04 January, 2014

2013: A reckoning

Inspired by Loribeth, at The Road Less Travelled.

1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really make New Year's resolutions last year, other than the usual suspects.  And I pretty much failed on all accounts.  A dramatic change in our lives, then 5 months overseas really threw everything up in the air.

Anyway, for 2014, my main resolution is to go to bed earlier, reset my body clock, and consequently be able to get up earlier.  That might then have a positive impact on all my other, unsaid, good intentions. 

2. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Climbed a sand dune.  (OK, I climbed half a sand dune!)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody especially close.  But I was affected by the death of a friend and former colleague of my husband.  She was only a year or so older than me, and it reminded me we need to live our lives now, not put things off.

5. What countries did you visit?

Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jordan, Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Slovenia, Poland, and the UK.  And I saw the Russian border (but did not cross).  

Officially I did enter the US too, but I was forced to go through immigration (and have the US collect fingerprints and other data about me), so I could go upstairs, back through security, and get back on the exact same plane (and seat) I'd flown in on from London, to continue my journey home.  (Argh!)

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

Energy, enthusiasm, and crucially, an income. 

7. What date(s) from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

October 27th, when we arrived home from our adventure.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don't feel this is really an achievement, but perhaps it was - the planning and execution of a major 4 1/2 month overseas trip. And managing to blog about it on Lemons to Limoncello here.

9. What was your biggest failure?

 Not losing enough weight, and not doing enough groundwork for future contracts/consulting work.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing serious.  TGN raised its ugly head again, making several days in Jordan extremely painful and difficult, but by and large I dealt with it.  And my toes and toenails were injured (also in Jordan, at Petra), and they're still recovering, but a travel injury like that is less an injury, and more a badge of effort and the wrong shoes.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Tickets to Europe.  Closely followed by some pumpkin gnocchi, and a seafood antipasto.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Loribeth named Malala Yousafzai. She's right.  

On a less serious note, John Oliver (on The Daily Show) was a tonic as we were travelling, and I could download episodes.  The only English language entertainment for five months.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Loribeth is right again.  Politicians.  Closely followed by members of the media.  Though I have to say that the NZ media isn't nearly as partisan as the US media.  But still, some of their obsessions and lack of understanding of certain issues is very frustrating, and hampers efforts to raise the level of political or social debate..

14. Where did most of your money go?

Travel and accommodation, food and wine, in the countries I mentioned above.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My trip.  I was excited in anticipation about finally getting to Petra, the Matterhorn, Slovenia to meet lovely Klara, and afternoon tea with my husband at The Lanesborough in London.  And they all exceeded expectations.  And I was excited just being there in Puglia (Monopoli) and the Molise in Italy, Slovenia, and Poland.  Oh, and the singing sand dunes of Qatar.  I've always wanted to see sand dunes.  I was lucky, there was much to be really really really excited about in 2013.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

I'm not sure any song will.  Maybe "Blurred Lines."  But the years all blur together these days!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

(a) slightly less happy - worries about earning money are setting in
(b) maybe slightly thinner, but the fact I have to use the qualifier "slightly" is depressing (see above), and 
(c) probably about the same, though our earning potential has plummeted, as neither of us are earning at the moment.  So that means that we certainly feel poorer.

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

Writing (including but not only blogging).
Oh yeah, and earning money.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eating.  But when you're in Italy, it seems silly not to, don't you think? 

20. How did you spend Christmas? 

Here at home.  The Husband's brothers (2 of the 3) came back from overseas with their families, and so we've had a couple of weeks of intense socialising, listening to one family criticise the other, worrying about the in-laws, and laughing a lot.  I hosted Christmas dinner, and we were lucky enough to have a wonderful fine day.  I also began a new Christmas dessert tradition, as the MIL stops making her Christmas pudding, and I made a show-stopper of a meringue Christmas tree,

21. Did you fall in love in 2013? 

Yes.  With two towns:
Vittorio Veneto, about an hour north of Venice.  
And Monopoli, in Puglia, southern Italy.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

I didn't see much TV this year.  Loved Breaking Bad (watched it all on DVD as soon as we got home).  The Daily Show, as mentioned above, sustained me through the summer in Italy.  Watched a number of Scandinavian box sets - The Killing (the original), and one another I can't remember now.  Luther, too.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you did not hate this time last year? 

No.  Not sure if I hate anyone.  

I was going to review that, given that in the last month or so, some creep at Comedy Central geoblocked The Daily Show and we can no longer download it in New Zealand, despite the fact that we can't actually watch it on TV (including Comedy Central NZ) here.  Except that, I discovered today, we can watch it again.  Yay!

