I've struggled mightily, as most of us have in the Bay Area, with how to address the close of this terrible year, and the aftermath of a suicide-inducing election, and to make some sense of it that is not just a cliché-filled rant about one accidental politician who will hopefully be more comical footnote than tragic turning point for our nation. (And John Oliver, along with many celebrities, have already said their fuck yous to 2016 weeks ago.) Taken as a whole, though, this year has been punctuated by more than just campaign speeches and misleading poll numbers. It was riddled with death. Lots of it untimely, unexpected death. Say what you will, if you're feeling spiritual, about everyone having their time and going to a better place and blah blah, but 2016 has been a year of relentless, numbing waves of grief, and stupors of disbelief. It's a year awful enough and draped with sadness that hopefully it doesn't presage another one that will be much worse — because at moments, for many of us, it hasn't felt like it could get much worse, but of course it could.

It's been ten days since 36 people, most of them in their 20s and 30s, died suddenly and tragically in a warehouse fire in Oakland, during an underground music event in an unsanctioned venue that was not unlike thousands of other such events that have happened around the Bay Area over the last two decades. This is, after all, the birthplace of Burning Man and a nexus of both electronic music making and the DIY spirit, and what might have been a late-night gathering of like-minded souls in a unique space ended in disaster and mass casualty. Many of us who have gone to parties just like that over the years, maybe morbidly joking on our way in that it looked like a fire trap, felt shaken knowing it could easily have been us in there. And, indeed, many of us around the same age either directly knew one of the dead, or are separated from them by just one degree of Facebook friendship.

I've been struck by how disproportionately the fire gutted one particular niche community, with many of the early arrivers at that Friday party the close friends and electronic music peers of the performers themselves, with only one of the listed headliners that night even making it out alive. This was a community of passionate, talented friends and weirdos that is not going to recover from this loss anytime soon.

But that wasn't even the worst mass casualty event to happen in 2016. If you're good at ignoring the international news you might have missed the estimated 46,000 people who died in the Syrian civil war this year — most likely an underestimate according to most sources, with those only being the documented deaths.

Meanwhile just two days ago 38 people were killed and 155 wounded in a pair of terrorist bombings in Istanbul, one of them a suicide bombing. Another 44 were killed in a terrorist attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in June, likely the work of ISIS, and two months later, in August, 54 (or more) were killed during a wedding in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border. Another 300 people (or more) were killed during the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July.

In Nice, France, during Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, 86 were killed when an apparent Tunisian terrorist, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, drove a van through crowds of revelers, injuring another 434.

Add to that the 49 people fatally gunned down at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando on June 12, most of them in their 20s and 30s, in what can only be described as a religiously motivated hate crime, and one that possibly had terrorist aspirations.

Add to that the shootings of civilians by police, many of them people of color, several of them captured on video, all over the country, with two notable and fatal shootings here in San Francisco that brought down our chief of police.

The list could go on, and I'm not even touching on natural disasters (673 dead in an April earthquake in Ecuador, 300 dead in an earthquake in Italy in August, another 300 dead in quakes in Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Tanzania, and India, 43 dead in Hurricane Matthew in October, and 14 dead in wildfires in Tennessee, 13 dead in Louisiana floods, just to name a selection).

Then there was the death of Prince, which came as a shock to many around the country, some of whom had just seen him performing live in the days and weeks before his untimely passing. His death has been linked to the consumption of counterfeit painkillers made from Fentanyl which Prince likely believed to be a different drug, perhaps Percocet, to which he'd allegedly developed an addiction over several years. Fentanyl has also been killing people on the streets of multiple American cities this year, and nearly killing hundreds more.

Alan Rickman and David Bowie, both of whom succumbed to aggressive cancers this year at the age of 69, were also surprising losses for their millions of fans, because none of them knew that either man was ill. But 69 arguably isn't an untimely death, even though modern medicine has tended to make us believe otherwise. Also, the great Sharon Jones recently succumbed to cancer at age 60, and the great Gene Wilder and Leonard Cohen each made it to the ripe old ages of 83 and 82 respectively, before giving up the ghost.

That latter group of celebrities, taken on their own, would not have necessarily made for an unusual list of "in memoriams" for one year's Oscars or Grammys, though the loss of Bowie and Prince within a few months was a double doozy for music fans — not to mention the LGBT community, for whom both were considered heroes of gender norm destruction.

