Kendall and I got in the stupidest spat last night. Just after reading news of Debbie Reynold’s passing one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher’s, death, I was lamenting what a garbage year 2016 has been. He pointed out that celebrity deaths don’t affect him much and implied they shouldn’t affect me so much. I tried to articulate that, while I’m not personally affected by them (I didn’t know any of these people), they have been like a shit cherry on top of a dumpster-fire year. Anyway, the world’s dumbest fight escalated from there before we both got over it and went to bed, but it got me thinking about how often I have talked about what a shit year 2016 was and the degree to which that is or is not true.
David Bowie, Prince, George Michael. I didn’t know any of these men. I knew their music and their public personas. But their loss is especially stinging because of their gender and sexuality fluidity. At this particular time in America and in the world at large, we need big public personas like theirs, voices like theirs, more than ever – to lose them all this year in particular felt like adding insult to injury because so much of what has happened politically this year has felt like a retaliation for loosening social mores and expanding values. They’ve been some of the most public champions for living loud and proud in their various ways and we lost them all this year, the same year living loud and proud in your weirdness just became that much more dangerous. So, yea, their deaths have affected me more than they might otherwise.
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Daughter then mother, within one day of each other – the mother saying she is “ready to join” her daughter. That is just a sad story, I don’t care who they are. And every sad story I read as we march toward the end of the year just makes my load heavier to carry. Look, it’s been a rough year. Even if my chosen candidate had won the election, the election year was bruising. Things were said, lines were crossed, that made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe in my country and worried for humanity’s future. And then that guy WON. I can’t speak for Kendall, but I imagine a lot of his points last night amounted to an argument that you can’t carry all of that – you can’t let that stuff affect you to the point where you declare it a shit year because of one election, or umpteen celebrity deaths.
I do see his point, but I think there is also a danger in not engaging – especially with the political. You can’t Ostrich your way through the world, sticking your head in the sand at every sign of discomfort. You have to be aware, you have to fight – you have to use your voice, now more than ever. But it is exhausting. We’re not the first ones to realize this. Audre Lorde’s famous quote has recently been making the rounds, as we all come to grips with where we’ve landed: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”. Activists the world over can speak to the need to care for yourself so that you can bring your best abilities to the fight ahead, so that you can be your best self and so you have the energy to serve others, or to serve the cause.
Immediately after the election results came in this year, I told Kendall: “I am just going to focus on my little family – that is where I will find my refuge”. While it is true that I come back to the well of family and my relationship again and again to replenish myself and find comfort, it was really wishful thinking. Thinking I could somehow turn this “off” – that I could ignore the reality of our new world order. I can’t. I’m very upset, and afraid, and unsure of what to do next, and I think about it constantly. All of this is to say, I’m here today to try, for a short while, to take Kendall’s advice, and to think about something else: namely, all the good things in 2016.
First, and foremost, there is my relationship with Kendall. We entered our third year of dating – we took an amazing trip to San Francisco and Monterey – we moved into a house. I love his family, and he loves mine. We are raising our little cat, Weaslebee, together, and going through the Harry Potter movies again. He helps me stay sane when everything else in my world feels like it’s spinning out 100 miles per minute.
Also, equally important, is my supportive family. My mom is my rock, my nephew is the sweetest joy, Noah and Annette’s place is my home away from home and this coming year they’ll be giving me another nephew or niece to adore. I even got to see my dad this Christmas – it was a great visit.
My work has been challenging this year – I’m still trying to figure it all out, and work means so much to me, it’s a piece of my identity. So that has been fraught, but still – I’m getting a raise in the new year. My coworker’s are all lovely. I have new challenges coming my way, and I’m excited to take them on.
I, finally, this year took concrete steps to improve my health. Late last year I got my pre-diabetes diagnosis and now they’ve downgraded that – I am no longer considered pre-diabetic! I’ve lost some weight, and my skinny jeans fit again. I still have a lot of work to do to re-wire my eating habits, but I feel like I’m on the right path.
And, I still have all the small joys I’ve always had: hot baths by candlelight, doing crosswords in bed, my weekly vanilla latte, belting out songs in the car, cooking, writing and journaling, Monday trivia night with the girls, monthly Cookbook Club meetings, and occasional game nights, amongst many other wonderful things.
Finally, I have intention. This coming year for me is all about stepping out of auto-pilot. I’ve been working so much for so long, and I’ve lost track of why or what it’s getting me – note I sometimes don’t even think I’m working hard, just a lot. I know there’s no end point – there’s no such thing as “figuring it all out” – but I’m excited to figure out a better direction (or just, a direction at all!). I saw this quote the other day and it will be my mantra for this year: “You can be intentional about your direction without knowing your final destination”.
What are your good things in 2016?