2016: In a Nutshell.

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fuck2016

(.gif via Tumblr.)

Whenever I go to write one of my annual year-end wrap-up posts, I like to take a look back on the last one I put together- not only to track my progress with the resolutions I had set for myself and adjust any of the ones I didn’t accomplish so that I can try to complete them again- but to also see what events/news changed over the course of the year that followed, too.

Oddly enough, this little snippet from New Year’s Eve in 2015 caught my eye:

Indeed, I’m a little anxious for 2016. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I’m eager for it to begin- not only because it marks the year I will be turning thirty (gasp!) and I’m actually quite excited to enter a new decade of my life with all the wisdom I’ve gained over the past ten years of laughter, tears, triumphs, tragedies and PLENTY of mistakes (and believe me- I’ll have a post up with all of those juicy details and some well-intentioned advice within a couple of weeks just for the occasion!) but because, overall- 2015 was a bit rough for me- and I don’t believe it would be an exaggeration to say it was possibly one of the more difficult years I’ve had since my father’s untimely death in 2012.

Of course, had I known exactly what a dumpster fire 2016 would turn out to be- I never would have taken a moment of 2015 for granted.

Listen: 2016 had good moments. Even the most awful of years have them- and I’m truly grateful they were peppered across the past twelve months. Indeed, my turning 30 was a joyous and wildly celebrated occasion by both friends and family alike. One of my best friends got married to a wonderful guy whom she loves very much. I had an amazing vacation in Las Vegas and San Diego and another (and equally amazing) mini-vacation in Virginia and around D.C. I excelled in my career, I spent time with old friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time (including my long-time West Coast family- Tom, Andrea and their beautiful baby boy, Lorenzo!) I met new and incredible people, and traveled to new & different places- some local and some not-so-local- that I would have otherwise overlooked or missed entirely during my somewhat sporadic days off from my job. Plus, “Captain America: Civil War” came out this year- and that was awesome, right?

But 2016’s rough patches often overshadowed the good times- and not just for me- but for a lot of other people, too.

The biggest blow came at the beginning of Summer when I ended a 7-year relationship (which tied into a 15 year-friendship) that I documented here on “Legally Redhead” shortly after the dust had finally settled. Although in my heart of hearts I know it was for the best and that I had made the right decision to cut the man who had hurt me and betrayed my trust beyond comprehension out of my life entirely- it was still an agonizing ordeal that really screwed me up emotionally and mentally for a long time after the fact. I would be lying if I said that it still doesn’t sting just a little bit when I look back on it- and although I formed a new friendship with another woman who had been hurt by the same guy at the exact same time, which was really the only silver lining to the whole mess of a situation- it was still devastating and draining to me in so many ways.

The breakup had a negative ripple effect into some of my longtime close friendships with a couple of different guys in my life, too. Men I’d known for years and who I thought I had a mutual understanding and respect with suddenly tried to swoop in and become romantically (or just plain physically) involved with me despite my working through a considerable amount of pain and anguish and making things downright uncomfortable and confusing at times. It goes without saying that I’ve been cleaning house and “taking out the trash” in certain aspects of my life for the past few months- actively trying to rid myself and surroundings of people whom I feel have a negative impact on me, my life, my progress, and my overall happiness. It all ties into my resolutions for 2017- which I’ll get to in a bit.

This past year also saw my encounter some financial setbacks due to unforeseen circumstances. A change in my living situation stood to help me save more money, however my old car finally dying once and for all caused a considerable amount of stress when I had to rush out to purchase a new one in order to get myself to/from work and my daily activities. Although I adore my new Elantra- the extra payment every month definitely hurts whenever I dare look at my bank account statements- which isn’t exactly ideal for someone trying to budget a move to the West Coast. I’ve been putting in a lot of overtime at work to help make up some of the funds- and with a recent change in my schedule that provides me a but more flexibility- I’m hoping it will all become easier to manage in the coming months and new year.

