better than their previous one.

I know that makes very little sense, but at the end of the day Friday I finally felt, truly, that we really only live once. I KNOW.

I think the next logical step would be for me to say, “So, I’m going to make the most of every day!” But I’d be lying to both of us.

As I check off items on my to-do list and add more on, a Sisyphean task if there ever was one, I keep feeling this sense of, “Is this enough? Is this really what I’m called to do?” I have no regrets, really, but I do wonder if being insurmountably busy is actually accomplishing anything. I sometimes think, maybe if I were working a paid job I’d feel more fulfilled because I’d see the fruits of my labor in my checking account every two weeks. Writing is a slow business, and publishing is often slower, so I’m in a season of wondering if it’s all worth it. How Millennial of me.

But for now, here’s to checking these items off my list, in faith that they’re pushing me toward my mission and purpose. Trying to remember to do all of these things, even the smallest, most insignificant, most annoying things for the glory of the one who created me and my path.

 

Tin House Winter Workshop & Vacation Recap

I’m a day late on this post because I wanted to hold on tight to my vacation for as long as I could, then life got superbusy on my first day back in the saddle. But I’m here!

I had the best time at Tin House Winter Workshop! Like I said, it’s the smaller, cozier, more intimate of the Tin House workshops. It takes place over a long weekend, Friday to Monday, at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. It was about 55-60 degrees every day; *heaven* compared to DC’s 10 inches of snowfall that weekend.

SBH is the *cutest* inn on the beach with rooms themed after authors. I was in the Virginia Woolf room, which was quite cozy and had a nice view of the ocean. (The Jules Verne room was kinda creepy and the guy who forgot to choose his room during his allotted time got stuck with it, haha!) It was perfect for writing!

The Virginia Woolf room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel

The view from the Virginia Woolf room. I forgot to open the curtain below.

Writing and whale-watching in the attic Reading Room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel

I usually have a hard time writing at these sorts of conferences, but this time, the strangest thing happened: I took a walk on the beach to think about a couple of stories I’ve been working on, one for months with no resolve, and out of the water or in the wind, solutions to both stories came to me. Like, total clarity on plots and character development and all that jazz! So I ran back to my room and wrote down everything that came to me. I started working on the first one, but didn’t get to finish, but I’m so glad to have gotten clarity in the wind, as it were. And that was before the conference had even started.

When it did, it was transformative. I don’t say that to be dramatic, but to express the thing that happened in me over the course of the workshops. As you probably know from previous posts, I have PTSD from a traumatic work experience. For more than two years, I have struggled to find confidence in my abilities again. But over that weekend, an assurance I’ve never felt in my life came up for me. I felt it in my chest, almost like one of those balloons that keeps your arteries open. Not only was I telling myself, I actually *believed* that I was there to learn, not to impress anyone, and that being myself was sufficient, and if anyone didn’t like me or my work that that was fine, but I was there to expand my professional network as a writer and learn how to improve my short story [a different one that was also giving me grief because it’s been rejected 15 times].

You don’t know how proud I am of myself for finally reaching this conclusion. I know time heals all wounds, so maybe I just needed 2.5 years of feeling kinda shitty to finally feel capable. I’m also solidly into my 30s now and there’s something about this decade that makes you feel a lot more comfortable with not caring. I thank God for that mechanism that finally seems to be kicking in.

So, after that life-changing experience, I met up with my spouse in Cabo San Lucas for five glorious days of sunshine, margaritas, and being sedentary by the pool. We stayed at the Solaz Resort, which I could not recommend more because it was freaking gorgeous and the service was the best I’ve ever encountered, no exaggeration. And we saw whales! But they were really far out in the ocean, so I don’t have pictures. 😦

The pool deck at the Solaz Resort, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

THEY UNPACK YOUR BAGS FOR YOU, Solaz Resort

My spouse in the infinity pool

The beautify of a peninsula: gorgeous sunrises as well as sunsets

We also took a romantic sunset cruise that resulted in my getting a bit seasick, though not actually vomiting. But the ambiance was ruined a little more by an older white couple who insisted we all *must* listen to Jimmy Buffett as the sun set, including “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” Oy. Bless their hearts.

Us on the boat before I got seasick

God showing off with an excessively beautiful sunset

God showing off with my spouse during an excessively beautiful sunset

I swear on a stack of phone books that time is going faster now. The workshop and vacation went likethis. My spouse said he thinks time is actually going faster, that somehow, maybe global warming is making the Earth spin around its axis a little faster. I said I wasn’t sure about that; we’re adults now, so that’s what’s throwing things off. We’d have to ask a kid, since they have the best perception of time, knowing how to hold onto it for as long as possible and always being bothered by the world around them.

“She laughs without fear of the future”

Happy New Year, all!

(And more importantly, happy birthday to my mom!)

2018 was a weird year that I don’t particularly care to reflect on. While I went to some amazing conferences and met some awesome people, I got scammed and had multiple job opportunities disappear into thin air. It was a long, busy holiday season, but I feel refreshed and ready to hit the ground running in 2019.

The busyness starts this Thursday, when I leave for Tin House Winter Workshop—about which I am so freaking excited—and won’t stop for the rest of the year. My seatbelt is buckled.

Last year around this time, I set a goal to get a full-time job by the end of the year. Obviously, that didn’t happen. With focusing writing, including traveling to conferences all over the country and taking classes online and off, I have to admit that didn’t spend a ton of energy on job searching. Writing is what I love and it came in 2018, a lot of it. I don’t feel like a failure, just that life kept me going in a direction in which I already had momentum.

