Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year in Review

It's not just lists that can stimulate that thing often called "writer's block" which, for me, when blogging, can also be called "laziness" or "I-can't-write-about-a-certain-thing-because-I'll-be-fired/ostracized/called out-etc." which is pretty much every topic I really have wanted to write about over the past couple of months or so...
So I found this questionnaire, a kind of year in review, if you will, and this is my project for today. Some of the questions are hopelessly stupid (I'll asterisk them) and some are thought-provoking. Ah yes, blogging: to provoke thoughts. Ones that are less-than-vapid.
That said, this is the blog that posted the questions:

And here they are, in all their end-of-year glory, with my answers:

What did you do in 2011 that you've never done before?
-delivered a eulogy, planned a funeral. god awful.

Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
-didn't have 'resolutions' so to speak, but I did promise myself to absolutely not read the paper, and for the most part, (99%) I've kept that promise. Let me explain: I LOVE reading the paper, any paper, any time, any where, but I simply can't take the news stories, the bias, the spin, the slant. I want to know about an issue, via osmosis, and find my own way to an opinion, one that I formed, outside of the media stream.
So, in a nutshell, no, no resolutions. I did, however, give up criticizing my parents for lent. Turned out to be a very pragmatic move, based on events that began around that time of year...

Did anyone close to you give birth?
-endlessly. as a child-free-by-choice I marvel at it. Then I roll over in bed and go right back to sleep.

Did anyone close to you die?
-yes. My Dad. Despite any other event that occurred this year (ie, getting engaged), 2011 will forever be defined by this, I'm sad to say. I can't even look at the year in review without tripping over June.

What countries did you visit?
-the US, as always.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
-more peace of mind, less fear, more confidence, less trepidation, more stubborn-ness, less compromise.

What dates from 2011 will remain etched on your memory, and why?
-March 13th--my dad's hospital stay, coinciding with the Japanese earthquake, which I did not find out about until days later
-June 13th--my dad's last day
-June 17th--his funeral
-June 19th--father's day. realizing how much I loathe "hallmark holidays".
-September 7th--engagement

What was your biggest achievement in 2011?
-for the most part, it was keeping my mouth shut when it counted. This saved me countless times--with friends, at work, with family.
I quote my beloved therapist: "Sometimes silence is the best answer".

What was your biggest failure?
-in contrast to the question above--not telling it like it was. Sometimes people just need to hear how stupidly they are behaving.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
-chronic anxiety. I suffer it every day--but I will never stop trying to manage and control it.

What was the best thing you bought?
-it's always running shoes. The money I spend on shoes is sacred.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
-my sister, for always telling it like it is, even when words fail me to do so. My mother, for her strength, even when I sometimes see weakness. Mike, for putting it all in perspective.

Whose behaviour appalled and depressed you?
-the list is really endless. I've written about my father's extended family here, and their collective behaviour surrounding his death still shocks and saddens me. I've never cut anyone out of my life like that before, blood relatives (for the most part) and I've never not tried to mend fences. Yes, it's sad, and yes, it hurts, but I would not change it. I know it's for the best.

Where did most of your money go?
-into savings.

What did you get really excited about?
-being engaged, and about not doing the 'traditional' white-wedding, which, at this point in my life, is a big YAWN.

What song(s) will always remind you of 2011?
-wow. I guess anything on my running playlist of this year.

Compared to this time last year are you:
-I'll say this, quoting John Dunne: It all evens out in the end. (it always seems to for me).

What do you wish you did more of?
-more running. I know it seems impossible, but I did miss the entire springtime of running due to extenuating circumstances.

What do you wish you did less of?
-worrying. Hands down. I have to stop. I HAVE TO.

How did you spend Christmas?

Did you fall in love in 2011?
-more in love, yes

What was your favourite tv program of 2011?
-I say this without shame the Real Housewives--New York and Beverly Hills specifically. My sister and I love it. My most treasured gift from my shower was the Real Housewives hardcover book that my sister bought me. She later admitted she found it at the dollar store for 2 bucks. That makes me love it MORE.
-football. At least it makes sense (unlike hockey, which has descended to the level of common brutality and brute stupidity).