Before I jump into my hopes, goals and aspirations for 2017- I wanted to take a look back at this past year that was: the headlines, the trends, and the odds  & ends that made up a wild and unpredictable 12 months that I don’t think any of us are going to forget anytime soon.

This is 2016, in a nutshell:

peotustrump

(Image via People)

What the actual f*ck, America?!: In one of the most stunning upsets in politics and in history in general, former reality TV star, corrupt businessman and present-day puppet to Vladimir Putin (with absolutely no control over his temper- a brilliant combination if there ever was one)- Donald Trump actually convinced people that despite multiple scandals and bankruptcies- he was somehow fit to run a country and was elected President of the United States after a long, volatile, and downright ugly campaign against actual experienced politician, Hillary Clinton. Since then, each and every day’s news headlines just seem to be “oh God, did he really just do/say that?” and sure enough- he did.

I wrote about my feelings on the election results back in November- so reiterating my disgust with Trump, the people he has surrounded himself with, and his supporters isn’t necessary at this point- but I’m hoping that the recent findings of his ties to Russia, Putin, and their proven interference with the election changes the course of this sham of a decision and this embarrassment of a “leader” (and even bigger embarrassment of a man) gets impeached A.S.A.P.

brexit2016

(Image via New York Times)

What the actual f*ck, England?: Not that it helps me feel any better, but America wasn’t the only country who lost their collective minds this past year. In another shocking development- the United Kingdom willingly opted out of remaining in the European Union- “breaking free” after campaigns filled with fear-mongering and anti-immigration sentiments were concocted by those leading the brigade to abandon the EU- and which also played a role in the public assassination of Parliament member Jo Cox- and thus changed their country’s course forever.

Immediate changes included David Cameron stepping down as Prime Minister and the pound quickly (and alarmingly) losing it’s value- although long-term consequences are still up in the air and many are left feeling uncertain about their futures and the future of their economy, national security, livelihoods, healthcare, etc.

We know how you feel, England. You can come sit with us. Let’s talk about it.

celebritydeaths2016

(Images via various news sources)

Who DIDN’T die this year?: If you’re reading this, then congratulations- you’re alive- and that’s more than so many beloved musicians, actors/actresses, sports legends and cultural icons can say after 2016. I had a feeling things were going to be bad this year when David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away unexpectedly within days of each other- but I never anticipated someone like Prince (I wrote about my feelings on his passing here) or Anton Yelchin to go in the horrible ways they did, either. It felt like we were losing people we loved and admired left and right in 2016- and even as I type this- I’m afraid someone else will leave us before I get the chance to publish this post. That’s how frequently it’s been happening.

I know we’re going to lose people in 2017, too. It’s inevitable- but I really, really hope that the losses are few and that most folks get to stick around and enjoy more days ahead just a little longer.

[EDITED TO ADD] Since starting this post, I’ve had to add two additional celebrities to the collage- George Michael and Carrie Fisher. That’s how brutal this year has been.

[EDITED TO ADD II] Rest in Peace, Debbie Reynolds.

(Image via CBS News)

(Image via CBS News)

Flint, Michigan poisoned it’s own residents: Although the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan started back in 2014- the rest of the Nation didn’t really hear much about it until this year. Following officials’ failure to properly apply corrosion inhibitors after changing the source of Flint’s water supply- the area’s drinking water became contaminated with high levels of lead and dangerous neurotoxins. To date, it’s possible 10 people have died due to complications stemming from ailments caused by ingesting the water- and up to 12,000 children have been exposed to the elevated lead amounts- which can cause serious health issues in the future.

Flint was declared to be in a State of Emergency back in January, with officials scrambling to solve the problem at it’s source- and criminal indictments have come down on negligent members in the Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services- but many residents to this day still do not have access to clean drinking water. It’s completely unacceptable and the crisis serves as a painful reminder that we are not being diligent enough in keeping people- especially kids- safe.

