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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...


A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> identity work

I’m sitting on the couch of a rented house, looking out over the gray and foggy ocean out here in Stinson Beach. I’m here with my extended family on our annual holiday vacation, and I’ve finally found a moment of calm in the midst of the competing demands on my attention to sit down at the computer and start my ritual of year’s-end reflection.

So what was 2011 like? Well, just like every year, it was a continuation of many of the previous year’s patterns and issues, mixed up with some new influences starting up and some new patterns which began to coalesce and become clearer as the year ripened. If forced to summarize (which is kinda the point of this type of blog entry), I would say that this past year was the Year of Becoming. I started out the year feeling like I’d been doing a lot of wrestling with mid-life crisis and identity issues, and I was getting more optimistic and clearer about where things might be going, but I still wasn’t feeling totally crystal. And now, at the end of 2011, surprise! I’m still not totally crystal (are we ever?), but things are feeling more solid now—or at least, less like a crossroads and more like the next leg of the journey.

There’s been a lot of identity work and a lot of happiness work this year, epitomized by a lot of processing changes in career and desired direction(s) for how I spend my days. At the beginning of 2011, we were dealing with the scale-back of Archer Web Solutions; here at the end of 2011, we’ve just finally closed it down for good. I’ve retained a handful of clients for whom I’ll still do occasional web site maintenance or consulting work, but as an individual freelancer rather than as a business. Josh has pulled out completely (though thankfully he’ll always be a resource for me to help troubleshoot when and if I need it) and is looking ahead to his next venture, Iocari Games. With AWS finally about to be in our rear-view mirror, I feel like I’m finally beginning to get some perspective on how the four years or so of effort, activity and meaning that our business represented fit into my overall life story arc. I’m grateful for all the lessons that our business taught me and for the epiphanies I gleaned from our challenges and triumphs, and I’m just now, finally, finding myself able to unclench and let those four years and all that effort go now, and look back on all of it with more compassion and appreciation than regret or anxiety. (This sounds like it should have been a pretty easy or obvious process, but like many life lessons, it only seems easy or clear in hindsight.)

Celebrating Hanukkah in the Middle of Christmas

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , life , Jewish , identity work

(Yes, Parentheticals has been distracted by the holidays. But I’ve been *thinking* about blogging, doesn’t that count? Yeah. I know. I didn’t really think so.)

Anyway, today’s seasonally appropriate topic comes out of various experiences I’ve had over the last month with feeling especially aware of my Jewishness—and therefore, my outsider-ness—in the midst of a Christian-centered culture. It always comes up this time of year, when no matter what your beliefs about or relationship with Christ, the Christmas season is an inescapable cultural force. Most of the time I just go along with the inescapable force, and try to enjoy the ride from a tourist’s perspective (“look at the quaint local customs! Isn’t that pretty/heartwarming/fun? I can relate to that.”) I find my own comfort in the repetition of the seasonal decorations and activities, the familiar smells and sounds and tastes. Most (if not all) of these really have nothing to do with Christ or his birth, and I can enjoy them aesthetically without feeling attached to them, the same way I enjoy, say, a Taiko drum performance or Thai food.

But there are also times during the Christmas season where I am forcibly reminded that I am different, that my family is different—that as fun as all this holiday fuss can be, it is not *our* holiday, and no matter whether we join in the reindeer games or not, we are always on the outside. It’s not that I feel discriminated against, or repressed in any way—far from it, I’m always very grateful and appreciative of the way that in this place, at this time in history, I am generally free to believe what I want, worship how I choose, and observe the holidays I want to without fear of repercussion or repression. There’s something going on though, that’s more subtle, that I want to note and put out there.

I recently found out that a big hairy audacious dream of mine just moved one huge important step farther towards reality: my novel Ice Will Reveal has been accepted for publication by Hadley Rille Books, with a tentative publishing date of early 2013. I am, how can I put this...oh hell, why not: verklempt. It’s actually kind of hard to describe exactly what it feels like, but I kind of want to, which is why it’s taken me a week to actually blog the good news. I know...metaphors to the rescue! Ok, then: my feelings about finally becoming a published author are a spicy, complex goulash: there’s a good solid base of lots of “squee! I’m gonna be a REAL author!” type excitement, of course, and a decent amount of pride; but also a good splash of anxiety (will anyone buy my book? will anyone like it? will anyone even read it?) and a generous dollop of trepidation around all the new things I’ll have to learn (marketing, self-promotion, blablabla). Spicing it up further are a sprinkle of validation and relief that the next phase of this long journey has finally been achieved, mixed with a pinch of amazement and a bit of self-chastisement at how long the process has taken so far and how much longer it will yet take before the book is printed and in a bookstore or library (or someone’s e-reader). And I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there’s also a zest there of nervousness about going the independent small press route instead of continuing to try to break down the doors (or glass ceilings, or whatever) of the big publishing houses.

But enough about goulash, let’s switch metaphors, shall we? (It’s my blog, I can do what I want to!) It’s been such a long and winding road to get to this critical juncture of “yay, someone wants to publish the novel I wrote”, and it feels important to take a look backwards and see how I got from “writer” to “author”. So let me lay out some of the journey, both as a hopefully useful reminder for myself and in the vague hope that perhaps it might be useful to other people for whom this kind of project doesn’t go quickly or easily either. (I know I suffered at first, and still do in my more gloomy moments, from the “I must not be very good at this if it’s so hard and it takes so long” syndrome. It’s a sucky syndrome. Try to avoid it.)

Ice Will Reveal (which used to be called something else entirely until it was pointed out to me that I’d unintentionally used a double entendre as my title—doh!) is my first novel-length work. In fact it’s so long, it’s practically two novels, but that’s a whole other blog post. It’s my newbie novel, my MFA equivalent: it’s the project with which I learned how to elevate my craft from “unconsciously incompetent with the occasional flash of competence” to “conscious incompetence with slightly more frequent flashes of competence”. I started writing it sometime around the end of 2003, triggered by a series of entertaining emails back and forth with a friend of mine where we each recounted the ever more epically heroic and over-embellished achievements of our individual characters from a D&D game we were playing (yes, yes, I’m THAT kind of geek...but in all fairness I can say that this novel bears only the very smallest resemblance to either D&D or to that long-ago game). At that stage in my life, I had a fairly absorbing day job as a Licensing Manager for a calendar company and was the mother of a young preschooler. I didn’t write very often or very much at a time, but I was determined to try to produce a longer piece of work. I had always been interested in and good at writing (in fact, I started out as a Creative Writing major in college before getting wildly distracted by academia for oh, roughly a decade), but I’d never written anything as big as a novel before (though I’d read a half a zillion of them already.) In what I used to sarcastically refer to as “my copious spare time”, I started reading books about writing and participating in online critique groups. Eventually I found myself some in-person writing buddies too, all of which helped a lot.

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