The Great 2008 Wrap-Up Survey

Once again I am doing Linda‘s year’s-end survey. (Here’s last year’s version.)  Feel free to do this on your own blog or answer any questions in the comments if you are so inclined. I mean, who doesn’t love a good survey?

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Taught a summer literature class (my old department always denied me this additional employment); shopped at an H&M in the U.S. (effing finally!); started eating food without any animal products (or, er, mostly without any — attempting to, anyway). Oh! And this was the first time I donated to a political campaign.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t really make any New Year’s resolutions last year, but I did decide once again to pay more attention to eating healthy and exercising. I both succeeded and failed at these things in various ways all year. But that’s a story as old as time, isn’t it? Come to think of it, I think I will continue that plan into 2009.

I have also been making an effort to be more conscious and thoughtful about environmental issues over the last few months, which I will also continue into 2009. I’m trying to be less wasteful at home, trying to eat in a more eco-friendly manner, and thinking of ways to be less wasteful of paper in the classroom. I’ll probably let you know more about this soon.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No, but my BFF and former college roommate, Mel, is about to any day now! It looks like it’ll be after the new year, though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Assuming David Foster Wallace doesn’t count (and it almost felt like it should count), then no.

5. What countries did you visit?

The USA! Lots of cities and rural areas around New Wye that I hadn’t spent much time in before and — right at this very moment! — San Francisco. Goddamn, I love San Francisco.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A secure, well-paying, tenure-track job at a small liberal arts college in a pleasant location (e.g. either coast or otherwise near a decent city or pretty countryside). Hey, world, I’m just putting that out there.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Apparently none. I can’t think of a single one.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

There was no big achievement this year, but there were (I like to think) a number of small achievements. Every day I am trying to be a better teacher and a healthier, more thoughtful person. Sometimes I succeed at these things in small, happy ways.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Job-search issues come to mind when I think about this question, but then again, as everyone keeps saying, it’s not me; it’s the market.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I continue to be plagued by the Rat Bastard Plantar Fasciitis, the only thing standing between me and my dreams of athletic glory (HA ha ha ha ha). Of course, there is also the new and interesting plague of ocular migraines with their Spectacular Scintillating Psychedelic Symptoms. (YES, I am going to the doctor about that after the new year, not that it will help or anything.)

I’ve been otherwise very healthy all year — I don’t even remember getting a cold or anything, but at the moment, I have a list of ailments that I am blaming on the horrors of traveling: headache, sore throat, dehydration, chapped lips, gas and bloating, feet swollen to the size of Christmas hams, and so on. Not feeling so spry right now.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A tie between 1) my green bag, 2) my knee-high black boots, and 3) a delicious dinner at Luce in San Francisco. The night of #3, I was carrying #1 and wearing #2, so I suppose it was like supernatural convergence of greatness. Did you feel the earth move Monday night?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My writing students this Fall semester. I really haven’t said enough nice things about them here, but suffice it to say that they were clever, nice, responsible, creative, and willing to put real thought and real work into their writing. It was refreshing in so many ways to work with them.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

A certain conservative demographic in America — you know, the ones spreading racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist hate speech both before and after the election. My fists were constantly clenched and shaking while listening to certain people speak.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Dude, if only I knew! I suspect Target and Kroger might know. If they don’t, ask The New Wye Power Company.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?


16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Any of the ones on my mix (hello!), but especially Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Juliana Hatfield’s “Remember November,” and Rilo Kiley’s “Under the Blacklight.”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? The same.
b) thinner or fatter? The same or possibly a smidge thinner. Hard to say.
c) richer or poorer? The same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Running, hiking, walking up and down the edge of the ocean. Meditating.

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

Grading (unfortunately I don’t have a choice about this one) and whining about grading (will make more of an effort not to do this in the future, though success seems unlikely).

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I flew into San Francisco, met my friend DeeBeeCooper at the airport, checked into our luxurious hotel, and walked up to Chinatown where we wandered around and window shopped for a while, then ate a delicious meal (egg rolls, tofu, mushrooms, and bok choy). I wish a Chinatown Christmas could be my new tradition.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

Not with a person, but I think I may have fallen back in love with a city.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Friday Night Lights or Mad Men.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Surprisingly, no. Not any individuals anyway, though new groups of people annoy me every day.

24. What was the best book you read?

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami. (Briefly discussed here.) On a more pedestrian note, I have to admit that while the writing therein is undeniably horrible, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books. They were a truly fun guilty pleasure. John Robbins’ Diet for a New America will, I suspect, have some important lasting effect on me, so let’s put it on the list, too.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Blitzen Trapper

26. What did you want and get?

Knee-high boots, finally! Also a new Democratic president elect.