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't this time last year?
-my grandfather told me when I was little that "hate is a strong word". So, no hate. I have strong feelings of repellant towards certain people, and alot of that is un-bloggable. For now.

What was the best book you read?
-I read at least twenty-five "couldn't put it down if the building was on fire and I only had one chance to be saved" amazing books this year. Joan Didion's Blue Nights tops the list I think. I couldn't really talk about this book to too many people, because it is about the author losing a child, albeit an adult child, and people immediately react and label it 'depressing'. Well, I say, bring it on. Send in the depressed clowns. Right where I want to be.
Jennifer Lauck's memoir "Still Waters" was another great one, as was Mary Karr's Lit. I finally read Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle and loved it. The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman was the best fiction book I read (I don't read much fiction anymore. It's mostly memoir/biography). Thunder and Lightning by Natalie Goldberg was another insanely intelligent book. In it, she talks about how all the major writers in the US come from the South. Mike and I went down a long list. She's right. And the reasons are compelling and moving. Read the book to find out more. I also really enjoyed Julia Cameron's Floor Sample, her memoir.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
-Adele. Not that I discovered her. I think it was my sister who turned me onto her, in a conversation that went like this:
Me: "I just heard this great song called "Set Fire to the Rain!"
My sister; (eye roll): "Oh my God. That's only been out for like years. I have the first album".
Me: (chagrined) "It's still really good! It's new to me."

What did you want, and get?
-peace of mind. It's something I chase, ever-elusivse, but I don't stop running after it.

What was your favourite film of the year?
-I realized, proudly, that as I read this question, I have not seen a single movie in the theatre this year. This year, too, like other years, I have not seen any of the 'oscar contenders' (War Horse. Are they kidding?).
As you know, movies are not my thing. I know it sounds nuts, but I don't have the attention span, despite my ability to read a book in a couple of days.
I did really like The Machinist with Christian Bale, I think I've written about it. Dark, disturbing, confusing, and original. All the things I aspire to in a movie. And in a book. And in myself.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
-I turned 38 on August 24th. There was a tornado warning that day so I couldn't go to my mom's, which was the plan. I spent the evening reading Mary Karr's LIT (another insanely good book I read this year) in the Richmond Rogue across the street from my condo, eating wings and drinking chardonnay. Very me.

What one thing would have made your life immeasurably more satisfying?
-who doesn't want/wish for more money, to be independently wealthy, to have more time, to be more creative...all of those things. Time would top the list.

*How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
-this to me is one of the 'stupid' questions that I talked about in my intro. I'm not answering it on the grounds that it's stupid.

What kept you sane?
-not so much what but who. My sister. My friends L. and A. The ones who email back.

*Which celebrity/public figure did you facny the most?
-fancy is a stupid word to me. It's like they threw this in there to sound British. Well, I'm here to tell you--it just sounds ridiculous. I don't fancy celebrities. Most of the time I just pity them. Yes, there are stirrings of envy too. But mostly pity. Especially all the hungry actresses.

Which political issue stirred you the most?
-since I don't read the paper and get most of my news from Twitter, that's a tough one to answer. World debt crisis was what I woke up to every morning. Hearing about any crime against a child still reminds me that we are a race of people whose priorities are so out of whack we should all be bitch-slapped. Hard.

Who did you miss?
-myself, for parts of the year. For most of the spring/summer.

*Who was the best new person you met?
-I didn't meet alot of new people, to be honest. My crowd-avoidance and aversion to most overly social situations in 2011 guaranteed that. I think that the people I do know continue to develop (the smart ones, anyway) and getting to know the new parts of them is fascinating.

Tell us a valuable life lesson learned in 2011?
-plan ahead. I'll leave it at that.

Quote a song lyric that sums up the year?
"Christ you know it ain't easy" (Ballad of John and Yoko)