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Archive for the ‘New Year’ Category

I am not a big goal setter. It’s just… not my personality. I promise you that I am hard enough on myself and my failures without seeing them clearly in black and white. (To-do lists are hard enough, you know?) Maybe that’s a cop-out, but I think I manage to accomplish a fair number or things without setting specific goals, so I think it’s one of those more-than-one-way-to-skin-a-cat (WHY is that a phrase? WHO is doing so much cat skinning? YUCK.) more-than-one-way-to-marinate-your-chicken kind of things.

Nonetheless, I love reading about other people’s goals. And so I am going to post a Very Loose List of assorted goals that I will be thinking about and trying to achieve this year. Some of them I already mentioned, if briefly, in my end-of-year wrap-up. Perhaps we should call them aspirations instead of goals. Yes, let’s do that; it sounds less demanding. Less judgmental if I don’t achieve them. (Why list out what you want to do, you may be wondering, if you are so laissez faire about actually doing them? A good question indeed.)

Maybe it will be fun to revisit this list next January, to see how much I’ve accomplished! Maybe it will be amusing to see how drastically my priorities have changed over the year! Maybe it will send me spiraling into a cavern of self-castigation! Maybe I will forget all about this list and only come across it by accident many years in the future, if ever!

To the list!

Habits

–      Be in bed by 10:30 every night. This is really tough because most nights, my husband doesn’t get home until around six thirty or seven. And then it’s time to put Carla to bed, which takes another hour. And then I need to make or finish dinner and we need to eat it. This puts us at finishing dinner around eight at the earliest, and makes a ten thirty bedtime seem kind of early. But I feel so much better about life when I get real, actual sleep each night, so I want to try.

–      Ignore my phone – unless I have a real, actual phone call – between Carla getting home from school and me going to bed. This means giving up my Toy Blast habit, but that’s not something I feel particularly good about as it is, so it won’t be a big loss.

–      Do a practice German lesson every day. I have already skipped a lesson or two this week (yesterday – whoops) so I need to really buckle down if this is going to become a daily habit.

–      Exercise three days a week on average. Some weeks – like last week – I just don’t have the bandwidth for exercise. Other weeks, I manage to walk on the treadmill or do an exercise video almost every day. So I think aiming for an average is the best way to succeed.

–       Eat better. I mentioned before that I lost a bunch of weight last year and then gained it all back. So now I am planning to lose it all again. Perhaps it will return in November and I should think of it as an annual fall houseguest, but if I could rid my person of it for good, that would obviously be preferable.

Work

–      Finish the first draft of my manuscript. I mean, this is Job One. Top Priority. The Most Important Goal of All Goals.

–      Figure out what to do with the short story I’ve been working on for a few years. I finally finished the thing last summer, but now I need to get it into fighting shape and think about submitting it to some publications.

–      Set up an interview with a subject expert for my next novel. The next novel is percolating away and I have a contact who knows a real-life expert with whom I would LOVE to talk. I need to get past my fear of talking to people and just set up an interview with her.

House Projects

–      Finally get someone to come fix the ice maker. It’s been broken for over a year. My husband has tried to fix it. Both of our fathers have tried to fix it. I even called the place that sold our fridge to us and got the name of someone they recommended – but I googled the place and it got terrible reviews, so I chickened out. I need to call back and get a few other options and just make the call already.

–      Find out what it takes to stretch the carpet in the upstairs hall. The carpet bags a little in the middle and I think we could get it re-stretched? I am not sure about this. But I do know I’m not ready to replace the upstairs carpet just yet.

–      Look into the cost of new windows. We got an energy audit and the result was that our windows are ALL leaking. We can get some money to put toward them if we install news ones within the year but man. This is a daunting (and expensive!) task if there ever was one!

