I barely managed to update in 2016 for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to our house move in late July and work sapping every last ounce of my remaining energy. Hopefully I will not miss anything out of this.
1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Went to Bulgaria! Also: met an A-list celebrity!
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Thank goodness, I decided not to bother.
This year I may try and update LJ more – at least once a month. Plus I have a few house-related bits I want to sort out like curtains for the living room in readiness for next winter (we have mahoosive patio doors which are awesome but also not conducive to retaining heat!), hanging pictures, installing a catflap. Boring grown-up stuff basically, hashtag adulting.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not this year.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nobody close to me, thank anything, but the less said about the Year of Celebrity Death, the better, quite frankly. 2016 seemed to be a relentless stream of popular celebrities leaving us, and although I am somewhat partial to the theory that David Bowie has set up an alternative universe somewhere and is slowly hand-picking its population, it could just as easily be that the dolphins are escaping before the world ends... (I can't lay claim to either of these, alas.)
I have been fortunate that none of the celebrities last year held a special place in my heart, but I know that a lot of them were important to lots of people, and it just resulted in spending the whole year in anticipatory dread that next time it'll be One of Mine, and another of those years where you see a celebrity trending on Twitter and immediately think the worst.
5. What countries did you visit?
Bulgaria, to visit my mum and David. Generally it was a lovely holiday, though by the time we got there the months leading up to that point had been so stressful that for the first couple of days I was severely lacking in spoons and had a bit of a meltdown on the third or fourth night arising out of a discussion about politics. Other than that it was enjoyable, and we’re hoping to go back in June this year as by September a lot of stuff tends to be off-season and thus closed.
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A diagnosis and some kind of plan, and hopefully a positive resolution to my NHS complaint. I would also like not to be feeling like death the majority of the time but let’s not count chickens, etc. I have finally managed to organise myself into sending off the NHS England consent form so they can investigate the shit locum who refused to refer me back in August 2014 (as I had mentioned that in my “particulars of complaint”), as well as booking my next appointment at the BMI / Priory in Edgbaston, which will be on 18th January. It's a private hospital but as part of NHS Choices you can receive your NHS treatment there for free. I did not know until very recently that you actually get a choice as to where you're treated; I always thought you were constricted by catchment areas. I’m hoping for a fresh start with a new hospital, and to get my biopsy booked in finally – bearing in mind this should have been triggered by my original TB tests returning negative back in March if not for Dickhead Urologist deciding to discharge me.
Also, for the world not to descend into fascism, but I suspect that might be a pipe dream.
7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
11th February, the date of Chris's funeral (David's mother). It was a very weird, emotional day in the already weird, emotional run-up to the emigration a few days later.
14th April, when Paul, commoncomitatus and I went to see Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard in London. (See response to question 1.)
15th October, the day before my birthday when we had a combined birthday/Halloween party that was more the former as I couldn't be bothered to decorate. The party itself was not particularly noteworthy other than to trigger the ending of a 16-year friendship which felt like it had been a long time coming. I didn't update about this at the time, although I did (of course) end up offloading it at Eni, but if anyone does want to know more then I'll share via email or whatever. As friendship break-ups go (and I have been through a lot in my time), this was the least upsetting, possibly because Paul dealt with most of it rather than me, and because it felt more like a relief than anything else.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not killing any of the idiot senior managers at work, and in the same vein, not walking out in a fit of rage and/or going off on long-term sick. It has been tempting on more than one occasion.
Also finally writing and sending off my NHS complaint, which is currently being investigated. My unceremonious discharge from out-patient treatment in May due to a hospital/lab cock-up was what triggered it initially, but it then took a few more months to actually finish it properly, due to the house move and having to switch GPs - I wanted to be fully informed of where the situation was before I sent it off. In the end it was 7 pages long with a 6-page chronology. After two years of being patient and playing nice, I had reached the end of my tether.
There's still no light at the end of the tunnel but my experiences with my new GP and latterly with another consultant at the TB clinic have at least reassured me that the entire NHS is not a pit of fail, and that the problem did appear to be with my urologist rather than me. The complaint is damning and at the very least I expect an apology.
In non-health / work related achievements, I also finished my Sunset story, "Precious Illusions". This was a re-write of "Tango up on Sunset", my first ever story for the fandom (and the one which birthed the majority of my headcanons) written back in 2001. I had been intending to re-write it for some time, and seeing the show in April was the perfect catalyst. I honestly did not think I would finish it, nor did I anticipate how much I would come to love the story - or indeed how long it would end up! The fact that I managed to finish it despite three months of house-related stress makes the entire feat even more impressive, and it has been the ideal example of fandom, as ever, keeping me sane.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Relating to the above - I had intended to write some "missing scenes" for the Sunset story to send to Eni as part of her Christmas present, but pre-Christmas stress knocked the inspiration and motivation out of me. Then during my recent week off I planned to send her what I’d already done for a good old Y!M flail (as well as properly typing out thoughts arising from the previous two flails) but exhaustion kind of wiped out all my good intentions. Hopefully, the traditional January writing flurry will enable me to finish them in time for her birthday.
