Year in Review: 2020

Oh, my stars!

This was a hard one to write, y’all! I mean, how do I sum up a year I spent on depression and anxiety level one billion? A few weeks after the clock hit midnight in 2020 our terrible, awful, no-good, very bad impeached President was not voted out of office and got to remain as Commander in Chief, thereby launching one of the most vicious and turbulent elections in US history. A few weeks after that, COVID 19 started killing people around the world, and shit got bad.

But I was committed to wrapping up 2020 in the way I always do, so I opened up a new document and started to answer these questions that I’ve answered for years. And it was really fucking hard to own up to exactly how hard this year has been. But I wrote it anyway, and after Matt and Marisa proofread and edited, I was ready to publish. And then white supremacists stormed the US Capitol and DC got scary.

What I’m trying to say is SORRY THIS IS LATE BUT *gestures widely** THINGS HAPPENED.

If you’re new to the game and want to go back in time to a younger, fresher Amy, here you go: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

1.  What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?

  • endured a global pandemic
  • stayed at least six feet away from everyone (except for 8 people: Marisa & Mike & Matilda, Matt & Patrick, Jayme & Steve, and Erica)
  • convinced my parents not to travel from Arkansas to visit
  • switched to delivery of all groceries and household sundries
  • stopped getting manicures, pedicures, or any other beauty treatment
  • stopped going to bars, restaurants, museums, crowded public parks, protests, and outdoor public celebrations (like when Biden/Harris won!)
  • stopped wearing bras

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year?

Not a single one. I didn’t do anything but survive the isolation of a global pandemic. Technically I could have done all the things on last year’s list, but since my energy and mental state allowed me to do a maximum of 2 things a day; mostly all I did was work and take care of Otis. 

The To Do’s I highlighted for 2020 make a pretty good list, though. Here is my modified 2021 list.

  • Read a book a month 
  • Take an online class for something creative (just one in 2021!)
  • Write more — at least 200 words once a week
  • Get arty — paint or something else at least once a week.
  • Find a way to exercise that doens’t feel like horrible torture that I have to force or bribe myself do

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sweet friend Susan delivered twins at 28 weeks. Her son and daughter stayed in the NICU for four months while Susan and her husband endured the hyper-strict restrictions of visiting a hospital during the pandemic. Happy to report that everyone is healthy, happy, and safe.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My dad’s two sisters died four weeks apart. My grief is still unbelievably raw. How can I mourn them when I’ve not been to a funeral or seen my family? They both deserve more writing than what I can give them here, but this will have to do in the meantime.

My dad’s younger sister, Judy, was a delightful, giggly sweetheart of a woman. If we were watching the movie of her life, there would be a montage of her walking through the door, seeing someone she loved, and putting her tiny Bridges hands in prayer against her lips, scrunching up her shoulders, and squeaking out a hello filled with more joy than can be contained. 

When all of us first cousins started having kids, my dad’s generation had a playful competition to be the babies’ favorite. One of them would buy a bigger Christmas present, another would send a more frequent message. But one day, Aunt Judy just decided she should be the favorite, crowned herself “Favorite Aunt Judy,” and started signing emails and cards as FAJ. It was really brilliant and we all loved it.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. She fought that pretty hard and it went in remission. But sadly she was one of the miniscule percentage of women who get a very rare form of leukemia from chemotherapy. She fought that even harder, and after a while went into remission, only to find out that the ovarian cancer was back. She entered hospice in late July 2020, and our delightful FAJ passed away peacefully a month later.

—————

In late 2017 as I was going through my Boob Thing, I found out that my breast sherpa, my dad’s older sister, Ginny, found out that undiagnosed breast cancer had spread to her bones, and as we say in the South, her body was “just ate up with cancer.” 

Favorites aside, my Aunt Ginny was the one who understood me the best. We were so alike in so many ways that I never doubted our biology. Much like a family that all has the same pointy nose, we were the same in so many ways, indisputably related. Her personality was big and loud, and her stories were captivating and enriching.  We shared a love of literature, writing, and creativity. When I was chosen to speak at my high school graduation, Aunt Ginny helped me write my speech. She helped me organize what I wanted to say, and kept guiding me back to King Lear, which I’d read that year and had enraptured me. 

Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all.

As the date approached, she called and said, “You think I’m not going to be there when you give this speech?” And she came! She flew from Missouri to Virginia to see me deliver that speech. Knowing she was in the audience calmed my teenage nerves and made me feel very loved. She was good at that.

Like her baby sister, Ginny fought like hell.  

Both women had been going through it, but Aunt Judy was the sicker of the two. Or maybe I just thought that because my dad and Judy were very close and lived in the same city. Toward the end, they saw each other every day. On the first Friday of August, my cousin Cindy, Ginny’s daughter, emailed to say that her mom was in hospice, too, and was unlikely to last the weekend. 

I didn’t read the email until Saturday morning. My throat closed up, and I gasped for breath. I spent most of the day talking on the phone to my cousins and my parents, uncontrollably sobbing, only to hear from her daughter that evening that she was gone. 

Ginny had been sick for 2 years, but I didn’t know it was the end until it was too late. But she’s always been a headstrong woman and acted intentionally on the things she wanted. I believe she was ready to go, so she just closed her eyes and was gone. 

These women were two guiding forces in my life. Since I’ve been away from them for so long, and time seems to be a fucking joke, I really can’t believe they’re gone. It just seems like I haven’t talked to them in a while. And that’s the truth, actually.

5. What countries did you visit?

I barely left the apartment, so no, I didn’t leave the country.

There has been one thing that has really made this bearable: mini vacations with my pod, my quartet of fun.

It all started with complete devastation when, in April, we cancelled our June trip to New Orleans to celebrate Matt & Patrick’s birthdays. By the time mid-June rolled around, we were stir-crazy and missing each other intensely. So we looped in Erica, socially distanced hard for 2 weeks, and rented an Airbnb in the Virginia countryside, and officially became a pod. We practice the same COVID precautions, so we trust each other immensely: masks and social distancing always, minimizing time in public (ex: no fun trips to Target), being extra cautious in the weeks before hanging out, and informed consent about deviations from our agreed-upon plan.  I’ve been called “really strict,”  “overly-worried,” and “paranoid” by people I know for following these precautions. Ugh.

Since June, we’ve rented cabins along the Chesapeake Bay, northern Maryland, and in West Virginia for Christmas, among other places. So no, they’re not magical trips to other countries, but they’re magical trips nonetheless. I wouldn’t trade these trips for the world. We’ve decided to keep them up even after COVID is over, so things will only be more fun when others can join us.

6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?

I want my life back.  I’ve accepted the fact that I will not be a mother. If you’ve read any of past years’ reviews, you already know this*.

So for the past few years, as the reality of non-motherhood cemented itself, I designed a life that was rich in friendship, culture, and freedom. I pay exorbitant rent in downtown DC because I love the city. I love falling asleep to city noises and sirens and talking to the weirdos I pass on the street. I love knowing I’m a car ride away from seeing live music or meeting up with someone who’s in town unexpectedly. 

By staying inside to keep myself and others safe, the life I created for myself is gone. About two months into the pandemic, as the weather started to warm up and collectively we started to realize this wasn’t a “weeks-long” thing but a “months-long” thing, I had a fleeting dream to put all my stuff in storage and rent a house in the country for a year. I mean, if I’m going to be alone, I might as well be alone in the middle of the rolling hills & easy sunsets of Virginia. Sometimes I still regret not doing it. 

But I think that would have ruined me. Without the idea that I could go stand outside on the stoop and talk to my neighbors, or have an impromptu early morning coffee and air hug with Marisa, I know I would have sunk even deeper. 

*I never wanted children, I wanted a family. I did not EVER want to be a single mom. Had I been partnered up, I’d have tried to have biological kids, and had that failed, I’d have loved to be a step-mom, a foster mom, and/or an adoptive mom. But partnership didn’t happen, so neither did motherhood. And if partnership happens in the future, starting a new family this late in life is not at all desirable, so the dream is officially dead. (Step-momming would still be very awesome, though.)

