Happy new year, comrades! Here’s the eighth annual instalment of Review Thingo.
One blazing sunny morning before school, aged about ten, I opened the front door. I was about to step outside of the house and into the world, my foot hovered above the doormat, when I noticed there was a brown snake coiled up on it.
I swiftly lifted my foot up and back inside the house, closed the door and informed my parents of the highly venomous chap.
Just a typical moment of Aussie farm life!
He was swiftly relocated, and after that, I always checked for visitors before stepping outside.
That’s what the start of a New Year feels like to me – that mild anxiety as you open the door and stretch your foot out into another set of 365, wondering if there’ll be the proverbial snake on the doormat.
I think the best solution is to stride boldly forward and not worry about what might bite you in the year ahead, but there’s always jangly nerves for the first week of January. Anyone else!?
Anyway, on with the 2016 review!
1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
- Got a cat! <– unashamed highlight of the year
- Went to a Premier League football match
- Visited Washington DC
- Played mini golf
- Watched DIE HARD! Yippee-ki-yay!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions?
I blatantly borrowed from Alexandra Franzen. She wrote in her newsletter that her three-word intention for 2016 was “choose to chill”:
“Doing enough. Earning enough. Letting enough be enough… Letting typos happen sometimes because they just hapen somtimes. Simple pleasures… Building my body of work, as best I can, without any hoopla, hype, fretting, or unnecessary force. All love. No rush.”
That chimed in with how I wanted to feel after finishing 2015 in a blubbering ball of anxiety. Also, I love alliteration!
I carried the words through the whole year, often muttering them like a loony in times of bullshit. I’m a much calmer and less reactive bunny these days. Getting into meditation has helped, but that pause to decide between chill or not, has helped even more.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Jenny, Bella, Andrea, Ianthe, Katie, Katie… I know I’ve missed someone!
4. Did anyone close to you pass away?
My great uncle Stan early in the year, Nanny (the Grandmothership) in November, and my Auntie Jessie right before Christmas.
The last time I saw all three together was at our Oz Wedding in 2005. That’s wee Nanny hugging Stan in the left pic, and Jessie gently dispensing marriage wisdom to me on the right. She had this elegant dignity and the most beautiful peaches-and-cream complexion. And like all four of Poppy’s twinkly-eyed sisters, she always made you feel like seeing you was the highlight of her day.
I know how incredibly lucky it was to have two grandmothers right up until my very late 30s. I hope Dotto and Nanny meet up somewhere, on the golf course.
5. What countries did you visit?
Italy (for a day), Liechtenstein (for an hour), Switzerland and the USA.
6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?
7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
- January 31 – Arrival of the Ziggy!
- June 30 – Mum’s beyond elated face at the Heart concert for her 60th birthday
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Starting piano lessons!
9. What was your biggest failure?
The word failure is so dramatic, who wrote these questions? I failed to reach the recommended amount of vegetables on far too many days.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, just bloody awful hay fever!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
- Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Gel Cream – I’ve been using this for over a year now and bloody love it. Somewhere between a tinted moisturiser and a foundation, it works so well on my thirsty skin. It evens things out and makes you look more alive. The tube is good for travel – no leakage. The best thing is you can quickly apply it with your fingers and run for the bus. Much less faff than foundation.
- Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum SPF30 – I got this in the US. I’m obsessed with finding good facial sunscreens. Essential criteria: goes well under makeup, ingredients not too crazy, non-greasy. This one is a dream. Except it costs a bloody fortune in the UK, boo.
- Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm – another long-time purchase. I got hooked when I found a big pile of them half price at my local Boots. They are properly moisturising with lovely tints like a sheer lipstick. I end up using them way more than lipstick because they’re so light to chuck in your handbag and you can reapply without a mirror. I love these warm-toned shades: Red Dahlia, Hibiscus and Rose.
- Sodastream Jet Black – I never understood sparkling water until I stayed at Casa Julia in 2013. She’s a fizzy water fiend and she had a Sodastream to ensure a constant supply. After a few years deliberating, we got this chap. It’s the most basic model but works like a champion! Gareth was scoffing at the notion but now I can tell he is totally hooked. It is fun to press the button, hear the ZAP ZAP ZAP, then MAGIC, fizzy water ahoy!
12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel travel travel!
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Travel travel travel!
14. What song will always remind you of this year?
Let’s Dance by David Bowie. I know it’s not cool to like this period of his career but what a TUNE! And the video filmed in Australia makes me happy.
It’s Happening Again by Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel has been stuck on my brain for a good month now, as well as Everything She Wants by Wham. Rest in peace, dear George.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
I really hate this portion of the Review Thingo. I would say I’m calmer and content.
b) thinner or fatter?
Three kilos fatter. Much of it Christmas trifle, I reckon.
c) richer or poorer?
About the same.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing and weight training.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastinating about writing and weight training.
18. How did you spend Christmas?
With the family, great roast potatoes, and a nostalgic viewing of The Muppet Movie (1979; the original and the best). Turn left at the fork in the road!
19. Did you fall in love this year?
Obviously…. wee Ziggy. She is such an independent creature. Some say borderline unfriendly. You know that thing where you blink slowly at a cat, and it will blink slowly back at you? She’ll have none of that shit. She just sets her laser-beam gaze on you, winning every staring contest.
But she is such a sweetie. Still refuses to eat her dry food from the bowl – still wants you to throw it around the room, piece by piece, so she can hunt it down. If we’re watching telly of an evening, she still hops on the couch to curl her paws around my forearm and use my hand as a pillow. AND GUESS WHAT she actually sat on my lap the other day. I didn’t move for an hour.
20. What was your favourite TV program?
Still loving The Americans. Also enjoyed Luke Cage, Fleabag, Catastrophe and Deutschland 83. I also watched every episode of Travel Man over the holidays. I love Richard Aoyade!
21. What was the best book you read?
A God In Ruins – Kate Atkinson.
22. What was your favourite film?
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 39 – food poisoning, facial and fried chicken in New York!
24. What kept you sane?
25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Same as last year – President Obama. Sigh…
26. Who did you miss?
My Up & Running comrade Julia! For the first time in six years, we didn’t manage a meetup in 2016. Plus as always I missed the Aussie folks.