Tuesday, February 21, 2017

26 favorite moments

In the midst of my belated end-of-year blogging, I remembered that my birthday was back in July and I had yet to publish my list of 26 favorite moments of 26. Compiling these is one of my favorite exercises each year. It's always interesting to see that some of the moments I thought would make the list - some of the flashy, big-headline, gotta-be-important moments - had faded into the background and quieter, sweeter memories had bubbled up in their place. 26 was a good one - full of a lot of growth and a lot of fun. (And no spoilers, but we're six months in and 27 just might top it.)

Drinking beer on the dock and reading Station Eleven in beautiful Northern Michigan.

A private ferris wheel ride in Newport Beach.

An extremely fancy sushi tasting in Newport Beach.

When Austin got startled by a sea lion and fell off his kayak in Newport Beach. 

Running across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge feeling strong. 

Walking on the beach in Mauritania feeling like I was on the edge of something big.

Submitting my second-to-last PhD application right before I got on a flight from Nouakchott to Paris and then the very last right before getting on the flight from Paris to DC and (most importantly) getting to watch in-flight movies guilt-free.

Watching home movies with my family on Christmas Eve. 

Finishing the daily card project strong... and realizing on January 1 that I did not have to make a card.

Trudging through the snow and listening to podcasts during #snowzilla.

Drinking at a wine bar, eating at Maketto, and brainstorming about the future on H Street.

Austin getting into Harvard Law and spending the weekend toasting him with visiting friends. 

Going to our favorite neighborhood Mexican place at midnight after Austin finished a long night on Trump (working to defeat Trump, that is).

Dinner clubs with my friends where we lingered after dinner with wine. 

Driving through the Tunisian countryside listening to Manazel (and many other songs, but that's the one I remember) on repeat.

Racing through a zombie book over solo dinners in Tunisia.

Learning about a full scholarship to graduate school (after a series of defeats on PhD programs) and laughing out loud to myself in my hotel room in Tunis.

The birthday/mini-bachelorette party/dinner party/night at Wonderland with my girlfriends before the first of us got married.

Submitting the first grant proposal that I drafted all by myself.

Getting wooed by my organization to defer grad school and stay for another year.

When the rain stopped and the clouds parted for Raf and Ashley's sunshiney wedding ceremony in Roanoke.

Every moment of being back in Vermont - especially driving up Route 7 to Vergennes, drinking on a dock by sparkly Lake Champlain, and learning that there was a Bloody Mary bar at the post-wedding brunch.

Singing along to Like a Prayer at the top of my lungs with my best high school and college friends... at three separate weddings.

When the lights dimmed and the opening bars of Hamilton played at the Richard Rodgers theater. (Not to call it too early but that could possibly be the top moment of my 20s.)

Listening to Mashrou' Leila play an old favorite, Fasateen, the day after the Orlando club shooting.

That first day in St. John's, jumping in the Jeep, driving on the left side of the road, and happening to plunk down at one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
PS: 25 favorite moments are here and the original idea was borrowed from here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

'twas the season

A busy couple of months mean I am behind on that sacred rite of the blogosphere-- a recap of the last year and some goal-setting for the next. But first, December deserves a post of its own. Because oh man, December, you were one of the crazier months in recent memory and a fitting end to a full year. One that was somehow both packed with work but also full of travel and time off. One that will forevermore be my benchmark of how much can happen in a month and a reminder that busyness has the magical property of making time stretch.

On December 1, I submitted my application to the Harvard Kennedy School, then took off for a lovely solo weekend in North Cyprus - one of the few places you can reach by a direct flight from Gaziantep. The next weekend, I spent 24 hours in Istanbul for a policy forum for work and a few days after that, flew back from Gaziantep to DC. Austin came to down for a few days, then I celebrated Christmas in southern California with my family, then flew back to DC for a packed workweek between Christmas and New Years, then flew up to Boston so Austin and I could drive out to the Cape to ring in the New Year with the Countdown Cod.  In total, I took 12 flights, one of which involved extended questioning by US Customs and Border Control and three of which landed me with an SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) on my boarding pass and patdowns by TSA, thanks to extra scrutiny on travelers to southern Turkey.

This marks the third year that I've spent a good chunk of December abroad - Tunisia in 2014, Mauritania in 2015, Turkey in 2016. (And as crazy as that feels, it's even crazier that if I stick with the grad school plan, that won't be my life next year.) And all throughout the season, I felt the familiar tension between home & away, the desire to lean in to adventure at the same time that I crave a cozy nest. I was a little bummed that I didn't have a chance to keep up my own little Christmas traditions this year, though equally glad that I didn't wait until life was more stable to start those. In that spirit, I was totally delighted to buy a grocery store poinsettia to enjoy for all of five days in my apartment in Turkey.

One of these days, I will have a cozy December at home, full of Christmas shopping, cookie baking, and ugly sweater parties. But I believe that life is long and, as long as we don't get stuck, there is plenty of time for everything we want to do. The flipside of missing the lead-up to "Christmastime in the city" this year is that I got to spend a weekend in the rolling hills of North Cyprus and to do some truly cool stuff professionally. I am grateful for all of it.