January 14, 2005
2004 In Review


2004 In Review: A Questionnaire
~ By Secra ~


  • What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?

    I'd never fallen off a platform bus seat and broken my ribs before. (I'm not likely to REPEAT the experience, either, if I can possibly help it.)

    I also visited The Lawrence Hall of Science, bought a camcorder, became a registered seller on eBay, became hopelessly addicted to a stoopid video game and learned to make tabouleh salad, all for the first time in 2004. So it wasn't all co-pays and ugly hospital gowns.
  • Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

    My main New Year's resolution for 2004 was to lose a big bunch of weight on The South Beach Diet. And technically, yes, I kept my resolution. Then I broke my stoopid ribs and gained most of the weight back. (But that's another story for another day.) 

    As for new resolutions, I believe I've answered this one already.

  • Did anyone close to you give birth?

    That big gray spider in the bathroom?

  • Did anyone close to you die?

    Daughter #1 lost a close friend in a traffic accident last summer.  I met "Little Rudy" once: he was a beautiful young man, full of life and energy and promise.  For the rest of my life I'll think about him every time I see a motorcycle zipping past us on the freeway.

  • What countries did you visit?

    Except for two quick jaunts to TicTac (one in June, one in December), plus a day-trip to Santa Cruz and a couple of Saturday mall runs, I didn't do a lot of travelling in '04.  And none of it involved passports.

  • What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

    A passport.  

    (Failing that, I would settle for free unlimited long distance. Or a postcard from The FGOB once in a while.)

  • What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

    2004 will forever be split into two parts in my memory: "BBR" (Before Broken Ribs, pre-7/23) and "ABR" (After Broken Ribs, post-7/23). BBR, I was all about good carbs and glycemic counters and blowing off the elevator in favor of the stairs.  ABR, I was all about figuring out how to breathe without screaming. 
    this woman scared the poop out of me in high school

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

    There were no "big" achievements that I can think of, which is OK. Sometimes a handful of small achievements -- organizing all of my passwords, bringing Daughter #1 down for an extra visit in the fall, watching my youngest Tot graduate from high school, lunch with a former high school nemesis, deciding not to sue AC Transit for a bazillion dollars -- is just as satisfying as one "big" achievement. 
    You can't be Miss Fire Prevention EVERY year.

  • What was your biggest failure?

    I blew my performance review at work, BIG time. My Dirt Company co-workers reported that I was "prickly and unapproachable," a claim I was utterly unable to refute. Plus I took an inordinate amount of time off, I refused to clean up the break room and I cried at my desk for 72 hours out of every month. In terms of personal achievement, this was sort of the adult equivalent of that "F" in eighth grade Algebra. It soured me on my job (and my co-workers) for a lot of months afterward. 

    I was also disappointed that we weren't able to bring either Daughter #2 or Son #Only down for a visit in '04. Kacie had job conflicts: Kyle is elbow-deep in computer college. Plus I gave up on "Once & Again" after the first DVD, I posted an underwhelming 29 *FootNotes* entries for the entire year, and I never did get the hang of cooking wild rice. 

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

    Um.  No.  I was healthy as a horse (she says, lying through her teeth  ...  not wanting to bring up the fudking BROKEN RIBS for the 43,897,621st time).    

  • What was the best thing you bought? 

    I acquired a lot of new toys in '04 -- cameras, headphones, MP3 players, another laptop, a webcam, a pen that automatically converts handwriting into digital text, a tiny portable fan that plugs into the USB port on my laptop and blows useless micro-gusts of hot air into my face while I'm typing -- but the purchase that had the most significant impact on our lives, I think, was finally having cable installed.  David and I had been resisting the idea for years: We can't afford it, we don't need it, we watch too much TV as it is, next thing you know we'll be sitting around watching "Fifty Hottest Blondes of the 20th Century."  My *epiphany moment* occured one night when I was sitting in bed with the fancy-pants new laptop, moving my little Sims people around their big empty virtual house.  All of a sudden it occurred to me that if we had cable Internet, I could go online and download groovy new Sims furniture  ...  whilst laying bed.  



    Holy shidt!  

    I called and placed the order the very next day, going for the cable TV/high speed Internet combo platter. It was installed within the month. Now, frankly, we don't know how we ever lived without it.  Not only can David and I i.m. each other from twenty feet away --  Did you eat the last of that Sage Havarti? -- but now Matt Lauer comes in crystal clear on our previously-fuzzy NBC affiliate. (He's growing his hair back a little, isn't he?? When did THAT happen?) 

