Okay, I’m just gonna say it in the frankest though less-saltiest way I can: The year 2016 sucked. I mean it really, really sucked. Every time the calendar changes from one year to the next, I keep hoping and wishing that the old year had nothing but good things for everyone, and that the new year would be pleasant and enjoyable, or at least bearable. I can’t apply any of that to our collective 2016, really. This was a year of so much hate, so much anger, so much controversy, too much violence, and far, far too much loss.
And, of course, 2016 is leaving us with a 20-ton political elephant in the room. Despite all the bad things mentioned in the above paragraph, we collectively remained hopeful that our next leader would be one who would continue a tone of optimism for the future and respect for others. But slowly but surely, a menace with thin orange skin started jumping up and down and making his presence known. And, sadly, people began to listen to him… enough people to make him our new leader and thrust all of us into an uncertain, terrifying future that is 2017.
Throughout this awful year, a comparison kept running through my mind equating 2016 to 1968. I wasn’t around that year (I was born in 1969), but I remember learning about ’68 in my history classes in school and through other stories since then. That year had its own load of anger and controversy, fighting and infighting, tragedy and politics. Seemingly, the only difference between that year and this year was that 1968 ended on a seemingly graceful note with the adventure of Apollo 8, the first space flight to leave Earth orbit and encircle the Moon. Apollo 8 was a historic and beautiful touchstone, for sure, one that brought every one of us together regardless of our backgrounds. It made me wish we had our own version of Apollo 8 here in 2016, anything to break down the barriers we’ve erected and help make us whole if only for just a few hours. But, sadly… nothing.
At the end of every year, I try to think less about the bad memories and more about the good ones. But that’s hard to do here at the end of 2016. Despite that, however, I will try to remember all the positive things in my life this year. I will start by saying that I am still gainfully employed. There have been and will be changes in our department at work, though. Reorganization is the key word, with shifting of duties from one team to another. The reorganization and shifting includes the departure of my supervisor. She’s retiring after almost 2 decades with our company and 4 decades in our industry; her last day with us is today (December 30). Our team’s new supervisor seems like a nice, optimistic person, but unlike our old boss, she’s not in our office every single day (she actually works out of home). But our team is adjusting the best we can. (It will be nothing unfamiliar with me; I was the “lone wolf” on a team that was based in another town.) And we’re really eager to learn and perform the new tasks that await us.
As for life away from work, I’m still at my same old apartment. I didn’t really consider moving to new digs in 2016. Property values and rent amounts can be pretty steep here in Madison and Dane County, and finding someplace new that I can both afford and keep my many belongings in can be hard to find. I’ll probably stay in this apartment for another year. But I’m bracing myself, however, for the steep rent increase my landlord will certainly give to me when my new lease begins in May.
At least there will be one good thing in 2017 that may ease my financial/rent concerns: My trusty little car is almost mine. Yep, just a couple more loan payments and that little 2-door 2-seater will all belong to me. And though its odometer just hit the 40,000-mile mark, it’s still got a bit of life left in it. However, I do need to get the radio replaced, which will set me back about $300 (its amplifier went kaplooey last autumn). Oh, also, my dentist is advising me to get a crown replaced on one of my back molars. Insurance will cover some but not all of it, meaning I’ll need to pony up about $600 from my own pocket. Yikes!
But back to 2016… This was the year that I helped Mom move to a new apartment. She had lived in a beautiful house for 3½ years, but difficulties with keeping up mortgage payments and her getting a bad back from keeping up with snow shoveling and other maintenance at the house took too much of a toll. So, since the end of February, she’s been living in a rather nice 2-bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor of a senior living apartment. I’m glad she’s enjoying her new digs, but I’m still worried about her keeping up with rent and expenses. Yeah, she doesn’t have a lot of money in her bank account, meaning she now works two jobs (a couple nights week cooking at a nearby restaurant, and 20 hours a week providing care for an older shut-in gentleman).
But what about my Allison side, you ask? Well, of course, I kept tweeting and blogging and dressing up and snapping pictures that I posted on Flickr. More important, though, is the fact that I started to break out of my closeted shell just a bit: I made a contribution to a music video. I ventured out in public a couple of times. And I finally started to utilize my YouTube channel a bit more, adding a couple of videos that were not so much cute but heartfelt. I also dared myself to run in an actual road race, Madison’s 8-kilometer long Crazylegs Classic. No, I didn’t finish first; I was way back in the pack, to be truthful (heck, I started way back in the pack). But it was a memorable self-challenge, and I’m glad I did it.
Perhaps the most important act I did for my feminine side came at the end of this year, when I, for the first time in Madison and the first time in a long, long time, attended a transgender/crossdresser support group meeting. More importantly than being a great experience, it was a welcoming experience. I won’t have the chance to join in on each of their meetings, but I will certainly plan out my 2017 calendar to attend the group more often. Because now more than ever, I feel that I need the personal support.
And now more than ever, we need to support each other in any way we can. The year 2016 was an awful one, and I fear 2017 will be even darker. (That’s all I’m going to predict for the new year.) And right now it appears that the only way we can survive it is to stick together, stay supportive of each other, stay vocal, and stay vigilant in the face of the dark forces that threaten us all, whether we’re LGBTQ or not.
Here’s hoping your New Years’ Eve/Day holiday is an enjoyable and safe one. And let’s all stay strong in the coming 365 days. Thank you for reading.