Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Today is the 20th anniversary of my mom’s death.

20 years feels like a long time. This also marks the point at which I’ve been alive longer without my mom than I was with her.

I’ve been thinking, as I am wont to do, about grief, and about our society’s difficulty accepting and supporting grief. I’ve been thinking of the ways in which I have not been well served in being taught about grief or shamed into pretending not to have it. I’ve been thinking a lot about the past.

On Tuesday night I was very sad about all of this. I was sitting finishing up some reading, and I found myself crying. I’m not afraid of grief anymore. It’s a flavor of discomfort I don’t mind sitting with, so I did. I sat, and I felt sad.

I did need to write a personal email to a friend of mine, and I knew it would also end up being sad. I considering not writing it, putting it off. After twenty years, it is wearying, dealing with people’s unhelpful reactions to grief, to sadness, to any emotion that isn’t happy or quiet or easy.

But I did write it. Not out of some desperate hope either. I included a boundary, just in case, but I knew it would be fine. I knew this person would show up for me, just as I was, sadness and all. And they did.

So I can think about the past. I can think of all the pain and disappointment. I can think of the times all those years ago when I was really struggling and people didn’t show up, or I gave a cry for help and was instead pushed further down. Those things will always have happened. They cannot be changed. They are irrevocable.

But then I return to the present, and the present is a very different story. It’s not that it erases the past, but it removes some of its sting. And it makes the progress I’ve made and my relationships with the people who show up for me now even more meaningful. I know what it is not to be here, and so I know exactly how precious the love and solicitude and presence I receive now are.

To be allowed the space for grief is a transformative thing.

My grief is difficult and uncomfortable and messy, and it always has been. My mom was a remarkable person, warm and loving and she gave the best hugs I’ve ever received. And she was also a parent who regularly went off the rails, with all the stress and confusion and trauma such a statement implies. The grief of losing such a person is never going to be simple. For so long I felt so much outside pressure for it to be clean, for it to be your standard tragedy narrative, but that’s not what it is, and it never was.

It broke my heart when she died. And that’s okay. My heart breaks all the time. Sometimes it heals quickly and cleanly, and other times it takes a really long time and leaves an ugly scar behind. Sometimes I don’t want anyone else to see those really ugly scars, and sometimes all I want in the world is for someone to see them and recognize the beauty in their ugliness. Those scars, they show vulnerability and the courage that goes with it, and the persistence to continue on with both of those things in spite of the fact it would be easier not to. And they are also evidence of naiveté and a certain slowness to learn, which are endearing in their own imperfect ways.

I told myself, all those years ago, whatever else you do, Amy, you need to fight to keep an open heart. Because I’d rather suffer and make lots of dumb mistakes and wonder how on earth to keep going with an open heart than shut down and go through the motions with a closed one.

Whatever else you do, Amy. It’s twenty years later. My heart is still open.

20180309_173346

Advertisements

Top Reads of 2017

Well, hello again! I’ve been taking a break from blogging after struggling with health issues post-car accident, but it is time to talk about books. I cannot miss an opportunity to talk about books with you all!

Here are this year’s stats. I’ve read 52 books this year, a little bit down from last year. (My usual goal is 60, and I’m hoping I’ll get closer to that number by the end of the year.)  About a third of those books were adult speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), which is in line with my usual reading habits. I read a lot less YA than normal, which makes sense given I was writing a novel that wasn’t YA. I read a lot more romance than usual, mostly fueled by my fondness for Georgette Heyer, who I definitely recommend reading while recovering from a brain injury. 79% of my reading was written by women, the same as last year, and 25% of my reading was written by writers of color, also similar to last year.

My Favorite Volume of Poetry:

Night Sky with Exit Wounds, by Ocean Vuong

I haven’t read much modern poetry, but this volume made me want to read more. I like his sense of language and the emotionality of his poems.

My Favorite Romances:

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer

Honestly it’s between this one and Frederica for my favorite Georgette Heyer Regency romance thus far. Why Georgette Heyer? Because she does some serious world building and in general doesn’t go in for weird modernizations for a historical. She does jump the shark occasionally plot-wise, but these two novels, if I remember correctly, are particularly solid in that regard. And swoon-worthy, which is what I want from a good romance.

