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I'm almost afraid to do this for 2016...

...but if molinette can do it, so can I.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Went to Book Expo America. (The only true perk of the helljob.)

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not yet, but my sister is expecting her second!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Some major figures with whom I've always felt close died: Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, alas.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Same as last year (but I'm working toward it more now): Full time, tenure track, professor gig with a living wage.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

September 9, 2016, last day at the hell job.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finding a way to leave a job I hated by taking the plunge of teaching adjunct full time (between 2 universities).

9. What was your biggest failure?

Having to stay with the helljob for as long as I did.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not other than the usual colds, etc. - but those I did get tended to hang on.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Always books.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

caseystratton has had a pretty amazing year in terms of accomplishment. I'm ridiculously proud of him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Everyone who voted for Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Leaving the helljob.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

Everything off of Bowie's Blackstar.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? About the same.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing (again).

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Soul sucking office work (again).

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

The usual family and friend stuff (again).

21. How will you be spending New Year’s?

Big bash at a friend's place (again, I think, otherwise I'll stay home with classic films).

22. Did you fall in love in 2016?

No.

23. How many one-night stands?

None, alas.

24. What was your favorite TV program(s)?

Agents of SHIELD, Supernatural, American Horror Story, Conviction, Elementary

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don't really hate, especially people I don't know, but I'm utterly disgusted with Trump and his followers.

26. What was the best book you read?

This is tough, as I read so many.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

New Bowie album - Blackstar

28. What did you want and get?

A sense of autonomy.

29. What did you want and not get?

Relief from omnipresent money worries.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Captain America: Civil War.

31. What did you do on your birthday?

Drinks with family and friends (again).

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Hillary Clinton winning the US election in a landslide.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Looking good/pulled together in clothes that feel like pajamas.

34. What kept you sane?

Books, music, family/friends, leaving the helljob.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I didn't, really.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

The 2016 US election and all of its attendant issues.

37. Who did you miss?

All of my Chicago friends (always, though I managed to see a few this year).

38. Who was the best new person you met?

I met my online friend Delia in person, it was AWESOME.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:

I relearned it: You have to find a way to do things that make you happy - our lives are too short to waste time.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"Look up here, I'm in heaven
I've got scars that can't be seen
I've got drama, can't be stolen
Everybody knows me now..."
-Lazarus, David Bowie
Lawyer's Oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm):

I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Michigan;

I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers;

I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceeding which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land;

I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law;

I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client, and will accept no compensation in connection with my client's business except with my client's knowledge and approval;

I will abstain from all offensive personality, and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged;

I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay any cause for lucre or malice;

I will in all other respects conduct myself personally and professionally in conformity with the high standards of conduct imposed upon members of the bar as conditions for the privilege to practice law in this State.

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I'm with her

Prologue: This is a partisan post, and a personal one. This is pro-Clinton, and anti-Trump. If you disagree, take it to your own blog. This is mine, and I will not suffer fools here. Have a seat.

It probably goes without saying (but I can't go without saying it) that I'm voting for Hillary Clinton tomorrow for President of the United States. There are many reasons to vote for her. There are many reasons to vote against her tragic joke of an opponent. I'm not going to outline all of the reasons here, because many others have already done that. I'm just going to share a few of my own views. I know I probably won't change any minds. I'm going to share, anyway.

On Trump: Here is what I think when I hear that someone is a Trump supporter:
1. You are deeply, profoundly, dangerously stupid. Not only because you believe in this fool's lies, myths, and general empty statements, but also because you actually believe he gives any sort of damn about you, this country, and anyone or anything other than himself.
2. You don't give a damn about anyone but yourself. Your weak ass excuse of, "Well, I don't agree with his racist/sexist/whatever statements, but I'll still vote for him," shows your privilege and thoughtlessness. You think a man who talks like this isn't going to promote policies that harm whole segments of the population? No, you just don't give a damn if he does. You'll be fine, so who cares about anyone else?
3. You're racist, sexist, and a bigot, just like he is. Voting for a bigot makes you a bigot.
4. You hate the idea of a woman president so much, you'll vote for a complete and utter imbecile.
5. You're not safe to be around. You don't think his whole "grab them by the p***y" quote was about sexual assault? (I'm looking at you, Dave Chappelle, among many others.) You don't understand that in a power dynamic like that, there are major consent issues, no matter what a woman may say in that moment? You think it's just "locker room talk," or just a joke, or some other explanation that will allow you to support him? You just let the women in your life, and plenty of men, know that you're not safe to be around. That you don't understand consent, sexual assault, and you don't want to. And I don't want to be around you, ever.

