Old? Outta Here. New? Come On In.

A little while ago, someone asked me what my year had been like.  I said, “It was the worst year of my life, but it was pretty good.”

And that’s about right.  2013 was, if not the worst year of my life, the most difficult year of my life.  I faced my greatest fears, my hardest decisions; I found myself in unimaginable circumstances.  At the same time, though, I did face my greatest fear.  I did make my hardest decisions.  And I did make it through all of the circumstances that 2013 brought my way – and I survived.

Though this year was unimaginably difficult, I made it, with the help of friends and family.  And I’m a far better person for it, and far better at appreciating my friends and family – and the smallest, most routine, everyday things.  That’s why I can say this was a pretty good year – and really, I should say it was a really good year.  I faced my greatest fears, but I also faced my greatest dreams, with the publication of my first full-length book.  I made my hardest decisions, but I had friends and family there to help, and I was a stronger person for it.  I found myself in unimaginable circumstances, but sometimes they were unimaginably good circumstances – from having the honor of teaching brilliant, hard-working students to reaching some of my biggest writing-related goals.

I usually do a wrap-up entry at the end/beginning of every year, but I’m finding it difficult to approach 2013 in any of my usual ways.  A list of achievements seems like the wrong way to go about things, because the year wasn’t really about those achievements – and the same thing goes for the defeats, or just the negative things that happened.  I thought about some kind of itemized list, but that didn’t seem right, either – this was the kind of year that went beyond the number of Cipro tablets I took or the number of hospitals I visited or the number of words I wrote.  Then I thought that I’d write a little bit about what I learned this year, and that seemed just about right – if there’s one thing I learned this year, it’s that learning is the most important thing.

Gather Ye Rosebuds Every Day: Listen.  I’m a poet.  I’m moody and angsty.  Most of my clothes are black and I wear a lot of scarves.  Obviously, I’m not one who typically goes for happy-happy-positivity supposedly-life-changing things.  That being said, I totally started doing this happy-happy-positivity thing this year and it was life-changing.  Every day, no matter how moody and angsty and black and scarved the day was, I made myself write down three positive things.  Sometimes they were very small positive things, like “managed to eat mashed potatoes,” “didn’t get stopped at that one red light,” and “realized sweater was on backwards before class.”  But I learned that even the smallest positives mattered, and I learned how easy it is to turn my attention away from the bad and towards the good.

Learn How To Do New Things: This year was the year that I got serious about crochet, and though this basically makes me a grandmother, it was still a great thing for me.  I’m not the most co-ordinated person in the world, so it took me a while to figure out what the instructions and crochet maps (no, seriously – there are these weird little MAPS that show you how to make things with yarn and a hook — I’m not making this up) were telling me to do.  But I kept working until I figured it out, and I learned how to solve problems and that even if I have to undo all of my stitches, I still learned something.

Learn New Ways of Doing Things:  I spent a lot of this year in bed, either because I was told to stay there or because I was nasty sick.  Sometimes I had my laptop or a notebook by my bed.  Sometimes I didn’t.  I learned to write on different surfaces – paper, iPhone, Kindle, receipts, my own hand — and in different ways – jotting down notes, typing, writing it all out long-hand.  That probably sounds like it isn’t a big thing, but it was major for me.  I have a lot of trouble with fine motor skills some days, and this helped me to figure out ways around that.  It also introduced new possibilities into my writing – in fact, Kindle’s predictive text feature helped me to write the poem that became my second full-length collection.

Sometimes Rest Is The Most Important Thing To Do, And Also Quiet Is Very Important: I’m usually doing something all of the time I’m awake, from writing to Swiffering to crocheting to grading, and this year, I learned that sometimes resting is every bit as important as – if not more important than – doing.  Some ideas need incubation, and some things need a lot of still and quiet time.

No Is Sometimes A Better Answer Than Yes: I realized this year that I’m kind of bad at saying no, or at least not saying yes.  I try to do everything all of the time for everyone forever, and a lot of times, I just run myself into the ground and sometimes, I make a mess.  I realized that saying no to doing all of the things means that I do a better job with some of the things.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Beyoncé: She sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker.

