1. What did you do in 2018 that you'd never done before?
- Took a cruise holiday (an 'expedition cruise', not one of the massive ships with thousands of people in)
- Made two whole games at game jams
- Went snow-shoe hiking (I hated it)
- Recorded the police arresting protesters at Pride
- Played Shadowrun
- Saw the same play twice in one day (The Madness of George III, which I saw with Janina, who was an adorable fangirl all weekend)
- Ate a burger made out of crickets (twice)
- Drank whiskey with ice from a glacier
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolutions last year were:
- Get more assertive about people using the right name and pronouns for me — success, though of course it's an ongoing effort
- 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 — success (I've remained at 80%)
- Finish a prose draft of The Cold Shores before our trip to Svalbard in July — nope
- Take a Mental Health First Aid course — nope, but I've booked one for this April
This year I want to:
- Do yoga and go to the gym as regularly as I can, both things that slipped in the summer for reasons that no longer apply
- Finish a novel manuscript and start pitching it to agents
- Learn to play bass with Rocksmith
- Not fuck up at the Arctic Science winter course I'll be doing
- See live theatre more often than last year
Yikes, that sounds very ambitious.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Chrisi had Dominic, Jenny had Audrey and my sister-in-law Becky had Lily. All of them are wonderful.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Against all expectations, no. My stepdad seems to have decided to be immortal.
5. What countries did you visit?
- Sweden: we spent last New Year there with friends.
- Slovakia: my second time there, speaking at PyCon SK.
- The USA: David and I went to Boston to show Airships at PAX East, and then I went to Cleveland, Ohio, to speak at PyCon.
- Germany, several times: to Oberhausen to see Zuriaake, to Berlin for A MAZE, and to Köln for Gamescom
- The UK: for my dad's birthday in April, to see Garbage in September, and to see The Madness of George III in November.
- Austria: to speak at PyDays Vienna.
- Czechia: to speak at PyCon CZ.
- Liechtenstein: we went for a day trip when my friend Lilly stayed with us in October.
- Portugal: for SymfonyCon, with sightseeing afterwards.
- The very important most exciting one, Norway, to visit Svalbard! It was absolutely the most wonderful trip and I still can't really believe it happened, except that I have hundreds of pictures of icebergs and walruses to prove it.
6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
More regular haircuts (and, implicitly, less anxiety about getting my hair cut).
7. What date from 2018 will remain etched on your memory, and why?
13th June, when my niece Lily Sze Yu was born.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Winning NaNoWriMo for the first time in ten years (see previous post for endless details).
9. What was your biggest failure?
I can't think of a specific one. Last year I wrote, "Not holding a second Trans*Code event," which is true this year as well, but it turned out that my co-organiser is even flakier than me and all my efforts to organise stuff with her were in vain. I wish I'd seen more of Lily, my brothers and my sisters-in-law, but getting back home is ~complicated with my stepdad's illness.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Having survived the trip around Svalbard in the stoutest of health, I bit my tongue on the last day and caused an ulcer that was aggravated by a wonky tooth, making it hurt to speak and eat for over a week.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Binoculars! I got them for the Svalbard trip, where they were indispensable, and have enjoyed them on other hikes and outings as well.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Picking the easy answer: David, for putting up with me.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Leaving aside politicians... well, I was going to say Deutsche Bahn, but of course their huge flaws are due to systematic underfunding of infrastructure in Germany, so I'm back where I started. Is it too frivolous to say Grimes? I thought she was a more serious person than she's proved to be, though as usual when I make such assumptions, that wasn't really founded on much in the way of facts.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Apart from the usual expenses: travel, undoubtedly, with books a close second.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Visiting Svalbard! Being in Svalbard! Talking to people about Svalbard! Seeing Zuriaake play live! Blood Communion, which was actually worth the excitement! (Also: being able to say, "omg the thing!" to cloudsinvenice and have her understand exactly which thing I meant, and already have known how excited I would get about it!) Lily, who might actually be the most fascinating and beautiful baby ever!
16. What song will always remind you of 2018?
Kill vs. Maim, a song about a time-travelling genderfluid vampire mobster, with a charming video about how the public transport in Grimes and her friends' city is so unreliable they end up having to drive to the club.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(a) happier or sadder? The same or happier.
(b) thinner or fatter? About the same.
