After filling in the same year-end questionnaire in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, I skipped it last year. It felt right at the time, and I had every intention of doing so this year as well. But then I changed my mind. I think about how I look back on 2013 and at first my mind kind of hangs on the awfulness of the beginning of my summer, the relapse that left me so ashamed and truly hating myself in a bleak way I’d never quite experienced before. I think, wow, 2013 was kind of rough. But then I think, I have 6 months on my sobriety counter right now. That’s half a year of getting healthier and happier and regaining what what lost.

2013 wasn’t so bad at all, really. It had its ups and downs, like every year. And here I am at the cusp of 2014, feeling strong and so goddamned hopeful. So let’s do this thing.

1. What did you do in 213 that you’d never done before?

The thing that stands out is our family vacation in July. I have so many wonderful memories from that trip.

boys at the Bly ranch

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

Here’s what I wrote last year:

I want more of the same. I want more of this unspectacular, unassuming life. I want more messes, screeching voices, and floors strewn with foot-stabbing Legos. More laughter, eye-rolls, and ridiculous jokes. More wrestling matches, more campfire smoke clinging to dirt-smeared jackets, more foggy mornings spent gazing out at the river from the cabin. More checks sent to me because I may not be curing cancer but goddamn, I get paid to write, and how awesome is that? This is all good enough. This is all I could ask for.

This all happened. Every bit of it.

For 2014, I hope to continue the fitness program that’s been so incredibly good for me in recent months. I hope to diversify my work a bit. I hope to stay healthy. I hope to show my family how much I love them on a daily basis.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Many casual friends and acquaintances, but no one particularly close.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. I think the only real traveling I did was a brief trip to New York in March.

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

More life balance, I guess. I don’t know how possible that is right now, with me freelancing and the kids home so often. Maybe when both boys are in school full time next fall … but really, this one comes down to me.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June, because it was my lowest point and thus a springboard.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Pulling out of that tailspin and fully committing to sobriety. While I know better than to feel complacent, I do feel immense amounts of gratitude. I also re-embraced healthy eating and exercise, which I had been allowing to fall by the wayside, and I’m increasingly happy with the person I see in the mirror (and not just because she’s by-god rocking her old skinny jeans).

9. What was your biggest failure?

See #7, and the backsliding moments that led up to that day.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?


11. What was the best thing you bought?

Counseling sessions. A personal trainer. A Hitachi Magic Wand. (What?)

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage, savings, college accounts, Honeycrisp apples.

13. What did you get really excited about?

I was super geeked about our summer road trip. I couldn’t WAIT to see Gravity. (Expectations: met!) I’m pretty excited about the fact that JB and I are spending a no-kids week in Vegas in January.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

There’s this Matisyahu song called “Live Like a Warrior” that’s a little cheesy but also awesome and I love the lyrics:

Some things you should let go, they’re only gonna pull you down,
Just like weight on your shoulder they are only gonna make you drown
We all swing high, we all swing low,
We all got secrets people don’t know
We all got dreams we can’t let go,
We want to brave, don’t be afraid

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

– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner, for sure.
– richer or poorer? Financially better off — although maybe not at this exact post-Christmas post-December-heating bill moment in time.

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

I wish I’d stepped outside my comfort zone more often.

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

Losing my temper with the kids.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Here in Eugene, at our house on Christmas morning and my brother-in-law’s for dinner. It was lovely.

xmas morning

xmas breakfast

our dorky kids hosing the dinner photo

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Same answer as in years past, but with extra emphasis because of it being the final season and all: Breaking Bad. I also obsessed over The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and we’re currently re-enjoying Battlestar Galactica from the beginning.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

The Fault in Our Stars, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Silent Wife, Tiny Beautiful Things.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I only bought singles in 2013, it seems. Maybe OVERWERK’s “Daybreak,” because I’ve played it so many times in my workout mixes.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Why can’t I think of ANY movies I’ve seen this year? Uhhhh. Uh uh uh. Safety Not Guaranteed, Django Unchained, Mud, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Iron Man 3, Catching Fire … I feel like I’m forgetting a lot.

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

I was 39, and I literally cannot remember what we did. Something low-key but nice, I’m sure.



Here were the other birthdays are actually far more important to me than my own: Dylan, who turned 5, John, who turned 40, and Riley, who turned 8:

dylan birthday sledding

dylan family party

JB birthday

Riley birthday

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

A good girlfriend. Hell, a bad girlfriend.

25. What kept you sane?

Making my health a priority. Feeling a (false?) sense of being connected to other people via social media. My husband, who really and truly just gets more amazing every year.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

It’s all about being present. Talking about the painful shit helps. Time heals, as does sweat. Good makeup brushes make all the difference. Always, always, always empty the dishwasher before going to bed.

sunset at the cabin

Last night I showed the kids this amazing video by a special effects company. About halfway through JB was like, um are you sure our children should be seeing a bunch of guys screaming and on fire and shit? but I thought it was a pretty good way to understand how the intense stuff in movies isn’t real. Riley was particularly mesmerized by the idea of building entire virtual worlds and layering in details (he kept comparing it to Minecraft) (which is sort of funny, being as how Minecraft pretty much looks like you’ve jetted back in time to 1976 in order to play Breakout), but I think he was even more inspired by the battle scenes. Not the guys on fire part — I hope — but the epic explosions and whatnot. As I was driving him to school today I kept hearing muffled warfare-noises from the backseat. “Neeerrrrooowwwkapooosh,” “Powpowpowpowpowpow,” “KaPEWWWW,” etc.

This actually par for the course with Riley. He’s the exact opposite of a violent kid but there is a near-constant stream of gunfire sounds coming from him whenever he’s entertaining himself. Usually he’s holding a toy or Lego and frowningly carrying out some complicated military operation, and sometimes, like this morning, he’s just gazing out the window while dry-firing his imaginary weapons.

Have I told you how a young neighbor girl comes home with us after school during the week? I get a kick out of her because she’s as rough and tumble as the boys, but totally obsessed with different stuff. Horses and nail polish, mostly.

Anyway, there he was, kabooshing away, and usually I tell him to give me a goddamned goshdarned break from the artillery but instead I cupped my hand over my mouth and said “KSSSHT. Pilot to bombardier, pilot to bombardier, we’re nearing the target, do you read, over?” I peeked in the rearview mirror, and he was frozen, staring back at me with visible waves of delight beaming out from his entire body.

The rest of the way to school the three of us radioed commands back and forth. We released missiles, deployed revolver cannons, and wiped out entire cities of bad guys. Dylan got very excited and maybe a little confused, shouting “THERE’S AN OCTOPUS!” at one point. I drove into the pull-through lane and announced that ksssht, we’re coming in for a landing, and Riley wanted to know if we could please play the game again tomorrow, PLEASE? I said maybe, maybe. Before I drove away, I rolled down the window and said, “Nice work out there, soldier.” And he stood on the walkway in front of his school and damned if he didn’t snap off a perfect salute, with a grin that lit up the grey December sky like a big beautiful computer-generated fireball.

Next Page →