2015, you were a hard but full year. How about a countdown for nostalgia’s sake?
- Go to Jupiter Artland – I loved Jupiter Artland! I blogged in July about my visit there, and am looking forward to going again next year.
- Go to Steptoe’s yard – Had wanted to check out this junk yard near Montrose for ages and finally stopped by on my Mommy & Me roadtrip up the East coast of Scotland. Is it as good as Sam Burn’s yard, for the distance? Not so sure, but definitely one thing off my Scotland bucket list.
- Go trampolining – One of the first ‘goals’ ticked off my list last year! Trampolining at Ryze was so much fun. So glad we didn’t break our backs though…
- See a murmuration (of starlings) – Ahhh… the murmuration. We attempted to drive down to Gretna Green in early November as that’s when/where they…murmur? But we only made it to Moffat. SO STORMY! Try again this year?
- Invest more time in writing – I made some good progress on this c/o winning the New Writers Award. It inspired me & S to take a pre-Cove Park writing trip to Lismore (which turned out to be a failed writing trip! Good practice though for being ‘off-grid’ for a week). Then when I went to Cove Park (thanks again Scottish Book Trust!) I was more productive in that one week than I usually am in a whole year of writing. More trips like this needed in the future.
I still volunteer at the newly-refurbed reopened SPL and this is amazing for my writing – access to books, and opportunities to attend and help at events. Inspirational!
- Buy a bike & try to cycle to work – Semi-fail. Bought a bike off gumtree! It’s very, very cute. I rode it to work and home once… and then didn’t ever again. Will make an effort to break it in this year!
- Finish more (craft) projects – Total fail. I made a pillow cover but didn’t make a dent in my many half-started projects…
- Do more animal-related activities – Total success! A small portion of my animal-related activities included:
– Royal. Highland. Show.
– Paparazzi’ing the fox visitor in our garden
– My chickens chickening… We upgraded their coop! We gave them chicken baths =( I took a Chicken MOOC which was lots of fun!
– I saw a free amazing hawk show (during Innovative Learning Week)
– There were lots of great animals at Cove Park (birds, highland cow, sheep)
– Murmuration: fail – but remember the starlings in Dublin oh boy!
– Dublin Zoo!
– Scottish Owl Centre
– Kelpies! okay they’re mythological and we just saw statues of them but still!
- Eat fruit/veg from our garden – Result! Can’t believe the bounty we gathered from our tiny garden. So proud!
- ‘Become Aiko Greig’ (ie. change my name/life admin!) – Well. I made a start on the naturalisation paperwork ages ago, but I just posted it off yesterday… So not quite ‘done’ but looking forward to holding a shiny new UK passport soon hopefully! I have changed my name on everything else – US passport, driver’s license, all the cards – this is the last thing!
Me & Henry in the garden <3
This was far too many ‘goals’ for a year though… I won’t be doing anything so wild again anytime soon.
9 Best Books / Songs:
Top of the pops from my ‘Recently Read’ and ‘Soundtrack’ last year included:
- Years & Years – King (stellar gig at Liquid Room early in the year. Pleased to say I wasn’t the oldest one there!)
- Shura – Touch or 2shy (so gutted to miss the Glasgow gig. It was meant to be in September but then got postponed to December and I just couldn’t manage it in the end…)
- Jamie XX – Loud Places (ft Romy) (Excellent live in Glasgow with pals. I wish Romy had come on though! The XX forever.)
- Oh Wonder – Midnight Moon (I am obsessed with this band…)
- Ryan Van Winkle – The Good Dark (Everyone should buy this!)
- Mark Doty – Theories & Apparitions (am now reading anything else I can get my hands on by Mark Doty!)
- Kate Tempest – Brand New Ancients (saw her at Bongo Club too, but I think I prefer the word on the page. Amazing talent!)
- Ernest Cline – Armada (audiobook read by Wil Wheaton was AMAZING!)
- Andy Weir – The Martian (audiobook was great!)
Honorable mentions: Norman MacCaig’s Many Days, John Burnside’s All One Breath, Vanbot’s Perfect Storm album! Basically everything from Parklife…
In true zeitgeist fashion, can’t leave off these ace 2015 mashups:
8 New Goals
- Travel – Japan, Portugal, Scotland staycations?, bike tours? Adventure awaits!
