Sour Cider Air

The words were just not right tonight.  I’ve tried for two hours to get them out and they were all wrong.  Every single one was wrong.  There were a total of 25 revisions.

Instead, I’ve decided to share a poem I wrote just about 12 years ago while crying in my dorm room, overlooking a parking lot.  I later won an award for it;  I was published.  I feel this every September and every September it feels new.  And every year I forget I wrote this, and every year it comes back to me.

I’d prefer to ball up on the couch, under my weighted blanket, and pretend like the truths I need to live are simply bad jokes.  But I can’t.  It simply can not be this way.

Instead…

“Sour Cider Air”

feel autumn between our fingers
as it creeps uninvited
into my mittens,
and watch it swing on the crisp of the fire colored leaves;
we are the turbulence that pushes them from the trees
they drop, they drop,
an avalanche erupts
and
i’m
running
and i’m losing
and i
lost.

and we see it in the rotten apples
that
b l a n k e t
the ground;
sour cider air.

acorns shower,
martyrs from dark gray clouds.
they soar and they tumble
and they slam into my sneakers,
but they do not break or bleed.

it is the fall that promises a steady tree
but when you’re as frail
as the sprout that springs
i tell you, there are no
guarantees.

we push for a yearlong October,
but our attempts to delay the
snowflakes and the shovels are
hardly good enough.
still, you and i will dance on the dead, straw grass and
pretend
that we are still alive;

we have been part
of moments that are much more mature than we could ever
be
and it’s alright,
because we are pumpkin seeds.

let me
close my eyes and imagine an orange
haze that
resembles the nights that we swore we were
untouchable,
invincible,

when all we really were
was nothing but
the bitter autumn wind.

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I Don’t Even Have Ducks

“I don’t want to be the person who seems like they have it together… I don’t want to be in this place where I feel like I need to impress all of you.”  -Rob Cheek

My friend Rob just went live on Facebook with a forward perspective.  Why are we always pruning our appearances and displaying only the best parts of ourselves on social media?  Why does our hair have to be just so?  Why does the lighting have to be just right?  Why on earth are we filtering everything?

Coming out as a depressive was raw.  Writing about my medication-induced suicide attempt was real as shit.  But why the FUCK am I still taking 10 different photos of myself before I post it to Instagram?

I know what my flaws are.  I know what size I am.  I’m comfortable with who I am as a person and where I am in this life I’m leading.

And I still need to make sure that I’m sitting in the right spot in my dining room when I grab my phone to Snapchat.

My answer may be different than yours.  My answer is…  I know how messy my emotions are.  I know how crappy I’ve been feeling.  I know my secrets and my chaos and even still – I don’t want you to take that and manipulate it.  I want you to see the pieces of me I can control.  If I can control it, you certainly can’t.   But if I took a photo once per minute for every minute of the day?  Only a few would be happy and smiling and most would be me crying.  At least at this point in my life.

But now that you know that, you can twist that into anything you want.  Is she depressed?  Why is she sharing this?  What the hell is wrong with her?  Why is she sad?  What could possibly be so wrong with her life?

But if I take those photos when the sun hits me at just the right angle, or when I’ve just straightened my hair and it’s on POINT – what can you say?

Really… what can you say?

But this dance we do is exhausting.  It’s detrimental to my health., to your health.  It only encourages you to lie.  To fake it, to fudge it, to fib, to fake news yourself.  It pushes you to pretend that you’re feeling or acting or are a certain someone when you’re not.  It takes up time and energy to change the brightness or adjust your phone.  It’s time we’ll never get back, it’s energy we can’t harness into something more worthwhile.

It’s a load of fucking shit.

So how about we all take a second to quit fooling ourselves and the rest of the world and just be the person under the façade?

