Year in Review: 2018

Drumroll….Ta Da! My annual round up of answers to random questions. I like having done this for a while. Perspective and retrospection are always nice to have. Here are the posts from 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.


What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Dealt with the discomfort, anxiety, and dissociation of not knowing what is wrong with my body. Thus, The Boob Issue. I also vacationed by myself, and it wasn’t (that) lonely or sad. Both of these stories warrant more explanation.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No resolutions. I always have a desire to continue to do better things for myself, my friends, the world, but I think by now I can conclude that a new year’s resolution isn’t the way to inspire me to do that. I do have a few guidelines that I tried to live by when I moved into the new apartment in August. In the new place, I a) wash my face every night b) keep the cat litter acceptable for His Highness so he doesn’t pee on things, and c) make the bed. I fail at this miserably but I try again the next day.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin Heather & Luck had a very sweet (surprise!) baby named Amaya! My friends Rachel and Luis welcomed Anne Katherine, the baby with the best laugh I’ve ever heard! And there are still a few days left in 2018, so little Piney might make an appearance. And Marisa & Mike were blessed with sweet little chubby cheeked Matilda.

Did anyone close to you die?

I just found out that the owner/co-founder of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, John Laytham, died. I’m a generous person because of two people in my life: my mother and John. He (and Clyde’s) taught me a lot about hospitality, but more importantly, helped shape who I am as a business person and a member of the community. Thanks for everything, John.

I had a very dear friend attempt to die from depression. Luckily, she made it through that crisis and is here to make us laugh again. Paula and I had her on our podcast and it was a really good episode, if I do say so myself.

Also, Aretha. Growing up, a few of my dad’s favorite albums (at least according to soundtrack of my childhood) were Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, That’s a Plenty by The Pointer Sisters, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim by Jim Croce, and Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin.

There was something about Aretha’s voice that really made my dad feel a certain kind of way. I remember once how my he explained to me a how a singer’s voice can hit a note so pure, it spins you. His examples were Aretha (all time fave), but also Peggy Lee, Eva Cassidy, and Patsy Cline. I would add to that list Sara Bareilles, Patty Griffin, and Brandi Carlile.

What countries did you visit?

I went to Puerto Rico! By myself! It was absolutely gorgeous. The trip was restorative, relaxing, healing, and very, very, very needed.

What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

Romantic love and affection, same as 2017. I’d also like to travel more (which I’ll be doing through my new job), have more free space in my place (aka continue to downsize), and to move my body more.  The other things I wanted last year –a clearer sense of self, a new apartment, a tad more financial security — I got!

What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • February 13: surgery day to remove a might-be-cancerous duct from my left breast
  • February 21: The day I got the pathology report. Benign.
  • August 18: Moved into a new apartment after a decade in my old place
  • September 17: Started my new job

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Took the big step of leaving a job after 4 years and moving apartments after 10.

What was your biggest failure?

I don’t think I failed at that many things this year. Nothing notable. Go me! Not a failure!

Did you suffer illness or injury?

In November of 2017, I noticed blood in my bra. Then a few weeks later, I saw it again. So I lifted my breast to give the ol’ girl a look-see and BLOOD CAME OUT OF MY NIPPLE. Like, M Night Shyamalan style. It was so weird. Four months later, in February of 2018, after all the biopsies, I had surgery.  It deserves it’s own post, especially about how it made me think of life/death/isolation/loneliness/connectedness. More to come.

What was the best thing you bought?

Plane ticket and Air B&B in Puerto Rico!

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Just to name a few: Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Danica Roem, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michelle Obama… Also my friend Matt. He’s become a body positive mental health activist. It’s a lovely compliment to me that he, as a thin person with no mental health issues, is taking on the fight, but it’s also exposing a soft, fluffy part of his heart that I’ve been watching grow for a few years now.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Donald Trump. GET HIM THE FUCK OUT OF OUR GOVERNMENT OMFG FFS JFC.

Where did most of your money go?

Same as the past few years — rent, parking, and mental health care not covered by insurance — but happy to say that some money went to vacation!

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My new place. I have always loved being a city girl since I moved into DC proper in 2002. But I absolutely LOVE living in this neighborhood where I can walk to everything I need. Adams Morgan has changed a lot, but it’s kept its authenticity, which is not a euphemism for people of color. Sure, it’s been gentrified but the small mom & pop restaurants, tattoo parlors and frame shops that have kept Adams Morgan weird are still there, just nestled between &pizza, a fancy hotel, and some bougie ice cream parlors.

