On 2017 (or) The Year We Survived

       As some of you closest to me know, I’ve been on antidepressants for many years. Without them, I’d inevitably sink into a dark desolation alive with insurmountable insecurities and echoing with constant, insistent whispers urging me to steer into oncoming traffic. It’s a broken place filled with monsters I can’t see and rage borne of pain I can’t express. Fortunately, the meds work. They help motivate me to get out of bed before two in the afternoon. They keep me from lashing out at the people I care about. They make sure I keep my car in my lane. But about mid-2017, I noticed some dark edges starting to creep in again. Some whispers that all was not well. But this time felt different. Instead of an internal pressure, it felt like an external weight pressing in on all sides. It took a while to realize that it wasn’t me that was sick. It was America.

       Now that’s not to say that America has been healthy throughout her history, but 2017 sure felt a lot like a relapse. A raging infection, once tamped down over long, hard-won decades of progress, came roaring back with a vengeance. Initially, I called it the waking of a sleeping dragon, but that’s not quite accurate. It was more a lingering disease. A blight on our decency and morality. A return to a dark time that we liked to tell ourselves had been long vanquished. But instead, it was metastasizing like a cancer, spreading to our nation’s vital organs, becoming more dangerous, more lethal, by the minute.

       We haven’t defeated this malignancy yet, but at least we now know the scope of the disease. We know we have a serious battle for our survival in front of us, and its one that can no longer be taken lightly. In 2018, we continue the fight of our lives. For our lives. For our well-being. And we cannot stop until the cancer is vanquished. It’s not likely to be easy, or pleasant. At times we’ll feel like we can’t possibly go on. But we can. We must. In 2018, we cannot merely resist and persist. We must persevere.

       And we shall.

       It is with all this in mind that I reflect upon 2017—the Year We Survived.

 

      Let me first say this to 2017: Good. Fucking. Riddance.

     Then, allow me to direct you to this terrific blog post from Chuck Wendig, who does a superb job of summing up what a total clusterfuck of a year it was.

     And now for my own thoughts on “the year that lasted ten years…”

 

       It’s nigh impossible to believe that Chaos just came out at the end of last year. To Chuck’s point, it really does feel like a decade has passed since then. I sold a few books (and gave away quite a few more) and have since been struck humble by some truly terrific feedback. Thank you to all who have read the book, left reviews, told your sick and twisted friends, visited Zorin’s blog, and asked for the sequel. It’s coming, though on a more delayed timeline than I’d hoped. I promise to keep you all posted. Right now, my goal is mid-year. For those of you who simply can’t wait to find out what happened, I will need beta readers. Soonish. Shoot me a message for details.

       I started 2017 still reeling and in a state of shock but full of piss and vinegar. My wife and I spent part of our January in Washington D.C. We did some sightseeing around the nation’s capital and my old stomping grounds in Quantico and Stafford, Virginia, but mostly we were there for the Women’s March. It truly was the balm for what ailed us at the time. Huddled among hundreds of thousands in the blocks south of the National Mall, packed so tightly together that those who fainted could literally not fall to the ground, we found a measure of hope. And love. Lots and lots of love. To me, that was the missed story of the March. Sure, we were there resisting the election of the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief, pink pussy hats pulled down against the mist that fell that day, but what we found was tolerance and inclusivity and compassion. It was a celebration of women, obviously, but also of minorities, those of other faiths, the differently-abled, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. And I was thrilled to see so many men lending their voices and support. If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that women are more courageous and strong than they’ve ever been given credit for, and they are only just beginning to take their power back from the patriarchy that has silenced them for too long. Good. Frankly, I think we can use quite a few more women and minorities in power. When our government institutions finally reflect the diversity of our society, perhaps then it will finally learn to address the inequalities that still plague us.

