I saw a recent tweet that said, “I’m going to stay up until midnight on December 31st—just so I can watch 2019 die.” While I’m not quite that fanatical, I’m glad to see this year come to a close.
Looking back, it was filled with an odd assortment of extremely highy-highs and especially lowy-lows. I started the year irritatingly chubby. I’m not sure where I got the wild idea to give up sugar and gluten, but I knew something had to give. I may not be able to control fate, karma or political dealings in the Mideast, but I sure as hell could dictate what I ate. It took a year of insane willpower—and squelching homicidal rage—but I managed to achieve my goal of no sugar, no sweeteners, no gluten and no starches—no kidding! To those who applauded my efforts, I say thank you. To those who chided me and wrote me off, you’re lucky I didn’t kill you in your sleep and make it look like an accident. Deprive a man of water and he’ll die. Deprive a man of coconut crème pie and he’ll make everyone else wish they were dead.
I can’t even really tell you what happened in January, February or March of this year. It was just one big 90-day itchy, sweaty detox. I’m sorry if I was a bitch to you during that period, but, in my defense, you probably deserved it.
Reluctantly, the city of Des Moines and I got much better acquainted in 2019. I was up nearly every other weekend taking care of my beloved dad the first part of the year. Lemme tell you, something is wrong when you start to dread Fridays, but such was the case. I would dutifully leave at 3:45 p.m. and make it up just in time to snag Dad a cheeseburger (with everything!) from Culver’s before he went to bed. It was a mindless ritual that I secretly enjoyed.
In early May, Dad suffered a stroke. In the irony to end all ironies, he quietly passed away in hospice care on May 21st. It was the anniversary of my stroke nine years earlier. If the first three months of the year were a blur, the entire summer of 2019 is foggy in my memory. I shut down mentally and emotionally. I took a trip to Frisco, Colorado over the 4th of July thinking it would calm my nerves—you know, mountain air and sh*t. Instead, I spent the entire weekend grieving —blazed out of my mind on Xanax and weed. (Sorry, Anne—you were a phenomenal host. At least from what I remember. I think. My fave line of the weekend is when you said, “Michael, thanks for almost being here.”)
My galpal Heather—sensing my slow-implosion from reality—invited me to her folks’ lake house perched on the banks of Lake Huron in August. I’m not sure when I came up for air, but my reintroduction to the world happened in Michigan. I gotta hand it to my friends who all swooped in and smothered me with love after Dad died. Heather, meanwhile, decided to trump everyone’s ace—she scheduled a spa day, an exquisite seafood dinner and a “no worries/no hurries” mentality to everything we did. She doesn’t know it, but we’re going to relive that weekend in August every year for the rest of our lives. Michigan may have mosquitos the size of small birds, but it was the cosmic reboot I needed.
Speaking of cosmic, you know who else gets a gold star? My friend Liesl. She invited me to tag along to not one, but two B52s concerts this year. It was whimsical, magical and oddly spontaneous. Both times Liesl surprised me with backstage passes. If you know how obsessed I am with my Bs, then you know this was tantamount to the mother ship calling me home. Weird how the universe buried me alive and then managed to scoop me up, dust me off and sprinkle me with fairy dust.
The last three months of this year, I’ve stayed home. I’ve nested. I’ve re-grouped. And with the exception of a side trip to England to see my zany British relatives, I’ve done as little as is humanly possible. I’m not sure what 2020 has in store, but I’m about to find out. I’m ringing in the new decade on a cruise ship. In a foreign country. With a newfound sense of spirit. A newfound zest for life. A waistline that’s about four sizes smaller. And knowing me, a piece of coconut crème pie in hand. Seriously, people—this no sugar thing nearly killed me.
Oh, 2019—you were the best-worst of times, you were the worst-best of times.