So. 2016. She’s been…a doozy. And I, too, find myself occasionally referring to her as a “dumpster fire” and “the year that shall not be named.” I mean, it’s hard to have Faith when George isn’t even here any more to tell me I’ve “gotta have” it. And I don’t yet have the words to talk about Carrie Fisher, so I’ll let Jenny do it.
But I also know that regardless of the setbacks we experienced this year, I’m still a seriously lucky bitch. 2016 gave as much as she took away for me personally. I’m working hard to remember that. If only to fan the strength and resolve I’m going to need to tackle 2017.
So before I say goodbye to her, these are the things for which I’d like to thank the year 2016.
My kid learned to manage his anxiety.
I didn’t talk about it much here because…well…I guess because I didn’t talk about it that much. My 5yo is high strung. NO IDEA WHERE FROM WHERE HE MIGHT HAVE INHERITED SUCH A TRAIT STOP LOOKING AT ME. *rubs temples, pops more Advil*
We had some really tough challenges finding ways for him to feel safe and relax enough to sleep. We still have challenges, in truth. But now we have tools, too, to manage them. I couldn’t be prouder of the hard work he put in to practice using and mastering those tools.
I had my Erma moment.
I visited the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop for the first time this year. Erma credited her writing career to the kind words of one of her University of Dayton professors who pulled her aside outside of class one day and told her, “You can write.” While there, I won the Pitchapalooza contest, an experience that was both validating and exhilarating. Afterwards, a woman I had not yet met came up to me, slipped her hand in mine, and leaned in to whisper, “You had your Erma moment. You can write.” That moment gave me the permission I didn’t know I needed to properly chase the dream of this writing gig.
I finished the book.
Again. Somehow a whole second half, to a manuscript I thought long ago finished, poured out from me. And I think it’s good. It’s probably good. At the very least it has several completely inappropriate jokes that will make my mother very uncomfortable. And just in case you’re reading this right now, Mom…vagina.
Somewhere in between my children becoming more self-sufficient and the adults of the household figuring out how to juggle our obligations, I’ve managed to carve out time to do the things that bring me joy – paint, uke, write. We’ve even found a way to create enough time to record ridiculous ukulele videos fairly regularly. That’s a bigger win than I even fathomed possible last year.
I fucking saw Hamilton. With the original cast. Then I stood there and nodded without drooling while Lin-Manuel made direct eye contact with me and probably talked to me but honestly that part is a little hazy. I’m pretty sure his succulent lips were moving.
I met some amazing women writers.
At Erma, BlogU, and trips into Manhattan, I met some of the brilliant, empowered, and talented women writers that I have admired from afar. To touch their kind hands, to elicit their smiles, to bask in the music of their boisterous laughter? In person? To know them as flesh and blood and bone and grit and resolve and REALITY? That was good. Really good.
My brother had a baby.
Like the real human kind. He’s cute and smiley and A TOTAL LIE as far as my personal experience with babies goes. But I get to know my brother in a whole new way now. I’m grateful to have him join me on this shit-stained, urine-soaked journey of love and sacrifice and miniature scrotums in your face all of the time.
I cast my Presidential vote for a woman.
Sure, the aftermath has been a total shit show. But I went in that booth with my son, held back tears of pride (and mourning for what I already suspected we had lost) and we pushed that button together. Me and my tiny, empathetic feminist. Nothing can take that moment away from me.
Every lap around the sun is a victory in and of itself, right? I was here and I showed up. My strong lungs filled with air and exploded in laughter while the love of my life allowed his progeny to leap repeatedly on his supine form. My thumb throbbed with warmth while encased in the hand of a sweet two year as we lay together in the dark, waiting for his heartbeat to slow until his muscles slackened in sleep, releasing me. I heard the pride in my confidant’s voice as she helped her grandchildren pick out special luggage for visits to her home. I watched my favorite feminist jump, chase, and roar with his grandchildren.
I know more now on December 30th than I did last January 1st – both about myself and the world.
And I’m not done.
But, 2016, please know that I am NOT issuing you a challenge to show us just how much more damage you can do before departing. On that note, here’s a vintage ukulele of one of Mr. Michael’s songs from a few years ago. Normally I’d wait until Friday to post this, but there’s no telling who else we’ll be mourning by then.