About 2016

A lot of people are celebrating the demise of 2016 as if an arbitrary calendar event were the root of all the world’s problems. I agree that it’s been a pretty rough year in many ways, but…

The fact that many well-known celebrities died this year is not really all that unusual. What is unusual is that a few of these deaths were perhaps more unexpected and higher profile than the norm, which resulted in very intense scrutiny not just of the “big and newsworthy” deaths but of all the celebrity deaths that took place this year. And the rock and roll generation is aging, which means that (surprise!) a lot of its members will be dying over the next few years. It’s sad, but it’s also statistically unavoidable.

All these deaths probably did not have anything to do with Brexit or the catastrophic shitshow that was the 2016 American election cycle. It’s tempting to believe this because of the current state of media in the U.S. and worldwide, where a 24-hour “news” cycle has led to a form of pseudojournalism that is more about hype and perceived outrage and “sharability” than about actual facts or (Great Pumpkin forbid) context.

All in all, was 2016 really any demonstrably “worse” than any other year?

For Americans and Brits, maybe (although it may pale in comparison with 2017), but for most of the rest of the world, probably not. Which is not to say that it was a good year (ask any Syrian you run across) but that it was maybe not all that much worse than its predecessors in most cases.

And for some of us, it was pretty good on a personal level–at least when we weren’t thinking about politics or dead people. I made tenure this year and accomplished quite a lot, both personally and professionally. I travelled a lot, read good books, and ate decent food. And 2016 marked for me the first time in many years that i really felt like I had my shit together pretty danged well. I like myself a lot better than I ever have before. And that’s what I plan to concentrate on.

A lot of things really sucked this year and will really suck next year. The task at hand is to do what you can about it. but also to find your happiness where you can. New Year’s resolutions are kind of stupid in my book, but if you have to have one, that might be a good example.

I guess it’s time…

This seems like the day to finally confess after all those years that the song (both times) was Careless Whisper.

I was not a big George Michael fan, but dang, that song sure did surface at some pivotal points for me.

The season, etc.

I think we’ve covered the fact that I don’t really “do” Christmas anymore, or at least no more of it than is absolutely necessary. This year is no exception; I’ll be doing the family thing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and trying to hover in corners with the sane cousins I like rather than the one or two batshit crazy ones my need for sanity requires me to avoid. Fortunately, most of my family falls somewhere in the middle.

But now that I’ve established my new after-Christmas tradition of one very cold week in Virginia Beach (this will be year five) with a nice two-room suite and lots of books, I’m now able to look at Christmas as “that little hurdle I have to get over so I can have one relaxing vacation of the year.” It makes me slightly giddy with excitement. I tend to have very exhausting vacations, as many of you may have noticed, but I really enjoy my winter beach trip. I don’t force myself to do anything other than eat, read, and occasionally look at the ocean. If I do happen to get bored, though, there’s plenty of civilization nearby. 

The trip, combined with the fact that I also don’t really have to buy Christmas presents anymore, has made the last two weeks in December surprisingly pleasant of late. In short, I have succeeded.

I would, however, still consider accepting a hippopotamus. Maybe.

I know I left something…

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Since a friend recently made a joke about it, here are ten things I left in San Francisco that were not my heart:

  1. My cardiologist: He was a great guy who wore little plastic animals on his lab coat. More importantly, he was very generous and treated me at bargain rates when I found myself uninsured and facing a thyroid-generated emergency.
  2. My ex: He was a native Californian and I actually did take him with me when I moved back east, but I returned him after a few years. Unfortunately, I did not take him to an authorized redemption center so I never collected my CRV.
  3. My car: Someone set it on fire in an alley off Harrison Street twenty years ago. It ended its days in the old impound lot off Third Street.
  4. My “essence”: OK, this is just a polite way of saying I got laid a lot in San Francisco.
  5. My (ahem) career with Kinko’s: Leaving SF was how I finally cut the cord. Great move, that.
  6. My nicotine addiction: Left it out on the deck one night in 2003 and haven’t missed it.
  7. My account with Wells Fargo: Hated them. Loved saying goodbye. And now, as fate would have it, I am POA over my mom’s account with them. So I once again have an ATM card with a fucking stagecoach on it and a message that reads “customer since 1992” as if I’d never left.
  8. My long (and sometimes big) hair: Chopped it all off just before I turned 30, which is, I think, a wise move for just about anyone.
  9. My twenties and my thirties: Not much more I can say about that.
  10. My willingness to be in San Francisco: Even for a visit. Which makes me a little sad.

 

About that whole “passing” thing…

(Sorry. Another repurposed social media post.)

Even though I’ve pretty much been “out” (sometimes quite obnoxiously so) since I was about 17, there are a few people who have accused me of “not being gay enough” over the years. I assume it’s because I dress like a slob, because I like indie rock bands more than I like dance music, or because my personal obsessions often tend to be more geeky than “fabulous.” It bothers me that their definition of what a gay person can or should be is so narrow and limited.

My apparent gay culture deficiency notwithstanding, I have NEVER had much patience for closets or “passing.” I have always shuddered anytime someone said “I never would’ve guessed you were gay” as if that were some kind of compliment. (Clue: It’s not.) The fact that I don’t identify with the entire marketing campaign does not mean I am not happy with who I am.

This article addresses the issue of “passing” among Jewish people, but there are some significant lessons here for newly complacent LGBTQ people as well. Make no mistake about it. This is NOT the time for staying silent, for “passing”, or for staying in the closet. The next few years are maybe the most important time in recent history to be EXACTLY who you are, and also to assert both YOUR right to be that person and the rights of everyone ELSE in the room to do so as well. And if it makes some people uncomfortable? Tough.