2017 was bizarre. Unless you were in a coma, you probably already know this. Nothing particularly bad happened to me, personally, and yet it feels like one of the worst years ever. Having Donald Trump in the White House feels like we’re trapped in a Twilight Zone version of Groundhog Day. But, again, this is not news, so I will not rehash it.
Beyond that, some wonderful things actually did happen and it seems wise to look back on them and reflect so that I can maintain some sort of sanity. So, like many of us, I’ve made a little list–in no particular order–to look back on. Here goes!
- I didn’t die and, if you’re reading this, neither did you.
- I provided shelter and sustenance for myself and four other living creatures; one feline, three human. We all survived.
- I was able to visit two new countries (the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda) and revisit Uganda, twice. I also spent an inordinate amount of time in the Doha airport but that doesn’t really count, but now you know.
- In May, I was able to participate in the graduation ceremony with my cohort for my MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University and that was a proud moment for all of us.
- The stars aligned to allow me to do some work on HIV that I felt proud of with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations Secretariat. I fear that work has temporarily fallen by the way side due to budget cuts (see paragraph one) but I hope I was helpful. The opportunity to work with colleagues from my past and meet new ones along the way was, of course, the best part. The United Nations is, at times, an unwieldy beast, but it is staffed by some remarkable individuals.
- Immediately following my time back at the United Nations, I was hired to teach a brilliant group of teenagers at LaGuardia Community College. The course was structured around writing and social justice and how to better express oneself in these unsettling times. I found the experience humbling and both wonderful and tragic. It was overwhelmingly wonderful because the students were engaged and bright and I learned a lot from them. And it was wonderful that they are so eager to be active participants in the world. It was tragic, however, to see how frustrated they are with the world they’re being handed and rightly so (see paragraph one). They feel we do not adequately prepare young people for active citizenry and were glad to be exposed to new ideas and, most importantly, practical skills to sustain them in their future. I’m certain there are some future leaders among them and that is reassuring.
- In April, I signed with a literary agent from Sterling Lord Literistic and now I wait and hope someone will buy my memoir. You can read the first chapter here where it was included in The Southampton Review in the Winter/Spring 2017 issue. Robert Guinsler, my agent, was the agent for one of my favorite books of the year, by the way, and you should read it. “The Fact of a Body: A Murder and A Memoir” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is an extraordinary read and I’m still thinking about the story for both the content and the craft, months later; it’s that good.
- Although I didn’t publish much of my own writing in 2017, I was invited to become the Editor for the Triptych Section of Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel and had the privilege to work with three talented writers (Ola Nubi, Pia Ghosh-Roy and Katrina Woznicki) and you can read their pieces on London here on the Panorama website.
- Over the summer I was blocked by Trump on Twitter. I probably shouldn’t feel as happy about this as I do, but, you know, take the wins where they come, or whatever the saying is!
- Following my successful summer teaching experience, I’m delighted to say that in the spring, I’ll be teaching again at LaGuardia Community College (Introduction to Global Politics) and I’m very much looking forward to that. Stay tuned for updates.
There are probably many more things I could list, but ten is a nice number in a weird year. I feel a tingling of hope that the tides will begin to turn, politically, in 2018 and I will do my part to support that process however I can. I believe in the Blue Wave that is coming, hence the phrase “Happy Blue Year to the Resistance”.
Whatever 2018 holds in store, I sincerely hope we will all still be here to reflect again at the end of the year. A few of my friends didn’t make it through 2017, notably Prudence Mabele and Alan Silverman, but I hope they are in a better place. May they, and the other souls that transitioned in 2017, Rest in Power.
For the rest of us who are turning the page open to a new year, I wish you the very best of everything. My fingers are crossed for goodness, kindness, love and peace. Happy New Year!