01 January 2014

2013 in Review

Illustration by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

Happy New Year! 2014 has arrived, and with it another year of blogging. I've always enjoyed those end-of-year review posts that bloggers do and have often wanted to answer the questions myself, and now I have the venue to do so. I chose 25 questions from the version of this I see most often on people's blogs, and plan to answer the same questions each year.

What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?

I started a personal blog, completed a web conferencing course for college, launched an online business, knitted a shawl, started using Tumblr, and fractured a bone.

What places did you visit?

2013 was a light year for travel for me. I think that I was somewhat burned out on it since I made so many car trips in the last five months of 2012--multiple visits to an audiologist over an hour's drive away, multiple visits to local museums for a museum studies course I took in the Fall 2012 semester, and a trip to a community college in a neighboring county to take a proctored final exam for a different course the same semester. The farthest trip I made this year was to a credit union in Northeast Philadelphia to do some banking, and the only other trips I made were to an orthopedic doctor about 40 minutes from home when I fractured my elbow this summer. 

2014 might hold more travel in store for me, as I have some educational and career opportunities coming up that involve traveling. But even if these tentative plans change, I think I'd still like to take some time in 2014 to make a few day trips just for fun.

What dates from 2013 will remain etched in your memory, and why?

June 10th: Fell down the stairs and fractured my elbow.

June 17th: Was officially admitted to the Harvard Extension School Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree program.

August 28th: Sold my first Sparrow Tree Square literature enrichment module.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting an A from a Harvard College professor in a course that he also teaches at Harvard College. Students at Harvard Extension sometimes have a bit of an inferiority complex because the College only takes around 10% of those who apply while the Extension School takes anyone who can get three B's in their courses. The expository writing course I took in the Spring 2013 semester is also offered to Harvard College freshman by the same professor, and it was nice to know that those Harvard College freshman aren't necessarily better students than I am just because they beat the admissions odds.

What was your biggest failure?

Happily, I didn't really have any big failures this year. I got good grades in my college courses and made some good progress with my new online business, which were my two biggest undertakings this year.

What did you get really excited about?

I took a break from college classes to focus on career and creative projects in the second half of 2013, and I really looked forward to having that time when I was finishing up my Spring 2013 coursework.

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

I'm much happier now than I was this time last year. I was really busy with schoolwork during the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, and I was getting kind of burned out on it to the point that I didn't enjoy my holiday break all that much. I also developed a mild case of winter blues that was exacerbated by the fact that spring was unusually late in 2013.

In the second half of 2013, I took some time to focus on creative and career projects while I studied to earn credit by examination. I'm happy that I did, as I accomplished quite a bit and feel much refreshed.

What do you wish you'd done more of?

While I did more creative work this year than in 2012, I definitely could have done more if I had managed my time better. I also wish that I had spent more time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather we had this summer!

What do you wish you'd done less of?

I wish that I had done less sitting around indoors. It was harder than usual to go out early this year because, as I mentioned, spring 2013 was unusually cold. It did warm up eventually and the summer was lovely, but because I'm shy about going out for walks on my own I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.

For 2014, I'd like to set up a little area in my backyard to sit and study, work on projects, or read, so that I can enjoy the fresh air while I go about my routine.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

As I mentioned in earlier responses, I fractured an elbow this summer after tripping and falling down half a flight of stairs. It still twinges occasionally.

Other than that, I think I had a bad cold that lasted quite a long time back in the winter.

What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Good time management skills.

What was the best thing you bought?

The best thing that I bought for myself was a tote bag from Lands' End. It has navy blue trim and my first initial monogrammed on my front, and it's been so handy for everything from walks around town to trips to the doctor's since it's got plenty of pockets for holding things and room enough to stash a sweater. I got the long-handled version, which makes it easy to wear over the shoulder.

Where did most of your money go?

My biggest expenses were for school, as has been the case since I started earning my college degree.

What was your favorite TV program?

I finished watching Rumpole of the Bailey this year with my mother, and I loved it. The stories are thought-provoking, the actors are excellent, and the humor is just my kind. I've started reading the books based on the series now, and I'll be so sad when there are no new Rumpole stories to enjoy!

