Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - the year the world went low...

You know, I have a great life. I'm very fortunate and I'm very aware of the fact, but 2016 has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for multiple reasons. Each year on New Year's Eve I try and do a roundup of where I've been and what I've done the past twelve months to try and get ready for what's to come.

Goodbye 2016 and good riddance...
2016 Helium balloons
We started 2016 in Palm Springs where we'd welcomed in the New Year with friends, then we returned to L.A. and for me it was back to physical therapy to help with my back and leg pains.

FIDM Costume exhibition in Downtown L.A. in February
Mad Max Fury Road film costumes
I kept myself busy with my Daily Billboard Blog and costume and props blog, and in February the FIDM Museum kept me occupied with a wonderful collection of movie costumes from the past year, plus TV costumes later in the Summer.

Easter in Palm Springs
Palm Springs pool view
After dealing with leaky roofs, rain damage and plumbers early in the year, we got out of L.A. and hired a house for a well deserved, relaxing Easter retreat in Palm Springs with friends.

Cooper celebrated his 8th birthday in April
Birthday Labrador Cooper
Our Yellow Labrador Cooper turned eight in April and fortunately he's still doing well after his leg operation to remove a benign lump in 2015, although he is slowing down and we don't venture to Runyon Canyon these days but enjoy frequent visits to the beach instead for a swim and play along the shoreline.

Annual visit back to old Blighty in May
Babington House bedroom Somerset
In May it was time for our annual sojourn back to the motherland to see friends and family. Our busy schedule took us from London to Stroud, and onto Wales, but we did manage to squeeze in a night and some spa treatment sat Babbington House near Frome in Somerset on the way back.

The world got a little darker with the mass shootings
at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June
Orlando nightclub shootings rooftop installation WEHO
On June 12, 2016 at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida 49 people were massacred by a crazy gunman, the deadliest mass shooting in America's history which rocked the nation and as a gay man it affected me deeply.

We're all still sadly living under the gun in the U.S.A.
Under the Gunn documentary billboard
And yet this still didn't convince Republicans that stricter gun controls were necessary, no matter how much Democrats like Senator Chris Murphy filibustered the Senate for 15 straight hours to effect some change, like banning gun sales to suspected terrorists and those on the no fly list.

And now with a President-Elect backed by the NRA you know gun laws won't be changing any time soon, so we can expect more killings in the future.

Celebrating at L.A.'s LGBT Pride Parade in West Hollywood in June
Hairspray dancers LA Pride Parade 2016
The Orlando murders happened in the night before L.A.'s annual Pride Parade and it made me even more determined to mark the occasion, to show our visibility and solidarity for our gay community.

On June 23 we were all dealt another punch to the gut when the British population voted by 52% to leave the European Union, fueled by propaganda, fear-mongering, intolerance and xenophobia in the wake of the world's ongoing refugee crises in countries like Syria. This Brexit came as a shock to many (even those who had voted for it) and made me not so proud to be British, plus it was also the omen of worse events to come.

2016 was the year when police shot a lot of black people
and Dallas police were killed by a sniper
Police caught shooting on camera wall mural
More sad news came with more shootings of black men and women by racist cops using excessive, deadly force (the big difference these days is it's all captured on camera, even live streamed on Facebook, and yet there's still no accountability), which led to the gunning down of five police officers in Dallas  at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally on July 7.

A bad back stops me running
back spine xray
In the wake of all this misery and a year of divisive presidential election campaigning, I finally went back to my doctors after months in physical therapy with no improvement and had an MRI scan to find out the cause of my back and leg nerve and muscle pain.

Turns out the last few years of marathon running have given me two bulging discs, and I'm still struggling to get back to normal as the recommendation was more physio, as the discs weren't herniated so they didn't need surgery. I also realised that I really shouldn't have just 'run through the pain' of my last three marathons.

Cooper riding shotgun in my car on way to the beach
Labrador Cooper riding shotgun
In all the doom and gloom of politics and depressing world events, not being able to run anymore and experiencing constant pain, there's one bright light that keeps me smiling (aside from my husband, that is), Cooper. When he's not riding shotgun in the car beside me on our little adventures, he has his head out of the window and his ears flapping in the breeze, he's my version of a therapy dog.

Grease Hollywood Forever Cemetery movie night
and Fourth of July fireworks
Hollywood Forever Fourth of July fireworks
In July we headed to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for the first time to celebrate a friend's birthday with an outdoor screening of Grease and enjoy the Fourth of July festivities.