7. What dates from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • Monday, March 16: Paul and Rachel (who lived downstairs in my building) came to say goodbye before they left DC to move to Minneapolis. I remember looking at them and saying out loud, “I think I’m going to cry,” and then seeing huge tears roll down Paul’s face. We three-way hugged and sobbed for a few intense minutes. We were definitely sad to leave each other, but there was also such uncertainty and fear in those tears. I didn’t touch another person for 3 more months.
  • Monday, July 6: Started a new job.
  • Saturday, August 1: My dad’s older sister died, my Aunt Ginny. 
  • Monday, August 24: My dad’s younger sister died, my Aunt Judy.
  • Wednesday, Sept 9: I moved into a new apartment.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 

Realizing that my job and my apartment weren’t going to cut it. Pandemic or not, my apartment was too small, and I’m too pretty and too old not to not have a living space that refreshes me.  And as for my job, last year’s “biggest failure” was enforcing a work-life balance, and I’m very proud that I honored that desire to even it all out by leaving a job that was structurally unforgiving and had no leadership to fix some deeply flawed ways of working. (Meaning, the bosses knew that there was no way we could keep working at the pace we were going at with limited resources. But they also didn’t know how or didn’t care to fix it, nor would they compensate us for the aforementioned shortcomings. Thus, I had to dip.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not reaching out for help. Like, at all.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I threw my back out in late September just after I moved. NBD, considering. And I didn’t get COVID. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I leased a new apartment that has everything I’ve ever wanted. A washer/dryer, a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, central AC (no more window units!), and a balcony where I can open the door for a waft of fresh air, or sit outside with my face to the sun, rocking in my chair with a book on my lap, while my plant bebes thrive in all the late afternoon sun that streams through the window.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

All the honest people (mostly women) in our federal and state government who are fighting so hard to undo the damage that Trump and his bullshit Republican lackies have inflicted.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The non-mask wearers. I really cannot understand how wearing a mask became a political thing. What has happened to humanity?

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, health care, and a bit more to Amazon than I’m proud of.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I got excited about leaving DC to go on our Pod Vacations. I got excited about moving. I got excited about running the dishwasher for the first time. I got excited about sitting out on the balcony on the cool autumn days and rocking in my rocking chair.

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?

WAP by Cardi B and MeganThee Stalion. 

Any of the songs that were crazy on Tik Tok. Savage Love by Jason Derulo. Savage by Megan Thee Stallion. Blinded by the Light by The Weeknd. 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Self-care. There’s a saying in the 12 steps that when you’re in a meeting, your addiction is in the parking lot doing pushups. I’ve heard another variation that I’ve applied to my depression. I picture it like a dude in the basement, sweating and pounding on a punching bag, getting stronger and stronger, just waiting for me to slip up a tiny bit so it can take over again. 

The moral is the same. The disease (addiction/depression) is never gone, and it’s easy to think that it’s gone when it’s just dormant. 

For someone fighting addiction, all it takes is one drink for the thing inside you to come out swinging.

For a depressed person, it’s not taking meds, not enough self-care, not the right kind of mental stimulation, and isolation, most of which happened in 2020.  I never stopped taking my meds, but without the opportunity to connect with others and practice self care, shit got bad.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

TV, Computer, phone. Big Internet, medium Internet, tiny Internet.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

The pod and I spent four days in West Virginia: movie marathon, new recipes, old traditions, games, dogs, and #friendship.

21. Did you fall in love in 2019?

Nope.

22. How many one-night stands?

None.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

A very normal question that I had to google because I couldn’t remember anything I watched. Not everything below came out in 2020 but I had a lot more time on my hands to watch older stuff, so these were my highlights: Tiger King, Cheer, Broadchurch, Away, and Schitt’s Creek.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Anyone directly or indirectly related to the horrible American response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot comprehend how human lives were on the line and our government willfully ignored scientists, purposely confused the public, and failed to organize a strategic response to combat this. They all have blood on their hands, and I wish they could be held accountable in their for-profit prisons from which they get rich.

25. What was the best book you read?

I read zero books this year. ZERO.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

There’s a sweet young person named Madeline with a voice from the past, and she got a record deal because of her wide spread exposure on TikTok. Social media is changing the world in so many great ways. I’m looking forward to hearing more of her crazy voice.

I also loved Dua Lipa and The MisterWives.

27. What did you want and get?

New apartment and new job. 

28. What did you want and not get?

Love, romance, sex, stability, adventure, travel, newness.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

Um.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I had just moved into my new apartment, so my COVID crew came over on Saturday, the day before my birthday, for a box-filled celebration. I also celebrated with Mike, Marisa & Matilda at some point, but not sure when. Matilda said my name a thousand times and kept giving and taking back a tiny elephant keychain. My actual birthday was spent at my old apartment selling my table and doing other errands. Sigh. 45. What a life.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less COVID.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?

My concept is that I don’t care what I look like, which according to the Delta Gamma rush process 1993 – 1997, is not great. It’s imperative that we take pride in our personal appearance.

Eh, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I DO care about what I look like. But not for the following things: getting a super big gulp diet coke from the 7-11 in my building, going out to meet any delivery person, going on a walk, hanging with my pod (because they know I’m not a better friend or person if I have make-up on or round-brushed hair) and that’s mostly all that I do, so…..

Thus, I present to you, the best thing ever: The Breathe ON joggers from Old Navy I own three pair of gray. I check at least twice a week to see if the black is back in stock.

So much of American culture will be changed after the collective experience of the pandemic. I predict the end of the 40-hour in-person work week. Working remotely was wonderful for a million different businesses, and we all learned that productivity didn’t wane by working from home, and many parents were able to accomplish just as much in compressed schedules, while also being teachers, and day caregivers.

THUS! Loungewear is here to stay. As are bras without wires or anything pokey, tight pants, outfits that require shapewear, and shapewear in general. 

33. What kept you sane?

Friendships. Oh my stars, my friends. (If you’re reading this and wondering if I’m talking about you, you’re right…I am!)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 

Kamala, who is on her way to being our first woman President. #2024

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The complete failure of the government to keep us alive. It shouldn’t have been political. But alas, Trump.

36. Who did you miss?

Everyone. 

37. Who was the best new person you met?

I met a few people at my new job that I’m jazzed about. And by met, I mean that I have emailed and zoomed with them.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.

Things actually CAN get worse, so hold on to the laughter and joy that you have and make it last. Also, if you live in an apartment, have a way to stand outside without a common hallway, or having to use an elevator or stairs. 

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

The Indigo Girls, “All That We Let In”

Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin
But we’re better off for all that we let in.

I take this to mean that the consequences of what we do, who we are, are hard. We pick up pain that we would not have had if we’d remained still and sheltered, but we got love. If you can’t understand the lesson when it’s right in front of your face, we are better people for all the heartache and teary eyes we’ve had as we move through life.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to reflect back upon this year and love the amount of growth and change I experienced despite the horrible circumstances…that the dust will be worth the boot kick.

What I hope for 2021 is this amazing song from MisterWives, “Superbloom.”

I deserve congratulations
‘Cause I came out the other side
I’ve been having revelations
And I’m gon’ let them shine
I deserve congratulations
I’d never thought that I’d survive
If you tell me I won’t make it
That’s when I, that’s when I                 
SUPERBLOOM

If you got this far, thank you for reading. I hope you have a happy and blessed 2021.

The Boob Thing, Part 1

Most days, my after work ritual is the best 3 minutes I get in a day.

I peel off layers of itchy fabric from tailored pants and professional blouses and swap them for soft clothes — a warm hoodie and cotton loungey pants, or a breezy dress, depending on the season. 

One evening in October 2017, still light outside since the time hadn’t changed yet, I looked down at my bra tossed casually across the bed and noticed a drop of blood in the center of its left cup. That’s really weird, I thought, dismissing it for an unseen cut on a finger, a fleeting reminder to get a manicure.

A few days later, another splotch of blood in my bra, slightly bigger than the first time. I glanced at my naked breasts in the mirror. They looked normal, with a droop that comes with extra pounds and extra years. Is that a smear of blood? I leaned closer to the mirror, out of the shadow of the poor lighting. Yes, a smudgy trail of blood heading up to my shoulder. I grabbed my left breast in my hands and lifted it up to look at it; as I did, drops of dark, rusty blood dripped out of my nipple.


