Take off the mask, lock the door, pull the curtains, 2022 is here.
It’s that time of year again and my customary literary endeavor is to muster up some gratitude, see the silver lining, find some meaning, acknowledge the hardships, accept the losses, embrace the successes, and wrap the previous year all up in a bow. Hey Happy New Year and all that shit. But lately every year this seems to be getting harder. I’m not going to go all scorched earth and say there’s nothing about last year that I’m not grateful for. But who thought we’d still be “battling” covid? Who thought we’d still be forced to deal with Trump and all his shithead followers (well, I did. But yeah, we shouldn’t have to. Losers). Who could possibly fathom that after two years of an ongoing pandemic that over 30% of the US population would still not be vaccinated (seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?). Who thought we be seeing even more white supremacist getting elected to public office, or a shit ton more emboldened Nazis openly spouting their rhetoric, or fascism going unchallenged at all levels of government, or xenophobia continuing to rise, or hard earned women’s rights taken away, or more homophobic and anti-transgender legislation being enacted into law. Not to mention that all of us have been in lockdown and isolated for a good majority of that time, and… yeah, I find myself searching for something good in all of this.
But really, America has always been a shit show. There have always been racists in office. Republicans have always been selfish horrid human beings. Texas has always sucked. Cops, politicians, and corporations have always been corrupt. Systematic racism has been here my entire life. Doesn’t make it okay. Doesn’t mean I ignore it. Right now America is ripping itself apart and all of us feel it. Those of us on the left shouldn’t be willing to take it anymore. Just because that’s the way it’s always been doesn’t mean we can’t tear it down, and we should, and will. It just might take the fascist right regaining full control again before enough of us say no. Least I hope that’s what happens if they do; otherwise the alternative is too ugly to comprehend. Okay that was the “see the silver lining” part, now for some gratitude.
Today is the 8th and marks 21 years that I’ve been clean off drugs and alcohol. Which is not something I take for granted. Everyday I’m filled with gratitude and amazement that having a life off drugs and alcohol is my reality. Twenty-two years ago things could have gone much different and it’s safe to say, with the direction I was heading, I wouldn’t be alive, or worse I’d be incarcerated with a life sentence. Another statistic. Another casualty. Another…
Consequently through my involvement with the recovery community I have a lot of good people in my life. I could just name you all. But that’s not exactly anonymous. I’ll just say that without your love, support, and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I am forever honored and grateful to have you all in my life.
This last year family has shown up in many different ways as the pandemic has made us closer. Maybe with all the losses we’ve had in the past two and a half years and the subsequent lockdowns, separation, and isolation; we’ve all felt the impermanence of life and made the effort to be more present. Whatever the reason, I welcome it. Sadly we just lost my sister-in-law Terry to cancer. Her passing leaves a gaping hole in the family and she will be terribly missed.
On the 11th PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program releases their new handbook for incarcerated writers, The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life In Prison. I had the honor of getting asked to write the chapter on nonfiction memoir, and I’m super excited to be in this important publication alongside Reginald Dwayne Betts, Mitchell S. Jackson, Wilbert Rideau, and Luis J. Rodríguez. A big huge thanks to editor (and Director of the Prison and Justice Writing Program), Caits Meissner.
When an unfortunately difficult time in my life showed up and disarray ensued I had to make the hard decision, along with my publisher Iris Berry at Punk Hostage Press, to postpone the release of my memoir Anarchy At The Circle. We’re looking at a new publication date in the next few months. Which is just one more reason why I know I’m at the right press. A book release a month ago wouldn’t have worked for so many reasons and to have a publisher that gets that is amazing and invaluable.
2021 created a lot of change. Some good. Some bad. But mostly it caused Jenn and I to become stronger. Work, finances, creativity, death, living, losing, gaining, and overcoming—there’s nothing we can’t deal with when we’re together, as a family with yes, even our two lumpy cats. There’s nobody I’d rather spend time sheltering from a pandemic with—love you.
I think I said this last year, but I’m going to say it again for this year. 2022 better not suck.