“And so this is Christmas/ And what have you done?/ Another year over/ Another just begun….”
A few years ago I read American Emperor, a biography of Aaron Burr. This was well after I knew that I didn’t like Alexander Hamilton but well before I knew that the musical Hamilton was going to consume my life. From that book:
“Now, how much wiser or better are we than this time last year? Have our enjoyments for that period been worth the trouble of living?” -Aaron Burr
I think of this quote at the end of every year. Have my enjoyments been worth the trouble of living this year? Last year’s end of the year wrap up contained this phrase: “I didn’t so much fall this year as saunter vaguely downwards.” Well, this year I feel I can answer Aaron with a resounding, “Yes.” It was not a “good” year, but it was an important year.
What have I done this year? Well, let’s start with some statistics.
5 shows—The Importance of Being Earnest, Mary Poppins, When I Grow Up (revue), Rumors, and The Drowsy Chaperone
78 books read (and I anticipate finishing two more by year's end)
10 states visited (although Washington DC isn’t actually a state)
10 roommates (and three unofficial ones)
4 dating site accounts
3 times seeing Inside Out in theatres
2 Comic Cons (6 celebrities met)
And a partridge in a pear tree.......
Some other favorite things this year:
TV: JESSICA JONES
Movie: Inside Out and The Force Awakens were very different movies, and I’m in love with both of them.
Music: I discovered Passenger; All the Little Lights may be the most perfect album I’ve ever heard. Fall Out Boy’s American Beauty/American Psycho album helped me survive the summer, though.
Single: Although Adele’s “Hello” is the obvious choice, I never get tired of making “Uptown Funk” jokes.
But beyond lists, what happened this year? I spent the first five months falling in love, and the next five trying to get over a devastating breakup. Don’t fall in love, kids. Fall off a bridge, it hurts less. But here’s the thing: I spent those first five months telling myself not to screw it up, because a breakup would break me. Lo and behold, I’m still here. Fight me.
Friends, I know I’ve talked about my breakup a lot this year. I’m sorry. All I can say is it was the most painful motivation to grow I’ve ever had. But I did grow. This summer I could feel myself becoming a better person. My mom always says, “There’s no growth in a comfort zone and there’s no comfort in a growth zone.” Dating is now less intimidating. I mean, I already met the man of my dreams, and he went from asking me my ring size to ripping my heart out over the phone and shredding it. What are you going to do to me? Haha. (Sometimes my paragraphs have the intention of optimism and end up careening into black humor. It’s chill.)
Anyway, after the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad break up, I was buoyed up by the strong female friendships in my life. Sometimes I take those for granted, but I hope not to make that mistake often. The ladies in my life always keep me smiling.
Another group that makes it easy to smile is my theatre community. The Importance of Being Earnest let me play my favorite ever role, Cecily Cardew. Wearing a pretty dress (and corset) while brandishing both a diary and the wordplay of Oscar Wilde is what I want to do every day. That cast gave me life (and an excuse to use my beloved British accent). I still want to talk about it forever.
Mary Poppins was a massive production; I haven’t been in a cast that large for years. Huddling under blankets in our outdoor backstage area, checking my phone for texts from the outside world, and praying that I’d remember the reprisal dance of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” became the norm. We sold out several nights, and I acquired five theatre wives.
When I Grow Up was a life saver for me, as the invitation to join came directly after my breakup. I needed to be out of the house working on something, and a revue fit the bill. Rumors was my other non-musical show this year, which was going on at the same time as the revue. It’s a Neil Simon farce with a cast of ten, and we put the whole thing together in ten days. Our last rehearsal ran till midnight in a rehearsal space that wasn’t where we were performing. Laughter and panic abounded—less than two weeks ago we’d done our first read through. Playing Chris was such a blast. Smoking a fake cigarette stressed me out more than it should; I just couldn't make it look natural! But these ten days were some of my favorites of the summer.
