1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
- went to the West Coast of the USA, for PyCon in Portland
- spoke at PyCon UK (this is something of a cheat, because the location and audience were very similar to DjangoCon Europe in 2015!)
- got invited to speak at a conference (!!!) (PyCon UK) and to contribute to a blog (24 Days of PHP)
- organised a hack event: the first ever Trans*Code Switzerland!
- worked a booth at a video game expo (bringing Airships to Gamescom)
- had a Christmas celebration at our own place: David, Kelsey and I made a big curry dinner with mulled wine on the 24th December and invited our friend Thereza round
- cried in a yoga class
- went to the local NaNoWriMo meetups and enjoyed them a lot, though I wasn't trying to write a novel this year
- got assessed for autism spectrum disorder by a neuropsychologist. It was a complete disaster of a day, my mum and I both felt we were treated badly, and I did not come away with a diagnosis. Still, I'm proud that I was finally able to get a referral for it — from start to finish, that took about eighteen months. (I'm also more sure than I was a year ago that I do in fact have ASD.)
- dyed David's hair: first pale pink and now blue, both of which suit him very well
- built a game in Twine
- played a room escape game — and rocked it!
- got a German language certificate (B2, which is probably lower than my actual level but did not require extra study to pass)
- played D&D 5th Edition
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My goals for last year were:
- to keep walking to work (success - not every day, but I kept up the habit)
- to do more writing that makes me happy (partial success)
- to give another conference talk (success)
- to get more tattoos (success! I got a truly badass tardigrade tattoo and I love it)
- and to legally change my name (failure, because this was already the year of three passports and much bureaucratic stress)
I also set a reading goal of 40 books on Goodreads, increased it to 50, and eventually read 54. Although I was initially skeptical that this kind of goal was healthy or respectful of the sacredness of reading, etc., I found it did help to justify setting aside reading time to myself, getting out of the old glum staring trap. In the end, I read a lot of books, most of them at least pretty good. I've set a goal of 50 books this year, to see if it's helpful again.
This year, I also want to:
- change my goshdarned name
- get more tattoos!
- sort out my sore shoulder and wonky ankle (this one is here after plenty of firm encouragement from my housemates)
- get back into weight training at the gym (not necessarily free weights, though that would be great)
- go to the monthly WriMo meetups and write a story for their anthology if they do one
- speak at a PHP conference
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Michelle had a wonderful and enormous son. Two of my stepbrothers had babies, too.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. Viv, Fox's mum, died in February. It was awful and distressing and threw a shadow over the entire year (and beyond). Also, Hayley and Miguel's cat Roxie died between Christmas and New Year. She was thirteen years old and a beautiful cat, and she will be missed.
5. What countries did you visit?
England and Wales, Hungary for DjangoCon Europe, the USA, Germany for A MAZE and Gamescom.
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
The executive function to deal with my student loan paperwork. A C permit for residence in Switzerland.
7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 5th, the day Viv died. May 11th, the day of my ASD assessment. June 24th, the day we woke up to the Brexit referendum results.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Organising Trans*Code Switzerland. It involved working together with someone I'd only just met, advertising the event both in person and online, and then running things on the day. I was shy and avoidant and disorganised, but managed to get past that and the day was a success. We should start planning the next one soon!
9. What was your biggest failure?
I didn't sort out my student loan paperwork. This is pretty daunting, true, but I've been meaning to do it the entire year and I can't play with my Lego from Christmas 2015 until I've finished it! I also screwed up applying for my residence permit in the summer and spent a couple of months in legal limbo.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I caught three or four viruses, which is way more than I'd expect in a year. I also had the worst eczema and psoriasis I've had since the mid-nineties, and they're troubling me still. On the bright side, I had my fibroid removed in January and immediately stopped bleeding half to death every month. The change was dramatic. I also got up the courage, at 32 years old, to ask a doctor about my acne. Turns out there are medical preparations you can use for that, and they work pretty well!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Possibly this cute weekly pill case, which — even more importantly than organising my meds — makes it possible to tell when I've forgotten a dose. Or perhaps Betrayal at House on the Hill, which was David's Christmas present and has been played most days in the last two weeks.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Everyone who donated to Fox's surgery crowdfunder.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The British and American voting publics. The families of my queer friends who have treated them badly. The Pulse nightclub shooter.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Probably on books — and that's including how many krimis I found on the street this year. Also, travel.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Seeing the Homobiles with all the queer and trans folk from PyCon US. Prince Lestat and the
Little Mermaid Realms of Atlantis (and all the discussions about it in VC fandom). Seeing 65daysofstatic at Bergmal festival, and their soundtrack to No Man's Sky. Going to Berlin for A MAZE and meeting a whole bunch of nonbinary people there. Rogue One. Going to Budapest again, after swearing I'd be back when I visited in 2003. Our ongoing D&D game with friends. Jenny's baby geese and Michelle's baby person. Seeing my brothers and mum in November. Karaoke. Powell's Books. Hangul!