I had my first mammogram in my 20s, having found a weird knot that seemed out of the ordinary, even for the uneven terrain of my tissue. Mammograms aren’t so bad, and over the years, I’ve become accustomed to the radiologist saying, “Well there’s something here but not no worry — let’s do a quick sonogram to be sure.” At some point, the something there turned into a slightly bigger deal than usual, so I found a wonderful breast specialist who I’ve seen regularly since. She graduated UVA med school with my brother, and on my first visit, she realized she knew him, and called in the nurse to bring her some warm sonogram lube. “I’m not putting that cold stuff on Matt’s sister.” It was an odd thing to hear while laying topless on a table, but endearing nonetheless. Like all the women I love, she’s a bad ass bitch, and I’m so glad I found someone as warm and brilliant as she.


Speaking of bad ass bitches.

All the Bridges women have lumpy breasts due to a scary sounding but mostly benign condition called fibrocystic breast disease. Our breasts are also very big, even in proportion to our big, round bodies. If I close my eyes, I can still see my Grandmother Imogene standing in the doorway between the dark living room where we cousins snuggled down on quilt pallets, and the bright kitchen, her silhouette haloed by the intense florescent lights. In my mind, she’s dressed in a button-up floral housecoat, arms folded and resting on the top of her chest, her large breasts gently propping up her elbows. I’ve noticed I do that sometimes, too. 

My Aunt Virginia has been my sherpa through all my breast issues. She’s walked me through most of my mammograms, and one particularly scary time, detailed very clearly what a needle aspiration would look and feel like. Luckily, I didn’t need it. But luck being a complete asshole sometimes, she has been diagnosed with Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer, which had spread to her bones. We texted yesterday. She’s doing well and says she’s “still fighting but doing pretty good.” I think it will take a lot more than this bullshit to get her. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

Year in Review: 2019

My annual round up of answers to random questions. I like having done this for a while. Perspective and retrospection are always nice to have. Here are the posts from 2018, 201720162015, and 2014.

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
Committed to having a cleaning lady come every two weeks. This is not a luxury, although it seems decadent at times. For my fellow depressed people, cleaning my apartment is my Impossible Task — it’s the most outward sign of the way my brain works. I love order, I love cleanliness, I love a beautiful space, but when things get slightly out of control, I am no longer able to get them back into control. It’s impossible.

Having someone come regularly has been almost as beneficial as talk therapy and medication have been in some ways. Not only does my home become a welcoming, warm respite from the outside world, I think having another person come here and show it love shifts the energy of the physical space.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any last year. Here’s the thing: my life is lived in fits and starts. I’m very critical of myself when I look at myself by the hour or day. But if I zoom out a little, I improved and made progress in the ways I wanted.

I’m not resolving anything. But here are some things I want to do:
– Read more books (maybe nonfiction?)
– Take a few classes (cooking? photography? calculus? drawing?)
– Write more
– Make the bed
– Do a stuff purge once a quarter
– Paint more
– Exercise

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Technically no. Sweet little Matilda (Piney, Pine, Tillie, Mati, Tillz) made it just under the deadline of 2018. Her parents are two of the kindest, loveliest people I know, and I love being part of their family.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Carol Atkinson. Her daughter Paula is my friend, and my podcast partner, and member of the inner circle since 2004. Carol and I only met three or four times, but she was the type of person who could feel and understand people immediately. She was a highly sensitive person and when I met her for the first time, I finally understood that the way my soul lives in my body was unique but not solitary.

At her celebration of life in June, after she passed away in April, always the helper, I passed the microphone around to 200+ person group that had come to be together in grief and love. As I listened to the sweet words of her yoga students, I felt moved to say this about Carol: She and I were cut from the same cloth. Both Depressed People, we love fiercely and can feel a loneliness unimagined by anyone else. I said, “Carol understood me in a way that my own mother can’t.” It’s not a compliment to Carol, and not an insult to my own amazing mother; rather, it was a perfect, overwhelming blessing, just for me.

5. What countries did you visit?
I went to Puerto Rico again! I stayed a whole week which is the longest I’ve been away from work and home in my entire life. It took me about 10 years to make myself vacation by myself, and this year when friends were able to come, I was slightly panicky that I wouldn’t get enough time by myself on vacation. What I dreaded became the thing that set me free. Fucking life lesson.

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
A few weeks ago, as I began to write this roundup, I felt overwhelmingly angry about this question. I looked back on previous years’ answers and I got angrier. I texted a friend, “I just cannot wish for romance this year. I’ve done it every year for as long as I’ve been writing this. I’m embarrassed by it.”  Embarrassment and anger, quite the duo.

In 2020, I want the same thing I’ve wanted since age 15. Romantic love and affection.

7. What dates from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
– May 8: Big Huge Work Project was over
– Columbus Day weekend: intense family stuff. Very un-fun, but I’m okay.
– November something: Gave a professional speech at a big conference. Not so much “etched” in my memory but it’s a thing that will anchor me to 2019, my first year at this job.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
There’s some stuff at work that I’m immensely proud of. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and rose to the challenge of my new job, accepting responsibilities that weren’t available before. I won’t go into detail; the importance of my TPS reports are only recognized by a small audience.

I’m proud of the way I’ve grown in my understanding of current Black issues in American society and how I’ve digested them for the podcast. I know I get it wrong sometimes, but my own understanding of the complexities continues to evolve, and I try to reflect that in how I discuss it.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not enforcing a better work-life balance. When I started my new job in Sept 2018, I knew that my company was going through a lot of major changes that would require a lot of hours and hard work. I immersed myself in it because it was the only way to get it all done. And the truth is, it was nice to throw myself into a job that was rewarding, satisfying, and for which I was getting praised. It was awesome, until it wasn’t anymore. During the most intense period, I had a day time “to do” list, and then at 6:00ish, I’d make my evening “to do” list and go home for another 2 or three hours. I didn’t eat well, I drank too much, I didn’t exercise, I complained to friends.

I’m drawing a line for 2020.

This pace only ends if I end it. There’s always a new launch. There will be another microsite to build. The world won’t end if I only work 45 hours a week.

Ask me again next year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I threw out my back in the winter. My knee started acting up in early September. I have a very specific memory of my mom getting a present for her 40th birthday (I was 12). It was a ceramic jar thingy that my parents eventually put the kitchen tools in (whisk, spatula, etc) that said, “After 40 it’s patch, patch, patch.” I didn’t get it at the time, but that’s what’s happening, I guess.

I have no major illnesses or injury but it feels like there’s always a new ache, a new weird spot on my skin, a new hitch in my giddyup. Acupuncture is amazing and I recommend it to everyone.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Vacation. Investing in a lovely woman to clean my house every 2 weeks.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
– Jayme for becoming a CEO.
– Marisa for becoming an amazing mother.
– Kat for enduring the toughest year of her life.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
All the pussy Republicans in Congress who are allowing Donald Trump to keep his office for their own political gain or power or money and not the good of the country.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, parking, health care. Vacation.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Three “really”s?? I’m not sure that I got THAT excited about anything this year. The cleaning lady. I’m three “reallys” jazzed about that.

16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
Lizzo, “Truth Hurts”. First of all, that’s a bop. Even if it were written by a skinny white bitch, it would be a bop. But it wasn’t — it was written and performed by a completely unapologetic fat black woman and she’s manhandling the conversation about body autonomy, self-love, and confidence.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Ugh, I don’t really want to participate in this question. As a Depressed Person I walk a fine, fine, super fine line between holding myself accountable and punishing myself.

I wish I had done a bunch of shit, but I also know that I handled exactly as much as I could this year. If I had MADE myself make the bed every day, then if I failed, I would have gone down a spiral of self-hate and shame. I’ve become very, very good at recognizing what are the important things for which to hold myself accountable, and what are just resolutions for a checklist.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Questioning whether something is accountability or masochism.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Went to Syracuse for the weekend, then down to Madison County, VA. Haven’t celebrated with my parents or niece & nephew yet, so I guess we’re going to ride this bitch all the way out.

21. Did you fall in love in 2019?
Negative.

22. How many one-night stands?
None.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Fleabag. Schitt’s Creek.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Same as last year: “I hated Trump last year. I hate him now. So, no.”

25. What was the best book you read?
I didn’t read much. I dunno.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2019 was not the year for cultural emphasis. I worked a lot. OH but I love Billie Eilish, not because of her music (although it’s totally growing on me), but she seems like a very smart person and I like watching her life unfold.

