Dear Powers that Be,

While I’ve been thinking about this note for weeks, I’m finally sitting down to write it at 1PM on New Years’ Eve. And while I’ve had a productive day, I can’t believe how fast it’s slipping away. I’m not concerned with holding on to 2017 by any means, so it’s not that tragic. Just surprising. Like this year wants to escape from itself as badly as many people I know want to escape it.

I feel like I have a tenuous – at best – grasp on things that don’t belong to me in the first place, and I’m more comfortable with that fact than I have a right to be. But for now it’s all that I’ve got. I used to get so maudlin when writing these year end letters, if I found myself in the same situation from one to the next. Now, it pleases me. Which I guess means I finally found it. That balance I’m always looking for. This passage from last year remains true, and still just out of reach. Which I think is a fine place for it to be as the new year begins: I’ll be honest, Powers, and say that another year or two that went the way this year went would be welcome. On the other hand, I’d be happy to have someone to root me to the earth as well. Floating about is fairly freeing, but gets really exhausting, not to mention lonely, after awhile.

I like me a whole lot. I like the way I think. The way I move through the world. The insight I send out into it. What I get back doesn’t feel sufficient, but I’m not sure anyone could say that honestly.

I read a quote a while back about self care being the opportunity to build yourself a life you don’t need to escape from.

And I’m in if you are.

Fondest regards,

Betsy Rose

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2017 Year End Quiz

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before? Spoke on a panel at a symposium. Pretty sure I’ve never done that before.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I read at least 10 more books this year than I said I was going to.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Magdi had Mateo.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes.

5. What countries did you visit? 😦 Does East Toledo count?

6. Who was the best new person you met? Eddy moving back to town has exposed me to a few new interesting people.

7. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 12, Election Day, because always. Go Doug Jones!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I’ve got a rep, and I’ve protected and defended it well. #IWasRaisedByRefugees

9. What was your biggest failure? I spent many months during 2017 looking at potential new office spaces, and I was unable to convince Bob to pick any of them.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? My sinusitis is flaring up pretty bad this winter. Happens every few years.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Oh man, I spent so much money on new apartment accouterments. And I love all of it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Brittany deciding both of us should leave the house more often means a lot to me. Not to mention she asked me to apply for a spot on the WelcomeTLC board.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Too easy.

14. Where did most of your money go? Ha. Rent.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Cross-stitch. Reading. Being able to do both without being bothered by someone who just assumes “you’re not busy.”

16. What song/bands will always remind you of this year? It’s been a lot of Lady Gaga and Beyonce this year. And the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? the same? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Slightly fatter. But also happier.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I only have dirty answers to this question. I abstain.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Feeling guilty about not feeling guilty about not doing certain things.

20. How did you spend Christmas Eve? We celebrated family Christmas on the 23rd, so I spent the 24th packing and then riding shotgun in the car while Suzy drove Andy and I to Kriszy and Peter’s house, where we pulled in at 7AM on Christmas Day, then left around noon for OBX.

21. Did you fall in love this year? Only once. Twice, if you count me.

22. How many one-night stands? Haha. More like 45 minute intervals.

23. What was your favorite TV program? Handmaid’s Tale. OF COURSE.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Roy Moore. Does he count?

25. What was the best book you read? Sleeping Beauties. I conquered Stephen King this year. Woot!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lady Gaga’s new album made me happy, in that she’s talented all on her own. No meat dress required.

27. What did you want and get? My new coffee table is pretty boss. I also got a bean bag that converts into a full mattress. Be jealous.

28. What did you want and not get? A new job.🙂

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Wonder Woman was epic.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 35 in Toledo, Ohio, where Eddy took me to Homeslice for pizza, beer, cigarette smoking on the deck with a Fireball shot for dessert, and then I got to watch the fireworks at Kurt’s office with all my LCYD besties.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I haven’t had the most fun spending the last month of the year packing up and moving the office, even if it is only right around the corner and right across the street from my apartment.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year? It was really cold in my office. How do I best keep warm?

33. What kept you sane? He knows who he is.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? The Pod Save America team has been my gateway drug into finally listening to podcasts.

35. What one word best describes this year? “Alleged.”

36. Who did you miss? Eva. Always Eva.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year: It’s not my fault.

In 2018
What do you plan to do that you didn’t do this year? I’m going to spend a large part of the first months of the year really getting everything organized at the office. The past 2 years have felt like a holding pattern, knowing we’d have to move sooner rather than later. But I hope we’ll be at the Secor for awhile, so I’d really like to get it together.

Who are you spending New Year’s Eve with? Unless some last minute plans shake out (this is not an invitation or request!) think I might stay home with a rum and Mexican Coke this year. And cross stitch.

