2011 | 2012
1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Joined the Peace Corps! Visited Africa! Lived with a host family.
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My 2011 goals were 1) lose weight/be healthier, 2) Travel more, 3) Be more fiscally responsible and 4) Blog/write more. 1) A resounding yes. 2) Also a resounding yes. I was basically a professional nomad this year. 3) Not so much. I wouldn’t say I spent that irresponsible, but there was a lot of travel and Peace Corps related purchases, and I was either unemployed or working a minimum wage job for most of the year. 4) Haaaaaaa, that would be a no.
My goals for 2012 are 1) continue to lose weight/be healthier, 2) Travel, especially around Morocco, 3) Become fluent in Darija and 4) Take photos, blog, write, be more active in documenting my life, 5) Keep my apartment clean and organized the majority of the time.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Blair had an adorable little girl. She’s the first of my college friends to start procreating, which means I might be approaching becoming an adult.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
Bzeef! I lived on three continents this year (Asia, North America and Africa) and travelled a ton. I started the year living in Korea, and spent a week playing tourist in Seoul with Pru in January. In March I moved back to the US and went to Chapel Hill to see two friends from high school get married. In April, I went to Costa Rica to see Sarah and some monkeys and then to Mexico to work in an orphanage with my parent’s church’s mission trip. In May, I went to Washington DC for a week to see Riah before she left for Tanzania. In July, I went to Mexico for a long weekend. In August, I visited Blacksburg, VA to see Amber before I left for Morocco. In September, I went back to Chapel Hill to see friends and then to Charleston for Labor Day with my family. Then I moved to Morocco and have visited Fes and Marrakech (in addition to the two towns where I’ve lived).
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I spent a lot of 2010 waiting. Waiting for any news from the Peace Corps, and then waiting to leave. I was unemployed for a few months and then picked up minimum wage job working at a summer camp while I waited, which isn’t exactly what I thought I would be doing when I was 26. I feel like most of 2010 was spent in transition: I quit my job in February, didn’t swear in as a PCV until November and after February 28th, didn't live alone for the entire year. In 2011, I want to be doing things, not waiting for them to start.
7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 15th: the day I got my Peace Corps invitation
September 14th: the day I arrived in Morocco
November 17th: the day I was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Either getting into the Peace Corps or not going crazy while waiting to get into the Peace Corps.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Hmm, not sure. Maybe learning Darija. I’m actually doing pretty well, considering that 4 months ago I knew nothing and can now carry on conversations, but I also could have studied more, both at home and now that I’m in Kalaa, and I wasn’t satisfied with my LPI score.
Also, I didn’t always handle stress as well as I could, and ended up saying things I regretted later.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes. I’ve been suffering from an unknown wasting illness (probably a parasite) for the past three months. I’m on meds now, so hopefully I’ll start feeling better soon.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My lovely DSLR camera!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The New York State Legislature for legalizing same-sex marriage. I'm pretty proud of everyone in my staj.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I was certainly frustrated by people in Peace Corp's bureaucracy, but I don't know if I would say they made me appalled and depressed. Well, maybe depressed. I avoided paying attention to the Republican primary for a reason.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel (see question #5) and buying things (including pretty much an entirely new wardrobe) for the Peace Corps.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Joining the Peace Corps! Guys, I have wanted this for so long, and for a while this year, I really didn’t think it was going to happen, so that fact that I’m writing this in Morocco, and that this is real and actually happening fills me with so much joy and excitement.
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Right Now – Psy, Furr - Blitzen Trapper, Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise - The Avett Brothers, Schizophrenia – Jukebox the Ghost
The theme song to Secret Garden will always remind me of my last few months in Korea. And also the lolz.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing – much of this year went undocumented and I regret that. Studying – I have an entire new language to learn
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying over things out of my control and wasting time, like always.
