Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year In Review

It is December 31st, 2012. Looking back, as we tend to do during this time, I realize it has been quite the year. I'd say this has been one of my better years, but like any cycle of 365 days, it had its ups and downs.

I lost 30+ lbs though the dedicated fervor of kickboxing once or twice a week in South Philly. Sadly, this was the 30 lbs I lost during my stint with fat class which I lost, gained back and ultimately lost. Point is, I'm healthier and much more into fitness than I used to be. I started running at Temple's indoor track. I started running outside, to the art museum steps and along the river. I'm going to call about a new kickboxing/martial arts studio in my work neighborhood to see their rates and if they're too high I'm taking up dance fitness for a month.

I lost a gallbladder and experienced my very first serious surgery in my life. I got to spend 5 days in a hospital and get rid of an organ that had caused me a lot of pain in 2011 into 2012. I've been healthier and happier ever since and my employee discount/insurance made the financial aspect of my stay and surgery a miracle.

I somehow made it through the worst semester in my entire academic life. I had a horrendously tough J School class that made me cry as I went home each night due to the pressure and the assignments and the expectations. While this class destroyed my 4.0 GPA by 8 tenths of a point, I look back and realize that an A- isn't that bad considering I missed 3 weeks due to surgery/recovery and half the time I had no idea what I was doing. I think that class made me a stronger person but it came dangerously close to breaking me.

I lost a good friend, someone who I considered one of my best friends. I think both of us may have changed from when we were last together and that change was too hard to bear. I'm still struggling with it because I miss my friend, but much like the ebb and flow of the tide, friends ebb and flow in and out of your life. I'm always going to want to fix what is broken but I know it is probably beyond repair.

I may have lost one of my best friends, but I also gained a new friend. While covering an assignment for a school project, I met a fantastic young woman who shares similar interests as I and we have had a blast hanging out. The trick to maintaining this friendship will be managing our crazy schedules but as I have not hung out with her since before Thanksgiving, I still feel like it was yesterday and our friendship is great and will grow in 2013.

I almost had to move out of my apartment and had a nervous breakdown because of it. I was so upset that I accidentally dropped an egg out of my fridge which somehow led to all my eggs falling out of the fridge and cracking on my floor. That led to me sobbing uncontrollably on my kitchen floor. Alas, I learned the power of negotiation after a rent raise and won the negotiation. I'm terrified to negotiate and tend to take what is given to me but this experience taught me what wonderful benefits you will receive if you try. I may move sometime in the summer to a bigger place, but for now I can stay snug in my little apartment on top of a pizza shop in Center City.

I went though a very difficult period of time when I was depressed for months and couldn't figure out why. I suspected it was due to work stuff, but I wasn't sure. I was a sad, angry, pathetic excuse for a worker. I got called out for it and told to seek help and that in and of itself was a wake up call. I became very close with a few select co-workers to the point I'd consider them as family. I started journaling again which proved to be helpful and I worked things out a bit on my own. I realized that my attitude wasn't a solo in a bubble thing and that many of my co-workers were going though similar ruts. The dynamic of our work community has changed and not for the better and I'm not the only person that realizes that. This isn't the same place it was 1 or 2 years ago and I hope changes will be made to build it back up to the powerhouse of a community it used to be.

I had always dreamed of falling in love around the Holidays. I think I've wanted a holiday romance for years and years. After months and months of online dating, awkward dates, year long crushes on guys who didn't care if I lived or died, single desperation, I finally fell into what I had been looking for. I randomly reconnected with an old high school friend in a very platonic situation and somehow at the same time we were shot by Cupid and realized there was more there. We had both given up on "love" and were focused on our own lives but bumped into each other in the process. Much to my surprise I will be entering 2013 with my heart belonging to someone else and their heart belonging to me. It is an exciting feeling.

In 2012, I got to go to a college friend's amazing wedding which turned into a pretty sweet reunion. I rented a car for the first time. I flew for the first time since Nicaragua to visit a friend in North Carolina. I spent my birthday with my close friends and even got my name on the Phillies Jumbotron. I met Cliff Lee, a Phillies pitcher and through my job that I complain about sometimes, scored baseline seats TWICE for free. I found my "Cheers" bar and visit there often. (They have great wings). I had a successful fall semester in J School and some unique opportunities in that field have been flying by my way. I lost a dear Sister of the Holy Redeemer friend who is in a much better peaceful place now.

It has been an up and down year. My new friend says she likes to enter the new year being "the best version of herself." I tend to be the best version of a drunken mess each New Years Eve, so I decided to try something different. Tonight I will be participating in a New Years Eve Bikram Yoga class and vegetarian potluck/non-alcoholic toast. Naturally, I'll have a travel mug of champagne ready for the walk home, but I'm going to ring in 2013 in downward dog, sweaty and healthy. I can't say the same for New Years Day because that is bound to be full of day drinking and Mummers, but hey...its that transition to midnight that counts.

My resolution for 2013 is to take more risks. This may seem crazy or stupid but I don't mean life-threatening risks. I play it safe all too often. I'm too scared to make major life changes. I'm too scared to fall in love. I'm too scared to fulfill my dream and do a stand-up comedy open mic night. I want to try new things this year. I want to travel as best I can on my limited mobility/time/budget. I want to take risks that will make 2013 one of the best years of my life.

Until next year...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sweet Nostalgia

When I'm home on the Eastern Shore, I tend to get realll nostalgic. I guess it is my way of reminding myself where I came from and this place that made me who I am today. That is how I look at it. So I decided to browse through my old yearbooks from high school, a very sweet and awesome time of my life. I reviewed what people wrote about me and thought about it all.

