Saturday, January 03, 2015

2014: Year in Review

My last post was in April of 2013.  That seems both super long ago and at the same time like yesterday.  I remember when I was little, time seemed to move so slowly!  Summer vacation was unimaginably long, and an hour in the car was torture.  But time moves faster and faster the older I get.  Here's my 2014 in review so I don't forget it - it was a crazy year!

1. What did you do in 2014 that you've never done before?
So many things! The biggest?  I had a baby!  Now I really wish I had posted throughout the year so I wouldn't forget what it felt like, but this post will have to do.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
This was a year of babies.  I gave birth, two of my cousins did, and one of my college roommates, too.  Another college roommate is now pregnant!

3. Did anyone close to you die?

4. What countries did you visit?
I stayed put in the good ol' US of A.

5. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
I would love to travel a little more. I would also like to (finally) complete my second master's (it has now officially taken me longer to complete this M.A. than it did to finish my B.A.).

6. What were the highlights of 2014?
Of course the biggest highlight was giving birth to my daughter, but I did a ton of stuff.  

First off, I started a new job.  This was both stressful and a relief.  I was offered the job at the end of 2013, when I had just confirmed that I was pregnant.  So accepting the new position was dependent on a lot of negotiations.  Luckily for me they wanted to take a chance, and they guaranteed me at least 6 weeks off for maternity leave (it ended up being 8, happily!).  I didn't read Lean In when it came out, but I did read a "highlights" section one day in Cosmopolitan while I was in the library, and they specifically said that women shouldn't be afraid of looking for or accepting a new job just because of the possibility that they might be pregnant or have kids in the near future.  I took it to heart, I guess, and I didn't even feel guilty about my requests.  So, it was super stressful at first when negotiating the new position, but once it was wrapped up it was such a relief!  I liked my old job, but I had a 60-90 minute commute each way, and I don't think I could have continued that after having a child.

So, not long (well, about 7 months) after starting the new job, I gave birth.  I am not going to go into great detail about labor and delivery, but I can say that it was a lot less awful than I imagined it would be :)  Jube and my mom were both there, and it was great for me to be able to share the experience with them.

Although we didn't leave the US this year, we were able to take a couple of long weekends to some different places:

For the MLK holiday weekend, my parents went out of town and we stayed at their house to dogsit.  Normally The Plains, Virginia is not the most happening of places, but we decided to treat our time there like we were on vacation.  We went out to eat, watched cable (lots of the Australian Open on the Tennis Channel), and relaxed.

We had a "baby moon" (ridiculous name, but what else to call it?  The Last Hurrah?) at Cunningham Falls State Park (we stayed in a nearby "luxury cabin" at the Ole Mink Farm and can highly recommend it) - this was in June, when I was 8 months pregnant.  We did some light hiking (to see Cunningham Falls, of course!), visited Antietam National Battlefield, and ate an awesome dinner at Volt in Frederick.  

For our 8th anniversary, we went to Poplar Springs, where we were married.  We ate at their Manor House Restaurant, sat in the hot tub, watched a lot of cable (we don't have it at home) and I got a facial at the spa.  My mother and stepfather watched the baby - it has been our only night separate from her since she was born.  

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Starting a new job when I was 14 weeks pregnant.

8. What was your biggest failure?
I still haven't completed my master's degree.  I have hope, but really I should be doing that right now instead of blogging.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, I didn't even have a cold!

10. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a MacBook Air.  We have been able to do a lot of FaceTime with Jube's family.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Jube has been a really wonderful father and supportive partner.  It is hard to believe that we met when I was only 18!

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I wasn't appalled or depressed last year.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Childcare has been the biggest financial change for us.

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting my new job, having a baby (all the same answers, really).

15. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014?
The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens. Actually, this will always remind me of being young and acting out all of the different parts in my father's apartment, but it was also remind me of the last days of 2014 when Jube and I introduced La Petite to this wonderful suite.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
No difference. Still basically happy with my life!

ii. thinner or fatter?
A little thinner.  Somehow after having the baby I lost the weight almost immediately and it continued dropping.  I think part of it was that I developed gestational diabetes and had to change my diet.  I haven't adopted the strict dietary restrictions for good, but it has helped me with an idea of what I should be eating.

iii. richer or poorer?
Richer :)

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Working on my master's.

18. What do you wish you'd done less of?

19. What was the hardest thing you did this year?
Caring for a newborn.

20. What was the best thing you did this year?
Have a baby.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?
I am still in love with Jube.  It is a cliche, but it was love at first sight when my daughter was born,

22. How many one night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, and an oldie but a goodie - the Bachelorette.

24. What was the best book you read?
I reread To Say Nothing of the Dog which inspired me to read Dorothy Sayers's novels.  It is not a new book, but I think that the best one I read in 2014 was Gaudy Night.

