Peace and love to everyone

Merry Christmas Eve.

It is so hard for me to believe that the holiday is already here — or will be, in just a few hours.  When I was a child, I wished so fervently for time to speed up, for Christmas to get here.  I remember my father laughing at me and saying, “When you get older, you’ll wish time would slow down.”  He was right.  He was so right.  Because now I find myself here, on Christmas Eve, wondering…where did this month go?  Where did this year go?

It began in darkness, a darkness that lasted from Christmas Day last year (which I won’t recount because God did that suck), through to July.  And then everything became bright and beautiful again, as I rediscovered who I was…and began a whole new chapter of my life.

Yule was fun.  We had some issues but it ended up coming out all right in the end.

Now it’s Christmas Eve.  And the day is going to be jam-packed with excitement and family and church and festivities.

I had planned for a few weeks to maybe print out a hard copy of Book 1 for Jess.  She’s expecting it at some point, but I don’t think she expected it by Christmas.  A few months ago, when I asked her what she wanted as a gift, she joked “A finished book.”  Never let it be said that I do not try to get everyone what he or she wants for Christmas.  Now.  It’s not a complete copy by any stretch of the imagination.  Jess wanted a hard copy because it’s her turn to edit, and she is finding it too hard, with her ADD, to do it on the computer screen like I do.  So I thought…print it out, give it to her for Christmas (she got other stuff too on Yule).

I printed it this morning, all 188 single-spaced pages of it.  When it was done, I held it on my lap, just for a minute.

The book.  My book.  I wrote it.  There it was.  A finished book.

Sure it needs edits, but…that’s a book.  A book I wrote.

I realized as I held it in my hands that this Christmas?  Is perfect.  Because I unwittingly gave myself the best Christmas present in the world.

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and I wish you nothing but light and love 🙂

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Reflections on this winter

I am not at home.  I am at a friend’s house, having escaped the storm and coming straight here from work, rather than wait for aforementioned friend to get out of work before coming here.  Nope.  I may be a New England girl, but I do not chance the snowstorm.  Said friend was justly rewarded for my intrusion by a straightened bedroom (I was bored, Yule is Saturday and there are only so many days and so much time left) and a cup of hot white chocolate peppermint tea (still obsessed) upon her arrival.  Life is good.  Very shortly, we will bake — bread (me) and cookies (her).  I just love the week leading up to Yule.

Yule, for those of you playing the home game and who may not have been here last year, is a very special holiday that my friend Jess has thrown every year since 2006.  Well, to be fair, 2006 was a hastily thrown-together joint year.  The five of us who attended were all horribly poor, our fare was a pork roast that my mother had charitably given me, and we gave each other the smallest, barest Yule gifts because that was what we could afford.  We made up lyrics to Christmas carols and decorated a Charlie Brown-esque “Yule tree.”  It was wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

In the eight years since then, Yule has become bigger and better, as we’ve become older and wiser.  Since Yule ’08, the Yule party has always been held at Jess’s house, and she acts as hostess.  I pitch in with the cooking (which we maintain is the best part of Yule), but it’s Jess’s show.

The point of Yule is a non-denominational celebration of friendship, the holidays, and the return of the light.  I am Catholic, and Jess is pagan, and our friends come from all walks of life in between.  Yule does not align itself with anything other than the winter solstice.  We do not have rituals, and religion is not forced on anyone.  We celebrate each other, our friendships, our triumphs and struggles, our love for each other, and the return of brighter days.  We eat food, play games (mostly horrible ones like Cards Against Humanity) and exchange presents.  Dinner is always as sumptuous an affair as we can make it without breaking the bank.  2010 was the infamous “Turducken Yule” — and yes, Jess did make a turducken.  It was masterful.  This year is going to be beef Wellington (Jess) and roast chicken, for those who don’t like beef (I am providing the chicken, but she will be seasoning it).

Yule is wonderful, it is exciting, it is exhausting — it is my favorite time of the holiday season.

Last year’s Yule:

Clockwise from R: Sam, Jess, Tina, Drea, Christina, Joe, and me.

