vintagewitch: (UP Coast Perhaps)
 I've been meaning to write a sort-of retrospective on the year since my birthday, and haven't gotten around to it because summer is Crazy. (I'm 27, y'all, when did that happen?!)

I spent all last weekend at or traveling to the Remember the Kalamazoo event. Five years ago in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, the largest inland oil spill in US History happened, and because it was tar sands oil it sank to the bottom of the river, where it still sits. In order to get it out of the river, they need to dredge it, and even that isn't working.

So it was a weekend of sitting with allies in Michigan as they remember what was once here, fight to stop the pipelines and to stop this from happening again, and looking forward to a future. We also took a toxic tour of the BP-Whiting refinery on our way home, led by the only activist in the small company town. It was horrific - to see what refinery communities have to deal with, have to live with. I stepped off the bus and could barely breathe because of the particulate matter in the air. There's an oil spill that's been sitting there for basically five years, with no real clean-up efforts because it's on industrial land. 

The whole experience was chilling. Some might even say Orwellian.

But that all deserves its own post!

There's an all-day climate change solutions visioning workshop today that I RSVPd for when I got back from Kalamazoo, but now that I've gone through a week of intense stress about grad school logistics, I'm feeling like I really just need to have a quiet morning with my coffee, my computer, my notebooks, and my plans. I feel more like reflecting, and then getting a ton of job applications done, some of my commissioned research, and maybe even writing.

Great Things About This Last Year:
  • Took a couple of great vacations with Matt - to the UP, and again to Lutsen Lodge
  • Applied to and got in to grad school
  • Deepened some friendships, let go of one particularly toxic friendship
  • Quit the horrible, soul-sucking job back in January
  • Was extremely productive with my writing - I am >thisclose< to finishing my first novel!
  • Got much more involved in environmental activism again - finding my place in the movement, after I was forced out by my previous job
  • Committed in a new way to my spiritual practice, with rituals almost every month. It feels like I'm really taking charge of life through spirituality.
  • Got commissioned to work on a huge march, which was really gratifying - yes, I have worth and am offering something to the movement.
  • Found out about Dreamwidth! This has been fantastic - and has also kicked my butt to journal a whole lot more.
  • I've seen some GREAT music live this year.
  • Women's weekend was fantastic - spending time with family was definitely a priority last year.
  • Figuring out that I need to cut dairy out of my life, and committing to being a healthier person physically, mentally, and emotionally. This has become more of a constant in my life, and I'm so thankful for that.
Challenges From This Last Year (OR: Why I'm a Much Stronger Person Now):
  • The parts of this year when I was working at Horrible Job were horrible. Dealing with constant ageist microaggressions, trying to change my boss' racist ways, feeling completely controlled and helpless, trying to work toward justice with people I was organizing with but being undermined by my boss and my organization's goals ... all bad news that meant almost daily anxiety attacks. That was hard, y'all.
  • It was really, really hard to break up with my old friend, but it had to be done. I'm still feeling really emotional about this in some ways, but it's getting easier.
  • This year, Matt and I went through a streak of being either apart or having tension in our relationship for 5 months. I think we've rounded the bend, have had some deep and open conversation, and things feel like they're finally coming back to a normal place.
  • MONEY. I had saved enough to cover a couple of months before I quit the job, but finding money and making ends meet has been a near-constant problem.
  • Depression has reared its ugly head, but I continue to work through it.
Looking FORWARD: The Year To Come
  • HOLY SHIT Y'ALL I START GRAD SCHOOL IN A MONTH.
  • Trying to find a balance with grad school and my volunteer work - which, while stressful, really gives me a sense of purpose.
  • Unforeseen opportunities: internships, research assistantships, meeting new people, building my network, all those great things
  • Finishing my novel! And starting the editing process.
  • Continuing my spiritual practice. I'm particularly excited to start in on the Alternative Tarot Course by Beth Maiden.
  • Matt and I are going to try to fit in some awesome backpacking trips! We're probably going to do an overnight this coming week, and will be doing a section of the Superior Hiking Trail. More camping and nature in general!
  • More live music, travel, festivals, play with friends, good times yay!
  • More writing - I want to write more about things like climate change, spirituality, feminism, anti-oppression work, my experiences as a queer woman, etc. Not only that, but I want to write more short stories - I'm not ready to dive into another novel, but I want to keep my chops up
Whew! What a year it's been, what a year it will be! I'm so excited for the things that I don't know about, and I'm so grateful for all the experiences of the last year. I'm a much stronger person now than I was before, and I look forward to this next year.

Thank you, everyone who's had a part in this, and to the Dreamwidth community! You're wonderful, and supportive, and this site has been a truly fantastic discovery.

Peace and love and kindness to all of you!
vintagewitch: (Default)
 I got my classes all sorted out today - and I have to say, I'm pretty thrilled at how my first semester is shaping up.

Here's what's on the docket:

Economics for Policy Analysis 1
Introduction to Financial Analysis
Empirical Analysis (+lab)
Science and Technology Policy

I'm on the wait list for Intro to Policy Analysis. That and Intro to Financial Analysis are both half-semester classes, and the particular session I'm on the waitlist for would start mid-October, and I think I'm number two on the waitlist. Which means that it's actually pretty likely I'll get added to Intro to Policy Analysis, which would be GREAT.

