First meeting of the 2016 Survivors Support Group…

Standard

Mornin’ all, and a Happy New Year!

2016 was…hm. How shall we put it?

There’s an old curse that comes to mind. “May you live in interesting times.”

Yep. I think that sums up a year that saw the Grim Reaper swing at beloved figures from gorillas to intergalactic princesses, grown ass people legit frenzied over clowns, England pulling a ‘Merica, then ‘Merica out ‘Merica-ing England because we gotta keep our cred, bro… Beheadings shown on YouTube, alarming push for reversal of human rights laws, angry rednecks squaring off with shockingly angry hippies and neither side being self-aware enough to realize how stupid they’re all being… People having to protest in order to keep their drinking water oil-free in some parts, the government STILL not getting the lead out in other… Flat out making shit up being the new “spin” in journalism, “belief” being now touted as having more gravitas than proven fact and hard evidence by a scary number of those in charge… And that’s just the tip of the melting ice berg!

On a personal level, things were not as dramatic as beheadings and gorilla assassinations, but it was definitely a stand out year. It started with the great Electrical Apocalypse and snowballed. One of the pups had a very scary struggle with mental illness, another a gut-wrenching battle with a bully. Finances didn’t just go in the toilet, they’ve been flushed so hard that they’re probably tangled in one of those garbage floats somewhere out to sea, and let’s not even discuss the sketchiness that is my mode of daily transportation right now…

This past year was certainly “interesting.”

Thing is, “interesting” isn’t all bad, is it? Otherwise the curse would have been, “May you live in shitty times,” or whatever ye olde word for “shitty” would be. “May your days be excremental.” “May you dwell in times overrun by defecation.” “May the gods loosen their bowels upon your year.”

Some would argue that the gods did, indeed, let ‘er rip on the world in 2016.

The other day, we got a snowstorm. It was supposed to be dire, and it did turn out that way for parts of New Hampshire. Here, the fronts took a shift and the storm only dropped about five inches. It was a heavy snow that fell, the kind that’s shown on greeting cards, sticking to every branch and wire and fence post.

This particular breed of snow falls when the temperature hovers juuuust below freezing. It’s just cold enough for the flakes to fall as flakes instead of drops, but warm enough to make them moist and sticky. The bulk of the storm hit overnight. The man had to get to work early, so he and I donned our winter gear and went out to shovel at about five in the morning. Being the native with 20 more years experience in this type of situation, I tackled the berm while he started cleaning off the cars.

Shoveling the half-melting, salt-laden, three foot thick berm left by the road plows at five in the friggin’ morning with a strong wind blowing icy flakes in my face is not in itself very fun. I know. Shocking. It could have been just an awful experience.

But halfway through, I stopped to lean on my shovel and roll my back to loosen the kink, when I looked up.

If you’ve never been in a snow at night, I don’t know if I can adequately describe the experience. Not during the storm, but right after, when the last flake settles into its new blanket that covers everything with a bright, bluish quilt. There is no such thing as a dark night in winter if snow is on the ground. It reflects any tiny bit of light, creating a surreal and almost solemn landscape. Everything is quiet. Everything is still. Everything feels like it’s resting, waiting.

And then the clouds move and you are suddenly standing on a sleeping world, looking up into the clearest sky at the brightest stars. And you feel at once alone, and yet so much a part of it. You feel like an insignificant speck, but one who has, for some reason, been offered a glimpse of the universe, a tiny taste of the bigger picture. You feel like for once, you were at the right place at the right time. You were there.

The snow was heavy. My hands were numb. My back was most assuredly displeased, a disgruntlement I’m still dealing with today. It was such a shitty experience in almost every way. And yet, I am completely and utterly glad I was out there. I do not regret it in any way.

That was 2016. We were there. And while the shit snowed down around us, we had beautiful moments where we looked up, where we stopped and said, “I am here.”

Will 2017 be any better?