Be A Little Kinder Than You Need To Be: I know, I know.  That’s a total cliché.  It is such a total cliché that it was actually painful to type.  My scarf tried to stop it.  But it’s true, and especially true of the Internet: as the year progressed, the online world seemed to become an angrier and angrier place to me.  Then I realized that I was the biggest part of that problem, because I kept looking at things that made me angry and reacting in an angry way.  I realized that if I just shut down the computer, I felt better.  So much better that I started limiting my time online and stopped responding angrily.  I started asking myself how I would feel if I was the other person in the situation.  And I realized that this life thing is very difficult, and we are all doing our best with it.  We are all, all the time, fighting so very much that the last thing we (I’m saying “we” but including – actually, mostly meaning – “I” here) need to do is fight each other, especially over something as small as a Facebook post.  Kindness is the only thing we owe each other.

And that seemed right – so right that I’ll end this entry with that thought, and with the hope that it’ll carry me through 2014.

How to Make a Mason Jar Snow Globe: An Obsessively Step-By-Step Guide to Obsessive Crafting

If there is one thing I cannot deny about myself, besides the fact that my hair is unmanageable and that I miss Tyra Banks having a talk show so we can all talk about how often she does that weird baby impression, it’s this: I love a craft project.  I always have.  Whether it was making beads from the pages of my mom’s old Victoria magazines to making little drummer boy ornaments from clothespins to pasting giant picture of giant frogs on the inside of my Trapper Keeper, I grew up crafting, and I’ve never stopped.  Though I hate Christmas, I have to admit that I do love that it gives me an excuse to pull out my hot glue gun and power drill and my extensive collection of glitters.  People have asked me to post a tutorial for one of my favorite Christmas crafts, the Mason jar snow globe, and in the spirit of holiday crafting and peer pressure, I give you just that.

First, you'll need to gather supplies.  It will probably take you four trips to Hobby Lobby to gather all of said supplies because you keep forgetting what you need once you get in the store because there's so much glitter there it's mind-blowing, and you also keep forgetting to make a list of what you need before you go to the store and see the mind-blowing array of glitters.  Said supplies include: Mason jars, glycerin (which is completely impossible to find, so it'll take you about a week of going to every drug store possible looking for it until you find it in the pharmacy across the freaking street from where you live, for Chrissakes, next to the hand lotion and Tincture of Merthiolate because apparently that makes sense), glitter, and festive stuff to go inside the Mason jars.

First, you’ll need to gather supplies. It will probably take you four trips to Hobby Lobby to gather all of said supplies because you keep forgetting what you need once you get in the store because there’s so much glitter there that it’s mind-blowing, and you also keep forgetting to make a list of what you need before you go to the store and see the mind-blowing array of glitters. Said supplies include: Mason jars, glycerin (which is completely impossible to find, so it’ll take you about a week of going to every drug store possible looking for it until you find it in the pharmacy across the freaking street from where you live, for Chrissakes, next to the hand lotion and Tincture of Merthiolate because apparently that makes sense), glitter, and festive stuff to go inside the Mason jars.

The most important supplies, really, are the festive things that go inside the snow globe, because that's what makes the snow globe festive and festivity? It's important. Here, I've gathered a bunch of little trees which are apparently called "bottle-brush trees." That's your craft fact for the day. You're welcome. I read somewhere on the Internets that these can discolor the snow globe water, so I sprayed them with acrylic top-coat sealer. I'm not sure if that's actually going to be effective, but it made me feel useful and pro-active and really, let's be honest, it's the holidays, and anything that makes you feel useful and pro-active is important.

The most important supplies, really, are the festive things that go inside the snow globe, because that’s what makes the snow globe festive and festivity? It’s important. Here, I’ve gathered a plastic deer (because it was the cheapest little plastic figurine at Hobby Lobby that made any sense in a snow globe) and a bunch of little trees which are apparently called “bottle-brush trees.” That’s your craft fact for the day. You’re welcome. I read somewhere on the Internets that these can discolor the snow globe water, so I sprayed them with acrylic top-coat sealer. I’m not sure if that’s actually going to be effective, but it made me feel useful and pro-active and really, let’s be honest, it’s the holidays, and anything that makes you feel useful and pro-active is important.