I’m Alyssa.  I’m angry for a few reasons I’d rather not explain.  I’m sad because I feel like I’m hiding, but I can’t come out just yet.  If I’m sleeping for 10 hours I’m still not sleeping enough.  I’m antsy and impatient and the bug bite on my leg is really itchy.  I’d like to go get a nose ring but I worry about how it will heal.  My current manicure is absolute garbage and I have no time or money to fix it right now.  I’m forgetting to drink coffee in the morning and it’s been a couple of days without it and I can’t function.  I am so deeply disturbed and heartbroken over what happened in Charlottesville (and EVERYWHERE ELSE where this shit has been happening over and over and over and over) and it keeps me up until 2:00am on a consistent basis.  I’m PISSED OFF that a local mom had other local parents question her parenting after a shitty racist experience her daughter had.  I’m tired of being questioned about my capabilities as a woman.  I’m freaking out that my hell of an upstairs office/closet won’t be cleaned out, painted, and ready to go by the end of September for the closet installation.  I’m furious that my new therapist suggested medication on the day of my second session.  It makes me anxious to know that the tomatoes in Sean’s garden are growing at such a rapid pace that we can’t handle the quantity despite already giving them out to everyone we know.  I hate that I take on the burden of everyone else’s emotions so much so that it marinates in my heart and spreads through my brain and seeps out of me in tears.

But I’m also really looking forward to a week and a half of vacation at the Sugar Shack.  I’m excited about amazing things at work.  I love my short hair and the confidence I’ve been feeling.  I appreciate my ability to let go of certain things.  I’m proud of myself for finally being true to who I am, even if that brings unknowns into my world.  I’m grateful for my ability to be open, to listen, to attempt to understand from a view I’m unfamiliar with.  I am comfortable admitting my wrongdoings.  I accept that I can take on the burden of everyone else’s emotions, even if that means it marinates in my heart and spreads through my brain and seeps out of me in tears.

I am not perfect.  I do not want you to think I’ve got my ducks in a row because I don’t even have ducks.

I just want you to see me.  Really, I just want you to see me.

That Random Onion Ring

Human decency feels like something my grandparents once spoke about.  Our world doesn’t currently feel like it’s full of kindness by strangers or random acts of generosity or pure, unsolicited good.  Bigotry, homophobia, racism, anti-everyone and everything has pulled back the curtain.  Daily life is filled with every sadness, every negativity, every bit of anger and judgement and hatred.

But last Sunday I witnessed the most beautiful side of humanity.

I stood in the mezzanine with Jil and Danielle in between sets at the Taking Back Sunday show in Boston.  We bopped around a little to the first band, mentioning they sounded pretty good and interesting enough to find them on iTunes later.  Suddenly, the lights went out and chaos erupted on the floor below.

A hard-as-hell metalcore band took the stage and the fans went fucking crazy.

A massive mosh pit opened up, dead center, the second the drummer began to play.  People crawled out from the crowd and clawed their way into the pit, slamming into one another like pinballs.  Sweat poured onto the floor and beer pints were thrown straight across the room.  Shoes were sticky from the gross combination under foot.  Heat began radiating and the temperature at the House of Blues made everyone hot, even the three of us high above the madness.  My anxiety started to skyrocket.

But the madness wasn’t all mad.

A tiny, thin, lanky girl with glasses pushed herself into the center of the mosh pit and let herself rip.  Arms flailing, legs kicking, head rolling; a noodle on the dance floor.  She dropped her glasses.  It was dark and she couldn’t see.

I thought I was the watching Red Sea part in half – every single person within a 20 foot radius stopped moshing and immediately turned their cell phone flashlights on.  Ten or so people were ignoring the music, ignoring their friends, and focusing only on finding the specs owned by this random girl.

Not a minute later a guy found them.

He jumped up and down like he won the lotto and handed them to her.  She looked at him and gave him a large, loud high five.  People cheered.  And immediately, everyone resumed their moshing.

A bit later I spotted a guy rolling around on the ground.  He stopped, grabbed something, and stood up very suddenly.  He had, what I originally thought, was a credit card in his hand.  But people began shouting, “IS THIS YOUR LICENSE?” and holding it up to everyone close by.  Four or so people were taking turns showing others the license, desperately trying to find the owner.  A girl came forward with her hand in her pocket.  She showed the guy her credit card (to prove the license was hers, I assume) and the license was stuffed in her wallet.  She pulled the guy in for a hug and kissed him on the cheek.  Everyone in the pit cheered and immediately went back to head-banging.