–      Revamp the living room. I originally was thinking about this in terms of separate smaller goals, but when I look at them all together, it turns out the whole room needs work. Specifically, I want to:

o   Put up a gallery wall. We have tons of artwork that would look great on the big blank wall in our living room. We just need to plan it out and DO it.

o   Replace the ottoman. We have a beautiful leather ottoman that was a hand-me-down from my in-laws, and my child and other children who visit our home have slowly destroyed it over time, peeling the leather upholstery off the top so that it looks like maybe it first belonged to a raccoon. I want a new one, and I have my eye on some options that have storage inside.

o   Replace the side table. The side table is also a hand-me-down from my in-laws. (See also: almost every piece of furniture in our house.) But I hate it. It’s too wide for the space, the color/style is all wrong. And it has no storage. I want to replace it with something slimmer, in a darker color and more modern style, that has drawers or shelves.

o   Convert our wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace. We already have a gas starter, so I don’t think would be toodifficult, but I need to look into it.

o   Paint the baseboards. I mean. I’ve been hating our DARK GREEN baseboards since 2012, so it would be nice to finally paint them white. Maybe this is the year!

o   As long as we’re dreaming, I’d also love to paint the fireplace, get some curtains for the sliding glass door (which we have to replace; see above re: leaky windows), and stain our buffet. And get a new couch. Not that we can afford to get a new one that’s as nice as our hideous, uncomfortable, very expensive but FREE TO US hand-me-down couch.

–      Get additional craft storage for the kitchen. We have a dedicated craft cabinet for Carla. It gets a LOT of use. But we could use more space. I have my eye on these IKEA TRONES cabinetsand I want to install them in the hallway between our pantry and laundry room. Yes, they are technically shoe cabinets, but I think they would be perfect for storing construction paper and in-progress artwork.

–      Figure out what to do about our grill. I tried SO HARD to fix it last summer and I failed. So I am torn between wanting to just figure it out… and throwing up my hands and get a new grill. We earmarked the earnings from our garage sale this past fall for a new grill, so we could totally get a new one. I am just feeling stubborn. But I also NEED my grill in the summer. Maybe “need” is too strong a word. I DEEPLY APPRECIATE my grill.

Family

–      Eat dinner together twice a week. Eating together as a family is not something we do daily. It just doesn’t work for our family. But when we domanage to eat together, I enjoy it. And it gives me an opportunity to model to Carla the eating habits and manners that I want her to learn. If we can eat dinner together on Friday and Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday, that would be an improvement.

–      Do more weekend adventures. When Carla was three, we were really good at this. We took her skiing and ice skating and did something new and fun pretty much every weekend. We hadto – she was a bundle of energy and needed to be going going going all day. Now that she’s mellowed out a bit, we don’t feel the same urgency to get moving. Plus, my husband and I are introverts and homebodies so our default inclination is to stay at home. But I think we need to push ourselves more to get out and take advantage of all our city has to offer.

–      Go on a date night with my husband more often (every six weeks?). We are not good at date nights, but I really do find that they help me feel more connected to my husband. So I want to make them more of a priority.

Personal

–      Be more patient and less yell-y. Evergreen goal.

–      Host friends for dinner. I like the idea of having people over. I like the socializing and the community building and I even enjoy the cooking. But thinking about all of it is super daunting. So I want to get past that.

–      Buy new underwear. I am stealing this goal from Stephanie because I have been lamenting the state of my underwear drawer for a long time. So many pairs of undies have holes in them, or just aren’t comfortable or flattering. Some I know I purchased when I was pregnant with Carla, and many more are even older than that. So it’s time. I get irritated by how expensive underwear is, though, so it’s going to be a challenge to force myself to buy some – especially if I’m going to avoid the prone-to-holes Target options.

–      Read 40 books. I read 30 books this year and I want to see if I can do more in 2019. If I can truly give up my phone habit (and not replace it with TV), I think this will be easy to meet.

I know one of the reasons people don’t accomplish goals is that they are too ambitious… and maybe this list is a little ambitious. But they are aspirations, after all, not set-in-stone do-or-die musts. Anyway, let’s see how this goes!

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Our Christmas decorations have mostly been put away. The guest room and bathroom have been cleaned and all the laundry has been laundered. My husband and I have thoroughly organized our wrapping paper mess, I have cleaned out the shelving unit in the basement, and I have purchased new bins for Carla’s craft cabinet. Our home, if not the year ahead, is ready to be filled with great things. What better way to cap an excellent end to the year than with this annual bloggy tradition? (Autocorrect wanted to change “bloggy” to “bloody” which makes me giggle.)