I also feel like Christmas was a bit of a fail for me this year, at least in terms of finding any Christmas spirit. I spent the entire of my usual "shopping day" hating every second of the process, which was not helped by Birmingham being even more crowded and useless than usual and my standard hatred of the Frankfurt Market, which this year was even bigger and even more protracted. We were typically last minute in finishing our shopping and, I dunno, I just never quite managed to feel properly festive at any point.
It's like... I want to like Christmas. I really do. But year on year I get more and more fed up of it all. For 2016 in particular I had just been so tired, and so stressed at work, and I think my lack of Christmas spirit was more a reflection on the year in general than Christmas itself. I just wanted it all to be over.
I felt a little better about things after it had all been and gone, and finishing Paul’s birthday shopping was thankfully painless.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Ongoing undiagnosed mysterious condition has continued being undiagnosed and mysterious, with the added bonus of premature and unreasonable discharge from Outpatients care.
My mental health has been "challenging" this year, to use a phrase favoured by one of our Chairs. During the house move stress I hit my lowest point in a very long time, and even though things have improved since then there have nonetheless been a few wobbles along the way. I am always conscious of the fact that the start of a new year can sometimes be a false indicator of things improving: the “fresh start” mindset is good for a couple of weeks, but then it wears off and you’re back at square one.
This year I have also had two of the worst migraines of my entire life, both as a result of stress. I think that says a lot.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Tickets to Sunset Boulevard! Obviously, seeing this production was non-negotiable. Seeing any production of the show is non-negotiable, quite frankly, so the fact that this was a very limited run starring none other than Glenn Close was the icing on the cake.
Getting to share this with commoncomitatus was awesome, not least because it was our first time seeing each other in RL since she moved to Sweden nearly four years ago. This was one of the very first fandoms I ever inflicted on her when we first met (and there have been several over the years, some of which stuck and some of which emphatically did not!) and the second production of the show that we'd seen together. More than the show itself – though it was undoubtedly awesome as my 10,000 words of flail might have indicated - I remember us fangirling like lunatics during the interval, having an in-depth discussion about the importance of Hands and analysing teeny tiny little moments which probably nobody except us had noticed. (I feel so sorry for all the people in our immediate vicinity – they must have thought we were completely mad.)
But obviously, the show was also amazing - in many ways it surpassed my expectations more so afterwards than at the time, as since then I have discovered some of the nuances I thought were new were in fact part of the original Broadway production back in 1994. (Which explains a lot, actually, given who was starring.) It has, more than anything, reminded me of why Sunset is one of my favourite fandoms, because every time I revisit it there are more and more layers of interpretation to unpeel. My only regret is that the fandom itself is so tiny, fanfic writers are few and far between, and that I desperately want to share the TUOS re-write with one old friend in particular but would feel terrible just emailing her out of the blue just to throw words at her. (She beta'd the original version of the story and was the first, occasionally only reader of my old stories which never otherwise saw the light of day. My writing and my understanding have matured so much since then and I just... I'd like to share that with her, to show her how far I've come. Because I’m a loser, apparently.)
At some point over my week off I intended to tackle two separate Sunset-related LJ posts about the Radio 3 performance and the 1994 Broadway bootleg staring Betty Buckley, so that the Further Thoughts which arose from joint enjoyment of these things with commoncomitatus over Yahoo!Messenger could be properly written up and shared… but yeah, see above re: exhaustion.
Other than that, the other best things I bought this year were very boring adult things like a set of bedroom furniture and a cabinet for the dining room to hold our posh glasses and plates. I have also rediscovered my love of craft supplies (and card-making) and it turns out that The Works are more than happy to indulge me.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
I'm pretty sure I say this every year, but commoncomitatus, again. I think that's the third year running. I don't think there have been quite so many life rants to endure this year, but she has been on the receiving end of my various Sunset-related flails and I have broken her brain more times than I can count. (You know you're in fandom when...)
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The Tories - specifically David Cameron for triggering the utter shitstorm that was the EU Referendum and then exiting stage left when he didn't want to deal with it, and latterly Theresa May for dragging us all off the cliff with her into a dystopian nightmare because Brexit means Brexit means fuck-all as long as it’s red-white-and-blue.
In that vein: 52% of the voting public can literally go fuck themselves, Nigel Farage and all the other Brexiteers can kindly throw themselves under their propaganda-emblazoned Bus of Lies, and WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING AMERICA.
