Year in Review: 2018

Look, we’re two full weeks into the new year and I’m sure no one cares. However, I have not missed a year of this annual survey since I started it in 2007 so buckle up!

Previous years’ answers are available here: (200720082009201020112012201320142015, 2016, 2017). 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 2018 that you’d never done before?

I wore a bikini in public, made a child’s Halloween costume, joined a running team, and started an SSRI.

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

Last year, I wrote that 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!” And although I didn’t think of it as an official resolution, I decided that my leisure reading would only include books by women authors. I did really well on these!

For this year, I don’t have a real resolution. I am going to sprinkle a few monthly challenges into my year, including Dry January (currently going on right now, yay?), a month of daily blog posting, a no-spend month, a run streak month, a decluttering month, and more to be determined later. My leisure reading will focus on the voices of women, people of color, and LGBTQ writers.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! Lots of internet ladies and a few work friends. So many little babies I need to hug.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What places did you visit?

Atlanta (shopping), New Orleans (for a ladies’ weekend WHICH WAS AMAZING), Iowa (family visit), St. Louis (quick friend visit on the way home from Iowa), and Florida (family Christmas visit). I think that was it?

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

I’ll repeat last year’s answer, which is still true: “A sane president, mainly. I would also appreciate more time alone and a more organized house.”

7. What days from 2018 will you always remember?

Nothing comes to mind as I sit here. I may think of a day later, but if I do, it wouldn’t really qualify as a day I’ll “always remember,” so.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Figuring out that my overwhelming anger might be a symptom of anxiety. This was news to me! I hadn’t been feeling “anxious,” but whaddayaknow? Anti-anxiety meds made me significantly less angry. I mean, I still have swarms of bees coming out of my mouth on a daily fucking basis, but life is better.

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9. What was your biggest failure?

Healthy eating continues to be a struggle, as I mentioned last year, but I feel like I have improved my thinking on this front. I don’t feel like I had any “failures” this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had some back problems off and on this year, which are awful when they surface, but I am doing better with strength exercises that really help. My biggest health issue was in October — STOP READING IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH — a spider bite (?) I acquired on a trip to the pumpkin patch that became infected and developed a huge, painful, horrifying abscess on the back of my leg. The doctor, ahem, took care of it for me and did a bacterial culture and it turned out to be MRSA and long story short, I still do not feel clean.  Thanks for nothing, festive fall family activities.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My trip to NOLA was pretty amazing. And daycare.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine, frankly.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Daycare. I’ll just keep repeating this answer every year until they start kindergarten.

14. What did you get really excited about?

Traveling with my BFFs, having our new friends move onto our cul-de-sac two doors down, and running a fast (for me) 10K in November.

15. What song will always remind you of 2018?

Not a new song, but Lil Mama’s “Lip Gloss” got a lot of play on my running mix.

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

a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Same.
c) richer or poorer? Same.

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

Socializing with local friends.

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

Eating my feelings.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

We spent the week-ish before Christmas visiting with family in Florida. My in-laws have a place there and the rest of the family came down and stayed in a nearby hotel. It was stormy the entire time, so we spent a lot of the trip indoors (or driving through insane rain and winds to visit an aquarium). For the actual holiday, we were back home with just the four of us. The kids can talk and ask more questions about Santa this year, and they were absolutely ALL IN on the Christmas magic, which was pretty great.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

I continued to love The Great British Baking Show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and The Good Place. I also enjoyed Marcella, Jack Ryan, Atlanta, and Mindhunter, which were new ones for me this year. Very excited for Game of Thrones to make its return soon!

21. What was the best book you read?

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Just perfection.

Here are some other highlights from this year, which was entirely devoted to reading women’s words:

  • Hunger – Roxane Gay
  • The Turner House – Angela Flournoy
  • The Wangs vs the World – Jade Chang
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara
  • The After Party – Anton DiSclafani
  • The Witch Elm – Tana French
  • Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith
  • Why I Wake Early – Mary Oliver

22. What music did you get excited about?

Far too little. I kind of shifted from music to podcasts for most of my listening time this year. So…my favorite podcasts from the year were My Favorite Murder, The Ali on the Run Show, and The Popcast with Knox and Jamie.

23. What did you want and get?

Democrats in the House!

24. What did you want and not get?

Impeachment.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw and enjoyed: Black Panther, A Quiet Place, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I also saw a lot of movies I didn’t enjoy all that much and, I’m sure, many I’ve completely forgotten! No standout favorites this year.

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

Went with the family to Krispy Kreme on the way to work/school, ran 12K (an almost-yearly tradition on my birthday) and got a manicure. My in-laws arrived that afternoon to spend a couple of days with us on their way down to Florida, so we had pizza and cupcakes that night. I turned 41.