16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? Happier, I think. (b) thinner or fatter? About the same. (c) richer or poorer? Richer, since I did save some money over the year.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing, like every year.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Reading about terrible things on social media.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
We had dinner at ours on the 24th, and then went to Appenzell for family Christmas the next day.
21. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
We went to David's grandmother Rose's house and celebrated with her and Jack the pug. This year I did not have to chase after any dogs, through the village, in the dark, in my stocking feet. A success!
22. Did you fall in love in 2015?
I'm still in love with David, and it's probably going to keep being that way.
23. How many one-night stands?
24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It's wonderfully fluffy and uplifting show, and Phryne Fisher is a glorious munchkin.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No; I generally just forget about, y'know, people who aren't worth remembering.
26. What was the best book you read?
Here are all the books I read in 2016. The best novel I read was A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, a book like an iceberg or mountain of emotional catastrophe that lingered with me for weeks afterwards. I also loved The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami, and would recommend it to anyone interested in nuanced, entirely believable and beautifully written historical fiction. The best non-fiction books I read were NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Usually I put band names here but this time I'm going to cheat: my best musical discovery was that I can follow record labels on Bandcamp, and the best associated discovery was Pest Productions. They're a label based in Nanchang, China, and my goodness they put out some beautiful work. Try out 飛狐 | Dilemma. Revenge. Snow. for an example.
I also loved Echoes of Battle by Caladan Brood, so much so that I bought one of the books it's inspired by (though I haven't read it yet). Disappointingly, they only made that one album, and the band members' further projects are a lot less interesting to me.
28. What did you want and get?
To meet more queer and trans people in Switzerland. To go to Portland. A lot of books for Christmas. Dexter's health to improve (we ran out of his meds for a week in December and his urinary troubles got better — when we took him to the vet, she said she couldn't explain it but he seemed totally well!).
29. What did you want and not get?
To change my name legally and get a new passport.
30. What was your favourite film of the year?
Clouds of Sils Maria, hands down.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 32 years old and we had a party at our flat. Kelsey was present this time, and not in the field like she was in 2015. The party was about two weeks after the weekend I'd planned to hold it, because despite being excited about the event I completely forgot to invite anyone, but it was a success nonetheless.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
A blue-haired, tattooed nerd. Is this the section to mention that I finally got the tardigrade tattoo I've been longing for for years? It is beautiful and inspirational and, um, I pulled my jeans down three times over our Podmas trip to the UK to show it off. LIVE TINY, DIE NEVER.
34. What kept you sane?
Venlafaxine, cat pictures, actual cats, turning off retweets for everyone I follow on Twitter, therapy and living with David and Kelsey. I think, this year, I've really made progress on understanding how my brain functions and working with it, not against it.
35. Which celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most?
Camille Desmoulins, as depicted in A Place of Greater Safety.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The homophobic marriage taxes initiative and the Durchsetzungsinitiative (numbers 1 and 2 in this list), and the campaign to free Chelsea Manning. Retrospectively, the appalling Swiss attitude to Jewish refugees during the Second World War. We did a project on this at the Open Cultural Hackday in July, and I keep meaning to write a proper blog post for it.
When it came to Brexit and Trump, I wouldn't really say I was stirred, more stunned.
37. Who did you miss?
Hayley and Miguel. My brothers and my mum.
38. Who was the best new person you met? 39. Did you meet anyone you only knew online?
This year, I travelled a lot and met a lot of new people, including some I was rather starstruck by (Kenneth Reitz, Annalee Flower Horne). It would be very unfair to call anyone out as the best! I met Kay and Arden for the first time in person, having only known them via Twitter, and both of them are great.
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
- If you have wide hips, tuxedo pants are likely to fit you better than other 'men's' dress trousers, because they're cut for a looser fit.
- The skin on the inside of your thighs is thinner than that on the outside, which means it hurts more to have it tattooed. Unfortunately, its increased stretchiness also means it's harder to get ink into it, which means the tattoo artist has to go over it more. Ow.
- If you have (what you think is) a fungal infection that doesn't get any better with anti-fungal cream, you almost certainly do not have Terrible Super Fungus. You probably have eczema, which can be cleared up quickly with the right treatment.
41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
You did not break me / I'm still fighting for peace — Sia, 'Elastic Heart'