Skip to main content

Bye 2017, Hello 2018

collage by Nux Gallica, age 6,
featuring her mother's favorite coat
It's the end of 2017, and I feel fine. How could 2018 not be better? There might even be a Rammstein album drop.

2017 was a year of natural and unnatural disasters. It was a whole four seasons of shock, rage, loss, and grief.

2018 will be a year to take stock of what we have left and rebuild, stronger than before. If Elon Musk succeeds at turning Puerto Rico into a world leader in sustainable energy, that will be inspiring.

Last year, I didn't make any resolutions. The whole idea of self-improvement felt absurd after Russian and Macedonian hackers exploited white Americans' self-righteous narcissism to get a dumpster fire elected president and bring back the Nazis.

I'm not sorry I didn't make resolutions last year. I was too busy anyway, keeping track of each domestic terrorist attack and whether I knew anyone who might have been nearby. Also I was busy watching innocent people get murdered by police on Facebook Live. Also I was busy learning how to advocate for other moms and children in ways that forced me to weigh my guilt at putting myself and my family at risk with my guilt at not doing more.

It has been a year of sadness and rage. My former high school, the one I fled as a kid, hit the news cycles a few times for harboring child molesters and punishing teen social justice advocates. Nothing new there, but it's been frustrating to watch the same abuses play out decade after decade. Also our local university has been in the international news for some time now, over its decades-long protection of a high-profile sexual predator of teen girls and children. Nothing new under the sun, and certainly nothing new under our new pig-in-chief.

But in all the destruction and deconstruction, there is hope for a new beginning.

This year, we Americans learned a lot about ourselves. We learned how viciously some white people respond when they awaken from their American dreams to find out that most American babies aren't white anymore and never will be again, and that passing for white isn't a golden ticket to getting rich--only being born to rich parents is. I guess that's a real kick in the d**k to the sons of all those waves of immigrants who fought long and hard for their ethnic group to be inducted into "whiteness," or who erased their own heritage in an attempt to pass, or who couldn't pass but made sure to choose light-complected mates until they produced a generation who could pass. I don't hear anyone talking about this, but I think effort justification has a lot to do with racist white identity.

I know that all of the above happened in my husband's family, and this year I learned that some of these things probably happened in my own family too. Those nifty new DNA tests and digitized immigration records offered up some interesting surprises for me this year, and the irony is that uncovering all those--ahem--dark secrets from our past, which were surely covered up with great care to protect future generations like mine from shame and discrimination, have given me a great deal of healing peace. Learning these stories makes me feel more complete, more human, and more deeply American. And they offer some gentle explanations for why some of my known ancestors did not go gentle through their lives. Anyone who has watched a few episodes of Finding Your Roots on PBS understands how unresolved trauma gets passed down in a direct, hard line from parent to child, over generations or even centuries. Time is necessary, but time alone does not heal wounds.

So now that I've taken a year to mourn and rage and learn hard lessons, I claim 2018 as my year to get some things resolved.

I do not regret taking the time to process the devastation of 2017. But feeling bad doesn't, by itself, do any good. So this New Year, I'm back to making resolutions. I'm ready.

Let it be known that my 2018 resolutions are:

  1. Finish watching The Mindy Project. It ended weeks and weeks ago, I know, but better late than never. This quirky and painstakingly crafted comedy / soap about a dark-skinned immigrants' daughter who identifies as a white man was the most underrated thing on television all year, and I will honor its completion. I will build a raging fire on New Year's Day to keep my viewing partner Esperanza toasty as we binge watch this masterpiece of comedic art while wearing mermaid tail snuggies and day drinking. For America!
  2. Complete my second novel, Matka Danu Miklagarth, and seek an agent for it. I already know this book is going to be better than my first novel (because duh), and I am hoping that this is the one that will launch my literary career. I know this is a supremely basic resolution for an American, to become a novelist, but hush. None of my 2018 resolutions have anything to do with diets or exercise, so give me a break.
  3. Adopt a furbaby from the Humane Society. Pets are more fun than babies. Fuzzy kitties actually decrease stress, instead of increasing it like a screaming infant does. My husband and daughter agree, so that's what's happening in our family. Sorry, Grandma and Grandpa. Looks like you're only getting the one great-grandchild.
  4. "Travel" with my family to at least six different countries. Without leaving the cozy palm of the Michigan mitten. You know what's awesome about America? We are a cosmopolitan nation of peoples from all over the world. Despite the issues we're having right now, we are still one of the most diverse and culturally tolerant nations the world has ever known. We're not a melting pot or a salad bowl--we're the whole darn potluck at a family reunion. We don't have to get on a plane to experience the languages, flavors, celebrations, music, attitudes, beliefs, rituals, and worldviews of faraway places. And this is the year we take advantage of it! For Christmas, Nonna bought Nux Gallica a subscription to Little Passports. Each month, we'll get some souvenirs and activities in the mail that introduce us to a new nation. We'll supplement this gift by using library programs to learn the basics of each nation's most common language and by seeking out cultural groups and events in mid-Michigan where we can experience and learn more about our neighbors with roots in that culture.