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

Lots of skinny jeans with blazers, for some reason.

28. What kept you sane?

Last year I wrote, “Coffee, running, and Twitter,” which is still true. This year I’ll add C3l3xa to that list.

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

I very much enjoy Celeste Ng not only for her novels but also on Twitter. Anna Friel. Still Lin Manuel Miranda.

30. What political issue stirred you the most?

What didn’t?! Jesus, what an absolute trashfire. But probably children in cages at the border. That, probably. I mean, unless it was Brett Motherfucking Kavanaugh. #angrybees

31. Who was the best new person you met?

I feel like I’m forgetting someone, but nobody stands out? Eeep.

32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

Take that spider bite to the doctor POSTHASTE.

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

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

Not sure I have a song lyric this year. How about a lyric poem? This may be more “aspirational” than summative, but here you go:

 

“I Worried”

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

— Mary Oliver

Flipping

It’s Saturday night and my husband is scrolling through the Netflix and Amazon Prime options looking for something to watch. (The Good Place didn’t stick.) He’s been scrolling for about 10 minutes now and I fully expect him to go another 20. Do you know someone who does the endless scroll? Or is it you?

When I’m watching by myself I go directly to the show I’m in the middle of (currently Bunheads for something light and Stranger Things season one for something less light). If I’m not in the middle of a show, I’m usually about to start a new one from the seemingly endless list of shows I don’t have time to watch. So I almost never scroll and browse. Back in the days of regular TV, I was never a channel flipper, either. Not even during commercials. I hated the thought that I might get distracted, linger too long on another channel, and not get back to my show in time. Channel flipping caused too much anxiety. Frankly, so does scrolling.

Sometimes, mid-scroll, CW asks me to pick something but then comes up with a reason why he’s not in the mood to watch it. Sometimes the Rotten Tomatoes score is too low. He’s impossible to watch TV with. We do watch the Great British Bake-Off together and Game of Thrones, but that’s about it. This is one of my life’s greatest tribulations: not having a show to watch with my husband.

He just paused for a while hovering over a movie starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman. Things are dire. Send whiskey.

Gilmore Girls & Guys

I am super hip and with it and have my finger on the pulse of the pop-culture world, so I heard about the Gilmore Guys podcast approximately two years after the rest of the world. Have you heard of it? (Probably.) Are you into it? GET INTO IT. IT IS GREAT.

(If you’re not familiar, it’s a fun podcast that discusses Gilmore Girls episode by episode, and there’s so much more than that. It’s its own fantastic Thing. Kevin and Demi, the hosts, just seem to be super sweet and thoughtful and funny and smart. They’re generally fun and pleasant to listen to.)

Even though I had recently re-watched the series during my maternity leave, I decided it was worth another re-watch so I could follow along with each episode of the podcast. As of last week, I just finished Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and the accompanying Gilmore Guys discussions, which concluded my massive watch-and-listen. I’d watched and re-watched the original 7 seasons several times, but this was only my second time watching the revival. The podcast episodes are significantly longer than the TV episodes — sometimes insanely so, like the 722 episode that was released in two parts totaling over 6 hours. I know what you’re thinking, but they’re mostly awesome and worth it. But what this means is that over the last several months, I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours either watching or thinking about Gilmore Girls.

Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

Emily Gilmore is the fucking shit. She is the best (and sometimes also the worst, but in the best way) and I’ve been saying this for years and will keep saying it: Kelly Bishop IS IMPECCABLE. Her story was by far the best in the revival, and that scene at the whaling museum alone is worth the trouble of watching the whole series. But wait, maybe the scene at night with the glass of wine and the ocean is the best in the revival? Hard to say; they’re both amazing. The Clamshack? (“I guess The Vagina House was taken.”) And let me not forget the amazing fanfare with which she left the D.A.R. “BULLSHIT!” Boils down to one thing: Bishop is Queen.

I need to be IRL BFFs with Aisha Muharrar and Sarah Heyward, my two all-time favorite podcast guests. They are the best and I know we would hit it off and could discuss TV and writing and just, like, hang out in our pajamas and stuff. Maybe Aisha could introduce me to Leslie Knope Amy Poehler? I am even willing to forgive the fact that Sarah Heyward writes for Girls. (Sorry, Girls fans; I respect it but it is super not for me.)

Jason Mantzoukas. Who knew? I assumed he was a d-bag because he is on The League, which is a d-bag show if I ever saw one. (Sorry not sorry, League fans.) Also he plays a d-bag on Parks. Turns out he is also sensitive and smart and …stuff. He is an amazing an hilarious guest on the podcast and is super vulgar and inappropriate and I LOVE HIM. I feel like no one else understands my extreme hatred of Logan Huntzburger and the Life and Death Brigade the way Jason does. Jason, call me.

