Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Annual New Year's Survey!

I'm a little later than usual with this survey, but I've been working on it, and I guess I'd better hurry up and get it posted before we get any deeper into 2020.

1) What did you do in 2019 that you'd never done before?
Got married! Changed my legal name! Went on a honeymoon! Got in a high-speed car crash! (Went spinning the wrong way across a freeway!) Seriously contemplated having a mastectomy! Some of these things were vastly more fun than others of these things.

2) Was 2019 a good year for you?
The first half was significantly better than the second half. But overall, yes.

3) What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
A cancer-free year and the election of Elizabeth Warren as our next president. (Sadly, that last one is looking less and less likely by the day, so I guess I should also specify that I'll settle for Anybody but Trump. My second choice is Bernie Sanders, and my third choice is Anybody but Biden and Trump.) I might also like to buy a brand-new house, but I'm willing to hold off on that if the right one doesn't present itself. Selling my current house is pretty important though; even if we don't get around to buying a new one, I'd at least like to finish moving into Barry's current house while we shop for a better one to move into together.

I'd like to note that I did get in 2019 the most important things I was actively wishing for a year ago, including a marriage certificate and impeachment. I was also wishing for a different president, but no such luck yet on that front. (Grrrrrrr to the United States Senate.)

4) What was your favorite moment of 2019?
Holding Barry's hand while stepping out the front door of our friends' house at the moment our wedding ceremony began, when I couldn't see our family and friends properly because my eyes suddenly filled up with happy tears.

5) What was your least favorite moment of 2019?
Being informed that I had breast cancer all over again.

6) What date from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 13, because we got married!

7) Where were you when 2019 began?
At the friends' house we would later get married at, with Barry and two dozen or so other friends and acquaintances, toasting the new year and kissing Barry, with engagement rings on Barry's and my fingers.

8) Where were you when 2019 ended?
Exactly the same place as when it started, but with wedding rings on Barry's and my fingers, and a few different friends and acquaintances.

9) Did you keep your New Year's resolution of 2019?
I did successfully get married to the correct Barry! And I utterly failed to sell my house or even put it on the market. In greater detail, I also failed to remove the wallpaper from my green bathroom and paint the walls in there, to refinish the door of the green bathroom and my bedroom door, to repaint my pantry, to remove carpet in my bedroom, and to patch damaged wallpaper in the pink bathroom and in the formal and informal dining rooms. I also failed to keep running!

In fairness, getting breast cancer and going through breast biopsy and lumpectomy and radiation all over again on the other breast from before has made it absolutely medically impossible to run ever since late August, so I had no choice in the matter. And the ankle I sprained a week before our wedding (while doing nothing whatsoever that should have caused ankle sprains, just standing still and suddenly feeling my ankle give out for no apparent reason) also made running a terrible idea for a couple of months before then. And cancer was also a very valid reason to fail to make as much progress as we had hoped in selling my house, both because I simply wasn't capable of physically doing much and also because we had to spend almost all our time at Barry's house to be closer to my constant doctor appointments in Sacramento.

We did achieve a good portion of moving me out of my house, though. Also I did keep my resolution to paint my bedroom, and Barry replaced the doorknob in my office, and got the automatic door closer installed on the door from the house to the garage.

10) Do you have New Year's resolutions for 2020?
Yes. To sell my house. And maybe buy a new one! And to keep adoring and doting upon Barry, who keeps adoring and doting upon me.

11) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Marrying Barry.

12) How was your love life in 2019?
Fabulous. I have the best husband!

13) Did you make any new friends in 2019?
As I said last year, I think it was more about strengthening existing friendships.

14) Did you lose anyone close to you in 2019?

15) Did you miss anybody in 2019?
David Bowie, my paternal grandmother who's been dead for almost 20 years, and my two high school best friends who are still alive and even threw me a lovely bachelorette hiking trip but who live farther away from me than I'd ideally prefer.

16) Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, [personal profile] sammka.

17) Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, a sprained ankle the week before our wedding and then breast cancer. During the breast cancer treatment, I suffered some heartburn from having my esophagus irradiated (because it was too close to my breast to be fully avoided), seriously burned and peeling skin on my left breast, and internal pain of the connective tissues throughout that breast so that it hurts a lot anytime I change position at all. But since only the recently irradiated one hurts, and the other one was also irradiated, just not as recently, I have every reason to be confident that the recently irradiated one will recover just like the less recently irradiated one did.

I also suffered a coldlike virus in November that I suspect was respiratory syncytial virus. It was like a very mild cold without any histamine response, but it was followed by about a month of terrible coughing fits.

18) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2019?
I did a lot of antihistamines, because my allergies keep getting worse and worse every year. I also did some antacids because my esophagus was getting irradiated. I declined to fill a prescription for opioids after lumpectomy, because I didn't feel that my recovery from surgery would be improved by vomiting.

