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2006, like..
It's been a really short year..

I think it's something to do with getting older, along with having fewer landmark events during a year.. No terms to give the year structure, no long holidays to break it up either.. I've said it many times, so why stop now - time is speeding up an awful lot..

And yet, lots of stuff seems to happen.. It's been a very busy year.. Lots of work, moving house, and yet it's probably the year that I've been the most settled since the 90s..

So there was the new job that I got in March, or thereabouts, which meant that in addition to the existing analysis of Internet Banking data that I was doing, I was also designing marketing systems in order to send out e-mail and SMS marketing. And yet it wasn't much of a change - the existing work I was doing stayed the same, and all the extra work felt more like a hobby than anything else.

Then there's my living arrangements - started the year in a basement flat that was without heating for far too long, and ending up in a really nice place with warm heating, a huge kitchen, and basically the whole thing is just really nice. But it's next door to the old place, so I get the same bus from the same stop every morning, come home the same way - the only differences are really positive ones, which are the sort of changes that are much easier to accept.

Plus, the place next door was the longest time I've been in the same place since my student house in Brighton, which by its very nature was always going to be temporary. So in spite of the fact that it was a bit crappy, it still felt like home by the end of it, just as this house does.

So I guess my point is that those things that did change did so for the better, and not in any drastic way. And then there's a lot of things that didn't - same successful relationship for the whole year (which is a first, really), living in amongst the semi-Welsh (every now and then I hear people talking in Welsh, but for the most part this place doesn't count as Wales), the same healthy eating (or at least the good intention to do so from time to time), and the fact that life is just generally good.

It really is a good feeling to have the sense that maybe this is where things calm down a bit.. Not that I don't want things to be exciting, or anything like that, but there's a lot to be said for the effect of consistency on one's mental state. In Brighton, things changed all the time - various flats, various housemates, various jobs.. I've spent most of my life kind of waiting to be a grown up, and while everything is changing, it all feels like just a transition period. Now it feels like I've got there - and at 25, which is a good five years before I thought I'd get to this sort of point.

I've stopped listening to new music.. it suddenly feels like so much effort to start enjoying new things.. With the exceptions of Mew at the start of the year, and Stars at the end of the year, I really haven't managed to get into anything new through the whole of 2006.. Oddly, as time goes on, I find listening to unfamiliar music to be quite alien.. And even when I can get into a few songs, it just doesn't allow me to access the rest of a band's music in the way that it used to. I don't like to think so, but I suppose it's possible that the sheer amount of mental effort that goes into work starts to take its toll on all sorts of other parts of my brain..

In slightly more promising news, I've managed to re-capture some of my former interest in language.. At some point years ago I started learning some Russian, most of which has since left my brain. I know how to say "This is a house", but that's about it - not really useful. Then for years, I didn't really learn any new languages or anything. In the past year, I've picked up a fair amount of Portuguese, and with it a better understanding of French, Spanish, Italian, Latin.. For some reason, I find language so much easier now (even with my lack of practice) than I ever did at school. I still haven't actually decided what to do about that - every now and again I want to actually learn a single language and get good at it, but mostly I just want to know more about the nature of language in general, rather than learning how to speak any specific language. I'd rather understand how it all works than just 'know' it..

In any event, it all came in quite useful in Portugal, even though they were mostly poor sports who addressed us in English anyway - I mean how dare they? :o) Next time I'll go to Paris - I understand they're anal enough about their language that they'd never think of getting in the way of my attempts to speak French.. But yes, Portugal was pretty awesome.. I hadn't really felt any great need to see much of continental Europe - for some reason, a train journey across part of Italy had seemed enough.. But now I quite like it. I don't think that my previous trips to places like France and Ireland had really impressed upon me just how much of the history of the region still persists. We Brits seem to have broken much of our history, as people with different opinions start making the decisions. Castles, religious buildings, etc.. There just isn't a real richness in what's been preserved.

For example, in Portugal I saw two large cathedrals.. One that God lived in, one that he probably laughed at. But they were so dissimilar, in a way that one just doesn't find here.. Usually there's one way that's the 'right' way, and anything that was built in the 'wrong' way gets burned to the ground. All probably in the name of being progressive..

So yes, I'm looking forward to more travel in the future, in order to see a bit more of the 'mundane' parts of the world that I had formerly written off.. I say mundane to provide contrast against sights like the Pyramids, and other obvious cultural landmarks. Interesting stuff is generally where you look for it, and I find an awful many things interesting, so I'm sure I'll be okay.. My ground state of manic curiosity tends to see me through.. :o)

So really, it comes down to what 2007 is going to hold.. Ideally, Naomi and I will buy our first house together this year, most likely towards the end.. Get a decent interest-only mortgage and spend the balance of what we would otherwise pay on improving the place.. Chances are we won't be able to afford a place as nice as the one we're currently in, but if we do it up, I'm sure we'll be able to get something pretty good - and the contribution to the property value should more than offset what we're losing on the mortgage (property values went up 10% over the last year, compared to about 5% interest on a mortgage). I would have thought that something like that would feel like a really big step, but oddly it doesn't. It just feels like the right way for things to progress - we've lived together for well over a year now, and it just makes sense for us to buy a place together. This is a woman I fully intend to spend the rest of my life with, what would feel weird is if I didn't want to buy a house with her :o)

I'm not sure how my job is going to go over the next year, but then I never know these things - I often have no idea what's next, and I quite like it that way.. My approach to work is to do all sorts of things at once, obsessively, until everything is done - a more varied and less predictable future suits my work style. So long as I stay in roughly the same job, I'll be more than happy - I'm enjoying the whole thing right now :o)

I've got a gym membership that starts in February - the gym is pretty much next door to my office, so I'm hoping that I make some use of it.. I had problems with motivation in Brighton, but that's because it was just down the road from my home - the scope for procrastinating at home was too great. However, the gym at work is going to be my means of procrastinating, so it should all be okay.. A few lunchtimes, a few mornings, it's all good..

It's hard to really say what my aspirations for the next year are.. I no longer really thing in terms of discrete years, and milestones that have to be reached within them - I'm looking at a longer term plan.. Within the next five years I plan to be fully installed in a house that I own, debt-free (I've re-jigged my loan accordingly so it's being paid off much faster), be married to Naomi, certainly be thinking about a family, but ideally have at least one child already.. I'd like to have progressed job-wise by then into something a bit more, I dunno, expert.. While this-and-that stuff is good, my slightly obsessive approach to work means that I suit more specialised roles perhaps a bit better.. I suppose my hopes for 2007 are that the year forms a good foundation for all of that.

In conclusion - much like many years before, I guess the thing is - 2006 was good. More of the same please, only moreso.. Life is good, and getting better all the time :o)

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Well I had a shit year, so piss off :p

I wish i could travel as often as you do

It only works out at about once a year..

Hi, my name is Mila, I am from Russia, Moscow, can I be your friend? I'll be market reseach analyst so I find it very interesting to talk with you :) Don't you mind?

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