20. How will you be spending Christmas/New Year's Eve?
Christmas was spent in Marrakech with Lucia, Mike, Sarah, Bryant, Kim, Sairah and Shannon. We stayed in a beautiful riad in the medina, went to a French Catholic mass (I didn’t understand anything, and when we tried to sneak out early, we got stuck line for a communion station, whoops), and went back to our hotel and sat on the roof and ate cheese and smoked hookah and drank and talked. I called home on Christmas Day and watched my siblings open presents via Skype, then went wandering through the medina with friends and bought scarves.
New Year’s was low key, since I was pretty sick and asleep by midnight. One of these years, I’m actually going to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
21. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2011?
No idea, although that has more to do with me having low standards than me not doing embarrassing things.
22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
23. How many one-night stands?
24. What were your favorite TV programs?
2011 – the year I got hooked on Kdramas
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word, but I definitely dislike a bunch of new people.
26. What was the best book you read?
I read 65 books this year, completing my Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge at the last possible moment, since book number 65 was finished the morning of the 31st.
My five star (non-reread) books are: 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, The Hunger Games (and sequels), The Queen's Thief series, The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time and Gaudy Night.
I also read and really loved: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Snuff, The First Americans: In Pursuit of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery, The Wordy Shipmates and The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.
You can see the complete list (and I’ve written reviews for about half of them) here.
Like always, my list is heavy on non-fiction (mostly history and science) and YA fantasy. Next year, I want to branch out and read more adult fiction and literary fiction.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Jukebox the Ghost and The Avett Brothers
28. What did you want and get?
I wanted to join the Peace Corps! I also wanted a nicer camera.
29. What did you want and not get?
As much as I love Morocco and now think things worked out for the best, I spent a lot of this year wishing I had made my original Peace Corps nomination in June and didn’t spend most of the year waiting to leave.
30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Lord, what movies did I watch this year? Probably Deathly Hollows: Part II, although I enjoyed X-Men: First Class a lot and though Bad Teacher was hilarious.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 26. I celebrated my birthday with friends the weekend before. Riah and I went to the Seoul Museum of History to look at the dioramas and then went on an epic glasses spending spree in the underground market at Myeongdong. Then I headed south of the river have dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant in Seoul with Siobhain, Caroline and Audrey.
On my actual birthday, Pru was visiting from London. We went to Gyeongbokgung, tromped around Insadong and had tea at a tiny little teahouse in a back alley that was filled with more plants than I thought could survive a Korean winter. Then we went back to my house, ate mac & cheese and candy, finished off a bottle of vodka and watched Secret Garden.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Does anything else think that a lot of these questions repeat themselves? I spent most of this year waiting for something to happen, which was stressful and depressing (and expensive). However, I’m happy with the way things turned out, so I wouldn’t change anything.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Can I answer no to a non-yes-or-no question? No actually, I have an answer. Head scarves. While I don’t technically have to cover my head in Kalaa, most women do and I do feel a bit more comfortable when my hair is covered. Plus, let’s be honest, right now, I’m washing my hair about once a week, so it’s usually a grease slick and a brightly covered scarf is much nicer to look at.
34. What kept you sane?
My iPod, as always. Sarah and Riah did a lot to help keep my crazy under control while I was waiting to hear from the Peace Corps. Sam made work bearable this summer. My mother listened to my crazy ramblings and fears and doubts and I will always be grateful. I dealt with the stress of moving to Kalaa by listening to all the old episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour in about two weeks.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Andrew Garfield, Nathan Fillion
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The death of Kim Jong-il. The Arab Spring, although not until I was invited to Morocco. The Republican primary is the issue that I tried the most to avoid paying attention to.
37. Who did you miss?
My friends from Korea (Riah, Siobhain, Marie, Audrey, Caroline), friends from home (Blair, Amber, Erin, Sarah) and my family. The downside to being this nomadic is that I leave a lot of people behind.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
The people in my staj, especially my CBT sitemates and my current sitemates!
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Ugg, probably something about patience and good things coming to those who wait and don’t have hysterical crying fits from stress for a solid month, but I’m not sure I actually learned that last part.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Decide what to be and go be it - Head Full Of Doubt, Road Full Of Promise, The Avett Brothers