Multiple times I saw people fall and nearly get trampled.  Every single time the crowd would back away, reach down, and pull the fallen up and out to safety.  Every.  Single.  Time.

One guy successfully crowd surfed thirteen times.  That means that thirteen times the crowd was supportive and excited enough to help a dude surf to the stage.

And for each crowd surfer there was a staff member to pull them from the crowd, safely to the ground between the stage and the barriers.  The staff were class acts – a strong pull and a gentle drop.  They held each surfer like an injured child; arm around their neck, legs hanging, neck supported.  The surfers thanked the staff with pats on the back and high fives.  One crowd surfer pulled out some cash and handed it to the staff member that pulled him out.

The lead singer of this metal band said, not verbatim, “You know when you order a basket of french fries, and you find that random onion ring?  You think, ‘I didn’t pay for this, but it’s here, and I’ll eat it anyway.’  I bet that’s how most of you here feel about us.  We’re that onion ring and we’re happy to be here.”

And I have to tell you, I wasn’t at that show for Every Time I Die.  I was there to see Taking Back Sunday.  But because Every Time I Die was there to open, I got to witness the humanity my grandparents once spoke of.  The kindness by strangers, the random acts of generosity, the pure, unsolicited good.

I definitely ate that onion ring.

I’m Burying My Memories In Those Walls

I have about 45 emails to reply to.  Mind you, I’ve been working on them diligently (from a starting point of 103) but the air is salty and the breeze is perfect and I’ve decided that writing takes priority.

My parents are moving.  If any house was my childhood home, I suppose this would be the one they are moving out of.  It’s a house of firsts, really.  My first drunken night.  My first hangover.  My first make-out session.  My first years of learning how to communicate via the internet, over AIM.  My first sleepover with a guy (knowingly and definitely unknowingly; sorry mum.)  It’s also a house full of some of my favorite memories.  That’s where my engagement party and 30th surprise birthday were held.  That’s where I took a photo of Grampy placing a Christmas ornament on the tree while he proclaimed, “THIS IS A DAMN GOOD TREE!”  That’s where I realized what it felt like to be loved, as my ex-boyfriend watched me finish curling my hair for the prom I was too embarrassed to take him to.  The house that had the thinnest walls and I’d get yelled at by my parents to keep it down when I had my best friends over for the night.  The deck off the kitchen is where I danced in the rain the day I realized I was going to be okay.

Despite not having lived there for seven years, it still hurts.  I’m burying my memories in those walls.  There will be no place for me to go back to when I need a burst of nostalgia.  I know I can close my eyes, or scour my basement for photos, but there’s a piece that will be missing.  A piece I won’t get back.

I’m not very good at letting go.

In fact, I’m very, very bad at it.

This week was hard.  Within two days I learned of two very unexpected deaths.  My first area director from Marriott passed suddenly, overnight.  He was young, in his mid-fifties.  My neighbor’s daughter passed from an overdose.  She was so young, just shy of her thirty-second birthday.  Shock.  Sadness.  Uncertainty.  Emptiness.  Two wonderful people with vastly different stories, gone just two days of one another, to a place no living person has been.

I don’t believe in heaven.  I do believe in science.  Science tells us that energy can not be created nor destroyed.  Aren’t we made of energy?  Our souls have to go somewhere.  Reincarnation?  Into outer space?  Like a magnet to loved ones?  I don’t know.  But my mind has been racing and that gnawing feeling that I need to do more, do better, travel more often, experience new things etc…. it’s back.  I last felt that with the loss of Grampy.  It makes me question everything I’m doing and everything I’ve done.  And, inevitably, it makes me question my entire future.

But then I question all of that, too.  I’m sitting here, on the porch at the Sugar Shack (my father-in-law’s rental house that I manage).  The sun is setting, music from Mad Martha’s is playing at just the right volume, the air is cool, slightly dirty.  A young couple is hosting their rehearsal dinner next door and are gifting their parents sweet presents.  There are a ton of happy tears.  One of the screens from the porch is loose and each time the wind blows, it billows.