Welp, my dryer shit the bed. It’s not the Electrical Apocalypse. It’s more like a tribute to the Electrical Apocalypse. I think it’s an improvement, though. At least it’s only one appliance, not all of them.

Maybe that’s how we have to go into 2017. Things are not instantly going to be better. Change comes in small, measured steps, with heartache and strife along the way. The ball dropping wasn’t a magic wand that erased the past year, and it wasn’t a crystal ball promising good things for the one to come. Life doesn’t work like that. The universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass about our calendar.

But we made it through 2016, didn’t we? We were there.

And now, we are HERE.

I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions. I know me. I wouldn’t stick to them even if I did. In fact, I tend to do the opposite. “I’m supposed to lose weight? Screw this shit. No one’s going to tell ME what to do, not even myself! Gimme all the ‘tato chips and order me a scooter. It’s about to get real.”

However, I do think we all should have one this year:

Take the time to look up.

If all we’re going to do is focus on the pile of shit we’ve gotta shovel, we’re going to miss so much. And I think that was 2016’s biggest problem. We allowed ourselves as a race to focus on the bad, while forgetting to recognize all the good that existed outside the small, petty side of humanity. If we keep doing that, nothing is going to change.

Look up. Make those moments where you take the time to appreciate that no matter what else is going on, you’re here. In spite of what is going on in the world, in spite of a universe that has done its level best to make things as difficult as possible for you to exist, you ARE.

I’m not saying that you should ignore the problems of the world. We can’t. We may only be a speck zinging through the universe that’s honestly insignificant in the grand scheme, but it’s our speck. We need to live here. Of course we need to do our best to make the experience as good as possible.

But life itself is amazing. It’s so very precious and rare, and if we don’t take the time during a storm to look up and feel the awe of the great picture, I guarantee we’re going to have an equally terrible 2017.

Look up. I promise it’s a resolution you’ll want to keep.

Thus concludes a quick Musing for New Year’s Day, 2017. I know it was sappy instead of silly. I’ll get back to silly next week.

Advertisements

Another year without a nuclear meltdown has got to be making them rethink the calendars…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

We done went and had ourselves a bit of winter this week. It was sleeting so hard that when I got up the other day that it sounded like a pipe had broken. I had a momentary flashback to last years’ Pipes of Hell winter production before I got a grip and realized that it was a balmy 30 degrees, and the water was coming down from above, not up from below.

I took a look outside. A couple inches of snow, then ice pellets as far as the eye could see. What an awful mess! Fortunately for us, no one had anywhere they needed to go. Kids were home from school, man was home from work. There wasn’t a single reason any of us had to go out.

So of course we went out.

…what? Oh come on. It’s a New England tradition. The plows had already come through, so we weren’t clogging up the roads and getting in their way, and there was almost no traffic. As soon as you can, you get in your car and chug the mile to the local grocery store to make sure every other redneck congregated there still agrees with your assessment that winter is wicked fahkin’ shitty. It’s just what you do. I don’t make the rules, people.

Besides, we were low on milk. Not quite out, but low enough that the morning joe would be tan, not khaki. Couldn’t have that first world problem, now could I? I mean, I chipped a nail this week, too. There’s only so much one person can take.

We’re halfway through the kids’ holiday break. For the most part, it’s been pretty smooth. They needed to clean their rooms to make space for fresh inventory after Christmas. I remember when that meant they played with the rediscovered toys while I sat buried under the heaps of long forgotten treasures, desperately trying to throw out the crap that the kids only suddenly NEEDED because it was time for it to go.

Now, even the littlest pup is old enough to mostly guide himself in cleaning.

I’m not saying I don’t have a couple in the litter who show the same hoarding tendencies I possess. Sometimes I’ll catch the pup sneaking a broken toy under the bed. “What’s that?” I’ll say. “I can fix it,” he’ll protest. “Put it in the trash before you end up with an hour long TLC special,” I’ll tell him, carefully creasing my brow in practiced parental consternation.

