Apparently I have very mixed emotions about 2013.
I think about it, and everything blurs and jumbles together. I sit down to write about it and the words don’t come. There are things I want to share, and things I wish never happened. The moment I start thinking it was a good year, I’m reminded of the bad.
I guess that’s what happens when you try to look at the year as a whole.
We lost Nana in 2013.
I say lost very deliberately. When you lose something, there remains that tiny bit of hope that, against all odds, you might find it again. As if we’ve only misplaced Nana, and if we look under the bed and in the corners of the closet we’ll find her.
It’s still hard to comprehend that Nana is actually gone, because she was such a constant presence in my life. I could always count on Nana.
I always thought that if you were really, truly close with someone, you would feel it when they passed away. That even if you weren’t with them while they were dying, that you would take on some of their pain in the form of a fleeting headache, a sharp jab in the depths of your stomach; a temporary, visceral reaction to a loss you don’t yet know of.
I don’t believe that anymore, because I still feel Nana.
I walk into her house and feel her tiny, arthritic hands pushing me towards the refrigerator for a Coke Zero. I felt her all throughout Christmas, while we were opening presents and eating coffee cake. I feel her when something good happens, and I feel her when something bad happens, and I often feel her when I’m trying to justify eating another brownie. She’s always telling me to just go for it.
And even though I can feel her, I still want one more kiss on my cheek, one more Nana hug, one more “I love you, honey.”
I’ll never forget the look my mom and I exchanged last May, just before pulling off 70 east and heading to the Carteret County animal shelter. “This is a bad idea,” we repeated, over and over down Hibbs Road.
We pulled up and there was a gate blocking the entrance – we almost turned around – before a volunteer came running over, clearing the way. They were closed for lunch, she explained. They would open again in about 30 minutes.
“Should we wait?” my mom asked.
“Is that even a question?” I responded.
It took all of 30 seconds for us to fall in love with Dobby. He was the smallest, fuzziest kitten, and he was the first thing you saw when you opened the door to the room. He was huddled with his brothers and sisters at the front of his cage, his long eyebrows poking through the bars.
“We’ll take that one,” we said in unison.
Now Dobby sleeps on the pillow above my head every night, sometimes stretching down across my chest. I experience extreme anxiety if I have to be without him for more than 12 hours, and demand constant pictures if separated. The other day my mom told me he was getting fat and I took it personally.
I remember the summer like it was yesterday.
I can still feel the excitement of the Fourth of July – Katie Peeler and I catching a last minute ride out to Shack on my cousin’s boat. We had just enough time to grab some sunscreen, a towel to share, and a couple beers each before we were out the door.
We spent the whole day in the sun, “borrowing” beers from coolers and stealing hot dogs off grills, blasting music over portable speakers. We lounged in the sand with saltwater in our eyes.
In June of 2013 I got a big kid job.
After six months of LinkedIn searches, cover letter writing and attending so-called “informational interviews,” I was offered a job that both really, truly scared me, and really, truly excited me.
Before I talk about my new job, I want to talk about the job search process. Because that was terrible.
I was lucky enough to be able to job search from the comfort of my parents home, where I had food, electricity and constant encouragement given free of charge. I’m 99% sure that living with them was what kept me from having a full on panic-attack-anxiety-meltdown over those six long months, though I came close.
I am now the Marketing Associate at an oncology pharmacy based in Cary, North Carolina; a position I never expected to find myself in, and never even dreamed I was qualified for.
I was so, so scared my first few weeks of work. I just knew that two weeks in they would decide that my former fashion experience wasn’t good enough, that my long form journalism background wouldn’t translate to biopharmaceutical partnership press releases or newsletters on the latest breakthroughs in gastrointestinal cancer.
But fear is an incredible motivator.
I read and read and read some more, and scoured the web for anything to shed some light on the healthcare industry, oncology in general. I still keep a notebook filled with articles that are highlighted, underlined and dog-eared. I also find myself in meetings, seven months in, where I have absolutely no idea what the others are talking about.
Though there are those moments of blind panic where I feel I’m way out of my league, there have also been moments where I’ve completely and totally surprised myself. The publication of the first “Clinical Therapeutic Intelligence Report,” in which I wrote and edited many of the articles, was one of those moments.
Call me a nerd, but I still get excited when my press release is picked up on the wire, or a newsletter I wrote is sent to doctor’s offices around the country.
After a string of less-than-ideal jobs, I feel like I’m finally on the right track.
I made some New Years Resolutions for 2014.
- Write every day, at least a paragraph.
- Say yes more – to doing things I’m scared of, or don’t want to do, or pretend I don’t have time for. Learn to deal with being tired at work because of this resolution.
- Watch more sunsets…consider sunrise.
- Try and keep hair the same color for six consecutive months. Resist the urge to cut it all off and start over.
- Be happy where you are.
- Call friends more often. Find out what’s happening in their life, not just their Facebook page.
- Learn to play the guitar. Play an entire song in front of another human…maybe don’t sing along.
- Look for the good in people. Don’t immediately write them off if they show you the bad.
I have broken a lot of these already, but hey – I’m trying.
When it’s all said and done, I think you just have to take the good with the bad. You have to learn to look at the days individually, and not try to chalk 365 days up as “the best year yet” or “the worst time in my life.”
No matter what, you’re gonna have some bad days. That’s just life.
And if you don’t have a couple bad days, how are you ever going to fully appreciate the good days? Sometimes I’m thankful for a little bit of bad, because it wakes me up to how much more often there’s good.
In 2014, I want to start fresh every single day, and not block my days into a “good week” or a “bad week,” a “great year” or a “shit year.”
I’m going to take it day by day.