No doubt about it. For me 2016 was, by and large, a rotten year.
The United States witnessed the nastiest, bitterest, muddiest election campaign in generations – recalling the tone of 1968, minus the assassinations. Unsurprisingly, Americans were overwhelmingly turned off, resulting in low voter turnout – which invariably favors conservatives. The increasing divisiveness in our nation was capped off by Donald Trump’s surprise Electoral victory, despite losing the popular vote by a wide margin – followed by a series of hate crimes committed by his more extremist followers, which sounded a portentous note for things to come. Now there are allegations that Russia hacked the election, which I have long suspected. For that matter, I believe there was Russian influence behind Brexit as well. Occam’s Razor applies here. Dividing Europe and installing a pro-Putin U. S. President align with Putin’s desire for an Imperial Russian resurgence.
Amidst the divisiveness, Omar Mateen gunned down innocent patrons at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and injuring 53 others. Although most Americans awakened to the news on a Sunday morning, I was working a late-night shift at my job as the initial news reports began to trickle in. When I arrived home that morning, I awakened Dan and told him the news. Most of the victims were Latino – many Puerto Rican – and one was a friend of a friend.
Then there was Syria’s indiscriminate bombardment of Aleppo, with the help of the Russian Air Force – avenged in December by the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey.
2016 will also be remembered as a year which many notable humans left us: John Glenn, Janet Reno, Antonin Scalia (I confess I didn’t particularly mourn that one), Nancy Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Gwen Ifill, Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, Carrie Fisher – and one day later, her mother, Debbie Reynolds.
But for me, the defining event of 2016 will be a more personal loss: the death of my father in April. We had a complicated relationship and periods of estrangement, but were in a good place by the time he passed. If not for my patient husband, it may have taken me a good deal longer to emerge from the depression and heartbreak that follow the death of a loved one. Once I could gain distance and perspective, I was struck by the realization that I am now the family patriarch.
Not all was sadness and misery in 2016.
Dan & I enjoyed a lovely vacation in Toronto, where we witnessed the Cavaliers’ victory from a local bar packed with Cleveland fans. It was also in Toronto where we saw a moving and heartfelt memorial to the victims of the Orlando massacre.
Speaking of Cleveland, following the Cavs Victory Parade, our city was host to the Republican National Convention. While the GOP is not my party of choice, I was happy to see them spend their money here, and proud that the overwhelming majority of locals – whatever their preferences – rolled out the proverbial welcome mat – as we did during 2014’s Gay Games. Such was also the case, this Autumn, when Chicago Cubs fans visited our town – and it seemed the Indians might win their first World Series since 1948. But the Curse of Chief Wahoo lives on.
Dan & I made a good chunk of progress on our home: vinyl siding on the exterior, interior paint, new blinds for most of the windows, a new range for the kitchen, and bookcases for the office – so now we’re able to work in an organized space. The last twelve months represented, on the whole, the largest amount of work we’ve put into the house since buying it in 2008. All that remains, aside from periodic maintenance, is a kitchen remodel and finishing out the basement – along with the possible addition of a small mudroom. Our 75-year-old house is shaping up quite well and it’s more of a pleasure to come home after work than ever before.
We receive frequent inquiries from friends and family about our dog, Mason. Now over eight years old, Mason is officially a “senior” dog. But there are remarkably few signs of advancing age: his snout is turning from brown to grey and there are flecks of white hair around his eyes. His vision and hearing remain excellent, and while he enjoys naps as much as ever, he will leap from the bed and bound down the stairs at warp speed upon hearing the word “walk”.
I do not know what 2017 will bring for me personally, for America, or for the world. But, as Bette Davis once said, “Fasten your seat belts”.