Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

09 December 2012

Summing up 2012

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
I got to see an Henri Rousseau in person. This was a huge moment in my life. 

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
2012's resolution was to have my doctor of philosophy degree in hand. That's done, thankfully. My resolutions for 2013 are to complete the Insanity program, to be much, much better at le français, and to write two more chapters of my book.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes. My dear friend Jaime gave birth to the most charming little guy: Nathaniel. And my friend Brittney had a very cute boy named Theodore.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My dear friends Danny and Ashley lost their beloved dog Benny. Thankfully no humans in my life passed away. There has been too much of this recently, and I still mourn my dear friend Andrew.

5. What countries did you visit?
I was in Amsterdam for a few days and visited the Rijksmuseum, the Torture Museum (don't ask), and the Stedelijk Museum. Amsterdam is a strange sort of place. Very pretty, and the downtown area (Centraal) is lovely. My friends John and Jaime (and their little guy Nathan) were living there for a few months for work. On my visit I also went to Paris for 7 days and fell in love with the city. I went to many museums – the Musée du Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay (my favorite), the Palace at Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe – and also took a trip out to the beaches in Normandy where the Allied forces landed in WWII. Also visited the Mémorial de Caen – the Center for History and Peace, dedicated to the Second World War. I am in love with France and cannot wait to go back, especially because I will be able to speak the language better next time.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Last year I wrote a new job. I think this year I'd like to modify that to in a city in which I can feel at home.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 19th was the day I defended my dissertation. The day was made really special by some of my Tallahassee friends (George, Walt, Jeanne, Jenny, Matt, Dayne, Jordan, Amy, Dan) most of whom attended my presentation and all of whom celebrated with me and spent a fun weekend with me in Tally. 

December 14-16th will be my graduation in Tallahassee and my graduation party in Los Angeles. I am so excited to see so many of my friends and former students in California. It's going to be a whirlwind couple of days.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
A good dissertation, they say, is a done dissertation. I have consistently downplayed the achievement of finishing this dissertation (and, therefore, my PhD), but in truth it was an enormous undertaking, and I finished very quickly and with flying colors. It was a big deal.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I wish I had been better at making a home for myself in New Hampshire. I will work on this in 2013. Also: budgeting.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I think I am going to have to go with the amazing no-iron shirt from Banana Republic. These things are genius. I can be pretty lazy about dressing up, and this makes dressing up so much easier!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My former students Aaren & Andrew, who put up productions of their own plays just this month.
My other friends who produce their own performances: especially Michael and Ryan, both of who made excellent pieces this year.
My friends at Endstation with whom I love working every year.
Jordan, who wrote, directed and starred in a short film for one of his classes this year. Attending this screening was really exciting.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
As usual, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, and the rest of the crew of people that want a nation only for themselves and other people like them.

14. Where did most of your money go?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My new job at Dartmouth College (there was a lot of screaming in the halls of the Meta Glass dorms when this happened). The revival of Einstein on the Beach. In an odd twist of fate: coming back to Tallahassee. Meeting Cherríe Moraga. Visiting my friend Mark in Boston.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Scissor Sisters' "Let's Have a Kiki" and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe", the choral version of which you really must watch.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
c) richer or poorer? Richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
The answer to this is always – in some form or another – spending time with my friends. I wish, in particular, that I had gotten to see my friends in California more this year. I wasn't able to visit over the Summer, and I really missed them.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Complaining. I am a generally positive guy, but though this year has been exceptionally difficult in many ways, I complained far too much about its difficulties. I also wish I had spent less time consoling dear friends on their lost loves – not because this time was misspent, but just because I would rather be talking to them under better, happier circumstances.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
In California! I have had a very long vacation this Winter because of Dartmouth's very odd schedule, and it has been lovely. Right now, Florida, and soon California with my family and friends.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I didn't. Last year I was falling in love with this guy. And, well, to be honest, I am still not quite sure what happened to him. This year, love (and sex) took back seats to my career. I think I am fine with that.

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Yes. There is something about really loving your kids that translates into hating anyone who messes with them or hurts them. My four adopted kids bring me their hurts and I, in turn, dutifully hate those who hurt them.

25. What was the best book you read?
In fiction, Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot. In nonfiction, Robin Bernstein's Racial Innocence. 

