WRAP UP SEASON 2016: Everything else

All over my Facebook feed, people have been like, “Fuck 2016, this year sucked.” I don’t get it myself. The election of Donald Trump sucked. And I suppose the whole campaign was an awful experience. But I’m fairly sure no greater a number of celebrities died this year than they did in any other year.

Personally, I cannot say “Fuck 2016.” I thought this was a great year. It’s true I did get depressed (twice!) and evicted from my apartment in Berkeley. But then in the course of a month I moved in with my girlfriend, proposed to her, and saw the release of my debut novel!

A friend congratulated me on both, and then he said, “Of course, it’s not like those two are equivalent.”

I was genuinely curious as to which one he thought was much greater, and he said publishing a book was obviously a bigger event than getting engaged. Lots of people get engaged, relatively few publish books.

For me though it was just the opposite. Seeing my book on shelves was a lifelong dream, but almost no event in my life could be as momentous as getting engaged.

I won’t say I was particularly emotional during the actual proposal. After all, I’d had months to prepare for it. But I do feel very satisfied at being engaged. I’ve been single for most of my life. To go from that to having a life partner is an amazing experience.

My fiancé is social media averse, so I don’t post much about her here. However I feel so lucky to have found her. We have almost no interests in common. She doesn’t and has never watched TV, so she often doesn’t understand even basic pop culture references. Like if someone were to say, “Oh, you need to be cool like Spock,” I’ll turn to her and be like, “Spock was a character on this show, Star Trek.”

Nevertheless, we can talk for hours. She’s curious and politically engaged. Very silly and funny. I mean she’s awesome. Just trust me on this. I knew from the moment we started texting (we met online) that she was something special, and I knew, after a few weeks of dating, that I was eventually going to propose (unless she got to it first, which was definitely a real risk).

Yes, I don’t mean to be cheesy, but it was like movie love.

Recently I was telling a friend about this, and she was like, “I despair of ever experiencing that.” But the thing is…if you experience an emotion like this, you marry that person. Doesn’t matter if they’re unemployed or ugly or the wrong race or gender. Unless they’re a drug addict or a Neo-Nazi, you marry them.

But I feel very lucky to have found Rachel.

So that was my big thing this year. I also moved to San Francisco. That’s been cool. Berkeley is still my favorite city in the world. Once somebody asked me where I’d live if I could live anywhere, and I said, “I can live everywhere, and I chose to live in Berkeley.” It’s a fantastic place: truly a wonderland.

San Francisco isn’t quite as nice. It’s a bit too urban. The buildings hem you in, blocking out the sun (at least at evening and morning). The weather is cooler. There aren’t as many hippies and slackers.

But it also has a lot going for it. I do enjoy being able to walk everywhere. I live in the Mission, and there’s basically nowhere south of Market street that I can’t walk to. It’s an extremely pleasant place to stroll around in. I’ll stop someplace for coffee or peek into a bookstore. I know lots of people in San Francisco (possibly more than I did in the East Bay), because half of my college graduating class has moved up here. Every other day I encounter an acquaintance on the street. I’ve made some new friends, and I’ve become closer to others. Hard to say what the future holds for me now that I’ve bound myself to somebody with a real job, but I’m not unhappy that I’m in the city for the near future.

And that’s it, pretty much. See you next year.

Wrap-Up Season 2016: It should be illegal how good my life is nowadays

Our country (and the world at large) is sliding into fascism. I feel like I need to preface all my posts with this. Because my life right now is not at all terrible. Rather the opposite in fact. I’m engaged (don’t think I’ve mentioned this on my blog yet). Yes I am engaged to be married!

My book came out to universal love and acclaim (I only read my five star reviews), and since nobody has told me otherwise I presume it’s selling like gangbusters (re: ‘gangbusters’ — can a cliche become so old and disused that you’re allowed to use it again?)

I didn’t write that many short stories this year (four), and I only ever sent two of them out on submission, but one of those sold to F&SF, which is a magazine I’ve been trying to get into for thirteen years. I think it’s my very best story, and I’m ecstatic that it’s out there. My second-favorite story, which was published in Interzone to general silence, has been picked up by Rich Horton for his year’s best anthology.

With regards to the real stuff, my novel writing, I’ve spent most of the last eight months working on a YA novel, Tell Em They’re Amazing, that my agent has just read and told me he’s excited about (which is not a given, let me tell you), and now I’m doing one more revision before I send it to Disney in the New Year. I have high hopes for that one.

