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

2007 was a doozy of a year! (So was 2006, for that matter.)
  • 2007 started off with me tripping on the sidewalk and breaking my right big toe in January, and hobbling around on it, unable to wear anything by sneakers or big clunking boots, until April.
  • Around February-March, I found out that our rent was going to go through the roof and that I would probably have to move. But first, I engaged in some stressful and fruitless negotiation with the management company.
  • In April, I realized or found out that my grandmother's death was rather imminent (ovarian cancer had come back, she wasn't going to do chemotherapy for the second time).
  • I think I also found out in April, or maybe it was May, that another person close to me had cancer. (That person is now, thank the very good Lord and New York's finest doctors and hospitals, doing very well.)
  • I hadn't been feeling well for about six weeks when, in early May, I finally visited a specialist, had some unpleasant tests done, and was diagnosed with a chronic disorder. It was sort of scary, but not serious, if that makes any sense.
  • In late May, immediately after a trip to California in which I spent the last nine days I would ever spend with my grandmother, I fell into the subway, re-injuring the same foot and ankle that had the broken toe earlier in the year. I spent the month of June fruitlessly searching for an apartment, part of it while wearing an AirCast.
  • In late June, my grandmother died. I spoke at the funeral.
  • After coming back from the funeral and shiva, I resumed my desperate apartment search, knowing that I would need to be out of my existing apartment by August 1.
  • In mid-July, after a week of seeing far too many apartments, I signed a lease on an apartment that was going to be available August 15.
  • With the generous help of my mother and some very special friends, I packed from mid-July through August 2, the day I left my old apartment. Most of my stuff went into storage and I went to several people's apartments.
  • I was informed that the apartment wouldn't be ready by August 15, and that the management company didn't know when it would be ready. I called the moving company and canceled the second move.
  • I revisited the post office and waited in a long line to have them hold my mail for an additional few weeks.
  • In between living out of suitcases and moving to a new apartment every few nights, I kept revisiting the new apartment to put pressure on the workers, the management, the super, whomever, to finish the damned thing already, but not by cutting corners. (They cut corners anyway, but I don't think that was because of my visits.) I finally moved into the new apartment on August 22.
  • This was followed, immediately, by a visit from my parents, during which they stayed with me for about a week, in the small apartment that I share with a roommate.
  • In the meantime, my chronic condition, diagnosed in early May, was becoming worse and worse, and it started to feel like it was affecting every waking moment of my day. I went back to the doctor a few times and tried out a stronger version of the medication I had been on since May.
  • There was a cockroach. Yes, only one. My only-two-years-old laptop's screen broke, through my own stupidity. (Yes, the cockroach and computer breaking are connected. I killed the cockroach, but in the process, killed my computer as well.)
  • Then it was the chagim, which I hardly remember at this point, except for that I felt very sick for most of them, due to this chronic condition.
  • I went back to the specialist and he realized that I was allergic to the medicine that they had been giving me in various forms since May. I spent seven months experiencing increasing levels of agony for--nothing? I stopped the medicine and felt better within 24 hours.
  • November saw another visit from my parents, and another stay in my apartment. Also, my sister came to visit. I washed sheets and towels for a month.
  • Then it was December, and it was Chanukah, and I was sad. Then I blogged and felt less sad.
  • Also, I dated someone for a few months in 2007. About two weeks of that time was pretty much consumed by my feeling anxious about this clearly-not-going-well relationship, and then both relief and sadness when it ended. Relief because relationships-on-their-way-out are no fun at all and this would be one less thing to worry about (amongst the above), and sadness because I liked the guy and learned so much about who I am in relationship to other people with him. Also, I went on my first hay ride since childhood with him, and I knew I would miss his company and his cooking and doing nice things with him.
  • Also, I spent the months of August-December building a bed, out of raw lumber, in my apartment, using power tools borrowed from a friend. That is a totally crazy story for another time. It made 2007 more stressful than it otherwise would have been, but I think, in the end, that it was one of the greatest things that I got out of 2007.

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!


alg's mother said...

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.

BZ said...

תכלה שנה וקללותיה!!!

mother in israel said...

Thanks for the roundup. Wishing you a happy 2008.

Anonymous said...

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