19) What's the farthest you traveled in 2019?
The only traveling I did this year was for our honeymoon, which was 1,111 miles round-trip if you measure it from Barry's house (which was where we most immediately left from and returned to), plus an extra 72 miles round-trip if you measure it from my house. We stayed one night in the Cinnamon Bear Creekside Inn in Sonoma, four nights in three different rooms at the famous Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo (in the Madonna Suite, the Yosemite Falls Suite, and then two nights in the Love Nest - we asked to change rooms twice so we could try out more rooms because they're all so different), and then we stayed three nights in a cabin at the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge in Three Rivers, almost directly outside the Ash Mountain Entrance to Sequoia National Park. Along the way, we visited the Winchester Mystery House, Hearst Castle, Hearst Memorial Beach, the Niopmo Native Garden in Nipomo, the all-native Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Ensemble Theater in Santa Barbara (where we saw a performance of Everything Is Illuminated), Las Pilitas Native Nursery (which wasn't even technically open to the public at the time, but Barry wrote them a letter about bringing his brand-new wife five hundred miles to see a nursery she had always wanted to see, and they agreed to let us come in and buy some plants), the General Sherman Tree and various other landmarks in Sequoia National Park, the visitor center in Kings Canyon National Park, and on our way home, the truly amazing Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno - an unexpected highlight shortly before my car was totaled and we were left stranded and waiting for my brand-new in-laws to pick us up.

Other than our honeymoon, I intentionally planned to avoid long trips in 2019, because we had wedding planning, moving, house-selling, and house-buying to focus on. We successfully finished the first one, made good progress on the second one, and made no particular progress at all on the latter two. But I did expect it to take a while to properly finish the process of selling two houses and buying and moving into a third house. We'll get there eventually.

20) What was the best thing you bought?
The main thing I bought - certainly the most expensive thing, and I'm willing to call it the best thing - was a car. A blue 2015 Toyota Yaris with 47,667 miles on it, for $9,300. Because my old 2004 Nissan Sentra with something like 135,000 miles on it did not survive my attempt to drive us home at the end of our honeymoon. (On the bright side, the insurance companies eventually found me not at fault. This was tricky and required an appeal process, because it was in some sense a one-car accident; my car collided with a fence and never made contact with any other car. However, the accident only happened because another driver attempted to change lanes directly into us, and I steered sharply onto the freeway median to avoid a high-speed collision, and consequently lost control of my car and spun wildly across the freeway, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus, before eventually careening over an embankment on the side of the freeway and colliding with a barbed-wire fence. On the bright side, the car did slow down significantly during all the spinning around, with the result that we didn't actually collide with the fence at a very high speed, so we were uninjured, and my car was only totaled because it wasn't worth very much to begin with. And two witnesses stopped to give us their contact information and tell us they were emphatically on our side and had seen that the accident was not my fault; one of the witnesses had even followed the other driver and gotten a picture of their license plate, which they gave to me. And then the other driver came back and heard a witness telling us this and then identified himself as the other driver, admitted that the accident had been his fault, and thanked me for managing not to hit him since his kids were in the back seat and could have been hurt.)

21) Did you lose anything important in 2019?
I lost part of my left breast, but I think I'm better off without it.

22) What concerts did you see in 2019?

23) What was your favorite TV program?
Probably Star Trek: Discovery. But we also enjoyed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Good Place, Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Stranger Things, and various other shows.

24) What was the best book you read?
I guess Letters to Montgomery Clift by Noël Alumit made a significant impression on me. It's about a gay Filipino boy who is sent to the United States to live with an abusive aunt after his father is imprisoned by the Marcos regime.

25) Who or what was your greatest pop cultural discovery?
My husband gave me a Nintendo 2DS with a bunch of games to play on it. I played the first four Professor Layton games, little bits of some Super Mario and Kirby games, and a lot of Bejeweled Twist.

26) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
I accepted that it is probably pretty much inevitable that sooner or later I will get a double mastectomy, and I don't think wearing fake breasts is likely to suit my sense of self - especially not on a daily basis - so I decided to get a head start on researching how to dress as a breastless woman. I joined some Facebook groups on the topic and got some ideas for how to start slowly transitioning my wardrobe to contain more clothes that might continue looking good on me even without breasts.

27) Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Conference calls at my job.

28) What political issue stirred you the most?
The toppling of our centuries-old democracy and installation of a dictator as king of the United States. I am opposed to this.

29) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I ceased to be the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but it's okay because I'm still pretty good.

30) How did you spend Christmas?
At my parents' house, with Barry and my brother and both of our sets of parents.

31) Whose behavior merited celebration?

32) Whose behavior appalled you?

33) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2019?
Same as last year: I don't know, but I bet Trump told it.

34) What do you wish you'd done more of?
Not having cancer.

35) What do you wish you'd done less of?
Having cancer.