On Clinton: Folks need to examine exactly what it is about her that makes them so angry and full of hate. Here's a hint: it starts with an "s" and ends in "-ism." Yes. No matter how much you deny it, yes. At the root of so much of the hatred thrown her way (I'm not talking about simple disagreement, of course you can take issue with her policies with which you disagree, but the rage and hatred that has been so prevalent against her) is sexism. Sexism that we've been hearing and seeing from her opponents, the media, and even so-called allies since she entered the national political arena in the 1990s. Think about how much of that we've soaked up in all of those years. Then, Hillary haters, think about the things that you hate about her. Would you still hate them if she were a man? You can stop telling yourself that you would, because you wouldn't. You haven't. The tenor of your protest if she were a man would be disagreement with policies and actions (& if this is the tenor of your protest, then this rant isn't about you), not the how-dare-she vitriol that we're hearing in this election. You're pissed. You're pissed that there's a woman qualified for the highest elected office in the United States. You're pissed that she's smarter than you'll ever dream of being. You're pissed that she presumes she can make mistakes like a man in her position would. Doesn't she know she has to be perfect? (She does, actually.) Isn't she so condescending with her education and experience? Doesn't she know she's not staying in her place? I can hear you telling yourself that you're not sexist, she's just so awful, right? You have women in your life that you love and respect. You have a mother/daughter/sister/wife/female friends/female family, you're a woman yourself, you can't be sexist! But of course, you can. And you need to examine if you are, consciously, or subconsciously. Because if you are, then you are poisoning yourself and this country, as well as all of those women you claim to love and respect.

Look, she's not perfect. She's made mistakes. She's admitted mistakes, denied them, acted like she didn't know they were mistakes. In other words, she's done what every male leader has ever done. But you Hillary haters can't forgive her, you can't cut her any slack, because she's a SHE, and how dare she? But she does dare. And you can't handle that.

To me, there's actually a simple way to differentiate between Clinton and Trump, if the above (and all the various articles out there) don't do it for you. Look at their loved ones, and how they interact.

I couldn't stomach watching Trump accept the GOP nomination, but I did see clips of his family, especially his kids, talking about him and watching as he accepted the nomination. They were robotic. They were generic. They seemed like they were talking about their boss (which, he is), not their father. There was no love, no real pride, nothing.

I did watch Clinton's speech accepting the Dem nomination, as well as Chelsea's speech introducing her. All the warmth that was missing from the Trump family was there. Chelsea spoke about her mother with clear love and pride, told specific stories about her mother reading to her as a child, said the things we hope the daughter of a presidential nominee would say. And when the camera panned to Chelsea and Bill when Hillary accepted the nomination? You could see the love and pride shining out of them. It was strong, it was true. Trust that, if you can't trust anything else.

Finally, a few notes about third parties. I've always been a practical voter, especially when it comes to presidential elections. While I like to vote for a candidate, I'm fine with voting against. There is a lesser of 2 evils (although I don't think that's what we're dealing with in this election). A candidate is worse than the other. And when it comes to presidential elections, there's no such thing, at this time, as a viable third party candidate. The thing with parties other than the big 2 is this: They have to be built from the ground up. Coming out of left field with a candidate no one's heard of nationally before the election is not a strategy to be taken seriously. I'd like to see more parties, and more candidates. But this starts at a grassroots level. It's a long, slow build, like it or not. Throwing your hat in the ring for the presidency, not having done the grassroots work? It's a joke. And especially this year, it does nothing but waste your vote. There's no way Stein or Johnson can win. None. So yes, a vote for either of them, while it may be soothing to your oh-so-idealistic conscience, is a waste.

So yes, on election eve in 2016, I'm with her. And I'll be with her tomorrow, when I cast my vote for the first woman President of the United States (which, can't lie, makes me choke up a bit). To quote The Streets: Let's push things forward.

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I am tired. I am tired of working for mediocre straight, cis, white men who I'm much smarter than, and who got where they are not from any particular intelligence or talent, but just because that's the way things work. I am tired of being treated like a secretary because yet another Boomer boss just treats all women that way. (There's nothing wrong with being a secretary, but I'm not one, and I'm definitely not my boss's.)

I am just tired. I don't want to have to do this anymore just to pay my way in life, just to be able to live. I am doing all I can to not have to do this anymore, but everything moves so slowly, and the supply of mediocre straight, cis, white men seems inexhaustible, and it just seems impossible at times to gain any forward movement.

But I'm also angry. I'm also determined. I'm also genuinely smart and talented. And damn it, those things are going to work in my favor someday. Somehow. So on I will fight.

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And now, for some non-whining

One perk I've wrangled recently is a trip to Chicago for Book Expo America 2016 (BEA). It was my first time attending, and though I often heard how much smaller this year's event was than those in past years (because it was in Chicago instead of NY), it was still pretty great to my eyes. A book lover's dream.

In addition to conference sessions and meetings for those in the industry, BEA boasts author events (like the talk that Berkeley Breathed gave, which was awesome), author signings (I met Laini Taylor and got to tell her that I love her work), and best of all, free books. Like, everywhere. Just sitting, in stacks, for attendees to take. Once I figured this out (it took awhile for me to actually believe this was for real), I grabbed all the free books I could get my hands on. And here's the result (about 50 books including comics, and many cool tote bags):



I wasn't nearly as strategic about this as I could have been. It took me a day and half to really figure out that the best way to go about this is to circle the big publishing booths repeatedly throughout the day, because different books are given away at different times of day. Once I caught on, I grabbed a PW Show Daily paper/magazine each day and checked out the ads, which told you what was being given away and when.