The Undateable, by Sarah Title

After falling in love with Heyer’s work, I tried to find a modern romance writer I also liked. And finally after mostly despairing I stumbled upon this title. The female protagonist is a feminist librarian who likes little dogs so basically this book was written for me.

My Favorite Literary Titles:

These three works are as different as different can be, but all blew me away.

The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

This novel is quite weird and effective in its weirdness. If you want something uncomfortable and surreal that makes you think, give it a try.

Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster

I found this classic about social conventions and mores and gender dynamics in turn-of-the-century (that’s 19th to 20th century, mind you) England to be surprisingly fascinating. I got so uncomfortable in the middle, and so sure my lovely protagonist was going to make a terrible and unsupportable error that I wanted to stop reading. I’m glad I didn’t.

Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay

What can I say about this short story collection? Well, Roxane Gay has become one of my favorite writers, largely based on these stories. I kept sending my friend excerpts and links to various stories because I had to share them with someone as I read them. Roxane Gay has a clear eye for revealing poignant, painful, and uncomfortable truths through her fiction. Highly recommended.

20171213_224012

Do not be distracted by the little dog sleeping in the background.

My Favorite YA Novels:

Landscape with Invisible Hand, by M.T. Anderson

I love M.T. Anderson’s Feed so I was excited to try his newest science fiction YA novel, and while I didn’t love it as passionately as Feed, it was thought-provoking and well drawn, showing the personal effects of an alien invasion on one teenager, including the detrimental economic consequences. This novel has a small, mostly quiet scope that creeps up and knocks your socks off.

Jane Unlimited, by Kristin Cashore

This is one of my top three reads of the year (along with Roxane Gay’s collection and a science fiction novel we haven’t gotten to yet). Its structure is fascinating and  allows Kristin Cashore to play with several different genres (some speculative) in a way that really worked for me. I was worried she wouldn’t have an overall progression/arc across the entire novel, but she managed to do it. This book was crafted with such attention to detail, it stuns me to contemplate. If you enjoy parallel universes, art and being an artist, capers, spy shenanigans, really creepy shit, devoted dogs, and/or magical houses, you might enjoy this book. Or, you know, if you just want to read something brilliant.

My Favorite SF/F Novels/Novellas:

Mostly science fiction this year (except for The Stone Sky), which is very exciting!

The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin

I was a little nervous beginning this because the stakes felt high to me–would N.K. Jemisin land the ending to this fascinating trilogy? The answer is yes. She manages to tie all the threads together. Probably the must-read fantasy trilogy of this decade.

Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty

This clone generation ship murder mystery was a fun frolic; very entertaining and exactly what I was in the mood for when I read it.

Star’s End, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

There is some great character work in this science fiction novel about a woman poised to take over a powerful corporation from her ailing father. It asks important questions like: how much does your family inform who you are, and can you avoid their mistakes? How much does the past and your past choices inform who you are? What does it mean to make compromises for the greater good? What responsibility do we bear for other people’s past mistakes? How can we make amends to people we have betrayed or is that even possible? Ah, such a good book. It also involves terraforming and corporate espionage and first contact and clones (and oh how I love clone stories!)

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee

The first two of a…trilogy, I assume?…of military science fiction fantasy, these books blasted into my life, full of originality and freshness. There was a certain curve figuring out what was happening in the first novel as I grew to understand the world, but the effort was well worth making.

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

This page-turning novella featuring a “Murderbot” trying to protect her clients is almost painfully charming. The plotting and world building is top-notch here in a fun mystery-action adventure, but it is the inwardly misanthropic yet deeply caring android protagonist that steals the show and makes me love this story. And I got a sneak peek at the next two installments in the series, both due out in 2018, and they’re excellent as well!

The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M. Banks

And now we come to the third of my three favorite books of the year, and the last of the Culture series. I heard this book being recommended as an uplifting novel, which seemed like something I could do with this year, and then I heard it was Iain Banks’s last novel and he wrote it when he knew he was dying (I am not certain this is true, by the way, but it informed my decision to read it). And oh, this book. It deals with questions of death and the meaning of lives and entire cultures and species, and the anxiety of considering what comes after life as we know it.

