Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: Not a big fan.

It's that time of year again, when I engage in a bit of navel-gazing. I do this questionnaire at the end of each year, so here's the 2007 version. If a fairly negative tone is detected running though this post, that's to be expected, because for me, 2007 was, as years go, a steaming bowl of cat poo, and I'm just as happy to see the damned smelly year come to an end.

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

I kept them all, yay! I resolved to not jump out of airplanes without a parachute, to not paddle a leaky kayak through shark-infested waters, to not invade a landlocked Asian country without securing permission of its neighbors to use their airspace, and to not enter into any secret alliances with Sith Lords or Eddorians. All of these resolutions I kept, and I shall be applying my newfound resolve to the coming year.

In 2008 I shall rein back on the scope of my resolutions. I plan to read more, listen to more music, see more movies. What I want to do is take the AFI's "Top 100 Movies Ever" list and see as many of the ones on that list that I haven't seen. I'll track my progress in this blog.

My big resolutions are twofold. First is to write more, with more fiction to come, as well as making a new attempt at launching a freelance-writing career. Second is to live healthier. The generosity of my parents has made it possible for my family and I to join the local Y this year, and I'm greatly looking forward to using that facility (which is about two miles down the road) to get in better shape than I am now. I actually started trending in this direction in 2007, doing lots of walking during the summer and fall and learning to eat healthier. I've doubled the number of vegetables I like to eat (there are four veggies on my menu now, yay!), and I've discovered that good bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil has flavor that puts bread-and-butter to shame.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yeah, she did.

Also, a number of valued friends at work had babies this year, actually.

UPDATE: Ach! I forgot Scotty!

Did anyone close to you die?

Yeah. About two hours after she was born. This is what I'm talking about, folks: 2007 was supposed to be the good year.

What countries did you visit?

Provence (by way of Guy Gavriel Kay), various worlds (by way of the crew of Serenity), Barsoom (by way of Edgar Rice Burroughs), and the various countries of my own mind.

What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?

Peace of mind and heart.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Keeping my head above water, most of the time; grabbing the life preserver when it was thrown to me. (This is metaphor.)

As for non-metaphorical stuff, probably my biggest accomplishment -- maybe my only accomplishment -- was winning the Buffalo News short story contest. I've earlier today made the text of the story available on the blog here, since to my knowledge it's gone from the News website. Read it, it's short.

What was your biggest failure?

Ignoring the writing on the map that read, "Here there be monsters." (Still metaphor.)

Back to non-metaphors: The Promised King? Still unfinished. 2008, here we come.

What was the best thing you bought?

Well, Guy Gavriel Kay's latest novel Ysabel; my copy of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: The Complete Recordings; my reference Bible (TNIV); and leaving them all in the dust, my Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

The Daughter, who has had Big Sisterhood taken from her three times now, who has seen two "best friends next door" move away in one year, and who has had to stand by while her parents weathered storms.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

As always, the Republicans in Congress and the media who refuse to report on their shenanigans, as well as all the enabling right-wingers who still cling to the absurd notion that Iraq either is or can be a "victory", that global warming is either something that doesn't exist or if it does exist is caused by the sun so we can all just trundle merrily along doing whatever we want, and that revenues go up when you cut taxes. I'm also annoyed by the candidates for that party's Presidential nomination, every single one of them.

Then there were the New York State government people of all persuasions. New Governor Spitzer promised that everything would change on Day One, but he appears to have found a loophole in not exactly saying when Day One is. Then there's just the entire "More spending, more power for us" attitude in Albany; talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Nero had nothing on these guys.

On a less political note, Major League Baseball has finally lost me completely, even if the Pirates somehow do manage to field a decent team.

Where did most of your money go?

Increasingly, gas and food. Funny how those prices go up and up and up while the paychecks don't. But that's OK, because rich people get richer, so the economy's just fine and I should just shut up and smile while they pocket their tax cuts.

What did you get really excited about?

The new GGK novel; my new laptop.

What song will always remind you of 2007?

"Yo Ho Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life For Me" (we've been on a Pirates of the Caribbean kick lately). "People Get Ready", by Curtis Mayfield. "I'm Alright", by Jo Dee Messina (not a country fan, but I love this song). "Scythr Song", by Dougie Maclean. And "The Village Lanterne", by Blackmore's Night. This is too bad, really, because those are really good songs, and they deserve better than to be associated in my head with the 365 Days of Crap on a Stick that was 2007.

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

Huh. I'm gonna have to think about that one a bit.

Thinner or fatter?

Thinner, but not by a whole lot yet. That's still to come.

Richer or poorer?

Poorer, but not horribly. Yet. I'm just loving getting less than half a tank of gas in my car for twenty bucks and paying twice for milk that I paid a year ago, and then coming home and reading articles about the approaching recession that still hasn't arrived.

What do you wish you'd done more of?

Writing, listening, drinking rum, watching movies.