Aside from cleaning, it’s been mellow and game-filled. They are my little flock of geeks and got some cool games for Christmas. And while they got out and played before the shit weather rolled in, I can’t say any of them seemed the least bit disappointed to discover that Mother Nature made sure their time was free for digital adventuring.

Pokemons explored caves. Isaacs were…bound? I’m sorry, I don’t really know how that game works. Brain puzzles were solved, and, if the excited tittering wafting from the teen lair was any indication, large battleships were thwarted.

Looks like they’ll have that same kind of morning again today, at least. It’s raining and the snow/ice is getting a fresh, glossy glaze. Hey, I suppose I can’t complain. I mean, it’s the first real sign of winter, and it’s almost 2016.

Can you believe it? Another year out. Pfft, just like that. Seems like I cracked open my free 2015 calendar the nuclear power plant sends to all the folks that live in the potential fallout zone just yesterday.

…true story. Got next year’s unusual bribe all ready to hang in the morning. If the plant ever blows, at least I’ll have the warm memories of all the free calendars they sent over the years to temper my anger at their incompetence and give me comfort. Well, the warm memories and the literal warmth of the radiation…

It’s that time of year again when we look back and reflect on the old shitstorm we’re leaving behind before our hungover asses wake up to the first misting sprays of the new one. Everyone’s recapping the year as only the internet can.

Most sites are linking their favorite lists by category. The news this year was, by and large, fairly bleak. I’m looking through these lists of murders and scandals and jihads and arrests and it’s depressing as hell. There was a link on MSN to the “20 Cutest Internet Cats of 2015.” I was thinking that would take the sting off the hell hole we’re in and clicked on it. True to their word, some of the kitties really did have squiffy wiffy faces. I was feeling more positive until I clicked on the last cat. The last cat on the list looked like Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is now ruining the palate-cleansing ability of internet kittehs. Screw you, Donald Trump. #generalmessageof2015

Then there are the usual lists of celebrity lives that ended in the course of the year. The entertainment sections have lists of actors and singers that shuffled off this mortal coil. The sports section listed “7 Sports Heroes You’ll Miss Next Year.” What a set up articles like that are. I didn’t even know these people existed until you told me, and then as soon as I find out about them, you tell me they died. I was in a world of blissful ignorance before. Any emptiness and loss I now feel for heroes I will never get to know is completely your fault, sports writers. Screw you, too.

Science and tech sections also have their loss articles, but no one reads them. I think that’s probably sadder than the fabricated depression from the sports writers. This keyboard I’m typing on could have been invented by someone who died this year, and I’ll never know. I mean, I *could* know, I guess. I just won’t.

Hey, at least I’m honest.

Aside from the news bits, many of the lists on the internet are sponsored. “Top 20 Hairstyles of 2015,” brought to you by Wen hair care. Just guessing here, but I think these styles are going to be held in place with Wen’s Dr. MacGuillicuddy Formula Super Shiny Impossible-to-Muss All Purpose Hair Shellac Elixir and Floor Polish. They’re also linking their least favorite lists. “Worst Hairstyles in 2015.” Looks like there are many folks out there who didn’t buy Wen. Tighten that shit up in 2016, folks. Just call Wen and ask for “magic hair beans.” They’ll know what you’re talking about.

Here’s a good one. “50 of the Best Cars of 2015.” How about, “80 Great Breakfasts to Start off the New Year.” This is one you cannot miss: “101 Life Hacks We Learned in 2015.”

It cracks me up when I see lists like this. 50 Best Cars…so, like…ALL the cars of 2015, then? I think they just try to one up each other. I think the folks at BuzzFeed brainstorm or interface or idea-share or whatever they call it to try and come up with a list that cannot be topped.

“Let’s see if we can think of a list that will dwarf all other lists,” some asshole in an ill-fitting plaid shirt says as he pushes thick-framed, lensless glasses up his nose.

