1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? I had a kid start high school, first grade, and preschool, all on the same day. I was chosen to attend a professional conference. OOOH – I rode in a taxi! And then later that trip, hailed one myself. I went through a toll booth. I used valet parking. I cried at work (a lot), but for the first time, it was out of love for the folks I work with. I saw a launch, and felt the ground shake. I got to give my husband a glimpse into the super cool world of what I do.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? As awesome as 2014 was, there was a lot that I planned to do that just didn’t happen. I think I shot too high and then pushed too far, and something had to give. I have plans for 2015, but nothing seriously concrete: 2015 is just the Year of Me.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? MY SISTER DID! And y’all, I had never understood the love for a niece or a nephew, but WHEW BUDDY is that stuff made of steel! (Also, look at this picture of her and her husband WHILE SHE IS HAVING HER C-SECTION. Are they not so gorgeous that you want to hate them?) Baby Mac is just THE CUTEST baby and I’m so glad he’s with us.
4. Did anyone close to you die? I always hate this question, because I feel like I should know this off the top of my head. I attended no funerals, although I had several friends pass.
5. What countries did you visit? None outside of the contiguous USofA, but I did travel quite a bit this year! I’d like to continue that trend. Turns out, I really kind of like it! (Except for a fantastic beach vacation, it was all work travel, which – for whatever reason – I find WAY less stressful.)
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Pardon me for further implanting the earworm that hijacked so many of us in 2014, but I wish I could have – in the immortal words of Queen Elsa – Let it go a bit more this year. It’s only taken 35 years, but I’m starting to loosen my grip on things and let others take control. (Starting to. But I plan to work on that this year.)
7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May 8th, Mac joined us. June 7th, Vinnie celebrated his first year on Earth. Mid-July, we took a group of interns for an overnight trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. (And got them all back, virtually unscathed!) August began a very rough season at work, a time of downsizing and uncertainty. Halloween, when I kicked off a program review with a table full of fully-dressed characters, chaired by the Wicked Witch and a reluctant Cat in the Hat. December 5th, when Orion launched on top of a Delta Heavy and we realized that we really are doing this thing.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? PARENTING VINNIE. OH MY GOD, Y’ALL. Okay, look. He is a SWEET kid. No question. Gigantic heart. But EVERYTHING. Everything about him is gigantic. He’s larger than life. He tests boundaries just because. He does things that are confounding and frustrating and hilarious and it’s EXHAUSTING. You cannot leave him alone, not even to pee. It is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. (And he’s a HAPPY baby. I cannot imagine this with an unhappy baby.) I love him to the moon and back, but MY LORD, KID. YOU MAKE MOMMA SO TIRED.
9. What was your biggest failure? School, or my lack thereof. My one semester off to have a baby turned into two semesters and then three, and now I just need to do it. God, I don’t want to. Like, at all. I just want some accredited college to gift me a Bachelor’s Degree of Hard Knocks and let’s call it a day. But I need to. I know that.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Actually, this year (FRANTICALLY KNOCKING ON ALL WOODEN THINGS) was not so bad. We had the basics, usually centering around allergies, but nothing awful here in Chez Brown-Comer. The worst thing I think I dealt with was/is Vinnie’s eczema. Poor baby – it is SUCH an awful thing. (It doesn’t phase him in the slightest, but it does give him the look of a leper.)
11. What was the best thing you bought? So incredibly disappointing, but – a baby gate. We bought and installed a permanent gate that blocks the kitchen off from the rest of the house. THIS HAS MADE OUR LIVES SO MUCH BETTER. The dogs have access to a doggie door from the kitchen, so we can lock them in the linoleum area at night, saving our couches and living room from (even more) hair, mud, fur, blood, squirrel carcasses, what have you. Not only that, but it helps to corral DangerMouse.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? So I’ve been remiss to discuss this because 1) it’s not my story to tell and 2) survivor’s guilt, but you know? Lemme tell you about Hugo. If we’re Facebook friends or Twitter friends, you already know about Hugo. Hugo and Vinnie were born two days apart, and on Vinnie’s first birthday, Hugo’s mom took him to the doctor because of an abnormality. Then it became a tumor. Then it was diagnosed as a very rare pediatric cancer. With a marginally small chance of survival. Hugo’s mom, Marianne, has been the most courageous, strong, honest, dynamic and graceful mothers I’ve ever witnessed in the face of all of this. She has navigated difficult medical terrain and god, let’s not even mention the emotional stress, and .. I just feel like none of this does her justice. It’s been a stark reveal of the world of pediatric cancer that Marianne and I would late-night tweet eachother during midnight feeding sessions when the boys were babies, and now she often sleeps in a hospital room, next to Hugo’s crib. But you know? He’s done it. He’s beaten the odds, and the tumor was found dead. He’s finishing up his final few rounds of chemo – but blessedly spending the holiday home with his family – and soon we’ll all be able to look back and say, “We knew he was a miracle from the beginning.” #GoHugo
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Every year, the answer to this is politics-based, and this year would be no different. The recent events in New York and Ferguson, alongside the tragic loss of Leelah Alcorn, have brought to light that we can’t remain silent anymore. This sums it up nicely for me, and I have a year to dig my heels in and make it happen.
