Monday, January 05, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

Perhaps you thought (hoped?) I was done talking about 2014, that I had finally moved on to the greener grass of the present year. Almost, but not quite. I was reminded by the illustrious Kate that I forgot to post my favorite "Year in Review" survey. And since I've done this survey for the last three years, it didn't seem right to suddenly skip it. I promise, after this, I will let 2014 rest. For now, here's one last look back. 

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before? 
I finished my novel, defended my thesis, and earned my MFA. I also visited Seattle for the first time for the AWP conference, and became self-employed without going broke. Kind of a big year, I guess. 

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 

Remember how I was going to make 12 monthly challenges? Yeah, me neither. This year I have some goals, all of which currently feel attainable. Check in with me again in May. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 

My MFA friend had a very cute baby named Graham, which I think is a lovely name. Otherwise it was a slow year for babies. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, and for that I'm grateful. I did lose two of my chickens, but those were minor tragedies, all things considered. 

5. What places did you visit? 
Not too many travels in 2014, thanks to ongoing attempts to live within our means, pay off debt, and finally create a savings account. I did make it to Seattle for AWP, to Long Island to see my parents, and to Rhode Island to visit dear friends. Otherwise we were all Wilmington, all the way. 

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? 
Once again, I would like more money and a semblance of financial stability.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched in your memory, and why? 
May 10th:
MFA graduation day. So bittersweet! 
December 1st: Personal reasons (good). 
December 30th: Personal reasons (not so good). 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 

Earning my MFA, finishing my first novel, and launching my freelance career - a list that looks a whole lot like my answer to question number one. Still, I was and remain proud of all those things. 

9. What was your biggest failure? 

I was not very social in 2014, especially in the latter half. I would like to be less of a hermit in 2015. 

10: Did you suffer illness or injury?
I actually made it through all of 2014 without so much as a head cold! (Hangovers are self-inflicted and don't count.) I also stayed pretty active. While I took a step back from running, yoga and weight lifting filled in the gaps nicely. 

11. What was the best thing you bought? 
A new laptop! God, I love my MacBook Pro. And even though we didn't actually buy it, choosing to rent a different house was a game-changer. 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My dear friend Amy from Nacogdoches. Over the summer she set a goal to spend the month of December studying yoga in India, and is just now returning from that adventure. Following her journey was really inspiring, and I'm so proud of her for making it happen. 

13. Where did most of your money go?
Debt. Those student loans are serious business, kids! Proceed with caution. 

14. What did you get really excited about?

Writing and reading. I don't know how people who don't enjoy books get through life.  

15. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Probably "Shake It Off" by the one and only T. Swift. It came out right as my sisters visited Wilmington and we rocked out to it about 3,000 times over the course of four days. 

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? Sadder. I miss all my friends who moved away.  
b. thinner or fatter? About the same. 
c. richer or poorer? Hard to say. We have a tiny savings account now, but did not make as much progress on our debt as I'd hoped. So I guess about the same, which, thanks to interest, is just a nice way of saying poorer. 

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

Spent more time with friends. Paid off more debt. Visited our families. 

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

Looking at my iPhone. 

19. How did you spend Christmas?
At home, alone, while Nathan worked. In the evening I went to my favorite bar and had a few drinks with my friend W. and the owner of the bar, who is also a good friend. (Nathan and I celebrated Christmas the day before, and drank mimosas and opened presents and drove all over town in the pouring rain to take care of various animals. It was not a banner Christmas.) 

20. Did you fall in love in 2014?
Again, as always: I fell more in love with the same person. (Aw...)  

21. What was your favorite TV program?

I really like New Girl, which I watch on Netflix. I also started rewatching Gilmore Girls, a series I never actually finished, and it's fine. Oh, and House of Cards! I really like that show. Basically whatever is cool on Netflix, I watch. 

22. What was the best book you read?

I devoted a whole post to this, but it was a tie between Roxane Gay's An Untamed State and George Saunders Tenth of December

23. What music did you get excited about?
Last year I wrote: "This question is terrible for me, because I'm so bad about music. I mostly listen to Pandora, and mostly to the Avant Garde Jazz station. It's my favorite writing music." I am still listening to that same Pandora station, though now I alternate between it and the Explosions in the Sky station. I rest my case.  

24. What did you want and get? 
A literary agent. (Wait, what? Yes, it's true, and I'm burying that news in the middle of this very long survey because I'm afraid I might jinx it so shhhhhh.) 

25. What did you want and not get?
Honestly, I want for very little and all of my needs are met. I really can't complain. 

26. What was your favorite film of this year? 
I have no idea.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 
I turned 32 and wrote a time capsule. Nathan and I hosted a combination birthday/housewarming party, because we had just moved into our new place. It was a big, fun party, and almost everyone who came brought me a bottle of wine as a gift, because I am a wino and that's okay. 

28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? 
Skinny jeans, cardigans, and bright colors. I have worked hard to simplify my wardrobe and now stick to classic, simple outfits. I like the way I look most day, which feels like a true victory. 

29. What kept you sane? 
Yoga. Wine. Seamus and Calvin. (Dog snuggles make everything better.) 

30. What political issue stirred you the most? 

Racism and police brutality. It was unavoidable, but in a good way. These issues are too important to be avoided, and even though they were sad and tragic and uncomfortable, I'm glad the discussion and the fight for equality continues.  

31. Whom did you miss? 
Every single MFA friend who moved away after graduation. Come back! 

32. Who was the best new person you met? 
I didn't really meet anyone knew in 2014. Hopefully 2015 will be different! 

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. 

Nothing is certain and everything is temporary, so you might as well enjoy yourself. 

(Survey results from years past: 2013, 2012, and 2011.)