Monday, December 26, 2016

2016: Year in Review

Every year I think maybe I'm done with this, and yet, here we go again...

If you're feeling like a real stalker, or just trying to kill time with your in-laws by reading blog archives on your phone, feel free to take a look back at 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
* Successfully potty-trained a two-year-old (I can’t believe that Zuzu had only been consistently potty trained for about five months at this time last year...). And let’s be real: it was NOTHING I did. The secret of potty training is that the kid decides. And some kids are more cooperative than others in this area…
* Flew in an airplane with both kids on a family vacation.
* Joined a book club!

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

Short answer? Not so much and yes, of course.
Goals for 2016:
Read 50 books for fun.
Got to 44. Not terrible, but I think I could have done better.

Write (besides blog posts). More specifically, draft an academic article and write at least three other things non-related to academia--fiction or creative nonfiction.
Ok, this goal setting is making me feel shitty. I did draft an academic article, and then I gave up on it because my argument seemed simple and obvious. It would have earned an A in an undergraduate (or maybe even graduate) class, but it’s not exactly publication material. Sigh. I did do a lot of writing of other stuff, but I want to be more focused.

Do something active 2 times a week (minimum).
I kicked ass at this at the start of the year when I was attending barre classes on the regular. I slacked over the summer, then picked it back up in fall when I started working out with a student trainer again. Now that’s over and I’m really going to make an effort to do more yoga, but it’s hard to fight the desire to do nothing.

Get your shit together when it comes to photos--order books, order prints, get organized.
Did some of this, but not enough! Dang. I need a personal assistant to take care of that stuff for me. There's probably a service of someone who will put your photos and videos in some kind of organized product for you... Anyone? Anyone?

Goals for 2017:
Reach Out. I have spent a lot of time turning inward for the past six years, and I think it’s time to be more social and do more stuff, particularly becoming involved in causes and issues that I care about.

I’ve blogged before about the possibility of writing a book about Eliza. I think I’m scared of writing something that will never measure up to how much I love her and will face rejection and criticism. AND YET it feels important and like I'll always be sorry if I don't do it. So I’m going to take the pages of writing (I have more than 30,000 words now!) and I’m going to write a little more and I’m going to turn it into the shape/form of a book. And then I’m going to figure out what happens after that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Natalie had a baby boy this summer (love ya, Petey!). A couple of BLMs I follow on IG had rainbow babies (yay!). (And I look forward to meeting my new little niece in 2017!)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Also no. That’s a relief. 

5. What countries did you visit?
Stayed in the U.S., but visited California (heart eyes for Lake Tahoe), Colorado, and Minnesota.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
More time to read for fun. A new floor lamp for my living room. New light fixtures and curtains in my kitchen. Nothing really important.

7. What dates from 2016 will remained etched upon your memory?
July 2016 was when my 23-month-old baby decided to stop nursing. Bittersweet!
Halloween 2016 was the first day that my 26-month-old baby wore big girl panties all day long (and she didn’t have an accident!). I still can't believe how easy she was when I think about what we went through with Zuzu at this same age...

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I became chair of my department at work and while I swear I haven’t let the power go to my head, I discovered that there are some things I like about being in charge. (Also some things I don’t like, but that’s an answer to a different question.)

9. What was your biggest failure?
Well, I failed to meet most of my new year's resolutions, so there’s that. Also, pushing Zuzu into organized sports before she was ready. We changed course early on so it wasn’t that big of a deal, and I guess you never know until you try, but we’re going to wait another year--or two--before we mess with that stuff again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I think I canceled class one time for illness, but otherwise I had a really healthy year (knock on wood…). Zuzu's bout of HSP was enough illness/injury for all of us. Fortunately, her bloodwork and urinalysis at the last of our three follow-up appointments were all clear, so her doctor has declared her condition Resolved. He doesn't think we'll have any further complications, so that's an enormous relief.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets to Colorado and California and Minneapolis. Private swimming lessons for Zuzu. Also, Ugg boots. I waffled over them for years because I still they’re kind of ridiculous looking and would I really wear them enough to justify the price? But then I pulled the trigger way back in July during Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale, and holy crap. My weekend uniform includes ridiculous looking boots and my feet have never been warmer or cozier. Who cares if they look like astronaut boots wearing sweaters?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama. The few friends and family who continue to reach out to us on Eliza’s birthday, knowing that the day is still really hard for us and always will be. A text seems like a small thing, but to a bereaved parent, even six or ten or twenty years later, it's such a big thing that you remembered. (If you're reading this and that was you, THANK YOU again. It means so much to me.)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Much to my dismay, my answer here is the same as last year. I can’t believe this is real life.
First name rhymes with Ronald, last name rhymes with Hump. He's on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, you guys. He made fun of a disabled person on live television. He settled a lawsuit for screwing over people who attended his pseudo-university and he won't release his tax records... I still can't even.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Montessori Preschool and Toddler House for the Special Snowflakes in our lives

