• Jo Lammert

[bagel-less] end of year thoughts

Hi, hello, it’s been a while.

Last December I wrote a year in review, recently having moved to Marfa. I was feeling adventurous, curious, loved, and (considering I had just uprooted my life from 8-years in Austin) had a surprising sense of place and belonging.

“One year ago I had no idea I’d be living in the west Texas desert, but here we are. I don’t know where I will be one year from today, but I’m feeling very okay, and actually maybe very excited about that unknown.

I will probably still be baking bagels though."

Turns out one year later, I live in Seattle, and I haven’t baked bagels in a while. Or, uh, anything really.

2018 was, like 2017, a year of important life events, decisions, moments and choices that shifted my life trajectory in ways I didn't expect. But I reflect on the year with a different tone than I did 12 months ago. 2018 pulverized me.

While I don’t think anyone would be pressed if I ended this project and moved on to other things (which, thanks for not having weird expectations, internet!), I don’t like that this project has been on the backburner. Something about setting this aside unfinished makes me feel uncomfortable, but I also can’t muster the energy right now to just round back here with a superficial veneer of self-deprecation and a picture of a bagel*. At its core, this blog/project/whatever has been about attempting to articulate my hypersensitve feelings, something I’ve historically sucked at, and I’ve just been doing this through the lens of baking. And somehow, this peculiar excuse to bake and at the same time work on my neuroses actually helped me better understand myself. I haven’t baked in months, so, sorry, zero bagel talk today- just a sorta sloppy, vague attempt to capture a sense of where my head has been, why this project hit the brakes hard.

The year was an amalgamation of sadness, heartbreak, health problems**. Loneliness consumed a lot of the year. This was a lonely year. I feel guilty saying that. I can rationalize that there have been, and still are loving, good, kind people all around me, but for months I fixated on this notion that I was unwanted, or (and possibly worse) that my life was met with indifference (rejection is crushing, but feeling like people you love could take you or leave you and feel fine either way, that really fucks with your self-worth). This fixation put me in a place of fear, that the relationships I had in this world would inevitably leave me, so I better desperately clutch on to them now because an even darker loneliness was the only conclusion awaiting me.

So, this was bad. Bad for myself and bad for others around me. I recognize now that part of what was at play here was a deep, insidious depression, something not exactly new to me, but I had been managing it fairly well up until this year, when life triggered something and it hit a whole new level. I wish I could say my baking went on hiatus because I’ve been trying to take care of myself, but the reality is I spent far too much of this year stewing in fear, consumed in sadness and negative thought. When you’re lost in destructive, fixated tunnel vision, the things that once gave you joy may still be in reach, but they’re so far from your view.

It’s frustrating that depression does a great job at making good memories murky because damn it! I know there have been good things this year. Given the above, Marfa came with tough feelings, but it was positively life changing. I left that town with rich friendships from some of the most earnest people I’ve known. My heart aches for the desert, but mostly I miss those friends. I gained a better appreciation for solitude, a state I cherish and crave when I need a sense of recalibration***, and not something synonymous with loneliness. Solitude is nourishing, loneliness is destructive.

I traveled, drove through nine US states, visited three countries... I flew in a plane to other countries for the very first time in my life, and I did that twice (I know, long overdue...). I saw a number of dear friends open their hearts, get married, build lives together (feels like it was a good year for weddings?). The greatest NHL mascot of all time came into our lives.

I decided that I want to focus the next few years building my career in games, working with people I deeply respect/can learn a lot from/grow professionally and personally with. I spent months job searching, and made a big move to Seattle for a job that makes me sincerely excited and happy. We’re working on very-very-very good projects, and more importantly, I work with a team of very-very-very good, caring people.

Adjusting to life in Seattle has been difficult, but I have been blown away by the kindness and generosity of my friends in this town. Old friends with years of patient love, and new friends extending invites and care my way. And beyond Seattle- friends in Marfa, friends in Austin, friends all over this goddamn inextricably linked world. I’m grateful for compassionate hearts around me. This year hurt, but goodness still existed. Trying not to forget that.

I feel itchy sharing all this. Expressing anything outside of positivity is at best a struggle for me, and at worst consumes me with embarrassment and shame… but here I am, feeling an urge to be vulnerable, hoping I don’t find myself in that latter shame-spiral category shortly. Please know I’m doing a lot better than I was for much of this year. I’m taking better care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally (i.e. therapy, meds, the gym, socializing, reading, Terrace House: Opening New Doors, so much vitamin D). I’m trying to not get stuck in a pained, sentimental loop thinking of the past, and instead really trying to be present. I’m trying to cultivate gratitude, and working to change some of the toxic patterns I now realize I’ve had for decades. It’s not perfect, some days/some weeks still feel really low, I know some will in 2019, but I also know I’m a work in progress, I need to be patient, and I need to be kind to myself. I’m really trying.

This year was tiring and hard and felt like 63 months. Truly 2018, thank u, next. If this was a good year for you, that is so dang great, please, please, please celebrate and treasure those good moments. If it’s been shitty, well, you had the perseverance to make it here, please feel proud of that (and also feel ok saying things have been shitty!). Life can make us ache sometimes, but I’m really happy you’re here. I hope 2019 is kind to all of us.



* With that said, if I do show back up here with self-deprecating banter and pictures of bagels (and honestly, I really hope there’s more of that in 2019), IT'LL BE SINCERE, OK?

** just fyi the health part is pretty a-ok right now, mostly just dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of autoimmune issues, coupled with some other frustrating/out of control things in the year. *** in fact I’m writing this right now from an old roadside motel in Yachats, Oregon. Turns out I really like the gray, gloomy waves of Oregon’s coast in the winter.

© 2017 Jo Bagel
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Site photography by Leah Muse Photography

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