1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Saw a photo of the brain of someone I know! Shea’s nephew has had a variety of health issues for the past five years including numerous seizures. This year, he was taken to Vancouver for some operations to address these, as yet, undiagnosed issues and, in line with our social networked age, I got to see photos of his brain in my Facebook news feed courtesy his mom and her boyfriend. What an amazing world we live in…in many ways!
2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, various friends, family members and co-workers continued to have babies throughout the year. The big one will be next year though as our own baby is due in May!
3. Did anyone close to you die?
Shea’s Uncle Ken passed away which was probably the closest person to us. Working in the Outreach Unit which serves numerous elderly patrons, it often feels like we can’t go a week or two without losing another patron. On that note, a young person who had been known as a problem patron at the library was killed in a car accident right after I started in Outreach and that was pretty jarring – you always think “Instead of pushing for this person to be banned from the library, could we have done anything more to reach and help them instead?” Finally, on a lighter note, the Grand Prix we’d had for about a decade was murdered in a hit & run late one night.
4. What places did you visit?
The year began with an amazing 16 day trip to Kauai and Maui, split equally between the two islands. I’ve been fortunate to be to Hawaii a couple times but always to Oahu. This was the first time I understood why people think of Hawaii as paradise – Kauai (and to a lesser degree Maui) were that magical. We also got to Minot for Easter long weekend. We did lots of camping including a week in the Cypress Hills as well as our usual rotation of camping at the Hammond family cabin at Katepwa Lake and Shea’s parents’ seasonal site at Nickle Lake outside Weyburn throughout the summer.
5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?
A baby! This is a bit poignant as we actually were pregnant and would’ve had a baby by now but Shea unfortunately suffered a miscarriage over the summer which pushed back our timelines. I may say more about this experience in the future but I will say that it’s very strange that miscarriages seem to be one major incident in life that we have no way to acknowledge – we have get well cards for when people get sick and funerals for when they die. But miscarriages fall into this weird, silent netherworld – although as soon as you’ve had one, you also see so many people “come out of the closet” with stories of how they too have had one or their sister did or their mom or the saddest when friends share their stories of multiple miscarriages.
6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?
Jan 11 – depart for Hawaii
Apr 2 – start new temporary position in RPL Outreach Unit filling a one-year maternity leave
mid-July – I can’t remember the exact date but the RPL contract was settled in mid-July after two and a half years without a contract
Sept 5 – Pace’s first day of Kindergarten
7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not really my achievement since I ended up paying someone with better WordPress skills to do it for me. But getting my old blog and new blog merged into a single place was something that had been on the “To Do” list for a long, long time. Even though it broke a lot of links in the old blog, lost a bunch of static pages I’ll have to eventually re-create (I still get 1-2 e-mails a month from people looking for my Fred Eaglesmith Guitar Tab page including one just the other day from a guy in Maine) and some of the formatting of my old posts went wonky with weird line breaks, it still great to have all of my blogging over the past six (wow!) years in one place.
8. What was your biggest failure of the year?
I applied for the Children’s Branch Head at RPL and didn’t even get an interview! (There’s more of a story there but I’ll leave it for the time being.)
9. What was your biggest surprise?
The “reveal” on Christmas Eve when a present, wrapped by a friend who’d been given the sealed envelope we got at an ultrasound earlier in the month, was opened by Shea, Pace and I to reveal…a pink jumper! I also had a cousin come out of the closet which was anywhere from shocking to surprising to “oh, good for him” depending on which family member you were talking to!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I always joke that I can’t go on a tropical holiday without breaking a toe (I’ve done it twice before on separate trips to Mexico) and our Hawaii trip was no exception. On our second last day, I was the stupid Haole out bodysurfing on a windy day when very few others – Hawaiian or otherwise – were in the water. After the big waves smashed me into the shore’s sandy bottom (and shoved sand up my nose and down my throat), leaving me with sligthly bruised ribs, I thought “Well, at least I didn’t break a toe!” Then, the next day, our last on Maui, Shea and I went for a walk along the beach and…I rolled over my toe on a hidden piece of volcanic rock on the sandy shore, breaking it and making my last day in Hawaii a hobbly one!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Stood in line to buy iPad 3 the day it was released which was well worth it. We also had a cupboard in our kitchen that never had its door replaced after we re-painted our cupboards and found this door with a big crack in it. It’s been left open for a couple years until Shea had the bright idea that a beer fridge would fit perfectly into that spot. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love my wife!
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
In a rehash of my 2009 answer, Ryan Meili seems like a pretty all-around good guy and should definitely consider running for political office someday!
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I was disappointed that the RPL Board would let their staff go without a contract for two and a half years (and come close to the library’s second strike in a decade.) If possible, I’ve been even more disappointed that animosity seems to have increased rather than decreased after that contract was signed with more grievances, more arbitrations and all kinds of other issues happening at RPL. There’s an anonymous blog called RPLWatch that someone has set-up which details some of the most egregious stuff.