27. What did you want and get?
Professional respect, authority, promotion (kinda), credibility, and recognition.

28. What did you want and not get?
Same ol shit i didn’t get before. Last year’s answer could have been written yesterday.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Booksmart. So good! As my friend Jonathan recently said, “what kind of person would i be if I didn’t hate myself or lie about it.” Girl, same.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Turned 44 and celebrated with Matt, Patrick, and Kat in Puerto Rico. We laughed, drank on the beach, ate shitty food, and after the boys went to bed, Kat and I went on an adventure. I felt very loved. It was pretty fantastic.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
An ice maker, at work and home. A dishwasher and washer/dryer in my apartment. Getting less mail.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
Paula said it best on the podcast recently, “my gender expression is a beat face and super comfy clothes like overalls.” That’s meeeee. I want to have a beautiful face, and want to be put together, but i am too old to suffer through an evening with clothes I want to take off (and not for sex).

33. What kept you sane?
This is a tricky question, because truthfully I was not sane, most of the time.

That’s the thing with mental illness–it’s not a toggle, it’s a dimmer. No such thing as sane vs insane. Like a lot of things, “sanity” isn’t black or white. Everyone who has depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness understands that there are good days and bad days. And this year I probably had more bad days than good, if I’m being honest.

The bad days happen more often when I work a lot and don’t do stuff that keeps me connected with people. What kept me from dipping way over into the “depression” is that I’ve learned exactly, specifically, technically how long I can be alone. I love being alone, but like a lot of good things, too much is bad. Even going to get coffee and making eye contact with one other person can make the difference between relishing in alone time and disconnecting so much I feel separate, alone, and untethered.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Lizzo. So unapologetic.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
If you listen to the podcast, you know I’m most passionate about the race crisis in the United States and the racist institutions that keep Black and brown people in a perpetual state of disadvantage.

This passion intensified in 2019, so now that it’s an election year, I expect this will be highlighted in 2020.

36. Who did you miss?
My mother.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Technically, I met her last year, but my director at work has made a big impact on me. She’s my perfect partner; she’s Bulgarian, so she has an Eastern-European, no-nonsense tact in meetings and business interactions. She’s also very warm and nurturing. My favorite kind of woman is a stone cold bitch who’s a hugger.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
Most things in life are never as bad as what your brain would have you believe.

Also, don’t let your domain registration expire, forcing you to have to create a “.co” website.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
It seems like I’m phoning this one in because it’s THE SONG of 2019, but I can’t argue with this Lizzo on “Truth Hurts”.

I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch
Even when i’m crying crazy.

Year in Review: 2018

Drumroll….Ta Da! My annual round up of answers to random questions. I like having done this for a while. Perspective and retrospection are always nice to have. Here are the posts from 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.


What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Dealt with the discomfort, anxiety, and dissociation of not knowing what is wrong with my body. Thus, The Boob Issue. I also vacationed by myself, and it wasn’t (that) lonely or sad. Both of these stories warrant more explanation.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No resolutions. I always have a desire to continue to do better things for myself, my friends, the world, but I think by now I can conclude that a new year’s resolution isn’t the way to inspire me to do that. I do have a few guidelines that I tried to live by when I moved into the new apartment in August. In the new place, I a) wash my face every night b) keep the cat litter acceptable for His Highness so he doesn’t pee on things, and c) make the bed. I fail at this miserably but I try again the next day.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin Heather & Luck had a very sweet (surprise!) baby named Amaya! My friends Rachel and Luis welcomed Anne Katherine, the baby with the best laugh I’ve ever heard! And there are still a few days left in 2018, so little Piney might make an appearance. And Marisa & Mike were blessed with sweet little chubby cheeked Matilda.

Did anyone close to you die?

I just found out that the owner/co-founder of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, John Laytham, died. I’m a generous person because of two people in my life: my mother and John. He (and Clyde’s) taught me a lot about hospitality, but more importantly, helped shape who I am as a business person and a member of the community. Thanks for everything, John.

I had a very dear friend attempt to die from depression. Luckily, she made it through that crisis and is here to make us laugh again. Paula and I had her on our podcast and it was a really good episode, if I do say so myself.

Also, Aretha. Growing up, a few of my dad’s favorite albums (at least according to soundtrack of my childhood) were Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, That’s a Plenty by The Pointer Sisters, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim by Jim Croce, and Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin.

There was something about Aretha’s voice that really made my dad feel a certain kind of way. I remember once how my he explained to me a how a singer’s voice can hit a note so pure, it spins you. His examples were Aretha (all time fave), but also Peggy Lee, Eva Cassidy, and Patsy Cline. I would add to that list Sara Bareilles, Patty Griffin, and Brandi Carlile.

What countries did you visit?

I went to Puerto Rico! By myself! It was absolutely gorgeous. The trip was restorative, relaxing, healing, and very, very, very needed.

What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

Romantic love and affection, same as 2017. I’d also like to travel more (which I’ll be doing through my new job), have more free space in my place (aka continue to downsize), and to move my body more.  The other things I wanted last year –a clearer sense of self, a new apartment, a tad more financial security — I got!

What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • February 13: surgery day to remove a might-be-cancerous duct from my left breast
  • February 21: The day I got the pathology report. Benign.
  • August 18: Moved into a new apartment after a decade in my old place
  • September 17: Started my new job

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Took the big step of leaving a job after 4 years and moving apartments after 10.

What was your biggest failure?

I don’t think I failed at that many things this year. Nothing notable. Go me! Not a failure!

Did you suffer illness or injury?

In November of 2017, I noticed blood in my bra. Then a few weeks later, I saw it again. So I lifted my breast to give the ol’ girl a look-see and BLOOD CAME OUT OF MY NIPPLE. Like, M Night Shyamalan style. It was so weird. Four months later, in February of 2018, after all the biopsies, I had surgery.  It deserves it’s own post, especially about how it made me think of life/death/isolation/loneliness/connectedness. More to come.

What was the best thing you bought?

Plane ticket and Air B&B in Puerto Rico!

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Just to name a few: Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Danica Roem, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michelle Obama… Also my friend Matt. He’s become a body positive mental health activist. It’s a lovely compliment to me that he, as a thin person with no mental health issues, is taking on the fight, but it’s also exposing a soft, fluffy part of his heart that I’ve been watching grow for a few years now.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Donald Trump. GET HIM THE FUCK OUT OF OUR GOVERNMENT OMFG FFS JFC.

Where did most of your money go?

Same as the past few years — rent, parking, and mental health care not covered by insurance — but happy to say that some money went to vacation!

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My new place. I have always loved being a city girl since I moved into DC proper in 2002. But I absolutely LOVE living in this neighborhood where I can walk to everything I need. Adams Morgan has changed a lot, but it’s kept its authenticity, which is not a euphemism for people of color. Sure, it’s been gentrified but the small mom & pop restaurants, tattoo parlors and frame shops that have kept Adams Morgan weird are still there, just nestled between &pizza, a fancy hotel, and some bougie ice cream parlors.

What song will always remind you of 2018?

“Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. When I’m alone in my car, I bellow, “I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in, I’ll never meet the ground!”

What do you wish you’d done more of?

What I wrote last year: “Here’s an off the cuff list: travel, taken life less seriously, cleaned, gotten out of my own head, pushed myself to fight my introvertedness, snipped Otis’s goddamn claws, read more books, journaled more, accepted help from other people, seen more live music.”

In 2018, I didn’t read or see significantly more live music, nor did I snip Otis’s claws more frequently, but I accepted help from others quite easily, I cleaned and I did get out of my own head. Nothing like a cancer scare to shake your shit up.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I had spent less time wringing my hands about cleaning and more time just picking up a few things. A lesson I continue to learn over and over is that nothing is as bad as my brain will imagine it to be. It’s just a towel; pick it up. (For all my depressed people out there, this is My Thing.)

How did you spend Christmas?

I started a new job, so I didn’t have the accrued vacay time to go to Arkansas. It was sad not being with my parents, or my sweet grandmother, but it was probably the best decision I made this year. Instead, I got to celebrate Christmas by flying in and out of Syracuse for a quick trip to see my Rossi sisters, going to church with Marisa & Mike to hear an amazing sermon about God’s love, inclusivity and our responsibility to not “appallingly misrepresent” Jesus’s intentions, and “Christmas hop” to a few of my not-by-blood family (Molly, and Matt).

Did you fall in love in 2018?

Nope. I gots a lotta hopes pinned on 2019.

How many one-night stands?

None.

What was your favorite TV program?