And guess what, internet? This is the TENTH RECAP I’ve written in the history of this little blog! That seems like… something, right?

So settle in for… well, for more of the same, if you’ve been around for any of the previous recaps. However, just for a little change of pace, I have finally done away with all the questions that have irritated me for the past DECADE, so you have that to look forward to. (Don’t worry, I kept the original survey mostly intact, just with the offending questions struckthrough [strikedthrough? strikethroughed?] because I am nothing if not tethered to tradition.)

(Why don’t I just come up with some questions I WANT to answer? Would that be so hard, Self? NO, no it would not!) (And yet, will I come up with new questions? Probably not.) (Sheesh, I am so powerless to Tradition. This is the way I’ve always done it, therefore this is the way it should be done for all eternity!) (Also, am a teensy bit lazy.) (Do YOU have questions you want me to answer?)

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & SundryIf you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 201720162015201420132012201120102009.)

And do post a link to your end-of-year round-up when you get a chance, will you?

  • What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Well, the only thing I can think of for this response is that we did our estate planning. Which isn’t a particularly exciting accomplishment, but I suppose it’s worthwhile. Oh! I also went to Alaska, which is quite possibly a Once In A Lifetime sort of a trip.

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

Last year, I said:

I did NOT finish the novel. I did NOT find a way to speed up the process. In fact, I became mired deeply in the realization that this part of it is Slow Going. But [finishing the novel] is a good goal to put back on the list.

Also, I want to work on my patience, especially when it comes to my husband and my daughter. I want to work on exercising more regularly, because it greatly improves my mental health. I want to work on eating better. I want to read more.

I did NOT finish the novel in 2018. But I made some good progress, and I am plugging ahead. Maybe 2019 is The Year.

I think I made some good steps towards more patience, although I still have a long way to go. I definitely succeeded at exercising more regularly and eating better (well, for MOST of the year; there were a few months in there where I simply ate whatever I wanted in mass quantities). And I read the most books I have ever managed in a single year (31). That’s nothing compared to other people, but it’s a big one for me.

As for 2019, I have decided to make some very specific goals, which I hope means they are easier to accomplish.

  1. I want to learn German. Maybe not fluent German, which seems like quite a stretch. Especially for someone who took four years of high school French and another year in college and never actually learned more than basic vocabulary. But I want to learn enough that I don’t feel like a complete floundering oaf when I visit Munich and Vienna later this year.
  2. I want to finally, after seven plus years in this house, hang up the gallery wall that I’ve been planning to do. All of the photos and artwork exist, in frames, in my basement. The lovely blank wall is just sitting there, ready for decoration. I just need to DO IT.
  3. Last year, I lost 10+% of my body weight. And then gained it all back. I would like to do the former again without the latter.
  4. I want to cut back on the amount of time I spend on my phone. My Reach Goal is to put my phone in my bedroom when I arrive home with Carla after school and not touch it until I set my alarm before bed. But I’d be happy to just keep it out of my hands until she goes to bed.
  5. I want to invite friends over for dinner. I ENJOY this. But I always think about it and then never invite anyone over and they magically never invite themselves, so I am going to remedy that.

That seems like a good place to start. The bigger goals are in play, too – let’s not forget about patience and quality time and THE NOVEL. But throwing in a few specifics shouldn’t hurt.

  • Where did you travel this year? (This is my own interpretation of a question I could never answer which was How many countries did you visit this year?)

This year, I visited six states besides my own: Alaska, California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and my home state out west.

  • What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

I am a broken record about this, but A FULLY DRAFTED NOVEL.

  • What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I think I’m going to delete this one from future years’ surveys because I can rarely remember any specific dates. I mean, there was my tenth wedding anniversary, which is pretty special.  And my fifteenth college reunion was pretty cool. My kid turning five. My brother getting married. There were really great occurrences this year, but the specific dates aren’t really lodged in my brain, is what I’m saying.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don’t think I have particularly BIG achievements. I was proud of the freelance work I completed. I made a photo/memory album for my mom’s seventieth birthday, which I felt great about (and which seemed well-received by my mom). I read more than 30 books (this is a LOT for me). Nothing earth shattering, though.

  • What was your biggest failure?

What I have said the past two years applies here:

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?