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Clearly, Frank Ocean's Channel Orange was the best album of the year.

27. What was the best piece of theatre you saw?
Einstein. On. The Beach. At the Brooklyn Academy of Music, September 22nd.
The second-best piece of theatre I saw was called Hello... It's Been Great Letting You Get to Know Me, directed by Samantha Johns and George McConnell.

28. What did you want and get?
29. What did you want and not get?
I don't actually think I have answers for these. I have been very bad this year at articulating my own desires. I have gotten many things I wanted, of course, and many things about which I have been ambivalent. But what do I actually want? I usually blame my indecisiveness on being a Pisces, but indecision and ambivalence have come to feel really essential to who I am. I am rarely sure what it is that I desire, and I have almost no aptitude for articulating those desires.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
So far: Beasts of the Southern Wild. But there are more films to come! 

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I had a most bizarre dinner with a truly motley crew of people in attendance. So strange. But as usual, my friends in Tallahassee came through. It has been really great having this group of people in my life.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I obviously need a partner. It is fine being alone, and I seem committed to it, but this is what my life is missing most clearly.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
I have been the laziest about fashion, mostly due to economics. I am committed to turning this around in 2013. Let's call 2012 a learning year. I rediscovered the necktie and suit jacket. As it turns out, dressing up just makes me feel better. I'm turning over a new leaf.

34. What kept you sane?
My mother often is the person who makes the most sense in my life these days, though I don't talk to her very much. The person to whom I complained the most is Michael – he listened patiently and with understanding. The person I talked to the most is Dayne – probably once a day. That definitely kept me sane. My friends in Hanover: Irma, Yasser, Katie, and Viktor. My scholar-friends Patrick, Joe, and Cassidy, too.

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

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I found it hard to get excited about so-called political issues this year. The enormously expensive presidential election in the United States centered around the economics of the United States instead of issues like war, bloodshed, imprisonment, and human rights. Because the voices allowed to speak for the USAmerican people are consistently reduced to only two (Democrat and Republican) by mainstream newsmedia, I find it really depressing even to engage in this farce. I voted for Obama, because I still believe that society can improve, but I understand the main differences between him and his rival to be their stances on so-called social issues. Economically and militarily, I see very little difference, and I am constantly confused when others see such an extreme gulf between the two.

37. Whom did you miss?
This year was the year of missing everyone. I divided my time between Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire, and traveled all over. So I missed my friends in Los Angeles, especially missed my family, missed my friends in New York, my friends in Seattle, my friends in Tallahassee, and my friends in Lynchburg.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Amy Rauchwerger, Jason Porrata, and la Kate Bredeson.
Photoshoot at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville TN.
 39. Tell us a valuable life-lesson you learned in 2012:
A few really important things.

1) The importance of gratitude. A year or so ago, I did a long series of posts about gratitude and how thankful I am for the people in my life. As I finished my dissertation this year, I was reminded, as I typed the acknowledgments page, just how many people contributed to my work, sent me news items, supported my intellectual labor, read drafts of my work and sent me comments. This project was way more than just me and my (fabulous and diverse) committee: it was also the contributions of my extraordinary support system.

2) I have missed being a parent. I love my many nieces and nephews (both blood-related and not), but I have also felt the need to fill the absence of children in my life. I have adopted (they're not mine, but they're mine) four adult children, and these adoptions have been truly rewarding – more for me than for my kids. It's been lovely feeling as though I have these people in my life for whom I would do almost anything.

3) Feeling comfortable is not always something one can control. Sometimes we do not have as much control over where we live and where we make a home, but an effort must be made to make that space into a home. Happiness is, I think, what we make of it. I don't think it's "settling" or "passivity" to decide to enjoy the hand one is dealt. I need to learn to love where I am so that I can make the time I spend in that place a happy time.

40. Share an important quote from 2012:
2012 Has been a year of Seneca for me. This is from On Anger.
Missiles rebound from a hard surface, and solid objects, when struck, cause pain to the one striking them; just so, injury cannot cause a great spirit to feel it, because it is more fragile than the thing it attacks. How much finer it is to rebuff all injuries and insults, as though impervious to any missile! To take vengeance is to acknowledge pain: a great spirit is not bowed down by a wrong. The one who has harmed you is either stronger or weaker than you: if he's weaker, give him a break; if he's stronger, give yourself a break.