I was a few years late to the party but I fell in love with Schitt’s Creek. The character of David Rose is so hilarious and his sexuality has been woven into what is a pretty complex character development for a sit-com in a way that is actually NORMAL. It’s almost as if being pan-sexual, fat, disabled, crazy, etc are NOT personality traits interesting enough to carry an entire story line.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Same as last year: “I hated Trump last year. I hate him now. So, no.”

What was the best book you read?

The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton. It moved me in a way that few things have.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Shawn Mendes. Listen, this kid put out a great album. I especially love “Nervous”. Here’s my most played 2018. No, I’m not embarrassed.

What did you want and get?

I wanted to not have breast cancer, and I got a benign diagnosis. Also, new job and new apartment.

What did you want and not get?

A family.

With the milestone of turning 43, I finally accepted that I will not have a biological child with a husband. I make new friends like other people make the bed: every day. But as easily as I make friends (both male and female) it’s been even harder to find a relationship.

Note: I want a family, not a baby. I bow down to single parents everywhere, and I know that I could do it if I had to, but I don’t want to add a baby to the life I have now. I want to create a life with someone else and then together have a family.

It’s such an odd thing, this situation. I’ve wanted and prayed for a family my whole life. I’ve been reassured by people that it would happen because “God wants what you want and will make it happen.” But here I am faced with the reality that it’s not happening. I feel arrogant, entitled and kind of embarrassed that I expected to get my family, and those are odd feelings for wanting a common, natural, amazing thing.

I don’t feel understood by some of my friends about this one topic. The ones who have kids are a little jealous of my single, life-in-the-city persona, and the ones who don’t want kids either think I’m being too limiting by how I define motherhood (“You can be a step-mom!”) as if I don’t acknowledge how cool that could be, or that I should be lucky that I have disposable income, time to travel, ability to nap, etc, as if I don’t acknowledge how great those things are.

What was your favorite film of this year?

A few:  A Quiet Place, A Star is Born, Can You Ever Forgive Me, Fahrenheit 9-11.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 43 and I celebrated by going to dinner and playing trivia at one of my (new) neighborhood joints.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A true partnership with someone, a person that could have helped me make all the tough decisions I made in 2018, and a comfortable, memory foam-soled shoe option that was not Skechers.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

I want to be adorable and comfortable. I guess my personal fashion concept is that “you get what you get and you like it” and sometimes that means full beat face, accessories, and polished nails, but other times it means bare, clean face, Adidas, ripped jeans and an ill-fitting top. You gotta love me equally both ways or I’m not interested.

What kept you sane?

My finely tuned mix of psychotropic drugs and my tight knit circle of friends.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Many of the new bad-ass female, Muslim, bi, disabled, brown and black Members of Congress. I also really loved Jamila Jameel and her “I Weigh” campaign.  Big time good stuff.

What political issue stirred you the most?

What I said last year: “All of them. Literally every single one. This year was the year I became extremely interested in our political system and our government.”

Turns out I’m more passionate and hungry than I was last year. Let that sink in.

Who did you miss?

My brother.

Who was the best new person you met?

I didn’t actually technically meet them this year, but I’ve fallen madly in love with my downstairs neighbors Rachel & Paul. We were friends before, but now that we live in a dorm-like environment, and I’ve been let into their inner circle, I can’t say enough wonderful things about them.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

Last year I said:

Bad things happen that no one deserves. They happen to wonderful people who have wonderful love stories. They happen without reason, justification and purpose, that are definitely not part of God’s plan. And sometimes the good things you DO deserve don’t happen at all. I have no idea how to reconcile that with a strong sense of faith, but lessons aren’t to be learned in the middle. We can only pray for clarity in the long term.

A few different things were on my mind when I wrote that, including having my own family (see above), but mostly I was thinking about my friend Brian who fell down the stairs last Christmas Eve, just a few days prior to my writing, and broke his head wide open. There was in a sign in the hospital to remind us that there was “NO BONE LEFT SIDE”. As if we could forget. I spent a lot of time with his wife Jeanie (my sweet dimpled friend, my college roommate, and 26 year resident of my inner, inner circle) in the ICU keeping her distracted from the shell of the man in the hospital bed next to her. There were many times that I demanded him to fade away peacefully so no Impossibly Hard Decisions would have to be made.

It’s been 12 months since then, and I’m short-cutting a ton here for brevity, but the last time I saw him was a few weeks ago at a football game tailgate. He was breathtakingly similar to how he was before the accident, being very courteous and polite but also busting my balls big time, and asking about my parents. Sorry I prayed for your death, I thought to myself as I laughed. Then we took a selfie, natch.

The sentiment on Jeanie and Brian’s Christmas card, which is what the doctor said almost exactly one year ago after listing all the ways their life would probably be fucked up beyond repair, even if he lived: “But, there is always hope.”

There is always hope. That’s a lesson I learned this year. Again, for the millionth time.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

From my favorite album of 2018, “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile.

I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you’re looking tired, but you don’t look scared

A Love Letter

She tells people she’s not a hugger.

You’re surprised when you hear her say this since you’ve known her so long and know how warm and big her heart is.

Then again, you also know better than to let the color pink and the easy laugh fool you. She’s as tough as they get. But she says that we’re all just as tough, we’ve just haven’t been forced to prove it.

She’s been hugged a lot lately. In six minutes last December, everything changed. Before there were jingle bells, a middle finger inside joke, and presents. Then, suddenly, after — it’s the middle of the night, should I call someone? There’s a binder with all that stuff in it. What I really need is somewhere to put this retainer.

According to her, she’s not a hugger. But every time you saw her in the hospital, she had her arms wrapped around someone. The nurse who whispered softly to Brian, “Hello there. I’m going to shave your face. Is that okay?” even though he couldn’t answer. The palliative care practitioner who spoke bluntly with refreshing honesty and grace and said, “these are hard decisions.” The nurse who just couldn’t stop crying.

The tiny lines around her eyes dissolve like sugar in hot tea when she smiles. Each one of them has a purpose for its place on her dimpled face. That one was the birth of Charlie. The one over there was when the hurricane took the roof in Florida. The ones for Jonathan are deep because he’s older, and is such a kind soul. When Brian went to the Middle East, worry hung around like fog across her smooth brow, but it eventually faded away, traceless.

The lines on her face belonging to Brian now change like shadows on the wall. They reappeared in the ICU when she sat staring at his body, with all the machines, noises, and tubes. Red angry numbers on a screen judging oxygen levels and kidney function with attention-seeking beeps.

Now, after the accident, the worry floats over her face like a top sheet in the summer. She tries to kick it off, but it wraps around her when she talks about the doctors reconstructing his skull, or when she thinks about what it will be like twenty years from now. She thinks you’re not looking.

It’s gone in a flash when she answers Brian’s incessant questions, typical brain injury healing, because there was a time she thought she wouldn’t get to be annoyed by him again. She smiles when she watches him hug the boys as they run in sweaty and sun-kissed, just a typical summer day, on the way to another adventure, now that their dad is back.

Just before she pulls you in to hug you, her head tilts to the left. It would be imperceptible if you hadn’t been hugged by her a million times. She lifts her arms and lets out a tiny sigh before taking you all the way in and wrapping you up. You try as hard as you can to breathe her in before she starts to giggle and say, “I’m so happy you’re here. I’m all filled up with stuff.”

She’ll tell you she’s not a hugger.

Don’t believe her.

What I do

Energetic, creative digital marketing professional with 20 years of fundraising and marketing experience in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Skills include online fundraising strategy, evidence-based decision-making, user experience design expertise, and an action-oriented, collaborative working style.

EXPERIENCE

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC
Online Fundraising Manager February 2014 — Present
Responsible for overseeing the Museum’s $1.7M online fundraising channel, setting online fundraising strategy and providing financial and engagement analysis for online campaigns as part of $10.6M overall direct response membership budget.