14. Where did most of your money go? The usual – daycare, mortgage, cars.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Okay, so. When I started in the space business back in 2007, there was a guy that REALLY got under my skin. A lot. But he was a manager, and I was not, so I knew my pecking order. We butted heads – a LOT. When I left the company and then subsequently came back, I saw him randomly in a parking lot, and was surprised at how cordial he was. Well, it’s now been seven years of us working together. We spend a lot of time working together now. I can’t speak for him, obviously, but I AM GONNA TRY. In our weekly program review, he surprised me with a recognition event, where we named some folks on the program who were named Space Flight Awareness Honorees. Well, I was one of them! I was SO blown away. And when I went up to get my certificate, he got choked up. As did I. It just .. it was a really, really nice memory for me. (And going to see the launch was awesome too!)
16. What song will always remind you of 2014? “All About that Bass”
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercising. I am THE WORST at making time for myself.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Grinding my teeth. Um, it turns out that your teeth don’t hold up well to that over time.
20. How did you spend Christmas? Wanna hear how stupid we were? We stayed up, on Christmas Eve, WATCHING THE INTERNSHIP FROM START TO FINISH BEFORE WE EVER STARTED GETTING STUFF DONE. Yes, that horrible movie with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. (It was not THAT bad, but we got to bed around midnight as a result.)
21. Did you fall in love in 2014? Why? What did you hear? Wasn’t me.22. What was your favorite TV program? We don’t have many shows that we watch religiously, but a couple of them are The Blacklist (my husband looks remarkably like James Spader), Hannibal, Banshee, True Detective, and Downton Abbey.
23. This question has been deleted (2010).
24. What was the best book you read? So, I’ve just come to accept that I don’t read books. I just don’t. I read – a LOT – but it’s all internet stuff, journalism and news stories or space industry gobbledegook, never a hardcover fiction book. I did listen to Gaiman’s American Gods which was a fantastic audiobook, and I heard the second half of Stephen King’s Revival as we drove back from Florida, and I also can highly recommend Amy Poehler’s narration of Yes Please, which is fantastic because Amy reads like she writes, so it’s like hanging out in her living room.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I don’t .. yeah, I don’t really listen to music much anymore. It’s usually NPR in my car, which – NPR, guys! Have you heard of this? It’s brilliant radio! You guys, you HAVE to start listening to this. TED Talks, Ask Me Another, Tech Nation, State of the (Re)Union – so, so good. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON SERIAL. (Team Adnan forever.)
26. What did you want and get? A very fantastic year at work.
27. What did you want and not get? Unanswered prayers and all that.
28. What was your favorite film of this year? I should tell you now that I haven’t been to a movie theatre in maybe over a year. I just .. it’s so much time and usually involves paying a babysitter, and my ONLY regret in this regard was not seeing Interstellar on the big screen. I mean – COME ON, THAT MOVIE IS MADE FOR ME. But anyway, of what I saw at home (which probably means y’all all saw it last year) that I liked was Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Dallas Buyers Club, Side Effects, and Lars and the Real Girl. Also, we’ve gotten hooked on this BBC series Black Mirror, which is SUCH a great (but entirely too short!) series on Netflix. (Um, just hang on past the first episode. Promise.)
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 34 and I don’t remember. (This is not a testament to anything; I can’t remember what I did last week.)
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I honestly wish I had written more. I need to get back to that.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? A firm mix of “How X do they feel this XL is?” combined with “Which bodily fluid do we think that is right there? And from which child?”
32. What kept you sane? My husband. My work family. My kids. (Note: these things often also kept me INsane a lot as well.)
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Can we just talk about this for a minute?
I haven’t had the words to talk about it. And I most likely don’t know. But this year, we lost two of my childhood loves – Harold Ramis and Robin Williams. The former was taken from us much too soon from an autoimmune deficiency. The latter we lost because we failed him. I firmly believe what made Robin such an amazing performer, the kind of performer that makes you stop and hold your breath, was that he was an empathic person. He was able to channel much more effectively the emotions that made him so captivating and dynamic. But that also meant he felt more deeply. And that’s a slippery slope. And I don’t know how we could’ve saved him, but I see his eyes in the eyes of my boys and I think, “We’re just not done yet. We have so much more to do.” Let’s be kinder to each other in 2015, yes?
34. What political issue stirred you the most? Empathy. Or the lack thereof, more specifically. It’s not bound to one specific issue, not instrumental to one platform, but it’s creeping over our society like kudzu, and just as lethal. This year, I have felt more “hippy dippy liberal” than I probably ever have. Because I don’t know when we stopped looking at each other like people, and I am so so so worried that I have children I’m sending out into that wasteland.
35. Who did you miss? I missed YOU. I missed being able to come here with no bra on and three day old hair and you’d be here, happy to have me. Man, I missed y’all. Can we FIX that this year?
36. Who was the best new person you met? Have I mentioned my adorable nephew?
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. “Just because you can laugh doesn’t mean you don’t understand the truth. Truth is often carried by the jester.”
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.“You can be amazing; you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug. You can be an outcast, and feel the backlash of somebody’s lack of love. Or you could start speaking up.” – Sara Bareilles, Brave