...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Everybody had a good year; everybody let their hair down. Everybody pulled their socks up; everybody put their foot down (oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah)

1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?

I tried answering this question, but 1) some of the things I did in 2006 for the first time are not blog-appropriate, and to write about only the blog-appropriate without writing about the more delicate stuff seems kind of ridiculous; and on the one hand, who cares, but on the other hand, my brother reads this blog; and 2) 2006 (and in that I’m including my experiences in Chile, since I came back to the US in early January) was kind of like my own Bildungsroman, and it would be impossible to capture all of the new experiences and feelings, et cetera, so I’m not even going to try. I can say, however, that I grew up more this year than I did in any other year.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My New Year’s resolution was to lose the 20 pounds I gained in Chile, and not only did I not keep that resolution, but I gained at least 10 more over the course of spring semester after I returned. Yeah, “oops.” I don’t regret the Chile weight since each pound represents a delicious memory and that’s part of the experience: how can you fully appreciate Chilean culture without sopaipillas and manjar and empanadas? I gained weight spring semester because I was depressed and slothful and drank too much. So my resolution for 2007 is to not be depressed and slothful, to drink less, and to be more active and we’ll see where that takes me. Some other resolutions were of a more personal nature and let’s just say I accomplished a couple and am still working on a few big ones.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My best Chilean friend Ronald’s sister Waleska gave birth to a baby boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, although people close to me lost people they cared about and loved.

5. What countries did you visit?

I lived in Chile and the United States and visited Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Greece, France, and Vatican City (it counts!) I probably traveled more this year than I ever will in any one year.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

An intellectually challenging, personally fulfilling job. But honestly, 2006 ended on a really high note; it would be hard for 2007 to surpass it.

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 13: Carla and I return to the US. That’s honestly the only date that’s been etched onto my memory, and I think I might actually have it slightly wrong—it might have been the 10th or 12th. Which just goes to show, I’m not really the date-etching type. The first Thursday of every month is also significant for me now.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Returning from Chile knowing that I had lived that experience to the fullest, without any regrets. Embracing my Religious Studies nerdiness and deciding to dedicate myself to it; discovering my passion for Chassidus (Hasidic thought and spirituality). Pushing myself further academically this semester than ever before and succeeding; surviving spring semester 2006 without becoming totally embittered and disillusioned. Cultivating relationships and friendships with some pretty awesome people. Being open to new experiencs and just putting myself out there and going for it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Losing touch with people in Chile, both Chileans and Americans I met there. The loss of my friendship with Ryan.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got a yeast infection sometime spring semester; not a huge deal, and I think I blew it up to way bigger proportions in my mind, because of some things that happened in Chile which… most people reading this have already heard the story, with which I drunkenly regaled you all on my birthday. (Cringe; and I’m thankful Clay has a sense of humor.) I also thought I had mono, but it turns out…I didn’t. I’ve been pretty healthy this year, I guess.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Bus, plane, ferry, and train tickets that allowed me to crisscross South America and Europe. I guess you could say that it was really Karen McCarthy’s Mama Lola: Vodou Priestess of Brooklyn that convinced me I wanted to go into sociology of religion, which I’m passionate about; in that case, buying that book at Powell’s might be one of the most significant things I’ve ever done.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Many people, but especially those who faithfully and steadfastly pursued their own spiritual disciplines, practices, and studies; and encouraged me in my own.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

In a word: Ryan’s. (Let’s not pull any punches.) And sometimes mine, I guess, in response to Ryan’s.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Traveling, but it was worth it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Returning to the US; classes starting again last spring semester; traveling in Europe with Sarah over the summer; visiting Peggy and Amy in Portland in July; classes starting this fall. I get really, really excited about thrilling intellectual exchanges with the many wonderful conversation partners whom I'm blessed to call my friends. Every week I get really, really excited for Bible Study for Hippies, for instance.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?

That one J-Pop song that Chris always played last spring in our apartment; “Dancing in September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire (anyone who spent any time in the boys’ and my apartment last spring will remember this song); Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsody; anything Disney; all of Jesus Christ, Superstar!; the theme song to “Step by Step” (day by DAYYYYYY by day!).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Infinitely happier. Fall 2006 was the happiest semester I spent on campus, which was a pleasant and much-needed surprise, since Spring 2006 was the saddest semester I spent on campus.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer.

