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New Years Meme 2018

And now, as my remaining long-time reader has been waiting for, it's the end-of-2018 edition of that New Year's meme that I've been filling out every year for longer than I can prove (some posts having disappeared in the Purge of Aught-ten). Over the years, I've added one or two prompts to the question set, and I've deleted others for which I could never, ever think of an answer). See if you can spot this year's addition.

Ready to wrap up a year?

1. What did you do in 2018 that you'd never done before?
Let's see ... I married off one of my sons! Okay, *I* didn't actually have that much to do with it. But I witnessed the wedding of a son (it was Two) and became a mother-in-law.

I also first-time visited Poughkeepsie, NY, which was surprisingly memorable and lovely.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
As long as I have breath and even the slightest scrap of hope, I expect I will make a similar crop of annual resolutions. But 2018 was not a very good year for fulfilling the most important one. Not only did I not lose the additional weight I'd hoped to drop after a year of doing well on Weight Watchers, but I completely fell off the program and undid all of 2017's success.

In better news, my annual pledge to de-clutter the house was partially kept when we got the place ready for Two and his bride to move in by filling whole dumpster with junk to be hauled away. There is still much work remaining, but this leap in the direction of success takes some of the sting out of my utter failure on the dieting front.

My "see one live performance per month" goal, instituted a few years ago, has never quite been realized, not even after I modified it to "see an *average* of one live performance per month." Most years, I only make it to eight. But according to my records, I actually managed ELEVEN in 2018: five in the first third of the year, six in the summer, and (sadly) none at all in the Fall. Here's the list:

January   The Band's Visit (w/Tony Shaloub) on B'way
Come From Away on B'way
February   jazz trumpeter & singer Nico Sarbanes at a local venue
April   Max Raabe & the Palast Orchester (delightful as always!) in Washington, D.C.
"The West Wing Weekly" podcast live (w/Aaron Sorkin!) in NYC
July   "I'm With Her" in Annapolis
Dear Evan Hansen on B'way
Hello, Dolly (w/Bernadette Peters) on B'way
SpongeBob SquarePants on B'way
August   The Boys in the Band on B'way
Straight White Men on B'way

My other usual resolutions are about eating healthier (not identical with the weight-loss pledge, but connected; and, as suggested above, a fail this year) and getting over the Man (I think I'm as over him as I'm going to get, so I'm calling victory here and moving on).

And, yes, I am re-upping the de-cluttering, weight-loss, and live performances resolutions for 2019, because they are all still part of who I want to be. I'm also adding to the list, in place of "getting over the Man," two additional resolutions: one, I will not worry about money as much as I have been doing, and two, I will better time my assignments across all my classes, in hopes of staving off gargantuan grading backlogs.

3. Did anyone close to you get married?
Yes. Per (1) above, my own Number Two Son starting dating his dream girl (someone he'd known and loved for years, though they were officially "just friends") in January. By May they were engaged, and the wedding was at the end of September. Also, my brother's older son tied the knot in late July.

4. Did anyone close to you get divorced?
My sister-in-law suddenly left my brother after three decades of marriage. It was a mid-life thing whose prurient details I won't share, but the only part of it that truly shocked me (because I'm immune to most shocks these days) was how swiftly she executed the whole business (she got a no-fault divorce in about the time it's taken me to type this paragraph). Word is that there's some regret now, but when you act that fast, you can't really back-track. I still love her, and I miss her, but I don't know what kind of friendship is possible going forward. One can be all contemporary and civilized about it, but there might be a superseding obligation to protect the hurting sibling that you've known since birth.

Maybe I'm wrong. Heaven knows it wouldn't be the only time. But, thinking of my own devastating experience, I can't imagine that anything would have been helped by my siblings' continuing to socialize with the Man in the immediate aftermath.

5. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but my son and his wife announced that they are expecting. By next June, I will be a grandmother.

6. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

7. What countries did you visit?
No place outside the USA. Just wished I could.

8. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
Dieting success. A better attitude about work (not completely under my control -- things are really tense right now in higher ed). Possibly a date?

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Teaching Number Three Son to drive (he got his license).

10. What was your biggest failure?
Gaining back the weight. I can't think about it too much, because it fills me with self-loathing.

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My doctor will take my blood sugar and blood pressure readings in a few weeks and probably tell you that I have. But there's nothing to report at this moment.

12. What was the best thing you bought?
I suppose it's my new car. I commute, so I need to replace my vehicle every seven or eight years. I bought another Honda Fit in May, and I'm very happy with it. Number Three Son, who inherited the old Fit, is also very happy.

Number Two Son, however, would identify my best purchase as the replacement heat pump I just got, the one that heats the "new" part of the house where he and his wife sleep. The former machine died, after a respectable 15 years of service, back in 2017, and I had limped along without a replacement for over a year (after all, we still had the one that heats the main part of the house, and Three and I had no trouble just putting on a sweater when spending time in the addition ... plus, no one was sleeping in the affected bedroom at the time the old appliance finked out). Frankly, I was loving the lower electric bills, but I knew the situation couldn't go on forever. The new machine the Man & I bought is very efficient, so I'm hoping that the higher winter utility bills won't break the bank.

13. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Not mine; procrastinating, worrying, and overeating were my bywords. I'm gonna give the prize to Number Three Son, who did well in school, was pretty supportive of his old mom, and adjusted with reasonable grace to the marriage of Two, though it inevitably deprived him of a companion and friend.

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The phrase "appalled and depressed," though not nearly strong enough to apply to anyone in, say, the current political administration, is a bit OTT for anyone I know in real life. That said, I was pretty upset at the Man when, finally fed up with his long commute to work, he decided over the summer to move an hour away from us. None of my business? Maybe. But last time I checked, we were finishing raising a teenager together, and I, thanks to all those PT jobs I work to make ends meet, was super-reliant on having my co-parent close by. A teeny, tiny consultation ahead of time might have been nice. I know, I know; the day will soon come when I can't reasonably expect to be included in any of the Man's decisions ... but I'd say he jumped the gun a little on this one.

15. Where did most of your money go?
I'm thinking that, like last year, it was savings. But I suspect I saved less than in 2017. And next year, I'm guessing the heat pump will win (we chose the "one-year, no interest" payment plan, with the first bill dues to arrive any day now).

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Visual art. Over the course of several day trips, I made first-time visits to six NYC museums: Also, at the respective requests of Sons One & Two (with whom I was up there at different times), I made a pair of return visits to
  • the MoMA, which is always worthwhile. (Besides the delights of the regular collection, during the spring visit there was a very nice exhibition of the photography of Stephen Shore, while in the summer there was a strangely compelling one about Yugoslavian socialist achitecture.)
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
  • happier or sadder? If I confine my thoughts to the personal, I'm about the same -- the good and bad have offset each other pretty well. If I let myself think about Trump, I go all crazy nihilistic inside.
  • thinner or fatter? Fatter.
  • richer or poorer? About the same.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exercise and weight-watching: it's only going to get more difficult. Also, de-cluttering. But mostly, reading for pleasure.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Stress eating. Worrying about work.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I did nothing special on December 25, because my extended family decided to have its big get-together on the Saturday before. This was probably the right choice for a multi-generational group in which a lot of the couples have competing obligations to multiple sets of in-laws. By ceding the actual-day celebration, my crew got to spend an entire day together, all twenty-two of us (that being the current count). Everyone except my parents (who aren't so mobile) and my niece with the two-year-old started the day at a historic downtown theatre for a big-screen showing of It's a Wonderful Life. From there, we converged on my parents' house for a buffet lunch (ham, meatballs, various go-withs) and a surprisingly fun Yankee swap gift exchange. My sister wanted to go caroling in the neighborhood afterwards, but, in a sudden "co-incidence," all of the younger generation simultaneously realized that they, er, had to get home to take care of Christmas preparations (yes, that's it; Christmas preparations). Thus, it was just us oldies left at the end of the day, watching football on TV.

21. How will you bring in the New Year?
I am included on a paying gig with some musician friends. First time for that!

22. Did you fall in love?
No, but I'm still open to it, I suppose. I did finally admit to myself this year (after he moved without consulting me) that the Man is never going to "see the light" and come home, so I'm longer keeping his spot open. :-)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I took in a whole lot of TV this year, including some major binge-watching in the summer. Here are the the highlights.Those lists include only the programs I loved the most, and from them it's hard to pick a favorite. I mean, Chuck was super-addictive, Mrs. Maisel was dazzling to look at, Parks and Rec. was deeply satisfying; and Jane the Virgin, whose final episodes I now await with bated breath, zeroed right in on my soft spot. But I'm gonna say my favorite of all I've watched this year, as well as the best show on TV right now, would have to be The Good Place. Hey, how many others feature a philosophy professor as a main character?

24. What was the best book you read?
My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley. He was my literary discovery of the year, and I am slowly crawling through his (not extensive) back catalogue. Reviewers call his books "comedies of manners," and I guess that's appropriate. But I'd just describe them as very humane sketches of (an admittedly stylized version of) contemporary American life.

I wrote him a fan email, and he responded, which definitely made my week back when it happened.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Jazz drummer-singer-songwriter Dave Tull. I bought both of his albums, but the one I play over and over is I Just Want to Get Paid (not that you mightn't prefer Texting and Driving). Both feature clever & catchy, sweet & lovely, often humorous, always musically sophisticated songs, delivered with terrific vocals and excellent playing by all involved. At least worth a listen on YouTube!