15. What did you get really excited about?
Getting season tickets to the Fox for our anniversary gift to each other in anticipation of seeing Hamilton next year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
The whole soundtrack to Hamilton and also “Five Little Pumpkins” as performed by Zuzu.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? My holidays were happier, but overall I'm sadder. I’m so sad about the outcome of the election--not just because our country has elected a leader who has been openly hateful, rude, and misogynistic, but because I’m really worried about what his policies and supreme court appointments will look like, and how they will have an impact on my children’s future. I’m scared about the environmental impact from people who deny the reality of human influence on climate change, about limitations of women's rights to reproductive choices from people who don't trust a woman and her health-care provider to make the best and most responsible choice, and about continued access to affordable healthcare for people who don't prioritize moral good above making money. And I’m really concerned about basic rights and personal safety for immigrants, minorities, and my LGBTQ friends and family members.
- thinner or fatter?  thinner (I’ve finally lost a few pregnancy pounds that my body holds onto while breastfeeding, and working out with my student Personal Trainer didn’t hurt either. Also I lost my appetite after the election and barely ate anything for a couple of weeks…)
- richer or poorer?  Poorer. Special Snowflake tuition times two is a huge percentage of my take-home salary. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wow, sadder and poorer. Thanks, 2016.

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

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Yelling/raising my voice at my kids

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents at our house, then with my brother and his wife and my parents at my parents' house, also with my Papa and my dad's siblings and my cousins at my aunt Tammi's.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
With Ugg boots, Lake Tahoe, and Minneapolis in September (also with my friend Natalie's baby Pete).

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Stranger Things. I’m looking forward to watching The Crown in 2017!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. I hate all the same people! Haha.

24. What was the best book you read?
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Between the World and Me by Te-Nehisi Coates. Both are fantastic. Powerful and devastating but also hopeful. Also Waking Up White surprised me by articulating things I hadn't fully recognized before, and deepening my understanding of the pervasive and restrictive force of white culture and privilege. 

25. What was your favorite musical discovery?

26. What did you want and get?
New light fixtures and a biweekly cleaning service

27. What did you want and not get?
Hillary Clinton for president.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
This is hard to say because I saw so few of them... Manchester by the Sea was really moving, but it's hard to name it as a favorite since it was such a gut-punch of grief. I want to see La La Land. I love going to the movies, but we're just not in a film-going phase of life right now.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Went to dinner at Onesto and refused to share sangria with Coco, who was furious. I was 36. It feels pretty young and super old at the same time.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying [besides your first baby being alive]?
A raise that matches my increased responsibilities at work.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Flat Shoes + Skinny Bottoms + Flowy Tops + Scarves + Maybe Some Lip Color Because Now You Are 36

32. What kept you sane?
Friends who send funny texts and link to meaningful articles and who will continue to work for political good.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Michelle Obama (did you see her in the Obama’s Christmas card photo? She’s dazzling.) I loved her Farewell to the White House interview with Oprah, too. She's fantastic.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Election 2016 and Syria. Oh, mercy. We donated here.

35. Who did you miss?
Eliza, of course, and David’s grandma Peggy as well as my grandparents who have passed.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Another new colleague in the English department—Rob is funny and weird, which is the best kind of colleague to have.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Keep the kitchen scissors completely out of reach of four-year-olds.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
This is from "Bluebonnets," a song by Aaron Watson. I didn't listen to much country music this year (unless David has it on) but Monica told me about this song after she saw him in concert. He wrote it for his daughter, Julia, who was born prematurely and died shortly after she was born. As frustrating and sad as the end of the year felt for me, I definitely try to practice the art of gratitude each night when I tuck the girls into bed. They are growing so fast, and while I can't complain about them growing older, when too many babies are denied that privilege, I still recognize how fast it goes and how sweet these days are.

There's so much I can't explain
Such as gravity and pain
Still I remain, blindfolded and full of faith
I kissed my angel girl goodbye
Still can't help but wonder why
But I believe I'll see her again someday
So, hold 'em tender, hold 'em tight
Pray every mornin', day, and night
That God will help you raise them right
And don't you blink, don't blink
'Cause like bluebonnets in the spring
We're only here for a little while
It's beautiful and bittersweet
So make the most of every mile
So pack light and love heavy
Give it all your heart and soul
So in the end you won't regret one thing
Life is like bluebonnets in the spring

2017, may you be less politically sucky than I fear and even sweeter on the home front than 2016. Love trumps hate, no matter what.


  1. I'm enjoying The Crown and hope you like it so much your answer to #5 for next year can be that you visited England!

  2. Ita with Hamilton, it was my answer as well for that question. And I met my husband in Minneapolis in September (of '99, ahem) so I again, have to confirm that recommendation! Love reading your breakdowns every year.

  3. You "reached out" to me. I'm sure I wasn't the only one you helped in that respect. Give yourself an A+ there, sweets. Happy New Year.