Should Old Acquaintance (and 2017) Be Forgot…


Yeah. We all know where this is going, right?

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to bother with an end-of-the-year post this year. Yet, here I am, mostly out of a sense of obligation: I pay for this site, and I’ve barely used it this year, and that (like so much else) needs to change.

I’m certainly not sure that I have much to say here beyond what many others have confirmed: this was a rough one. We thought 2016 was bad — losing beloved artists, and the gut-punch of the worst third of our nation saddling the world with a fascist government in America.

2017 was worse. We can now all say with certainty that we know what it’s like to live through an entire country having a nervous breakdown. It turns out that having the fight-or-flight response of our brains constantly firing through out an entire year isn’t good for us. Outrage after outrage, constant, desperate pleading with our elected representatives to not destroy our health care, our incomes, our lives. It takes a toll.

Every colleague I have whose job involves creative endeavor — books, games, comics, music, art — all reported the same thing. They dragged through this year, barely able to produce. Constantly in existential dread of what they’d lose next. Daily worry about just staying alive. Through it all, the barbaric minority brayed their triumph, even when the government they inflicted upon us enacted policies which kicked *them* in the face, too — they sneered through the bloody, broken ruins of their mouths, taking their pleasure in the fact that WE were hurting. And the media continued their ridiculous assertion that we need to somehow reach out and try to understand that kind of unreasoning hatred.

It would be easy for me to assemble a list of the violations of this past year, and the people that have been lost. Far too easy.

As I sit here, I instead try to summon up those things which were shining stars of happiness in the darkness of 2017. Another year cancer-free. My younger daughter’s wedding. Getting the opportunity to do official work on properties which shaped me as a child — Star Wars and Star Trek. My eldest starting her career with a prestigious law firm. Continued progress, through the invaluable support of my business partner Eric Trautmann in getting our publishing operation, Adamant Entertainment, back on track with regular releases. Being able to help my son figure things out.

In a lot of ways, just making it through the year seems like no small triumph.

A line in Star Wars: The Last Jedi sums up my feelings about the past few years, and the future: “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”

I have plans — I guess they could even be considered resolutions — for 2018. But generally, I prefer to think of them as hopes. Hoping that things work out. Hoping that my resolve to accomplish things stays strong at a time when the world seems to batter down our defenses daily. To fuel that resolve, I’m taking the fact that we made it through 2017. To look 2018 in the eye, and say “I faced down worse than you.”

Last year, I said that I was taking David Bowie as my Patron Saint for the year, as a reminder to never stop creating. I didn’t stop — although I certainly didn’t accomplish everything that I wanted to. But I kept treading water, and didn’t drown. This year, though, I need to do more than that. Getting through isn’t enough. To reclaim some sense of normalcy — personally, professionally, politically — will require that we be heroes. To actively drive back the dark. We spent a year on the ropes, covering up and taking the punches. Now we come out swinging.

Here’s to 2018, everyone. Get ready.

The Traditional Christmas Post

Christmas, 1939, in Lawrence, Kansas

We all have our traditions — this has been one of mine since I started blogging, fifteen years ago.

A quote from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which sums up my feelings regarding the holiday:

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

One of the greatest achievements of Dickens’ classic is the nearly single-handed creation of a sense of reverence in the secular aspects of the holiday season — a celebration of love, family, fellowship and charity, appealing to everyone regardless of their faith. A call to treat each other better, and to value the relationships that connect us to one another. That’s powerful magic.

Merry Christmas, all.

(Photo: Downtown Lawrence, Kansas — Christmas, 1939.)