24. What was the best book you read? 

I didn't read a lot this year.  I had great plans, targetting 50 books on Goodreads.  But I didn't even make 30.  My favourite was:

Songbook for Haunted Boys and Girls, by my friend, Wayne McNeill. 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Along with the rest of the world, I discovered Lorde and her song, "Royals."  The fact she is a young woman from New Zealand has a little to do with that.   But so do the lyrics and the music.

26. What did you want and get?

An amazing trip and three months in Italy, with the opportunity to learn to speak some Italian.

27. What did you want and not get?

The Italy trip didn't turn out to be my "weight loss trip" after all.  And of course, neither my husband nor I won the lottery, or even have jobs or ongoing contracts. 

28. What was your favourite film of this year? 

Hardly saw any films this year.  Five months away meant we didn't get to the movies, or saw them on flights.  I can't name one that is memorable.  (I had to google 2013 movies even to recall a few names.)

29. What did you do on your birthday?

I was in London, so went to Covent Garden markets in the morning, sushi for lunch, explored Soho and Trafalgar Square on a beautiful autumn day, then a quiet dinner in a little French restaurant.  Just being in London was a treat.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Good health in my mother, and my in-laws.  
Security of income from at least one of us would have helped.  

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? 

I was travelling, so of course it was a) comfort, b) easy to wash and no need to iron, and c) and keeping cool.  Not exactly a classy stylish wardrobe this year.  Oh yes, and cheap!  (And to think that ten years ago I used to buy from NZ's best designers.  Sigh.)

32. What kept you sane?

My husband.  Though he's also capable of sending me insane at times!  
Also, writing and being connected to people, even when I'm isolated by distance.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Does that mean "fancy?"  If so, there's the perenially fanciable George, of course.

I admired a number of public figures.  And I was very moved over the passing of Nelson Mandela, even though the world lost him a while ago.  His very presence made the world a better place, and taught us to be forgiving and inclusive and collaborative, instead of vengeful and petty.

I was disappointed though by many more so-called "celebrities.  And by the "Cult of Celebrity" most of all.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

During and after visiting the region, I rethought (once again, though not for the last time - International relations and development is my field of expertise and interest) the ongoing problems in Syria, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Gulf States and their wealth, and Saudi Arabia's conservatism.

35. Who did you miss?

I've become used to missing my Dad.  I still miss (from time to time), those babies that were never born.  But with the wonders of internet, I didn't have to miss anyone else.   

Though at Christmas, I missed my Californian nieces, who couldn't make the trip home to meet some of their aunts and uncles and cousins for the first time.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Hmmmm.  Not sure.  Met an amazing young woman in late 2012.  And a fascinating man in Poland telling the story of the reconstruction of Warsaw.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

When life hands you lemons, you can indeed make lemonade.  (Or drink limoncello.)   
I just hope that this year I can continue to do that, as reality sets in.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I'm not good on song lyrics.  But Lorde's lyrics make so much sense, referring to celebrity and riches:

"We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair
And we'll never be royals
It don't run in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us, we crave a different kind of buzz"

It applies to more than just that though.  I think of it in terms of those who judge you on your career and climbing the corporate ladder. (I crave a different kind of buzz).  

And also those of us living a No Kidding Life.  
"It don't run in our blood, that kind of lux just ain't for us."

So here's to a 2014 for all No Kidding Lifers that includes a "different kind of buzz."


  1. I have a feeling I'll be longing for proper Italian coffee and Italian cooking and speaking Italian in a few short months. We might have to commiserate together while loving all that NZ has to offer!

  2. Glad to see you did the meme! Dare I say, the idea that you were going to lose weight while vacationing in Italy was, umm, highly optimistic?? ;) (Although I know you did a lot of walking too.)

    Happy new year, Mali! :)

    1. Yeah, I was either an optimist, or in 100% head-in-the-sand denial!

      Happy New Year!

  3. Wow! That is a list! You had quite a year. Hope 2014 is good for you and you meet all your goals. :)

  4. dear Mali,
    it was lovely to meet you & your DH!
    Wishing both of you a perfect 2014!
    lots of love from sLOVENIA from me and my DH!

  5. A meringue Christmas tree? WOW! Any photo of it?

    BEST OF LUCK for 2014!!!!

    1. Forgot to add: planning such a long trip for the both of you IS an achievement! :-)

  6. I want to go to Petra, Jordan...that's on my bucket list. I also loved Breaking Bad... Movies? What are those? For whatever reason, we didn't really see anything last year either. I suppose I did go see Hunger games with friend more recently - and loved it just as much as the second book. :)

  7. Loribeth is a good motivator. I stopped by from Creme de la Creme and I love this site. Funny, how we are all in this together from losing weight, to finding our motivation, learning lessons, etc. Two seconds into this post I quickly identified with your adventerous spirit. I can't wait to follow and read more!