2016 in review

I ended my 2015 review post with the following quote:

Most of all, I hope 2016 takes it easy on us during this next trip around the sun. And in the unfortunate event it’s not so kind, let me get through it with grace.

…and I’m not sure 2016 took it easy on us, huh? But on a personal front, it was a pretty good year.

It started off with a new season of The X-Files and all the excitement surrounding that. The season itself was 50/50 for me, but that exceeded my purposefully low expectations. It looks like we may not see another season for a while yet, if ever, so I’m disappointed in the show runners for ending on a major cliffhanger. Ah well. We’ll always have Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-monster.

I spent some time in Vancouver for a work meetup and organized a little tour of X-Files filming locations while I was there. I fell in love with the city; it’s quite possibly the only urban location I’ve visited that I could see myself living in and enjoying.

In May, I saw A Streetcar Named Desire in Brooklyn and met Gillian Anderson for the first time. That was probably one of the biggest highlights of the year for me; her performance was stunning and not something I’ll soon forget.

Over the summer, we finally had the upstairs room renovated into an office/guest bedroom, making a large portion of our home into a functional space. I love having my own office, and I pampered my inner geek by dedicating a whole wall of it to X-Files fan art. Unfortunately, it’s been too cold to use it recently, since it’s poorly insulated and relies on heat rising from the lower level of the house. If it ever warms up a little this winter, we’ll have a new heat pump system put in to fix that.

We attended Boston Comic Con as a family, met Gillian Anderson (again, because why not?), and I took a long vacation involving lots of time outside with Pokemon Go.

We also lost our oldest kitty, Nala, which was very sad.

The kids started kindergarten and second grade, respectively, which means we’ve had a lot more quiet time in our lives since September. I remember when they were babies, how it seemed like life would never feel “normal” again, and the daunting task of being responsible for small humans seemed to infiltrate every aspect of daily living. Five years down the road, I think we’ve reached our new normal.

At our company’s annual Grand Meetup, I walked my first 5k, went to meetings, worked, went to more meetings, and got two new tattoos (the second of which is behind my ear, so I’m constantly forgetting I have it) (which makes occasionally catching sight of it in the mirror kind of thrilling, TBH).

I worked hard, with my role shifting even further to the management side, but I also took more time off, and took a more relaxed attitude toward vacation overall. That was good for me. I celebrated 4 years at Automattic in May, and I remain thankful for the opportunity to work with the people I do.

My brother and his fiancée were married this fall, and I saw my husband in a tux for the first time. Highly recommended, A+++, would tux my husband again. Speaking of my husband, we celebrated 9 years of marriage and 16 years of good times.

The election drudged up a lot of, well, drudge. On one hand, it had the important effect of making me more politically aware and active; on the other, I have a new source of anxiety to contend with.

I traveled to Barcelona in November, and saw some beautiful architecture, ate delicious tapas, and hung out with my spiffy coworkers.

As the year came to an end, after feeling a bit lazy on the creative front, I challenged myself to write for 30 days straight. As a result, I started 2017 with a bunch of new short stories and drafts. I think I’m going to try to do the 30-day writing challenge every few months as a way to create new material for editing.

We celebrated a quiet, relaxed Christmas with our little family to end the year.

…and now, here we are. 2017, I’m not sure how I feel about you yet. Right now, it feels like I’m trying to keep my head above water, which I attribute partly to seasonal affective disorder and partly to the political atmosphere in the U.S. We’ll see how that plays out.


2015 in review

Well, unlike 2014’s “maintenance year”, 2015 has been a doozy. I wanted to say something elegant or profound to sum it up, but looking back through my posts, I’ve done a lot of navel-gazing already, so I’ll keep this list-like.

I set out to make 2015 the year of being kinder to myself, and I think I’ve succeeded in that. I’ve become better at questioning my thoughts to the point where I can defuse most unkind inclinations before they take root. I still have anxiety, and I don’t think that will ever go away, but it’s had less of an impact thanks to healthier ways of coping. So, A+ on the mental health front this year. Kudos, brain, for not being such a dick!

My dad passed away suddenly in the spring, which prompted a lot of introspection and shuffled my priorities in a big way. I’m coming out of this year feeling like a changed person, with a new appreciation for my family’s resilience.

I celebrated fifteen years with this guy, who went through some major changes of his own. Tim left his job at Automattic to stay home and be my houseboy a full-time parent and writer, and I’m grateful and glad we made that happen.

