If 2014 was the year when work became the primary focus of our lives, 2015 was the year where it more or less became the only focus. In short, this was the year in which we cut back on a lot of stuff we enjoy, either to focus on our jobs, or for other reasons entirely.
Which is not to say I/we didn’t consume a lot…but the volume seems to be continuing on a downward trend as work grows in importance. We watched just 44 new movies this year, down from 51 last year, and the fewest we’ve ever watched since I began tracking in 2004. I bought far more music though, partly because I’ve started listening to music at work more often and can evaluate more new stuff. I bought 22 new albums this year, up from 6 last year, and the most in any year since 2009.
What really suffered, though, was the reading. Books, especially — I can’t remember finishing a single new book this year. I started a few but never got more than a few dozen pages in. It wasn’t just books though: last year I ready eight books, blaming the low consumption on the time it took to read all my feeds, posts, and tweets. This year, though, I effectively stopped following Twitter sometime in the fall. Books, Twitter…one by one the distractions got eliminated.
It went further: we didn’t even bother booking Hot Docs tickets this year, for the first time since we started attending the festival. We didn’t get out to the wineries in Prince Edward County or in Niagara, except for a couple of stops on the way to our friends’ place. There were no summer trips up to Bat Lake, just a quick one in March. There wasn’t a big trip like in years past. No new continent explored. Not even a new city, except where work provided an excuse.
On the plus side, I also cut back in one other big area: my weight. As of this summer I started tracking what I ate, and I lost about 20 pounds. I’m not starving myself…I still eat and drink the same things. I just stopped eating the stuff I didn’t really want. I don’t even exercise. When could I? I’m working 70+ hours per week. [Note: I do not miss exercise and, on the whole, I enjoy my work, so…I’m good with this.]
Still, it’s not as if I’ve been living a secluded, monastic lifestyle. I mean, we traveled more than most people: New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Berlin (with Nellie, for work), Istanbul (without Nellie, also for work), an absolutely legendary 40th birthday trip to Quebec City and Montreal, and 18 hours to New York and back (again without Nellie, again for work).
We did a decent amount in Toronto too: the World Juniors, a Hip concert with CBGB, a beerworking event, the sixth Session beer festival, a Raptors game (which was unfortunately sullied by the presence of Stephen Harper), a Rush concert (one of their last, probably), a tiny bbq festival, the Rogers Cup final, a bourbon & chocolate tasting event, a craft beer boat cruise, a Rheostatics reunion performance, five TIFF screenings plus a gala, an epic Toronto sports evening, and Cask Days.
Trying new restaurants was still on the agenda too, like the newest location of Pizzeria Libretto, Rose & Sons, Roselle, Barberians, The Chase, the Every Time I… pop-up, Rasa, Alo, Rodneys, NAO Steakhouse, and Barque Butcher Bar for a wine(!) event.
We managed to get out of the city a little bit too, hitting Bat Lake with a crowd for the birth of 2015 and then again in March with a smaller crew; seeing friends in Barrie and going boating in Bolsover in the summer; and getting down to Niagara on the Lake with friends for a night.
So yeah, clearly it wasn’t a bad year. There were struggles and successes at work which I won’t talk about here, but which clearly put enormous demands on our time. Like I said last year, though: we chose these careers. And if working long hours* at a rewarding, high-paying job is my biggest complaint, then I’m doing just fine. The books can wait.
* I can’t say “working hard”; I grew up on a farm, so hard work means something different than sitting in an office or a meeting room
Cover photo by Dani Ihtatho, used under Creative Commons license