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When I considered writing an end of the year retrospective, my face scrunched up in disgust as I reflected on 2015. Not my favorite year by a longshot. So much of it felt like a continuous struggle – like I’m in the middle of a significant lesson which I’ve tired of learning. Part of that may be the depression talking. It’s been one of the roughest years for me in a long while on that front and I know how much it can cloud and distort a person’s view of situations. A year is a fairly arbitrary measure of time and in the space of those bookends much transpired – good, bad and adjectives in between. There are layers to this life thing.
Instead of dwelling on the year’s lows and looking at the year simplistically, I opted to capture the essence of each month – a reflection of what was going during that period in time – including the books I read, TV shows I binged, trips I took and posts I wrote that resonated with people. It turns out that 2015 wasn’t as “garbage” as I initially thought.
2015: Year in Review
Highs: Woke up in Prague after a fun New Years Eve. • Designed and ordered my first box of business cards as a writer and blogger. • Was excited to be followed by Taye Diggs on Twitter until I found out he follows practically everyone.
Lows: Driving 90 miles north to UC Davis’ Veterinary School to see if my beloved, 13-year old cat has cancer (inconclusive, tests are $$$$)
Binge-watched: Frasier (all seasons – there are 11!), The Originals (s1)
Read: The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Prague • Warsaw
Wrote: GoodBye Weave; Hello Curls! (Most viewed post in January and in all of 2015)
Highs: Littlest sister visited from Texas!
Lows: Littlest sister went back home.
Highs: A photographer friend profiled me on his site • Heard Talib Kweli speak on race and hip-hop at The Commonwealth Club • A friend sent me surprise flowers for my birthday. I love surprises like that!
Lows: Not being able to fly to Texas to celebrate my (Texas) mom’s milestone birthday
Binge-watched: Arrow cont’d • House of Cards (s1-3)
Read: Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson ☆☆☆☆☆
Wrote: No, I’m Not a Mommy (most comments of the year)
Highs: Being invited as a guest on a radio show. I thought my nerves were going to get the best of me, but I did it and I didn’t make myself look like a fool! • Caught up with a good friend from L.A. who was passing through San Francisco for a blip. We laughed so hard; it was just what I needed.
Lows: The Uprising in Baltimore, Maryland after the death of Freddie Gray – specifically the way many mainstream media outlets distorted events, as well as how excessive policing goaded and further traumatized people already in emotional distress.
Binge-watched: Marvel’s Daredevil • Bones (s5-9)
Wrote: 5 Myths About Black Americans That Need to Disappear (4th most popular post of the year)
Highs: My friend’s super fun bachelorette weekend in Palms Springs • Attended my first blog conference (Bloggy Boot Camp in Temecula – Nia Peeples was there!) • Reunited with my Europe travel buddy for a weekend
Binge-watched: Bones cont’d
Traveled: Palm Springs • Temecula / San Diego
Wrote: Not Your Grandparents’ Brand of Racism
Highs: Watched two friends who seem made for each other get married • Saw an excellent and poignant one-woman show at The Marsh called Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters • Danced to tracks spun by Ryan Hemsworth at 1015 Folsom • Saw Kim Kardashian talk about the sexual objectification of women in the media (yes, really) at The Commonwealth Club (While I’ve never been her biggest fan, I have to admit she gives a charming interview and is likely smarter than she’s given credit for). My friend J and I are now technically in an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians since the cameras were there with Kim and panned over the audience.
A friend sent me an email out of the blue saying “write a book please” – it meant a lot. • Bree Newsome climbed a flagpole and took down the anachronistic Confederate Flag waving in front of South Carolina’s capitol building!
Lows: A delusional white supremacist befriended and then murdered 9 black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church. Being in the office – where I was one of very few black employees – feeling alone in mourning the lives lost, because no one else seemed care about what had happened – at least not to the degree I did.
Binge-watched: Orange is the New Black (s2-3)
Read: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ☆☆☆☆☆
Wrote: Don’t Call Me “Girl”
Highs: First BlogHer conference • Spent time with my (New York) mom and my grandparents • Took in another one woman show, this time by Anna Deavere Smith called Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education at Berkeley Rep – disquieting commentary on the US educational system and the “school-to-prison” pipeline. • BlogHer.com picked up my post What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman for syndication!