How did I get so lucky to live through this night?  To be here, at this very moment?  To experience solace, simplicity, salty air?  How did every step throughout my lifetime bring me here?

Maybe… maybe I just need to sit on the porch a little more.

 

It Will Be.

All I wanted to do tonight was write something, anything.

I did and I hated how it sounded.  All of it.

An entire blog post that was absolute shit.  A poem that felt good and smelled like pile of burning garbage.  None of it made sense.  None of it conveyed what I wanted.

I suppose this is a complete reflection of my life for the past two and a half months.  Maybe more.  Maybe less.  My existence has been a compilation of tired emotions and eyes, an array of deep, dark colors, and a multitude of sleepless nights.  Looking back, the food poisoning I experienced last week may well have simply been the end result of some very heavy and confusing feelings I’ve been bundling up and fumbling over.  Distance between myself, family, and friends has been the farthest I’ve ever created.  I’ve been swimming (well, drowning) in a pool of sorrow and numbness and frustration and stress.  Up a creek without a single fucking paddle.

And that’s been most of my every day.

And then there’s been this other part of my day that is filled with new, with love, laughter, and song.  A true tune of the happiest numbers from musical theatre and the warmest, brightest summer days rolled up into a nook in my heart and my cell phone.  I belong somewhere.  I make sense in a small space in the universe.  Off on a porch with cheese and beer that I don’t enjoy at all there is a time that I feel most myself, most accepted, most understood.  I don’t have to force or fake or imagine otherwise.  It is the most beautiful thing.

It’s an odd experience to know it should be sunny and 80 degrees by now, when outside my window rain has become the teller of time; it has rained for days, and weeks, and forgot to remember to wake the sun.  My fingers are frozen as I type.  I had to find a warm pair of socks.  Ice cream is not as enjoyable as it should be.

How have I fallen into this?  Are the chemicals in my brain really that off?  Are they confused?  Are they as cold as my fingers?

In my thoughts and dreams I reiterate that everything is ever-changing – the landscape, the view, the self.  Nothing stays.  Nothing is safe from reconstruction or distortion or revision or an entire transformation.  There is absolutely no constant in anything or anyone at any time ever.  Never.  None.  Change is desperately difficult for me to accept, and I often challenge it when it appears.  But I have no choice; change does not discriminate.  It will be.

I hope there will be more porches with cheese and bad beer.

But it’s only bad because I don’t like beer.

Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273-8255

Two weeks ago I found myself sitting on my bathroom floor, hearing things, seeing things, and planning my suicide.

Did that sentence scare you?  Yeah, it scared me, too.

A month and a half ago I saw new doctor.  To rule out some concerns, she did a slew of tests and scans and found out a possible reason for some issues I’ve been experiencing.  In an effort to fix the problem she prescribed a medication I really did not want to be on – birth control.  I took it for nearly ten years of my life, some of those years with awful side effects, and didn’t want to do it all again.  But she was certain it was going to be beneficial, and I only needed to be on it for a month.  So, with hesitation, I agreed.

Two days later I couldn’t focus.  I was experiencing migraines.  My head felt empty and I generally felt out of sorts.  Five days later I was depressed, anxious, numb, and still experiencing migraines.  A week after I was hungry all the time, still dealing with migraines, barely able to drive or work or read, and almost as depressed as I was three years ago.

I could hardly function at an overnight party for my friend.  Alcohol seemed to increase the discomfort.  I called my doctor and she said the hormones just need to level out.  Drink a lot of water, eat well, rest.

A handful of people knew what was going on and everyone was concerned.  But no one understood the intense sadness and numbness I was experiencing.  Everything felt bleak and hopeless and every time I took another pill I felt my world getting darker and darker.

A little over two weeks ago I began hearing things; voices whispering and then yelling.  I started seeing things.  That’s when my world really began to implode.

