From Donald Trump's inauguration to the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency to devastating massacres and the new tax-bill scam, 2017 has been a loaded cannon of swine feces. Honestly, how often have you approached a new year feeling as if the previous one were a psychotic relationship you'd do anything to wash your hands and soul clean of?
In 2015, I got a psychic reading at Burning Man by a woman named Natalie, who told me my aura was inundated with other people's energies. She told me that residual energy from old bosses, ex-boyfriends, long-lost friends and even my parents had stuck to me like Velcro, creating negativity in my life even though things were seemingly going well. Most people exist, Natalie explained, with unwanted energies latched onto their auras. This causes stress, anxiety and emotional heaviness. But because most people don't pay attention to their ethereal selves, they unknowingly hold on to hostile energies that keep their spirits from fully thriving.
She lead me through an intense journaling exercise in her quaint RV, named the "Cheese Biscuit," and told me to write down experiences I wanted to let go of on separate index cards. We then exited the RV and sat down in the dust, lighting each card on fire. "Release what no longer serves you," she said as she grabbed my hand. "For now you can experience a true metamorphosis."
Watching a catalog of experiences that pained me disintegrate into ash began a healing process for me. And that's exactly what needs to happen with 2017: Reflect on the torturous events, then watch them burn in Dante's rings of hell for the sake of catharsis. Here's an incomplete list of what made the past 12 months horrible, as well as what I plan to burn into the past forever.
1. The year started with a kick to the teeth when Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20. People not only demonstrated in Washington, D.C. (where six people were arrested, prosecuted and just recently acquitted), but they also protested everywhere. They'd actually been protesting since the Nov. 8 election. A Latina UC Irvine student organized an anti-Trump march in Santa Ana, where nearly 350 people showed their disapproval of our newly appointed dictator. It was emotional and powerful, but also horrifying because, well, you know, Trump is the anti-Christ. (Read Gabriel San Román's coverage of the event.)
2. Less than a week after the inauguration, Trump issued a statement that was accompanied by a high-school-level PowerPoint document listing the new administration's priority list of 50 Emergency and National Security projects (you can read more here.). Included was Poseidon's proposed, long-controversial Huntington Beach Desalination Plant and the Cadiz Inc. water project.
It's not shocking Trump would want to propel these projects forward considering he's a pro-corporation and anti-environment zealot. But it feels like a knife wound to the gut because these projects are happening in our back yards and have potentially cataclysmic repercussions. What was comical about the statement, however, was how factually incorrect Trump and his team of nimrods were in regards to the Poseidon project. They described it as a "cost-effective [costing a total of $350 million to build], environmentally sensitive solution to provide a safe and reliable water supply to Orange County residents and has the potential to bring significant economic benefits for the city of Huntington Beach and the region."
Anyone who has kept up with the Poseidon saga knows the project isn't cost effective by any stretch of the imagination and will actually cost $1 billion to build—and that's a conservative estimate that assumes nothing goes wrong. As a result, the cost of water in the areas receiving Poseidon's desalinated H2O—Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach—will increase by 20 percent for the next 15 years. It has potentially devastating repercussions for local marine and oceanic life, and the blueprints show the plant will be built in an earthquake and tsunami zone, so it's actually the opposite of an environmentally sensitive solution. Trump and his gang of dingbats don't know what they're talking about—which, again, I guess, isn't that shocking.
3. I could go on and on about the environmental woes of 2017: The pipeline at Standing Rock already broke, a chunk of ice three times the size of Manhattan broke off an iceberg in the Arctic, all of California caught on fire and other parts of the country faced near-apocalyptic hurricanes. This year's events proved climate change is real, and it's happening.
4. Chris Cornell—the lead singer of Temple of the Dog, Audioslave and Soundgarden—was found hanging in his hotel bathroom. Less than a handful of months later, Chester Bennington—the lead singer of Linkin Park and later Stone Temple Pilots—committed suicide. The suicide epidemic, even among those who we'd commonly believe are living their best lives, is one of America's worst ongoing crises, and it doesn't get the attention it needs in order for real change to occur. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,965 people die by suicide annually.
5. Charles Bradley, the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," died from liver cancer on Sept. 23. They don't make soulful front men like him anymore. He was the closest we got to James Brown, even though Bradley never once felt like a revived version of the '60s soul king. Another gut punch occurred three weeks later when Tom Petty died. He played at the Hollywood Bowl just a week before he passed away, and I will forever regret not going to that show.
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6. The same week Tom Petty died, Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring 546. Legions of Orange County residents attended the event, and unfortunately several didn't make it, including Huntington Beach's Andrea Castilla. The devastating massacre will change the nature of music festivals forever.
7. Three Santa Ana cops who were caught on camera eating what looked like cannabis edibles, insulting a paraplegic woman and throwing darts in the infamous 2015 Sky High Holistic Collective Raid were rehired this year. The criminal cops were fined less than $1,000 cumulatively and required to complete community service as a part of their punishment. I have more faith in karma than our criminal-justice system, so although I'm angry as hell that these douchebags got their jobs back, I know they have a world of hurt eventually coming their way.
To put the cherry on the cake of a god-awful year, our favorite congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, sent a holiday post card to everyone in his district, including me, that reads, "Merry Christmas." He's a dimwit to assume everyone in District 48 celebrates Christmas. The nerve!
It's never felt so good to leave something behind as it does to be kicking 2017 to the curb. Although it's likely 2018 will also be riddled with chaos, at least there'll be legal pot to smoke. We'll need it.