Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 was a lot of things for me: It was the longest year of my life, it was the strangest year of my life, it was the most adventurous year of my life, and it was the most important year of my life.

I lived three very different lives in three very different cities. In three [kind of] very different apartments.
Salt Lake City apartment
Boulder Apartment
Los Angeles apartment

I began the year in Salt Lake City, Utah where I was teaching two sections of WRTG2010, taking two seminars, volunteering at Bad Dog Arts, serving as a writing mentor to a junior in high school through the SLCC Community Writing Center, doing yoga, doing spin, occasionally reading fiction for Quarterly West, preparing for the MA exam, and desperately waiting for news of an acceptance into a PhD program. I became friends with one of my students after my class was over and we exchange letters through the mail occasionally ever since he moved to England. I became friends with my therapist, and yes I know this might be frowned upon in some circles, but I don't care. I graduated with my Masters in English the first week of May, packed up my entire apartment, my entire Utah life, and drove to Colorado in what was first the scorching hot desert, and what was eventually the still snowy, gray Rocky Mountains. I arrived at my parents' house in Littleton, Colorado in a rainstorm on May 6, 2012.

I moved to Boulder for the summer and lived in a studio apartment in the attic of a house, which I called Chez SkettiO's. I spent the best summer I could have ever hoped for walking around Boulder, doing yoga almost every day, riding my bike everywhere, reading by the creek, swimming in the creek, tubing down the creek, driving along the creek, skinny dipping in the Ned reservoir, eating at my favorite Boulder restaurants, going to shows at Red Rocks, visiting Littleton, visiting Denver, hanging out with my friends [and their babies!], going on many wonderful dates with my love, having many small adventures, and watching the Perseids meteor shower on a sleeping bag in a small park at 2am with the person I love.

At the end of summer, I packed up Chez SkettiO's and my parents' house and drove to Los Angeles to begin my PhD program in English Literature at the University of Southern California where I am currently a doctoral fellow and where I just completed my first three seminars only a few weeks ago. I spent most of my semester reading, perfecting my apartment, becoming closer with old friends, meeting new friends, eating vegan thai food, going to the beach, going to yoga, taking ten hundred photos, exploring the city, spending time with the retired couple I met on the airplane in September, tutoring at 826la, getting angry at the underground Metro, and going to shows at new venues.

I think I traveled more this year than any other. I returned to SLC from Colorado at the beginning of January. 
My home in Littleton, CO
SLC Downtown library

In February, I went to Chicago for AWP. 

In March I returned to Colorado for 10 days where I went on a secret weekend trip to a fancy hotel in the Rocky Mountains with R and secretly saw Radiohead from the front row with R at the 1st Bank Center.
View from the Cordillera Hotel
Edwards, CO
Waiting all day for Radiohead
From the front row at Radiohead

In April, I took Laird Hunt and some friends to the Spiral Jetty. My second visit to that place that changed my life. This time the jetty was submerged. A ghost jetty. Cold. As disorienting & beautiful as ever.

In May, I moved to Littleton and spent a lot of time going back and forth between Littleton and Denver before moving to Boulder in June.
Near my house in Littleton
Downtown Denver

July was my desert road trip. July 1st - July 18th. Colorado to Moab, Utah where I camped alone for a night in Devil's Garden, then hiked nine miles the next day to Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Double O. Moab to Overton, Nevada where I saw Michael Heizer's land art piece, Double Negative. Overton to Los Angeles, California where I found my perfect apartment and spent the 4th of July in Malibu on the beach. Los Angeles to Flagstaff, Arizona where I stayed in a haunted hotel, took a day trip to the Grand Canyon my first day and a half day trip to Sunset Crater on my second day. Flagstaff to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I saw my friend D. Albuquerque to Marfa, Texas, which quickly became one of my top five favorite places in the world. I stayed in a tiny pink trailed at El Cosmico called Little Pinkie, I took a tour of Chinati, spent way too much money on incredible food, fell in love with my solitude, learned to be at peace with the love in my life, tried but failed to see the Marfa lights, visited the UTexas observatory and saw Saturn through a state of the art telescope, showered outside, bought two beautiful photographs at a gallery opening, and felt more infinite, more at one with everything than I ever thought possible. My three days in Marfa, Texas changed everything. Marfa to Austin, Texas for a last minute detour to see M&R for a few lovely, peaceful days. I drove all the way from Austin to Boulder the day of the 18th. I listened to so much This American Life and Radiolab on that road trip. I probably learned more during all my driving than I've learned in the last 10 years.
Double Negative
Grand Canyon
Sunset Crater
Southern New Mexico
El Cosmico, Marfa

In August, R & I went to San Francisco for a weekend. My first time visiting that city. We stayed in a mansion on Alamo Square Park. 

