2016 in Review -or- It Wasn’t All Bad

2016, while it had its awful moments, has also been very good for me as I have learned who my friends are. Help has come where I least expected it… for instance, when Susan heard that my mother died, she was Johnny-on-the-spot with the e-mails of support and just checking in to make sure I was okay. I can’t help but be a tiny bit jealous that her mother is still alive and mine isn’t, but the take-home message isn’t my jealousy. It’s to treasure every moment she has left. One of the last things I said to her on the subject was do me a favor. The next time you see your mom, hold her for one second longer than you ever have.

Truthfully, I don’t remember much of the year before my mother died. It wiped out everything, because my world just tilted, and in some ways, exploded as blindingly as Alderaan. Princess Leia couldn’t go home again, and neither can I… but only in some ways. Of course I still have a place at my father’s table, but I will never sit next to my mother on the piano bench, her page turner and carrier of melody when she’s trying to learn an accompaniment for a singer.

Now that everyone has been told, I can let the cat out of the bag that it’s Bryn’s wedding I’m doing, and although I am extraordinarily nervous about going back to Portland, I am willing to do it for two reasons:

  1. It’s Bryn’s day, and it’s what she wants. I want to marry her, and as I said, with one signature she’ll have proof I did. It will be a significant milestone in our relationship, one that we’ll both remember for the rest of our lives, and I don’t argue with brides.
  2. Getting ordained over the Internet, while a bit sketchy in my book, might lead to other weddings once people realize I’m actually good at it. I liken it to when I was a trumpet player and had to play Trumpet Voluntary for honorariums because that one piece is how trumpet players eat. Of course, marrying my best friend and her fiancée is her wedding gift. I am talking about the possibility of weddings in the future that will help pay for college and grad school…. you know, the one where I am ordained by the UCC. I don’t think of it as more valid, just more accredited.

2016 was not the wedding, but the ask, and it meant more to me than diamonds.

2016 was also the year of making friendships that go deeper than surface pleasantries. I really opened up to Dan & Autumn, as well as Pri-Diddy. I am only a little bit closer to Dan for two reasons. The first is that Pri-Diddy is off on an adventure, and the second is that Dan’s mother is dead as well. She wraps me in hugs when I need it, those that last a second longer because she recognizes that particular brand of pain…. the fire pit that seems to be The Neverending Story.

Opening up to Pri-Diddy has been more about forward motion and where I go from here. She has been relentless in her support of me, whether it’s dropping going back to work and concentrating solely on school, or putting me in touch with people who could help me get jobs that would allow me the type salary to graduate without much debt.

2016 was becoming Christ Congregational’s Writer in Residence, literally, because I have an office and a red Swingline stapler. I am proud to be their “webmistress” and look forward to all the social media responsibility that comes with it. Matt asked me if I was capable of editing a book, and I told him that I’d never done it before, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t, because I am ruthless with a red pen. Here, you get all my thoughts, all over the place, but you don’t get what I am truly capable of in terms of academic and formal writing. It’s a different type completely… this is just one style, rarely crafted but vomited logorrhea. I am positive that I could do better with this web site if I did first drafts and second drafts and outlines and all that shit, but I think the blog would also lose character as I craft a narrative instead of just truly telling you what I’m thinking on a moment-to-moment basis. Even my marriage article was stream-of-consciousness, and took approximately 15 minutes to write, which is why I was so blown away by the response… and I am so sad that it didn’t work for my own.

2016 was about letting go. Letting go of Dana, letting go of Argo, letting go of anyone who thought I was crazy for opening up to someone over the Internet and developing real feelings about a virtual relationship. Though neither of those relationships worked out, the lessons I learned were invaluable and I carry them in my heart, pondering what I could have done differently so that anyone new I meet isn’t tainted by my past moods and behaviors. I had to learn to let go of rage and anxiety about those situations and just chill the fuck out. So far, it’s working. It was working before my mother died, but afterward, I realized what was truly important and what wasn’t, and decided to live in love instead of fear. I don’t always manage it with everyone, because I am quite socially anxious with people I don’t know. But anxiety about them and where our relationships have ended up is mostly gone, and they live in my memory with fondness instead of enmity…. again, most of the time. It’s a spectrum that lives in my heart and my inbox.

2016 was the year of finding the Outlander phenomenon, because I read all the books earlier than that, but not the immense fandom that lives on Facebook and Twitter. It was also the year of watching Season One of the TV show, where it cut me deeply and I had to stop. I’m not finished with Season Two because of it. Seeing that level of pain on the screen rather than reading it gutted me like an axe, as well as reading a soldier’s tweet that she’d been through the PTSD sex scene and realizing that those things happen all over the place and not just in fiction. I didn’t cry while I was reading the book, but the TV show and that tweet undid me for days on end and it took time to recover. Still taking time.

Perhaps in 2017 I’ll catch up, but in 2016, it was just too much.

2016 was getting more distance from Diane and realizing I was indeed capable of leaving her behind in a way that I never thought possible… because the break happened years ago, but it took awhile to settle in and make it really, really real. If I ever run into her again, which is possible, I know to be guarded and polite, Leslie Lanagan.™ There’s nothing in the world that would make me open up to her again, as hard as it was when my mother died. The tapestry of memories that included them both was large and somewhat depressing, but what lifted me out of it was knowing just how many people have come forward and said that they knew what she was doing wasn’t right or sane. Even “she didn’t mean to” is no longer a valid excuse. As my father would say, mean not to. This year has been learning to breathe through that anxiety with a little less labor, but especially since we are both musicians, there are still certain pieces that leave me in pieces, too…. although not as many as they used to, which is progress in my book.

2016 has been learning to breathe for all my friends that work for the Obama administration, because they’re all out of a job once Trump is in office. Living in DC has introduced me to several of them, and they are not forgotten in my mind as they go through this transition. As for my other friends that work for the rest of the government, believe me when I say that the rebellion has begun, trying to figure out how to make the bureaucracy work even more slowly than normal to avoid upending a number of good policies, both foreign and domestic.

This year has also been about me learning to be a lover and a fighter all at the same time, taking on going to meetings where the county government covers things like race relations and police brutality. People of faith have to speak up, even when it’s difficult. I know within myself that I am capable of so much, and if I get arrested for peacefully protesting, there are a number of people willing to bail me out of jail… a talk I never thought I’d have to have, but police brutality extends to people who are just sitting there. It may not be getting worse, just filmed, but there it is. I have a feeling that there will be a lot of protests this year over a multitude of things, including what we are doing militarily, but soldiers, listen up. I will never, ever, ever disagree with the boots on the ground. I couldn’t be more proud or more thankful for your existence. However, I will gladly disagree with your Commander in Chief if he is using you for inane or dangerous purposes. My Jesus wouldn’t stand for it, and neither will I.

Most of all, I have learned that no matter what I do, good or bad, there is nothing that will ever separate me from the love of God, and the whole host of faces I use to talk to them (using this pronoun because God is genderless). I have sat in so much silence and prayer, trying to find my still, small voice that it is emerging in a big damn way.

2017, stay tuned.

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