I will say that overall this book didn’t get great reviews. It was long and a bit meandering and not a page-turner, and there were some holes and oversights. It is a flawed novel, yes. But for me it also managed to hit some relevant and powerful truths that made it very worthwhile for me. And I have to admit I have a weakness for Culture Ships, musicians who aren’t quite sure of their way, and questions of immortality. So it is a definite Amy book.

* * * * *

And that completes my list. I’m glad I got to read so many interesting books this year, and as always I’m looking forward to MORE BOOKS. Feel free to tell me what you read that you most enjoyed this year; I’d love to hear your favorites!

“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” – Albert Einstein

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quotation recently. It seems both particularly jarring and particularly relevant.

As an empathetic person, as a sensitive person, this world has never been an especially easy place to live. Perhaps as a writer, also; I went to hear Elizabeth Strout speak tonight and she said for as long as she could remember she’d known she was a writer and she’d known she was somehow different. She talked about the essential estrangement of being a writer. I don’t know what causes it exactly, but I did know exactly what she was talking about.

One night long ago when I was at university, I was staring out my window at the redwood trees and for a stretch of time it was as if I could feel the suffering of everyone in the city from my own little room. The experience struck me, and I told one of my best friends about it. He laughed at me and made a derisive comment about how I sounded religious (he was a fervent atheist). I felt embarrassed and didn’t speak of it again. It was only many years later that I remembered that moment and saw it for the awakening of empathy that it perhaps was.

But this world is hard on empathy. It is particularly easy for me to see this right now, when inequality in my country is growing at an ever more rapid rate and we’re seeing the promotion of legislation that will continue to speed its advance and disenfranchise a growing population. It is incredibly painful to witness. People are being cruel, on both an individual and a societal level, and while I have always felt that peculiar displacement that is the hallmark of a writer, I have never felt it more acutely than I do now. I told my sister earlier this week, “I don’t feel like I belong in this world.” And I suspect I am not alone in this feeling.

And then there is my personal journey. When you’ve never learned how to institute boundaries properly or how to advocate for needs of your own, you get to see some pretty ugly behavior. Even now I get to see some of this, although it happily no longer has the chance to escalate as far. And then there are people who are perfectly happy to normalize and make excuses for this behavior, which is pretty bad behavior in and of itself. All of this is not exactly uplifting or encouraging.

So then why am I thinking about this quotation in which Einstein appears to at the very least believe in the possibility of a friendly universe? Why am I thinking about this when things are so bad? Why am I thinking about this when I know people can be so awful to one another? Oh God, is Amy going to start harping about positivity again?

Okay, look, here is what I know. I know people do shitty, shitty things. I know it’s important to be realistic and protect yourself. I know some people and groups of people are incredibly self-interested, greedy, ignorant, and intolerant. I know that humanity sometimes takes steps forward and sometimes takes steps back. The steps back can be truly awful to witness.

I also know people can do wonderful things. I know they can surprise you with their kindness, their integrity, their generosity, and their wisdom. I know they create beautiful works of art and useful technologies that make lives better.

I know when you see a lot of suffering and chaos around you, when you take hit after hit until it feels like life is personally against you, that it can be easy to see only the bad. That you can stop hoping for anything better, or even being able to imagine anything better, in an act of self-preservation. That you can dramatically say, “I don’t feel like I belong in this world” (cough guilty cough).

I have this uncanny sense of impending crisis. I’ve had it since adolescence. When a lot depends on being able to predict when something bad is about to happen, you can become remarkably good at it, and so I did. I actually kind of hate it though because it is ALWAYS FREAKING RIGHT. And then I have to go ahead and deal with it as if there’s a chance of me not stepping into chaos instead of, you know, spending more time in blissful ignorance before it hits.

Anyway, recently I had my sense of impending crisis. And as usual I told myself, “Well, you don’t know for sure, even though your danger sense is pinging wildly, so you still have to behave in a mature and thoughtful manner.” Which is something of a feat when your nervous system is basically screaming at you to do a roll dive into cover and never come out. Because of a danger sense that is ALWAYS FREAKING RIGHT.

Only this time something different happened. This time the danger sense was…wrong? It was. I am still surprised as I type this, but it was wrong. It finally happened. And I said to myself, “I need to always remember this moment when the danger wasn’t real after all.”