    Plus now my little virtual people could open their own Sims IKEA store.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

    David's best friend Graham got married [finally] in November. First marriage, age 48, lovely outdoor wedding overlooking San Francisco Bay, friends/family/food/fun  ...  it was a celebration in every sense of the word. Even better: he met his lady love online, which only further serves to validate the whole "Meeting your soulmate on the Internet"  idea.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

    The idiot waiter at The Tadich Grill in San Francisco, who served me a Crown Royal & Cola instead of the Royal Crown Cola I'd ordered with my dinner. I didn't realize the error until I'd gulped down half the glass: the first alcohol to touch my lips since September 1998.

    The good news here is that I didn't fall off the wagon: I was pushed against my will. Which means that technically it doesn't count.

  • Where did most of your money go?

    Rent, credit card bills, airfare, long distance, co-pays, electronic toys, Tot support, Maybelline, clothes, CDs, junky pop culture magazines, forty-dollar bottles of shampoo on eBay. 

    All of the essentials of life, in other words.

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

    The Sims 2 was released in September!  Now my little virtual people come into the world as squalling infants, grow up, learn to walk and talk, go to school, fight, flirt, flunk out, party, puke, dress inappropriately, ruin their credit, make random career choices based on opportunity rather than ability, and choose completely unsuitable romantic partners ...  just like my children!

  • What songs will always remind you of 2004?

    • "The Dark Is Rising" - Mercury Rev
    • "Ring of Fire" - Social Distortion
    • "Avalanche" - Thea Gilmore
    • "Mississauga Goddam" - The Hidden Cameras
    • "Please Mr. Jailer" - Rachel Sweet (from the "Cry-Baby" soundtrack)
    • "By Way Of Sorrow" - Cry Cry Cry
    • "When The Stars Go Blue" - Ryan Adams
    • "It's A Beautiful Thing" - Ocean Colour Scene
    • "You Can't Hurry Love" - The Concretes
    • "Amazing" - Alex Lloyd
    • "Are You Ready?" - Pacific Gas & Electric

  • Compared to this time last year, you are:

    • More in debt  ... but less tied up in knots about it.
    • More out of shape  ...  but less likely to climb onto the bike anytime soon.
    • More inspired  ...  but less motivated.
    • More in love with my husband than ever  ...  but less in need of his constant attention and affirmation.


  • What do you wish you'd done more of? 

    Dropping a few extra bucks into my savings account every payday. It would have made the holidays less of a last-minute squeeze.

  • What do you wish you'd done less of?  

    Feeling guilty because I wasn't writing *FootNotes.* Sometimes you've just got to live life, without constantly worrying about how best to chronicle it.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

    Meeting new boyfriends, eating Jeno's pizza rolls, watching "A Christmas Story," following  people around with the camcorder.

  • Did you fall in love in 2004?

    No, but just about everybody ELSE I know did.  Sometimes more than once. 

  • How many one-night stands?

    One, if you count the one-night stand that has been in progress since October 29, 1998. 

    (Golly!  Next are you going to ask me how many 'frat parties'?  How many 'mosh pits'?  How many 'drunken middle-of-the-night phone calls to ex-boyfriends three time zones away'?)

  • What was your favorite TV program?

    I could climb aboard the "Desperate Housewives" bandwagon here, I suppose -- until Lynette Scavo, I thought *I* was the only person who ever dipped into the Ritalin bottle when nobody was looking -- but the truth is that my favorite TV program of 2004, possibly my favorite TV program ever, was "Sex & The City," which I discovered for the first time through the magic of Netflix.   

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

    I try not to "hate" people (she says, with prissy karmic propriety). Dislike intensely? Yes. Passionately loathe? Yes.  Fervently pray that they accidentally get run over by an AC Transit #51 Bus of the Year? Yes. 

    But hate? Not if I can help it: there's too much of that kind of shidt in the world already.  

    (Possible exceptions: Scott Peterson, Osama Bin Laden, Upstairs Neighbor Guy, that creepy little boy in the "Smart & Final" TV commercials.)

  • What was the best book you read?

    "Set This House In Order: A Romance of Souls" by Matt Ruff  ...  an odd, engaging, beautifully-written novel about multiple personality disorder.  I loved it!  No I didn't. Yes I did!  No I didn't. 

  • What was your greatest musical discovery?

    I *discovered* that I still know all the words to "Don't Sleep In The Subway."

  • What did you want and get?

