From the seemingly unstoppable rise of fascism, to the heart-breaking refugee crisis and the enraging response to it in the media, to the almost-daily death notices, 2016 has sucked balls. And while, on a personal level, it's had some high points, at times I've felt a bit like I've been in a holding pattern: lots of planning for what's to come but not much actual capital-p Progress. It's been a year of plodding from day-to-day, doing what I need to survive, without really getting to anyplace new. Still, I think I'm in a better place than at the start of the year and really, what more can one ask for?
Despite my travel anxiety ramping up to a whole new level, Thomas and I had some great trips: a weekend in Lincoln to start the year, a great few days in Edinburgh, a wonderfully sunny weekend with friends in Nijmegen, and a relaxing week in Crete.
The big trip of the year for me, though, was the ten days I spent in Cape Town with my mum and step-mum, staying with my aunt and uncle for my cousin Caroline's wedding. It was so special to be in South Africa with my mum for the first time, and she regaled me with tales of her youth (they mostly fell into three camps: this is where I went to the library/this is where I protested apartheid/this is where I snogged boys. The first two were par for the course, the third somewhat of a shock!).
By far the best thing to come out of 2016 is this furry face. We adopted Missy exactly 6 months ago and she has been a constant joy (and a near-constant worry, we are such neurotic cat parents!). I quite genuinely don't know how I would have made it through those dark post-Brexit days without her. She remains a skittish little thing who prefers to sit near rather than on us, but she loves getting head rubs, playing with her favourite toys - a pink mouse and an old shoelace - and hanging out in the garden. Oh, and sleeping, as you can see from these pictures.
While this year hasn't been as productive creatively as I would have liked, I am so glad to have returned to sewing. I spent much of November and December beavering away on various projects and I think (I hope) that their recipients appreciated them.
2016 was also the year I finally finished the zine I'd been working on for almost two years. I had grand plans to complete another one before the end of the year, but with only hours remaining, that's clearly not going to happen. However, getting back into zines, visiting fairs, chatting to other zinesters and contributing to other people's zines has been one of my favourite things this year.
Thanks to the encouragement of Ingrid (no way would I have submitted it otherwise), I had my zine accepted by Pen Fight Distro, which was genuinely one of my highlights of the year (I can't get over the fact that something I created is available to buy somewhere I'm not selling it, if that makes sense?!) and I also contributed to Lou's zine All Your Faves Are Problematic and Kirsty's zine about heterosexism, Versions Of Violence.
I suppose another big thing to happen in 2016 was starting a new blog, having destroyed the commenting system on my old one. I haven't been as prolific here as I would have liked, but am so happy that all my old readers and commenters seem to have followed me, together with some welcome new faces. My most popular posts of 2016 have been the one about our budget kitchen makeover and the one where you learnt some fascinating facts about me.
There's been so much that I haven't blogged about this year but that was important: I did jury duty, which was amazing and gruelling and fascinating; I finished teaching completely in July, and have yet to unpick my feelings around that; Thomas graduated with his PhD and since then has been travelling the country for research, visited Iceland, been published by TIME Magazine, and generally worked his arse off as a junior academic, which comes with zero job security. We made a decision to work towards leaving Leicester and moving to Edinburgh... which quickly had to be set aside as the realities of his work became clear, so we end 2016 still with no clear idea of where we'll be - job-wise as well as literally - over the next couple of years.
Finally, 2016 has been a year of friendship. I've had such fun times this year- a great day out with Leanne, a festive night in the pub with Rose, and a trip to Secret Cinema with London pals are just three that spring to mind. I've spent time meeting up with blogging mates, both old and new, and forged new friendships online (because internet people rule). But whether IRL or internet pal, old friend or new, these women have been such an essential source of strength and happiness for me in 2016.
And so 2017 approaches. There's a small event taking place in July, which I'm quite looking forward to. Thanks to our decision to have a super low-key, budget wedding, there's not a whole lot more to do on the planning, so hopefully the next seven months won't be too stressful.
Thomas and I have short trips to Norfolk and Barcelona planned already, and I'm sure that despite finances being tight, we'll squeeze another couple of holidays in somewhere. If we can bear to leave the cat for longer than a couple of days.
And as for goals, I want to start taking full advantage of the fact that I'm not as knackered and stressed as I was when teaching, and make use of my evenings. From volunteering at Leicester LGBT Centre's Trans Youth Group one evening a fortnight, to joining a choir and working on more zines, 2017 is going to be the year I get off my arse and do something. Oh, and speaking of doing something, there are fascists to fight. Let 2017 be the year we all commit to not being the people who stand by and do nothing.