The Year in Review

By December 31, 2013 January 4th, 2014 year in review

Ten years ago, I found this questionnaire, and I’ve been filling it out every December since. See? 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003. It seems I’ve even begun inspiring some others to fill it out because my friend Nicole managed to host an entire link-up full of bloggers answering this exact questionnaire. =)

What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? Worked in an IT department, lived alone, tasted Wagyu beef.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? As usual, I kept lots, but not all. I’m working on my 2014 list — it’ll be my 11th straight year posting resolutions on this blog.

Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, Nicole gave birth to Kamden.

Did anyone close to you die? My Uncle Sal passed away in April, and my friend Jessie passed away in September. So many days, I’ve wished I could meet her for a drink to catch up. It still makes me sad that I can’t anymore.

What countries did you visit? Just a little bit of this one — NJ, Tennessee, DC, California, Florida. Oh, and that spur-of-the-moment little detour I took one day through Delaware — that was a nice day.

What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? A tropical vacation.

What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory? January 3rd — the day I gave up gluten on a whim to get rid of a lifelong headache. It worked and then some. I’ve been (mostly) gluten-free ever since.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? A headache-free existence, a new career path, and this blog’s 10 year anniversary.

What was your biggest failure? Gaining enough weight that I had to buy some bigger pants.

Did you suffer illness or injury? I took a nasty spill off my bike one rainy night over the summer, and I got so banged up, I looked like someone beat the crap out of me with a golf club. Other than that, not really — a total 180 from last year.

What was the best thing you bought? Margaritaville DM100 Frozen Concoction Maker.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My brother’s for graduating from CTT school in Pensacola and making it through his first six-month deployment on USS The Sullivans (DDG-68).

Where did most of your money go? Rent, Lilly Pulitzer, vet bills, wine, leasing a horse, 401(k), HSA, savings accounts.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? My new job in February.

What song will always remind you of 2013? Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show. Or Darius Rucker if you like that version better. Me? I’m partial to this take on it by two guys in a parked car.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Happier
Thinner or fatter? Fatter
Richer or poorer? Richer

What do you wish you’d done more of? Running.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Cleaning cat vomit off the floor.

How will you be spending Christmas? Christmas was sort of an anomaly this year. My parents wanted to be in Jacksonville to attend my brother’s ship’s homecoming when he returned from deployment on December 23rd. I had the option of going to Florida them, staying in VB with John and his family, or heading up to NJ by myself. I chose NJ by myself for two reasons: (1) I don’t have many opportunities to see all of my aunts, uncles and little cousins other than Christmas, and (2) spending Christmas alone is something people seem to dread, so I figured why not give it a try on my own terms. My favorite Christmas presents so far this year include an amazing new project at work, a summer road trip day in December, the perfect soundtrack for my trip(s), cozy new pajamas, an evening with my cousins, a beautiful view of sparkling lights on Christmas, a Fitbit, and a plane ticket to Florida. Here’s the story (in the second longest run-on paragraph I’ve probably ever written). My Christmas started before I even left work on December 20th, when we signed a contract to implement Salesforce.com at my company. It’s something we’d been working towards all year, and getting it finalized on my last official work day of 2013 was a pretty amazing way to kick off my Christmas vacation. My parents stopped over in VB on the 21st, and we had dinner before we parted ways in opposite directions. Then on the 22nd, I packed up the car and headed north to NJ for my first ever (for all intents and purposes) Christmas alone. It was a record-breaking warm day on the mid-Atlantic coast, and I drove all the way to NJ with the windows down, the sunroof open, and all my oldest and newest favorite songs to keep me company. I stopped once for a medium decaf with cream and sugar at Dunkin’ Donuts and once to stock up on giant bottles of tax-free spirits at the Costco liquor store in Delaware. I met Stacey for a late lunch/early dinner in Hamilton before I made my way to my parents’ house, where I was delighted to find the Christmas tree all lit up just for me. I settled in with my laptop and a glass of Kirkland bourbon and called it a night. On Monday, I fed my pet turtle, got some work done and did a little last-minute shopping (mostly for myself). I had dinner with Leah at some random tavern in Old Bridge and then repeated that thing with the bourbon and the laptop. On Christmas Eve, I wrapped some presents, whipped up my new favorite gluten-free slacker appetizer, packed up the car, and embarked on my Christmas Eve tour of New Jersey. First stop: Shop-Rite for a box of gluten-free pasta. Second stop: my grandparents’ house for the annual Bassani family Christmas Eve get-together. We were down three, but up two, and we managed to have a fabulous time drinking wine, stuffing our faces and opening presents. Third stop: Kristy’s house. Then before the night was over, I made an unexpected fourth stop at Regina’s mom’s house, where I had so much fun drinking coffee and reminiscing with her and her parents and Steve. I also met her girlfriend Laura, who was very cool. I watched them all open presents and was awestruck by the relationship between her dog and her bird. I made it back to my parents’ house by 2 am, opened my annual box of Christmas Eve pajamas (flannel, covered in multi-colored mustaches!), and went to sleep. On Christmas morning, I woke up, made myself a coffee, and sat by the tree awaiting my family’s call via FaceTime. I opened a few gifts with my Macbook Air parents and my brother, including the few five items I purchased and wrapped for myself. This resulted in a whole bunch of “What? Where did that come from? Marty, did you get her that?” from my mom while I tried ridiculously hard not to bust out laughing. It’s a pity I find myself so entertaining. I had also brought all of my unopened Christmas cards I received in the mail up and placed them under the tree for me to open on Christmas Day. Anyway, then I made myself a pork roll, egg and cheese and a bloody Mary. I wished a bunch of friends Merry Christmas, bundled up, and drove up the Parkway to my Aunt Debbie’s house. I forgot my box of gluten-free pasta, but remembered a bottle of Montepulciano, which paired perfectly with her homemade manicotti and meatballs. I caught up with my cousin Christina, visited with Rosie and her fat cat, and made conversation with my aunt’s friends. I left kind of early for fear of waiting too long and being taken out by a drunk driver during the hour-long ride home. Thanks to a serendipitous wrong turn, Waze made me take the Turnpike home, and just as I was wishing I had seem some better twinkly Christmas lights this year, the NYC skyline came into view. The Empire State Building was lit up all red and green, and maybe it was me, but it looked like lots of other buildings were lit up different colors, too. As the skyline disappeared over my left shoulder, I came down the overpass near the airport, and there was nothing but glittering lights on all sides — cars on the highway, cranes at the port, trains on the track, runway lights at the airport, and planes queued up to land for miles. Funny, even the Linden Cogeneration Plant looks eerily beautiful on an ice cold Christmas night, I think. Or maybe the music playing in my car just made it seem that way. =) Thursday I got a little more work done. I went shopping, but I came to the realization that I didn’t need or want anything at all. I took myself out to dinner, and I packed up my stuff to leave the next morning. On Friday, I rolled on back home to VB. The best thing about driving alone on a bright, chilly day like Friday was that I could open the sunroof, crack the rear passenger window, crank up the heat and not have to listen to anyone complain that their head was cold, but their arms were hot. Driving with fresh air flowing (even haphazardly) through the car is just better. I timed my drive over the CBBT perfectly (as usual) and got home just after sunset. John came over to trade Christmas gifts (I got a Fitbit and a new pair of noice-cancelling headphones) and take me out to dinner at Gringo’s (mmm…holiday margarita). I spent Saturday running errands, taking Diesel on a little jaunt through the woods with J, unpacking and repacking. On Sunday, I flew down here to Florida to spend a few days with my parents and my brother in a huge 3br condo on the beach in Palm Coast. Last night, we went to dinner with Stephen’s fiancé and her parents (cheers to meeting new family and random Italian restaurants offering gluten-free pasta these days), and I discovered a new favorite wine. Tonight, I think the plan is hor d’oeurves with the Fords and NYE in Daytona. Tomorrow, we do our family Christmas — and that, my friends, is why the answer to this question is just so damn long. =)