Four more days.  I can’t wait.

Start of the Holiday Season

I keep pinching myself every time I realize that it’s actually December.  I don’t know where this year went, I really don’t.  Looking back, I realize that I was intensely, insanely busy for most of it, so it’s not all that surprising that the last eleven months just flew.  But it’s hard to believe that in just four weeks, it’s going to be January and 2014.  Considering how crazy jam-packed this month is, I just know it’s going to fly.

It’s strange; this is technically my first year divorced, but it is my second round of holidays without David, since we stopped doing the family holiday thing last November.  David worked on Thanksgiving, and we were already living apart.  The last family events we went to together were David’s family Christmas party and his nana’s 80th birthday.  But we missed everything else, so fortunately I got all of that out of the way last year.  I was anticipating perhaps feeling some sadness on Thanksgiving — and let me tell you, there was no shortage of people saying “now, don’t go letting yourself get upset now” beforehand — but there was nothing.  Honestly, on Thanksgiving morning, I hugged my mom at one point and told her I was “so damn happy”.  I think she was a little surprised, but I know she liked hearing it.  Because it’s true.  I am happy.  I reshuffled my dreams and I’m working it out, and making the best of the hand I’ve drawn.  I think I’m doing more than okay.

The only real blights to my happiness right now are both things that I really can’t change.  The first being — I am fed the fuck up to HERE with my thesis, and with less than 30 pages to go, I’m just exhausted.  Really, done.  I know I have to do it, I have until December 20th but my own personal deadline is December 18th, and I’m just…done, guys.  I’m done.  I’m tired.  Finito.  I’m going to get ingloriously drunk the night that I finish the damn thing.  That’s a promise.  I have a bottle of riesling in my fridge and I’m not afraid to crack into it.

The second would be my stupid lungs.  Which still haven’t improved, despite a battery of steroids.  Jess keeps nagging me to call the doctor and I think I’m going to have to.  I’m still having trouble breathing, get winded ridiculously easily, and get chest pains most evenings.  Bullshit.

Right now I’m trying to balance thesis, work, social life, and Christmas shopping, all while trying to spend some time with myself.  I got some beautiful Dream in Classy yarn for FREE yesterday at WEBS — my dear high school friend Rob gave me a $30 GC for my birthday, and the yarn was $30, so score!.  And I’m planning on making myself a pair of fingerless mitts with it.  Just something small for me.   I’m foregoing most of the Christmas knitting this year.  I’m making a single hat for someone, but everyone else is getting other stuff.  Every year I kill myself with the Christmas knitting, but with school I just do not have the time to dedicate to it.  It’s all right, I’m going to be fine with other stuff.

The yarn, for those of you who like yarn pron, is Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere and is incredibly soft (merino/cashmere/nylon) and I love it.  This is the color: Chocolate Night.  LOVE.

I’m getting there.  Just two more weeks until the end of the semester.  This, I can handle.

Happy (Little) Gratitudes

I feel compelled to write one of these.   It goes without saying that I’m grateful for family, friends, etc.  But these are just the little things that are making my heart happy, these last few days.

Google Docs.   How did I never know this gloriousness before?  Special thanks to my friend Lyndsey who introduced me to it.  I have all of the drafts of the Fallen Beyond Salvation series up there, along with the rough drafts of my thesis chapters and my Christmas shopping list.  Seriously, being able to a) access from any computer and b) not worry about my own computer crashing?  Gold.  Pure gold.

Homemade sugar scrub.  I did this last night and my skin feels bangin’.  Going to make sugar scrubs for friends this holiday season, I think.

Teavana’s White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea.  YES.  You can pick up this liquid herbal joy here.  Jess and I bought a tin of it the other day, splitting the cost (at $40, it ain’t cheap), and that’s going to keep us from spending our money at Starbucks when we get together at her place, at least for a while.

Lancome Energie De Vie.  I got this as a 100 point sample from Sephora and I LOVE it.  It makes my skin feel incredibly soft and smells very familiar, I’m wondering if my grandmother used it when I was little, because its scent instantly transported me back to being a little girl spending the night at her house.  Of course, the full size retails for $55, so I won’t be getting THAT, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.  Much like the holiday season.

