2017 has been a doozy of a year, that is for damn sure. I remember this time last year people were eager for 2016 to end because it had been a festering, pus-encrusted sore of a year–between the never-ending nightmare of the election season, the nuclear-like fallout of that very election, and the endless parade of beloved celebrity deaths, we were glad to see 2016 go.
And then 2017 happened. It has been an exhausting year. To paraphrase a popular joke on Twitter, “What a decade this year has been.”
I really don’t want to be overly negative–God knows we get enough of that daily–but I want to write an honest look back on this year in particular just to take stock, and a lot of this year has, unfortunately, been negative. That said, there’s been some positive, too. In order to avoid being nothing but rage-fueled ranting, I’m breaking this post into categories.
Let’s just get this out of the way.
When we were all laughing about how terrible 2017 was, I remember saying, “You know 2017 will be worse, right? With 45 in office? It’s impossible it won’t be worse.” And while most of my friends agreed with me, I still saw people say, “Give him a chance. It’ll be fine. Give him a chance.”
I never did, but I hope this year has shaken them of their delusions that 45 is anything but a rolling dumpster fire intent on spreading his chaos everywhere he can. He is a plague monkey wiping his diseased feces on every surface he can.
In his first week, he tried to ban travel from Muslim majority countries, which got overturned twice that I know of. In the first two months, he claimed that Obama had wiretapped his tower for reasons. Sean Spicer was fired, Anthony Moochi was hired and fired within a week, and then now Sarah Huckabee-Sanders is doing that job even though that’s not actually her title?
We have a president that bald-faced lied about the side of his inauguration crowd. Who slashed budgets for education, who has taken every step possible to undo anything with Obama’s name on it, from repeatedly trying to dismantle Obamacare, to undoing the act that protects Bald Eagles, to ending the Dream Act.
He’s also attempted to ban transgender people from serving in the military, claimed that the unprecedented protests against him are all paid protesters, refused to denounce Nazis killing in his name, and called football players quietly kneeling to protest police brutality “sons of bitches.”
We are living in a dark, dark timeline, and every single day, things get worse and worse in this country.
It’s not just 45. The Republicans realize that our president is a gibbering, easily-fluffed dumb-dumb at best, and are using this as their opportunity to loot and pillage everything they possibly can–cramming every single unpopular bill they’ve tried to introduce for the past 30 years through Congress while they hold a monopoly hold on every branch of government. They finally passed a tax bill that managed to both tries to relitigate Roe v. Wade, but they also included aspects that gutted Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and significant portions of Obamacare while making sure to add a tax write-off provision for owning your own private jet.
We saw Republicans rally in support of Roy Moore who has had so many claims of sexual assault–particularly against minors–that he was banned from his local mall. And we had them support him anyway. They didn’t even question it.
The Rest of the Nation
We saw several large Nazi gatherings for the first time in decades on our soil. A Nazi killed a woman by driving through a crowd. And while the Internet did its best to razz on these pathetic excuses of invertebrates, it’s still haunting to see the rise of this hate. Hate crimes are on the rise, emboldened by 45 and his white-supremacist ideals and supporters.
We’re already seeing the beginnings of LGBT rights being rolled back. It’s in small doses right now–starting with trans folks because they’re the most vulnerable, but a lot of job protections are being rolled back in places. We’re seeing new stories relitigating whether businesses can have “No Queers” signs.
In this year, we saw one of the best presidents of my lifetime leave office, and one of the worst presidents of my lifetime take over. It’ll take us decades to undo all of this damage. It’s been a disheartening, frustrating, dismaying year.
Things haven’t been all bad, though. We have a woman superhero headlining her own movie for the first time in a long, long time. Wonder Woman isn’t the first movie starring a woman superhero. We’ve had a few of those: Superwoman, Elektra, Catwoman…I’m sure there’s another… probably? But none of those were like this. Wonder Woman was a goddamned vision.
