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New Year's Meme 2016

So here it is, the end-of-2016 edition of that New Year's meme that I've been filling out every year for longer than I can prove (some of those posts having disappeared in the Purge of Aught-ten). My personal version of the question set has evolved a little over the years (I've added one or two prompts, but mainly deleted the few for which I could never, ever think of an answer); this year I have no new changes to report. My answers, of course, are new, but probably as boring as ever.

There -- have I made you want to read on? Here goes!

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Saw the hottest show on Broadway while it still was the hottest show on Broadway, with its original cast and everything. Okay, that's oddly specific, I know, but what can I say? Besides loving Hamilton, which I saw in January of 2016, I have to say that I rather impressed myself by getting to see it when I did. For once in her life, Karen was ahead of the Zeitgeist, rather than following her general habit of just reading about things wistfully after the fact.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My New Year's resolutions always include weight-loss, so it's safe to say that, most years, I won't have kept them all. Actually, I did lose a couple of pounds this year, but it made for the kind of improvement that only my endocrinologist really noticed (in terms of correspondingly modestly lower blood sugar numbers), so I don't really consider the resolution kept.

Other aspirations not really achieved in 2016 were my pledge to declutter the house once & for all, and my resolve to finish The Brothers Karamazov. However, I can proudly say that my promise to hit all my school-related paperwork deadlines in 2016 was kept!! (Okay, there was one tiny scare at the end of the year, but thanks to dumb luck, I met that one as well.) Too many things were submitted at the last second, though, so I can still do better.

Of course I will make more resolutions for 2017. It's all about hope, innit?

3. Did anyone close to you get married?
Nope. But my sister and her significant other bought a house together, which at our stage of life is kinda similar.

4. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes. My niece (I have two nieces; this one is my brother's oldest child) had her first baby at the end of November, making my brother a first-time grandpa (and making me the only one among the siblings who is not yet a grandparent). The baby is beautiful, and I got to spend a lot of time with him on Christmas Day.

5. Did anyone close to you die?
No. My grandmother turned 99, though, spitting in Death's eye for yet another year.

6. What countries did you visit?
None outside of the U.S. I meant to get my passport renewed (in case of a Trump victory, I used to joke), but somehow didn't get around to it (I guess I never thought he'd actually win!). Still, I might try to do it in 2017, in case I ever find the will to plan that vacation to Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) that I've talked about on and off for the last 25 years.

7. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Company! I think I am ready to entertain again, but the house needs a lot of work to be company-ready.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Staying employed. Things got super-precarious both at College #1, which back in April made huge cut-backs to course offerings and somehow left me off the initial draft of the Fall schedule (okay, it was the final draft, but it got emended), and at the church, where the boss abruptly made good on his plan to find a male person to replace me in the contemporary service. I'm still on the books at both places, but I lost about a third of salary at each. Still, given my limited options in the job market, I think you have to call those positions "saved."

As to why I'd consider keeping limited versions of two of my jobs an achievement of any kind, I should say that the College really was prepared to go on without me, and I got something close to the brush-off when I made initial inquiries about it. In order to get back on that schedule, I really had to persist (not to mention enlist the support of a couple people with more influence than myself), which involved saying at least some of the right things to a selection of the right people at the right times. Meanwhile, at the church I secured back some of my lost income by agreeing to play piano in the new contemporary guy's band, and then fought hard to keep *that* job when a pianist with a Y-chromosome started attending services. I hate fighting, but you do what you have to.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'd've thought that being told in April that my blood-suger numbers technically qualified me for Type II diabetes would have motivated me to diet more seriously than I did back when my only motivation was to fit into smaller clothes. However, even in the wake of the diagnosis, I was only intermittently vilgilant about my carbs, and I didn't even lose a full 10 pounds in time for my follow-up appointment in October (which should be really easy for a person of my size, if she tries at all). My numbers *were* better by that follow-up meeting, technically just removing me from the Type II ranks, but I could have done so much more -- and should have done, given my commitment to being here for Number Three Son.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, unless you count briefly slipping into Type II. And there's nothing new to report on the bad-knee front (referring to last year's answer to this question). It still hurts, but it's no worse, and I cope pretty well with my little limp. I recently went bowling, and the leg gave me no trouble at all.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well ... I want to say my Hamilton ticket, but that was actually purchased six months prior to my seeing the show in January, so it was really a 2015 purchase. However, I couldn't have known until I used the ticket in 2016 that I would regard seeing the show as one of the top two or three aesthetic experiences of my life, could I? Therefore, I'd like to claim it as a best purchase for 2016.