The guilty pleasure honorable mention goes to Pretty Little Liars, which I started watching on Netflix just this autumn. It's actually a pretty decent suspense story of the women-in-peril sort for teenagers, and all the things they get wrong about Philadelphia and the Main Line add an unintentional element of humor for me.

What was the best book you read?

This is definitely the toughest "favorite" question to answer! I'm going to cheat and split this into three categories: the best children's book that I read was The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston, the best adult fiction book that I read was Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart, and the best non-fiction book that I read was Reflections on the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones.

What was your favorite film of this year?

I don't watch movies in theaters anymore so I haven't seen any movies that were actually released in 2013. Of the movies that I saw for the first time in 2013, I think that my favorite was Skyfall, the latest James Bond installment. It was also my favorite James Bond film to date.

What music did you get excited about?

I got really into Gilbert and Sullivan, and played an album of their songs that my mother got me for Christmas many times. I also frequently listened to the Puppini Sistes' Hollywood album, another Christmas gift from my mother--I've liked their Andrews Sisters-style music for a few years now, but this was the first album of theirs that I've owned.

What song will always remind you of 2013?

I don't hear much new music when it comes out, so I'll go with a 2012 song that was new to me in 2013: "Little Talks" by Monsters and Men. I first heard this song in a YouTube cover by Bryarly Bishop and Lewis Fieldhouse and came across it again in what is now one of my favorite Community fan music videos. I liked it so much that I actually sprung the dollar to download it, something I rarely do, and played it many times on my old iPod shuffle as I did things like chores or gardening.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

My spring/summer fashion for 2013 was pretty much the same as it has been for the past couple of years--vintage-inspired sundresses, delicate sandals, and little white cardigans

The colder months have always been harder for me fashion-wise, since I find it difficult to translate my summer style into something warm and substantial enough for winter. However, I did some experimenting this year, and I think I've finally hit upon a fall/winter style that works for me. My outfits for going out are retro with a bit of a preppy flair: rolled-cuff boyfriend jeans or skinny jeans with lightweight, woven, patterned tanks, cropped cardigans in a bright pop colors, and ballet flats or boots. For staying in on cold winter days, I wear black leggings with skirts or dresses that remind me of dancewear (high-low hems, floaty materials, etc.) in shades of pink and purple, wrap warm-up cardigans from Capezio, and black satin ballet-style slippers.

What did you want and get?

I really wanted to earn an A in my Expository Writing course, and I was so pleased that I did. On a more frivolous note, I was coveting a green velvet dress from Lands' End Canvas around Christmas 2012 and bought it at a great price in early winter 2013.

What did you want and not get?

A really good season 4 of Community. I'm now hoping for a good season 5 in 2014 (it premieres January 2nd!) and I'm optimistic so far, as the show creator/head writer for seasons 1-3 is back and this trailer is very promising. 

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

For my 23rd birthday I had the usual: some nice presents from my parents and sister, an episode of Gilmore Girls with my mother, and a disastrous birthday cake.

How did you spend Christmas?

I continued a long-standing tradition by watching The Muppet Christmas Carol, one of my favorite movies, on Christmas Eve with my sister. I didn't get up early on Christmas morning as I've done almost every other Christmas, but we had a nice family celebration Christmas night with music, presents, and some festive treats. We're actually still celebrating Christmas now, because we mark the traditional twelve days of Christmas. We even leave our tree up until Hilarymas on January 13th, as they often do in Sweden, and the rest of our decorations until Candlemas on February 2nd. We're very festive.

What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?

I think that making an outing for fun would have rounded things out nicely. Vacations aren't something that I can afford, but little day trips to local museums, cultural sites, and parks are something that offer a similar feeling of taking a break but don't strain the budget.

Did you make 2013 New Year's Resolutions, did you keep them, and will you make more for 2014?

I didn't make any formal New Year's Resolutions for 2013, but I did have a few goals: to take better care of my health, to accomplish more in my creative endeavors, and to try new things. I did take better care of my health in 2013, and will try to do more things that make me feel extra-good in 2014. I think I succeeded in accomplishing more in my creative projects, and hope to build on that progress in 2014. As for trying new things, I tried a few in the school, career, and creative areas of my life. I would have liked to have tried more new activities in 2013, so I'll be making that one of my goals for 2014!

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