Year in Review: 2017

I have a couple of posts backlogged, but I just realized I hadn’t done my year in review questionnaire yet! Most of you reading know what this is and have done it yourself (or at least read others’ posts), as it’s gone around this corner of the internet for over a decade. You know the drill.

Previous years’ answers are available here: (200720082009201020112012201320142015, 2016). Over time I have modified and  deleted some of the original questions, but here’s what I’m working with this year:

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

Placed (second) in the overall women’s rankings of a 5K, won a named award at work, watched my children see the ocean for the first time.

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

Last year, I wrote:

“For the coming year, I would like to focus on making more gains in terms of health and fitness. I made some progress toward that in the last few months of 2016, and, after taking a bit of a break for the holidays, I’m getting moving again now. Healthier, smarter eating and lots of activity, mainly running, yoga, and barre3 for right now.”

Hey, I did pretty well on those!

This year, I’d like to: Get a general practitioner so I can stop going to urgent care, spend less on frivolous purchases. Keep up my yoga practice. Race in another 5K and a 10K, as I’m now in a new age group!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A lot of ladies on the internet and a couple of work friends, too.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What places did you visit?

Atlanta and Birmingham (mainly for shopping), the Gulf Coast (friend visit), Iowa (family visit), and St. Louis (quick friend visit on the way home from Iowa). Was that really it? I’ll have to do better next year. Good thing I already have plans for a ladies’ weekend with my BFFs in May.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

A sane president, mainly. I would also appreciate more time alone and a more organized house.

7. What days from 2017 will you always remember?

January 20. December 12.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I credit the voters and hard-working Democrats in Alabama for this: electing a Democratic senator for the first time in 25 years.

I also got officially promoted and won a named, college-level teaching award, which is pretty sweet.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I have really struggled with healthy eating this year, although I don’t consider it a failure. Just a struggle.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My entire family was sick for the first half of the year after the kids started daycare, thanks to them spending each day in a petrie dish of viruses (and “building their immune systems”). I personally had at least 3-4 stomach bugs, two sinus infections, two ear infections, and pneumonia. Plus my usual persistent hacking cough that lasts 3-6 weeks every time I get a respiratory virus. It was the sickest year of my life.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Does daycare count?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The kids’ did, often. My husband’s. The aforementioned Alabama voters.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Daycare. It’s more than our mortgage.

14. What did you get really excited about?

The Senate election and turning 40, both of which happened on the same day.

15. What song will always remind you of 2017?

Anything from Moana, and yes I blame the children.

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

a) happier or sadder? Angrier.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Richer, technically. More income but less of it leftover.

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

Reading fiction. Spending time outside.

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

Reading the comments. Retail therapy.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

My dad and brother visited a few days prior to Christmas, but for the actual holiday, it was just the four of us (which I like). We went to a Christmas Eve service at a new-to-us church and then CW and I made ourselves a fancy dinner after the kids went to bed. On Christmas morning, we had cinnamon rolls and mimosas and opened gifts. It was really great. Two year olds are fantastic at Christmas. Not so much in church, though.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

I rewatched Gilmore Girls so I could enjoy it alongside the Gilmore Guys podcast, which was great. As for newer stuff, I fell in love with The Good Place and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

21. What was the best book you read?

I barely read anything this year, y’all. I started a comfort re-read of Harry Potter, which went by very slowly and took up my reading time for months, but I petered out somewhere in book 5, and then I haven’t read anything too special other than that. Just at the end of December, though, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was nice, and Dark Matter, which was fine I suppose. Meh.

22. What music did you get excited about?

I really liked new things by Sylvan Esso and St. Vincent this year.

23. What did you want and get?

A new MacBook Pro for Christmas, an unlimited yoga studio membership, and a Democratic senator.

24. What did you want and not get?

Impeachment.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?

I barely saw any movies that stick out in my memory, so I’m going to go with The Last Jedi and Wonder Woman as my top two I saw in the theater.

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

I voted, ate donuts for breakfast, and then went to yoga. In the afternoon, my husband took me out for a nice lunch date and then I took a nap. He made me fish tacos for dinner (one of my favorites) and we had a lemon merengue pie. That night, we celebrated the election results. That weekend, we had people over for a small party with lots of prosecco and baked goods. I turned 40.

