Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Giddy-up! A big fat welcome
to 2014 and the year of the horse

Let's have a recap of 2013, shall we?

I'm aware that 2013 could rightfully be summed up as "the year my blog withered and nearly died, or maybe kind of actually did die, but with potential of being resurrected" but that's not very specific, now is it?? Also, this is sort of a combination recap of the past calendar year (2013), the past year of the snake (which lasts another week yet before turning into the year of the horse), and the past year of working as a foreign trainer at Wall Street English in Guangzhou (Jan 14, 2013 - Jan 13, 2014).

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?Besides "live in China," which is so obvious? I actually learned to speak a teeny, tiny bit of (Mandarin) Chinese, which was both terribly exciting, as it is something I have sworn for 30 years I was going to do, and terribly disappointing, in that I really can still not make it through a conversation beyond, say, "Me want beer. Give one. Thank you. Turn right."
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?Hmmm, what did I resolve for 2013? If I resolved to blog regularly, I certainly failed miserably at that. Of course, pre-VPN that wasn't entirely my fault, but who are we kidding: I failed. But I can't remember what else I resolved. To learn Chinese? (see #1) Am I going to make more resolutions? Is the Pope a (surprisingly fun and socially just) Catholic? I've already made them. And I totally wrote them down this time. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?My sister! I now have a fifth nephiece. I totally and irrevocably have a free pass on the provide-me-a-grandchild front. We are good to go in that department. 
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Brian's grandfather and my sister's mother-in-law passed away, so I was really close to people who had people close to them die. And this is the second time someone close to Brian has died while we were living in Asia, which is kind of strange. 
5. Did you visit anywhere exciting?
We added five countries to our tally: the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. I was pretty delighted about traveling to Hanoi and Bali, among other places. And within China, we had Hong Kong and Macau right down the street railroad, so we went to each place multiple times. Plus, we squeezed in trips to Guilin-Yangshuo and Shanghai. So, yes to this one.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?As ever, and as the beloved Ms. Woolf put it, "a room of one's own." 
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Probably January 8, the day we left the U.S. to move to China for the year. It was a great Manhattan Beach happy hour layover farewell.  
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Huh. I'm really not sure. I'll go with working for a magazine as an assistant editor and writer. I'm all kinds of excited that I've been able to do that. 
9. What was your biggest mistake?
I think not switching from the Wednesday to the Tuesday Chinese class sooner--it's just a schedule thing, but I would have checked off a lot more of my Guangzhou list if I had done that, plus I would have had more happiness and sanity. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A little virus here and there. Managed to avoid the H7N9 and whatever other global pandemic is originating in China next...knock on wood.  
11. What was the best thing you bought?
New-to-me used laptop! Because I really needed one, you see. 
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?Quincy, our beloved adopted kitten, who is so charming and was such a good-hearted kitten that we were devastated to have to send him to live in Foshan with our friends, we but did that so he could live with a feline friend, and we think he appreciates it. And we are still involved in Quincy's life. 
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A few co-workers, specifically the ones who have lied to the company and/or looked the other way about bogus credentials, timekeeping/punching in and out, or calling in "sick"/hungover, and the two (TWO!) managers of mine who got fired for cooking the books and fudging numbers and cheating on targets instead of doing everything right. Please, people: behave in the workplace. Be adults. It's not that hard.