Stanley gulps, though whether because of genuine panic or simply discomfort the starched bow tie pressing against his Adam’s apple creates is undetermined. “Dave,” he rasps. “You’re talking about…the Golden List.”

The group gasps as one, but Dave is undeterred. He holds up a perfectly manicured hand, mostly to flash the sweet 1986 Casio calculator watch he found at a yardsale that sometimes even works, and the group stills. “Yes.”

The one word gets the hipsters riled enough to forget their corporate catchphrases. “That’s fucking nuts!” someone shouts. “It’s a pipe dream, Dave!” says another.

“This is it,” Dave shouts above the din of the crowd. Everyone settles back down. “I said it in January and I meant it. This is OUR year. We’re not leaving this office until we finally do it. I want everyone to network and give each other input and no one is leaving until we come away with the Golden List.”

Stanley hitches up his high waisted acid washed jeans he’s totally wearing ironically, duh, and takes a deep breath. “You do know that’s the top, right? That’s the pinnacle. If we create the world’s most comprehensive list, it’s all downhill from there. We’ll never be able to beat it.”

Dave removes the annoying empty frames, stares long and hard at his expectant hispt-herd, and finally utters, “Then we go out in a blaze of glory, my friends. Who’s with me?”

50 cars. 80 breakfasts. 101 life hacks… I tried to do a Google search for “longest compilation lists,” “longest year end wrap up lists,” and “longest dumb lists of shit that happened in 2015,” but I simply confused the Google Overlords. They still think I want a list of armed conflicts near large rivers. Should make my autofill even more interesting next time.

Things happened this year. More things did not. We were great at realizing problems, but really shitty at fixing them. We’ve got to work on that in 2016. We’ve had some deaths, some more personal than others, and some births. Folks set records, smashed records, invented records, and some even recorded records, though they won’t just call them “records” anymore and that’s super annoying. There was a lot to 2015.

I look back on the news, the media, the trends and stories and pop culture ebbs and flows. What do I want to talk about in terms of the year we’re leaving behind? I have spent the year blogging. I got most of it out of my system when it happened. Something grabbed my attention, I hopped on and “Mornin’ all-ed”, and walked away feeling lighter and freer. I generally don’t need to recap, since it’s all archived and anyone is free to look back on their own if they want.

However, there is something nagging me that I need to get off my chest before I can move forward. Somehow I missed the news when it came out, and then it became awkward to talk about apropos of nothing. But that’s what year end round ups are for, right? It’s a time to have one last chance to air your grievances before you close the calendar, throw it away, and start fresh.

With that in mind, here’s Bethie’s Huge Annoyance of 2015. I’m not even going to try and compete for the Golden List award. It’s really simple. Just one thing.

This:

hoverboard

THIS IS NOT A HOVERBOARD!!! It doesn’t hover. It doesn’t even come CLOSE to hovering. It’s on GODDAMN WHEELS for crying out loud. It’s AT BEST a crooked skateboard. It’s not innovative. It’s not the “future”. It’s just a board with spinny wheels on it. WHEELS. No hovering capabilities whatsoever. The emperor is naked and it’s time someone stood up and said something.

STOP CALLING IT A FUCKING HOVERBOARD!!!!! GAAAHHH!!!!

*exhausted panting* *deep breath* *slicks back crazy wayward lock of hair* *clears throat*

There. NOW I’m ready for 2016.

Thus concludes the last Musing for 2015. I say this every year, and every year some dope ignores the good advice. If you want to usher in 2016 by getting utterly shit faced, cheers! Now, grab a couch. A floor. Be the huddled mass in the bathtub moaning all night. Whatever you do, DON’T DRIVE AFTER YOU DRINK!! Any is too many. I hope everyone gets to wake up tomorrow morning with a headache, cotton mouth, and a nagging suspicion that the lampshade and goat weren’t actually a dream…