Last semester was hectic. I was teaching two new classes (both on love!), so there was tons of reading to do, and daily prep work. Between bouts of marking papers, I was finishing the final rounds (rounds, plural–so many rounds!) of edits for my book. As I got dressed in the mornings, I listened to the news with a mix of hope and dread.
I spent some days feeling like a total boss who was doing cool things in a perfectly capable way and then finding myself overcome by the sudden onset of rage and despair. This despair typically emerged from listening to one of those news segments where journalists interviewed “real voters” on “the issues they care about” and I wondered–again and again–at the media’s willingness to let people make racist or xenophobic comments on air as if these were sensible concerns that deserved the same airtime as other voters’ fears about losing their healthcare.
I kept thinking, January will be better. In January the news cycle would die down. I’d be fully prepared for all my classes. The edits would be complete. In January I would sleep in more often. I’d get back to Wednesday nights at the climbing gym and the brewery. I’d read all the books that were stacking up on my kitchen table! 2017 was a beautiful utopic time when I’d write tons of blog posts!
You see where this is going.
This NYE photo pretty much sums up my status ending 2016. I don't feel especially celebratory, but my sense of gratitude and purpose has been sharpened this year. I'm beginning 2017 thinking constantly about how to be good, how to be kind, how to make more space for the people who need it. And I am glad about that.
But, as I wrote on Instagram, the end of 2016 had the useful effect of putting some things into perspective. It’s hard to worry too much about whether people will read the book you spent so many years writing when you’re worried about others’ basic human and civil rights. It feels good to steel yourself, to call your senators, to stop focusing so much about the trajectory of your own self-actualization. A lot of us probably needed a reason to take a wider view on what matters in the world. Even if the viewpoint feels precarious.
And I am grateful–in a way that I didn’t know I could be–for the people who have weathered my rage and despair with such love and patience. (see above photo) And for all the people who are putting their love and rage and despair into the important work that now needs to be done.
So, 2017 is not utopic. But it is full of purpose. There is plenty to keep me busy. And that’s actually what I came here to write about. Here are some things:
-Today I received a PDF of my book, formatted like an actual book and looking very legit. I started scrolling through it and suddenly teared up. Even though only the dog was around, I felt pretty embarrassed to be so emotional about this of all things. But I guess I’m a writer to the core and though it was cool to see the Amazon page, and cool to get the first mockup on the cover, none of these things felt as totally and completely real as pages. I swoon for pages:
-Writing an advice column was my new year’s resolution for 2015. And now (a full two years later) I’ve finally convinced an editor to let me do it. And I’m so excited. But, man, it’s hard. The advice genre seems easy but it is a tough nut. And I had the brilliant idea of making it evidence-based advice (I still think this approach is better than intuition alone) but I have spent HOURS doing research lately. So much research.
And I need more questions. So go here to submit one. Tell your friends!
-Lastly, if you want to feel smart about love, my friend Carrie Jenkins wrote the best book. I got to read at her book launch last week and it felt like the most perfect two-hour mid-week break from the news cycle. Sometimes it seems frivolous to write about love in the face of all the horrible stuff that fills my newsfeed. But what I love about Carrie’s book is how she reminds us that even the most personal intimacies are political dramas. And she does this in the most thoughtful and civilized way, which is amazing really considering how many people feel welcome to say awful things to her on the internet. She’s a brave writer and I’m hoping to take a lesson from her when I go through this process a few months from now.
I’ve been taking some time off of Facebook and Twitter in hopes of finding more time to work and also in an attempt to process the news a little more slowly. And I’ll be honest, it’s nice. But I’m still posting sweet pictures of Roscoe on Instagram. And still writing. And I really do hope to be making more regular posts here. The book-promotion process is new and mysterious to me, but it’s interesting. So I suspect I’ll write a little more about it over the next few months.
I hope you’re having a happy and non-amatonormative Valentine’s Day! It’s a good day to tell the people you love that you love them, whoever they are.
(Oh, and if you’re into this kind of thing, you can win an advance copy of my book–which is kind of cool considering all I have right now is a PDF. Go here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BQfpa2gAgg4/?taken-by=simonbooks)