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I am dreading this recap this year, for some reason. Yet I am still doing it because TRADITION. I think I may start liberally tossing questions out the window. So BE PREPARED FOR THAT.

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

Oh! And if YOU do this yearly recap, always or for the first time this year, send me a link in the comments won’t you? I love reading these.

  • What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I quit my job to write a novel. (Which I have not yet completed, BLARGH.) (Prediction: I sense that the topic of the previous parenthetical may reappear below.)

  • Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

I do think I have made solid steps on all fronts, and I attribute all progress to leaving my job at the end of March. I feel very fortunate that I have this little pocket of time during which I can be part-time novelist/part-time stay-at-home-mom. The reduction in stress has helped me be more present with my husband and daughter, and helped me really focus on contributing to my family in new ways. It has not been easy, for me, to give up on being a financial contributor. That has altered the identity I always felt I had, and it has been a challenge to adapt. But I do think I’m contributing in new and different ways, or at least contributing more in areas where I wasn’t before.

This year, I am going to finish the novel. That’s my primary goal. It’s taking so much longer than I anticipated just to eke out a first draft. I need to find some way to speed up the process. Because the first draft is only the beginning.

  • Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Did anyone close to you die?
  • What countries did you visit?

Same as last year: Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

I can’t really imagine the answers changing in a big way anytime soon.

  • What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Better ability to prioritize my time. A fully drafted novel. Making my time with Carla richer, somehow, rather than making a bunch of slipshod and ultimately frustrating attempts at “activities.”

  • What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 31, which was my last day of working in the office.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking a leap of faith and quitting my office job. (OMG, broken record much?)

  • What was your biggest failure?

Not getting enough words on the page each day! I can trot out a 7,000-word blog post of a morning, but I seem to spend hours and hours coming up with a measly 200 for my manuscript! What gives? If I can do it elsewhere, why can’t I blather and drivel my way through a first draft?

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

I am currently enjoying a bout of asthmatic bronchitis, which is super fun. Other than that, nothing too crazy.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

Scrivener!!! It is a tool for writers and I loooooooove it.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. He is a rockstar. I can’t even express all the ways he’s shown up this year without drowning my keyboard in tears, so let’s move on.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I mean do you really have to ask, non-sentient Survey created years ago with no knowledge of our current times? I think I’m going to cross this one out because it makes me sad and bewildered and fearful and shaky.

  • Where did most of your money go?

This question sucks. I really want to say something fun like “a new ski lodge in Aspen!” or “a twelve-week trek around Europe!” I guess I could say my potential earnings went toward financing my lifelong dream but that makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach so MOVING ON.

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

As with last year, I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been super over the moon about everything. And she gets stuff now. Like, she understood the little countdown-to-Christmas calendar I put in her room, and the last couple of days she switched the numbers all by herself before I even got to her room. She has been really gung-ho about Hanukkah, and has helped her dad light the menorah and say the prayers. She loved decorating the tree and every night for a week she would pick up a present that she knew was for her and squeeze it and hop up and down and say, “It’s so HARD to WAIT until Christmas to open my present!” I mean, a tree full of presents and she didn’t realize most of them were for her, and yet she got So Worked Up about this one tiny thing. She loved all the holiday books I pull out each year, and expressed interest in Santa and Baby Jesus and the Maccabees alike. She loved the stockings, and asked questions about how Santa could do such and such. She loved painting ornaments for her grandparents. She loved collecting the Amazon boxes from the front stoop and putting them in the guest room to await her grandmother’s arrival. She loved singing Christmas carols. Everything this year was just SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope we have at least a couple more years of this pure, unadulterated joy in the season. It’s a mood lifter for sure, and helps make all those I-want-them-to-be-fun-and-meaningful-but-are-really-kind-of-tedious projects seem worthwhile and enjoyable.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2016?

I have to say the Frozen soundtrack. Carla hadn’t seen a movie in her entire life until Christmas 2015, and once we started we couldn’t stop. As toddlers are wont to do, she fell in love with Frozen and we have watched it eleventy billion times. PLUS we bought the Frozen soundtrack (we call it “Carly Songs”) on CD (yes, I still use CDs in my car) and we have listened to THAT at least seventy gazillion times. Also: Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” and “Let Me Love You” by DJ Snake featuring The Beibs. “Waves” by Miguel (the Kacey Musgraves version). “One Dance” by Drake. Carla does a mean dance move to Drake, and sings along very sweetly to “Let Me Love You” and “Waves.” Also also, on the classical front, I have grown very attached to Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. I have some fantasy that I will learn to play it. (HA.)

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder? Happier but more fearful about the future, I think?
  2. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Which kind of sucks because I lost 12 pounds after I left my job. I have since gained it back. But I kind of hate this question because I just do. I am scowling at it.
  3. c) richer or poorer? I am skipping this question because math.

This is a question I don’t care to answer anymore, I think. Are these really the benchmarks by which I want to measure the year? No, no I don’t think so. MORE SCOWLING.

  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. (Always.) Submitting my work for publication. Figuring out a better time management system.

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. Yelling. Procrastinating. Writing poor-quality apocalyptic poetry. Wasting time on my phone. Feeling too hot or too cold; that’s really annoying when the house maintains a stable temperature.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, with my husband and Carla, and my husband’s parents. It was lovely and fun. Also lovely and fun was adding my sister and niece the day after Christmas, but that amped up the freneticism by several degrees. How does adding ONE additional child to the mix make things exponentially more crazy?

