Thursday, December 29, 2016

Year in Review: 2016

It is time for my annual year in review post. I'll pick two or three posts from each month that I like best and link to them here. Last year's post has more details, and links to earlier round-ups if you're curious.

This has been a tough year on a lot of fronts, but I think I'll find some happiness to revisit, too. It also saw my posting frequency fall at times, so I am a bit worried I may struggle to find two posts to revisit from some months. But I'll deal with that when I get there, I guess. Let's get to it.

I started January with a little show and tell: delivering on my promise to Petunia to get her a fishy pet, and my promise to myself to learn crochet. (I am happy to report that both the fish and the crocheting are still going strong.) I was worried about my main contract ending mid-year (it didn't, and in fact is extended for next year and probably the year after that), and feeling a little jealous of my husband's new job energy (that passed). And I wrote about the hidden costs of the way things are. I still really like that post, and think about what costs I'm not seeing.

I mused some more about the costs I paid over the course of my career early in February, prompted by a sexual harassment case at my undergraduate alma mater. I started to work through my feelings about Hillary Clinton, not aware of how many more feelings about her the year would create. Maybe I'll work through the new ones in 2017, but I'll be surprised if I can. I suspect we'll need to be past the danger posed by Donald Trump before I feel like I have the space to work through all my feelings about the election. But back in February, I was realizing how much I admired about Hillary Clinton, and being a bit surprised by that. I also had a lesson about not second-guessing myself so much, courtesy of my lungs.

In March, I started writing hodge-podge posts... and my first may be my favorite of the entire year. It was the first post in which I started to wrestle with the unusual stakes in this year's election. And I continued to wrestle with those stakes in a post that was mostly about a couple of books I really liked, but also about how our life is made of our choices, and how sometimes circumstances make our choices more momentous than we'd like. And I went to BinderCon in LA and had a great time.

April saw me pondering my mortality and the limits of what I can hope to accomplish, first after attending the funeral of a dear family friend and then in response to the news of Prince's death. I also realized that my brain was lying to me, and that showed me the limits of empathy. (Perimenopause has been hard on me this year... that will come up again in later months.)

In May, I had some epiphanies about my career. The extension of my main contract has bought me extra time to keep trying to build a sustainable business, which is great, because that is what I really want to do. I wrote about the lack of breathing room in our lives, and the porous nature of the boundaries in my life. I also turned 44, but I didn't write about it.

In June, I didn't write much, but I really like the post about wanting to stop worrying and start living.

We took our family vacation to New Zealand and Rarotonga at the end of June and the beginning of July. While we were in NZ, the Brits voted for Brexit, and I started to take the possibility of a Trump win seriously. When I came home, I wrote about holding the center. I also saw the pictures from the beach portion of the trip and resolved to try harder to live the healthiest life I will enjoy.

In August, I was surprised to discover I still have some hard-feelings about all the blonde jokes I used to hear. My kids went back to school, and I found that I was struggling with motivation. I didn't realize it at the time, but I think the toxicity of the election was starting to get to me. I never did get to take a lot of long walks on the beach. I may need to make time for it in the new year.

September found me struggling with hormonal headaches. I have finally found a birth control option that seems to have sorted those out, but it has its own side effect issues. Perimenopause sucks. I was also struggling with clothes, which I fixed with a visit to a personal shopper at Nordstrom. And I expressed a wish for people on the more conservative end of the political spectrum to recognize the damage they have done by accepting racism and sexism from their fellow conservatives. That wish didn't come true, to say the least. I've also seen more racism and sexism from the more liberal end of the political spectrum, both during the election and in the aftermath. So I get to practice what I preach in this regard, too.

Politics occupied a lot of my attention in October. I wrote about stepping away from the abyss. But of course, we didn't. We've plunged into it, and it is as terrifying as I thought it would be. Reading my post about almost deciding to go see President Obama speak was hard, since all of the optimism in that post has been squashed and all the worries are amplified. I still have no idea how I am going to explain Trump's misogyny to Pumpkin and Petunia when I can no longer hide it from them. I need to start preparing them for the world we have instead of the world I thought we would have, though, so I guess that will be a project for 2017. Petunia still has her "Go Hillary Clinton" sign in her bedroom window. "She is still a great person," Petunia says. And so the sign stays.

And then came November. After I voted my ballot, I wrote about how disgusted I am with the Republican leadership. Their behavior since the election has only deepened that disgust, although there have been some bright spots among the old guard (e.g., McCain and Graham's push for a proper investigation into the Russian interference in our election) and I see some hope for a better Republican party (or perhaps a better conservative party under another name) in the future if some of the younger Republicans like Evan McMullin manage to take the lead. But there would need to be a lot of changes for me to consider voting for a Republican in the future. The day after the election, I wrote about how much it sucked. I am sad to say that even my modest hopes for the transition have been dashed. Two days after the election, I wrote about consulting my moral compass. I've been spending a lot of time with it since the election. Unfortunately, it is no help for the scariest of my worries. I did rally for Thanksgiving, though, possibly helped by my decision to write about what I'm thankful for.

Now, in December, my sadness has ebbed a bit, but I am more frightened. I find myself in a weird state of fear, anger, and hope. And I found my mantra for 2017: Hope is something you create.

This is likely to be my last post for 2016. I may get a links post up tomorrow, but it seems unlikely, given the other things on my schedule tomorrow. So I'll sign off wishing for all of us to create as much hope as we can in 2017.

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