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

Exercising, getting out of the apartment last spring, exploring Portland, pursuing spiritual practices. I wish I had started attending Shabbat services earlier, although maybe I wouldn’t have been spiritually or intellectually prepared for them last spring.

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

Crying, drinking, holding grudges, obsessing over Ryan and that whole thing.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, in Eugene; nothing out of the ordinary.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?

No. I fell in “really like,” though.

22. How many one-night stands?

None, ever.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Honestly? Flavor of Love. I loved the show itself, and I loved that we would all watch it together and talk about it and quote it. I loved that it was kind of our thing, you know?

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hate is too strong a word. I dislike some people whom I didn’t dislike at this time last year, but I try not to spend too much time actively disliking those people.

25. What was the best book you read?

Honestly, I read some fantastic books this year. I would even go so far as to say that 2006 was my best reading year. Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls and Mama Lola: Vodou Priestess of Brooklyn top the non-fiction side and pretty much convinced me not only of my then-emergent love of Chassidus but of my passion for the sociology and anthropology of religion, the area I eventually want to pursue in graduate school. Along the Religious Studies lines, I really enjoyed, and constantly reference, The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto. I loved Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and I cried like a baby at the end of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf was also moving and had a lot of personal resonance for me, inasmuch as you could pretty much cross out one the characters’ names and write “Jessica of Spring 2006” and it would work just as well. But for best book, I’m going to have to go with the big guy himself: Ulysses.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Velvet Underground, which ironically was also my greatest musical discovery of 2004, but I found “Peel Slowly and See” on mytunes a just few months ago, and I’m loving it.

27. What did you want and get?

I wanted to be in a not-fucked-up relationship with an intelligent boy, and I am.

28. What did you want and not get?

Enlightenment.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I really loved Little Miss Sunshine. I'd like to see Science of Sleep again, too.

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

I turned 21 on February 18. My mom stopped in Portland on her way up to Seattle to visit my grandmother over the long weekend; and we had dinner then spent the night at the Heathman downtown the night of the 17th. Ryan cooked a fancy French lunch the afternoon of the 18th, and Amy, Peggy, Anna, and Chelsea H. came over for that. We went to the Vagina Monologues later that evening, then a group of friends came over to the apartment for drinks (earlier that morning I went to the liquor store for my first legal alcohol purchase, for which, frustratingly, I was not carded). And believe it or not, I made it to church bright of eye and fresh of face the next morning.

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

Falling in love.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?

Jeans, shirt, jacket or coat. Sometimes a scarf. I guess I wear skirts more frequently—say, a couple times a month—now than I did before, which is the influence of Chile, but honestly, I have no fashion concept. The biggest “fashion” change I’ve made this year is that I rarely blow-dry my hair anymore and I hardly ever wear mascara, which I used to wear everyday. Who has the time?

33. What kept you sane?

Solitude, friends, and the pursuit of spiritual discipline. Reading. McSweeney's. Bible Study for Hippies and Shabbat services. Getting off campus, and those quiet moments on campus where the winter sunlight's streaming through the trees and I stop on the bridge over the ravine and just look at the trees and see each individual leaf illuminated; those moments of mysterium tremendum that Rudolf Otto gave me a vocabulary with which to describe.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Flava Flaaaaaaaaaav!

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The presidential election in Chile and everything that went with it; migrant farmworker issues and the debate over illegal immigration; the recent death of Pinochet, ex-dictator of Chile. The fall from grace of Ted Haggard and evangelical culture in general, particularly the evangelical blogs and the evangelical teen discussion forum.

36. Who did you miss?

Friends I met in Chile; the friendship I used to have with Ryan.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

There’s no way I can choose something like that.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.

It’s not very eloquent, but I guess I learned how to be more comfortable in my own skin and with myself.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Everybody had a hard year
Everybody had a good time.
Everybody had a wet dream
Everybody saw the sun shine.

Everybody had a good year
Everybody let their hair down.
Everybody pulled their socks up
Everybody put their foot down.

-“I’ve Got a Feeling,” The Beatles.