Florence Foster Jenkins movie Q&A
at ArcLight Hollywood with Simon Helberg in August
Simon Helberg Florence Foster Jenkins ArcLight Hollywood
This year I've continued my love for seeing movies on the big screen, watching around 40 films (some more than once), and I've also enjoyed special Q&A's with filmmakers and actors at ArcLight Hollywood, like this one with Simon Helberg from Florence Foster Jenkins and also with Tom Ford in November for his Nocturnal Animals feature film.

Pre-Labor Day escape to Palm Springs at end of August 
Palm Springs pool
At the end of August we enjoyed another getaway with friends to Palm Springs, before our new window was finally ready and it was time for contractors to cause chaos at our condo.

A new window and roof repairs for our condo in October
Condo repairs new window
After waiting over two months for a new made-to-measure window it was finally fitted and the roof repaired, just in time for the first new rain of the year.

Fixing water damage throughout our condo
It had taken much trial and error, months in fact, to find the source of all the water damage, which was on three floors of our condo, so it was a relief to get it all repaired and redecorated. However when you work from home and have a dog, having a house full of workmen isn't easy with all the noise and plaster dust flying around.

Escaping the decorators with a trip to
Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills
Happy Labrador playtime in park
The work took almost a month so we made the most of the time and escaped with Cooper to parks and the beach whenever possible.

Halloween fun in West Hollywood
Halloween costume fun West Hollywood
At the end of October with no New York Marathon to run this year I was able to enjoy West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval festivities for the first time in two years. This year I was inspired by the Dead Robin costume in Batman v Superman for my zombie look.

Best friends forever
Labrador Cooper Jason in Hollywood
The second half of 2016 also saw us visit some old neighbours from the U.K. for both their respective 50th birthdays up in Cupertino, which made for a fun couple of road trips (even when we got one of the days of the party wrong, it all worked itself out).

The worst possible election result for the world - Not My President
Donald Trump eres un pendejo
In November the United States made one of the worst mistakes in the history of mankind and elected a fascist, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, greedy, lying, orange-faced, tiny-handed, thin-skinned, pu$$y-grabbing buffoon to Commander-in-Chief. Although I'm sure in future text books the 45th U.S. President will be known as Vladimir Putin, that is if they don't blow us all up with nukes in 2017.

Visiting The Stonewall Inn in New York City in November 
Stonewall Inn New York City
After the disastrous election result we headed to New York City to commiserate with all the New Yorkers who were with Hillary Clinton, and we were encouraged by all the peaceful #NotMyPresident rallies protesting the Soviet puppet and his homophobic sidekick.

Someone was eyeing the Thanksgiving Turkey
Thanksgiving turkey dinner Labrador
For Thanksgiving we surrounded ourselves with friends in West Hollywood and enjoyed a delicious feast and tried to drown our sorrows.

A quick pre-Chistmas trip to Kauai
Kauai Princeville St Regis resort view
As an early birthday present we flew to Kauai in Hawaii for the first time and enjoyed a few relaxing days exploring the small island. Spectacular views, re-reading favourite books poolside and countless Mai Tais helped take the edge off 2016.

Another Christmas in West Hollywood
Christmas Tree and table setting
This December we celebrated our ninth Christmas in L.A. with good friends and good wine, and switched our Christmas background music to songs by George Michael when we heard the sad news.

I guess were were on the Nice List this year
Wrapped Christmas presents 2016
This year even though I customised some gift wrap with festive pictures of Cooper, I vowed to also use up all the other rolls of half used wrapping paper that was cluttering up our closets from years past (I think there were about ten of them in total). As you can see Santa was very kind once again (although two of my favourite presents were donations to ACLU and Planned Parenthood) and a merry time was had by all.

2016 In memoriam
Carrie Fisher Star Wars Force Awakens billboard
So many actors, pop stars, authors and notable celebrities died this year including David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Prince, Caroline Aherne, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds the next day. The Grim Reaper has certainly been busy that's for sure, making a bad year even worse.

Goodbye to grace and wisdom
President Michelle Obama Twitter street poster
As you can see from all of the above my life is pretty damn good and I'm grateful for that. Obviously there's things I would change, but who wouldn't. It's the things not in your control that are the most galling.

This year I'm more than happy to wave goodbye to 2016, but the future doesn't look at bright as it once did, so if I have one hope for 2017 it's that it doesn't suck as much as this past year.

Personally I'm hoping for a cure for cancer, alzheimer's and HIV/AIDS in the New Year to lift everyone's spirits...

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