Back in my Tumblr days, at the end of December, I would write up a long and sentimental post about the events and general vibe of the year. Of course, because Tumblr has always treated longform text content with the lowest priority, no one read these end-of-the-year reviews. I don’t blame folks; the posts were not that good. Take everything I’ve written on here so far and make it far more hack, and then rewrite it all in the voice of a poor romantic in their early twenties.
I haven’t written a review of the year since 2017, due to life getting more busy and hitting a wall and all of the other excuses we self-proclaimed writers make for not writing. But this past year deserves a look back, and perhaps 2020 deserves some air as well, if only because of these two juggernaut years going back-to-back with series of unfortunate events.
At the end of 2019, I sat in the bathroom of my friends’ apartment in Jersey City worrying about the year ahead. Of course, I didn’t know that 2020 would bring on the pandemic, a bitter American election cycle, widespread social unrest, and a commonplace malaise the likes of which the world had not seen for quite some time. I worried about my bank account and my credit card debt. I worried about the stagnation at my job and therefore in my career. I worried that my dreams both realistic – owning a home, starting a family, getting a dog – and fantastical – making money off of my musical endeavor, the Paris Buns – were starting to slip away. There was a moment in that reflection where – sappy as it sounds – I didn’t know how I was going to make it all work without some kind of drastic action, without a reset.
And then, the funniest thing happened.
Now, I don’t like to say that 2020 was a good year. The year that saw hundreds of thousands of deaths, protests, and damage to property, society, and our collective mental wellbeing was not by any means a good year. But through good luck and the massive generosity of loved ones, I was able to crawl out of debt and get on better financial footing. I got furloughed from my job, but found a new one where I was able to jump right in and prove myself. And while my music took a backseat for good, I found myself focusing more on getting my more realistic goals into focus. 2020 was a year for maturing. It was not all good, but it wasn’t all bad. I felt privileged at the end of that year that I made it out alive, I thought, again sitting in that bathroom in Jersey City. (Our friends there have a big party every year. They have board games, movies, good home cooking… You can’t beat that. Kicks the ass of any expensive get-together in some shitty club in my book.)
So I didn’t wish for too much in terms of my personal life in 2021, since I felt I was on a good path. For the year ahead, I wanted whatever brightness that had become lost from the world to return tenfold, so that we could return not just to normal, but to a form of real healing. I think we all wanted that. For a moment, we all – well, most of us – were optimists. Vaccines were imminent, a new administration was coming to clean up the mess, and plenty of much-needed safety net measures seemed on the way.
Our optimism lasted about two split-seconds. Let’s roll out the laundry list of things that have occurred this year to continue to beat down our general spirit: The Capitol attack, the messy vaccine rollout, the inaction from the Biden administration to cancel student debt and expand on social programs to protect against economic damage from the pandemic, the general disdain from the government in wanting to do anything to help vulnerable Americans, the continued effects of the pandemic and the random spikes in cases due to the variants despite vaccinations, booster shots, masks, and home testing becoming more readily available, more school shootings, more threats of violence, more social unrest, more of all of the parts of 2020 that could have stayed in 2020.
To top this year off, a major Omicron variant spike has plagued New York due to folks reveling at pre-pandemic levels, which could bring disease upon even the most guarded and germophobic. Have you seen an LCD Soundsystem concert? Do you know of the trials and tribulations of Santacon? Banish the latter to the thousandth hell, where from nothing ever returns, not in this life or the many lives that may follow.
My outlook for 2022, however, remains positive. I can’t shake my perennial optimism. Call that my reckless Aries sun fighting against my nervous Cancer rising and my nurturing Cancer moon. (I’m an astrological mess, folks.) Despite everything that has happened this past year, everything that may happen next year, and everything that will carry over from these past two years to try and poison the next, I want to find the things in the year ahead that will bring some joy. For example, the recovery from this pandemic will have to improve; anything short of that is just unacceptable. I have a nephew’s bar-mitzvah, many weddings, bachelor parties, and general friend reunions on the calendar, as well as my own wedding party after waiting two years to celebrate. The political landscape might not look great in my view, but politics ain’t doing too great right now, so I’m honestly just hoping for a net zero there. And the icing on the cake: The Mets will have an ace team for the upcoming season, although I still can’t believe that Max Scherzer will pitch for us until I see him on the mound for his first at-bat.
And yet, I know that this year will have an air of doom. The past several years have had one hanging in the atmosphere, trapping in all the heat that the holes in the ozone have let in. To paraphrase from the Passover seder: Why should this year differ from all other years? We will still have disease, bigotry, folks taking advantage, older celebrities trending on Twitter in a way that makes you think they’ve died. Our scrolling through our media channels – Twitter, Facebook, cable news, local news, local access cable – will fill us with such doom that we become even more addicted, and by the time 2023 rolls around, we will all suffer from chronic neck pain to the point where the next generation has a permanent hunch. Evolution (or devolution) in hyperspeed.
But at least this doom unites us. Regardless of our politics, our religions, out identities, our levels of optimism or pessimism, our beliefs in whether or not aliens exist and can hear us screaming from their far-off galaxy, we can all agree that we are, in one way or another, to some varying degree, and without any shadow of a doubt, doomed. Let us hold hands around our sacrifices and sing the doom song together, all of our voices rising up into the floating ash in perfect dissonance, rising into infinity.
Maybe someone will hear us.
Anyway, I hope you have a good 2022. Despite the COVID spike, Becca and I are getting out of Dodge in a couple of days to head South. We’ll be back just in time to ring in the new year with our friends in Jersey again. God knows I’ll be sitting in that bathroom at 2:00 in the morning still drunk on Bailey’s reflecting on the blog post I’ll write this time next year.