What one thing would you like to say as the year is almost done? More of this, please. With a little less dying. I know that’s a tall order, but I’d appreciate it, Powers.

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Dear Powers That Be,

I never intended to be 35 years old and single, but here I am, killing it.

How did that happen? I haven’t loved many people in my life, but enough to have assumed one of them would stick. Oh well.

My metabolism quit. Or at least quit being able to surmount the walls all this medication erects in its path, and I’m not too in love with my reflection in the mirror these days. But it’s looked worse, and in the grand scheme I can live with it.

I have done a meticulous job over the course of the past few years to do everything I can to live a life as free from drama as possible. Yes, it manifests in staying home most every night, asleep by 9, and while I know that’s a result of mental illness and escalating issues, I can’t be mad about it.

Unfortunately, drama has a way of finding me. Not just finding, burying me, under its weight. I am tired, I am angry, I am helpless, and I am sad. As if I don’t deserve any better than to rolled into the current of other people’s bullshit.

How pathetic to be whining my way into my birthday. I’m more disappointed in myself than I’ve been in a long time. That’s been hard to cope with. But I’ll find my way through it. I always do.

Unlike last year, I have zero interest in asking for your help. You do what you do and nothing I say can change it. I can’t help thinking you’re laughing at me. And while anger is more useful than sadness, nothing makes you feel alive like fear.

Sincerely,

Betsy Rose

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Dear Powers That Be,

I think that if I sat back and really thought about it, I’d be blown away by the roller coaster nature this year took on. But I was too busy enjoying the ride, to be honest, and that makes me so happy I could cry.

I was disappointed. A lot, actually. But not surprised by it, I suppose, which is sad when you think about it too long. But I am what I am, and even if that girl is different than before, it doesn’t mean the outside world or the people in it and how they interact with me has changed.

That’s the thing. You can be an entirely different person, or at least vastly different than before, and other people are much slower to catch on than you are, and just continue to treat you like Old Betsy. Luckily New Betsy is so far out of fucks to give about it, she barely notices.

I’ve tried to make December a month of purposeful self-care, which is going really well actually. Every emperor in my life seems not to have any clothes, and I’m never going back to the days when I tried to convince myself they did.

If my main goal in life is to be left alone, every day that goes by it seems to be becoming more and more a reality. And I’m thankful for that.

The end of the year has gone about as smoothly as someone like me can hope for, so far, and since it’s nearly over I’ll run the risk of saying we made it. If you put it all on the scale, I’d have to admit that this year has been far better than it has been worse. I can almost count on one hand the number of men who said things to me to make my knees go weak, or kiss my neck in that exact spot or place their hand at just the right hip level to turn me into a puddle of goo, and none of them seem to be done and they are all so good at what they do and what’s more I’m starting to believe them when they call me up and want to spend time with me and compliment me and help me to understand myself better.

Of course, horrible things have happened. More people have been lost to me, to us, but that’s the nature of life. The thing that makes it living is its ending. And I’m grateful for that, too.

I’ll be honest, Powers, and say that another year or two that went the way this year went would be welcome. On the other hand, I’d be happy to have someone to root me to the earth as well. Floating about is fairly freeing, but gets really exhausting, not to mention lonely, after awhile.

All this to say thank you, I suppose. I think we’ve done pretty well by each other in 2016, and I’m grateful to you for it. I look very much forward to what you have in store in 2017. I’m in if you are.

Regards,

Betsy Rose

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In 2017:

 

Don’t finish the books you don’t like and don’t read a book just to say you’ve read one.

For that matter, read the Complete Works of Shakespeare if you want to, and don’t let anyone laugh at you or prophesy your failure. And even if you do fail, who exactly are you letting down? Billy isn’t going to mind.

Don’t let your stomach do flips every time you get a text message, especially since, more often than not, they are from your boss or a receipt from the coffee you spent too much on.

Don’t waste your time wondering why you don’t get to be that girl, because the kind of girl who fixates on that kind of thing is the girl who doesn’t get to do much else in life.

Put the day to bed early if it isn’t going your way. Say no to this board seat and that one because hey, it’s your life. Remember that no one cares nearly as much as you do when you say no, with one glaring outlier.

Remember that sitting at your desk with your hand on your heart holding back tears muttering

“You’re gonna be ok. You’re gonna be ok. You’re gonna be ok”

is a perfectly good use of your time.

Whatever you do, don’t get complacent. Don’t forget that you are your own worst enemy. So say the thing you’re thinking. See that thought process through. Don’t you dare settle for less than what you deserve even though you’ve spent most of your life assuming you deserve less than the pittance you’ve got.