I got a lot of "to a cool and crazy chick" "bubbly" "full of potential" "big things are coming your way" "great friend" "funny" "great stories" "entertaining" "hilarious friend to be around" "good times" and even a few "hot" "sexy" "sweet" and "nice" comments as well.

Many of these people have come and gone. There are even a few names I don't recognize since I asked EVERYONE to sign my yearbook whether you rode the bus with me for a year or had one class with me or we just passed by each other in the hall. Looking back, I think I had more sex appeal than I thought I did at the time. hah I mean, everyone thinks they are awkward as hell in high school, but I think I may have been a lot more appealing than I thought. Especially since when I randomly bump into people from the past, usually one or two admit they either had a crush on my in high school or thought I was amazing and sexy. Wierd, right? I was literally that smart, pompass ass, goody two-shoes girl who happened to also be decently popular, a favorite with the teachers, hilarious, and....pretty? I didn't know. I really didn't know.

A lot of the comments stated I was ambitious, which I think couldn't be more true. I wonder what these bus riders, lunch sharers, once in a classroom commenters would think of me today. Did big things happen? Am I still that quirky, funny, entertaining girl? I think for the most part, I've maintained a hold on those qualities. A lot of hilarious stories at work start with "One time, Mary Anna...."

I help homeless kids, that is a pretty big thing. I live alone in a large city. That is big. I'm in graduate school maintaining an "A" average in Journalism. Ah, journalism, that is another thing. I was thinking about how I've had to spend a pretty penny on some jschool gadgets and how I'm one of those people who never finish what I start. I tend to jump from hobby to hobby without really investing in one basic thing. But journalism? I look at my digital voice recorder and my notebooks and my textbooks and ponder getting a Macbook and think....this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. This isn't a hobby, this is my career. Rise up.

I get ego-centric on the Shore. Thanks for bearing with me. Merry Christmas Eve!

Until Next Time...

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Friday Morning in December

On Friday, December 14th, a troubled young man opened fire in a Kindergarten classroom and killed 20 innocent, young, beautiful children. He also managed to assassinate several staff members including the school principal and the school psychologist. The entire nation and world knows about this incident. People all throughout the country are grieving with Newtown, CT. The quiet, close-knit community is having a hard time preparing for Christmas with the thick fog of loss hanging in the air.

This incident sparked major debates on mainstream media channels, social media outlets and even in little coffee shops. "We need more gun control. This violence has got to stop." "Do we really value guns over children?" "What is the point of having a gun anyway?" "It is just a tool to injure or kill people."

"According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did)."

If your recall some of the most tragic, senseless acts of violence involving mass shootings, you will remember that the majority have been carried out by white males with severe mental illness. Yes, most of these weapons of death have been purchased legally or borrowed/stolen from someone who purchased them legally. How many mass shootings have been carried out by young males of any other race who bought their firearm from some guy on the street?

My city has a really high homicide rate and small scale shootings are a daily occurrence. This is where gun control is needed. These teenagers who aren't even old enough to own a gun, buy them off the street and then pop the first person that pisses them off or says something negative on Facebook. That shit needs to be "controlled."

I'm sure our nation's gun policies could use revision. This senseless violence needs to come to an end. There is no good reason for innocent bloodshed because of a troubled or disturbed individual. Our mental health care system needs the biggest revision and our political figures need to take a closer look at THAT.

I get so frustrated when people say "no more guns! Get rid of guns! The 2nd Amendment doesn't matter anymore, that was for back in the day when you needed to protect yourself from others." We still need to protect ourselves from others and it is sad. The flip side to the gun control debate is: what if the principal was allowed to conceal carry? I know, its terrifying to think of your elementary school principal packing heat in the school, but think about it for a second.

It may come as a surprise to many, but I am a gun owner. I use my firearm for hunting whitetail deer, but I own a firearm. The thought of "getting rid of all firearms" makes me sad because I purchased my gun legally, I routinely go over safe handling procedures with my dad, and I know the ins and outs of my gun. Not everyone has the point of view of "get rid of all guns in America," but many people do.

THAT is why I'm on this side of the debate. Gun owners and gun activists are going to shake their fists at those who do not own a gun. The gun-less debaters wouldn't be effected if all of the guns were confiscated or taken off the streets. They'd feel safer, maybe, but they don't lose anything. Gun owners would lose something. I doubt our nation would resort to such an extreme measure, and the truth is, you could stop selling guns and people will still find ways to obtain them or carry out their tragic plans.

The trick is finding a way to control the sale and distribution of guns so that young teens can't get them illegally, the mentally ill are treated before they can gain access to them and the responsible gun owners can continue doing their thing. But you can't predict when someone will snap. That is part of the problem as well.

The bottom line is: gun control is tricky. But no matter what side of the debate you are on, it is going to be extremely difficult to coax someone from the other side to join yours. Gun-less individuals want guns gone. Gun owners want to maintain their Constitutional right. No matter how much you debate, you're going to stick to your side and refuse to see the other.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? What came first, the gun purchase/motive or the mental illness that made an individual crack and form a plan of massive violence? You decide.

Until Next Time....

If you'd like to help the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, you can donate money to their United Way fund. There are many ways to help, monetarily or otherwise. Please continue to keep their community in your thoughts and/or prayers. It is going to take them a very long time to recover and they could use all the good thoughts and peaceful wishes they can get.

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