Tell me you forgot that I said I’d post a bunch of lists about the decade and the year and resolutions, etc. I still may post some of them, but a bunch of lists are not really on the way. However, what is on the way, in just a few sentences actually, is a list of what made up my 2009. I’d say it was a significant year, on that marked a lot of change, one that solidified some same-olds, and one that will likely be a turning point for me. So without further ado, my 2009makers:
2009 began with me gearing up for the year after a couple months gearing down on the island in Panama in late 2008. I had just moved home and was enjoying small town Texas in every way, making some cash at Mom’s beading table, celebrating an exciting inauguration with the pint-sized sister. But soon it was off to Kolkata where I lived for a couple of months. There was teaching of ultimate frisbee to my brothers in the slum, copious amounts of carrom board playing and mango chop eating, and there was the most heart-wrenching cry of my entire life, right there in front of my indian Dada and Didi. Then it was back home for an intense, take-it-all-in two months, and finally a big heaping move to Armenia. Through the year I’ve moved from one country to another 4 times, been in six different countries (the U.S., India, England, Austria, Armenia and Georgia), and lived with four different families (including two host family stays in Armenia).
In 2010 I think I’ll be settling-in, planning on staying in the country for the whole year. It will be the longest I’ve gone without leaving by plane to another country since I graduated high school. And it’s not even my country. But at least I’ll be settled for a bit.
2. New Holidays
This year I have new favorite holidays. The one that will stick out as not only a favorite holiday (just under Christmas with the fam, of course) but also my favorite travelling experience, is Holi. Of course, I’ve only experienced a Kolkata version, but that version was so moving, that I will forever hope to recreate it and likely never will.
Just under that, I’d have to say, is Armenian Nor Tari. The hospitality is wonderfully overwhelming; days and days of being an honored guest feels down-right humbling and sustaining at the same time.
This was also the first year I’ve experienced holidays dedicated to a town (re: Yerevan Day, Stepanavan Day, Vanadzor Day, all of which I celebrated). There was also some holiday back in September, I think, through which we celebrated the Armenian church finding Jesus’s cross. I took home some basil, but to be honest, I’m really not sure what all that was about.
This was also the year in which, because I was missing my traditional versions, my family holidays were recreated in new ways. A paper me was present during Halloween festivities while I hosting my own version with my new Armenian friends. (Flat Me also made it to Thanksgiving and Christmas, too!) Thanksgiving was a 100 person celebration at the All Volunteer conference, and the 2009 American Christmas was both an undesirable in-country event, and one that I will hold dear to my heart thanks to Skype.
3. Family Love
First, I’ll say that this year I got lovin’ not only from my own family, but also from families in the UK (who housed me and fed me when I was stranded in England), India (in so many ways I can’t even count), and Armenia (through dance parties, games of UNO, laughter and more laughter).
Still, it was a unique and amazing year to be me amongst my wonderful family. Certainly this isn’t the first year in which I’ve received love from my family. I’m one of the lucky one’s who’s gotten incredible love since the plus sign appeared (or however that worked in the ’80’s). But this year was a year so full of family love that it deserves a list within a list. So, Ways My Family Has Made Me Feel Unbelievable Lucky To Be Alive:
-In 2008, instead of having a usual gift-exchange-type Christmas, my family pooled money and sent it with me to Kolkata in January ’09. With it, we were able to help Kolkata City Mission build a home for one family in an urban slum. And I was blessed enough to be both in the living room when my family gave me that gift, and in the new living room with that Indian family. There’s one 2009 moment I will never forget.
-There was also the parents help with getting ready for Armenia, the shoes, the sleeping bag, the million little things that would make my stay in Armenia so so much better.
-The Farewell Fishfry thrown by my family and my Dad’s brother and sister-in-law, and my grandmother. The family gathered some of my favorite hometowne-ers for the fiesta. Love.
-The first softball game in which the little sister pitched. She didn’t walk a batter ’til the last inning. And the big sister and I sat and cheered more than I’ve ever cheered for anything, and I forgot anyone else existed outside the three of us and the one striking-out.
-The daily emails from my brother that have kept my soul alive.
-The skype convos late at night (early in my morning) with my Texas fam.
-Packages from home stuffed with the most awesome gifts, like refried beans, socks, cribbage board, flash drives, sesame street coloring book, chips and dip, candy canes and puppy chow.
-Facebook albums of Flat Me enjoying holidays at home.
-Texts, phone calls, emails, letters, and a halloween card that had many Armenian’s giggling and had me explaining the word ‘tentacle’.
4. Reading Reneissance
This has been a little while in the making, but I’d say this year has seen me reading more than I have in a long while. It’s no 133 books or anything, but I’ve read more books this year than I have in any year since probably the sixth grade (I was a REAL reader from ages 5-12. Then I just… wasn’t.) This year I’ve found a new favorite (Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury) and found in books a revived inkling to write more and more and more (Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).
I’ve also been completely inspired by blog writers and have, in 2009, become a regular reader of a few. Perhaps its because I’m way the heck away from my culture. But blogs have been the center of my reading reneissance this year and have made me hopeful about the future of the written word. You’ll find my favorite reads on the right, and here are my best 2009 discoveries:
– Monkey See, NPR’s pop-culture blog. She’s funny in my favorite, witty, we-should-really-get-over-ourselves-slash-appreciate-each-other kind of way. And she’s ok with loving Survivor. Check.
–/Film, read this and you will forever be at the cusp of cinema trivia.
–Circle Me Confused, in the world of Peace Corps Blogs, I really like this one. Simple, unpretentious, charming. More blogs should have that kind of voice.
–Hootenannie, as far as blogs-as-journals go, this one is welcoming. Processing some gritty stuff online can be tricky, but right now she’s doing it with charm, wit, and a determination to keep sane. And among bloggers who are my actual friends in non-virtual life, I think she’s kind a trend. Like when a group of friends all love something unique, like fingerless gloves or Parcheesi. We all love reading Annie’s blog. And we all want to/are excited about meeting her. Maybe one day I will? Until then, reading on.
Alright, that’s enough words on 2009. Now, onward and upward into 2010…