the 2005 retrospective

Rather than do the meme that sammynella stole from jentwo, I’m going to copy Carly instead, and just review the Events That Shaped My Life In 2005.

1. On the Road To New Orleans
Last trip to New Orleans before Katrina. My last chance to visit the city. I had no idea I wouldn’t get a chance to again in 2005.

2. Regaining Traction at Work
After completely letting my job slide during a particularly terrible depressive period in the late fall of 2004, I pulled my act together and managed to get a grip on my work performance. And, most of the time, it went uphill from the moment I took responsibility for it.

3. Admitting I’m Fucking Depressed, Dammit
Accepting that I couldn’t control my depression issues was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. My pride insisted that if I tried harder, I could get a grip on it, could exercise and diet my way to a normal mental state, instead of sinking into the complete apathy and despair that accompanies bad spells. When I started taking Wellbutrin for it in March, it was the miracle drug. Suddenly, everything was different. I’d had so many tunnel vision issues I didn’t even recognize, and the walls just fell away when I went on the drugs. Antidepressant medication is one of the best things to happen to me in 2005.

4. Crises of Social Conscience
Los Angeles causes a lot of despair in me, because there is so much wrong with it. And much of what is wrong with Los Angeles is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America. Therefore, accepting responsibility for those issues by volunteering in my community helped me to take control of the misery that comes out of just living in a city where capitalism and greed has wrought so much despair. And although my volunteer activity ended up being focused on ending the war – which is a national, not a local issue – it still brought me out more in my own city.

5. Bye Bye Binoculars
I quit the Agency in July and accepted an offer with my new Company. Where I am now an Account Manager, which is a few steps up the ladder in the advertising world from just being a Media Planner. I still plan and execute media, I just get to manage a lot more client interaction in the process. It was exactly what I wanted, to move into the client-facing and campaign management side of my work, and was definitely the best career decision I made since the original Move to L.A.

6. The Escape from Casa Mar Vista
While the negative fallout continued to affect me through November, I had been postponing the notice of move out from my old house for months, in the hopes that it wouldn’t be necessary. It was, for emotional and physical reasons, and now I’m happily ensconced at a home at the beach, closer to the ocean than I’ve been since I grew up in Oak Bay, in my favorite neighborhood of West L.A.

7. I’m Not In Love
Once upon a time, there was a very tall girl who went to DC to protest the War in Iraq, and in the process, met an even taller boy who also wanted to give Bush that pink slip. And who, it turned out, was almost perfect for her. Except that he disappeared two months later for Reasons Suspected But Not Provable. But it taught this particular Canadian expatriate that she is going to continue to find men who she likes that much, and that they do exist beyond her fellow expatriate ex-boyfriend. Which was something that had previously terrified her. Physical chemistry is rare, intellectual chemistry equally rare, and to find a boy with both is improbable – but not impossible.

8. Turn Me Inside Out
In November, thanks to criticism from a few sources, I began to believe the negative PR about me, and had to question everything. Am I a nice person? Am I even a good person? Or am I irrevocably selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered? Do I even deserve to be human? What is wrong with me? Am I likeable? Have I been too selfish to accept anyone else’s perspective on anything? Have I hurt people’s feelings or insulted them without any remorse? And it felt like I had been turned inside out, like all my nerve endings and internal organs were exposed, raw and bleeding. It took weeks of thought, introspection – and a lot of apologies – to even start the healing. And since then, I have been putting more thought into my actions and words, and trying harder to live up to the virtues I wasn’t practicing before.

9. Working Girl
I realize that my current job has more risk – and more potential – than anything I’ve ever worked at before, and that I have not been treating it as such accordingly. It’s time to take ownership and kick some ass. Ditto my work with my freelance poker client: huge potential, but demanding of equal input. to reap rewards.

10. Jillian, Remixed
Emotionally reconnecting with the music I loved as an angst-ridden teenager over the course of Mope-a-palooza 2005 (the Nine Inch Nails show in Oakland, followed by Depeche Mode three days later) was exactly what I needed at the time. And that Depeche Mode show was so good that I was happy for a week after it just remembering it.

And after everything that’s happened this year, I’ve learned a lot:

a) I’ve learned that I don’t have to be friends with everybody, and that I have got to stop overcompensating for being Dawn Weiner ten years ago. Winning popularity contests means crap-all. However, spending real time and actually forging bonds with a few people that I really like is very very important. And that’s what I need to focus on – letting those friendships grow and giving them the space and the materials necessary to do so. I need to re-learn how to be human, not how to be popular.

b) I’ve learned that it’s OK to wear black and listen to gothic-industrial, and that I don’t have to morph into an L.A. hipster just because I live here. That’s not who I am. If I’m happier at Bar Sinister than at (insert name of A-list club here), or at (insert name of cutting edge music venue here), then I can go to Bar Sinister. Or if I’m happier spending a Friday on Midnight Ridazz rather than going out to a bar with the girls, then it’s OK to do that, too.. It’s just fine to just be Jillian, even if Jillian is happy wearing black all the time in a city where everyone else wears trendier colors than she does. I do not have to live la vida Los Angeles that I think everyone else thinks I should be living. And it’s just fine for me to re-adapt what I do find in this city to who I am.

c) I’ve learned that I really really love Los Angeles, and miss it when I’m gone. Los Angeles isn’t ever going to be home, because I’m hardcoded to the Northwest, but it is my city, and I don’t want to leave it yet. I love doing things in this city. I love following its streets in my mind, mentally revisiting all the neighborhoods. I love exploring it on weekends, driving places I haven’t been, walking through streets and parks I haven’t visited before. I love being able to pick and choose from many live music shows, to go to the Getty whenever I feel like it, to look at fantastically expensive places or to better understand the Third World through the poorest parts of the city. This is my city, and I still love it – and that’s what has also taught me that I don’t have to keep nomadically moving through the world to experience and learn everything I want to.

d) I’ve learned that, while chastity is terrible, it is more terrible to have to compromise who I am or make my identity changeable just so I can date someone. And that there are boys out there who will love me for who I am and what I look like, smartass remarks, left wing beliefs, dark hair and all.

e) I’ve learned that I have to wake up and re-take more control of everything I’m working on. It is not acceptable to slide by. I can’t take for granted that being smart will get me through everything. I have to sit down and focus. I cannot do three things at once and do them all badly, but have to do one thing at a time and do it well. And that’s not just at work – that’s at home, in social situations, everywhere.

Speaking of which – I’d better get to the gym and do some working out well. I have resolutions to pretend to keep today.

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