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Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005: A year in the books

Well, this year is almost over, and any effort I expend trying to decide if the year was a good one or not inevitably ends in frustration. Part of me feels like this should have been the worst damn year of my life, but for some reason, I just don't feel that way overall -- and then part of me says, no, it really was crappy, and you just don't realize it.

So I guess 2005 has to be held "in abeyance". It's the kind of year whose import will be better known to me far, far down the road. I just don't know right now how to think of 2005, but I do know that it's likely to be the most important year I've experienced since probably 1999 (when I first became a parent), or 1997 (when I was married), or 1993 (when I graduated college). I do know that years hence, when my face is lined and my hair is gray, some of those lines and some of those hairs will have 2005 stamped upon them.

At the end of 2004, I answered a bunch of questions in a meme-thing, and I'm going to repeat the questions here, with the answers adjusted for inflation. It's as good a way to sum up the past year as I can think.

Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made no resolutions at all, in the traditional sense of the word. I always intend to listen to more music, read more books, see more movies. I know I failed on the movies score, but as for the others, I'm not sure.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Oh, yes -- three good friends at The Store had babies, and a couple more who are the "friendly co-workers" also gave birth. Additionally, Aaron welcomed Little Elsa into his family.

Did anyone close to you die?

Oy. I sometimes feel like that poor kid died a thousand deaths, before the last one that actually kept.

What countries did you visit?

Coruscant, Mustafar, Naboo, Tatooine, Utapau, Kashyyyk, Al-Rassan. And many others, if only in my mind. Oh, and Canada.

What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?

A peaceful heart.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

To be honest, I don't really feel like I accomplished much of anything this year. I didn't get published, I barely wrote anything aside from blog posts...I don't know. I still didn't get The Promised King finished, which means that soon I will have been writing that book for ten damn years. Jee-bus.

But you know, I've occasionally thought that maybe we overvalue "accomplishment". Seriously -- isn't living enough, sometimes? I read some good books, heard a lot of wonderful music, saw Revenge of the Sith with one friend and cried onto the shoulders of another.

For 2005, I lived. That's accomplishment enough.

What was your biggest failure?

Not finishing The Promised King, Book Two. (Same answer as last year.)

What was the best thing you bought?

The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring complete score box set; a new DVD player; the first two seasons of The West Wing, Millennium, and Once and Again; a cross pendant for The Daughter; a pair of birthstone necklaces for The Wife (birthstones for both children); a little frog-shaped pin for a friend who loves frogs; cups of coffee for many people at The Store.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

The Daughter, who has been an amazingly kind and curious big sister to her baby brother. (Same answer as last year. That little boy could not possibly have had a better big sister. Perhaps one day she'll have the chance to play that role again.)

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I'm not sure I'd say "appalled" or "depressed", but I definitely don't approve of much of what the President of the United States has done. (Same answer as last year, except that I'd add in his entire batch of cronies.)

Where did most of your money go?

Food, coffee, diapers, books, DVDs, CDs. (Exact same answer as last year.)

What did you get really excited about?

The opening of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith; the start of the Bills' season. One of those turned out well; the other, not so much.

What song will always remind you of 2005?

"I Can Only Imagine" (lyrics here); "Forever" (lyrics here). Both were performed at Little Quinn's funeral.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Well, right now this seems like a really stupid question, doesn't it? But what's different now is that while the answer is definitely "sadder", it's a lot easier to see my way back to happiness now than it was last year at this time. That's one good thing about death, I suppose -- it tends to clarify the hell out of things.

Thinner or fatter?

Probably fatter, although not by a whole lot. The overalls are a bit more snug, but I'm not having to lengthen the shoulder straps or undo the side buttons at all yet. I am planning to go back to eating healthier once I'm past New Year's. I'm not willing to officially "resolve" to lose weight, but it is a goal of mine.

Richer or poorer?

I have no idea, really, and I care now even less than I cared last year. I have a roof, a computer, blank paper, pens, books, music, and movies. I'm good. Let the other nitwits have their Lexuses.

What do you wish you'd done more of?

Reading, writing, and holding Little Quinn.

What do you wish you'd done less of?

Endlessly blogsurfing.

How will you be spending Christmas?

I guess this quiz is intended to be answered before Christmas, not after. Oh well. I spend it with the family, watching The Daughter play with her new toys and making dinner and generally resting and reflecting.

Did you fall in love in 2005?

