“Year of the Monkey?” Please, I beg to differ.
2016 has basically been the equivalent of me thinking I could totally do my own smoky eye makeup.
Me: “This is gonna be fierce!”
2016: “HAHAHA OMG here use the waterproof liner…”
Now I know what you’re thinking: December just got started! Christmas! Hot cocoa! Family, presents, all that warm and fuzzy shit – things could still look up!
Yeah, they could – in the same way that I’m down by 50 points in my fantasy league and my kicker is going on Monday. December could have the best game of all time, but let’s be realistic here, folks: 2016 is bust. I’m calling it.
I’ll admit, it didn’t exactly get off on the right foot. In January we lost our aunt after a battle with cancer. In February I found out I was pregnant, canceled the Bali workshop due to Zika, then lost the baby in March and somehow managed to speak at Shutterfest just a few days later, when all I really wanted to do was stay home, curl up in the shower and cry myself into oblivion.
So not a great start.
Soon we learned we were pregnant again and had an ultrasound the day before we left for the Greece workshop in June. About halfway through the workshop I began spotting and cramping. I called the doctor and she told me, very calmly, that the results from the ultrasound were in…and they weren’t good. They should’ve seen a developing baby and heard a heartbeat, but instead they saw nothing and heard nothing. I was barren and silent. Even though I was still feeling all the symptoms of pregnancy (exhaustion, morning sickness, depression), this was most likely the start of another miscarriage, and we’d probably have to just wait for the worst.
At the same time, I was getting messages on my photography page from someone trying to friend me on Facebook. Soon his messages changed from “please accept my friend request” to “accept my friend request or I’ll track you down and rape you.” Oooooooh okay, my bad, see I was listening to my gut instinct on this one but clearly I was wrong because you sound lovely…
On the 4th day of the workshop I got an email that said the reservation I made for the Catalina workshop, less than 30 days away, for 15 people, was canceled. No reason, just an email, a refund and an apology. I scrambled to find lodging for everyone – which I did – but it put me $6k over my budget.
I guess you could say between the doctor telling me I was having another miscarriage, a stranger threatening to rape me and an unexpected $6,000 lodging fee, all within a few days, things were starting to get to me. I remember sitting in our hotel room, telling my husband I just can’t handle anymore of this year, to which he held my hand and queasily replied, “Babe…it’s June. We still got a lot of year left.”
Thankfully, first thing we did when we got home was have another ultrasound – and everything was fine! There was our baby, all curled up, little heart beating away. That’s right folks, we’ve got baby #2 on the way, due February 1st. 🙂
Aaaand that’s about the only thing that went well this year. As July turned to August and August turned to September, things continued to spiral downward. We thought we might catch a break in October when we left for Hawaii for what should’ve been our first real, work-free family vacation ever – but the first day there our 1-year old daughter came down with Roseola. While everyone else was snorkeling and exploring the island, we spent most of our time in the hotel room on the phone with the ER desperately trying to break her 104 temperature.
But we did get to see Hawaii through the Facebook photos of the rest of the family that was there…which is kind of the same thing as enjoying it yourself, right? Sure it is. It’s the same thing. Just go with it.
The crazy thing; the more I talked to people around me the more I realized everyone I knew was having a horrible year. I had friends that were hit with divorces, fertility issues, and mystery medical problems no doctors could solve. I had two friends that were literally hit by a car while they were walking to the store. Both needed multiple surgeries and intense physical therapy.
Here I thought I was having a rough year, but hey at least I wasn’t run over by a fucking car.
And these were just people I knew personally, I’m not even including the global level of devastation that’s going on right now. By the time November arrived, it all hit me like a ton of bricks, and I just wanted to do something, anything to help, and my poor husband had to lay out in a very practical manner why it would be a horrible idea for me, being 7 months pregnant, to run off to Aleppo to assist in the makeshift hospitals. I had to very tearfully admit he was probably right.
Meanwhile, the hits just kept on coming. Cars broke down, gear broke down, pets got sick, people were assholes. Delta is a piece of shit airline. We lost more family and more friends. If 2016 was a Grizzly bear – I was definitely Leonardo DiCaprio.
But as much as this year has shredded me to pieces…I think I should be saying thank you. Just as it took an asshole of an ex-boyfriend to open my eyes to what a great guy really looks like, this year has opened my eyes to what living a good life really looks like.
I thought I was doing my part in the world, I really did. I thought volunteering and donating was enough, but it wasn’t. For crying out loud I’m a photographer – that’s an amazing skill, especially when it comes to exposing hurt or injustice. Photography has the power to make the world a much better place, and I’ve been using it to take pretty photos. It’s like having a crystal ball capable of changing the future, and using it for decoration in the dining room. It feels like a waste, and I think I needed to be reminded of that, as violent of a reminder as it turned out to be.
I’ve already made changes for next year. I’ve changed my photoshoots, my lectures, everything, and for the first time in a long time, I’m excited. Not the kind of excited you get when your food comes out in a restaurant, but that deep down, night before Christmas, childlike kind of excitement where it’s hard to focus and sit still.
So go ahead December, bring it on. I spent last night with my daughter, curled up on the couch in the softest blanket ever flipping through a National Geographic magazine while my husband baked both a batch of gingerbread and chocolate chip cookies. That is some Hallmark fucking shit right there.
Like I said, I’m stepping up my game.
I see you 2017. I see you and I’m ready. Let’s rumble.