Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Happy New Year, angel-faces

I thought about doing an end of the year survey here, then decided I didn't want to. I don't really like looking back very much. It makes me miss the good times, and sad all over again about the bad times. But then, because I love to change my mind, I decided that it would be interesting and good for me. So here you are, loves. I borrowed this from the lovely Chrissy at The New Me. (You should check out her blog, because she and it are awesome.)

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Honestly, I can't think of anything particularly cool. This is not a promising beginning to this post.

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Nope! I wanted to drink more water, play with my rats every day, do yoga every day, and blog. I did keep up with blogging, which I'm pretty damn proud of. Yoga and rats sadly were not quite a daily occurrence, but I think my resolutions helped me keep them an integral part of my life. As far as water... I am one dehydrated piece of crap. At least I drink a lot of tea? 
For 2013, I plan to blog more frequently (probably with shorter posts), take more pictures, and get to the yoga studio at least 2x a week.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Natalie had a beautiful little bambina named Carolyn!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No people, thankfully - just my ratlets.

5. What places did you visit?
Gettysburg, PA a couple times; Charlotte and Asheville in NC; Philly; and I went to NYC for a couple hours to pick up Ann from publishing school.

6.What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I made all my Christmas presents this year, and it got me wanting to make more crafty projects. I really, really, really want to move into DC in 2013. A boyfriend would be nice, too.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
January 27 was a day I got some big news.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I learned to trust myself, stand up for myself, forgive myself and others, be emotionally self-sufficient and intentionally happy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I struggled with the above things as well, and sometimes failed.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope, I fared pretty well this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably my Mac Air. That, and lots of cute clothes that make me smile. And every single fucking thing I ate in Asheville.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Ann wins roommate and bff of the year award, as per usual. Despite much terrorizing, including a Christmas gift of a mug covered in death threats, she is always incredibly supportive, always willing to listen and give honest, thoughtful advice, always sharing my love and enthusiasm for life and finding things to laugh about. Jamie, for constantly making me laugh harder than just about anyone, for adventuring with me, for being a steady, calming presence when I'm feeling sad. My beautiful friend Emmy, who has become a regular fixture in my life again after years of not seeing each other nearly enough. And, of course, my family.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Stella. Who could imagine that sweet angel face could be capable of so much destruction, so much misery, so many pee stains?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, car payments, Kirby's constantly ailing body.

15. What did you get really excited about?
All of my theater projects, big and small. My trips. Halloween. Christmas. Each season. Lots of other littler things as well. I'm a rather excitable person.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I can't pick one, so here's a few: Us Against the World (Coldplay). You and I Both (Jason Mraz). Some Nights (Fun.).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a. happier or sadder? About the same. I think I'm a little less trusting in some regards, and I think I have the potential to be a little harder than I was before. I think my moments of trust and love and joy are more intentional now, and more powerful, if that makes sense. I have my rough moments, but overall I'm very happy.
b. thinner or fatter? It's a little hard to say. My legs are much more toned, as a result of upping my daily dog walks from 2 miles to about 12. My arms and stomach are less toned, as a result of downgrading yoga from a daily ritual to a weekly one. 
c. richer or poorer? Slightly richer, which is just lovely!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I'm pretty ok with the things I didn't do, actually. I wasn't doing them because other things were taking a priority. Although I kind of wish I'd cleaned a little more. I'm a total slob, and it's embarrassing.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Late night internet comas. Agonizing over things I have no control over.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At my parents' house, with my mom and dad and seestor and grandma.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Nah. Maybe next year.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Game of Thrones and New Girl

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate at this time last year?
I've never hated anyone.

24. What was the best book you read?

I wasn't expecting that much from Hunger Games, but that trilogy really blew me away.

25. What music did you get excited about?

Ken Yates, Ingrid Michaelson, Jay-Z, Mumford and Sons, Passenger, The Lumineers.

26. What did you want and get?

A big girl job. Theater work. Several different bouts of boy drama (exciting enough to give me butterflies, light-hearted enough to not turn me into a stress-case).

27. What did you want and not get?

A big girl job with a big girl salary. As much theater work as I would have liked. A drama-free boy scenario.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Cabin in the Woods, Lincoln, Life of Pi. Les Miserables. (Are you getting that I don't like to pick just one favorite?)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 25 and went out dancing with my amigos!

