Category Archives: Year-end Survey

At Year’s End – 2014

I wanted to do this while I was off of work, but every time I thought about cracking open my laptop I had guilt about not checking work email. The formatting is wacky and there are not as many links and pictures as I would like, but I need to just put it up and move on. I went through these (questions courtesy of RA) before looking at last year’s and am not sure if I am relieved that my pants also didn’t fit last year or if I am horrified by the realization that it has been SEVERAL years since I have owned properly fitting pants and I gained weight once again. Anyway, here are some thoughts on 2014.

  1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 34 this year and in traditional fashion celebrated over multiple days (birthday week is TOTALLY a thing. A thing that is fantastic.) The weekend before I got one-on-one girl time with Caryn who helped make multiple birthday treats (I chose a non-frosted bday cake this year. Very strange.) and attended a work function at the zoo as my +1. On the actual day I went out to lunch with some coworkers – two were actually off so it felt extra special that they came out. We also ordered a scandalous pitcher of margaritas (which they filled me up on and then drove me back to work.) That evening I requested dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with Jesse. I don’t think he was very familiar with tapas style dining, but since we already eat off each other’s plates to begin with it was a lot of fun sharing all the food. Plus when I was indecisive between two cocktails he ordered one of each so we could try them both. The next day I had dinner with my parents – dad grilled my favorite salmon with mango salsa and although Jesse didn’t join us, he rescued me with a phone call to meet him for drink later on. That weekend I got to celebrate with Hillary and J.R. They got a sitter for their kids and we played minigolf before heading downtown. We ate glorious Cuban food, got tipsy, and walked around down by the lakefront in the beautiful weather. Afterward we headed back to their house and had a bonfire. It was one of the finest birthdays I can remember.
Let's just call this ungodly stomach a combination of food baby and exceptional poor posture. My love for the hated orange beams continues evermore.

Let’s just call this ungodly stomach a combination of food baby and exceptional poor posture. My love for the hated orange beams continues evermore.

  1. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?
    My shitty, shitty boss finally being let go after causing more than a year of misery. Also making it to the 15-year mark with my company and getting an extra week of PTO.

Well my car dying in the middle of the freeway for no-known reason, really sticks out. Still have not resolved the “need a new car” issue, but thankfully that incident has not repeated itself.

Posted every day in February. Perhaps I will do that again.

Friends had to put down their beloved dog far too soon and it was devastatingly heartbreaking. I was overjoyed when they were able to welcome a new furry friend into our lives.

Before Jesse left on his abroad trip we went out for dinner. I typically order the mac and cheese at this place and mentioned a desire to get something else, but I still really felt the pull of wanting the mac and cheese. When our server came back he ordered the mac and cheese along with an appetizer mentioning they were “for the table.” It was just the two of us and it was super cute.

June was one of the biggest clusterfucks of a month I can remember in the last couple of years between a scary biopsy/whirlwind surgery/waiting for results and J being overwhelmed with an abroad class and generally acting like a terrible companion when he finally returned. Stress, fear, and sads are all hard to get through and there were many days I didn’t know how I was going to get through that trifecta. I am sure my tweets from that period are horrific and whiny, but it was the support system I could work with at the time.

My mother completed a triathalon through a breast cancer survivor study. My mother. OMG I am still incredibly proud that she stuck with all the training and COMPLETED this. I am in such awe.

This is my MOM. I cannot get over how awesome this was.

This is my MOM. I cannot get over how awesome this was.

Being bored and buying a bunch of eye makeup to play with at home that resulted in the STY that did not go away for more than 8 months.

Wedding season – we had 3 weddings in August and September and although Wedding Jesse is tons upon tons of fun, 2 out of 3 weddings were for his family and the level of appropriateness I needed to display as the new girlfriend was pretty exhausting (not to mention the caretaking and patience involved in handling Wedding Jesse.)

Some day he might learn to hold his liquor.

Some day he might learn to hold his liquor.

Getting to wear my dirndl for Halloween this year!

Lucky I had the dirndl or I would have had to buy a Ghostbusters uniform like everyone else at the party.

Lucky I had the dirndl or I would have had to buy a Ghostbusters uniform like everyone else at the party.

We made Christmas trains again. Last year Jesse brought over a rice krispies treat train kit and it was ridiculously fun. We had his brother and sister-in-law over this time to join in the festivities and it lived up to all the fun of last year.

Nicki Express makes her return as N2! (even if there are interloping Js this year.)

