2018: A Year in Review
Updated: Jan 1, 2019
For me, keeping things professional when posting online is a must. Yet when I look ahead, I want to be more honest and open with my readers so this post may veer a bit outside of the usual territory. 2018 has been a cliché year, that is, it’s been a year of highs and lows.
Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had spent the entire year in the UK. Although I had studied abroad and travelled around before, building a life in a new country was a whole new challenge. I often struggled to fit into British life and because of this, my confidence waned. Though I did try many new things, there were lots of things I didn’t do simply because I was too afraid. I learned a lot about the unfairness of life and adulthood, but I also feel more independent than ever. And with that extremely vague paragraph, let’s get started.
After a nice winter break in Kansas, it was time to start work again on my Master’s degree. This term, my courses were a poetry workshop and a class on writing poetry reviews. A useful poetry class? Yes, yes it was. Book reviews don’t make a killing, but they do pay an awful lot more than poems themselves.
James and I also dog-sat our friend’s elderly greyhound for a few days. This would lead to a full-fledged greyhound obsession in a few months.
February was typically cold and wet, meaning I spent a good deal of time in a beloved donut shop. I also turned 22 this month (my first birthday away from home).
This was also a big month for publishing. I had one poem published in Vinyl’s online publication which was fairly big news considering they’ve published some pretty big names in poetry. I was also published in Sigma Tau Delta’s The Rectangle and The Passed Note.
The month started off strong with a day at Crufts, the biggest dog show in the UK. While there, we chatted to some people who volunteered at a greyhound rescue. Because dog racing is still prevalent in Britain, there are many greyhounds that need rehomed. This inspired me to get in contact with a rescue close to Manchester, Makants Greyhound Rescue. James and I then walked greyhounds nearly every week until I moved away.
I came down with the flu in March. England’s germs were not kind to me and left me with a blocked ear for over a month.
My mom and Doug (her partner) visited us in Manchester. Though I was still a little under the weather, we had a great time showing them all around the North West including trips to the Peak District, Lake District, and North Wales.
One thing I remember marveling at in April were the magnolias in bloom, which I had never seen before. I was struck by their odd shape. Naturally, I wrote a poem about them.
I saw National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward speak at the Manchester Central Library. I had just finished her book Sing Unburied Sing and was enthralled by it.
Across the pond, a poem of mine was published in my alma mater’s (Wichita State) journal, Mikrokosmos.
The weather was finally looking up and I remember spending many warm days at one of our usual haunts, Hatch.
I planted some seeds in our back garden: cornflowers, sunflowers, and poppies. The sunflowers and poppies grew fabulously. The cornflowers didn’t make it.
I also took a pole fitness class this month (apologies to my family if this makes you uncomfortable). It felt great to get back into exercise and return to my love of dance, while still trying something new! I had a wonderful time and definitely would’ve continued if finances hadn’t been so tight.
The work on my Master’s dissertation really got underway in June. I remember writing many poems about Kansas because summer always makes me nostalgic. I loved my first British summer, though everyone else was complaining about the heat.
James and I spent many days watching World Cup matches. I truly had never seen English people be patriotic until then.
My dad visited at the end of June and we had a great time traipsing around the region. Some key Welsh spots: Llandudno, Caernarfon, and Conwy.
July went quickly and was filled with many summertime events in the city. My flowers were blooming and the sunflowers had grown way over my head.
In August, I hit a crossroads. Do I stay or do I go? Though I had been accepted into all the PhD programs I applied to (Nottingham, Durham, Warwick, and Cambridge), I had failed to receive funding to study. I knew that staying in the UK would mean finding a sponsored job, which isn’t an easy task as an immigrant. I decided to try anyway.
In August, I was offered a position following my first interview, but after many frustrating emails, I learned that the company was not open to sponsoring me. A tough blow, but I decided to keep looking.
At the end of the month, I submitted my Master’s dissertation: a short collection of poems that I called Jejune.
September marked a whole year since I had moved to the UK. A year of adjustment, frustration, and loneliness, but also a year of learning, growing, and creating.
At the start of the month, I launched the Manchester Anthology with my cohort of MA students. It was lovely to reconvene with everyone and celebrate our year of writing together. Read the blogpost about it here.
I also had a poem published in the Whale Road Review.
In early October, James and I celebrated 3 years of being together. He surprised me with a trip to Grasmere, a wonderful little village nestled in the Lake District. We visited the home of the famous Wordsworths and had a lovely walk around Lake Grasmere.
Because job hunting had yielded no results yet, I began preparing for a potential freelance career. I joined Skillshare and watched some classes on building a website and beginning in freelance. I created a new and improved website with Wix (the one you’re on right now!).
I also won tickets to the English National Ballet’s production of Manon. We had near front row seats that were spectacular, and even though James was skeptical of ballet, we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
This month was another month of self-improvement, but this time in a different field. Nearly by accident, I learned to code in Python and created a text-based game that I later posted for free on itch.io. Click here to read the blogpost about it.
I attended poetry events at MMU and the John Rylands Library. We also visited the Manchester Christmas Markets before the big December rush.
My poem “Virga” was published in the Cardiff Review. Click here to read the blogpost about it.
This last month of the year has been arguably the most eventful. Early in the month, I had a promising job interview that would make or break whether I stayed in the UK or not. Unfortunately, I wasn’t offered the position, so back to America it was.
I also posted my first Skillshare class called How to Write a Poem. You can learn more about it through this blogpost.
Before leaving, I was lucky enough to attend my Master’s graduation ceremony in beautiful Whitworth Hall.
I spent my last week in the UK with friends and had a great time, though it was hard to say goodbye.
Though I’m not usually one to make resolutions, I would like to write about some of my goals for 2019.
1. Write more in all areas. I want to expand my writing profile through multiple platforms: personal blogposts, magazine articles, book reviews, social media, and creative publications.
2. Accept mistakes. I want to work on allowing myself to make and learn from mistakes, rather than punish myself for making them.
3. Be less afraid (mostly about the future). I spent so much of 2018 worried about what would happen next in my life only find out that life is almost entirely unpredictable. I want to enjoy what is happening right now and trust that everything will work out in the end.