As long as I’ve known one of my dearest friends, she’s had a thinning piece of brown craft paper painted with four urgent words: “THIS IS THE YEAR!” hung in her bedroom, a quote from “Imagine the Angels of Bread,” a 1999 Martin Espada poem, which you can (and should) read here. Year after year, from Chapel Hill to Philadelphia, the sign has hung confidently, curling corners and all, above her door. Every so often, perched on her bed while she cleans her room, I’ll nod over to the sign and - half-teasing, half-reiterating - read it: This is the year.
When a humble artifact of a single moment of hope endures in this way, it starts to embody a different, more realistic sense of resolve; one that acknowledges the reality of becoming, the slowness of true evolution - the inevitability of, occasionally, finding oneself back on one’s bullsh*t. This is the sense of resolve we’re trying to better channel this New Year.
Rather than turning to the onslaught of transformation tips that floods the internet during the first weeks of the year, we’re welcoming 2018 with the patient understanding that, while setting goals and making big changes can be empowering reset tools, real, lasting change comes slowly. It comes from trying really hard every day; knowing that, while trying might look different from one day to the next, it always means trying to be honest, trying to be kind, trying to be gentle. This is the year for trying really hard.
Below, a selection of things to read, hear, watch, and contemplate in this time of shifting habits, settling into routines both new and old, and reconsidering what matters. Happy New Year!
The New Year's Day unveiling of Time's Up, the action plan organized by over 300 women in Hollywood that includes legal support systems and legislative action teams to fight systemic workplace sexual harassment in both Hollywood and blue collar workplaces nationwide, symbolizes not only a heartening (albeit long overdue) shift in power and resource allocation, but a wider reach in solidarity between victims of sexual harassment and assault in disparate industries.
Them's year-end list of their favorite music released by queer artists in 2017 is also completely stacked with fun videos. Our faves: Slip Away by Perfume Genius, It's Okay to Cry by SOPHIE, and New York by St. Vincent.[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EVhFTw4igw&w=854&h=480]
Do you know how best to fall? This piece profiles a course in the Netherlands is designed to teach elderly folks "how to navigate treacherous ground without having to worry about falling, and how to fall if they did," while also serving as a handful of metaphors for the human experience. Very sweet.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1814.0"] Photo by Jasper Juinen for the New York Times . [/caption]
It has been over 100 days since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, yet half of the population is still without electricity. Mattathias Schwartz delivers a deeply troubled report of the island's still-desperate status in the wake of the "man-made disaster" for New York Magazine featuring tragic, empathetic photos from Matt Black.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2048.0"] Broken power lines in Puerto Rico. Photo by Matt Black for New York Magazine . [/caption]
A playful read that has a point from Niela Orr, concerning the inimitable Mariah Carey’s back-to-back New Year’s Eve performances in the context of America’s yearly obsession with rebirth.
An excerpt of a poem from Claudia Rankine's Citizen: “Some years there exists a wanting to escape...”:
You are you even before you
grow into understanding you
are not anyone, worthless,
not worth you.
Even as your own weight insists
you are here, fighting off
the weight of nonexistence.
And still this life parts your lids, you see
you seeing your extending hand
as a falling wave—