My point is this: By all means, have your danger sense. You probably need it. It will help you. It might even save your life.

But also leave open at least the barest possibility that something good will come. Leave open the possibility that the danger sense that appears to be foolproof can in fact be wrong. Instead of shifting into automatic pilot, continue to ask questions and continue to be present.

It is a privilege to be able to perceive the universe as friendly. It is also a practice. Sadly, we don’t always have the privilege. And reality is never so cut and dried anyway; the universe can be both friendly AND hostile. But we can continue carrying on the practice in believing in the good as well as the bad and do our part to make the good manifest. 

IMG_20170330_180237_086

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I was talking to a friend last week, and he said, “So what about the blog?”

I explained to him some of my thoughts about the blog. And then he said, “Well, why don’t you just be honest about it? What I always liked about your blog was how honest you were about everything.”

There are several reasons I haven’t been blogging much this last several months. The primary one, of course, is my health, and I’ve already written about that. But given what has been going on in the world, I’ve also been reluctant to blog because in some ways, it feels…weird. There is a dissonance between my personal experience of the world, which is what I blog about, and the greater events that are unfolding right now. And I have been uncertain about how to deal with that.

I feel like I want to give a constant disclaimer: I know there’s a lot of crazy shit going down in the world right now, and I’m aware of it, and that is the background context upon which everything else sits. Did you read that article last week about how an economist at MIT believes the U.S. is turning into a developing country for something like 80 percent of the population? That is the country I am living in. Anxieties about immigration, about health care, about nuclear war, about civil rights, about the rise of kleptocracy, these and many more are issues that those of us living in the United States are now stewing in.

I am also aware of exactly how lucky I am to be where I am now in my life. I write a lot here about taking opportunities to create personal change, to live an examined life, to heal what needs to be healed. I still believe this is incredibly important. In the past I have spent a lot of time thinking about why people don’t take the opportunities that are presented to them, and I have a lot to say on that subject. But recently I have been thinking much more about the many people who never received those opportunities in the first place, and I have little to say about it that other people are not saying better and from a stronger base of experience.

Finally, I spent all this time working on changing, and I’ve tried to give you a window to that experience through this blog. I spent years toiling away. And then I moved to a new place, and I was in an accident, and I sat and waited to heal, and now…

Everything is different.

It’s not as dramatic as it sounds, but it is the essential truth of my experience over the past year. Moving shifted everything, giving me a new foundation from which to work, and the changes I’d been working on for so long came together. Now I can see them informing my life in a variety of ways, and many of them no longer take so much work to maintain. It feels sudden even though it was anything but sudden.

So I’ve needed time to process how things are different, and it’s also a little uncomfortable that just when the outer world completely explodes is when I’m doing so well in many ways personally (except for health stuff, of course.) It feels strangely perverse to feel so much gratitude and well-being when so much shit is going down.

But I’ve had some downtime now, and I do still hope to blog sometimes. Here on the Practical Free Spirit, I write about my experiences, for better or for worse. My friend is right; I’m very honest in my writing here. I try to say what is true even when I’m playing with language or can’t get into specifics. So that is what I will try to continue to offer you: the truths as I see them, both small and large, and mostly personal.

I know these might not be what you need, but they are what I have to offer you. I know in the grand scheme of things I am not important; I say this not to be humble but to put things into perspective. I know times are hard, and it looks like they might get worse. But if my story can entertain you, or divert you, or give you a modicum of comfort or insight, then I am not wasting my time.

Writers write, even in challenging times. In the novel My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout, a writing teacher tells the protagonist, “You will have only one story….You’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You have only one.”

This is my story. It is the one I have to tell.

20170421_134316

The day after the Inauguration, I had a long conversation with someone who was fighting despair. He was obviously a smart guy, educated, well-spoken, reasonable. He was trying to make sense of what was happening on the national political stage and come up with a plan to fix it, and he was failing. His failure, to which I imagine he is at least somewhat unaccustomed, was causing him a lot of distress.

I told him, “This is an unprecedented and chaotic time, and there isn’t a simple easy fix. No one knows what is this is going to lead to in the future.”

I want you to pause and let that sink in: No one knows what is going to happen.