  • Did you fall in love in 2016?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He has been supportive of me and my dreams in a way that shatters me. I hope I make him feel even half as loved and understood and… seen as he makes me feel.

And, as we allow the tears to dry a bit, I fall newly in love with Carla with each new stage in her life. Three has been challenging, but it has also been utterly delightful as she becomes more independent and imaginative and curious and affectionate and funny and fun and inquisitive. I just adore her.

  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

What a year for TV! Standouts from the year include the OJ Simpson mini-series, The Night Of, Westward, and the Gilmore Girls revival (even though I hated GG as much as I loved it – many flaws, no?). I also loved the latest seasons of The Americans, The Great British Baking Competition, Shark Tank, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Middle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. What can I say? I like feel-good shows to balance out the gritty stuff slash real life. Oh! And two series my husband and I watched and loved that were new to us this year were Master of None and Catastrophe. God, I love TV.

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t even. This question has got to go.

  • What was the best book you read?

I READ SO MANY BOOKS THIS YEAR! Contenders for best book include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin. There have been others, but those are the standouts. For me, all had great stories with interesting, well-rounded characters, and truly beautiful language that enriched the story without getting in the way. Then sometime in November I fell into a Sue Grafton wormhole and have been reading my way through her Kinsey Millhone series (again) because it’s fun.

  • What did you want and get?

A chance to write a book. More time with my daughter. More time to exercise. More time in general, I guess. Less stress. And also this gorgeous green coat from Boden that unfortunately didn’t fit so BOO to that. My hips are not British enough, it seems. Oh! And I got the sheet music for Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, and have been painstakingly picking out the right hand notes. That’s really all I’ve managed.

  • What did you want and not get?

A finished first draft of my manuscript because I am SLOW.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Let’s see. My husband and I took a break from watching TV to watch all of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. That was fun, but I wasn’t as… enamored of the most recent (last?) film as I was of the earlier ones. (To be fair, Daniel Craig seemed less enamored of it as well.) Did I watch anything else? Of the (many) kids’ movies I’ve seen this year, Brave is my favorite, followed by Wall-E and then probably a tie between Tangled and Frozen. I did not care for Zootopia, and Robin Hood – a childhood favorite – sadly did not live up to my memory version. (Robin Hood himself is still by far the foxiest cartoon I’ve ever encountered, though. No pun intended.)

EDITED TO ADD: My husband and I watched Sicario just last night, right under the 2016 wire, and it was really well done. Dark and disturbing but a heart-thumping, thought provoking film.

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 this year, and I can’t really remember what I did. Which is a pattern at least a few years running, so I am getting rid of this question.

  • What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Same as last year: I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

Also, this year I started doing Fabletics (I joined Fabletics? I am not sure of the proper verbiage here. It’s just a subscription service in the vein of Stitch Fix. Sort of. Third cousins.), and so have added some very cute workout ensembles to my wardrobe, which means that sometimes I switch up my leggings with legging-like yoga pants. You can spot the difference because I wear tennis shoes with the yoga pants version.

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. Being able to write every day most days.

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I adore Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe. The characters they play are adorable and funny and in-your-face in a way I find charming. Sterling K. Brown. Constance Wu (her and her character as Jessica Huang on Fresh Off the Boat) because she seems fearless and take-no-prisoners and also is hilarious and beautiful and talented. Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore. Okay, so maybe these are primarily TV CHARACTERS and not necessarily the actors themselves but whatever.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. NOPE. Not even going to. CUT.

  • Who did you miss?

Same as last year, although – shocker – blogging more frequently myself has helped a teeny bit: I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  • Who was the best new person you met?

As last year, I don’t know that I met many new people this year. AM A HERMIT. Oh wait, that’s not true. I have made a couple of (tentative strides toward making) mom friends through Carla’s new school.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Write it down, don’t write it right, for the love of all that is holey.

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

(I don’t know if the following makes sense as a lyric or as the answer to this question, but it’s in my head, so I’m going with it.)

Don’t you give up, nah nah nah / Never give up, nah nah nah / Let me love you.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope 2017 goes a hell of a lot better than we fear!

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2015 Round-Up-a-Rama

Well, I have resigned myself to the fact that I Must Do This Yearly Recap, even if it’s the only post I do all year. (To be FAIR, I did write eight other posts in 2015.)

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

  1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

I became an aunt! Which also means I threw a baby shower for the first time. (I think it turned out okay!) I taught myself some very beginning basics of graphic design. I spent a night away from my daughter (and in a different state, even!). That’s all I can remember.

  1. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

I think last year’s are pretty good priorities for the year ahead: baby, husband, balance. But I’ll add a couple of things:

  • I want to do better about accepting that I am me, and I am not perfect, and that is okay. And if other people can’t deal with that, fine. I can’t live to make other people happy.
  • I want to try to DO things with Carla. Most of the time I spend with her is in the evenings or on weekend, which means that most of the time I spend with her is spent doing errands or housework. I would love to do OTHER things, like crafts or museums or walks or… I honestly don’t know what. Just things that we can do together that extend beyond the routine.

I think I have been better – with room still to improve – on the husband front. Balance is something that has gotten out of whack in the past six months, but I am working on a plan to improve that. I still feel like I have A Lot of Work to do on the Being a Good Mom front. But for the most part, Carla is happy and well-adjusted and healthy and growing and generally pretty awesome, so I am at least not COMPLETELY effing things up.

I do think I’ve made some progress on the “accepting I am me” thing. It’s hard. But I am just trying to be more honest about my needs and it has worked out fairly well. I’m not perfect at it, and it doesn’t work perfectly, but it’s progress.

