2013 “End-of-Year Questions” Meme: Sasha’s Born & Paul’s Not Dead, Ryan Meili Loses and the Riders Win

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Well, since Pace was born by caesarean section, this year I got to see my wife give birth (I mean, *really* give birth!) which is the type of thing that, as a husband, makes you less likely to complain about anything ever again!  I also got to cut the umbilical cord this time around which was pretty cool – sort of felt like cutting through a piece of garden hose! 😉

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Other than Shea, various co-workers and friends have had babies in the past year.  Pace’s best friend from daycare happened to have a little sister, just like Pace did which is probably pretty unique – two six year old boys who are best friends having baby sisters six years later.  My cousin in Hawaii had a baby soon after Sasha was born so my standard line on that is “Don’t come see us – we’ll come see you!”

3. Did anyone close to you die?
Nobody really close to me but a cousin in Ontario who wasn’t much older than me died after a lengthy battle of cancer  – which family thought she’d beaten. Cancer also claimed well-known librarian and SILS Executive Director Maureen Woods quite suddenly.  (I hate cancer – it scares me more than pretty much any other disease.)

4. What places did you visit?
Went to Winnipeg in January and joke that since it was two degrees warmer than the -40 in Saskatchewan that counts as our “hot weather” holiday for the year!  A visit to the Labour & Delivery Unit at the Regina General Hospital meant that our traveling was otherwise limited but we did lots of camping at Nickle Lake by Weyburn, Katepwa, Kenosee for a family reunion on my mom’s side and Crooked Lake.

5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?
I can’t remember what I’ve answered others years but there’s not much I find myself wanting.  The standard answer for a new father should be “sleep” but Sasha’s even good in that department – sleeping through the night for the most part since she was brand new.

6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?

  • March 9 – NDP Leadership Convention and Ryan Meili loses by 44 votes out of thousands cast!
  • April 16 – International Library Workers Day (http://library.ucr.edu/news/article/1005)  (Just kidding – this is the day Sasha was born.  Couldn’t have worked out any better – she’s born on the 16th (of April), Shea’s the 17th (of February), I’m the 18th (of July) and Pace is the 19th (of May) which helps me keep it straight.
  • June 24 – Pace’s Last Day of Kindergarten
  • July 20 – Nerdy Retro 40th Birthday Party
  • August 14 – Paul McCartney Concert
  • September 3 –  Start new job as Branch Head at RPL’s Regent Place Branch

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’m pretty proud of the things we accomplished on Team Meili even if the end result wasn’t what we wanted.  I said it a lot during the campaign but once more for the record – highest fundraising, most new members signed up, most effective use of social media – are all pretty cool accomplishments.

8. What was your biggest failure of the year?
When you lose by 44 votes, that means you spend a lot of time thinking about how you could have signed up less than a city bus more people.  Or converted 23 existing members to put Ryan higher on their ballot.  But other than that, nothing jumps out.

9. What was your biggest surprise?
Continuing a theme, Cam’s victory was a surprise – although I think everybody involved on both sides realised it was probably going to be too close to call, my memory is that our numbers showed us with a really good chance at victory, even after the first ballot.  From what I heard through the grapevine, Cam’s team had similar numbers so the victory might have been a surprise to them too! 😉

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve battled a recurring eye problem for the past couple years that just keeps cropping up every few months, even after examination, pills, creams, salves, etc.  It’s not painful, not contagious but it’s a bit embarrassing to have a giant bump on my eyelid popping up all the time, like the zits you got in high school or something.

This wasn’t my own illness or injury but it felt like it at the time – Pace got his first stitches this year after running headlong into a tree which is always a pretty big milestone in a young boy’s life!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Pebble watch – as much as for what it represents as what it does.  Also, a ticket to see Paul McCartney, although expensive, was more than worth every penny.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I think I’ve already related the story of a member of Team Meili who said she’d worked on political campaigns at all levels and for all causes for over thirty years and never had more fun than she did working on the Meili campaign.  I agree. 😉

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? disappointed and underwhelmed?
God, I hate this question every year and if my OCD librarian tendencies makes me unwilling to remove it, I keep thinking I should at least change it.  Or change the words – maybe “disappointed and underwhelmed” is softer than “appalled and depressed”.  Anyhow, the first thing that pops into my head is the Saskatchewan NDP.  I thought about putting “Cam Broten” or “the Cam Broten campaign” but that’s not really it – they did what they did, they successfully executed a strategy that met their ultimate goal and although there were things that happened both before and during the campaign that I really didn’t like (and I’m sure they’d say the same about the Meili campaign), my ultimate disappointment is with the party itself.  At a time when there were a bunch of things the Saskatchewan NDP so clearly needed – renewal, outreach, tech know-how, fundraising – the membership chose to elect someone who was often in third or fourth place in all of those metrics through the Leadership race.  I’m on record as saying that I hope that I’m proven wrong but I also won’t be surprised if I end up doing the mother of all “I told you so” posts after the next Provincial Election.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Although I worry about the privacy implications a bit, I finally signed up for Mint.com which is a site that connects to your bank accounts and helps you track your spending as well as providing various other financial reports.  So I can say, without a doubt, that Shea’s and my biggest expense is “Restaurants/Groceries” over other big categories such as “Housing”, “Utilities” and  “Lego for Pace”. 😉