The Drowsy Chaperone finished up my year, performance wise, and with my decision to start school again means that I won’t be onstage for a long, long time. L L L It was a fantastic note to go out on, though. What a cast! I loved singing, dancing, and telling groaner jokes with these people three times a week. I explored my gangster side for Olga Moloscovitz and her “Toledo Surprise,” as well as dressing as a monkey and a 1920s stereotype of the Chinese culture. I joined the Prime Numbers gang and introduced a new cast to my obsessive pacing. It was a good time, is what I’m saying.
This year was huge for me in terms of spiritual growth. I feel like I’ve talked extensively about that too; it’s been at the forefront of my mind. Last January I wasn’t attending church regularly, wasn’t sure that I was going to stick around, and felt weighed down by the guilt of my life. The week of my breakup, I started reading the Book of Mormon consistently for the first time in way too long. Almost immediately I felt like a different person. It was the most dramatic personal change I have ever felt.
On December 16, I received my endowment in the Washington DC temple, a major milestone in my life. I remember walking through Temple Square one day a few years ago, touching the temple, and promising myself that I would go inside one day. Achieving goals feels good. I am grateful to bishop for talking me through the steps that would lead me to the temple, to my friends for supporting me no matter where I was, and to my family for believing in me. Most of all, I am thankful to Jesus Christ, whose grace is indeed sufficient.
Last year, I feel like my unspoken goal was to get away with as much as possible, and I made some pretty stupid life choices. This year, my heart changed. I still have a long way to go, but I want to be good. I want to live up to my potential. I don’t want to squander my youth.
On that same note, I registered for classes at Salt Lake Community College. I won’t lie to you, I’m scared to go back to school. I’ve always worked hard to educate myself, whether I’m in classes or not, but science is my Achilles heel, and science is what I have to take. Wish me luck. The goal is to meet my science requirements in the next two semesters, and then focus on the fun classes: history.
Speaking of history, this year saw me visiting places I’ve been dreaming of for years. Talk to me about it and I guarantee I’ll start yelling about how much I love history. I stood barefoot on a Civil War battlefield. I’ve seen an original portrait of George Washington that used to be displayed in Mount Vernon. I splashed around in it Atlantic Ocean. Washington DC stole my heart from the first moment, and I honestly want to move there. I have to see more Revolutionary War history. HAVE TO. The small taste that I was given of making it personal, not just words on a page, was intoxicating. Living on the east coast is my new dream. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have a plan to make it happen.
I also made a second trek to Orlando, home of the Wizard World of Harry Potter. I wouldn’t ever live in Florida, but staying for a week is a joy. Hogwarts is home. I already promised to take my two littlest siblings back when they’re tall enough for all the rides.
In terms of books I read this year: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Without You There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, and Four Seasons in Rome: Twins, Insomnia, and the World’s Largest Funeral were standouts. You may think that one of these is not like the other, and you’d be right. But although Four Season wasn’t as serious, it was fantastic; I highly recommend it. Anthony Doerr’s prose is delicious. (A more in depth post about the books I read this year will be published soon.)
We finally got a new Star Wars movie; I think they rocked it. Rey is my queen and I have a regrettable crush on Kylo Ren. (Please, please, please read all the tweets by @KyloR3N – Emo Kylo Ren gives me life.)
More Star Wars news: THIS YEAR I MET CARRIE FISHER. PRINCESS LEIA TOUCHED MY FACE. I also met Sean Astin, James and Oliver Phelps, Tom Felton (who I’m in love with), and Felicia Day (ditto). Much fangirling ensued.
Thanks for sharing 2015 with me. I am so thankful for all the friendships and support that I’ve been lucky enough to have this year. I admit that I get an ominous feeling when I think about 2016. This year was such a Personal Growth one, and I get the feeling that next year will continue the pattern. Giving my free time to school instead of theatre is going to be very difficult for me, emotionally. But a new year is also exciting. Who knows what awaits us around the turn of the calendar? The next chapter is starting. Let’s write a good one.
(One more set of Emo Kyle Ren tweets because they are legitimately perfect.)