I called the doctor again.  She said that this can sometimes happen, but remember that the hormones will level out and my body will get used to it.

Two weeks ago today I spent the morning sobbing so hard I thought my eyes would fall out of my head.  I was exhausted, confused.

And then I went into a complete psychosis.

I began hallucinating, sweating, slurring my speech, and thinking and acting irrationally.  The ceiling was falling and the walls were inching towards me and I couldn’t make sense of why I was still living.

I had a bottle of untouched pain pills in my house (I never used them when I was dealing with bursitis in December, since I hate taking medication at all).  I could take the bottle and finish it with whatever was in the liquor cabinet.

It was a solution.  It was a plan.  It was going to happen.

Then, the dog wandered in and sat on top of me, licking my face incessantly.  I sort of came to and realized what had just transpired.

I immediately took a shower.

I said nothing to anyone until that Sunday afternoon.  I stopped taking the pill Monday morning.

I called my doctor and shared what happened.  She felt horrible and told me it was the right thing to do.  We would figure out another way to fix things.  Until then, I needed to let the medication get out of my system.

I grappled with sharing this experience.  It’s deeply personal, immensely confusing, and even embarrassing, but with so much happening in the news right now regarding suicide, I felt it was necessary.

First and foremost, if a medication is fucking with your wellbeing, it is NOT the right medication and you do NOT need to be on it.  Get off.  Get healthy.  Take care of yourself because you’re the only one who can truly do that.  You are valuable and worthy and no pill is worth losing yourself over.  Ever.

Second, doctors do not always know everything.  She knew my medical history, but not all of the important details of my mental health history.  I do wish she gave me the okay to get off earlier, but I don’t blame her.  Every body reacts differently.

Third, suicide is NEVER something to joke about.  Aaron Hernandez does not deserve your shitty memes or shitty one-liners.  He was a murderer, but he was a human.  He’s left behind a little girl who will forever miss her daddy and that is fucking sad.  When you crack jokes about suicide, you enable the stigma of mental illness.  You become part of the problem.

It’s been eleven days since I stopped taking the pill and I’m no longer feeling suicidal or depressed.  I’m not as hungry, I’m just as tired, and I’m still entirely numb.  I’m also beginning to sort out my shock for what happened.  I’m an excellent faker, so if you think all looks well and I’m probably fine, I’m not, but I will be eventually.  I don’t need coddling.  I don’t need criticism.  I do need understanding and support.  It has taken absolutely everything out of me to write this, but it’s important and it could help someone else who may be in the middle of something similar.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting this blog, it’s that connection is invaluable and transparency is the beginning of that.

Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  Call someone and get help.  Fight until you get answers.

Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273-8255     //      https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

It Smelled Like Childhood and Auntie

Clean laundry reminds me of my aunt.

When I was young, my aunt would take me and my cousin to her summer home on the lake in New Hampshire.  The kids slept in the rooms in the basement, close to the washer and dryer closet.  Before bed, I’d watch her scoop the powered Tide from the box and pour it into the washer.  I’d fall asleep to the comforting hum of the dryer drum, the clean smell of clothes flooding the basement and raising the room temperature, just a little.

Her house smelled like Tide, too.  Especially the second floor where the laundry room was.  And whenever I’d hug her, my head would rest on her shoulder and I’d be intoxicated from the smell of her clothes.  I loved to sleep in the guest room because it was just across the hall from the laundry and the sheets always smelled like every Tide commercial makes it seem.

I’ve never admitted this, but I’d often try to spill something on my shirt or pants, with the hope she’d let me borrow her clothes while my own spun in a tornado of water and detergent.  I’d get the best of both worlds – clothes to wear that smelled like Tide and my own clothes to bring home, that smelled like Tide.

I can’t walk through the cleaning supply aisle at the grocery store without unscrewing the cap of a Tide bottle.  And no matter what I do, or what I buy, or how much or little soap I use, I can never, ever get my clothes to smell as heady and perfect as hers.

I haven’t spoken to her in three and a half years and it kills me.

