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New year, new meme

January 3, 2011

I thought I’d give Sundry’s annual New Year’s meme a try, now that freshhell has reminded me of it. I don’t tend to get quite so retrospective, but this has felt like a year of positive change, if primarily of the internal variety, and I kind of wanted to see the map of it all. Overwhelmingly, it has been a year of remembering why I do what I do and regaining a sense of control of my own life. The process started with my leap back into teaching violin a few days before 2010 began, and continued with conferences at my alma mater in February and a professional conference in Indianapolis in November. It’s notable that both conferences were in places with strong personal connections – I have lived in Indy 3 times; I was born there and graduated from high school there – but hadn’t been back to in a long time.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

I didn’t think I’d done much until I started going through old blog posts. Here’s what I came up with:

I started teaching violin at two music studios and rediscovered why I love this music thing I do. I organized parent groups to fight for gifted and arts education. I spoke at my first school board meeting. I got to hear a recording of myself singing and conducting a choir on a major Chicago radio station. I learned how to play “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” I travelled eastward where I a) saw Peppy for the first time in 13 years, b) gave a paper at my alma mater in front of almost all of my college music professors, c) sat between the college president and one of my academic idols at dinner in the room where I’d given my senior violin recital 20 years earlier, d) toured the college campus with college friends and marveled at how we still remembered everything, e) hung out with a pregnant cranky, and met Magpie. I was shaken awake by an earthquake. I gave a 90 minute public talk at my own university — the longest public lecture I’ve ever given by far. I celebrated my son’s ninth birthday. I successfully added asparagus and broccoli in my garden and cucumbers in upside-down containers to my vegetable garden. I joined a CSA with mixed results. I played Quelf for the first time (and many more times after that). I got an article accepted for publication in a book and published three short articles in the major encyclopedia for my field. I edited AJ’s first film. I visited Milwaukee. Mr. Spy and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. I won free tickets to a New Pornographers’ concert…and couldn’t go. I got lost and found in a corn maze with AJ. I went to a November conference which had important consequences for me. While there I saw old friends, made new contacts, had some sense talked into me by someone whom I didn’t know cared. On the way home, I got a speeding ticket – not the first time, but only the second and the first time in many years. I turned in half of my dissertation between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I applied for three jobs and a postdoc. I saw the Christmas Tree exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, something I’ve been meaning to do for years. I coached my violin students through a Christmas recital. I attended the first (annual, I hope) meeting of the League of Imaginary Friends. I taught a Lutheran rock band camp.

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


I didn’t make any resolutions. I never do. This year’s no different. But that is not to say that I don’t make resolutions. In fact, I’d say that one of the chief signs of personal progress in 2010 is that I did make some resolutions and I am keeping them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Yes! Cranky had the lovely J, whom I’m still dying to meet, although her pictures are all over my laptop.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


Not close, but several people at the next level of remove.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, alas. I have my heart set on a trip to Cairo when I can save up for it. And if I get a job/postdoc, there’s probably a research trip to London and Paris in my future. Such a hardship.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Enough money to pay for what we need and some for emergencies. Less stress in our lives. A job. A Ph. D. Not necessarily in that order, but all related.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Nothing dramatic this year – a good thing, I think. For me personally, my trip to the east coast in February and to the Indianapolis conference in November were important. But if I had to pick one date, it would probably be March 4, because that is the day that Cranky had baby J.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


The decision to make a change regarding the diss and turning in half of it in a month was probably the biggest. But that achievement stemmed from a reclaiming of myself and the things that matter to me from dulling the apathy of the last few years. I feel like I’ve woken up from a sleep that lasted far too long.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My inability to get over my fear of money issues.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing serious. Unless you count the month-long recovery from my flu shot.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn’t buy much of anything this year. In fact, learning to make do without buying things is one of the things I got out of this year. That said, MP3s were probably the thing I got the most out of.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Health insurance, taxes, credit card debt, mortgage. In that order, I think.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Teaching. I love it. It’s changed my life for the better. And the two conferences I attended. And my article being picked up for publication. All professional things this year. Interesting.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?

New Pornographers: Electric Version. And Hanoi Janes: Summer of Panic.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier. Definitely
– thinner or fatter? Fatter. Definitely (sigh)..
– richer or poorer? Poorer.

