(Stealing these questions somewhat randomly from author Lee Battersby, whom I met very briefly at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Awards, and whose 2012 in review entry was linked by monsieur Dan. Thanks Lee!)
1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Shot a gun. That was a pretty cool experience, having grown up on more than a few first-person shooter video games. Holding something in your hands that can so easily kill has given me a whole lot more respect for weapons. The kickback, the punch of it into your palms; it’s a lot different to the idea of guns I had from pop culture.
2. Did you achieve your goals for the year, and will you make more for next year?
Not really, and yes. I suppose I’ll list them here:
Read 30 books – I didn’t hit my target last year, so bad me. I want to review each one in the same style as my previous podreviews as well.
Write 3 short stories OR a novel – I only really got one short story complete and submitted this year. Pretty bad! This year I’d like to increase that count of short stories, or write a novel. I have ideas for both options, so it’s just a matter of whether I think now’s the time to have a crack at my first novel.
Get out more – Louise and I didn’t really get out a whole lot in 2012. Compared to 2011, when we went to a bunch of gigs and explored quite a few restaurants, we’ve done sweet bugger all. Pending more money at my disposal, I’d love to get out and get more cultural.
Plus keeping up exercise.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yeap! My brother and his wife rounded out their family with young Hendrik (to whom I am a Godfather), while my good friends Debbie and Paul brought little Evie into the world. My sister is expecting her second as well, so our clan is growing rather quickly.
It’s interesting to see the changes in dynamic in my family as this happens. My family has never been real buddy-buddy close like you see in the movies, etc. but there’s always been a silent strength there. It’s nice to see it come into the open with the arrival of all these wee bubs.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Unfortunately so. My Tante Cas (Great Aunt, or close enough; she wasn’t really our relative from what I understand, but she was, if you get what I mean) from The Netherlands died this year. Thankfully Louise and I saw her when we visited Europe in 2008, so I have all the amazing memories from then to remember her by.
Her and my surviving Great Aunt, Tante Jope, while not partners, had been living together for ages and actually had a civil union recently in order to ensure that they could include each other in their wills. The picture of them from that day is amazing, one that I really want to get printed and framed. They always supported our family by sending money to Mum after my parents split up, wouldn’t have a bar of stopping. I’ll always be grateful to them.
5. What countries did you visit?
None this year, unfortunately. Next year is provisionally Spain again, although it’s looking less and less likely with each passing day, due to my lack of funds and inadequate time to build up leave if I do get a job.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
To get the obvious out of the way: financial security.
7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I honestly can’t think of any that strike me as really memorable, one way or the other. To be honest I’m terrible with dates, so I probably wouldn’t remember any important ones anyway.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Probably getting off my arse and doing some proper exercise. I found a joy in riding my bike to UWA (whether meeting up with Laurie or not) that made me feel like I was achieving something better than just sitting at home fucking about on the computer.
9. What was your biggest failure?
The 100 or so job applications I’ve written and never heard back from.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thankfully not. Other than the interesting sensation of experiencing the verb ‘slough’ as a result of fifty degree heat and manual labour out in Kalgoorlie, I’ve been pretty lucky.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Probably the best thing would have to be my new computer. I’d had my old one for around five years and it was starting to struggle a bit on a day-to-day basis. I used my tax return from the work I did in Kalgoorlie to fund it (tax returns are ‘me money’), although now that I’m down to my last pennies I can’t help but feel a bit shamed thinking about how much I spent on it. Still, as far as dollars-per-hour of entertainment goes, it’s been good value.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Definitely Louise’s folks. They put us up for almost a year at their place withotu asking all that much of us, all while experiencing their own stresses like moving jobs, and still parenting two teenagers. Can’t thank them enough.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The actions of governments with regards to banks and the ‘too big to indict’ debacle was pretty fucking dismal. Highlights the gap between the prosecution of those with money and those without in spectacularly sharp relief. Really gets a struggling peon down.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Groceries and rent. PARTY HARD.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Absolutely nothing. I fear that my personality has been permanently dampened by this year. Being in a constant state of stress over money and my career (such as it is) has left me unable to really get excited. There’s always this nagging feeling that if I’m enjoying myself, I’m not suffering enough. ‘Catholic guilt’, I think they call it.
16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I can’t think of a single song that isn’t a snarky reference to my wallet, so instead I’m going to say that finally seeing Ben Folds Five live in concert was about as happy as I ever got this year.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Sadder, thinner, poorer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, or creativity in general. Having so much time on my hands means I really ought to be getting on with it and getting my tasks out of the way early so I can create guilt-free in the afternoons. But as with all things this year, my motivation has taken a big dive.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I dunno. Video games. Masturbating. Not-working. Pick one.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family and Louise’s family, over four stomach-bursting feasting engagements.
21. Who did you meet for the first time?
Oh, a bunch of people. Various luminaries from the Perth writing scene, a swag of new gamer mates in the form of the c.wizards clan, various friends of friends, and my new nephew.
22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Yes, with Benedict Cumberbatch (thanks Em).
23. What was your favourite TV program?
It’s a close race between Adventure Time and the newish BBC series of Sherlock (thanks again, Em). The former made Louise and I happy when we were sad, and the latter restored my faith in witty television.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
In the immortal words of my high school buddy Kane, “Hate is a very strong word.” I don’t tend to hate on people individually, but generalised ideas of people can incite feelings of loathing. One such group that has done so is the unyielding, obtuse entities known as ‘human resources’ that populate the writhing, black-blooded vitality engines of corporations everywhere. On the individual level, they’re fine; I’m related to a couple and they’ve never slighted me in the least. But as the cause of my continued suffering they’ve earned a place next to kidney beans as primary instigators of bad tastes in my mouth.
25. What was the best book you read?
Hmm. War Dances by Sherman Alexie was really great. More recently The Last City by Nina D’Aleo. I didn’t read so much this year, although I did listen to a huge amount of podcasts with short stories and performances, political discussions and sex tips. So maybe I should list some of them instead.
Here’s a few of my favourites: Radiolab, This American Life, The Moth Podcast, Start The Week, The Guardian Football Weekly, Slate Culture Gabfest, Podmentum, Selected Shorts, Professor Blastoff, JOMAD, Sci Friday, and Savage Lovecast. Google the names or search any of those on the iTunes store and you should be able to find them.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Sufjan Stevens’ Age of Adz got a lot of play, as did the new Menomena album, Moms. War on Drugs, Moon Duo, Grimes, etc. etc. Getting back into making music a bit more regularly was fun as well.
27. What was your favourite film of this year?
I really didn’t get to the movies that much this year, but I really, really enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom. It just had the same kind of innocent optimism that Adventure Time has, and it made me happy. Honourable mentions go to Wreck-It Ralph, The Dark Knight Rises, Dredd, and The Avengers.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Twenty-seven, and Louise took me to shoot my very first gun (see Q1), and then on to Rockpool for an amazing dinner. Definitely one of the highlights of my year.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
One more time with feeling: financial security.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Pretty much this.
31. What kept you sane?
32. What political issue stirred you the most?
See Q13. Also, the political situation here in Australia (especially regarding the mining industry) continues to depress me. Short term vision of leaders just gets me down. History will side with those that support racial, sexual, and religious freedoms. It’s highly irritating that we must wait for the bigots to die out before we can push it through as law.
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Don’t take people at their word; get a mother flippin’ contract signed.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“I’ve been drinking up all the sweet tea
It was made just for me
I’ve been ramblin’
I’m just driftin’”
Come To The City — War on Drugs.