What can I say? I’m sitting down to write this having just heard the news that Carrie Fisher passed away earlier today, which follows the death of George Michael and many other celebrities over the last year.
Not to mention Brexit, Donald Trump, war in Syria, the refugee crisis across Europe and the general feeling of impending doom/descent into some kind of far-right/fascist nightmare.
Every time I login to Facebook or Twitter something horrible has happened to top the last horrible thing.
Frankly, this year has been shit.
Normally at the end of the year I write a blog post looking back over some of the key things that have happened for me in life, work, writing, travel and blogging. But that feels a bit trivial right now.
This year feels like it’s been rubbish for a lot of people thanks to the general political and cultural climate, but it’s also been quite crappy for me on a personal level too. I won’t go into details, but this year saw a massive work upheaval that led to a lot of uncertainty and I’m not really out the other side of it yet. At times, I’ve found it hard to deal with.
It’s been a tough year emotionally and that’s been reflected in many other areas of my life. Work consumed so much of my time and energy that other things fell by the wayside. My writing, blogging, even reading, all felt like a struggle. I haven’t been at my best.
If you asked me to choose my favourite books of 2016, I’d struggle to think of something memorable. In fact, I think one of the high points was reading Harry Potter for the first time.
But this year hasn’t been all bad.
The best thing that happened in 2016 was the arrival of our puppy, Dixie. It seems silly now, but at first it was quite a big adjustment having this little bundle of fur that demanded constant attention and required endless rounds of cleaning (obviously I don’t have children…) Now, I can’t imagine what we’d do without her; it really makes my day coming home from work to her frantic excitement and tail wags. She’s the best.
This year I did also meet my small personal goal of visiting three new countries. They were Latvia, Czech Republic and Hungary. Although we had three brilliant city breaks, these places actually opened my eyes a bit to more of the history of central and Eastern Europe, particularly when it comes to the Nazi and Communist occupations. And that feels very timely right now. But perhaps I’ll write about that more in a couple of weeks, when I’ve had time to think about it properly.
There’s nothing remarkable to report on the writing or blogging fronts. I continued to work on my novel this year, and I kept posting my ramblings on this blog, although not as regularly as I have in the past.
And I shouldn’t forget that the website had a facelift this year, after I managed to delete it completely while trying to remove a parasitic WordPress theme. Ah, the lols.
The other high point of this year for me was probably spending a lot more time going to the theatre and to gigs. It’s something I’ve allowed to drop off my radar a bit over recent years, as it’s all too easy to make an excuse, and I often struggle to find someone to go to events with. But this year I’ve been to plenty of gigs that have awakened a passion for the local music scene where I live. There are so many fantastic bands doing truly creative things in the North East, I’m really lucky to be able to enjoy that. So here’s to more of that in 2017 – and also a massive thanks to Louise for letting me tag along so often!