Technically, I'm not supposed to use words, but I don't work that way. ;)
- Me and the final Wheel of Time book
- Screenshot from the tumblr Title2Come; this happened at least four times
- Maia and me at the piano
- Flying to Florida to visit my grandparents and uncles
- The St. Benedict medal Sarah gave me
- The Harry Potter Book Club
- Apples by the million
- The editorial letter for the fairy tale retelling, under Maia's paws
- The computer backdrop I made in commemoration of Lou's and my fifth wedding anniversary
- Peaceful scenery at huckleberry picking
- Overenthusiastic jelly-making
- The hymn arrangement I wrote, in my Christmas choir notebook, complete with directorial scribbles (and dropped pine needles... what?!)
- Our Christmas gifts to family, made from garden produce
* * *
Number 11 is more important than it might look; it's a tiny representation of the mental event that shaped 2013 more than anything else to me. This was the year I overdid, over-thought, and overreacted to everything.
Originally—I think—this was due to a reaction to a (doctor-prescribed) vitamin supplement. The mood shift happened on January 2, just weeks after I started taking methylated folic acid (not methamphetamine; I'm not that much of a Bellinghamster :P), and I didn't come down till mid-March, when I ran out of it. Even then, I only came down part way, and it's pulsed back up by day or week or month ever since.
I'll spare you the details, except to say that it involves things like racking up a huge sleep debt without seeming to need to repay it, alternating between various degrees of nervousness without respite, and stirring from a dark reverie in the middle of the kitchen in the middle of the day and feeling the way you feel when you wake at three o'clock in the morning from the kind of tragic dream that haunts you for weeks. Your emotions wind up getting stretched like a set of guitar strings tuned to the highest possible pitch and then strummed with a hard pick.
This puts a threat on 2014: according to Newton's third law of motion and my own past experience, elevated mental and emotional states are followed by equivalent mental and emotional crashes. That's not something I can afford. Therefore, my first goal for 2014 is to allot my mind and feelings some rest.
* * *
Crazy phase aside, it was a quiet and happy and likable year overall. We were mostly spared serious trouble, thanks be to God; up until just before Christmas, things went easily enough. Other year-shaping events of 2013 included:
- saving A.D. and her story
- learning to appreciate some modern literature and music
- going all Gandalf on a series of threats to our little choir's life and health
- making hard decisions about what I'm not willing to do in order to have children or to feel better
- unsettling wonder
* * *
The days surrounding Christmas included Katie's wedding, wherein I unexpectedly wound up directing the prelude choir and Lou braved the dance floor with me once just because he knows I love it. There were four days of more natural beauty than I've seen since a Crescent City sunset ten years ago: thick frost on tree branches poking up into white fog, puffs of mist drifting over slate-gray river waters.* I've had time with all of our nieces and nephews, whose ages range from the days-old baby niece, who slept for hours in my arms, to our college-junior nephew, who roomed with us at Katie's wedding and talked football and music with me.
It's been fun, but there's been so much going on that I've had to resort to hiding out in the bathroom and staying up into the wee hours to get introvert time. And that same stretch of time included the praying of two painful novenas simultaneously: St. Peregrine for someone with cancer and Divine Mercy over a suicide.
I've spent time crying over Nick's death, letting things slide out of sheer exhaustion, falling asleep at family gatherings, not caring about anything this Christmas season wanted of me, and yet—always at the last minute—I've been given the strength for what matters, one day after the next.
* * *
I barely knew you, Nick; the one evening we spent together, we were both too shy to say much to each other. But I remember you making me laugh, the last time I saw you. I know you were a bit of a loner, and I know there were reasons I don't know much about that kept you angry—but you were loved. I hope all is forgiven. I hope you're feeling divine mercy like a faithful father's love, and like a friend's.
* * *
The new year came without me being ready, and I'm comparatively goal-less. Mostly, I want to focus on art and prayer and sanity. These aren't S.M.A.R.T. yet; they're a little discombobulated and unfinished, sort of like me right now; but here's what I want to work on in the coming months:
- not dreading prayer as an invasion on my time
- writing A.D. till she's whole and who she was meant to be
- fledging E.E.
- learning to tell myself no: limiting my link-hopping off Facebook and Feedly, thinking realistically about required investments of time and energy when setting work goals and saying yes to various opportunities
- avoiding wanting to jump off a bridge when the crash comes
- spending more time in our garden
- immersing myself for a while in studying sightreading
- taking a little piano, and going on playing every night
- knowing and loving the ways of music and literature better at the end of the year than I do at the beginning, just as I know and love them better now than I did a year ago
- being present and affectionate and ready to help whenever someone needs me, no matter how small or great the need.
* It was a bad weekend to forget the camera.... but there was just. too. much.