At this point I am mostly just boggling that we allowed the general public, the same idiots who vote on X-Factor (and probably in greater numbers, sadly), to decide on something as important as the future of our entire country. The fact is, THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN OUR DECISION IN THE FIRST PLACE, and now we're all facing uncertainty and potential economic doom because of right-wing lies and xenophobia. And because my mother has finally, finally managed to achieve that long-held dream of emigrating abroad for her retirement and it could all be potentially jeopardised because of racist dickheads, which makes me unspeakably angry. To the 52%: it’s not just about fucking immigrants, you selfish twats – this referendum actually affects people’s lives. And you’ll soon be complaining when you can’t fly out to Marbella for a fiver with The Sun to enjoy your full English breakfast in 40-degree heat, I’ll bet.
(Yeah, this is also a perfect example of how this process has brought out the worst in absolutely everyone.)
Ugh. Life was so much simpler when I had no interest in politics. :(
14. Where did most of your money go?
Into a bloody black hole as usual. We managed to spend surprisingly little in London due to spending the majority of the second day exploring the V&A. Thank anything, my mum lent us some money to help with the house move and then informed us it was a gift that didn't need to be paid back, which also allowed us to get plane tickets to Bulgaria in September.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Sunset Boulevard in April, and our holiday in September.
Also, NEW X-FILES in February. There was a moment just before the first episode where I felt 16 again, and it was glorious.
16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
I'm officially giving up on this question.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(a) happier or sadder? Sadder. I think this goes without saying for basically everyone.
(b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. I thought my weight had plateau’d but nope, apparently I have put on another stone.
(c) richer or poorer? Poorer, though it’s hard to tell at present because we haven’t got a clear picture on what our year-round utility bills are going to look like…
One year, this will change. My bank loan will actually be done as of December 2017 so that's something.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spent time with people. During the house move in particular I was very antisocial, and I am always so tired that nights out or doing things on weekends are too energy-draining. We have done a few pub quizzes this year, but not much else. This was a contributing factor (though not, by any stretch, the main cause) of the friendship break-up in October.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I said a similar thing last year, but: gotten angry about work situations which I am powerless to change. The powerlessness is, alas, part of the reason I have been so angry, and some of the anger felt justified at the time, but doesn't achieve anything except making me ill. 2016 was stressful enough already, and all I wanted to do is go to work, get on with things and block out my real-life stuff for seven hours, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
I think, actually, this is what makes it so much worse: senior managers are making decisions which impact on all of us, subjecting us to ridiculous scrutiny for no reason and assuming that we aren't working hard enough (these past couple of months we have been busier than ever), without considering the impact of any of this on staff morale, or that some of us might actually have problems outside of work. And when morale is low and everyone is stressed and pissed off, relatively minor problems blow up into massive issues, we kick up a fuss and it makes everything worse.
I think I should have included my line manager in question 12. I do not envy her in the slightest for having to manage a team of hot-headed and constantly irate minute-takers, defend us to her colleagues AND keep her own managers happy at the same time. Pretty sure I would have said something incriminating by now if it was me. :P
20. How did you spend Christmas?
On the 23rd we had the traditional family gathering over at Darren and Andrea's. It was a slightly different affair this time as I'd brought the Kindle with me so we could Skype my mum and David to include them in the proceedings, which eventually worked after a few technical issues. We passed them around to say hello to everyone and they met Paul's dad for the first time, which was... possibly better for not being face-to-face.
I spent three weeks making Christmas cards and then forgot to put them in the gift bags with all the presents. Obviously.
On Christmas Eve we had the also-traditional meet-up with friends to swap gifts. This turned out to be a break from tradition in several ways, because we went to Las Iguanas for a meal rather than the Briar Rose. This was due to the aforementioned friendship break-up, as the friend in question is usually responsible for organising the Christmas Eve meet-up but was going to America for Christmas, so wanted to bring the gathering forward by a week. Most weekends before Christmas are a no-go for me because I'm constantly busy and need every bit of spare time I can get, but the last Saturday before Christmas would normally have been a problem for me anyway as that's when my choir's Christmas concert falls. (I have taken a year off this year, as it happens.)
Paul was also irritated that the friend in question had hijacked Christmas Eve and rearranged it to suit herself - it's not just her event, it's everyone's. So we decided to organise something else instead.
The meal and subsequent drinks at the Dragon Inn (the Wetherspoons around the corner) was actually really nice, and really hammered home for me why this particular friendship breakup is actually a good thing. There were no pointless arguments; nobody felt afraid to express their opinion in case it triggered a diatribe; there were no dead dad jokes (I know everyone deals with grief in different ways but wow, inappropriate much?); it just felt like friends laughing and joking and enjoying a meal together, rather than one particular person “holding court” and being a self-centred dick.
You know that thing where you don't realise you're in an abusive relationship or a stressful situation until it ends? Yeah, this is how that felt. Ever since October, a harsh light has been thrown on several things which were very, very wrong in the friendship, and Christmas Eve was just another example of my not quite realising how bad things had become.
