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New Year's Meme 2013

It's back! That's right, my annual year-in-review, using a meme I've been filling out for years (at the old blog). Let's see if this one'll turn out any more interesting than usual. (Hint: probably not.)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Attended the Baker Street Irregulars weekend in New York. Put up a profile on an online dating site. And oh, yeah -- got divorced. (Yes, in that order. If you know the whole story, it's kosher.)

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
At the end of 2012, I made a well-thought-out (better than usual, anyhow) set of resolutions representing some serious, long-held personal goals. The "Dos" included going to the gym, practicing organ, decluttering the house, keeping my car clean, starting The Brothers Karamazov, being vegetarian again for Lent, getting a summer job, and going out on a date. "Don'ts" were things like avoiding drive-thrus & convenience stores & grocery store hot-food bars, eschewing diet sodas & gratuitous takeaway coffees, and not whining or crying about the Man to his sons. Notice that "lose weight" didn't appear on the list, per se, but I hoped it would be a result of cutting back on all those prepared-food purchases.

I even listed for myself some practical steps to achieve some of these goals (e.g., "completely clean out the car every Saturday morning"). I also wasn't terribly radical about all the food & drink ones -- I was going to allow myself two store-bought coffees a week, for instance. And I generously would've counted "starting-but-abandoning-due-to-boredom" as fulfillment of my Karamazov pledge.

So which of those did I actually do, or even attempt? Okay, I decluttered one very badly cluttered room of the house, which was a good thing. I made lots of coffee at home at the beginning of the year, obviating the need to buy it out (but, unfortunately, insuring that I drank way more coffee than was probably good for me). And I worked a bit at the organ, though I employed nothing like the disciplined program I had envisioned. Okay, and I made an eHarmony account, which isn't the same as dating, but represents a bit of a glance in that direction.

But otherwise? Nada. *And* I gained weight.

Here's the thing. The goals I listed are really good ones, and if I *were* to make any 2014 resolutions, there would be no others that made any better sense for me. Not only that, but, frankly, if I don't implement *some* of them (exercise, decluttering), I predict bad things for myself down the road. So I guess I will re-up, only maybe try to break things down into even tinier, more achievable micro-goals

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No family members. But a member of my church choir died -- a lovely chap who had been in much better shape for his (eighty-something) years than I am for mine -- after a somewhat protracted battle with a very suddenly-appearing Stage-4 cancer.

5. What countries did you visit?
None outside of the good old USA. I did step out of Maryland a few times, though, for brief trips to Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A really good relationship with my church musicians (choir & praise team).

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My divorce date, I guess. It's in August. Do I really need to say why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Hard to say. Several minor triumphs occurred in connection with my membership in the local Sherlock Holmes society, but I can't imagine that they'd be regarded as "achievements" outside of that context. Professionally, I stayed employed, but I neither acquired any cool new jobs nor got promoted at any of my old ones. I could cop out and say, "Just getting out of bed every day," because I do kinda feel like that's pat-on-the-back-worthy in the light of my ongoing depression, but I s'pose it makes me seem a bit pathetic to still be counting that as a top achievement in Year 4 of my separation/divorce journey.

I *did* have one spectacular success on the Meddling Mom front, setting in motion the chain of events that landed Number One Son his Nashville internship and (I hope) his diploma (though the college has not sent it yet...). I give myself a lot of credit for this, as Number One was mired in inertia.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not maintaining my weight loss was a big one. But I think I feel even worse about not maintaining my relationship with my mother-in-law. The Man's people are so cripplingly repressed, all of them (and they'd tell you so themselves), that they probably couldn't reach out to a person in my situation even if they wanted to. Therefore, I'm unsure whether I should regard their failure to do so in my case as a deliberate exclusion ("circling in the wagons" around the errant Man?) or merely as a function of their personalities. Reason says I should assume the latter and let it go: emotionally, however, I've felt hurt and very let down by them. Still, I love my mother-in-law, and since she evidently wasn't able to do it, I should have taken the lead in keeping our relationship going. I'll do better next year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
No contest: my BSI weekend experience, back in January. I don't think I purchased any physical items of any significance at all in 2014 (oh, all right, I bought four new tires: but they did nothing for me emotionally).

