21 Things I Learned in 2011 (in chronological order)
1. An eighteen-pound dog with a big enough personality can seem to take up an entire queen-sized bed; when he’s dropped to eleven pounds and has healing lumpectomy scars and a prognosis of just a few months left, he can do the same with your heart.
2. My heart can survive that.
3. The lab losing your family dog’s remains can simultaneously be the most heartbreaking and hilarious thing you’ve ever heard. Of course – of course, the only time it happens in ten years of service, it would happen to the dog whose favorite hobby was being as inconvenient as possible.
4. Internet friends can hold you up when you’re a mess just as well as in-person friends can – sometimes better.
5. Be open to new people and opportunities to do new things. You might end up trying Ethiopian food with seven amazing mostly-strangers at a convention and realize halfway through the meal that their names sound familiar because you’ve got some of their books and webcomics on your to-read list.
6. Derbies are always in fashion. Always.
7. Sometimes it takes traveling halfway across the world to meet a friend who lives a mile away. (Hi, Anna!)
8. The Giant’s Causeway is the most breathtaking place I have ever been, although it did kill my umbrella. Edinburgh felt more like home than my own neighborhood, and you can buy an umbrella in a tourist shop there for 99p.
9. European Fanta is the nectar of the gods.
10. “If you’re not failing at least 50% of the time, you’re not trying hard enough.” – the theme of every creativity-oriented panel I went to at CONvergence.
11. The word “outsourcing” can sting like a slap if you hear it enough times in relation to your own job
12. That crying in the ladies’ room thing that characters on TV do? That’s not just a trope. Bathrooms are fucking useful for minor emotional breakdowns.
13. Quitting…doesn’t always take. Even if you give 26-week notice. Maybe especially if you give 26-week notice.
14. If you draw a coloring book about fat ladies embodying sci-fi tropes, people will buy it. A lot of people, actually. And some of them will send you wonderful emails and reviews that make you cry because it means so much to people to see characters like themselves. My mantra has always been “fiction matters,” and nothing has enforced it more than Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace.
15. If your wee self-published coloring book is miscategorized right and has enough sales all at once thanks to internet buzz, it can beat Watchmen in a very specific bestseller list.
16. Writing a snarky limerick as your letter of resignation is a pretty great plan if your HR rep has a sense of humor.
17. When everything else is up in the air, fandom can be an anchor that keeps you sane. Even a fandom as out of its entire damn mind as Sherlock fandom.
18. I’m on the asexual and genderqueer spectrums. Relatedly: If your brain’s been telling you for years that some basic element of your identity isn’t quite right, listen to it. (And brace for impact. These things can happen fast once you give yourself permission to question.)
19. I am not capable of maintaining a blog, taking a thesis prep course, working fulltime, promoting a coloring book, making a reasonable amount of art, finishing a novel, being active in fandom, keeping in touch with internet friends, sorting out massive amounts of personal crap, and tabling every local show during convention season all in the same semester. The best I can do is pick the ones that are most urgent and the ones that best maintain my sanity and learn to let the rest slide.
20. Being a Hufflepuff pays off sometimes. Like, “multiple job offers within your department” pays off. Everybody wants an employee who’s hardworking and loyal with a good attitude – who knew?
21. If you use the word “tumultuous” enough times to describe how your year’s gone, it loses all meaning.