What song will always remind you of 2018?

“Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. When I’m alone in my car, I bellow, “I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in, I’ll never meet the ground!”

What do you wish you’d done more of?

What I wrote last year: “Here’s an off the cuff list: travel, taken life less seriously, cleaned, gotten out of my own head, pushed myself to fight my introvertedness, snipped Otis’s goddamn claws, read more books, journaled more, accepted help from other people, seen more live music.”

In 2018, I didn’t read or see significantly more live music, nor did I snip Otis’s claws more frequently, but I accepted help from others quite easily, I cleaned and I did get out of my own head. Nothing like a cancer scare to shake your shit up.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I had spent less time wringing my hands about cleaning and more time just picking up a few things. A lesson I continue to learn over and over is that nothing is as bad as my brain will imagine it to be. It’s just a towel; pick it up. (For all my depressed people out there, this is My Thing.)

How did you spend Christmas?

I started a new job, so I didn’t have the accrued vacay time to go to Arkansas. It was sad not being with my parents, or my sweet grandmother, but it was probably the best decision I made this year. Instead, I got to celebrate Christmas by flying in and out of Syracuse for a quick trip to see my Rossi sisters, going to church with Marisa & Mike to hear an amazing sermon about God’s love, inclusivity and our responsibility to not “appallingly misrepresent” Jesus’s intentions, and “Christmas hop” to a few of my not-by-blood family (Molly, and Matt).

Did you fall in love in 2018?

Nope. I gots a lotta hopes pinned on 2019.

How many one-night stands?

None.

What was your favorite TV program?

I was a few years late to the party but I fell in love with Schitt’s Creek. The character of David Rose is so hilarious and his sexuality has been woven into what is a pretty complex character development for a sit-com in a way that is actually NORMAL. It’s almost as if being pan-sexual, fat, disabled, crazy, etc are NOT personality traits interesting enough to carry an entire story line.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Same as last year: “I hated Trump last year. I hate him now. So, no.”

What was the best book you read?

The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton. It moved me in a way that few things have.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Shawn Mendes. Listen, this kid put out a great album. I especially love “Nervous”. Here’s my most played 2018. No, I’m not embarrassed.

What did you want and get?

I wanted to not have breast cancer, and I got a benign diagnosis. Also, new job and new apartment.

What did you want and not get?

A family.

With the milestone of turning 43, I finally accepted that I will not have a biological child with a husband. I make new friends like other people make the bed: every day. But as easily as I make friends (both male and female) it’s been even harder to find a relationship.

Note: I want a family, not a baby. I bow down to single parents everywhere, and I know that I could do it if I had to, but I don’t want to add a baby to the life I have now. I want to create a life with someone else and then together have a family.

It’s such an odd thing, this situation. I’ve wanted and prayed for a family my whole life. I’ve been reassured by people that it would happen because “God wants what you want and will make it happen.” But here I am faced with the reality that it’s not happening. I feel arrogant, entitled and kind of embarrassed that I expected to get my family, and those are odd feelings for wanting a common, natural, amazing thing.

I don’t feel understood by some of my friends about this one topic. The ones who have kids are a little jealous of my single, life-in-the-city persona, and the ones who don’t want kids either think I’m being too limiting by how I define motherhood (“You can be a step-mom!”) as if I don’t acknowledge how cool that could be, or that I should be lucky that I have disposable income, time to travel, ability to nap, etc, as if I don’t acknowledge how great those things are.

What was your favorite film of this year?

A few:  A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Can You Ever Forgive Me, Fahrenheit 9-11.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 43 and I celebrated by going to dinner and playing trivia at one of my (new) neighborhood joints.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A true partnership with someone, a person that could have helped me make all the tough decisions I made in 2018, and a comfortable, memory foam-soled shoe option that was not Skechers.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

I want to be adorable and comfortable. I guess my personal fashion concept is that “you get what you get and you like it” and sometimes that means full beat face, accessories, and polished nails, but other times it means bare, clean face, Adidas, ripped jeans and an ill-fitting top. You gotta love me equally both ways or I’m not interested.

What kept you sane?