But tonight?  Tonight I found a travel-sized box of Tide I must have picked up at a hotel some years back.  It was in a drawer, tucked into the very back, slightly punctured; it smelled like childhood and Auntie.  For a minute, she felt near.

I Got a Sign

It was an unusual pull I felt last week; an unexplained heart tug from one end of Andover to where I was, sitting at a red light.  Instead of turning left, I drove straight through the center and down a hill, following the sad feelings through an open gate and into the stillness.

I was the only one there, besides the hundreds laid to rest.  Though I don’t know the exact location of my Grampy’s grave, I know how to get there.  I remember because of the thin water spout on the left side of the roadway – he is across the street, next to the black marble headstone of another man, who was most certainly not Jewish.

I parked my car and walked through the snow.  It was a beautiful winter afternoon, just before the sun was deciding to hide for the night.  It was cold, very cold, and it was exceptionally quiet.  Sometimes cars would pass on the road below, making gentle whizzing noises, but it was otherwise just my voice, just my thoughts, just my tears.

We talked for a few minutes, mostly about politics and the dog and how expensive it is to own a house.  I took inventory of how many stones sat on his marker and decided it was best to add to it.  I walked the edge of the road a bit, looking for a small rock, and found two that I thought were suitable.  I used a bit of snow to wash away the dirt, put them in my pocket and walked back to Grampy.

I shoved my right hand in my coat and pulled out a stone.  I placed it next to the twenty-one others and said a little something.  I kept the other one.  I liked the way it felt between my thumb and my pointer finger.

And then I fell to my knees and asked for a sign.  Any sign.  I needed a sign.  I’ve been feeling so lost and his void has felt so large and my longing to hug him has been so powerful.  What else can I do?  Where am I supposed to look?

A bird took flight to my left and disappeared into some trees.  And behind the landing place of the bird were deflated balloons, tangled in the bare branches – the balloons Nana and I released last February when we visited for Grampy’s birthday.  They were there, the whole, dead, deflated lot, flapping around when the wind would pick up.

I got a sign.

And another when a woman I’ve never met messaged me on social media about two people we were mutually connected to.  She asked if Grampy was Jason Andrews, THE Mr. Andrews that substituted for nineteen years.  Yes, that was he.

“He was my son’s favorite substitute teacher at West El. We were so sad when he died.”

What I wanted to say was I was so sad, too.  That I’m still so sad.  That I’m sad every single day.  Instead, I thanked her for her kind words.  Grampy would have relished her comments.  He loved to be loved.

And this morning Sean and I were discussing finances and payment dates.  I pressed the home button on my iPhone and tapped in my password; my calendar opened immediately to the month of April.  April 1st was the date on my screen.  April 1st was the date Grampy passed nearly two years ago.

A third sign.

And today is February 13th, Grampy’s 85th birthday.  Five years ago we celebrated his 80th at my parent’s house with friends and family.  He smiled the whole day.  I made a wish that afternoon to see him smile as much on his 90th.

Today is his birthday.  Wherever he is, he’s eating yellow cake with chocolate frosting, sipping decaf black tea with lemon, and inhaling dark chocolate thin mints.  And when he’s full he’ll say, “Just a little bite, just a little more.”  He’ll complain about something.  He’ll say a modern phrase completely wrong.  He’ll tell us the same story four times and then teach us about the history of anything.  He’ll take his nasty tissue out of his pocket, blow into it, and put it back in his shirt.  He’ll talk about how he overpaid for his $2.00 reading glasses and in my mind I’ll make fun of him for buying a woman’s eyeglass design.

I’m unsure I’ll be able to visit tomorrow due to the two feet of fresh snow on the roads.  But I hope, wherever he is, he reads this.  It will have to suffice.

God, I miss you Grampy.

Happy birthday.

