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Posts Tagged ‘Happy new year’

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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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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