Tag: New Year

Year in Review

Years are such big things, aren’t they?  I know for me at least, they seem to go by quicker and quicker, but when I really think back over what happened this past year, I’m a bit boggled!

We had some struggles this year.  I was personally spared a great deal, but many of those I love had some rough times.  Friends got divorced, health problems continued to dog others, and my brother-in-law lost his parents.

There were other, better times.  I got a tiny little addiction (and found out many of you were already strung out), and enjoyed it entering the cultural zeitgeist.

Friends got married, a few had babies, and there were parties.

J. was gone for half the year (which is weird, because it doesn’t seem like we were ever apart), and we missed each other.  And apparently baffled not a few people who prophesied all sorts of cheery things for us (including infidelity) – so thanks for all you guys who didn’t take that train of thought and instead provided support, distraction, and encouragement.

Margot lived with me for a while before she got married and J. came back.  Hilarity ensued.

I committed to getting healthy this year and had a lot of fun doing so.  Of course, a year of working out at least one hour a day did wonders for me – but it took a bout of food poisoning to drop that last ten pounds.

The universe dropped a happiness bomb on us!

I was Best Man in a wedding.

Half the country caught fire over the summer.  Other, less destructive things happened too.

J. graduated, and we spent a week in London to celebrate and reported on our adventures.  I can’t want to go back.

I turned 26 and J. 27.

The election, a production the better part of a decade in the making happened.  I was annoyed with the more wailing and gnashing of teeth reactions, but then the Mayans predicted the end of the world so maybe November signalled the end…

…Oh.  Wait.

J. and I ran off to Virginia for Thanksgiving and gave you an insight into the Small Dog clan, and we stayed put for Christmas.

And all throughout, work wastypical.

2012 wasn’t a stellar writing year, but I think was one of the best pieces I’ve done in the last twelve months.

And that was the past year here at Small Dog HQ.  The world at large did not end (to some people’s annoyance), but Gangam Style, the terrible Liz and Dick TV movie, and Rush Limbaugh made a few of us wonder if it might.  Things are politically tricksy in this country, and even more so elsewhere, but there were a great many small ways the human race showed that it’s going to get through it – small boys held signs reminding the world that the act of a few radicals did not and would not be allowed to speak for him, and neighbors shared power after cities went dark from storms.  Sure things, got a bit snarky and grim from time to time, but there were always bright sparks of humor, real good will, and happiness – and if that doesn’t sum up what we’re trying to do here, nothing does.

And 2013 is already looking so breathlessly hopeful I can barely stand it.

Happy New Year, kittens!  I hope it brings good things for all of you!

champagne

2010, We Hardly Knew Ye

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”
– Oprah Winfrey

A decade, dears.  There have been revolutions, wars, natural disasters.  There have been cures for diseases, leaps in technology, triumphs of humanity.  The iPod is approaching its 10th anniversary.  I’m 10 years on since starting high school…where does time go, exactly?

A big decade for me, all things considered.  Lots of good stuff happened, some bad as well but surprisingly little in comparison I find (which belies all my complaining, shhh).  My small galaxy of people had a pretty stellar year too.  Jane had to move three times in one year as she and her husband struggled with the economy, jobs, and life, but now they seem pretty settled (and much closer to me than California!).  Janssen had a lovely little girl.  Wise is about to follow Jannsen’s maternal lead any second now and her husband got a clerkship post that they are thrilled about.  Hennessy got married and bought a house.  Sav is graduating and her husband got into the grad school of his choice – hurray!  Venice moved (which I’m still not over) but it was the right choice for her and Val and they have a bright future ahead.  Peregrine also moved back to DC, has a fabulous job and a very special – but sadly top secret – project she’s working on.  Scarlett is in grad school in New York, dealing with personal demons (aren’t we all?) but doing so with her usual clear-eyed honesty and personal flair.  Angel got a great new job.  Margot is having some truly heinous battles in the teaching craft, but I’ve never seen her more awesome, (which, if you knew her, you would realize is a statement of gargantuan proportions).  Dad retired, Mum got a job teaching at university and they moved to the US to enjoy retirement (by which I mean, Dad flung himself into manual labor to turn a patch of East Coast backwoods into an estate).  Gio graduated high school and is on to uni himself.  Buddy and Snickers started at a new school in a new country and are doing swimmingly.

Next year will find J. graduated and off to grad school, goodness knows where.  Most likely we’ll be moving as all but one of the schools he’s applied to are in different states and/or countries.  2011 will be a year of adventures and I’m thrilled.  It’s been too long since I’ve had one.

Obligatory Goals:
Shop less.
Eat better.
Save more.
Exercise longer.
Love harder.
Complain less.
Anticipate more.

