Aught Lang Syne! (Farewell to 2009)

Friday, December 25, 2009

About two weeks ago, I decided to participate in Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge... but then I got stuck. I have a pretty terrible memory, so recalling things that've happened in the past 12 months felt like a major challenge. I could only conjure up memories from this month, this season - & I thought 2009 deserved a little better than that, mediocre a year though it may have been. So I've been writing this blog for weeks now, poring over old photos & blog posts & Facebook activities, retracing my steps of the last 365 days as I try to do justice to this blog challenge. I've gotten rid of some of Gwen's categories (she presented 31) because they didn't appeal to me, but I've stuck with the ones that tell my 2009 story most effectively.

Oh. And what are your answers?
Don't think you were gonna get off that easily.

I didn't do much traveling in 2009. In fact, I don't think I went anywhere that wasn't the DC Metropolitan Area or the great state of Ohio. (Oh, except for Canada for work, which almost doesn't count!) One of the best trips was the weekend I came home to be a bridesmaid in my friends' Audra & Mark's wedding. I ended the weekend knowing that, sooner or later, I will end up back in the Midwest - & that felt like a huge relief of a realization.

Our first reunion! Early in the year, five of my best friends & I reunited for the first time since we ended our one-year fellowship together. We didn't have much time - it was just a quick dinner at Thai Phoon squeezed in during a work weekend - but it was so rejuvenating to be together again, to feel like myself again, to be with the people who know me best & to be reassured that we will always be able to pick up where we left off.

I wish I used Delicious so I could remember stuff like this. Because I don't & thus can't, I'm going to go with one I read in an issue of Glamour on an airplane this fall. The story featured a half-dozen naked models of all sizes - not just stick-thin. While the recent trend of women's magazines claiming to go "curve-friendly" is getting a little worn, this article was the first time that I, a major magazine aficionado, truly believed that the industry may someday (soon?) rid itself of its ugly & unrealistic predisposition toward scary-skinny models. Unfortunately, as recently pointed out, Glamour hasn't exactly made good on its promise to stop portraying "plus-size" as anyone whose weight is a number above zero.

I started - & didn't finish - a lot of books in 2009! Notable not-quite-dones include "The Other Boleyn Girl," "1984" and even "The Great Gatsby." My favorite book of 2009 is, I think, Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity," while I shall most assuredly complete before 2010 sets in. I think. This book, quite simply, makes me feel real - & not crazy. Runner-up in this category is "Shopgirl" by Steve Martin, for similar reasons, & for my favorite book quote as of late:
"She moved from Vermont hoping to begin her life, & now she is stranded in the vast openness of L.A. She keeps working to making connections, but the pile of near misses is starting to overwhelm her. What Mirabelle needs is some omniscient voice to illuminate & spotlight her, & to inform everyone that this one has value, this one over here..."

Who can say for certain? 2009 was (along with the rest of my life!) filled with lots of great memories, including some I cannot remember due to intoxication. In the running for most memorable night: inauguration weekend's cocktailish party followed by darts & the meeting of Johnny Fajitas; the evening I was assured that Irish carbombs taste "like milkshakes!" &, upon consumption, vehemently disagreed; multiple incidents of catching up at the same local bar with hometown friends upon my return to the 'burbs; the night we hosted an impromptu dance party in Rachel's living room; the happy hour/strip club/WTF blogger night gone wild (details are still missing) & my now-infamous birthday party bar rumble.

I think the winning "night out," though, is not a night at all but an entire day. I spent the Fourth of July barbecuing, drinking, laughing, photographing &, astonishingly enough, not getting sunburned on an epic roof deck in our nation's capital with at least a dozen of my closest friends. One for the history books, to be sure.

I live-tweeted multiple plenary sessions from backstage at a convention in Toronto hosted by the organization with which I'm gainfully employed. My behind-the-scenes view gave me an opportunity to meet some inspiring speakers (Dr. Eboo Patel & author Anita Diamant) & use a little bit of my social media know-how to engage those who couldn't be at the conference. I was really pleased with the responses it garnered. keeps me consistently entertained (especially because I shelled out $1.00 for the app), though I've yet to be funny enough to make the cut. This year I also discovered some of my favorite bloggers, including Brad at Franco Beans, Alana at Good Girl Gone Blog, Alexa at Cleveland's a Plum, Keri at Your Wishcake & many, many more. They keep me entertained, sane, inspired & comedically challenged.

Have I had these?! OK, just kidding. Best moment of peace was my summer trip to Bear Hollow, Pennsylvania, my favorite place on earth. It took me a lot of effort to get there - my cousin tracked down an obscure bus (leaving at the crack of down) from Union Station into mid-PA, & my uncle picked me up to drive me the rest of the way. It was entirely worth it for three days of solitude in the woods. Also, guns:

I was lucky that 2009 wasn't a year of great challenges for me, at least nothing huge & notable. I had a tough time adjusting to my new job at the beginning of the year, something that literally kept me up at night with worry, but I've come far since then & am truly proud of myself for some of the things I've done at work this year & some of the pressure I've withstood. I've pulled together more than I expected I could. Am I the best? Well, no. But I am a pretty good version of myself, & I hope 2010 sees me getting even better.