  • Manage fundraising initiatives across all digital platforms including web, email, social, and mobile channels, working with internal stakeholders and partners to assist with planning and implementation.
  • Optimize the online donation experience to increase average gift amount and frequency, grow the membership base, and retain valuable supporters by segmenting donors, prospects and lapsed donors to serve up specialized content and ask strings on landing pages and forms.
  • Produce fundraising forms and landing pages, and track all online donations through source and origin data to ensure accurate attribution.
  • Execute fundraising email sends from start to finish: planning, creative design, content creation, HTML, tagging, targeting, A/B testing, and deployment. Evaluate results using KPIs and course-correct using data and analysis to optimize future campaigns.
  • Maintain financial dashboard to monitor revenue trends against budget, calculate ROI and CTAD, and identify other opportunities to add growth.
  • Integrate direct mail and online marketing efforts and assist with budgeting and daily revenue analysis.
  • Integrate data from marketing automation platform (Marketo) and online fundraising platform (iDonate/EveryAction) into Museum’s database of record (Portfolio) to record online gifts and communicate holistically with  members. Establish practices for data-mapping and 1:1 record management.
  • Oversee donor centered user experience testing, create wireframes for optimal user experience with keen attention to interaction design principles.

The Nature Conservancy Arlington, Virginia
Online Fundraising Campaign Manager October 2011 — December 2013
Directed The Nature Conservancy’s online fundraising campaigns geared to acquire new donors, engage members and increase revenue.

  • Lead The Nature Conservancy’s search engine marketing strategy, analysis and project management.
  • Managed online media budget of $1,000,000, in addition to a $40,000 Google Grants account; analyzed spending and established projections for revenue and new donors.
  • Created and produced marketing content, including written copy and design for digital display ads.
  • Introduced new revenue tactic through donation e-cards, increasing revenue by 21% in FY13 for holiday-specific campaigns; improved results with landing page and ask-string testing, user-flow analysis, and promotion through paid search and social media.
  • Increased revenue in FY13 by 18% for giving programs such as Adopt An Acre®, Plant a Billion Trees and the carbon offsets program by utilizing paid search in Portuguese and Spanish, and working closely across teams to improve content.

Clyde’s Restaurant Group Washington, DC
Corporate Marketing Manager November 2000 — October 2011
Managed all marketing and advertising functions for a privately-held group of thirteen unique restaurants.

  • Created strategies to grow and develop business, working within a $1.5 million annual budget.  Oversaw monthly media buys and maintained advertising schedule. Wrote and edited press releases, supervised public relations efforts, organized and attended press dinners.
  • Created and managed all social media campaigns, overseeing multiple Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to increase brand awareness and advertise specials and promotions
  • Wrote content and produced HTML code for all CRG online properties. Supervised website manager for site maintenance and on-going redesign.
  • Worked directly with advertising agency to develop and oversee campaigns.
  • Effectively managed projects by directly overseeing public relations consultant, website manager, freelance graphic designer, and printing companies.
  • Designed advertisements for large circulation newspapers including The Washington Post, online media, in-house collateral, stationery, email communication, point-of-sale pieces, t-shirts, special event flyers, and postcards

musictoday.com and Dave Matthews Band Charlottesville, Virginia
Marketing and Promotions Representative, Summer Tour 2000

  • The most fun job ever. Seriously.

Edelman Washington, DC
Healthcare and Science Intern April 2000 – June 2000

  • Less fun than touring with DMB.

Arnold & Porter, LLP Washington, DC
Legal Assistant July 1997 – April 2000

EDUCATION

University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA   Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature June 1997

Corcoran School of Design Washington, DC   Continuing education studies in Advertising Theory and Graphic Design May – September 2002

SKILLS & INTERESTS

  • Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Suite, Google Suite, WordPress, BSD Tools, iDonate, EveryAction, Portfolio, and Marketo.
  • Adept in Blackbaud Luminate, InDesign, HTML, and DreamWeaver.
  • Excellent writing, communication, and presentation skills. Easy, funny public speaker.
  • Mentor 8th grade students with Higher Achievement, a DC-based nonprofit which pairs scholars with adult volunteer role models for tutoring and mentoring
  • Interests include making people laugh, podcasting (wearestillhungry.com), body-positivity advocacy, creative writing, watercolor and acrylic painting, playing ukulele, anything on Bravo, literature, social change for the equity of all marginalized groups of people, and my cat Otis.

2017 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Dealt with the discomfort, anxiety and dissociation of not knowing what is wrong with my body. (Thus, The Boob Issue.)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I have literally no idea what mine were last year. I’m not sure I believe in a year’s worth of resolutions anyway. Isn’t it easier to bite off a resolution for a week or two weeks and see what you can accomplish then? Maybe I’ll try that this year — 12 monthly resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. I turned 42 this year, so my friends my age are long past that stage, and the few friends I have who are ready for babies are still waiting.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank you, Jesus.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Last year, I said, “In 2017 I would like to spend some time outside my own life so I can experience new things and feel small in the world.” I didn’t. I didn’t even travel anywhere. Furthermore, the only time I spent away from work was either a staycation in DC, in Arkansas with my parents, or relaxing in Madison County, Va.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Romantic love and affection. A clearer sense of self. A new apartment. A tad more financial security.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • The Women’s March on Washington, January 21. It was the bellwether for what would become an incredible year for women. Woman have brought about a shift in the messages we hear from television and media and I can’t wait until Congress is filled with natural-haired black women, transgender men and a bunch of queens. That’s a team that will get shit done.
  • November 4: What began The Boob Issue, a story for a later date, and one I’m hopeful 2018 will provide a positive resolution.
  • Christmas Eve. I learned that a dear friend suffered a devastating illness, from which I hope he recovers.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Adaptation. Things changed for me in ways I didn’t want but I’m proud of the way that I was able to look them with an understanding of what I need and deserve, and then make changes to accommodate. Adapt and overcome was my motto for my friendships, my family and my hope.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was not moving my body more. My body wants to dance and walk (but def not run lolz) and stretch and I didn’t let it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, there’s The Boob Issue that is still unresolved. As I type, I’m one day after biopsies on two places on both breasts, with a third next week. This will deserve its own post at some point, but this experience has made me feel the following things: loved and supported by my friends and family, breathtakingly lonely, completely disconnected from my body, mad at God, and happy to work where I work.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I went to Drag Con in September and while the experience was a series of highs and lows, the hoodie is the most amazing, soft, delicious thing I’ve ever had and I MET RUPAUL.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hillary Rodham Clinton. AGAIN. Look, she lost the Presidential race but subsequently she has been the epitome of class since her defeat.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Same as the past few years — rent, parking, and mental health care not covered by insurance.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My beloved podcast We Are Still Hungry. It’s been a platform for a voice I didn’t know I had. It’s made me smarter, funnier and more empathetic. It’s a really fucking good time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Chunky by Bruno Mars. But also it was a great year for female pop music. Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson and Pink all had amazing albums, but 2017 also saw the return of Kesha, which made me cry honest tears and sing really fucking loudly in the car.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Here’s an off the cuff list: travel, taken life less seriously, cleaned, gotten out of my own head, pushed myself to fight my introvertedness, snipped Otis’s goddamn claws, read more books, journaled more, accepted help from other people, seen more live music.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I had spent less time hanging out in the dusty attic of my brain.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent it in Arkansas like I always do.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Nope. Online dating is a goddamn nightmare and it’s a frontal assault in self-esteem to continue to open myself up time and time again. If my perfect person is out there I’d reallllly love to have him come soon. I am weary.

22. How many one-night stands?
None.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
All the Bravo shows.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I hated Trump last year. I hate him now. So, no.

25. What was the best book you read?
Into The Water, by Paula Hawkins

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn’t discover anyone new. The best artists I know served me well. I didn’t need new.

27. What did you want and get?
Ugh, this is a hard one because I know I received a million gifts from the universe and I try so hard to be grateful. But truth is, 2017 was a shit year. It’s so hard to be positive and grateful. It just is.

28. What did you want and not get?
Romantic love and partnership.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Get Out.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 42 and my parents came to visit from Arkansas. We went to Clyde’s for drinks then ordered Indian food for delivery. Pretty solid night, actually.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Romance, sex, a monthly or fortnightly cleaning service.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Saw a meme that said, “my personal style can best be described as, ‘I didn’t think I’d have to get out of the car.’”

33. What kept you sane?
Laughter! My finely tuned mix of psychotropic drugs, my tight knit circle of friends all of which I’ve had for decades except for one sweet angel who leads me by example to be more thoughtful, centered, loving, and more careful with my words. I used to think she was perfect but then once she wore fashion sneakers with socks and knocked the shine right off that apple. Jeesh.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Tarana Burke, who began the #MeToo movement, and all the fucking bad ass women in Hollywood who spoke out and tore down the patriarchy of the entertainment industry. To name a few: Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Ashely Judd, Reese Witherspoon, Shandra Rhimes, Jill Soloway, Cat Sadler, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
All of them. Literally every single one. This year was the year I became extremely invested in our political system and our government. I regret not having done so sooner.

