It’s a new year.

The new year is always so rejuvenating. People tend to look at it as a fresh start, a new beginning.

It’s sort of just an arbitrary day to me because I give myself a fresh start every few months, and each new beginning is usually marked by some crucial and life-changing choice that I make, like moving across the country, starting a new job, or having a baby. You know, story of my life.

Regardless, I can’t help but follow the trend of reflecting on my year, tipping my hat to my accomplishments, re-examining those critical moments, and looking at ways to improve in the new year. So here goes.

2013 in Review

  • I traveled. All over. I watched the ball drop in New York City. I spent a weekend in Miami and another weekend in St. Thomas. I had a meal in Memphis and spent a night in Illinois. I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I visited Philly twice and spent almost a week in Boston. I went to Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. I visited LA on a bittersweet note. I spent a wild (yet completely sober) weekend in Atlantic City. Oh, and I went back to NYC about 100 more times.
  • I declined a free trip to Hawaii and opted instead for a life free from domestic violence.
  • I hosted an awesome game night — the biggest and best of my game nights, if I must say so myself. And, in a way, it was kind of a celebration: my old life — the domestic partnership, the guilt, the fear, the isolation, the feeling of being trapped — it was all over.IMG_0299
  • I lost the most important person in my life to a sudden heart attack. After years of always being there for me, rushing me to the hospital, counseling me through tens of failed relationships, picking me up from all kinds of ridiculous situations (and sometimes dropping me off into them), listening to complain about pretty much everything always, introducing me to the important things in life like Scrabble clubs and pregnant burritos, treating me like his own daughter — after everything, Kerry Raven was gone, forever, sort of.
  • I flew to LA for Kerry’s memorial service, only to later find that I had conceived a new life earlier that week. Coincidence, or fate?
  • I ran a 5K.da race
  • I protested for marriage equality in front of the Supreme Court, and I was interviewed by NBC News.interviewed re prop 8
  • I raised about $50,000 through an insane 48-hour email campaign in June.
  • I threw a birthday party for my cat. Featuring this playlist:playlist
  • I took on pregnancy. It was a total life-changer but a happy one. I still went out dancing (and, you know, sometimes to Atlantic City), but I cut booze out of my life. I still exercised regularly, but I went easy on the crunches. I redecorated my apartment. I started to make time for things I hadn’t fully appreciated before, like visiting the Library of Congress and some of DC’s famous museums. I started to focus more on creating lasting memories with close friends rather than memory-less nights of drunken stupor. I hosted more dinner parties and learned to cook more foods. My life became different. And better.
  • I took a parenting class.
  • I ended my relationship with my mother, explaining that I’d welcome her back into my life on the condition that she seek psychiatric treatment. She hasn’t, and there’s no sign she will. But my experience dealing with the alcoholism of someone close to me has made me stronger than I ever expected. I’ve learned that people change when they are ready and usually not for someone else. I’ve learned that there are ways to cope with these unhealthy situations, but sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. (I know that’s a lot, but it all seems to fall under a single bullet.)
  • I celebrated my 24th birthday with a gender reveal party — pinata, pork chops, and best friends all included. It turned into sort of a baby shower, and some of the amazing people that have come into my life over the last year or so showed me how wonderful and helpful and generous they could be as I prepare for motherhood.IMG_1900
  • I subscribed to TIME Magazine. And Parents magazine. I’ve really just become an avid magazine-reader.
  • I worked nights and weekends in a restaurant. It helped me make the money I needed to save up for Baby Maxwell and even pay off some of my student loans.
  • I changed my last name to Raven, honoring Kerry and also symbolically severing a tie that didn’t really mean anything to anyone but me.
  • I created the greatest Halloween costume with a doll, a dress, and a tub of fake blood: pregnant zombie.Photo on 10-26-13 at 7.37 PM #2
  • I saw my brother act in his first play.
  • I invested in my comfort: down comforter, Egyptian cotton sheets, body pillow, the works.
  • In the last 48 hours of 2013, I raised nearly $200,000 for Bread for the City through the organization’s various communications channels — more than $50,000 through email and social media alone. In 48 hours. Literally unreal.

This year was epic. Each of those moments — and a few more I didn’t list — were so vital for me in becoming who I am today. It’s just crazy how quickly the year went.

And my goals for 2014?

I really haven’t given it enough thought. All I can really think about is having my baby (which I’d be happy to do today. I’m also free tomorrow…). But I do have some New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Lose some weight. Not a lot of weight, but at least about 25 pounds. I think that’s about the size of a baby, an enlarged uterus, and lots of placenta. The first step, of course, is to…
  • Have a baby. I feel like this one is fairly straightforward, but it is by no means an easy feat, so I feel like this counts.
  • Learn to drive. I’ve officially reached the point at which I can’t put this off anymore. During my maternity leave, I’m going to take a driving course, and I’m going to finally get my driver’s license.
  • Apply to grad school. I’m going to need until about December to do this one — because I’m still not 100% sure what I want to do, and I’m not prepared to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into something I’m not entirely sure about. In the meantime, though, I can…
  • Take the GRE/LSAT. I think it’s going to be the GRE. But I don’t actually know anymore. I’m going to keep giving myself a break on this one though.
  • Be an awesome mom. This is going to take some practice, some learning, some books, some friends, some mistakes, and probably at least one more parenting class. But I’m excited about motherhood and SO excited to finally meet the little guy who’s been kicking my ribs for the last few months (it’s like he’s in there just pressing buttons like “What does this do??” and the answer is usually “This makes mommy puke.”) This resolution is #1 on my list, but it’s the least straightforward and I’m sure it will be a work-in-progress. Lots of people like to give me all kinds of pregnancy and parenting advice (and most of these people have never been pregnant or parents), but one person actually just asked me: What are you most excited about? And it’s funny because, at the time, I didn’t really have an answer. Can’t I just say “everything”? I’m excited. I can’t pinpoint a single thing that excites me most about having my baby because I’m excited about even the simplest, most ridiculous things. I’m excited to take him to the supermarket in his stroller. I’m excited to have home movie nights. I’m excited for parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings. I’m excited to feed him. I’m excited to hold him. I’m excited to take him to theme parks. I’m excited to take him to Hawaii. I’m excited to be so in love with someone for the first time in my life and to know that I’m creating a family — something I’ve never had but always wanted. I’m excited to put him through college. I’m excited to teach him life lessons. I’m even kind of excited about the water birth. There’s nothing that doesn’t excite me — and terrify me — about this huge, life-changing experience. I’m just excited. But, seriously, it’d be cool if you can make your grand entrance, like, today.
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2 thoughts on “It’s a new year.

  1. You have been through so much change this past year but tackled everything head on without shrinking away. I adore you, Jess, and can’t wait for Max to come into the world. He will the best mommy waiting there for him and will always be surrounded by love. As will you. It is true what they say about family. You cannot choose the family you are born into, but you can definitely choose those whom you want closest to you. Even if we cannot be your family by blood, we are still family in spirit. And we all love you to pieces.

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