I am hosting the State Department Blog RoundUp this week, with the predictable theme of reflecting on 2010 and looking ahead to 2011. I am not big on making New Years resolutions, but I am very good at reflecting and pondering.
This year has been a roller-coaster of emotions, with some wonderful highs and tragic lows, interspersed with less dramatic ebbs and flows.
Now that I think about it, the weather I've experienced this year has also had highs, lows, and weird in betweens. I was in DC for two blizzards (and two wonderful weeks of several days with no work) and then in Saudi Arabia for August and September. With a few weeks of NH winter and months of DC summer thrown in for fun. Today, it rained for about 30 minutes, and the city came to a complete standstill. It took me 80 minutes to drive (well, ride) a block and a half.
In June, we celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday with a huge family reunion and party. It was three days of laughter and great food and lots of hugs and story-telling. Grandma became a great-great-grandmother a few weeks later, which I consider pretty awesome. To have five generations of family living at the same time is quite an impressive feat.
In July, we bid farewell to my other grandmother. As devastating as her death was, I am thankful I was able to say goodbye and support my father during that difficult time.
August was a tough month. I moved to Saudi Arabia and immediately, and tragically, lost my beloved Hattie. I know I mention it a lot, but my life changed so dramatically and needlessly at that time that it's a vivid punctuation in the year. Two weeks later I welcomed two beautiful kittens into my life. It may have been too soon, emotionally, but they've become an important (and cuddly!) part of my life. They're perfect.
This was the year that I truly began my dream career, as a diplomat. I spent much of 2009 in training, but nothing compares to actually being overseas and knowing I'm serving my country. It's a source of pride for me, and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it's not a dream. I absolutely, truly love my job, even at its low points. Not everyone can say that.
I've met many amazing people this year. The Foreign Service family is truly a global community, and it's nice to have that network and support system. Plus my job enables me to meet fascinating people on a daily basis. And I have a place to stay in some pretty awesome places on every continent... (I promise to reciprocate when I'm posted somewhere with a vibrant tourism industry.)
After a few years of not traveling much, I finally got back into the swing of things. I had a great time in WA with my mom and brother in April, my first time to the Pacific Northwest. I'll be back, definitely. I visited two new countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt), in a region that's totally new to me. I look forward to exploring it more in the next two years. Mom and I had an awesome musical journey to Forth Worth, TX and started a new tradition, following Lyle Lovett around the country. Not to mention the many trips up and down the I-95 corridor and out to WV, and a pleasant winter weekend in VA Beach.
So what will 2011 bring? Lots more travel, starting with a January trip to Israel to meet some beautiful babies and see some awesome people :-). At least a couple family weddings, where we'll (officially) welcome some pretty awesome people into the clan. New challenges, opportunities, and experiences at work. I'm trying not to look too far ahead, but I get to bid again next summer, so the anticipation is building. I fall in love with a new potential post every month or so. (Today's find: Asmara. Look it up.)
The last few days of the year are always filled with a frisson of anticipation for the new year. I'll ring in 2011 with friends and colleagues (and then maybe wake up early the next morning to skype-celebrate it with my family as well).
One thing's for certain: I will continue to torture my cats for my own entertainment. Right now they're wearing ruffled collars with jingle bells. Because the box of Christmas presents I ordered them (myself?) just arrived. To be fair, I used to dress Hattie up in ridiculous things as well. That's a tradition that will never change. And sometimes, it's good to have some stability. Especially in a career/lifestyle that's so dependent on frequent and drastic change.
And on that poignant thought, I'll end.
Happy New Year!
(Please continue to submit your posts for the RoundUp!)