1. What did you do in 2019 that you'd never done before?
- showed my game at a games festival open screen
- ate morning glory (delicious! And sticks horrendously in your teeth)
- went to an Ice Hotel; they had a room themed around The Sea of Ice and I flailed with joy
- ordered fika all in Swedish
- toured an iron mine
- ate a fresh kumquat
- drank Nep Moi (vietnamese rice liquor)
- took a course in Mental Health First Aid
- organised a mix swap on MetaFilter
- lived out the fanfic trope of there only being One Bed at the hotel
- re-read a book straight after reading it the first time, because I loved it so much
- petted temple cats in Bangkok
- consumed butterfly pea, both in blue rice and in amethyst-coloured lemonade
- went lunchtime swimming at the Oberer Letten with coworkers
- got stuck in a lift (luckily I had a book, and our friends were outside to alert the shop staff!)
- went to a WorldCon kaffeeklatsch
- finished a novel first draft
- joined a WhatsApp group chat and actually participated there
- wrote fanfic!!!
- went to a Samichlaus party where Samichlaus and Schmützli came
- had a friend write me a break-up letter and end the relationship
- got into an ongoing polyamorous relationship <3 <3 <3
- kept a more-or-less daily journal on DreamWidth
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
- Do yoga and go to the gym as regularly as I can: ehh, the year started off well but then my achey shoulders got the worst they've ever been, and I gave in and started physiotherapy instead.
- Finish a novel manuscript and start pitching it to agents: first part yes, second part no! I need to do at least one round of revision before I can pitch Corpse Position.
- Learn to play bass with Rocksmith: nope, I did not keep up with this.
- Not fuck up at the Arctic Science winter course I'll be doing: success! I got the highest grade possible and the professor wrote very positive feedback about my work.
- seeing more live theatre: yes, I saw the following:
- Frankenstein at the Schauspielhaus Zürich
- Burrnesha: Sworn Virgin
- Tumulus at the Soho Theatre
- Ghost Stories at the Hammersmith Lyric
This year, I have a nice, attainable list of resolutions. I want to:
- go to at least one Goa festival with David and Thereza
- keep up physio and get back to yoga
- be more sociable with my coworkers, because good things happen when I do that
- keep up my daily posts on DW (they're currently five days in arrears but I will catch up tonight)
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
David's cousin Niklaus and his partner Frenzi had a baby boy, Samuel.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My stepdad. He survived two and a half years after being diagnosed with multiple brain tumours. I cried uncontrollably at his funeral, but I have to say, life is easier without him around.
5. What countries did you visit?
- Sweden, for the Arctic Science course. It was dark and snowy, very cold, and despite my executive function crapping out because I was staying in a single room, I adored everything about it.
- The UK, for various purposes.
- Germany, for A MAZE Berlin. <3
- Thailand! My first trip to Asia. It was incredible.
- Ireland; Clouds, Rem, Coreo, David and I shared a flat for WorldCon in Dublin. It was an absolute high point of the whole year, despite the trip being broken up so David and I could go to my stepdad's funeral.
- Poland, for PyCode Conference.
6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
A clear answer on where we're going to be living for the foreseeable future! 2018 ended with our landlord telling us we weren't allowed to have another flatmate (which is illegal and contrary to our contract—but he lives in the building and we don't want to piss him off). In September 2019, Thereza moved in with us anyway, but kept her flat with all her animals and stuff in it. In November, we found our contract, which states that the flat's occupancy is three; nonetheless, in December, we started flat-hunting. Our current plan is to bring up the subject with the landlord once again, in person, and hope that he's more reasonable this time, while continuing to apply for other places.
7. What date from 2019 will remain etched on your memory, and why?
2nd August, the day my stepdad died. 25th October, the day Thereza, David and I decided to explore our feelings for each other.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Researching and presenting a keynote talk about fandom and technology at PyCode Conference, Poland. It took a lot of work (mostly emotional work to make myself sit down and do it) and I was extremely nervous about both getting the information correct and conveying it to a non-fannish audience. In the end, I think it was the best talk I've ever given. I hope to present it at more tech conferences this year.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I failed to do NaNoWriMo, through being ill and then otherwise preoccupied throughout the month (see question 7!). I feel that I failed at reaching out to a particular coworker who has been quite obviously unhappy since last year, either through giving them honest feedback or offering them a space to talk about what's bothering them. I also signed up to help a friend organise a workshop for women and non-binary people, and have failed to do much for that project recently.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I got a couple of viruses during the autumn and winter, the first of which kicked off (or at least coincided with the start of) a period of increased depression and anxiety that I've been wrestling with ever since. Some of that is linked to obvious stressors (work, Thereza being away for months, our relationship changes (positive but still stressful)); some of it is linked to trauma from an event that I didn't realise had affected me this deeply; some of it is just my brain being a dick, I think.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The protestors in Hong Kong and Chile. My friend Zoulfa, who aced her intensive German course over the summer, got an agent for her book, and got into a masters course in pharmacy.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
As so often, the British voting public. The abusers and predators who were revealed during the gamedev MeToo events of the summer. The abusive family of someone close to me.
