Since I got back from New York, I’ve been struggling to sleep.
While my rational head knows that it’s mostly jet lag, accentuated by that weird period between Christmas and New Year when we’re all out of our routines anyway, with little-to-no need to be out of bed by a certain time, there’s also a specific anxiety that I’m prone to at this time of year.
The kind that says, well, what did you do with your one wild and precious life this time around?
The kind that says, hey, you know you’re another year closer to dying?
Song of the year, for so many reasons…
My social media timelines have been filled of late with legions of 20-somethings saying that it’s fine to come through a year with nothing to show for it – that life isn’t a competition, and your achievements should not be measured against anybody else’s. And while of course that’s true (and true at any age, don’t @ me), the Anxiety Bear with which you live would like to remind you that you are turning 36 this year and never mind the footballers, or the pop stars, or the Eleventh Doctor: even the eucharistic ministers are older than you are now, as you saw at Midnight Mass this year.
But the thing is, I didn’t realise until I actually started listing them that 2017 was full of pretty decent achievements. So I hope you’ll forgive me the indulgence of a bit of a summary. I’m glad that I’ve started writing things down again, even if I tailed off a little in the last couple of months of the year. In 2018, I hope to do that more. And take more pictures. And remember more.
I started off my year of living creatively by, um, doing very little, but for good reason: I had put in a flexible working request just before Christmas, and I was waiting to see whether I would be successful before piling on any additional writing pressure. Stringer and I had a little staycation thanks to a complimentary night at the citizenM and a Christmas voucher for dinner at the Blythswood from my mother-in-law. I went to Singl-end twice, including a visit with Charlotte, and did one of my best-ever BBC Radio Scotland gigs when we tested the hypothesis that dogs prefer reggae.
Favourite blog post: Productivity hacks for the perpetually anxious.
I kicked off my Culture Consumption series of blog posts, which I managed to keep up for all but the last two months of the year when things got a little too hectic with holidays. Looking forward to bringing these back in 2018, since people have told me they enjoy them! I caught three films at Glasgow Film Festival, including the opening night gala, got a Weakerthans-inspired tattoo and tested out the part-time working life I was dreaming of for myself by taking a formal holiday from the day job in order to write about mental health in the workplace for inews.
Favourite blog post: Where We Gonna Go Now That Our 20s Are Over?
I saw my sister for the first time since last summer, timed to coincide with the release of the live-action Beauty and the Beast (which we saw in the super-plush Director’s Lounge at Roxy Cinemas, Jumeirah Beach). We went to a birthday party on a yacht, and her friends helped me take some truly ridiculous photos in a swimsuit on the prow – which I even posted on here! I reviewed Laura Marling and part of the BBC6 Music Festival for The Herald – but, more importantly, I went up to Marling’s support act Ethan Johns afterwards and shook his hand and thanked him for his part in Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker. The Olympus PEN E-PL7 was my big purchase of the month, along with my Dubai flight I guess!
Favourite blog post: Six ridiculous things to do in Dubai
My last month of full-time employment! And I still managed to squeeze plenty in: calling Ed Sheeran misogynistic in a national newspaper, seeing some stars that I made on the front of an IRL DVD for the first time – and talking Craig Finn into posing with my Hold Steady tattoo.
Favourite blog post: UK Modcloth alternatives for fans of fabulous fashion
On 1st May, I went part-time at work – but rather than settle into a routine, I spent a long weekend in London seeing Frank Turner perform Sleep is for the Week in its entirety (and meeting up with Jo!) and another in Biggar for my cousin’s wedding. I also got my hair dyed at Rebel Rebel for the first of several crazy hair colour changes this year!
Favourite blog post: Freelance Mondays: on choosing not to have it all
I celebrated turning 35 with a steak dinner, TGI Friday’s with my friends and the lemon yellow tulle skirt of my dreams from my sister. June was also pretty blimmin’ excellent on the professional front: I billed almost £1,000 in freelance work, took part in my first ever radio panel show and delivered a weekend-long workshop to teenagers about blogging as part of the Scottish Book Trust’s StoryCon 2017 conference.
