1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Hmm. I attended an eight day class with about 32 other non-profit professionals and got a certificate in management at the end of it. Somehow became in charge of a program at work. Flirted dangerously with paying interest on my credit card, because paying off my damn student loans broke my frugal button apparently. Took my family to the beach--first time my parents had been in nineteen years, the first vacation they've had other than day-trips in the same time. Yoga. Learned to bake, and made things consistently throughout the year, including stuff that people actually begged me to make again. I think my crowning achievement in this arena is learning to make bagels. Had two laser tattoo removal treatments. Voted for a presidential candidate who lost.
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any, unless you count my solemn and angry vow to Win My Goodreads Challenge this year. Last year I only managed 41 out of a goal of 52 and drank long the dregs from the bitter cup of failure, but I clocked in at 59 books (21,518 pages) for 2016. I suppose any resolution for 2017 will be along similar lines. I will read more nonfiction next year. I want to re-watch all existing Star Trek series in chronological order--Netflix is helping a sister out on this one. More hiking.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One of my closest friends, whom I've known since middle school, gave birth to the cutest baby I have ever seen. He is precious. Still don't want one of my own, though. Fortunately she and her husband are both nerds and so accepted the onesie I bought him that looked like a Star Trek uniform.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My great-grandmother, who was 94.
5. Which countries did you visit?
Didn't leave the US. Actually, I don't think I left my state, although I have done a fuckton of driving this year.
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A 6-month emergency fund. No car repairs.
7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Election Day--specifically the moment around midnight when the 538 liveblog announced that unless Clinton won Arizona, Trump would be our next president, because that is the moment I accepted the shitty thing was happening.
Christmas Eve, because my dad showed me the baller book case he made me. (For your reference. Nerd breeds true. Also, how fucking talented is he?)
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I did quite well at work, despite feeling increasingly useless since we added a staff person last March. Perhaps another resolution should be "figure out what kind of job you want, and then apply for it."
9. What was your biggest failure?
My sister is struggling, and I can't help her. I imagine this will continue to be my biggest failure next year.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No injury, but I did have a mystery illness that cost me several hundred dollars in doctor visits, blood tests, and scans. You may ask, "Holly, what was your mystery illness? After all, surely they were able to determine what was wrong, with all the poking and prodding and disbelieving of your symptoms!" And I may reply, "Funny story, I still have no fucking idea!" Best guess is a combination of salivary stones, allergies, and sinus infections. I felt like hungover death for about three months.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A $25 ticket to a Brian Fallon show in January and the t-shirt I got while there. A couple of albums--2016, the year I started paying for music again. A baker's rack to go in my small kitchen, because my cabinets aren't deep enough to fit my pots and pans, and a set of silicon utensils. Aforementioned beach trip. A Litter Genie. A tire-plug kit. Three excellent pairs of shoes. So many books.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I sure as shit celebrated the grandstanding letter from Anthony Romero/the ACLU on Nov. 9th.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Too many to list. Aside from national and international figures, some relatives deeply disappointed me this year in a way that blindsided me, and I have not gotten over it. My life is Bitter Smithing: The Film ("And he never forgave, and he never forgot").
14. Where did most of your money go?
In approximate order: rent, unending car repairs, Mystery Illness, Questbars.
15. What were you really, really, really excited about?
My friend Sara and I went to visit our other friend who lives in a different state and we all went to the (touring) Broadway version of "The Lion King." I cried twice. That was in April. It feels like 10 years ago.
16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Frank Turner's "Get Better."
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder?
Sadder. Derek, I agree with you--somehow I feel like I've aged a decade since January.
b) Bigger or smaller?
About 20lbs smaller.
c) Richer or poorer?
Not sure--about the same, I guess. 2017 will have to be the year of Fiscally Responsible Holly, because 2016 most emphatically was not. Though I did get a raise that, gasp, was not just an inflation adjustment. I always turn off my retirement contribution the last month or six weeks of the year so I can buy Christmas presents, but I did some clicking in my budget spreadsheet and figured out that next year, when the raise goes into effect, I will be able to contribute at the same level I am now while keeping my take-home pay the same as it is when the contribution is turned off. I don't know if that makes sense, but I did a happy clapping when I figured it out.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hiking. Reading. Learning.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Faffing about on the Internet.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family. My mom and I always bake tea rings for the get-together with her side of the family on Christmas Day, and I look forward to it all year. We made lots of other little things, and I made bagels for my dad, which made him really happy. Tried to comfort my sobbing sister, quite ineffectually. Christmas Day was pleasant.
21. What was your favourite month of 2016?
It's kind of a wash. I would say June, because of the beach trip, but when we got home I had to buy a new distributor for my car.
22. Did you fall in love in 2016?
23. Did you have any one night stands?
24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Veep, probably. I just started watching Grantchester on Amazon Prime and I really like it. I hope my answer to this question next year is the new season of MST3K.
25. How will you see in the New Year?
Going over to a friend's house in an hour or so. Though honestly my goal is to be in bed by 10:30.
26. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Maybe not hate. I am deeply disappointed in a lot of people.
27. What was the best book you read?
So my coworker told me about BookBub this spring, which is an aggregator of eBook deals--you tell it what genres you're interested in and what your price limit is, and every day it emails you with a list of 5+ books that fit your criteria. I have read SO MUCH this year from that. Some of them, granted, were terrible, and I can understand why they were only $2. But the best books I've read this year were:
--Black Water Rising, by Attica Locke
--The Carnivia Trilogy, by Jonathan Holt
--The Eight, by Katherine Neville
--In the Middle of Somewhere, by Roan Parrish
--The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
28. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Well, I started listening to Hozier. I don't know if that counts.
29. What did you want and get?
30. What did you want and not get?
America's first female President.
31. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Nice Guys. Rogue One. I'm pretty sure I saw fewer than 10 movies in the theater this year.
32. What did you do on your birthday?
What did I do on my birthday? Oh, yeah, I went to that fundraising conference with my boss, the thought of which precipitated my quarter-life crisis this summer. She got a phone call 20 minutes into our 2 hour drive home telling her that her brother had dropped dead of a heart attack. Had Chinese with my parents. Pigged out with my friends the day after.
33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Let's not dwell on this.
34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Johnny Cash in 3" high heels.
35. What kept you sane?
36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I think the answer to this is "no one."
37. What political issue stirred you the most?
Domestically, let's take the election as read. The Dakota Access Pipeline Fuckery (official name). The continuing war on Planned Parenthood. Abroad--every time I think about Syria I feel sick.
38. Who did you miss?
My grandmother, still. It's been three years since she died. I found the last birthday card she sent me when I was tidying up some books.
39. Who was the best new person you met?
I enjoyed my classmates in the certificate course.
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
I'll let my bro John Steinbeck answer this one for me: "When a man says he does not want to speak of something he usually means he can think of nothing else."
41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"I got me a shovel / And I'm digging a ditch
And I'm going to fight for this four square feet of land like a mean old son of a bitch"