    I wanted to wake up every morning next to someone I'm madly in love with.

  • What did you want and not get?

    I was supposed to be a B-cup by now. 

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

    I only saw one theater movie in 2004, The Return of the King." But I rented movies from Netflix like a maniac. I was probably Neflix's NUMBER ONE CUSTOMER in 2004, as a matter of fact. (Do you think that if I put a little Neflix icon on the front page of *FootNotes,* they'll give me a lifetime free subscription?) The one Netflix film that stands out in my memory -- the one that still  raises the hair on the back of my neck, every time I think about it -- is Catherine Hardwicke's "Thirteen," with Evan Rachel Wood and Holly Hunter. Anyone who has ever raised a thirteen year old daughter (or anyone who has ever BEEN a thirteen year old daughter, for that matter) will see something of themselves in this movie. 

    And it'll probably scare them shidtless.

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

    An extra two hours of sleep that morning, courtesy of my nice lady boss  ... flowers delivered to my office in the afternoon, courtesy of my oldest daughter  ...  fifty bucks in cash from The Dirt Company CEO and a Hallmark card signed by all of my co-workers ("You may be prickly and unapproachable/But we hope you have a nice birthday anyway" )  ...  phone calls from all three of The Tots, at various points throughout the day  ... Chicken Pad Thai and diamond earrings at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, after work  ...  coming home and opening a pile of presents, including (my favorite) a set of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas tree ornaments. 

    All in all, not a bad way to turn 47 45 43. 

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

    If "Survivor: Vanuatu" had been even one-eighth as good as "Survivor: All Stars." 

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004? 

    Short sleeves: the perimenopausal woman's best friend. 

  • What kept you sane? 

    My husband. My children. My mom. Calcium supplements. Headphones. Portable electric fans. Extra pillows. Couscous. Spam filters. EdKaz.  US Weekly Magazine. Netflix. eBay. Weekends. Ibuprofen. Fat-free/sugar-free pudding. Glycolic acid. Fuzzy socks. Amoeba Records. The Leaning Tower of Pizza (best whole wheat pizza crust on the planet!). PayPal. New books. Old photo albums. Waterproof mascara.  AA batteries. Diet A&W Cream Soda. Knowing that there would be an end to the Presidential election madness  ...  eventually. 

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

    Oh come on. I'm a little beyond the 'fancying public figures' stage of my life, don't you think?  

    (Although Jeff Probst dangling from a helicopter makes pretty good stockpile fantasy material. And I probably wouldn't object if The Sprint Guy wanted to eat crackers in my bed  ...  as long as he left room for Matt Lauer.)

  • What political issue stirred you the most?

    My proposed Constitutional amendment limiting Christmas to once every five years went down in flames again.

  • Who did you miss?

    I missed seeing my groovy Aunt Jody at Christmas this year, and I hope her chemo goes well.  She was my idol when I was a lumpy insecure pre-adolescent searching for appropriate feminine role models.

    Actually ... she still is.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004: 

    It's nothing particularly new or interesting or revelatory, as life lessons go, but I do believe that it's worth repeating:

    Get over it already.

    I went into 2004 convinced I knew exactly how the year was going to progress. I was going to go on The South Beach Diet in January, lose forty pounds by the middle of the summer, and then in September or October have the much-ballyhooed/long-postponed/finally-I'll-be-able-to-wear-TUBE-TOPS breast reduction surgery. I even went so far as to schedule my initial consultation with the plastic surgeon, six months in advance. That's how certain I was that things were going to work out the way I wanted them to.

    And then I got onto that #51 AC Transit bus ... and the rest, as they say, is history.

    A couple of broken ribs isn't the end of the world, of course. It's barely a pause in the fast-forward process. But it was enough to pretty thoroughly derail my plans for the year. First I was disappointed, then I was sad, then I was pissed: it's tough to come so close to something you've wanted so badly for so long, and then have it snatched away from you without warning like that. The worst part is that I used my disappointment as an excuse to lapse into all kinds of unpretty behaviors ... feeling sorry for myself being primary among them. (NEVER a good look for me.)

    But over the last couple of months I've managed to pull myself back together, physically and emotionally, and now I'm pretty much right back where I started, one year ago: getting ready to start the process all over again. Except that this time I'm not going to assume anything

    And I'm not shopping for tube tops until the bandages come off.

    Anyway, there's my 2004 in a nutshell.  Hope 2005 is a productive and happy year for ALL of us. 

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Secra & her Tots
Christmas 2004



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