In ten years, when I am on my first major book tour, or giving a lecture, teaching a class, something like that - at some point when I'm older, I will have the opportunity to tell the story of how I self-published my first book. About how I wrote it the summer I was working from home, in my parents' living room, after I had moved out of my own place and given away my cats to prepare to move to North Carolina to go back to school at 33. And I met this guy on OK Cupid like three months before I was leaving, and spent every day with him from that moment on - him coming over in the morning for coffee, picking me up for lunch breaks, coming to get me after work. Maybe at this point I'll mention the Ex and the weird sadness of that, but probably not unless this is a story I'm telling while drinking, or I'm talking to the Prince about it. But the end part of that whole story, past New York and Erie and Sandusky, is Wilmington and me being unemployed for three months, just sitting for 14 hours at a stretch, trying to write and write and write. The first wonderful three months of meeting friends and having no job, just school where we talked about writing, and then coming home to write some more, then going out, going to bed, sleeping late, writing some more. It's as probably close to idyllic as I'm ever allowed to get.
So when I'm telling this story to impressionable youngsters, what I'll point out, what the punchline will be, is that when I published my first book, I was so poor I couldn't even afford my own copy until two months after it had been released. That sums up 2012 about as well as anything else - being destitute and elated at the same time. Being desperate for a lot of different things. Needy as fuck, not just needy to other people but horrendously needy from myself - there were so many things I demanded of myself this year. Not all of them worked as well as the others.
This New Years Eve, I worked all day at the register. I wore my tiara. Most of the men gave me strange looks, most of the women loved it and wanted to touch it. I got home early, and fell asleep. When I woke up, I was an hour late to meet my friends and my foot hurt, so instead of wearing sequins and giving a shit, I bundled up in a sweater dress, and rode my bike downtown, which meant lugging my messenger bag into the crowded bars, being THAT girl. The slovenly looking one. With the big bag and the sweaty hair. The girl who doesn't give a fuck anymore.
See, I've lost my power here. Maybe I lost my power before I got here, all I know is I had it back in Cleveland, and then I didn't have it here. I think I thought for a minute that the Prince had taken it from me. Then I blamed my emotional distress and general physical shock adjusting to the Completely Insanely Different Lifestyle of Hardships I had just elected myself to. I had (have, haven't given it up completely) a theory about how in the Midwest people were more used to girls (moms, sisters, wives) that looked like me, the ubitiqous Polish Irish brunette girl with the birthing hips. Here they're used to Scottish girls who have grown up on the beach - all sunburned and freckled and Southerned out. If I was the type to find blonde people attractive at all, there would be a lot of hot people here. No offense blonde people. But, and here is part of the problem I identified finally this week - I had gotten used to being able to identify attraction easily in Cleveland men. I was honed into it, I could see it the minute any guy found something I said or did desirable, it was as tangible and thick as slicing a piece of cold tofu. Here though, the only people I've had that particular sensation with are all people who are already in relationships, married or otherwise. Every one, which isn't many, but is enough to be sinkingly depressing - the realization that it's not only location but age. I don't know what the hell I'm doing with the men here. I don't understand them. I can hardly talk to them without feeling weirdly ashamed of myself. Even the ones I like a lot.
This is the year I went from being the most comfortable to being the least comfortable.
Anyway, I got drunk with some people who liked me, and we watched New Years Eve from a rooftop Downtown. I could see the lights from the battleship on the river, and the other rooftop parties around us, the drunk girls stumbling in their heels on the cobblestones, and cops breaking up fights on the sidewalk, or trotting by clacking on horses. They lit off chinese lanterns, the big ones. One fell directly onto the roof below, and I stared at it burning there for a while to make sure it didn't set the building on fire. Afterwards, when we got too stumbly to be on the roof anymore, the girl in the red pants and I went to the bar across the street. Another guy asked me the next day where I disappeared to at that point. it was that after 1am grey area where groups separate and single girls get lost - the answer I was at the bar with the comics, and then I was walking to the next party with this guy who was on the phone with his girlfriend desperately trying to convince he wasn't cheating on her, and then I was at Steve's begging people not to get into fights with my eyes, and then finally I was in a cab on my way home at 7am - my bike and my self doubt locked up on Front St. I won't tell you all the other things that happened in that timeline - it was a very long night and the only person who will ever know what really happened is me- but if someone had been watching me in that cab, they would have seen it on my face, the marked difference, the expression that one gets when they remember who controls getting what they want, namely only themselves.
I guess the thing with making big changes in your life is that first you have to gut yourself, throw away a lot of crap, and then there's this transition time of being empty and feeling unmoored....filling yourself back up with things is a lot slower of a process, it's like building a muscle, especially when you're consciously trying to be choosier about it.
I wish you understood that one of the reasons I continuously ask for validation as a writer is because I'm worried that the minute other people stop relating to and liking what I write, is the minute I know I'm dreadfully crazy. The possibility I am just an insane ugly old batshit lady who is delusionally unaware of her own mode of existence, that's on the edge of my mind every day. I don't think there's any way to cure that, if that is the case, there's no fixing it at this point. It would be nice if someday 100% of me could believe that wasn't true. But until then, I'll tolerate it by believing that not everyone manages to have the kind of New Year's Eves I do. As long as time and cultural progression are worth marking and celebrating, I'm saner than most.
Traditionally, I post my favorite photos I've taken this year. My poor camera hasn't been taken out a lot here, I think I'm still getting to know the landscape - it's all so weird I can't see the flaws in the wall yet, the fingerholds in the images. But here you go, here's 2012 from the beginning. Happy 2013. This year is going to be strange.