Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One more interruption...

Part IV is coming. I promise. But I just had to post this, because it's cool.

In case you can't tell who that is Nick is talking to, here's a better pic.

All you SNL fans and Minnesota residents should be jealous.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Goodbye 2009 (a little late)

I stole this from All & Sundry, a delightfully snarky blog that I quite enjoy following. She's hysterical, and very close to what I think I might be like as a mom. Give her a look-see.

And I beg your pardon for the interruption in the Welcome to Kabul series. I swear I'm toiling away on the final entry.

Reflection time....

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Got married, visited Belize, swam with sea turtles, climbed a Mayan ruin, became an aunt, Skyped, stopped a blogger at the Dupont Circle farmers market to tell her how much I liked her writing (item #7), caught my layout on the flying trapeze, ran a 5k, moved to Afghanistan, started working for the US government, started liking hot oatmeal.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t think I made any last year? Maybe I only resolved to make it through wedding planning in one piece! Which I did. But just barely.

My resolutions for 2010:
  • Figure out a long term career plan, even if it means going back to school
  • Run at least one 5k, and sign up in time to get the T-shirt for free
  • Curtail my internet addiction
  • Maintain my current weight and fitness level throughout our tour in Afghanistan, and motivate Nick to improve his
  • Read more
  • Be more patient with Nick
  • Get another piercing
  • Limit my navel gazing
  • Say thank you to my parents more often
  • Help my mom organize at least one charity drive for Afghanistan
  • Write in this blog more often

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yep. Nick’s older brother and his wife gave the family its first grandbaby/niece. And we couldn’t have asked for a cuter one!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not on my side. But Nick lost his Yia Yia in the spring.

5. What countries did you visit?
Belize, United Arab Emirates (if overnight layovers count), Afghanistan

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A definite career path. A job which allows me to apply all of my skills and brainpower, and to which I will happily devote my time and energy.

Oh yeah. And a trapeze rig on the Embassy compound. Is that too much to ask?

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Planning a mostly DIY wedding was good. Extending my regular running distance to 4.5 miles was a pretty big accomplishment, especially given that I’m not a natural born runner. Packing us out of DC on my own was a pretty big deal as well. And I have to admit, surviving (thriving?) in the USAID front office with no orientation or prior USAID experience has been a bit of a confidence booster.

Also, I know this one is ridiculous, but I’m very proud of the fact that I managed to keep the tires on both my bike and my car inflated after Nick left. I have an irrational fear of tire pumps; I’m always terrified that I’ll over-inflate the tire and it will explode. I also tend to let more air out of the tire than I put in. Overcoming this fear was a big deal for me, ok? Stop laughing.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to forgive and let go of hurt feelings. Allowing those feelings to fester and grow. Not being as strong as I wanted to be for Nick during our separation. Not being able to organize a garage sale on my own and copping out by giving our unwanted stuff to Goodwill. Not coming up with a good idea for a 60th birthday gift for my dad in time for his actual birthday, then executing the idea late only to have it turn out less awesome than originally planned. Massive fail which is still ongoing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I can’t think of any significant injuries. There were many poorly timed colds, such as the one I caught right before our packout. Or the one I caught on the day the Mission Director returned. Going home early because of a cold wasn’t exactly the best way to make a good first impression on the boss. The one I can feel coming on now is also quite unwelcome.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Nick’s wedding ring.

Also, trapeze and silks classes. And new running shoes.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My parents. They were completely and utterly awesome throughout the whole wedding planning process, start to finish. They dealt with my crabby attitude towards weddings in general, listened to all my worries about money, pitched in with help and advice and money wherever and whenever we needed, knew exactly when to withhold their advice/comments and let us figure things out for ourselves, and give Nick and I everything we could have asked for in a wedding.

My sis was awesome throughout as well.

Ditto for their attitudes and assistance throughout my transition to Afghanistan.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Would it be too cliché and base of me to say Tiger Woods? Mostly just appalled though.

14. Where did most of your money go?
WEDDING, honeymoon, Minibar, circus classes, wardrobes for Afghanistan, tailoring of said wardrobes, groceries, camping gear, paintball gear, trips to visit family, NYC trip, repairs/replacements for all of the electrical items that have broken around me (laptop, computer monitor, immersion blender).

15. What did you get really excited about?

Visiting my sis in Indy, meeting her adorable puppy and rocking out at an outdoor Michael Cavanaugh concert with wine and cheese and many other delicious goodies on a fantastic summer night.

Oh yeah, and I got married.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Jason Robert Brown’s "Someone to Fall Back On". Yes, it was the song for our first dance at our wedding. But that’s not exactly why I’ll remember it.

The DJ we hired for the wedding was a dope. He was cheap. He wasn’t a professional DJ. But as most of our guests weren't the dancing type, we weren’t worried about it. We basically just needed someone to play some music for the ceremony, during the meal, and for our first dance. And that was about it.

After several weeks of asking the DJ if he was able to locate the few songs on our “must play” list (a few pre-ceremony songs, the processional and recessional, a few cocktail songs and 1 dance song) without receiving a response, I told Nick to burn CDs with those songs, just in case the DJ flaked out. Nick burned several copies of our playlists.

Cut to the wedding: just as we’re ready to start our first dance, the DJ tells us that our first dance song was the only song he wasn’t able to find online. Ok, well, how about telling me this a few weeks ago when I first emailed you??!?! But fine, whatever, this is why I had Nick make the backup CDs.

Except that Nick failed to burn our first dance song onto any of the CDs.

