Snow is falling gently outside my living room window, carpeting the lawn in my very own backyard. The year is winding down.
It was a good year in so many ways. But overall I spent this year involved in many internal struggles. Struggling to match up who I thought I was with who I am; struggling to reconcile who I want to be with who I can be; struggling to maintain my own sense of safety and security in the face of uncertainty.
These past three months have been especially trying. I’ve felt unmoored in a lot of ways – caught up in forces I couldn’t control, battered on all sides, afraid of sinking.
But I’ve managed to still the seas – at least the internal ones – and I think I’ve (at least temporarily) found a way to feel okay in open water.
Anyway, I have squared my shoulders and I’m ready to march into 2012 and face whatever it has in store. Before I do, I want to take a quick look at the past 12 months. Won’t you join me? (Here are links to round ups from last year and the year before.)
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Decided to – eventually, mind you – have a baby!
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
As I say every year, I’m not much of a resolution person. But I do want to make a concerted effort to curb the worrying in 2012. Magical thinking does not prevent bad things from happening. But incessant anxiety does prevent you from really enjoying the good things when they happen.
On a more frivolous front, I also really want to learn how to bake a cake from scratch. A real cake – with layers and frosting.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Aside from Internet folks (who seem to produce some of the most beautiful babies in the world), not really!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Sadly, we lost my husband’s grandmother this year. She lived a long and full life, but death is never easy.
5. What countries did you visit?
As I did last year, I’d like to swap out “countries” for “states.” Because saying “none” is so sad.
Texas (for the first time ever!)
Virginia (for the first time ever!)
Wisconsin (for the first time ever!)
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 15 – the day my husband matched into his fellowship program!
October 14 – the day we closed on our house!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Writing over a check for half our savings and not keeling over, dead of a panic-induced heart attack.
9. What was your biggest failure?
My failure to keep stress and worry at bay.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, I had a few colds and a stomach flu or two… and I managed to boil my toe over Thanksgiving… but other than that, it was a remarkably healthy year!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
This house. I love it.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband’s. He surprises me constantly with his generosity of spirit and his depth of kindness. And his ability to understand me, to stick with me when I’m anxious and stretched thin, to hold me tightly and assure me that everything will be okay – well, it’s lovely.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I do not want to go here, Internet. Thinking about it just makes me… appalled and depressed.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Aside from boring things – like taxes, rent, down payment, loans, etc – most of our money went to… more boring stuff: travel for my husband’s fellowship interviews.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
If by “excited,” you mean “scared witless,” then it’s obvious: Buying a house!
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2011?
All of the Lights by Kanye West
Codex by Radiohead
Good Feeling by Flo Rida
Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People
Someone Like You by Adele
We Found Love by Rhianna
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Hmm. I’m not SAD. But I don’t feel as vividly HAPPY.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, by a very little bit.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer – buying a house tends to do that to a person!
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise. Cleaning. Being zen.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Fretting. Worrying. Stressing.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Florida with my in laws, eating beef tenderloin outside by the pool.
21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
I fell in love with this house. I’m so glad we were meant to be together!
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Oooh! I usually have so many shows I love. But 2011 was the year I grew obsessed with The Closer and Brenda Lee Johnson. That show is SO GOOD. I caught up on the two episodes I missed over Christmas and I can’t believe I have to wait until the summer for the next six episodes! Nor can I believe that the series is coming to an end! SAD.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No, not that I can think of. I got frustrated with several people this year. Really frustrated. But I don’t think it ever edged over into hate.
24. What was the best book you read?
I didn’t read very many books this year – I fell far short of my 50-books goal. And when I took a look at my GoodReads list of books I’ve read this year… Well, there were several I can’t even remember reading.
But I DID read some really good ones.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson
Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls
Nurtureshock by Po Bronson
The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
And, while I’m not quite finished with it yet, I am going to put The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht right at the top of the Best of 2011 books. I got it for Christmas and it is FANTASTIC.
25. What did you want and get?
A new house!
26. What did you want and not get?
I really wanted to get the house all painted and whipped into shape. HA. That did NOT happen.
27. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t think I saw a film at all this year. At least, at the theatre. But I did enjoy Crazy, Stupid Love and Bridesmaids and the final Harry Potter movie.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned THIRTY this year! THIRTY! It still seems like an impossibly adult age, and I’ve spent much of the year reflecting on the nagging feeling that I should somehow BE more adult simply because of my age.
Anyway, my husband and I spent my birthday in Pittsburgh, where he was interviewing for a fellowship position. He set me up with a massage and a beautiful dinner and we had a lovely time together. I still dislike Pittsburgh, though.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I’d spent more time just enjoying life, rather than worrying about the future.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
31. What kept you sane?
My husband. The internet. A dear blog friend who understands me more than I thought possible for a person I’ve never met.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Kristen Wiig. That woman is FUH-NEE.
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Planned Parenthood debacle.
34. Who did you miss?
Strangely enough, the people I missed the most this year are some I’ve been working with for years. Because of some big changes earlier this year, I lost touch with several of them. And I’ve felt their absence in my life.
35. Who was the best new person you met?
The best new person I met was also through my work! She’s another freelancer who works with my top client, and she’s smart, talented, and extremely sweet. We clashed a little at first, but I’ve come to know her better – as a colleague and as a friend – and really like and respect her. I hope our relationship lasts for many years.
36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
There will be a beneficial outcome. (I’m still trying to learn this one, every day.) As you know from reading this blog, I spend a lot of time looking inward. This year I dedicated even more mental energy than usual to looking at myself, analyzing what I do and why I act the way I do. Shining that light on myself unearthed some unpleasant things. It’s not pleasant to look at yourself in the full glare of a bare bulb. I have many flaws, I do. One of those flaws is that I sometimes can’t see my own strengths. If I focus more on those things that make me strong, good, capable – I think I can move forward with more courage, more hope, less fear.
37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Turn up the lights in here baby. Extra bright – I want y’all to see this.” – Rhianna (“All of the Lights”)
Happy New Year, Internet!