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02 January 2016 @ 09:32 pm
publicLooking Back, Looking Forward  
1:What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I tried out drawing with charcoal, which was fun and not entirely successful! After a failed scribble, I followed a YouTube tutorial on how to use charcoal to draw an eye, and while I did generally like the result, I couldn't really see the advantage of charcoal over graphite. Charcoal must have unique properties that can make it the best medium for certain effects, but I haven't discovered these secrets yet...

2:Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did keep my New Year's resolutions! Well, they were more like New Year's Good Ideas, as I didn't want to stress myself out by setting myself strict tasks or deadlines, so even the ones that were quite straightforward had caveats like, "so long as it's fun rather than a chore." My vaguest resolution was to do something that would bring me closer to my goal of becoming a translator, which was realised by our system of speaking/reading/listening/watching French and Japanese in alternate weeks. There were weeks where we spoke less in French/Japanese than others, or didn't fit in any watching of TV or film (I find this really helpful for taking in body language as well), but the system has nonetheless improved our language skills massively: I sometimes forgot that I wasn't speaking in my native language. More concrete was my resolution to read at least one book in French and in Japanese - I only finished the one in Japanese, but I read seven French books :D I also read 72 books in total, my goal having been 60, w00t. In 2016, I want to try to read 10 books in French and at least 2 in Japanese, step up the language practice slightly (such as focusing on fine-tuning my grammar), run the 4th of July four-mile road race, and start eliminating palm oil from our diet/life.

3:Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some acquaintances, but not anyone I would say is close. It's still quite incredible, though, being reminded that we can create new humans inside our own bodies...!

4:Did anyone close to you die?

5:What countries did you visit?
I spent almost two weeks in New England in the summer, swimming outdoors, eating delicious food, meeting up with friends and family.

6:What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Confidence in my translation abilities. I have a good degree in this area, yet I still think I'm a clueless fraud.

7:What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Hmm, perhaps the 7th of May, when a Tory government was elected to Westminster despite what seemed to be an almost unanimous expectation that Labour would get in. At least Caroline Lucas was re-elected, and - though I am not actually a particular SNP-supporter - those 56 SNP MPs are to me a sign of optimism, the belief and hope that politics can change.

8:What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Being nicer to myself.

9:What was your biggest failure?
Although there were bad times this year, occasions when I couldn't cope with things, I wouldn't actually describe anything as a failure. Those bad times were unavoidable, and I got through them.

10:Did you suffer illness or injury?
I suffered continued mental ill-health, but much less so than previously. Got some mild trouble from an ankle that I hurt while falling down a couple of stairs this time last year, but that too is strengthening!

11:What was the best thing you bought?
A subscription to Spotify!

12:Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Some friends and acquaintances have been so kind, gentle, and patient with me when I've been honest about why I'm turning down their invitations to parties/meet-ups/etc. I've been really touched by how accepting they are, as I was afraid that I would be rejected instead.

13:Whose behaviour made you appalled?
I am appalled by those who talk about refugees as drains on the societies they're coming to, particularly when those people are in positions of power and so decide the fates of people in need. I'm appalled by the British government withdrawing support for vulnerable people and for renewable energy.

14:Where did most of your money go?
Rent, council tax, counselling, bus pass, phone... Other than these and similar wildly exciting expenses, tasty food was probably next on the list: kilos of almond butter, different kinds of tea, onion rings with sweet chilli sauce, mmmm...

15:What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Black!Hermione!!! My Harry Potter Alliance t-shirts! Re-reading Harry Potter! I'm sensing a theme here... ;)

16:What song will always remind you of 2015?
Aicha (version mixte) by Khaled hehehe ♥

17:Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
(a) I am happier!! Yay! The black chasm is further off, the greyness has receded, there is more often light and calm (b) I am more muscular, rrr >:D My biceps, gained from hauling sacks of grains and vegetables up and down numerous flights of stairs, may not seem much to others, but I'm seriously chuffed with them :D (c) Richer! I think our joint income still leaves us relatively near the poverty line, but with strict budgeting (and convenient lack of things like a car or a mortgage) I feel quite comfortable.

18:What do you wish you’d done more of?
Travelling. With that strict budget we could afford to go to America, which was wonderful, but it would have been great to be able to also do more day and weekend trips, see the more local sights, just spend time outside the city, feeling alive.

19:What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worried about how other people are judging me. What a waste of time. I do think that it's important to look at whether or not you live up to your principles, check that you're not being hypocritical (or if you are, that it's because it's unavoidable), but constantly fine-combing my behaviour and picking apart everything that I say is disrespectful to myself, and I could be doing something so much more enjoyable with that time.