I fall in love on a daily basis. (Who ever said that you can only fall in love with someone once?)

How many one-night stands?

Now, aren't all stands "one-night" stands? I mean, the only way you could have a two-night stand is to never leave the person's bed for thirty-six hours straight, right? (Same answer as last year. I'm married, I intend to stay that way, and I'm happy to stay that way. So unless we're including The Wife, the real answer is "Zero". And if we are including The Wife, the real answer is...none of yer damn bizness!)

What was your favorite TV program?

Scrubs and American Idol. I didn't watch season four of 24, because FOX packed something like four episodes into two consecutive nights when the season started, and that screwed me up. I thought The Apprentice: Martha Stewart actually started up OK, but just became duller and duller as the season went on. That 70s Show finally lost me. I gave up on ER, and discovered House. Gray's Anatomy didn't light my fire when it started, but it's grown on me every week since then. I really liked the caper show Eyes that aired on ABC last spring, but it tanked and vanished after five or six episodes.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don't like to hate people. That said, there's the Objectivist weirdo on the FSM message boards, but he doesn't even count for this year, so there it is. (Same answer as last year, incidentally. If anything, I'm trying to hate even fewer people than before. It's just such a useless damned emotion. Not giving a shit is a lot more productive.)

What was the best book you read?

I re-read The Lions of Al-Rassan.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

I recently listened to the Second and Fifth Symphonies by Sir Arnold Bax, and I loved his soundworld. The film music of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek hit me between the eyes this year, hard.

What did you want and get?

A tie-dye kit.

What did you want and not get?

A year with my son.

What were your favorite films of this year?

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

What did you do on your birthday?

I honestly don't remember. I think The Wife had to work, so we probably did something together a few days later.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?

The same as last year's: "Workwear Chic". Overalls galore, solid-colored shirts and sweaters, denim shirts, hiking boots. I discovered the magic of layers. (Yeah, I'm slow to the party.) I took note of all the people who told me that pleated pants make me look fat, and I duly ignored them. I grew the hair ever longer. I added tie-dye into the mix and will be making more of those in the next few weeks. (I got a nifty kit for Christmas, and I learned that The Store sells a line of fabric dyes too. I briefly considered tracking down a white pair of overalls to tie-dye, but I figured that would look goofy even by my standards.)

What kept you sane?

The Wife; music; wonderful people at our church and The Store and in the Buffalo Prefecture of Blogistan

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Watching episodes of Once and Again after having not seen the show at all since its 2002 cancellation brought me to once again realize how gorgeous Sela Ward is. (I started watching House before I discovered that Ms. Ward is on that program.) And all respect to Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher, my favorite Desperate Housewife is Felicity Huffman.

What political issue stirred you the most?

"Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job."

"Poor Trent lost his house. Well, we're gonna rebuild it and I'm gonna sit on his porch."

Sorry, right-leaning readers of mine, but I will not be dissuaded from my belief that the Bush Administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath constituted anything other than a colossal dropping of the ball, an initial refusal to admit that the ball had been dropped, a blaming of others for the ball's dropping once it could no longer be denied that the ball was on the ground, and an attempt to seize credit when someone finally picked the damn ball back up.

Who did you miss?

I have very good friends who live beyond the "800-miles from Buffalo" line. I also got to see my sister for a day. (Same answer as last year, with one gigantic addition that I'm not even going to name because it's so blindingly obvious.)

Who was the best new person you met?

I really don't know. There were lots of people I met in 2004 but didn't get to know well until 2005, and I expect this will be the same for next year.

Although I suppose one could say that I made the acquaintance of this Jesus fellow, even though I'm not at all sure what I think of him yet. This one will take a while.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:

A few, really: Stop being so damned reserved and afraid of publicly emoting. It's amazing what you can do when you have no other choice. When in doubt, put some music on. "Read. Think. Learn." (Thanks to M-Mv for that last.) The best things in life to share are love, books, music, and pizza (but not necessarily in that order). Aeresol whipped cream doesn't stick very well. Let people lean on you, because one day you'll need to lean on them. Not all tears are an evil. Don't punt when you're in your opponent's territory, and don't blitz if there are more than six yards to go. No object fits in your hand so perfectly as your wife's hand, and no object fits so perfectly on your shoulder as your child's head. The Internet is made of people. (Thanks to Warren Ellis for that one.) "Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies."

And as we head into 2006: "Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning."

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more


Hailing frequencies closed, 2005.

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