Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014: A Terrible Year! Thanks for being a part of it!

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2014, I came down with a head cold.

The next week various shades of radioactive yellow oozed from my face.  I like to think it was the last remaining toxins of 2014 eliminating themselves from my body, shedding the curse of that godforsaken year in an incredibly visceral sense.

Oh 2014, Auld Lang Syne and good riddance.
New Year's Eve 2014 was clear and bright.  Taylor and I drove around the capitol building in Salt Lake City, taking in the passage of time with the high point and spectacular views.  I might have been foggy thanks to the new head cold, but it was nice to welcome a new year from a high point, looking out over possibilities.

New Year's Eve 2013 was spent in a basement in DC.  It was a fun time, but I started 2014 from a dark hole in the ground and I don't think I ever left.

2014 is the year that broke me into pieces.  The difficulties started in fall of 2013, when I moved to Boston and started grad school and everything in life was thrown into question.  What was I doing?  Why was I here?  What am I doing to my family?  Those worries eventually abated, replaced with a comfort in my surroundings and a sense of purpose in my studies. But they still gave way to a deep, dark depression.

I wrote about my sadness before, but it lasted so much longer.  It marked the year with a pall, a listlessness and sorrow I could not shake.  This year, my depression caused me to:

  • Wake up every morning dreading the day.  This was partially because I was an idiot at one point and had three jobs along with full-time school schedule.  Constant heart palpitations at the thought of my "to do" list, I swear.
  • Meddle with my hair, just so I could control something in my life.  This year, I went from long red hair, to short red hair, to short blue-green hair (that promptly faded to gray), back to red, culminating in an undercut mohawkshaved sides and back, long on top.  Reverse mullet, if you will.  
  • Come home from days of doing the bare minimum for survival and sit on the couch, staring straight ahead.  I couldn't even watch TV or movies.  The thought of any action made me want to cry.  Speaking of which...
  • Sit by the T station and cry.  I so wish this was a one time thing, but no.  This happened multiple times.  Sometimes it was because I was coming back from a defeating day of school/work.  Sometimes it was because I felt lost and lonely.  Sometimes it was because I was on my way to interact with others socially, something I knew I needed but which terrified me.  Definite moments of huge anxiety and self-loathing there.  And sometimes it was just because it was cold.  Sweet mercy, it got so cold in Boston.
  • Curl up in my closet and cry.  Because it was a dark, cramped space.  Just like my psyche.  Just like my soul.
  • Dramatically take long walks outside, crying.  Sometimes I'd get too overwhelmed while walking, and I'd sit on the nearest curb and sob.  Those poor, rich suburbanites in my neighborhood, forced to endure the sight of a 25-year-old urchin weeping outside their houses.  I'm sure I totally ruined the view.
  • There was a lot of crying, OK? 

Despite the oppressive cloud that marked my 2014, this year was full of beauty.  There was good adventure, good food, and good company.  My goal in moving to Boston, in participating in this crazy grad program, was to suck the marrow out of life.  To completely drain everything I could from school and East Coast living.  I think I succeeded in that goal, because in 2014, I:

