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Happy New Year! So, I’m a little late in getting my “year in review” post out there – as if you haven’t already read a zillion of them in your local newspaper, weekly magazine, or favorite gossip website. Whatever, I’ve been busy. So sue me.
Anyway – fair warning: this is not your standard “look at what all the celebrities did in 2011” year in review. This is about my year in review. Along with some topical, public domain, infotainment, real-deal history stuff because I need to snark a bit and I gotta do something to attract more readers. Hee.
2011 was my “year of yes.” It was my first full year back in Washington, DC after 7 years overseas and I really wanted to take advantage of my time here, to get out and explore the metropolitan DC area and to sink my teeth into the social life. How’d I do? Eh, there’s always room for improvement, but I think I did okay. Let’s break it down:
January: The Arab Spring begins in Tunisia. Demonstrations – with varying levels of success – follow in Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, and Bahrain. It’s an exciting time in the Middle East. This translates into an exciting time for consular work, because you know Americans love to travel and we turn up in the most unlikely places. I wasn’t on the ground in any of these countries helping to evacuate American citizens, but I did work on one of the many task forces set up here in Washington to monitor the situation on the ground. Terrific learning experience for me. January was also when I visited the National Archives with my colleagues and commented on my confusion about Trader Joe’s – which I have to formally retract. I recently made a commitment to eat healthier – organic foods and whatnot – and I have to say, I get it now. Although my local Trader Joe’s is a nightmare in terms of parking and the layout of the store, it is my go-to place for grocery shopping. So, to all the Trader Joe’s fans out there: I’m sorry. Also, actor Pete Postlethwaite died on January 2. I think I first saw Postlethwaite in “In the Name of the Father,” which is a terrific film. He was also in “The Usual Suspects,” and more recently “Inception” and “The Town.” If you are not familiar with him – shame on you. Stop reading this article right now, get on Netflix or Hulu or whatever, and put one of his films in your queue.
February: My introduction to punk.
March: Japan was hit by a triple-whammy. First, an earthquake. Which triggered a tsunami. Which led to a meltdown at a nuclear plant. Yikes. Tough times in Japan = another task force in Washington. Another overnight shift for me. I traveled to San Diego for a conference – I’d never been there before and thought it was a great city. The zoo is pretty amazing, although I did experience a little bit of sticker shock. It’s like $40 to get into that zoo! I live in the DC area – our zoo is free! Although, I suppose the National Zoo could look like the San Diego Zoo if we charged everyone $40 to get in. Something to think about. I also knitted my first hat.
April: So, in my effort to “get out there,” I started looking for interesting stuff to do on the weekends. In April, I went to the Kite Festival on the Mall. Good times. Took forever to get that kite in the air, but we finally succeeded. Yay! There were lots of kids and adults out there flying kites, but I gotta say: I think the adults were having more fun. Nothing like reverting to childhood, am I right? In other news, those crazy “birthers” kept hammering away about President Obama’s birth certificate, so he released the long form this month. Another royal wedding in the UK. Which meant that this was the top news story on the networks for days. Really? Really? Remind me: why do we care about this again? I mean, yeah – it’s great – Prince William got married. All the best to you, sir. But this is the United States. I mean, we fought for our independence so that we wouldn’t have to care about this stuff. And yet, apparently, we do.
May: Seal Team Six. That is all.
June: It’s June 2011 and the GOP debates begin. God save us. More than a year in advance of the 2012 elections. It’s the height of the tourist season in DC. This is a great city for tourists – everything is free! And there’s so much to see. My one wish is that the tourists could learn a little Metro etiquette. Well, you know how I feel about that. Hey, WMATA, would it kill you to put up a few signs to remind people to stand on the right on the escalators? I also knitted a pair of socks.
July: July 4. Independence Day. A terrific day for sleeping in, celebrating with friends and family, and watching fireworks. This was the first July 4 in 7 years where I did not have to do one darn thing. I didn’t have to attend an Embassy party. I didn’t have to get dressed up. I didn’t have to talk “shop” with representatives from the host country government. It was nice to just be lazy at home. I had the best burger of my life at Ray’s Hellburger. Have you been yet? If not, stop reading, bookmark this page, and get over there. You can thank me later. I knitted a kick-ass sweater. I have to say, I really love it when I get crafty and the project actually turns out well. Okay, it’s not perfect – it fits a little big – but it’s pretty darn good for a first attempt. Amy Winehouse died. Bummer.
August: Hurricane Irene brought a lot of rain to the east coast. But the big news was the earthquake. What the…? I remember it like it was yesterday: I was sitting in my office talking to a colleague, when all of a sudden everything started to sway. We looked at each other, looked out the big plate glass window next to us (yikes!), looked at each other again and wondered what the heck just happened. After the building stopped swaying, we decided it might be a good idea to head outside. We joined hundreds of others standing on the street with our cell phones, trying to text or email friends and family, or check to the internet to find out what had happened. Of course, it was impossible to send or receive messages: system overload. We eventually learned we’d just experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. Get out! Kim Kardashian got married!!!! Why do we care about this again? Why are these people famous? Seriously – I do not get this one. I do not care about them, so I won’t even link to anything about them. I’m not even going to use the name as a tag for this post! Get a job, Kardashians. Most importantly, the best, brightest, and prettiest niece in the world was born in August.
September: My subscription to AFI Talk Cinema kicked in. If you live in a city that offers this program, I highly recommend it. Subscribers go to a not-yet-released film screening, watch it, then talk about it afterward in a moderator-led discussion. I saw some really interesting movies that I probably never would have gone to see on my own: “Hermano,” “Melancholia,” “The Artist.” I also saw a few that I was kind of “meh” about (“Like Crazy” and “Carnage”), but I’m still glad I had the experience. I may do it again next year. People around the world started occupying various streets, parks, and other locales to protest stuff. Ah yes, I (vaguely) remember when I was young and idealistic. Now, I’m just a jaded crone.
October: My birthday month! Yay, for me still being alive! Kim Kardashian files for divorce. This is what you get for caring America. And yet, there are some people out there who think that it’s same-sex marriages that will destroy us all. Hmmmm. And the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 7. I haven’t watched baseball since I left Atlanta (I loved to go to Braves games), but I guess this was a big deal.
November: Holiday travel. GAH!!!!!
December: It’s Christmas. Hope you spent time with friends and family, and remembered what the season is all about. I did.
So, that’s my year in a nutshell. Some things I got right: exploring a little bit of the DC area, trying new things, and embracing my inner geek. But there’s still room for improvement. 2012 will be “Year of Yes 2.0.”
How was your 2011?