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…

I Have Created Something!

I have completed (and rewritten and revised and revised again and edited) an epic historical dark thriller. I have written a subversive Parsival tale in contemporary style, narrated by a a teenage orphan girl of unknown heritage, raised by a hermit of unknown origin, with no particular religion, certain race, or coherent social class, a girl who seeks identity and meaning along her adventures with assorted outcasts, misfits, criminals, and trailblazers. It's a queer, multicultural, interracial, boundary-blurring brick of densely woven subplots and big themes glued together with tears and profanity and bestial love. In other words, I have produced the kind of Byzantine journey saga that only the Millennial alumnus of an urban American public school with both gang violence and a celebrated AP program could have written.

I have no idea whether this work can be packaged and sold as a consumer product (though I sure hope it can), but in this moment, I am riding that high that comes afte…

The Golden Moments

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) 

The only time this is not generally true for me is in the fall. This is the golden moment when I feel most alive, aware, and present with everyone and everything around me. This is when my daughter and I begin most days with a walk in the golden hour of the morning, in this most golden season of the year.

It's also that magical time when my little golden child is still excited about school, from our morning walks to seeing her friends at recess to the Scholastic Book Fair to riding the bus home with more friends. She has already earned another "Golden Warrior of the Week" award (for exceptionally helpful behavior) and received an excellent, glowing report at the first parent-teacher conference of the year.

I've extended my "fallow period" from working on my novel, and I'…

My Alpha

It turns out my husband is a fantastic alpha reader. Who knew? We've been married for 13 years and have known each other for 21. And last weekend was the first time I ever had him alpha read for me. Turns out he's the best creative partner I could ever hope for and that he still has the ability to surprise me with hidden talents and acts of love.

My husband is not really a fiction reader. He probably hasn't read a novel since high school AP lit class. It's not that he doesn't love a good story, it's that he doesn't like sitting still long enough to read a book or watch a movie. He's a very active and extroverted man, and he'd rather have a conversation or a real-life adventure than read a book. He's kind of like Gaston if Gaston weren't an asshole.

So until now, I haven't wanted to bother him with requests to read my writing, because reading novels isn't his jam, and also because I've always harbored guilt at how much time I spen…

In a World of Calvins, Be a Hobbes!

My favorite season is here, and I'm taking a short break from working on my book to bask in the joys of fall. Beautiful autumn days are too precious to waste! I'm renewing my vow to be a Hobbes as part of my 2019 mantra to Be Bestial.

I'm taking author Kate Angus's advice to give myself a fallow period, even if it's short. For the next week or so, it's going to be stormy outside, which is both detrimental to outdoor activities and kind of exciting and inspirational, so I'll be back at my writing desk. If all goes well, I will soon be working on my agent submission documents!