Also, I made some really great progress toward physical goals – more exercise, better/healthier eating habits – and then I erased my efforts by returning to lackluster exercising and lustful overeating, which I’d really worked to defeat. Well. Onward.

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, nope.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

I have no idea. The Barbie Dreamhouse we got Carla for Christmas? That seems to be a big hit.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

Last year, I said:

Every year I think it’s the same, so maybe this question should go on the reject list.

So I am officially erasing this question.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
  • Where did most of your money go?
  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I think the most exciting things that happened this year were the big surprise birthday weekend my dad and aunts put on for my mom’s birthday and my college reunion. I got super excited about both of them, and both turned out to be even more fun than I’d anticipated.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2018?

“SoulMate” by Justin Timberlake

“God’s Plan” by Drake

“Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino

“Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse Theme Song” by someone who knows the true meaning of “earworm”

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder? 
  2. b) thinner or fatter? 
  3. c) richer or poorer? 
  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing (evergreen item)!!! Keeping up with out-of-state friends. Doing fun things with Carla outside the house. Going on dates with my husband.

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

Same as last year: Yelling. Looking at my phone. Looking at headlines and freaking out. Stressing about things I have no control over.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Carla and my husband and I had a quiet Christmas just the three of us. We opened presents, Carla played with her new Barbies and Dreamhouse happily as my husband and I cooked dinner together. There was a tiny bit of leftover snow outside. Our tree was lovely. It was quiet and very very nice.

  • Did you fall in love in 2018?
  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Oh, how I love television!!! I re-watched the entire series of The Closer, which I absolutely adore. But this question is about NEW television. The Good Place is probably the top of the list, but I also really, really enjoyed How to Get Away with Murder, which I know came out many years ago but is brand new to me. I also watched Silicon Valley for the first time, which is a fun show. And I really enjoyed The Sinner as well. There are probably a lot more I should be remembering but I can’t think of any.

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
  • What was the best book you read?

Best book of the year was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. It was lyrical and funny and heart-rending and I loved it so much.

A very close runner up would have to be The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel, which was a perfect collection of short stories. The language was so beautifully crafted and the stories were so surprising and tightly drawn.

Then The North Water by Ian McGuire, which was on a subject I did not know I cared for (maritime disasters!) and the plot was lively, the language was vivid, and the whole thing was full of fascinating historical detail.

I also really enjoyed History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert,and The Line That Held Us by David Joy – each of which had a LOT to recommend it, from great plot to beautiful writing to thought provoking subject matter and complicated characters.

  • What did you want and get?

Freelance assignments from great clients. Really fun vacations. Wonderful new experiences – I mean, Alaska on its own was absolutely amazing. Lots of really fantastic quality time with my husband and Carla.

  • What did you want and not get?

Second verse, same as the first:

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

Also, the ability to overcome my desire to eat anything I want in mass quantities and instead find some way to consistently eat reasonable amounts of (mainly) healthful food.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Um. Did I see any movies? I remember really wanting to see The Big Sick and Crazy Rich Asiansbut I didn’t actually see either. My husband and I did take Carla to see The Grinch, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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

And, of course, A FINISHED DRAFT OF THE NOVEL FOR THE LOVE.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

I think I spent most of the year in skinny jeans and boots. That counts as a fashion “concept,” right?

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. Books. Recipe blogs. Writing partners. Alone time. Good TV.

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

Kristin Bell in The Good Place is my everything.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?
  • Who did you miss?

Same as last year:

I have had a lot of serious loneliness for some of my good friends who don’t live in my state. My best friend from forever, who lives two time zones away. My dear friend from medical school (not that she or I actually went to medical school; our husbands did) who has two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband and who is, herself, fantastic. I wish they lived nearer. Some college friends I miss.

  • Who was the best new person you met?

I met a new mom this fall who is super smart and fun and engaging. I hope we hang out more in 2019. Also, my husband and I met another couple recently who seem super cool.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

I took on a lot more freelance work in 2018 than I have since I started writing the novel, which had two results: 1. I had less time for my personal writing, which is Bad. 2. I had a greater sense of accomplishment and contribution to my household, which is Good. So… I guess my life lesson is that sometimes your desires and your needs are in direct conflict with one another, and you have to find a workable balance.

