‘I open at the close’: 2013 recap, 2014 resolutions

2013 Recap

There are many words to describe 2013, depending on what part of the world you live in and what language you speak and how old you are and what the goddamn weather must be like over there. I’m going to choose “humbling.”

2013 was first and foremost humbling for me because it was the year I got lost–really, truly, spiritually lost. I think that’s what standing at the intersection of a bazillion roads for the first time in your life will do to you. When all of your flaws stare right back at you in the mirror, and worse, in the very work you do (like how, after all this time, I still struggle with such a little thing as time management). I could not have gotten through it without the help of family, friends, my boyfriend, the act of writing, and Zen Pencils.

It was also the year I experienced some intense disappointments. Not getting to march with my boyfriend on graduation day. Not getting to go to Tacloban on assignment, after all. The slowness of government response with regard to disaster relief efforts, as well as the giant circus following the Pork Barrel scandal. That for all the power to change the world my school told us we possessed upon graduating, there was so very little any of us could do in those first few days after the super typhoon. Those are the only things I can think of at the top of my head at the moment, what with all the things I have to be grateful for, but I know there was much more.

There were also plenty of rejections, both of my work and of me in general, and far too much writing advice–most of it unhelpful, most of it disillusioning.

People walked in and out of my life, as well. But thankfully, those who walked in far outnumbered those who walked out. And those who walked out eventually helped me to see that my life is like bonsai tree–some branches need to be cut in order for it to thrive.

I think I got more cynical about the world this year, too, having discovered that much of it is run by idiots and psychopaths.

But it was also the year that I began to embody what I had realized sometime during my stint in college: out there, in reality, you have to build everything from the ground up. From sheer scratch, because no one is going to lift you on their shoulders every step of the way.

So I started this blog and sent out a few stories for publication and got into journalism as my first-ever job because I figured that if I can’t travel the world trying to learn things just yet, then journalism is the closest I’ll get.

I started taking Zumba classes at work because for the longest time, I used to dream of being able to dance without being afraid of people laughing at me, plus I wanted to comfortably fit in some of my old clothes again. (And it’s working!)

I finished my thesis of one novella and five short stories, and thus graduated. I met a ton of new people and thus saw new perspectives–and I daresay made a few friends out of some of them.

I finally got to visit Mindanao for the first time ever, specifically Davao and Iligan, and met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

And while there were plenty of rejections and too much unhelpful writing advice, I think I’m finally figuring out how to tune all that out.

Made my first-ever professional sale (coming out next year!), and other writing-related triumphs that came to me at the close of the year, like Ann and Jeff VanderMeer retweeting my review of Wonderbook (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)–proving that 2013 for me is like the resurrection stone opening up for Harry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Honed new habits and tried to get back into old hobbies (I don’t remember the last time I colored a drawing or held a violin).

And learned that, while the fools are in power, so many others who make up the foundations of that power are incredibly kind. These are the people who understand that it is the differences that make each person unique and that it is the similarities that bind us together. The world needs more people like those people, preferably also in the seat of government. It occurred to me in 2013 that perhaps it is the duty of such people to be no-nonsense against all the ignorance and hate in this world, to be the opposing force of something that perhaps has become the default for all humanity.

The point is, 2013 taught me that you learn to take in the disappointment and pain with the successes, and somehow move on with that mix. But you never, ever forget how it feels. I think that’s where art begins.

2014 Resolutions

Okay, so 2014 and I got off on the wrong foot. I went to bed at 3 a.m. and officially woke up at around 8 a.m. because my poor dogs were cowering in the room I share with my sister and I also had to go to work at 1 p.m. But I happened to have taken away from 2013 the fact that the wrong foot can always be corrected, whether that means putting down the other foot and adapting to the new direction or pausing for a few moments to get the timing and steps right.

So here are 14 resolutions I can muster enough hope for in my groggy state, ranging from writing to organization to health (and a few things out of place here and there). I figured I ought to make one solely about writing, but Chuck Wendig’s 2013 resolution and the 2014 edition are already good enough guidelines to remember.

  • Lose the belly fat. 
  • Read at least 25 books.
  • Finish a short story every month and send them out.
  • Review movies immediately after watching them. 
  • Write about things that scare me or make me cringe. 
  • Marathon the Lord of the Rings trilogy without doing something else at the same time.
  • Travel to some place in the Philippines with my own money.
  • Finish editing articles in an hour.
  • Hug my family more.
  • Learn driving again.
  • Eat less junk food.
  • Put some money separate from my savings away.
  • Dust and re-arrange the books on my shelf.
  • Blog more.

Happy New Year, one and all!

200 Words at a Time: The Helping Hat (part two)

For Chuck Wendig’s 200 words at a time challenge.

The Helping Hat by Aaron Browder

Dire straits preyed upon the frozen Pentagon City.
Its otherwise fair midwinter afternoon was disturbed by a great white beast winding through the streets — one-third dragon, one-third yeti, one-third unrequited lover, and one hundred percent malice. Every three moments it huffed deep, drawing slick-wheeled cars and the occasional unlucky pedestrian into its maw, and then bellowed a conflagration of blue frost, whistling like a blizzard and freezing the whole block.
To the Hatter, the clamor was only a distant hum. Instead his ears focused on the revving engine inside the Chrysler stuck in the snow off Interstate Seventy-Seven. He listened patiently until the engine fell idle, and a bleach-blond girl emerged, her nose red, her hands muzzled in mittens. She worked her eyes on the Hatter, who stood right there, listening patiently.
“Need a helping hat?” he asked. The girl only stared. He was dressed for the weather, all in gray except for his white scarf, and was perfectly ordinary except for the scruffy round hat atop his head, which had sat in that exact position so long a swift had nested there, and was now warming a clutch of tiny eggs.
“Uh,” the girl said at last, before she smiled.
—My words follow—
“Oh, don’t mind these,” said the Hatter. With one hand, he whisked the nest–swift and all–off his hat and behind his back. With the other, he removed the hat, spun it twice, and rested it on his stomach as he bowed to the girl. Then he repeated all the motions in reverse.
The swift was rather ruffled, but it still did not leave its perch. It twittered madly, but the hatter paid it no mind.
“I am the Hatter,” he said, smiling. “And you, charming lady, are…?”
“Call me Mittens,” said the girl, bemused, but still smiling politely.
“What a strange name.”
“Why give your real name to someone who’s given you a fake?”
“Touche,” the Hatter tapped the side of his nose. “So, do you need a helping hat?”
Mittens gripped her arms, sneezed. “Well, it seems that a monster straight from the Book of Revelations is snaking its way through the city and I, like most sensible people, am trying to leave. Only my car’s broken down and I’m supposed to be meeting my boyfriend at the outskirts. But I don’t see how a hat is supposed to help fix my car.”
The Hatter’s smile could have split his face. “You have obviously never heard of me.”