This week at work.  I have only a day and a half before I’m off for a wonderful four and a half day weekend.  I can’t wait.

Good friends.  ‘Nuff said.

Prednisone.  Lucky me has a lung infection…but at least I have steroids to clear it up.  And at least it’s not pneumonia.

90.5 completed pages of my thesis.  One chapter and 30 more pages to do between now and December 20th.  I CAN DO IT.  And then I get a month off.  Thank God.

Little Victories, Week 47

Welp, we haven’t done one of these in a while!

Reached 75 pages on my thesis.  Over halfway there, with about 45 pages to go before the chapters are completed!  I can do this!

Finished the rough draft of Book II of “Fallen Beyond Salvation”.  Guys, I am so in love with this book series.  You don’t even understand.

– Started hard editing Book I.  Editing SUCKS.  I’ll tell you that for free.  I get myself through it by telling myself, over and over again, that it will be worth it, that after the hard edits are done, I can send it off to beta readers and we can actually START getting feedback.  I’m nervous as hell, but hopefully it will go well.

– Completed NaNoWriMo!  This is something I’ve wanted to do since I first heard of it in 2006, and I managed to do it!  I hit 50,000 words yesterday.  So very happy with that.

– ALMOST finished a baby hat for a shower I’m going to tomorrow.

I’ve done pretty well this week, guys!  I’m getting stuff done, and I’m making myself happy.  And as a nice change from the last, oh, month or so, I’m sleeping a lot more and drinking less coffee.  That realization, a few weeks ago, from Dr. LW, that I was not going to finish my thesis by December (and that it was insane of me to ever think that I would) was really a wake-up call that I could not keep putting myself through this.  I needed to slow down, try to enjoy life and take care of myself a little better.  Fortunately, I’m learning, and it’s getting a little easier.  I’m going to be great.  Gonna get it all done, balance everything in my life, hit every deadline, and make it all happen.

I’ve got this.  In the end, my grandfather was right.  2013 was my year.

Whoa! When did that happen?!

How did I let two months slip away from me?  Is anyone even reading this thing still?

Yesterday, November 18th, marked one year since I moved out of the apartment I shared with my then-husband, so I was feeling a burst of nostalgia and that urge to look back and see what’s changed, what I’ve accomplished in the last year.  It’s not an anniversary I ever thought I wanted to commemorate, but it’s one that I’m glad that I have.  Because when I look back on the past year, I see…a lot of joy, a lot of growing, a lot of learning.  I hadn’t lived by myself or with roommates other than David since 2009, and that’s quite a long time.  But I learned that I am still financially independent, I’m doing well, and even though I still don’t sleep alone as well as I did when there was someone else there, I sleep just fine.  I have no regrets about my conduct or my behavior in the past year.  I think I’ve done all right for myself, for the most part.

So what’s happening in the life of me?