Favourite blog post: My 34 favourite things about being 34
I reviewed the first day of Glasgow’s new music festival TRNSMT for The Herald, then headed off to Mojácar, Spain for a week with the family. I also interviewed the world’s first all-female Bruce Springsteen covers band (which got me a retweet off Springsteen fansite Greasy Lake!), hit 5,000 followers on Twitter and watched Stringer perform stand-up comedy on his birthday.
Favourite blog post: Freelance Mondays: redefining the ‘F’ word
August was a quiet one spent struggling with the latest round of med changes: something which, ultimately, resulted in me ending the year on one third of the medication that I started it out on (and here’s me complaining about achieving nothing exciting this year!). I saw the She Street Band, Lana Del Rey and a bunch of stuff at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and managed to squeeze in an afternoon tea and an overnight stay at the Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar with my sister before she headed back to Dubai.
Favourite blog post: Freelance Mondays: budgeting tips for savvier saving
A month of fun, friends and travels: to Stirling, to see my excellent husband shortlisted for Scottish crime fiction book of the year; to Derby for escape rooms and cat cafes with Jehane; and to Manchester to see The National but, more importantly, Fafa. I had my first ever arts feature – an interview with pop star Mabel McVey – published in The Herald, and I saw Dirty Dancing for the first time and found out that actually, it is possible for a film made in the 1980s to be brilliant.
Favourite blog post: Travel journal: 24 hours in Biggar
Toronto month! Lots of long walks with Stringer as I fell in love with a new city, although I’m still sad not to have seen Niagara Falls. I got my hair cut short, listened to a lot of Tom Petty and hung out with Bobby and her little one for a Monday ice cream date, where I discovered a talent I never knew I had for improvising animal noises for three-year-olds.
Favourite blog post: A walking tour of Toronto
Another month of brilliant mate dates: brunch at Gleneagles Hotel as Charlotte’s +1; Beignet Sunday with Charlotte and Natalie at the Wild Flours gluten-free bakery in Glasgow’s southside and discovering a nearby pet shop with kittens running free and happy to cuddle. Team lunches with the best work crew, and Danielle’s return to the fold. You’re The Worst season 4, breaking my heart and then putting it back together again – and having the best soundtrack while doing so.
Favourite blog post: The Big Girl’s Guide to Wearing What You Want
From Mamma Mia! at the Theatre Royal to Elf The Musical at Madison Square Garden, via lots of time with my sister in the greatest city in the world. Rachelle Renée’s Springsteen-inspired tour of the state of New Jersey – and just seeing Rachelle Renée, for the first time in accidentally six years. Ending the year with some of my favourite people in a room that, in around 18 months time, will become an incredibly special one – and with the publication of the essay that I always wanted to write, in an actual. flipping. book.
Favourite blog post: Christmas in New York (It’s Been Waiting For You)
I got sent as much music as ever in 2017, but without professional reviewing opportunities to encourage me I, um, didn’t listen to most of it. Sorry. But all but one of my “festive fifty” songs is on Spotify, and I still have sufficient opinions for a top 20 albums (since there’s no You’re the Worst season 4 soundtrack album). The 2017 mixes? They’ll follow at some point in the next couple of weeks, I’m sure.
Thank you for comments, your shares and your support in 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 holds x
LYG albums of 2017:
20. Craig Finn: We All Want The Same Things buy
19. Taylor Swift: reputation buy
18. The Smith Street Band: More Scared of You Than You Are of Me buy
17. Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life buy
16. Leif Vollebekk: Twin Solitude buy
15. The Blow: Brand New Abyss buy
14. Dear Reader: Day Fever buy
13. Big Thief: Capacity buy
12. The Menzingers: After the Party buy
11. Cayetana: New Kind of Normal buy
10. Lana Del Rey: Lust For Life buy
9. Siobhan Wilson: There Are No Saints buy
8. Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town buy
7. Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked At Me buy
6. The National: Sleep Well Beast buy
5. Hurray For the Riff Raff: The Navigator buy
4. Diet Cig: Swear I’m Good at This buy
3. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound buy
2. St Vincent: MASSEDUCTION buy
1. Lorde: Melodrama buy