joseph dante

retrospectives

2018: The Retrospective

This year felt busy, despite the fact that my 2018 memory jar looks a lot emptier than previous years. I did a lot of thinking about my current job situation and resolved to finally take the plunge and apply to MFA writing programs. If accepted, I will be going to school full-time while also teaching some classes as a graduate teaching assistant. I have never taught before in my life, but my family has always told me I’d make a great teacher and my husband agrees. As a child, I played pretend school and made stuffed animals my students, complete with name tags and alphabetization of their surnames. After my sister was born, she became my student instead (sorry, Paula!).

For one of the MFA applications, I had to take the GRE. Some MFA programs still require this, although I’m not sure why. I had to study geometry, which was terrible. The exam itself was extremely difficult, but I ended up with a score that passed the minimum requirement. Hurray! Once that was finally over, I then had to put together a portfolio of what I consider to be my best work (in fiction), craft a statement of purpose, and track down professors I hadn’t talked to in over a decade for letters of recommendation. Fortunately, they’ve been very gracious and patient despite all the frustrating technical hiccups with online application systems. Now we play the waiting game.

The ugliness of American politics and our current administration continues. It has become a tightrope act in terms of engaging with the nightmare vs. disengaging with the nightmare in order to stay sane. I saw a lot of protests on street corners downtown, primarily of handmaids. My husband has considered running for some kind of office in the past, but every conversations ends with us enjoying our privacy too much and the refuge we built away from the madness. Be sure to take care of yourself.

My friend Melissa got married earlier this year and it was a lovely event. Her boyfriend at the time proposed to her shortly after David proposed to me. I’m so happy she found such a great guy. I was a bridesman in their wedding. Melissa and I would compare notes as we both planned our special days.

My husband’s band Soundbarrier played a lot more gigs this year. They released their first album, “In the Air Tonight,” which is a cover album of 80s rock. I became their groupie and occasional photographer. David and I also got to see some of our favorite bands in concert, including Little Dragon and the Indigo Girls.

During the summer, David and I took a trip to Texas to pay a visit to David’s dad’s side of the family. We walked the San Antonio Riverwalk, played Pokemon Go, and took a trip to Austin. At one point, it was 107 degrees outside. My throat and lips were dry as a desert. While in Austin, I got to pay a visit to Malvern Books, which I wish we had here in Florida. They sell a lot of poetry, translated works, and even chapbooks!

My literary diet has become very omnivorous. This year I read graphic novels, poetry, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, and everything in-between. I read a lot more LGBTQ literature because I still think I’m woefully lacking in this area. I know grad school will continue to help me with this and I’m really looking forward to it.

Later in the year, I started working for The Review Review as an assistant editor. My role consists of coordinating interviews with editors of literary journals and occasionally posting literary news and submission calls on their official Twitter account. I’d previously conducted some interviews for the site and was happy to join the team. I’m looking forward to editing more interviews with both old and very new journals. I enjoy helping writers find home for their work, and The Review Review is an invaluable resource for writers at every stage of their career.

My writing took a backseat during the latter half of this year. Editing has taken up more of my time and I watched as my submission queue went down to zero. Nothing is “in-progress.” This must be a first, but I have to say, it feels good not having to worry about submissions. I hate the publishing portion of the writer’s life. Can someone please just send submissions out for me?

Despite my lack of output, I did have some writing published throughout this year:

Three poems in Requited Journal
“Before the Geyser” and “The Stones” in Mortar Magazine
“Elixirs” in Gone Lawn
“Ghosts in the Flesh” in Fanzine
“Heathens at Thanksgiving” in the Lascaux 2017 Prize anthology

I will admit, I probably wrote a lot less this year because I spent a lot more time playing video games. A lot of massive video games that took a long time to complete. Horizon Zero Dawn was probably my favorite. And, for the first time ever, I went to a Video Games Live concert with friends and absolutely loved it. I’m definitely interested in going again next year.

In December, David and I celebrated our one-year anniversary. I can’t believe how it’s been a year already since our wedding. I wrote a post about it and you can look at all the adorable pictures.

I know 2019 will be a year of transitions, but I’m ready for it. I made decisions this year that felt more important than year-end resolutions. Next year we will see how they play out. Wish me luck.

Here’s a list of all the cultural objects and media that helped define my year:

Books:

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Avatar: the Last Airbender: The Rift; Smoke and Shadow; North and South by Gene Luen Yang
Empire of Imagination by Michael Witwer
The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara
The Life to Come and Other Stories by E.M. Forster
Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White
The Beautiful Room Is Empty by Edmund White
The Farewell Symphony by Edmund White
Stitching a Revolution by Cleve Jones
Lawnboy by Paul Lisicky
Boy Erased by Garrard Conley
Gay & Lesbian Poetry in Our Time by Joan Larkin
Saudade by Traci Brimhall
Emerald Ice by Diane Wakoski
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
Catechism: A Love Story by Julie Marie Wade
When I Was Straight by Julie Marie Wade

Movies:

Ladybird
Gone Baby Gone

Nanette
Call Me By Your Name
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
Paris Is Burning
Love, Simon
Ready Player One
Coco
Black Panther
Alex Strangelove

Hereditary
Bad Moms
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Mary and the Witch’s Flower


TV series:

One Day at a Time
Grace and Frankie
(always!)
The Legend of Korra
Atypical
Aggretsuko
Everything Sucks!
Dear White People

Murphy Brown
Glow
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


Video games:

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Tekken 7
Horizon Zero Dawn
LittleBigPlanet 3
Stardew Valley
ABZÛ
Injustice 2
Lego Marvel Superheroes 2
Lego Dimensions
Butterfly Soup
Nexomon
Pokemon Go
Bravely Default: Second Layer
Little Dragons Café
Donut County
Soul Calibur 6
Undertale
Deltarune


Music albums:

On How Life Is by Macy Gray
Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae
Love Is Dead by CHVRCHES
Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield
Junior Empire by Junior Empire
Portals by Fleurie
Kiss + Swallow by IAMX
The Greatest by Cat Power
Anchor by Trespassers William
Ash by Ibeyi
don’t smile at me by Billie Eilish
Shake the Spirit by Elle King
Church of Scars by Bishop Briggs
The Undertale OST by Toby Fox

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