Logan Huntzburger and the Life and Death Brigade: STILL FUCKING AWFUL. These are not good people. These are bad people. I mean, I could list some reasons for this claim (the rich white guy money and privilege and smugness and the firmly classist and paternalistic belief that their own antics are the most amusing and charming thing they could bestow on the hapless bystander victims in their vicinity — the tango club Robert buys?! The old lady filing clerk at the Stars Hollow Gazette whom they probably pay to stand there with a flashlight in her face intoning “in omnia paratus“?! The AWFULNESS.) but how about just this:

Or this:

The Rory storyline in the revival was a bummer. What had she been doing for the past 8 years? Why was she so terrible at her job and networking and talking to people and finding a story? At least we got to enjoy Alex Kingston as Naomi Shropshire, which was a fun element. As to why Rory was cheating on her boyfriend with Logan, who was cheating on his fiancée with Rory? Logan is awful and the people around him sink to his level.

Lorelai and Luke — it was so sweet to see their wedding finally (and to hear Sam Phillips’ “Reflecting Light” as the soundtrack!), though some of that storyline was a bit of a bummer, too. Had they really not talked about kids!? Enh. Fine.

Well! You’d think I’d have more refined thoughts than that to share, but this is NaBloPoMo and I owe the internet a daily post, so there’s no time to refine. Take what you get and don’t get upset!

In my TV life, I’m moving on to Bunheads next, which I watched when it originally aired, but haven’t seen since. I know I’m going to enjoy the rewatch, but even moreso because I’ll be able to listen to Kevin and Demi’s Bunhead Bros!

 

Watching & Reading

Here’s how I’ve been entertaining myself lately:

ABCGO

How to Get Away with Murder

I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of this show last year, so I was excited to find a few new episodes in my Hulu queue. I’m almost caught up with the new season, but not quite, so no spoilers, please. I love mysteries and legal dramas and have a bit of a weakness of absurdly soapy plots, so HTGAWM is right up my alley. I don’t particularly “like” any of the show’s characters, which almost makes it more fun to watch because if/when something terrible happens to one of them or they’re revealed as evil, I just get to straight-up enjoy the drama. Fun.

Scream-Queens

Scream Queens

This show is completely ridiculous and fun and I recommend it if you’re interested in horror, campus narratives, or over-the-top campy pop-culture stuff. The send-up of popular horror movies is entertaining and the 90s soundtrack is just extra enjoyment for old folks like me. Plus, Jamie Lee Curtis!

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The Mindy Project

This is the one 30-minute comedy I’ve been consistently watching this season and while I don’t LOVE it the way I loved, say, Parks and Rec, it’s still fun for me. especially because this season Mindy and Danny have a new baby, so, hey!, relatable. Has anyone else noticed Mindy’s supercute pajamas recently? I need to know where she’s getting all those.

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Nashville

As out-of-control soapy as this show gets, I still love it so. The Juliette storyline is particularly awful this season, so I really hope they find a way to turn that around. I also really can’t stand this new Marcus character. Who the hell does he think he is, anyway?! What I have been appreciating is the return to Scarlett and Gunnar awesomeness, in particular their musical collaborations. Just give me the S&G album of my dreams, please, Nashville!

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The Martian, Andy Weir

I had been meaning to read this forever based on people’s favorable mentions of it on Twitter, and then I realized the movie had been released, so I’d better get a move on if I didn’t want the plot to get spoiled for me. I enjoyed the first-person narrator’s sense of humor and sarcasm and found the scientific aspects of the story to be really interesting. Space travel isn’t something I know a lot about, but I still found the technical aspects of the book easy enough to understand for a non-expert such as myself.

Heather-Cocks-Jessica-Morgan-TheRoyalWe

The Royal We, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I had absolutely no interest in this book for a long time because I was somehow under the misconception that it was a non-fiction book about the real Will and Kate. Once I found out it was a novel, I was on board. When the Kindle version went on sale, I figured, why not? It had plenty of slow moments for me, especially in terms of the royal family stuff, which I generally have very little interest in, but the love story itself was entertaining enough to keep me reading.

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Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

I’ve just started this one. Rainbow Rowell is hit or miss for me — I tend to prefer her adult books (Attachments and Landline) over her young adult stuff. In particular, I did not care for Eleanor and Park. Fangirl, on the other hand, was more interesting to me, but I found myself skipping the Simon Snow fanfiction sections of the novel in order to focus more on the main characters. I figured, then, that Carry On, her fantasy novel about the Simon Snow “world of mages” (obviously inspired by Harry Potter) that she first explored in Fangirl, would not be a hit for me. I decided to read it after all, though, after seeing a lot of friends say how much they were enjoying it. I’m about 20% of the way through so far and in all honesty I’d just rather be rereading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time. Maybe it will get more gripping. We’ll see.

