If last year was a year of adjustments, 2014 was a year where the focus shifted entirely. Our jobs become the dominating, and sometimes sole, draw on our attention.
Of course, we still consumed a lot, in all meanings of the word. Yes, we watched movies, but only 51 new ones. (That would probably seem like a lot to some people, but it’s well off our average.) My consumption of music fell considerably; I bought only 7 albums this year, compared to 20 last year and 14 the year before. There are plenty waiting to be evaluated on my hard drive, but my habit of listening to new music on my (short) daily commute has given way to a number of podcasts. I did, however, read 8 books this year…that might not seem like a lot to some people, but it’s more than I usually do, since my attention is typically drawn to hundreds of tweets, news feeds, and status updates every day. Just one more area of focus this year, I suppose.
Shifting from personal consumption to mass enjoyment, we did manage to engage in a few cultural and sporting events around Toronto this year. It was a paltry showing at both Hot Docs and TIFF, though we did get invited to our first-ever TIFF Gala. I hit up a Raptors game with some work partners on Nelson Mandela night, and attended a timely screening of Selma with the director and lead actor at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. We bought ticket packages for the Toronto portion of the World Juniors, much of which is being played in the final days of 2014. We made a trek with some colleagues out to Stratford to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We also packed a number of events — a Raptors game, the Alex Colville exhibit at the AGO, a Bob Dylan concert — into a long weekend with my parents in town.
We celebrated a few things too: Nellie’s 38th birthday, more Olympic hockey gold, Nellie’s friends’ wedding in Oakville, a new mayor (well, we didn’t celebrate the new one so much as sigh with relief that the old guard didn’t win), Christmas, and on a less significant note, a new phone at last.
We sampled quite a few Toronto eateries this year, some new, some old but new to us: Carbon Bar, Monk Kitchen, Campagnolo, Stock, Parts & Labour, Boxcar Social, Patria (twice), Byblos, Pizzeria Libretto, and Michael’s On Simcoe. Beer became a focal point for our outings this year as well: festivals like Session, Toronto Beer Week, and Cask Days; visits from the Murphy Girls; and multiple hangs with friends who love beer as much as we do.
We did somehow find free weekends to get ourselves out of the city: twice to Niagara, twice to Bat Lake, and once to Prince Edward County. We got really out of the city six times this year: three times to Nova Scotia (twice to the family farm, once to Halifax for a weekend), once to Ottawa to surprise a friend for her birthday, once to Las Vegas (I spoke at a conference for the first half of the week; Nellie flew down and joined me for a long weekend at the end), and once to British Columbia for a week in the Okanagan and Vancouver. I also made flew to Miami and NYC for other conferences and speaking engagements; Nellie didn’t tag along for those.
Granted, it wasn’t all fun in the sun in 2014. I felt disappointed with the state of the world when I had to fend off a crazy guy from some girl I didn’t know, and when some racist homophobe ended my gaming hobby (both of which happened around the time gamergate was in the news), and when overdose and suicide took two actors who played roles which meant a lot to me. But those were all minor things that didn’t really have a lasting impact on us. Nothing like the sudden, heartbreaking loss of Michael. We really thought we had him for a few more years. He left behind a big hole in our daily lives. We still think about him all the time.
If you look at the list of trips above you might notice something: we had to abandon our plan, formed in 2012, to hit all seven continents before we turned 40. When I started my new job in October of last year and began lining up my two-year plan against the optimal time to travel to places like Antarctica, it became clear we couldn’t do everything before my fortieth birthday. So we shifted the cut-off to be before Nellie’s fortieth birthday, but when Nellie got a promotion to a bigger role earlier this year, we realized there was no way to pull that off either. The original plan for this year was to go somewhere — anywhere — in Asia, but work has been so busy for both of us that we couldn’t even plan such a thing, let alone get away for the 2-3 weeks necessary. A week in BC, where we were still in easy email contact, was as far as we could manage. And next year doesn’t look to be any more open.
We certainly wanted these new jobs, but they’ve required even more of our focus than we’d expected, and so…the other big ambitions take a back seat for a while. It’s the height of first world problems that our plans for more exotic travel will have to wait until our early forties, so we can’t complain too much. All we can do is focus on the task ahead and be patient.
Cover photo by Dani Ihtatho, used under Creative Commons license