The trying new things with Carla HAS gone well. We started her in swimming lessons, which we now do almost every week. She goes to a little gymnastics group most weekends. We have been to the zoo several times, to the history and art museums, to the farm, to the spray park, to many playgrounds. We have made pizza together and cookies and chocolates and played with play doh and paint and sidewalk chalk. It has been a lot of fun and I don’t regret a single minute of it.

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

  1. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My sister had a baby!!!

  1. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

  1. What countries did you visit?

Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

  1. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

More time for my husband. More time for writing.

  1. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Nothing jumps out at me.

  1. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I am going to go TOTALLY FRIVOLOUS with this one, and say: making incremental improvements to our house. We re-did the front landscaping (which I mentioned last year as my biggest failure), and we got a new dishwasher and a new kitchen faucet (and a new faucet in the guest bathroom to boot) and I feel like we have finally gotten into a rhythm with normal house maintenance stuff that makes me feel like the walls aren’t going to cave in around me at any second.

  1. What was your biggest failure?

Being too yelly.

  1. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing out of the ordinary.

  1. What was the best thing you bought?

We bought a NEW CAR last January, and it is awesome. It has seat warmers, which is just about the best invention ever. It’s my husband’s, though, so I don’t get to experience it every day. And our BRAND NEW DISHWASHER is awesome, too!

  1. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. Not that my parents (whom I have listed here in previous years) weren’t ALSO wonderful. But my husband has been… amazing. First of all, he graduated from his fellowship – which means he finished TEN YEARS of training. And he started with a practice and has been working his tail off to build a patient base and establish himself. And even with all that, he’s been incredibly supportive of me and just a fantastic father to Carla.

  1. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I can’t even.

  1. Where did most of your money go?

Taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings, daycare. Plus, you know New Things, like the aforementioned car and dishwasher. New things ain’t free, yo.

  1. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been so delighted about the holidays and so delightful! I’ve gotten really into decorating and trying to make things special for her because she enjoys it so much.

Also: NEW NIECE!!!!

  1. What song(s) will always remind you of 2015?

Hmm. I have a constant rotation of Adele, Justin Beiber, and The Weeknd on autoplay in my head… but I don’t honestly know the title of any of the songs that are lodged in my brain. And I definitely listened to the Taylor Swift 1989 album a billion times. I love the whole thing. There were some others, this past summer, but damned if I remember them in any way.

  1. Compared to this time last year, are you:
  2. a) happier or sadder? Sadder.
  3. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
  4. c) richer or poorer? Richer. Dual incomes, baby!
  1. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing.

  1. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Same as last year: Fretting. Crying.

  1. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, with a real tree my husband and Carla and I picked out together and decorated together, with my parents. It was low-key and simple and there was lots of wine and it was very, very nice.

  1. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He’s a practicing physician and getting to that point beside him has made me love him in new and better ways.

  1. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

The Leftovers. And, new to me though not to anyone else, Louie.

  1. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

  1. What was the best book you read?

Did I read any books this year? I feel like I STARTED a few, but not sure how many I finished. The Martian? Oh – and there was the new Tana French book, right? I liked that one.

  1. What did you want and get?

A Fair Isle sweater from Boden!

  1. What did you want and not get?

A white Christmas.

  1. What was your favorite film of this year?

Um. Did I watch any films? I think I watched Spy with Melissa McCarthy – that was pretty cute. Oh! And Carla and I watched her first Disney movie (The Little Mermaid) together which was a super fun experience.

  1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Practically the same answer as last year:

I was 34, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

  1. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  1. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

  1. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone. Talking to my parents every other day.

  1. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t even know.

  1. What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. Not even going to.

  1. Who did you miss?

I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  1. Who was the best new person you met?

I don’t know that I met many new people this year.

  1. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

You can live in disrepair for a long while and come to believe everything is okay. But life can be immeasurably better if you fix what’s broken.

  1. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Wish we could turn back time to the good old days / when our mama sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

 

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope to see much more of you in 2016.

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The dawn of this new year finds me… tired. Happy, but tiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrred.

I don’t know how many people read these surveys – maybe you’re like me, and you really enjoy reading them, but don’t tend to comment on them. That’s cool. If you don’t read them, that’s cool too. But if you DO like to read them, or if you are a person who likes the GIST of a thing, or if you are in a hurry, let me summarize the below: it’s an awful lot about the baby.

May the coming year bring you and your loved ones health and happiness, Internet! And plenty of sleep.

(This yearly recap quiz originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Had a baby.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, this was as close as I got to making resolutions:

I don’t think I’ll make resolutions for the coming year, either. There are,

however, things I would like to accomplish. I would like to exercise more.

Eat better. (This has been The Autumn of Carbs, which is quickly turning

into The Winter of More Carbs.) Enjoy the happy part of anticipation rather

than perseverating on the nervous-marking part. Make sure that my marriage

remains a top priority, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Blog

more regularly. Have another garden. Paint the kitchen, dining room, and

the upstairs bedroom as well as put up artwork around the whole house.

Re-organize the storage area in the basement. Okay, this is degenerating

rapidly into a list of housework.

On that front, I continued to eat terribly (until the third trimester, when all I wanted was All The Fruit), worry a TON, neglect my blog, and plant a garden and promptly neglect that. But! We DID paint the kitchen, paint and decorate the upstairs bedroom (the baby’s room), and paint and add moulding to the dining room.