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

A mix of some pre-pregnancy clothing and some bigger pants from Old Navy / leggings on days I don’t go to campus. Still not quite ready for most of my old pants.

28. What kept you sane?

Coffee, running, and Twitter.

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

I can’t think of anyone. I do miss Barack Obama, though.

30. What political issue stirred you the most?

What didn’t?! I have outrage exhaustion. I suppose the Alabama Senate race.

31. Who was the best new person you met?

I met a couple of new people through CW’s work connection who seem like they could become good new friends.

32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

I need to get my own doctor and stop going to urgent care every time I catch something from the kids.

And, as I say every year, qui patitur vincit.

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

“I said, early to bed, bitches, early to rise
They make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

— Lin Manuel Miranda / The Decemberists

Airing of Grievances: the Aging Edition

I am having some birthday-related feelings lately. I will turn forty in just over a month (a week before that, the twins will turn two) and I’m not completely sure I am ready to think of myself as a forty-year-old yet. I loved thirty as a milestone birthday — turning thirty was fun and exciting and I was ready to step forward into that decade. It was great. I had just finished my PhD and started my job and met a bunch of great new colleagues and friends and life seemed like the perfect blend of being settled in, yet also being full of possibility.

Ten years later, I am still at the same job where I’m doing well. I met my husband at this job and we got married bought a house and had kids and got promotions. A lot of the new friends I made early on have moved away and I don’t socialize as much and the sense of possibility has mainly been replaced by a tight schedule and a lot of responsibility. I don’t say that in order to imply that responsibilities are a bad thing — on the contrary: I welcome them — but rather to say that life has a very different feel to it now than it did then.

I also feel that the older I get the less likely it is that we will have any more kids. There’s a lot more to the kid question than that, of course (finances, fertility, the fact that it’s a two-person decision), but that thought is lurking in the background of any other thoughts about aging or my birthday or being 40. And, let’s be real, if we don’t ever have any more kids, the main problem is that it will mean I won’t get to have my spite baby. (A “spite baby” is the baby that you have to spite all the people who told you you were or should be “done” after a certain number or gender combination of children, e.g. after they find out you are pregnant with boy-girl twins and they say, “Oh, how great, now you’re done after this!”) I am the kind of person (and I say this without pride) who really likes to do things just to spite the people who thought they knew something about me, so, you know, it’s a particularly bitter pill to swallow.

Fine, let’s do this. Let’s have an airing of grievances. Other things I don’t like about the thought of turning 40:

  • I am getting a turkey neck
  • My skin looks not great
  • It is harder to manage my weight
  • It is easier to get injured
  • I have not adequately planned for retirement
  • Do people think I am my kids’ grandmother?
  • Most people don’t ask for my ID anymore when buying wine
  • Small amounts of alcohol make me more hungover than they should
  • Not sure I should be wearing some of the fashions I like
  • Don’t want to invest money in fancy skincare
  • Don’t want to invest money in anything (unless it’s a good pair of boots)
  • Am supposed to be going to yin yoga more than vinyasa yoga now but I like vinyasa yoga better
  • Are my feet getting wider?

Please feel free to participate so I’m not just yelling at a cloud over here, thanks.

 

 

 

 

Here

Hi. Hello.

Weirdly, it looks like I am logged into the WordPress app and typing a blog post. I haven’t been here in a while. Not sure how that happened, but here we are.

It’s November first and I recently heard someone say that if you want to write then you need to write, which is a fact that I know to be true and yet when do I write? I write daily, of course: I write emails and comments on student assignments and I write tweets and Instagram captions and text messages, but I feel like writing something more than that, so here we are.

There are always so many hurdles, though. Tonight’s hurdle was that I was already comfortable in my bed when I realized I had intended to write something today and my laptop is far away in another room and its battery is likely to be dead. But I have a phone and it was in my hand at the time, and, well, here we are.

I have no idea what I’ll write about this month — since getting married and having kids and having a life that’s not entirely my own anymore, it’s difficult deciding what I can write in a public (though not widely read) space. I can’t write about my job or about anything too personal pertaining to my family — and those two things, work and family, take up most of my time, energy, and headspace. What’s left? So the challenge is to try to figure out what to write about and how to do it in a way that feels worth it (honest, satisfying, vulnerable?) yet is fair and appropriate as well. I plan to just keep showing up this month and see what happens here.

