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[personal profile] rinue
2015 (limited-access appendix), 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?

I felt an earthquake. More than one. Italy is very seismically active (and extremely volcanic) and has been forever, but this is not well known outside of Italy (despite Vesuvius!). The first one I felt was in September, and I was inside a steampunk club that looks like an airship, so the vibrating floor felt a lot like takeoff, or like a ferry leaving a dock.

On which note, I was invited to join a lot of secret societies and members-only clubs in both Italy and the US. It's odd that I haven't been a member of a secret club before now, because I am obviously a person you want in a secret club, but I haven't been. I couldn't tell you how many I'm part of now, both because I can't remember and because it's a secret.

I paid off my student loan. Still working on Ciro's.

I started captioning NHL hockey. Which is not a sport I know much about. But I can fake knowing some stuff about it, and can understand where the punctuation goes.

I roasted chestnuts.

I had contact dermatitis for months on my hands, mostly on my right index finger. I'm not sure what triggered it. Since it's an autoimmune response, it's self-perpetuating once your skin starts freaking out. I stopped wearing rings and applied lotion at a Lady MacBeth in Scotland, PA rate. It seems like it's gone now, but I'm still not back to wearing rings, and am still moisturizing, just in case, since some of my skin texture is not yet fully ordinary. (Caveat: I may have had contact dermatitis on my hands as a 9-year-old, but that was more probably a mild food allergy to blackberries. Which I continued to eat anyway.)

I rode in an ambulance. I'd become really dehydrated from my body trying to get rid of norovirus (there's been an epidemic here). We don't have a car here, and I didn't trust myself not to vomit all over a taxi. After a couple bags of IV fluid at the hospital, I was ok.

I voted for a woman for President. It's the first time this option has been available to me on a major ticket. I liked her a lot, but she lost even though she won the popular vote.

Hundreds of thousands of people read my writing, although not all of them read all of it. It's a strange thing to think about. The link to one piece (about flowers) was shared on facebook almost 30,000 times.

For The Billfold, I wrote:
"Bank of Italian-American No-Fee High-Wire Money Juggling"
"The Agony and the Ecstasy of Low-Level Tax Evasion"
"My Life in Collections: Mussel Shells, Age 3"
"My Life in Collections: Travel Dolls, Age 7"
"My Life in Collections: Stickers, Age 8"
"My Life in Collections: Girl Scout Badges, Age 10"
"An Emergency Handbook for an Impromptu Italian Beach Vacation"
"My Life in Collections: Jurassic Park Trading Cards, Age 12"
"A Tale of Two Tax Homes"
"Burn Rates and Disposable Income"
"Changing Dollars into Euros Two Ways"

For Atlas Obscura, I wrote:
"What Happened to the Bottom Third of a Famous Tintoretto Artwork?"
"The Scandalous Decision To Pickle Admiral Horatio Nelson In Brandy"
"The Explosive Truth Behind the Movie Theater Projection Room"
"Oxyrhynchus, Ancient Egypt's Most Literate Trash Heap"
" The Historical Reenactor Accuracy Wars"
"Confetti Candy, the Ancient Italian Predecessor of the Tic Tac"
"How Flower-Obsessed Victorians Encoded Messages in Bouquets"
"Endurance Starvation Was Once a Crowd-Pleasing Sport"
"When Tomatoes Were Blamed For Witchcraft and Werewolves"
(a couple of these made the Digg homepage)

For feminist humor legend The Toast, I wrote:
"Girly Vectors: A Watch List"
"Six Bands You Didn’t Know Were Broken Up By Yoko Ono"

"The Best Presidential Insult Nicknames" appeared in The Awl

My poem "Alien Ginsburg" ran in Dreams&Nightmares (not available online), and my poem "Grandiflora" ran in Polu Texni.

I also wrote a script called "Radiance" for director Faith Selby, a monster story with a subtext about racism. We hope to shoot it in the not too distant future.

I suspended the Postorbital project indefinitely because I needed that time for political action subsequent to the November election. I self-published the reasonably well-received "It Ain’t Over ’Til It’s Over: A Hail-Mary Strategy To Change the Electoral College Before December 19" and "How Electors Are Responding to the Letter-Writing Campaign," because when revolution is in the air, what I know how to do is leaflet, Thomas Paine style. The latter is, as far as I know, the only attempt to collect and centralize the opinions of all on-the-record electors. One of whom reached out to me afterward to say thanks.

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

I wanted to get better at Italian, pay off my student loans, and make around $400/mo from writing. Which I did, although I'm still not good enough at Italian. I will probably not push as hard on writing in 2017, because I don't think I'll have time.

I wanted to finish my Siege feature script but haven't started it yet. Got pushed out of the way by stuff that paid me.

Things I've committed to this year include finishing the edit of the second book in Sharon's Elspeth Romero trilogy, writing a song about my friend Ed in time for her birthday, making some kind of progress on a story I'm developing with REL, finishing a short as research/promotion for Power (an urban fantasy feature Ciro and I will hopefully shoot in 2018 or 2019), and getting to work on that Siege script. I'm also, as usually, peripherally involved in some Tony Ukpo projects.



