My little annual review of things, as per round-about-this-time-every-year:
1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before? Complete a sea change.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I had half a dozen or so goals that met with varying levels of success: Number one on the list of successes was ‘Change Jobs’, and waaaay down the bottom was ‘Lose 12 kilograms’. But that one is nothing new.
As to this year, well, it’s much along the same lines. I’ve two novels to edit and send out, and the garden and house renovations need completing before I decide I’ve been at them too long and give up. Weight remains an issue, as do my eating habits (wonder if they’re linked in any way?). But my big bucket-list item is to enter an art competition: I’ve been getting closer and closer to trying my hand at visual art for the last couple of years, and it’s time to set aside some space and see what I can come up with if I try.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My son’s girlfriend Georgie, bringing little Luc into our house. And he’s gawwwwwwwwwwjuss!
4. Did anyone close to you die? No, but not for lack of trying.
5. What countries did you visit? I tried to get into the Country for Old Men but they told me to come back next year.
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? X-ray vision. Also, money.
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 15th March, when I walked out of the ATO for the last time and realised how sweet air could actually smell. 22nd March, when I took up my new position as Arts & Culture Officer at the City of Rockingham and put the ATO behind me for good. November 11, when Luc decided to share my birthday with me.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Changing my job, and actually finding a position that not only fit my experiences and wants, but gave me a sense of satisfaction and self-worth into the bargain. I had given up on that particular dream, and still feel like I was pulled out of the grave just as I was ready to decide how best to lie down in it, career-wise.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not saving my step-daughter from herself.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? The family had a horrendous run of bronchitis mid-year, which landed both Connor and Erin in hospital and put Lyn, Aiden and myself in bed for a couple of weeks each.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Our air-conditioner shat itself and died the week before Christmas, so “those fans” is a contender, but I’m going to offer three things: for the first time ever I invested some serious money into buying a high quality water bottle and a high quality backpack. And we bought the entire run of Impossible Pictures’ ‘Dinosaur’ programs, including all the “Walking With…” documentaries and the Nigel Marven programs. Normally I wouldn’t count DVDs as gosh-wow-sensawunda purchases, but the effect they’ve had on Connor’s imagination can only be described as pyrotechnic, and it’s been wonderful to watch.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? Aiden, who not only took on a responsibility that was not his to take on, and one that leaves any number of men twice his age blanching, but has done so with a sense of purpose and an integrity that would put most of us in the dark. He’s 17, and I fear for his future like any parent does with a lad of his age, and every time he hits a speed bump I flinch, but I can’t help but admire his soul.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Cassandra’s (now ex-) partner, who proved himself a thug and coward of the highest order. Not only would I not piss on this piece of crap were he on fire, I’d happily start the fire.
14. Where did most of your money go? Fighting bushfires of one stripe or another.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? New house, new job, new part of the world: life in Mandurah just continued to get better and better. 2011 promises the chance to grasp our sea change fully. Bring it on.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010? Both Dancing In the Storm by Boom Crash Opera and Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons. Not for any great philosophical reason other than that I occasionally get to garage one of the work cars while my boss is away, and I have an iPod car player, and I have a tendency to sing along to them as I drive home, playing them VERY loud indeed. Which, after years of bone-tired hour-long train rides home from the City, is a different kind of freedom indeed.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? Happier, fatter and poorer. I’m enjoying live a lot more than I have in the last couple of years, thanks to the new job; I’m very much the patriarch of my family and get to watch 3 sets of children experiencing different stages of life; and I’ve had some private satisfaction in my writing life as well. Not bad, as years go.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Hitting the beach with my kids, making art, rewarding my family with the lifestyle they deserve.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Fighting bushfires. Enduring abuse and criminal behaviour.
20. How did you spend Christmas? Quietly at home, balancing Lyn’s religious requirements with my need to go large on the presents and the eating. Cooked a nice breakfast and lunch and picked at leftovers for tea, and sat around complaining about the heat.
21. Who did you meet for the first time? Two new writing groups- the Rockingham Full Time/Part Time Writers Group and the Rockingham/Mandurah chapter of Nanowrimo. Several hundred employees of the City of Rockingham. Georgie and her family.