Seriously. I don’t care how smart any one individual is. They do not know what is going to happen. Most of them do not even have all the facts. Unless X-men mutant powers have suddenly manifested around the globe, nobody knows what the future will bring. They can guess. They can analyze. They can plan. They can string together a line of facts with speculation. But they cannot know.

Why does this matter?

Fear has two sides. On the one hand, it can be an effective weapon. It can galvanize us into action, overcoming the impulses of laziness, denial, and apathy.  It can help us develop courage and integrity. It can act as a loud warning siren that something has gone wrong in the world around us.

But if left unchecked, fear can spiral out of control. It can deepen into despair and defeatist thinking. It can overwhelm and paralyze. It can lead a person into believing there is nothing they can do.

And spending too much time dwelling on and being terrified by an unknown future can lead to this spiral of despair all too easily.

How do we combat this? By aggressive self care, by acknowledging that we do not know what the future will bring, and by empowering ourselves by focusing on concrete actions we can take.

But Amy, I hear someone say, what good are my actions? They won’t make any difference.

And to that person I say, I understand how you feel. We are, each of us, tiny specks of sand being blown by the winds of history in the making. It is an uncomfortable feeling.

But you are wrong. Over and over again in this blog, I have written about the importance of the individual’s choices, about how we impact the world around us, about how living a mindful and examined life matters. And that has never been more true than at this moment.

What you believe matters. How you choose to conduct yourself matters. Acting with integrity matters. Reaching out and supporting your friends, your communities, your families, that all matters. Staying engaged and informed matters. Donating matters. Becoming engaged in the political process matters. Organizing matters. Protesting matters. What you create as an artist matters.

You do not have to conduct a very deep dive into history to find concrete examples of how these things have impact: various independence movements; women’s suffrage; the Civil Rights Movement; the LGBTQ rights movement; the Tea Party. And that’s just off the top of my head. These sorts of things are usually messy and often deeply imperfect, because we as individuals make mistakes and are deeply imperfect. But over time they can change the status quo. Our actions do matter.

And if the fear is strong in you right now, know you don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it alone. That is why organizing is so important, because when it works well, you become more than the sum of your parts. You support each other. You don’t have to be an expert on every single issue. You can take breaks. You can focus on your strengths and not beat yourself up so hard over your weaknesses. You can raise up your voices together, and a million voices are a hell of a lot louder than one single voice.

As Dylan Thomas so famously wrote:

“Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Fight against despair because it will lie to you. It will tell you your integrity and your principles no longer matter. And that is simply not true.

Who you are will always matter.

20170106_163132

Well, 2016

I tried to write about 2016 this past week and I couldn’t do it. I wrote some words, but then I thought, these words don’t matter to me, and I let them languish unpublished. Instead I spent most of the week alone, reflecting and resting and, perhaps most of all, listening, giving myself the deep focused listening I craved.

When I think of 2016, the first memory that comes to mind is a day in early August. I was lying on one of those vaguely uncomfortable exam tables in a small private room at Urgent Care, wearing jeans and a thin cotton hospital gown. I was cold. I was frightened. I kept accidentally beginning to cry, not a loud sobbing with lots of tissues but more of a silent scream where I’d suddenly find tears plastered to my cheeks. My head hurt so badly, I was so confused, my brain kept betraying me again and again. I was alone.

I was waiting for my CAT scan to find out if my brain was bleeding. If my brain was bleeding I’d go in for brain surgery. At least that was my understanding from the brief forbidden peek on the internet I’d allowed myself. If I went in for brain surgery, who knew if I’d come out. It didn’t sound particularly promising. I knew I’d do whatever the doctors said without asking questions because I wasn’t capable of making any important decisions and there was no one else there to help. At that moment, it was out of my control and all I could do was sit and wait and try to hold myself together even though it felt like I was watching my brain disintegrate.

I wish somebody had been with me then. And I know some of you reading this right now are wishing you had been there, and in my imagination I edit it so you were there holding my hand. There is some comfort there. But at the time, of course, I wasn’t able to imagine things, and I couldn’t even access or control my own thoughts properly, and I was very alone, and I thought: “This is what people mean when they say everyone dies alone. I never realized quite how horrific that idea was until this moment.”

