Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Year in Review - 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!  For me, New Year in a time to reflect on the past and make plans for the future, and this one was no exception. I've been answering this survey for more than a decade now (here's last year's, here's 2015'shere's 2014's, and here's 2013's) and I hope you enjoy reading it. If you decide to answer these same questions, leave me a link in the comments!



1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
Bought a house! Visited Scandinavia and the Baltics! Got married! Used a lawn mower and a snowblower! Got retweeted by Town & Country! Spent Christmas somewhere other than New York! And seriously, that was more than enough for one year.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
In 2017, my only real goals were surviving wedding planning and adjusting to life in Vermont. I set the bar low but that helped me meet it! The wedding was a delight and I could not be happier that it's over and I never have to do that again. We're pretty well adjusted to live in Vermont. I've built a wonderful community of colleagues, artists, and friends, and feel really like I belong here, even if I sometimes wistfully miss New York or wonder why I never moved to Europe as an adult like I'd planned.

In 2018, I'd like to get back to setting some firmer goals, but I don't want to make myself crazy, so let's call them guidelines: start running again this spring, finish some renovations on our garage apartment, keep our head above water financially, send out some poetry submissions, read 30 books.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin had a delightful baby boy over the summer, and my boss had one just after Thanksgiving.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, luckily this year we were blessed with good health for ourselves and those around us.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, and Norway! We had such a wonderful trip with Molly and Laura, and I'm still hoping to capture it on here one. We were planning to take our honeymoon over Christmas, but it turns out that planning a major trip in 8 weeks felt basically impossible, so we traveled to Florida to visit with my parents instead. We also did a fair amount of travel around New England, visiting parts of Vermont we'd never been to before to search out wedding venues, having our bachelor party on the Connecticut shore, and taking a mini-moon in Kennebunkport.

In 2018, we're hoping to remedy the honeymoon snafu and make our way to East Africa over the Christmas holiday. We're also planning to go to Ireland and the UK with Molly, and I'm so looking forward to being back there. I can't believe it's been 11 years.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2018?
Political stability. 2017 was a really, really great year for me personally, but politically it felt like the world was on fire. I'm thinking of ways to help mitigate this in the coming year.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?
I should, of course, say it's our wedding, but the true highlight of the year was our weekend on the beach in Connecticut. I've rarely felt as happy and surrounded by love as I did then. This year has been marked by rekindling our community and that trip was the highlight of it.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
All the work we did on our house. Our fathers were both incredible helpful in teaching us the basics of renovation work, from showing us how to tile floors and replace drywall to explaining the principles of plumbing and basic woodworking. Together, we've all put a lot of sweat equity into the house already, and I think we're well prepared for the work we hope to do over the coming years. Our pipes froze and burst while we were away for Christmas, and Roger replaced all of them with pex piping in one morning. It was incredible.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I was not, unfortunately, the best at my career this year. I was essentially fired from two freelance gigs, I did not reach every goal I had hoped to at work, and I didn't submit a single poem for publication. Some years are fallow, I suppose, but I'd like to get back on track at work in 2018.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, luckily I was rather healthy in 2017, though I did take a few bad falls in the winter. New England, it seems, is more cautious about how much salt they put on their roads and sidewalks.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Gray Barns, of course! The wedding comes in at a close second, although I think we may have gotten a better deal on our house.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The Nosy Bitches. My online group of fiery, brilliant women has been so vital to my life for over half a decade, and this year they were all mobilizing in such incredible ways. I'm so inspired by them.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
As last year, "Donald Trump and everyone who voted for him. I don't think I've ever been so devastated by a political outcome before. We get the leaders we deserve, I guess."

