Her response was that I was self involved for dwelling on such things, that I was a bad person because I should spend more energy on being kind to others and stop being so self-obsessed. This friend, not much later, told me that she didn’t want to have anything to do with me, which is a whole other story. Anyway, ever since then I’ve always been so wary of “bragging” about things I’ve achieved, even though I do at the same time feel that it helps me keep track of where I’m going in my life, where I want to get to, etc.
So, anyway this post is going to be all about me, so won’t be of much interest to the general public, unless you have interest in me as a person.
With that, here are the things I’m proud of accomplishing in 2017. To avoid being too braggy, I’m leaving out patting myself on the back for the few times where I’ve been “a good person”, so I’ll just silently note those for myself.
1.) Had my play performed in a college production
I wrote “Goodlife Pharmacomm” back in 2013 for a performance festival curated by my late friend Jaime Carrera. I got a bunch of my friends to help me create it, and we presented it in the basement of a Mexican grocery store that doesn’t exist anymore. A few years later, my friend May Mahala, who had been one of my collaborators, said that she thought the play was worth bringing back. With her help and support, I presented it at the the ASTR conference in Minneapolis last year, and then this spring, May directed it at the college where she works, the University of the Pacific. She even flew me out there to see it, and the whole thing was a blast. I loved seeing May’s take on the play, it was very fun to hang out with her and her family in Stockton, and I got to seem my other friend who lives in the Bay Area. Overall, a great trip.
2.) Stretching myself as a writer
My freelance writing career chugged along at a steady pace. The year started out with a mentorship with a wonderful arts writer named Rachel Corbett through an Arts Writers program, who helped me figure out how to write longer-form pieces, and kept me honest about using cliches! When I look back at some of the arts writing I did this year, I see that I was trying to go a bit deeper.
For example, I worked with Rachel on this piece:
Basking in the Legacy of Merce Cunningham at His Retrospective
As well as a few others, one which hasn't been published.
I also did this with non-art pieces. Toward the end of the summer, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing some personal essays, in a longer, more literary style. One of those pieces actually did get published, in a publication called Hoosier Lit. The other one I’m still working on and we’ll see if I can get it up somewhere in 2018.
I wrote for a bunch of new arts publications, including American Photo, American Theatre, Art Asia Pacific, First American Art Magazine, and Lit Hub, in addition to my ongoing writing for the Star Tribune as a dance critic, occasional theater critic, and generalist, and Hyperallergic, where I wrote reviews and also wrote about the Scaffold and Jimmie Durham controversies at the Walker.
I also wrote a couple of online pieces for Prevention Magazine, nurturing my health beat, and wrote for a bunch of local publications, which, besides the Strib, included The Growler, SW Journal, Women’s Press, MN Parent and wrote two, count them two, cover stories in City Pages (not including Fall Arts Guide and Artists of the year).
4.) Trip to New York.
This isn’t so much of an accomplishment as it was just a great time. This film I acted in a few years ago, In Winter, was released this year, so I decided to go to New York when it was shown at a festival in Queens. I stayed with my cousin in her gorgeous apartment in Chelsea, visited a bunch of galleries and museums (highlights were seeing Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Table at the Brooklyn Museum and this amazing sound exhibition at the Rubin Museum that paired ancient objects with contemporary sound pieces), and saw my friends. The last night I was there, I hung out with some old theater collaborators that I knew back in Chicago. We kicked around in Brooklyn, and took an enormously expensive Uber ride back to Harlem where my friend Jaclyn lives. So worth it.
5.) The last time I did #nanowrimo I was living in Chicago, circa 2005. I wrote a romance novel set in 17th century Italy where the male hero was modeled after this guy I had a fling with, but it was over by the time I finished. I dropped off a copy at his front door, and haven’t done anything with it since. I wrote one other novel subsequently (not a nano), a children’s novel, and similarly have done nothing with it. This time I actually wrote an outline beforehand, which helped it to not be so wandering. It’s an erotic science fiction thriller, about cloning. My plan is to edit it in the coming months and actually try to do something with it (i.e. get it published) though I have no idea how to go about that. Meanwhile I have an idea for a nonfiction book, and also don’t know how one gets a book deal. So that’s a semi-goal of 2018.
Over the summer, I was asked to be a speaker for a discussion about arts criticism as part of LaLa Fest (one of two times I was a panelist this year, in addition to a Pen America talk about fake news… file under: accomplishments), and I ended up having an interesting conversation with Maren Ward afterwards. We were hanging outside the Fresh Oysters Performance Research (next to Open Eye), and she was talking about this performance conference she went to where failing was encouraged. Anytime someone failed while they were performing, the audience was encouraged to clap. This sounded so great to me, so I’m trying to remember that my failures are just as important as my successes.
1.) Writing Failures
With my writing, I had a few failures. In some cases, it was because things just didn’t work out with a source, and I ended up doing a lot of leg work for a story that just ended up back on the drawing board. I also, in my attempts to write a personal essay, ended up with pieces that just aren’t ready for publication. I’m okay with these failures, and recognize them as part of my process, though they can be pretty frustrating.
2.) Bad Feminist Failures
2017 was a watershed year for feminism, what with the take-down of Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent assholes that were outed after him. For me, I recognized how much I’m still trapped by misogyny and rape culture, even as a survivor myself. Both as a journalist, and in one case as a moderator for a Facebook group, I had to work through some internalized sexism. I appreciate the discussions I’ve had with other women (and trans and nonbinary folks) when I’ve been questioned on decisions I’ve made and things I’ve said. I’m not getting into specifics here, but suffice to say it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot!
3.) White Lady Failures
I feel like working on my own privilege and subtle racism is something I’ve worked on for quite a while, and this year was no different. I am forever grateful for Black and IPOC folks who keep me honest, keep me learning, and don’t let me get away with shit.
Some really shitty things happened this year. I had a couple of friend flame-outs, I dealt with terrible things happening, my uncle died, and I have like a lot of people been horrified by the state of our country/world. On the other hand, I survived most of it, I don’t have it as bad as a lot of people, and I’m ready to face next year with as much strength as I can muster, along with charm and vivacity as always.