My holiday travels began in terrifying fashion: as I was driving to Indianapolis, the drizzle began to freeze and within five minutes the roads went from wet to sheer ice. Cars were going every which way; I passed one really bad accident, a few fender-benders (one of which I saw happen), and a bunch of slide-offs. There was quite a bit of traffic on the highway, and for about ten miles -- maybe more -- we were all driving about 5 mph at most, easing over towards the left shoulder where we could get at least a little bit of traction. I was on a stretch of road with a drop-off on either side. It was the most frightened I have ever been in a car. I was this close to just yanking on the wheel (actually it would have taken the merest tap) and sending myself into the guardrail just to get it over with, since crashing seemed inevitable. I made it through without incident, somehow; it took me 2.5 hours to get from the north side of Bloomington to the south side of Martinsville (about 20 miles), and the 50-mile drive to the airport took me four hours.
Fortunately, I'd decided to book a "park'n'fly" deal at the airport Radisson, since I had a 7 am flight & had thought it would be nice to have a relaxing evening in a hotel room rather than leaving my house at butt o'clock in the morning. So at least the ice didn't make me miss my flight.
Family Christmas in Colorado was laid-back; we'd decided to exchange only stocking stuffers & did charitable donations in one another's names instead of presents. My sister & I spent several hours in the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, which was wonderful as always -- what a great bookstore! I restrained myself and only bought 3 or 4 books and 1 literary journal, but if I'd had unlimited funds (and luggage space) I could easily have left with a lot more than that. You'd think somebody who works in one of the best academic libraries in the country, & thus has super-convenient access to nearly any book in the world, wouldn't want to buy books all the time... but you'd be very, very wrong. It's an addiction, I'm telling you.
So it's been an interesting year. My first chapbook was published; I put together my first book-length ms. (finishing the first version of it on my first writing retreat) and started sending it around; I wasn't very good at all about sending poems out to journals; I wrote a lot of poems & started on a series altogether unlike anything I'd ever written or attempted before. A job promotion. My first earthquake. I also rediscovered music as a primary source of inspiration & creativity, going to a lot of good concerts including four Bruce Springsteen shows (one of which was pretty much the best concert I have ever seen by anyone ever) and coming back to playing guitar myself a bit, and bought my sweet little blue Stratocaster, becoming an electric guitar owner for the first time since 1979 when I sold my old single-pickup Gibson Melody Maker because I needed the money for college. (Sigh.)
And I continued to overuse parentheticals throughout the year (as you may have noticed already).
What's coming up in 2009? A new President, a new Springsteen album (and presumably a tour; I'm going to do my damnedest to make it to at least 2 or 3 shows), several new books I'm excited about, poems to read, poems to write. My first AWP to attend. Hard work to be done, all around. I hope to challenge myself creatively and push myself beyond my comfort zone, though just how that will happen remains to be seen. I want to waste less of my time; I'll be turning 48 and every year I feel more aware that time just isn't an unlimited thing. Resolutions? I don't know... maybe.
What about you? Are you making resolutions? What does 2009 hold in store for you?
I wish each of you the happiest of New Years. I'm grateful for everyone who humors me by reading this blog, and I look forward to meeting some of you at AWP!