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All my sons were very good boys. And Number One finished college!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
For the fourth year in a row, the Man wins the honors here. Back in the Spring, he pre-emptively filed for divorce, with no warning, after having promised me *I* could file, because he got impatient with how long my lawyer was taking over the separation paperwork. (Seriously -- no ultimatum, nothing.) Had he not had a twinge of conscience the night before he figured the process server was due to come, and phoned me a heads-up, I *would* have been served the papers at home, completely out of the blue.

14. Where did most of your money go?
One's and Two's combined college tuition/room & board continues to be the winner in this category, though this may be the last year for that (now that One is finished).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I suppose I hardly need say that the BSI Weekend was huge. Not only did I enjoy it immensely, but I savored the memory of it for months afterward, until *that* feeling was overtaken by anticipation of this coming year's edition (only a few more weeks...).

I also continued my Palast Orchester fandom, and about a month ago was thrilled to learn that they'd be in my neck of the woods in early 2014. I immediately bought tickets, and I'm really, really, really excited at the prospect of hearing them live.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Sorry, but my brain/personal use of music just doesn't work that way. I think I'll be deleting this question next year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
  i. happier or sadder?
less sad, but not so much less that I'm prepared to write "happier" 
 ii. thinner or fatter? fatter, alas 
iii. richer or poorer? much, much poorer, now that I'm paying for my own health insurance (via COBRA, not Obamacare -- maybe I'll change that this coming year) 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Giving to charity.

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

20. How did you spend Christmas?
It's described in great detail in this post, but the condensed version is, "Hung out at my brother's for a low-key, lazy celebration."

21. How will you bring in the New Year?
At home, watching TV, I suppose. Or maybe playing board games. Fizzy grape juice with Sons Two and Three at midnight.

22. With whom did you spend the most time on the phone in 2013?
My mom, as usual. She calls me a lot. Tied for second are probably the Man (divorce stuff, child-rearing stuff) and Number One Son ("Help! Need money!").

23. Did you fall in love?
Nope. Didn't even acquire any new celebrity crushes.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
It's close, but I think Scrubs takes the prize ithis year. I never saw it during its actual 10-year run, but watched all of it with Number Two Son via Netflix this past summer and was blown away. Yes, there was a lot of silliness, but when it was good, it was Very, Very Good -- deep, beautiful, cry-worthy good.

Runners-up are My Name is Earl (another one I Netflixed because I missed it during its actual run, despite my mother-in-law's strong recommendation -- next time I'll listen to her), The Big Bang Theory (I have finally drunk the Kool-aid regarding this show, and am mostly caught up thanks to syndication), and Elementary (it's probably not Sherlock Holmes, but it's still good TV).

25. What was the best book you read?
In 2013, I devoted what little time I had for free reading to philosophy texts, silly 1940s mysteries, and Conan Doyle re-reads. I also bought a book of Phillip K. Dick short stories which were as good as the top Amazon reviews promised. The PKD collection was atypical reading fare for me, but I enjoyed it enough that I'm happy to call it my best book of the year.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn't have a true *discovery* this year, but I had two big musical moments, and each was revelatory in its way. Back in March, I sang Beethoven's Ninth for the first time and discovered that if you want to perform it in your true voice part, you should do it in your youth (because, umm, lotsa high notes!). More seriously, getting a taste "from the inside" of the Dionysian wild ride that is B9 was a worthwhile addition to my collection of musical experiences, even if I can't say I quite achieved a dissolution of my principium individuationis (and all that jazz).

The other musical milestone was doing my second B-minor Mass in April, during the preparations for which I was haunted by my failure to have gotten my head around the "Osanna" the previous time I'd done it. This time, I'm happy to say, there was redemption, and I can now talk about having sung the B-minor without having to hold back tiny tears of disappointment in myself (no, I'm not really kidding).

It's possible that I won't sing either of those pieces ever again, so I'm glad I sneaked them in this year.