Present Perfect Continuous

It’s been nothing but pregnancy talk around here for a while, so I want to change things up. I keep running into the thought that I “don’t have time” to write substantially about anything more than once a week, so that time gets devoted to weekly pregnancy updates instead of anything else. Well, perhaps I don’t need to write substantially! Perhaps I will write trivially about things of little import! How about THAT?!

Here are a few things I’ve been doing lately:

a-little-life

Reading: I recently started Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life, and despite not being immediately gripped by the plot or characters, I have persisted. At about 80 pages in I was seriously wondering why I bothered, but I am currently about 125 pages in and now much more interested. I am usually not one to complain or be daunted by very lengthy works of fiction (some of my all time favorite books include Infinite Jest and In Search of Lost Time, for example; The Goldfinch was a recent favorite). I do generally find, though, that my favorite lengthy tomes are the ones that interest me immediately and in such an insistent manner that I am unable to stop reading after just one chapter. I don’t feel that way about A Little Life, nor did I about, for example, Ulysses. We’ll see how it goes.

Watching: Sadly I have finished watching Make it or Break It, the cheesy ABC Family show about competitive gymnastics. I was dismayed to find out at the end of S3E8 that I had just seen the series finale — I’d been expecting several more episodes. Having accomplished that proud feat, though, I’ve returned to my slow ongoing re-watch of Lost.   What I wish I were watching, however, is Hannibal. I got behind on the current season and then when I went to Hulu to catch up, all but the last three episodes had been removed. DAMN YOU, HULU. (No, they’re not available on NBC.com, either.)

Listening: Frank Zappa and Taylor Swift. With those two, you’ve pretty much got all your bases covered. Until, that is, the much anticipated (by me, anyway) Ryan Adams 1989 cover album is released. Bated breath over here.

Planning: My next nursery project, a couple of mobiles with //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js“>hand-sewn birds. I haven’t done a legit sewing project in MANY A YEAR, so this should be…something.

Brunching! Don't worry, mine is virgin.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Loving: The visit from my friend C. and family over Labor Day Weekend! It was so nice to have them at our house and to have a couple of days to relax, hang out, catch up, and just spend time together. We went out to dinner one night and then the next day stayed in for brunch and then afternoon grilling at the house, with plenty of breaks for her 8-year-old to run around in the backyard and for our dog to follow him around hoping for a chance to play with the b-a-l-l. It was lovely. We need to do this more often.

Things I’ve Been Enjoying Lately

Lost-season1

Re-watching Lost

I’m currently early in season two and thoroughly enjoying it. If I remember correctly, I’ve seen the first couple of seasons more than once, but it’s been long enough that I don’t remember a lot of what happened. As far as seasons 3 and beyond, my memory is very foggy. Of course, I do remember the way the series ended, which I did not love at the time, and when it occasionally comes to mind as I’m watching now, it still pisses me off. I wonder if I’ll feel differently about the ending this time around? At any rate, I am enjoying spending time with Sawyer, Jack, Kate, Locke, Jin and Sun, Hurley, and Desmond.

HGTV-showchip-property-brothers

The Property Brothers

As we moved from house hunting to house buying, it’s been really fun to watch this and other real-estate/remodeling shows. It doesn’t hurt that the brothers are both totally adorable. My husband has gotten into the show, too, and it’s just fun to sit around and think about all the things we can do with our new house — and, of course, to make fun of the often vapid and annoying people featured on the show. “I want my dream house, and I want it NOW!” — Actual Quote from a Buyer on the Show.

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My Library’s Kindle Books

Downloading a book to my Kindle app instantly, for free, just never gets old. Sure, sometimes I have to be on the waiting list for quite a while (I’ve been waiting weeks and weeks for Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train and I’m now number 10 on 6 copies — it’s getting close!), but it’s worth it. Here are a few I’ve read recently, along with my star rating (out of a possible 5):

  • How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran (still in progress)
  • Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel ***
  • Looking for Alaska – John Green ** (2.5)
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty *** (3.5)
  • The Vacationers – Emma Straub ***
  • Yes, Please – Amy Pohler ** (2.5)
  • This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper **
  • Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes **** (4.5)

Dinner! (kale, quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes and chickpeas, feta, tahini dressing)

This Composed Salad Recipe

I found this recipe on Pinterest and, due to my love of all things kale and quinoa, I felt sure I would love it. I modified it by roasting the chickpeas first, but did everything else pretty much as directed. When I make this again, I’ll leave out the feta. I think, with the tahini dressing, the feta is not really needed. Leaving it out has the benefit of making the whole recipe vegan, which is something I like to do often.

Azaleas

The Warm, Springy Weather

It’s azalea season, which is the loveliest time in Alabama. Enough said.