This time of year always brings a sense of melancholy for me. Even the Auld Lange Syne song sounds so tragic – “Should old acquaintances be forgot…” – is that a question? Should we be forgetting our past and just jumping right into a fresh new start in the New Year? And then there’s the Old Man Year versus the Baby New Year – the old gives way to the new. For me, it’s hard to let go. And hard to look back, not only because it was, and therefore can no longer be, but also because the past seems somehow embarrassing – all the times you fell and looked stupid seem to be most prominent. But, really, there is a lot that I should, and hopefully can be, proud of this past year. I attempted many new things and retried some old. The following is a fairly straightforward and complete list:
1. Okay, this is cheating a bit, as I put on my skates for beginning skating lessons once again starting in late December 2008. My last lesson before that was in the fifth grade! I love skating, and wished I had advanced further in lessons – then as well as now. Still, great to be out there, even though the boots hurt like hell! Oh, I also participated in an end of session performance in the beginning of February!
Pakistan was truly amazing – a mix of traditional and modern life, best depicted by the glimpse of a man on a horse-drawn cart using his cell phone! Also stopped in Dubai on the flight back and took a city tour. A city of massive modern constructs, though my favorite picture manages to take in a measure of au natural romanticism:
3. February was a good time for a cake decorating course. I’ve long been fascinated by the beauty of cake decorations and wanted to give it a whirl myself. After 4 evenings of classes, here was my piece de resistence!:
4. In late March, I started taking Zumba, a form of aerobics that incorporates Latin steps and music and builds up a real sweat while being fun, fun, fun! If you have avoided exercise because it’s boring and tedious, might I encourage you to give Zumba a try! The website can tell you what classes might be close by: www.zumba.com.
5. In April, I went down to Louisiana to visit my sister’s family and to take a mini girl’s getaway with my sister to LaFayette County, aka Cajun Country. It was heavenly driving off into the sunset in a Mustang Cobra convertible with the top down, courtesy of my brother-in-law. A million thanks, Matthew! We stayed here & had boudin for breakfast:
6. In May, I went to NYC for my bi-annual visit to see my sister-in-law. Per usual, we saw a few movies, ate Mexican and Italian food and walked a lot! A new experience for me was having a caricature made of myself in the Broadway district. Since I was a child, I was rather intrigued by artists, but never had the courage to sit for a portrait, for fear of feeling mocked by their comical rendition of my appearance. This time, I just said “What the hey!” and did it. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, although the resemblance is only slight. Me as a buxom cutie?!
7. In June, I fnished a small cross-stitched herbal garden. I wouldn’t normally engage in such delicate work involving many different colored threads and beads, but my love for the subject mattter, herbs, overcame that.
8. In July, I added to my weekly exercise regime, three evenings of an hour and a half of rowing. On the Hudson. Well, actually, quite a bit of time was spent bringing the boat in and out of the water. But I did get in my fair share of arm muscle development, especially one evening when it rained and few people showed up so I got to row with some more experienced folks in a quad. Well, actually it was my buttocks that were squealing at that point!
9. In August, I roadtripped to Montreal with a friend for only the second time in my life. The first time was in1987, with my brother and my first boyfriend, a friend and classmate of my brother. That time we only stayed a few hours. Still, many snippets of memory arose as we headed on up this summer. The radio also indulged me by playing at least one song that I’d heard back then. It was bittersweet, as my brother has been dead now 8 years. Nice to still have the memories! And build new ones. Here’s a picture from the old part of town that makes me think of France:
10. Also in August, the day before my 42nd birthday, I quit my secretarial job of over four years at the University at Albany. Just couldn’t bear shuffling and generating any more mindless and frankly, needless, paperwork any longer!
11. On my birthday, I bought The Cartoonist’s Workshop, as I have long been fascinated by comic books and cartoons and decided to learn to draw them myself. The material certainly seemed user friendly. And slowly, very slowly, I have been working my way through the steps. Still have a long way to go,but it’s been fun to practice!
12. That weekend, I went on a wildwater rafting trip. It was a 5 hour tour in the rain. It was cold,wet and a lot of physical exertion, and I felt like the Michelin Man about to fall over at the end, but wouldn’t want to have missed out!
13. In September, I started this blog, at the encouragement of some soon to be former colleagues and the help of my sister. Thanks Diana!
14. In September and again in October, I went to a writer’s workshop. It was interesting to hear other people’s words read outloud, but I did not have enough courage to do the same!
15. Also in September, a trip to Madison, former scene of the crime. Lots of nice food and conversation with cool friends. And a bit of bike riding and lots of walking, during which I came upon this beautifully decorated violin invoking numerous sites of interest in Madison. Not sure what sort of technique it was, the the medium was indeed some kind of thread:
16. In October, I started crocheting cute stuffed animals from a book: Amigurumi World Seriously Cute Crochet, as Christmas presents for my nephew and nieces and decided to make some as well for the kids of my European friends I would be visiting in November. Thanks Mom for getting me started!!!
17. Over the Halloween weekend, my sisters and I stayed in New York. While we were there, my sister Anne and I recorded memories of our brother, Peter, for StoryCorps. The next day, November 1st, Anne ran the New York City Marathon. The whole family was there to cheer her on. She finished the race in 4 hours, 34 minutes, and 41 seconds. Truly an inspiration!
Well, that more or less covers the highlights of this past year. Not bad, if I do say so myself. A year in which I incorporated those things I truly enjoy: travel and the creative arts. If you choose to look back on your own experience this year past, may you also dwell on the joyous, inspirational sort and let the rest lie! A VERY HAPPY, HEALTHY, FUN AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! And to all a good night!
P.S. Would love to hear what all of you have been up to, so write away!