Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: a year in review

i don't normally do this, but 2013 has been such an interesting year that i wanted to go back and document everything. i know i've missed a lot, but these are the basic highs and lows of what happened all year.

in general:

got paid for writing.
2013 was the year i started getting paid for my writing. it's the first time i can actually say "yes, i am a professional writer." my whole life i have described myself as "a writer," and while i think it's lame to only be able to publicly say it once i'm getting paid for it, at least now i'm legitimized in the eyes of the world. I AM A WRITER. for real. first-grade nicole reading her book about my little ponies to a lot of bored adults (including my mortified mother) would be proud.

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: i love all of the extra curricular things i do, but in 2014, my goal is to get paid for all of my writing and journalistic endeavors.

successfully attended meetings for three book clubs.
on top of the incredibly wonderful "book club that doesn't suck," which has been going strong for several years now, i also started going to what i refer to as "the lady book club," a book club that several of anthony's friend's girlfriends are involved in. i had been reading most of the books but hadn't actually attended a meeting, and now that i've started, i adore it. i also went to a meeting of the "philadelphia sci fi book club," which is another one that i'd been reading the books for but hadn't made a meeting. i only went to one meeting - they're held on saturdays usually, which is when we have dungeons & dragons - but still. i went. go me!

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: while i was doing a lot of great socializing and reading, i didn't actually read a lot of books in 2014. i read a measly 27 books all year! that almost half a book a week. i need to step up my reading game.

played a million video games and tabletop RPGs.
seriously i played so many games my head was spinning. i got heavily into PC gaming this year for the first time in my life, which was really exciting. also, anthony just bought a brand new computer, and bequeathed his old one to me, which means i'm going to dust off my steam account and get to gaming. in tabletop gaming, we've recently gotten really into dungeon world and sixth world (dungeon world shadowrun), which has been fun. our regular home games of fourth edition dungeons & dragons have sort of stopped, due to some family problems one of our friends is having, but we're hoping to get back into that at least once or twice a month.

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: i really love tabletop gaming, but right now, we're in about eight games, so i need to cut back a bit. we're busy almost every day of the week with one thing or another, and i need some more "me" time, especially since every time i take a class, it destroys my social life. cutting back on activities might make the transitions into and out of class time a little easier for me.

which goes nicely into the next accomplishment...

finished up my sixth and seventh of 15 classes for my master's degree in library sciences.
it was hard work, but i took the course i'd been dreading since i started the program, and did amazingly well in it! writing a grant was pretty much one of the most intimidating learning experiences i've ever had. i loved it. and then this past term i took my last core class and did well in that, too. i'm nearly halfway there. so exciting!

follow-up resolution for 2014 related to this: i've been doing a decent job paying my debt down, and if i can really crack down and pay off my credit card in full this year, and then my student loan next year, i'll be able to take more than just the courses drexel pays for (they cover two per year, but i can take up to two per term - it just ends up getting taken out of my paycheck in taxes over that). so i'm going to try to cut back on spending so much money and put more of it towards getting rid of my debt so i can finish my coursework.

and now, some highlights from 2013!

january was a tough month. i was having some serious issues with insecurity, and just generally feeling shitty. i managed to pull myself out of it and work through a lot of it, and while i still struggle with insecurity even today, this last year has been a real milestone for me. also notable in january: ray merkler and i met to discuss bringing gameloop philly back again, and started putting the wheels in motion.

february was awesome in that i got to go to my first indiecade! indiecade finally came to the east coast, and was held at the museum of moving art in new york city. i spent the weekend with brianne galli and ryan littlefield, as well as loads of my friends from philly. i met some amazing new people and played so many fun games. it was one of the best weekends of the whole year!

in march we went back to PAX East again, and this time we had managed to score rooms in the hotel attached to the convention center, which makes all the difference in boston in winter. not having to ever put a coat on or lug stuff around is always a bonus! we made lots of new friends, played tons of good games, and just generally had a great time running around all weekend. it's also the one weekend a year i get to see and spend time with john and holly scalzo, which is always wonderful.

in april, zenas bellace and i drove down to raleigh, north carolina to attend the east coast game conference. i felt way, way out of my league there at first, because i tend to feel like i'm not good enough or experienced enough to be talking to people about game design. but by the end of the weekend, i felt more at home, and i'm glad that i went and got the chance to go to so many great talks and meet some amazing people in the industry. i also got to have lunch with a friend from high school, jackie fricke, who i hadn't seen in something like 15 years! it was an incredible week. i was also on a panel at the women in tech summit, discussing girl geek dinners philadelphia. corinne got some really great photos of me.

may was crazy. we brought gameloop philly back, and it was a blast! there were lots of great talks and fantastic people. everyone was really excited about it. and the following week, i was on a panel about video game writing at the week of writing at drexel, with will stallwood, amanda lange, and chris grant. it was an incredible week. i was so wiped out by it mentally and physically. oh, and our lease started in may! anthony and i officially started our big move that month. the only bad thing about the move was that i had to give my cats to my mom, because we discovered over the winter when anthony got bronchitis and pneumonia that he was horribly allergic to cats. i was really sad about that. i spent a lot of time with my cats before we gave them to my mom, who was thrilled to have them.