I think my priorities for this year (I’m pretending this question asked about priorities rather than resolutions) are keeping the baby alive, my husband, and trying to be better about juggling work, baby, marriage, household stuff. And I know that sentence lacked parallel structure, but I don’t know how else to say “my husband.” He’s a priority, and I want him to continue to be, and that’s that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Well, you don’t get much closer to me than me. A few close friends also had babies, which has been tremendously fun.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. We are so fortunate.

5. What countries did you visit?

I didn’t do a lick of travel. Well, I flew out to see my parents last March, but that was IT.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

More sleep.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 13 – This was the baby’s due date, and so was a major focus for me for nine entire months. Well, okay, eight entire months, since the baby had been cooking for a month by the time we found out about her.

June 28 – This is the day that I went into the hospital for my induction.

June 29 – The day the baby finally made her appearance!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Listen, I am going to say breastfeeding here because it was such a freaking struggle for so long. I think it took me a good six weeks to stop hating every second of it. It’s something I’ve wanted– and tried – to post about, because the one thing that helped me get through it (besides just getting through it) was reading about the breastfeeding experiences of other new moms. But it’s so tangled up with emotions for me that my first few drafts have all reached book-length before I even got past describing the hospital stay. You may be surprised to know that I exercise restraint before I typhoon all over my blog, but I do. Occasionally.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, we can just skip right past blogging, which has all but ceased entirely. (Not for lack of desire. Or even lack of post ideas. I am just so TIRED.) I think my garden was my primary failure, because, well, I am looking out onto my deck right now and the sad, overgrown remains of my poor neglected garden are STILL THERE, covered with about eight inches of snow. Sad. And gross.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from the Daycare Colds my kid brings home every other week, I have been remarkably healthy. Thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love every inch of the baby’s nursery. We got some super sweet prints for the walls from Etsy that I have some vague notions of posting about at some point. I love my iPhone. But I think the best purchase was the breast pump. Tuna on rye, these answers are SO LAME.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This is boring (SENSING A THEME?), but my husband deserves celebration and applause. My husband has always been a calming, supportive force in my life. But this past year, he was just… above and beyond. Dealing with me for twenty-five weeks while I lay on the couch and moaned with nausea and refused to let him cook anything or eat anything with a scent… then dealing with my constant fretting about the baby for the remainder of the pregnancy… then dealing with my anxieties AFTER the baby arrived… It’s all been more than enough for the guy to deserve about a thousand medals. But I was also surprised and touched by things like how wonderful he was in the delivery room, coaching me to push. And by how upbeat and We Can Do This! he was about everything in those dark, terrifying first weeks with the baby at home. And by how quickly and smoothly he slid into his new role as father. Don’t get me wrong – I had no doubt he’d be an awesome dad. But he has just been so good at it, so quickly.

My parents were also especially wonderful this year. My mom came out and stayed with us for a whole month, and did laundry and cleaning and cooking so my husband and I could get to know the baby. My dad not only flew home when the baby was late (he HATES to fly), but he spent hours on the phone with me, talking me through all my New Baby worries – which doesn’t sound like much, I guess, but it was. It was such a huge help.

And I really need to give a shout out to my boobs. They’ve had to take on some massive responsibilities this year, and they’ve really stepped up. My handy little Baby Connect app says that they have gone through both 212 hours of nursing and 21 hours of pumping AND that they’ve produced over 30 gallons of pumped milk. Way to go, boobs!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I have no idea. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself this year.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Aside from the normal – taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings – we also had hospital bills, daycare, and fun things, like Baby Room Décor. Okay, so “most of my money” didn’t go to Baby Room Décor, but it was still more money than I care to admit.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Um. If by “excited” you mean “terrified,” then the baby, obviously. (And excited, of course.)

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013?

Berceuse by Chopin, which I listened to, on repeat, in the car on the way to and from work for at LEAST the last month of my pregnancy. Often while sobbing loudly.

Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Royals by Lorde

Home by Phillip Phillips

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier!

Okay, I had to come back and edit this. I AM happier, for the most part. The baby has truly brought untold joy to this household. But on a day-to-day basis, I think I may be sadder. Not for any REASON, just… there are all these feelings associated with having a baby that I’m dealing with All The Time. Worries and inadequacies and frustrations and TIREDNESS. Plus, I have lingering anger/sadness about the whole birth experience that I wish would just Go Away. And have I mentioned the worrying? I am so constantly focused on What Could Go Wrong that it’s hard to just sink into the happy parts, you know?

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, but that’s cheating since I was four months pregnant at this time last year.

c) richer or poorer? Poorer – hello, daycare!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Going outside when the weather was nice. Sleeping.

I am also going to add that I wish I’d been better about keeping up my relationships. I have all but lost contact with two of my dear friends, and that sucks. And it’s entirely my fault. I’ve been so wrapped up in me and the baby and I have chosen, time and again, sleep or sitting in front of the TV with my husband over calling a friend and staying in touch.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Fretting. Crying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, for the first time ever, with a real tree my husband and I picked out together (with the baby) and decorated together, with my parents and my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

I fell in love with the baby, of course. She is such a sweet, fun, funny little girl. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next, who she’ll become.

And, barf, I  know, but I fell in love with my husband all over again as we approached this Big Life Change together, and as I witnessed him transform into this even better version of himself.

Okay, you can stop gagging now.

22. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Justified. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this show. And to think I almost never saw it because I hated the TV promos for it so much!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

24. What was the best book you read?

Well, it certainly wasn’t any of the books here.

25. What did you want and get?

A baby!

