2016 Year in Review

My experience of this year mostly lends itself to sorting into two, very different, categories: political, and other.

Except that politics isn’t really something separable from other areas of life, however much one may wish or believe that to be so.

Once again, I confront election results that are not only distasteful, but could very realistically make me a healthcare refugee in the foreseeable future. I’m self-employed, I have an expensive preexisting condition, I’m ineligible for Medicaid and a long way from Medicare (both of which will also come under fire anyway). If a Republican federal government junks the Affordable Care Act (and rules out substitutes which feature either redistribution or heavy-handed regulation, which are the only real ways to make private health insurers cover someone like me), I’ll have to look for other governments that might be more helpful. Which, right now, probably won’t include Ohio.

Meanwhile, even in my own life this year, “political” bled substantially into “other,” although this was admittedly voluntary to a great degree.

I really feel that, looking back, I actively “volunteered” for very few of the political activities in which I found myself immersed in 2016. But if I was recruited over and over, I rarely said “no,” and perhaps after a time that amounts to volunteering.

Oh, Lakewood politics, you’re crazy but maybe that makes us a match.

I can scarcely believe that one year encompassed all the events I experienced in our troubled, quarreling little community. In January, I actually went out knocking on strangers’ doors, to solicit their support for a political cause. Along with many other volunteers during those cold weeks, we obtained enough signatures for a referendum on the plan to close Lakewood Hospital… upon which the city went ahead and closed it anyway, then delayed a vote until nine months afterward. Then, for good measure, declared that they would refuse to honor a vote against closing the hospital in any event.

I spent nine months working furiously for an “against” vote, even so. The message committee. The media efforts. The community forums. The campaign web site, and pretty much any form of campaign “content.” Strategy meetings. Get-out-the-vote. Sub-contests over endorsements, and sub-contests within those. Fundraising. On and on and on… I had a hand in nearly all of it. Natural enough that much of the year turned into a blur.

We lost the referendum by a percent or so. And yet, by that point, I was no longer involved in just a fight over Lakewood Hospital but in Lakewood politics, in which unctuous world it looks like I may remain for some while. I not only had a second, lively appearance before Lakewood City Council, but began writing for the Lakewood Observer, finally joined its controversial online forum, and joined the controversial Lakewood Democratic Club.

Life in Lakewood, I’m pretty certain, is never going to go back to the anonymous bare existence that I led for years.

Which is not all bad, because at this moment my social and professional lives are flourishing to an extent that was difficult to imagine a year ago.

At this point in 2015 I wrote that “I have traces of a social life here in Lakewood for the first time in years. Business was slightly up.” This year, both trends extended considerably, and community involvement was undeniably a big contributor. I have gotten to know amazing people this year, more than one of whom I am now privileged to consider friends. That’s almost entirely owing to my misadventures in Lakewood politics. (With a nod to the amazing Lakewood artist who has become enough of an acquaintance to include me in an invitation-only party last month.)

Meanwhile, my practice expanded nearly everywhere. My largest, established account grew. A lapsed client or two came back. And I added some new clients, partly thanks to connections made through Lakewood activism.

Last year, I speculated that “In 2016, I might realistically be able to afford a modest discretionary budget that isn’t all reserved for special, brief occasions.” That proved to be the case.

If only my expectations for 2017 weren’t so dire.

But, anyway, at this moment I can at least dwell instead on other largely positive experiences this year.

I completed and published my third book, in five years. I’m as surprised as you are; I certainly didn’t set out expecting that. Compared with last year, in which I first spoke with the actual son of James H. Hilton and made a flippin’ day trip to Baltimore, this year was relatively tame I suppose. Aside from production drama with the book, which I may never really go into online, and which was in any event resolved more or less (just) in time. Otherwise, people who have read the book all seem to like it, though formal reviews seem as elusive as ever. But, I got a retweet from the ISU Alumni Association, and two stores in Iowa City have placed Hancher vs. Hilton out for sale, so.

…honestly that seems largely to be about it, whenever I try to review 2016 in my mind. Book, Lakewood politics, personal life permanently changed. I made that one long weekend visit to Hamilton, and that was my travel adventure for the year. Um… my landlords finally got the back staircase rebuilt. Yeah, I don’t know. My printer died after an aeon in consumer-electronics years, and I replaced it. Modern Alchemy LLC reached the decade mark, though even at the time I could collect little to say about that. It was just that kind of year.

Yeah, I don’t know; it was just that kind of year. I had various plans and some of them came to fruition and yet the majority of my experiences seem to have been determined by things I didn’t plan… many bad, some good.

Ready or not, how about we explore the future together?

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