When is a Name a Name?

When did you officially consider your children named? Did you decide once and for all before they were born, or did you just narrow it down to a small number of choices and wait until you met them to decide? Everyone keeps asking if CW and I have picked out names and I feel like we have but he will never answer this question in the affirmative.

We have middle names that I think are definitely chosen — a family name from each side. Our baby girl’s middle name will come from my side and baby boy’s will come from his dad’s side.

For first names, we have two top choices for the boy and two top choices for the girl, but realistically we’ve really only been referring to one first name for each. For example’s sake, let’s say the girl choices are Katniss and Hermione and the boy choices are Kermit and Hannibal. But we only ever use Katniss and Kermit in conversation. We sometimes call them by Katniss and Kermit and talk about the nicknames and initials and imagine them as bigger kids called Katniss and Kermit. Always the same names. We never call either of them by the second option name, Hermione or Hannibal. To me, it feels like Katniss and Kermit are their names right now. But of course, we could at the last minute decide to pick Hermione and/or Hannibal instead after they’re born.

Note: these are obviously not the names we are actually considering. Also, the names we are actually considering are not alliterative, though the “most-likely-choice” names do share consonance. 

I would like to consider it DECIDED but my husband thinks it’s “weird” and “doesn’t understand how people can name their babies before they’re born.” (He doesn’t say this to/about me; rather about the people who keep asking us if we’ve chosen names yet.)

I love the names we have (mostly unofficially) landed on. Especially the boy name. For the girl, I could see us switching because I truly love both girl names and will be sad not to use whichever one we won’t use. (Honestly, if we were having girl-girl twins these would be WONDERFUL names for a pair of girls!) For the boy names, I really love the one we keep mentioning, and the other one on the list is honestly more my husband’s choice, though I do like it. 

Either way, he’s not committing to a name until we see the babies and I on the other hand want it to be set. In my mind it is pretty much set already, so I really hope CW doesn’t decide he wants to switch it up at the last minute. There are so many things about this process we just can’t know or control; I don’t like feeling unsettled about this one. 

Please, hop into my DeLorean. Or maybe don’t.

Do you use the Timehop app? I know a lot of my online friends do, but if you don’t, well, I may or may not recommend it. I’m not sure. It’s an app that, when connected to your social media accounts, will show you your posts and photographs from today’s date one year ago, two years ago, three years ago, and so on, as far back as the accounts go. Mine goes as far back as my earliest posts to Twitter in 2007. It’s entertaining and sometimes even thought provoking to see where I was and what I was doing in the past (or at least what I was sharing online). It can be reassuring, for example, to be reminded that this year is not an anomaly: that every year at this time I am busy complaining about the triple-digit temperatures where I live, or that every year when the middle of the semester hits, yes, I am in fact feeling just as tired and overwhelmed. It’s also fun to look back and see the time when my husband and I were first dating, or when Egon was a puppy, or when I was just starting my current job. So much has changed and so much has not.

My Timehop from five years ago, however, contains all the tweets that chronicle my breakup with a guy I had been casually dating that summer. The problem was that I was hoping that casually dating would turn into seriously dating. I thought we were just so perfect together and that surely this little fun summer romance would turn into A Thing. It had to. I really liked the guy, after all. But to my great dismay, he broke up with me. The nerve! I was so mad. And sad. I was smad.

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Don’t you hate the feeling of having turned out to have been wrong about something you were so certain of? I think half of my breakup feelings were about that — I hated that I’d apparently been so wrong. I am hardly ever wrong.

Cutting the Cake

Well, it’s a good thing I have the patience to play the long game, because that guy from five years ago? Reader, I married him.

In spite of the happy ending in this case (because of course I turned out to be right after all!), rereading old posts gives me some mixed feelings. I don’t particularly enjoy reliving difficult events. It’s not that I don’t believe there are lessons to be learned from self-examination in general and from reflecting on the past in particular, but sometimes I just don’t wanna.

Some friends and I were talking about this phenomenon on Twitter the other day — we were wishing there were an option to block out periods of time from Timehop. Certain exes, for example. Breakups. Family crises. Losses. Fights. Disappointments. If we could just check a box for a specific range of dates and say, please, don’t show me these scenes from my past; don’t remind me of this; don’t take me back there. The app developers really need to get moving on that upgrade, I think.