Be that girl if you want to, but only if you want to, and not because everyone else decides that’s all you get to be.

Remember it isn’t all your fault you’re so scary, and for that matter, don’t ever forget why you are that way.

Scream, if it helps. Even standing in the middle of the room, you come off forgettable, so just dig in your heels and wail for awhile.

You’ll feel better.

And maybe someone will finally see you.

~12/29/16

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2016 Year End Quiz

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before? Lived alone in a tower in downtown Toledo. For a few months, anyway.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Read more books. Read more books. Read more books. I’ve decided I’m going to attempt to read the Complete Works of Shakespeare in 2017.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Sara had Jaxson.

4. Did anyone close to you die? More and more every year, I tell you what.

5. What countries did you visit? 😦 Does East Toledo count?

6. Who was the best new person you met? New LCYD members continue to make my life exponentially better.

7. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 12, 2016 – the night of the Pulse nightclub attack; and November 8, the night of the scary alt-right and lazy Republican attack on our country – because they were both terrifying and eye opening and the sort of things you can’t unsee or shrink away from.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? New Betsy is kind of a rockstar, and watching her develop has been quite a joy.

9. What was your biggest failure? New Betsy is 34 years old, and she should really be further developed by now.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I went back on antidepressants and I sleep like a baby and everything is practically unicorns and rainbows most of the time.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Hmmm… new Kindle. Super awesome. Yay books.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? The harem has been equal parts frustration and joy, with a little bit of “ok, now which poem is about which boy?” paranoia mixed in.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? So I live alone now…

14. Where did most of your money go? Ha. Rent.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I mean, the harem. Right?

16. What song/bands will always remind you of this year? Wait For It – Hamilton

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? the same? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Maybe fatter. But also happier.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? You know, I’m feeling pretty good. Can’t think of much. Always read more books. Traveling, I suppose. I did go see Kriszy around Memorial Day and got to spend the night in Harpers Ferry, which is always awesome. But more travel would be good.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying about other people, and what other people think.

20. How did you spend Christmas Eve? 20ish of us at the Hungarian Club.

21. Did you fall in love this year? As many times as possible.

22. How many one-night stands? More like two night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program? I’ve spent the year adding to and culling my Netflix queue in a ballet of wonder, lemmetellyou. But The Crown stands out. Perfect show.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I mean, I probably hated Donald Trump at this time last year. Maybe just not as much as I do now.

25. What was the best book you read? Damn. There were so many good ones! I must say that The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was the best.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Dawes. Where have they been all my life?!

27. What did you want and get? Don’t laugh: a bench to hold my blankets.

28. What did you want and not get? A new job.🙂

29. What was your favorite film of this year? FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM DUHHHHH.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 34 in Toledo, Ohio, and it was kind of a horrible day, to be honest. I’m getting increasingly bad at birthdays, it seems.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Um, so, I live alone now…

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year? Put on earrings and plan your outfit around them.

33. What kept you sane? He knows who he is.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hillary em-effin Clinton.

35. What one word best describes this year? YUGE

36. Who did you miss? Eva. Always Eva.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year: Is it too cliche to say we’re stronger together?

In 2017
What do you plan to do that you didn’t do this year? The harem is fun, don’t get me wrong, but a steady would be nice.

Who are you spending New Year’s Eve with? At ‘Imerca’s. Nothing beats spending 10 minutes making the rounds of the room getting hugs and kisses from your best friends/cousins.

What one thing would you like to say as the year is almost done? I still think you don’t see me, world. Or at least you still see the me you decided I was a long time ago. And I suppose I don’t need you to see the real me. I’d prefer you just don’t see me at all. The people who really see me, see me just fine, and they are all that I need in this world.

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Dear Powers that Be,

My request last year was basically for you to leave me be and let me live my life. I’ve done about as well at that as both of us could have expected, I suppose. Not great, but not a complete mission failure either.

I’m feeling as bad as I’ve felt in a very long time, and while it normally wouldn’t bother or phase me, I suppose I’m just tired of it. I want year 34 to be the year I don’t need medications to sleep through the night and wake rested, or to keep the voices or the gaping chasm of depression at bay. But if it were going to happen, it would have happened by now, right?

Life is not a complete wreck. I continue to keep my head down while throwing my arms up when the moment calls for it. I don’t want to say I’m feeling optimistic about anything, because the truth is I’m probably reading more into situations than is called for, and not reading enough into others.

I’m in a bad spot, Powers. I’d ask you for help but I can’t even stomach the thought without my throat closing up. I guess I’ll just say give me a moment, every once in awhile, to pull myself back up and to dust the blood off my knuckles. You think maybe you could manage that? Happy birthday to me.

Ever yours,

Betsy Rose

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