and that was the year that was

birthday lurve
My god, this year. This fucking year. 2013 was amazing and terrifying and so very, very bizarre and wonderful and weird and I feel like I forgot half of what happened because it was an overwhelming tide of all the things.

It started pretty terribly—right off a long string of the world’s most awful OK Cupid an eHarmony dates, sitting at a table in a terrible bar across from couples making out sloppily and wondering exactly what my life had come to. My ex was off on a NYE extravaganza with the girl he was crazy about and I was happy for him so happy very happy irritated because it wasn’t fair that I didn’t have anyone I was crazy about, okay? And I was ready for whatever was next, now, soon, hurry, please.

I spent a lot of the Summer of 2012 wondering what the hell I was supposed to do. At the end of the summer, I decided I was heading out of Utah. In late fall I had decided on Madison.

In January, moving felt so horribly far away—a job, a place to live, packing up my house. Logistics, too many of them. Being stuck in Utah, too real. My god the terrible dates I kept throwing myself on to distract from Worries About The Future. The awkwardness and the creeping sense that I was the problem and they were just a series of ghosts as described via A Christmas Carol, coming to me to point out all my flaws and errors and then leaving me psychologically broken (and sometimes feeling slightly violated because SERIOUSLY FINGERS THERE ON A FIRST DATE COME ON).

I might still have Feelings about this. But not many—because in February my book came out. My book came out! My book, it came out. I wrote it, all the pages in it. My publisher put it inside a cover that was more stunning than I could have hoped for. And it was released into the wild in February, a full month before it was supposed to have been, and that was when I stopped sleeping altogether. Terror subsumed everything.

Throughout the whole process, the copyedits and the proofing and the cover selection and etcetera and the other thing, I was so proud I had made a book and I thought it had turned out all right and I hoped people liked it in a vague and general sense. Then I realized that once it was out in the world there where people really could read it and would know all the worst parts of me.

God, the feeling of vulnerability. The raw, painful open woundedness of it, of my book in the world, of me totally naked and begging you to love me, out in the world. Of course I couldn’t sleep.

In March things started to happen. My book launch party—completely packed with so many people I love. My brother and my mother came. My best friends came. I was a little late starting the talk because I walked into the room, saw it was entirely full of people there for me, just me, oh my god there are so many people and they’re all going to look at me, and oh, I lost it, just a little bit.

It was a weird and stomach churning combination of gratitude for all the love I have and bewilderment about it too and fear because Jesus Christ, I am the girl who spent three years of grad school dreading class participation. I transferred out of community college to a four year school instead of graduating because I refused to fulfill the Speech class requirement. And then I walked into the front of the room and I breathed in deep and I was talking, and a little teary-eyed sometimes, and I lived through it.

March was a busy month. I still wasn’t sleeping. My book got reviewed in People, and then I wrote articles for the New York Post and Refinery 29. The Refinery 29 article got picked up by The Daily Mail, where I accidentally stumbled upon my very first Shitty Internet Comment, as well as Yahoo! Shine. I found out about Yahoo when my Brazilian waxer texted me to tell me I was on the front page, and that was a new threshold for weirdness.

Then Good Morning America called in the morning to interview me in the afternoon and I raced home to clean the house and change into something reasonable and I forgot to put on shoes. The film crew spent a lot of time fixing my stove. I felt awkward and said rambling things. They cropped Crom out of the final story that aired, and the headline said that losing weight had made me miserable, and I didn’t care because oh, the surreal madhouse my life had become, swirly eyes crazy brain etc etc etc.

And I felt so lucky, too. I did phone interviews and radio interviews and text interviews and some other interviews and I think I was generally saying reasonable things that were worthwhile, but I have refused to listen to or watch any of them, to this very day.

At the end of March there was a talk show in Chicago, and I visited Madison and looked at the neighborhoods I wanted to live in. There was my San Francisco book launch full of more people I love, who made it perfect. I coughed and tried to lean against the wall except it wasn’t a wall it was a banner thing and I almost fell down. It’s possible I fell down; I don’t remember it very well, because coping mechanisms.

In April an editor at Harper Collins said, we heard you’re writing a YA book; we want it. I got that message while I was on the train between San Francisco and Utah to go read at an alumni event and I cried a lot in public. I wrote a proposal and they wanted it. They wanted it. They wanted it. Oh god, they wanted it. I still wasn’t sleeping.

In April a documentary program on the Oprah Winfrey Network said okay, we are considering having you be one of our subjects and I said SURE OKAY without even considering what that meant. They put me through a series of Skype interviews. They kept telling me it wasn’t any kind of guarantee. Then they scheduled the filming of my episode for June and I said SURE OKAY.

Stranger Here became an audiobook in June; My company said, “you are the center of our business strategy” and I said, okay so can I work remotely? They agreed, and suddenly moving to Madison was going to be possible. Impossibly wonderful friends helped me find an apartment. The film crew came to my house and had me do Judo and run in slow motion and cry a lot in interviews and talk to therapists and it could not have been stranger. Every time the camera turned off and they said I could take a break, I went upstairs and got under the covers and trembled a little until they called me back.
They were lovely and kind and loving and supportive and I loved them and I was so glad they were gone. I went and got a prescription for a sleep aid because I was going a little crazy.

In the middle of July I drove from Utah with a little dog and as many possessions I could fit into my Hyundai because U-Haul lost my trailer reservation. I got to Madison and I looked around and then I panicked because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, how I fit into the lives of my friends here, how I was going to get the rest of my stuff out here, and worried, so worried I had made a mistake.

But I was happy. Every morning I went down to the lake with Crom and looked at the water and realized I was really genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. I was living so close to some of the most important people in my life, and my Utahn importants were not so far away and my family so near and I was happy.

In August I wore a bikini in public like it wasn’t no big thing (it felt like a big thing). In September I signed a book contract, in October I dressed up as Harley Quinn in a skin-tight costume I made myself and was full of self-doubt and insecurity and I wore it out anyway and it felt so good. In November I turned 40 and wore a very extremely super sparkly dress that was short AND low cut because hell yes do not go gently into that good night. I was surrounded by some of the most essential people in my life and we drank champagne and I was so happy. Later there was the stunningly gorgeous Thanksgivingkuh with stunningly gorgeous people and was filled with light and love and happiness. In December I got to see my nephew turn one year old.

Tonight I’ll cook and watch movies and play video games and it will be a very good night and a very good way to end the year. All year round I have been grateful and scared and excited and awkward and happy and panicked and such a lucky, lucky person.

Happy new year.

  1 comment for “and that was the year that was

  1. December 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Hi Jen
    I have been reading your blog story from the beginning. It’s taking me a while, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. I also bought your book which I thought was wonderful.

    I came across your blog because I noticed someone came to my blog via your blog…and then I saw that my blog was listed on your blog…got it?

    I’m so glad you have posted again, it’s been a long time, I hope 2014 is a grand year for you! Grace

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