I can only look back at 2016 along two different tracks, as it were.
One involves my personal situation, and turned out quite positive.
I finally, officially, disconnected myself from the Republic of Austria early in the year and got my residence permit for Germany. We got married in March (in a snowstorm, and in the most Romeo and Juliet of ways: bride, groom, and officiant. Which was planned that way. Not the snowstorm.) After a handful of unsuccessful auditions, I got a great offer to sing a great role in a production at a theater not so far away, allowing me to get home every weekend during rehearsals, and then, once the show opened, to live at home and travel there for performances. The role itself is something I once wasn’t sure I could sing, but — surprise! — I can. That involved a lot of work and no small amount of tears and doubt (omg I’m too old I never learned to sing right I should quit now) but I feel pretty good about it all now (and yes, I dearly wish I’d figured this all out 20 years ago, but that’s life).
In the same vein but on other fronts, I turned a side job in translation into something much more (also with hard work, persistence, and doubts — but not in the same, personal, way) and have now reached the point where I am turning down work. Christmas 2015, I was translating e-mails for some guy in India who most definitely underpaid me (and late at that), just grateful to get some work, and then spent the New Year translating power plant guidelines on unfamiliar software and an unfamiliar operating system, for some Dutch agency whose regular freelancers were all on vacation. But then I used that money to buy that software, and join a few associations, graduated out of the automated platform milieu and into the “agencies-with-actual-human-project-managers” milieu, and the work began to come in. Now, most months, my gross income from translation is higher than it was as a full-time theater employee, although the office work (invoices, taxes, e-mails) involves a lot more work spread out over the course of the day. Still, I continue to find it challenging and, dare I say it, fun, and it’s another thing I wish I had started years ago.
This new life in Germany also made it possible for me to fly home three times to see my family in 2016, something I had rarely been able to do before and which I want to take advantage of as much as possible. None of us are getting any younger, and I find it more and more important to make that trip when I can. That alone was worth the change in my employment status. I can now, finally, plan to do things outside of the summer!
The other look at 2016 involves the bigger picture, and it hasn’t been so pretty.
Politically, I can’t see where the political situations in the U.S. and Europe are heading. One tries to maintain hope that it won’t be so bad, but the main problem is that it’s very hard to guess what’s coming. Right now I feel very grateful to be in Germany and especially grateful that this country is able to downplay certain events, and keep them from spiraling into media angst-fests. But will this country, too, go further right at the next election?
We are, indeed, living in Interesting Times.
And the entertainment world has lost so very many lights this year. Maybe the Rapture did happen (and Harold Camping was off by
four five and a half years), but not in the way any of us had understood it.
And with this bittersweet thought, I want to wish all my readers — those who’ve been around since 2007, those who visit, and perhaps comment, regularly (you know who you are!), to my 200+ (!) WordPress followers (I promise to try to write more travel-related posts!) and even to anyone who might be dropping in the for the first time — a very safe, healthy and happy 2017, all twelve months of it. Let’s keep looking out for each other, and give support and kindness, and not just when it is most needed. We may need each other now more than we know.