Thursday, January 2, 2014

Yearly Retrospective: 2013

Happy New Year! I've completed this survey every year since the dark ages of Live Journal. I think I first did it in 2002. Some of the questions seem a bit irrelevant now, but I hate to break with tradition. How else would I remember that The Futureheads were my greatest musical discovery of 2005?! But on a more serious note, this survey always helps me focus on what I really want to get out of each year. So without further ado, let's sum up the year.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
I zip-lined over a pit full of live alligators and crocodiles. No, really! After approximately three minutes of instruction (Which mostly consisted of, "Stay hooked to the line and wear gloves so you don't turn your hands into hamburger meat when you brake), the nice people at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm let me zip-line over monsters. Madness.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Our friends Elizabeth and Wayne welcomed Robert and Roy to their family in November, continuing an alarming trend: Practically everyone who went to school at MTSU has had twins. Is it something in the beer at Gentleman Jim's?! Statistical anomalies aside, Robert and Roy are tiny, squirmy pink bundles of perfection. Hey, Elizabeth! Can I be your babysitter?

That's my favorite new Mama in the red dress.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Do Walter White and Hank Schrader count? We've spent so many hours together, I feel like we became quite close.

5. What countries did you visit?I didn't technically leave U.S. soil, but I did honeymoon in Hawai'i. We spent so much time in the plane, it felt like international travel. And I imbibed so many pineapple margaritas that if you asked me what country I was in, I probably would've said, "Oahu!"
PURE BLISS. I'd just completed a perfect five hour hiking and kayaking trip to Secret Falls in Kauai.
Keith snapped this photo at the Opaeka'a Falls overlook.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
The trip to New Orleans that I've been talking about for years, a new house with room to do cool stuff (we don't even have room to do a JIGSAW PUZZLE now), and a big exciting interior design project that requires me to learn new skills. Demolition? Laying tile? Installing crown molding? Bring it on! I'm a little scared to do that stuff, and I want to do something that scares me. Karen at Year of Serendipity is a huge inspiration. I'd love to wield power tools with the same fearlessness she exhibits

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'll be celebrating October 5, 2013 for the rest of my life. DUH.
We had just finished saying our vows, and they were playing Do You Realize?, and it was perfect.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I pulled a rabbit out of a hat planned a wedding in six months. I kept telling Keith, "Planning a wedding is a sadistic team-building exercise. If you can actually do it, then you earn the right to get married." Before we got engaged, I had no idea how time-consuming and difficult it is to work with do many different vendors. Catering, DJ, florist, officiant, dress and tux stores, tailors, rentals for tables and chairs and plates and glassware, and printers, lighting specialists... Not to mention actually getting people to RSVP. Now I understand why my married friends disappeared for a while when they were planning their weddings. This is the part of the questionnaire where I thank my mother, because I never could have done it without her.

Hi, Mom! This is one of my favorite wedding pictures. Mom and Dad had just walked me down the aisle.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't feel like I failed this year. Is that weird? I'm not perfect, but there isn't anything I'd beat myself up over. I like myself, and I'm satisfied with my choices. I suppose if I have any regrets, I regret being less social and more difficult to reach when I was planning our wedding. But I needed that time to alternately plan and decompress from planning.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
It's true what they say about kidney stones: They might be the worst pain you'll ever experience. I developed a problem that we're 99% sure was a kidney stone late in the evening on Christmas Day. Just rolling over in bed--or even breathing--made me scream in pain. The neighbors probably thought I was having a baby in the bathtub. It was a nightmare. I went to Urgent Care and was tentatively diagnosed with a kidney stone and given enough painkillers to numb a horse. Since they don't do CT scans on Saturdays, they couldn't diagnose me with 100% certainty. 36 hours later, the pain was mysteriously gone--and I'm fairly sure I passed a stone barely bigger than a grain of sand. I have no idea how that infinitesimally small piece of near-nothing could've caused such agony, but as soon as it was gone, I felt fine. Madness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Don't laugh: It was probably this $14.99 scarf from Target. I love that you can't see the skulls at first glance; it's my secret goth scarf. I wear it constantly. 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
At the risk of sounding like a gushing fool, my friends and family showered me and Keith with so much support and love at our wedding. They traveled hundreds of miles to be with us, planned parties and showers, and gave us thoughtful gifts and hilarious but loving advice. Best of all, his family welcomed me as one of their own.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I don't know. This is an uninspiring question. Oh! Keith's family didn't warn me that twins run in his family until the rehearsal dinner. REALLY?! You couldn't have told  me sooner? Kidding.
Books and mercury glass, on the other hand, are plenty inspiring. I still can't believe my Mom and I did this.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Wedding bells ought to sound like this: Cha-ching! Cha-ching!
"Do you, Jen, promise to spend ridiculous amounts of money on lined envelopes and a fancy Porta-Potty?"
"I do."

Kayaking, on the other hand, is pretty much the most fun you can have for $20.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Keith's proposal, making the flowers for our wedding, kayaking day trips on the Duck River, dinner at the Catbird Seat, the Royal baby and everything the Duchess of Cambridge did, going to the circus, the fantastic author events sponsored by Parnassus Books, and sitting next to the Mayor at the Yann Martel event and asking Mr. Martel an awkward question about Beatrice and Virgil.

