It Finally Feels Like a New Year

Today it feels like the new year has finally begun. Yesterday we shook off the last traces of obligation to 2020, and now I am free to move forward into making this year different. Much of this feeling comes from the presidential inauguration yesterday. I have a sense of profound relief that Trump has been rendered irrelevant instead of being a hazard that I had to keep track of. The first moves of the incoming administration have been focused on increasing access (the white house website is available in Spanish again,) setting expectations for behavior (telling the attorney general’s office they work for the people, not the president. Telling staff that they’re expected to be polite and respectful or be fired,) and setting plans into motion to manage vaccine administration for the ongoing pandemic. For the first time in four years, I am pleased with the direction my government is aiming. I expect that I will not always be pleased in the four years that are coming. To paraphrase a quote I saw on twitter: I am looking forward to being frustrated and disappointed by my government instead of being horrified and mortified by it.

Yet the shift in governance isn’t the only source for my new year feeling. My youngest son passed his final GED exam. None of my kids are in school anymore. Instead of finishing up this final necessary thing, we can look forward to what we want to come next. Unfortunately for him, the very next thing is getting his wisdom teeth removed. But after that, he can look around at options and decide what he wants his life to be. We have a list of short term projects: learning some video editing so that he can be a better-paid skilled assistant for our family business, learning about computer components so that he can build a new machine for himself, continuing driving practice to get his license. Medium term might include getting a out-of-the-house job once warm weather and vaccinations reduce pandemic risks. Long term, no one knows. That’s all fuzzy with too many variables to decipher. We don’t need to try to bring it into focus for now.

It is really nice to see my two youngest starting to grow and plan their lives. I don’t think it is a coincidence that most of the growth started happening in early November, right after the election demonstrated that maybe the world wasn’t completely doomed. I’m excited that they’re in an emotional state where I can start teaching them real-world assistant skills that could translate to jobs where their mom is not their employer. Because I can teach them these skills, more things become possible for me. I’m able to teach classes and host online social events because I know I’ll have help.

A third thing that is making the year feel new, is that I gave the final approval to print on the Big Dumb Objects book project. This book has been something of an albatross for almost two years. We had to scrap and re-do the bonus story twice. The Kickstarter for it was delayed by the massive expenses and disruption of our 2019 plumbing disaster and related home renovations. Then fulfilling the Kickstarter was disrupted by Howard’s health crashing and the pandemic. Slowly we managed to find our footing. Now the book is done. The next time we have to think about it will be when the shipments of books arrive and I need to mail several thousand packages. That is familiar work for which I’ll have two skilled assistants.

I taught a class and it worked. I finished a draft for a personally impactful essay. I’ve got a short story in process. I’ve got a research projects to find agents who rep middle grade and picture books. I’ve got plans for building community and connecting with other creatives. I’ve set myself some creative goals. I’ve even told myself firmly that I need to settle into these new obligations before saying yes to any other things I decide I want to do.

The year feels new, and that means it is time to get to work.