Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 year end survey
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer

This is my traditional Year End survey that I got of Chris's blog once. This year I added the handy Year at a Glance checklist from Sam. Enjoy!

End of the Year 2008 Survey

In 2008...

Did you do something you thought you would never do?

I never thought I’d get bit by a dog. I never thought I’d actually be in Bucuresti for the premiere of The Dark Knight. I never thought I’d stay up all night working in the Peace Corps office on the Beyond Gender magazine. I never thought I’d do so much talking on the phone in Romanian. I never thought I’d participate in organizing such a huge event as the gingerbread castle project and take meetings with the mayor of Hunedoara.

Did you keep any New Year's Resolutions?

No, not only did I not keep my new year’s resolution last year to stop putting honey in my green tea, I broke my resolution and adopted several new unhealthy habits, like eating before bed, snacking on peanut butter sandwiches and drinking lots of coke and coffee. Also if I’m even moderately stressed it’s a good excuse for a Twix bar, or you know, cuz it’s a day.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, my good friend Sarah Gaboda and I haven’t done the math but I was surprised to find out on facebook my ol’ college friend Bree has a beautiful son named Quinn.

Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully no one I was personally close to died this year while I was in Romania but I was very saddened by the deaths of Heath Ledger and George Carlin.

Did you visit any countries?

Hungary was the first country I visited that I had never been to before, and Slovakia now officially counts as a country that I visited because we drove through it and even stopped there for lunch. Also, I had been the Czech Republic before but now I’ve actually visited my great grandmother’s village when before the only place I had been in the Czech Republic was Prague. I need to get a Slovakian flag patch for my backpack now.

What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

Time to travel. I didn’t really have any money to travel either but I feel like all 2008 I bounced from one project to the next to the next and even if the projects didn’t pan out or weren’t successful or weren’t what I expected I was so focused on getting things done and looking from one event to the next I didn’t have time to plan a trip or save for a vacation. I feel like there was very little time to just hang out and take in the Romanian culture – or explore some other place. And there was always the computer, camera, bicycle or something else that needed fixing or a tent or a printer cartridge or something that needed buying.

Will any date from 2008 stay etched in your memory forever?

4:45 am 5th November 2008 when my mom called to say that Obama had 200 electoral votes and McCain couldn’t win. It was an amazing moment, but basically the election and the days afterward are the moments I’ll never forget – the ones I’m already planning go on telling my children about.

What was your biggest achievement of 2008?

A couple of the times I was singing “Ain’t it Good” from the musical Children of Eden I actually hit most of the notes. Also, I didn’t completely lose my mind after my computer broke down and had to be sent back to the USA again to be fixed.

That and the two GLOW/TOBE camps and I coordinated and organized (with help) last summer. I’m particularly proud of the Deva camp just because it was the one I where I got to attend the whole thing. And I’m proud of the amazing amount of work Micah and I accomplished on the Christmas at the Castle project. Even though I didn’t do that much work on the gingerbread castle, the thing looked great!

What was your biggest failure?

Not ever doing anything for the organization I was assigned to in Deva. Truthfully when I got here they said they might change their focus and I didn’t know what that meant and everyone is busy so I just kept my head down and didn’t ask enough questions and didn’t learn very much about the organization – and they were happy to let me do that and happy to let me concentrate on my other projects but I think maybe I could have done some project to benefit this organization if I had just tried harder. Even now there’s a chance we could work on something together but it’s really hard to understand what is needed and what will work with the information understanding that I have.

Also, I gave up on doing Carpathian Challenge 2009 because oops! I never started training.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got bit once on each leg by a stray rottweiler and had to go to Bucharest 5 times to get 9 anti-rabies shots. Other than that there were just a few evenings of flu-like symptoms and then there’s the illness brought on by too much alcohol (on three occasions in 1 year, so that’s not so bad.)

What was the best thing you bought in '08?

Hope. I donated $50 to Barack Obama’s campaign and when he won the election I felt like I had been a part of something. And for the first time in a long time (since I don’t know when) I actually think the future holds exciting possibilities and I'm not as worried.

Did your behavior change over the year?

I drink a lot more soda and coffee. I stopped doing yoga regularly around June and probably haven’t done it all since September. I’m not as much of a health nut as I was in the USA when I tried to eat organic. Now I’m content with the veggie ramen, but I’m also not very concerned about it because I feel like I’ll go back into that lifestyle when I get home.

