Gless.net

Josh Glessner

The Other 2016

Most of us agree that 2016 has been awful. Just a real asshole of a year from start to finish. You don't have to travel far to find retrospectives on all the celebrity deaths, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, political turmoil, or myriad other depressing crap from this year. This ain't that.

I will remember 2016 as the year my son grew from his larval stage into a mostly-functioning tiny human. While he was born in 2015, the Miles Alexander that entered 2016 was still a nappy, immobile lump who didn't fill my arms and could only communicate one or two vague emotional states. There are some days I would love to have that Miles back. The difference between 1 month and 13 months is vast in every conceivable way. He went from nonverbal to the verbalest; from having to have his head supported to throwing fits if you even try to emotionally support him. The amount of personality that he developed over the course of a year is incredible and terrifying. From knowing of only milk and sleep to loving people, real food, Elmo, and cars. Good lord, does this kid love cars.

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I also remember a year of adventures with my family that I will cherish forever. Moving back to Germany and learning the ways of life abroad with a baby, discovering Amsterdam - easily one of our favorite cities in the world, hosting and traveling with close friends and family, visiting the Nürburgring - my Mecca - for the first time, traveling back to the US for Thanksgiving, enjoying the treats and festivities of some local Christmas markets, and then treating ourselves to a long weekend in Paris for Christmas. Even with the full spectrum of emotions wrapped up in that list, the one that swells largest is thankful. Thankful for the opportunity that brought us here, thankful for a wife who wants to be a part of the adventure, thankful for stroopwafels, coffee, pain au chocolat, belgian beer, and thankful for friends and family to share it all with.

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It was a great year for entertainment, too. Video games are my chosen distraction from reality and my primary means of keeping in touch with far-flung friends, and I can't recall another time when gamers were so spoiled for choice. I was very excited for Rocket League (All platforms) to come to Xbox early this year because it meant I could finally play it with friends. It immediately became a mainstay in heavy rotation. Assetto Corsa (PC, consoles) effectively doubled the number of racing simulators - my favorite genre - available on console. It's a must for anyone with a racing wheel, but if you're invested in a rig, you already know that. There were a few surprises, too: I did not see Battlefield 1 (All platforms) coming. I have long enjoyed the BF series - the main ones, anyway - but rolling the franchise back to WW1 was a risky leap, and I was not sold on it. It payed off, however, in the best, most Battlefield-y experience yet. And just recently, Astroneer (PC Early Access, Xbox Game Preview) caught me by surprise with some very promising exploration gameplay. It's also an Xbox Play Anywhere title, which I appreciate as an occasional business traveler and hope to see many more of in the future. Outside of video games, Stranger Things (Netflix) was an unexpected success in the Glessner household, especially because my wife is not a fan of thrillers, and New Girl (Fox) continues to be hilarious. It was also a pretty excellent year for my favorite sports teams: The Pittsburgh Penguins are Stanley Cup champions, the Steelers just clinched the AFC North, and Penn State football pulled off some improbable wins on their way to a Big 10 championship and The Rose Bowl.

While my list has a very personal bend, there were some subjectively great things to happen in 2016, too.

I guess this is all my way of saying, yes, while 2016 is now the smoldering remains of an epic dumpster fire, I hope you can sift through and save the moments and memories that you enjoyed. Keep them with you and leave the ash and rubble behind.