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Everyone’s excited / You’re always invited / To the Dreamhouse / Oh the Dreamhouse!

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope your 2019 is amazing!

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Welcome to the yearly recap! Which I am doing purely because Tradition and not because I want to!

Okay, and also for completeness. And also out of a sense of reciprocity, because I want to read YOUR recap. Link me to it in the comments, pretty please? I need some early 2018 reading.

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 20162015201420132012201120102009.) (Holy moly, I’ve been doing this nonsense a long time.)

  • What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

This is one of the questions I am beginning to find tiresome about this recap. (You may recall that last year I began throwing out questions that irritated me. This hasn’t made the reject list… yet.) Perhaps if my life were full of Once In A Lifetime Events, it would be less so. Well. I shall keep it if ONLY because next year I will have something to add. (Don’t get too excited.)

Anyway. The thing I did this year that I’d never done before was attending a weeklong writers’ conference. It was amazing, packed full of valuable information, exhausting, and 100% worthwhile.

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

Last year, I said:

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.

Well shit.

I did NOT finish the novel. I did NOT find a way to speed up the process. In fact, I became mired deeply in the realization that this part of it is Slow Going. But it’s a good one to put back on the list.

Also, I want to work on my patience, especially when it comes to my husband and my daughter. I want to work on exercising more regularly, because it greatly improves my mental health. I want to work on eating better. I want to read more.

Oh look, I left on some of the questions that I refused to answer last year! Just so we can give them a smug glance and move on!

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

Same as last every year: Not really a big year for travel.

This year, I visited five states besides my own: California, Florida, New York, Virginia, and my home state out west.

I can’t really imagine the answers changing in a big way anytime soon. I mean, I have some trips coming up… but nothing out of the country until 2019.

  • What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

What I said last year:

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.”

Yes, let’s go with the first two once again for 2018. I think I succeeded, a lot, with the third. Carla and I spent a lot more time together in 2017 than we ever have before, and much of it was really  GREAT. We do a lot of activities – games and art projects and baking projects and walks and bike rides – together, we go to museums and playgrounds, we snuggle together, we read together. If only I could get the PATIENCE thing down, I think it would be about perfect.

Also. Deep breath. Listen, I have tried really hard over the past few years to be okay with my body. It is what it is. For the most part, I have been okay with it. But with the ever compounding effects of aging coupled with some recent weight gain, I now find myself in a not-so-great place with regards to my physical appearance. So I would like to find a way to balance the work I need to do to achieve (a semblance of) what I WANT against the sometimes-impossible-to-achieve desire to just be Zen about the state of my physical being and accept it for what it is.

  • What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

This is kind of cheating, because it just happened, but December 29 because that’s when I learned that Sue Grafton passed away. She is an author whose work I have read for decades. And I admire her writing deeply, and love her primary character and her body of work. So I was really saddened when I found out she’d died.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Applying and being accepted to the writers’ conference.

  • What was your biggest failure?

Once again, what I said last year applies:

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?

Other failures abound!

As I mentioned before, attending the writing conference was hugely valuable… but I let it intimidate me. And that was a huge failure. Instead of digging in and doing the work, I shrank away from it and didn’t write for… many weeks. Once I got back into it, I think my writing has been stronger and more purposeful. But I am ashamed of myself for being so naïve about the process and then letting the revelation that This Isn’t Easy throw me for such a loop.

As if THAT wasn’t enough of a failure… I even blogged less than I did in 2016. So I don’t really know what’s going on. I am kicking the writing into HIGH GEAR in 2018, that’s for damn sure.

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

In early September, I caught a cold. And it stuck around through all of September and then morphed into an atypical pneumonia in October. I finally kicked it in early November, but man. Being tired and unable to exercise for nearly two months was ROUGH. So, nothing serious (thank goodness) but it was annoying enough to be really memorable.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

I have no idea. My husband and I got each other a new mattress for Christmas, but the jury is still out on whether it’s better than our old mattress. I got a new coat that I like, and a new hat and scarf that I think are adorable.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

Every year I think it’s the same, so maybe this question should go on the reject list:

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?