- Visit an island a year, forever onwards! – [Okay maybe this is more like 1a…] Scottish islands will be easiest; we went to Lismore this year, and Skye, for example… but I’ll count international islands for the sake of goal-success!
- Go to the Secret Herb Garden. Keep recommending this place to people but haven’t been. Shameful!
- See a red squirrel!
- Life Level-ups: home improvement edition – There are so many little things that need fixed/done at the house but I’ve put them off. Not anymore!
- Etsy empire – I didn’t manage my craft goals at all in2015. So this has to be the year, with ultimatum of getting rid of my craft supplies if I don’t use them. I will build my craft empire!
- Writing trip away – Cove Park was an amazingly productive time for me, as hard as it was to be away from home/handsome S for a week. I need to make time for Aiko-time this year. Perhaps I can tie this in to meetings with my mentor (thanks Scottish Book Trust!) which start imminently.
- Be more friendly/take emotional risks – I think I used to let people ‘in’ more but maybe/especially since moving to Scotland I’ve adopted a real #nonewfriends mentality which is … hindering my personal & emotional success. This year, I’ll try to be better at making friends! (And cultivating the friendships I already have.) Be brave, Aiko!
7 Eat, Drink…
- Stortebacker germany bakery – Saturday morning german pretzels have been a major game-changer in the Greig household.
- Anstruther chippy w/pals. <3
- Omelettes w/eggs & veggie from our garden!
- 12 Triangles donuts – Especially during the festival when they had a pop-up with BrewLab mere moments away from my office! *swoon*
- Crema caravan – Creme brulee food truck! Seriously.
- Maki & Ramen – Little ramen shop near my work. So good!
- Burgers are so 2015! Highlights included: BURGER. and the new-to-Edinburgh Bread Meats Bread. Also, 2015 = year of the diner milkshake: TriBeca, Bread meats Bread… so much dairy.
Honorable mention: Writers Tears whiskey we found in Ireland, was perfect for sharing at my writers retreat! Illegal Jack’s reopened!! And how could I possibly miss off all the amazing food in Paris, Dublin and Manchester?
6 ..& Be Merries!
- Weddings: Congrats to Cousin Jenni & Eddie! And to Cara & Greg who got married on Inchcolm island!
- Births & Birthdays: Lots of little 1st b’day parties. V cute. Amazing cakes. Deafening noise. Also Congrats to E-Chao & Lisa for their BB CC! Too cute.
- Boardgames: week-long Agricola matches with my beloved! Also, completing an ultra-relaxing Totoro puzzle. <3 And starting to get into Galaxy Trucker!
- Karaoke: This free-hour at Supercube point card has been burning a hole in my wallet for ages. Went loads at the start of the year then fizzled out… Prodigal karaoke 2016!
- Cinema: We saw lots of great films this year, including new Star Wars. But top experience was probably late night showing of It Follows in Dublin… so freaky!
- Escape games: 2015 was the year of Escape games I think! We started the year off escaping with friends, then aced a prison-themed escape room in Manchester. Recently S & I completed a new diamond heist themed escape game so fast we earned a free pass to try another escape room! Love it.
Honorable mentions: I saw a super blood moon, a solar eclipse, a streaker at a Scotland football match, the demolition of Cockenzie power station, snow in March!
- Roadtrips – Last year I went back to California twice. Once for my friends E&L’s wondrous wedding! And another time to help my mom pack up our house & all my childhood relics before she began her nomad life of retirement. I miss her lots these days, and it was so great to bring her over here this year for some much needed Mommy & Me time, including multiple Scotland roadtrips, just the two of us. (Plus we stayed in a castle!)
- Paris – While my mom was visiting, we opted to tick something off her bucket list in the way of a trip to Mont Saint Michel, this magnificent castle island outside of Paris. I’d never been to France before, so the whole trip was wonderful!
- Dublin – Lovely cheeky long-weekend with handsome S to Dublin. My first time to Ireland so I did lots of touristy things! Lots of good food and drink recs in my blog post.
- Manchester – Second year of pals-trip to Manchester for Parklife music festival and because we are old farts, we just went to the music festival for one day, and then spent a few more days painting Manchester red. I ate LOADS (cake mostly), drank too much, and did lots of great things.
- Lismore – S found an amazing Airbnb on a small Scottish island and booked it for my xmas present last year. It was meant to be a practice writing retreat (in advance of Cove Park) but my laptop crashed and instead of writing on paper, we just watched DVDs, went for walks, drank beers and stoked the woodburner for a week. Pure bliss.