My finely tuned mix of psychotropic drugs and my tight knit circle of friends.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Many of the new bad-ass female, Muslim, bi, disabled, brown and black Members of Congress. I also really loved Jamila Jameel and her “I Weigh” campaign.  Big time good stuff.

What political issue stirred you the most?

What I said last year: “All of them. Literally every single one. This year was the year I became extremely interested in our political system and our government.”

Turns out I’m more passionate and hungry than I was last year. Let that sink in.

Who did you miss?

My brother.

Who was the best new person you met?

I didn’t actually technically meet them this year, but I’ve fallen madly in love with my downstairs neighbors Rachel & Paul. We were friends before, but now that we live in a dorm-like environment, and I’ve been let into their inner circle, I can’t say enough wonderful things about them.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

Last year I said:

Bad things happen that no one deserves. They happen to wonderful people who have wonderful love stories. They happen without reason, justification and purpose, that are definitely not part of God’s plan. And sometimes the good things you DO deserve don’t happen at all. I have no idea how to reconcile that with a strong sense of faith, but lessons aren’t to be learned in the middle. We can only pray for clarity in the long term.

A few different things were on my mind when I wrote that, including having my own family (see above), but mostly I was thinking about my friend Brian who fell down the stairs last Christmas Eve, just a few days prior to my writing, and broke his head wide open. There was in a sign in the hospital to remind us that there was “NO BONE LEFT SIDE”. As if we could forget. I spent a lot of time with his wife Jeanie (my sweet dimpled friend, my college roommate, and 26 year resident of my inner, inner circle) in the ICU keeping her distracted from the shell of the man in the hospital bed next to her. There were many times that I demanded him to fade away peacefully so no Impossibly Hard Decisions would have to be made.

It’s been 12 months since then, and I’m short-cutting a ton here for brevity, but the last time I saw him was a few weeks ago at a football game tailgate. He was breathtakingly similar to how he was before the accident, being very courteous and polite but also busting my balls big time, and asking about my parents. Sorry I prayed for your death, I thought to myself as I laughed. Then we took a selfie, natch.

The sentiment on Jeanie and Brian’s Christmas card, which is what the doctor said almost exactly one year ago after listing all the ways their life would probably be fucked up beyond repair, even if he lived: “But, there is always hope.”

There is always hope. That’s a lesson I learned this year. Again, for the millionth time.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

From my favorite album of 2018, “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile.

I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

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A Love Letter

She tells people she’s not a hugger.

You’re surprised when you hear her say this since you’ve known her so long and know how warm and big her heart is.

Then again, you also know better than to let the color pink and the easy laugh fool you. She’s as tough as they get. But she says that we’re all just as tough, we’ve just haven’t been forced to prove it.

She’s been hugged a lot lately. In six minutes last December, everything changed. Before there were jingle bells, a middle finger inside joke, and presents. Then, suddenly, after — it’s the middle of the night, should I call someone? There’s a binder with all that stuff in it. What I really need is somewhere to put this retainer.

According to her, she’s not a hugger. But every time you saw her in the hospital, she had her arms wrapped around someone. The nurse who whispered softly to Brian, “Hello there. I’m going to shave your face. Is that okay?” even though he couldn’t answer. The palliative care practitioner who spoke bluntly with refreshing honesty and grace and said, “these are hard decisions.” The nurse who just couldn’t stop crying.

The tiny lines around her eyes dissolve like sugar in hot tea when she smiles. Each one of them has a purpose for its place on her dimpled face. That one was the birth of Charlie. The one over there was when the hurricane took the roof in Florida. The ones for Jonathan are deep because he’s older, and is such a kind soul. When Brian went to the Middle East, worry hung around like fog across her smooth brow, but it eventually faded away, traceless.

The lines on her face belonging to Brian now change like shadows on the wall. They reappeared in the ICU when she sat staring at his body, with all the machines, noises, and tubes. Red angry numbers on a screen judging oxygen levels and kidney function with attention-seeking beeps.

Now, after the accident, the worry floats over her face like a top sheet in the summer. She tries to kick it off, but it wraps around her when she talks about the doctors reconstructing his skull, or when she thinks about what it will be like twenty years from now. She thinks you’re not looking.

It’s gone in a flash when she answers Brian’s incessant questions, typical brain injury healing, because there was a time she thought she wouldn’t get to be annoyed by him again. She smiles when she watches him hug the boys as they run in sweaty and sun-kissed, just a typical summer day, on the way to another adventure, now that their dad is back.