26. What did you want and not get?

Um. Diamonds? I don’t know how to answer this.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t recall seeing a film. At all. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t SEE one, but there you go.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 32, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

For the first half, stripes and polka dots because it seems like maternity wear creators all banded together on the belief that if you’re pregnant, you need to emphasize that fact with lines and circles. For the second half, fluids of various kinds.

 31. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

I have no idea.

34. Who did you miss?

Mr. Sandman.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

The baby.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Sleep when the baby is awake. Sleep as much as you can because it will never be enough.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.
Happy New Year, Internet!

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2012 Round-Up-a-Rama

Just a few hours left of 2012, Internet! I’ve been reflecting on the past year and how quickly it went by… and thinking forward with happy anticipation to 2013. I have no doubt that it will bring as many joys (and terrors) and changes as 2012 did, and I hope it affords me more time for blogging so I can share them with you.

May the coming year bring you and your loved ones health and happiness, Internet!

(If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of this end-of-year survey: 2011, 2010, 2009.)

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Made a big career change! Working outside the home!

Started my own garden! Which I just now realized I never actually posted about! (You’re welcome?)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yeah…I didn’t make or keep resolutions. I did try to keep other people’s resolutions for a while… but even that didn’t last all that long. I did manage to give up sugar for a whole month… and alcohol for a few months here and there. And I did pretty well on the exercise front, until I started this new job. (Seriously – how do people with jobs find time to exercise… or raise kids… or do anything besides work and eat and sleep?)

I don’t think I’ll make resolutions for the coming year, either. There are, however, things I would like to accomplish. I would like to exercise more. Eat better. (This has been The Autumn of Carbs, which is quickly turning into The Winter of More Carbs.) Enjoy the happy part of anticipation rather than perseverating on the nervous-marking part. Make sure that my marriage remains a top priority, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Blog more regularly. Have another garden. Paint the kitchen, dining room, and the upstairs bedroom as well as put up artwork around the whole house. Re-organize the storage area in the basement. Okay, this is degenerating rapidly into a list of housework.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Some SUPER CUTE Internet babies were born this year. Plus! A dear friend had her first little baby. I even got to hold her, when she was just a month old, and she was adorable.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. We are so fortunate.

5. What countries did you visit?

As I do every year (these days), I’d like to swap out “countries” for “states.” Because saying “none” is so sad.

Florida

Illinois

Massachusetts

Montana

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Virginia

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

A baby.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

July 1- the day my husband started his fellowship!

July 29 – the day I started my new job!

October 9 – my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Going for and getting a new job.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Blogging. It has been a sad, dreary year for posting on my end. I don’t like that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I did fall down the stairs the other day, Internet. Fortunately, it resulted in nothing more than the biggest butt bruise I’ve ever seen and some sort ribs. Oh. And then I was dust-busting our kitchen floor and I rammed my forehead into the corner of the island. Then there was the time I was sweeping the front porch and somehow jammed my big-toenail into my toe, breaking it nearly off. But other than that, I’ve been pretty healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love our grill. But I think the best purchase I made was a bunch of seedlings and packets of seeds and planters and potting soil from The Home Depot. I loved gardening and I hope to do it every year.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I’m going to go out on a limb here are say that I feel my own behavior merited celebration. At least, personal celebration. Making a change in my professional life has been overwhelmingly POSITIVE and I am happier and more fulfilled than I have been in years. I am very proud of myself for pushing beyond the boundaries of comfort and making a big change.

Okay, I also really need to give a shout out to my husband. He is so supportive and has been so clam and positive as we’ve faced so many changes. He’s been going through his own Major Life Changes, too – what with starting a new job himself – and he’s dealt with change with much more grace (and less over-analysis) than I have. He’s been understanding about my limitations and my fears and. Well. He’s an excellent partner. I really couldn’t have gotten through this year without him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Oh Internet. What with Hurricane Sandy, the assorted horror of various shootings and their fallout, not to mention the freaking presidential election, I spent a good deal of time feeling appalled and depressed. And fearful.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Nothing exciting: taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I don’t know if this was a year of excitement. It was a year of fear-that-probably-SHOULD-have-been-excitement. But that’s just how I am. I force my way, trembling and pale, into change rather than leaping into it with enthusiasm.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2012?

Diamonds by Rhianna

Feel So Close by Calvin Harris

Mama Told Me by Big Boi featuring Little Dragon

One More Night by Maroon 5

‘Til My Last Day by Justin Moore

Tornado by Little Big Town

We Are Never Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

We Are Young by Fun.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier!

b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.

c) richer or poorer? Eh, poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercising. Reading. Embracing change.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Freaking out about things I couldn’t change. Resisting taking action to make big changes in my life. Sleeping.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

This year, my in laws joined us up here in the north. My MIL hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas at her apartment, but we didn’t have to travel anywhere which was AWESOME.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I think I fell pretty hard for gardening. I also really fell in love with our city’s symphony. It’s such a wonderful organization that does so much for our community – not to mention, it produces truly transformational music.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I still love all my old standbys. But as for new shows, I really like The New Girl and Girls. They both have characters that annoy the grape jelly out of me, but they’re both so smart and thought-provoking and enjoyable. My husband and I also started watching Southland, which I really like.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

24. What was the best book you read?

This year was THE WORST for reading. I was terrible. And the books I read were terrible. I mean, I enjoyed them, for the most part (Fifty Shades of Grey being the primary exception). But the content was so DARK and HORRIBLE that I asked myself, dozens of times, while I was reading, “WHY are you reading this?”

