Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 - The Year That Sucked

2016 was an awful year all around. We lost some of our musical greats and some of my favorites: David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. Other famous people I've admired that we lost this year were musicians Leon Russell, Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard and Glenn Frey, actors Gene Wilder, George Kennedy and Alan Rickman, Gwen Ifill (journalist), Garry Shandling (comedian), Harper Lee (novelist), Pat Conroy (novelist), Edward Albee (playwright), Jose Fernandez (athlete), John Glenn (astronaut) and Mohammad Ali (athlete). I am from a generation of people who were the first to grow up with media saturation, the MTV generation, so it makes sense as we get older that we'd have a year like this year. The ubiquity of social media only makes it more in our face than ever before. I expect this may be the norm going forward. I was doing errands with my wife this weekend and I received a notification on my phone that Carrie Fisher died ... Bam! ... in your face. No getting away from it.

The election this year was incredibly divisive and seemed to go forever with two candidates that no one seemed to really want, the worst in my lifetime. It ended with a fascist in power and lots of people freaking out. The only good thing that happened this year, on a global front, was the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. The rest of year just sucked.

On a personal level, the year has been even worse. It was full of death. I lost my father. I am not very close with my family but among them, he is the person with whom I was closest. He made my childhood bearable and I still don't know how he had time or energy to be a father. He had a lot of jobs and responsibilities which should have made him exhausted but he always had time for me whether it was for going bowling, fishing, playing cribbage or a game of croquet. He never failed to make me laugh.

A friend of mine's son, Tyler, died of an overdose at the age of 32. This might be the first people that I've known since he was a kid to die. He had some rough times as an adult, but as a kid he was a shining star. My favorite memory of him was driving him from Boston to Detroit to transport him from his dads to this mom's. We got to know him very well on that road trip. Losing him was a shock.

We also lost four pets this year. It sounds like we have a real zoo here but we didn't have more than three pets at any one time.  Last Summer, we adopted a puppy, Margo, who was going to be a great dog if she had lived. On a windy day last Winter, our front door blew open and both our dogs got out.  When they came back, she was limping. It got worst throughout the week. Eventually, she couldn't walk and was in real pain. An x-ray showed she had a displaced a bone in her back and no chance of meaningful recovery. We assumed that she jumped at a car on the road by our house. This is a picture of her when we first met her at the shelter.

Our 14 year old cat, Mavis disappeared this year. She was sickly and never a very good cat. We'd go weeks without seeing her so we didn't look for her when she disappeared. She disliked people but she was a great mouser. She must have gone some place to die. We knew she was gone for good when mice started showing up. We replaced her with Jasper who was one of the best cats ever. He was a few years old and an outdoor cat. Even if we tried, we couldn't keep this cat indoors especially during the summer. He was full of character, affectionate, a good mouser and would snuggle up with us and the dogs. I loved that cat. I was looking forward to having him for another decade or two. One day in September, one of neighbors came to our door to inform us that a car had hit him. We had to go out to the road to get him. We tried to bring him to the vet with blood all over my shirt, but he died on the way. That is two animals we lost on our dirt road this year that has very little traffic.
A few weeks later we got Wrigley, a female cat who was very sweet. We had her for a very short time. She got outside and was attacked by an animal.
We have a new dog, Woodrow and a new cat, Lester. They are both great and doing fine. Hopefully, I won't have to go through that for a long time.

The year was filled with a ton of other awful experiences. In August, I walked on a bee hive while mowing the lawn, getting at least eight stings. I ran yelling into the house. I spent a weekend in extreme pain. I had to get up early morning, while it was still cool, to kill the hive with bee bomb (see my outfit below).  In September, the well at our house went dry and this lasted into November. What made this worse is we had to turn the pump off, but we discovered the pump was hardwired to the house so we had to shut off one of the circuit breakers to stop the pump. A good part of the house was on this breaker, important things like my router, work phone, our freezer, refrigerator and both televisions. In order for me to live and work from home, we had to run extension cords throughout the house to have internet access and keep the frig and freezer on.  We lived like this, taking showers at friends' house, eating on paper plates and going to laundromats, for about six weeks. Ugh!
The only really great thing that happened this year, other than the Cubs winning, was that my niece Ashley came to live with us for about month this summer. I really love her and we got to spend some quality time with her playing games, kayaking and just hanging out. I also have been running consistently this year, about three miles every other day. I ran my first 5k race in 30 years. I hope to keep this up.

Let's hope for a better 2017. 

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