I also wrote Mr. Tull a fan email a few months ago. It was a big year for showing appreciation, I guess.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
I did not get to very many movies this year (too busy watching TV?), though there were and are still plenty I'd like to see. Early in 2018, the boys and I watched all the Oscar nominees in advance of the broadcast, but those were 2017 films, so I won't count them now. This year I saw various super-hero flicks and a couple of well-made documentaries, but I'm going to give top honors to the movie we saw just the other night: Vice. The Dick Cheney story, made in the style of The Big Short, was quirkily clever, often funny, consistently well-acted, and (given the subject matter) shocking in its non-shocking-ness.

Runner-up honors to the Spider-Man animated feature. It was pure joy.

27. What was your favorite live performance?
Come From Away, the 9-11 musical I saw in January at the end of BSI Weekend, was very, very affecting. So, interestingly, was Straight White Men, the B'way play I saw in August. The former explored man's humanity to man, a favorite theme of mine; the latter (as I understood it) asked what makes for a meaningful life. Both stayed with me. I suppose the edge goes to Come From Away, which is more of a universal donor-type piece. I've encouraged many people to go see it.

28. What did you want and get?
As in 2017, lots of opportunities to do my parody song thing to receptive audiences at Sherlockian events. This year, on the strength of three such performances, I was even made a member -- part of the first group of females to be so honored -- of the Sons of the Copper Beeches, a venerable Philadelphia Sherlockian group. So, Sherlockian "success."

Also, I stayed employed. It's a shame this seems so remarkable to me that it deserves mention here.

29. What did you want and not get?
Really positive student evaluations, the kind that make you think you probably COULD stand another 15 years of teaching, should colleges continue to invite you to do it.

Also, Seth Meyers tickets! With great eagerness, I put in for them so I could take Number One Son when he made his summer visit. However, despite (1) being early in the queue (had to be; I clicked on the link for my chosen date the second it went live, and it remained live for days afterward) and (2) being assured by the website that position in the queue is the *only* factor used when issuing tickets, I was not picked. I am convinced it was because you had to register and make a profile to use that booking site, and my date of birth made me an undesirable.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
The extended-family party I planned for myself at my parents' house was canceled due to gale-force winds, so nothing. *cue sad trombone*

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Landing a proper job with a real salary and benefits. But since I couldn't think of anything to apply for, it's not like I expected this to happen.

Alternatively, scoring Seth Meyers tickets. Or winning the lottery. Or losing more weight. Or falling in love. (I'm pretty sure I listed those in decreasing order of likelihood.)

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
Fat clothes. *cue sad trombone*  Luckily, I'd kept them.

33. What kept you sane?
  • My sons
  • Nine trips to New York (five were only day trips, but still)
  • Art of all kinds
  • My Sherlock Holmes activities
  • Pub trivia with the boys & my brother (we are a pretty good team!)
  • Commentary from Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Stephen Colbert, as always. And hey, my girl Allison Janney had a good year, didn't she?

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Family separation was the worst of a plethora of awful things. Though I don't believe in Hell, I am pretty sure there's a place there for people who sanction taking children from their parents.

36. Whom did you miss?
President Obama. My sister-in-law. Number One Son.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Technically this is not a new person I met, but he's a person who emerged from the ranks of my acquaintance-y associates to become a friend, so I'm counting him: the contemporary worship leader at my church. He has the personality and radio-pop voice that I couldn't bring to the job when it was mine, but I still have the technical music chops, and together we have become a good team. I play piano in the band, and if I'm ever tempted to wonder whether I'm any use to anyone anywhere, I have only to attend our weekly rehearsal. Worship Guy (as I shall call him) is a super-affirming team leader, not to mention someone with a similar sense of humor to mine, so those practices are always a good time.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
See (40) and (41) below. Basically I learned that the teacher is *not* the Queen of her classroom, and that it behooves one to remember, even in higher ed., that in today's world the customer is always right.

39. What was your favorite moment of the year?
The June trip to Poughkeepsie, which was for a Sherlockian event at which I made some new friends and performed some Gilbert & Sullivan. I book-ended the stay with stops in NYC to visit museums, making for a grand three-day weekend. But I'd pinpoint the G & S moment as the pinnacle. (And yes, I know my son got married this year, not to mention announced my impending grandmother-hood. The fact is, my favorite moment was a "me" moment.)

40. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Reading my Spring semester student evaluations -- one class in particular.

41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2018 and change something, what would it be?
The thing I did in that one class (basically, reacting strongly to a cheating incident) that alienated the class and prompted the nasty comments in evaluations. I'd handle it differently, if I could go back in time.

42. What are your plans for 2018?
Continuing to spiff up the house. Start work on a book I have been invited to co-edit. See more live performances. Lose weight.

Last year at this time, I believe I listed "trip to California" in this spot. But then Two, the son with whom I'd been saving for said trip because it was his dream, fell in love, and that kinda changes all your dreams. We dissolved the joint savings account, and now my future trip plans are all "destination NYC" (meanwhile, his California plans feature a different traveling companion).