(Image via CNN)

(Image via CNN)

This waste of Oxygen got a slap on the wrists for being a rapist: Oh, to be a wealthy white male in 2016. You can get away with pretty much anything- including raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster until two good Samaritans find you and pin your ass on the ground while they wait for the police arrive to put you in cuffs. Such was the case of Brock Turner- a student athlete at Stanford University who was sentenced to six months in prison (but only served three) after he was spotted sexually assaulting an unconscious woman following a house/fraternity party in 2015. Although a jury found Turner guilty of three felonies at the end of his Spring 2016 trial- Judge Aaron Persky handed down one of the lightest sentences imaginable- citing his concern that prison may have had a harmful effect on this piece of shit.

The decision was, understandably, met with harsh criticism and protest. Turner has been banned from competing in any USA Swimming event, and his father faced backlash and public shaming for crude and irresponsible remarks he’d made about the crime following the sentencing. Perhaps the only good thing to come from such a despicable series of events was the victim’s pull-no-punches impact statement- which has since gone viral and has shined a light on the ongoing epidemic of on-campus sexual assaults throughout colleges and universities across the country.

(Image via NY Mag)

(Image via NY Mag)

Oh my God, this gorilla: Back in May, following a toddler climbing into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo- the attraction’s 17-year old gorilla, Harambe- was shot and killed by staff after he’d grabbed at and started to drag the child around. Officials at the zoo explained that there was no other option as the toddler’s safety was in jeopardy when Harambe reportedly became more and more agitated at the panic and hysteria from the onlooking crowd that had gathered. The entire incident was captured on video and uploaded onto the internet where it spread like wildfire across social media.

Tragic? Absolutely. Infuriating? Of course (who doesn’t keep enough of an eye on their child to not catch them climbing a four-foot-high fence and crawling through bushes at a wild animal enclosure?)– but I don’t think any of us expected the memes that followed. Each tribute to Harambe was so over-the-top, so inappropriately funny with it’s exaggerated sincerity- that poor Harambe easily became one of the most recognizable memes to emerge from 2016- spanning across the internet, television, and music alike.

But really, all joking aside- if you take your child to a zoo- watch them carefully, for f*ck’s sake.

(Image via NPR)

(Image via NPR)

Our hearts broke for Orlando: On June 12, 2016- the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida became the site of the deadliest terror attack on American soil since 9/11 and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history following an attack by a lone gunman with ties to ISIS that left 49 people dead and 53 injured- most of which were members of the LGBT and Latino Community. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Facebook implemented their “Safety Check” feature for the first time in America which allowed those in the area to notify friends, family members and followers that they were out of harm’s way- as stories of courage and bravery amid the chaos from survivors who had risked their lives to help others began to trickle out to various news outlets.

In the aftermath of the shooting, gun control was once again brought to the forefront of political debates and arguments on all facets of social media- and the nation rallied together to voice their support for the victims’ families, the survivors, and for the LGBT Community. The club has since been purchased by the city of Orlando with plans to convert it into a memorial to honor those who had lost their lives while simply trying to have a fun night out dancing and being who they were.

(Image via NYMag)

(Image via NYMag)

Do you believe in miracles?: Coming from Boston, where I witnessed the Red Sox break their own curse back in 2004- nothing gave me more of a thrill than watching the nail-biter, edge-of-your-seat final game in the 2016 World Series, where the Chicago Cubs looked to clinch their first series win since 1908 against the Cleveland Indians (who hadn’t won a series since 1948). With a tie-up that lead to extra innings, a rain delay, and the game running well into the late night hours- seeing the Cubs finally come back and win the whole thing was one of the few truly touching and inspiring sports moments- and moments in general- of 2016.

And although I’m not a Cubs fan by any means- it was an absolute joy to see how happy their supporters and the city of Chicago were following the victory- including a parade that was attended by nearly five million people. I wish I could have been there!

