2014 in Review

My good friend Jennie does this every year, and I'm pretty fond of it. 2014 has been a big year for my little family, and so, here's mine. 

I've changed a few questions to suit myself.

(And I'll be back later to fix typos! I'm breaking one of my own rules in order to get this in while it's still 2014!)

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Planned to move to Japan. Moved to California instead. Drove cross-country. Went to Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico (in that order). Stayed on a Dude Ranch. Left a safe, secure job and branched out on my own. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't make resolutions, exactly. Instead, I pick a word for each year and focus on a few things around that word to help shape my year. 2014 was such a blur that I can't even be sure, but I believe my word for the year was "intention". It was either that or "health", but I'm pretty sure health was 2013. At any rate, my word for 2015 is "control". My husband laughed heartily when I told him. And laughed. And laughed and laughed, no matter how much I kept saying "No! Not like that! I can explain!". I do intend to write more about that here. I've got a lot up my sleeve for 2015. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

YES! And people close to me are also currently pregnant and all of this makes me very very happy!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. Where did you travel?

I got to cross off a Bucket List item by driving cross-country. Zach (my husband) and I drove from DC/VA to California, and went through Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to get here. We also took a quick trip out here before our move, and of course exploring southern California has been its own adventure. I also did some other traveling before the move, driving up to New England from DC/VA which means going through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and then I was in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Zach and I also managed to squeeze in a few treasured camping trips before we left VA. In April we spent a weekend with friends at a remote cabin tucked into the Shenandoah mountains. We had to hike in a few miles, and keep our food cold in a babbling brook, from which we also filtered water. We cooked in pots over the campfire and stayed up late playing cards and I lead a few of us in a yoga session by that brook, and it was exactly what we needed. In May we were also able to go on our fourth annual tubing and camping weekend in the Shenandoahs with our good friends Randy and Lisa. Our crowd grew this year, and it was lovely. We spent an unplugged weekend with friends and kids and dogs, cooking over a fire, floating down the river with a cooler full of beer, and staying up too late around the campfire. In July my large extended family reunited here in southern California for my cousin's wedding, and we all had a blast.  

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you didn’t have in 2014?

2014 was tumultuous and exciting and full of adventure and change. It was all necessary and good, but I'd like for 2015 to be a bit more calm and stable. 

7. What days from 2014 will be etched upon your memory, and why?

The day I found out we were moving to Japan. The day I found out that our orders to Japan had been yanked (I'd already given notice at my job, and now we weren't going to be moving). The day we found out we were going to California instead, and on the same timeframe (thank everything). Our whole cross-country trip. Seeing my friend Marianne and her sweet, strong, cancer-fighting baby Hugo (#GoHugo!) in Knoxville. Staying with my friend, the aforementioned Jennie, and her family in Dallas around the fourth of July. When Jennie's little boy Kyle ran out to greet me and gave me a huge hug, it was like coming home after spending so much time on the road. We'd left our home, and were making our way to our new one, and I didn't anticipate how mentally tough that was at times. We felt adrift. But when we finally got to Jennie and Mike's, seeing their familiar faces and being in their home rather than a hotel was so calming. They had a party where I got to see other friends (Jen! Heather! Natalie!) and Jennie had my favorite champagne and a delicious early birthday key lime pie (my favorite) to celebrate, and man, friends like her don't come around that often, you know? We then made our way down to Austin to stay with my friend (also named) Natalie and her family, and the time we spent there was magical and fun and relaxed. It was such a relief to be in one place for more than one night, and we needed it more than we'd thought. We also got to see our friends Jess and Regan and Donna and Erica and their families. We ate a lot of smoked Texas meat and spent a lot of time around delightfully ridiculous kids who put on performances for us and it was such a welcome, comfortable reprieve.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

I'm proud of how I handled the craziness around having orders to move to Japan, giving notice at my job, and then finding out orders had changed. It was scary and surreal to realize I was out of a job for reasons beyond my control, but somehow I knew that it would work out for the best and I made a concerted effort to embrace the unkown instead of going bananas over it. I had my moments, for sure, but it was a good learning experience for me. I'm also proud of myself for trying something completely different in branching out on my own here. 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Succumbing once again to that most vile temptress, Candy Crush. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Some of you may know, some of you may not: I am prepping for jaw surgery. There's a lot of stuff that goes along with that. I also rang in 2014 with the flu and bronchitis, which I can't say I recommend. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A Costco membership. One night that turned into five days at a Dude Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Rent that is slightly higher than we'd intended to pay, but is entirely worth it for living a block from the beach. (Walks on the beach are entirely free.) (Well, I guess not entirely.)

Cowboy boots in Texas!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband's is usually up there, for myriad reasons. This year is no different. 

My friends and family (hi, Mom and Dad!) who handled my moving stress related melt-downs (brief though they may have been) with love and without murdering me. 

My friend Marianne, for showing incredible strength and dignity and humanity when her baby was diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer, and throughout that fight that has followed. The fight that is still going. I'll never forget the weekend we were away on our tubing trip, as soon as we were back in range of cell service I could check my messages, and she'd let me know the diagnosis. I remember exactly where we were. It was so sunny and bright and we still had river mud in our shoes and we were making our traditional stop for butterburgers on the way home and it just didn't seem possible. What she and her family have been through in the last 6-7 months is something no one should ever have to experience. She's managed it with a grace and style and strength most of us can only hope to emulate. 