30. What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
Well, this year had some hard patches. When I look back, though, I think it forced me to do some growing up, and if certain things had gone more the way I wanted, I'm not sure that would have happened. I can think of things that might have made it more satisfying in the short term, but probably wouldn't have helped me out much in the long haul.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

This year I was all the hell about dresses, cardigans, bright colors, fun patterns, and accessories.

32. What kept you sane?

Amazing and supportive friends and family, yoga, cats, rats, dogs, journaling.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I fell in and out of crush-love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Nick from New Girl. I still have a lady boner for RG3, B.o.B., and Jon Snow of Game of Thrones.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gay rights.

35. Whom did you miss?
A friend I had a falling out with. 

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I started having girls' nights with some lovely Annapolitan ladies, and the cast and crew from my last show in particular had some real gems.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

You don't determine the plot of your life, but you determine how you narrate it.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Oh lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for.

Happy New Year, kittens! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Weight of the Bad

What happened on Friday has shaken me.

I am a fierce optimist. I search for the kindness, the beauty, the love in everything around me. I rarely have a hard time finding it.

I have believed, for quite some time now, that the world is equal parts darkness and light. There is much suffering in the world, to be sure. But I have believed that out of great suffering comes great compassion. You can choose to focus on the worst parts of the world, or focus on the best. You can be bogged down by the horrors of humanity, or fight to heal them. I have always chosen the latter.

Of all the tragedies I've heard of in the news, none has ever hit me as hard as this. I know terrible things happen every day. I know many parts of the world are no strangers to senseless violence against children. I know.

But I can't stop thinking about these kids. I can't stop thinking about how scared they must have been, how much they must have wanted their moms and dads. I can't stop thinking about the teachers. I can't stop thinking about the parents. I can't stop thinking about the lucky ones - the parents who, upon finding out their children were among the survivors, must have then felt the sickening guilt knowing their relief meant another parent had lost their child. The little, little, little kids who escaped, but had to run past the bodies of their teachers and friends. I can't stop thinking about Ryan and Peter Lanza.

As I was driving to perform in my show Friday night, I heard on the radio a candlelight vigil was taking place in front of the White House. Once my show ended, I drove over there as fast as I could. I knew, at 11:30 at night, there was very little chance it was still going on. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I so desperately wanted to be there, as I sped down I-95. Looking back, I think I just felt so helpless, and wanted to find some way to show everyone affected by this that I supported them.

By the time I got to the White House, no one was there, save for a few tourists taking pictures. As I walked back to my car, I saw a truck parked about 20 yards away from me. It had a large "Merry Christmas" sign over it, which made me smile. As I got closer, I realized it was a Westboro Baptist truck. It was covered in pictures and words - you know the kind, I'm not going to describe them - but I will say that they were significantly more gruesome and violent than I've seen before.

I quite literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My emotions did a rapid 180 from desolate to furious. I rarely react to anything with aggression, but I looked at those messages and thought, "If someone gets out of that truck and tries to say something to me, I am going to lose my shit". I was preparing what I would say - something along the lines of them being what is wrong with the world, and what the fuck could possibly possess them to spread this message of hate when a bunch of fucking CHILDREN are lying shot to pieces in a classroom tonight - but there was no one in the truck. So I got in my car, and I listened to the news, and I cried the whole way home.

I realized, after this, that even though I have said evil is balanced by good in this world, I did not believe it. I subconsciously have thought that good is the more powerful force in this world. That love is always stronger than hate, stronger than despair, stronger than destruction.

I don't know that I believe that now.

 I still believe that love is immensely powerful. I keep scanning the news, searching for stories of bravery and kindness. And I'm finding them. The compassion of humanity is not letting me down.

But I think, before now, I have underestimated the ugliness of the world. I don't think I fully appreciated how hard it is to focus on the joy. This isn't my tragedy, these aren't my kids, these teachers aren't my sisters or friends. But something in this has hit me very, very hard.

The solution here isn't to abandon optimism. I believe now, more than ever, that the only way to fight despair is with love. And I think we should remember, as best we can, that as much as we may disagree with each other, we are all reacting to the pain of this. The people fighting vehemently for gun control, the people who feel that it is disrespectful to those grieving to talk politics, even Mike Huckabee who thinks prayer in schools is the answer - everyone is struggling to find a solution to this tragedy the best way they know how. We can disagree and argue with each other, certainly - that's how we stand up and fight for what we believe - but I think we should try to find a way to do so with the understanding that most people are hurting over this, and trying to do what they think is best.

We have to keep loving. We have to keep caring. We have to keep helping, crying, working, searching every day for the good. Because there is a lot of bad out there, and it is going to take everything we have to fight it.