june was when we officially moved into our new place in west philly. we love, love, LOVE our new place! it's so spacious, with hardwood floors and radiator heat (which has its ups and downs, but i really enjoy being hot in the winter, so i love it!). and one of the best things about the move was that i finally took the initiative and got rid of a ludicrous amount of stuff. i threw out dozens of bags of clothes, which i couldn't donate because my old place was full of moths and carpet beetles (i tried to get rid of them, but to no avail). it was really freeing to get rid of so much stuff.

we spent most of july settling into our new place and unpacking and all of the good stuff of first stretching out in a new apartment. i also reconnected with an old friend, which was an amazing experience and i was really happy and excited about it, and continue to feel really great about it.

august was a lot of great milestones for me. i called 1-800-GOTJUNK and got rid of my public storage place in one fell swoop. it was a unit for a one-bedroom apartment's worth of storage, and had stuff in there ranging as far back from childhood. i'd had it for over a decade, and every time i tried to go through it, i was horrified by how many bugs had taken refuge in it, as well as how poorly my belongings had reacted to the extreme outdoor weathers (it wasn't climate controlled). i finally just called the junk people and paid them to haul it all away in one shot. it was hard - but thrilling - to let go of everything. and knowing that it was recycled and what was salvageable was saved made me feel so much better about it! august was also when anthony and i made our first game together - the card game, resistor - during a cipher prime game jam. we ended up taking first place and winning an ouya! and we also celebrated our two-year anniversary that month. it was all very exciting!

the most memorable thing that happened in september was that i finally returned to seattle for PAX Prime for the first time in three years. i was utterly thrilled to go back! i got to see so many wonderful people who i only see at events like these, and also made so many new friends as well. we stayed at our friend zenas' friend alex's house - he lives out in the seattle suburbs in an awesome house. i had never been able to do that before - it was always hotels, hotels, hotels. we also went to PAX Dev, which was a first for me, and if i end up going out there again, i'll never miss another one. there was nothing quite like those six days in seattle. it was a beautiful experience, and i cried when it was over.

i tried to put less on my plate as the year started to wind down, but to no avail. i was on a panel about women in games at the grassroots game conference, which was another really fantastic experience. i met some great people and got to share and hear a lot of stories about the industry. that was the same week my friends brianne galli and ryan littlefield visited us from new york, and stayed in our apartment. it was so exciting to have guests sleep over, and to have enough room for us all to be comfortable! i had a wonderful time. finally, i "graduated" from therapy that month - i had started in february 2011, and it has been one hell of a ride trying to work through some of my issues as well as dealing with my stomach problems, which were caused by all the anxiety and stress i was under. i was nervous about not going to therapy anymore, but it felt good to be on my own and try to trust myself and my instincts.

in the beginning of november, the dismemberment plan's reunion tour hit philadelphia, and anthony and i went with our friend stacy. it was a magical time! their new album is great, and seeing them in concert after so many years made me feel so young. i bounced around and sang until i lost my voice. but as the month wore on, i experienced one of the worst things that has ever happened to me: my beloved puppycat grew sick and passed away. i was so incredibly heartbroken. i don't think anything has ever hurt that bad in my entire life. he was my best friend for a decade, and i missed him terribly when he went to my mom's, but knowing he was out there and happy and being spoiled was a comfort to me, albeit a small one. i missed his companionship and his purrs and his soft, wonderful fur. that night, anthony and i went to my mom's, and he helped me to bury him. my poor mother was beside herself. i don't think i've ever cried as hard as i did for those two weeks. it was a very dark time.

later that night, we went to philly game forge for their showcase, where we showed off kobolds and resistor. being around so many of my friends, who kept checking up on me and giving me hugs all night long, still brings me to tears. i think i learned the true meaning of community that night. there was so much support and so much love... and just... wow. and the number of people who came out to check out our games blew my mind. the whole event was exactly where i needed to be, where i belonged.

december was really just me scrambling to finish up all of my coursework for my final core requirement, and i got an A in my class! i was so happy - and so relieved - when it was over. i also did a bunch of Responsible stuff, like signing up for retirement, which made me super proud of myself. and ray and i started planning for gameloop 2014 (we have a date!) and karissa and i started planning for girl geek dinners events in 2014, and i also met with will at cipher prime to discuss our awesome little community and how to grow it. and, at the end of 2013, during our wonderful vacation, anthony and i played about a million video games together. he got his new computer, which means i get his old computer, which we hooked up to the television in our living room. we've also got some wired controllers, so we played local and online co-op. the whole time off was a blur of fun.

there are so many things i haven't mentioned here - hanging out with the space dukes on sunday nights, going to dev night every thursday, board game nights at redcap's and circle of hope with our friends, the people i play dungeons & dragons with during our regular games and at conventions, being involved in warp zoned and geekadelphia and perpetual geek machine and crossed purposes and girl geek dinners, all the time we've spent with friends in west philly now that we moved out here closer to so many of them, the fun i've had with my family throughout the year, all of my friends who got married and engaged and had beautiful babies... so, so many wonderful things. i'm sure i missed a lot, so i guess what i'm saying is: it was terrific, and filled with lots of great people, places, things, and ideas.

2013 has been a beautiful year. 2014, can you raise the bar?

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