36) How much money did you spend in 2019, and what did you spend it on?
It looks like I spent a total of $58,676.60 in 2019. This was significantly more than my net income, so I ended up with significantly less savings in the bank at the end of the year than at the start of it. However, I paid $42,607.04 of that to my mortgage company, which reduced the principal on my mortgage by $35,477.59 over the course of the year, so that money did not go to waste. Much of the rest of what I spent went to buying a new car. Which means . . . did I mention we got married this year? Well, getting married turned out not to be expensive at all. We had a beautiful wedding with about 40 guests, but the cash gifts we received from those guests pretty well paid for the entire wedding. And if you figure in the non-cash gifts, then the total value of the gifts we received dramatically exceeded the amount we spent. So it's actually been a pretty frugal year for me. Technically I spent more than I earned and ended up with less money in the bank, but since I reduced my mortgage debt so dramatically, it was really just a sensible and productive rearrangement of money and not wasteful splurging at all.

And I now owe less than $25,000 to fully pay off my house! Though I hope to sell it before I have time to fully pay it off.

37) What was your proudest moment of 2019?
I made Barry my husband!

38) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2019?
Totalling my car on my honeymoon was primarily my scariest moment, but having to call my brand-new in-laws to come rescue us afterward was sort of embarrassing.

39) What was your favorite month of 2019?
April. We got married! And it was an absolutely incredibly perfectly us wedding, one that we were both 100% invested in planning together and both 100% thrilled with as a result. It represented us, communicated who we are and why we love each other, and not only demonstrated to others our ability to plan a major event together but also helped us learn more, ourselves, about how well we really do work together. Plus, after the wedding came the honeymoon, and that was pretty thoroughly amazing in itself. (Even though my car didn't survive it.)

40) What was your least favorite month of 2019?
September, because it was when I got biopsied and was informed that I had breast cancer again, and because I can't remember anything particularly great that happened during it to counterbalance the bad. November was the worst month in terms of making stressful treatment decisions (whether to get an immediate double mastectomy or not - I chose not), and December was the worst in terms of painful side effects of cancer treatment, and October was also not great in terms of painful recovery from cancer surgery. But the cancer surgery went exceptionally well and brought the best possible news and prognosis, and November involved delightful time with friends and family for Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving, and December was jam-packed with fun social outings, including attending a friend's huge 60th birthday bash, seeing panto performances of Alice in Wonderland (inexplicably mashed up with The Nutcracker) and Little Women (inexplicably mashed up with Macbeth), and playing 14 installments of the board game Betrayal Legacy with friends, meeting up with friends for dinner and so on, plus getting both our families together at my parents' house for Christmas again, and then of course the annual week-long New Year's party. December was actually so busy that we had to print out a calendar to keep track of all our social engagements! I don't think I've ever had so many social engagements in a month before in my life. And despite my extreme introversion, it was all actually quite pleasant. Friends were pleasant! Family was pleasant! Everything was really quite wonderful, despite or aside from my being in physical pain, so it wasn't so bad on the whole. September, though - I don't remember much of anything from September other than cancer. So September was the worst month.

41) Compared to the end of last year, how do you feel?
At the end of 2018 I was excitedly planning a wedding, feeling a little overwhelmed by all the work ahead of us but also thrilled to be taking it on. At the end of 2019 I was recovering from cancer treatment, feeling physically sore and scarred and in pain and worried about my future health (not particularly in terms of recurrence, because I feel pretty confident that I've successfully banished both the cancer I had in 2014 and the brand new cancer I had this year, but in terms of future brand new cancers since my body has twice demonstrated a propensity to produce them), and feeling a little overwhelmed by all the work ahead of us in terms of selling two houses and buying a third one. There's some excitement involved in shopping for a new home to live in together, but I don't think it's nearly as exciting as wedding planning was, and I also think the amount of work involved is rather greater, so I'd have to say I've been feeling a bit less fantastic emotionally right now than I was a year earlier, and obviously quite a bit less fantastic physically as well. So I feel worse on both levels now than I did a year earlier. However, a year ago was the fifth year in a row in which I answered this question by deciding I was happier than I had been the previous year, so 2018 was very happy indeed - the happiest I had been in at least half a decade, probably longer - probably at least a decade, maybe even a quarter-century, maybe even ever. So feeling not nearly as amazingly fantastic as I did at the end of 2018 does not amount to anything worth particularly complaining about. Okay, cancer treatment was somewhat worth complaining about. But cancer treatment is over, and I'm nearly fully recovered now, so with any luck, 2020 should be much better on that front.

42) What did you want and get?
A husband! And to remain employed.

43) What did you want and not get?
A new president.

44) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Same as last year: the Senate removing Trump from office. Preferably to a prison cell.

45) What kept you sane?
My husband. Cancer can be hard on a lot of marriages and even on other types of relationships; I've seen countless women in online breast cancer forums complaining about how their husbands, family, friends, and others have all disappointed them in various ways in their time of need. Barry has achieved the rare and difficult feat of being highly involved and supportive yet also willing to step back and let me make the final judgment calls about which treatments I will or will not pursue.

46) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
Barry is a marvelous husband.

47) What are your plans for 2020?
Sell a house (or two), buy a house (if we can find the right one), and generally start our new married, post-cancer, finally-living-together life together at last. Attend a board game convention with Barry. Go to Yosemite with Barry and my parents and eight other members of my extended family.
Tags: surveys

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