School: I have 75.25 pages completed in a rough draft of my senior thesis.  I originally had hope that it would be completed by Christmas, but I see now that this was a ridiculous goal.  Although I technically am ahead of schedule (with two and a half completed chapters of four), my professor does not think that the editing process will be complete before the spring.  There are two pieces of good news that came along with this.  The first being, I don’t have to defend my thesis (which is AMAZING), and the second being that Dr. LW promised me that, if I complete all four chapters by December 20th, she won’t give me any work to do over Christmas vacation.  Which means FOUR glorious weeks off.  I can’t even imagine.  I may just be inebriated for most of it.
Dating: Well, I’ve gone on a couple of dates.  None of them really panned out.  That’s okay.  I’m awfully freakin’ busy.  The right guy will come along eventually.  Right now I’m not trying to push anything.
Writing: Would you believe that, on top of my already crazy thesis writing, I’ve undertaken the task of writing fiction?  I have!  My friend Jess and I pulled out the notes we had on a series we’d thought of writing back in 2007, dusted them off, and rebooted the whole thing.  And would you believe that the rough drafts of the first TWO books are finished?  There will eventually be five, but I’m really surprised (and psyched) that they’ve been coming along as well as they have!  I’m also doing NaNoWriMo (because I am completely, utterly insane) and I’m already at over 43,000 words with over two weeks to go.  I’m a writing machine, guys.
Holidays: I am so, so psyched for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  Last year’s holidays were rough at best, between the separation still being fresh and the question of divorce still up in the air.  This year, there’s nothing standing in the way of me and a wonderful holiday.  I couldn’t be more excited.  Plans are underway to decorate the apartment; Sam inherited a fake tree from one of her friends and I have to get my ornaments and creche from David’s basement.  I even managed to find Advent candles, so now I just need to pull together a wreath.  As for Christmas shopping?  I’ve barely started.  Not even thinking about it right now, guys.  Not even a blip on the radar.  I just paid my credit card bill (almost in full — the rest will come on Friday) and then I can use it for holiday shopping or emergencies if need be.   The only person who is “set” (as in, I know what I’m getting for him and just haven’t bought it yet) is my father.  Everyone else?  Well, it’ll come in time.  Always does.
I leave you with this hilarious photo from Halloween.  That’s me and Drea in the foreground.  Can you spot Jess?

Little Victories, Week 28

We are more than halfway through the year.  Hard to believe, guys!

It’s also hard to believe that I am still writing these “Little Victories” entries even though I skip them all the time.  Huh.

You know the drill.

– Got divorced.  That is, seriously, the biggest victory this year (I think).  I didn’t break down (in public), I didn’t lose my shit, and when it was over, I felt the weight of the world fall from my shoulders.  There is literally nothing left to do, except for file for an annulment in the Catholic Church.  But that’s such a little hump that I’m not worried about it, at least not yet.  Don’t borrow trouble and all that.

Went to NYC and didn’t have a freakout on the train.  Anxiety disorder + public transportation + agoraphobia = usually doesn’t end well.  But I went with the fabulous Miss Nicki to New York City on Tuesday evening and had zero issues whatsoever.  It was an amazing night.  I only wish that Nicki and I hadn’t had to work in the morning so we could have stayed later than 9:30 PM.

 

Rescued a baby kitten.  It was stuck in the oil trap of a car that was driving through the neighborhood where I work.  Kitty is a female, about four weeks old, and is currently being fostered by Nicki and her husband until a forever home can be found for her.  She’s intensely cute and very curious.  I’m hoping she finds a good forever home soon!

 

This weekend, I’m headed off to Massachusetts to stay with Amy and Doug, and see a whole bunch of people.  We were planning on hitting the beach tomorrow but rain might get in the way of our plans.  Not worried in the slightest, I’m excited!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Little Victories, Week Nineteen

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

(It is blowing my mind that we are almost to the mid-point of the year)

– MOVED.  That seems like a massive victory, not a little one, but damn I am proud of it.  I now have my new place, in a bigger, brighter apartment, closer to graduate school and my friends.  And I couldn’t be happier with it (well, that’s a little bit of a lie.  I would be if we had a washer and dryer that were completely plugged in — landlord is coming this weekend to check and make sure there are no leaks — and doorknobs that weren’t loose).  But still.  Power is on, cable is on, move is all but finished!  Pictures hopefully after this weekend.  We’re almost done unpacking!

– Finished my last two papers for Dr. S and submitted them.  This means that I…

More than likely finished my last class for my Master’s work!  As long as I get an A- or higher in Dr. S’s class, I should be golden for being finished with my graduate studies classes.  All I should have left is thesis in the fall…but I won’t find out for an undetermined amount of time whether or not my prospectus has been accepted.  (Which reminds me…must finish prospectus edits this weekend…)

– Successfully convinced my friend Drea to buy a ticket to June Wildfire!

– After a week of inactivity (well, of gym absences, since, as my mom puts it, I was working my ass off carrying furniture and boxes up and down flights of stairs), I went to the gym on Thursday and completed Week 3 of C25K.  I think I am ready for Week 4, Day 1, but we’ll see tomorrow.  If it’s too difficult, I’ll redo Week 3, Day 3.  Slow and steady.  I am determined to do this!