Did you fall in love in 2013? Yes, I kind of fell back in love with myself, my job, and my life.

How many one-night stands? None.

Who were your best friends? John, Tina, Vince, Kristy, and Stacey. Jeff and Michelle were my best friends at work. Nicole was my best blog friend. =)

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others? I opened two 529 college savings plans for my best friend’s kids. They’re not old enough yet to understand how meaningful that is, but I think in the long run, it will be.

What was your favorite TV program? Downton Abbey, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Walking Dead, Survivor, Hart of Dixie, The Carrie Diaries.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No.

What was the best book you read? Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com, Inc.

What was your greatest musical discovery? The Avett Brothers. The universe has been trying to get me to listen to this band all year. In January, they came up in conversation several times during our girls’ trip to Nashville. A friend with great taste in music said they were her favorite band, and I swore I’d give them a listen. I later found a crumpled up concert poster of theirs on the street and sent her an artsy Instagram photo of it. I can’t find it now, but it was a pretty cool shot. Anyway, I returned home, created an Avett Brothers Pandora station, fell in love with one song, and then never listened to it again. Over the summer, another girlfriend invited me to see them play in Portsmouth, and I declined for whatever reason — probably because I didn’t know any of their music. Finally, right before I left for NJ last week, another friend of mine dumped about six albums’ worth of their songs in to a Dropbox folder for me. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I can’t. stop. listening to them. I’m an idiot. =)

What did you want and get? Salesforce.com @ work.

What did you want and not get? A trip to Vegas.

What was your favorite film of this year? It’s a toss-up between The Great Gatsby and the comic book movies. The Wolverine, Iron Man 3, Thor, Man of Steel — they were all good.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went to work on my birthday. We had a town hall meeting @ the warehouse, followed by lots and lots of pizza. I indulged in one slice and a soda, since I hadn’t had either one of those things in several months. I remember they were delicious. Later, my friends surprised me by throwing together a little painting party @ Bean There. We snacked on light hors d’oeurves, drank champagne, and painted pictures of crabs (except for Heather — she painted a VT sailboat). Afterwards, we went to 11th Street Taphouse for a lovely late dinner and a few drinks on the patio. I turned 32.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having my own parallax scroll website.

What kept you sane? Evernote, Dropbox, my Outlook calendar, beach days, bike rides, Waze, gin & tonic, Radio Margaritaville (via TuneIn Radio).

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Blair, Sarah, Emily, Jennifer, Cara. (What can I say? I like bloggers better than movie stars.)

What political issue stirred you the most? Government shutdown, Affordable Care Act.

Who did you miss? Grandma Tillie, my parents, my brother, Kristy, Tara, Heather (while she was gone), Tina (because she’s usually busy), and Jessie.

Who was the best new person you met this year? To be honest, I didn’t meet that many new people this year outside of work, so I’m going to have to go with Zaid, our Salesforce.com account executive. He makes me laugh. Also, my brother’s fiancé, Courtney. I just met her last night, and I can’t wait to get to know her better. Oh! And Leah. Kerri’s cousin Leah. She’s the coolest person I met all year, for sure.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013: Good things come to those who keep the ball rolling. Patience is a virtue. Experiences are more important than things.

Quote that sums up your year: “Can we just invent a sport?”

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