Nicki Express makes her return as N2! (even if there are interloping Js this year.)

  1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
    I had surgery under local anesthesia/spinal block. It saved thousands of dollars and alleviated some of my fears about going under (I do not do the best coming out from general anesthesia.) but after the anxiety of experiencing all the sounds of surgery I have no idea what I would choose if given the choice again. (Assuming my doctor would let me have that choice again, which now, probably not. Perhaps I would stick with the cost-saving local, just teamed up with a couple of shots of bourbon and a few unisom tabs for less… awareness?)

I was also not sick at all for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s for the first time in 34 years. I really wish I knew the secret to this so I could follow exact protocol forever and ever.

  1. What did you want and get?
    CLEAR MARGINS! The above mentioned surgery was sprung on me with no real notice or time to (over) process it or the preliminary results. Then due to illness and a breakdown in communication between my doctor, her medical assistant, and the Independence Day holiday it was almost 2 weeks to find out the official all clear afterward. It was not a fond time, but I got the best results I could possibly get and I am hopeful 2015 will not be a repeat.

A house that didn’t flood. I am forever thankful I rent and am not responsible for fixing flooding issues, but it was a nice respite to not have flooding in 2014 after the previous 2 years. Let us not speak of the drip I felt from the shower ceiling just before Christmas. That was obviously a fluke of condensation from an exceptionally steamy shower.

A working microwave! In lieu of flooding, my (built-in) microwave took a shit (I would bet money that the previous year’s flooding humidity caused issues to the circuit board) and would only work sporadically and even then in less than 90 second increments. A microwave is not mandatory, and sure I could have bought a cheapy one to get by, but when I have no counters to begin with, and it is IN MY LEASE, and broken for the better part of a year, it became a stubborn sticking point with my landlord. Anyway, the point of this was YAY I finally have a working microwave and it is wonderful.

Fergus Falls Otter T-shirt! After a failed mission to acquire this when we were there in August, Jesse made it a mission to find them on a return trip and surprised me (and his sister-in-law) with them at Christmas. I squealed with delight.

  1. What did you want and not get?
    A new car. (pitiful savings went to surgery bills)

A suitable non-hormonal birth control method. (humanity is terrible.)

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

A planned vacation with Jesse that involves real time off of work and does not factor in attending a wedding obligation. (To be fair I understand that when you work full time and take an abroad class for a month, it is not kosher to take an additional vacation.)

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

Well I am unable to even say what my new year’s resolutions from last year were (or if I even made any) so I don’t hold out much hope that I have kept them. Although I embrace the #HoarderLife hashtag and have made many trips to Goodwill this year, I would like to be better about getting rid of the things that do not serve a meaningful purpose in my life. (To be fair, a back up VCR serves a meaningful purpose. Ratty contingency underwear that enables me to delay laundry responsibilities does not.) I’d like to be kinder in my daily demeanor and actions. I want to more often ask how can I help make something better and work to make improvements instead of just grumbling about some injustice. These resolutions are not quantifiable, but I am okay with that. I have to-do lists to track my tangible goals and tasks.

(Apparently I resolved to make a list of resolutions last year, but I am doubtful that was ever done. If it had been done it probably would have included writing more about my Germany trip and I really failed at that.)

  1. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
    Loyalty to a company that may not deserve it. Okay that doesn’t sound like a crowning achievement, but after everything that went down in 2013, when the company began making worthwhile personnel and leadership changes in 2014 I really wanted to give them a chance to see things improve. The company will never be what it once was and I have made peace with that. I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I am proud of staying even if it sometimes feels like the easier path than making a change. (Looking back at last year’s I had something similar, though it was out of stubborn resistance to outlast a shitty boss and a few short weeks later he was gone!)

I paid off $6,500+ in medical bills in less than 6 months. (goodbye entirety of my savings and overwhelming majority of discretionary spending) This would not have been possible without some surprise commission, but I will count it as a personal achievement nonetheless since that bonus commission was earned, and it was simply a surprise I was actually getting it.

Forging a worthwhile and redeeming romantic relationship with a stranger I met online dating (who had every reason to call it quits after our first date.) Even when I am picking on Jesse and being astonished at how he has gone through 36 years of life thinking some are okay (which are definitely not okay) I am thankful every day to have him in my world.