On a personal level, I proposed to my girlfriend, Rachel, on…damn, I’ve forgotten the date. Sometime in July. I think it was July 7th. She said ‘Yes,’ as I knew she would. We’d only been together for fourteen months, but I’d known since about the second month that we were gonna be together for life. The wedding is all bolted into place, more or less. We’ve got a venue and a date and a photographer and have sent out invites and done all that stuff.

Life hasn’t been universally amazing. I got severely depressed twice this year, in the spring and in the fall. I had trouble writing. I’m still having trouble. I worried about the reception my book was getting. I had housing-related insecurities (had to leave my place in Berkeley, and now our place in SF also feels a little uncertain). In the wake of my latest depression I abandoned a lot of the record-keeping that I’d been doing. I no longer track how many hours I write or how long I write. I no longer keep daily goals. There are a lot of things I no longer put in my spreadsheet. And, even more, I mostly don’t care about the goals in my spreadsheet. I record them, but I don’t aspire to improve my numbers. This has had an impact on my writing productivity I suppose, but for the last three years my productivity has mostly consisted of writing novels that weren’t very good and that no one will ever read. At some point, I needed to change what I was doing, and that’s what I’ve done. Whether the change was for the better or for the worse is a thing that’ll only become clear with time.

So it’s hard to say whether it’s been a great year. But it’s certainly been a year in which great things have happened, and right now at this moment in my life, I feel like things are, for me, going pretty well.

Normally this time of year I do a ‘Wrap-Up Season.’ I plan on still doing that. I’ve had some writing progress I want to talk about, and of course I want to discuss the best books I’ve read. But just as my posting has become a bit spottier this year, I also think the wrap-up season will be abbreviated, which is why I’m doing a quick run-through right now.

It wasn’t nearly as difficult to switch orientations as I thought it’d be

Bisexual-Awareness-or-Queer-Awareness-Week-bisexual-flag-1029×688Until twenty-four, I identified as straight and dated nobody.

From twenty-four to twenty-eight, I identified as gay, and dated only men.

Now I identify as bisexual, and I’ve been dating a woman for six months.

I’ll leave aside the mental struggle that underlay these switches in stated orientation, since I’m not really prepared to talk about that. But what I will say, for those who’re thinking about coming out as gay or as bisexual, that in my case neither of these comings-out was nearly as bad as I imagined it would be.

Beforehand, I never thought I’d be pariah or an object of hatred. Nor did I think my family would reject me. But I did think that there’d be some ridicule and some awkwardness. But there’s really been none. In all cases, it was as simple as telling people that my identification had changed, and that was that.

I know that there’s been some gossip about these changes when I haven’t been around, but you know what? That really doesn’t bother me at all. As long as I don’t hear it or know about it, gossip is actually good, since it means I don’t need to have nearly as many coming-out conversations.

When you’re an adult, and particularly when you’re thirty(!) people will mostly take you as you present yourself to them. You can be whatever you want, and people (at least in the milieu’s that I’ve inhabited) will more or less be like, “Okay, sounds good.”

Given this experience, I regret all the fuss and worry on my part, since there was really no need for any of it. In both cases, my comings-out were accomplished within the course of a few weeks, and then they were pretty much done. It’s impossible for me to overstate how much of a non-event this all was.

Most of you are probably like, “Duh, why would it be an issue?” But I have so many friends who are curious about sleeping with people of the same sex, but they’re afraid of moving too quickly. Before they identify as gay or bisexual, they want to be sure. But it’s that very lack of public identification which makes it so difficult to find someone and have sex with them, so that you can finally be sure. If you’re not out as someone who’s attracted to people of the same sex (or, in my case, to people of the opposite sex) then you’re really restricted in the ways that you can search for someone to be with. If you want to have sex with men, it’s a little easier, since there are various ways to casually pick up a guy. But if you’re looking to have sex with women, you’ve got to put in a fair amount of work, and it’s hard to do that if you’re not out as someone who’s attracted to women.

I guess what I’m saying is that when you’re sitting alone with these feelings, then it’s easy to think there’s a penalty for not being sure. But, in my experience, there’s not. You can say one thing, and then four years later you can change your mind, and it’s totally fine.

Dating, of course, is something different. I could write reams on the difference between trying to date men and trying to date women, but that’s not what this post is about.