Good-bye and Good Riddance, 2015

2 Jan

Okay, 2015, you had your good points. The garden was great. Broccoli in December? Big plus. Also, my husband retired in June, and he is happy all day long. He does one project or another with such astonishing speed that he is a joy to watch. At Christmas, my older child reminded me that I have won life’s lottery because one of my sons is a chef in training and the other is an Apple Genius, so they could, if need be, take care of all my food and technology needs, and what other needs are there, really? And how about Spotlight, and Game of Thrones, and Twitter, and Art, and my friends, and chocolate, and flowers, and chocolate,  and . . .

But the news. You know. I don’t even need to say anything. It’s like looking into a big pail of throw-up.  Let me count the way.

First, would anyone care to argue that this year was one of ennobling political discourse? It was crude, infantile, hateful, and probably horribly effective. I fear that Trump tapped into something bloodthirsty, stupid and crazy that has been seeking legitimacy in certain parts of the American voterate.America on race: This year I wrote a non-fiction book for young adults about racial profiling. It was a very difficult book to write for three reasons. 1. The story kept changing. 2. I’m white. 3. It broke my heart 20 times. But it was a powerful experience. Even though it was actually the second book I wrote about racial profiling and the first one didn’t crush me nearly the same way. This was the YEAR of racial profiling. And it was the year that all the dots connected, one by one, until it was as if these dots were so many axons firing together that a live bright line of a message was seared across my brain, a live neuronal wire: something terribly wrong is going on in our country, something is unjust, our beautiful children are being killed, and we can’t rest until this is fixed.

I realized that this is a depressing time to be a woman. I mean, compared to 99 percent of human history, it’s a good time. But compared to being a man, it’s not as good. And why should that be? I watched one of the Republican debates and I was viscerally repelled. Holy crap, I thought. Do they think women can’t hear them? I guess I’m not used to being talked about so blatantly as if I couldn’t possibly think for myself.

Okay. I’m going to stop ranting. Personally, this year was just hard. If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t been writing much. I’ve only been posting things I’ve drawn. . That’s for a good reason and a bad reason. The good reason is that I’ve created a lot of pictures. The bad reason is that I’ve felt as if I’m in a land beyond words. I’ve written in my own journal, but I haven’t written to friends, haven’t spoken much to people outside of my own immediate family circle for a long time. I have been struggling with an autoimmune disease and all of its fallout. In 2016, I hope to articulate what a strange experience it has been to be among the upside-down world of what Susan Sontag called “the kingdom of the sick.” It is such a constant surprise of otherness that I still can’t believe some of the experiences I have, emotional, physical, and relational (is that a word?) every day. For

For a long time I thought it was so weird that maybe people wouldn’t believe me or think I was insane. But now I think that maybe people are curious about what other people’s lives are like. Maybe people secretly really would like to know what it is like to be inside the lives of another person, if that person can write about it without self-pity. I reread James MacBride’s wonderful memoir The Color of Water this year. It is about what it was like to grow up as one of 12 black kids of a Jewish mother in an extremely poor household in New York City. This family didn’t even have enough to eat–and yet every single kid was fiercely successful. It is an amazing story.

Can I just say what I experience? I don’t know yet. It is a mystery and a wonder. But maybe I’ll try. I’m beginning to suspect that there is something about struggling and suffering and vulnerability and weakness that is not, as I fear in my weakest moments, sad and pathetic, but is actually, the universal human connector. It is what every story about all of us, every story we care about, is actually all about. It’s what any story I’d want to hear about you would be about. It’s not interesting to hear what was easy for you to do. What was hard for you to do, and how did you do that thing? Or, what did you learn from trying? That’s what human beings have to share with each other that’s of value. That, and kindness.

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