BlogHer 2015 is hands down the best conference I’ve ever attended. Among many highlights: I learned more than I probably am even aware; shared an inspiring moment of solidarity led by the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement; met one of the bloggers I admire, Awesomely Luvvie (and acted like a fool incapable of forming proper sentences); listened with great interest as the talented film director Ava DuVernay imparted words of wisdom; and engaged in refreshingly honest discussion on sexual harassment, intersectional feminism, and domestic violence helmed by three formidable women behind a few of the most powerful “hashtag activism” movements on Twitter in recent years.
I also met some wonderful new people, and to wrap it all up we celebrated with a party where Boyz II Men performed, Nick Cannon DJed, we “whip and nae nae”d, and dined on all the McDonald’s we could eat!
Lows: My friend died from cancer • In a case of police abuse that hit frighteningly close to home, a 28-year old black woman named Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell under extremely suspicious circumstances – after a questionable arrest. This just weeks after the murders in Charleston. Again, working in the office – trying to get through the day coherently and without breaking into tears – seemed like a form of self-flagellation.
Binge-watched: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt • Veep
Read: The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: New York
Wrote: What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman? (3rd most popular post of the year)
Highs: Reunited with my friends/favorite ex-coworkers to celebrate the life of our friend E- who died in July • Caught up other good friends in Los Angeles for Mexican food • Went to a San Francisco Giants game with a friend in town from L.A. • Surprised and honored to be included in Quirky, Brown Love’s 200 Amazing Black Bloggers (among great company).
Lows: The reason for the reunion • Took an unscheduled break from blogging to recharge
Read: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins ☆☆☆☆☆ • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ☆☆☆☆☆ • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Los Angeles
Wrote: White Supremacy: I Don’t Know How Much More of It I Can Handle
Highs: Visited my Vegas grandmother, got her signed up for seniors’ internet classes at her local library, helped her secure her membership at the ‘Y’ where she now enjoys taking chair yoga, and took her shopping because as I told her, just because you’re working out doesn’t mean you should dress any ol’ way and she was going to be a “fly granny.” 79 and still going strong. Get it granny! • Second youngest sister visited from Texas! • Danced my butt off at the Oakland Music Festival with said sister. • Invited onto The Unconventional Woman Podcast as a guest.
Lows: Had a mammogram to check out a lump (everything’s fine). • Second youngest sister returned home.
Binge-watched: Sliders (re-watched series) • Power
Traveled: Las Vegas
Wrote: San Francisco, I Think I’m Over You
Highs: Saw the hilarious duo, Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, from one of my favorite podcasts Another Round at Popup Magazine’s inventive evening of live storytelling • Took Mattieologie’s Full Time Formula webinar on making real income as a blogger that got me all fired up • Caught up with two former co-workers • For Harriet published my piece Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes! • Did an urban hike on Halloween with the Outdoor Afro Club and my friend K (black people like the outdoors too!).
Binge-watched: Person of Interest (s1-4) • Charmed (re-watched from the beginning)
Wrote: Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes
Highs: With my second youngest sister, I spent my first Thanksgiving in over 20 years with my (New York) mom and her side of the family. Met a bunch of new-to-me and new-to-this-earth cousins. • Saw a live taping of The View and softened toward Raven; DJ Tanner was there!; left with a $100 gift card to Lulu’s and an Alessia Cara CD (the musical guest on the show).
Lows: A job I wanted that would have allowed me to work remotely didn’t pan out
Binge-watched Chicago Fire (whole series) • The Fosters (s3) • Being Mary Jane (whole series)
Read: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ☆☆☆☆☆ • Syrup: A Novel by Max Barry ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: New York
Wrote: Quit Talking about the Lack of Diversity and Do Something
Highs: Hung out with a high school classmate I haven’t seen since we graduated almost 20 years ago • Traveled to my 5th continent – Asia • Came in 2nd in my fantasy football league (I started playing again; I’m a hypocrite.) • Checked out a cat café in Oakland. So cute.
Binge-watched: Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce • Casual
Read: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Ho Chi Minh City, all over Cambodia, Bangkok, Shanghai
Once I put it all down, it’s clear that I have a lot to be grateful for this year. It’s far too easy to focus on what you don’t have, haven’t accomplished, who’s not with you, or how much money you didn’t make. It’s important not to let the year’s lows overshadow its’ memorable highlights.
I am healthy, I have a safe place to live, I don’t have to search for food, my family is safe and generally healthy, I have friends and people who love me. So take that depression!
With all that said, 2016 I hope you are planning to bring it.
How did you feel about 2015? What were your highs and lows? What did you watch/listen to/read/create? Travel anywhere interesting?