Just before she pulls you in to hug you, her head tilts to the left. It would be imperceptible if you hadn’t been hugged by her a million times. She lifts her arms and lets out a tiny sigh before taking you all the way in and wrapping you up. You try as hard as you can to breathe her in before she starts to giggle and say, “I’m so happy you’re here. I’m all filled up with stuff.”

She’ll tell you she’s not a hugger.

Don’t believe her.

What I do

Energetic, creative digital marketing professional with 20 years of fundraising and marketing experience in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Skills include online fundraising strategy, evidence-based decision-making, user experience design expertise, and an action-oriented, collaborative working style.

EXPERIENCE

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC
Online Fundraising Manager February 2014 — Present
Responsible for overseeing the Museum’s $1.7M online fundraising channel, setting online fundraising strategy and providing financial and engagement analysis for online campaigns as part of $10.6M overall direct response membership budget.

  • Manage fundraising initiatives across all digital platforms including web, email, social, and mobile channels, working with internal stakeholders and partners to assist with planning and implementation.
  • Optimize the online donation experience to increase average gift amount and frequency, grow the membership base, and retain valuable supporters by segmenting donors, prospects and lapsed donors to serve up specialized content and ask strings on landing pages and forms.
  • Produce fundraising forms and landing pages, and track all online donations through source and origin data to ensure accurate attribution.
  • Execute fundraising email sends from start to finish: planning, creative design, content creation, HTML, tagging, targeting, A/B testing, and deployment. Evaluate results using KPIs and course-correct using data and analysis to optimize future campaigns.
  • Maintain financial dashboard to monitor revenue trends against budget, calculate ROI and CTAD, and identify other opportunities to add growth.
  • Integrate direct mail and online marketing efforts and assist with budgeting and daily revenue analysis.
  • Integrate data from marketing automation platform (Marketo) and online fundraising platform (iDonate/EveryAction) into Museum’s database of record (Portfolio) to record online gifts and communicate holistically with  members. Establish practices for data-mapping and 1:1 record management.
  • Oversee donor centered user experience testing, create wireframes for optimal user experience with keen attention to interaction design principles.

The Nature Conservancy Arlington, Virginia
Online Fundraising Campaign Manager October 2011 — December 2013
Directed The Nature Conservancy’s online fundraising campaigns geared to acquire new donors, engage members and increase revenue.

  • Lead The Nature Conservancy’s search engine marketing strategy, analysis and project management.
  • Managed online media budget of $1,000,000, in addition to a $40,000 Google Grants account; analyzed spending and established projections for revenue and new donors.
  • Created and produced marketing content, including written copy and design for digital display ads.
  • Introduced new revenue tactic through donation e-cards, increasing revenue by 21% in FY13 for holiday-specific campaigns; improved results with landing page and ask-string testing, user-flow analysis, and promotion through paid search and social media.
  • Increased revenue in FY13 by 18% for giving programs such as Adopt An Acre®, Plant a Billion Trees and the carbon offsets program by utilizing paid search in Portuguese and Spanish, and working closely across teams to improve content.

Clyde’s Restaurant Group Washington, DC
Corporate Marketing Manager November 2000 — October 2011
Managed all marketing and advertising functions for a privately-held group of thirteen unique restaurants.

  • Created strategies to grow and develop business, working within a $1.5 million annual budget.  Oversaw monthly media buys and maintained advertising schedule. Wrote and edited press releases, supervised public relations efforts, organized and attended press dinners.
  • Created and managed all social media campaigns, overseeing multiple Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to increase brand awareness and advertise specials and promotions
  • Wrote content and produced HTML code for all CRG online properties. Supervised website manager for site maintenance and on-going redesign.
  • Worked directly with advertising agency to develop and oversee campaigns.
  • Effectively managed projects by directly overseeing public relations consultant, website manager, freelance graphic designer, and printing companies.
  • Designed advertisements for large circulation newspapers including The Washington Post, online media, in-house collateral, stationery, email communication, point-of-sale pieces, t-shirts, special event flyers, and postcards

musictoday.com and Dave Matthews Band Charlottesville, Virginia
Marketing and Promotions Representative, Summer Tour 2000

  • The most fun job ever. Seriously.

Edelman Washington, DC
Healthcare and Science Intern April 2000 – June 2000

  • Less fun than touring with DMB.