3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

High school friend Karen had twins, and co-workers Angela and Amanda each had singletons.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

One of my elderly relatives, Bill Bowie. He sounds like a distant relative if I map it out - he was married to my paternal grandmother's first cousin - but since we both lived in Dallas for a long time, we saw a lot of each other when I was a kid. I liked him a lot, and he shaped my sense of how a rich person is supposed to act, which include owning a grand piano, dining at the petroleum club, and having live-in staff and a pool, but also being nice to people who are nowhere near your income bracket and paying more attention to that than trying to keep up with the Joneses. He and Betty always remembered to send birthday cards, which counts for a lot when you're a kid who moves around a lot and wants to know she hasn't been forgotten. Also, if you didn't guess from the name - descendant of Bill Bowie, from the Alamo.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just Italy and the US. I don't currently have the money or vacation time to do a lot more than that.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Full confidence that the US isn't about to turn into a fascist dictatorship. And on a personal note, I should make time to write more fiction.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 9 (day after presidential election)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

A curator from the Smithsonian museum of American History wrote me a fan letter.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I have missed a lot of routine medical checkups, partly because there aren't many hours I'm off work and the doctors' offices are open, and partly because my language skills are still limited and it's hard to make appointments over the phone for generalized stuff. "I need the flu vaccine" is easy, and "I'm terribly ill" is urgent, but getting through an annual physical or explaining my dental history are neither. It makes me nervous.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I covered this already: stomach virus and dermatitis.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Some Dragon Age expansions. I love that game. I was supposed to buy myself some new clothes - I have a budget set aside for that - but there really aren't very many business hours when I'm free from obligations on my time. My off hours (non-sleeping) are 9pm to midnight. Stores are closed then.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I can repeat from last year that Angela Merkel is doing an impressive job.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I can repeat from last year:

Let's say that I'm following the rhetoric from Trump supporters fairly closely.

Something I've thought about a lot in the last few weeks is how quickly a government or a culture can change, even without a civil war or coup. For instance, before 20 years ago, Israel had a mostly secular European-like Labor majority government. The last 20 years, dominated by religious conservatives; liberals are now less than 15% of the electorate, and there's no reason to think that will change soon. Somebody who grew up in Israel 30 years ago literally grew up in a different culture, one almost antithetical to the one that exists now.

In 2001, when the U.S. reacted to the Twin Tower attacks by launching a major war, militarizing the police, creating Homeland Security, passing the Patriot Act, opening Guantanamo Bay, becoming torturers, and flagrantly violating established international law, I looked at the jingoism the country was leaning into, especially in bumper-sticker Texas, and I thought (and said at the time), "this is it. My America is over and is not going to come back. My country no longer exists in a form I can recognize as home."

Later on, I walked back on that idea. I thought, "nah, you're overreacting. A lot of the things you perceive as strange probably aren't, and others are probably being walked back." I started to think that maybe what I had actually felt in 2001 was my impending graduation from college and entry into the "real world" of adulthood. Maybe those ideas I'd had about America and what it meant had been things that only existed for children.

And then, for instance, Obama was elected, which seemed to be a clear statement that, no, we're turning the page on all that. And other great stuff happened, like we finally recognized gay marriage, and passed a health plan (which is deeply flawed, but still something after so many years of nothing).

But I don't know anymore that I wasn't right in 2001. The anti-Muslim stuff scares me. The police brutality scares me. Endless expensive warmongering doesn't seem to have slowed down at all, or to have a point to it. The bombing of the MSF hospital and subsequent coverup attempt makes me feel hollowed out. It's strange to be in the place where I'm constantly thinking "America is dead" and simultaneously thinking "no you're just being dramatic and naieve."


On which note, since the election, a fair number of acquaintances have said some variation of "thank goodness we can ask you things, because you're so levelheaded and never seem shocked and panicked as all this unfolds." I don't think I'm actually paying more attention than anyone else. I was just present for the tech rehearsals.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Until I resumed my captioning job in September (which I was able to do thanks to my permesso coming through and making my work status clear, and also thanks to flexibility from my employer), we were very paycheck to paycheck. Ciro was not making enough money but was working all the time, which meant I had no money and no time to make more money. We were not spending anything we didn't have to. Now we're back to relative financial comfort, so we've been able to relax a little when it comes to buying the occasional book or sweet treat, but I'm mostly holding on to a large emergency fund.

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

A lot of our friends and family came to visit us in Italy, including Mom, Dad, REL, Acevedo, Chad, and Ed and Ashley.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

"Stressed Out" by twenty one pilots, which I thought was in on the joke but now I'm not sure. My sister REL has never liked it because as she points out the mamas were stressed out. This is the joke I'd thought they were in on, and maybe they were, but I'm currently suspicious of all nostalgic straight white men who haven't proved their loyalty. (A lot of them have.)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

About the same. Less money stress, more political stress.

ii. thinner or fatter?

