Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: or the busiest year of my life...

My friend Kristin Tennant wrote a great "what do you think about 2011, what do you hope for 2012" post, which included these great questions. Since I was thinking of doing something for the end of the year, I stole her questions:

1. What experiences most shaped you in 2011?

2. What is something you learned (or learned to do) in 2011?

3. What is something you want to learn to do in 2012?

4. Is there a hurt, frustration or fear that you’d like to heal/let go of in 2012?

5. What inspired or encouraged you in 2011?

6. What gift could you use to inspire and encourage others in 2012?

7. What do you want to experience more of in your life this next year?

8. What do you want to give/share more of?

9. Is there a word that sums up 2011 for you?

10. Is there a word you want to carry with you through 2012?

[plus one] 11. What book, movie, or show really jazzed your year?


1. Most shaped me in 2011:

Working on my PhD application. (It's in, btw. Now we just wait until the end of February when I hear if they want to interview me.) Even as I was working on re-writing the article in January, or working on the presentation in October, or studying for the GREs, all of those were cumulative work to the final December 15 deadline.

2. Learned to do this year:

Work a deadline. Discover that I do my best work in the morning, so work then, and veg in the evening. Keep the laptop in the other room. Separate laptop (work) time from (veg) TV time, but that when it comes down to the last minute, I can keep my tush in my chair until I'm done.

3. Want to learn next year:

Create systems. I started using a 7 day pill box in 2010. It has made my life easier. (I take pills 4 times a day.) I have started to learn (see #2) to break items down into pieces, and would like to create systems for paying bills, doing dishes, doing laundry, cutting clutter. I have learned in the past couple of weeks that just doing dishes for 5 minutes (or while something is cooking in the microwave) makes a big difference. If I only did housework for 5 minutes a day...I have tried all the self-help, reduce clutter books and none of them have worked. I have to figure out my own system, one that works for me.

4. Fear that you want to heal?


  • letting go of my sister (she got married!) and learning to love her husband (I do like him a lot. I see how they are a great couple, but I'm not "there" yet.)
  • Re-learning that I am enough. The PhD process scratched a surface of insecurity...what if I don't get in, what if this isn't the right path, what if, what if. I would like to be able to say, I'm enough. Whatever happens, it's going to be okay. (Not that there's anything wrong with being scared, but I don't want the fear to rule me.)

5. Inspired you this year?

JUST DO IT. When I went to speak to the woman in charge of children's library programs at the Library School here in town, she said, try to get published, try to present. In 2010-2011, I did both (one of each.)

6. Gift to encourage others in 2012?

CUPCAKES, of course!

7. Experience more in 2012?

More time with friends. In person. Face to face.

8. Give/Share more of in 2012?

This one gave me pause...I don't think "writing" is the right answer, but it's what I came up with.

9. Word that sums up 2011?


10. Word that you want to carry into/with you in 2012?


11. Movie/Book/Show?

Bones. (Show) I am totally obsessed with Bones, the same way I was totally obsessed with SATC when I first discovered it back in 200?.


*January: Polished my first scholarly publication

February: Sister got engaged

March: I got the flu, I picked out a maid-of-honor dress

April: I gave my sister a bridal shower (big thanks to cousin Kiki and Mom!)

May: prep for Summer Reading, New York for unco11, blasted cold that developed into third sinus infection for 2011.

June/July: Summer Reading

August: learn I have food allergies, prep for the wedding, the wedding

September: family vacation, study for, take the GREs

October: my first professional library presentation, sinus surgery

November: Recover from surgery, research for my PhD application essays, Thanksgiving, my 40th birthday

December: finish my PhD application essays, Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011 us down from the ledges...

(Amy Grant, That's What Love is For)

A girl's gotta have friends.

And this girl has the best ones.

Last week, in the middle of writing my research proposal for the secret Midwestern school application, I found a reference in a bibliography that I hadn't looked up. So I looked it up. And instead of seeing it as a piece of the puzzle, I saw it as the arrow that burst my research, that made my work invalid. Panicking, I picked up the phone and called Sally. Who, I had forgotten, had a house full of guests. She took a moment to assure me that no one was doing work on Third Culture Kids in libraries, that my work was important, and that this was just an application to graduate school, NOT a dissertation. She took five minutes away from her guests to talk me off my ledge.

All week, I have been screaming on Twitter, wanting to throw in the towel, and friends like Deb have been sending me reminders of what I want to do in the form of cupcakes.

Thursday morning, I sat my tush in my chair and filled in the online application. It took me all morning, including a trip to FedExKinkos because the watermarks on one of my transcripts made it impossible to compact it beyond 2000KB. The file needed to be under 500KB. Murphy was alive and well, but I had set aside the entire morning, so I beat him at his game.

Anyways, as I sit here, kind of like a couch potato, stunned that my year of striving is almost over, I want to say thanks. Because your encouragement is what got me through, you talked me off my ledges.

I'm leaving out a big plate of cupcakes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

[Anaiis Nin quote here]

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." (Anaiis Nin)

Well, I'm still working hard on my Midwestern essays. Exhausted, but I am working. Or like we say on twitter, #amwriting #amworking. I took this morning off work to take time to write. And I thought I would have a chance to do so much more. But it has to be enough. I have 7 days. 8 if you include the 15th. In those 7 or 8 days, I have to gather together my research proposal and I have to update my resume. Oh, and show up for work for 5 of those days.

I wrote these bits when I was putting together my "statement of purpose" but I think they fit here more than in an application for "further schooling." (Yes, I have to be secretive.) (Yes, you'll know when I find out, which won't be until late Feb for an interview, and after that, I think March or April.)

A little bit of background, as I sort of start in the middle here: I had been writing about my teen years, reading with sibs, how it kept me interested in picture books as a teen.

...While all of this was happening, something else was happening that would shape my life’s work, though I didn’t recognize it then. My father, a career foreign service officer, was preparing for his next post, in Warsaw, Poland. He and I both had a lot of homework my senior year of high school; while mine was in English with a little bit of Spanish, his was entirely in Polish. My parents and siblings lived in Warsaw, Poland from 1989 to 1992, as communism was being replaced by the private sector.

In college, I was trying to live the normal life of an American teenager, but I couldn’t ignore that my life was markedly different from the lives of my fellow students, most of whom spent Christmas vacation in a place called home. I spent Christmas vacation with people I called home, in a foreign country where I could barely tell cab drivers my parent’s address. In high school in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I was able to pretend I was just another kid. Now, at 17, I was faced yet again with my heritage: of many languages, many houses, and many different “homes.” The concept of the third culture kid was not yet mainstream, and most of the writing is still non-fiction by adults, for adults. As a confused teen, I would have benefited from some books to mirror my experiences. Instead, I took all the “windows” and made some of them into mirrors.

In high school, I could forget that I had lived overseas. I found teens like me in the books of Judy Blume, Cynthia Voigt, and Paula Danziger. I didn’t talk about my childhood abroad, and no one asked me about it, because I blended. I no longer looked for books about kids like me who had lived abroad, because I pretended that I had lived in Maryland my whole life.


There is much more there, but I need to drive home and take in some restorative television. If you are the praying type, please pray. These next 7 days are going to be FULL. Thankfully tomorrow I have two things on my side (which also mean I won't get any writing in): a massage at 8:30, with a guy who is also a third culture kid, so I'll be able to tell him about my project, and a woman at the library school I graduated from, who has agreed to talk to me. She can't help me with the writing, and I was sure I'd be done with it all by now, but she can also be a "bounce ideas off" person.

Setting out a plate of cupcakes for you all,