At times during its 365 day tear through our lives, the year 2011 crushed me and many of those I love. I am not one to write off an entire year lightly, but it has been tempting in the case of 2011. It often felt as if the year had fallen under some dark spell. Personally, I got to cozy up to life’s underbelly through death, grief, ripped relationships, addiction, unapologetically bad education, and many bombed out expectations regarding my own story and what it would or should or could be. Around August, though, I knew there was no evil spell. In a series of e-mails my dear friend Emme sent a photo of the true joy of young love. And my dear friend Elle wrote back about a laboring couple’s 95-year-old grandfather tottering out to the desk and bear hugging his grandson, exclaiming “MAZEL TOV!” in a booming voice. Through this quick exchange I remembered that yes, there is joy in the world. You have to look for it, but it is there. And usually right in front of your face. Some days it may be very well hidden in the middle of a particularly good sandwich or beneath the brim of the hat on the elderly lady on the Number 14 bus, but I am sure it is there. In other words, I have stopped looking for joy in the headlines. Some years it pops up more often in the footnotes.