36. Who did you miss?
Last year I said I missed the same ol’ ghosts of the past. Not this year. I reunited with one of those ghosts last February and he turned out to be a huge dick, which I should have learned in 1991 but sometimes it takes a few times to learn a lesson. Boy, bye.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Last year I met my Work Husband — a wise-beyond-his years man who consistently surprises me with his wisdom and friendship, and who has seriously outgrown last year’s moniker by becoming a really solid close friend who makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet. This year I became a mother at 42 with my Jewish gay Work Son and he’s brought me an immeasurable amount of laughter and a crazy approach to cube decoration.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Bad things happen that no one deserves. They happen to wonderful people who have wonderful love stories. They happen without reason, justification and purpose, that are definitely not part of God’s plan. And sometimes the good things you DO deserve don’t happen at all. I have no idea how to reconcile that with a strong sense of faith, but lessons aren’t to be learned in the middle. We can only pray for clarity in the long term.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
So many things that I had before
That don’t matter to me now
Tonight I cry for the love that I’ve lost
And the love I’ve never found
When the last bird falls
And the last siren sounds
Someone will say what’s been said before
It’s only love that we were looking for

2016 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I have a podcast! My friend wife Paula D Atkinson and started it together after we realized we got pretty fired up about what’s happening in the world. We started We Are Still Hungry and now we have dozens of have followers and I love it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I honestly don’t remember. I was very specific about resolutions in 2015 but I don’t think I made any 2016 resolutions. I also had a conversation fight with a coworker about the difference between goals (“I’d like to read one book a month”) and a resolution (“I resolve to be more present”) so I think after that, I just said, “Fuck it — bring on 2016.”

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! 2016 brought the world Harrison and Wilson. They laugh at my jokes and are chubby, which are two of my favorite qualities in men and babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. I flew to Arkansas twice but I didn’t go anywhere and did not take a vacation. Spending time with my family is awesome and nourishing, but in 2017 I would like to spend some time outside my own life so I can experience new things and feel small in the world.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Romantic love and affection.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
On November 8, I sat at a bar alone (after Paula left) and watched the presidential election results come in. Living in a world with a Trump presidency is not something I’ve been able to deal with yet. I stayed until about 1:30 and then went home and slept in half hour increments until I saw the words “President-elect Donald Trump” then I cried myself to sleep.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Talking about my depression on the podcast. It made me feel proud and vulnerable and scared, but since we clicked “publish” I realized how important it was for me to do so.

9. What was your biggest failure?
My biggest failure was not being kinder to my body.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major. A few colds and infections here and there. OH, and the day-to-day, monotonous, mind-numbing ache that comes with dysthymia and depression. Ha!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Medication and therapy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hillary Clinton. When she addressed the nation after she conceded the election, I was breathless. One day I hope to be that poised and eloquent.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump. What’s more appalling and depressing than the leader of our country saying “grab ‘em by the pussy”?

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, parking, therapy.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
HILLARY FUCKING CLINTON. I loved feeling the momentum of a bad-ass women’s movement.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Beyonce’s Lemonade. All songs from that album. #notsorry

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier!
b) thinner or fatter? Probably the same, maybe fatter, but hate this question because it’s horrible and arbitrary.
c) richer or poorer? Same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Painting! Or, writing or making art, in general. Somewhere along the way, it just wasn’t on the top of my list. And we all know how hard it is to get back to the top of the list.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Work. I love my job, but I rolled over a lot of vacation days and that’s straight up bullshit.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
You mean in 11.5 months? Probably with my parents as life dictates, but I would LOVE to go somewhere warm.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Nope. Not even close.

22. How many one-night stands?
This is an inappropriate question. But no. No one-night stands.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I continue to be hopelessly in love with Law & Order SVU, any and all shows on Bravo, and a few standouts I discovered on Netflix: Stranger Things, a show about women in prisons, American Crime.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I think I probably hated Donald Trump before, but man, did my hatred for him skyrocket in 2016.

25. What was the best book you read?
I can’t ever say which is the best. But here are a few passages from the books I read in 2016.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart:
We looked at the sky. So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed.

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey
Melanie thinks: when your dreams come true, your true has moved . You’ve already stopped being the person who had the dreams, so it feels more like a weird echo of something that already happened to you a long time ago.

The Good Father, by Noah Hawley
Looking at the photos of my family, fleeting emotions hit me—flashes of anger, of fear. These are the feelings that last—the extreme swings, the fights that burn themselves into your core. A decade later it is easier to remember the car crash than it is to remember the long drive leading up to it.

The Girls, by Emma Klein
Poor Sasha. Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get. The treacled pop songs, the dresses described in the catalogs with words like “sunset” and “Paris.” Then the dreams are taken away with such violent force; the hand wrenching the buttons of the jeans, nobody looking at the man shouting at his girlfriend on the bus. Sorrow for Sasha locked up my throat.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I stuck pretty close to the vest this year, musically. I loved listening to First Aid Kit and Marin Morris. They were new to me, but not really new.

27. What did you want and get?
Recognition and applause at work.

28. What did you want and not get?
Long term love & romance.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
The 13th, by Ava Devunay.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned FORTY ONE and I spent it having dinner with Paula, Carlo, Marisa, my favorite Australian Jarrod, and Mark.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Tbh, sex. I mean, I could lie and say something else, but that’s the truth.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I saw a thing on Facebook that said, “My personal style can best be described as ‘I didn’t expect to get out of the car’”. I think that pretty much sums it up, but if you need details: black cropped pants, black flats, a flowy top, silver hoops, silver bangles and more than enough mascara.

33. What kept you sane?
Medication and therapy.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
My sweet, sweet Hillary.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
All of them. Seriously, ALL OF THEM. This was the year that I found myself coming into my own passion about American politics. As I sit and type on January 8, with the inauguration of Donald Trump a mere 12 days away, I am still completely dumbfounded.

36. Who did you miss?
The same ol’ ghosts of the past I always do.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
My new work husband has brought me an excessive amount of daily laughs.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Playing by the society’s rules for women on how to look, how to think, and how to behave gets us nowhere. Look at Hillary! She did everything exactly how American culture and media demanded. She smiled without looking too happy. She was intelligent without being threatening. She was quiet and let Trump walk all over her during the debates and did so peacefully and calmly. And in the end — IT DIDN’T MATTER. SHE STILL LOST. And she lost because there was “just something about her” that people didn’t like. (That “something” was her vagina.) It’s all complete bullshit in my humble opinion and I will not conform anymore. I won’t do it! I won’t listen to one more fucking person tell me that I’m “too” something for a woman. Enough.

Hillary taught me that if you follow the rules and you don’t get a fair shot anyway, fuck the rules.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I won’t go as a passenger, no
Waiting for the road to be laid
Though I may be going down
I’m taking flame over burning out

Interfere

Yesterday, two men in different parts of the country were murdered by police officers.

Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a Baton Rouge convenience store when two police officers responding to a 911 report about a man with a gun wrestled him to the ground and shot him multiple times at point-blank range in the chest and back.

Philando Castile was pulled over by a Minnesota police officer for a busted tail light when he, too, was shot at point-blank range while reaching for his ID and car registration.

Did I mention that these two victims were black? Did I need to?


Just over a year ago, I published a post on this blog “Say Something” in which I admitted my fear of speaking out about the Black Lives Matter movement because, in part, I was afraid of saying the wrong thing, sounding ignorant, or letting any unchallenged biases I might still have surface. But I learned that not speaking out is worse than saying something imperfect.

That day I pledged to start speaking out, and I have done so. I mean, I have a fucking podcast now. Speaking out is no longer the issue.

I wrote:

I do have black friends (and actual, real life friends, not “some-of-my-best-friends-are-black” friends). I have black coworkers and neighbors. I’d like to speak out for them, although I’m struggling with a way to explain that, without it sounding, again, like this is all about me.

It doesn’t matter anyway; the truth is, my black friends, coworkers, and neighbors don’t give a shit what I say, here or elsewhere — they just care about what I do and how I act.

And that’s where I’ve let myself down. I didn’t do what I’d promised. I own up to my failures. I never wrote letters to the black churches in DC nor did I seek out and join like-minded communities. Maybe I’m hard on myself….maybe not. But I know I can do more. That’s for sure.

