2017 year-end meme

14 Jan 2018, 12:06 p.m.

Here's my summary of 2017, in the traditional questionnaire form.

The strangeness of this year was that, while a lot of horrible things happened in the world and to people I care for, many good things happened in my personal life. My employment was steady. I got an actually helpful diagnosis for (parts of) my weird brain, and help to deal with it. Exciting things happened in David's career. We travelled a lot. Meanwhile, my stepfather is dying, another member of my extended family had a frightening, still ongoing, health crisis, and the British and American governments have been waging war on their own citizens. It's been hard to reconcile all of this; I wonder constantly what more I should be doing to help. Anyway, here's most of what I did get up to.

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?

A lot!

  • Bungee jumped (from 150 metres up on a crane, above the shoreline of Helsinki).
  • Went to WorldCon (also in Helsinki).
  • Wore a dwarven beard made of wool hair and spirit gum. As I'd always suspected, I look great with a beard.
  • Gave a keynote speech at a tech conference.
  • Took part in a panel discussion at a conference (on diversity).
  • Got diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type), having taken nine months to get over the bad experience of my ASD assessment before tentatively telling my therapist that I was still pretty sure something was weird about my brain, and might it be worth looking into it again?
  • Wrote publicly about the ADHD and the trouble it causes me, something I never expected to do and wouldn't have done without the courage from having the diagnosis.
  • Ate crayfish, with all the accoutrements, vodka and bib, in a Finnish restaurant. It was interesting but I probably won't do it again.
  • Met cloudsinvenice, her partner R and their wonderful cat Polly! David and I stayed at their place in Belfast and they took us to many museums and bookshops.
  • Threw an anniversary party, with David, for our ten years together. It was something of a stand-in for the wedding we don't plan to have. We wore matching flower crowns and each gave a short speech that was so impromptu I can't really remember what we said. The garden was filled with our friends and the sun shone all day.
  • Worked on the plot of The Cold Shores with sticky notes and coloured pens, like a real author, and then started writing it using an iterative notes process that's working much better than just starting at the beginning and trying to write till the end.
  • Volunteered as a Powercoders coach.
  • Tweeted for a week on a rotating-curation account, @TwkLGBTQ.
  • With an hour or so of the year to go, saw the Northern Lights!

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolutions for 2017 were:

  • change my goshdarned name: success (though I still have to tell my health insurance company).
  • get more tattoos!: partial success (I got one, a beautiful watermelon slice at A MAZE in April).
  • sort out my sore shoulder and wonky ankle: partial success; I took them to the doctor but was told they couldn't do much for either. A muscle relaxant prescription helped with the shoulder but I guess I'll just have to keep repeating that when it acts up.
  • get back into weight training at the gym: success!
  • go to the monthly WriMo meetups and write a story for their anthology if they do one: success! They didn't do an anthology this year, but I went to the meetups and enjoyed them.
  • speak at a PHP conference: failure, because I didn't even apply to any.
  • read 50 books, an unofficial sort of resolution: nope, I've read 39, but that doesn't matter. I spent more time than in 2016 working on my own projects, and volunteering, and this is a fine tradeoff.

In 2018 I want to:

  • Get more assertive about people using the right name and pronouns for me. I've had a couple of bad experiences lately that would have been less drawn out if I'd taken a stronger stand at the beginning.
  • Use the extra time wisely in the next few months, while I'm working 80%, and make a sensible decision about whether to continue it afterwards.
  • Finish a prose draft of The Cold Shores before our trip to Svalbard in July.
  • Take a Mental Health First Aid course.
  • I also plan to continue walking to work, doing yoga and going to the gym, but I don't think those require explicit resolutions any more. I'll set a goal on Goodreads of reading 40 books and see how it goes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friends Adie and Manu had a lovely baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Hayley and Miguel's beautiful cat Mitzi died. I will miss her.

