Today I’m joining the folks over at the Weekly Writing Challenge and doing a year-end wrap up piece as my blog post today. While technically, there are two full weeks before the year is over, I’m guessing these folks over at The Daily Post aren’t taking any chances with that whole apocalypse thing. Or maybe they just don’t want to monitor challenge posts over the Christmas-to-New-Year’s holiday week.
So, without further ado, here are 10 Great Things I Accomplished in 2012 (in no particular order).
1. I redid this website, astridcook.com.
Fixing the website I had hosted for a couple years over at Weebly.com was not a priority for me. For one, I really saw no point. I had no followers. I figured if anyone happened upon it, they would just keep going. However, I knew that I was failing to showcase my work in any cohesive manner. I knew if I were going to promote my personal work, then I’d really need a forum from which to do this. That meant fixing this website.
I’m lucky, because I have great friends but I’m also pretty good at working things out. I was able to publish this website for a whopping $63, which included two hours of consulting time with a webguru friend of mine plus the $13 WordPress charges to move a website. I’m pretty damn proud of my efforts, but I put in a couple hundred hours. Thus, my website redesign may have been cheap, but it sure as hell wasn’t free.
2. I attended the Great American Beer Festival.
As a craft beer writer, it was definitely on my “beer bucket list” to attend the largest beer festival in America. I met the US Secretary of Agriculture, had my picture taken with Governor Hickenlooper, toured four different breweries, drank a lot of beer, met up with friends, and had a generally fantastic time (see #3 below).
3. I saw my sister.
I’m actually not estranged from my sister. We just have half a world between us, so meeting up is really difficult. I’m in NYC; she’s in Anchorage. Pretty sure there’s a clever joke in there somewhere… or a really good song. We met up at the GABF, where she took some amazing pictures as my designated photographer. I hadn’t seen my sister since December of 2010, so it was nice to break the hiatus before we hit the two year mark.
4. Reduced my carbon footprint by joining two community gardens and a new CSA.
I’m very excited that I was able to procure a spot in not one, but two, community gardens. The first is close to home, has composting, and furnished my table with lots of yummy eggplant, peppers, chard and tomatoes my son and I grew together. The second is close to his dad’s and a non-food plot, so we’re going to be planting a brewer’s garden (hops, herbs, flowers, barley). I also managed—after a great deal of persistence and cajoling—to get a spot in my local CSA so that I didn’t have to schlep back to Manhattan every week to get my share.
5. I finished a novel.
I’m not sure how many novels I’ve started. They range in length from a treatment to a couple hundred pages. I’m a disaster when it comes to finishing my fiction writing efforts. Until this year, when I finally completed one of them, The Truth, on sale now at Amazon. Buy a copy for the hurt/angry/bitter/funny woman in your life (NSFW… you’ve been warned!); trust me, she’ll thank you for it.
6. Took a really great trip to Washington, D.C. with my son.
If you’ve read deep into this blog, then you know that one of my long-term goals is to remove my son from public school (not that private is any better) for his middle school years and homeschool him while traveling the world, working and blogging in the hopes of getting him through adolescence in one piece and crafting a really great mom-son book along the lines of Eat, Pray, Love (minus the privilege).
When we traveled to the Presidential Scholars Award Ceremony (see #10 below) in June, we ended up with an impromptu education-vacation, which my kid truly enjoyed. I haven’t seen him so excited about a project (he did a power point presentation to the class about DC) before or since. Further strengthening my resolve to keep him out of traditional schooling during the tumultuous adolescent years.
7. I saw my favorite aunt.
I hadn’t seen my sister in almost two years, but I hadn’t seen my favorite aunt, Diane, in almost 9 years. That drought ended when I made the second of two trips with my daughter to Chicago. I haven’t had a real sit-down with my aunt in forever, and I have been through many many changes in that time. I think it was refreshing for both of us, illuminating and at some points painful/difficult. My aunt is the most real person I know, and I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to (re)connect with her.
8. I fell in love again. Badly.
I remember a few years ago when this same aunt was nursing a broken heart. It was painful to hear her recount a failed relationship by phone, but I said to her, “Be grateful that at your age you still have a heart that can be broken.” Little did I know that I would need my own words a few years later. Met a guy. He was an ass. SSDD, but at least I went outside my “comfort zone” and tried to have a real relationship with someone again. Maybe one day I’ll finally get it right and find a partner who is worthy of all the love I yet have left to give. It ain’t over till it’s over.
9. I decreased my debt.
I wish I was completely out of debt, but between moving to Brooklyn (from Manhattan) and cutting back to essentials, I’m going in the right direction. Slowly. I do believe I can be debt free at some point, although not as quickly as I would like. (Feel free to buy a book! I only need to sell about 1000 of them!)
10. Eighteen years of dedication truly paid off.
Okay, what can I say? Nature v. nurture aside, I have made pretty substantial sacrifices in raising my daughter. This year she turned 18 and graduated high school. Now, on its surface, that’s a great accomplishment. However, she was also a Presidential Scholar, one of about 150 from across the U.S. She received a full-scholarship to college that included a Mac Book Pro, a $3,000/year stipend, plus $7,500 to help her study abroad (meaning she’ll leave college with money in the bank, rather than overloaded in debt). Oh, and her pilot was picked up by Fox. And she made it into the trailer for Tina Fey’s new film. And she wrote this amazing e-mail to the cause of #8 that totally defended me and made me remember why she’s the most amazing daughter in the whole world. One day she may be thanking me, as she grasps her Oscar and is played off stage by the orchestra. In the meantime, I thank her for being one of the 10 great things I accomplished in 2012.