There’ve been years where I couldn’t wait to rip off the last page of the calendar. Despite the many days of suckage in 2016, this wasn’t one of those years. I know, I know, the past couple of weeks the news and social media feeds have been filled with headlines and posts of people desperate to say goodbye and start fresh. Not me. I’m afraid of 2017. There, I said it.
I swear I can’t remember the first half of 2016, pretty sure my memories are on the tracks along with a smashed Cheetos bag and someone’s lost hair extension under the 6 train. The second half? I swung from funk to anger to disbelief and back again.
Too dramatic? Maybe. I have several good friends who are optimists, they live their lives on hope and faith that love conquers all. Beautiful, isn’t it? You could say Mrs Fringe is a pessimist, but I believe I’m a realist. And realistically speaking, if you are a woman, a person of color, Muslim, LGBTQ, an immigrant, a Dreamer, an educator, differently abled, parent to someone who is differently abled, a journalist, a senior citizen/will be a senior citizen who needs both Social Security and Medicare, or a free thinker, there is much to be–well ok, if you’re insistent on being less dramatic than I–if not fearful, at least wary of.
New Year’s isn’t like birthdays, we aren’t supposed to make wishes, we’re supposed to make resolutions. Resolve to be kinder, more thoughtful, more efficient, disciplined, stronger, faster, better. Shall I resolve to be the Bionic Woman, then? (If you’re too young to be familiar with the Bionic Woman, take my word for it, she was cool, a 1970s sci-fi tv character.) So when I hear people talking about wait-and-see, it won’t be so bad, I hear it with my bionic ear as magical thinking, wishes on a trick birthday candle. I’m not worried about The End of the World, nuclear style. Come on, I live in New York, everyone’s favorite target (and as a special bonus, the city our President-Elect and family won’t leave); if there’s an all out nuclear war, I’ll be the first to go, vaporized before the page telling me to watch out for mushroom clouds can load. No time for angst.
I’ve been rereading all my old favorite dystopian novels–along with some new ones–and they have certain themes in common, whether the trigger was an economic collapse, totalitarianism,or plague. Despair, violence, governmental overreach, hunger, talk about the necessity of good shoes. For the long walk to find others. And don’t give me any parables about crying because you had no shoes until you met a man who had no feet. We don’t live in the garden of Eden, and I’m too old for barefoot and pregnant. I need shoes. We need shoes. Good ones, without cracks in the soles, that don’t make you cry when you have ’em on for more than twenty minutes.
I’ve also spent some time rereading old posts. Sure, Mrs Fringe was always meant to be honest, somewhat bitter and definitely salty, but also funny. I think I stopped laughing about a year ago. For a lot of reasons, both personal and greater, many but not all of them detailed here over the past year, there’s been less funny, more general horror. And nausea. The other night I made a DD (Disastrous Dinner, trademark pending). Completely unsalvageable, suffice it say the overpriced short ribs couldn’t even be added to the doggie gumbo, and the polenta had more than a mild resemblance to the poo found in a newborn’s diaper. I happened to turn towards Nerd Child as he took his first and only bite. The expression on his face? I laughed for twenty minutes straight. For some people, when things suck, they need to cry. Others need to surround themselves with beauty, chant affirmations, or pretend the only things that matter are the things they can control. With that DD, I remembered, I need to laugh (and overuse commas). It’s my way through.
So while I want to believe all will find their measure of peace, love, and laughter this year, I’m not wishing or resolving. I’m going to laugh when I can, I’m going to speak out when I need to, and yes, I’m checking my shoes.