5. What countries did you visit?

In the UK: England (to see family), Northern Ireland (to see Clouds and R) and Wales (for PyCon UK). Slovakia (for PyCon SK); I loved Bratislava and have idly considered moving there at some point. Germany (for A MAZE Berlin). Italy (for PyCon Italy). Finland (for WorldCon); I had an incredible time there and would love to go back! Poland (for PyCon PL); I was excited to go there but then hardly saw anything thanks to travel calamities, exhaustion and bad news. Romania (for SymfonyCon in Cluj and then the #LiipOnTriip road trip to Alba Iulia, Bran and Sibiu); I saw beautiful and interesting places there but would recommend visiting in the summer, not in November. Sweden—where I am currently—to look for the Northern Lights in Abisko. We haven't seen them yet but I'm still hopeful! In Switzerland, meanwhile, I went to the top of Pilatus for the first time and visited Lausanne.

I travelled a lot this year. With my stepdad ill and given a prognosis of "months, not years", I started out afraid to make any firm plans, but events and opportunities kept coming up and I decided to take them.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

A C permit. More visits to galleries and museums around Zürich. Fewer surprise tumours in my family members, please.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

October 27th, my keynote at PyCon UK.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Honestly, I think it was that I kept up 'doing things' throughout the year, instead of crashing at the end of the summer and more-or-less dragging myself through the autumn and winter like the last two years. A lot of that is because of improved health (no iron or vitamin deficiencies; getting on a higher dose of thyroxine, purely because of a brainfart on my doctor's part). It's also down to understanding, and getting medication for, the ADHD. At a few points in the year, I panicked because I'd committed to so much and didn't understand how I would fit it all in; writing things down (and arranging to work 80% for a few months at my day job) made it all seem less daunting!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not running a second Trans*Code event. My co-organiser and I simply failed to organise anything. I hope we can make it happen again in 2018, possibly with the help of a third person who's better at the publicity side of the work.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Much less than last year! I had a cold during PyCon SK, during which I retreated to my bunk with a vampire novel instead of going to the social events, and I've had a few migraines, which is normal. The toothache I've had on and off since the summer is, I fear, contributed to by my ADHD meds, but wearing a rubber mouthguard overnight helps with that and also makes me look sexy, like Nicolas Cage in Vampire's Kiss.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Musician's earplugs, recommended by David MacIver after I cried from sensory overload at the Paris Eurostar departure lounge and yelled about it on Twitter. They work like magic and make me not want to die in loud restaurants and airports. Alternate choice; WorldCon tickets.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Everyone involved with Powercoders: the students, teachers, mentors, coaches and organisers.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Setting aside world politics, because we'd be here all day: the people I interacted with who absolutely refused to use the correct pronouns for me, for (naturally) bullshit reasons. A colleague who thought antisemitic jokes were appropriate on the company Slack and at a party. (He hasn't done it since the summer, as far as I know, so hopefully our pushback on the subject has had an effect.)

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel, definitely, although a lot of it was covered by my work education and conference-speaking budgets.

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

WorldCon! Seeing cloudsinvenice, R and Polly! Babysitting our friends' baby Eldon! Seeing John Cale perform live—oh gosh, I get just as excited every time I think about it still! Seeing the Birthday Massacre live! Seeing Yasmin Hamdan live! Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi! Terrible Things Happening in Cold Places (a project I've not added much to, but plan to work on more this year)! The new Seeming album, SOL!

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

The Jerry Cans, Ukiuq.

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? About the same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Keeping up contact with friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

The same as last year: reading about terrible things on social media.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

David and I had Swedish Christmas on the 24th with Mario, Maria and Maria's family. We intended to go to Appenzell on the 25th-26th, but there was a miscommunication and we ended up spending three days at home by ourselves. We read our new books, played board and video games, cuddled the cats and had a wonderfully restorative time.

21. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

We were at the Abisko Turiststation in northern Sweden with a group of friends. On New Year's Eve we thought we were going to the Aurora Station on the nearby mountain Nuolja, but our reservation turned out to be for the next day. Instead, we begged our way into the Turiststation's restaurant and got a table next to the balcony door. Fellow guests stepped out and came back in, looking disappointed, throughout the first two courses of our meal. When they stopped coming back in, we all rushed outside too and saw the brilliant green tongues of the aurora lapping across the mountain peaks. It's incredible to see it in real life: photographs had not prepared me for it. After the meal, we walked down to the frozen Lake Törnetrask, where a small, shivering group was standing around a fire, listening to music and watching the sky.

22. Did you fall in love in 2017?

I'm as much in love with David as I have been for the last ten years (very).

23. How many one-night stands?


24. What was your favourite TV programme?

I'm still working my way through Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries!

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Nope. I got very angry with a few people, but that fades.

26. What was the best book you read?

Here are the books I read in 2017, sorted by rating (descending).

The best non-fiction book I read was Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life by Sari Solden. It was the first ADHD book I read after my therapist suggested that diagnosis, while I was still somewhat skeptical. Reading it on a crowded train between airport and London Underground, I got to the chapter on friendships and had a violent, almost out-of-body moment of self-recognition. I recommend this book as widely as possible. (I'm nonbinary, of course. Nonetheless, I found the book worked for me because Solden's attitude is that the different challenges women with ADHD face are mostly due to social expectations and conditioning. One of the forewords to the newest edition was very essentialist and out of step with the rest of the text; I just skipped that one.)

The best published (and therefore Goodreadsable) novel I read was probably The Terror by Dan Simmons. It's one of the great narratives of terrible things happening in cold places, and even though I'm usually fussy about fantastic elements added to stories in other genres, I loved it.

The best novel in general was Cost of Living by dorothy_notgale and Tromperie. I had no idea there were others out there who were fans of both Re-Animator and the Vampire Chronicles; I would never have believed, being fussy, that there was space for a crossover between them; it dumbfounded me to realise how much I'd needed it in my life.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Bandcamp continues to be a wonderland of discovery; there were many. Sammus, whom I found out about via her collaboration with Seeming. The Jerry Cans, Tanya Tagaq, and doubtless more Arctic musicians to come as I work through this great MeFi post. MASTER BOOT RECORD. Zuriaake.

28. What did you want and get?

To get a better handle on my sleep cycle. To switch to 80% at my job.

29. What did you want and not get?

To improve my Go skills. Well, I worked on a project with it early in the year, and after that forgot almost everything I'd learned.

30. What was your favourite film of the year?

Letterboxd tells me [I watched nine films last year], which is fewer than I would have liked. I loved Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, every minute of it, and it was probably my favourite film of the nine. The best film, though, was either Moonlight or The Arrival.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 33 years old. David and I went to Hiltl for a quiet meal together; I didn't feel like a big party because it wasn't so long since our anniversary party.

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

An impeachment for Trump, or for anyone in the British government to be able to tell their arse from their elbow.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Much the same as in 2016: blue-haired tattooed nerd.

34. What kept you sane?

Venlafaxine, therapy, cats, earplugs, melatonin, and my pocket friends.

35. Which celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most?

S. Alexander Reed.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

The systematic dismantling of what's left of UK social welfare.

37. Who did you miss?

Kelsey, after she moved away to Cambridge/Panamá. Fox. Hayley and Miguel.

38. Who was the best new person you met? 39. Did you meet anyone you only knew online?

I generally refuse to answer #38 and shall this year as well, since going to conferences means meeting a lot of new people. I did meet Jack for the first time after knowing him as a friend-of-friends on the internet for years.

40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017:

Do not underestimate how dehydrating stimulant medication is. Signed, a walking husk.

41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Um… I've mostly been listening to songs without lyrics (or in languages I don't speak) and this is proving a tough question! It's the 14th of January so I'm going to wriggle out of it. This post is late but it's at least earlier than last year's.

Edit: I found one! Sort of!

And Blood Vessel is Water, [Water] is Eternity// And Medicine is Sea, Hill is Shelter// Whether Nation's Father or Someone// Cow Poison is Your Darkness//