What isn't?! I'm easy to please, though favorite finds of the year included Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" (thanks, Rob), Donora's self-titled album (thanks, Rob), & Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment" (thanks, crummy taste in pop). I tend not to dig entire albums, so honorable singles mentions go to: "Brand New Day" by Joshua Radin, "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver, "Counting Down the Hours" by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, "Be OK" by Ingrid Michaelson, "My Interpretation" by Mika, "Novotel" by Adam Green, "Jane Fonda" by Mickey Avalon, & "Wraith Pinned to the Mist & Other Games" by Of Montreal. Among many others. Obvi.

I want to answer "my bed," but I suppose I'm not that lazy. Instead, this prestigious award goes to the library in my office, where my coworkers & I gather daily to eat lunch together. It's the best part of my day, & many of our most hilarious conversations have happened there. I know everyone says their office is funny, but look, we mean it. I'm actually sort of sorry for you that your coworkers aren't as hysterical as mine. "The Office" ain't got nothin' on us. Anyway, lunchtime in our library is a daily reminder that I'm fortunate enough to have a job I like with people I love. For example? In this photo, one of our lunches turns into a photo session with Flat Froman, a group gift to a former coworker during her fight with cancer. We're both funny and compassionate, eh?!

Don't get too excited. I'm not gonna claim to love it, OK? That would be a huge lie. But I did order mahi mahi at Ten Penh this summer, & I did like it. Until I ate my friend's noodles & realized, toward my last bite, that they contained mushrooms. To which I am allergic. And so I saw that mahi mahi twice. But, you know, it was pretty good the first time, & the fact that I ordered/ate fish at all is nothing short of a Restaurant Week-induced miracle. If I didn't have witnesses, I might not believe my own memory on this one.

From happy to sad & back to happy again, on this front. For a glorious but cash-strapped three months, I lived in a beautiful new apartment down the hall from my old one. It had a kitchen, it had a huge bathroom, it had cockroaches... & it had a rent I definitely couldn't swing. I was reluctant to move in with roommates after two years solo, but my decision to shack up with three friends has proven surprisingly simple. They don't mind when I fall asleep on the couch or hog the DVR, & sometimes they cook me stuff. Score.

In February, I attended Jimmy Eat World's 10-stop tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of their best-selling album, "Clarity," the one album I can say has affected my outlook on life, love & a whole host of sappy emotions. As I blogged after the show, it was maybe the first & only time I have felt infinite. In other words? Yes, Jim Adkins, I can actually still feel the butterflies.

I adopted use of the word "well" in places where it doesn't belong. For example, when I'm unsure of anything, I've begun starting sentences with "Wellllll..."And though friends & coworkers have called me out on it, they've also adopted it as their own, which makes it a lot tougher for me to quit!

2009 was average. It was mostly happy. It was emotionally tumultuous. It was in flux. It was indecisive. And it is almost over. And I think I might be glad.

Lord forgive me, I discovered a quick way to get to Target (the DC Circulator is a public transportation blessing of the highest degree), & though my wallet is not particularly thankful, my wardrobe is. Other noteworthy places to spend my hard-earned money include the Ann Taylor Loft a block from my office, which I've slowly weaned myself off of, & Lou Lou, the jewelry boutique next door, which has become my newest obsession.

Three-way tie! Over Labor Day, I rode to Ohio with my best friend, her brother & his best friend; along the way, we sang bad pop music, made a lot of bad jokes & generally bonded. In July, I rode to Ohio with Julie from Wearing Mascara; I hardly knew her, but the trip proved anything but awkward as we discussed everything from sex to politics to blog gossip & left me with a new friend. In September, I rented a snappy Yaris & drove to - surprise! - Ohio with a college friend who I'd almost lost touch with, catching up & making up &, of course, rocking out to a little MJ (may his name be for a blessing!).

This year wasn't a year for that many new people. Rather, it was a year spent cultivating relationships with those already present in my life - making more of an effort to be social, to be reliable, & to be present when they needed me. I'm a homebody & a little bit of a hermit by nature, but in 2009, I made a special effort to let others turn my life upside down - & they didn't disappoint.

My breakfast brainchild, the Great DC Brunch Tour, began this fall! OK, I admit that thus far, we've only visited a meager two locations, but I love the idea, & we have big plans to continue brunching around the District in 2010. No more waffling, I promise! (Ba-dum-chhh. I'll be here all night year!)