27. What did you want and not get?

A great job offer – not yet anyway. Still working on that.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

As always, this is the hardest question on this survey. I just can’t remember what movies I have even seen this year, let alone which ones were the best! Here is a list of every movie I remember actually seeing in the theater in 2008: Juno, Burn After Reading, Mamma Mia, Twilight. That’s all I can remember, but I KNOW I have seen at least 5-10 more than that. WHAT WERE THEY??? Jesus Christ! I guess the best one was….Juno? Hell, I don’t even know. I know it wasn’t Mamma Mia, that’s for certain.

UPDATE: According to my media blog, I saw Leatherheads in the theater. I also saw 30 Days of Night, Into the Wild, and Lars and the Real Girl. Those were all netflixed, though, and I’m not sure they weren’t actually released in 2007. Must keep better records, if only for the purpose of next year’s survey.

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

I share a birthday with one of my favorite colleagues, so we rounded up all our friends, dressed up all faintsy, and went out for martinis at this one sort-of upscale bar here in New Wye. It was a lovely time. I was 31.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More money. SIGH.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

There were a few key concepts to my fashion in 2008: 1) fashion is something that can be acquired by looking at a lot of different kinds of fashion (according to Brenda Dickson, of course), 2) pretend the weather is slightly colder than it really is so you can get away with wearing sweaters and/or jackets, 3) use the color palette of black, grey, and green, so everything goes together, 4) boots, boots, boots, and 5) bangs, bangs, bangs.

32. What kept you sane?

My friends, both near and far, who let me bitch as much as I want to without chastising me for “being negative” or something similar. Sometimes a good bitch session is exactly what a person needs to feel sane again, and I’m so grateful my friends let me do that.  Also, my dog, Captain of Snuggles.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

My boyfriend Barack Obama, of course!  (Honorable mentions: Tim Riggins and Don Draper.)

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The election, duh! More specifically I would have to say health care. We focused on this topic in my writing classes this semester and by the time the election rolled around I found myself very well versed in the issue of heath care reform and thus more able to see just how necessary that reform is.

35. Who did you miss?

The usual: far away friends I don’t get to see often enough, especially my pregnant friend who lives across the country. I would love to be able to see her while she’s going through that experience, but I’ll be seeing her in a couple of months, so I’m just holding out for that. Come on, spring break!

36. Who was the best new person you met?

You know, I don’t think I met very many new people in 2008. We got a handful of new faculty, who are all quite nice, but no one who stands out enough to answer this question.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

A few:

When in doubt, give a student a higher grade than they deserve; accept students’ lousy excuses; cheer and congratulate their mediocre work. These things lead to better student evaluations and thus greater job security. Sounds cynical, but it’s true.

Having a windowless bedroom seems depressing, but it is actually quite helpful during tornado season. No hiding in the closet for me!

Students in summer classes are rare, wonderful, hard-working, pleasant creatures. I would like more of them, please.

The cure for whatever ails you: floating around in a swimming pool at night with a glass of wine.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

This is also always a difficult question. Here are a couple, neither of which sums up my year (well, it would be a stretch in either case), but both of which I love:

By the rolling river is
Exactly where I was
There was no snake-oil cure
For unlucky in love

To be lonely is a habit
Like smoking or taking drugs
And I’ve quit them both
But man, was it rough

Now I am tired
It just made me tired
Let’s build ourselves a fire
Let’s build ourselves a fire
(“Acid Tongue,” Jenny Lewis)

And now my fur has turned to skin.
And I’ve been quickly ushered in
to a world that I confess I do not know.
But I still dream of running careless through the snow,
Through the howling winds that blow
across the ancient distant floe
and fill our bodies up like water till we know.
(“Furr,” Eric Early /  Blitzen Trapper)



  1. You saw Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and W. That is all I can contribute at the moment. I like your mix a bunch, especially the unexpected ways in which it marks the highlights of the year. Feel better!


  2. Thanks so much for your really, really, wonderful mix…it helped ring in the new year with style. I share your frustrations on the eval. front, and I’ve just *got* to try the pool/wine thing this year.


  3. G- Oh, that’s right, thanks! I did like Nick and Norah, but it wasn’t better than Juno. W. just sucked, in my opinion. I also now remembered that I saw Pineapple Express, Sex and the City, and the Traveling Pants sequel. None of them were better either. I guess it really was Juno.

    SL- Yay, I’m glad you liked it! And definitely try the pool and wine combination; you won’t regret it.


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