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17 Things I Learned in 2017

  1. You can't obsess your way out of a problem.

  2. If we each do what we can, when we can, honestly and wholeheartedly, we are collectively always doing something.

  3. There is no guilt in pleasure. Joy is necessary, always. Joy is worth fighting for.

  4. How to dance again. The delight of choreography, of learning steps, one beat at a time.

  5. From ire'ne lara silva, on writing younger characters and struggling with backstory, with how to weave in history: "Young people don't have history. They discover it."

  6. From Achy Obejas, during Las Dos Brujas Writers' Workshops: "Don't write happiness, write the promise of it."

  7. And also, "Failure is when character is revealed."

  8. How to let go of my fear of opposums.

  9. From Truong Tran's workshop at Las Dos Brujas: "Racism is not a carcass for us to examine and dissect on a table, as if it were dead, as if it were past...what happens if you open the cadaver, and inside the heart is still beating?"

  10. Speak when you think no one is listening. Do when you think it won't matter. If nothing else, be a voice that doesn't let the silence win.

  11. Love is not only love. Sometimes it is shared grief, shared pain, shared healing, shared remembering.

  12. No one needs you to know all the answers; they need you to be unafraid to find them.

  13. Legacy is important, but there are different ways of leaving it.

  14. The way memory clings to grief, or is it the other way around?

  15. Take longer to say goodbye, even (and especially) if you think you'll jinx it.

  16. For the very first time, the pain of a wasp sting. Then, seven more all at once. On my behind. (Related: always look where you sit.)

  17. From Javier Zamora's poetry collection Unaccompanied, which reminded me that the literal translation of "sobrevivir" (to survive) is to over-live. To over-live.

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