That said, I think my favorite book of the year was The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. It was such an interesting premise and such a new take on my favorite type of book (the dystopia) and I really enjoyed the characters and the situations they found themselves in… I just loved everything about it. I’ve found myself thinking about it many times since I finished it, and I bet it will be one of those books that I re-read again and again.

25. What did you want and get?

A new work situation!

26. What did you want and not get?

Just like last year, I wanted to get the house all painted and finished. I don’t think we did a single bit of painting this year. But that will change in 2013! Mark my words, we will do some painting! And hopefully even put up the molding in the dining room. And get all our artwork up on the walls. And maybe reconfigure the office. Oh boy. There’s a LOT to do.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. SO GOOD. It may also be the only film I watched in 2012. Certainly the only one I saw in the theatre.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 31, which seems awfully insignificant. And I cannot for the life of me remember what I did. Pretty sure I was in the throes of Work-Related Panic which kind of overshadowed any celebrating. 

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

It was a pretty great year… but I think it would have been more satisfying if I’d gotten to the Acceptance part of the Big Life Changes Are Imminent thing a little quicker. Okay, a lot quicker. I did a lot of honest-to-goodness freaking out between, oh, January and November. Life would have been a lot easier and more pleasant if I’d been able to just let go of Life as It Was and move smoothly into Life as It Could Be.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

My normal pajamas-and-workout-clothes prevailed for most of the year… Now I’m trying out the I’ve-Had-This-for-Ten-Years-But-I’m-Trying-to-Make-It-Work-Appropriate look. Also, the same five lots of dresses with tights and boots.

 31. What kept you sane?

My husband. The internet. My mother. Lots of sleep.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Ummmm. I can’t think of anyone. I really loved Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But I don’t think I thought about her beyond the movie.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

This year has been RIFE with issues and many of them got my blood boiling.

34. Who did you miss?

My parents. I didn’t see them nearly often enough this year.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve met some fabulous people through work. Smart, talented, driven people who challenge me intellectually. Sweet, fun people with whom I hope to build lasting friendships. This working-outside-the-home thing is pretty awesome.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Change may be terrifying, but it can also be wonderful.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Your love pours down on me, surrounds me like a waterfall. And there’s no stopping us right now. I feel so close to you right now.”
Happy New Year, Internet!

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(This yearly recap quiz originated with Linda of All & Sundry.)

 

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?

Bought a house!

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.

California

Florida

Illinois

Maryland

Montana

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

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?

Security.

 

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?

Pajama rama.

 

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!

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Firsts

Thank you so very much, Internet, for your congratulations on The Match. My husband and I are so very excited to be staying here for his fellowship. Not only is his program excellent, which means he’ll get top-notch training… But we love the area and have begun to carve out a nice place for ourselves.

Since Match Day, I have been working a lot. And not sleeping much.  And spending any “free” time thinking about the next big step we’d like to take: buying our first home.

I… have no idea how to go about finding and/or buying a home. So it’s got me a little stymied.

While I ponder what to do first – besides drooling over photos of homes we can definitely NOT afford – I have been stuck without blogspiration.

So, in the spirit of firsts (as in, we’re about to buy our first house) (it’s a loose segue, I KNOW), I pulled this meme out of the depths of R’s archives. Enjoy!

 

1. Who was your first prom date?
My first prom date was my boyfriend at the time. He was an adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed hockey player of the “strong, silent” variety. I was a sophomore in high school and he was a junior. My high school did two proms a year – a winter ball and a spring prom. Only juniors and seniors could invite guests, so I felt very special and adult to be asked.

I vividly remember seeking out my first prom dress. My mom and my best friend and I squeezed ourselves into her two-door little sports car and drove nearly five hours in some horrific weather to the nearest Real Mall. (Well, it wasn’t the NEAREST. The NEAREST was only two hours away. I… can’t remember why we drove to this other mall. But we did.) My dress was short and a shimmery purply-black. For prom, I got my hair done at the salon and wore makeup and heels – which was totally outside my comfort zone of Airwalks, LEI jeans, and no makeup. I felt so beautiful and so grown up!

Oh right. This question was about the DATE not the ATTIRE. Can you guess which was more interesting? And less likely to completely neglect to tell me that he was leaving on a band trip ON VALENTINE’S DAY so that I had to find out from his mom when I went to his house to deliver his Valentine’s Day present?

2. Who was your first roommate?

My first roommate(s) were three wildly different girls. I stayed in a four-person suite my freshman year of college. We shared a dorm that had two bedrooms, a common area, and a bathroom. One of them was a tiny, sassy blonde from the East coast who could talk her way into anything – and put her foot in her mouth like no one’s business. One was a tall, easy-going water polo player from California who has one of the best shoe collections I’ve ever seen and can make me laugh like no one else. And the third was the winner of a Miss Midwest-something-or-other pageant who was sweet and cheerful and so popular she was hardly ever in our room.

I’ve only kept in touch with one of those roommates, and poorly at that. But even if we are terrible at talking on the phone or exchanging emails, she’s very dear to me.

3. What was your first alcoholic beverage?

I have fond memories of sipping the foam off my father’s beer… But that must have been a fluke, because he’s much more of a wine guy.

4. What was your first job?

I’m pretty sure (foreshadowing: my memory is TERRIBLE) my first job was a summer position while I was in college. I worked as an office assistant in my dad’s office, filing medical charts and making appointments. The summer after that, I stood in the basement of our hometown hospital, shredding old medical charts in a windowless room across the hall from the morgue.