On tap for the weekend: finishing my final paper for the semester, gym, meeting up with Drea for knitting and a little introduction to spinning (if the weather cooperates, which I doubt it will).  Then Mothers’ Day on Sunday — church, lunch with Mom, and then volunteering for work in the evening).

I think next week I might just take the whole week off to relax.  This has been a crazy busy month, and it isn’t even half over yet!

So many updates…

Well…I moved!

It was just about as exhausting an experience as one can imagine, and I’m still sort of trying to catch up.  I lost three days last week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) to moving, and I’m still not done getting everything out of my parents’ in-law apartment and over to my new place.  I have (mostly) unpacked, though there are still two garbage bags full of clothing on my floor (that I need to sort through) and the kitchen is still a (mostly) unpacked wreck.  We need a kitchen table (we have chairs, just no table!) and a couple of bookshelves.  We’re getting these from Ikea sometime soon:

We also need a living room rug (probably going to get one soon too).  But the place is really coming together.  The kitties LOVE it.  And Samantha seems to love the kitties, which is good.  I overheard her and Tempest “talking” to each other today, and it was so damn adorable.

I finished both of my final papers for Dr. S yesterday and sent them in, so TECHNICALLY I am finished with classes for my Master’s degree (so long as I get an A- or above in that class).  I should only have my revisions for Dr. LW (due next Tuesday) and then I’m done done DONE for the Spring ’13 semester.  Holy crap, this went by fast.  Sometime over the summer, I’ll find out if my prospectus was accepted or rejected, and if I’m graduating in December like I hope, or in May (wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I don’t want to be in school for another year).

I also (with the help of Matt and David) convinced my friend Drea to buy a ticket to Wildfire in a few weeks!  I’m so freakin’ excited that it’s Wildfire season again.  Time for firespinning!  I don’t know how we live through the winter months, I really don’t.  I haven’t burned since August and I miss it.  Introducing a new friend to the spinning arts is seriously exciting.  I think we’re going to have the best Wildfire yet!

 

It’s all coming together.  It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but things are finally coming together.

Stressed?! Who is stressed?!

One class left.  One week left until my last papers for said class need to be handed in.  Two weeks until my thesis prospectus is due into the Graduate Studies office.

Five days until I move out of my parents’ in-law apartment and into my brand-new life.

My caffeine addiction has reached new heights.  My bank account has reached new lows (not really, I have money in savings that I’m attempting to NOT tap into, but considering how fucking EXPENSIVE moving is, that’s starting to look less and less like a possibility right now).

I shouldn’t complain too much.  Because I have amazing friends who are willing to help me move, I don’t need a moving truck, so that negates a big bill right there.  And I don’t begrudge them the takeout and beer that I will be paying for on Saturday night.  Much of this week is going to consist of taking drives over to the apartment and bringing my things over little by little.  Friday night, D and I are bringing over the furniture that’s been in his apartment ever since I moved out in November.  And Saturday is the big move itself.  Sunday Samantha moves in, but at that point (hopefully) all of my things, my cats, and I will be settled in, and the internet will be set up (I know, right, priorities!).

I’m meeting with my thesis adviser this afternoon to discuss my prospectus.  Which, of course, being me, I have already envisioned as a negative, with her telling me that my prospectus is garbage and I should just quit the program now.  My mind is such a wonderful place to live at times.

Went to IKEA on Sunday with Samantha, and got some stuff for the apartment.  I needed a new bedding set (well, I guess that’s more ‘want’ than ‘need’, but whatever), and this is the one I got for $30:

And I got these (not from IKEA) for my bedroom:

Love.  I want the apartment to be filled with candles.  I think it will be.  I have enough Partylite stuff to last a year, haha.

There are still a few things I need to get for the new place — a set of sheets, a shower curtain rod (the former tenants took the last one — I KNOW) — but we’re almost there.  By this time next week, I’ll be in the new place, the papers will hopefully be done (they’re due Tuesday, May 7th) and I’ll be on my way to going full-tilt into summer.

I can’t wait.