I hate the new year holiday. The six weeks between mid-November and late-December are my favorite time of year. January 1 symbolizes the end of all of that and the start of cold, dark winter. I spent most of New Year’s Day doing what I do every year: Ridding my house of any reminder of the holiday season. Again, I love Christmas. Probably too much. When it’s over I don’t want to see any sign of it because it bums me out. I spent the last three days of 2018 taking down the tree, removing the outdoor decorations, and putting everything back in the basement for another 45 weeks or so. I spent New Year’s Eve doing what I normally do, too. A quiet night at home with Chelsee and the kids watching movies, playing Mario Party, and shoveling the driveway. Chels had work at 3:00 New Year’s morning, so it was just the kids and me for most of the night. Even though my routine has been the same, something about NYE 2018 felt unique.
After the ball dropped and the kids went to bed I checked in on Twitter to see what was going on in the world. The consensus among the 397 accounts I follow was that 2018 sucked and we were all ready for a fresh start in 2019. This is a sentiment with which I completely agree. We have a disgusting person running our country, and his presence has empowered racists and trolls everywhere. Our country put children in cages and tear gassed families seeking refuge in 2018. I plan on digging deeper in to this on the blog in the near future, but Trump’s time as “leader” of the free world has proven to be as awful as I expected. Never mind the crimes he has certainly committed. He’s lowered the bar for human decency for all of us. All of the people defending him by saying that he’s done nothing that can be proven are completely missing the point and sadly excusing horrible behavior. Can’t his disgusting actions disqualify him? Putting aside political views, the President is supposed to lead, inspire, and set the tone for the country. He’s certainly setting a tone and inspiring racists. It’s having an effect on everyone.
During my NYE Twitter perusal I was struck by a conversation between @KenTremendous (A.K.A. Michael Schur, the brilliant show runner behind television masterpieces Parks and Recreation and The Good Place and writer/Mose Schrute from The Office) and some Twitter trolls. I’ll attempt to summarize: Someone named Greg Jenner (I’m not familiar with him or his work) tweeted:
Hello, general note of polite Twitter decorum – if you don’t like a TV show/film/book/album etc., PLEASE DON’T @ the film creator and tell them. It’s incredibly aggressive, hurtful, selfish and destructive. If we want to know what people think, we will search for it ourselves. Thanks!
A reasonable call for civility that led to predictable responses. Schur then tweeted:
It’s funny to see people respond to this request for extremely basic kindness by saying, “Toughen up! We can say whatever we want to anyone we want!!!”
Like, yes, you technically *can*. You *can* be an aggressive asshole. The request is that you maybe *not* be one.
Schur’s tweet elicited more predictable responses from people unable to process the difference between freedom of speech and human decency. He received messages like “If you don’t like it, block it,” or, “People are free to tweet what they want.” His reply:
…Yeah, again, I understand the interface. I am saying that the world would be slightly better if people didn’t go out of their way to actually tag the people they are complaning about, to try extra hard to make them see the agro thing they’re tweeting. This is reasonable.
Amen. Mike Schur, you’re my hero. I’m not just saying that. He created Parks and Rec for God’s sake. Anyone who can be as funny, creative, kind, and gracious as Schur is someone I look up to. It’s started to occur to me that I continue to watch Parks and Rec on an endless loop because I wish those people were real. We need more Leslie Knopes, Ron Swansons, Ben Wyatts, Chris Traegers, April Ludgates, and Andy Dwyers in real life.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” is a common saying that’s been ignored, especially in Trump’s America. That’s not to say that trolls and assholes didn’t exist before. They are emboldened now because our President is the worst of them. This Twitter conversation summed it up for me. Thanks again, Michael Schur.
On a personal note, January 9, 2018, was the day we were informed that my wife has breast cancer and that turned our lives – and 2018 – upside down. After a year of surgeries, chemo, and radiation, our family is ready to turn the page. 2018 had an added level of suck that I’m more than happy to leave there.
When Chelsee started her surgeries I wanted to make some small gesture to let her know that she was always on my mind. In this situation, most people shave their heads. Since I saw my hairline slipping backward and the writing on the wall in the late-90’s, I’ve been shaving my head for 20 years. That wasn’t an option. So, I got some pink silicone bracelets for my kids and me to wear and I kept mine on. Full disclosure: At one point over the summer I tore the original bracelet, but immediately slid on one of the extras I purchased. Whenever things got shitty at work (or anywhere else) I would grab the bracelet as a reminder that whatever I’m going through is nothing compared to what she’s battling.
The radiation ended in early-November. Her hair is starting to grow back. The cancer is gone. There are still lingering side effects, but the worst is definitely behind her. As this was happening I thought to myself, “There’s really no need for this bracelet anymore,” but I kept it on anyway. I decided that I would remove it on January 1 as a symbolic gesture that it was a new year and time to move on.
So, at midnight Monday night while Carson Daly, Chrissy Teigen, and Leslie Jones were yukking it up in Time’s Square, I hugged my kids and slid off the bracelet. I’m not big on resolutions, and I strongly dislike it when people make lofty, public declarations only to forget about them by January 15…and I’m about to do just that. Inspired by Michael Schur, Conan O’Brien, Shea Serrano, and a lot of other people I look up to, I’m declaring that I’m through with everyone’s negativity in 2019, starting with my own. I’m tired of listening to myself complain about things and not doing anything about it. Don’t talk about it, be about it. Be the change.
I’m not 100% sure what all of this means just yet, but I have ideas…and exactly 363 days left to do something or stop complaining.