I got really lazy though and I can do most of my work from home on the computer so it’s hard to make healthy decisions and make myself go out and do stuff.

Where did you spend most of your money?

I spent the most money at the grocery store or at the piaţa but as far as percent of increase since last year – I started spending way more on phone minutes but it occurred to me at about the 1 year mark – I guess I know a bunch more people now.

It also feels like a bunch of my money went for (computer, phone, bicycle, camera) repairs and not vacations this year. And parties. Party food for all the parties I had here

Are you happier than this time last year?

Yes. It’s a great time to be alive. Actually, I feel I have a new direction in my life and a lot of hope for the future, but my year has a lot of unknowns in it. A lot. And that kind of makes me nervous but I am I’m looking forward to filling them in as I go.

What songs will remind you of 2008?

The entire musical Tommy, “Ain’t it Good?” from the musical Children of Eden, “Someone To Love” and “Killer Queen” because I finally memorized all the words and that’s been a goal of mine.

And if you’d asked what song will always remind you of November of 2008, the answer would be Feelin’ Good by Michael Bublé, because I listened to it for two weeks straight.

What do you wish you would have done more of?

Vacationing, traveling with friends, observing, hanging out

What do you wish you would have done less of?

Nagging and bitching. Sometimes I just get into this contrary mood where everything a person does pisses me off. It happens when I hear a lot of absolute statements like “I don’t like potato chips because they’re unhealthy.” And I hear “You like potato chips because you’re fat and stupid.” Or “My parents taught me to read before I was in school” and I hear “You are dumb. You are so dumb because you can’t remember when you learned how to read and your parents are dumb too.”

I wish little things didn’t irritate me so much. It also bothers me when people can’t give supportive evidence to back up what they say, or they think they can and they don’t know what they’re talking about. Or when you’re trying to say something really personal and important to you and the other person just won’t hear you.

And nagging.

What did/will you do for Christmas '08?

For Christmas I spent a week with Micah and my cat at his New apartment at his site, Ocna Mures. It was nice to eat dinner with the same families we visited last year and go caroling. We watched The Muppet Family Christmas again and baked and decorated a whole ton of cookies. Caroling and baking for strangers and visiting (families) who are friends was a great way to spend Christmas and it makes me think about the traditions I would start in my home if/when I have a family.

Did you fall in love in 2008?

No, not exactly.

Did you get your heart broken in 2008?

No, not exactly.

Favorite TV program of '08?

I rediscovered a love for Supernatural which I had forgotten, after having been introduced to the show in Jan of 07. In ‘08 I suddenly caught up to season four and now Supernatural and the brother’s Winchester are sometimes my reason for living. And favorites, as always The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

At several times throughout the year I have, Toby-like from West Wing season 1, felt and said out loud, “There is literally no one that I don’t hate right now.” I doubt if it was ever true, or if it was true I am sorry that it was and it was a passing hatred. I feel like this year I have had some experience feeling if not being hated or at least “hated on” and it’s no good. I had a person over to my apartment who made some veiled political comments and I could look at him and feel and sense the intensity of the hate that is in him and I just felt so sorry for this poor soul to be saddled with that great millwheel of hating what he does not and will not attempt to understand (Because he’s stupid >:P parentheses, emoticon for mean sticking-tongue-out face, close parentheses.)

It’s hard to make an effort to get a long with those with whom you are different, to find common ground among disagreements, it’s hard to be the subject of hate, but it’s important to put forth the effort and not give in to hate because it is such an ugly terrible thing. I’m proud to have done at least some reaching out this year, though I can’t say it isn’t difficult and frustrating.

What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?

The best book I read was Three Cups of Tea by by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin and just cuz I can never pick one favorite of anything I was also rather partial The Kite Runner too. Both books inspired me to write letters to Congress/the author respectively.

What movies did I even see in 2008 that I hadn’t seen already? I honestly just watch the same 20 movies over again (like Amistad) and never see anything new. I have to say The Dark Knight was great, and Milk. I can’t remember when Stardust came out here and I liked that one.

What was your greatest discovery?

Where do I go from here? For now I believe the best course of action is to imagine what I want my life to be and then take steps to get there. I guess that’s all you can do. Set goals and take steps toward accomplishing them and hope and pray it works out. And, work hard.

Also, I discovered what it’s like to love someone so much that when you see them at the worst they’ve ever been to you – you only want them to improve (as opposed to wanting them to be miserable for being such a bastard) and when they are annoying you think man, there’s no one I’d rather find annoying right now – and you hope they feel the same way when they see you at your worst.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

My 28th birthday was the final day of the Christmas at the Castle project. We closed up, cleaned up, came home, had a glass of champagne to toast the completion of almost a year’s work and then went out to dinner with friends. It was a great birthday! The girls from the organization Punct Inima surprised me with a chocolate walnut cake! The next day, Dec. 15th was the 1 year anniversary of the first time Micah and I ever visited Hunedoara castle.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I can’t think of one thing that would have made my year immeasurably more satisfying. I few things might have improved my year somewhat, but as far as I’m concerned 2008 was immeasurably satisfying in many ways my hopes and dreams came true.

That said - I would have been significantly happier if my computer hadn’t needed to go back to the USA to get fixed again, and if my camera, my phone and my bicycle hadn’t also needed to be repaired.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2008?

Underwear, bra, socks, pants, shirt. Or sometimes underwear, bra, tights, skirt and shirt. Simple. Easy. I don’t shop for clothes. I have enough.

Who are you most thankful that you met?

My new site mate Beth. It’s going to be great having another Peace Corps volunteer in town. Especially one I can be such easy friends with and who is on the GAD committee with me.

And Dani because I guess we met at the beginning of 2008 and he’s been a great friend and someone I can really count on. Someone who listens and lets me crash at his place when I’m up all night in Bucuresti working on Beyond Gender and I got no other place to go. He’s given me multiple rides so I didn’t have to take the train when he happened to be going my way across the country and it was so fabulous of him to meet me at the train station when I got bit by the dog and pick me up in his car and take me to dinner instead of me having to drag my sorry self to the hotel and eat alone that night (or just not at all would have been easier). I think the man puts up with a lot hanging out with all these Americans all the time and he’s a great friend.

Who did you wish you did not meet?

No one I can say I wish I didn’t meet. Even if I met someone really irritating it helps to put that person in perspective so that I clarify why it is that I don’t agree with this person and don’t respect his/her behavior. It’s good for me to know that he/she is out there being (a jackass) his/herself and that I don’t need to feel obligated to change him/her. He/She can just go right on being the way they are and I just don’t care enough about he/she/it to get involved.

Who was your best friend?

My best friends are still Micah, my cat Bella, and The Family at home whenever I hear from them.

Who was your enemy?

Sarah Palin. My enemy was the entire Republican National Convention for telling me I suck and that everything about me sucks and all my ideas suck and basically I just just go to hell. Also, the hypocrisy in the world that makes me angry and frustrated and therefore consumes my time by me being angry and frustrated.

Who do you miss?

Nicole and Sam. When was the last time we were together? I also miss my brothers. I’m looking forward to sitting down and having a Supernatural marathon when we get together.

Under the heading of What do I miss? – Book stores. I really miss book stores and libraries, but mostly bookstores where I can go with casually and spontaneously go with friends and make a huge mental list of wants and then exchange money for a book of my choosing which then becomes mine – my new special object that I treat myself to and can carry around and cherish because it is my own and I picked it out myself for me – but I also miss libraries too. I just have had less experience throughout my life with really good libraries than I have had with book stores. At home it’s like whenever I go shopping I’m in the bookstore. (Want to get me a coming home present? How about a bookstore gift card?)

Who will you never forget?

Elder Sumbot and Elder Sandberg the nicest Mormon missionaries I’ve ever met. They’re also the only Mormon missionaries I’ve ever met, but that sells them short

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008?

That denying your hopes to avoid disappointment is an act of cowardice. It is the refuge of the weak and of the fearful. If your goal is to change you the world for the better, you can not do the work without the hope that the world can be better. If you try to do the work without hope and belief that the world can change, then you’re breeding resentment and you’re wasting your time. It’s easy to be a cynic. It’s much more difficult to be effective.

What will you always remember about 2008?

When I heard "as of 11pm eastern time The President of the United States is Barack Obama" and though technically he's the President Elect I could tell Jon Stewart was so happy to say those words. It was Wednesday night, November 5th when I heard those words out loud for the first time instead of just reading President Elect off of a screen, and I was filled with such an amazing feeling of pride, and gratitude and hope.

Aspirations for 2009...

What do you want to do in '09 that you couldn't in '08?

Go home! Seriously, I want to travel a little bit more if I can (Greece and Turkey) and then successfully get Bella home to the USA.

And I want to manage the below without going crazy or spiraling into depression

Any resolutions?

To pray every day. Eat better. Learn more about vegetarian nutrition. Drink less coffee and more green tea. Go back to doing yoga every day. Join a gym and work out, when I get home. Go on a two week vegan fast when I get home so I won’t pig out too much right away. Listen more. Take the GRE and apply for grad schools. Spend 3 months in Mexico becoming fluent in Spanish. Keep a journal. Write more. Write more letters to my family. Update my blog more often. Make some money. Read the news. Get up early. Join a church when I get home.

What will be different about 2009 than 2008?

I’ll have to manage this whole saying goodbyes with uncertain futures attached, going home, dealing, sorting all my crap, probably have to buy new clothes, apply for grad school, get a new phone probably, and maybe get some kind of a job or else I’ll have no money at all thing – without going totally crazy.

Where am I going to live? Where are me and my cat going to live? How do I go visit everyone? What am I going to use for money? How am I going to afford to pay for grad school applications and the GRE? What about travel? Who’s going to pay for my prescriptions? My phone? These are some of the questions I have to answer without going totally crazy in 2009.

Anything you want to change about yourself for 2009?

I feel like I want to have for the first time in my life a really organized wardrobe. I want to have clothes that all fit together with a certain style that all look good on me. I guess to do that I’ll have to spend some money. I also want to go back to working out and doing yoga which I did a lot of in ’05 and ’06 but not so much in Peace Corps. I also want to work on being more spiritual and less grouchy.

Do you want to make more friends in 2009?

Yes, but only if they’re awesome friends like the ones I already have.

In 2008 I:
[x] stayed single
[x] got kissed
[] kissed someone new
[] kissed in the snow
[] kissed in the rain

[] kissed in a pool
[] kissed under the stars

[] kissed under mistletoe
[] fell in love
[] fell in love with a fool
[] had my heart broken
[] broke someone else's heart

[] lost my true love
[] lost faith in love for awhile
[] had a stalker
[x] lost a friend. Can’t say this is final, but when I hear the Mica song “I don’t care if I never talk to you again, and it reminds me of one person, it’s a good sign there’s not much worth hanging on to.
[] had a good relationship with someone
[] got pregnant
[] got married
[] had a divorce
[] got engaged
[x] kissed someone of the same sex There’s a lot of cheek kisses in
[x] met someone that I will never forget
[x] did something I regret
[] got a promotion

[x] got a pay raise We all did. To deal with price inflation.
[] changed jobs
[] lost my job
[] quit my job
[] got fired from my job
[x] did something I was proud of
[x] proved myself an idiot I’m sure in some way
[x] was involved in something that I will never forget
[] painted a picture
[] wrote a poem
[] ran a mile
[x] listened to music I couldn't stand
[x] double dipped I’m sure I did. The fried green tomatoes with ranch and potato chip breading come to mind. Unless that’s not what double dipped means and I’m proving myself a foodie.
[] skinny dipped
[x] went to a sleepover
[x] went to camp
[] threw a surprise party
[x] laughed till I cried
[] laughed till I peed my pants
[x] flirted shamelessly
[x] visited a foreign country
[x] visited a foreign state...state as in state of mind
[] cooked a disastrous meal
[] lost something important to me

[x] got a gift I love
[x] realized something new about myself
[] tried to gain weight
[x] dyed my hair
[x] came close to losing my life if you count “could have potentially lost my life”
[] someone close to me died
[x] read a great book
[x] saw a great movie
[] saw a movie so scary that it made me cry
[] saw a favorite band live
[] did something that I want to tell everyone
[x] experienced something new
[x] made new friends
[] found out who your real friends are
[] lied to your parents
[] snuck out
[x] went to a party

[x] went to a wild party
[x] had the time of your life

[x] got in trouble with police They tell me I was the reason the cops showed up, but I never saw any cops.

[] got arrested
[x] danced
[] fell out of love
[] had a crush on someone
[] swam in a pool
[] made a snowman
[] went snowboarding
[] went sledding
[] slept in past 2pm
[x] held someone’s hand
[x] held someone’s hand that you care about
[x] told someone you like them as more than a friend
[x] gone on vacation
[] gone on vacation with a friend
[] driven a car Wow, it’s been over two years since I’ve driven a car.
[] played strip poker
[] danced in the rain
[] seen someone get in a car accident
[] got in a fist fight
[x] laughed until you couldn't breathe
[x] had an amazing year
[x] missed someone
[] got hit by a car
[] sent someone to the hospital
[] got a new pet
[x] enjoyed this year overall