(Image via Variety)

(Image via Variety)

“Hamilton” reigned supreme: Although this Broadway musical made it’s debut in early 2015, it took the show being nominated for- and then winning- 11 of 16 Tony Awards for a lot of people to stop and take notice. Written by and initially starring Lin-Manuel Miranda as the lead role, “Hamilton” tells the story of the life and death of Alexander Hamilton with some of the catchiest songs imaginable- making it infinitely more entertaining than anything I ever watched or read about in history class.

The show took off in 2016- selling out months and months in advance and sparking both a national touring production set to hit the road in 2017 and an overseas residency in the West End in London. Getting tickets for the show is like trying to get the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory- but I’m hopeful I’ll get to see it someday without having to sell my car to afford it.

I mean, if anyone reading this has tickets and wants to just casually slide them over to me- I won’t mind…

(Image via Huffington Post)

(Image via Huffington Post)

The Pipeline was thankfully stopped: With the largest gathering of Indian tribes in over 100 years and the eyes of the world watching- it was announced on December 4th that the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL for short) would be halted. The pipeline, being built throughout parts of North Dakota- was set to assist with the carrying of crude oil across 1,172 miles. It was discovered after a re-route through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, however- that the pipeline not only threatened the tribe’s water supply, but could contaminate their sacred burial grounds, as well.

Protests against the DAPL gradually began to gain momentum in the Spring of 2016- eventually growing to a full-blown movement with thousands of people standing with the tribe come Summer and Fall, however supporters of the pipeline retaliated- using attack dogs, high-powered water cannons (in frigid temperatures) and alleged concussion grenades to try and shut the protests down in order to clear the area and resume the building of the pipeline. The lead-up to the December 4th decision was looking grim, indeed- but the halt of the pipeline’s construction serves as a victory for the Sioux tribe. I’m hoping their land stays protected.

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It feels like there is SO MUCH MORE news that needs to be discussed- and I’m absolutely sure I’m missing some key events/headlines- but the above-listed stories are the ones that come to mind whenever I think about this past year. They are the ones that either impacted me and my life directly, or stood out more prominently over these last twelve months.

Of course, there were some other brief, not-so-major stories that should get some recognition, too. As always in my year-end “In a Nutshell” review, here’s the Honorable Mentions:

2016honorablementions

– HONORABLE MENTIONS – 

– Creepy clowns were a horrible, horrible thing: You know how sometimes stories go viral on the internet but there’s never any proof that the events in question ever really happened and it all just seems too absurd to be true? That’s how I felt at the first reports that people were dressing up like clowns (of the circus variety) and terrorizing people around the country by chasing them or running up to their stopped vehicles- sometimes with weapons to make it all the more frightening- as some sort of deranged prank. That was, until- my friend spotted one in Nevada. Then another friend saw one in New Hampshire, and then another and another- and although I still haven’t seen any clowns running around and causing chaos with my own eyes- it was enough to briefly make National news and even resulted in a statement from the White House.

– Pokémon Go got people out of their houses (and occasionally hit by cars): If there was one thing in 2016 that could cause our divided Nation to come together as one- it was chasing cartoon monsters with our phones. 2016 saw the debut of Pokémon Go, an app that allowed people to capture Pokémon using just their mobile device and their own two feet and surroundings. Pokémon would randomly spring up in yards, on subways,  in bathtubs- and random buildings (usually unbeknownst to the owners) would occasionally be designated as gyms where players could gather to battle their Pokémon together. The game caught on like crazy- resulting in more than one incident where someone chased a Pikachu into moving traffic and got tossed up over someone’s hood- but at least it got people moving, right?

– Notorious older cases were thrust back into the limelight: With FX’s debut of their mini-true crime series, “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” getting critical acclaim (I didn’t see the appeal- and I was much more invested in and moved by ESPN’s “O.J.: Made In America” documentary released earlier this Summer that better tackled subjects like the racial divide in the country leading up to and following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman- as well as really focusing on the victims themselves)– our morbid fascination with brutal “cold” cases  was reignited. Along with the resurgence of interest in the O.J. Simpson rial was the still unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey- whose mysterious death shook the nation twenty years ago. Both cases saw multiple TV specials, mini-movies, and magazine cover speculation throughout 2016.

