A few things I want to run by you:
1. Talk to me about Gone Girl. Assuming I will both read the book and see the movie, which should I do first?
I’ve been alive long enough to know the book is probably objectively better than the movie (although see The Ice Storm, The Virgin Suicides, [Muppets'] Christmas Carol, and almost any book turned into a cheesy musical), but I’m not (for once) insistent on exposing myself to the “better” one first (or solely; see also why I never need to read The Hunger Games or The DaVinci Code) but am instead looking to create an interesting experience — the way you might, say, take someone who’s never seen Star Wars and have them start with Episode I instead of Episode IV, just for kicks.
Simon, who lives for kicks, has already read the book, so he votes I see the movie first so we can compare our opposite experiences. I’m game for that, although my fear is that once I’ve seen the movie I won’t want to bother with the book, considering that, despite its storied un-put-down-ability, it will likely take me months upon months to get through it. But would skipping the book be a loss?
Have you read it? Have you seen it? Will watching the movie first make the book fall flat because I’ll already know what happens (even though the movie apparently has a slightly different ending that, although it remains true to the spirit of the book, gives the viewer an alternate experience of the story)? And if the movie is plenty good, do I even need to bother with the book, or should I spend the first quarter of 2015 reading something else? What makes Gone Girl good: the story, the writing, or both? What would you do if you were me?
2. Starting next week, I’m doing a campaign with BlogHer/SheKnows and Weight Watchers, and I’m entirely certain I’m feeling both elated and gassy over it. I’m well aware that sponsored posts are considered by some to be the Actual Worst, but this is me saying I hope you’ll check them out for a least one of the following reasons: (a) I’ll be writing about my real, honest experience using their brand-new program, (b) I’m betting a number of you have done WW in the past, and I’d love to have your input on what has and hasn’t worked for you on the system, and (c) as is right and good, there’s a sweepstakes prize attached to the campaign and I think you should win. My first post is all about why I applied for the campaign and why I think they chose me out of the pool of equally eager candidates, so look for that next week. I promise to never describe the process as my “weight-loss journey.”
3. Sam has ditched the concept of New Year’s resolutions and instead picks a word of the year — something to aim her in the right direction and around which she can build her goals, big or small. I love this idea. It goes against all practical advice that goal-setting should be concrete and specific, but I like how the concept works in tandem with more concrete, specific, practical objectives. There’s no reason we can’t have both.
Sam posted her words for this year and last (propel and reboot), and other people shared theirs too: patience, savor, intention, kind, grace, positive, simplify. (Interesting that some chose verbs, others nouns and adjectives, yes?) The word that came to me immediately was focus. FOCUS. Everything has felt a bit scattered lately, and even when it’s a scattering of good things, that’s a challenging state of being for a person who would prefer all things remain settled inside their labeled containers until she decides to take them out and deal with them, one at a time.
Focus is a lot of things — being present in the moment, paring down the excess to reveal what’s important, acting with purpose, sharpening the pencil, training my lens on one part of the frame at a time — and although it might seem backward to pick such a multifaceted word to represent my desire to simplify and streamline this cloud of virtual clutter, it also feels like in that way the word perfectly reflects the challenge before me: to find clarity in complexity, calm in chaos, noun in verb.
If you were to pick one word to direct yourself through 2015, what would it be?
I missed this last year and have lived to regret it (especially now, when I can’t just crib off 2013′s answers), so I’m resolving on this last day of 2014 to get this meme up come hell or high blood pressure, so here we go. *goggles on*
1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
I sent my kid off to kindergarten. The whole deciding-on/getting-into/waiting-for/going-to school process has been a huge part of our lives this year, and although the first three parts were responsible for my fingernails turning into nibbled stubs, the last part has been awesome and, to my surprise and relief, even worth getting up at 7 a.m. for.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I didn’t make a formal resolution to get exercise back into my life, mostly because it’s such a predictable resolution and who wants to be predictable, but I did indeed put forth some major effort in that direction, and it was great while it lasted, so, um, yeah, this year I’m predictably but proudly resolving to get exercise back into my life because (a) I feel so much better when I move more than twenty steps at a time and (b) I can’t afford new pants so I need to make my existing pants fit again. Unrelated, I also really, really, really want to clear out all the baby stuff that’s blockaded off entire sections of our attic and basement. Fox is two and a half; we really don’t need to hold onto the Jolly Jumper.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
The Internet is good if you like to always have at least ten friends giving birth in a given year. Mormon families are also good for this sort of thing. I honestly have no idea how many kids my cousins have now, but I think my grandma said she has something like 412 great-grandkids now, and that seems about right.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope. We continue to be incredibly lucky.
5. What countries did you visit?
None. And now I’m off to burn all our travel books because our budget probably won’t have any room for international adventuring until the kids are out of the house and paying for us to attend their destination weddings. Sigh.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A little more job security would be nice. My main and long-term (since 2001!) source of income hired an in-house hack somewhat unexpectedly, leaving me basically unemployed for five months and panicking into my ramen. By a crazy stroke of luck, some other opportunities saved me from abject middle-class poverty, but nothing I’m doing now–writing for several websites, editing for a new publisher–is set in stone, and to put it politely, THIS IS NOT MY FAVORITE.