25. What were your greatest musical discoveries?
My father bought a couple of Putomayo Kids albums for us before La Petite was born, and they are really great - good quality, not awful for adults, great for kids.  I highly recommend them!

26. What did you want and get?
A healthy, beautiful daughter.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
Belle. I watched it the day I went into labor.

 28. What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
I turned 32.  My pregnant cousin was in town from California.  Jube, my mom, my cousin, my brother, sister-in-law, and I went out to eat Jackie's in Silver Spring.  Great restaurant, great company!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
No gestational diabetes!  While I think it was good for my health (and very good for my daughter's), it made the final three months of pregnancy really difficult.

30. What kept you sane?
Jube. My new, shorter commute. A great new boss.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept for 2014?
First half of the year: pregnancy chic.  I got some really cute clothes from Target and the thrift store nearby.  

Second half of the year: postpartum fashion.  This has actually been more difficult.  I can fit into all of my old clothes but since I am breastfeeding, I need tops with easy access, and I just didn't have many.  So I have been wearing fewer dresses than I usually do and have had to invest in nursing tanks and button-down or henley tops.  

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Immigration reform.  I have strong feelings about it, due to my personal experiences and situation as well as my job.  

33. Who did you miss?
I especially missed BB - for the first time in years, he didn't come to visit us and we didn't go to visit him!  But I was able to see my brother living in Puerto Rico (he came to visit around July 4), my California cousin, and even old work friends who came to my baby shower.

34. Who was the best new person you met?
I met a good new-mom friend in my prenatal yoga classes.  Our daughters were due 3 days apart! 

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Don't be scared to do new things!  

Monday, April 01, 2013

Day 19 – Something you regret, in great detail

I don't regret a lot in my life.  I have some minor moments of shame: skipping work back in college; not officially resigning from my job in Nice; not showing up to a job interview in Norfolk... (these all seem to be job-related).  In one previous post, I mentioned admiring my mother for not getting embarrassed.  I think that I may have inherited this from her, since I get over most of my embarrassing moments quickly.

Something I regret is not keeping in touch with my best friend from Montpellier.  Rachael and I were both assistantes de langue anglaise at the same time.  We lived about a block apart, and we did a lot together.  We saw Bridget Jones's Diary 2 subtitled in French together at the cinema; we went clubbing together at a student club in Montpellier where we saw one of Jube's middle school students; we shared a room during orientation in Meze and went to our medical visits together.  We complained about our friends back in the US who didn't send us e-mails, and then I did the same thing when I moved to Nice.  I wish I hadn't.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 18 – Your favorite birthday, in great detail

My favorite birthday was last year's, my 30th.  It was really great!  I have never been a big party planner, so maybe that's why my birthdays never were that great.  For this one, I started telling Jube early (from January of 2012) that I wanted something special for my "Big Three-Oh."  (I even mentioned having a big party in some Christmas cards.)  I actually referred to it that way in front of my dad, who mocked me mercilessly.  But I didn't let that discourage me!  I really wanted a big bash, but I also didn't want to do any of the work (wouldn't that defeat the purpose of a party?).  I had the "grandes lignes" ready for Jube: 

1. I made the guest list and gave it to him.
2. I told him I wanted a keg.
3. I told him what restaurant I wanted to go to.
4. I came up with the punny name for the party on my own.

After that, I let him take over.  It was soooo great.  BB flew in from out of town.  My parents drove up from Virginia (they arrived early, as usual!).  Everyone else showed up on time.  Even though the restaurant was kind of annoying (seating us late and serving us late), I had had enough to drink that it didn't bother me at all.  BB and my mom & stepfather spent the night at our place.  The next morning, we had homemade breakfast and mimosas. 

It was absolutely the best birthday celebration I ever had.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 17 – Your favorite memory, in great detail

This is kind of a weird prompt, don't you think?  Do we really have "favorite" memories?  I have some moments where I am so happy (or maybe just so contented) that I tell myself, "Remember everything about this moment.  You will want to remember this later."  One of those moments was the one I described a few posts ago.  Another was when I was fourteen or fifteen.

I had just started high school (I was a freshman or sophomore).  I shared a room with my cousin Shannon.  We had one of those bunk beds that could be changed around: a regular bunk bed, two twin beds, or one high bed and one low bed.  We had all configurations at one time or another.  The night of my memory, we had two twin beds.  Mine was in one corner, and hers in another.  My bed was pushed horizontally against the wall with the windows so that I could see outside.  The room was dark and quiet; Shannon was already asleep, or maybe we had just turned out the lights.  I think this is more likely, actually.  I was lying on my side, looking at the windows.  My dog, Merissa, slept in my bed.  She was also lying on her side, facing the windows.  I had my right arm and leg draped over her.  I remember feeling warm and happy.  I tried to match my breathing to hers.  I had actually read this in a short story, where a boy breathed in while the dog breathed out, and I tried to do it periodically, but her breath came too fast and I always ended up feeling lightheaded. 