As I said last year:

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

The past couple of years, my answer has been about Carla and the holidays. And it just keeps getting better and better! She gets SO excited about everything! But she is also getting old enough to really think about the holidays and look forward to them. She was interested in Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and we went to Temple together. She was excited about Hanukkah and even lit the menorah all by herself (with close parental supervision, of course). She was excited about Christmas and had a blast picking out presents for her family and wrapping them herself, making Christmas cookies and chocolates, decorating the tree, and everything before, after, and in between. So much fun!

I also got really excited about the writing conference. It was a huge step outside my comfort zone, and I’m really glad I did it.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2017?

Carla has become OBSESSED with Taylor Swift. We listen to 1989 all the time in the car and she can sing most of the songs word for word. Her favorite is “Wildest Dreams.” I also think of “Despacito” when I think of this year, because it was on the radio a lot and because Carla really enjoyed it. There are others that I am not remembering because I am tired.

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder?
  2. b) thinner or fatter?
  3. c) richer or poorer?

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. IRRITATED SCOWLING.

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

Writing. (Always.) Reading. Prioritizing my time better. Exercising.

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

Yelling. Looking at my phone. Looking at headlines and freaking out. Stressing about things I have no control over.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, with my husband and Carla, and my parents. It was lovely and fun. We had snow. We had delicious food – my dad made a roast, my mom made a pie. We made chocolates – including three batches of caramel (two of which became caramel sauce rather than candies – very happy mistakes indeed). We played lots of games. We drank lots of wine. We watched lots of movies (Elf still makes me cry. Which makes me feel stupid. But man, there’s just something so TOUCHING about all those people singing Christmas carols together and believing in Santa!) It was relaxing and warm and delightful.

  • Did you fall in love in 2017?

Ugh. REJECT. Every year this one makes me gag a little. Let’s just say for the foreseeable future it will always be my husband, my daughter, or both of them.

  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Oh, how I love television!!! Mindhunter was good. So was Ozark. I enjoyed The Fall, even though it wasn’t my husband’s favorite. Big Little Lies was amazing and I wish I could watch it again for the first time. Dark was pretty excellent. Major Crimes is in its last season, and I am sad about that, because I have loved the cast and the format since the early days of The Closer. I also loved the latest seasons of The Americans, Fargo, Game of Thrones, The Great British Baking CompetitionShark TankBlack-ishFresh Off the BoatThe Middle, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 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?

Last November I fell into a Sue Grafton wormhole and started reading my way through her Kinsey Millhone series (again). In February – Q Is for Quarry, to be exact – I grew weary of the project. But after reading her newest (and final) book Y Is for Yesterday this past October, I had a renewed desire to finish. So I have V and W left to go. And now I own the entire series.

Okay, that entire paragraph had nothing to do with the question. The best book, I think, is a three-way tie between Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, Joe Ide’s IQ, and Justin Cronin’s The Passage. All were excellent, and I still think about them. They were high points in an otherwise dreary year, reading-wise. I don’t know what my problem is. It’s not lack of good reading material, that’s for sure. I just have been in a Reading Funk. Oh well. It happens, I guess.

  • What did you want and get?

For Christmas: Some survivalist tools. A new painting by my mother. A white Christmas. A new mattress. A cozy sweater that I kept seeing on every gift guide ever. Books: a new one I’ve been eyeing and another I haven’t. Cozy socks.

In general: Acceptance to the writing conference. Lots of really great quality time with my husband and Carla. More confidence as a (part-time) stay-at-home-mom.

  • What did you want and not get?

Second verse, same as the first:

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

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t watch many movies, so I am squinting really hard trying to remember ANY besides Moana. Which was, hands down, the best movie I’ve seen all year. So. Good. Carla and I both cried in the theater when watching it for the first time, and again when we watched it at home many weeks later.

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
  • 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 2017?

Um, trying to stay on trend enough to not feel like a Total Loser around the other moms at dropoff without giving in to Being Trendy or spending a million bucks? Does that count as a personal fashion concept?

  • What kept you sane?

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

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

I have big writer crushes on Louise Erdrich, Celeste Ng, and the late Sue Grafton.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?
  • Who did you miss?

