|Old dude getting up close and personal with some fire|
For me, 2016 had many wonderful moments. But every moment of every day, my mom's declining health, which has required me to manage almost all her affairs, is a specter that takes no holiday. My day job, which I have held and loved for going on 18 years, has seen all kinds of changes due to our owner putting the company up for sale, the results of which will soon be revealed. While I'm very thankful that I will, in all probability, keep my job, I'll be facing a whole different daily dynamic, involving considerably more commute time, far less convenience for shopping and personal appointments, and lord knows what other changes; I can only hope that any new level of stress will be relatively minor, for my health's sake. I can feel how much dealing with Mom's diminished capacity has worn me down, and that aspect of life is not going to get any easier. Quite the contrary.
It's no secret that I have little but contempt for President-elect Donald Trump, and I cannot have anything like high hopes for where he and his cabal of billionaire bitches will lead this country. I've never been much stressed out over politics before, but there is nothing normal about what's happening in the USA, and I think we're going to have a hell of a bad ride. I want to be wrong; I pray to be wrong. But I bet I'm not.
The passing of people, famous and infamous... holy cow. Again, I've never been one to get shook up by the deaths of individuals who may be high profile but that I've never personally known. But this year... so many personalities that I have greatly admired, such as Mohamed Ali, David Bowie, William Christopher, Carrie Fisher (followed almost immediately by her mom, Debbie Reynolds), Ron Glass, John Glenn, Florence Henderson, George Michael, Prince, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, and so many others. It's just about enough to rattle one. Not to mention several deaths that did impact me personally, such as our friend, Dan Shannon, who died of cancer this past summer, as well as a number of old acquaintances from my hometown, many taken too young.
Some good stuff:
Several of my stories published or accepted for publication in very reputable markets. I was more prolific in the fiction department this past year than I have been for some time. My story "The Nothing" very recently came out at BuzzyMag.com. My novelization of the Smith Brothers' movie, Young Blood was published early in the year. My short-short nonfiction piece, "Arachnid Alley — Or 'How I Learned to Stop Screaming and Love the Spider'" appeared in the anthology of geocaching stories titled GPS: Great Personal Stories of Geocaching Firsts. And I'll have quite a few new ones coming up in the near future, all quite gratifying.
Shin Godzilla. Far from a perfect movie, but it was great to have a theatrical release of a film with so many powerful, impressive moments.
Star Wars: Rogue One. Me, a Star Wars geek? Well, some people would say so. I quite enjoyed this one, maybe a bit more than last year's The Force Awakens, which I also liked a lot.
Numerous gatherings and/or geocaching outings with some of the best friends and family in the world — my daughter, Allison; my brother, Phred; Joe and Suzy Albanese; Doug Cox and Jenny Chapman; Scott Hager; Faun de Henry; Tom and Linda Imbus; Rob Isenhour; Tom Kidd; Bridget Langley; Robbin Lee; Terry and Beth Nelson; Debbie Shoffner; Cortney Skinner and Beth Massie; Sarah Stevens; Beth Walton (whom I'd not seen in too many years), Gretchen and Todd Wickliffe; and lots of others — forgive me if I didn't drop your name. And at the risk of being mean, this year saw the (hopefully permanent) departure of an individual or two from my sphere of influence who really needed to depart, for their sake and mine.
And, of course, Kimberly Brugger remains the one human being in my life who keeps me sane and relatively stable. This year will make seven years together, all of which were made better — even damn near perfect — by her presence, her energy, and her love. At times in the past, I thought I knew what it meant to love, to be in love. The hell I did. I wish I had, as it would have been fairer to all involved. Sometimes, I think, it takes a rough ride, even a wrong ride, to get where one is meant to be, if this is even possible. Maybe, just maybe, it is.
To all my readers, my friends, my peers, and the rest of you out there: please, be good to each other. Lord knows, if there's anyone who has a hard time with that, it's me, but I'm working at it. Truly.
Happy New One Day Closer to Death to all of us.
The video of the fiery maelstrom shown in the photo above — one of several fiery maelstroms we produced.