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Issue 48: listen I love you joy is coming

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Woman About the Internet

December 31 · Issue #48 · View online

I am a writer, mother, and decent human being living in Seattle, Washington. My monthly newsletter pairs perfectly with the everyday and the End of Days. I think you're swell.


Right before the election, I promised to stop asking “what’s next?” out loud just in case I was angering some unseen force. This year felt like the opposite of a vision board, with my brain collaging a horrifying display of potential outcomes and willing the worst not to happen over and over again. After 43 weeks of quarantining, I can confirm that the earliest days of parenthood are decent training for sheltering in place during a global pandemic. My kid may be rounding the corner on three, but I can still easily conjure up the thick, stumbling fog that distorts navigating life after expelling life.

2020 was the year we all became unstuck in time. The days run together now, identified by an intricate series of calendars and alarms I employ to mark our passage towards whatever is on the other side of this thing. While toddlers thrive on routine, their concept of time is very loose, so when I ask Frida when she’d like to do something she frequently answers “seven eight nine on Wednesday,” which makes more sense than it would have in years past. 
I’ve been quarantining longer than it took me to grow an entire human inside of my body. Once in a parenting group when Frida was small, someone suggested lining up every dirty diaper changed in a day as tangible evidence of invisible time and work. Measuring my days in literal shit was never appealing, but I do understand the motivation. Quarantining with a toddler provides a concrete representation of how long we’ve been distanced from the outside world. During the last nine months, Frida learned how to walk, had a birthday, started school, and became a real kid. The very important problems and milestones I once worried about and tried to solve with late-night Prime orders have all been replaced by new things to fret over and throw money at. 
I wrote almost 34,000 words this year for other people, which is a lot if you consider that my work is often measured in captions and character counts. I wrote for authors, teachers, coaches, chefs, nurses, inventors, activists, and artists. I wrote for people who had new ideas to share and who wanted to make this broken world better. I wrote for people who were unemployed, underemployed, or just tired of feeling stuck. I don’t dare quantify my own personal writing, which is spread out over Google docs, email drafts, notes app entries, and an actual pad of paper from 1989 featuring a Ninja Turtle that says “pizza powered!” but I’ve decided to give myself a break. 
I’m not sure how to write about grief or what it feels like to live in constant fear quite yet, so I’m not going to do that here. I was looking back at old Gchat conversations last night for another thing I’m attempting to write very slowly and realized that I’ve been doling out the same advice for decades: give yourself a break and it won’t always be this bad. Since I don’t know when it’s going to get better, let me give you permission to not do a damn thing besides wear a mask and be kind to people in the months ahead. 
Over on Instagram, I asked people to share one good thing that happened this year. Many of you ended relationships and some of you fell in love. A few of you had babies and a few of you adopted dogs. Some of you were relieved to spend time alone and some of you were grateful to see your kids grow up. 2020 showed me how lucky I am to share a backyard with my mothers and to have an understanding partner to navigate this new reality with. Frida spends every day with adults who care deeply about each other and so far no one has run screaming from our tiny compound (I have done more than my share of walking and swearing under my breath, though). In spite of my body being held together by the pharmaceutical equivalents of scotch tape and twigs, my family has managed to stay healthy this year. As always but more than ever I am thankful that the internet exists, mostly because that’s where all of my friends live.
You, of course, do not need to come up with a single nice thing to say about this year. You can go to bed tonight with a list of enemies tucked tightly under your pillow and sleep well knowing that no matter what, the world has a need of you. On the last day of 2020, I want to remind you that there are many ways to mark the passage of time. January 1st is going to look a whole lot like December 31st. Sometimes success feels like failing over and over again and sometimes success is just refusing to stop. 
I’ll see you in 2021. 
xo Drew
P.S. The title of this newsletter was taken from this poem. You should read this poem, too. 
I love you and you are deserving of great things.
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Need to catch up on an issue? Explore the archives right here. Some of my other writing lives here. If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, you can do so right here. I also hang out on Twitter.
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