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


Making music with friends and reading for fun.

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


Stress eating

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve at a party with Mr. Spy’s family, as usual. Christmas morning home and afternoon at my sister-in-law’s also as usual. Skyping my family was a great addition to the celebrations.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

In the first half of the year, I was watching Glee. But for the last few months, I’ve been watching Veronica Mars on Hulu/DVD. Definitely my favorite show of the year (even though it’s been off the air for several years) and possibly of all time. Overall, I’ve been watching a lot less TV than I have in a long time.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Adam Rex, The True Meaning of Smekday, which I read with AJ, and Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which I read after hearing a paper about its use of music at the AMS conference in Indy in November.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I haven’t been listening to the radio much, so I’ve been less connected to current stuff than I’ve ever been. The music I have been listening to is mostly a few to many years old. I remain enamored with The Magnetic Fields and Wilco and the New Pornographers.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I don’t think I saw a single new release film this year that wasn’t for kids. I enjoyed Toy Story 3 the best. Nothing else was really in the same league.

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

I turned 43 in July. I honestly don’t remember how we celebrated. It was very low key, in any case. I do remember that I spent the morning in a meeting with the director of curriculum for our school district to talk about music enrichment and the afternoon helping AJ with his movie for his film camp.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

To have figured out a way to get AJ into a decent school. To have made an academic job short list. But since I only applied to two places in 2010 and only one of them actually reached the short list stage, it’s not very surprising that it turned out the way it did.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Neo hobo? I’ve spent much of the year trying to make my clothes look less old than they are without actually buying anything new. You do what you have to do. I’ve relearned how to darn socks and mend sweaters. And I’m discovering that out of style clothes in the back of my closet are not as bad as they once were. Most of my clothes are 10 years old or more.

26. What kept you sane?

My family. Coincidentally, they also made me crazy. And I’m sure I did the same for them. My kundalini yoga class is better than all the therapy you could throw at me. And a pair of headphones and a good playlist goes a long way towards bolstering my mental health, as does this blog and those of you who are kind enough to read and comment on it.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.


Sometimes making a decision is all it takes to succeed. And sometimes it’s sheer damn luck.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    January 3, 2011 10:44 am

    You accomplished a lot! Also, I never stop worrying about money. I think it’s probably a universal worry for those who don’t show up in the Forbes 400 list. Or, maybe the rich worry too but I don’t feel sorry for them.

  2. January 3, 2011 10:51 am

    I like the way you dress. Seeing that was one of the pleasures of meeting imaginary friends in person.

  3. January 3, 2011 10:59 am

    Jeanne, a wardrobe confession: I purchased the velvet shirt I wore to our League of Imaginary Friends meeting at Eddie Bauer in 1991. It was a concert staple for many years and has lurked in the back of my closet with other no-longer-used concert wear for a decade.

  4. crankygirl permalink
    January 3, 2011 1:17 pm

    Thanks for mentioning J. Any chance of a youtube video of you playing The devil went down to GA?

  5. January 3, 2011 4:46 pm

    I admired the velvet shirt particularly. Wearing velvet is the only good thing about winter in the north, if you ask me. My t-shirt (under my velvet jacket) for the Imaginary Friends meeting was an Eddie Bauer tall size.

  6. January 3, 2011 7:56 pm

    And I was admiring your blue velvet jacket. I love that color and it looked fabulous on you.

  7. January 4, 2011 10:38 am

    I am SO BUMMED that I missed seeing you at the November conference!!!! It had occurred to me at one point to contact you…of course at a moment, when there was no hope of getting to a computer or phone. And then with the rush of things, and my own self-absorption with my own Reasons for Being There, I didn’t. 😦 If all goes as planned for the fall, I plan on going again to the next Big One.

  8. January 4, 2011 2:47 pm

    Neo hobo? I don’t remember you as neo hobo…

    Glad I met you this year too.

  9. January 4, 2011 10:40 pm

    harriet! thanks for leaving a comment on my tumblr (and for the suggestions for making that rice and lentil dish better!). I had lost track of you! Sounds like you had a great 2010. I have to say, the phrase “lutheran rock band camp” is very intruiging to me. 🙂

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