– It was not a good year for Samsung: As an owner of a Samsung Galaxy 7- nothing made me side-eye more than when I heard the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s were experiencing technical difficulties this year. Specifically- they were exploding- and after a massive recall, their replacement models were exploding, too. A battery flaw in the phones were causing more than one person to have to stop, drop and roll when their Note 7 would randomly burst into flames or blow up- which made the TSA screening process in the airport all that much more faster and enjoyable. The problem became so big that Samsung ended up discontinuing the model all together- and are attempting to save face with the Note 8s which are due to debut (and hopefully will have an attached fire extinguisher with it) in Spring 2017.

– There were some kick-ass (and some guilty pleasure) comebacks this year: Whoever thought that a science fiction/horror series set in the 1980s could be so good? I’m talking about “Stranger Things”, of course. The Netflix based series- which brought Winona Ryder back into our homes and hearts- developed a cult like following in 2016 and for good reason. It was well-written, brilliantly acted, and the story was filled with all sorts of nostalgia that hit you right in your feelings. Also making a comeback this year via Netflix? “Full House”- only the follow-up to the cringe-inducing family comedy from the late 80s & mid 90s was called “Fuller House” and focused on the grown-up Tanner girls (sans-Michelle because the Olsen Twins couldn’t make an appearance) raising their own families. The star of “Fuller House”- much like the original version- was, is and will always be Kimmy Gibler, though.

Both “Stranger Things” and “Fuller House” have been renewed for additional seasons.

– Ryan Lochte remained painfully stupid: Olympic medalist and shameless buffoon Ryan Lochte had everyone talking this year following a fact check on his fabricated story of being robbed at gunpoint by a group of armed men with police badges while in Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics. As it turns out, a security guard had wielded a gun at Ryan and his friends after their drunken vandalism of a gas station bathroom. Surveillance footage from the gas station corroborated the security guard’s version of events- and it was quickly established that no armed robbery ever took place.

As a result of his dumbass behavior- Lochte was suspended from swimming for ten months and lost a bunch of endorsement deals- reduced to appearing on ‘Dancing with The Stars’ to pass the time. I knew there was a reason I liked Michael Phelps better.

– LEO FINALLY GOT HIS OSCAR: Much like the Cubs winning The World Series, another curse was broken this year: The DiCaprio Curse. For years, poor Leonardo DiCaprio poured blood, swear and tears into his roles and performances- and nearly every year he’d get nominated for an Academy Award only to get snubbed at the last possible second. This year, he finally got to hear his name read from the envelope and hold his very own gold statue for his performance in “The Revenant”. Although I’m going to miss the Leo/Oscar memes- I was genuinely and truly happy for him. He looked so relieved that he wouldn’t have to actually die in his next role to score a win.

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And there it is! 2016 in a nutshell! What a crazy year, right? Just looking back on everything is enough to make my head spin- but now that it’s (thankfully) over- it’s time to look ahead towards 2017.

I’ve been contemplating my resolutions for the upcoming year for a while now: editing them, erasing them, re-writing them, editing them some more- but I think I’ve finally got them in order and just the way I want- and I’m ready to share each of them with everyone. 2017 is the year I turn it all around. I’m determined and driven and I’m ready for it.

1. Get healthy and in good shape again: After my early Summer break-up and the months of stress that followed it- I won’t deny that I let myself go. Although I had spikes of energy where I’d work out, eat healthy and get enough sleep to get me feeling like a normal and semi-functioning human being again- I’d often sink back into a depressed slump of eating too much junk food, staying up too late, and not really wanting to get off my couch much unless it was absolutely necessary (and even then- I’d stall.) I don’t feel as great as I did when I actively took care of myself and as a result- I don’t feel I look as good, either. That changes this coming year. Now that the holiday feasting and partying is over- I’ve got my meal and fitness programs planned, my bedroom has been re-vamped so I can get the most restful nights of sleep imaginable- and I’ve taken up meditation and yoga to help melt away any residual stress from my work or personal life. I’ll be chronicling my journey here on “Legally Redhead” as I bounce back and get into the best shape of my life again.

