Thursday, December 29, 2011

End-of-year survey

What did you do in 2011 that you had never done before?
Well, for one thing, I kept a list of things I did that I'd never done before, specifically so I would know how to answer this question at the end of the year. :-) Here are the things I did: Tried Peruvian and Ecuadorean food, visited Medieval Times, saw live performances of Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night, entered an original story in a writing contest, became the parent of a junior-high student, built a costume prop from scratch, and turned 40.

Did you keep all of last year's resolutions?
My only resolution was to try new things, so yes.

Have you any resolutions for next year?
Keep working on doing new things. I was thwarted in some of what I wanted to do this year because I had a lot of unexpected expenses.

What countries did you visit?
None.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you didn’t have in 2011?
Last year I said I wanted a refrigerator and an air conditioner that work, and I now have both of those things - go me! I also said I'd like to have a sense of personal fulfillment through some sort of creative endeavor, and that still applies. I'd like to get all the broken stuff around the house repaired, too.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Surviving it.

What was your biggest failure?
Not finding that creative endeavor. Although, I did verify that I still suck at art, so I can scratch that one off the list of possibilities. :-P

Did you suffer any illness or injury?
I pulled a calf muscle in July. That was really the worst of it; I had the usual allergy and migraine issues, but nothing out of the ordinary.

What was the best thing you bought?
The new refrigerator, my MacBook Pro, theatre tickets.

Where did most of your money go?
Aside from living expenses, most of it went to car repairs.

What did you get really really really excited about?
I don't think I got really really really excited about anything.

Compared to this time last year:
i. are you happier or sadder? About the same.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter.
iii. richer or poorer? About the same.
iv older or wiser? Older. I'm pretty sure "more cynical" doesn't count as "wiser."

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Traveling, reading, anything creative.

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

How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
At home with G - I tried to convince her to go to a local all-ages event, but she doesn't want to.

What was your favourite TV show?
Sherlock - it may have come out in 2010 but I didn't see it until this year.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No, but my opinion of some people has gone way down.

What did you want and get?
A new laptop, a refrigerator, an air conditioner, various DVDs, theater tickets.

What did you want and not get?
Travel. We really didn't go anywhere except for a couple of short weekend trips.

What was your favourite film this year?
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

What was/were the best books you read?
To Say Nothing of the Dog, and all the Terry Pratchett books I read in the first few months of the year.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Florence + The Machine

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
Went out to lunch with friends from work, then G and I went to San Diego and saw Twelfth Night at the Old Globe. I was 40.

What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
Less stress - this year was intensely stressful for a variety of reasons.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
About the same as last year. In fact, it is the same because I barely bought any new clothes all year long.

What/who kept you sane?
Who said I was sane?

Which political issue stirred you the most?
None I can think of. I try to avoid politics because they decrease my already tenuous faith in humanity.

Did you fall in love in 2011?
God, no! I'm trying to reduce the stress in my life, not add to it.

Single greatest moment of 2011
Hmm...probably G's promotion from sixth grade. She had just finished first grade when her father died, so I really got her through almost all of elementary school by myself. I may not have done everything perfectly all the time, but I did do it.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned.
I seem to keep learning again and again that it's a bad idea to rely on other people for just about anything.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year…
I´m breaking through
I´m bending spoons
I´m keeping flowers in full bloom
I´m looking for answers from the great beyond

- R.E.M., "The Great Beyond"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Making Christmas



This year, my goal is to put some effort into Christmas again. Holidays aren't difficult for us anymore, but during the two or three years when they were, I got into the habit of doing the bare minimum, and then inertia took over and I never bothered to ramp back up.

On top of that, for a couple of years now G has been in the Preteen Killjoy phase that most of us went through at the same age, during which you don't want to do anything that might be remotely embarrassing or make you look childish. (She was mortified that her school had "Santa's Village" out in the quad last week, until I said "They don't actually think you believe in Santa, it's for fun. Remember fun? That thing you'll have again once you're old enough not to worry that someone will think you're immature?") This eliminated most of our traditional leading-up-to-Christmas activities, such as visiting Santa, riding the Polar Express train, making snowman crafts out of cotton balls, etc., and made it even harder to get in the Christmas mood--a condition that a friend of mine described last year as "lack of Christmas foreplay."

With these things in mind, this year I'm taking a combined approach of:

1. Not being a lazy slug. I put the tree and lights up in early December and have plugged them in every night; I went out and bought new ornaments to replace the ones we lost, and I'm actually sending a few cards for the first time since 2005. I also bought an additional, tiny, real tree to put on a high shelf in hopes of infusing some pine scent into the house--we can't have a full-size real tree because one of our cats likes to eat greenery--but somehow I managed to choose a totally odorless one. Oh well, it looks nice.

2. Finding acceptable Christmas activities.
In G's defense, she's right: a lot of local holiday-themed events are geared to very small children--we had the same problem at Halloween, when she would have loomed like Gulliver among the Lilliputians at the various face-painting, pumpkin-decorating, costume-parading festivals, but was too young for haunted houses aimed at teenagers--and she doesn't have younger siblings to give her a reason to attend anyway. Instead, we've been watching more grown-up Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music together at home, and drinking hot chocolate and apple cider, all of which she's enjoyed. Hopefully we'll get around to baking cookies sometime next week.

This year is also a little different from previous ones in that for once, there's no place we're required to be on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. G, whose idea of a perfect day involves pajamas, video games and not much else, is ecstatic, and I'm looking forward to spending the time quietly at home. I may be putting more into "making Christmas" this time around, but I'm still all about doing things my own way.