14. Where did most of your money go?
The house, of course. I've been saving to buy a house since I was 24, and so while purchasing it was a major milestone for me, it also took every penny of the money I'd saved for almost a decade, and then some. I'm still working to figure out the right balance on savings and spending and "investing" in the house, and I hope that 2018 will see me finally able to better figure out a budget and workable long-term goals for income and savings.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The wedding. The whole day was a tremendous mix of joy and anxiety, but everything was layered over with anticipation and excitement all year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
"Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne, and, for embarrassing reasons, pretty much anything by Ed Sheeran.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you
i. happier or sadder? Much happier! Vermont life finally feels like a fit.
ii. thinner or fatter? Much happier! With Weight Watchers' help, I'm down more than 15 pounds.
iii. richer or poorer? Much richer! Because of the house, a high savings rate, and generous wedding guests, we're worth more than twice what we were last year.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Honestly, there are lots of things I would have loved to do more of (reading, exercising, writing), but I'm just glad I made it through the year. I can't see where I would have fit it in.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I watched more television this year than I generally do, but I genuinely enjoyed all of it, so I can't say I regret it. It did, however, get in the way of some of my reading time, which I'd like to remedy this year.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Christmas 2017 was much less sad than 2016. It was the first Christmas I've spent outside of New York, and it was also the week we'd intended to take our honeymoon, so it felt a bit strange, but the warm weather was delightful and my mother's joy at having her whole family together for the first time in four years was well worth the delayed trip.

22. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Yes! It was shocking to me that marriage really did change our relationship, but so far only in positive ways. We had been together for 13 years when we were married, and we'd lived together for 6 of those years, so I didn't expect anything to change, but they did. I think we're both kinder to each other now, though I'm not sure why, since the relationship genuinely doesn't feel more permanent to me than it did before marriage. We're also getting better at handling things as a team and knowing when the other needs a break, which has been incredibly helpful as we deal with all these renovations.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Still The Crown. I continued to enjoy Last Week Tonight, The Walking Dead, and I also started watching Silicon Valley, The Americans, Madam Secretary, and presumably a few others I can't quite remember right now, but The Crown is absolutely the best thing.

24. What was the best book you read?
Reading in 2017 was practically non-existent for me. I wanted to read 40 books and I read 14, which is, I believe, the fewest books I've read in a year since I learned to read in 1992. I'm more than a little embarrassed by this and I hope to rectify it in 2018. Homegoing and Life After Life were triumphs; I also loved Blessing for the Unborn. I tried and failed to love Lincoln in the Bardo.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
A re-discovery of Transatlanticism on NYE.

26. What did you want and get?
To get married.

27. What did you want and not get?
I'm still waiting to get myself a signet ring. Perhaps 2018 is the year.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Goodness, I'm not sure I saw a single movie in 2017.

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
Two weeks beforehand, we snuck off to Blue Hill for the best meal of my life. It was so good, I cried twice. From the candle-lit pathway to the entrance and the most perfect tumeric cocktail to the kitchen visit and a perfectly timed valet waiting for us at the end, every moment was spectacular. There has never been so perfect a celebration.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More reading! As I said, I was pretty disappointed in myself to have read so little this year, but things picked up a bit in the second half of the year and that helped.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
I bought clothes like it was going out of style this year, mostly in the preppy/trad vein. In 2018, I'm planning not to buy any new clothing, because I'm so well stocked up. I've built up quite the collection of wool sweaters, Lilly dresses, and all the slacks a girl could need.

32. What kept you sane?
My mother. The woman is a rock and in this year of lots of life changes and intense emotions, she was always there to listen to me, calm me down, and tell me what to do. I'm not sure I could have done it without her.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Kate Middleton, always Kate Middleton, forever Kate Middleton.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
It was a year of intense political issues stirring me, but the tax bill being pushed through so ridiculously at the last minute made me angrier than I had even expected.

35. Who did you miss?
Of course I always miss everyone, but this year we managed to see almost everyone we love, thanks to the wedding and lots of events leading up to it. What pure joy, to have most people you care about in one place!

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I didn't meet them this year, but in 2017, I got much closer to several of my coworkers, who have turned out to be delightful. I'm so grateful to have a team of interesting, smart, and fun people to work and play with!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
Sometimes you just have to take the risk and live with the consequences. Usually those consequences are both good and bad, and you'll be glad you went with your gut.

38. Quote a lyric that sums up your year.
"Your love was handmade for somebody like me." HAHAHAHAHA

39. What are your plans for 2018?
Go some places. Read some books. Write some poems.

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