Arnold & Porter, LLP Washington, DC
Legal Assistant July 1997 – April 2000

EDUCATION

University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA   Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature June 1997

Corcoran School of Design Washington, DC   Continuing education studies in Advertising Theory and Graphic Design May – September 2002

SKILLS & INTERESTS

  • Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Suite, Google Suite, WordPress, BSD Tools, iDonate, EveryAction, Portfolio, and Marketo.
  • Adept in Blackbaud Luminate, InDesign, HTML, and DreamWeaver.
  • Excellent writing, communication, and presentation skills. Easy, funny public speaker.
  • Mentor 8th grade students with Higher Achievement, a DC-based nonprofit which pairs scholars with adult volunteer role models for tutoring and mentoring
  • Interests include making people laugh, podcasting (wearestillhungry.com), body-positivity advocacy, creative writing, watercolor and acrylic painting, playing ukulele, anything on Bravo, literature, social change for the equity of all marginalized groups of people, and my cat Otis.

2017 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Dealt with the discomfort, anxiety and dissociation of not knowing what is wrong with my body. (Thus, The Boob Issue.)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I have literally no idea what mine were last year. I’m not sure I believe in a year’s worth of resolutions anyway. Isn’t it easier to bite off a resolution for a week or two weeks and see what you can accomplish then? Maybe I’ll try that this year — 12 monthly resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. I turned 42 this year, so my friends my age are long past that stage, and the few friends I have who are ready for babies are still waiting.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank you, Jesus.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Last year, I said, “In 2017 I would like to spend some time outside my own life so I can experience new things and feel small in the world.” I didn’t. I didn’t even travel anywhere. Furthermore, the only time I spent away from work was either a staycation in DC, in Arkansas with my parents, or relaxing in Madison County, Va.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Romantic love and affection. A clearer sense of self. A new apartment. A tad more financial security.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • The Women’s March on Washington, January 21. It was the bellwether for what would become an incredible year for women. Woman have brought about a shift in the messages we hear from television and media and I can’t wait until Congress is filled with natural-haired black women, transgender men and a bunch of queens. That’s a team that will get shit done.
  • November 4: What began The Boob Issue, a story for a later date, and one I’m hopeful 2018 will provide a positive resolution.
  • Christmas Eve. I learned that a dear friend suffered a devastating illness, from which I hope he recovers.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Adaptation. Things changed for me in ways I didn’t want but I’m proud of the way that I was able to look them with an understanding of what I need and deserve, and then make changes to accommodate. Adapt and overcome was my motto for my friendships, my family and my hope.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was not moving my body more. My body wants to dance and walk (but def not run lolz) and stretch and I didn’t let it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, there’s The Boob Issue that is still unresolved. As I type, I’m one day after biopsies on two places on both breasts, with a third next week. This will deserve its own post at some point, but this experience has made me feel the following things: loved and supported by my friends and family, breathtakingly lonely, completely disconnected from my body, mad at God, and happy to work where I work.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I went to Drag Con in September and while the experience was a series of highs and lows, the hoodie is the most amazing, soft, delicious thing I’ve ever had and I MET RUPAUL.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hillary Rodham Clinton. AGAIN. Look, she lost the Presidential race but subsequently she has been the epitome of class since her defeat.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Same as the past few years — rent, parking, and mental health care not covered by insurance.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My beloved podcast We Are Still Hungry. It’s been a platform for a voice I didn’t know I had. It’s made me smarter, funnier and more empathetic. It’s a really fucking good time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Chunky by Bruno Mars. But also it was a great year for female pop music. Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson and Pink all had amazing albums, but 2017 also saw the return of Kesha, which made me cry honest tears and sing really fucking loudly in the car.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Here’s an off the cuff list: travel, taken life less seriously, cleaned, gotten out of my own head, pushed myself to fight my introvertedness, snipped Otis’s goddamn claws, read more books, journaled more, accepted help from other people, seen more live music.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I had spent less time hanging out in the dusty attic of my brain.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent it in Arkansas like I always do.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Nope. Online dating is a goddamn nightmare and it’s a frontal assault in self-esteem to continue to open myself up time and time again. If my perfect person is out there I’d reallllly love to have him come soon. I am weary.

22. How many one-night stands?
None.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
All the Bravo shows.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I hated Trump last year. I hate him now. So, no.