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
You probably couldn’t write a better script for this year’s Grey Cup – only the third time ever being held in Regina, the team jumps to an awesome start at the beginning of the season, has a setback series of losses and some controversy then rebounds to make the playoffs, barely beating the BC Lions then the heavily favoured Stampeders in the playoffs before going into the Grey Cup in their hometown against the underdog Hamilton Ti-Cats.  This provides lots of other great storylines – return of Kent Austin who’s never lost in a Grey Cup as a player or coach, return of Henry Burris, Andy Fantuz, even kicker Luca Congi to Taylor Field.  The lead-up to Grey Cup Sunday is one big party even though Regina is in a deep freeze and, although I have a kid and some work obligations, I’m able to take in a bit of the celebrations.  Then, the day arrives and the the games goes as it should with the Riders completely blowing out the Ti-Cats.  Heck, the half-time show even had ski-doos doing flips in the air – such a total Saskatchewan touch that’s both kitschy and true!

16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?
I listen to my 2012 app of the year, Rdio.com constantly.  Unlike the Beatles, Paul McCartney has most of his solo albums on the streaming service and his most recent live album, “Hello New York” has a setlist that’s quite similar to the concert I went to so I listen to that one quite a bit.  I also really liked “Yeezus” by Kanye West.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder?  Happier.  Two healthy, happy kids; a job I love; enough money to buy a case of beer every once in awhile or go on the occasional hot weather holiday – are you kidding me?  What else do you need?
B) Thinner or fatter?  About the same honestly.  I lost a lot of weight when we went to Hawaii a couple years ago and am sort of halfway between my heaviest and lightest points of the past decade or so right now.
C) Richer or poorer?  Technically poorer since I took an extra two weeks unpaid leave this summer on top of my regular holidays so I could have a break before starting my new job at RPL.  But it was worth it in more than financial terms – that gave me two extra weeks to spend time with Sasha and the family, camping and hanging out and doing stuff around the house. The way I look at it – “Money is replaceable but time isn’t”.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Probably the same things I always wish I’d done more of – travel, read, spend more time with family.  I should really get back to doing some creative writing too since I missed out on that “Write a Novel by Age 40” promise I made myself long ago! 😉

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry about stuff that never comes to pass or that never turns out to be as bad as I imagine it will be.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Having maybe my best Christmas ever?

21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?
Even though the campaign started last fall and only went a couple months into this year, I probably spent more time communicating with various members of Team Meili.than anyone else this year! 😉

22. What was your favourite TV program?
Breaking Bad was amazing – the third last episode “Ozymandias” blew me away and the finale was awesome too.  I don’t watch a lot of TV otherwise but Shea’s convinced me to watch “House of Cards” which I’m enjoying, not just as a great series but also, given my interest in the subject, as a glimpse at the future of television.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?  Do you hate anything that you didn’t hate at this time last year?
I try not to hate anyone.  This question always bugs me but it’s another that I leave in because I’m an anal retentive librarian and since I’ve had it since I started doing these end-of-year posts in 2006, I don’t want to change it.  But perhaps a better way to phrase it is “Do you hate *anything* that you didn’t hate at this time last year?” and the answer is “Not only that the good guys lose but I hate that they’re losing when all other indicators are that they should win – whether it’s when Ryan Meili loses to Cam Broten after dominating him so thoroughly in every facet of the campaign – except the one that counts in the end I guess.  Or the BC NDP finding a way to lose an election everyone projected they would win.  Or Regina Watch Watch losing their bid to prevent Regina’s new water treatment plant from being built using a P3 model against ever-increasing chicanery from the other side.

24. What was the best book(s) you read?
I promised myself that I would try to read more classics this year.  That vow lasted for about a book and a half until I was back to more contemporary fare.  But the first book I chose – which, like most classics I planned to read, I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never read before – was “1984” and it was the perfect year to do so.  It’s also shocking how truly prescient the book is about our current age.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Well, my greatest rediscovery was The Beatles.  I’ve been a huge fan for years but knowing Paul McCartney was coming to Regina got me re-listening to their entire catalogue and wow – they are good!

26. What did you want and get?
A healthy, happy baby girl.  A Branch Head job close to home.  A Roughriders Grey Cup victory.  Really, other than a Ryan Meili victory, I can’t think of anything I wanted (in the realistic sense anyhow) that didn’t come to pass.