But that brings me back to the unique pain of this dreadful year, in particular for minority communities in the US, of which a not insignificant number call the Bay Area home.

I and many of my friends marched through the streets of San Francisco this year to commemorate the LGBT lives lost in Orlando in June, and to protest shootings by police, and demonstrate against the election of Donald Trump, which many of us feel viscerally, like a stab to the gut — something I feel certain that the rage-filled and (arguably) racist Republican voters who voted against Obama twice did not feel in the same way after those two elections, as a personal affront, because hate directed outwards is a puny and pathetic thing compared to hate felt from without, pressing in on one's psyche from an entire swath of one's own country. Sure, you could say that most of those voters did not cast votes out of hate, but out of a short-sighted and self-serving frustration about their own economic reality, and out of an ignorance for the hateful impact that their votes, and a Trump administration's subsequent actions, would have on people like me and millions of other of their fellow Americans.

Don't even get me started on the actual, physical violence, both threatened and perpetrated, by the rage-filled maniacs of the alt-right emboldened by each others' rage and ignorance on Reddit and Twitter, and further emboldened by Trump's victory, which they sincerely believe is a victory for rage, intolerance, and for the forces that would like to turn back the clock on women's rights, LGBT rights (such as they are), and civil rights for all minorities. It is the kind of toxic crowd-thinking that fuels horrors the likes of which we haven't yet seen — but the gunman who showed up at a DC pizzeria that some conspiracy-mad corner of the internet decided was home to a Hillary Clinton-condoned child pornography ring is perhaps only the tip of the iceberg.

These all add up to a cacophony of voices of war, a chorus of faceless people — only some of whom are hateful and destructive enough to say the same things on camera — who seem, at least in theory, hellbent on creating chaos, spewing vitriol, and fomenting a culture of fear among brown people, gay people, trans people, black people, Jews, queer people, and everyone with a vagina, the most unhinged of whose ranks are more than ready to take up arms against us.

Many have been joking about a civil war between the nation's urban centers — almost all of which voted overwhelmingly for Clinton — and our rural and suburban neighbors, but the pernicious civil war of words made possible and fed by the explosion of uncensored social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit may have real-life manifestations sooner than we think. That lunatic who went to shoot up a Planned Parenthood last November, and the armed moron who showed up at Comet Ping Pong last week are not, it seems, outliers anymore — or at least that is how it feels when I read a few threads on Reddit or write something negative about Trump and someone who disagrees finds me on Twitter.

And that brings me back to the senseless deaths, both purposeful and preventable-if-accidental, that have turned 2016 into the kind of bloodbath that sends many of us into therapy, onto medications, or back to bed for indefinite periods. By most counts, these death tolls don't compare to wars, disasters, and atrocities of decades' past. Every year is a bloodbath in its own way, depending on where you look and how thoroughly you're paying attention — and the hyper-aggressive bros and old codgers who dominate the pro-Trump conversation would probably tell me I'm a whining, liberal pussy SJW (that's social justice warrior) and a cuck, and I'd better man up and arm myself, because this is the world of Thomas Hobbes and Dick Cheney, of lives that are and always have been solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Unless you're rich, heterosexual, and white, that is, and/or the CEO of a planet-raping corporation, and I'm willing to bet that most of those spewing their hate only have race in common, and sometimes sexuality, and their rage stems in part from their never being rich. Donald Trump is not going to change that for them, but we are all guilty of believing things against all logic, and hoping against hope that the next guy is going to change everything once and for all.

Last week, speaking to the surviving loved one of one of the LGBT victims of the Oakland fire, who I won't name here just out of respect, this person said, after an exhausting several days of being hounded by mainstream media outlets for comments and quotes, "Hashtag 2016. We're just a bunch of fucking queers over here. It's not like you gave a shit about us before."

I'm vowing next year not to feel scared, if that's possible, and not to go numb amidst what is sure to be a bizarre and depressing era in American politics. But what I'm left with this December is an emotional exhaustion that is only partly about political discord. It comes after too many mornings of waking up to news on my cellphone that hits me with brutish force, or news from a friend that they were brutishly punched on the street, or that someone they knew just burned alive.

Even if this is the equivalent of praying to a god, or rubbing crystals and casting runes, I'm asking whatever forces will listen to slow down with the onslaught of death. We all could use some time to breathe. And some years (like 2001, and 2003, and 2016, just to name three) are meant to be remembered with a quiet shake of a downturned head, and a sigh of relief that they are finally fucking over.