Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review

I’m copying a fellow Moscow blogger (thanks, Polly!) and looking back on what I’ve been up to in 2013. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version, with links to some of the highlights:

Last January, I was living in Basque Country, teaching English, and toiling away as a writer. Midway through the month, I discovered that I was a Fulbright finalist. The main thing standing in my way was a phone interview in Russian, which led to my attempt to become conversational in Russian in a month.  I guess it worked?  The cultural highlight of the month, however, was Tamborrada, that crazy 24-hour San Sebastián drumming festival.

Plaza de la Constitución in San Sebsatián

In February, I celebrated Carneval in Venice and saw the Pope in Rome. The Harlem Shake made it to Spain.  It even snowed in San Sebastián.

Free gondola rides with Toti

In March, I was bombarded with visitors, and took one of them to a Basque cider house. I did very little writing, but did manage to finish a draft of an abysmal screenplay I haven’t looked at since (ugh).  I also made a pilgrimage to Santiago, which was where I lived for my first year in Spain.

The Cider House posse

In April, I finished up my two-week roadtrip through Northern Spain with Rose and Lindsay.  I found out I was moving to Moscow. And my mom proved she has a sense of humor about her aggressive Tiger Mom-ing:

In May, I taught my last English class, had another rash of visitors, and prepared to say goodbye to Spain for the foreseeable future.  There were a lot of emo walks and a lot of pintxos.

Last sunset in San Sebastián

In June, I returned to the United States and declared myself America’s #1 fan.  I went to my first bachelorette party of the summer, started intensive Russian classes, started working full time, and saw my family for the first time in months.

Cousin, little sister, me, mom, and aunt in Seattle

In July, I realized I’d taken on way too much.  I swam in a lot of lakes. I kicked myself for choosing Russia over any number of Fulbright countries where I can speak the language. 

Eastern Washington is weird

In August, I attended another wedding, revisited the Bay Area, and went to my high school reunion. I finished up my summer job and my Russian classes, and was granted a visa to Russia.  Equal parts panicked/excited about my return to Moscow.

My sisters, Chelsea, and me in Bellingham in August

In September, I moved to Russia. The usual amount of culture shock ensued.  It rained a lot.  Russian was still more or less impossible.  Moscow was still more expensive than New York or London.  And I still loved it.

Lots of rain.  Lots of Stalinist architecture.

In October, I celebrated my birthday. I went to the Bolshoi Theatre and the Moscow Circus.  I complained about how hot Moscow was (it really was).

Birthdays call for birthday cake with names I can’t pronounce

In November, I decided to write a novel. That didn’t happen. It did, however, provide the impetus to start a novel. Olga got real crazy. It started snowing and I stopped complaining about the heat.

November was winter coat-buying month

December called for another Christmas abroad with my older sister, this time with the addition of two college friends. It was my best Christmas away from home yet.

Ben, me, and Fareed on Xmas Eve

And now the year is wrapping up.  I’ve gone from Spain to America to Russia, and even I can’t begin to predict where I’ll be in a year or what will happen between now and then. Here’s to whatever 2014 has in store for me.  Happy New Year!


  1. Happy New Year! What a change from Spain, eh?

    1. Quite the change, but a very good one! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

  2. Come live in Portland when you leave Russia!!!