Sitting by the light of the Christmas tree I was in no mood to put up, I composed my last column of the year. Many writers offer Top 10, best-of lists around this time, but not me. I am in a bad place, fighting the urge to stay in bed under layers of heavy blankets with the curtains drawn so no sunlight gets in. I’m forcing myself up and out each day, though I can’t be much bothered with undergarments because it doesn’t seem worth the effort. I’m just down. I’m not suicidal, but if you’re among those finding it easier to just swim down, going deeper toward the bottom, please don’t forget about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. That number is 1-800-273-8255. Stop reading right now and use it.
For those who have it in them to go on Le Tour du Désespoir, grab that $8 craft brew and pour it over the coffin of 2016 as I present my Top 10 Worst List. I’m gonna start with my personal life:
10. This year, I had two major falls resulting in a mangled knee, a bruised shoulder, a permanently deformed left buttock, a fractured wrist, a titanium plate, eight titanium screws and countless doctor visits. There were two dead birds that didn’t see our picture window and a third injured one I saved, thankfully, as I couldn’t have handled another little death. We systematically removed all household products containing formaldehyde due to the husband’s newly discovered allergy to the toxin. However, formaldehyde is in everything—and I do mean everything—and it all but snuffs out our lifelong dream of owning a taxidermy business. I began taking a twice-monthly injectable medication that makes me feel old but that’s saving my life, like my Honda did when I totaled it two weeks ago (that’s two totaled cars for House Belferian since July) a mere 30 minutes after asking, “Could 2016 possibly get any worse?” to a reporter friend who’s covering gentrification in Oakland.
9. The gentrification of Oakland. The Caucasian Invasion is no joke. We white folks see something we don’t have, we take it, pretend we invented it, displace those who built it and ruin everything.
8. 1. Prince. PrincePrincePrince. I’m straight-up purple from the inside out over the death—alone in an elevator, no less—of His Royal Badness. Sometimes It Snows In April. And May. And June. Sometimes it snows for years on end. Winter is coming.
1. David Bowie. Leonard Cohen. Phife Dawg. Sharon Jones. Goddamnit, make it stop. Poets, renegades, envelope-pushers, and groundbreakers they were. Gone in a blink and all we get in return is a Scalia and a Phyllis Schlafly? There is no God.
1. Gwen Ifill. Lo, the tears don’t stop. Ifill broke barriers in a field that was overwhelmingly white and male and, in some cases, openly racist. Her colleague, Judy Woodruff, called her “one of the most graceful interrupters I have ever seen.” It’s no secret how I feel about interrupters. We sure could use her leadership right now.
1. Pulse Night Club. How many of us have sweated it out on a dance floor with our gay and trans fam? How terrifying and brutal and despicable and utterly unjust. It’s so hard to catch your breath in face of such hate. Speaking of being unable to breathe…
1. Alfred Olango, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Korryn Gaines—the deaths of black people at the hands of police continues with great frequency and greater nonchalance. More recent deaths don’t even make a news feed any more. We all watched in real time as Philando Castile bled to death in front of a four year old and yet we allowed it. #SMDH
1. Murdering cop Michael Slager goes home after one juror causes a mistrial in the recorded shooting of Walter Scott. It proved, yet again, that our justice system works exactly as it was designed to: in the service of white supremacy. This could have just as easily been the 1955 trial of Roy Bryant or J.W. Milan. Why even bother with a trial?
1. Standing Rock. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is resolved...until January 21st, when our new and illegitimate kleptocratic government will run that pipeline any-damned-where it chooses.
1. Hillary Rodham Clinton absolutely was the last thing standing between us and the apocalypse. I’m still, and always will be, with her.
1. White nationalism and hate are trending like ripped jeans and poke. It has always been there, but now it’s socially acceptable to shout it proudly from the bleachers.
1. Russian hacking and continued gaslighting by the coup-installed President-elect. Gwen Ifill, where are you when we need you?
1. The Ghost Ship. The stories of 36 young artists who died that night huddled together against the flames that took down their warehouse haunt me. “Johnny, Johnny I Love You,” by Hunter Leight broke something in me.
1. Aleppo has broken everything in me. Children, women and men of Aleppo tweeted and posted their own imminent deaths while we decked the halls and trampled each other for the best deals on flat screen TVs. Meanwhile, we’re setting limits on how many refugees we will allow inside our soon-to-be walled off borders and debate on whether Kanye should have met with the Orange One.
Somewhere along the way, we lost our way.
Winter is most definitely coming.