25. What was the best book you read?
Into The Water, by Paula Hawkins

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn’t discover anyone new. The best artists I know served me well. I didn’t need new.

27. What did you want and get?
Ugh, this is a hard one because I know I received a million gifts from the universe and I try so hard to be grateful. But truth is, 2017 was a shit year. It’s so hard to be positive and grateful. It just is.

28. What did you want and not get?
Romantic love and partnership.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Get Out.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 42 and my parents came to visit from Arkansas. We went to Clyde’s for drinks then ordered Indian food for delivery. Pretty solid night, actually.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Romance, sex, a monthly or fortnightly cleaning service.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Saw a meme that said, “my personal style can best be described as, ‘I didn’t think I’d have to get out of the car.’”

33. What kept you sane?
Laughter! My finely tuned mix of psychotropic drugs, my tight knit circle of friends all of which I’ve had for decades except for one sweet angel who leads me by example to be more thoughtful, centered, loving, and more careful with my words. I used to think she was perfect but then once she wore fashion sneakers with socks and knocked the shine right off that apple. Jeesh.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Tarana Burke, who began the #MeToo movement, and all the fucking bad ass women in Hollywood who spoke out and tore down the patriarchy of the entertainment industry. To name a few: Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Ashely Judd, Reese Witherspoon, Shandra Rhimes, Jill Soloway, Cat Sadler, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
All of them. Literally every single one. This year was the year I became extremely invested in our political system and our government. I regret not having done so sooner.

36. Who did you miss?
Last year I said I missed the same ol’ ghosts of the past. Not this year. I reunited with one of those ghosts last February and he turned out to be a huge dick, which I should have learned in 1991 but sometimes it takes a few times to learn a lesson. Boy, bye.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Last year I met my Work Husband — a wise-beyond-his years man who consistently surprises me with his wisdom and friendship, and who has seriously outgrown last year’s moniker by becoming a really solid close friend who makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet. This year I became a mother at 42 with my Jewish gay Work Son and he’s brought me an immeasurable amount of laughter and a crazy approach to cube decoration.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Bad things happen that no one deserves. They happen to wonderful people who have wonderful love stories. They happen without reason, justification and purpose, that are definitely not part of God’s plan. And sometimes the good things you DO deserve don’t happen at all. I have no idea how to reconcile that with a strong sense of faith, but lessons aren’t to be learned in the middle. We can only pray for clarity in the long term.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
So many things that I had before
That don’t matter to me now
Tonight I cry for the love that I’ve lost
And the love I’ve never found
When the last bird falls
And the last siren sounds
Someone will say what’s been said before
It’s only love that we were looking for

2016 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I have a podcast! My friend wife Paula D Atkinson and started it together after we realized we got pretty fired up about what’s happening in the world. We started We Are Still Hungry and now we have dozens of have followers and I love it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I honestly don’t remember. I was very specific about resolutions in 2015 but I don’t think I made any 2016 resolutions. I also had a conversation fight with a coworker about the difference between goals (“I’d like to read one book a month”) and a resolution (“I resolve to be more present”) so I think after that, I just said, “Fuck it — bring on 2016.”

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! 2016 brought the world Harrison and Wilson. They laugh at my jokes and are chubby, which are two of my favorite qualities in men and babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. I flew to Arkansas twice but I didn’t go anywhere and did not take a vacation. Spending time with my family is awesome and nourishing, but in 2017 I would like to spend some time outside my own life so I can experience new things and feel small in the world.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Romantic love and affection.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
On November 8, I sat at a bar alone (after Paula left) and watched the presidential election results come in. Living in a world with a Trump presidency is not something I’ve been able to deal with yet. I stayed until about 1:30 and then went home and slept in half hour increments until I saw the words “President-elect Donald Trump” then I cried myself to sleep.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Talking about my depression on the podcast. It made me feel proud and vulnerable and scared, but since we clicked “publish” I realized how important it was for me to do so.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was not being kinder to my body.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major. A few colds and infections here and there. OH, and the day-to-day, monotonous, mind-numbing ache that comes with dysthymia and depression. Ha!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Medication and therapy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hillary Clinton. When she addressed the nation after she conceded the election, I was breathless. One day I hope to be that poised and eloquent.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump. What’s more appalling and depressing than the leader of our country saying “grab ‘em by the pussy”?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, parking, therapy.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
HILLARY FUCKING CLINTON. I loved feeling the momentum of a bad-ass women’s movement.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Beyonce’s Lemonade. All songs from that album. #notsorry

