Code Red

I’m convinced the Earth is revolting against us. Last week, China issued a environmental red alert in a bunch of regions because of the terrible fog, which really means smog in this case. Red is apparently the highest level they use and, right now, many areas that aren’t at red level are at orange.

Orange is obviously just below red. That makes perfect sense. What doesn’t make sense is why their lowest level in this environmental rating system is blue and not green. Silly Chinese government officials. Don’t they know green means go and go means get in your car for a drive and that’s certainly the beginning of this pollution ladder? I suppose we all have the right to choose whatever color scale we want. I’m drawn to grey and black, so my preferred scale might get a little confusing. Reporters would be like, “It’s code black on hostile rodents in the city today.” That sounds threatening, but it would really mean rat levels are way down. People would eventually get the hang of it. Still though, I think my grey scale makes more sense than the blue-yellow-orange-red system. Blue could maybe be used as the standard for tracking water pollutants, but it’d have to go blue-purple-pink-red. A red river is extra dangerous and plague-like, so people would take notice. Though in my experience when a river has reached maximum danger levels, it’s really a code murky brown. No one wants to say that on the news.

Well, that’s not where I planned to take this. Let’s get back to business.

The important thing here isn’t the color choices of the Chinese government. It’s the fact that we are filling our atmosphere with dangerous compounds that hurt our lungs and kill our plants. I don’t think anyone in China is reading this blog, and I’m not a climate scientist, but I feel like it’s unlikely my taking public transportation is going to help clear the smog over Hefei. That said, we should probably all care and do our best. Otherwise, we have to just admit we’re ok with kickstarting some kind of post-apocalyptic universe where we can’t see what’s right in front of our faces and giant smog monsters come out of the sky to attack us. Because that’s the next step in this story.


For the last week, I’ve been hearing this crackling noise every time I take a deep breath or yawn or move my face. That’s disconcerting on its own, but Dave made it much worse by telling me my worst fear had come true.

When I was young, I saw a clip of this sci-fi movie at my grandparent’s house. I don’t remember much of it, but there was a space queen who got angry at some space visitors. To punish them, she ordered her minions to bring out some earwig-like insects and put them in the offenders’ space helmets. Then the bugs crawled into their ears. Obviously. They’re named earwigs for a reason.

I don’t know what happened after that because I walked away from that nightmare. I was not waiting around to find out how the insect-brain-invasion situation resolved itself. Now, though, I always sleep with my ears covered, because I’m not a fool.

When I told Dave about my crackling ear, he said a bug had probably crawled into it. So now my life is over and I will never sleep again.

Thank You, 2016

It’s 2017. We made it around the sun and we still exist, so that’s something to celebrate. Before we put 2016 to rest though, let’s talk about the gift that was last year.

I know this is an unpopular view. A lot of terrible things happened in 2016. We continued the steady march toward our planet’s destruction. We decided to replace an amazing president with a horrifying one. Celebrities who we all loved died. There were way too many horrendous people doing horrendous things to other people. It’s been hard. On top of that, I know I’m not the only one who struggled this year. I see you all. Despite being gifted with some wonderful moments—new jobs, great trips, opportunities to celebrate love with the people I love, tons of nachos—my brain wasn’t particularly kind to me. Sometimes life is like that. Everyone is happy to step out of this hole of a year and leave it behind, and I am too, but hear me out.

Here’s the gift of 2016: we can move forward as the strong, amazing humans we now know we are. 2016 gave us an opportunity. The year was like a bad horror film, where half the world had just exclaimed, “Well, it can’t possibly get any worse than this.” And then, of course, it did. But as long as no one else utters those words, we can start the painful process of crawling out of the woods away from the monsters. It’s not going to be easy, because it’s still dark and monsters are really great at hiding behind trees, but we can get moving.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not painting these terrors in a rose light. I don’t believe that even bad things happen for a reason, unless the reason is that people make terrible choices or chance can be cruel. I don’t think 2016 was somehow fated to be terrible, so we’d all be able to grow. But we can decide this floor is a good place to stand up and plant our feet.

I’m holding my ground here, so 2017 better take notice. I’ve informed the less-kind half of my brain that she is no longer allowed to take up so much space. She’ll have something to say about that, I’m sure, but I’m forcing her to move to the basement apartment. My mind has really good tenant laws, so I can’t evict her, but I can make her feel like an unwelcome guest by stomping on the floors and playing my music too loudly.

I don’t want to set myself up for failure, so I’m not making any drastic resolutions this year. I’m just going to slap 2016 in the face and move along. And, you know what, it would feel terrible to slap something great in the face, so thank you, 2016, for being just terrible enough. Thank you for letting us show you just how badass we really are. Thank you for reminding us that we are strong. We took you on, and we’re still spinning. And what are you up to? Literally nothing. Because you’re gone.

Let’s all just be glad we aren’t on Neptune. This year would have lasted nearly 165 times as long as it did on Earth. We’re strong, but I don’t know if we’re that strong. Also, the storms are insane, there’s no oxygen, and the average temperature is always around -350°. So it could be worse.

Farewell, 2016. You weren’t great to me, but you’re going to make a great step stool.