Meanwhile, I now lead the Theme Team and am privileged to work with truly awesome people at a company that continues to make me proud to be part of it (we’re hiring!) I worked on approximately 32 themes, and I think my favorite of the bunch is Libre.

This year, Ellie started first grade and Gwen started Pre-K, and having two school-aged children in the house — and out of the house — is surreal (or maybe we’ve just forgotten what silence sounds like). I love that they’re old enough for us to have common interests; I spent most of Christmas break playing Exploding Kittens and building LEGOs. We’ve had our fair share of struggles — they’ve grown not only in inches, but in opinions — but at the end of each day, when I tuck them into bed (sometimes for the fifth or sixth time…I’m looking at you, Gwen) and tell them I love them, I mean it from the bottom of my (sometimes grouchy Mama) heart.

My favorite TV show of all time is coming back! The X-Files is my indulgent escape from reality. I’m going to miss mulling over spoilers and set pictures and speculative fanfic when the revival ends. Until then, I’ll just be over here, fangirling.

Speaking of fangirling, I finished my X-Files trilogy after nearly two years of writing and revising and revising and revising. I also wrote a few short fics.

I revamped Calobee Doodles, and barely drew enough to continue calling myself an illustrator. I need about six more hours in a day to keep up with all these hobbies!

I finally settled into our house and spruced it up a bit.

I spent more time with friends.

I surprised myself and got a tattoo.

I’ve traveled to Hawaii, Park City, Boston, Keswick, Lisbon, and New York City.

Looking ahead, I haven’t set any concrete goals, but I have a few ideas…

I’d like to make it through the long winter with a mostly positive attitude.

There will be more traveling for work and pleasure.

More writing, more reading, more drawing, more time with my family and friends. Always.

Most of all, I hope 2016 takes it easy on us during this next trip around the sun. And in the unfortunate event it’s not so kind, let me get through it with grace.


2014 in review, fashionably late edition

I meant to write this at the end of 2014, but didn’t get around to it. Then I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on my birthday, since that seemed appropriate, but that was weeks ago now. I figured I should write something before 2016 comes along and renders my thoughts on the last year moot.

The best way to sum up 2014 is, “It was okay.” Difficult in some respects, but with less drama than 2013. Quieter. Let’s call it a maintenance year.

I wrote more; I finished a second fanfic novel, a few short stories, and continued working on a third novel. I built a website to house my growing fanfic collection. I drew, dabbled, and enjoyed making things.

It was the year of flippy, happy hair (my hair is still so soft, you guys!), and excessive amounts of fan art.

I obsessed over The X-Files, and the universe rewarded me by hinting at a possible revival, so I take that as a sign I am to continue obsessing over The X-Files. Duly noted, universe.

Work station

On the work front, I moved into a new leadership position, my first time overseeing a group. The job is a good complement for how my brain works; fast, sometimes scattered, holding lots of plates in the air. I made a few new themes of my own design, and helped launch many more. I also took my first two-week vacation, which was bliss.


Travel-wise it was mellow, with trips to South Carolina, Florida (twice), Utah, and New Hampshire. It was nice to have the extra time at home.

On a personal note, my mental health suffered in 2013, but in 2014 I turned things around with the help of therapy and SSRIs; a big part of that meant trading weight loss for happiness. While I will probably always struggle with my weight, I would rather take care of the body I have and be happy than lose a dress size and be miserable.

I think what I mean by that is, I’m learning to be kinder to myself.


Meanwhile, I spent another year with this guy, who remains my partner in parenting/life/crime and perpetual best friend through All The Things, good and bad; who supports me at my worst, loves me at my best, and even betas my fanfic:


And then there’s these two:

Ellie and Gwen amaze me, whether by saying something hilariously apropos or getting into the kind of trouble I couldn’t have dreamed up myself. They’re so independent now! They eat, they play, they laugh a lot, and they tell me they love me. I must be doing something right.

It’s safe to say I’m feeling pretty content.

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I’ve been taking time to practice gratitude; acknowledging the good things and taking a moment to be thankful for them. We’ve started a family tradition of going around the dinner table and talking about our favorite part of the day. It’s corny, but it’s a small, easy thing to do.

This time of year is difficult; I withdraw, I struggle with SAD, I bitch about the weather, but a daily practice of thanks-giving has curbed that. (Hawaii didn’t hurt, but it put Maine weather in harsh perspective!)

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Those are the big habits I’ll work on throughout the next year and beyond: Gratitude, and being kinder to myself.