dolorosa_12: (Default)
[personal profile] dolorosa_12
And here we are again, at the close of another year.

1. What did you do in 2018 that you'd never done before?
This was a year of a lot of professional firsts for me (present at an international library conference, obtain professional accreditation as a librarian, get accepted onto a teaching-in-higher-education academic course) and not a lot of firsts on a personal level, besides visiting one new-to-me country (Belgium) and some new-to-me regions in countries I'd been previously (Andalusia in Spain, and Tuscany in Italy).

But in general I feel this was a year of maintaining a balance and holding the line, rather than breaking new ground.

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

My resolutions for 2018 were, as they have been for several years now, to carve out spaces of safety, kindness, empathy and beauty where I can, to draw my own personal lines in the sand, and hold to them, to support and live and love with integrity, and to remember, always, that love, love is a verb, love is a doing word.

To remain until the lights go out.

I'd like to think I did my best at this, although I feel the latter became increasingly difficult, and at times almost damaging of my mental health.

I had some other concrete goals regarding writing for pleasure (to write at least one long-form post in my reviews blog a month, and to write at least a few sentences online somewhere about the books I enjoyed reading), and for the most part kept to them. My other concrete goals were to obtain the above professional accreditation, and present at an international conference, so those, too, were fulfilled!

My resolutions for 2019 are probably a mixture of the above. I want to stick to my 'fire can be a candle flame' resolution that I've made each new year since 2016, and will continue to do my best, no matter what my various countries throw at me. Again, I have a few concrete professional and personal goals, but I prefer to keep those private until the close of the next year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Quite a few of my friends had their first (and, in some cases, second) child this year. I also became an aunt for the second time, as my sister-in-law gave birth to her daughter in mid-November — it was great to meet her for the first time over Christmas!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My beloved maternal grandfather died several weeks ago, but I haven't been able to find the words or strength to talk about it. I loved him so much; he had such personal integrity, and he was one of the few positive examples of masculinity in my life when I was growing up. He was in his mid-nineties, and was in increasingly ill health, so I can't pretend that he had years of happiness ahead of him, but he was my last living grandparent, he was a wonderful person, and I still feel his loss keenly.

5. What countries did you visit?

I went to Wales for a conference, Germany over Christmas as usual, Spain with my mother for her annual summer trip to the northern hemisphere, Belgium for a long weekend with Matthias, and Italy for the wedding of two good friends from my former academic department at Cambridge. 2018 was also a year I was fortunate enough to be able to go back to Australia with Matthias to visit my friends and relatives there. So, as always, quite a lot of travelling!

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

To be honest, I think what I said last year kind of sums things up for this year as well:

One of the most confronting things about recent years is how much hope and good fortune I have for myself and the small things I can control, and how much despair I have for the wider world. My own immediate material circumstances have been improving sharply since 2015, and it's been horrifying to watch the reverse happen outside my own life.

What I want for 2019 is what I wanted for 2018: hope for the future. It's hard to have that when you have even a small amount of knowledge of world history, enough to see the world around you simultaneously repeating the 1930s in Europe and the dying days of Moorish Spain.

If anything, I have even less hope this year than I did last time around. It's getting to the point that I feel I'm either going to need professional help, or to emigrate again, or both, not that I think either will solve the problem(s).

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

No date really stands out to me for this year (last year it was my wedding day, and in 2016 it was the morning after the Brexit referendum — hard to find any one day that could top either the positivity of the former or the awfulness of the latter!). Certainly the date I walked around the Alhambra in sheer speechless awe with my mother in the hot Spanish summer was memorable, and holding my niece for the first time melted my heart, but there weren't any really overwhelming, 'big' dates in 2018 the way there were in the previous years, so I'm struggling to say something definitive here.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Probably the various professional accomplishments I mentioned above. I'd also say, given my intense fear of flying (which has become worse and worse as the years go by), that flying to and from Australia without breaking down into tears and hysteria (as happened the last time I made that journey in 2015) was a bit of an achievement!

I also believe that the quiet work of everyday labour — cooking, cleaning, gardening, managing relationships both personal and professional, supporting people in their learning and research — is a kind of achievement in itself, and requires effort that is not often noticed or valued, so I think that I, and all who do this kind of work do an unequivocal good.

As I say, 2018 feels like a smaller year in so many ways. Achievements were small and quiet and gentle, instead of loud and blazing.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I think I often prioritise harmony over justice, meaning I don't speak up enough, or loudly enough, in the face of small and big wrongs, and I felt I maybe did this too much in 2018.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A lot of colds, headaches, and the usual bruises from bumping into doorframes and furniture.

I also got badly bitten by a dog several days ago, so that was fun!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Definitely the flight/train tickets and hotel bookings for all the various travel undertaken this year! Travelling fills me with such joy, and I'm so privileged to live in such close proximity to so many other countries and be able to afford to visit them.

I also bought Worldcon membership this year (to attend the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin), and I'm looking forward to that with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

I started 2018 with a plea for kindness, kindness, kindness, and, to be honest, everyone who practiced this in the face of an exploitative, selfish and ungentle world merits worldwide celebrations.

Matthias, for his love, belief and support, for making me a braver person. My mother, for her continued material and emotional support. Friends, near and far, online and off, for everything.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

It's becoming a bit of a theme that last year's answers apply equally well this year, and this question is no different:

The obvious answer is the politicians of my country of origin, current country of residence, and all around the world. I'm also furious at their enablers: the voters who gave them power, the tabloid press who act as their cheer squad, and those, ostensibly on 'my side' for whom compromise is more poisonous than survival.