Arrange your festive stuff on the Mason jar's lid. This is important so that you can make sure your festive stuff will actually fit inside of the Mason jar. It's also important to make sure your festive stuff is festive enough. Here, I've created a scene in which the deer is frolicking in a bottle brush tree forest. Frolicking? Definitely festive. Other suggestions for festive snow globe items include snowmen, non-terrifying Santa Claus figurines (if you can find one), tiny recreations of Dickensian town squares, velociraptors covered in Christmas lights, velociraptors covered in Christmas lights attacking tiny recreations of Dickensian town squares, and tiny replicas of your enemies wearing only their undergarments so that they'll be forever trapped in a freezing, watery, festive globe of terror.

Arrange your festive stuff on the Mason jar’s lid. This is important so that you can make sure your festive stuff will actually fit inside of the Mason jar. It’s also important to make sure your festive stuff is festive enough. Here, I’ve created a scene in which a deer is frolicking in a bottle-brush tree forest. Frolicking? Definitely festive. Other suggestions for festive snow globe items include: snowmen, non-terrifying Santa Claus figurines (if you can find one), tiny recreations of Dickensian town squares, velociraptors covered in Christmas lights, velociraptors covered in Christmas lights attacking tiny recreations of Dickensian town squares, and tiny replicas of your enemies wearing only their undergarments so that they’ll be forever trapped in a freezing, watery, festive globe of terror.

Now that you've created your festive scene and made sure that the Mason jar can handle all that festivity, glue the figurines to the jar lid using the superglue you accidentally left out of the photograph you took of necessary supplies.

Now that you’ve created your festive scene and made sure that the Mason jar can handle all that festivity, glue the figurines to the jar lid using the superglue you accidentally left out of the photograph you took of necessary supplies.

At this point, you're totally impatient and really want to get this snow globe assembled. Tell your horses to hold their festive selves -- you are about to put these things in water and if you don't let the glue dry, it's going to be a bad scene. Let the jar lids dry overnight.  You can take this time to make other holiday crafts, like yarn-covered-styrofoam-form-Christmas trees or voodoo dolls of all of the relatives who will soon ask you embarrassing and relentless questions about why you're not married.

At this point, you’re totally impatient and really want to get this snow globe assembled. Tell your horses to hold their festive selves — you are about to put these things in water and if you don’t let the glue dry, it’s going to be a bad scene. Let the jar lids dry overnight. You can take this time to make other holiday crafts, like yarn-covered-styrofoam-form-Christmas trees or voodoo dolls of all of the relatives who will soon ask you embarrassing and relentless questions about why you’re not married and have so many cats.

Once you give the figurines time to dry, it's time to take another look at the directions for making a snow globe and notice that they call for distiled or boiled water.  Realize that you are too cheap to buy water because it is water, and you're also too lazy to change out of your owl pajamas and go to a store to purchase said water. Boil the water instead. Just don't watch it. See how this water isn't boiling? That's because I'm watching it. So don't.

Once you give the figurines time to dry, it’s time to take another look at the directions for making a snow globe and notice that they call for distilled or boiled water. Realize that you are too cheap to buy water because it is water, and you’re also too lazy to change out of your owl pajamas and Muk Luks to go to a store to purchase said water. Boil the water instead. Just don’t watch it. See how this water isn’t boiling? That’s because I’m watching it. So don’t.

Once the water has boiled and then cooled back down to room temperature, you're back in snow globe business. Pour the water into your finest glass pitcher because this sh*t is going on the Internet and you don't want people to see how you live.  Now, pour the water from this fine glass pitcher into the Mason jars. It's probably a good idea to make sure you have enough water to fill the Mason jars, too.

Once the water has boiled and then cooled back down to room temperature, you’re back in snow globe business. Pour the water into your finest glass pitcher because this sh*t is going on the Internet and you don’t want people to see how you live. Now, pour the water from this fine glass pitcher into the Mason jars. It’s probably a good idea to make sure you have enough water to fill the Mason jars, too.