27. What did you want and get?
Friends-- okay, more accurately, an expanded circle of friendly acquaintances. In particular, I've begun to fit in with the Sherlockian crowd I started running with in 2012. They are nice, fun, smart people, and (as far as I can tell) my bunch seems to be relatively drama-free. I look forward to seeing them at our get-togethers.

28. What did you want and not get?
The full trust of my choir and praise team. I think I've tried to win it, and there were moments when I thought I was succeeding, but then things would happen that had me tearing at my hair. Some of it's my fault, but I have to say that they are a stubborn bunch.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Wow. I saw a lot of new movies in theaters this year, and I liked most of them (because "a lot" is really only two dozen, and I choose carefully before I go). Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing was far and away my favorite/the best thing I saw (twice!), but I also want to give honorable mention to 42 (the Jackie Robinson story) and The Way Way Back (go, Sam Rockwell!).

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 52, thanks very much for asking in front of all these people. The day itself fell on a Saturday, but the night before was when One & Two & I had our major celebration. We ate at a cool downtown pizza place before heading to symphony hall to watch Jon Stewart do stand-up for a highly enthusiastic sold-out crowd-- a very good time.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Romantic love.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Scarves. Lots of scarves (well, not all at once).

33. What kept you sane?
  •  spite
  •  God
  •  Number Three Son
  •  Sherlock Holmes
  •  music (but this one was also a bit crazy-making in 2013, what with the vocal problems I experienced from May to November, so it might've been a wash)
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
My top three celebrity crushes remain Stephen Colbert, the President, and Max Raabe, with honorable mention to Ted Allen of the Food Network for keeping me tuned to Chopped even when it goes OTT.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Congressional gridlock, Obamacare, and trying not to hate the Republican Party. Yeah, that's three, but they kinda blended together.

36. Whom did you miss?
My mother-in-law.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
As in past years, I have no new BFF to name here. But it's been an okay year, socially. I've become better acquainted with some nice Sherlockians, have gotten to know two or three new people in my choral society, and even bonded with one or two church folks (not any of the musicians, though).

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Tell the people you love that you love them.

39. A song lyric that sums up your year.
I am going to quote a contemporary praise song here, if that's okay. Someday I'll offer a mega-post about contemporary worship music and my ambivalent feelings toward it, but for now let me just say that sometimes one of those songs will just nail the attitude I think God is calling me to have about something. This is from one called, "Blessed Be Your Name"

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord (etc.)

(And, yeah, I s'pose I could've just quoted the Scripture this is based on... but it's a very effective song, IMO. Here's the whole thing -- we sing it a little more up-tempo / less precious, but pretty close.)

40. What was your favorite moment of the year?
This is going to be a very vain answer, especially after I went all spiritual on you with the song lyric, but I will give it anyway: my favorite moment occurred when I attended a Sherlockian luncheon in NYC in November and performed, to enthusiastic appreciation, a little comic piece I wrote. I'm sorry, but it made me feel special... which I understand makes me sound about 14 years old, but, hey, we takes our pleasures where we finds them. :-)

(Yeah, I know; I didn't say "Number One's college graduation." That's because the Man was there and we had to hang out together along with our parents and kids, making the day as stressful as it was happy.)

41. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
The day the Man and I went before the judge, in July. If I'm honest, the courtroom part was actually a bit of an anti-climax; however, if I charge against that moment all the dread I felt ahead of time, it was easily the worst thing of the year.

42. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2013 and change something, what would it be?
I don't have an answer for the question as phrased, but there's one church-related thing I did a few times in 2013 that wish I could fix. I have learned the hard way that my idea of "enough" time to learn a fancy or jazzed-up arrangement, even of a familiar tune, doesn't match that of some of my praise team colleagues. Even when the thing turns out fine (i.e., when I am proved "right" by a solid performance), the ill-will built up in stressful rehearsals casts a pall over it. With 20-20 hindsight, I now wish I had erred on the side of caution when introducing a few of the special-occasion pieces we did this year. It's something I intend to work on in 2014, but this is a grudge-holding bunch, so I hope I'm not too late.