7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I was going to say I remember mid-March as being the time we finally heard whether we’d gotten into our choice public and private schools, but now I’m thinking that happened in mid-April, so apparently the memory has faded some. Honestly, this year was such a whirlwind of getting through each day one at a time, I barely know what decade it is. Our BEST day, though, was probably our epic surprise trip to Santa Cruz at the end of the summer. EPIC.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting Wombat into his school took a lot of hard work we never expected to have to devote to kindergarten of all things, and I’m proud to have dived in and made it happen rather than sit back and settle because the process was so overwhelming and because We Are Not Private School People™. I’ve also been really proud of myself for taking on the writing gigs I have because, even now that I’m regularly churning out thousands of words per week, I find the entire process really, really hard and extremely trying of both my perfectionist tendencies and my aversion to being criticized. But I’m doing it! And I’m not failing miserably! Go me!
9. What was your biggest failure?
Oh hey, speaking of failing miserably…I think I dropped the ball on work stuff because I was content to wait on other people when I should have been go-getting on my own behalf. Fortunately, I figured that out a few months ago and am heading into 2015 with a head of steam.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Since Fox was born, my periods had gone from being super-light and non-crampy to having me doubled-over with nausea-level pain after taking a generous number of Ibuprofens. For a while I was able to tell myself it was the result of age or of having a second child, and when I finally went to my gyn, she said the same thing, and only at my dire insistence sent me for an ultrasound to see what else might be the problem. Surprise! I had a grape-sized uterine polyp! (Does a grosser word exist?) I got to have a D&C and then wait a few days to find out whether it was nothing at all or CANCER, and I can’t believe my doc only gave me Vicodin for the day of the procedure because that whole week was kind of a mess. I had a handful of harrowing Sliding Doors moments wondering if these were going to be known as my last carefree (as if!) Before Cancer days, and thank baby Jesus in fresh pampers it turned out to be just a random old non-cancerous polyp, and hey, my periods are also back to normal and now I am free to resume fretting about things other than my early demise via devastating disease. Thus endeth the TMI portion of this post.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Since I didn’t do this meme last year, I’m using what would have been last year’s answer, which is the GoPro camera we got for Christmas. Part of what’s facilitated my blog-slacking has been Simon’s passion for creating mini movies of the very things I usually feel compelled to blog about with 8 million photos. I posted a few of his videos earlier this year, but there are a bunch more I’d love to share, if only to convince you that you need a GoPro too. #notsponsoredbutprobablyshouldbe
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Wombat has been a superstar in kindergarten. He talked on the microphone in front of the whole school on the first day, he signed himself up for the talent show (he played the piano), and he won an art contest for the book fair. But as Simon likes to remind us, the most important things are to be hardworking and kid, and Wombat by all accounts continues to be the driven yet sweet and caring boy we know him to be. He stands up for other kids and is the type to step in to defuse a tense situation, and although that fills me with premature worry that he’ll die in a knifing like Chris Chambers, I’m mostly just in awe of who he is. I take no credit. Simon should take some credit, though, because Wombat is just like him.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The events in Ferguson have really invited some people to wave their flags of ignorance high for all to see. That humans can be so inhumane will never cease to baffle me.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, daycare, preschool, camp, and kindergarten. Jaysus, these kid things are expensive!
15. What did you get really excited about?
KINDERGARTEN (surprise), but also Wombat starting swimming lessons and having it finally click a few months in. It’s crazy to watch him paddle along like he’s been doing it his whole life when actually, no, son, remember how you’d scream when we’d get your hair wet in the bath earlier this year? It’s also been a ton of fun watching Fox transition from wittle toddler baby into a preschooler who can do all these big-kid things like put on his own clothes (but mostly take them off) and say things like, “Mama, can we watch a movie about terrible, terrible dinosaurs? Yes?” This kid is a riot and I’m way overdue for a post all about him. Talk about larger than life.
16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
This is a new addition, but Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” became an instant hit in our house and I have a feeling it’s on its way to becoming a family classic.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
–happier or sadder?
This is gross, but I think probably sadder. I’m 35 and Simon turns 40 in a few weeks, and I recently realized that having young kids has allowed me to think of us as still in the just-starting-out phase of our life when, actually, oops, we’re 35 and 40 and should really have our shit together more than we do. The housing market and the cost of childcare have made it hard to take care of much beyond affording to survive, and it’s tough to see people of similar age and education and background living fabulous lives we could only dream of. Ah, yes, but we’re rich in love and it gives me some solace to imagine everyone else is deeply unhappy in their jewel-box lives, but then I remember that it’s not my style to delight in the misfortune of others, so I snap back to feeling bummed about our situation while trusting it’s only temporary and, as always, focusing on the many ways in which we are absurdly lucky beyond measure.
–thinner or fatter?
