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closing a chapter

Oh hello there!  I haven't forgotten about this online journaling stuff.  In fact, I'm finally getting to the point where I'm ready to start anew.

But for now, I'm just poking my head up on Livejournal to share some news -- I'm stepping down as an editor of Strange Horizons.  

Even though I've been coming to this decision for a while, I find myself really emotional about announcing it now.  Working at Strange Horizons has been an extraordinary, life-changing experience, and a huge part of my world for a very long time.  It's time for me to move on, but I'm still wistful about closing that chapter of my life, and I will miss it dearly.  To all of you who've been a part of that, as readers and writers, I thank you with all my heart.  Let's forge onward and create new wondrous things.

also, cake makes everything better

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishing comments!  Made me feel all warm and squiggly.  This whole "letting people know it's your birthday" thing is an excellent idea.  I don't know why it never occurred to me before.

And yes, I actually celebrated the occasion this year.  I wrote up a list of a couple dozen people to invite over for a birthday bash, began by calling my three closest women friends in town, then realized I was done: those three were the people I wanted to spend the evening with.  So I had a small, intimate kind of bday party, with candles and wine and laughing and talking late into the night.

birthday crown

They made me a shiny birthday crown!  (Illuminated herein to show full magical effect.)  I wore it all night and woke up with a pict-y blue forehead in the morning.

I don't really have a group of friends.   I'm not a posse person.  I like the idea of someone saying "Hey it's Saturday night, let's get the gang together!" where, in this scenario, I am part of The Gang and can rely on being included in all gang-related activities.  That sounds like a great life in theory.  In reality, I know I'm not wired for it, and get uncomfortable in crowds.  What comes naturally for me is to move among lots of different social circles without fully belonging to any of them, and get to know a few people individually, one on one. 

Because of this, I've ended up with a wide variety of friends scattered all over the place, hardly any of whom know each other.  (The exception is in the SF writerly field, where eventually everyone knows everyone, largely thanks to the aggregated clusterfuck of conventions.)  To be honest, I can't imagine some of my friends in the same room; they have such diverse styles and interests and seem to inhabit different worlds.  That makes them all the more interesting to me, but previous attempts at mix-n-matching my social circles have made clear that sometimes, it just doesn't take.

So this was an experiment, putting the four of us together.  But it wasn't long before they dispensed with polite conversation, and went straight to trading hilarious and devastating life stories.  It's beautiful to witness your friends in this new light, to listen as they sift their messy raw experience and frame it within a narrative of chosen meaning.  To see how they've mined and polished, from the dark passages of their past, these glowing gems.  I love the strength in that act, the artistry.  So much humor and toughness and grace.  I know some awesome women.

Of course, Madison being the cosy li'l town it is, turns out their lives were already intertwined all over the place even though they hadn't met before.  And they will surely bump into each other again, but I hope in the future they'll meet as friends, because for one night, they were part of my mini girl-gang.  It was a very good birthday.

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turn

The Earth spins around the sun; that's real. But the date we celebrate as the beginning of the cycle is pretty arbitrary. In the Gregorian calendar, a new year begins on January 1st. In the Hebrew calendar, the Jewish New Year, a holiday I love, begins sometime in the fall. Chinese New Year, a gazillion other New Years, fall on different dates. There's nothing innately special about January first. We just decide to think of it as a moment of renewal.

And that's what makes it interesting. The magic isn't coming from some celestial notch marked in the Earth's orbit, where if you accidentally miss the spot, you have to idle in neutral for another twelve months until it comes around again and you get your chance to start fresh. Any point along that orbital circuit can be seen as the first day of a yearly cycle. The magic is in us, in our power to see life as having new beginnings, opportunities for change and improvement. I'm pretty sure that choosing to believe (and acting on the belief) makes it so.

I went to bed last night with a sore hip and woke up in pain today. My body did not miraculously heal overnight to start the year off fresh. My bad habits weren't erased, my flaws didn't disappear, my complicated relationships didn't untangle into immaculate beginnings, my slate is not wiped clean. Today isn't really a "first day" for any ongoing stuff; it's the day after yesterday. I carry with me all my history: everything leads up to this day. And it's just like any other day.

Like any other day. That's kind of exciting, though, isn't it? Any day can begin a new year. Any day can be the start of change, the chance to take a first step on a new path. Why not this one?

I have lots of resolutions for the months to come, ranging from lofty to mundane. Practical plans and idealistic dreams, sometimes both at once. Bringing the best of myself to everything I do, turning potential to kinetic. Starting my own business, getting that big writing project done. Going on adventures, exploring more of the world. Finding better ways to stir parenthood into the rest of my life. Grace. Strength. Kindness. Reducing my credit card debt.

Right now many things seem possible; we'll see how it goes. 2006 for me has been a year of revolution and standstill, triumphs and frustrations, beauty and loss, delight and sadness. I can't expect the universe to hand me nothing but frosted cupcakes in 2007, but whatever life chucks at me, I hope I can navigate a path through it all that will allow me to look back, a year from now, and say I did well. And along the way, I intend to have a damn good time.

Resolved. Happy new year to you all, and happy travels.

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