How is this possible, you may ask? The books being given away are Advance Reader Copies (also known as ARCs, galleys, or proofs). They haven't been through the final editing process for typos and things like that. And most of them aren't out yet, and won't be for months. What the publishers want is for people to take them, read them, and buzz about them, whether in person, online, in print, whatever. Some of them are just given away, some are given away once the author signs them (you stand in line to get your copy signed in real time; the book is still free AND you get to meet the author).

So I'm working my way through the stack (other than the things I grabbed as gifts), and feeling lucky to have been able to go. I'll definitely go again.

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Primary season thoughts

*climbs atop soapbox* I'm seeing more and more political posts as primary season launches into full swing, and I'm going to go into teacher mode for a moment, and encourage everyone to exercise critical thinking skills. If you know me at all, you know my political leanings, but this is for all of us.

Beware painting any candidate as a savior or a devil. Literally every candidate, the ones we adore and the ones we despise, are humans. They have good qualities, they have bad qualities. They have ads that skew the truth, debates that don't get to the heart of matters, and hyperbole contests to see who can scare people more. Yes, some candidates are worse than others in that regard, but they all play the game to some degree. That's the way the game's rigged to be played. Don't give them your heart - they will break it.

The only things remotely reliable when it comes to whether a candidate aligns with your views or not, is what actions they've taken, and to whom they're beholden. Don't take what candidates and media say at face value. How did the candidates vote on issues you care about? What policies have they championed, and what have they demonized? Who's donating to them? This requires some homework. Start with Project Vote Smart - where you can look up voting records. Then look into the money. Open Secrets can tell you who's giving how much to whom. And don't give the mainstream media a pass - to whom are they beholden? What agenda are they pushing? Why does one candidate get constant airtime over another? Look in more than one place for your news, and look outside of the U.S., too. You might be surprised by how much clearer things may appear from afar.

Politics is a dirty, fascinating, important game that won't be washed clean until we get as much bias and money out of the system as possible, but in the meantime, we can seek out as much factual knowledge as we can, and make sure our involvement, at least, is as pure as we can make it.

*climbs down from soapbox, wanders off*

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I heard the news today, oh boy...

R.I.P. David Bowie. Too heartbroken to say much more right now.

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No Auld Lang Syne

Most years on NYE I stay in and watch old movies and read. Sometimes I have people over, but it's always small and quiet. NYE at bars generally sucks, so I avoid going out that way, and really, nothing can top NYE in London in 1999/2000, which was easily the best going-out NYE I've ever had. This year, though, some friends I don't get to see often enough had a NYE party in their fabulous downtown condo, newly expanded with a full bar, among other things. So out I went, for a change.

I went with many good friends, and many good friends were there, as well as new friends and acquaintances. One friend brought along a guy none of us had met before, who joined our pre-game as well as going to the party with us. A good looking guy, seemed pretty intelligent and interesting, so he was a welcome addition.

The night went on, alcohol was imbibed by all (though no one seemed to get too messy), and at some point the new guy was talking to me and my friends about relationships. And he started talking about one person in the relationship being dominant and the other being submissive (understand that he was not talking about kink, BDSM, etc. - he was talking about the relationship in general). Most, if not all, of my crowd disagreed with him, but he was insistent that not only must one person be dominant, but the dominant person in a hetero relationship should always be the man.

Oh, come ON. Is a 29 year old man in 2016 still trying to sell this nonsense? So he was. And he was trying to sell it to me.

He held my hands, told me that I was beautiful and he had thought me beautiful as soon as he met me (hours before). And then he told me that I wanted to have a man dominate me. And no matter how much I told him that he was wrong, that I most definitely do not want that, and that it is not only possible, but preferable to me to have relationships where the people in them have equal positions, he would not accept what I was saying.

It was at this point that I realized that this was no longer a somewhat amusing discussion, but one that I found profoundly disappointing and saddening. I realized that I definitely didn't want to fool around with this guy in any way, and I don't much care if I ever interact with him again. Why such a strong reaction? Because what he told me, more than anything else in that conversation, and without saying it outright, is that what I think and say do not matter. That he would not accept my statements about myself, about what I want and don't want, about what I think and feel. And that is not someone I'm interested in being around. I wasn't scared or anything, but alarm bells were going off in my thoughts, in the direction of Wow, if he doesn't respect what I have to say in this context, what other contexts might he refuse to accept what I say and feel?

So while it was nice to be hit on by an attractive guy, all attractiveness disappeared when it became clear that he didn't respect me, or women in general. I'm sure he would disagree with my assessment here, but that, in essence, is what he was saying. And it was a massive turn off. Honestly, if this is what's out there, even in a younger generation of straight men, I'm 100% fine with my solo status.

And if this retro attitude is rising to prominence, then I've no interest in the attitude of olden times - no auld lang syne for me, thanks.

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Happy new year!

Ring-a-ding-ding!

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