14. Where did most of your money go in 2013?
This is so easily plane tickets. To, from, and within China and SE Asia.  
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?Plane tickets, to, from, and within China and SE Asia. 
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
I suppose the Mileys: "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball."  Because Miley.
Um, God, hellllllooooooo!
17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
Fatter. I lost weight in Mexico and gained weight in China. Take that, all you foolish bean-and-cheese-and-tortilla-hatin' folk. Mexican food is delicious and fresh and perfect. 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?Drinking.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Macau! So fabulous. We loved Macau from the first minute we visited in early April, and knew we'd go back. And it was the perfect place to have a Christmas holiday; we splurged (as a Christmas present to ourselves) on a nice hotel and enjoyed a Christmas dinner feast, ice skating at the Venetian casino, wintry decorations, and so forth. 
21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
With Quincy!
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Although this was the year that Brian and I  hopped aboard the Game of Thrones bandwagon and I finally plunged into The Wire, the winner is, as it has been for the past five years, Breaking Bad
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hmmm...hate being such a strong word...but I certainly hate the actions of several people that I didn't know about at this time last year. 
24. What was the best book you read?
The Grapes of Wrath
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Caitlin Rose (thanks, Ann!)
Plus, I actually listened to the lyrics of "Ho Hey"--he's singing about the Chinatown bus!! I never realized!
26. What did you want and get?
Trips to the Philippines and Vietnam. 
27. What did you want and not get?
To pay off one of my credit cards. I sort of had a plan for that, but then I failed. 
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Oh my, this birthday is best forgotten, truly. I was going without beer during the month of May, which meant that at the work-sponsored karaoke night on May 12 (the night before my day), I drank wine instead. One should not drink wine during an event of such unabashed drunken revelry, when one's glass is constantly refilled. One could kill oneself, or at least eat away the inside of one's esophagus, methinks. One should never have such copious amounts of wine. One wonders how Plato, Dionysus, did it? Needless to say, I was hungover (gross) on my birthday, and spent much of it lying on the floor of our apartment. Brian, who was suffering an unrelated ailment, went out to get me crackers after I pleaded with him to do so.  (Such a kind boyfriend. Happy birthday, eh?) I had to go to work to teach three classes from 6:00-9:30 p.m.  I made it, after a hangover meal at KFC. Argh. They had a nice cake for me at work, though!
29. What’s one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
In a schadenfreude way, I suppose that Peter, a manager who got fired for doing things we all knew he  wasn't supposed to do, some of which I refused to do, could have been fired in front of me instead of just being disappeared, and perhaps forced to retract his negative assessment of me as a non-team player who is "below average" on willingness to take on extra work, like the extra things he wasn't supposed to be pressuring us to do. 

Or, being able to take Quincy home to the U.S. 

Or, finishing more  books. Like, I really meant to also read Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and The Water Margin while living in China, not just A Dream of Red Mansions/Chamber, which p.s. took me for freaking ever. 
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I wore skirts, button-down shirts, dresses, blouses, and sweaters to work. I wore the same three or four shirts and jeans on my days off. That's about it. 

31. What kept you sane?
Contenders: Goodreads. The DVD man on the corner. The VPN. Trivia night at the Tavern.
Maybe nothing, actually. 
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Um - no-one?  But I did get a not-so-little thrill every time Frank played a Jon Stewart clip from The Daily Show at trivia night, rather than the "funny" laugh-at-people-falling-flailing-failing /animal antics/weird signs/dirty innuendo videos.
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Atrocious treatment of animals, to wit: cages (including in pet shops---tiny cages for cats -- no no no), the cat-and-dog-meat industries in China, with all their shady-side-of-the-law torture, underfeeding, inhumane treatment, housing, and transport, let alone slaughter, etc. 
34. Who do you miss the most?
I'm not sure that I really miss people, just in general. Is that bad? I definitely can't single one out.   
35. Who was the best new person you met?
Also ??  I mean, I don't have, like, a ranked order or something. 
36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013?
English is a skill for my students, and I am their trainer, facilitating their practice of that skill, just as a coach would help student to do a back handspring or hit down-and-away pitches. It's very helpful to conceive of language classes that way instead of as a "teacher" of information. 
37. What are your new year's resolutions for 2014?
Some of them are secret, but one of them is to work on having better posture. That one I can share.
Also, this lapsed vegetarian is gradually rediscovering her faith. 


Megan said...

Until I got to your regret about drinking so much beer, I was going to say that "Me want beer" is a pretty solid start on any language front.

Also the last line of your response about what kept you sane - every year I could probably answer the same way.

Glad your year was eventful even if your online presence was missed. Safe travels!

linda said...

Thanks, Megan! For my next act, I will learn "me want beer" in Thai...
I've been out of touch with both posting to and reading bloggage, and need to get back in the swing of things. Onward, 2014!