2. Spend more time on my own: It’s not that I’m anti-social. Quite the opposite, in fact- but grief was hard to work through in 2016 when I was consistently surrounded by people at all times and I feel like I lost pieces of myself as a result. In 2017, I plan on taking some time now and then to enjoy my own company and really focus more on rediscovering myself, my interests, my talents and the world around me on solo trips and outings, or even just watching a movie or playing a video game on my own in the comforts of my living room. That’s not to say I won’t spend time with anyone ever again or anything- but I really do think it’s important to have private time now and then, too. You have to be comfortable on your own and confident with yourself before you can truly be comfortable and confident with others.

3. Get organized!: Another consequential setback of falling into a depression earlier this year? Good Lord, did my work and personal space get cluttered! Even my email inbox was a mess for a while, and I’m still getting things tidied up! In 2017, everything that has a place is going in said place- and everything that doesn’t is getting donated or trashed. I was given a beautiful new monthly planner for Christmas, and I’ve already been laying out my upcoming appointments, deadlines, and scheduled social events to keep me in check so I’ll never run late or fall behind again. I’ve always prided myself on staying on top of tasks- and this coming year is when that talent shines through again!

4. Focus on blogging and take ‘Legally Redhead’ to the next level: While I did have some quality posts this year, ones that I’m quite proud of- I admittedly slacked on the blogging front these past few months- mostly due in part to me being extremely distracted with all that was happening around me and in my personal life. Writing was temporarily put on the back burner and for someone like me who takes such pleasure in creating content- that’s simply unacceptable. In 2017, I have big blogging plans I’m looking forward to starting and seeing through. More partnerships, more posts that cover a wider range of topics (while still featuring plenty of the usual stuff!), and more utilizing social media. “Legally Redhead” will be getting a makeover soon to make navigation a bit easier- and I’m excited at new networking prospects that are coming up! Even if I’m not a redhead anymore- I truly love writing this blog and I’m so thankful for everyone who reads it and supports it. I want to put out the best possible stuff for you all and I hope you all enjoy what I have in store during the coming year!

5. Get my finances in order: A move to the West Coast costs money, as do trips to New Orleans, Nashville and all the other places I want to visit in the next year or so- and with a new car throwing a bit of a wrench in my plans- I’d like to save more money in 2017 and better balance my budget. I know it’s going to take a bit of practice to get back into the swing of things now that I have an extra expense to take into consideration- but I’m confident I can do it and store plenty of money away to go on my next great adventure- and working hard will make it all the more enjoyable when I do!

Those are the big ones I’m going to strive for in 2017! There are some random ones, too- like “get my motorcycle license”, “don’t date assholes” and “visit/tour Paisley Park”, for example- but the above five are the ones I truly want to focus on since I feel they will bring me the most peace, satisfaction and happiness in the new year.

And with all that being said- I’m heading up to Vermont for an extended weekend in a Victorian mansion-turned-bed & breakfast to quietly see out 2016 and peacefully usher in 2017 while lounging in front of a fireplace and getting lost in a good book by myself. I wanted to hold off on sharing my New Year’s Eve plans until the last possible minute- since sometimes things can get compromised or intruded upon- but it all looks good to go and I can’t wait to kick off the new year in a new way!

I hope you all have a safe and joyous New Year! If 2016 was a good year for you, and I’m sure it was for some- then I hope your good fortune and happiness continues well into 2017.

And if your 2016 was less than satisfactory, like it was for so many- myself included- then here’s to better, brighter, and much more wonderful days ahead! You made it all the way to this point- even if it feels like you barely got here and even if you’re completely and utterly exhausted- and that’s a feat in itself. Be proud of yourself for surviving such a tough twelve months and making it to the end!

hello2017sparklers

See you all in 2017!

xox

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