Star Wars continues to be a glimmer of grim hope in a dark world, and The Last Jedi may be the best thing Star Wars has ever done–a series that seems very deliberate in its message that Star Wars is expanding to include other people now, and the rest of us (namely, white men who have had it too good for too long), need to be okay with that.
I saw the first movie I think I’ve ever seen about a polyamorous relationship–and if you haven’t seen Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women, you absolutely should.
We have seen small but meaningful gains in diversity of entertainment both in front of and behind the camera: Get Out, I Am Not Your Negro, The Big Sick, Thor Ragnarok, The Girl With All the Gifts, even the incidental diversity of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Ice Man came out in the comics. America had her own comic. Ms. Marvel continues to be a beautiful, geeky, bright spot in the world. Black Panther had a couple of series, all written by people of color. In spite of some extremely stupid things (*cough Nazi Cap cough*), it’s been a very good year for entertainment.
Next politics, but the bright side.
There seems, for the moment at least, to be a steady tide of seats flipping from red to blue in places where that was basically unheard of before. In spite of the Republicans embarrassing our country in front of the entire world by endorsing a suspected pedophile, we elected a Democrat in a long red state.
Additionally, we saw one of, if not the biggest, protest in the history of the world after 45’s inauguration. He was protested GLOBALLY–on EVERY continent. I have attended several protests this year–protests to save our healthcare system such as it is, protests against Nazis, protests against our president, protests against police violence. People are angry, and they’re speaking out, even in my very red state. I imagine 2018 will shape up to be a very interesting election season.
2017 was a shit year on a national level. It was also a shit year on a personal level. Financially, this has been one of the roughest years I’ve ever lived through. While 2015 saw us selling our since since we could no longer afford it, I found myself this year getting a second job just to keep up with the bills. We winnowed our expenses down to the bone and had to borrow money more than once to make it.
My wife’s health has not been great, and has continued to deteriorate. Her disability has gotten worse and she now experiences tremors related to her nerve damage at least a dozen times a day, if not more. Our dog had to have surgery because he cracked a tooth, which got infected. My grandfather had a heart attack, had a multi-bypass surgery, and then fell of his porch a few weeks later and broke basically all of his ribs on one side, sending him back to the hospital for a few weeks. My mom has had to deal with the financial burden of taking care of all of that.
This progressively have gotten worse throughout this year, rounding the year out with one of the worst Novembers I’ve ever lived through, discounting maybe last November, but also maybe they’re tied.
However, I don’t want to say that 2017 has been all bad. There have been some amazing things that have happened this year.
It’s a small thing, but I spent the first half of this year collecting a lot of great comics. I managed to get my hands on the entirety of the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash run, and all of the classic Dang Garrett Blue Beetle. I got a big chunk of the Jaime Reyes pre-Nu52 Blue Beetle run, I got a couple volumes of Gail Simone’s phenomenal Wonder Woman run, and about 2/3rds of the Geoff Johns/Scott McKeever Teen Titans run. And I got to read a series in which a gay man got to be a badass in Midnighter.
This may seem like a small thing, but comics have been one of those things I’ve been able to escape into when things were bad. Collecting these books has sometimes made all the difference. It sucked that I could keep up the habit into the latter half of the year, but it was still a bright spot.
Writing wise, I won NaNoWriMo FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! I hit 50,000 words in a month. I fell behind pretty early on and spent the rest of the month was spent trying to catch up. I wound up writing more than 3000 words a day the last two weeks or so to catch up, but by golly I did it. I was only planning on taking a week off after that and then jumping back in, but a week turned into a month pretty quickly. Since it’s December, I’m not too mad about it, but I do need to jump back in so I can finish the book up. It’s really not good at all, but it’ll at least be finished, and that’s something. I’m sad I won’t get to finish it before the year is up, but I have a lot of momentum to carry me into 2018.
