askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire ([personal profile] askygoneonfire) wrote2016-12-22 07:11 pm
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2016 in review

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Completed and submitted my thesis, and passed my PhD viva. Pretty fucking massive. Managed to squeak this into 2016 with my degree confirmation from Senate dated on 14th December. Next month - graduation!

I was also on Match of the Day this year. That was new. And not something I'd have laid money on! I'm very visible in the video for Manic Street Preachers' Euro 2016 song for the Welsh football team, which was shown a few times on BBC1 before Wales' matches (I'm very prominently screaming at about 1:38 on that video).

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolution for 2016 was:
Submit thesis, have viva, pass with minor corrections.
Which I nailed. My minor corrections took me 3 days and I got them approved in short order.

For 2017 I resolve to produce a book proposal. I also resolve to make a plan for how I want to proceed, career-wise.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Best friend, B, gave birth in June. I'm now an honorary Auntie, which is way cooler than being a regular Aunt to my brothers' kids. Here I am with the little munchkin

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Too many people. My paternal grandmother died, although that was an abstract loss as she had dementia for some time and I felt she'd gone some time ago. My Dad's loss was something I mourned.

David Bowie, whose loss still catches me short of breath and pained. Anton Yelchin, Victoria Wood.

And, sadly, my dear friend's loss so late in the year continues to make me ache for her and grieve for her grief.

5. What countries did you visit?
Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. A wonderful restorative holiday in these countries after the slog to PhD submission was so welcome and needed.

Oh, and Wales, again...!

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
I wished for good physical health this year and overall I was fortunate. My shoulder has more or less entirely recovered from last year's operation - although my other shoulder is a bit dodgy in recent weeks so I hope 2017 doesn't bring a return to that poor state of affairs.

In 2017, I hope to get some financial security. A well paid/full time salaried job is really all I want at this point. Rather than ekking out a living from one month to the next on bits of casual work.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Many. January 11th for the horrible news that morning brought. May 31st - the day I submitted my PhD. October 21st - the day I passed my viva with glowing comments. A mixed bag of dates and reasons.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Got to be the PhD. Finished, passed, doctored

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not daring to apply for lectureships, and ending up in a place it turns out I don't want to be. I am consoling myself that only by doing it can I learn that working on someone else's project is not where I want to be.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Caught the fucking flu this month. Been feeling terrible for nearly two weeks. I just knew something was in the post in that respect and I *knew* it was going to kick my arse the moment I finished work - which it did, totally spoiling my planned week of festive relaxation and socialising.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably Blackstar - pre ordered which I do with almost no albums these days. As a result I got it the weekend before Bowie died so I got to experience that remarkable album for 3 days, without the taint which came on the Monday. And I'm really glad about that.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Sim, for sure. An unwavering cheerleader for my unwise academic-life choices and an always sympathetic ear and considerate friend. More generally - all the friends who volunteered to proof read my thesis and basically ensured I had almost no typos in the finished product.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
52% of the British votership who voted for Brexit. The 40%+ whatever it was of American electorship who voted for the fascist Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent (boooo) but also on holiday and travel and Manics - which is much nicer.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I got really, really, really drunk twice this year - both times driven by excitement rather than melancholy. First time it was at Swansea before the Manics Liberty Stadium gig just after I'd submitted my thesis, and the second time it was the evening after I'd passed my viva.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
It's a [very odd] tie:
Lazarus - Bowie
C'Mon Wales - Manics

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder? Happier, I think. Got my usual melancholy of pre-Christmas, dark nights but overall I feel pretty ok - especially surprising given financial uncertainty
ii. Thinner or fatter? I think I'm fatter but lighter. Certainly fitter/as fit as I was last year, but very squidgy and bloaty these days.
iii. Richer or poorer? Poorer. Significantly so. Next term should be better financially but then there's a big gaping hole of uncertainty.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Cracking on with work.  I could have had another journal article finished by now if I had actually knuckled down.  It's always the same excuse "you can't work all the time/it's good to have a break when you can't be arsed because you work more effectively when you're inspired" which is ok, to a point, but sometimes you just have to power through, and too often I haven't.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Commuting/being on trains. 7 hour round trip to get to my new job, which is bad enough, but one night my 3.5 hour return journey took twice as long as that.  I cried.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With my parents and beloved cat, in the East Midlands.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Ha! No.

22. How many one-night stands?
Zero. 2 bouts of dating though, so an improvement there.

23. What was your favourite TV program?
Voyager? Started watching that and was blown away. Although getting to series 5 now and the quality just plummets in the second half of the season so I'm not sure. There was also Planet Earth II which is like eating the richest, most exquisite sweets. Perfectly balanced, painstakingly made, enhancing life. Oh! And Fleabag, of course. Which was sparkling writing and turned on a sixpence from comedy to despair.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Donald Trump. I thought he was a dangerous, arrogant fool - now I believe him to be deliberately cruel and willfully ignorant.  Two of the most despicable characteristics.

25. What was the best book you read?
Perhaps inevitably, my PhD got in the way of reading a lot. I am up to 18 books so far and may manage a 19th by the end of the year. Against expectation, I think it's probably Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Really engaging story telling and compelling plot. Damn good sci-fi.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Coming back to Bowie is probably just all of my year, music-wise. Re-finding it all, was a gift.  

27. What did you want and get?
A PhD.

28. What did you want and not get?
Financial security.

29. What was your favourite film of this year?
Star Trek Beyond! It fixed everything I hated about Into Darkness and I went twice and I hope I will have it on DVD for Christmas and get to watch it again.  Lovely film - well put together and decent characterisation at last.  New Ghostbusters was bloody good too, gave me a real fist-pump feeling.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 32 and I didn't do anything.  Well, I went out for dinner with my parents and ended up having my meal comped because it was horrible.  I have found my birthday's really difficult in recent years so I decided not to make big plans - especially as just 3 weeks later I knew (hoped!) I would be inviting people out for my viva celebrations so I asked friends for donations of the price of a birthday drink to my fundraising page (also a first!) for the Alzheimers Society. Loads of generous people obliged and I raised an astonishing £259.65 in memory of my Nan, and in support of my friend's Mum.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Just a bit of spare cash to treat myself and my friends.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Holey. A lot of my clothes need replacing and I can't afford it so things are starting to look raged and have holes in, which is a knock to confidence.

33. What kept you sane?

Sleep.  Especially in the final quarter of the year when I was commuting to and from Bristol, being able to fall face first into my own bed, in my own flat, and just sleep was the only thing that kept me going.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Same old: Bowie and Angelina.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Brexit.  And the Syrian crisis.  And my impotence in the face of all of that.

36. Who did you miss?

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I'm not sure I did! But I did rekindle my friendship with a school friend and spent some great time with her.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
I'm good enough.

39. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?:
My parents, again. Still best indication of the shape of my life.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
I can't give everything away