How I Survived 2018
Reading, writing, and cutting back on dairy
*I read a lot. Or it felt like a lot. According to my Goodreads page, I made it through 14 books this year. This is an accomplishment because I have three kids, two of them under five years old, so the ability to carve out time and finish a book is a feat that I do not take for granted. I also read numerous scholarly and longform narrative articles in journals and magazines, respectively. But escaping, whether into the autobiographical recollection of a woman who led the Black Panthers or the fictional equivocations of a Canadian writer questioning motherhood, was both sustenance and resistance. Escape gave me hope and hope allowed me to survive, to imagine a better world than the current one, and to focus my energies toward various forms of activism as I read about babies in concentration camps on U.S. soil and the deaths of Black Lives Matter activists.
*Activism helped. For the first half of the year (and again with three kids), my ability to attend strategy meetings or protests with organizers was greatly diminished. During that time, activism was me sending money to abortion rights organizations or abortion providers; to housing justice organizers fighting gentrification; to legal aid funds for immigration rights lawyers; and spending a lot of time calling, faxing, and mailing my elected representatives in Ohio, where I lived until August. A good friend provided childcare so that I could go to the Families Belong Together rally in August, though I had guilt about leaving my 2-year-old and 4-year-old at home because it was 105 degrees Fahrenheit that day. I also tried to build activism into my daily work as a librarian, seeking out researchers whose digital scholarship projects had a strong community or social justice focus.
*This year, I tried a sensory deprivation floatation tank for the first time and it was the best gift I have ever received as an adult (thank you bae!). I also started seeing a therapist (overdue) and went back to getting pedicures on a semi-regular basis. I used the Nike+Run app to move my way back into distance running, making it up to eight miles this summer.
*Unexpected and separate bouts with walking pneumonia and stomach flu reset my caffeine and dairy intakes toward the end of the year. I do not intend for this to sound overly precious, but I experienced a chai latte with hazelnut milk and it gave me what I needed without the zing of espresso (I usually drink plain Americanos). Frozen custard did not cross my lips this summer and I took a break from yogurt.
*The editing of my (first) book took nearly all spring/summer. I did a lot of other writing in two or three beat up notebooks, trying to write my way out of depression and anxiety or into a better understanding of systems of oppression. I got a short story published, among other things.
*Cooking is a mainstay of survival and pushback for me. I want to cook well, to feed my family in ways that fill their bellies, help them make it through the day to accomplish their goals and make them happy, that show a mastery of skill, and that aren’t necessarily expensive. This year, I perfected shrimp and grits, I have a half quart of my own maple syrup in the fridge, and I have a compound butter ready to go for a pan-fried mushroom burger.
*I am blessed to have some really wonderful friends who know how to show the fuck up. Friends who could hear the stress caught in my throat, got in their cars and drove down to see about me. Friends who watched my kids. Friends who sent Tiny Desk concert videos on Monday mornings of my favorite rappers. Friends who dropped into my DMs and suggested that I apply for a cool new job (which I subsequently got) that allowed me to move home to assist my parents as we navigate my dad’s worsening dementia. Friends who sent postcards through the mail because they understand that sometimes we need love that we can touch.
Some days it’s the hardest thing for me to pull the covers off of my head. Other days I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself. May you find what you need to survive and thrive into 2019. Happy New Year.