In 2018, I resolve to live deeply and nurture positive values.

Also to eat out more and go to more parties.

And, I hope, to rock out to a new Rammstein album.

Welcome, 2018!


  1. I just love the way you mix sadness and anger with bulletproof joy and wonder about the world. Also, I want you to go out more. With me. For foods and talks. ALL THE TALKS!

    1. Hear hear! You are one of my all-time favorite talking partners, which is obvious, because our brief chats average about four hours of solid yakking. Let's do more of that in 2018, while saving America by eating at immigrant-owned restaurants.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

The Sevens: When a New Decade Dawns

Every time I reach an age ending in seven, I feel big changes coming. My Sevens arrive near the end of the last year of the decade, and looking back, I've gone through major life transitions--or initiated them--around each of those auspicious birthdays. This year is no exception.

When I turned seven on the cusp of the 1990s, I had my first experience bonding with a Very Special Teacher. You know those teachers. The ones with Fred Rogers energy, the ones you don't just like but love, the ones that feel like parents or counselors, the ones who know just what to say to truly make you feel valued, safe, and capable. I hadn't had much luck bonding with teachers in preschool or kindergarten (which I repeated), but here's to Mrs. McNeil in first grade. Everything about school changed for me because of you.

When I turned 17 right before Y2K, I experienced my biggest heartbreaks back-to-back. One was an ordinary breakup with a high school boyfriend. It was my first "serio…

Gathering the Family: Where We Live Is Everything

It's an old house, but it's new to them. It's a small house for the street, but it feels big to us. And most importantly, it's close to my house in the beautiful neighborhood where I chose to start my own family, a better neighborhood than any I've ever lived in before. Welcome to my parents' American dream house.

A good human habitat isn't just about the house itself but about location and environment. My parents now have the best neighbor of all: nature. The backyard leads to a forested park. You can see the river from the master bedroom and family room windows. Wild turkeys and herds of deer hang out in the yard. Possums gobble up the ticks, birds sing in the branches, and foxes occasionally appear. Living under trees and near flowing water is so good for humans (like other animals) that walking through natural areas is prescribed as medical treatment in some countries. And in others, spending time in nature is like, well, breathing air.

I'm loving …

Green Therapy Is the New Black Friday

At the risk of sounding like Calvin's dad, it sure feels good to walk off the turkey with a brisk nature hike. Woodlands, parks, and waterfronts are peaceful on Black Friday, when everyone else is playing bumper cars on the icy roads, bludgeoning each other with Nintendo Switches, or crouching indoors behind a screen to troll for great deals on the mountains of junk that sometimes keel over and crush people in Amazon warehouses.

If your weather outside is frightful, however, you may wish to stay inside until the latest storm passes. I recommend building a fire in case the power goes out--and if it doesn't, switch on your best reading light and curl up nearby with a stack of library books. I'm all stocked up with some marvelous finds of my own.

I also have a few other entertainment recommendations for the start of cuffing season. It has now been a nice, round 20 years since the prophetic music video for "Sleep Now in the Fire" by Rage Against the Machine. Pogo l…

Blackout Wednesday in the 'Burbs

It's almost time for the Midwest suburbs' drunkest day of the year! Not New Year's Eve. Not St. Patrick's Day. Not the 4th of July. No, not even MSU vs. U of M game day. It's Drunksgiving! Also known as Blackout Wednesday. Each year, I look forward to it with all the enthusiasm that Wednesday Addams had for Thanksgiving.

That's not genuine moral outrage, by the way. I mean, it's a glorious, satisfying, iconic performance of moral outrage. But think about it. We love the character of Wednesday Addams for being a coldblooded mercenary, a sharp and glamorous mascot for all the nihilism of Gen X, who--Hey, speaking of Gen X, are they going to be at Thanksgiving? Did anyone remember to invite them? In the traditional Boomer vs. Millennial showdown over our feast of greed and gluttony, will Gen X sit back and spectate, forgotten as usual, or will they carry a torch for the sickest burn and use it as a diversion to escape social obligation, like our goth princess …

Happy Spring Awakening of the Rusalki!