Hope the New Year brings you all the adventures you desire, kittens.  See you on the other side.

This England!

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
– Shakespeare

So!  Flew in to Heathrow on the morning of Christmas Eve, met at airport by Dad and Snickers, drove home to Suffolk.  Day spent hugging, talking, and trying to stay awake.  Christmas Eve feast was superb.  Went to bed.  Woke up Christmas morning (siblings showed infinite patience and let us sleep in longer than I’d ever imagine they’d be able to) and tore into both presents and breakfast.  Rest of day spent in rest and relaxation.

The adventures begin on December 26th, also known as Boxing Day.  It’s part of the Christmas holiday in England and most people keep holiday hours on it, but this was the day chosen to go to London to show J. the sights.  We checked online and it appeared some things would be open, so off we went.

Mum, left in red. Me, middle in red. Gio, right of me in red. Dad, right of Gio in red. Buddy...in black. Snickers, hidden. J., behind camera.

Never trust the internet.  The Tower, which really is the historical base of the city (thanks, William the Bastard/Conquerer) was closed.  Luckily Westminster Abbey was open.  Some of you may recall my raptures at visiting it two years ago?  Well, it was nothing compared to this time.  I was so obnoxiously happy to be back in England that I had a hyper litany of sheer enthusiasm trilling through my head as I forced myself to walk somberly through its hallowed naves.  The Shakespeare alone was particularly thrilling, I may or may not have muttered the St. Crispin’s Day speech as I meandered past Henry V.  Anne of Cleves got a nod and a, “Well done.  Better off without him.  Much,” Congreve got a cheeky grin, Elizabeth I another critical glance over (still not as pretty as she thought she was).

After Westminster we tried for the Tower but that as you know was a fruitless effort.  So we traipsed across the city!  I didn’t make it over to Kensington where I lived but I did stare longingly at the High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road stops on the Tube for a while.  We walked through Trafalgar Square (scene of many a late night revel with Marie, Elizabeth, and AbFab so long ago), made our way to Leicester Square where, completely out of other ideas, we massacred three hours by watching Avatar.  An observation: don’t see this movie in 3D from the second row of the theatre.  Your inner ear thanks me.  After that we saw Stomp and made our way home at a ridiculous hour of the evening.

Sunday we tried to recuperate a bit and celebrated Buddy’s birthday with a quiet family evening at home.  The next day we celebrated it by scampering around the misty wet fields with nearly fifty people, shooting each other with paintballs.  I had only been paintballing once before and been shot in the mouth, so I didn’t have a high opinion of the activity (this time I was shot at point-blank range while guarding a little girl, but it was during our mad dash for glory in a game of capture the flag and we were welcomed to the splotched sidelines like heroes).  The boys loved it.

No, it's not the camera angle, the house really looks like that.

Tuesday we went to Lavenham, which is without question the most charming country village outside of the Lakes District.  I’ve written about it before, but allow me to gush a little bit more!  It’s just delightful, the crooked Tudor houses always make me grin like an idiot.  I rummaged through my favorite antique store (trying on an Edwardian hat, drooling over Victorian jewelry, and rifling through letter boxes and cupboards) and we ate lunch at The Swan.

Wednesday J. and I basely ditched the family and hopped on the train from Cambridge back down to London so he could actually see things.  The train was a necessity because, according to the news, a truck of pigs had gotten into a wreck on the M11 and, far from turning the passengers into bacon, a dozen or so had escaped and were wandering across the highway, grazing on things, and generally causing a bad time of it for the drivers who were backed up for hours waiting for the porcine perils to be rounded up.

We hit the Tower and the British Museum.  Going through it was like visiting an old friend.  J. seemed to especially love the awful imperialism it represented.  “I mean, these guys just showed up and said, ‘I like that wall.  I think I’ll take it!'” he said going through the Parthenon exhibit.  During the evening we walked from Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Circus so I could get in some much needed shopping before we made our way back to Liverpool St. and hopped back on the train to Cambridge.  Then, the next day, back to the States.

I’m going to be honest and admit that as we were driving back from J.’s parents house and I was looking across the valley and snow-covered mountains…I burst into homesick tears.  When we got home I was absolutely howling with misery (or lack of sleep, one of the two).  “I want to live two hours outside of London!” I sobbed, “I want to live where it’s green even in the winter!  I hate the desert!  I don’t want to go back to work on Monday!  I don’t want to live here for two and a half more years while you finish school!  I want my dog!”

J. just hugged me and promised to get me back there someday if he could, and he meant it.  I calmed down, went to bed, and woke up feeling alright about leaving England behind for a while.  In the meantime, I’ll just be here.  Missing it.