It's that time of year again. Frankly speaking, 2013 was one of the worst years of my family's life. Pretty much everything about it sucked. As such, we're quite happy to see the back of it. I'm not expecting January 1, 2014 to be a magic silver bullet that suddenly solves everything, but as the Replacements once sagely sang, Anywhere's Better Than Here.
Herewith the inevitable end-of-year survey.
1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before? I can't think of anything to put here that isn't entirely depressing, so I'm going to skip it.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't remember if I made any, but if I did, I invariably didn't keep them. Will I make some this year? Don't know yet.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a couple of people.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Sadly, yes. My father-in-law very sadly passed away in January. That sort of set the tone for the year.
5. What countries did you visit? Didn't.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Conclusive and actionable solutions to an ongoing problem.
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory? I'd say Thanksgiving weekend.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 2013 was not a year of achievements.
9. What was your biggest failure? I'm not sure there was much I could have done better, but I am plagued by the notion that there was more I might have been able to do to prevent the worst aspects of this year.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I didn't, no, but those close to me have.
11. What was the best thing you bought? I honestly don't remember. Possibly the big furry beanbag I picked up at Restoration Hardware that was worryingly much larger than the one we'd initially spied in the showroom.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My wife and children.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The usual culprits. I haven't had as much mental energy to get bent out of shape by political stuff, but the far right still have my undying contempt.
14. Where did most of your money go? School tuition, airfare, the tax man, building maintenance.
15. What did you get really, really excited about? In a bad way? The health and well-being of my loved ones. In a good way? Hmmmm. Not very much.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013? I can't say music played as much of a role in my life this year. Candidly speaking, I have the tendency to mentally associate music with whatever's going on in my life at the moment. Given that this year sucked so bad, I really wasn't inclined to taint any specific music with memories of 2013. I listened to the roiling live version of "Coward" from SWANS' limited edition live disc, Not Here/Not Now quite a bit, but that reminds me more of a night in 2012 (when I saw them perform live on the eve of Hurricane Sandy). It's also an incredibly cathartic bit of music, and catharsis was in high demand for me for much of this year.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Much sadder.
18. Thinner or fatter? Can't say. About the same. Stress keeps me slim.
19. Richer or poorer? Poorer
20. What do you wish you'd done more of? Problem-solving.
21. What do you wish you'd done less of? Stressing out.
22. How did you spend Christmas? We kept it pretty low-key this year. Just at home with my wife and children.
23. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with? Probably with my wife.
24. Did you fall in love in 2013? I was already very much in love.
25. How many one night stands in this last year? I am happily married and ever-faithful.
26. What was your favorite TV program? We did watch an awful lot of the the tube this year. We quite enjoyed "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey." I think "Girls" and "Homeland" have both started to slide a little bit. Loved "Sherlock" and "Birdsong." Probably most wrapped up in "Breaking Bad," which we're still catching up on (only midway through season 3 at the moment).
27. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I can't spend time hating people. That's just not productive. I certainly spent a lot of time hating certain circumstances that were beyond my control.
29. What was your greatest musical discovery? Like I said, I didn't spend as much time obsessing over music in 2013. I continue to quite enjoy "Like a Dream" by Francis & the Lights, though.
30. What did you want and get? The super deluxe re-release of the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat and the super deluxe Singles Collection box set by Killing Joke. Both entirely needless, but lovely to behold.
31. What did you want and not get? Conclusive and actionable solutions for an ongoing problem.
32. What were your favorite films of this year? Probably that Big Star documentary.
33. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 46 and there's nothing nice to say about it.
34. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Better health and less suffering for the people I care about.
35. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Who's got time for fashion?
36. What kept you sane? Who said anything about me being sane? Honestly, the one thing that kept me sane was the imperative to stay steady, assertive, positive and in control while things were collapsing around me.
37. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Who cares?
38. What political issue stirred you the most? Can't say I had the time to worry about any.
39. Who did you miss? I miss my father-in-law and Lou Reed.
40. Who was the best new person you met? Some new colleagues at work, I suppose.
41. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013 Never, ever, ever take your loved ones for granted. Tell them as often as possible how very much they mean to you. And don't expect modern medicine to have every answer. Evidently, it doesn't.
42. Song lyric that sums up 2013: To slap a song lyric that pertains to the circumstances of this year would only serve to trivialize those circumstances, so I'm going to pass on this one.