Honorable mentions: We walked to Cramond a couple times for soft serve in the sunniest summer in ages. We got Nardini’s ice cream in Largs. We got coffee & cakes (& ice cream!) in North Berwick. Most of my adventures seem to be dessert-led….
Cakes at Home Sweet Home omg
- New Writers Award – Winning this in January was a huge boon and encouragement for my writing, productivity, and making new writerly friends! I loved the Cove Park retreat and look forward to making room like this for (solitary, dedicated) writing time in the future.
- Publications – So grateful to the following publications for featuring my work this year: The Sunday Times, Dactyl, Ink Sweat & Tears!
- Shortlists – One of my poems was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize! From the Prize Administrator “Whilst you have not won one of the top thirteen prizes in the Bridport Prize competition I am writing to let you know that your poem – What the Bone Weary Know – was shortlisted. We had over 7,000 poetry entries this year, and 200 were shortlisted.” Pretty pleased about that!
Jupiter Artland also recently got in touch to say one of my poems, Earth-Moon-Earth, was shortlisted for the writing competition they ran a few months ago!
- CIM Marketing – Completed my Professional Certificate in Marketing earlier this year, partially funded by my work, which is amazing! Just the first of four year-long courses towards becoming a ‘Marketer’ but pleased I was able to do it.
Honorable mention: Won MVP from my basketball team! <3 And didn’t get injured this season.
- Projects/time management – So many things I want to do, but like most people, it’s hard to prioritize and find time for everything alongside my many hobbies, full-time job, and (what) social life. I didn’t manage the xmas card this year, or make a dent in many of the major projects I’d wanted to complete last year. Instead I dabbled so much (CIM course, refereeing course, chicken-keeping MOOC). I need to weigh up where I’m placing my time and be more ruthless and less lazy.
- Exercise/health/fitness – I started the year out jogging home from work, then bought my cute bike and rode that to work and back once… My basketball team is doing great. But I really want to invest more effort into diligent exercise and feel I could have done more this year to take better care of myself (emotionally/physically). Should I try paleo again? Get that zombie jogging app? 30 day yoga? What works for me? What can I stick with?
- Copious rejections – I don’t have the heart to admit how many magazines/competitions I was rejected from in 2015, but the ratio of acceptance to rejection was pretty staggering… I’m pacing myself though, and only sending out as much as I can bear to be rejected from. Here’s hoping for improvement in 2016!
‘Honorable’ mention: Reading in public is not my forte. I get so nervous and feel terrible before readings. I don’t enjoy being on stage, don’t feel ‘present’, and don’t get any sense of relief/satisfaction after I’ve finished. Essentially, there is no positive for me of reading publicly; it is just something that I must do (it seems) if I want to be a marketable poet. I felt so pleased with myself for accepting (however anxiously!) Lindsay MacGregor’s invitation to read at Platform Poetry. The audience was welcoming and kind. I read for 20mins, didn’t faint and afterwards people told me how much they enjoyed the reading. It was a real boost for my confidence! A couple weeks later, I went to a Performance and Presentation Training in advance of the New Writer’s Award showcase (below!) and had the wind knocked out my sails by Alex Gillon, the voice coach and tutor at the event. It will take some time to repair my foundations. But I can confidently say, I still hate reading in public. I wonder if this will ever change…
2 Forthcoming Readings
Please mark your calendars and if you’re in the area, please come along for the following!:
- 21 January: Jupiter Artland’s Inspired to Write competition reading
- 28 January: New Writers Award showcase. Tickets here!
1 Big News!
The most exciting/life-changing news of 2015 for me is that I am (at long last) pregnant! New arrival expected in April 2016. Obvs watch this space! Haven’t made a big deal of it online as super paranoid and private, but everything going smoothly so far. *fingers crossed*
Sophie Hannah – Pessimism for Beginners
Caitriona O’Reilly – Geis
Jee Leong Koh – Steep Tea
Karen McCarthy Woolf – An Aviary of Small Birds
Audiobook’d Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep, Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me, and now listening to Xenocide (Orson Scott Card, Ender series) on the bus as I couldn’t make it to the end in book-form…
Transviolet – Girls Your Age
AronChupa – I’m an Albatraoz
Grimes – Kill v Maim
Another year, another notch. Hope the next one’s a belter!