I’m not really sure what to say about the year 2016. “At least we didn’t all die in a nuclear blast” is one good thing I could mention, I guess.
On a personal level, it was a year of disappointments and setbacks, fears and frustrations, but also the year in which I sat in a taxi coming back to Chelsea from Broadway after a dinner with great talents whom I also simply admire as people, and the very dear friend and great talent sitting next to me turned and said, “You’re doing it right, you know.” I surprised myself by believing her. There are people in my life who burn very brightly, you see, and I’ve learned to let their light in, and for that I am grateful.
In light of that, in light of them, here are the six things I definitely did right this year:
- The Anti-Nihilist Institute on Medium (you can also follow us on Twitter). Anna Lind-Guzik, the aforementioned very dear friend and specialist in authoritarian legal systems, co-founded this project with me. While we’re headquartered in New York, our aim is to help every American who wants to a) understand the current mainstreaming of authoritarianism and b) find ways to cope with it and fight back.
- My newest poem, “When They Come,” has just been published by Pedestal Magazine. It was arguably one of the best things I wrote this year, and I am so glad it has found a home at Pedestal – and in their eclectic and wonderfully weird speculative poetry issue, no less.
- Also this month, I wrote “Stop saying ‘we can do nothing’ about Aleppo,” and as desperate and angry as it was, it ultimately turned into one of the most hopeful and most personal essays I’ve ever written. The essay focuses on Ukraine as much as Syria, and I’m grateful to my colleagues at openDemocracy Russia for giving me the chance to publish it.
- As far as prose goes, the best thing I wrote this year is probably “Thing, a short biography.” It kicked up some debate online, and I remain thankful for that.
- This post on trying to be a “serious writer” while also just being yourself was featured by the amazing editors of WordPress Discover. I was encouraged by the number of positive responses it generated and the amount of people who said they found it useful.
- Finally, the Guardian gave me the chance to talk about Robbie Williams, trucker protests, naked rooftop dancing, and partying like there’s no tomorrow because there very well may not be one in a single piece. At that point, I looked at my life, looked at my choices – and realized that this is the right kind of life, and these are the right kind of choices.
I am sceptical of all the people who say that 2017 will improve on 2016. I’d rather just admit the obvious: Things will get worse before they get better. I want to be wrong, but I’ve been right too many times before.
But you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to do what needs to be done. Today and tomorrow and until the bitter(sweet) end.
Thank you for being here, guys. Happy New Year.
Banner image: The Princess Out of School by Edward Robert Hughes