Every year, I start filling out one of these year-end surveys, and then I don't finish it. This year, it's on. I've borrowed this version from Linda, whose blog I've been following since last December when her Christmas card out-takes made me spit up all over my keyboard. I've never commented or introduced myself, so if you're reading this, hey there!
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
I FINALLY BEGAN LIVING ALONE. At age 26, for the first time ever, I was able to afford my own two bedroom apartment, and in Brooklyn, where the cost of living is bonkers. After eight years of other people's attitudes, noise, and piles of junk, being forced to wear pants in the living room, and peeing with the door closed, this perpetual roommate is finally free. That's the biggest, best thing of the year.
I also cooked a lot of new dishes I'd never tried to make, and experimented quite a bit with my own recipes. I'm actually really proud about that. Assuming some day I have children, it's nice knowing they won't grow up on strictly Totino's Pizza Rolls and Ritz Bitz sandwiches.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
The only one I remember making was to wear more lipstick, because it was supposed to make me feel more polished and professional, but I really didn't do it. I still feel like a little girl who's gotten into her mother's makeup bag.
This year, I'd like to leave my house a little earlier in the morning (which means get up earlier, and stop doing my mascara on the subway), be a little sweeter (less complaining, more giving the benefit of the doubt), and write a little something every day.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No one particularly close to me, but lots of people from high school did, which I witnessed via the riveting world of Facebook. Oh, but Kelly & Nick are in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia, and I got to see her picture!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No one from my family died, but my lovely friend Ashley's mother passed away in May. Unfortunately I never got to meet her. I rented a car and drove down to Virginia to attend the funeral, and I must say that one of the most precious and poignant moments of my year was right after Ashley and I went through a bunch of old photos to create a collage for the service. When we sat back to look at all these little Brendas staring out at us from the frame, Ashley said, real quiet, "That's my mama," and we had ourselves a cry. It broke my heart. I love that girl.
5. What countries did you visit?
Ohh, just this one. I don't understand how people have both the money and the time off from work to travel, because I've never been able to pull it off.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More sleep, please. More motivation to write. A real vacation!
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 4th, my first date with Matt. Best date ever.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Living alone, earning a raise, creating and maintaining (with the help of Matt, of course) the most fulfilling, passionate, and comfortable relationship I've ever experienced. I think this is it, y'all.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I definitely lost the battle with food this year, guys. It's hard to be good when you're in a new relationship and you just want to sit across from your guy and eat delicious food and drink champagne. It doesn't help that New York has some of the best food in the world, and lots of it!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No injuries, thank heavens, and no super bad illnesses either. It's just this damn throat/lungs virus I've had for the past two and a half weeks, but here's hoping it's on its way out finally.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I loved the watch I bought Matt for his birthday, from my friend Caitlyn's cousin's website Mr. Watch. Any money I've spent at Alta has been totally and completely worth it. And weirdly enough, these shoes ended up being a pretty huge staple in my wardrobe.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, restaurants, alcoholic beverages, and sadly, taxis.
13. What did you get really excited about?
Meeting Matt in person. Flying home with him in June for Comfest, a big (as far as Columbus, Ohio goes) indie music festival that happens every year. Carrie's visit to NYC in September (I was literally sitting on my couch staring out the window, waiting for her cab to pull up to the curb. We admitted afterwards [when her cab driver dropped her off on the wrong block and she ended up wandering around in the projects in crisp white pants and I had to go rescue her] that we both had envisioned her jumping out of the car, me running down the stairs, and us hugging in the sunshine and jumping around flapping our arms with excitement. Imagining your life as a movie can be dangerous.) Hosting my own Thanksgiving (I guess that's another thing I did for the first time this year). Christmas.
14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Cameras by Matt & Kim.
Home by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
My Leather, My Fur, My Nails by Stepdad
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Infinitely happier.
– thinner or fatter? Ohhh, fatter.
– richer or poorer? Well, at the moment I'm more broke than I've been in a long time, but in general I'm making significantly more money than last year.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, dancing, riding my bike, more rooftop movies.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
18. How did you spend Christmas?
Our first night in Columbus, Matt and I both had to stay home and miss my sister's birthday party, our dinner reservations, and an informal high school reunion due to this virusy thing we have, but we spent the evening eating my mom's homemade chicken & noodles and watching Erin Brockovich for the ba-jillionth time. Then we visited his parents in New Lexington, I ate Mexican food with Carrie, and, regrettably, I had a fight with my family on actual Christmas, which was really terrible. I wish I could go back and live the week over.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Teen Mom & Teen Mom 2. I don't care what you say.
The Wonder Years, which is available on Netflix Instant in its entirety.
Mad Men, come back. :(
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Oh, I read a lot of really good ones. At Home by Bill Bryson stands out as a favorite, not just of the year, but of my life. Who knew I would ever get so into non-fiction?
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Stepdad. I really want those guys to make it big.
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
It came out at the end of 2010, but I saw it in 2011 and really enjoyed it: Blue Valentine. Also, Catfish, which we rented on Amazon. I wasn't too thrilled with any of the movies I saw in the theatre this year.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
27. I had dinner with some girlfriends, then did karaoke with some more girlfriends and a couple guyfriends. Matt was away on business and flew in really late that night. I somehow ended up fronting the entire bill for the private karaoke room, which, with tip, was $622. I got some back from friends, but I still ended up throwing myself a $400 birthday party, which I will never, ever do again. Lesson learned. The day after, Matt took me to Alta for the first time, and we flipped out because it was so amazing. That was a really good night.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I guess some time off from work in July or August. A coworker was out with a broken ankle for the entire summer, so I was filling in a lot and couldn't really be away. The city gets awfully hot and cloying, and I was dying to jump into a lake and read a book in a hammock or something. This year, I hope!
I also had a very trying year with my insomnia. It's never been this bad, and it's been difficult to maintain normal hours when I sleep so little. But I have hope that it won't last forever, and I'm proud of myself for holding it down on the outside, despite feeling like a mess on the inside a lot of the time.
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
I'm just really glad that socks are back in style.
26. What kept you sane?
Becoming a lot closer with my friends at work and being able to talk to them about anything was HUGE. Matt, although it took some learning on both of our parts to be able to help the other through particularly insane times. The fact that he quit his job in October and can now work normal hours (instead of 80+ hours a week) really, really makes a huge difference too. Phone chats with my mom, and gchats with Carrie.My stuffed dog, Patch! He continues to give me comfort as if I'm still seven, and I'm thankful for such an easy fix to a lot of life's pitfalls.
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Don't eat right before bed. Don't piss off the landlord, even if she is legitimately insane in the membrane. It isn't always about you; don't forget that people can be acting differently for all sorts of personal reasons that have nothing to do with you. Patience, grasshopper. And, of course, how to double butterfly, stuff, and glaze a pork roast.
Happy New Year, friends!