About the same.

iii. richer or poorer?

Richer.

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

I wish I had more time and freedom to explore the area.

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

Cleaning up after other people.

20. How did you spend the holidays?

Mom and Dad were in town for Thanksgiving, and just for a change of pace we went to a kind of silly German restaurant that looks like the inside of a deck of cards. Then on the weekend we had a more traditional meal at the home of one of Ciro's American coworkers (whose husband, coincidentally, is the chef at the German restaurant). I made apple pie. For Christmas, we were joined by Ciro's brother Antonio and watched Scrooge with Albert Finney as usual. New Year's Eve, we played board games at Roberto and Cristina's apartment and ate the traditional Italian lentils for good luck (very tasty).

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Since politics have been so central to my worklife (as a captioner of live news) and my home life (as an activist), I've been glad of the clips that Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel have been putting online from their late night shows, intelligently skewering the more ridiculous behaviors that have gone on. Being able to laugh about the bad stuff, without losing any sense of its impact, has been very important this year. Particularly since for a lot of it most mainstream television commentary outside of comedy programs kept striving for a sense of "balance" when unbalanced stuff was happening, it was a huge relief to be able to check in once a day and go "ok, I'm not crazy. That was absurd."

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Kellyanne Conway. I doubt she's changed much in a year, but before I didn't know about her.

25. What was the best book you read?

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which makes it the second year in a row I've picked one of her books as my favorite. It's entirely possible that streak will continue, although I've just started (in 2017) reading Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend and I have a feeling it's going to be tough to top.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Wintergatan, of the famous music machines, and Benjamin Clementine.

27. What did you want and get?

financial stability (relatedly, it's nice to be back to hanging out with my captioning coworkers, who I like a lot)

28. What did you want and not get?

President Hillary Clinton

29. What was your favorite film this year?

I liked all the 2016 films I saw: Arrival; Kubo and the Two Strings; Hail, Caesar; 10 Cloverfield Lane; The Neon Demon; Hell or High Water; HyperNormalisation. My favorite was probably HyperNormalisation, which is notable because it's extremely rare for my favorite movie to be a documentary.

Stuff I caught up on from last year and liked: Carol, The Big Short, The Hateful Eight, Inherent Vice, Two Days One Night

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

Friends came over. We played board games and ate cake and fancy potato chips. (And other stuff, but that part is how you know it was a party.) I turned 36.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More of a safety net - knowing that if something goes wrong, I have the contacts and institutional knowledge to fix it. Right now, that's pretty up in the air even with small mild things, and maybe especially with small, mild things like knowing where to buy scotch tape or who I could ask to hang out at my apartment if I need to run errands but am expecting a package.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

About like a female version of Wes Anderson. Not a character in a Wes Anderson film, just Wes Anderson.

33. What kept you sane?

It's been good to have WhatsApp and be able to leave/get voice messages from my best friend Val.

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

Kate McKinnon blew up this year and everybody had a crush on her, and I enjoyed being able to participate in also having a crush on her. And on basically everyone in The Night Manager.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The resurgence out-and-proud "white power" racism.

36. Who did you miss?

My cousin Scarlett.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

My core friends are Roberto, Cristina, and Roberta, but I have a ton of new friends; I found or was found by Pescara's nerd community in early January 2016, and things took off. It's maybe the easiest cultural fit I've ever experienced in my life.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

I have a pretty clear understanding of why I do the things I do, so if somebody disagrees with my choices it doesn't need to upset me since it doesn't matter. I don't think this is a lesson that should be generalized to other people, or even to a less experienced me, but at this point I think I'm pretty solid when it comes to knowing what's what, and if I'm sure I want something to happen, it's easier on everyone if I go ahead and do it instead of waiting to build consensus. This is a variation on a lesson I keep learning but not learning, which is that when I try to work as part of a team, it's generally much easier on the team if I tell them what I'm doing rather than asking for input. I don't know why. But this seems to be the case.

39. Quote a song that sums up your year:

I've got thick skin and an elastic heart
But your blade it might be too sharp
I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard
I may snap and I move fast
But you won't see me fall apart
'Cos I've got an elastic heart

And I will stay up through the night
Let's be clear, won't close my eyes
And I know that I can survive
I'll walk through fire to save my life

And I want it, I want my life so bad
I'm doing everything I can
Then another one bites the dust
It's hard to lose a chosen one

You did not break me
I'm still fighting for peace

(Sia, "Elastic Heart")

(no subject)

Date: 2017-02-06 09:05 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
The latter is, as far as I know, the only attempt to collect and centralize the opinions of all on-the-record electors. One of whom reached out to me afterward to say thanks.

That's pretty cool.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-02-06 10:31 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: (books!)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
You're like my lifespiration. I wish I got even a 10th of what you do done.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-02-06 10:49 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
I think the difference is that you have more to show for it. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-02-07 05:11 pm (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
I somehow missed the Yoko Ono piece on The Toast. It's delightful.

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rinue

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