Last summer when I posted Say Something, a friend from high school challenged me as a white woman to be a better ally because it’s virtually impossible for change to happen in society until people in power help. And today, a different friend from high school posed the same challenge. Challenge accepted.

  1. I’m going to stop being an ally and start being an accomplice. If it happens to the black community, it happens to me, too. 
  2. I’m going to use my public forums to create more accomplices.
  3. I’m going to start doing instead of talking.
  4. I’m going to refuse the idea that the solution to this fucked up problem will come from black and brown people. White people created this, and it’s time white people deconstructed it.

I work at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and every day I fight to keep the memory of millions of victims alive as testimony to what happens when good people do nothing in the face of evil.

The founding chairman of the Museum and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel died this week.

“Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
–Elie Wiesel

It’s time to interfere.

Oscars 2016

I think we can all agree that there’s no way that I can actually make it to the end of this awards show for two main reasons a) I’m too old to stay awake past 11 pm and b) I’m sick. AGAIN. So rather than give you a well-written critique of this year’s telecast with all the reasons why so-and-so’s performance was magical and such-and-such movie changed my life, I’m just going to talk about dresses and suits, and highlight anything entertaining before I eventually pass out from a grigio/NyQuil cocktail. I’m a cranky bitch.

Here’s the thing about me and fashion. I love it…it’s not for me. I absolutely love fashion as a designer’s artistic expression. I’m a faithful watcher of Project Runway and love how much hard work goes into each garment. (Garments are what fancy people call clothes.) But I am not a fashion plate by any stretch of the imagination, mostly because of a long battle of wills with my body and all its perceived flaws over the years. From frustration over the parts that were too big (breasts, belly, arse) and the parts that were too long (my torso) or too short (legs, fingers), I decided unfairly a long ago to resign myself to the sartorial expression of the designers at Old Navy, JC Penney and Belk. My strategy is to dazzle people with my jokes and my laugh and hope they don’t look at me below the neck.\

Since fashion is not for me, I don’t know shit from shinola about it. The purpose of this post is so I can talk out of my ass and stop myself from sending hate mail to my coworkers who come to work whilst under the weather which keeps us all passing this muthafucking cold back to each other week after week.

Before I dive into my thrilling critique, I’ll admit that I have never been less prepared for this show. I have seen The Room and Spotlight. I hope Brie Larson wins, but other than that, I literally don’t care at all. There were several movies I wanted to see and I’m sure I’ll see eventually, like Carol, The Danish Girl, The Big Short, Brooklyn and The Revenant. (P.S. Read the article about the author of The Revenant. Poor guy, all this attention and he’s silenced because of his big DoD job.)

I begin by watching the red carpet coverage by the genius committee at E!. Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic are like the chic weird couple from NYC that live in your building and you’re pretty sure one of them is gay but you can’t quite figure out which one.

Alicia Vikander

Pale yellow strapless Louis Vuitton bubble gown with silver stuff on it. She might have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. Her hair looks a little unkempt, but I find the rest of her completely magnificent. Never heard of her before tonight but word on the street is that she’s in The Danish Girl, which I gotta see.

Sofia Vergara

Why is she here? This woman is everywhere: the Oscars, Pit Bull’s Grammy performance, and I think she was the pharmacy rep who filled my antibiotic prescription. Navy blue Marchesa gown with lots of breasts, sequins and a peplum. I feel just kind of meh about this look, and it looks a little bit like a step-mother of a bride dress, like if your Colombian stepmom is your dad’s third wife and she’s out to prove that she’s hotter than your mom, for whom your dad secretly still holds a flame.

Jacob Tremblay

Cute little dude with a very handsome Armani tuxedo. His parents are drop dead gorgeous. While watching Room, I was transfixed by his performance. He was amazing and I actually forgot that he was an actor for much of the movie.

Whoopi:

“The Dames” (am I supposed to know? wtf? huh?) made her dress based on a dress Bette Davis wore in All About Eve. I’m not in love with this look, mostly because I’m irritated when people try and dress women with bigger bodies in a bunch of fabric and pleats. It’s just too much stuff all over her body. But because it’s Whoopi and she DGAF, she’s got this outrageous weird octopus hand jewelry that I’m loving. “That’s how you know it’s me.”  Werk.

Saoirse Ronan

Spaghetti strapped dark green sequin Calvin Klein gown with a deep plunging neckline.  Her hair and makeup are gorgeous and I just looooove her adorable Irish accent. This dress is everything — flattering, elegant, simple. I love the back with the cutouts on the hips. She just Lord of the Danced her way onto my Best Dressed list.

Eddie Redmayne

What is that? Velvet?

Common

Is there anything more handsome than a man in a tuxedo? Common is giving me an ivory white Dolce & Gabbana jacket & vest without looking like a fine-dining waiter, and that’s hard to do. I need more information on his lapel pin.

Olivia Munn

I love this orangey-red one shoulder Stella McCartney gown. Her left shoulder is caped in a very fitted sleeve which makes me think of a patio-furniture cover, but I love how simple it is.

Brie Larson

This blue spaghetti strapped tulle Gucci is amazing and the belt is spectacular. Love the little ruffles and pleated fabric. But I definitely had this hairstyle in the 4th grade.

Heidi Klum

Looks like someone wrapped her up in tulle and cotton candy and threw a few silk flowers on her arms as a practical joke.  But the goddamn joke is on you, you fashion trickster, because this woman is breathtaking and apparently doesn’t age.

Rooney Mara

“Have we ever seen the diamond belly?” asks Ryan Seacrest. I hate the tiny buns in her hair but the dress is super fancy and I think I love it. Lots of white wispy drapey stuff in this Givenchy gown. Her makeup is flawless, and I think this may be the first time I’ve ever seen anyone transform her previous bitchy resting face into a serene Mona Lisa thing. ACTING!

Henry Cavill:

Please marry me. Or maybe just come over and vacuum and let me watch


 

Switching to ABC because I have had juuuuuust enough of Kris Jenner and ABC has a deal where they’re the only ones broadcasting live from the red carpet, except Ryan sneaks in a quickie interview with Dr. Jill Biden because he’s a rebel and gives the middle finger to authority. Or something.

Julianne Moore

I just really don’t know how I feel about the this Chanel dress. The top half is dominatrix and sparkles and the bottom is bridesmaid. Meh.

Tina Fey

This dress is EV.ER.EY.THANG. Her hair, tho. Frowny emoji.

Cate Blanchett

I think I’d like this dress better if it didn’t have the embellishment of the flowers and feathers. Robin gave a little hat tip to her partner and I’m overwhelmed with how happy I am that she kicked cancer in the tuckus. I gotta tell you about the time Cate Blanchett came into Clyde’s. I was downstairs after the lunch rush getting some iced tea when I saw that there was a glow coming from the front door. It was Cate and her two sons and I shit you not when I say that this woman is breathtaking in real life. I didn’t know skin could look like that without Photoshop. And that’s the end, and it turns out this story is not so interesting.

Lady Gaga

Secret pants!!! Designer and best friend Brandon Maxwell made a shit ton of dresses for her and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men will be a victim of sexual violence. Gaga will be singing “Till It Happens to You” about which I know zero point zero facts but will probably make me cry anyway.

Charlize Theron

Everything about her is perfect. Love the lines of the spaghetti straps next to the diamond strands of her necklace, and her perfect perfection which is perfectly perfect

Other standouts:

Naomi Watts: purple navy sparkles strapless, dark lip, blonde bob.

Tina Fey: purple silhoutte strapless simple amazing

Chrissy Teigan: beige flowers baby bump

Mindy Kahling:  black dress, blue cap sleeves, puffy blue train thing.

Mark Ruffalo’s navy jacket

Mark Ruffalo’s wife Sunshine’s dress and hair. I *think* the gold embellishment on the hips is Grecian female anatomy.

Things I didn’t like:

Kevin Hart’s jewel piping

The thank you ticker at the bottom

Lastly, I’ll say that Chris Rock has done an amazing job so far. His acknowledgement and critique of the lack of black and brown actors among the pool of this year’s nominees was both subtle and over-the-top. I will leave the pontificating to those better suited to provide insightful commentary, but I will say that no one could have done a better job than he.

What did I miss? Whose dress/tux did you love? Why am I still sick? Why are there no black people nominated?