Ask Team Practical: The End Of 2011 by Alyssa Mooney We have a *couple* more posts for you next week, as we wind our way toward the one vacation from blogging we get all year (squee, excitement, general jubilation from the APW staff). But before we completely wind to a close, obviously there is some time for a little reflecting, and tipsy toasting…. The end of the year. A time for reflection, preparation, introspection… Eh, screw that. Let’s talk about how awesome we are! I had a minor panic attack when I realized that we’ve been doing this Ask Team Practical column for over a year now, almost 14 months to the day! That’s a long time in blog-land, y’all. Internet time runs like soap opera time; if our first ATP was a newborn on All My Children, it’d be a thrice-divorced doctor/lawyer/black widow by now. So yay for virtual longevity! And let’s hope I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that, because this is a sweet gig. Let’s talk about some of my favorite parts of 2011, in no particular order… Weddings and Anniversaries Okay, so it’s not strictly Ask Team Practical, but it’s still one of my favoritest parts of APW. I love being able to put faces with names, to cheer on almost-married ladies, to see anniversary buddies (What up, September ladies?!?) and to see all the shining happy faces in those anniversary photos. It’s something that other wedding blogs don’t have; the visual representation of the continuation of the journey that is marriage. One reader, who’s been married for three years, asked if she shouldn’t put in her anniversary photo so she could make room for those newer brides. The answer was a resounding “Hell No.” You married ladies are the elders of this group, whether you’ve been married one year or ten. Besides. Y’all are all just so danged pretty. Grab-bag Ask Team Practical posts I love that we can cover three questions at a time with what we call (pro-tip: highly technical term coming up) grab-bag ATPs. Reader questions cover the gamut and it’s nice to be able to group them together so more can get answered. It feels like old school Oprah, where she’d have multiple guests on in one hour. You know, before she owned the world and started to give away diamonds and condos. (Kidding, O! We love ya; I’m just waiting on the call for Meg’s show on OWN.) The Hiring of Kate The addition of Kate filled me with happy. She’s hysterically funny, taught me how to use an em dash, broke me of my two spaces post-period habit (mostly) and knows what I mean when I bitch about East Texas water and pine trees. Plus, she knows bow ties are cool. Not being able to answer some questions This wouldn’t normally sound like a favorite, but hear me out. ATP is answered by me, with occasional help from the editorial stuff and final editing from Meg. We are not professionals, we just have an overabundance of sass and practicality. We’re your sensible bestie, except you don’t have to buy us drinks to get advice. (Wait. Why isn’t that a prerequisite for answering an ATP? Meg! We are doing this all wrong.) But, occasionally we get some heart-breaking questions, questions that we have absolutely no business attempting to answer. And unfortunately, we have to tell the reader we can’t answer them and encourage them to talk to a professional. It’s painful and I’ve cried over one or two, but it is absolutely necessary. The reason this is a positive, is that I’m proud to be working with a group of women who truly want to help, but know enough to step back when they can’t or shouldn’t. It breaks our hearts, but it’s best for everyone. Wordless Weddings Okay, that’s not ATP either, but go look! So much pretty, with a soundtrack. Consider it your (almost) weekly zen. The Addition of Emily Emily not only takes amazing photos, but she’s an amazing lady with a crazy good head on her shoulders. She’s helped Meg breathe a little easier on the business side of things, which in turns lets Meg write more. And we all know Meg writing more means, APW’s influence spreads, which means that the site generates more revenue, and that means that eventually Meg will buy me a pony. Emily = Pony for Alyssa. Can’t argue with that math. Not being able to answer all questions One thing that Meg has not been able to beat out of me is the guilt I have when I can’t answer every single question that we get. Don’t get me wrong, I’m much better than I was when I started, but that just means I have a general sense of guilt instead of a paralyzing sense that keeps me up late at night, trying to personally answer every email. (True story.) This isn’t necessarily a positive for me, but it definitely is for APW. It’s a testament to the popularity of the site that Ask Team Practical currently has in its queue enough unanswered questions for us to run a weekly column continuously for the next six years or so. So yay for APW! But boo for me and my conscience. (I’m sorry. Please still love me.) Vintage Weddings Alright, fine. This isn’t ATP-related either, but I adoooore Vintage Weddings. There is just something so magical about seeing old wedding photos and noticing how the joy doesn’t change from 1957 to 2011. Please keep sending these in; even if a story doesn’t end in happily ever after, that doesn’t mean the pictures of the day are any less wonderful. APW readers are reality junkies—we know life isn’t always hearts and flowers, which makes them even more lovely when you do get them. The Introduction of Maddie (AKA the poo-flinging SEO monkey) Oh, Maddie. Maddie is privy to every hare-brained “Hey Meg! Wouldn’t it be cool if we…” emails that I send Meg, to all the ATP’s that I write and then immediately need reassurance on (“Am making sense? Did I say what I mean?!?”) and to every apologetic missive that I send directly after I blow past a deadline and turn in a post late. (Like with this one. *ahem*) She’s wicked funny, loves dogs and is super cute. You have to love Maddie. YOU. There is a reason that Ask Team Practical works, and it’s not me or the staff. It’s y’all. It’s the comments that flesh out my answer way more than I ever could. It’s the empathy that comes pouring out when you read a question and realize you could have asked it yourself. It’s the thought and care that comes out in the comments on every post, that makes me want to gather you all up into a giant hug and then pass out cupcakes and scotch. When I let a reader know their question is being answered, I usually tell them to make sure and read the comments and comment back if they like, because the comments are where the real answers are. All the sass in the world can’t make up for real life experience, and that’s what y’all provide. So, essentially, y’all help me do my job and then I get credit for it. Told you I had a sweet gig. ****** So that’s it. 2011 rocked our faces off, and I can guarantee that 2012 is going to be better. (Book tour! Additions to the site! More new readers! Super secret stuff that we can’t talk about on pain of death, or at least dirty looks and scolding!) Tell us in the comments what your favorite parts of Ask Team Practical were. Be safe over the holidays, enjoy your time off if you get it, be grateful for your job if you don’t (What? You should be…), stay amazing, don’t ever change, LYLAS and stay gold, Pony Boy. See ya in 2012! Photo by Emily Takes Photos from the APW Flickr Pool. Alyssa Mooney Emeritus Staff Alyssa received a BA in Theatre and a minor in Gender Studies from Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her adorably red-neck husband, Maggie the Wonder Dog, and sassy baby Tater.