       In any event, while the Women’s March left me thrumming, the harsh realities of what America (Russia?) had done soon set in. I couldn’t possibly begin to list them here, so I’m not even going to try. Suffice to say that after being part of such a celebration of love and inclusiveness at the beginning of the year, most of the subsequent months were a study in contrast. 2017 quickly became the year of “What the fuck?”/“What’d he do now?”—so named for the alternating phrases my wife and I found ourselves uttering numerous times daily.

       A few months into the year, we learned that my wife was chosen to help open a new Trader Joe’s in Iowa City. A terrific opportunity for her career, but it undeniably caused some unexpected chaos at home. The ensuing scramble led to the rescheduling of our “anniversary” vacation, which we embarked upon in July. Some 2,000 miles from home we were chased by a giant barracuda, had some to-die-for fish tacos, and made some new friends, including a couple from home (the home that was, anyway). As if that weren’t coincidence enough, they’d just gotten married at the same venue my daughter will be married in early in 2018. Oh, and I share a birthday with the wife. It’s enough to make you ponder glitches in the Matrix and shit.

       We were incredibly lucky to both sell our house in Minnesota and find one in Iowa at precisely the most opportune times. Given the political arc of the year, we were stunned to have such good fortune. Obviously, the goodbyes were incredibly difficult, though a few were admittedly a relief. We’ve both left behind family and countless friends in Minnesota, and we miss them every day. Our door is always open to you here in Iowa.

       After a welcome of three straight weeks of absolutely glorious weather, we discovered Iowa’s dirty little secret—this place is windy AF. No, seriously. We’re talking forty and fifty mph gusts, and every day or two is not an uncommon occurrence. It whistles and howls like a goddamned wolf trapped in a teapot sucked up inside a Dyson vacuum cleaner. I’m not sure what they use to secure the siding and shingles on the houses here, but I’m pretty sure it’s the strongest substance/hardware man has ever devised. As for Iowa’s not-so-secret dirty secret, yes, it’s mind-numbingly boring here. Why else do you think we’ve implemented an open door visitation policy? Of course we’d love to see you, but really we’re just hoping you’ll get here before we start spooning our eyeballs out of our skulls for kicks.

       Critical Eye Editing & Publishing had a pretty good year in 2017, so a warm thank you to all of my clients. Who knows what that endeavor will look like in subsequent years now that those impotent numbfucks in Congress decided to try (yet again) a trickle-down economics policy that has never once been shown to work. Rumor has it that business and itemized expenses may be done away with under the forthcoming tax plan, so I guess we’ll see how that plays out. In the meantime, I’m open for business and look forward to helping you polish and publish your future masterpieces. Thanks again to all of you who have entrusted me with your work!

       And that brings us to the end of a painfully long and often depressing, year. But despite the numerous setbacks, moral, legal, emotional and otherwise, we’ve had some victories worth celebrating. We resisted and stopped Trump and his overflowing Cabinet of Bigotries from keeping transgender soldiers out of the military. We resisted and have knocked back the bulk of the Muslim ban. We resisted and prevented tens of millions from losing access to affordable healthcare. States have resisted our withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement by enacting their own stringent environmental regulatory policies. We resisted and kept a child molester out of the Senate (albeit barely) in a notoriously red state that apparently thinks child molesters are pretty cool and should hold public office. We’re still resisting the repeal of Net Neutrality. And we’ve persisted in our efforts to combat the normalizing of hatred and bigotry and ignorance that has plagued us, particularly since the last election.

       So 2017 hasn’t been a total loss. But it has been hard. And much harder still for those less fortunate than I. But 2018 is the year that we get to prove once again what kind of nation we aspire to be. It is the year for tens of millions of “snowflakes” to become an avalanche of reckoning.

       You’ll hear from me again in 2018, hopefully in a variety of exciting ways. But if these are the only words you read, there is but one thing I ask of you in the coming year. Vote. Make your voice heard in the way that holds the most power. Carve America’s cancer out one asshole politician at a time. Ultimately, we are the treatment for what ails us. We are the cure.

       Together, let’s make 2018 the Year of Remission.

 

       All the best.

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© 2014-2019, Daniel Schuette