At the end of August, I went to Cannon Beach, Oregon to see one of my oldest friends get married on the beach. The first of my high school friends to get married. 
And of course he looked like a creamsicle 

At the end of September, I returned to Colorado to see my second high school friend get married only a month later. 
My backyard
Boulder Flatirons

October I returned to Salt Lake City for the first time since I drove away in May, and I cried a LOT, and my heart hurt the entire time I was there, but I learned how much I truly did love that place and those people, and I felt at home in the most indescribable way. 

November was my trip up the Pacific coast on the 1 from Los Angeles to Oakland to see my brother, then Oakland to Davis to see my sister, then Davis to Petaluma to see W&M, then Petaluma to Point Reyes to spend Thanksgiving with my family in our rented house on the water.
North on Highway 1
Point Reyes
Drive back to LA
And December. Colorado. And December. Buenos Aires. My third visit to this city, my Southern Hemisphere home. 
View from my childhood bedroom window in Littleton.
Christmas in Buenos Aires.
Balcony at my Buenos Aires home.

I saw a lot of shows this year: Radiohead, The Shins, Bon Iver, Wilco, all my Denver bands at the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase, Justice, Nathaniel Rateliff, Grizzly Bear, Ben Gibbard & Damien Jurado, The Mountain Goats, and Born in the Flood, my favorite band, who reunited this December after years of having been broken up to play what used to be their annual holiday show.
Underground Music Showcase in Denver.
Born in the Flood. December 21, 2012. The Gothic.

And I went to Sundance Film Festival for the first time and had my mind blown by what has become my favorite movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild. And enjoyed movies almsot every day of the festival. Non stop cine. And I went to some great events like the Working Dog readings in SLC and some Unreasonable Institute events in Boulder and the 5D conference at USC and a couple Mark Z Danielewski readings and CicLAVia and the Trent Reznor & David Byrne talk, and the LA showing of Chasing Ice.
CicLAVia in Los Angeles

I saw almost every single person I've ever known in my whole life this year. My first college roommate from my one semester in New York City. Almost everyone I knew in high school. Almost everyone I was friends with in college. All my SLC people. All my AWP people. Most of my family. 
Me and my first college roommate, Theresa. 

I got my first tattoos. I got my nose pierced. Barack Obama was reelected President. I redid my childhood bedroom, which had never been altered in the 21 years since we built the house. I drove approximated 7,000 miles. R moved to Berlin. My brother moved to Africa. Then to a lighthouse north of the Arctic Circle. Then to Oakland, California. Something I wrote got published. A couple of my photos ended up on the cover of Quarterly West. I was given a generous fellowship to attend school in the city I've been dreaming of for five years. I joined an awesome professional organization called HASTAC. I grew up. Really. Until this year, I never felt like a real adult. But something changed in the past few months, and I am not the little girl I was when I said goodbye to this hostel last June. 
My tattoos, done by my friend Brad
My new room in my old childhood house

This year was also a struggle. Waiting to hear from PhD programs was torture. Living in SLC was getting more and more difficult all the time, until I left of course, at which point not living in SLC was difficult. Turning down a life I knew there for a life I didn't know in LA was a lot harder of a decision than most people think it was. I saw a dead body for the first time, my neighbor who jumped off of the roof of my apartment building and killed himself in the parking lot. I said goodbye to my second home in Colorado, the house of my best friends. I lost one of my last connections to my adolescence just recently to our changing attitudes and perspectives. And I lost Jake. My professor. My mentor. My friend. My inspiration. My motivation always, since I was 17, to be smarter, stronger, better in every way. We had drinks a couple different times this year, and I am beyond grateful for all the advice and support he was able to give me in just those two visits. We were supposed to have a third meeting the day after he died two weeks ago. Two weeks ago yesterday. So though this year has been amazing and life changing, it has ended on a difficult note, and has left me searching for answers every day since Jake passed. But that's not all bad. There are things I'm learning. Things about my grieving process. Things about what I truly value in life. Things about who I truly value in life. Last night, right as this last day of the year began, I arrived back at my hostel, took a quick shower to wash off the sweat of my first tango class, then walked up to the roof of the hostel and watched the stars like I've always done when I've come here. But for the first time, I saw Orion in the Southern Hemisphere. Orion. My guardian. Upside down. I laughed at how different he looks from this angle. I whispered "thank you" to him, my protector, grateful that my last days of 2012 are spent here, in this warm, incredible city, just far enough from my life that I can try and tie all these pieces together. All these months of travel and change and love and loss. 

I will begin 2013 in my favorite neighborhood in Buenos Aires: Puerto Madero. I will begin 2013 with a 20 hour bus ride to Brazil, a place I've never been. I will begin the first month of this new year by attending memorials for the person I lost. I will begin 2013 more motivated than ever before to be what I know I am. Smart. Talented. Driven. Loving. And forever adventurous.