22. Did you fall in love in 2010? We’re all in love with Georgie and Luc.
23. What was your favourite TV program? Came across some funky and fun stuff this year. That Mitchell & Webb Look and The Armstrong & Miller Show are firm favourites, and have resulted in a ridiculous amount of quoting (It’s now impossible to say “Isn’t it?” in our house without a chorus of poncy British accents shouting “Isn’t it, though?” in your wake, and nobody can leave a room without hearing someone say “Kill them” as they go…). I introduced Lyn to The Fast Show, and now every announcement anyone makes is greeted with “Which was nice” or “Brilliant!”. We all became firm fans of Primeval, as well as a continuing affair with QI. Also the Walking with… series which we introduced our kids to in “chronological” order (beginning with …Monsters and ending with …Cavemen.) and followed up with all the Nigel Marven dinosaur shows, which resulted in 6 year old connor deciding to be Nigel when he grows up and turning his bedroom into the “Connor Museum”, in which all his dinsour toys now have their own shelves, complete with name tags, and you have to pay to get in… But number one on the viewing hit parade is Being Human, a supernatural drama of such high quality that it made watching the potentially-similar True Blood impossible, as the gulf in quality showed up how cliched, soapish and dull the latter was in spades.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Cassandra’s Ex. It’s been a long time since I met a filthier scumbag.
25. What was the best book you read? Spent more time away from straight FS again this year, and am continuing to enjoy it, with continued trips into James Ellroy’s neck of the woods, and people like Jon Ronson and John Gardner making the list. Discovered Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, and the joy of reading them completely out of order thanks to library shelves. But it was the year of Mieville, for me: read both The Iron Council and The City & The City for the first time and was (as always) blown away by the man’s language, his narrative muscle, and his plots.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Mumford and Sons were an early one, and remain on high rotation, and Peter, Bjorn and John have become favourites in recent times. And after watching documentaries on them, I’ve gone back and got far more deeply into the Easybeats and the Small Faces than the radio-friendly singles I’ve heard over the years.
27. What was your favourite film of this year? A damn good mix of movies this year. Highlights for me included Men Who Stare at Goats; Up In the Air; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; Inception and Despicable Me, any of which might have topped the list in any other year, as well as Daybreakers; Quadrophenia; The Boston Strangler, and Zombieland.
But top spot has to go to Toy Story 3: I dreaded the announcement of this movie, feeling that Pixar had lucked out by producing one sequel that was superior to the original, and that a) there didn’t seem much else to be told within the narrative, b) movies with numbers a high as 3 in the titles tend to be bad enough to drag the memory of previous films down with them and c) the Shrek experience showed just how quickly and disastrously bad that decline in quality can be. I needn’t have worried. It’s every bit as good as its predecessors, and perhaps even better: I wasn’t the only middle-aged man crying his eyes out at the hand-holding scene (you know which one I mean). Funny, dramatic, psychologically complex, and brilliantly human, all at once.
Special golden turds flung in the direction of Shoot ‘Em Up, which would have easily been the winner of the the Golden Compass Memorial Worst Movie of the Year Award, if not for the monumental presence of Lesbian Vampire Killers, which was not only an unutterable piece of shit but doubled its excremental bragging rights by introducing us to the drooling black-hole-of-talent that is James Corden, the latest in that seemingly-eternal line of ‘comedians’ wo think that jigglingly-obese monocepahilcs with permanently wet chins trying to get into the panties of pneumatic twenty something blondes is the height of comedic brilliance: a Benny Hill for the type of people who think Jackass is entertaining. Our teenagers are *still* paying off the karmic debt they earned for insisting it was hilarious and nagging us until we watched it. In February.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 40, and spent the day in quiet contemplation of my place in the world, and what I must do to achieve full karmic balance. Then I had cake. Then I waited while Lyn, Aiden and Georgie went to the hospital to have a baby.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A flying jet car.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? My usual aging bum look.
31. What kept you sane? Sanity napkins. Also Lyn, my kids, and art.
32. What political issue stirred you the most? Tried to steer clear of politics in favour of living a family-oriented life. Don’t suppose Forest’s inability to sign a decent defender counts?
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. Balance is all.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Lightning flash and everything is sharp and clear
I can see it all, I can see it all
And as the thunder roars, we’re raising up a storm
We can shout it down, we can shout it down
Gone are the days of complacency
Gone are the nights of indifference
Here we go, here we go for one more turn
We can shake, we can shake the trees and earth
We can spin, We can spin and not fall down
Hold on tight, we can both become unwound
You and I are going out
And we’re dancing in the storm
— Boom Crash Opera, Dancing In The Storm