A Love Letter to the Passing Year

Dear 2010,

You are over. And I am over you. Not that you haven’t been good to me. I’m just ready to start fresh. You’re like an old pair of jeans. I’ve worn you every day, making your fabric soft and comfortable. I split crap all over you, torn you at the knees but I could wash you anew. You have made me feel good and confident. But like every other article of clothing I grow out of, you need to be trashed. Or maybe used as pieces for my memory quilt.

2010; you have taught me many lessons. 2010; you deserve so much praise.

As you know, we didn’t get along in the beginning. I hated you from the beginning and was already wishing for 2011 to begin. I was lonely and sad, feeling trapped by my emotional condition and physical surroundings. You dumped piles of snow on the ground (and forced me to learn basic first aid when I got hit by a car). But you made up for it by convincing my boss to hire an unqualified me in February. Thanks to my work, I have met some terrific individuals who share my passion for Tim Burton and literature. I never read so many books (for pleasure) in my entire life (once again, gracias to my employer). My once empty home library will receive the gift of an added bookshelf once I find one tall enough at Goodwill. Oh yeah, and the paychecks are nice, too.

Thank you for the beautiful springtime and summer. You allowed me to travel and see things I’ve only dreamed of seeing. My first walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was unbelievable; unbelievably chilly and tourist-y. But I was still thrilled to do it. The fall was wonderful, too. You produced beautiful tree dumps; the leaves a vivid crimson, amber and gold. Some of my best bicycling adventures occurred during then. Thank you for surrounding me with such beauty.

Thank you for churning out another fabulous round of music and movies. Okay, I can’t stand Justin Bieber and the second “Sex in the City” movie was awful but I had the privilege of learning about new tunes and attending a concert every month. When people say that they love music, I never understood the depth of their feeling towards it. “DUH! Of course, everyone loves music,” I would think to myself. But now I get it. Thanks to you, I love music.I don’t think I would be where I am right now without music.

With regards to films, we female moviemakers rejoiced with glee when Kathryn Bigelow won best director in March for ‘the Hurt Locker.’ Freaking, bloody finally. Thank you, 2010. Seeing her win makes me feel hopeful about my own dreams and my future/budding career.

With surprise in my eyes and a heavy heart, I learned who my true friends were— To my friends who stuck by my side throughout my depression, mental instability and drunken midnight phone calls, I love you more than you would ever know. You all mean the absolute world to me. Thanks to Craigslist, I met my best friend (“THE STONES, MAN! THE FREAKING STONES!”) and now live with the most amazingly kind girls (which is a rare find indeed). And here’s to finding friends in the most unlikely of places… and befriending a woman old enough to my mother who graciously invited into her home and her life.

And I want to raise a glass to discovering that despite being slightly insane, my family is the most incredible group of people on the planet. Thanks to my aunt who reintroduced to Chinese food and my little cousins who made playing hours of Monopoly fun and extremely memorable (especially when they cheat). Mad love to my Nana Carmen. Seeing you hold the Christmas card I gave you up to your heart with tears streaming down your sweet face will be forever etched into my brain. I had no idea how much my visits meant to you. I promise to see you more often in 2011.

Because of you all, next year will be filled with more hugs and kisses, hand written love letters and voiced thank you’s.

Oh, the men of 2010. They came in drones this year, marching along to the beat of my heart in a single formation. They were too many to count this time around but I learned something valuable from them all. Thank you guys for teaching me that someone truly amazing and magical is worth waiting for; someone who will treat me with kindness and respect, who has manners and who won’t just look at me for the flesh between my legs. You all taught me to wait for a meaningful and real relationship where there’s love, not lust. And thank you for teaching me how keep my pants on.

Despite my many grand adventures, I regret not doing one. This is the first year since the age of eighteen I didn’t get pierced or inked. Sorry- I guess I have to make up for that one. Don’t worry, face. You will get another hole in you soon enough.

So, what does your successor hold, you ask dear 2010? I don’t know but I’m hoping for the best. I’m hoping for a new apartment to call home, new job that I actually love, new friends to hang out with and maybe a new wardrobe. 2011 will be the year that I will be bold and take more risks, especially with fashion (why care about people who hate on your footwear, anyway?).

And I will get the number of the blond hipster who volunteers at the library. Okay, I will at least learn his name.

2010, you were a  complete blast. But next year is going to be so much better (fingers are crossed). Thanks for the memories.

Lots of love, Andrea

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Put on Your Dancing Shoes Already!

Shout out to one of my best friends, Sarah Ruth. On Tuesday afternoon, she sent me a text message reminding me to check out the lunar eclipse. I have to admit that I’m not the one to be wowed over by natural phenomenons, double rainbows and all (although I fell in love with Niagara Falls this past September). But I still woke up at three in the morning to take a peek at the rust-colored moon. Sarah often sends me these happy texts and letters, visually and verbally telling me to celebrate life’s little joys. Whether it is enjoying a morning cup of coffee in my favorite yellow mug or just being able to relax in front of the television for a few moments after a long day at work, these little events need to be rejoiced and praised.

