Can it really be possible? I feel like I just wrote my farewell to 2012 letter on Facebook, yet here I am, waxing philosophical about what to write for 2013. What a blur!
I’m glad that I kept those Notes on Facebook. Every year, I would write a Note as a way to acknowledge what went right and what went wrong, and what lessons I learned. I would send love and good wishes to family and friends. And then, I would bid that year adieu as I braced myself for another long, cold winter of reflection and planning. I took a few minutes to go back and re-read my Note from 12/2012. Man, that year really was a kick to the baby-maker. (The Note was titled: I Remember the First Time We Wished Upon Parallel Lines, should you feel like seeking it out). This year, I’m saying goodbye a little bigger, and blogging it all instead.
Growing up, I never gave New Year’s Eve much thought. As far as holidays go, I’m addicted to all things Christmas and Halloween, and that’s about it. The rest are all excuses for excessive eating, excessive spending, and excessively loud noises. NYE was no exception.
^Hey! That’s me! 1979^
When I was a kid, the only meaning that NYE had was PARTY. This was yet another night for our family to get together, something we did a lot anyhow. There would be a big meal, tons of appetizers and munchies, beer and wine to the ceiling, loud music, football, and of course, Trivial Pursuit. NYE meant that I could stay up past my bedtime to play with whatever toys I’d been given from Santa. It meant putting boots and a coat over my jimjams and running around the yard like a lunatic, banging pots and pans together at midnight. Auld Lang Syne indeed. The one year that I decided to embrace NYE blew up in my face. Some friends and I took a train into the city (yes, “the city”, New York City. Is there any other?). We spent the day visiting museums and eating ‘dirty water dogs’. We were stoked because we had purchased tickets from a scalper to see this amazing new band called Pearl Jam. They were playing at the Academy, not far from Times Square and all its madness. The plan was to see the show, and be out by midnight to watch the ball drop live, for a change. 30 minutes before showtime and we were in the long line about to enter the venue. And that’s when we got bounced. The tickets were fakes. I was out nearly $100 and didn’t get to see Pearl Jam (not to worry, I saw them at Lollapalooza). Feeling utterly defeated, I made my way back to Penn Station and hopped a train back to Hicksville, making it home to Levittown with hours to spare before Dick Clark. Screw NYE.
It took years for me to begin to tolerate the ‘holiday’ that is NYE. I’ve never been to one of those When Harry Met Sally type parties. It’s nothing like the movies. And I’m okay with that. Everyone else can go out on what I like to refer to as Amateur Night Part Deux (St. Patrick’s being the original). I’m content to stay home in my jimjams and eat junk food in front of the television. All NYE does is remind me that I’m another year closer to death. That’s just crazy, right? Who thinks like that? Probably a lot more people than you realize. Still, while it’s a seemingly never ending night full of reminders of all that you lost that year, NYE can also be a never ending night full of learning. You look back on all that you did and didn’t do, all that you did and didn’t lose, and you figure out how you can make the next year a little better for yourself and for others. To do that, I need to reflect on all that was 2013, or at least, a highlight reel…..
I got to go to another awesome wedding.
I was on TV, again, to educate people about Cystic Fibrosis.
I put together a huge and successful Star Wars themed fundraiser to raise money for our Great Strides for CF walk team.
I won second place in a karaoke competition singing Thrift Shop. (Shortly thereafter, I was admitted to MUSC for the first of my three 2013 hospitalizations, though this stay was only for 5 days).
I got to be an undead Dorothy and won a costume competition. I actually got to be a zombie on 3 different occasions this year. Fun!
I got to host my first panel at Charlotte Comicon; Zombie 101 with Jeremiah Scott from the Walking Dead.
I jumped into the deep end…..
I got to go to Florida to visit a few of my favorite people.
And then September came and my body betrayed me. My right lung collapsed 40%. I spent 9/9-9/25 in the hospital, enduring multiple surgical procedures. I was sent home with a chest tube, returning to Charleston (a 3-hour drive) every week for xrays to see if the lung was holding steady and in place. It did not. However, while I was at home for the month of October…
We renewed our wedding vows at a Zombie crawl. Then had 2 epic karaoke birthday parties (11/1 & 11/2)…
…drove to Atlanta on 11/3 to meet my heroes at the inaugural Walker Stalker Convention…
…then on 11/4 I turned 40! Take that CF! Actually, on 11/5 I drove back to Charleston to be admitted to MUSC, once again, with a final surgery on 11/7 to remove a small part of my lung. I was released on 11/15, and have been recovering ever since….
…which means I got to be home for Thanksgiving when my sister’s family drove down from NY (they stopped here before heading on to Myrtle Beach to pick up Mom and bring her to NY for the holidays). I got to drive to the beach to see my other sister and pulled an Andrew Lincoln ala Love Actually on her doorstep (epic). I got to be home in the Bubble for Christmas with my man, my kid, and my pal. Followed shortly thereafter by a visit from my brother’s family on their way to bring Mom back home.
I’m back hosting trivia once a week, for now. I’m back singing on Friday nights when I can; something I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to do anymore. The surgeons mentioned being wary of hitting the nerve that controls my vocal chords during surgery. Between all of that and just trying to fill the lung with air again, singing has been difficult. I’m no where near the belt that I used to have. But, I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.
Sure there was a lot of crappy stuff that happened this year. On top of all the hospitalizations, we became a house of unemployment. That clearly earns us the Bad Timing Award, right? We’re barely scraping by, and it may take 10 years to pay off the hospital, but we have a roof over our heads, the utilities are still on, and there’s some food in our stomachs. That’s as good, if not better, than most.
I had a lot of time, isolated in my own mind, between September and November. A lot of that time was spent thinking about death and dying. You know…the topics that trigger my panic attacks. That fear pushed me harder than I’ve been pushed in a very long time. I have no idea if my lungs will hold up, or for how long. But you know what? Neither do you. None of us knows how long we have and nothing in life is guaranteed. And so, I have to make peace with it. Choose to live, in spite of everything.
All in all, 2013 was a pretty banner year. Even with all of the crap, nothing can ever take away the memories and smiles and excitement that came with this year. I have the many-times autographed t-shirt to prove it! This NYE will be another low key night for me, full of junk food and a Walking Dead marathon on AMC. Sounds good to me. Then, it’ll be time to get back on the horse, and ride 2014 for all she’s worth. I’m not a resolution maker. But this time around, there are a few changes that I need to make. For starters, I need to make a commitment to my body. I will do whatever I can to get the rest of my body into shape and build up my strength, should the lungs every quit on me again in the future. I will travel more; take time out to visit family and friends and when affordable, any little places I’ve always wanted to drive to. I will write more. I’ve been working on this book officially two years now. It’s time. I will also have more interviews to tackle and conventions to cover. Not only will I be working all 3 Charlotte Comicon shows (as we do every year), but I plan on returning to one of the Walker Stalker conventions, as well as a few smaller shows throughout the southeast. My trials and tribulations of the last couple of years has caused me to abandon some of my restraints and verbal filters. Why not let them release my inner nerd completely and let the freak flag fly?
In 2014, I’m going to LIVE. As SPF says, I’m going to Shine Until Tomorrow. This Regulator is going to #ToastandPost with the best of them. Look out new year….I’ve got the Eye of the Tiger.
And You’re Gonna Hear Me Roar.
To all of my family–blood or chosen, and to all of my friends, I wish you a very happy and very healthy new year.