Sweat, et cetera

Yesterday I went for a walk around the neighborhood, which is something I love to do now that we’ve moved and a great way to start the day. My new route is a hilly, 2.5-mile loop with lots of good shady spots, sidewalks, and pretty gardens to peer into. Yesterday the air even felt just a touch cooler than it has been lately — or perhaps it was just less humid, or perhaps I got an earlier start, I’m not sure. The change was nice, whatever it was.

So I tucked my phone into my tank-top strap like I always do, with the screen facing outward so it wouldn’t get sweaty, and listened to a podcast while I walked. Lovely. When I got home, I looked at my phone to see that despite my cautious measures, sweat had worked its way inside the screen and left dark watermarks all down the right side. Otherwise, it was normal and fully operational. The left side of the screen looked perfectly fine, but the right side looked like it had been stained with blueberry juice. This was decidedly not good.

After panicked googling and then drying the phone out in a bowl of rice for the rest of the day, it’s fine now and the stains are gone. But that’s not the point. The point is that I can walk slowly, for a short distance, at the crack of dawn, on a cooler-than-usual morning, and still sweat so much that I almost break an incredibly expensive piece of technology. With my sweat. I almost ruined my iPhone with my own bodily secretions. Things are getting dire over here and there are still at least six more weeks of this weather before relief is anywhere in sight. Pray. For. Mojo.

In an ongoing list of other bodily secretions, things to have made me cry lately include: TV commercials, books, blog posts, photography, software, DIY projects, and budget discussions. I am not a crier, y’all. I have been joking around with CW about the fact that my ocular ports are going to start rusting. My emotions are generally on an even keel, which, combined with my knowledge of factual trivia and my tendency to respond to all questions literally, has led to my husband jokingly referring to me as a “beautiful, beautiful robot.” It seems like my pregnancy was bundled with some sort of rudimentary human emotion replication software that got installed at the same time. This program can’t be running correctly, though, can it? Surely Lean Cuisine commercials shouldn’t initiate the weeping sequence?

Grade me! Evaluate and rank me!

March is going to be an interesting month. More immediately, this week is going to be an interesting week. Tomorrow I have my annual review at work, which is a big factor in my being reappointed for next year; Tuesday we have a doctor’s appointment/consultation at a new clinic; at some point later in the week, on a date to be determined, we will have a consultation with a mortgage broker to set the wheels of our house hunt in motion. Work, reproductive health, and a mortgage for our first house all in one week. No pressure.

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I tend to have just a little bit of Lisa Simpson in me, and it’s not that we’re both vegetarian, book-reading, grammar-nerding, jazz-loving baritone saxophonists. While I wouldn’t describe myself as a typical overachiever (I think to bear that label a person has to try hard to achieve, which I haven’t often done), I am most certainly a typical nerd. Success in school always came easily to me; I am good at taking tests and have a great memory for facts and information. In school, this served me well. Today, I have carried it over to a love of even the silliest online quizzes (“How much do YOU know about art history?!” asks the incredulous-seeming quiz full of questions even my dog could answer correctly). I even enjoy filling out paperwork. Neatly writing my personal information into dozens of pages of forms, perfectly answering each question with concise and correct information? Why yes, I will, thank you.

So I assemble my annual review materials with a sort of weird enjoyment: that PDF, so many, many pages long, filled with all the evidence of my successful teaching in the past calendar year (syllabi, assignments, grade distributions, student evaluations, a CV, and a philosophy of teaching) is both a giant pain and a pleasure. I happily fill out all the overly detailed, intrusively personal medical forms, giving honest and specific assessments of how many ounces per week I consume of caffeinated regular soda, caffeinated diet soda, decaffeinated soda, wine, beer, liquor, caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and so on. (I will refrain from discussing some of their other questions; you’re welcome). I look forward to printing off and organizing a sheaf of financial paperwork that will reveal to the carefully trained eye all too much about my income, debt, and spending.

Perhaps if all of my forms are filled out properly — if all the questions are answered to everyone’s satisfaction — I will be deemed worthy of the life I want. I’ll keep my job; buy a house; have a baby. Look, I have very neat handwriting and I’m sure I have some color-coded sticky tabs I can use, if you think that would help.