Looking Back at 2015

Last year, I wrote an end of the year blog post in which I talked enthusiastically about seven happy things about to happen in 2015. At the time, I assumed 2015 would be filled with reading, running, and writing. Well, then 2015 wound up being more like this:

  1. Watch everyone in my high school tear each other apart (and spend an afternoon wondering if we'd get torn apart).
  2. Write an awkwardly personal op/ed (multiple, actually), revealing to everyone I'm a survivor, and deal with the resulting chaos.
  3. Part with Jon Stewart, leaving us to deal with this dude alone.
  4. Watch the 49ers and the Oakland A's combust.
  5. Spend hours fighting against a seemingly bulletproof administration.
  6. Give awkwardly personal quotes for articles and deal with that resulting chaos.
  7. Watch everyone shoot each other, including shooting 12-year-olds, and get away with it.

Of course, there were many positives mixed in (see photo gallery at the end of this post for a more varied version), but overall, 2015 was less than ideal. To summarize how my year went with one story, it began positively with Jameis Winston (you know, this guy) getting deservedly humiliated by the Oregon Ducks, and concluded with him being the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft and almost leading his team to the playoffs as if nothing ever happened.

So what is there to say about 2016? Will things be any better? Maybe. I hope so.

In an effort to delude myself into thinking the U.S. will get its shit together despite our impending joke of a national election and that I'll cruise effortlessly through my year, I'm going to make another list of seven things I'm looking forward to:

  1. Finishing my novel. (If I say this twenty times, it'll happen.)
  2. Swimming.
  3. Watching the A's have a less-ugly season (please?).
  4. Reading Harry Potter in Spanish just because.
  5. Really, really learning how to use Twitter.
  6. Finishing House on Netflix.
  7. Actually running that 3.8 mile thing I mentioned last year but never got around to doing.

But listen, I can't make 2016 a better year alone. It's up to all of us to push ourselves to be better human beings, to go out of our way to be kinder, conscious, and compassionate. We can control the election (vote if you can, even if you don't love either of the candidates). We can control social media. We can control our behavior.

It's 2016. Screw Trump — it's up to us to make the world great again.


On my Questionable Decision-Making (April 25, 2015)

Some fun facts about me:

  1. I often write more when I'm sleep deprived. 
  2. I'm impulsive when I'm tired.
  3. These two often mix in awkward ways (for example, resulting in a Huffington Post article).

I've been asked why on earth I consented to put my name on that piece. I've been reminded multiple times that it could hurt my career options (so I guess I'll be a slightly-more-starving writer/teacher? Fine ...), destroy my friendships (it didn't to my knowledge), make the universe collapse, etc.

Okay, I'm going overboard with the last one, but the point is: the consensus was that I should've stayed anonymous, or not written the piece at all.

I struggled with the decision to put my name on it. I was given the option to publish the piece anonymously, and thought I'd do that. I know from the unfortunate times I've scrolled through comment sections underneath articles about assault that public reactions are often negative. Negativity is not even confined to comments sections — I've had someone joke about it to my face, leave an intimidating note in my locker, and gossip about it when I was standing right behind them (yes, my painful personal experience is apparently on the same level as the other gossiped-about topics like prom asks and seniors ditching). And some people now look at me strangely. Overnight, I crossed the threshold in people's minds from strong to fragile, like something changed in the one second between the article not being online and being online.

But despite knowing these things would happen, I put my name on the piece because I felt like it needed a name. It is completely valid (and arguably far more intelligent) to remain anonymous when talking about personal histories with violence. However, I always feel an obligation to do my characters justice when I'm writing their stories, and I didn't feel like I was doing myself justice by leaving my name out.

Could this article make more people avoid me, not want to work with me, and treat me differently? Yes. But as someone pointed out to me, the kind of people who'd treat me with any less dignity and respect because I'm a survivor are not the kind of people I want to be around. I'm no less an activist, writer, bad joke teller, or friend than I was a week ago.