I have had a lot of serious loneliness for some of my good friends who don’t live in my state. My best friend from forever, who lives two time zones away. My dear friend from medical school (not that she or I actually went to medical school; our husbands did) who has two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband and who is, herself, fantastic. I wish they lived nearer. Some college friends I miss.

  • Who was the best new person you met?

I have made a few new friends through Carla! Some are still in the very early stages, others are moving right along. I haven’t found a Best Friend yet, but that’s okay.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

Same as last year because I find myself amusing:

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.)

Will you remember me / standing in a nice dress / staring at the sunset babe.

Red lips and rosy cheeks / Say you’ll see me again / even if it’s just in your

Wildest dreams.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope 2018 goes a hell of a lot better than 2017!

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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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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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I did not make resolutions this year. This is not because I object to resolutions; I simply have difficulty KEEPING resolutions. So I’ve found that the solution to that perplexing problem is to refrain from making resolutions in the first place. Genius, I know.

But! I am not opposed to bogarting other people’s resolutions.

When my best friend from back home told me she was giving up sugar for January, I jumped right on board.

My logic: If I don’t make it through January, I only have HER to blame, for picking such an unreasonable resolution. Right? RIGHT?

Anyway, I need to take more initiative when it comes to my health, and abstaining from sugar for a month seemed like a good idea. I don’t expect to give up sugar forever. But I do think this will help re-calibrate my sugar-desire mechanism. Or whatever it is that one re-calibrates.

(And by sugar I mean sweets. I am still eating fruit and drinking juice [in moderation] and using products that may have sugar or a sugar derivative in them, like ketchup.)

(I’m not even TRYING to aim for perfection here, Internet.)

Since I will only be traveling once this month (woo!), I thought it would be a good idea to get into exercising. After all, my in-laws gave us an elliptical and a treadmill. So it’s rather stupid NOT to use them. Especially because they are set up very nicely in front of the basement TV.

So far this week, I’ve exercised every day AND I’ve steered clear of sugar.

But I do have Things to Report. (Yes! Already!)

Thing 1: I didn’t realize how much I was depending on sweet things. I never really cared about sweets – well, not THAT much – until I met my husband. But he has a MASSIVE sweet tooth, and he converted me to sweettoothism as well (although I’m nowhere near as devout as he is). But I always thought that I was so much more of a chips and cheese gal that sweets weren’t really a big part of my life.

Nonetheless, it turns out that I really MISS sweets. I guess they had become a bigger part of my life than I realized? (Although, thinking back, I do seem to remember lots of Reese’s eating going on this year.) I find myself prowling around the house, hungry, trying to figure out how to satisfy the gnawing sweet-hunger I’ve developed. Usually I stave it off with chips or alcohol.

Thing 2: But! Now I am giving up alcohol for January as well, just because my friend is. And because I am clearly a masochist. Now I will have to really load up on the chips to compensate!

Thing 3: I tried to use my computer on the treadmill the other day. I do a lot of reading (for work) and I figured I could walk and read at the same time. Of course, my treadmill doesn’t have a laptop holder. So I thought I would just hold the laptop in my arms. It would be a good workout for my arms, to hold it for 30 minutes whilst climbing an imaginary hill.

Then one of my clients IMed me. So I IMed her back.

And fell off the treadmill.

Don’t worry! I didn’t drop my computer!

Thing 4: Last night, I made a “milkshake” with orange juice, crushed ice, Greek yogurt, a dash of vanilla, and a little drizzle of honey.

I do not recommend it.

It was gritty and tasteless. But I made a LOT of it, so I drank three glasses.

Thing 5: My husband and I tried a new recipe – broiled salmon with Thai sweet chili glaze from Once Upon a Chef. It was delicious and SUPER EASY. We paired it with steamed broccoli.

I felt SO HEALTHY after eating it, too.

Thing 6: It feels very virtuous to say “I’ve exercised and abstained from sugar ALL YEAR LONG.”

It feels less virtuous to be reminded that the year, so far, is only 5 days old.

Thing 7: I have an urgent and inexplicable craving for Brie. Wrapped in phyllo dough and crisped in the oven until the Brie oozes out the sides.

My friend better not say she’s ALSO giving up cheese.

 

 

How are your resolutions – or non-resolutions – coming so far, Internet?

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