Monday, December 28, 2015

2015: Dirt Edition

Everyone says they hate the “top ten lists” that pop up this time of year. But here's the thing: everyone is a liar. According to the analytics of #’s, G+, searches and everything else, y’all love love LOVE that shit. You can’t get enough. Please sir, you want some more, you want some more!

2014’s year in review is about digging into the dirt I didn’t know if I wanted anyone to see:

This year, I present to you my Top Ten Formative Moments in 2015. Chronologically. Kinda. These are also things I'm not necessarily excited to share.

1) January: I spent my first New Year’s Eve ever with friends, rather than Significant Other/Family. It was what I wanted to do. I was with a tribe of women than understood the things I vented because they have the same chimneys.

2) May: I lose my feelings. After a number of triggering events (having my tires slashed, then my car vandalized in my driveway, continuing to unravel the trail of identity theft that follows me, personal losses of those close to me), I stopped feeling things.

I am told that, medically, this is my brain kicking into overdrive with serotonin. It is a numbing helmet for my feelings so that I can function without collapse. I donate 11 inches my hair to locks for love. I watch Annie Hall for the first time. I reread Hyperbole and a Half. My experience is different from hers.

3) I travel to Vancouver. I see, with my eyes, where the 100 mile diet started. I see a baby male orca whale, 59 miles away from land. He is deformed and has been abandoned by his pod.

I learn that hormones in oral contraceptives stay in urine, go sewage plants, and remain in full chemical chains, in the ocean. The pill was hell on my system. I am unable to fathom the larger, oceanic impact. I cry about this at night. It is the first feeling I get back.

4) June: I work with one of my Dad’s former PhD students to finish a paper on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was a pet project of his, but I was too young to get it. In Sep. it’s accepted for publication. A colleague tells me, ‘it’s beautiful proof of the many ways in which a life is a collaboration.’ My feelings are back.

5) July: I join a book club at the Library. We read: Lila (M. Robinson), The Sense of an Ending (J. Barnes), Station Eleven (E. St. John Mandel), Her: a Memoir (C. Parravani), and Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore (R. Sloan). After the age of 30, It is momentous to make non-work friends. But I do.

6) September: The 100 Dirty Books Party. So much fun and love that the seams of my house stretch to accommodate. Drunken readings of Ginsberg that were filmed and will never be posted. A celebration of all our stories since the previous year’s party. Celebrating making it through another year.  

8) October Part 1: I wake to an unjust raid by a SWAT team at 5 am. They were looking for a man next door. My dog was kicked, furniture flipped, I’ve made complaints and someone will get back to me in 4-6 weeks.

Vet said my dog will be smelling the pheromones of the US Marshalls for who knows how long. He’s on Xanax. He gets better drugs than I do. His experience with this acute experience of fright is something I will never comprehend. I can make a narrative of it. He can’t, I don’t think.

9) October Part 2: My dad was living in England when he died. Of the few things his cold girlfriend allowed me, I got the blanket he began crocheting for when I was 13 (and the hook he carved). I also got his Absinthe spoon (which she for some deluded reason thought was his baby spoon. Have since made it into jewelry).
I couldn't touch the blanket until the day after my house got SWATed. This is the day I start working on it again.

7) November: Drive 4 hours, take a 90 minute train and a half hour cab to celebrate my friend’s memoir, Hook. It is the most important trip I’ve taken this year. It is the most important book I’ve read all year. Buy it at the link below.

10) December: I see my name in print, in a book, for the first time. A chapter called, “Beowulf and Aesthetic Nervousness: A Multidimensional Pedagogy.“ From sending the abstract to holding the book, it was 18 months. I want to learn how to respond to others’ writing with the generosity, kindness and belief that my editor showed.  

Zora Neale Hurston said that there are years that ask questions and years that answer.  2015: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Ros Chast (More Perecca's Patio)

June 2015: Lila by Marlynne Robinson (Nico's RooftopThe questions and answers in the bounds of this year have given me hope, confusion, total apathy and total love. It has been full of life, both grotesque and beautiful, simple and as complex as Atari used to be, sweet and sour.  

Bring it on, 2016. What you got?

Read n Greet Book Club:

Dirty Books Party:

Hook. Buy it or I hate you. I'm not kidding:

The Book My Chapter is in, Lessons in Disability. If you can only buy one book, buy Hook, and then tell your library to buy Lessons in Disability:


  1. Have a better 2016, D.

    1. Thanks. I'm not sure '15 was "bad," it had challenges, but that seems to be part of being present in the world. I hope 2016 is better for me, and for you, and for everyone. And I hope 2017 is even better than '16 and so on. Life will kick us in the soft spots between now & 2017, and further-- if we are lucky enough by the grace of cookies and puppies and books and bourbon to make it that far. Years are hydras. Gotta time the chopping of one head and the loving of another carefully.

  2. I second turboencabulator496. Also thanks for turning me on to Horton's Hook. Finally, going a bit off topic, what is the last picture in this post- I honestly can't tell.


    1. The last pic is me n my dog making heart-hands. He puts up with all my shenanigans.... The author of Hook is coming to the NYSWI to speak this spring, I'll keep y'all updated about that.