(c) richer or poorer? About the same.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Putting things off till the last moment, or lying around in hotel rooms unable to summon the activation to get up and do cool things in the city outside. Lesson learned: hostels are better for me than hotels, no matter what a 'grown up' 'should' enjoy more.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
For the 24th we went to David's gran's with his mum and had a quiet and traditional evening, singing carols around the candlelit tree, opening presents and eating Baumstamm. On the 25th we were at his dad's family for approximately the same thing but more chaotic (and in a more difficult dialect). Our old housemate Kelsey was staying with us over the whole Christmas period, though, so we came home after that for several days of board games, writing and cuddling the cats together.
21. How did/will you spend New Year's Eve?
We were with David's gran again. We walked Jack the pug, ate raclette and, at midnight, watched the fireworks over the valley from her window.
22. Did you fall in love in 2018?
Nope, just continued being in love with David.
23. How many one-night stands?
24. What was your favourite TV programme?
The Good Place. I have watched like nine episodes now, which is a lot for me!
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Life, and more importantly my attention span, are too short for hating people.
26. What was the best book you read?
Here are all the books I read in 2018, sorted by rating in descending order. I read a lot of graphic novels this year, of which I would say the best was the second Beyond anthology (an anthology of queer post-apocalyptic and urban fantasy stories).
The best non-fiction book I read was Jung Chang's absolutely riveting biography of the Dowager Empress Cixi, which I would recommend to anyone interested in Chinese or world history, political intrigues, viscerally enjoyable writing, friendship goals or how women have succeeded in sexist societies.
It's harder to say what the best fiction I read was, as there are a lot of very strong possibilities, but I'll call out The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard, the most inventive reimagining of Holmes and Watson I've read.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That there are people who make synthwave and cyberpunk mixes and stick them on YouTube for anyone to enjoy, and that these are great to write to. Here's a small playlist I'm keeping of my favourites. (Relatedly: that 'cyberpunk' is a musical genre now, apparently.)
28. What did you want and get?
After a couple of attempts: a preventative for migraines! (I'm honestly a little disappointed not to have got to try out this creepy thing, but don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have found a drug that's currently working!)
29. What did you want and not get?
For Brexit to be cancelled.
30. What was your favourite film of the year?
Letterboxd tells me I only watched five films in 2018, which... probably isn't right? The best film I watched was definitely Black Panther, but the one I've thought about most since seeing it was Wind River, in which an unforgettable story about violence against Native American women struggles to get out from under the godawful choice of casting two white people in the lead roles.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 34, and it was the day after we got back from Svalbard. In the heatwave temperatures, all I wanted to do was find some air conditioning, so David and I went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story. I really enjoyed it!
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Last year I wrote, "An impeachment for Trump." This year, I would have settled for a heart attack.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
The same as every year, it was jeans and t-shirts all the way. I got more confident about skinny jeans, though, and wore some good hats. My best fashion moment was unquestionably at a Swiss Wrimos meetup, when everyone realised I had dressed to match Janina's copy of Bitten by Witch Fever!
34. What kept you sane?
David, brainmeds (venlafaxine and Concerta), working 80% at a flexible job with supportive teammates, and not (thank fuck) living in the USA or UK.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Janelle Monáe! (And Tom Hardy in Venom a little bit, though that was more on the 'want to be him' end than the 'want to do him' end of the spectrum.)
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Swiss government deciding to allow weapons export to countries in civil war. If you're eligible to vote in Switzerland, please sign the initiative to fix that!
37. Who did you miss?
My mum, my brothers, and Hayley and Miguel.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
This is cheating a bit, as I met Zoulfa last November at NaNoWriMo, but we only got to really know each other this year, through meeting up to write (and yell about writing) with Janina. Zoulfa is a badass and her pharmacist #ownvoices novel, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow, is going to break your heart and take over the world.
39. Did you meet anyone you only knew online?
Yes, David and I met Coreo while we were in Boston! They are amazing, and just like they are on the internet, only better. We had Venezuelan food together, too, which was delicious.
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:
Hostels are better than hotels, if you have ADHD that manifests itself as a lack of activation and no sense of time passing. On the other hand, for an introvert on a group holiday, time away from the group is indispensable and you should grab as much of it as you can.
41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
When the world is a danger to you
Will you rise up in rage or do you
Keep getting stranger? I do.
Keep getting stranger