Old Year, New Year

By way of Christie (I know there weren't many rules, friend, but I think I broke all of them! Oops! XD):

Technically, I'm not supposed to use words, but I don't work that way. ;)
  1. Me and the final Wheel of Time book
  2. Screenshot from the tumblr Title2Come; this happened at least four times
  3. Maia and me at the piano
  4. Flying to Florida to visit my grandparents and uncles
  5. The St. Benedict medal Sarah gave me
  6. The Harry Potter Book Club
  7. Apples by the million
  8. The editorial letter for the fairy tale retelling, under Maia's paws
  9. The computer backdrop I made in commemoration of Lou's and my fifth wedding anniversary
  10. Peaceful scenery at huckleberry picking
  11. Overenthusiastic jelly-making
  12. The hymn arrangement I wrote, in my Christmas choir notebook, complete with directorial scribbles (and dropped pine needles... what?!)
  13. 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.
I want peace, hope, beauty, and love for you in the coming year. Thanks for reading.

* It was a bad weekend to forget the camera.... but there was just. too. much.


  1. I'm not a big one for rules! :p

    Jenna, I was looking for that picture of us to put up for my '13 in 13, but I didn't have it, duh! Mind if I go back on the blog and copy and save it from here?

    I'm beginning to understand the high-and-low cycle now that I'm regularly taking aderol in order to work. It happens an a mini scale almost daily. I find that it's best if the crash comes while I'm distracted--but distracted doing something at which I won't be distracted; otherwise, I risk extreme sensitivity, annoyance, agitation, and even feelings of "it's the end of the world, I know it." Despite my intellect clearly shouting at me otherwise. But those two have never got along, my intellect and emotions.

    I think I had a panic/anxiety attack on the 31st, and I thought about texting you and Masha after the fact, but then didn't want to worry you or throw a shadow on your holiday. No point in bringing it up now other than to say I'm glad to know I'm not the only one whose emotions are self-sabotaging without warning. I mean, I knew that was the case with you sometimes, but I can stand to hear it agian. :P

    Also, I've been ill almost all Christmas, so presents are still coming, just not in a timely fashion! Love you!!

    May souls of the faithful departed, especially Nick, rest in peace, Amen.

    1. You can totally get a copy of that photo! In fact, if I can remember I'll send a better version along when I email you and Masha about Firefly. :)

      "I'm glad to know I'm not the only one whose emotions are self-sabotaging without warning"

      We read to know we're not alone, right? Which is why that's in the post. I need to hear I'm not alone in it, too... Ugh, a daily cycle of it--that would be wearying indeed. I hope the aderol is helping enough to make it worth it.

      And you can ALWAYS text about it. I suck at texting first and I know it, but I'll practically always respond if I can (and if my phone works in the first place.) You wouldn't have cast a shadow. In some weird way, grief and sharing of other burdens--which so many of my friends seem to have this year--have kept me from getting completely petty about how busy and exhausting these last weeks have been.

      Thanks for the prayers, and for being excited about A.D.; that's encouraging! <3

    2. n some weird way, grief and sharing of other burdens--which so many of my friends seem to have this year--have kept me from getting completely petty about how busy and exhausting these last weeks have been.

      Same for me! :hugs:

      And please send the re-written A.D. if you feel comfortable. I'd love to see the changes, I just love her so much!

    3. ::hugs back::

      I WILL be sending you re-written A.D.!! I'm just trying to make sure I've got the voice right where I want it first; otherwise, I risk having to send you chapter 1 AGAIN later. ;)

  2. P.S. I'm excited for A.D. to become who she's meant to be. c:

  3. "We read to know we're not alone": YES. This is why I love this blog so much. Well, and because you're hilarious. If I could only tell you the number of times I have howled over this blog, how many times it has touched me, how many things I have learned from it.