Add a dash of glycerin to the water, even though you have no idea what a "dash" is and you don't really know what glycerin's actually supposed to do here, except that other actual craft bloggers said stuff about how it makes the snow not fall as fast and you guess that's about right, plus who are you to argue with actual craft bloggers?

Add a dash of glycerin to the water, even though you have no idea what a “dash” is and you don’t really know what glycerin’s actually supposed to do here, except that other actual craft bloggers said stuff about how it makes the snow not fall as fast and you guess that’s about right, plus who are you to argue with actual craft bloggers? Also, while you’re adding the glycerin, you’ll freak out thinking that your  fingers are bleeding.  Your fingers are not bleeding, they’re just covered in pink Glitterblast spray paint. Don’t panic.

ADD GLITTER. The craft blogs will say you can add as much glitter as you want, and you want A LOT OF GLITTER.

ADD GLITTER. The craft blogs will say you can add as much glitter as you want, and you want A LOT OF GLITTER.

Put some superglue around the edges of the Mason jar. If you spill some, you might think it's a good idea to touch it with your bare fingers.  It isn't.

Put some superglue around the edges of the Mason jar. If you spill some, you might think it’s a good idea to touch it with your bare fingers. It isn’t.

Put the lid upside down on top of the Mason jar.  This will probably be about the time you remember that you bought some sealant from Lowe's like a year ago because your duplex is, let's be honest, a little tragic and the sink didn't want to stay in the hole where the sink was supposed to stay. You'll think to yourself, well, better not let all that sealant go to waste, but you'll also panic before you use it and Google eleventy combinations of sealant + superglue to make sure you're not going to make your duplex explode because even though it is slightly tragic, it's still full of you and your pets and things.

Put the lid upside down on top of the Mason jar. This will probably be about the time you remember that you bought some sealant from Lowe’s like a year ago because your duplex is, let’s be honest, a little tragic and the sink didn’t want to stay in the hole where the sink was supposed to stay. You’ll think to yourself, well, better not let all that sealant go to waste, but you’ll also panic before you use it and Google eleventy combinations of sealant + superglue to make sure you’re not going to make your duplex explode because even though it is slightly tragic, it’s still full of you and your pets and things.

Screw on the Mason jar's outer lid and wipe away any excess sealant with a picture of a monkey because you forgot to bring in paper towels and you are the kind of person who has a picture of a monkey just lying around.

Screw on the Mason jar’s outer lid and wipe away any excess sealant with a picture of a monkey you have laying around because you forgot to bring in paper towels and you are the kind of person who has a picture of a monkey just laying around.

You will want to turn the snow globe over immediately to experience the hand-held wonder of winter. DO NOT TURN THE SNOW GLOBE OVER IMMEDIATELY.  Actually, it might be okay if you do this, but you're kind of obsessive when it comes to crafting and you want this craft to be right, so you decide to wait until it dries overnight. Again.

You will want to turn the snow globe over immediately to experience the hand-held wonder of winter. DO NOT TURN THE SNOW GLOBE OVER IMMEDIATELY. Actually, it might be okay if you do this, but you’re kind of obsessive when it comes to crafting and you want this craft to be right, so you decide to wait until it dries overnight. Again.

And there you have it! A tiny deer frolicking amongst a tiny copse of tiny bottle-brush trees in your own hand-held winter effing WONDERLAND!

And there you have it! A tiny deer frolicking amongst a tiny copse of tiny bottle-brush trees in your own hand-held winter effing WONDERLAND!

Now you can display your snow globe with all of your other festive holiday crafts qn a little table in your hallway where you keep all of your favorite books, because really, what says merry Christmas and happy holidays more than a collection of books by female poets who committed suicide? I'll tell you what: NOTHING.

Now you can display your snow globe with all of your other festive holiday crafts on a little table in your hallway where you keep all of your favorite books, because really, what says merry Christmas and happy holidays more than a collection of books by poets who died tragically and/or committed suicide? I’ll tell you what: NOTHING.