Best physical object I bought was my smart phone, I guess. I don't use it to its full potential, but it was about time I got into the 21st century, and I am happy with the phone I chose. Also, and I should be more embarrassed to admit this, it's allowed me to play Pokémon Go, which has been a surprisingly fun distraction.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Ummm ... Number Two Son requested that his dad and I donate to his chosen charities in lieu of buying him a Christmas present this year (he asked for gift-wrapped donation receipts, so he'd have something to open). I was incredibly proud.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My fellow Christians who supported Donald Trump. Sorry, I know it's judge-y. But it's my answer.

14. Where did most of your money go?
In the least surprising answer ever given to a question of this sort, most of it went to bills. But this year the biggest line item in the budget is different: with no kids in college now, the highest total was devoted to my car. I was still paying on it through September (it's now 100% mine), and if I add to those loan payments the cost of routine maintenance (none of which I skip) and the four new tires I just bought, it's definitely the winner.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
  • happier or sadder? HAPPIER!!!!! Not happy-happy, mind you, but you know that pinpoint of light at the end of the depression tunnel? I may have finally caught a glimpse of it.
  • thinner or fatter? about the same, so still obese.
  • richer or poorer? a little poorer, in that I haven't been able to save money at anything like my former rate (or at all, toward the end of the year), but still employed and still living at about the same level.

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Seen more live performances. I was going to try to see one per month in 2016, but I don't think I even averaged that. Let's review ...

JanuaryHamilton (B'way)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (B'way)
March"Star Trek Ultimate Voyage" live concert (in Baltimore)
April1776 (off-B'way @ City Center Encores!)
JuneTerrell Stafford Quintet (@ the Village Vanguard)
Verdi Requiem (@ Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, w/ Washington Chorale)
JulyShear Madness (off-B'way)
Aladdin (B'way)
DecemberWell, I saw a Fathom Events cinematic broadcast of a taped-live performance of George Takei's B'way show Allegiance, to whose fund-raising I contributed to back when it was in the GoFundMe/Kickstarter stage (can't remember which), but which I then never got up to NY to see in person. Despite what Fathom claims, this was in no way like being at a live performance, but it was the closest I came in the last third of 2016.

So, yeah, I was *averaging* one per month, if not actually *seeing* one per month, through August. Then school started, and that was the end of that.

18. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Stress eating.

19. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family. My church gives me Christmas Day off (because I play three Christmas Eve services), and since Christmas was on a Sunday this year, it meant I was able to go to church with the boys at the old place. Lately, one of my nephews has been playing guitar and leading singing there; on Christmas, Number One backed him up on bass, while I added piano & harmony. Fun! From there we went to my brother's house and had Christmas lunch (informal) with his family and my parents. I got to meet my adorable new great-nephew.

20. How will you bring in the New Year?
I'll have to get up early for church on New Year's Day (like Christmas, it's a Sunday), so I'll stay up tonight just long enough for it to turn 2017, then go to bed.

21. Did you fall in love?
No -- and, what's more, I realized that I really, truly, honest-to-God don't want to anymore. It was kind of a relief to acknowledge it.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
There were several that I liked a lot, but one of my late-year discoveries steals the honors: Younger, Darren Star's girl-power fantasy in which adorable Broadway beanpole Sutton Foster plays a newly divorced 40-year-old who pretends to be 26 in order to get a low-level assistant job in the Manhattan publishing industry that she's been deemed too old to break back into. The amount of suspension of disbelief required is considerable, but the show is surprisingly, well, adorable. It's also quite, er, mature for a TV Land program (I guess the network has shifted its brand). We're talking lots of sex and far too many, er, genital jokes (I should add that even one of those is too many for me). Still, there's plenty of sweet humor, as well, and it's got a very deep cast (seriously, no weak links).

23. What was the best book you read?
Jane Steele. I kind of know the author, which is what made me check it out, but I honest-to-goodness loved it. It's a feminist take-off on Jane Eyre in which the heroine is even more self-aware, and much more dangerous ...

(Yes, this does suggest I didn't read any Great Lit'rachur in 2016. *sigh* Maybe in 2017.)

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

25. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hmmm ... I didn't see nearly as many movies in 2016 as I usually do over the course of a year, and my top pick is one that just came out in December: La La Land, a sweet, sad musical about love and art (not necessarily in that order) starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Runners-up include Kubo and the Two Strings, a non-Disney stop-motion animation flick that was visually inventive and beautiful to look at, and Florence Foster Jenkins, in which Meryl Streep (with excellent support from Hugh Grant and The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg) somehow made bad singing good. Honorable mentions go to a trio of franchise installments that really pleased me: the latest Star Trek reboot flick (easily the most enjoyable in this series), the Harry-Potter-without-the-Potter movie Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, and Rogue One, a Star Wars-universe film about which I said this on Facebook last week: "The genre is War Movie rather than Space Opera, which I vaguely knew ahead of time and was glad to have been prepared for. Good story, good acting, my favorite droid in the SW-verse, and some very interesting use of CGI. I was put in mind of The Seven Samurai at times (not that anyone was saving any villagers), but not much of George Lucas. Very moving and somehow very relevant."