I’ve developed a habit of eating my anxiety, so I am mostly definitely fatter. Guess who’s starting Weight Watchers in January, folks?
–richer or poorer?
Haaaaaaaa. HAAAAAAAAAA. *ahem*
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d done more blogging, more traveling, more connecting with IRL friends, more go-getting on the job front, more purging of cluttery crap, and more mouth-kissing my hot husband.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I’d done less settling and less worrying over things beyond my control.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We had Christmas here for the first time since 2008 (when Wombat was ten days old), and it was weird but good. Simon’s mom came up from Southern California and allowed us to sleep in every single day, which is what a true vacation is all about these days, amirite? We stayed close to home and I had to spend a chunk of each day working, but although I missed the traditions and people I grew up with, I’m glad we’re all flexible enough to roll with the punches when it comes to this sort of thing. We’re pretty good at making our own magic.
21. Did you fall in love in 2014?
We love Wombat’s school. Like LOVE love. It’s the perfect place for him/us, and we couldn’t be happier to have taken that leap.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
We just finished Orphan Black, and although it’s not, like, genius storytelling, it’s great fun and the acting is phenomenal. If you haven’t seen it, don’t research yourself into any spoilers, just watch a few episodes and see what you think.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Stolen from the 2012 meme: “I hate this question, so let’s ignore it here and excise it from all future recaps. Less hate, more love, bro.”
24. What was the best book you read?
I read only four-*mumble cough* just-for-pleasure books this year (seriously, like FOUR TOTAL), and you’d think that’d mean I could remember them all, but nope. I have no idea if I read A Prayer for Owen Meany this year or last (it’s excellent! read it now!), but I know for sure I read Anne of Green Gables because it was my first time and oh, kindred spirit, bosom friend, etc., etc., it–SHE–was just delightful. I don’t know if I dare read any more in the series (I hate being disappointed), but I’m glad I devoted three and a half months of my reading life to it (are you appalled? I am appalled) and now I need to watch the miniseries again. As for kids’ books, I should do a separate post because we’ve had some real goodies this year. Our crazy-long library receipts, LET ME SHOW THEM TO YOU.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Erm, I can’t say there were any discoveries this year. It was all about comfort-listening to comfort music. There was a lot of singing along at the top of our lungs.
26. What did you want and get?
I finally got a decent phone! My old one was ancient and only semifunctional, so for my birthday (in May) I asked for an iPhone, and I finally got one…in November. What a revelation it has been to be able to click on things and have them actually open. Three cheers for updated technology!
27. What did you want and not get?
The list of both little stuff and big stuff is long and diverse, but I guess what I’d really have liked is a crime-free neighborhood. Simon’s car was broken into in front of our house the day before Thanksgiving, a few days later someone drove down the street SHOOTING INTO THE AIR, and other activities on our street (actually, across the street from our house) in recent months have included car theft, home burglary, and robbery at gunpoint. Ugh.
27a. What did you not want and not get?
Pregnant? That’s a good one.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
If I had more time, I’d look up my Netflix queue to get a real answer here, but in lieu of that luxury, let’s pretend I saw Populaire for the first time this year (and it’s possible I did). I’ve seen it three times, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes cute period films with saturated candy colors and subtitles. So much fun.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 this year and have no idea what I did to celebrate, unless you count write a semi-depressing blog post about being old. We probably went to dinner on a Groupon or something. *shrug*
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Broken record here, but steady work and more time to blog are at the top of my list. Let’s all have a laugh now, because this makes as much sense as saying I wish I had spent more time scubadiving with sharks and also avoiding getting wet.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Putting forth a fair amount of effort to look effortless? Tight pants and slouchy shirts and boots and an air of “oh, this old thing?”
32. What kept you sane?
My husband. Although life is a web of stressors, the one thing I never worry about is my marriage. Simon is, simply put, the best person I know.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh. What am I, seventeen?
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Black lives matter. They do. Everyone’s lives matter.
35. Who did you miss?
For various reasons, we haven’t been to Salt Lake since last Christmas and it was a bummer to miss warm summer nights and bright snow days, especially since the kids are so much different every time we go back. I also miss Eve.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
We’ve met some really excellent people from Wombat’s school, and it’s exciting to think these are the kids and families who will be part of our lives for so many years to come.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
You have to look out for yourself because no one’s going to do it for you.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Love is an open door.”
Is anyone else still doing these? If so, I’d actually really love to read them (because I never read blogs anymooooooore), so leave a link in the comments!
Black Friday gets its name for what color business ledgers turn with all the extra income accumulating from holiday shoppers, and in that same vein, we’re hoping to have a black Christmas here at home, which for us means
keeping er…getting our finances under control and out of the red. Historically, Simon and I have always been pretty willy-nilly with budgeting (read: we’ve never actually used a budget), but this is the year we finally buckled down and have attempted to establish (and stick to) a plan we hope will not only help us feel more financially secure on a day-to-day basis but also allow us to shore up for future expenses, from fun stuff like vacations and home improvement projects to looming things like college tuition for two kids (aiiieee!). Read more >>