14. Where did most of your money go?
I’m an idiot and took my iPhone into the water in Hawaii in (what I thought was) a waterproof case. Luckily insurance covered the replacement cost. Computers were still my biggest expense though – I bought the new iPad the day it came out then a couple weeks later, the screen went on my Macbook Pro so I had to either pay $600 for a new screen or buy a new laptop. Since my laptop was over three years old, I decided to go for the completely new machine.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Participating in the Meili 2.0 campaign at a higher level than last time has been extremely exciting (I went to a couple meetings that had the campaign managers for the other three candidates and me. I expected them to start singing the “One of these things is not like the other” song from Sesame Street!). More than that, it’s been an amazing learning experience – from organizational dynamics to running a dispersed organization (my favourite G+ conference call saw one person calling in from a train in Ontario, one from an Internet cafe in Mexico and one from a dorm room in Saskatoon!), various aspects of social media and web design, evidence-based practice, fundraising, on and on and on.
16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?
The Lumineers is probably my discovery of the year but beyond that, I got hooked on Rdio.com. For $10/month, you get unlimited streaming of millions of songs from a wide range of artists on both your laptop and mobile device. There are some noticeable gaps at both end of the notoriety spectrum (Beatles on the top end, many of the local independent groups I like on the low end) but overall, well worth it. (Apparently the Rdio competitor, Spotify, which is only in the US, allows you to upload your own tunes to help close these gaps so hopefully Rdio does something similar.) But yeah, I listen to Rdio constantly.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder? Happier. Just watched “This is 40″ the other night and one line is that you’re happiest between the ages of 40-60. I’m just coming up to that so let’s hope it’s true!
B) Thinner or fatter? Fatter. After losing nearly 30 lbs to go to Hawaii, I stopped being so careful with my eating while there and let that trend continue through this year so I’m back up 15 lbs to the halfway point between where I got to and where I used to be. I don’t do resolutions but in the back of my head, I keep thinking I’d like to get back down to where I was over this year. Time will tell.
C) Richer or poorer? Richer – not only because of the big chunk of back pay that we got when our contract was settled but a few other big amounts that came in – SGI settlement on our car being more than we expected, some oil money that I’d been warned may drop off this year but didn’t. Plus a big (and unexpected) 4% bump in salary on January 1 as part of our contract settlement. (Still trying to figure that one out – go so long without a contract then get a much higher than anyone expected increase given right at the end?)
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading books. I pride myself on reading about a book a week on average – some weeks more, some weeks less but I usually end up around 52 per year. But this year, I’ve really fallen off, continuing a trend that’s only been getting worse the last few years. Note that I said “reading books”. I’m still reading lots – maybe more than ever – but so much of it is in other formats – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, online articles, e-mails – much of it related to my work with the Meili campaign lately. The one thing I’m looking forward to with the end of the Sask NDP Leadership campaign is seeing my e-mail levels go back to a normal level.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Related to that last answer, I probably spend way more time on the Internet than I should. Even with my water mishap in Hawaii, I probably haven’t learned my lesson when I find myself lying in a hot bathtub and reading my iPhone rather than a book!
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We had Christmas at our house with both sets of grandparents there to celebrate the reveal of the sex of our baby!
21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?
Team Meili. As mentioned, a typical day might have 50-100 different communications to read – whether e-mails, Facebook notifications, Tweets, texts or messages sent on any of the various private forums we’re using for team communications behind-the-scenes.
22. What was your favourite TV program?
I really don’t watch a lot of TV (gotta find time for all that web surfing somewhere!) But the Daily Show and Colbert Report continue to be mainstays. I’m also hooked on “Breaking Bad” and, to a lesser degree, “The Walking Dead”. Finally, I indulge myself with reality singing shows – mainly “X-Factor” and “American Idol”but not “The Voice” or any others that might be out there. Is “Nashville Star” still on?
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nah, pretty much hate all the same people! (Looking back, I see that’s pretty much the same answer I gave the first time I ever did this year-in-review survey back in 2006. I still think it’s a terrible question and I should try to come up with something to replace it!)
24. What was the best book(s) you read?
Fiction – Fault in Our Stars. Non-fiction – Atheist’s Guide to Christmas which also may be a personal record for longest break between starting and finishing a book. I started it as a Kindle e-book last December (I think I got it for $0.99!), didn’t finish it before Christmas then didn’t feel like finishing after the holiday so left it until this December when I picked it up again (er, Kindle remembered where I’d left off) and finished it. As a collection of essays, it’s a lot more uneven than many of the books I pick as my Book of the Year but when it’s good, it’s *really* good so it gets picked on that basis.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
As mentioned above, Lumineers in terms of music was a discovery. The new Corb Lund album was also a constant listen when it first came out. But I also spent a lot of time listening to the comedian, Doug Stanhope, during my noon hour walks around Wascana Lake (cackling madly to myself and probably looking quite insane as I passed people) or on the odd days when I was really ambitious and walked all the way home from the library (about 7.5 km).
