Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016: The Year That Trumped Most of Them

What a year.

We have all seen what's happened in the wider world in 2016. For those of us who care about people on the margins, about peace, and about the planet, the year has been almost inexpressibly shitty, with much deeper shit ahead. The United States has seen fit to elect a cartoon villain. It might be survivable but for the supervillains he's surrounded himself with, starting with his fundycostal veep, Pence, who is just itching to bring about the Last Times. Then you've got
  • a labour secretary who has praised robots as the 'ideal workers';
  • the head of the Environmental Protection Agency who has spent his political career fighting the EPA at every turn;
  • a secretary of health determined to privatize Medicare;
  • a secretary of education who does not believe in public education;
  • a proud and unrepentant racist as attorney-general;
  • an energy secretary who has openly campaigned to eliminate the department he now heads;
...the list goes on. Get ready to see a gang of nihilists in charge. It'll be Reagan on steroids...and I guarantee you, the millions upon millions of people who voted for Donald Trump are going to be mighty pissed when things get worse instead of better for them. Some of them will take up arms. Book it.

Trumpism is spreading, too. You're about to see it erupt all over Europe in the coming year. Not pretty. I have never been so glad to live in Canada as I am right now.

But you didn't come here for the politics, did you? No, you didn't. And let's face it, neither did I. I haven't sworn off politics entirely this year, but I've found that life is ever so much easier if you can just...dim them. It's fitting. Most politicians ARE dim, after all.

The Grammys and Oscars may as well be one giant death montage this year. For me, the hardest hitting death has undoubtedly been Leonard Cohen's. His song You Want It Darker EPITOMIZES this past year. His mix of the profoundly religious and sacrilegious, of love both divine and carnal, all delivered in that inimitable world-weary rasping rumble, will be dearly missed. Go ahead and mourn your Bowies and your Michaels; for me it's Cohen that strikes the deepest chord. Then again, there are still two more days left in the year as I write this. Plenty of time for more death and despair.


Personally, well, this year has trumped most of them. 

When it started, we were just beginning to climb out of the cellar that 2015 had thrown us in. Eva had not yet returned to work; I was stuck on nights; financially we were still walking a greased tightrope on stilts, blindfolded.

Eva's had some ups and downs but is doing just fine, overall. This despite hitting two deer in the space of three months (or maybe it was the same deer with a deathwish). The first time it barely grazed the front bumper. The second time, it totalled our truck. She was fine both times--the second, only bruises and a scratch from the airbags deploying.

It really is amazing just how resilient Eva has proven herself, yet again, to be. She's the original Weeble: she wobbles, but she doesn't fall down. Such an amazing woman. I love her so much. There is nothing we can't face together; indeed, it seems as if we've faced most of it down already.


I'm on days, which is much better for my sanity. I was the meat department manager for three months almost to the day when I was hauled into the office, told that I had not been trained properly (no excrement, Holmes!) or "placed in a position to succeed" and so, rather than train me properly and put me in such a position, they made me department manager of Pets and Seasonal. Where not training someone isn't quite so critical, you understand. Welcome to Walmart. 

What this has meant in practice so far as stocking a whole lot of housewares and toys, with side excursions into health and beauty, stationery, and (yay!) frozen and dairy for a week after the full time F/D guy walked out in the middle of a shift. I've barely spent any time in my own departments until this past week. To be fair, neither has anyone else. The title "department manager" is largely a misnomer. You go where you're put and do what you're told. Welcome to Walmart.

I miss food.  I've spent sixteen years labouring in fridges and freezers; this side of the store has me POURING sweat every day. On the positive side, I'm learning more and more of the store and will probably be trained on cash in 2017. If their cash training is anything like the rest of their training, though, I'm going to be falling back on ancient 7-Eleven knowledge.


I cut a friend out of my life early on this year, and regret doing so. She really was and is a wonderful person, but I couldn't overcome a vast gulf between us. It wasn't politics, although hers were radically different from mine: it was class. She moves in different circles and revelled in telling you about them. I repeatedly told her how uncomfortable that made me, and she repeatedly pooh-poohed me and said I was insecure.  She was right, of course, but it didn't lessen my antipathy towards hearing about her cotillion of wealthy friends every time I talked to her. Money in and of itself has never impressed me. Most of my friends don't have a lot of it and those who do don't make a point of flaunting it. 

I've been cut out of a family member's life myself this year, and, well, so it goes. I'm a part of his past, now, and perhaps that's as it should be. He has started a new life and I wish him every happiness in it.

Best to dwell on the friends and family who are still here. It makes for a lengthy, almost awe-inspiring list.

CRAIG. You still amaze me. You are a man who has learned to play the melody of life with passion and panache. I respect you. Admire you. Love you.

