Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Reviewed

This may be my favorite kind of blog post, and now I'm doing it for a fifth time  (see 20112010, 2009, 2008).

Shanghai - just shy of 5 months
Cambodia - 1 day (end of last Christmas break)
Wuxi/Tai Hu - two nights
Yangshou - 2 nights
Guilin - 1 night (Billy and I had our flight back to Shanghai delayed)
Beijing - 6 months
Taiwan - 1 week
Chicago - 2 days
Oregon - 5 weeks
Seattle airport - a few hours, a few times

Most of the things I thought would happen this year didn't, but in a good way. Instead of spending the second half of the year traveling, I went up to Beijing to be a chief editor and I got all the power and the money, money and the power, minute after minute, hour after hour. Not really. But sorta. (By the way guys, that's a Coolio reference.)

In May, all my plans changed so quickly. I'd already dropped my passport off at the Vietnamese embassy - all ready for my extended beach stay - and then I wound up speeding in the opposite direction. To an urban desert. To work my ass off for six months. Hmm.  It was stressful, but it was great too. 

Despite the added responsibility, I wrote a cover story I feel good about. I spent a few fun weeks catching up with my good friend Lily. I savored my final months in Shanghai. I showed my brother what expat life is like over spring break. For a second time, I moved alone to a foreign city. And by making a life in Beijing - a basically unpleasant place - I proved to myself I could probably be reasonably comfortable anywhere. I met wonderful new people through my roommates and through work. I probably ate Peking duck six times in the space of my first month up there (lots of lunch meetings, and all the hotels want you to try theirs...). I took an online course in sociology and half a course in modern poetry (which I need to finish). I was in my college girlfriend Elizabeth's wedding and saw my best friend Ashley for the first time in four years. I caught the bouquet, and Tebowed it. There wasn't much competition because all my other girlfriends waved their hands 
limply at shoulder level, kind of like "please don't let it hit me!", which seems to be the post-feminist college woman's requisite bouquet-catch behavior. Too bad, because I was ready to throw some 'bows... ironically. 

 Now it's almost time to revisit last year's resolutions, which I have mixed feelings about, because everything just went so differently than I planned. I got into zero grad schools, which, with the last year in perspective, seems like a good thing. I may apply again, but I don't have a sense of urgency about it. Though I had less time to write this year, I still made improvement. The things I learned both about editing and about myself in Beijing are invaluable. As I prepared to leave Shanghai, before I knew I was moving to Beijing, I had a lot of anxiety about "what's next." I don't have that anymore. Partly because an extra six months at the magazine affirmed that I'd rather write than edit, partly because it's a confidence boost to be hired to manage something. I am good for a task that's tangible, that has dollar signs attached to it. Sometimes you don't get that sense  when you're just writing articles. When I think back on 2012, I'll remember that was the year I moved to Beijing with only three weeks' notice. And that makes me happy, that life is surprising like that. 
Enough stalling! On to the resolution revisiting:

2012 Resolutions
1. Be less busy/prioritize time with the people I care about most (Nope. Basically, I did the opposite of this.)
2. Eat and cook more quality, nutritious food, eat less crap (Kind of. I ate well when it wasn't deadline week. When it was deadline week I drank too much coffee, then got ravenous and sucked down a lot of McDonald's. I also did a fair amount of therapeutic baking. This is probably a wash.)
3. Prioritize exercise (I exercised regularly in Beijing, except during deadline week, and I always walked or biked to work)
4. Make meaningful progress in writing fiction (Nah, not really)
5. Travel more (I saw Chicago, Tai Lake and Yangshuo over a couple weekends...)
6. Journal every day-ish (briefly) and keep track of books I read, movies I watch and people I meet (ugh, I tried to do this for about three days and it was hard and boring. I journal when the mood strikes, which is about quarterly.)

2013 Resolutions
1. Lose 10 pounds. There's no deadline week when you're fun-employed, so no excuses.
2. Read a lot of good modern things and a lot of classics.
3. Write a novel
4. Write 3-4 non-fiction essays
5. Pay my respects to Lenin and Ho Chi Minh, cuz I love me some embalmed Communists

Five seems like enough. I feel nervous typing them since I batted one-ish for six last year, but then having zero jobs  takes out a major variability factor. Anything I don't accomplish will be my own deciding. Now I am the master. (That's a Star Wars reference, guys.) Happy New Year!

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