I have to also say that as a migrant who had to repeatedly apply for expensive and complicated visas, and who still has anxiety every time I have to deal with border guards, the fact that so many Britons were jubilant to throw away their free movement rights like garbage was incredibly upsetting and painful to witness.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, bills, and travel expenses.

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

Travel, especially the trips to Spain and Australia. Swimming in the ocean for the first time in three years. Australian coffee.

16. What song will always remind you of 2018?

We're back to Calexico. I find it rather dispiriting that their album Garden Ruin, written in despairing response to the second Iraq war and broader politics of the George W. Bush era in the United States should apply so well to the current climate. And thus, 'Cruel'.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Quite a good deal sadder.
ii. thinner or fatter? Probably about the same.
iii. richer or poorer? About the same.

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

Fanfic writing outside of exchanges. I only wrote for exchanges this year, and I wish I could write fic without the external motivation of a set deadline and need to deliver a gift fic for another person!

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

Like last year, feeling furious and terrified every time I read my Twitter feed.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I was in Germany with my in-laws this year. We had Christmas Eve dinner at my sister- and brother-in-laws' place, where presents were also distributed, and spent Christmas Day reading at my parents-in-law's house before having their traditional cold seafood dinner. This year I cooked the Christmas Eve dinner, which did a huge amount to calm the levels of stress I generally feel at any Christmas event not involving my maternal family.

22. Did you fall in love in 2018?

I fell more in love with Matthias, and with our life together.

23. Did your heart break in 2018?

Over and over again, in a million tiny ways. I feel genuinely broken by UK politics in particular in a way I've never felt before.

24. What was your favourite TV program?

I think my favourite new program was probably A Very English Scandal, with the final season of The Americans reminding me why this was such a powerful (and criminally underrated) show. I also really enjoyed Altered Carbon, although I wish the ending had been very different (mainly due to shippy reasons, to be honest).

25. Where were you when 2018 began?

At my friends' house in Cambridge.

26. Who were you with?

Matthias, [personal profile] notasapleasure, her husband E, and our other friends P and V. The latter two, our hosts for New Year's Eve parties for several years now, have this year sadly moved to Vienna, joining the ranks of many of my friends and colleagues who have left the UK due to Brexit.

27. Where will you be when 2018 ends?

At a fancy dinner in one of the gastropubs/gin bars in Cambridge.

28. Who will you be with when 2018 ends?

With my wonderful Matthias.

29. What was the best book you read?

Not counting rereads, two books really stood head and shoulders above the rest:

The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker, which was the Briseis-centric Iliad retelling I've been searching for all my life, bristling with fear and fury at the immense damage and injustice done to the women and girls swept up in the violence of the Trojan War; and

The Queens of Innis Lear, by Tessa Gratton, a King Lear retelling that haunted and devastated me in ways I can't properly articulate.

I also really enjoyed Katherine Arden's Winternight series, and am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy immensely.

30. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Not a discovery so much as a rediscovery: Janelle Monáe.

31. What did you want and get?

Librarianship accreditation.

32. What did you want and not get?

To stop Brexit. For Australia to stop violating the human rights of refugees.

33. What was your favourite film of this year?

How could it be anything other than Black Panther?

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

Other than having nice Polish take-away for dinner, nothing. It was an ordinary work day, and my birthday is five days before Christmas, so very difficult to celebrate on the day. Matthias is going to take me out for a meal in early January. I was thirty-four.

35. How many different states/cities did you travel to in 2018?

I didn't do much travelling within the UK this year - aside from Cardiff, I think I only went to Ely and London. In Australia I went to Sydney and Macedon (in rural Victoria), in Spain I was in Sevilla, Cordóba and Granada, in Belgium I was in Brussels and Ghent, in Italy I was in Albiano, Lucca, Barga and Pisa, and in Germany I was in Vlotho (with a brief foray to Bad Salzuflen to visit the Christmas markets), with a brief stopover in Amsterdam to change trains.

36. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

All the stars. All the nebulae. Or, as I prefer to describe it, #intergalacticnebulousbisexual.

37. What kept you sane?

'Rain is not always a storm. The wind does not always howl. Sometimes death is quiet or love is peaceful.' 'Fire can be a candle flame.'

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

Admired and was in awe of, rather than 'fancied', perhaps, but Janelle Monáe.

39. What political issue stirred you the most?

Generally, the absolutely vile way migrants and refugees are treated in virtually the whole world.

40. How many concerts did you see in 2018?

Two — Janelle Monáe (thanks for the tip, [personal profile] nymeth), and a joint concert of four '90s eurodance bands playing all the old classics (Maxx, Masterboy, Haddaway, and 2Unlimited).

41. Did you have a favourite concert in 2018?

Both were fun, but I think Janelle Monáe was probably my favourite.

42. Who was the best new person you met?

My new niece!

43. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?


44. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2018?

I'm not easily embarrassed.

45. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

Home is not, and cannot be, a country. Home is other people.

46. What are your plans for 2019?

Love, love, is a verb
Love is a doing word

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

The whole of 'Cruel' by Calexico, to be honest. But this, in particular:

Cruel, heartless reign
Chasing short term gains
Right down to the warning signs

Birds refuse to fly
No longer trust the sky
Drifting out beyond the signals

Even the horizon is gone
Weather flees underground
Future's left to wallow in fortune's waste

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