BOOK LAUNCH EVENTS! I bought tickets weeks in advance to see John Meacham interview Al Gore.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Flowers in the Window by Travis. The music video is so inappropriate, I'm almost embarrassed that I walked down the aisle to this song. Almost. 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Happier!
Richer or poorer? Richer.
Thinner or fatter? Fatter.
Older or wiser?  Yes?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Running errands in the neighborhood on foot instead of driving.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Making those damn flowers for our wedding. The number of days until the wedding was inversely proportional to the number of glue gun burns on my body.
Every. Single. Petal. Cut by hand.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Keith's family joined my family in Nashville for a big dinner, opening gifts, and watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Which you should see so we can all oooh and aaah together over the breathtaking landscapes in Iceland.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013? 
I fell in love so hard, I changed my name. Perhaps that wasn't much of a feat, considering that my maiden name rhymed with a certain chain restaurant known for chicken wings and orange hot pants. But it felt like a big deal to me.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
How I Met Your Mother. Don't judge.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
There should be a special place in hell for people who RSVP to weddings and then don't show up. And people who don't RSVP to wedding invitations can go to purgatory.

25. What was the best book you read?
The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn't get excited about new music this year, but I did get excited about live performances by older bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, the Flaming Lips, and NIN.

27. What did you want and get?
On my 2012 Yearly Retrospective, I said I wanted diamonds. That happened.

28. What did you want and not get?
A trip to New Orleans and to host parties and potlucks more often. I gave up on that idea because home is just too small and cluttered. WE NEED TO MOVE. LIKE, YESTERDAY.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
NOT Austenland, which was a huge disappointment. Probably About Time, which was grossly underrated and made every damn person in the theater cry big happy sentimental tears. So you should watch it RIGHT NOW.

Best movie of 2013.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I ate Indian food and drank wine with my best friends. The REAL celebration came a few days later, when Keith and I spent a long weekend at a seaside B&B in St. Augustine. How old was I, you ask? Hey, look over there! It's a distracting thing!

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Time with Keith. He always works 60+ hours a week, and often he works closer to 80 hours a week. Even when he's at home, he's usually working from home, so I feel bad interrupting him to play or talk.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Stripes. Gray + Raspberry + Teal. Tall boots and skinny jeans. Paying full price for one or two items that fit very well instead of buying tons of whatever crap is at a discount store. And viciously culling anything I don't regularly wear. I'd rather have a handful of things I love to wear than a closet full of crap I don't wear.

My most-worn top of 2013.
33. What kept you sane?
I've come to love our regular Sunday brunch/Indian buffet meetups with friends so much.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
My obsession with the Duchess of Cambridge, and the British royal family in general, shows no sign of waning. 

The Duchess' best look of 2013.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I get very, very upset when I read about human trafficking. It's not a thing that only happens in other countries. It happens in the U.S., and it wouldn't happen if there wasn't a demand for it. That's what sickens me the most.

36. Who did you miss?
I'm glad she's living in paradise, but I miss Samantha, my maid of honor and best friend.

Isn't she lovely?
37. Who was the best new person you met?
Instead of running around meeting new people, I spent more time with old, dear friends.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Don't beat dead horses. If a job (or relationship, or shade of lipstick, or whatever) isn't working, let it go.

Attend more costume parties. Costume parties are one of life's great pleasures.

Don't force issues. It's infinitely more satisfying to receive something freely given than to receive something you forced, wheedled, or cajoled out of someone.

Clean and declutter just one room, every day, until it sparkles and could be photographed for a magazine. Do this and you will never, ever have to clean any room for long.

Whatever it is, it will pass. When I look back at the personal drama I was so worried about four years ago, it seems like a dim memory.

Eat more beets (preferably with a bit of goat cheese). Oh my God, I love beets.

Commitment and promises are for the brave. It takes a lot of strength, emotional self-sufficiency, and bravery to stick by someone when they are sick, or working so hard that they can't pay attention to you all the time, or when things get hard because life isn't perfect. When I was engaged and examining the nature of the commitment we were about to make, I thought about this a lot. I don't want to be a relationship dilettante and flit off to a new romance when things get real. Sure, it sounds easy. But it also sounds flaky and superficial. I want to plumb the depths of love, good and bad, with one person. Ultimately, I think that makes for a richer and more rewarding life--not to mention, a lot  more trust.


  1. I loved this post for so many reasons....but I guess mainly because your happiness and maturity just shine through! It was a pretty awesome year and it was a good year to be associated with Jen. To see you so in love and committed to the future is a wonderful thing, and I KNOW you found the best guy for you. Happy 2014!

  2. great post. i used to do this survey on live journal every year too! i wish i had done it this year!
    austenland WAS a bummer wasn't it? I was really looking forward to it, and tried to love it but just left the theater feeling "eh". but you are right "about time" was amazing and why wasn't everyone talking about it??

  3. I think you have halfway inspired me to fill this out this week. I seriously used to fill these out like a mad woman circa 2003 or so aka the Myspace days.

  4. Somehow I missed this post back when it was first posted! You're too sweet!! And power tools are fun, I highly recommend them ;-)

  5. Lovely! This is a great year for you as this is the beginning of your new life. I wish all the happiness comes to your life. Both of your are looking perfect together. Thanks you so much Jen for sharing these lovely wedding pictures. Love!
    Sparkling designer wedding cards samples


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