The moonlight came in the window a little bit.  By this time, Merissa was "old" for a dog.  She was eight or nine, and my brother the Rooster had started talking about how "When she dies, I'll be able to get a beagle."  I was so content, snuggled up with my dog, that I thought to myself, "You need to remember every single little thing about this moment, right now."  Merissa was a terrier mix.  She looked like an Irish wolfhound, but smaller, or like a Norfolk terrier, but bigger.  Her hair was longish and wiry.  It didn't mat, and so we brushed her rarely, although she adored the feeling of a wire brush scratching her back.  In that moment, I stroked her side.  I put my nose in the hair on her head, near her ears (which had a different hair, soft and velvety), and inhaled her warm doggy scent. 

Merissa was an easygoing mutt.  I knew she didn't love my evening cuddles, but she would lie there for ten or fifteen minutes until she finally heaved herself up and out of the bed to curl up on the floor.  Sometimes I would hold her back, and she would subside back onto the bed, resigned to being loved.  On this night, I let her get up when she wanted to.  I rolled myself into the spot where she had lain, enjoying the lingering warmth.

She was a very good dog. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 16 – Your first kiss, in great detail

I am not sure how much detail I will go into here.  I will say that my first kiss was very nice.  The boy it was with touched my face.  He pushed back a strand of hair that had fallen out of my ponytail.  I could tell he was really nervous.  So was I.  I remember feeling hot and cold at the same time.  He said, "I think you are really cool.  I think you're the coolest girl I've ever met."  And then we kissed.

We kissed for a little while, and when we were done, he asked if I wanted a glass of water.  I said no, to be polite (I didn't want him to feel like he had to leave the room).  But it turned out he was being polite, asking me if I wanted a glass of water because he was going to get one anyway.  When he got back, I realized I was really thirsty and changed my mind.  He went back and got another glass (he gave me the first one). 

A few days later I went to church (this was back when I was going to Catholic mass with my parents).  I was distracted the whole time.  I kept touching my lips and thinking about that kiss.  I remember feeling guilty, not for having sinned, but for thinking about how great it was in church. 

That was my first kiss.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 15 – Your dreams, in great detail

I have very realistic dreams.  Unfortunately, when I say realistic, I don't mean "it seemed so real, it was like I was really flying!"  Instead, it is more like, "I dreamed that my receptionist told me she is Israeli."  (She is actually Israeli.)  It is usually quite easy for me to remember my dreams.  Sometimes they are so realistic that I get them confused with what has happened during my waking life.

I often deal with stress by dreaming about the situation that is getting to me.  Before exams, I dreamed about sitting down, writing out the answers, and getting the exam back with a big red "A" on top.  Sadly, upon waking, I would realize that I hadn't yet taken the exam.  The same thing happens at work before a big event or meeting.  I hate those dreams.

Once in awhile I will dream about something impossible.  But even the impossible things are still "real."  I saw my dog again once.  She died in 2001, and it was heartbreaking to wake up and realize she wasn't actually back. 

Rarely I will have nightmares.  They usually involve lots of running and hiding, not killing or scary bugs or anything like that.  Once someone tried to run me over; another time, I was running from a floating mask.

Once I tried writing down my dreams in some kind of journal.  It started getting depressing when I saw that I had very little fantasy life!  My boss told me that she dreamed about her dog.  One day, her dog turned to her and said, "Why don't you let me free?  It is so horrible to be in this collar and leash all the time.  I never get to do what I want!"  I have never had a talking animal in any dream (except maybe my dad's bird, who talks in real life).  But on the whole, I will try to consider that my real life is satisfying enough.  I don't need to have crazy dreams!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 14 – What you wore today, in great detail

I am wearing a pink-and-black houndstooth patterned mini-dress with a gold zipper detail over black fleece leggins.  I am obsessed with houndstooth.  It is hard for me to resist trying on any houndstooth item I see.  I have so far managed to resist buying a winter coat in a houndstooth pattern, but I have dresses, jackets, sweaters, and scarfs already.  I am wearing black leather boots.  I bought them in 2004 for 60 Euros.  I remember feeling very decadent paying that much for them, but they have ended up as a great investment.  I have worn them to weddings, to work, in the snow, in the rain... the heels are getting a little less black as time goes on, but I still love them.

I am wearing long dangling earrings in silver and black (one silver triangle on top of one black triangle on top of another silver triangle).  They were a cheap purchase that I wear more often than I thought I would.  They give a kind of 80's flair to an otherwise normal look.  I am, as always, wearing my star sapphire ring on my left hand.  Finally, I am also wearing a black belt.  It is a fabric belt that came with a sweatshirt; the clasp is black plastic.