(Gosh, what do you know? I didn't say, "My divorce." I didn't even consider & then reject the idea. Just typed the foregoing, and only noticed what I hadn't said when I proofread the last few questions.)

43. What are your plans for 2014?
Oh, you know, those resolutions I always make. Lose weight by eating smarter & going to the gym a little, get the house in sale-worthy shape by decluttering & returning 100% of the Man's stuff to him, and, hey, maybe go to a singles event of some kind. As per the previous question, change some things about the way music is done at church, and maybe also try to recruit more (younger?) music team members. Finally, one from left field: change up the textbooks & overhaul the syllabi for every single one of my courses. I experiment with new books & tweak the syllabi occasionally, but I acknowledge that for the most part I am in a bit of a rut where all that's concerned.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
A Happy New Year to you, philosophymom!
Dec. 31st, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
And to you, too!
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
Hmmm...that's an interesting post. Taking it at face value, I like the honesty of your self assessment.

I was particularly interested to read that you still have a lot of interaction with The Man, and that you most miss your (ex)mother-in-law. "In-law" relationships are complex things, aren't they? They do have a life of their own, and yet they must also be inextricably linked back to the relationship you have with the person who connected you in the first place, i.e. The Man. I wonder if he had died instead of just departed, would your relationship with the m-i-l be still continuing? In what ways might that relationship be different?
Jan. 1st, 2014 07:26 am (UTC)
Well, as he and I are still raising a 12-year-old, I probably couldn't avoid a ton of interaction with the Man even if I wanted to. The question is, do I really want to, deep down? Or, on some level, have I decided that frequent, painful interaction is better than none? Hmmm... Even I don't know the answer to that.

The mother-in-law part is hopelessly sad. She is a truly lovely person, but all of this is more than beyond her. And there is no question in my mind that, had the Man died, she would still be immediate family to me, instead of whatever it is that we are now. One of the biggest things we had in common, after all, was how much we both loved and admired him.
Jan. 2nd, 2014 03:10 am (UTC)
This 12-year-old must be really something special if he keeps you sane (although I do note that "God" and "spite" are also in this category). I don't envy you have to deal with the complexity of that three-way relationship.

On the other hand, I would have thought that his mother "should" be able to relate to you in an independent relationship regardless of the role of the Man in relation to either of you . . . or I wonder if the Man is deliberately (or even unconsciously) making it hard for her. [My own mother is having to deal with my brother's separation and divorce from a woman who is a long time friend of the family, but she is aided by the onset of dementia which makes her forget their original relationships so she has to just deal with them as they are now! Maybe your mother-in-law will get dementia too and you'll be able to re-establish a relationship of sorts]

Jan. 2nd, 2014 12:30 pm (UTC)
Which 3-way relationship -- me, spite, and God? :-D My kid *is* awesome, but what actually keeps me sane is knowing that I have to be there for him. It's an *obligation* to be sane, if you will, and I'm pretty sure that if I didn't feel it, I wouldn't have made it this far.

The Man's mom is a gentle soul who was tested to *her* point of endurance just over 25 years ago when her caddish husband, Man Sr., capped years of indiscretions by leaving her (only after she caught him) for a decades-younger associate. Her sons' chivalry, plus a measure of independence courtesy of an inheritance -- not to mention five local grandchildren -- have seen her through the years and brought her to a good place; however, it hasn't seemed fair to me to tax her spiritually and emotionally by asking for a kind of support I can get from other sources.

I did consider us genuinely close before; would have said we had a wonderful rapport. My own family were (and are) crazy about her, and I bragged to friends that I had the world's greatest mother-in-law (none of those sitcom stereotypes, or hardly any of them, in our family!). She *is* starting to have trouble with her memory, though, and I fear that the status quo established over the last three and a half years may already be overwriting aspects of the twenty-two that preceded them. For example, though she was always a faithful card-sender (like most of her generation), she doesn't remember to send me one on holidays anymore. She does remember the kids, so you see how I might have wondered whether it was deliberate. OTOH, I've been with her during her short-term memory lapses and they are very real.

Edited at 2014-02-01 03:33 pm (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )