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2007: A year I'm not sorry to see end

2007 was a doozy of a year! (So was 2006, for that matter.)

2006 wasn't any better. In fact, it was probably worse. In 2006, my cousin died. That one doozy of a tragedy probably equaled all of the sheer, utter, ridiculous, sad craziness of 2007. A 79-year-old woman dying is very sad, but I got to spend 28 years with my grandmother, and I only got to spend 13 years with my cousin. My cousin's bar mitzvah was in March, as was his funeral, and the unveiling and thus ripping open of starting-to-heal wounds took place in December. I cried a lot more in public in 2006 than I usually do. 2006 was also the year that my grandmother was diagnosed with the ovarian cancer that killed her in 2007. 2006 sucked big time! Also, I spent some part of 2006 in a relationship that was fabulous and exciting and swept me off my feet before dumping me unceremoniously onto some really hard pavement. It was, by far, the hardest I've ever fallen. I needed to buy a self-help book to get over it! (That's not something I normally do, but I was desperate and it was a paperback and I had a coupon! So cut me some slack.)

I feel a little bit bad complaining about all of this stuff, when entire countries are at war, families lost everything in Katrina and the tsunami and any other number of earthquakes, floods, and fires that pass me right by, and people are starving and dying of diarrhea all over the third world, etc. But I'm not the only one who's complaining.

Rather than feeling guilty about complaining, I am trying to remind myself that 2007 was only a bad year because I am blessed enough to have the expectation of full health for myself and longevity for my grandparents (to 120!) and living in one place for a long time and honest and trustworthy management companies. 2006 was a bad year by any stretch of the imagination, but the loss of my cousin was so tragic because in my world, kids don't die. The various failed relationships weren't tragic by any stretch of the imagination, and they only bother me because I enter into each one with the hope that This Could Be It. And then I hold onto the hope for just a little bit too long. But that's okay. I prefer that to entering into each one with a completely cynical, jaded view, looking for disaster around every corner.

The truth is that, despite their unremitting major inconveniences and minor tragedies, 2006 and 2007 were years of tremendous learning and personal growth for me. But it was learning in the way that nobody wants to learn--by getting kicked in the pants over and over and over again, with brief breaks in between to recoup. In addition to growing tremendously as a person, and being a better and happier person for it, I did some of my best personal writing in a long time during those brief breaks, both here and in my altogether different private (paper) journal. And I had the very best Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur of my life in 5767. It was truly a new beginning in a way that I hadn't experienced before. It's not like I have nothing to show for 2006 and 2007.

Yet, if I had my druthers, I think I would prefer more years like 2005, when I learned through positive experiences rather than negative ones. In 2005, I finally got up off my tush and took one grad school class. The class was okay, but it didn't really bring me any closer to figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, but the "getting up off my tush" part was a good move. Then I got up off my tush and went to Brazil, alone, for almost two weeks. It was an amazing, life-altering experience. It was exactly what I needed to learn that it was time to find a new job. I applied for jobs that came my way and sounded interesting, and ended up landing a job, in the late summer of 2005, that I still have and that has been wonderful for me on many levels. I have learned a lot at this job, about both my strengths and my many considerable weaknesses.

2006 and 2007 also taught me, as I wrote in December 2006:
The second thing I learned, which I sort of already knew (but it was good to be reminded), is that family is an amazing thing. These people, some distantly related, will come and be there with and for you when you need people to be there the most. The caring, compassion, and warmth exhibited by all of my relatives over the past few days was incredible. Just the act of showing up--of being another warm body on a cold day at the cemetery, staring at the gravestone that marks a tragically short life--is sort of incredible. I feel so lucky to have these people in my universe, these first cousins twice removed and second cousins once removed.
Like every family, my family is completely-off-its-rocker crazy, but unlike every family, an outsider observed that we're really there for each other. Even when you don't necessarily want them to be there, they're there. Even when they don't offer you what you need the most, they're there. Physically or through the phone or e-mail. With advice or physical things you don't need. In a rather in-your-face way. It's not something to take for granted, and, too often, I do.

Elder (and wiser) friends advise me that things calm down once you hit 30. That there is less turmoil; less aimless wandering through the grocery store of life, wondering what to pick to satisfy all those human needs and wants. Is that true? What if you hit 30 and you still don't know what you want to do "when you grow up," and you're still single and searching, and you know that you want to have kids and the pressure to have them before it's too late starts to mount? Does that sound calm to you?

Wishing all of my readers a happy, healthy, and, please God, less-kicked-in-the-pants 2008!


Life calmer after the age of 30? I don't think this would be true for a great many people. It depends on the person, the place, local and world events, etc. Personally, I feel a certain tension in the air in New York City that would probably never allow me to feel as calm as I feel in California, Omaha, or even Boston.
תכלה שנה וקללותיה!!!
Thanks for the roundup. Wishing you a happy 2008.
I really enjoyed this summary of your year, especially since I didn't get to share any of it with you. Your attitude towards life and your courage in writing so openly inspires me -- so keep blogging, please! Tizki l'shanim rabot, Ilana Kurshan
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