5. What was your first car?

When I was in high school, I had my pick of two vehicles to drive (I know – SPOILED). One was a 1989 Chevy pickup. It had four-wheel drive and got me through some serious snow drifts. The other was really my dad’s – a 1974 (1972?) sports coupe that he’d bought years ago and restored. The windows didn’t roll down all the way, there was no air conditioning, and I had to keep a supply of spark plugs (or whatever – I really just pulled a hardware-sounding item out of thin air) on hand because the wipers liked to stop working at any given time. But I loved both of those vehicles to death.  My brother got his license six years after I did, and he also got to drive the sporty coupe throughout high school. I wonder if he drove around with the stereo bumping, thinking he was the coolest kid in all the lands, just like I did?

6. When did you go to your first funeral?

Yikes. I don’t remember. I’ve been to too many in the past decade. (Although, even one is too many.) But I don’t recall the first one. My grandfather passed away when I was in third grade. I can remember little snapshots of spending time with him and our aging collie, Jessica. But for the life of me, I cannot remember if I attended his funeral.

7. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown?

Eighteen. And – except for summers during college and holidays and other short visits – I’ve never gone back.

8. Who was your first grade teacher?

Mrs. H! I remember two things about her class. The first was from the reading class she taught that I attended during kindergarten: I was in some sort of little play that my mom came to see.

The second is that someone got sick in class and left a trail of puke from her desk, down the hall, and into the bathroom. (Remember that sawdust stuff the janitors used to put on the puke to soak it up?)

I’m sure Mrs. H intended to leave me with much more. And I have a general impression of her being a very kind and supportive teacher. But alas – that’s all.

9. Where did you go on your first airplane ride?

Again, I have no idea! My mom has told me stories of taking me to California (I think?) (Man, I need to listen better.) when I was just a baby. I’m guessing we took a plane? But I don’t know for sure.

10. When you snuck sneaked out of your house for the first time, who was it with?

Well, Internet. I have never sneaked out of my house. This is partly because my parents’ house is eight miles outside of our little town, my bedroom was on the second floor, and the windows didn’t open.  But it’s more because my parents were strict and I was a Good Kid Who Didn’t Want to Disappoint Them. Ask me about missing my curfew though – I think I did it so often, I’m surprised my parents didn’t lock me up.

11. Who was your first Best Friend and are you still friends with them?

My first best friend – that I can remember, at least – was B. She and I were friends in kindergarten and then she got transferred to a different school. She and I didn’t really see each other again until high school when we were on the same cheerleading squad. We still know each other. She’s a nurse and is struggling with a serious health problem in a brave and inspiring way.

12. Where did you live the first time you moved out of your parents’ house?

I lived in a dorm with three other girls. See answer #2.

13. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?

My mom. She is endlessly patient with me. She always has good advice and kind words. And I know that she’ll support me no matter what.

(I would say my husband, but I don’t really talk to him on the phone. When he’s at work, his phone is off. When I’m out of town, we keep phone calls to a minimum because we get irritated with each other super fast via phone. And when he’s home, we of course discuss bad days… but in person, not via phone.)

14. Whose wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or a groomsman?

Hmmm. Once again, my stellar memory seems to fail me on this one. I think I was in at least one wedding as a junior bridesmaid. One was for my former nanny. I got a home perm from her mother and got mercilessly teased for it in school the next day.

The first time I was a real bridesmaid was in 2008. I was in the wedding of my dear friend from grad school. She was a beautiful bride and had a special morning ceremony before the official church wedding, and I bawled like a baby through the whole thing.

15. What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Turn on my computer.

16. What was the first concert you attended?

Um. I have no idea. I don’t really DO concerts. (They are too loud and too CROWDED.) I am pretty sure I went to see Juice Newton and Steve Wariner when I was in… middle school? And then I went to a Weezer concert in college with California Roommate (see Answer #2), which was amazing and totally worth breaking my No Concerts Rule for. But that’s about it, I think.

17. First tattoo or piercing?

I have neither tattoos nor piercings.

18. First celebrity crush?

Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I actually wrote the kid letters. And I think I sent him a PHOTO of myself. (A very TAME photo of myself – I was, like, 11.) How embarrassing.

19. First crush?

I… don’t remember. I mean, I remember many crushes. But I don’t remember who was first. His name was probably Nick – I had crushes on a dozen Nicks over the years.

20. First real love?

Well, it’s hard to say that I experienced real love until I met my husband. But I THOUGHT I was in love twice before him – once in high school and once in college. So the first one? He was a wrestler who weighed less than I did, quoted Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey movies all the time, and got better grades in math and chemistry than I did. He was also outgoing and affectionate and friends with everyone, and he could always make me laugh. He was a year younger than I was, and we broke up when I moved across the country for college.

 

What are some of your firsts, Internet?

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Well, Internet, it’s 2011.

I spent the last couple days of 2010 and the first few days of 2011 doping myself with Tylenol and amoxicillin, trying to kick a nasty case of strep throat. Basically, I rang in the New Year as a pathetic lump. A pathetic, whiny lump.

Let’s all hope that this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

Anyway, it’s past due for my Traditional Year-End Round-Up. If you can call doing something twice in a row a “tradition.”

I had great fun reading through last year’s round-up and measuring it against 2010. Not as many life-changing things happened for me in 2010 – no moving, no name changes, no honeymoon. But I did a LOT of traveling this year, both physically and emotionally. And on that oblique note, let’s get to the Round Up…

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Weaseled my way into Joined a book club.

Traveled to Napa for a girls’ weekend.

Went to Palm Springs.