(Warning: You’ll probably find the following offensive. If Mr. Freedom to Read here is warning you about that, it’s *that* bad. Try 20:00.)
26. What did you want and get?
Lots. We finally got a contract at RPL. I applied for and got a maternity leave position in RPL’s Outreach Unit. A pregnant wife! A car to replace our destroyed Grand Prix (thanks to my mom and dad for accelerating their plan to buy a new vehicle and passing their other car to us.)
27. What did you want and not get?
I was hoping we’d get some more new blood in the municipal election – both in the Mayor’s chair but also in terms of councillors. I worry about stagnation when you see little to no turnover in an organization like that. (For example, I recently accepted an offer to join the board of a local publisher – partly because they are looking to get new perspectives and experience in the mix.)
28. What were your favourite films of this year?
The Muppets was great. Avengers (a “guy’s afternoon out” with Pace during opening weekend which was awesome fun!). Shea and I went to see “The Dark Knight Rises” on opening day at the IMAX (it’s a bit embarrassing to look back and see people who you think of as big geeks *further back* in line than you!) There are lots of good ones that came out this year that I haven’t gotten to see yet – Argo, Looper, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Thirty-nine. I’m not “39 and holding” but I admit to really noticing my advancing age more all the time. One weird example – I heard someone talking about a Star Trek 20th Anniversary Special on TV and realised it was for the 20th anniversary of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, not the original Star Trek! Or the fact that all of the Sask NDP candidates are at least a couple years younger than me. Or I’ll read a newspaper article that’s insightful, intelligent and…written by a 27 year old – who’s a college professor. Or that a girl I used to babysit is now my eye doctor. It goes on and on.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Four six weeks in Hawaii instead of two? (Okay, how about “six months in Hawaii” each and every year. Given my rapidly advancing age, I think I’m ready to be a snowbird!)
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
Same as always – perhaps the only change is that I’ve taken to wearing jeans and t-shirts to work a little bit more. My unit doesn’t deal directly with the public as much as many others (and if I want to channel Doug Stanhope and make a semi-rude joke, I could also mention that most of our patrons are visually impaired so probably don’t notice how I dress anyhow!) so I take advantage of the opportunity to be a bit more comfortable.
32. What kept you sane?
I probably said this last year but playing with your child is easily the best thing for your sanity (except when they’re doing things to make you insane of course!) Now that Pace is in school, I love playing around with letters, words, numbers even more than before. The other day, I told him I could draw an “I” three different ways – I drew a capital I, a lowercase I and an eyeball – which he thought was hilarious and immediately drew right back for me! He’s really into drawing now too and will be taking a Globe Theatre Children’s Acting class in the new year which I’m sure he’ll love.
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Meili 2.0 campaign. As I post this, we’ve basically got four months left in an eight month campaign. It’s impossible to say what will happen but if you look at metrics like Facebook Likes, fundraising totals, memberships sold, volunteers engaged and so on – it feels great to be with a campaign that has a really good chance of winning – which is unlike 2009 when we were such a longshot.
34. Who did you miss?
This question is always tough to answer as it’s hard to pick someone I “miss” when the people I interact with regularly are fairly unchanging – family, co-workers, friends in Regina. Of course I always miss family and friends who are further afield. Even as Facebook and Skype help us stay in touch on a more superficial level, there’s something better about being able to have drinks in person with a cousin who moved back to Alberta or visits with an aunt in person in her apartment in Regina who now lives in BC. (This is a terribly worded sentence – I hope it makes sense to you!)
35. Who was the best new person you met?
It’s been great working with the folks in Outreach – a small but mighty staff who work very well together, are great at what they do and are all fun people.
36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.
“It is what it is.” That means that things will be what they will be – even if they make little to no sense from your perspective – so you might as well sit back and enjoy the inanity and insanity!
37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
“Puff the magic dragon/Lived by the sea/And frollicked in the autumn mist/In a land called Honah Lee” (Wikipedia makes no reference to it but in Hawaii, it’s a popular interpretation that this line refers to the town of “Hanalei” and since I’ve now been there, this interpretation works for me!)
38. Link to a photo that sums up your year
Even better – how about a whole video? This one still makes me smile and cry every time I watch it:
39. Best App of the Year
As already mentioned, Rdio by far. I’ve used Google Docs for a long time but between working on the Meili campaign, working on a few of my own projects, creating our Baby Guess Book and more, I’ve really seen the power of Google Docs.
40. Moment of the Year
As I mentioned earlier, I’d been to Hawaii before but never really understood why people felt it was “paradise” compared to other hot destinations – the ones I’ve visited (Mexico, Cuba) and the ones I haven’t (Fiji, Thailand, etc.). At least, until this trip. Kauai especially was a series of unforgettable, perfect moments. If I had to pick one, it would be snorkeling beside Shea on Anini Beach, leisurely following behind a few different giant sea turtles.