I Had No Idea I’d Sit and Write a Poem

When my life is in flux, I am a hermit
Hidden away, tucked under blankets
Far from the wind that forces me forward
Or sideways
Or in circles, wobbly from the
Nudge, Nudge, Nudge
When the world throws and whips
I am in a sweatshirt, on a couch
Secured to the cushions that soften the blows
Still and silent and steady
My legs do not carry me when I run
So I walk to the nearest cup of tea
Idle
Quiet

I ignore the chatter and the clatter,
The buzz from the burg
I’m in my mind,
In my place
In my safest memories
Painting the skies,
Pouring the waters
Dancing under stars, under trees

When it is chaos and cloudy
I find my map, in my car
And turn the radio on,
And the headlights glow
A seatbelt shield and a steering wheel
I close my eyes and breathe in the chill
Rise, fall, rise, fall
Repeat
Repeat

Singing siren songs.

That We Go On

I was supposed to write this in bed, in my pajamas, yesterday.  It’s now quarter past midnight and I’m laying on my living room loveseat in the dark with the dog snuggled in my lap, breathing deeply as he dreams.  The bunny is playing with his new toy and I’m surprised I can concentrate at all considering how loud it is.  

I also forgot how much I love to write in the dark.

It’s snowing.  The snowflakes are bunched together in soft tufts and they’re coating the ground quickly and completely; a layer of frosting, a top sheet on my bed.  Silence, except for a single car driving cautiously, slowly down the street to its respective driveway.  It feels empty and full and it’s hard to explain.

I’ve done a lot.  I can drive a box truck.  I’ve co-hosted a live series on mental health.  I drank a full pint of Guinness (in Ireland, no less.) I turned 30 and didn’t cry about it.  I survived 20 months without Grampy.  I left Marriott entirely.  I surprised my husband with a sort-of basement renovation.  I became an aunt.  My heart remembered 18 when I saw some of my favorite bands play in Boston.  I explored a country with Sean and we didn’t get lost.  I earned my certificate in nonprofit management.  I sort of started cooking.  I ventured out and cut and colored my hair.  I wrote a lot.  I even wrote a short story and shared it with some people.  I read books, a few great ones.  I learned how to meditate.  I started my nonprofit career and soon became executive director.  I was featured in my mom’s style blog.  I had dinner with my father for the first time in three and a half years.

So many have said 2016 was a hellish year.  Yes, on one hand, yes.  Trump.  Aleppo.  Celebrity deaths.  Brexit.  Pulse.  Drought.  Of course, the list goes on.  But personally?  My year has been… good.  It’s been a good year.  I’m alive.  I’m confident.  I’m not under water or towering over anyone or anything.  Weed is legal in Massachusetts and I can smoke on my porch. 

My year has been relief and revival.  My world has been a reminder that we go on, that we go on, that we go on.

It’s been connection.  Every month there is more understanding and exchanges and kindness and conversation.  I’ve forged incredible friendships this year with old and new and some I’ve never physically met before.  I have been reminded that when I’m open to possibility, I can have it all.

I am not alone in this life.  I am, in fact, in excellent company.

My most wonderful quality, stubbornness, is a work in progress.  

I must always shelter my mental health from harm.  It is all I have, this fragile thing, and if I disturb it I sacrifice absolutely everything I have worked so hard to hold.  Nothing is worth losing that; nothing, no one.

I’ve learned to love myself the way my dog loves me.

I have no resolutions.  I don’t need a new year to make false promises and feel badly when failure is inevitable.  Two years ago I mentioned we don’t need a new year – we simply need a new day.

A snow plow has rumbled down my narrow street, blocking my car in entirely.  My morning self can deal with that.  I feel disrupted.

I suppose this summary is really just a year in review and a reminder of my progress.  And a reminder that people are generally so, so good, and we must let them in when they knock.  It’s also okay to struggle and it’s also okay to ask for help.  

The plow returned and shook my house.  Maybe the plow is something of a metaphor.  It’s there, I feel it I just don’t see it.

An hour later and I’m still writing, still here, still sharing my lap with my dog who is panting but refusing to move.  The house is still, the street outside is still.  My fingers are tense from typing this all from my cell phone.  

May 2017 bring us all a clean glass, filled halfway allowing the drinker to decide whether it be half full or half empty.  Perspective is a beautiful thing.

Happy new year.