So I’m trying not to be disappointed and/or panicked, and trying to figure out if any of our guests might have the song. Which I knew was unlikely given that it's a musical theater song and none of our guests were theater geeks. But hey! My sister has her iPod and she loves JRB, so there was hope.

Nope, she didn’t have the song. Nick had his laptop with him at the wedding (?!?!) Nope, not there.

Then Nick had a stroke of genius. He grabbed the laptop and my hand, dashed us over to the church’s main building, and starts waving the computer in the air hoping to pick up an unsecured wireless signal from the administrative office. Bingo! Balancing the laptop between us we locked on the church's signal, purchased the MP3 from Amazon, and dashed back to Hollin Hall. We tossed the laptop to the DJ and made our “grand entrance” for our dance, with "Someone to Fall Back On" playing right on cue. And none of the guests were any the wiser. Until now.

That’s still one of my favorite moments from the wedding

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? About the same. Which is not such a good thing.
– thinner or fatter? Same size. With intentions to stay that way!
– richer or poorer? Financially richer. Your tax dollars hard at work….in our pockets. Thanks for the salary everyone! ;-)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More serious thinking about and work on my career path. More dinners out in DC. More outdoor activities (hiking, camping etc.) More thought and concern for the needs/hopes/concerns/lives/feelings of others. More time in the company of friends and family.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Crying. Complaining. Navel gazing. Watching TV.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With Nick, in Kabul, making brunch, opening presents, making mashed potatoes, potlucking with new friends and Skyping with his family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I certainly rediscovered my love of circus, and realized what a benefit it is to my mental and physical health.

I could be the lame newlywed and say that every day that I’m with my husband I fall more and more in love with him. But then I’d have to slap myself silly. And Nick and I don’t really work that way.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
GLEE! As if there was ever any doubt.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Pleading the fifth.

24. What was the best book you read?
Ugh. I'm going to hate myself for saying this but……the Twilight series. It’s not that they were the best books that I read. It’s more that they gave me exactly what I needed – mindless entertainment – at the exact moment I needed it.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Umm, the string quartet version of "Somebody to Love" that we used as the processional for our wedding? I don’t know! I am lame and mostly listen to musicals. When I had a car the radio was always tuned to WTOP for Traffic on the 8’s because DC traffic is an unpredictable beast.

Can I say that Glee was my greatest musical discovery?

26. What did you want and get?
My knee hang-return. A hair stylist who I love (finally!) A relaxed, backyard-esque wedding with awesome, international food and lawn games. A better job at USAID than what was first offered to me.

27. What did you want and not get?
Clarity on the career front. Nick to commit to a diet and exercise regimen. My clothes, household effect and consumables shipments in a timely manner, meaning we didn’t receive either my menorah or the Christmas surprise I prepared for Nick in time for either holiday. Bah humbug!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Dunno. Maybe Every Little Step? I can tell you with certainty which one was my least favorite: Terminator 4. What a load of crap, and probably the worst way for Nick and me to spend his last night in DC.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I worked that day. Nick took me, Pauline and Chris out to Tackle Box for lunch. And then he cooked me grilled veggies and squeaky cheese for dinner, but was very grumpy about it. Mostly my birthday was overlooked due to Nick’s impending departure.

I turned “not yet 30”.

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

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Office drone, followed by female office drone in a Muslim country.

32. What kept you sane?
Circus. Exercise. Toad. Bobo. Parents. Nick*.
*Some of these may or may not have also been the cause of some insanity.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmmm. Probably Aaron Tveit. I’m embarrassed to say that too, because this blog links to my Facebook and I’m friends with people who went to school with him.

Can I change my answer? Neil Patrick Harris and Gavin Creel.

And now I just picked two (three?) gay guys. Maybe I should just skip this question.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I tend not to get stirred by politics, because I tend to find it a waste of energy. But change the question to “which political issue affected you the most?”, and the answer is most definitely Afghanistan.

35. Who did you miss?
Nick, while we were separated. My parents. My sister, especially during my loneliest times over the summer. True friends. Caela Beagle.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Our wedding photographer is a pretty kick ass person. And the friends I've made thus far in Afghanistan are pretty cool too.

Oh yeah, and our niece!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
True friends reveal themselves during your lowest and most vulnerable moments.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Lyric? One measly lyric? Ha. Here’s a whole damn song.

“As We Stumble Along” from The Drowsy Chaperone
(Of course it’s a song from a musical. Did you expect anything less?)

As we stumble along on life's funny journey./As we stumble along into the blue.
We look here and we look there./ Seeking answers anywhere.
Never sure of where to turn or what to do.

Still we bumble our way through life's crazy labyrinth
Barely knowing left from right/ nor right from wrong.
And the best that we can do is hope a blue bird, will sing his song
as we stumble along.

It's a dismal little world in which we live./It can bore you til you've nothing left to give.
Seven over-rated wonders, seven underwhelming seas.
Six excruciating continents./Antarctica?-oh, please.
But you musn't let it lick you, this planet oh so bland.
Keep your eyeball on the highball in your hand.

As we stumble along 'cross life's crowded dance floor./As we push and we shove we live and we learn.
And when we fin'lly leave the bar/ And we see that morning star,
we pull our boot straps up and homeward turn.

Then we stumble away through dawn's blinding sun beams./ Barely knowing right from right nor left from wrong.
But as long as we can hear that little blue bird, there'll be a song
as we stumble along.
As we stumble, bumble, fumble, plumble, along….