  1. What was your biggest failure?
    I lost a friend this year and there are reasons and failings and confusion, but most of all I just feel wrongfully accused and abandoned and it hurts.
  1. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?
    Twitter. During my worst times I did not call upon my support systems for reasons both righteous and arbitrary and that was really hard (and pretty stupid.) An Ex who has given me no reason to think he would be upstanding on my behalf really came through for me when I reached out and I was thoroughly touched (along with once again feeling the classic sad thoughts that we have never found/ will never find a way to work out.)

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  1. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)

My reading this year was abysmal and often I struggled to read one book in a month for book club.  Notables from that were Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  My favorite (non-bookclub) book this year was Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt  (notable mention awards to Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell) Again, these are well-discussed books almost all of which did not come out this year. I am not breaking ground promoting them, but simply nodding yes and adding my appreciation. I received books by Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham for Christmas that I cannot wait to dive into and will assume they will make next year’s list.

I think this year saw the fewest trips to the movie theater since I have had the autonomy of movie viewing decisions. Since Jesse is a giant party-pooper whenever I suggest going, I am thrilled to have made a new friend who likes going to see movies. We have gone twice so far and it is outstanding. Also, we received a DVD of This is Where I Leave You from Jesse’s parents for Christmas and I recommend it. I heard the book was really good and I might look that up even though I feel weird about the reverse order of seeing the movie first. It was not breathtaking or phenomenal (okay maybe Jesse actually watching a movie I asked to see was) but overall very enjoyable. We did not get to watching it until 2015, but since we received it in December and it came out in 2014, I am counting it. Go watch it.

As for music, I am sad to see the end of Yellow Ostrich, but so glad I got to see them in 2014. Field Report came out with Marigolden and it was thoroughly enjoyable to go to my favorite record store to purchase a physical copy and pour over the liner notes. I also received Wilco’s Alpha Mike Foxtrot rare tracks box set for Christmas. I haven’t been home enough since then to listen to all four discs over and over yet, but so far I am thrilled with experiencing the ebb and flow/distinct releases of a band I admire but cannot consider myself a die-hard fan of by any means.

  1. What song will remind you of this year?
    Well, Take Me To Church by Hozier  became a running joke as the radio would not stop playing it every hour and now we have bets on whether we will hear it every time we get in the car. (I did not link to YouTube as the video is pretty violent.)

Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off is exceptionally catchy and due to some behind the scenes circumstances it makes me smile every time I hear it because of this local video.

  1. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).
    “Don’t you think it’s time to change
    And maybe become a better you”

“Karma” by Lady

  1.  What was your most enjoyable purchase?
    I bought myself Jeff Tweedy tickets as an early birthday present. Although Jesse is not a fan, he followed decent boyfriend behavior and came with me (on a weeknight!) The concert was at my favorite Milwaukee venue and it was worth every penny of the stupid online surcharges to get tickets during the pre-sale.
  1. Did you travel? If so, where?
    Went to Baltimore to see a dear friend get married and stayed an extra day to visit with my cousin and her hubs. So delightful and I am still thinking about the delicious biscuit (bigger than my hand!) that we got at the Farmer’s Market. Natalie and Paul also introduced me to the Fargo miniseries, which was one of my favorite TV shows this year.

Roadtrip with Jesse to Fergus Falls (western Minnesota) for his cousin’s wedding. Lots of driving, lots of giant animal statues, and lots of alcohol. It was outstanding and I love his family.

I wanted to take him home.

I wanted to take him home.

Geneva, IL spa trip to the Herrington Inn with Mom. Even though Mom threw out her back the day before we left (rolling a giant rotting pumpkin FTW) we managed to have a great time. I was pampered and spoiled and rubbed. Another excellent year of our mother-daughter overnight tradition.

KarenNickiHerringtonInn2014

  1. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Action. Follow-through. Enacting Change. I spent a lot of time this year feeling hopeless and that circumstances were being done TO me.
  1. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    Hmmmm, my first thought is perhaps less stuffing my face as I am at least 10 pounds heavier this year and most of my pants don’t fit.
Worth it.

Worth it.

  1. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?
    I am trying really hard to improve my communication and be more upfront in admitting when something is bothering me or my feelings are hurt. This is also my first relationship without the responsibilities of a dog so my house is not the default. It is an adjustment to compromise on where to spend time, so I am trying to live up to the personal belief that when it truly means more to one person, that person’s vote is weighted heavier. Basically it is very strange to not be the one with the superior bed.
  1. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?
    Sometimes I am too outspoken and stubborn when I know that I am right and frustrated that others do not agree (A charming trait, I know.) I still love to make a giant mess in the kitchen and have a fridge full of food, though I am begrudgingly increasing the frequency of going out to eat when that is what someone else wants to do. Dear god I still love to sleep a lot.
Sleeping alone is overrated. Always better with a bear.