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier!
b) thinner or fatter? Probably the same, maybe fatter, but hate this question because it’s horrible and arbitrary.
c) richer or poorer? Same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Painting! Or, writing or making art, in general. Somewhere along the way, it just wasn’t on the top of my list. And we all know how hard it is to get back to the top of the list.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Work. I love my job, but I rolled over a lot of vacation days and that’s straight up bullshit.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
You mean in 11.5 months? Probably with my parents as life dictates, but I would LOVE to go somewhere warm.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Nope. Not even close.

22. How many one-night stands?
This is an inappropriate question. But no. No one-night stands.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I continue to be hopelessly in love with Law & Order SVU, any and all shows on Bravo, and a few standouts I discovered on Netflix: Stranger Things, a show about women in prisons, American Crime.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I think I probably hated Donald Trump before, but man, did my hatred for him skyrocket in 2016.

25. What was the best book you read?
I can’t ever say which is the best. But here are a few passages from the books I read in 2016.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart:
We looked at the sky. So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed.

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey
Melanie thinks: when your dreams come true, your true has moved . You’ve already stopped being the person who had the dreams, so it feels more like a weird echo of something that already happened to you a long time ago.

The Good Father, by Noah Hawley
Looking at the photos of my family, fleeting emotions hit me—flashes of anger, of fear. These are the feelings that last—the extreme swings, the fights that burn themselves into your core. A decade later it is easier to remember the car crash than it is to remember the long drive leading up to it.

The Girls, by Emma Klein
Poor Sasha. Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get. The treacled pop songs, the dresses described in the catalogs with words like “sunset” and “Paris.” Then the dreams are taken away with such violent force; the hand wrenching the buttons of the jeans, nobody looking at the man shouting at his girlfriend on the bus. Sorrow for Sasha locked up my throat.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I stuck pretty close to the vest this year, musically. I loved listening to First Aid Kit and Marin Morris. They were new to me, but not really new.

27. What did you want and get?
Recognition and applause at work.

28. What did you want and not get?
Long term love & romance.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
The 13th, by Ava Devunay.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned FORTY ONE and I spent it having dinner with Paula, Carlo, Marisa, my favorite Australian Jarrod, and Mark.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Tbh, sex. I mean, I could lie and say something else, but that’s the truth.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I saw a thing on Facebook that said, “My personal style can best be described as ‘I didn’t expect to get out of the car’”. I think that pretty much sums it up, but if you need details: black cropped pants, black flats, a flowy top, silver hoops, silver bangles and more than enough mascara.

33. What kept you sane?
Medication and therapy.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
My sweet, sweet Hillary.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
All of them. Seriously, ALL OF THEM. This was the year that I found myself coming into my own passion about American politics. As I sit and type on January 8, with the inauguration of Donald Trump a mere 12 days away, I am still completely dumbfounded.

36. Who did you miss?
The same ol’ ghosts of the past I always do.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
My new work husband has brought me an excessive amount of daily laughs.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Playing by the society’s rules for women on how to look, how to think, and how to behave gets us nowhere. Look at Hillary! She did everything exactly how American culture and media demanded. She smiled without looking too happy. She was intelligent without being threatening. She was quiet and let Trump walk all over her during the debates and did so peacefully and calmly. And in the end — IT DIDN’T MATTER. SHE STILL LOST. And she lost because there was “just something about her” that people didn’t like. (That “something” was her vagina.) It’s all complete bullshit in my humble opinion and I will not conform anymore. I won’t do it! I won’t listen to one more fucking person tell me that I’m “too” something for a woman. Enough.

Hillary taught me that if you follow the rules and you don’t get a fair shot anyway, fuck the rules.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I won’t go as a passenger, no
Waiting for the road to be laid
Though I may be going down
I’m taking flame over burning out

Interfere

Yesterday, two men in different parts of the country were murdered by police officers.

Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a Baton Rouge convenience store when two police officers responding to a 911 report about a man with a gun wrestled him to the ground and shot him multiple times at point-blank range in the chest and back.

Philando Castile was pulled over by a Minnesota police officer for a busted tail light when he, too, was shot at point-blank range while reaching for his ID and car registration.

Did I mention that these two victims were black? Did I need to?