The only thing that isn't nailed down: I would LOVE to pick up another language. I particularly want to learn Spanish (I have regretted not learning Spanish for years), but there aren't any sections of Spanish that are offered when I can take it around my degree courses.

I could always start that up next semester, but languages really aren't my strong suit so it would be best for me to go for as many semesters as possible while I'm a full-time student. I've found it's incredibly difficult to audit classes when I'm working full-time, besides, I don't know where I'll be after grad school is done - I might be moving to another city/state.

The way I see it, I have three options:

Option 1: Audit Spanish next semester
Option 2: Audit a French course this semester
Option 3: Audit a different language (options: Hindi (I've already had one semester ages ago) or Swedish)

Also to keep in mind: I don't yet know how intense grad school will be. Adding language studies on top of a master's that doesn't explicitly require language studies might be Very Bad Thing. But for now, while I feel like I don't have enough going on, I like to entertain possibilities.

This will take some more thought ... 

Reunions

Jul. 7th, 2015 07:37 am
vintagewitch: (coffee and cream)
 Matt's home! He's finally here!

I picked him up at 1:30 in the morning on Saturday, and we stayed up until 4. I had, of course, planned ahead, and taken naps earlier in the evening. But it was this ... instant connection, like we'd never been apart. Then, on Saturday, we spent most of the day lazing around. I got some writing done, he caught up on the Internet (after not having it most of his time away), we went for a hike, went to a barbeque. I love even just lazing around with him - it feels like I've been on vacation.

I was starting to get really worried toward the end of our time apart - nervous that things had changed somehow, or that he was getting fed up with me, or that there was something wrong in our relationship. No, it just turns out that 8 weeks apart is a really long time, especially when your partner doesn't particularly like opening up on the phone.

I'm relieved, and happy to have him back. 

The last couple of days, we've had terrible air quality because of the wildfires in Canada. I think today it's finally starting to clear up. I'm still facebook friends with a professor from college (anthropologist that studies China primarily) who said that our air quality was actually WORSE than Beijing's yesterday. 

That's ... wow.

Writing has been going spectacularly well. I'm actually ahead of my Camp NaNo goals, and the words just keep coming. I've got a trip planned for later in July, so it would be nice to be at least three days ahead before that. Unless, of course, I finish the novel before I hit 30,000 new words - which is looking more and more like a possibility.

Though I have to say, in order to write this much this quickly I'm really swallowing my fear of the editing process. I hit 300 manuscript pages - and immediately after the celebrations, I thought "oh fuuuuuck now I'm gonna have to rewrite over 300 pages".  I am excited to tackle that process, but also ... wow. I've never had to edit anything on this scale before.

Fanfic is interesting - I've been thinking about that a lot. When I was writing fanfic, I definitely didn't plan it out as much as I've planned out this novel, but I meticulously edited it as I go. It was all about getting each chapter up to speed. I suppose, if I had a strict plot outline, I could write this that way too. But I don't trust my original fiction - I'm assuming that everything will change once it's done.

And it has changed a lot over the course of my writing this. 

I have a lot of work ahead of me.
vintagewitch: (UP Coast Perhaps)
It's been a tough week, but at least I get to end it on a high note.

News!

1. I got a part time job as an environmental organizer! It's temporary, planning a large tar sands rally in June. So yay! I will be half time at the accounting firm, and doing 20 hrs/week on organizing stuff. Feels very good!

2. I won tickets to see a show this Saturday at the local jazz club. So yay! That will be a great sendoff for Matt!

This is a very welcome change to the tone of things happening lately. The Baltimore Uprising has been gut wrenching to watch (but good news there too - 6 cops were charged in Freddie Gray's death today). The worst of it is that I know this is an issue black communities have been facing for decades. It's tragic, it's scary. There was a large rally planned for my city on Wednesday, and there were several times I teared up. It was so cathartic to raise a ruckus with like-minded people.

At the same time that this large-scale national mourning is happening, the GOP in my state is gutting most of the policies I care about. They're repealing our carbon reduction goals, investment in renewable energy, cutting one state-run health insurance program, lowering the minimum wage for service industry workers, and in general Fucking Things Up. It's hard to know where to start with citizen activism on some of this stuff - especially when I'm not the constituent of the people doing the Bad Things. I mean, I volunteer with two different environmental organizations, and will call on specific bills, but ... there's just so much crap right now.


I will write a larger post about some of these things, but I've been feeling very inarticulate on them lately. I get choked with emotion. Even more reasons I needed that self care night last night.

So last night's self care looked like ... pretty new nails! I STILL can't figure out how to upload an image (and don't have the patience for that right now), so I'll just link you to the photo.

I also went on a nice long walk with Matt, and then ended up sitting with him on the patio by our building for a good long while. As well as some other quality time things. I think he's been lonely and stressed, so it was nice to spend time together. But now I need some alone time, some reading time, some writing time.

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