I've become a Picnik kid - recently, I even splurged $24 for a yearlong subscription. I haven't yet managed to score Photoshop (& even if I did, I might be too wussy to master it), so Picnik is keeping me in the photo-editing business, even if only a small scale. I started designing some small graphics for my office's website, too, which is fun & has only been possible because I'm now a crafty Picniker.

Friendships, like relationships, need to be maintained - worked on & cultivated. You can't just get into one & expect it to keep itself afloat when things get tough. And as in a relationship, you can't expect the other person to just get you, no matter what - sometimes you have to explain yourself & apologize & recommit... & then give them the opportunity to do the same. But good friends, like good boyfriends, are worth fighting to keep, even if it means soldiering through a rough patch every now & again.

I should stop giving myself so many gifts, actually. My wallet would thank me if I'd quit buying so much stuff for myself - haircuts, dresses from Target, shoes from Payless, accessories from Etsy, faux Buddy Holly glasses from Bleu Dame. But listen, those gifts are still giving, every time I wear them. Wait, was I supposed to answer this, like, emotionally? Whoops.

In September, as I somewhat ashamedly explained to an almost-total-stranger why I want to return to the Buckeye State someday (I care about it, I think it deserves to be inhabited by people who want to help it succeed, etc.), he stopped me & told me to stop being so embarrassed: "Ohio is lucky that people like you care enough about it to want to come back," he told me. Now, whenever I wonder why the hell I want to return to a snowy, economically depressed, sometimes-redneck state when I could instead remain in the best little non-state in the nation, I remember that line & instantly feel better about my love of Ohio.

Did I ever! In early spring, I took a risk & met Plight of the Pumpernickel for dinner at Paragon Thai - we have a few mutual real-life friends, so it felt not-so-dangerous! Shortly thereafter, inspired by my positive experience with her, I took a bigger risk by showing up at Lucky Bar alone for PQ's birthday, where I met LiLu, Lusty Reader, Lemmonex, Franco Beans, What a Grand World & more. Since then, I've met others like 12 Minds, I Hate So Much, Dysfunction Junction, & DMbosstone, most notably during our night of summer debauchery that resulted in my first time at a strip club. I didn't blog about it because, you know, I'm a classy broad, but the others sure did. It was a night to remember - or not.

Who wrote this? Someone who never laughs? How could I possibly choose the best laugh of the year? As I mentioned before, I work with some of the funniest people I've ever met. I'm fortunate enough to have my biggest belly laugh of the year nearly every day. Want evidence of some of the crazy stuff we pull? Well, this one time we just... had a relay race. In Snuggies. With Jello shots. At work. Say WHAT?

There's always more to do, more to say, more to be. I could have done better; I could always do better, & I bet you could, too. I could have lost 15 pounds. I could have started being a vegetarian. I could have learned to play the guitar, could've found a freelancing gig or two, could've made more of an effort to be social & spent less time online. I could traveled more, saved more, written more, loved more. And in 2010, I'll try to do all of these - more, & more often, & better. I want to be a better version of myself, & I don't need to wait until the turn of the calendar year to do it. Cheers to that, my friends.


  1. I really loved how you did this post! It was so fun to read. Have a fantastic new year and maybe we'll actually get to hang out when I'm home from London. That sounds like a good resolution to me!

  2. i am HONORED that flat froman got a shout out. nice work friend.

  3. This was lovely and so thought provoking - I too experience pangs for my midwest roots and realized I thought much more about that in 2009 than I realized. Looking forward to starting 2010 off with some belly laughs tonight.

  4. My god, I feel like I'm reading about myself sometimes when I read your blog! A few things:

    -You went to the JIMMY EAT WORLD SHOW?!?!?! I'm soooo jealous. By the time I found out about it, it was sold out.

    -I know without a doubt that I'll end up on the West Coast again... it's my home and I miss it, and now that I recognize that, I can enjoy D.C. life.

    -Thaiphoon is amazing and so was High Fidelity. You have awesome taste.

    Happy New Year!

  5. This post makes me really miss the RAC. My new office is so small and quiet and normal and boring! I need more belly laughs in my life.

    Also, best trip of 2010: New Orleans! What's this tweet about going to Scotland?? That's gotta cost a LOT more than a trip here...

  6. I have to say, from one District gal to another, I am totally envious of the Brunch tour, haha.

    And I remember when this big recap of questions for 2009 came out. I could barely remember anything, and whenever I sat down to recap anything, I always completely forgot something and felt about about it... like memory remorse, heh.

  7. My bus stopped directly next to The Royal Palace the other day and I couldn't stifle a giggle.

    But then, I also snarfed at "waffling", so maybe there's just no hope for me. ;-)

    Happy 2010!

  8. like lilu, i too snarfed at your waffling reference. i don't know, something about the word waffles is just so awesome. it seems everyone is a little more excited for 2010 than 2009. happy new year! :)

  9. I LOVE "Texts From Last Night" too - it never fails to raise a giggle...


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