Sleeping alone is overrated. Always better with a bear.

  1. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?
    It is really hard to sustain constant outrage in our society. There is always the next terrible thing around the corner to divert attention.

Puppy Hugs Snoopy

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Filed under (I Like Parentheses), Because The Internet Told Me To, Is This A Kissing Book, Of Course This Is About Me This Is My Blog, Year-end Survey

At Year’s End – 2013

I love reading the year-end posts, and looky here I can finally do my own! Thanks to RA for modifying the questionnaire!

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

This past July I turned 33. I was taken out for lunch by my coworkers (where we had the most fabulous cucumber melon margaritas) and then had dinner over at my parents’ house (where I got ribs, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake… and no wonder my pants don’t fit.) Something terrible usually transpires on my birthday. It was a pretty anti-climactic year, and astronomically less stressful than the previous year’s birthday betrayal and tears. My parents are also incredibly lovely and agreed to host a whole bunch of my friends for another tie-dye party to honor my brother.

2. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?

New Year’s Eve/Day (okay fine I guess that TECHNICALLY is 2012, but whatever) was highly outside my comfort zone since it involved dressing up, lots of drinking, and dancing, but ended up being tons of fun.

The end of a significant relationship.

Birth of Jackson and watching everyone’s heart explode to accommodate the joy he brings.

The summer of having a roommate.

Dragging a friend to Summerfest to see my favorite local band, getting utterly soaked, and having their appearance cancelled due to the weather.

Clearing off my desk ready to leave my job over some unethical behavior by senior management.

Another tie-dye party in my parents’ backyard. Complete with enormous tub of florescent cheeseballs.

My kitchen flooding, AGAIN.

Driving to Minnesota, for dinner, simply because R opened up her house and invited people over.

Watching a friend with control issues struggle with the reality of life with a puppy.

Seeing a friend throw out the first pitch at a Brewers game.

Oktoberfest in Munich – kissed multiple boys, my mother rode a carnival ride, so much pork and beer.

My dad surprising my mom for her birthday and encouraging us not to cancel our annual mother-daughter weekend.

My grandma’s death.

Getting a Christmas tree with my dad and it WASN’T raining.

3. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

I got seriously angry at my best friend for crossing the line and getting involved in an issue that had absolutely nothing to do with her. I hope that was a once in a lifetime event because I never want to feel that way again.

I stood up for myself more than I ever remember doing in the past. I let people know their actions were hurtful and I initiated uncomfortable conversations with family and bosses.

4. What did you want and get?

A lovely Christmas, against all odds. I meant to do a wrap-up post on this but never got to it. I really should because it was a highly memorable and enjoyable holiday.

5. What did you want and not get?

Stability – of the love, financial, career variety. The usual.

I really thought I would get a dog this year too. It seems crazy that it has been more than a year since Molly died. Life without a dog is significantly easier in so many ways, but I miss having a snuggly furball. It is ridiculous to continue to pay such high rent for the ideal dog suitable living arrangement, but I have not been ready yet.

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

A new (to me) car. With health insurance and out of pocket costs almost tripling for me in 2014 I have no idea how I am going to swing financing a car, but it is a definite necessity.

A competent boss. I know it is verboten to discuss work issues online,  but it is no secret even at the office that I am highly unsatisfied with my boss’ performance. I continue to hold out hope this situation will be fixed without having to leave a job I really do like.

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

(opens up past list, scans, laughs.) I don’t really RESOLVE to do things, but I do like to make a goal list to stay organized about the things I would like to accomplish. Despite not accomplishing even a third of 2013’s items (ahem, several being tied to a failed relationship) I am sure I will sit down to make a new list for 2014.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Not giving up and believing wrongs will be rectified. Maybe it is naive, maybe it is stupid, but I don’t want to be a cynical person. I am proud of my ability to remain optimistic despite being shit upon from several fronts. Plus whether or not I should still be at my job, I am glad I didn’t leave there in a huff.

