2018: The Year We Survived

It’s almost 2019. Thank God.

Not to discount anything good that happened in 2018, but holy fuck. The past two years have felt like every day was at least a week. Which, at 52 weeks in a year, means that 14 years have passed since 2016. Because math.

Our sense of time is broken. Don’t even try and search how many people have tweeted in disbelief that there was both an Olympics and a World Cup this year. Too many. We keep tweeting about it because apparently, we still can’t grasp it. I have a few explanations of why this has happened, but it’s neatly summed up by this CNN headline:

With 10,000 things happening simultaneously every single day, one of the ways that we process them is by… not. Not processing them at all.

Consider The War on Christmas, which is what the 24 hours of Christmas 2018 should be renamed.

Within 24 hours or so:
-The Dow plummeted to its worst Christmas Eve loss ever
-Donald Trump complained about being, “all alone” in the White House for Christmas because of the government shutdown
-Donald Trump, fielding children’s calls to Santa Claus, asked a 7-year-old, “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?”
-Donald Trump bitched publicly about not getting his stupid border wall, saying “It’s a disgrace,” before saying, “But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”
-We found out that another migrant child died in Border Patrol custody just “minutes before the beginning of Christmas” (if that isn’t a cluster of a sentence, I don’t know what is).
-And though it technically occurred the next day, Trump’s disastrous surprise visit to troops in Iraq hit a trifecta of awful: He boasted about having given the troops a 10% raise (never happened); He accidentally revealed the identities and locations of Navy SEALs; and he conducted a campaign-style rally where MAGA hats and Trump flags were distributed to the troops while he whipped them into a frenzy wearing an ill-thought-out jacket the color of a meconium BM.


I’ve noticed something strange this year, and it’s that normally, no sooner is Christmas in its waning hours, the media starts on its nauseating recaps of the year. The most-somethinged-about things of the year. Music, politics, people, phrases, shows, you-name-it. It’s like rifling through our collective societal junk drawer to try and make meaning out of pens without caps that you keep forgetting to throw away, spare change, a fucking thumb tack, some catnip, a lego, and occasionally a spare AAA battery that mercifully still has charge. Some years are breathtaking in their losses, others in their breakthroughs (remember that year, long ago, when marriage equality was passed? Sigh.) THAT WAS 2015, FUCKERS. ONLY THREE YEARS AGO.

via Gfycat

This year, I’ve noticed those think pieces arriving, but not in as overwhelming numbers as in previous years. (I know, totally unscientific. But seeing as I’m particularly curmudgeonly about them, I tend to notice them because I find them grating.) And it seems like the ones I’m seeing are much more in line with my personal feelings. 2018 was a year. We survived it. Yay us.

I’ve never been one particularly in love with New Year’s Eve. I’ll admit that I pretty much hate everything about it. I hate (in no particular order): Crowds, novelty sunglasses made in the shape of the year, New Years’ resolutions, saccharine sentimentality, rented tuxedos, mediocre and expensive prix fixe menus, noisemakers, the stupid fucking ball drop, Auld Lang Syne, formality, hangovers. You get the point.

But this year, in direct opposition to pretty much every single year I’ve eked out of this life and known about New Year’s Eve, I want to celebrate. I want to be awake the first seconds of 2019 alive with the hope that maybe this upcoming year won’t be as fucking awful and infuriating and interminable as this year was. I want to concentrate on my kids, whose childhood stands in direct contrast to this year: it’s flying by. And the more overwhelmed I am by the present political moment in this country, the more I feel like every time I look up, my kids are zooming towards maturity in ways that I am both inspired by and also a little bit frightened of.

The truth is, we can’t stop time, nor should we want to. But I’m committed to making 2019 a more personally tolerable time, in as many ways as I am capable of doing so. Which means, at least from my current vantage point, full-heartedly and -throatedly championing and holding onto strategic good, and processing the bad in batches rather than by-the-minute.

Just like all things: your experiences may vary. Life doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee, nor is this year, country or world. I’m done holding my breath for any semblance of perfection to break out. It’s not a design flaw, it’s a design feature. Looking forward to clearing out my junk drawer and making space and time for new, better things. Maybe an indictment or two. Changing faces. Accountability. Maybe some successive waves of wokeness lapping up against our shores. Pauses. More work with people, fewer headline headspins. More survival, and maybe glimpses of more than survival. Something worth celebrating.