20:How did you spend Christmas?
At home in Edinburgh with Stacia, Ginkgo, and my mum. She stayed with us for a couple of nights, just long enough to have fun together and feel festive while avoiding an overdose on company. Our little flat is decorated with a tree, wreath, and colourful paper chains, we had much tasty food (rugelach! Almond mince pies! Eggnog! Chestnut, chocolate, and grand marnier bûche de Noël! A couple of these we hadn't made vegan before, and they turned out really well), and played board games while drinking mulled wine - it was very cosy :) We then went through to see my dad and his side of the family on Boxing Day, where I cooked, with my dad as assistant, a Japanese meal for everyone. Those gingery sweet potato and mushroom croquettes were delicious, I must immodestly say :D

21:Did you fall in love in 2015?
I like myself more than I ever have before.

22:What was your favourite TV program?
Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse. I'm serious, if you make sure to watch it late at night or while otherwise hyper, that series is hilarious XDD Ahem, the actual winner is Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia's Case Files (ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖) - an awesome and fun detective series where all of the mysteries revolve around books \o/

23:Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hm, I don't hate anyone now, but I'm grumpy with some people. I'm better at letting myself be irritated in general, which I think is good - I'm not so concerned with being judged as not nice enough.

24:What was the best book you read?
Ahhh, that's difficult! There have been so many good ones. I think I'd say either How to be both by Ali Smith, or L'Odyssée DaleMark, Tome 3 : Les houppelandes magiques by Diana Wynne Jones (Laurence Kiefé), with a mention for Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight for Change by Caroline Lucas.

25:What was your greatest musical discovery?
Amadou et Mariam, Orange Blossom, klezmer playlists on Spotify.

26:What did you want and get?
A new computer for Christmas :o My eight-year-old Vaio finally became unusable, and was declared not worth fixing when I took it in. I was given a very shiny Acer with fricking full HD holy bejings, good speakers, and 8GB RAM (my old computer had like 40MB or something!). We watched the extended editions of Lord of the Rings on it just after Christmas, and it was like being at the cinema O.O (Well, I'm sure all the people out there who own televisions wouldn't think much of it, but it is one heck of a step up for us!)

27:What did you want and not get?
Instant and effortless mental good health.

28:What was your favourite film of this year?
First Prize: Spy was completely awesome. Melissa McCarthy is completely awesome. I loved that she was a fat woman being capable, funny, seductive, quick-thinking, and literally arse-kicking, and the one negative reaction to her size (that I can remember, anyway) was actually a bad reflection on the other character. I loved that her side-kick was Miranda Hart, that there were female villains, that her boss was a woman, that there was awkwardness and messing up but also whip-fast get-out plans and saving of the day. And on top of all that, it was just hilarious.
Second Prize: We watched the two How to Train Your Dragon films for the first time this year (in French) and I loved them so much, even though I also cried so much that I'm not sure I'd like to re-watch them. But the animation was just lovely - Toothless was both adorable and stunning, and the flying scenes were so beautiful.
Third Prize: I really enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This may be because I thought it was going to be awful and cheesy, but that I will judge when I go to see it again \o/ I was impressed by the acting, the settings, the nostalgic nods to and mirroring of the original trilogy, Princess Leia being awesome (yayyy), and the main characters avoiding being the stereotypes that they could have been.

29:What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The times when I left the city behind and was surrounded by nature. It's only in these times that I feel as though I'm fully connected to the present, to life, to my soul.

30:How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
XD Err, comfortable? Second-hand? Harry Potter-centric?

31:What kept you sane?
Learning how to predict when I will be overwhelmed and then respecting that, not trying to push myself to be 'normal' and live up to the image that I have of how I 'should' be, what I 'should' be capable of.

32:Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester.

33:What political issue stirred you the most?
This is a pretty difficult question, with so much crap going on in the world... I suppose the issue that I've spent the most time thinking, talking, and getting angry about is human treatment of other animals. It's on such a huge scale (over 150 billion animals killed every year), and so pointless - there are alternatives to all of the things that we currently use other animals for right now. They're not here for us to use, and we treat them so cruelly, just because they can't fight back. The way that we treat other animals is also a part of the malaise that affects the way that we treat the rest of our ecosystem and each other - like the earth and less privileged people are there just to provide for the richer.

34:Who did you miss?
The friends that I didn't have enough mental energy to see or contact.

35:Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Life is not an exam: you don't have to make sure that you've answered all the questions, that you've ticked every box.

36:Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child"
Mood: contemplative
Music: End of an Era - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls