Bye 2017, Hello 2018
|collage by Nux Gallica, age 6, |
featuring her mother's favorite coat
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.