Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

Greetings faithful blog readers,

It's hard to believe that it's already the last day of 2017. I wanted to reflect on it a bit before 2018 begins, but this year is a hard one to recap. Frankly, it feels like 2017 was two completely different years divided up by our July pregnancy news. I've never lived a less predictable year, and at times, I felt like I was just along for the ride; however, 2017 turned out to be the year I didn't know I needed.

In the first half of the year, we focused on creating. We decided summer 2017 would be the summer of writing, and based on a review from our friend Allie, we applied to the Tin House Summer Writer's Workshop with hopes of creating a productive writing summer. Our acceptances meant a lot to us; Tin House gave us something to look forward to together, but it also gave us each our own writing project (since we both wrote stories specifically for the workshop). It was a way to be excited for the summer again after our October 2016 miscarriage meant we wouldn't be using those months to navigate life with a newborn. I was reminded this year that writing is such a good thing. Successes and failures aside, the very act really does make me happier and takes my mind off whatever is bothering me. I don't think that it's exaggerating to say that writing saved us this year. We booked a casita in Taos, New Mexico for the entire month of June and made our own month long writing retreat. I wrote nearly two hundred pages, and we found happiness, fulfillment, and a deeper connection where and when we didn't expect to. I love how the writing process entails dealing with the problems of made up people; I forgot how cathartic and powerful that is. I love that I was reminded that Brendan is not only my loving partner and supportive friend but also my best reader. Being readers for each other was an aspect of our relationship I'd missed; it came back so easily though. During the summer, I really felt like myself again. I spent time making edits for my chapbook that will be published by PANK in the spring and served as a guest fiction editor for two issues of Driftwood Press. I still feel that I didn't submit or write enough, but I'm proud of what I did do, and I have a foundation for more work in 2018.

Despite our writing progress, parts of 2017 were quite tough. May, in particular, was really difficult as our would be due date came and went. I felt like I struggled through the end of school year activities and Mother's Day. But we got through it. And finally, when we were focused on other things (in Portland at the Tin House Workshop, actually), our wished for pregnancy happened, and when I saw those two pink lines, I couldn't quite believe it. 

What followed was that our pregnancy news pretty much consumed the second half of the year. At first, I had a lot of anxiety, and I really had to work hard to cope with that. I needed a lot of help from Brendan too as that first trimester was happy but also physically and mentally difficult. Now, the pregnancy is more enjoyable, but we are still sad about our loss. I think this year was about accepting that simultaneous sadness and joy. Writing about our experience has definitely helped me; I'm, once again, thankful for this outlet. 

Jane Johnson Photography
Professionally, it was a special year. I was honored with the Teaching Excellence Award in January and attended the Innovations in Teaching Conference in San Francisco in March. Though a change in cut scores meant I didn't work with remedial English students this fall, I enjoyed teaching American Literature I for the first time. I was also proud of the paper I wrote for this year's SCMLA conference in October. 

Travel wise, 2017 was another one for the books. We went to Austin, San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, Taos, Santa Fe, Portland, Connecticut, Maine, Tulsa, and Maui. We got to see family and friends across the country. I'm thankful for the people that we love everywhere. 

I know that 2017 was a hard year for a lot of people; in closing, I can say that I hope 2018 is a year of joy, peace, and bright new beginnings for all of us. 


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