Just over a year ago, I published a post on this blog “Say Something” in which I admitted my fear of speaking out about the Black Lives Matter movement because, in part, I was afraid of saying the wrong thing, sounding ignorant, or letting any unchallenged biases I might still have surface. But I learned that not speaking out is worse than saying something imperfect.

That day I pledged to start speaking out, and I have done so. I mean, I have a fucking podcast now. Speaking out is no longer the issue.

I wrote:

I do have black friends (and actual, real life friends, not “some-of-my-best-friends-are-black” friends). I have black coworkers and neighbors. I’d like to speak out for them, although I’m struggling with a way to explain that, without it sounding, again, like this is all about me.

It doesn’t matter anyway; the truth is, my black friends, coworkers, and neighbors don’t give a shit what I say, here or elsewhere — they just care about what I do and how I act.

And that’s where I’ve let myself down. I didn’t do what I’d promised. I own up to my failures. I never wrote letters to the black churches in DC nor did I seek out and join like-minded communities. Maybe I’m hard on myself….maybe not. But I know I can do more. That’s for sure.

Last summer when I posted Say Something, a friend from high school challenged me as a white woman to be a better ally because it’s virtually impossible for change to happen in society until people in power help. And today, a different friend from high school posed the same challenge. Challenge accepted.

  1. I’m going to stop being an ally and start being an accomplice. If it happens to the black community, it happens to me, too. 
  2. I’m going to use my public forums to create more accomplices.
  3. I’m going to start doing instead of talking.
  4. I’m going to refuse the idea that the solution to this fucked up problem will come from black and brown people. White people created this, and it’s time white people deconstructed it.

I work at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and every day I fight to keep the memory of millions of victims alive as testimony to what happens when good people do nothing in the face of evil.

The founding chairman of the Museum and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel died this week.

“Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
–Elie Wiesel

It’s time to interfere.

Unsent Texts

My friend-wife Paula has been gone for four days on a retreat. Specifically, a silent retreat at Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia, at which the practice of eliminating communication with others allows one to shift the focus inward to connect the body, mind, heart, and soul. In this way, it is quite the exact opposite of 75% of the daily communication between the two of us.  Sure, we discuss deep things, but like any relationship, most of it is sharing the weird things that go on in our minds and making each other laugh.

She headed south a few hours after Prince passed away, so we were able to mourn together for a short while. If not, I seriously would have considered calling the main desk. If Prince’s death doesn’t qualify for an emergency, what does?

I started jotting down the list of dumb shit I would have texted her. It has been a fun experiment to identify exactly how bizarre our day-to-day is.

Here you go.

Things I Have Wanted to Text Paula But Can’t Because She’s on a Silent Yoga Retreat:

  • I listened to Purple Rain on the way home from work and cried that Prince died. First time I’ve ever cried over a celebrity.
  • I wore too much eyeliner to work today. I look like a whore.
  • I need Todrick Hall to stop wearing hats with area codes on them on Gay For Play.
  • Otis just did the cutest thing ever. Here’s a photo.
    20160417_125458

     He’s sticking his tongue out!

  • Why didn’t you tell me that that weird Cake By the Ocean song was sung by Joe Jonas?
  • The transmission is shot in Ol’ Blue. Car trouble sucks so hard…
  • I quit all online dating. I just can’t take it anymore. I need you to send me a video of you singing Indigo Girl’s “Love Will Come To You.”
  • The olive leaf extract that your mom is making me take every day tastes really disgusting.
  • Do you ever wish that Jesus* could text you to say hey while you’re gone?
  • I’m eating imitation crab salad for lunch!
  • Afternoon snack: trying a new kind of yogurt, the kind where you flip over the nuts into it. Aren’t you proud of me for eating yogurt?
  • The yogurt is banana flavored.  ABORT.
  • On RHONY, one of the women responded to being called “too skinny” as “I’m healthy. I get my period every month.” I can’t. Why do we have to teach everyone about this?
  • Um, I just bought a car.
  • OMG BEYONCE.
  • Hey Serena. “You better call Becky with the good hair.”
  • I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR LEAVING ME ALONE ON THE WEEKEND THAT I HAVE TO DEAL WITH PRINCE’S DEATH AND BEYONCE’S LEMONADE.

*Jesus is Paula’s dog. Although having the actual Jesus Christ text you to say hey would be cool, too.