I also re-entered the dating world this fall. Even though I feel my life is fully complete when I am sitting on the couch in my sweatpants, I do realize that is breeding grounds for a lonely existence. I went on a couple set-up dates and my book club ladies pushed for me to post an online profile.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Being blindsided by heartbreak. That optimism I value really came around and bit me in the ass. I believe in the theory that good only feels good because the concept of bad also exists, but damn, getting my heart smashed really screwed me up. I certainly behaved in a less than desirable way in that rejected aftermath. I envy people who can truly foster friendship with past lovers. I cannot fathom that at this point, but I will forever be sad that someone who was so important in my life is simply gone from it.

10. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?

Ice cream? That would certainly explain why my pants don’t fit. I had several friends really step it up this year to support me and I cannot imagine how I would have kept my sanity any other way. As always, Twitter continues to make my heart swell. Basically any time I need to scream at the universe, I have an entire feed of people raising their fists collectively shouting back in support “yeah, fuck the man.” It is ridiculously comforting.

11. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)

Books – My book recommendation is to join a book club. Although there were several books I didn’t care for, the discussions of all of them were quite enjoyable.

TV – The Good Wife, The Mindy Project, The Big Bang Theory (I like a lot of “The” shows I guess.) GIRLS, Masters of Sex. Also pretty much anything is enjoyable when watching alonside others snarking on Twitter (Nashville, Scandal). A friend got me hooked on Homeland and then she went and got super busy so we haven’t gotten to watch the 3rd season yet. I hope we can marathon that soon before I see all the spoilers.

Movies – I am in serious movie withdrawal mode. I blame some of that on my spending freeze, but I really missed going to movies this past year. I have seen 2 (Catching Fire and American Hustle) so far on vacation, so despite not paying for either one of those, (shameless!) I am hoping this bodes well for 2014.

Music – Glen Hansard had an EP released in November that I recommend (duet with Eddie Vedder covering a Springsteen song? yes please!) Also upcoming Yellow Ostrich has a new album in February that I am super excited about. I was really bummed when Jon Natchez left the band (seriously click that link and follow him on Twitter, well worth it) but from what I have heard with their new recruits I expect really good things. I bought a bunch of tickets for their next local show as Christmas presents. You should totally catch them if they come to your area.

12. What song will remind you of this year?

Night Fever. Definitely not a year-round encompassing song, but we went to a nightclub in Munich where they played this and the local crowd sang it as “Ich Habe Nacht Fever” and it makes me laugh whenever I think about it (and all the subsequent singing of this we did on the trip).

13. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).

It was technically released in 2012, but I am a huge Glen Hansard fan, and he wrote “Song of Good Hope” in honor of a friend who was battling cancer. My struggles this year were nothing compared to that, but I found a lot of comfort in the song.

“Take your time babe
It’s not as bad as it seems, you’ll be fine babe
It’s just some rivers and streams in between
You and where you wanna be”

14. What was your most enjoyable purchase?

I am hard-pressed to think of a purchase that was more enjoyable than my dirndl.

Lederhosen and Dirndl - so much fun!

Lederhosen and Dirndl – so much fun!

15. Did you travel? If so, where?

Yes! Last Christmas my parents surprised me with the announcement we would be going to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. They also took my cousin Erich (fluent in German!) and his boyfriend Jordan. My cousin Natalie saved my hide and joined in as my +1 because she is the coolest ever. Seriously, I was feeling very low and unloved and someone who doesn’t even like beer agreed to gallivant abroad with my crazy parents. It was an amazing trip and I really should give it the separate post(s) it deserves.

Opening day at Oktoberfest

Opening day at Oktoberfest

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

Camping. I did not go camping a single time in 2013. I really held tight to my dollars and vacation days this year in anticipation of the Germany trip, but it makes me sad that I didn’t take more weekend or day trips. That will definitely have to change in 2014.

Reading. There were some months the only book I read was for Book Club and that is pitiful for someone who loves to read so much. I am thankful for everyone that posts book review lists as it gives me so many ideas. Now I have stacks of books and I need to get to them. This probably means significantly less television in my future.

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

Sulking. Oh boy, I can pout with the best of them. I believe in the power of a good pity party, but I could have spent a little less time holed up under the covers this year.

18. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?

Perhaps more guarded and bitter. I am also the heaviest and healthiest I have been in decades.

19. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?

I still say wildly inappropriate things (Book Club has banned me from saying pussy). I still put bows on my head when opening presents. I am still terrible at saving money. I still make cookie dough without eggs to eat directly from the freezer.

20. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

Have the uncomfortable conversation you are dreading. You need to say it, others need to hear it. Otherwise nothing changes and nothing can get better.

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