2014 Annual Report

“You know you’re better than that.”Little Dragon, Mirror

I didn’t make goals for 2014. I had professional ones, sure, but no overarching personal plan like I had in 2013. This year rapidly got away from me and I never caught up.

2014 was hard. Is hard. A review of my activity on Thinkup would lead you to believe that this year started in August with the murder of Michael Brown and the rising tide of emotion and action that has come since. This is what I leave this year with: that racism continues to dominate the institutions that make up our society and it is quite literally killing and terrorizing black people and this must change. Black lives matter. I want to scream it.

sometimes i do.

Also, men are terrible. And the evidence suggests want to be and want to continue to be. This too must change. I apologize for any and all actions during my life where I wasn’t the man, the human, I like to think I am. 

See? 2014 got me fucked up.

I’ve thought about this a lot since I tumblr’ed it in September. I’ve failed at this professionally since about August. I haven’t “made fun” but I’ve definitely leaned towards complaint over action. I hope to shake that off over the next 2 weeks and begin 2015 in Just Do It mode. No excuses. Make cool shit. Every day.

This is not to give short shrift to the accomplishments of the year at work. We started publishing live entertainment stories on AXS.com in April, right before Jazz Fest. Speaking of, I got to attend my first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this year! I wrote a few things I liked. We took what we learned from our first six months in responsive design on Examiner.com (I may not be proud of a good chunk of what gets published there but I’m proud of our UX work) and kicked it up several notches. I got to be creative in ways I haven’t been since I left The Mouse.

But I end the year feeling like we worry about the wrong things and not chasing greatness with what we publish.

Make cool shit. Every day.

At home and with friends, I’ve felt, I don’t know, distracted or distant, maybe? I’ve been so consumed with navigating work, I haven’t had mental space for much else including those I love. I don’t mean the grand gestures or the emergencies and the like. It’s easy for me to come through in those situations. It’s easy for me to give. But in the every day? In the small moments? I don’t think I really had it for y’all this year like I would want and I’m sorry. Brotha’s gonna work it out.

A toast to my health. Despite carrying 10 pounds more this year than last, I’ve been consistent with a personal trainer for the last six months. I’ve taken much greater advantage of my insurance and I’m getting every closer to buying a ticket on the eat right train. My doctor says I’m strong like bull so we’ll stick with that. I just want to be a more fit bull who is slimmer around the middle.

I also have to be more honest about my needs emotionally.

I tend to keep it pretty level but, this year, I think I’ve needed more…something. I don’t know what it is so I haven’t been able to say out loud to anyone, give me this, but there’s a hole. I’m feeling some kind of way about the world, about what I’m doing or not doing to make it a better place, and about the life I’m leading and I need…something. The early part of 2015 has got to be about figuring that out and saying out loud the answer to the equation.

But, tonight, let’s get to the accounting of things. I traveled to San Francisco, Denver (twice), New Orleans (twice), Palm Springs, Phoenix, and DC this year (I think that’s it). My office moved to Downtown LA at the beginning of the year and I really like working in that part of the city. I’ve never driven to the office.

I really need to do a better accounting of the shows I go to each year. Ray, once again, puts me to shame. But there were a few pretty exceptional shows. My sister, Dominique Toney, essentially closing the 4th of July show at Exposition Park (sorry Troop); Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Wiltern with Sharon’s amazing post-cancer energy and short hair. Big Freedia on the Congo Stage at Jazz Fest just a few weeks after her mom passed. Laura Mvula on the Jazz Fest main stage. DJ Spinna’s Wonder-ful set at the Echoplex with Stevie Wonder showing up to surprise him and perform a bit. Har Mar Superstar in New Orleans on my birthday by myself. Also, Rhye. Jessie Ware. And a grip more at the echo/echoplex I’m forgetting. 

The best thing I experienced this year, though, hands down was the WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. It was the most entertaining women’s basketball game I’ve ever seen live. It was amazing how much of a women’s basketball town Phoenix is (and lovely to see considering Los Angeles…isn’t.) I was high off that experience for weeks.

That game and everything around it reminded me that for all the shit of 2014, we live in a world where a rookie from a reservation can be the best baller on the floor. We live in a world where an out lesbian black woman dunks with regularity and is cheered for it. This world exists. 

The world changes. The world is changing. It starts small. It gets big. You put in the work. You make cool shit. Every day.

And some days, like on July 19th 2014, your shit is the coolest shit.

Thanks 2014. I won’t miss you but I hope to think back on you fondly as the spark.

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