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Friday, January 6, 2012

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

2011 will go down in my personal analogs of time as a year of tremendously exhilarating highs and brutally soul-crushing lows.
Since I’m a Bad-News-First Kinda Girl, I’ll start with that.  2011 was a bad year for me financially.  The state of the economy had me in a funk the majority of the year.  Just about everything from produce to cleaning products, and gasoline to tuition cost me more than ever last year, while my primary job’s salary stayed the same (for another year) and my second job doing real estate title work brought in fewer dollars than in past years.  Throw in an ex-husband (or two) embarrassingly behind on child support and the task of balancing my checking account had me just about ready to join that bunch occupying everything from Wall Street to Christmas. 
I recently heard on a news broadcast that according to some economic study the recession “has hit workers under 35 the hardest.”  “Really?” I wanted to scream at the blonde anchorwoman, eyebrows tweezed to within an inch of her life.  “How many millions of tax dollars did it cost for that little tidbit?   I coulda told Washington that crap for FREE!”  I knew things were getting to their worst for me financially when my budget finally forced me to begin cutting the ever-so-small metallic tubes that my favorite wrinkle reducer comes in just to get to the itty-bitty bit that hides in the corners before buying a new tube.  This is around about the time I started planning my own personal Occupy Wal-Mart movement to demand that the happy little smiley face they like to bounce across the screen in their commercials go on a price-slashing spree in the skin care products isle.  I MUST have my L’Oreal Revitalift, ya’ll!  Lots of it!  And I need it at less than $19.97 per tube or Princess can’t have another 4 packs of Tinker Bell underwear.
I’ve made my 20th annual New Year’s resolution to lose weight and this is a feat I cannot even begin to undertake without my Revitalift!  L’Oreal and these fifty extra pounds I’m hauling around are the only things keeping my face from resembling a cross country road map.  My mother has refused to lose weight for years for this same reason.  You may have heard the expression “Black Don’t Crack” based on what appears to be the fact that African Americans age more gracefully than their pigment-challenged counterparts.  Well, Huns, Fat Don’t Crack Either is alls I’m sayin’—at least not with a good slathering of moisturizer and wrinkle cream twice daily.
I complain about my financial woes only half-heartedly.  I know there are people in the world facing bigger problems and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
The true low-point in my year was the death of my beloved grandmother Rosa Lee Clark the day before Thanksgiving.  Mamaw, as we called her, was diagnosed with lung cancer in mid-October and lived only a month and six days more.  She suffered terribly in the end and it was the most difficult experience those of us at her bedside those last few weeks will hopefully ever endure.  She was one in a million and I cannot believe even today that she is gone.  I spent a great deal of time with her as a child, lived with her on and off most of my teen years and was her next door neighbor for the last ten years.  It breaks my heart to go out onto my porch and look down at her house at the bottom of the hill and know that she isn’t in it snug in her recliner under a soft blanket, watching FOX news and cussing every democrat since FDR.  I miss her with an ache like I’ve never known.  I doubt if I’ll ever know someone as funny and with as much spunk as she.
I haven’t written anything besides her eulogy, a couple of very short writing exercises and two blog entries since her death.  I feel like all the creativity inside of me has been stubbed out somehow.  I don’t believe this feeling will last forever, but it is proving difficult to shake.
Now on to the Good News:  2011 was a great year for me as a writer.  I started this blog, attended the Alabama Writers’ Conclave Conference where I received praise and encouragement from many great writers including Alabama’s Poet Laureate Sue Brannan Walker, joined a local Aspiring Writers group, started a second novel, and won 1st Prize in the R.U.M. Fiction Awards.
Attending the AWC conference and fiction awards were more fun than going to Prom!  I was a giggling giddy mess with more excited energy than Dave Chappelle's Tyrone Biggums at a crack party for days afterwards both times.  Accepting First Prize and reading an excerpt from my *ahem* award winning work at the fiction awards takes the cake for my Best Moment of 2011.  It cannot possibly be more satisfying to win a Grammy or Academy Award.  Well, maybe, since those events allow the winner to make an acceptance speech.  There wasn’t even the slightest chance the R.U.M. announcer/presenter was going to yield the podium for me to thank all the little people that had made my success possible.  He just smiled a big smile and presented me with the award check and the promise of a shiny plaque available for pick-up “sometime around mid-January” and shooed me back over to my seat in front of the Ritz cracker and cheese slice snack tray.  But, oh, it was a GREAT night and I was happy to share it with my aunt and BIGGEST fan Gwen, aka Aunt Bunny, aka GDR, aka The Hammer.  (I have a lot of names for Bun and enjoy aggravating her with them immensely.)  Her “Whoo, whoo, whoo!” and fist pumping from her seat did me proud!
So that’s my best and worst moments from 2011.  I hope all those Ancient Mayans prove to be wrong and 2012 is a better year for all of us.  How was your year?  Have you made any resolutions that you hope will make 2012 your best year yet?  I’d love to hear all about it.