Health-wise, I’ve actually lost 40 pounds this year. I reached a new level of fitness I didn’t think I could anymore. It’s not just about losing weight, but eating healthier and making better choices. I found a diet that worked for me–and that’s diet in the “daily consumption of food” usage, not the usual usage. I cut out most sugars, a lot of my bread consumption, and some dairy, and upped my veggie eating, and I have felt better than I have in a long time.
I should add a caveat that December meant I dove headfirst into eating like trash because Christmas cookies, and pies, and stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and pasta, and candy, and eggnog, and booze–YUM. But I now know that I can do this, and once the new year has begun, it’ll be back to cutting all that out and eating healthy again. I’m actually looking forward to it. Eating like crap the past few weeks has made me feel like crap, ha ha. (Also, my wife will be joining me, which is great! I think both of us eating well means we can encourage each other.)
I shaved my head. This may seems like a silly thing to include, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time–I started noticeably balding by age 20, so it’s honestly well overdue. I tried to mitigate it as long as I could, but there was just no way around it. And I like my look much better bald, to be honest. It’s made me feel more confident, and paired with how much better I’ve felt with my new diet, I’ve been trying on new clothes, buying hats, and liking myself physically for the first time in years.
Also, I came out as bisexual this year. This has been something that’s been very strange to grapple with because it’s changed everything and nothing. I came out to my wife, to my friends, to (some of) my family, and online, but I didn’t come out at work, and since I’m married, it hasn’t really changed my day-to-day life. I’m not going out and meeting men, but I can finally acknowledge that part of me without feeling ashamed.
That said, I have family that I haven’t explicitly told. I know they know. I posted about it on Facebook and changed my Facebook picture to me wearing a shirt declaring I’m bisexual, so they definitely know. I suppose it’s cowardly to not just come out and tell them, but I’ve spent my entire adult life arguing with them about gay rights and what being gay means (before I’d even admitted my sexuality to myself). One of them stopped buying a certain brand of beer when they found out they supported gay marriage. I know where they stand, and I didn’t want to have that conversation with them. I couldn’t deal with hearing what they really think about me.
Still, I’m happy I came out, and I hope that as I grow more comfortable with myself that I’m able to feel easier about who I am and let myself be more free. Goals for 2018, I suppose.
The Hopeful Future
On a professional front, I received some bad news earlier this year. I was rejected for a position that I by all rights should have gotten. This isn’t a question of pride–I was literally already doing the job. It would have been essentially a promotion. However, I didn’t get it due to a bunch of work politics. That hurt me, and it sent me emotionally reeling. Before I could begin to recover, we got hit with a whole mess of additional financial issues as well, which only served to highlight just how crap it was I didn’t get the position and how much better things would have been financially if I had gotten it.
I hit a dark place emotionally. I was starting to feel buried and helpless. NaNoWriMo actually helped me quite a lot in that regard–it gave me something I could focus on besides the creeping feeling of sand spilling in around me, slowly but steadily rising above my head.
When I wasn’t working on NaNo, I dove into programming. I’ve been working on expanding my programming skills off and on for a couple of years, but it’s been in fits and starts. Being rejected for that position lit a fire under my ass, and I went hard into working on my Python, C#, and .Net. I’m proud to say that my hard work has paid off. I managed to get an entry level programming position and should be starting that sometime in January. This is great not only because it’s what I want to do professionally, but it’s also a MASSIVE, literally life-changing financial improvement. When I found out, my wife and I cried on the phone because it was the first glimmer of hope we’d felt in months.
On the whole, 2017 has been a bag of crap, and I’m glad to put it in the rearview mirror. That said, there have been some good things to come from it all, and I feel like I’m stronger coming out the other end. I’ll make a proper 2018 resolutions and goals post later, but I’ll just say that things, on the personal front at least, are looking up. I’m coming out of 2017 tired, but invigorated and ready to dive in and get to work. I hope that you feel the same.
I’ll see you in 2018, folks. Let’s make it good. Together, I believe we can.