But what does it mean to celebrate? I mean, to actually celebrate? To have a party? To get super drunk and take silly photos to post on Facebook later on that night? How about to get away? To sit somewhere tropical and exotic, drinking mai tais and mojitos while flirting with your scuba instructor? Maybe it’s to buy ourselves something extravagant, like an expensive pair of YSL boots. To many of us, it means ‘Let’s function less consciously. Let’s turn off. Let’s escape reality.” Some versions are worse than other but all of the above are imitations of celebrations.

Authentic celebrations is not so much escaping as it is coming back, not so much a lessening of the consciousness as it is a heightening of consciousness. To celebrate is to recreate, refresh and remake the spirit. It is to grow, rather than to go or get or grab. Yes, you may get that great pair of shoes but is that money spent really celebrating?

How much happier would our lives be/ will be when we say, “Come celebrate- let’s talk. Share with we me something new, something funny, something wise. Come celebrate- let’s listen to the wind and watch the night fall. Let’s spread out a blanket on the lawn and watch the waxing moon. Come celebrate- let’s dispel our loneliness, get someone bitter to laugh and smile. Dance to this pretty slow song with me. Let’s share ourselves with each other.”

Merry Christmas- celebrate the season, your family and your friends and your beautiful, precious life.

Happy X-mas; War is Over (Especially the One Inside…)

Is there a specific saying that you hate hearing? You see it on the bumper sticker of the car sitting next to you while stuck in traffic; you just want to roll down your window and throw an empty soda can at it before the vehicle starts to move. That one slogan that irritates me more than most is “Your attitude is your choice.” But as much as I despise hearing it, I know it’s true (so thus, I’m doomed to hearing it for the rest of my life). Our attitude is everything and is something that we should be consciously thinking about every moment of every single day.

This time of the year can be a deception. Many of us don’t even know what feeling jolly is like, let alone how to be jolly because of the calendar date. As much as we would like to rise to this occasion, the fact that the holidays are coming only makes us feel guilty somehow. Yes, we all are severely fortunate in some way or another. (With reading this entry, you have access to a computer and internet service. Bam!- you have something wonderful many people around the world will never have the chance to experience.). But that feeling of guilt can consume our beings and our souls in some way or another and there is nothing that several rounds of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” can’t cure.

It doesn’t help to be told that we should be merry and lighthearted at this time of the year. But it help to remind ourselves that holiday celebration is largely a matter of choice. We can choose to join in the flow of holidays shoppers and buy presents for the ones we love. We can choose to smile, choose to enjoy the festive music, and choose to cook your Grandma’s special Spritz cookies. We have the choice to let friends in and let our hearts be full. Or we could simply choose to sit on the couch, stare off into space, crying and be a gloomy Grinch the entire season.

Yes, we all have had some experience at faking our feelings. We can do so again. And who knows- maybe this time we’ll get caught up in it instead of “acting as if.”

Share Yourself

Empathy- (definition) the ability to understand and be sensitive to others and their feelings.

As me and some friends were discussing our holiday plans, we decided to spend our Christmas morning volunteering at one of the local shelters. I’m thankful to have friends that like to volunteer as much as I do and I was getting excited about possibly reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to a bunch of little kids or serving up a plate of breakfast goodies to someone in need. But one friend questioned my generosity and wondered why we rather spend the morning helping out strangers instead of being at home with Christmas treats. Her reasoning was being that I’m young and that I need to focus on my needs first, that the only one that matters- other than my family- is myself. Besides, she asked, what do you get out of it? Most people only volunteer for notoriety gain; no one is truly empathic. I leaned back in my chair and listened to her point and wondered if people were that selfish. And if we were that selfish, does anyone have a heart anymore and do good deeds for the mere sake of helping? Is anyone empathic anymore?

One of the qualities I’m grateful that my parents bestowed upon me (other than sharing my mother’s love for Madonna) is the importance of volunteering and giving back. I remember when I was younger, my stepmom taking me and my little sisters to a Las Vegas shelter so we could help feed the homeless. I couldn’t do much other than hand out bread baskets but I remember how great it felt serving others. As much as we pinch pennies, every Thanksgiving my family would be excited to drop some spare change into the Salvation Army’s little red buckets and smile to those twinkling a little silver bell. In college, as a rule between me and my best friends, we date those who rather spend their time volunteering for a noble cause rather than sit in front of the television watching sports and playing video games. Silly, maybe pathetic ideas, maybe. But definitely- the empathy, love and compassion is there.

I know that I’m not the only one who is pro-volunteering. And the statistics prove it: according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service in 2009, more than any other year within the past five decades. With the current conditions that our nation is in, fiscally and emotionally, this is the ideal time to spread some joy. Magical things can happen when you open and share your heart.