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AP: It's Time (The Year In Review)
I think it's safe to say that 2016 didn't exactly turn out the way we expected.

A year that started with such high hopes, 2016 held the promise of shaking things up, giving the blank slate to try for something better than the shit we were sick of living through. In the playlist's opening track, the last line before the final chorus strikes a particular chord: "So if you're pissed like me, bitches here's what you gotta do: put your middle fingers up in the air, go on and say fuck you." And a LOT of people did. In June, UK voters decided in a close referendum to leave the EU; in November, an American people fed up with the political establishment decided by an even closer margin to elect a real estate mogul with no public service or military experience under his belt as our 45th president. Time will tell if these decisions were made in haste, but one thing is for sure: the bubble of resentment that has been building for a very long time is finally hitting its boiling point, and now is the time we figure out what ideals can survive.

But it wasn't just the political landscape that changed; 2016 seemed hellbent on simultaneously removing many of the icons who meant so much to so many. Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel, Gene Wilder, Miss Cleo, Nancy Reagan, Leonard Cohen, Ron Glass, John Glenn, and what felt like an unusually high number of others all went on to whatever comes after this life. As this piece was being edited for press time, the most recent of these was the beloved Carrie Fisher. Her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars not only provided a smart, courageous, independent female role model for me growing up, but also modeled a strength and balance between duty and compassion that set a benchmark for conducting our lives. Leia was the kind of princess worth fighting for, and the lady who played her showed every bit as much fire as the character she portrayed, using her fame as an actress and a writer to advocate against mental health stigmas and get people the help they needed. She was very much our princess, and she will be missed.

At RCM, change is what had the Jen of 2015 giddy with excitement. We had a successful run for our first attempt at a summer internship program. We pulled off the first RivalCon. In August, we formed a stable governance board and business plan for the continued growth of the network. Our show consistency became, well, consistent. We expanded our programming to seven days a week, and we got very good at communicating so that if one person had to bow out, someone else was in the wings ready to step in. The show must, and did, go on. We've slowly been expanding our network of RivalFriends throughout the gaming and entertainment industries. We've been waiting impatiently for the State of Ohio to finish processing out damned paperwork to that we can finally launch and start expanding the web store (it is taking FOREVER and I am not generally a patient person when things need to be done). We've swapped out old tools with new things of our own creation. We've managed to do all of this while still holding day jobs, maintaining relationships, dealing with the issues mentioned at the beginning of this article on top of whatever personal problems arose, and, yes, remaining friends throughout. It's exhausting, but we have to keep moving ever forward if we want to see the changes we want come to fruition. Leia didn't give up when she saw her home planet destroyed before her eyes; she took a moment to compose herself and then she WENT OUT AND DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Because that's what you do when the story isn't going the way you want it to: you do something to change. Don't like the way your government is working (or isn't working)? Vote to change it. Don't like the role models being presented by society and the media? Be a better one. Don't care for your job/your debt/your relationship/your education/the color of your kitchen/the fact that you've never traveled anywhere/the fact there's a dream you have that you're always too busy to pursue? You may have to work your ass off, sweetheart, but guess what? You can change any and all of those things. But you have to DO SOMETHING.

So yes, 2016, the world is not the same place it was twelve months ago. For better or for worse, 2017 is the start of something completely different. You don't like what you see? Do something. It's time. We may have lost our princess, but it's a very good thing that she taught us how to be queens before she left.

*****
Your playlist for the story of 2016, as told by me:

Hate My Life - Theory of a Deadman

50 Ways To Say Goodbye - Train

You Can't Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones

It Gets Better - Fun.

Waiting - Green Day

Secrets - OneRepublic

The Boxer - Mumford & Sons

The Good Life - Weezer

It's Time - Imagine Dragons

Hail to the King - Avenged Sevenfold

Upside Down - Paloma Faith

We Are The Others - Delain

Mad World - Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules

She - Green Day

Swallowed - Bush

Duality - Slipknot

Expression - Helen Jane Long

Once In A While - Dishwalla

Emmylou - First Aid Kit

Fight Song - Rachel Platten

Feeling Good - Escala
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Bring on 2017!