But I didn’t die. Instead I got some valuable practice, and maybe next time I’ll do better. Maybe next time I’ll find a small core of peace inside myself. Maybe next time I’ll have more grace.

When I think of my 2016, I think endurance. I endured, and I’m proud of what I accomplished. I made some difficult decisions that led to big changes that I believe will make my life better down the line. I suffered from the worst injury of my life and I didn’t give up. I learned a lot. I didn’t close down, and I held onto my vision of a brighter future. I found moments of joy and connection even in the midst of tremendous struggle. I went to great lengths to take care of myself and to respect myself, and I feel like, even though it was very hard for me, I did a better job of it than perhaps I’ve ever done before. I’m very tired, but here I am.

I didn’t like 2016, but I’m grateful for the time I’m getting, even when it really sucks. I feel lucky to be here.

For all of you who had good years, I’m so glad. You keep my hope strong. And if you had a bad year, I admire you for hanging in there, and I really hope the next year is better for us both.

20161123_174050

I’m sitting here typing this on the longest night of the year. After this, the nights will be a few minutes shorter, and then a few minutes shorter again. At some point in the not-so-distant future, it won’t be dark at 4:15 in the afternoon. The sun will make it till 4:30 and then even 5:00.

I can’t give you words of comfort about the state of the world because I don’t have any right now. What I can give you is comfort on a more personal level.

Every year I make a photobook of highlights from the year that’s just gone by and give it to myself for Christmas. This year I didn’t want to make one. I put it off, and then I put it off some more. I thought it would be depressing. 2016 was such a challenging and difficult year for me personally, what photos would I even have to choose from? But finally I forced myself to sit down and start the job by telling myself I could always just make a whole book of cute Nala pictures. No one else might enjoy looking at a book like that, but I would like it.

What I found, though, as I started putting photos onto pages, was that there was still plenty to be happy about in 2016. My book wasn’t a lot shorter than usual, and it wasn’t a lot sadder than usual. There was still joy and love and silliness to record on its pages. There was still hope.

And I realize, when I think back on the year, how much of my joy derives from the people I care about. It’s been easier than usual to forget this year because there was a lot going on, and much of that was disappointing or ugly or just plain tough. But when I think about the year, I don’t just think about all the hard times. I also think of all the people who were there through the hard times.

I think of friends in the Bay Area who took me out, who danced with me, who listened to me without judgment, who fed me sushi and waffles and peanut butter pie. I think of those friends who supported me moving to Seattle one hundred percent even though they were personally sad I was leaving. And I think of the phone calls and messages since I moved, and how those friendships haven’t gone anywhere.

I think of my friends at Rainforest who helped me figure some stuff out. I think of my friends in LA who I hadn’t seen in years who welcomed me back into their lives with open arms. I think of my high school friends with whom I shared a special reunion. I think of my friends at Worldcon in Kansas City who looked out for me since my health wasn’t good.

I think of my friends in Seattle and how humbled I have been by their kindness and generosity. I had only been living here ONE MONTH when my life completely fell apart, and you all stepped up to the challenge, even though many of you barely knew me. I can’t think about it without crying. Your willingness to show up and be there for me and help me means everything to me. And there were many people supporting me from a distance as well. You showed me how good people can be and how little it sometimes takes to make a huge difference in someone else’s life. You have forever changed my experience of the world.

I think of my close friends, my inner circle. The ones who know me best, who know my faults as well as my strengths and love me anyway. The ones who walk beside me as we share what we think and how we feel. The ones who understand the less obvious things about me, the ones who validate my feelings, the ones who I trust. I feel so lucky to have met you.

And I think of Nala, of course, who is loyal and sweet and mischievous and empathetic. And who was so scared of being left when we’d moved to a new state that she learned how to grab onto my legs with her front paws while standing on her back paws. There is no one more concerned about my welfare than that little dog, and she brightens my life every single day just by being herself.

When we go through hard times we learn a lot, both about ourselves and about the people who are around us. What I learned this year is that even when everything is going to hell, some people will be kind and they will be true. And there are an awful lot of people out there who love and care about me, and who I love and care about back.

On the longest night of the year, I think about all of you, and then it doesn’t seem so very dark.

20161210_130521