The water spirits demand hard-boiled eggs.

According to MagPie's Corner on Facebook, the ancient Slavic holiday week known as "first Rusalii," when the rusalki first awaken in the rivers and streams, is happening now. Apparently, they wake up hangry for bread and hard-boiled eggs.

My family will be baking bread and boiling and decorating eggs, you know, just in case. We do live very close to a river. And traditions are important.

So happy First Rusalii to you! Happy Good Friday! Happy Easter weekend! Happy spring, no matter what or how you celebrate. Where I live, Easter is going to be the first warm, beautiful day we've had in a long time, with many warm days to follow--the perfect weather for a spring awakening.

P.S. Matka Danu Miklagarth, epic historical thriller featuring rusalki-impersonating pirates, is nearly 170,000 words long. If this book ever gets printed, it could be used as a weight to walk across the bottom of a river for real.

We're All Gonna Die, So.

Happy All Saints, All Souls, Samhain, Day of the Dead, Diwali, or other festival of mortality! We're all gonna die, so let's love it up while we're together.

This year, my family kicked off the season of sweet sorrow by dressing as the three best members of the Addams Family to trick-or-treat at a local park. It's a good thing we took that opportunity for a Halloween "dress rehearsal," because it turned out to be the only chance we had to put on our mysterious and spooky drag this year. Our poor little Wednesday caught the public school pukes two Tuesdays in a row, held out through the next one, and succumbed to a third bout on the morning of Halloween. Sometimes, you spend all month grooming your Gomez mustache (pictured above left) or your Morticia nails (one of which I bent backwards but was able to save--oh, the beautiful agony) and then trick-or-treating is canceled anyway. C'est la vie. We shall carve a pumpkin and roast its seeds for our departed …

Sparkles in the Dark

It's December in Michigan, when despite our distance from the Arctic Circle, we get about 10 minutes of direct sunlight spread out over 31 days. 'Tis a cloudy state, thanks to the embrace of the Great Lakes, and there isn't yet a thick blanket of glittery snow to reflect what light filters through. This season is great for building fires, snuggling on the couch with a mug of spiked cocoa and a disturbing foreign film (God help me, I'm not a Hallmark movie kind of lady), lighting one's home with chaotic tangles of string lights, and wearing glittery stuff in the daytime. This season brings out my latent maximalist.

Okay, maybe not latent so much as closeted. This is what the top of my dresser looks like at this very moment.

I'm feeling a 2020s home makeover coming for me that will involve a lot of dark, rich, and bold colors and luscious textures that glow or shine or glimmer in low lighting. I think that this will be a comfort and an inspiration to me. I want t…

Yeet Me Into the Sun

I don't know exactly what "yeet me into the sun" means, but my daughter and her friends think it sounds hilarious, so they say it just to hear each other giggle. They also laugh at buzzwords that are familiar to me from my work in social justice and my own personal healing--like "anxiety" and "triggered"--not in a mean way but in a cleverly playful way, which I think is healthy and gives me hope for the kids these days. So yeet me into the sun that my triggers and anxiety may be pwned.

I am looking forward to taking a break from both my day job and my creative work-in-progress to spend some quality time with my daughter and other family. We are going someplace sunny during this brutally cold time in the Midwest. And it's not just the weather I'm talking about.

Social justice is the Lord's work if there is any, but damn if it isn't hard. Hateful, ignorant people are the easy part. They can be ignored, dismissed, deleted, blocked, or ask…

Back to Belly Dance

Being an old millennial is weird. I still have acne, and I'm about to need bifocals. I'm still fit and at the low end of a healthy weight, but I have a new blerp of fat on my lower belly that's just my life now. My feet and my back and my hips are doing fine, but for how long? I have skeletal issues in all of those areas, and it's only by staying strong and supple that I avoid injuries and aches. For the sake of my overall health and my mood too, I've decided that now is a good time to get back into belly dance.

This art form is great for thin young people to show off their washboard abs, but it's also ideal for people of older ages and curvier body types, especially those of us with some jiggly bits to throw around. In belly dance, having a belly is an asset, not a problem to work off. Dance expert Dr. Valeria Lo Iacono gives solid reasons for loving belly dance as someone who only began learning it in her 30s.

I find that I'm usually more cheerful and en…