What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worrying about stuff I can't control, and controlling the stuff I wasn't worried about.

How will you be spending Christmas?

Well, Christmas is past, as always. I spent it with my family. Opening gifts, eating food, reading and writing, visiting Little Quinn's grave.

Did you fall in love in 2007?

As always, I fall in love on a daily basis. (I've been giving that answer every year for this question.)

How many one-night stands?

Eight, and they were on the same night. Wow, I was tired for days after that. (No, this isn't true. Yeesh. But as if I would answer that question!)

What was your favorite TV program?

Scrubs (now in its final season), The Amazing Race (I love you Mirna!), American Idol (of the final two this year the right person won, but it was the wrong final two in the first place), Firefly. (No one said it had to a be a show that aired this year.)

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

Hate's a pretty useless emotion. That's why I keep all of my hatred focused upon professional football personnel from the Boston, MA area. Oh, and on the Dutch. I hate the Dutch!

(And while I don't "hate" any of them, I find the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination laughable, without exception. Wow, what a bunch of wankers.)

What was the best book you read?

Off the top of my head, Ysabel by GGK and The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. But when I do my "Best posts of 2007" post later on, I'll probably discover a number of other books worthy of mention here.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Years ago, I listened to the symphonies of Jean Sibelius and didn't like them much at all, so aside from Finlandia, I've not much bothered with Sibelius since then. Until, that is, a few weeks ago, when I dusted off a CD of his Fifth Symphony (Leonard Bernstein, VPO), and found myself captivated by the musical imagery.

What did you want and get?

The laptop, obviously. At work, I also got a new 18-volt cordless drill. I acquired more books and music and movie.

What did you want and not get?

Healthy Child Number Two. When one finds one's dead children outnumbering their living children, one looks to the Guy Upstairs and asks, "Hey, just how essential is my suffering to this 'plan' of yours, anyway?"

What were your favorite films of this year?

I tend to be very lax in seeing movies in their year of release, given how expensive movie-going has become. This year I saw only two movies, and I liked The Simpsons Movie more than I liked Spiderman 3. Ironically, this was clinched by the appearance of Spiderpig.

What did you do on your birthday?

It wasn't exactly on my birthday, but The Wife and I took an overnight jaunt to the Fingerlakes Region and Ithaca, NY.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

Same as always: Bob Vila abducted by deadheads. Changing one's "fashion concept" on a yearly basis strikes me as terribly silly, as does heeding the fashion advice of people who, in my eyes, look staggeringly silly or downright corpselike.

What kept you sane?

I'm not convinced that I did, in fact, remain sane in 2007, but I'll stick with my stock answer: The Daughter.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Jenna Fischer, Sela Ward, Miss Teen South Carolina. (She had a point, folks: most US Americans actually don't have maps.)

What political issue stirred you the most?

Global warming. (After I clicked a link in a blog and found myself reading Orson Scott Card's essay in which he responds to Al Gore's winning the Nobel Peace Prize by calling Gore "pond scum", I banished Card forever from my bookshelves. I'll just have to live as good a literary life as I can without ever having read Ender's Game. Somehow I think I'll survive.)

Who did you miss?

Bill Clinton. But hey, 2008 may bring the next best thing!

Who was the best new person you met?

You. No, not you. I knew you already. You. Yeah, you.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007:

Re-using the ones from last year: The Internet is made of people. Rush more, blitz less. Don't punt when you're trailing or when you're in your opponent's territory. Democracy works, at least sometimes. Not all tears are an evil. Cool-whip is a miracle substance. So is ice cream. Use your library; limiting your reading to only those books you can afford to buy is madness. OpenOffice is a quality program. From pizza to quiche to apple to coconut cream, pie is the greatest of foods. We're not meant to be alone. 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. Keep smiling, because you never know what life will throw in your face next!

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"The Village Lanterne", by Blackmore's Night, mentioned in a question above:

Don't shed a tear for me
I stand alone
This path of destiny
Is all my own
Once in the hands of fate
There is no choice
An echo on the wind
You'll hear my voice...

Some choose to fall behind
Some choose to lead
Some choose a golden path
Laden with greed
But it’s the noble heart
That makes you strong
And in that heart, I'm with you all along...

*The olde village lanterne
Is calling me onward
Leading wherever I roam
The olde village lanterne
A light in the dark
Bringing me closer to home...

So when you think of me
Do so with pride
Honor and bravery
Ruled by my side
And in your memory
I will remain
I will forever be within the flame...

Now at the journey's end
We've traveled far
And all we have to show
Are battle scars
But in the love we shared
We will transcend
And in that love, our journey never ends...

So there we have it: 2007. Raise to it a glass, then kick it in the ass!


Roger Owen Green said...

I hope your 2008 is much better.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell if if 2007 was any better than 2008 or worse. Here is hoping that we BOTH have a great 2008.