14. Where did most of your money go?
...probably books. Well, rent, food, travel, and then books. I was going to try acquiring fewer of them this year and that failed in hilarious fashion.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Ninefox Gambit! Everything to do with Machineries of Empire and how great Yoon Ha Lee is, in fact, including the fact that I shook his hand! WorldCon and sharing a flat with my amazing friends! Getting to use the words compersion and iatrogenic in anger! Seeing Thereza! Finishing Corpse Position and realising how much I love my characters! Seeing an incredible display of the Northern Lights! Podmas! Seeing my niece Lily! Fanfic! She-Ra and the Princesses of Power! Good Omens! Visiting Sopot, the twin town of my hometown! Gideon the Ninth! Having friends to stay (Ronja and Kathy and Kelsey)!
16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you - happier/sadder? Excited about a lot of things, but currently also more anxious, so on balance about the same. - thinner/fatter? Exactly the same. - richer/poorer? Theoretically richer: I got a raise during the year, but I won't actually see that in action till my January payslip.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing, in the second half of the year. My physio exercises, though I'm keeping up with them better than I thought I would.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Crying about trauma; being frozen with anxiety about future events that might not (and did not, so far) happen; cleaning up cat pee.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
On the 24th, David and I were at my brother Ed's house with him and his wife Emma, my mum, my brother Joe and sister-in-law Becky, and my niece Lily. We ate, drank and opened our Christmas presents, and it was lovely. On the 25th, we went to dinner with my mum's neighbour Vera, her whole family and her neighbours on the other side, which was a fun and convivial change from tradition—very good for my mum's first Christmas without my stepdad. On the 28th, we saw my dad's family in Kent for more party food and present-opening, and it was also lovely.
21. How did/will you spend New Year's Eve?
At a party hosted by some of Thereza's friends. I had a fit of social anxiety at the start, but got over it quite quickly and enjoyed myself a lot.
22. Did you fall in love in 2019?
Yes! I fell in love with Thereza and remained in love with David. Love is wonderful.
23. Any one-night stands?
Nope! To be honest, when we decided to see where things went with the three of us, I was very uncertain that anything long-term would emerge. Not because I didn't want it to, but because there were so many variables and potential outcomes. I was pretty sure we weren't going to fall out and wreck our friendships forever. I thought it would be great if we developed an ongoing friends-with-occasional-benefits arrangement, but more likely that that side of things would peter out with no bad feelings on anyone's part. That is to say: I was pretty much expecting a one-night stand or two, this year. I already felt such love for and closeness to Thereza that I thought it would be wonderful for a romantic relationship to develop, but that seemed so ambitious and so premature that I didn't dare to hope for it.
24. What was your favourite TV programme?
This year I watched Good Omens twice, more of The Good Place, half of Yuri!!! On Ice and about half of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. This is more TV than I've watched in fifteen years or more! I might finally be getting the hang of it and would like to find a Goodreads/Letterboxd-style app to keep track of it. I guess I would say my favourite was Good Omens, with She-Ra in a competitive second place. It's so much more layered and subtle than I thought an animated show could be.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I am doing my best not to hate the aforementioned abusive family members of my friend. They were abused too.
26. What was the best book you read?
Here are all the books I read in 2019, sorted by rating in descending order. Goodreads tells me I read 88 books, the highest number since I started keeping track there in 2011! Caveats: I read a lot of novellas from the Hugo nominees packet in the spring; I read a lot of graphic novels while sick and anxious this winter; I gave up on one book but left it on the list. (It was The Waters of Versailles by Karen Robson, which was so misanthropic and induced such a feeling of dread in me that I couldn't continue reading it. This was startling in a piece of fiction marketed as light and amusing!)
I say this every year, but I read some incredible books in 2019. I've read all of the Machineries of Empire books twice and am considering a third run through; they are definitely the books that spoke most to me. The best fiction I read was probably Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. The best non-fiction, out of a relatively small selection, was The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople by Jonathan Phillips. I picked it out of a charity-shop box for 10p, thereby demonstrating the foolishness of my resolution to buy fewer books. (Right now there are a bunch of serious non-fiction books on my Currently Reading list, because I spent the later months of the year starting new ones and then realising I didn't have the attention span to get through them.)
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Be'lakor, an Australian melodic/progressive death metal band. Their lyrics are in English, but the singing is growly enough that I can work while listening to them, hooray! Stone's Reach and Of Breath and Bone are beautiful and majestic albums. They're apparently working on a new one at the moment. I am impatient!
28. What did you want and get?
To go to Thailand.
29. What did you want and not get?
A Labour government.
30. What was your favourite film of the year?
Either The Favourite or The Sisters Brothers. (My Letterboxd diary for 2019.)
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 and had a small party at home.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Let's be honest: this year as every year, better executive functioning.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
T-shirts, jeans, and occasional meltdowns over wanting to dress more interestingly. I kept my hair blue or turquoise and started to grow it out, in hopes of fewer meltdowns over getting it cut.
34. What kept you sane?
Venlafaxine. I Love Hue. Partners and friends who knew exactly what to say. Twitter's mute-words feature.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Alex Reed and Janelle Monaé.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Either the Hong Kong protests or, despite my attempts not to dwell on it, the ongoing shitshow that is the government of my country.
37. Who did you miss?
My mum, my brothers and their families.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
This year I got to know Asher, Sam and Wordshore. They are all fabulous.
39. Did you meet anyone you only knew online?
Yes! I met Perevision in London in March (and introduced xem to Alex, who works in the same building but hadn't met xem yet), and got to hang out with Dan O'Huiginn while in Berlin for A MAZE.
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018
Compersion is real and wonderful. When two out of three people in a relationship are bad at recognising subtext and flirting, things can get silly (also: when the person in your relationship who's 'good' at that is David, you're really in trouble).
41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
The Ride by Amanda Palmer.