I suppose, as a blogger, I have an obligation to reflect on the passing of 2016, huh? Even as a blogger who’s truant and doesn’t blog nearly enough? Okay. Whatever.
Way too much loss this year. Not just celebrities, though waaaaay too many good ones left us this year. I already posted about my two roughest: David Bowie & Alan Rickman. But many others affected me a lot, too. Garry Shandling in March. Prince in April. Ali in June. Gene Wilder in August. Joseph Mascolo (Stefano from DOOL) in December. And of course, George Michael, Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds a few days ago. But, my God. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Gene Wilder, & Carrie Fisher in the same year? It’s too many formative people. It hurts.
But beyond the celebrities – there have been horrifyingly painful losses for people I know as well. A friend from high school and his family lost their 15 year old daughter this year in a horrible murder/suicide. Our whole community came together for them as they dealt with the aftermath and attempted to regain their lives.
Then there’s all the social issues – Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Syrian refugees, gun violence, women’s issues, convicted rapists getting very little punishment, ISIS and backlash against Muslim people. Hatred, racism, sexism, misogyny, violence against minorities (especially blacks), xenophobia, and just plain hate. The uprising of hate and the violence it creates has been overwhelming this year, it feels. Like a rising flood that is quickly becoming deadly.
And then there’s Trump. Cheeto Hitler, Mango Mussolini, the Bloviating Yam, the Toddler Tyrant, Huffy Wee Fucking Bampot. The reality of his election is truly an offshoot of the previous paragraph. Yes, there are those who voted for him due to some mistaken belief in his business acumen or that he would somehow care about middle and lower class Americans and would make their lives better. Who just knew that they were struggling and thought and “outsider” might improve things. But most of them, I believe truly had hatred in their hearts for the groups that Trump spent his campaign insulting & maligning. His disparaging and false remarks about so many different groups of people (and individuals) gave permission to “let it out.” To freely express hatred toward people – telling them to “go back where they came from” or using racist epithets against them. And never ONCE did Trump try to stop it. He fueled it, egged it on, and took no responsibility for unleashing it. I honestly cannot believe this man is going to be our president. That so many people okayed racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, xenophobia, and blatant hate by looking past example after example, incident after incident and failing to call any of it a dealbreaker. There were dozens of opportunities. Mocking the disabled. “We’re gonna build a wall.” The “grab ’em by the pussy” video. Denying climate change as a Chinese plot. Becoming Putin’s best friend and basically riding shirtless on a bear with him. Telling lie after outright, provable lie and then denying he ever said it – as if we DIDN’T HAVE THE VIDEO.
But all these people ignored it. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And that’s exactly what so many did. Evil was shoved in their faces – their noses were RUBBED in it. Yet they ignored it. They were blind to it. And by ignoring it, by overlooking it, by turned a blind eye – every single one of them ENDORSED AND CONDONED it. Because evil acts and evil words and evil behavior was ignored, we now face a nation that says it’s okay to treat minorities like they don’t belong here. It’s okay to treat women like objects and then call them ugly & fat if they dare disagree with you. It’s okay to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ people like actual people and deny them rights because you think it’s icky and wrong. It’s okay to reward rich, white men for being rich and white and having a penis. It’s okay to threaten people if they disagree with you. It’s okay to try to shut down the media if they report on you accurately instead of talking about how awesome you are. It’s okay for the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD to spend his time on Twitter, insulting and tearing down and bullying people. It’s acceptable for our country’s president to side with Russia’s leader over our own citizens. It’s okay to call the citizens of the country you’re in charge of “enemies” simply because they disagree with your policies, stances, rhetoric, behavior, and inability to do the job. It’s okay to just spurt out whatever you’re thinking about whatever is happening – even if it might risk national security or relations with foreign powers. WHAT. THE. BLOODY. BLEEDING. HELL. IS. HAPPENING.
So, I’m unhappy with Trump – perhaps you are insightful and read into my thoughts there. The past 6 months, especially, have been absolutely traumatic and hard for me to deal with in terms of these issues. It’s so visceral and emotional that I have a hard time finding words about it most of the time. I feel like Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White in Clue as I try to explain what’s going on inside of me.
So I end up letting it out in little bursts here and there on Facebook & Twitter.
It hasn’t been all bad, though. I found some pockets of happiness and excitement this year. Getting to revisit my role as the Narrator in Joseph at the Opera House – 30 years later!! – was definitely a highlight. Working past my own self-doubt and fear and finding that I can still do something I love. Gigging with the band I’m in has been a blast! I’m getting to sing all the stuff I’ve always wanted to and just rock the hell out of it. I’ll tell you – speaking up to my friend, Kathy, and telling her to keep me in mind if they needed another vocalist was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Just taking that tiny step out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there made it possible for me to start singing again and having SO. MUCH. FUN. And doing that let me share video of our band which led Joseph’s director to see it and reach out to me (actually chastisting me for not auditioning for Joseph because I thought “who wants to see this fat-assed old broad up on stage?) and then when the Narrator he’d cast couldn’t do a matinee because she had another show to do, he called me right away and asked me to step in for that performance! So one tiny risk back in October of 2015 created opportunities which allowed me to do something that I DREAMED of doing. And may lead me to step out and try auditioning for other shows in the future. (9 to 5? I’m looking at you)
This year also brought growth and improvement for both my younger sons. William still struggles at school with behavior and anger management, but he’s consistently improving. It’s slow, but it’s there. And Henry – while there still are significant and huge delays, we can see growth in him as well. We can see him becoming a teenager (AUGH.) We’re seeing him wanting to do new things and relearning how to do things with & for him that allow him to grow into new skills. He’s trying to tell jokes. He’s starting to recognize when he’s in need of a diaper change. He’s starting to feed himself at home. He’s doing small chores. They’re small things, but they’re happening.
This year hasn’t been perfect and hasn’t been an extinction event. I’ve made mistakes this year – small ones, big ones, and even devastating ones. (No, I’m not going to detail them for you, nosy parker) But I’m literally praying that nothing I’ve messed up this year can’t be recovered from. Because when it comes down to it, I’m way more blessed than I deserve. Or even often recognize. I have a great family. I am truly blessed to have the family I do and I’m going to strive to show them all how very thankful I am all through 2017. While I often find myself whining too much, frustrated too much, and unhappy too much; I will make a concerted effort to follow my grandmother’s advice and realize that happiness is not a destination. Happiness is a CHOICE.
To Steve, Maggie, Steven, Henry, William, and my parents: you are my treasures of great value. I love you more than I can say and I thank you for forgiving me when I mess up, reminding me of what’s important, and loving me even when I’m a mess. I pray that 2017 will be the year that I grow more patience, that I’m slower to frustration, that I react with love, grace, and kindness more often than not, and that those I love will see in me a new heart that glows with the light of how very, very much I love them.