1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
Hired a babysitter; served on a conference planning committee; traveled internationally with two children; saw a world record being broken; wore a stick-on heart rate monitor for multiple weeks; successfully made falafel and a trifle and fish and a bunch of other semi-ambitious dishes; lost a kid in a crowded public place; got mastitis (twice!).
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I made a 40×40 list, but finished less than half of it, so I’m extending the deadline until my 41st birthday.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Several friends, but no one in my inner circle.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My last grandparent died in August.
5. What countries (or new places) did you visit?
No new places this year. We spent 3 weeks in Belgium, including a day trip to Holland to visit family. I went to Champaign 3 times for work, and Iowa 3 times for sad reasons.
6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
Financial independence (or at least a path there)
7. What date from 2019 will remain etched up on your memory, and why?
A lot of stuff happened this year, and as a result, many of the dates are fuzzy. I remember very clearly where I was when I learned that my grandma died, but I couldn’t tell you the date – it was the first week of August, and the funeral was a few days before the baby’s birthday, but that’s all I’ve got.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Mostly keeping my shit together from August through mid-November. Graduating from therapy. These things are related.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Patience. With myself, my partner, my big kid.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’m very grateful that 2019 was medically very boring.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Weleda Skin Food. My Get to Workbook. The no frills men’s jeans I bought at C&A after yet another pair of pants failed me.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My kids are amazing, even if they drive me bananas at times. The big kid, age 5, is an avid letter writer and is doing 4th grade math and can play chess and poker and piano (if he pays attention to what he’s doing) and ran 5K on his birthday and has been drawing all of these involved pictures depicting all of the important things from our trip to Belgium. He plans to move to Belgium when he is 18, but he also plans to open a coffee shop near Boston called CoffeeFish. The small kid, age 16 months, is clever and naughty and irrepressibly joyful. He has a head of curls and adores his big brother and runs to the door and yells MA! when I come home.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Most elected officials’, same as in previous years.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Food and rent and debt and travel.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Wasbar. Beni Falafel. The Vogeltjesmarkt. NYT Cooking. Getting out of debt. Sesame noodles.
16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
I really didn’t listen to much music this year beyond random Spotify playlists. This track came up often:
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
ii. richer or poorer?
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Sleep, running, time with friends, lying on the couch doing nothing – same as it ever was.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about money, dealing with moving and apartment disasters.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We were in Belgium for Sinterklaas, so the big kid enjoyed all manner of chocolate and surprises, while the small kid was delighted to get to eat little cookies off the floor.
We shifted our family’s celebration to December 23, when we celebrate our dating anniversary. We opened stockings and exchanged books:
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates for me
The Landmark Thucydides for N
P is for Pterodactyl by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter for the big kid
Never Touch a Dragon for the small kid
I worked Christmas Eve before watching the big kid perform in his choir at the Christmas Eve Tableau at Rockefeller Chapel. He was a donkey in the pageant.
We spent Christmas day in Rockford with my family – snacks and presents at my sister’s, more gifts and brunch at my parents’, then a mostly leisurely afternoon with the family.
21. Did you fall in love in 2019?
With the view from our Belgian apartment and the convenience of having actual appliances in our new Chicago apartment.
22. (Adding a new question in place of one that no longer applies!) What was the best thing you ate?
Rijsttafel. Kale sauce pasta. Mushroom “shawerma”. BENI FALAFEL.
23. What was your favorite TV program?
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word.
25. What was the best book you read?
Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I can’t think of anything ground-shattering. I mostly listened to a bajillion podcasts.
27. What did you want and get?
3 weeks completely checked out from work
28. What did you want and not get?
Entry into the 2020 Chicago Marathon
29. What was your favorite film of the year?
I watched two movies in 2019: The Post (on the flight home from Belgium) and The Secret of Kells (on the big kid’s birthday). I would like to watch more movies, with and without my kids.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Brunch at The Gundis, coffee at Intelligentsia (where we took surveys in exchange for future free coffees), cupcakes at Molly’s, emergency water shut off at home, baby in a bear suit napping on my chest.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
33. What kept you sane?
Nicolas, my sister, Eva, Karen, Kim and Angie, Anne and KZ, long walks
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Who has time for that?
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Another terrible, terrible year.
36. Who did you miss?
Previous years: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011