SUE.  In all my life, I have never been in awe of a human being as much as I am in awe of you. You should know this: I was talking with Eva back in the summer, admiring the strength that is in her (and there is, as I wrote above, a hell of a lot of it). "I don't hold a candle to Sue", she said, and while the immediate urge as a devoted husband is to categorically deny a statement like that...neither of us could. Or can. You, too, are respected, admired, and loved.

GLITCH. He threw me a birthday party in February, and while I haven't seen anywhere near enough of the guy, I know we've got a friendship than can withstand long periods apart. He's a phenomenal father to his son, a fiercely intelligent and well-rounded personality, and...yeah. Respect. Admiration. Love.

Speaking of long periods apart, JASON.  My room-mate, twice, in university. We were each other's best man, and he's still one of the best men I've ever had the privilege to meet, let alone (is this getting old yet?) respect, admire, and love.

NICOLE. It seems like the really good friends just kind of happen. You just kind of happened, and I'm glad you did. A more caring and genuine person would be tough to find. Thank you for everything this year and every year.

ASHLEA. Yet another woman -- I keep seeming to find them -- who is stronger than she thinks she is. Life has thrown a lot at you, are rising above it.  Keep being the light: you dispel darkness not just in yourself, but in all those around you. You are loved. By many more than just me. Never forget that.

MELANIE. You're going to be missed. I hope you know that. Thank you for being such a good friend over the past five years. I hope that distance doesn't get in the way of the next five.

AMY. Finally heard your voice this year, and so glad I did. We may never meet (although I sure hope I'm proven wrong, there), but I love you anyway, no less for being so far away.You are strength, you are grace, you are perseverance, and I love you.

SARAH. There are some people who can change your life in a matter of hours. You've done that, for me. I am astounded at your eloquence, your drive, and your generosity of spirit. You have reframed my perception of myself and made so much possible. Thank you. Thank you so much. And please stop putting yourself down. You have no need to. None.

CAROLINE. Again with the inner strength that you don't always see and I never miss. You're so easy to talk to and so quietly supportive. I am glad to count you among my friends.

I could go on (and on, and on) and I don't want to give anyone the impression that we've now reached, how do I say this, the "lesser lights". Nothing could be further from the truth -- see here if you don't believe me. Some of you are in the outer ring of my life  -- Scotti, Brinn, Laurel, Chris, Mandy,  Rachel and Rachael, just to name seven of many -- but you're no less loved for so being.


Eva and I have lived happily with my metamour, Mark, since May.  I was prepared for any number of rough edges to have to be sanded down; to my surprise, everything has gone almost frictionlessly. There hasn't even been much strife over housemate things.
Eva has damned good taste in partners, but that shouldn't come as any sort of shock: she married me, after all. Mark has been a more than welcome addition to this house and to (both of) our lives.

Security comes first from inside of you. Then, if you are very lucky, you will be in a position to find other people who also possess that same sort of security, and build some sort of family or community as a team.
--Anthony D. Ravenscroft

As far as I am concerned, we are family.

I have been quiet about that last point. Maybe a little too quiet. I'm not about to start screaming it from the rooftops. But it's a conviction of mine and I do hope that, moving forward, people will make an effort to respect it, even if they don't understand it. It bothers me when Mark is excluded.


...she stood before him just as she was made to be, no lies, no judgment, no fake smile. She showed him the storm that raged within her, the strength of her heart, the stubbornness of her will and the soul that burned like fire and he,,,,, He took all she had to offer….. saw the beauty amongst the chaos… stared every flaw, every doubt and every fear in the face. He saw her spirit and ran free with it….he showed her the fire that ran wild within his own soul and together…. despite the storms of life….. together they set each other ablaze and danced in the flames.
--Mary Huber

I have found new love myself this year.

I'm sorry for the cliché, but it really did hit like lightning from the blue. Or the purple, in this case. It struck fast, hard, and deep. There is so much I could write here. The problem is that the English language is not designed for this spin on this topic.
I can say I've never loved anyone this way, which is true, and most people will then discount my saying that I've never loved anyone the way I love Eva, either, which is also and equally true.
No matter what I write, you're going to have the urge to compare, and somebody is going to come up short in the comparing. Probably Eva, because it's taken as read that new love must displace existing love.


There is no better and no worse. There is different, which can be undeniably delicious, and there is the known--and pace the common saying, familiarity breeds contentment, not contempt.  There is a tapestry of different colours, each colour indispensable, contributing to the whole.  There are new ways of seeing, new things to learn, new things to teach...all of which have come from both my partners.

Just as I have been with Mark, Eva has been nothing but supportive of Kathy and I. Unwaveringly so. Just as between Mark and I, it is clear there is mutual respect between them. It has been truly wonderful, beyond my dreams, to be a part of such abundance. I'd say I couldn't be happier, but 2016 has found ways of proving that wrong repeatedly. I can't wait to see what next year holds in store for all of us.


Song of the year is dedicated to both Eva and Kathy.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2017 be full of love, laughter and joy for every one of my readers.

No comments: