Happy New Year…..almost. You know that somewhere in the upcoming 365 days there will be things that catch you completely off-guard, which you couldn’t imagine facing right now. What happened this past year that you never saw coming?
ALL OF IT. I never saw all of it coming. Okay, maybe I saw some bits and pieces, but I never saw the whole big wonderful mess of spectacular things coming one right after another until holy God in heaven WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
At the beginning of the year I happened upon this:
Eleven months ago, I loved the sentiment for its implicit hope and blind faith. Now, at the end, I love it because it came true and I don’t have to punch it in the face for being a liar.
And now, the year that was, alphabetically.
Avery – Quick now, in unison. Jenny is batshit crazy about her niece. She is also just batshit crazy, period. But this niece. Whoa. She’s really nuts about her. This kid is a major threat to every child I’ve ever loved or ever could love – my own included. She’s the tops. I love her with 100% of my heart, but the weird thing is that I also still love all the people, places and cheeses that I loved before Avery. I think this means that on July 2, 2011, I grew a second, entirely new heart. Avery Elaine Robinson, the rest of the year could have been a total bummer, but it still would have been the best because you are now in the world.
Bangs – If I’d known how life changing they were going to be, I would have covered up my forehead ages ago.
Cheerleader Of The Year – Megan Mikkelsen. On October 9, she packed up her kids and her husband and dragged them with her 118 miles south to cheer me on during the Portland Marathon. Any of those things – kid, husband, distance, the tedium of watching people run – would have been ample and understandable reason for her to skip it. But she didn’t. She showed up. She cheered. She cried. She earned herself not only Cheerleader of the Year, but also Friend of the Year.
David – Semi-newly acquired boyfriend who I rarely write about here because I prefer to live our relationship rather than write it. However, a big chunk of 2011 goodness is thanks to this guy – an unbelievably kind person, thoughtful boyfriend and truly good friend. I’m so glad he had the right answer when – upon learning he’d lived in New York for eleven years – I crossed my fingers and asked him, “So… baseball… ?” Mets, in case you need it spelled out. He’s a Mets fan.
Epic – This year, all of the hospitals that make up the health system that I work for implemented a new, electronic medical record system – Epic. I worked at two of the hospitals during the activation phase and a couple of great things happened during those weeks in April and June. I got to wear scrubs to work and I had the opportunity to hang out with some kickass people who I otherwise would likely not have had the opportunity to work with. Of those, a couple have become really good friends – not just work besties, but actual best besties. That’s so gross, I know, but I think they’d kill me if I didn’t say it.
Friday Night Lights – Clear eyes, full hearts, THE END. A series finale never hurt so good.
Gulls – These are a group of women (most of whom I had the good fortune to work with at one time) that have become some of my closest friends. They are the best examples of mothers, wives and people that I think I’ve ever known. If you can’t find us at Noble Rot, chances are we’re wandering somewhere along the Oregon coast, passing a bottle of Fireball cinnamon whiskey back and forth.
Health Affairs – This well-respected health policy journal was my go-to for research when I was in grad school. That the April 2011 issue contains an article with my name in the byline is something I never thought possible back in 2005-2007, during those middle of the night, red wine fueled paper writing sessions.
Internet – Yes, really. For all the time I waste cruising around looking at stupid shit, there are a few places that are consistently worth it. She’s a mommy, but a “mommy blog” this is not. I know this lady, but I’d read anything she wrote even if I didn’t. Sports, movies, television and other stuff – all in one place. Guess why I smile a lot? Uh, ’cause it’s worth it.
Jack Asphalts – I ran my fourth Hood to Coast with this team in August, 2011. Sadly, we did not get the luck of the lottery draw and won’t be running in 2012. I have high hopes for being able to join another team, but it won’t be the same as it’s been the last few years. The thrill of spending 28-ish hours alternately running my share of 200 miles and being crammed in a van with five other people has consistently been one of the best parts of my year.
Kimmel – If my year lacked anything, it was a sufficient quantity of Kimmel. A few days ago, Molly and I talked about how we really didn’t see each other as much in 2011 as we would have liked, especially given the frequency of our visits the last few years. Her move to Missoula about a year ago is probably the main reason, but we’re already working on ways to remedy the deficiency in 2012. As it stands, we did squeeze in a quick Portland visit and a couple of lovely days in Missoula in July. Our near daily phone conversations continued, though they were consistently and noticeably happier than in recent years. I think I can safely speak for both of us when I say that Polly and Penny were pretty satisfied with the state of things in 2011.
Ludlows – Caitlin and Orion got married this year. There are weddings. There are WEDDINGS. And then there is the Ross-Ludlow affair. It was a party befitting the radness of the individuals and the union they created. I love them lots.
Marathon – Wait, you missed that? MARATHON. 26.2 miles so gloriously life-affirming that I’ve already signed up to do it all again on October 7, 2012.
New people – Avery’s general perfection aside for the briefest of moments, there were some other new people brought into the world this year. Some of the best people I know became parents for the first time, and I am excited to see what life has in store for Fiona, Nelson, Dash and Madelyn. The class of 2029 is shaping up quite nicely.
Orlando – For two days in December I spent some time with about 6,000 other health nerds. There are work conferences and then there is the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s National Forum. Back home, I think the over/under on how many times I’d cry during the conference was set at seven. I went over.
Panem – SHUT UP. I am not the least bit embarrassed about how much I love the Hunger Games trilogy. Read them if you haven’t. It’ll take you like ten minutes. Then come stand in line with me on March 23, 2012 when the first movie opens.
Quality time – A little weak, yeah, but I HAD to find a way to commemorate one of the most fun weekends of 2011. In a year chock full of “the most fun” lots of things, the superlative could easily be dismissed. But this one really was wonderful. Towards the end of March, some friends from college (Caitlin, Megan, Aly and Amy) and I gathered together for the first time in a few years for a wild Washington weekend. There was some girly spa time, but there was also the sight of a woman (Amy) seven months pregnant and chopping wood like a champ outside the cabin where we spent one night. Happily, we all got to gather again five months later at Caitlin’s wedding.
Ryan Gosling – Again, kindly SHUT UP. Tell me you don’t get it. You can’t, can you? Because you HAVE to get it, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Overall, I didn’t care for Drive very much, but I will concede that RG’s pensive eye-acting and scorpion jacket-wearing performance was great. Crazy, Stupid, Love wasn’t crazy stupid good, but again, RG and his amazingly NOT a douchebag character saved it for me. The Ides of March was legitimately good, but it was not the Gosling movie that smashed my heart into eleventy billion tiny, irreparable pieces. That honor goes to Blue Valentine (which technically came out in 2010, but I didn’t see it until January, 2011). I have waited all year to be affected by a movie that way again. I am still waiting.
Snow – As I write this, I am still sporting my snow gear from the final cross-country skiing trip of the year with my dad. The snow is taking it’s sweet time materializing this winter (we saw some bare ground out there today), but 2011 started off with a couple of gorgeous snowshoeing trips with some of the aforementioned Fireball guzzling Gulls. We’re already getting the 2012 trips on the books and I’ll be back to check on my beloved Central Oregon Nordic trails in two weeks.
Timbers – The boyfriend was a season ticket holder during the Portland Timbers’ inaugural season. Turns out, Major League Soccer is super fun! I may not count myself maniacal enough to be a member of the Timbers’ Army (though I sit among them), but I am a proud scarf owner and you best believe I sing my lungs out during the games. Portland Timbers, we adore you!
Unbelievable – Technically, this should live under S (September Collapse), but I’m not willing to give up “Snow.” Snow at least makes me happy. The unbelievable, historic crash and burn of my Boston Red Sox in September did not make me happy. Every game won in September (a pitiful seven) gave me ill-advised hope, and every loss (an embarrassing 20) made my jaw drop even further. Could this really be happening?! My boys were on pace to win 100+ games and make a run at the Series, and then it all fell apart in September. So why is this on my list of awesome things in 2011? Because even though they broke my heart, the Sox reminded me of why I love baseball. There are two occasions that cause me to crawl up on the back of my couch and perch there, screaming at the television like a crazy person – unexpected college basketball wins (I’m looking at you, George Mason and VCU) and nights like September 28, 2011, when Boston let their season come to an unceremonious end. Yes, it hurt and yes, I was in a very bad mood that I couldn’t shake for several days, but come on, that was some INSANE BASEBALL. I also learned a very valuable lesson. Never again will you hear me say in April, “It’s okay if they lose a few. They’ve got the whole rest of the season.” Turns out, every game counts.
Vizzuttis – On July 30, another couple of really cool kids got married. Lido and Jessica tied the knot in Missoula, which gave me and Joe a great excuse to make our quadrennial Montana road trip. We talked all the way through Oregon and Washington and listened to a lot of podcasts in Idaho and Montana. We watched the Vizzuttis lock it down for life, hung out with Molly (see “Kimmel” above) and Joe got to meet his brand new niece. We even made it home speaking and with friendship intact.
Woods – The Woods (former funeral home turned bar/music venue in my neighborhood) played host to my birthday for the second year in a row. At press time, barring a not small miracle, The Woods is set to close in a few days. This makes me very sad. I’ve spent a lot of time at The Woods the last couple of years and the Bingo Birthdays have been some good fun. They may have come for my birthday, or they may have come for the bingo and bourbon. Whatever the reason, when I looked down the table at the 20 or so people who helped me celebrate my 33rd, I was quite touched.
X – I am running out of steam, folks. I got nothing here. Um… X-rays? I guess I’m glad that I survived the marathon (and the hundreds of training miles) intact, no injury necessitating x-rays needed.
Yoga – Bikram to be precise. I went to my first class in January and hated it. I went back a few days later and hated it only marginally less. Almost a year later, I am hooked on sweating my guts out in a 105 degree room with a bunch of stinky, slimy strangers.
Zero – The number of regrets I have about 2011.