I don’t really know what next year will hold for the friendship in question, because Paul’s approach has been to completely stop talking to her and I’m… attempting to be civil because I don’t want to cause a row, but at some point she either needs to realise that she owes us an apology, and if that isn’t forthcoming then we probably need to face this head-on and deal with it properly. But for now it’s about self-preservation, surrounding myself with positive/non-toxic people, and having time out to re-evaluate the situation.
21. How did you spend New Year's Eve?
I wanted to burn an effigy of 2016 so I could watch the bastard die, but instead we ended up watching Legend (Tom Hardy as the Kray twins, not Tim Curry as the Devil) until gone midnight whilst drinking premium Lidl champagne. I think we clinked at midnight when all the fireworks went off but for the most part I made a conscious decision not to acknowledge the year ending or the new one starting, because I felt that might give 2016 more importance than it deserved.
22. Did you fall in love in 2016?
23. How many one-night stands?
Both of these questions are (still) redundant.
24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Westworld and The Exorcist were both awesome, and American Horror Story's two latest seasons, "Hotel" and "Roanoke", were also very enjoyable. (I think as a result of "Hotel" I have finally made my peace with Lady Gaga, because I fully expected to hate her and was really impressed. Also I think it made me realise that her entire career has been more about performance art than anything else.)
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
All Tory Scum, anyone who still believes Brexit will be anything other than an epic disaster and particularly the Brexit voters who are still gloating and telling us to get over it, and two specific individuals in senior management who have been mostly responsible for all of the work stress.
26. What was the best book you read?
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling, which I read on holiday. Other than Atonement (Ian McEwan) which I also read on holiday, I have literally not finished any other books.
7. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't think this really counts but I rediscovered Faith Brown's rendition of "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from (of course) Sunset Boulevard, arising out of listening to the rare Radio 3 performance of the show starring Petula Clarke and Michael Ball with commoncomitatus and following it up by listening to All The AIWSNG's. It was like an aural time machine and a gut punch to the feels at the same time. (I want that illegal footage of the final night of the UK tour in Birmingham and I want it NOW.)
28. What did you want and get?
A new house, though to be fair we didn't really want a new house to begin with.
A chance to travel out to Bulgaria.
29. What did you want and not get?
For the UK to remain in the EU and for Donald Trump not to be elected. It boggles me still that I’m even having to say that.
30. What was your favourite film of the year?
It's been another year of not managing to get to the cinema. I think we only managed to see Alice Through the Looking Glass and Tim Burton's new film, Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children, both of which were enjoyable. We didn't find time to see Fantastic Beasts... due to traditional pre-Christmas lack of time.
On Boxing Day we watched Deadpool, which was highly enjoyable. We have watched a variety of films (old and new) on Sky over the course of the year, some brilliant and some terrible. :P
I'm not sure if it counts as a film, per se, but the filmed production of Miss Saigon that we saw on my birthday was also absolutely epic.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 35 - in the morning we went to see Miss Saigon (as above) and in the evening we had a meal at Miller & Carter, the steakhouse on Hagley Road. I had three days off work that subsequently turned into four thanks to a three-day migraine kicking in on the Tuesday.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Going back to the start of 2016 and starting over. Where’s the bloody Doctor when you need him?
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I have rediscovered corduroy thanks to it apparently coming back into style for the winter (thanks, Matalan!) and have a growing obsession with TeeFury. I also bought myself another Lindy Bop dress for my colleague's birthday party.
34. What kept you sane?
Fandom. 100% serious.
Also being able to listen to music on the bus so I don’t kill all the children.
35. Which celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most?
I’m pretty sure there was someone but I’ll be damned if I can remember who it was!
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Ugh, where do we even start?? Brexit, Mein Trumpf, those insane three weeks in June and July where the UK became a political parody of itself…
37. Who did you miss?
My mum, particularly on Mother’s Day and her birthday. For the most part I have come to terms with the emigration and have been dealing with it okay, but those two days in particular were a bit of a wobble, emotionally speaking.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
This year it was Ellie, who I had previously met last Christmas as a friend-of-a-friend. She has become a regular in our pub quiz team.
39. Did you meet anyone you only knew online?
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
Democracy is bullshit and your vote counts for nothing if you’re a socialist leftie in a world of racist Daily Mail-reading asshats.
I’m still bitter, okay?
41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
There’s a little black spot on the sun today
It’s the same old thing as yesterday
(“King of Pain”, Alanis Morissette [cover version])
I think that about sums up a relentlessly terrible year.
So, there we go.
Back at work today. Still busy but at least I have somewhat more motivation now than I did before Christmas, so maybe my pile of outstanding work might get done by the end of the week. :P
Over and out.