Went to Asheville, North Carolina. (Which I have an entire, picture-filled post about that, due to “technical difficulties,” I have NOT posted. SIGH. Just pretend you read it, okay?)

Gave a business presentation to a group of 10 people.

Went to an NFL game.

Made Thanksgiving dinner from scratch.

Held a baby.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I’m not a big New Year’s resolutions type person. So… I didn’t make any and I didn’t keep any. I did, however, achieve my goal of making Thanksgiving dinner. (I have a bad feeling that this survey is going to involve a lot of references to Turkey Day.)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Oh my yes! One of my husband’s groomsmen had a baby boy… Two close college friends had their second baby girl… A high school friend had a baby boy… A high school friend of my husband’s had a baby boy… A couple we recently met had a baby boy… A childhood friend had a baby girl… Another childhood friend had a baby boy… A bloggy friend had a baby girl… And many other bloggers I read religiously have also had adorable children, I suspect primarily so I can visit their blogs and coo over the cute little cheeks.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. Thank the good Lord for that.

5. What countries did you visit?

Sadly, I did not leave the country this year. Not like I leave the country regularly, or anything. I mean, I’m no globetrotter.

However, I have been to the following states this year – some of them multiple times:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

That’s got to count for SOMETHING, right?

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Same answer as last year (apparently simply writing it down and posting it on one’s blog doesn’t make it magically appear): Thinner thighs.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The strep throat or possibly the Tylenol are making my mind very fuzzy Internet. Not good for an end-of-year recap post. But I’m having trouble coming up with specific dates.

So let’s say the big ones: My husband’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – all great days.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making Thanksgiving dinner – from scratch – with only one incident involving acrid smoke.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn’t exercise as much as I planned and wanted to.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

2010 was The Year of Food Poisoning, where I wound up curled into a shivering ball on the bathroom floor not once but twice. Lovely.

And, of course, it ended with me lying on the bathroom floor in a shivering ball. Because my brand of strep begins with a fever and vomiting. Lovely. Let’s hope that 2011 brings me a stronger immune system.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Tickets – plane tickets to see my parents and my in-laws last February and experience a wonderful two-week vacation… Plane tickets to Napa to spend a weekend with three high school friends… And tickets to a football game for my husband’s 30th birthday.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband’s. He is so incredibly busy at work, and yet he always – always – makes time for me. This year has been tough in many ways, and he was always there to offer his level-headed, logical opinion… To give me a shoulder to cry on… To hold me… And to make me laugh. I am so very lucky to have him in my life.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

This is a loaded question this year. So I’m going to say… The behavior of people on airplanes appalled me. For the love of god, put your carry-on suitcase in the bin the RIGHT WAY so that there’s room for other people’s stuff.

I swear, the instant people set foot in an airport, they seem to forget that there’s anybody else in the universe. BLECH.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel, definitely! Which is a good thing!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The two vacations we took this year. Both were AMAZING.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2009?

Runaway by Kanye West

Love the Way You Lie by Eminem, featuring Rhianna

Teenage Dream by Katy Perry

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Hmm. I’d say that this year held sadness and happiness in equal portions… So I’m probably at about the same level I was last January. Maybe a measure sadder. But I think I’m less lonely than I was last year, so that’s good too!
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner! Okay, so I’m only thinner by a few pounds. But it’s something!

c) richer or poorer? Richer!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Well, I wish I’d exercised more. I wish I’d been more giving. I wish I’d done more writing for myself. And I wish I’d done more socializing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my husband, my parents, my brother, and the dog and cat! It was a fabulous Christmas!

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

No. But I did fall MORE in love with my husband. It was a different sort of year than our first year of marriage – not quite as exciting and new. But I learn more about my husband and how smart and strong and kind he is every day. My love for him grows and grows.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I can never pick just one! Mad Men… The Good Wife… The Big Bang Theory… Blue Bloods… Dexter… Friday Night Lights… The Office… Parenthood… All great shows!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope!

24. What was the best book you read?

I read over 30 books in 2010; a lot of them were great reads. But I think the best book I read was Incendiary by Chris Cleave.

25. What did you want and get?

A watch! I mentioned it in passing to my husband a long time ago, and he surprised me on Christmas with a beautiful watch.

Cute shirts!

Cute bracelets!

A warm, cozy bathrobe!

26. What did you want and not get?

A pedometer. But really, if someone had given me a pedometer as my big Christmas gift, I might have been disappointed. It’s hard to get really excited over something that measures your footsteps.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Social Network. Possibly because it was the only non-3D film I saw in the theaters this year and automatically gets an extra gazillion points just for that.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 29 in 2010, and it was the best birthday I’ve had in YEARS. My birthday fell on a day during our fabulous two-week vacation last spring. My parents went ALL OUT and we not only got to ski on my birthday, but they took me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in all the lands. PLUS they showered me with presents.

And THEN we went to California for a week with my in-laws… And in honor of my birthday, they took me to a beautiful spa for lunch and a massage and my mother-in-law bought me adorable red sandals. Then we went out to dinner at a delicious restaurant.

Such a great birthday!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The ability to switch off my brain when it goes into Worry Mode.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

All about comfort.

31. What kept you sane?

My husband and my mother.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Eminem.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

34. Who did you miss?

My brother.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

I’d have to say my book club girls, collectively. They are all super friendly and fun and I look forward to our book club sessions every month.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

I worry too much.  And worrying doesn’t help ANYTHING. (Although I knew that before.)

Also, that an iPad may be cool, but I don’t really see its usefulness. Seriously.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? I could really use a wish right now.” – Airplanes by B.O.B.

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