Coming out of it…

By which I mean, good riddance 2012.

2012 was a fraught year for me. I moved to a new (very segregated, conservative) city and found a gorgeous apartment in a pink art deco building that reminded me of L.A. But turns out, my landlady/next door neighbor had a substance thing going on (an abusive thing, as in, the substances abused her brain/emotions, and she abused my emotions/willingness to continue paying). One night she parked her truck behind my car, despite there being other places to park, and refused to move when I asked politely. And then she hid from the cops, and only came out of her apartment the second time they came, and that time, only because they pulled a gun on her unregistered pit bull. Unfortunately, this is one of many true stories. The lesson here is, check police reports before signing a lease.

There was other (unrelated) stuff, too, but it’s too petty or intense or intimate to share on the world wide web.

2013 started with promise, trotting in on the heels of a weeklong break in hometown, Mississippi. I welcomed the new year with dinner and fireworks with my parents and their friends, a dip in a dive (shout out CS’s) and later, a karaoke dance party. And I ran into loads of folks I haven’t seen in years (some, decades), was hit on by a high school blind prom date (the same one that ditched me at the after-party, back in the wane of the 90’s), and witnessed the grand lowering of a glass bottle catfish from a firetruck ladder, in the company of many fabulous, instant friends.


NYE, CS’s. photo by Ed Inman.

But as soon as I got back to Little Rock, I worked some major overtime on this story, and the worst part was, I couldn’t decide if I was breaking something big or speculating pointlessly for 4,000 words. Then I got the flu, and three weeks in, 2013 felt worn.

Good thing the first few weeks are just the teaser, and if the teaser sucks, the movie’s usually great. So this weekend, after a little personal space (empty apartment, roomies off at conferences and playing music and such) and a bit of  (tentative but welcome) regained health, I’m pretty optimistic about 2013. I have plans, big and teensy, for this year. I want to do more yoga and go on more picnics and have more craft nights, potlucks and board game parties. (In a couple of weeks, my mom’s bringing up my grandpa’s old kitchen table, which will be a definite step towards encouraging the latter three.) I want to see more art and music, do Horseshoe Hell as a climber rather than a spectator, and somehow finagle a book deal our of my Pakistan photos. I want to be more patient, gracious and generous.

And when I am irked (I am easily irked), I want to remember that most people are nice. And that one Saturday morning several months ago, when I walked into a cafe and a friend was there working on her thesis, and I told her I was just grabbing a coffee before house hunting, she packed up her laptop and said, let’s go. And there was nothing in it for her, but it was so great to have company, and I was so sick of spending all my weekends and lunch hours house hunting alone.

Now it’s easy to see that 2012 wasn’t all bad. I cut my teeth in the newspaper business. I paid off my last grad school loan. I had my first stoop garden — peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and chard. I started using organic shampoo and washing my face with honey and olive oil. (Whateves. Don’t laugh till you try it…it radically improves your skin.)

And there’s the fortune cookie paper, saved from a recent Chinese lunch with a friend. I’m not the type to be sentimental about astrology and soothsayers and fortune cookies. I’ve only saved two “predictions” in my life.

Here’s the first, from when I was in the thick of applying to grad school. I only applied to one school, and I had this guy, a mentor of sorts, proofing my essays. He kept sending them back to me and telling me to start over, and the whole thing became so frustrating. I was paralyzed. I was in the break room at work, reading the left-behind scraps of the Clarion Ledger, and that day’s horoscope jolted me. I realized I’d done what I could do, these essays were the best I had. I reworked them a tiny bit and sent in my application. Then I taped the paper scrap inside my wallet. It’s still there, five years later.


And here is the fortune from two weeks ago, which I’ve saved for now, at least. Back in the wee hours of 2008, I needed that jolt. In the  wee hours of 2013, I need this hope.


Happy 2013. Namaste, y’all.