Sunday, December 22, 2013


If you're a member of Facebook, you know that in December they post your year in review--the highlights of the past twelve months of your life. As I joked with my friends, according to Facebook, the highlights of my year include winning a volleyball game because the other team forfeited, having my hair blow dried, and finding $20 on the floor. So...nonstop excitement, in other words.

I thought Facebook was being sarcastic. Whoa! Another big year for you, Crystal! (snicker snicker) My life events, as Facebook calls them, didn't exactly measure up to the highlights of others' on my friends list, some of whom got engaged or got married or bought their first home. In fact, most of my highlights weren't even my highlights--they were those of people I love who had pretty big things happen for them this year. My nephew, Eli, graduated from army bootcamp. My friend Ericka gave birth to a precious little girl. Her sister Yezi ran her first marathon. And these were just the things that made it onto Facebook. 

At first I felt that my year in review was pretty lacking. Where were my own triumphs or failures? Why were my highlights about everyone else? What exactly had I been doing all year (aside from griping about the 7 train)? But then I realized that I had spent a good part of 2013 bearing witness to the milestones in the lives of my friends and family, so their life events became mine too. I was in North Carolina to watch my nephew march across the field and take his first official steps as part of the National Guard. I was in the Lenox Hill Hospital waiting room with Ericka's nervous family as she brought Alessandra into the world. And I was at the Queensboro Bridge--about the halfway mark of the NYC marathon--holding up my "Go, Yezi, Go!" sign and screaming her name as she came running down the street toward the bridge, on her way into Manhattan.

Probably like most people, my average day is pretty humdrum. I get up, I go to work, I complain about the subway service, I go home, I watch TV, I eat, same old same old. So anything that makes me clap and scream at the top of my lungs out of pride (like watching a friend reach a goal she'd trained for months to achieve), or that makes me stop and quietly marvel at the beauty of the universe (like holding a week-old newborn in my arms) definitely counts as a personal life event. So maybe Facebook is onto something after all. 

Besides, some years aren't meant to be blockbusters but prequels, time spent laying the groundwork for bigger things to come. Like a prologue to a novel. I'm sure many months of my college career would have been mind numbingly boring to post about on Facebook--had it existed back then. (Ugh, I can just imagine how many posts there would have been about pizza and snow and expensive textbooks. And instead of the 7 train, there would have been lots of griping about Greyhound buses.) But even those times when nothing much happened were all prologue to graduation, to landing my first real job, to eventually getting published.

2013 was that kind of year for me. While I may not have met the love of my life or backpacked around Europe, I did write more this year than I have in a really long time--probably since college when writing was more or less my full-time job. I completed a book that I'm fairly proud of that may be published in the UK. And after a few failed attempts, I've been chosen to write another YA series for a major publisher. I don't know what will happen in either case. The book I finished could never see the light of day. The YA series could fall through, the publishing house could change its mind, or I could just blow it. (It's been known to happen.) But that won't change the fact that I spent the year working toward a future as a writer. Hard to believe, I know, but to me that's more exciting than finding $20 on the floor. Okay, it's AS exciting as finding $20 on the floor.

When I got the news about the YA series, I posted about it on Facebook. Almost immediately, the likes starting pouring in. At first just from my mom and a few coworkers. Then my college friends and high school friends and elementary school friends, and then former neighbors. My cousins and my brother. Former teachers from junior high and high school. The woman who ran the writing workshop I'd attended in Greece. The librarian who'd let me be part of her book festival. The woman who invited me to do my very first author appearance at her bookstore in Brooklyn. Fellow aspiring writers, and a few established writers I'm lucky enough to know. My oldest friend, Dereeka, who's been around since we were 12 years old. My nephew, Eli. Ericka. Yezi.

Eventually the number of likes hit 145--the most any post of mine had ever received. Although the writing part is so solitary and too often leads to nothing, it's amazing to know that I have a crowd of people cheering me on (if only in cyber space), hoping I make it as a writer, gladly bearing witness as I try. Even Facebook seems to support my efforts. It added the post to my 2013 highlights reel.