I want to continue writing my face off in 2019, but this year, I want to make money from writing. I made very little ($540) from writing in 2017, and none (like, $0) in 2018. I am determined to make that change this year, with a goal of a whopping $2,000. I’ve gotten a lot better as a writer, and I know that I’m worth paying. This is hard, though; there’s a lot of great publications that just can’t afford to pay. I hate for them to get shut out, but I need to earn my keep.

I want to have 8 essays published—5 longform literary and 3 shortform commercial—as well as 3 short stories (at least accepted, if not actually published). Fiction takes me a lot longer to write than essays, so I’m respecting that about myself. But this year, I want to produce, produce, produce.

For writing conferences/workshops, I made a goal to go to three, but they’re ones that are really hard to get into: Tin House Summer, Sewanee, and Kenyon Review. I’m waitlisted at Kenyon, and the application period for the other two have only recently opened, so I’ll cross my fingers and see what happens. I am going to Tin House Winter, the more intimate, cozy, shorter, and focuseder version of the summer workshop. I’ll be working with National Book Award longlister Nafissa Thompson-Spires on short fiction, and I cannot even put into words how thrilled I am to attend that conference and to work with her (!).

And, yes, I can’t forget about my memoir, the reason I became a writer to begin with. My goal is to actually finish my book this year and start working my way through the list of 100 agents to query. I think I’ve told myself every year that this will be the year, but this year there’s a lot more going on—I’m going to pay more attention to how to set myself up to find a business job, my spouse and I might start trying to have a baby at some point, and I’ve got some other volunteer activities that are taking up an inordinate amount of time, etc.

On New Year’s Eve, I was thinking about everything I plan to do this year, and I felt my body tense up. But then I remembered a scripture I’d read that morning, Proverbs 31:25 NLT, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to relax. So my word for the year—this extraordinarily busy year that could see a lot of monumental life changes for me—is “relax.” That’s divine irony for you.

I’m excited about my goals and plans, and I’m learning to relax when things don’t work out the way I’d like for them to. I whisper to myself “relax,” remember that that verse is talking about me, and after a while already, I find myself laughing, fearless.

My 2018 goals: The results

For my last blog post of 2018, I wanted to go over what I accomplished this year.

My biggest goal for 2018 wasn’t writing related at all. It was to go back to work full-time.

Mission completely and totally unaccomplished and kind of abandoned for the time being.

In my first post of this year, I said, “Although I’ve worked ludicrously hard on my memoir, I worked ludicrously harder for my MBA. I want to put all that time, energy, effort, and tears into a fulfilling business career.” This is still true.

I still wonder almost every day why God has me doing this work instead of something else, but I know it’s all working toward some larger plan. I recently joined the board of a literary arts nonprofit that’s in flux and I was named Treasurer, so this appears to be a way to start flexing those muscles again. I’m not being paid, which stinks, but I realized my reason for wanting to go back to work was to prove to myself that I can do the work I’ve said I could do for nearly 12 years, and just haven’t been given the opportunity. This is my chance to show what I can do. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Otherwise, in 2018, I wanted to publish 5 essays and 2 short stories. Mission accomplished! (Well, one story was published, but another was accepted and will be published in hardcopy in summer 2019, so that counts to me.)

Here’s my 2018 babies, in chronological order:

You Are Not a Real Writer,” Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, March 21, 2018

Why, As a Millennial, It Was Vital for Me to Own a Home,” Blavity, March 28, 2018

July 11, 2008,” Past Ten, July 9, 2018

Who is deserving of my spare change?,” Fathom Magazine, September 11, 2018

I Help You,” Cosmonauts Avenue, October 4, 2018 (Fiction)

The Right of Way,” Lunch Ticket, December 7, 2018

I also wanted to go to some great summer workshops, and I did! My time at Yale Writers Workshop, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference was PHENOMENAL, and all of them made me a better writer, step by step.

The thing I did this year that I’m most proud of was giving my first public reading! First, at Bread Loaf, then in DC (photo above)! It was surreal to bring my work to life in front of people. It’s a necessary part of being an author, and though it was a little nerve-wracking, it was great, and I’m looking forward to doing it again!

I’m still toiling with my 2019 goals. I’m almost afraid to make them because so much of life changes. Just when you expect things to go a certain way, then BANG, there they go, in an entirely different direction. This phenomenon has taught me about the difference between patience and surrender. Patience implies that you know what you’re waiting for—to see a doctor or hairstylist or the like to act on an appointment you made. Surrender implies that you’re just trying to make it out alive, hands up don’t shoot.

That sounds a lot more negative than I intend for it to, but I hope you get the picture. I don’t know what’s next for me. I keep trying to make things happen, and they’re not happening, so I have to surrender to God’s plan for me. It’ll be great, whatever it is. I just have to have my hands up, knowing He won’t shoot, but that He’ll overwhelm me with purpose and blessing. That’s my prayer for 2019.

Merry Christmas, all! And happy new year! See you again in January.

The Right of Way

My last essay of the year was published on Friday!

Remember when I got hit by a car earlier this year? The experience was actually pretty transformative. Sure, I’m a writer, and a memoir one at that, so I write about a lot of things about myself and the weird things that have happened to me, but this was the first transformative experience I felt I could write about in real time. I wrote that blog post about a week after the incident and I wrote the essay only a few weeks later.

I think this is the first time I felt that writing really helped me feel better about something immediate that happened to me that sucked, but hadn’t been stewing for years and years and years. And it felt great to get it out, almost like therapy. I knew I loved writing for this purpose, but I never knew it could feel so immediate.

So, huge thanks to Lunch Ticket for publishing this, my last essay of 2018. Here’s to hoping I’m more productive (and fruitful $$) next year!