26. What was your favorite live performance?
Hamilton (You'd learn more this year by asking me what I liked second-best.)

27. What did you want and get?
  • Great aesthetic experiences.
  • Time with my sons.
  • Sherlockian fun.
  • Continued employment.
28. What did you want and not get?
A Democratic president and Senate (I wasn't even greedy enough to wish for the House!)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 55 this year. For my birthday, the boys and I went to the 50th-Anniversary "Star Trek Ultimate Voyage" concert. A touring program combining live orchestra & multimedia and covering all the Star Trek movies & TV shows pre-reboot, its Baltimore stop just happened to occur on the day before my big day. It was huge fun (but it made me miss the Man, even in a year when I've been doing a lot less of that, because Trek was kind of Our Thing).

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Look, I saw Hamilton this year with the original cast, so it would almost be churlish to name one additional thing the universe could have done for me. Of course, if the Man were to approach me in 2017, asking my forgiveness and trying to reconcile, I would find that immeasurably satisfying. But I have just about reached the point where I'd be equally happy with more Hamilton tickets.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I am still rocking the faux twinset (shell top w/co-ordinating cardigan, but all one piece) that I praised last year. I think I own 20 of them, now, and they really are the right look for me.

32. What kept you sane?
  • Hamilton.
  • Sherlockian activities
  • My family
  • Five visits to NYC
  • Seeing my English friend Marcus when he visited D.C.
  • TV commentary from Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
President Obama, now more than ever! Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert (whom I saw -- again! -- in person) remains my alternate-universe husband, and Allison Janney is still my lady crush. In short, the core group is unchanged. As far as additions to the list for 2016, I'll confess that I, like half the country (the teenaged female half?) and all the relevant awards-giving organizations, fell for uber-adorable genius Lin-Manuel Miranda. There is literally nothing not to love.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Really? Really???????

35. Whom did you miss?
Number One Son. He's been away for more than three years now, and I've been okay with it because I know there's nothing for him at home ... but for some reason I really pined for him this year. We had a nice Christmas visit, though.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I don't think I met any new people this year -- not ones that got into my life in any meaningful way, at least. This is my answer almost every year, though, and I've begun to wonder whether it makes me unusual. Do most 55-year-olds increase their "new person worth mentioning in a New Years meme" roster by very much in a given year?

How about renewing an old friendship? A couple months ago, I reconnected with an old friend whom I hadn't seen in 29 years, but who was one of the most important people in my life back in college. On a whim, I decided to look for her on Facebook, and, amazingly, I found her just days before she was set to travel from her home out West for a visit to the East Coast. We got to spend a day together on our old college campus, and it made me very happy to see her again. And, just to bring things back to the original question, I'll say that I bet it felt to her as if *she* were meeting a new person, so much have *I* changed since the old days.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Watch your back (see #8 above and #39 below).

38. What was your favorite moment of the year?
Seeing Hamilton in January. (Duh.) But I actually had an almost equal thrill, also theatrical, in April, when I was back in NY to see 1776. For who should turn out to be in the same audience that day, but WILLIAM DANIELS himself (as in, John Adams from the original B'way production & film)!?! He stayed after the performance for a great Q-and-A (and I wrote about that day in greater detail here).

39. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Being left off the first draft of the Fall schedule at College #1. That hurt much worse than the church thing, because at the latter place I've felt insecure for most of my four-plus years in the job. But I had been at the College for 22 years and really thought I was part of the family.

40. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2016 and change something, what would it be?
No major regrets, but I DEFINITELY should have, when I was in NY in Jan. at the theatre for Hamilton, inquired at the box office about buying three seats for any future production for which they might still have been available. It was shortly after that, see, that tickets went from "hard to get" to "impossible to contemplate getting," and now I don't know when I'll ever take the boys.

41. What are your plans for 2017?
  • Get out of teaching, provided I can find something to do that pays about the same.
  • Lose weight.
  • Start thinking about what it would take to sell the house (not that I plan to try till 2020, but still).
  • Make a new friend, so I can answer question #36 more interestingly next year.
  • See a live performance every month, at least on average.
  • Join a book club -- maybe in the summer, if I don't escape the teaching world and still have that flexibility?