27. What did you want and not get?
I wish I would’ve been able to take in more of the Grey Cup celebrations and especially the big game.  But family life, work life, and a few other factors including my own doubts about a) the Riders’ ability to make it to the game and b) that it would be quite the storybook day that it turned out to be, all conspired to keep me from being there.  But I did get to Riderville the day it opened (really early when you could still walk in), the free Eskimos pavilion, the downtown activities.  Heck, Shea and I even went for a drive the night before the big game and parked outside Taylor Field, just looking at the scoreboard and all the banners and excitement in the area.

28. What were your favourite films of this year?
Since Sasha was born, we mostly watch movies on NetFlix and/or that we’ve downloaded.  “Before Midnight” was really good as the third in a trilogy that I, like a lot of men of my generation, probably feel affinity for.  There are a ton of Oscar bait movies out right now that we haven’t gotten to but look forward to watching, probably early in the new year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Had a week long Retro Extravaganza to celebrate the milestone of turning 40.  Watched *G.I. Joe* movie with Pace. Took him to wrestling.  Then rented a local video arcade for a private party and had a bunch of friends from high school (and other friends I’ve met since then) drop by for a couple hours of video games, pool, pinball and more.  Great fun!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I was pretty certain I was pulling back from all of my volunteer activities – political or otherwise – when Sasha was born.  But especially when the final result was so close, I think a Meili victory would’ve been a nice way to go into this “hiatus” state instead of leaving me without the natural closure that I hoped a victory would provide.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
I swear this was *not* influenced by the Meili campaign (although you’d never know it by how much it enters into this list) but this is the first year I’ve worn a beard year round.  Usually I grow one for the winter and go clean shaven (well, stubbley) for the rest of the year.  Not sure to chalk this up to me being a hipster or just lazy! 😉  I’ve also become less concerned about being a bit more casual at work – one of my first bosses was a firm believer in collared shirts and ties anytime you left the building so I was influenced by that as a young librarian.  But then, I realised – that’s a pretty old school concept and for as many patrons who will respect your authority (or at least have certain messages conveyed) because of how you dress, there will be an equal number who are intimidated or turned off or made anxious if you dress too formally.  So I’ve decided that it’s okay if I show up to work on a Friday wearing jeans and a t-shirt – something I never would’ve done before.

32. What kept you sane?
Sasha.  Man, no matter what’s going on in my life otherwise, seeing her smiling face in the morning, at lunch and when I get home from work at the end of the day helps put it all in perspective in terms of what’s important and what’s not in life.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
I don’t know if it “stirred me” (at least to action greater than a couple blog posts) but I was quite bothered by what I perceived as a lack of democracy/fairness in the Regina Water Treatment Plant Fight of 2013.

34. Who did you miss?
Moving to a branch after five years in a variety of roles means at our Central Library means I miss the Central staff – both personally but also professionally.  It’s been a bit of an adjustment to not be able to just pop into the IT department when I need something or have lunch room conversations with various people or whatever.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Sasha Rayden without a doubt.  Question 34 usually has a natural corollary and leaving Central and its staff behind also means I get to better know the great group of people who are the staff at Regent Place Branch.  We’re also getting to know more and more parents of Pace’s classmates which is nice too.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.
I already mentioned the maxim that “Money is replaceable, time isn’t.”.  There’s a related one that I like: “For true happiness, buy experiences, not stuff.”

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
When Pace was born, I was certain that the first song I wanted him to ever hear in his life was “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon.  I hadn’t really thought about it as heavily for Sasha (I jokingly call this “Second Child Syndrome” as a reference to all the things Sasha will be neglected about compared to her brother!) but did end up singing the song “Things” by Barenaked Ladies to her in the delivery room quite spontaneously.  “I’m In Love With A Girl” by Big Star has also become my go-to “Sasha song”.

38. Link to a photo that sums up your year
40th Birthday Montage

39. Best App of the Year
Couple is “a social network for two” and provides a lot of the same functionality that Facebook has (messages, sending photos and videos back and forth) but since only two people can be connected, there’s absolutely no chance that your photo or message will accidentally be posted publicly for all the world to see (or a message that you posted privately suddenly gets made public the next time Facebook “updates” their privacy settings.)   I’ve also spent a lot more time browsing, if not actively posting to, Google Plus in the past year.  And Shea just introduced me to Heyday which could be an early contender for 2014 app of the year.

40. What single moment defined your year?
I’m going to cheat and put a couple different ones.  Watching Shea give birth is one of those unbelievably unique moments that I’ll experience in my whole life.  *Almost* on the same level is getting to join 40,000 other people singing “Hey Jude” along with a former Beatle, live, in my hometown.  Unreal.

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