Similar kudos to my friend Roberta, who was recently hit by a car at a dangerous intersection in DC (there are so many) while out for a run one morning. She is okay, she will be okay, but she's had a long recovery. In five seconds her world changed, and she's been upbeat, positive, funny, and not the least bit bitter. She'll tell you she's had her moments (I'd think she were a robot otherwise), but you'd never know until she insists on it. She's been a big role model for me with my upcoming surgery, and if I manage to be a quarter as upbeat as she then I know I'm doing just fine.

13. Whose behavior didn't merit celebration?

Politicians?

14. Where did most your money go?

Well it’s boring, but it’s life: Bills. A mortgage. You know. All that stuff your 15 year old self would roll her eyes at heartily.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Moving to Japan. Moving to California. Driving cross-country. Seeing friends along the way. Crossing four new states off my list (official tally is now at 30!). Riding a horse again for the first time since I was 12. Living by the beach. Seeing my cats again after we'd been separated for a month because of the move. 

16. What songs will always remind you of 2014?

All About That Bass. Shake it Off. Rude (much as I hate the premise of that song). Anchors Aweigh.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier, fatter, poorer in the money ways, richer in the important ways, .

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercise. Sleep. Books. (I say this every year.)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Less allowing myself to get sucked, glass-eyed and slack-jawed, into the vortex/timesuck that is the internet.

Candy Crush.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Zach and I went up to Orange County and spent a few days at my aunt and uncle's with my cousins and family. We had a lovely, fun, delicious, cozy southern California Christmas. We cooked and ate and chatted and played games and watched movies and even smugly sat outside by the pool for a little while with a glass of wine. The sun was going down and the wind was coming up and it was in the 50s and it was freezing, but it was delightful.

21. Did you fall in love with 2014?

Honestly, I think I'm still processing. I'll let you know sometime in 2015. Maybe.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

When we moved we decided to try living without cable. It's an idea we'd thrown around for a while and we figured this was as good a time as any. While I miss my Bravo tv shows (The Screaming Ladies, as Zach calls them), it's been a great chance to get caught up on a lot of shows that have been on our list. We're currently bingeing on Downton Abbey, and are a bit obsessed (M'LADY). We also (re)watched Parks & Recreation from the beginning, and man. What a great show. Also: Orange is the New Black. House of Cards. And I just started Scandal. They're all basically all they're all cracked up to be. 

24. What was the best book you read?

This is always tough. Probably What Alice Forgot. I also really loved Signs of Life. Oh! And Life After Life. See my 2014 book list here

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My own pipes! Last year for Christmas my husband bought me singing lessons. I have always said that if I could change one thing about myself, I'd be able to sing. But I don't think I ever would've had the guts to actually get myself lessons. The first time I had to sing in front of a stranger was, without hyperbole, one of the scariest moments of my life. But I did it, and I'm really proud of that. That's also one of the most thoughtful and lovely gifts I've ever gotten. 

26. What did you want and get?

Some big life changes. We were ready for some change. 

27. What did you want and not get?

A date for jaw surgery. But it's coming. 

A healthy, nutritious meal of vegetables that somehow looks, tastes, and feels exactly like In-N-Out.

28. What was your favorite film of 2014?

Breakfast at Tiffany's. I watched it for the first time, and I enjoyed it so much. (My 2014 movies here.)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33 and rode a horse on a dude ranch in Tucson, AZ with my husband and some new friends. It was my first time back on a horse since I got thrown off at age 12 and stopped riding. I was once told real riders have to get thrown at least 7 times before they're legit. I'm definitely not legit. I'm okay with being shaken at getting thrown off a giant animal. But this time? I turned 33 and conquered my fear, so much so that we ended up extending our stay from 1 day to 5 so that we could ride horses and explore life on the ranch. I rode horses fast, I rode them slow. I did team penning, and even rode a horse up and down a mountain (I'm also afraid of heights. You should've seen me peeing my pants on a tiny, steep, terrifying mountain pass on the back of this horse. BUT I DID IT.)

I also celebrated a few days early with those dear friends in Texas. We watched fireworks and drank beer and ate meats and had key lime pie and it was perfect. 

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Honestly, I can't think of anything. My year was pretty satisfying.

Although winning the lottery would always be nice, come to think of it.

Also, the In-N-Out thing. 

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2014?

Nothing Really Fits and Also Yay Yoga Pants

32. What kept you sane?

My husband, my dear friends, twitter, laughter.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

[redacted] 

(This is a politics-free zone, just like the holidays and family gatherings should be.)

34. Who did you miss?

My friends and family back ‘home’.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Oh, I've met so many wonderful new people here in San Diego. We also made some great friends in our travels to get here. It's been a hard year for leaving loved ones, and a great year for making new connections.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

I've learned to sit more comfortably with the uncomfortable. 

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I was riding my horse through the Tucson desert this summer (going to milk THAT for all it's worth) at sunset, and couldn't stop hearing this snippet of Paul Simon's Under African Skies; a song I grew up with (Graceland is my favorite album of all time). It couldn't have been more appropriate for that moment, for the setting, for the location, for this year of change.

 

"This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ‘round my nursery door
I said, “Take this child, Lord
From Tucson, Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more”

It was a wild year, friends. And I’m ready for whatever’s next.

 Tucson desert, July 2014.

Tucson desert, July 2014.