11. What was the best thing you bought? Similarly to last year, I'd say all the trips we took. It really is true that experiences, not things, increase our happiness the most. So we live in a shoebox with minimal posessions, but when we travel, we do it in style! As for material goods, I am not complaining about the MacBook Air that Joe got me for Christmas (a total surprise). Our transition to being an Apple household is now complete.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Felicity wins again. A lot has been asked of her this year (multiple camps in new places, several trips (including one with an airline delay that lasted over six hours), a new head teacher, new kids in her class, testing for kindergarten, and loads of visits to prospective schools), and she has handled it all so well. She's up for anything; she loves people; and she's so inquisitive and enthusiastic. Sure, she has her moments of falling apart (the most recent NYCB workshop we took her to was a Nutcracker one, and let's just say that she did not take it well when she was placed in the soldier group rather than the candy cane group...), but for the most part she's an absolute delight. Just tonight at bedtime, she hugged me and said, "I love you so much. Loving you is one of my favorite things in the world."
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People whose views are based on self-righteousness, contempt, and hate -- especially when they express those views in the name of Christianity, the basic tenet of which is unconditional love.
14. Where did most of your money go? This answer is always going to be the same. Taxes, mortgage, childcare, school.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Our trips. Sledding with Felicity last winter. Spending time with my parents and my extended family during our travels. Allison and Maggie's visit. The NYCB gala and Wendy Whelan's retirement performance this fall. Christmas magic. The Nutcracker (we sat so close, in the fourth row, that we could see into the orchestra pit and I kept getting teary-eyed over how lucky we are to see this phenomenal production every year -- although afterward, Felicity (who was SO into it) asked, "Next time, can we sit in the front row?" Jeez, kid). Spending time with friends. Staying in and eating ham in sweatpants for New Year's Eve.
16. What song will always remind you of 2014? Max Richter's recomposition of Vivaldi's "Spring" from The Four Seasons, which was the music for one of the new pieces at Wendy Whelan's farewell. I have been listening to it on repeat ever since. Another is "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" by Sufjan Stevens, which is just soothing and lovely. Oh, and "Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay, which got me through many runs when I really wanted to be in bed instead of out in the cold dark lonesome pre-dawn darkness.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Happier -- I have hit a stride this year; I've got so much going on and theoretically I should be depleted and exhausted (and sometimes I am, admittedly), but instead I feel energized and connected and...relevant, somehow, in a way I hadn't in a while. Like I'm in that place where it feels like everything is really clicking along; it's not perfect by any means, but it's good, and I feel pretty great about myself and my life, actually. Good job, myself.
I'm also a little fitter this year because of my near-daily running routine and also because (TMI alert), I switched from hormonal birth control to non-hormonal and MAN, it's like I have a new lease on life. I don't feel all puffy and crabby all the time, and I swear I lost five pounds right off the bat of water weight or whatever it was. Between that and the running and general approaching-age-40 self-acceptance, I haven't had a bad body moment in quite some time. Ain't got time for that.
I suppose financially we're a bit better off, though in totally indiscernible ways (retirement savings, home equity, etc).
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I think I managed a lot given temporal and geographic constraints, but I will always wish for more time with family and friends.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Waking up at 4am in a panic over something either completely outlandish or entirely out of my control, and/or fretting (also at 4am) over long-past things I might have said or done that probably no one remembers but me and that have no consequence in my life today. Quit it, brain.