    Wow. The methylated folic acid sounds like a foretaste of hell. (A dear friend of mine had a similar experience with progesterone and I think ended up deciding against it.) If it's any meager comfort :) --didn't all the great writers have to battle for their sanity from time to time? But, to be serious: for those souls who are so sensitively attuned to beauty, goodness, and truth, the harshness of reality is occasionally unbearable. I've never personally known anyone who committed suicide, but to have even spent one evening with such a person and to have glimpsed even briefly the particular beauty of their soul, only to find out later that they despaired...it hurts me even to hear your account of experiencing it. Will pray for Nick. God's mercy is so, so vast -- it can be trusted.

    I am not one of the great writers, but this summer we had several weeks of unceasing overcast weather, and by the end of it I really felt I was in danger of going stark raving mad. You must be doing an admirable job of not coming unglued in spite of living in Mord--I mean, Bellingham. I would never have lasted as long as you have; you must be made of sterner stuff than your elfin looks belie. Though I guess the Elves were pretty well made of steel, come to think of it, so maybe that is an appropriate comparison. And there is a great deal of beauty on the West Coast and Bellingham especially, as you regularly treat us to via picture postings. There's Maia, for one. Though she seems to be occasionally in league with the Dark Lord.

    1. It makes my day to hear that this blog means something to you! Sometimes I worry that my compulsion to pour out my feelings on the internet is a narcissistic waste of time.... but I write for the same reasons I read, so it's incredibly encouraging whenever anyone connects to something said here. Also, I get to make the most awesome friends. <3

      Progesterone can do some crazy things, too, for sure. I tried one of the creams once and was hit with two straight weeks of tangible apathy and wackadoodle dreams. Super fun when the treatment is worse than the disease...

      to have even spent one evening with such a person and to have glimpsed even briefly the particular beauty of their soul, only to find out later that they despaired

      Yes. And thank you for praying for him. "There is a wideness in God's mercy/ like the wideness of the sea..." I'm holding very tightly to that.

      this summer we had several weeks of unceasing overcast weather, and by the end of it I really felt I was in danger of going stark raving mad

      Ha! Bellingham is too wet to be Mordor. Though we do have an active volcano... Mt. Doom is pretty silent and snow-covered right now, though, and I hope it stays that way. I will say, however, that when we have a cloudy summer, I start feeling like I've been sent to Azkaban. Most of us live for sunny summer days around here. In the winter, I do miss Valinor dreadfully, even though I only know it from the stories of the Eldar.... ;)

      I think Maia has aspirations toward being a Dark Lord herself.

    2. "I think Maia has aspirations toward being a Dark Lord herself."

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! Indeed, I have no doubt she does!

  4. Oh, yes, and bully for you for saving your choir! I feel fiercely protective of our little choir here too, even though I could not participate this year.

    Is A.D. the heroine I met? If so, I can't wait to see her again. I liked her a lot.

    1. I'm not the only savior, but I was lucky enough to have time and energy and drive to throw myself into the breach. Being part of active musical teams is one of my favorite things in life.

      And yes, A.D.--that's my darling girl, and you know her of old. It has taken me some Tolkienesque slow-and-painstaking development, but there's more consistent Tolstoyan detail in there now, just as you asked for, I think. I'm probably on iota or kappa readers now with her story--way past gamma, anyway--but you're always welcome as a reader for any book of mine, genre notwithstanding. :)

    2. Hurrah!! Now I double-can't-wait!

  5. *I don't think I'm qualified to be a gamma reader since I don't know your genre well enough...but I am excited to read more of your writing!

  6. I tried to pay attention to stuff that came after the cat pictures and I think I did a fair job.

    Very sorry to hear of the grief you suffered and I hope you receive peace too.

    Same for the after effects of the vitamin supplement. Beth & I have had to get adjusted to the varying affects of anti-anxiety and mood stabilizing drugs although she had a much more varied reaction than I did.

    And Beth had to put up with the progesterone and other hormones back when we were seeking fertility help when we first got married.

    A bit late but wishing you & Lou & Maia a blessed New Year!!

    1. Thanks. :)

      And yeah, apparently wild reactions to these things are pretty common. Yeesh.


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