That’s right, it’s time for a nostalgic end-of-the-year post. You know you love it.
2014 – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I’ve never actually read A Tale of Two Cities. Mostly because I find Dickens boring as fuck and I never had it assigned to me in high school. However, this super famous opening line pretty much sums up this year for me.
I started this year in one of the darkest places I’ve ever been in my life – and I’ve been through some shit, ya’ll. In general, the last 10 years have been pretty shitty. Partly because everyone’s 20s totally blow. Partly because I was figuring out who I was – coming out of the closet, working out what I wanted to do with my life and then trying to start to be a person. And partly because sometimes the world shits on your head and calls it a hat.
At the start of 2014 I was working a very part time job as a library associate in a small library in the suburbs of Chicago. My lame ass job was not enough to live on and pay my insanely enormous student loans, so I was also waiting tables at the local Olive Garden. And I had another job doing data entry because it had flexible hours.
I had – count them – not one, but TWO masters degrees and the most common question I was asked from January to May was, “Can we get some more breadsticks?”
I was constantly anxious. Anxious that I would get strep throat because I had no insurance, or god forbid break an ankle or something. Anxious that my car would break down since I had no money for repairs. Anxious that I had made the worst decision in my entire life when I left teaching even though it literally made me suicidal. Anxious that I would never ever get a full time job and would default on all my loans and would have to go back and live with my parents for the rest of my life like the giant loser I was convinced I was.
But I did the only thing I could do. I kept applying. I got better at applying. I got better at interviewing. But mostly I just had to wait until things lined up.
In April of this year, I had 7 interviews in the span of 2 weeks.
I was offered every position except one.
And in June I started my current position as a YOUmedia Teen Librarian at Chicago Public Library.
It’s literally the dream job. The Best of Times.
It’s the job I cited in a practicum presentation about teen programs and teen spaces that were leading the way in the field. The job I molded my library school courses around building my qualifications for.
The second half of this year could not be more different to the beginning. I live in a city I love and have made friends with a group of amazing, smart, wonderful queer women. I have coworkers that inspire me and make me want to hang out with them and talk about books outside the office (aka over beer). I finally cut a totally toxic person out of my life and couldn’t believe the weight that lifted off my shoulders. I work with kids who make me laugh and have so much hope and promise that shines through their faces. I care about these kids. I worry what the world will do to them. I can’t change the world, but I can teach them a few skills to take with them. I can tell them they are valued. That their lives matter.
I feel a sense of purpose. And I know, Mr. Feeney, that I’m doing good.
I’ve found that being in a good place emotionally has drastically changed my perspective on the holidays. Where I’ve usually been a total Grinchy cynical Scrooge for my adult life, this year I found myself getting all kinds of in the spirit of things. I put up a Christmas tree and everything. So I guess it’s not surprise that as the girl who has always despised New Year Resolutions, I find myself looking to the future all resolution-y.
I still maintain that much of the hype around resolutions is crap, and that resolutions are so often framed in negative language. We resolve to “stop” this or that, to “lose” this or that. I just flat out refuse to cave in to that mindset.
So while I am an utterly fantastic human, there are things I want to do this year that will improve my general awesomeness.
- Apply for the ALA Emerging Leaders program. This in conjunction with generally becoming more active in the national ALA, YALSA, & GLBTRT organizations. I want to start putting myself in a position to be on committees, submit reviews to publish in VOYA and School Library Journal. I want to be part of the national conversation about teen services in libraries. (professional goal)
- Finish my novel. I completed 50,000 of a first draft for NaNoWriMo this November which is the longest I’ve ever written on a single project. It got me about halfway through the story, and now that I’ve worked out a lot of narrative kinks (I made some major changes to a major character) I’m starting over at the beginning. I want to have a full first draft done by March and a full revision done by October so that I can embark on a new project for next NaNoWriMo. (artistic goal)
- Exercise 2x per week. One thing about waiting tables was that I walked like 6 miles every shift. I walk a lot because I live in Chicago, but less so now that it’s cold. And in general I am a happier person when I am more active. I sleep better. I crave more healthy food. I feel better about myself. So I want to exercise more. Which can mean talking a long walk, or going to the fitness center, or doing my yoga video. Twice a week. Totally doable. The goal is to be healthy, not to lose weight or look like a supermodel. Just to be the best version of me as I can. (health goal)
- Cook Healthy Meals 2x per week. Again, with the small goals. I cook a lot now, but it’s more along the lines of spaghetti, or chicken with pasta, or cheese quesadillas. Carbs are cheap and filling. And delicious. So I need more fruits and vegetables in my life. I bought a steamer insert so I can steam broccoli and asparagus. Cooking complete meals takes planning, and I’m only cooking for one, but my goal is to cook two real, balanced, healthy meals a week. Because my plan is basically to live forever. (health goal)
- Pay off Credit Cards. I don’t know if this one will actually happen, but I would love to have all my credit card debt paid off by the end of this year. I’m budgeting like a maniac. And I hate having to say no to fun things, but I’m finally starting to work out this whole adulting thing and I’m trying to keep it up. (adulting goal)
- Blog. So I’m still kind of finding what I want this blog to be but I know I want to get back to blogging more than I did this past year. I want to review LGBTQIA+ and other diverse YA books. I want to talk more about my experience as a teen librarian. I imagine that occasionally I’ll rant about things not related to libraries or books, but I want most of the focus to be on those things. (artistic/professional)
- Read Diversely. For me this means something slightly different than it probably does for other people. I read a lot of YA lit, and a lot of Queer lit. This is partially because of my job and partially because I like it. So this year I want to try and branch out. I want to read more adult books, more non-fiction, and more of the classics that I missed in high school. I want to read more books by/about people of color and by/about folks who are differently abled. I also want to read more books by people with whom I disagree. And I already read a lot by women authors, but even more so. (life/professional goal)
- Learn my fancy camera. So when I told my dad that part of my new awesome job involved teaching about photography and how I need to learn about that before I teach it, he loaned me his old but still super fancy DSLR camera. So I want to learn how to use it and how to take awesome pictures. (artistic/professional goal)
I feel like I’m in a great place and I want to keep being in that great place. Developing the friendships that I’ve made these past few months. Doing the dating thing (I’m really bad at it). Being generally awesome at my job. I’ve been adulting so hard and I want to just keep adulting harder. I have a lot of hope for 2015. I have a feeling it is gonna be