20. How did you spend Christmas? Again here at home with my parents. The only thing that could possibly make it more perfect would be if we had enough space for them to stay with us. Other than that, it was so much fun. As noted, we went to the Nutcracker and the related workshop (which was less magical, see above); we spent lots of cozy time playing games and chatting and watching Christmas movies; we took Felicity to see Santa (who said to me, "You look familiar; did I bring you Cabbage Patch Dolls when you were a girl?"); we made delicious meals (hello, Smitten Kitchen's beer-braised balsamic short ribs). Felicity was so adorable in the Christmas pageant as the Archangel of Love, and that night she couldn't wait to go to bed so that Santa could come ("Don't stay up late! Go to bed right after this, Mama! If you're going to have more wine, have just a sip!"). Christmas morning was perfect ("A Hello Kitty, a Clarice, and a Baby Chou Chou! Santa brought everything I wanted! Except wait a minute, there's a microscope. I didn't ask for that!"), and Felicity was so expressive and grateful for each gift. She wanted to play with, read, or look at every single present after she opened it, which I certainly appreciated given the effort I put into choosing the under-the-tree gifts. My only beef with Christmas is that it's over so fast and then we're just in the long slog through winter. Ah, well.
21. Did you fall in love in 2014? I'll say it again: this question is kind of dumb -- but yes. Always and forever.
22. What was your favorite TV program? Orange is The New Black. Finally, we found a show that we both like. I can't wait to see more in June. Other than that, we don't watch very much.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? We can do better than spending our energy on hate.
24. What was the best book you read? I still haven't gotten over my all-consuming love of The Goldfinch. But I did enjoy The Secret Place (though not as much as The Likeness or In the Woods), Life After Life, The Yellow Birds (incredibly depressing but well-written) and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry (just light but poignant and quick and good).
25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Sufjan Stevens -- he has composed music for a couple of New York City Ballet pieces of new choreography, and I was surprised to find that his regular music is this mellow, banjo-y stuff and a lot of it is soulful or spiritual. His Christmas album is a delight.
26. What did you want and get? All the good stuff -- time with family, fun with friends, snuggles from my girl, a great Christmas, lots of delicious meals, a chance to dress up (for the gala), new and/or deeper friendships, a Lilly Pulitzer tote for my birthday, lots of books. Also, Joe started making our dinner about half the time on weeknights, and it has made everything better.
28. What did you want and not get? Perennially: a winning lottery ticket and/or for our apartment to magically grow a third bedroom.
29. What was your favorite film of this year? Man, we have watched some crap movies this year. I'm trying to think of what we saw that was actually good. We recently watched "Ida" which was haunting but very well made; beautiful cinematography. I quite enjoyed "Her" (yes, it was made last year but we are late to the party on everything). Oh, we really enjoyed the HBO series of "Olive Kittredge." We also went through several of the "Paranormal Activity" movies last winter and those freaked me right out, but in a fun/terrifying kind of way.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 39 (EEEEEEEEK). What DID we do? Joe took me to Gramercy Tavern and got me a bunch of great prezzies. It was a good birthday. Felicity also gave me an awesomely sweet card and one of my coworkers got me wine, cupcakes, and three different hilarious cards. And Allison sent me a bunch of great gifts, because she is excellent like that.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Just that third bedroom. Not to harp on it or anything. Also the perfect pair of jeans, which I am convinced I will never find.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? Thanks to Stitch Fix, I have revved things up a little bit without having to set foot in a store. I had several dud boxes from them, but the few pieces I've kept over the past year have become wardrobe staples and I get lots of compliments on them. Beyond that, it's pretty much comfort above all else.
33. What kept you sane? Having Fridays off to be with Felicity and catch up on other stuff. For a time, going to ballet class was working for me; I've got to get back to it in the new year. Getting up at 5:45 to run five times a week really truly does keep me sane, as does having a regular running buddy. Having an unconditionally supportive husband who also makes me laugh. Going to the ballet regularly; seeing friends; having my moms' group as my village; being with my family. Texting and emailing with Allison. Reading before bed.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? He sure gets a lot of flak, but I still admire and support our President.
35. What political issue stirred you the most? Gun control. Why haven't we done anything about this yet?
36. Who did you miss? Pretty much everyone I care about who does not live right next door, which is TOO MANY PEOPLE. (Same as last year, same as forever unless people wise up and move into my building.)
37. Who was the best new person you met? Well, I don't want to single anyone out but we definitely have made friends with some really great people.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. People just want to be seen.