The 26th Year… A thorough review and analysis

In terms of landmark permission-giving, 26—for everyone—is a pretty unremarkable year. 25 allows you to rent a car and 27 has the teensy—but meaningful, for some—distinction of tipping you into your “late twenties,” but 26? Hmm.

However, 26 in terms of actual landmark events and accomplishments? I think I can safely say my 26th was pretty darned lively… rough, in many places, but mostly for the good.

To quantify this private assessment of “mostly-goodness,” I’m trying something new here: It’s actually a “year-end” questionnaire that’s supposed to be completed at… well, at the end of the year. But, since the actual “year-end” of 2008 has already passed, and since my birthday is so close to the beginning of the new year, I’ve decided to complete this questionnaire in terms of age, not calendar year.

It’s long. I won’t blame you if you skip it. But it was interesting to reflect on all these things… you should give it a try when your birthday rolls around!

1. What did you do at 26 that you’d never done before?
* Got married! (Yes, you’ll see this theme throughout…)
* Visited New York. * Visited my grandfather’s grave.
* Judged the Poetry Out Loud High School finals for Washington State.
* Filmed a local car dealership commercial.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Honestly, I don’t remember my resolutions, but I think I might have made them… a better marker for me is what I gave up/promised for Lent. This year I gave up jumping to conclusions (that was very hard, and continues to be) and chewing my nails (after the wedding in August, they’ve remained intact! The longest no-chew time ever).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Many new little people this year… Traci’s Dane, Chandra’s Madeline, Lindsay’s Max, Sarah’s Max…

4. Did anyone close to you die?
* My grandpa died last January 2nd, the day after his birthday.
* My “adopted Jewish grandmother,” Ruth died last spring.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just this one… but I did get to travel a bit this year, to Hawaii after last Christmas, to the East Coast for work, and short trips around the Pacific NW with the fiancé/husband.

6. What would you like to have at 27 that you lacked at 26?
* An established (if flexible) daily/weekly writing schedule.
* Published poetry.
* A joint checking account.
* A pair of flat, black, waterproof walking boots (yes, truly and with all my heart—I’ve been looking for close on 18 months now…).

7. What date(s) from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 30, 2008… three guesses.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
1) My first promotion! Strike that “Jr.” from your title, miss!
2) Calling in all possible favors, talent, and bargain-hunting skills to plan the most affordable and fun wedding I’ve ever been a part of. Bonus? It was ours!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I think a “failure” has to be the negative (or self-imploding) result of something you really tried to accomplish. Honestly, my biggest failure for last year is not trying hard enough at enough things to warrant a failure. (Unless you count learning to accurately keep beat with a tambourine. I have failed spectacularly at that so far!)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not so much illness or injury (there were the usual hangdog headaches and colds that would not vacate the spaces in my skull), but lots of expensive research and discovery of “what the heck is wrong with my hands.” Is it Reynauds? Is it carpal tunnel? Lets run some more expensive tests and find out.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My wedding dress! (Vintage lace, circa ’54 or ’55 with a dropped waist, full circle skirt, bateau neck and short sleeves! Still makes me happy to think of it. Seriously considering dying it to wear for other occasions…)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My boss. She makes me like my job, even when I don’t.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Cybil. My cat never has accidents, ever. But then she went and sullied the couch last August a week before the soon-to-be in-laws (and first house guests ever) arrived. You can still smell it, just a tiny bit. Especially when you’re sick and trying to relax and snuggling into the couch with a movie and then… there it is again.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The wedding. And the doctors for more expensive tests.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
In chronological order:
1) Finding the best gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada, hands down).
2) Getting paid for my first commercial.
3) Choosing the first dance at our wedding.
4) Hearing about my sister’s 2nd pregnancy.
5) Going to my mom’s first poetry reading in a couple years.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of being 26?
* “I Will,” The Beatles (our first dance)
* “The Time Warp” (sooo many performances of The Rocky Horror Show)
* “Take Your Mama,” Scissor Sisters (kept me dancing all last spring and summer… and my mom loves the chorus… “get her jacked up on some cheap champagne, we’ll let the good times all roll out”)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Happier overall, absolutely, though with a slightly more pronounced tendency towards momentary nostalgia/melancholy about some of the rough stuff that happened this year.
b) thinner or fatter?

In general thinner, from lots of dancing, all year. The BEST way to work out.
c) richer or poorer?
Monetarily (as I suppose this question is intended), poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, dancing, learning to cook, going to see shows, following through with friends, saving money.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying, sitting in hospitals, spending money on unnecessaries.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Performing in Operation Stardust with the fiancé; getting proposed to at midnight Christmas Eve, after the candlelight church service; visiting with my family.

21. Did you fall in love at 26?
Every day.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
BattleStar Galactica, via NetFlix.
Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
* Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Cooper.
* My mom’s thesis collection of poems, “The Imperfect Gravity of Pears.”

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Pandora. ( I have about 15 stations set up for workday listening, and although it sometimes goes completely haywire, 90% of the time I hear exactly what I’m looking for by artists I love and artists I’ve never heard before.

26. What did you want and get?
* The role of Octavia in Antony & Cleopatra.
* A honeymoon.
* 10 place settings of our perfect, perfectly usable, beautiful Spode china.

27. What did you want and not get?
* Countless commercial roles.
* More time. Time for everything.
* A yellow mini cooper.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Toss up: “La Vie en Rose” or “Tropic Thunder.” Yes, really.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
For 26th birthday, invited friends to the Pure Cirkus show! Burlesque fire dancers! Contortionists! Guy hanging from hooks in his shoulders (cringing still)!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A better, more varied selection of comfortable underwear for all occasions (office casual, cocktail, weekend, and white tie).

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept at 26?
Two-part answer:
1) Re-discovery of vintage dresses for my vintage-style body.
2) Experimenting in the workplace… they already think I’m crazy.

32. What kept you sane?
* The 30-minute walk down the hill to work.
* My sister, who allowed me to call her when I needed to freak out and swear at somebody during wedding planning.
* My best friend who lets me be honest.
* The fiancé, who often reminded me that I need to say, “no, not right now” from time to time.

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

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I was stirred by the announcement of our next president, both for Barack Obama’s hard fought and won acceptance and especially by John McCain’ return to sanity with his gracious, heartfelt concession speech (where was he the rest of the time?).

35. Who did you miss?
Best friends who live too far away and kindred spirits who are close, but otherwise committed.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Annie and re-met Kanarie.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Spend time with people who see you how you want to be seen; for the rest, try to see what you’re missing.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Who knows how long I’ve loved you, you know I love you still…” OR “Miniature disasters, minor catastrophes bring me to my knees…”


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