  • Traveled.  January I drove home from D.C., stopping to visit Baltimore (Poe's grave!) and Philadelphia (Independence Hall!).  In March I spent a blissful week in D.C. with my favoritest Ashley.  Taylor and I celebrated our second anniversary with lobster rolls in Portland, ME.  We went to the Hill Cumorah pageant in upstate New York, an event I fell asleep ten minutes into, and woke up right as people were taking their bows.* My brother got married in October, so I was able to return to the Utah mountains for a bit.  I watched two friends get married in New Jersey.  I witnessed the opulence of titans in Newport, Rhode Island. I spent a ton of time in New York City: a May getaway with the Cowan women, a July move-in with newly-minted East Coaster Mary, BFFF weekend in October, Thanksgiving and assorted visits with the NYC McCarreys. I went from hating New York City to appreciating it, and I actually will miss being so close.  The street art, the constant clash of culture, those tasty Prosperity Dumplings.  I couldn't live there, but I'm back to loving a visit now and then. And there was that whole cross country drive back to Seattle, where I hit Virgina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, etc., etc.
The cutting table at Coolidge.
  • Got to hang out in the projection booth at Coolidge Corner Theatre, and even climbed on the outside of the building to reach the upper booth.  This was all done for a piece on film projection versus digital.  It was the first story I actually enjoyed working on, and inspiration from that experience fueled me through another nine months of school.
  • Won my Oscars pool, beating Taylor by one category.
  • Spent a party sitting on a piano bench with Amy O'Leary, plucking out Beatles tunes and singing to those basic chords.
  • Ate falafel.  And cannoli.  And bagels.  And a cronut.  And ramen.  And nachos.  And far too much McDonalds (their baby cheeseburger are delicious, and everyone knows that nothing beats a McFlurry).  And tacos in a vampire dungeon that offered pop rock cotton candy with the check.
  • Made challah.
  • Communed with my spirit sister, Isabella Stewart Gardner, at her wonderful museum.  
  • Said goodbye to my first car, and to my treasured Seve vs. Evan sticker on it's back window.
  • Watched fireworks over the Charles River and listened to Keith Lockhart conduct the Boston Pops. Subsequently got caught in a wall of water while masses fled from the rainstorm that directly followed the firework display.
  • Hiked the "mountains" in New Hampshire.  I mean, they were cute and all, but mountains?  Kind of a stretch.
  • Taught journalism to a bunch of high schoolers, and remembered how much I enjoy teaching.  Even when the kids are little turds, as they always are.  This also helped me find an ideal schedule of morning teaching, afternoon writing/adventure.  
  • Kayaked down the Charles River.
  • Went to two killer concerts. Kishi Bashi, who put on a high energy show full of dancing and awesomeness.  And Queens of the Stone Age, where I was about ten feet away from Josh Homme and I died and fainted and head-banged to my little heart's content.
  • Wrote film reviews for the Daily Free Press.  This was the best job I've ever had, and the only one that never bored me.
  • Spent a week as a beach bum.  I didn't really understand the appeal of New England until I sat in the softest sand near warm blue water.
Wingaersheek Beach
  • Had some lovely visitors (Lauren! Leo! Shannon and Lori!) and spent time with lovely locals.  The friend scene in Boston was a slow boil.  My first few months were lonely.  By the end I had a whole slew of people that I cherish, and who I severely miss.  You can say a lot of things about Boston, but you can't say that there's a dearth of interesting people.  Those I were lucky enough to associate with differed in age, vocation, interests, but they were all absolutely scintillating.  I was constantly learning new things, and I'm grateful for the tribe I found.

2014 was a year of growth.  And with all growing pains, it stretched me in uncomfortable ways, ways that made me weep at the sudden spurts of advancement forced on me.  I was dragged into a sense of self, and came out the other side sadder, wiser, and a whole lot more sure of myself.  This is the year I decided I don't care what other people think.  It's the year I learned what I want.  It's the year I pushed myself to my limits, striving for the best writing and work I could offer.

I hope that 2015 is the year of settling.  

Settling has such negative connotation.  You settled for a significant other that didn't challenge you.  You settle for the job that sounds easier.  To be settled is to be set in ways, to be boring.  To be settled is to lose momentum and sink into the earth.

But for this moment in life, nothing sounds more appealing than being settled.  Taylor and I just moved to Seattle, a place and community that's comfortable and familiar and full of potential longevity.  I want to find a job that lasts more than a year, where I can join a united force working towards a greater goal.  I want unpack my books and scatter them around an apartment, somewhere they can nestle into, where dust has time to gather on their spines.  I want furniture that sits long enough to leave divots in the carpet.  I want to befriend others without a ticking clock on our association.  I want to plant my feet into the ground and sprout roots, to start building something that can last.

I want to wriggle around in 2015, to become entrenched in the life of Cat McCarrey.  I'm OK with settling in for a while.  It's time for me to breath.  To stand straighter.  To see what life looks like beyond the grad school blinders, and what those new skills will create.

* I highly recommend that viewing experienceit's really the only way to see something as cringeworthy as the Hill Cumorah pageant.  

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