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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

06 January 2009

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years

Several bloggers last week summarized the good and bad of their 2008s, inspiring me to do the same.

It was a revealing exercise. My father’s death in February cast a pall over the rest of the year, and I walked around with a dark cloud over my head like Joe Btfsplk in “Li’l Abner.” It didn’t help that Dulcinea had the frequent medical crises of an elderly cat and then died from one. 2008 felt like a terrible year.

When I made a list, these deaths were the only events in the “bad” column. Granted, they’re each the equivalent of several run-of-the-mill bad events. But overall, I had a wonderful year. Here’s a brief counting of my blessings:

•I made my first novel sale.

•Dave and I finally sold our house in New Orleans.

•Barack Obama won the presidency, and for the first time in years I’m optimistic about the country’s future.

•I had three short stories published and did a booksigning for the anthology one of them is in.

•I read books by many of my blog friends, and some of those were first books.

•I’ve always wanted an herb garden right outside my kitchen door, and now I have one.

•I started taking a bellydancing class and am having a blast.

•We found more people to play music with here in California.

•I went to Book Expo America in Los Angeles and the Romance Writers of America conference in San Francisco. One of the highlights of both was reconnecting with old friends and meeting some friends in person for the first time.

•We got most of the boxes from our move here in 2007 unpacked.

•I’m still meeting with my wonderful New Orleans critique group through videoconferencing.

•I finally updated my nonfiction writing Web page, which I hadn’t touched since 2003. Prospective clients somehow still found me, even after we moved, but my information was embarrassingly out of date. My new page, still at, still needs some tweaks and fixes, but at least it’s up to date.

•Dave and I climbed to the top of a mountain on Fourth of July and watched fireworks from above, an incredible experience.

•I had a too-short but still great visit in Las Vegas with my sister, whom I rarely get to spend time with.

•My sister gave me a CD recorded from her telephone answering machine of my father singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Now I’ll have his voice forever.


Charles Gramlich said...

I guess we always have to take the good with the bad. And old saying that seems truer as I get older. That's so nice about the CD of your father's voice. That will be a great treasure.

And congrats on all your writing success. In that it has been a very good year.

Lisa said...

It sounds like overall, you had a very good year. It is always sad to lose those we love. Losing a parent is particularly hard and at the same time, I think it is a natural rite of passage. We hope to have them with us for as long as possible, but we always know that eventually they'll be gone. You have honored his memory well. November marked the fourth year that mine has been gone and although the grief isn't nearly as present and heavy as it was for the first year or so, I find it continues to surprise me at odd moments. I suspect it will forever.

DeAnna Cameron said...

Hi, Shauna!
I wanted to let you know that I've given you a Premio Dardos award on my writing blog because this is in my top 15 must-read blogs. You can check out more at if you're interested.
See you soon!

ninthmuse (roz m) said...

I'm glad she was able to keep the recording for you. I've wished for "voiceprints" of family members who've passed on. Can you also upload it to a safe and private place online?

Shauna Roberts said...

CHARLES, thanks, yes, it feels as if my writing may be about to take off, and I definitely will treasure that CD of my father. I should probably make multiple copies.

LISA, thanks for your thoughtful comments. Sorry for your loss.

DEANNA, Wow, thanks! I'm honored. I need to put my thinking cap on now.

ROZ, that's a great idea. I should look into that.

Virginia Lady said...

That first sale is definitely a highlight, congratulations! I like the idea of listing both the good and bad. Sometimes it's easy to forget the good things when bad stuff happens.

Anonymous said...

Belly dancing????? Shauna you had the perfect opportunity to show off this new talent during our video conference call on Christmas Eve. You are holding out on us again.

Shauna Roberts said...

VIRGINIA LADY, you're right. listing things objectively on paper really puts one's life into perspective.

MITCH, at last you've come out of lurkdom! I didn't demonstrate my bellydancing on Christmas Eve to protect you guys. I didn't want anyone to bust a gut laughing.

Rae Ann Parker said...

Shauna, it sounds like overall it was a wonderful year. Congratulations on all of the great things that happened.

Amber said...

What a great year! I know there were some hard times, but reflection is the best way to see all the good things in our lives. I am glad to finally read your blog. I got your Holiday letter today, and the pictures were great to see! Hope the first week of January has treated you well.

Amber said...

oops. I posted too many times. Sorry this is my first post on a blog!

Michele said...

Shauna, how wonderful that your sister saved your father's message to her! Wow. And congratulations on all your writing successes this past year! So fantastic. :)

Shauna Roberts said...

RAE ANN, thank you. It really was a wonderful year in almost every way. If only my father could have lived to see it . . . . I'll probably say that to myself the rest of my life whenever something good happens.

AMBER, I'm glad you finally stopped by my blog. Don't worry about the extra posts. I got rid of them.

MICHELE, yes, her procrastination in cleaning out her phone messages really paid off for the whole family. Thanks for your good wishes.

Carleen Brice said...

What a gift from your sister! And belly dancing! Sounds like a bittersweet year. Does your book pub in 09 or 10?

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm sorry for the downturns you suffered in '08, but I'm glad to hear you had so many good experiences, too. I still have a cassette of my own dad (& the rest of us,) recorded through the early years of my life. There's a sadness to listening to it in a way, but then I have to laugh at parts of it;

Mom; "Randy, can you say your ABCs?"
Randy (my bro); "Q R T."
Mom (interrupting); "No, Randy...A B C..."
Randy; "A B C Q R T."


Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Seems we had a similar 2008 - mine started off with a tragic loss but I too sold my first novel (it's out in June), I too have made many friends via the blogosphere. Mind you I've not progressed to belly dancing yet.

Scott said...

Shauna, I'm glad you made it out of 2008 in one piece1 We do have to take the good with the bad, even if it sometimes seems the bad is very, very bad.
Bellydancing, huh? My wife recently started up bellydancing again...she loves it.
Here's to hoping you have a great 2009!

Shauna Roberts said...

CARLEEN, I can't think of another gift I'd rather have than that recording of my father's voice. The pub date for my book isn't final yet. Probably late 2009 or early 2010.

LANA, isn't it funny how the silly things we did as kids can still make us laugh today? One of my brothers used to wear pots on his head, and 40 years later I still crack up thinking about it.

ARCHAVIST, I'm sorry to hear about your loss and hope you are dealing with it better than I am. Congrats on selling your first book. Maybe you're not bellydancing yet, but being on "Dr. Who" and "Torchwood" is way cool.

SCOTT, Happy 2009 to you too, and I hope your wife continues to have fun with her dancing.