What I’m Grateful for, What Bit in 2016, and what I Hope for the New Year

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2016I’m standing at my computer, in my living room, sending a message to the universe for a stool to sit on, since my arthritic knees, as I age, do not like standing. C’est la vie, I am grateful that that’s the biggest health worry I have right now, considering this time last year, I was battling the “Big C” with the imaginary boxing gloves of medical cannabis, and the large doses I had to take were beginning to take a huge toll on my weak kidneys and liver.

To say that I am grateful, as I stand here, listening first to my favorite song by Kate Bush, Running up that Hill (love the line in the song,”‘to make a deal with God”, cause that’s what I did, often, during my fight with breast cancer, which happily ended this year, in February), is an understatement.  There are simply no words that feel enough to encompass how happy I am, how… big …it is to be able to stand for long periods (within reason), and stretch my arms all the way out, have my shoulders meet the table I get chiropractic work on, and be able to walk more than one block without seeing spots.

That is one of the things I’m most grateful for from 2016, even as there will always be a little sadness in me, when I see the scar and remember the beautiful pair of breasts I had (even though I tried to suppress them all of my life, since I always wanted to be the man I am now).

Listening to the second song in a set by James Blake on my favorite radio station, I’m also reminded of the many personal losses of this year: a friend of a friend, Jan, who lost her battle to colon cancer, and suffered a lot before she finally went, just before my own surgery to free me of my bad roomie in early February; a church member, Carol, who was married in one of the most beautifully touching weddings I’ve ever attended (just a year earlier, in 2015, ironically enough), who also lost her battle with cancer; and now Chett, another church member, who I was just informed by our  minister yesterday, who died Christmas evening from a heart attack.

These are the moments that bit, if you will, in 2016, and there were others, like the aftermath of the attack in Orlando that left 49 members of the queer and trans community dead, too young. I wept like a baby on the shoulders of two just-met gay  men at the vigil at Cal Anderson Park, and teared up seeing the photos on the wall of my church, Emerald City MCC. Also, the recent, small loss, but loss nonetheless, of losing my disabled bus pass, due to the impatience, and possible intentional meanness of the driver of the connecting bus, when I was making my way to meet my partner at work, since her job saw fit to not give her Christmas Eve off, like last year. Thus making it hard to get around at the end of the month when funds are extremely low. That the meanness might have been racially motivated (Renton is not Seattle, though Seattle has seen its own share of racial meanness of late), and is another kind of loss. The loss of a kind of sweetness that is usual with the holiday season. Yep, that bites for sure.

Still, as I end this year, counting the hours until my sweetie and I toast a new year on Saturday (and yes, she’s working again, dang it, so I’ll have to take those same two buses again, to get to her on time), I have to also reflect on a number of things I’m grateful for: that I made new friends this year, friends that aren’t clients I do readings for, but friends connected by a mutual respect for the poetry we read at the Seattle Poetry Slam; or friends that I first saw as potential poly-mates to my existing relationship, then became instead, good friends; a place to read my new and emerging work that is respectful of who I am, and even gives me groupies… imagine, a poet with groupies, yay; and another place to read, where I’m the only poet who gets on that open mic, following some of the area’s best musicians; a possible publisher for my book of poetry, and the fact that yes, the manuscript the doctor I didn’t choose to do my eventual surgery said I’d never finish, is finished. And I do resolve to get that manuscript edited (by my more techie sweetie), and sent to that publisher, and other publishers, if that one doesn’t choose it. Bottom line, I will get this work published in 2017, so help me.

And yes, as one year ends and another begins, I’m grateful for the partner I’ve chosen to spend my life with, who stood by me, even when it got very hard, both during my fight with cancer and after my surgery and who continues to stand beside me, even when we have our little bumps due to our Chinese chart issues. Makes life interesting, for sure. And as I stand here, looking out at a lazy, sunny afternoon, moving slowly toward another evening, I’m looking forward to continuing to speak out for the rights of others, defend truth, and battle, if necessary whatever darkness there is in our world, bringing Goddess’ light to those corners needing her special touch. I wish for all of us more health, more life, more tolerance, more peace and justice for those who are suffering injustice in our world.

Bright new year, and never stop moving toward the light.

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About Author

James Stansberry lives and writes in Seattle and can be reached at ijanaral@yahoo.com .

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