2011 Year in Review: Up in The Air

In transit at the Warsaw Airport. (October 2011)


My friend Patrick Terpstra wrote this of his year: “‎2011 was like riding a tilt-a-hurl after eating seven corn dogs. But it sure beats watching from the ground.”

I can’t disagree. I did plenty of plane riding, which is the most consistent memory of this year, besides saying goodbye and hello to a lot of people I really love. To rewind:

The Year I Flew Around the World, Twice: After saying goodbye to Texas and The Texas Tribune, I spent 99 days this year away from home, logging 78,931 miles in the air to 29 locations including places like Warsaw, Poland (for fun) and Boise, Idaho (for work). Not proud of the carbon footprint but I can now glide through security like Ryan Bingham.

Don’t Look Back in Anger (I Heard You Say): It felt like a pretty angry and destructive year, didn’t it? My second favorite emotion*, outrage, seemed to abound. I write this as tens of thousands of Russians protest in the streets, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya take their shaky steps toward self-rule, and socioeconomic dissatisfaction continues at home. We said goodbye to Osama bin Laden, Amy Winehouse and Steve Jobs (none of whom were picks in my clearly talentless celebrity death pool), an earthquake-tsunami combo led to radiation disaster in Japan, and we experienced a rare earthquake in my new hometown of Washington, D.C.

Favorite Video of The Year Is Also My Favorite Song: “Ching Chong (It Means I Love You)”
After a UCLA student went on a crazy rant about Asian people in the library, she faced a backlash so large she had to quit college. But Jimmy Wong turned his rant response into art — one of the catchiest songs of the year, and an instant viral video. It will get stuck in your head, so if you haven’t seen this, you’ve been warned.

Speaking of Asians, My Most Memorable Welcome to Washington: The Crazy Guy in Starbucks
There was one morning after the devastating Japanese earthquake when I went into Starbucks in Chinatown, natch, when a random guy off the street wandered in, started yelling at people in line, stopped at me, and said this, to me: “Fuck you, go home. You deserved the earthquake.” Then he told the rest of the line we were all going to die. Yep.

Sweet, Sweet Summer: Instead of a squelcher in Texas, our first summer in Washington was quite mild and oh so much fun. I called it “The Summer Everyone Was Talking about Bon Iver” and summed it up already in an end-of-summer post, so no need to recap.

Noteworthy Discoveries: TripIt and HipMunk, both are travel sites/apps that made my life so much easier this year. Try them, you’ll thank me.

Notable New Friend: Matt Mullenweg, whose opening move in our friendship was to teach me a secret handshake. He followed up by sending me a care package of WordPress gear. But I knew it was going to be for real when we shared those fried mac and cheese bites at the end of the summer and tried a Google+ hangout. I told him I’d definitely add him in my Year in Review after he and I did a screen share tonight in which he rewrote several lines of CSS for this here blog to make the sidebar much prettier. To sum up, all the Matt’s in my life are heroes.

Said goodbye to a new-old friend: Marc, who I only met last December, quickly leap frogged in my friend rankings when he saved me from having to clean up a bird carcass that my lovely cat Caesar left for me in my living room. He also made Washington feel like home, despite my pesky insistence that no, TEXAS is my real home! By fall of this year, he was spreading the news … he wanted to be a part of it — New York, New York Times. Bye, Marc.

The rest of the year:

BFF John sold me his house in 2007 and left this tacky eagle above the mantel. I kept it until I moved away this year.

– Rang in the Lunar New Year in Taiwan with my grandparents and assorted family members.
– Spent my 29th birthday in the Student Union of Indiana University in Bloomington
– Returned The Eagle to its rightful owner (see right)
Survived a doggy cancer scare
– Melissa’s wedding, Woody’s wedding, no new babies among the inner circle, surprisingly
– Regressed to college days again with some serious sauce-hitting for the first few months after moving to DC
– Broke in our new rental bungalow with a raucous night of flip cup and weiners
Rushed to the WH the night Osama was killed to take in the revelry with the drunken hockey fans and college students and other nosy journalists
– Started the Tuesday Night Drinking Club, the most consistent running gag and tradition of my new time here.
– Became a regular customer of the extremely enthusiastic David at Cafe Phillips. This video introduces him.
Survived an earthquake. In Washington.
Ran into Chuck Schumer at a TSA exit station
Taught Dan Balz how to tweet a photo
– Got scammed out of a few thousand dollars in an epic HomeAway email phishing disaster
– Consumed my first ever Turducken with my three dozen or so family members that live in the DC/Maryland area…
– That family, combined with learning my way around the roads and the Metro, finally made me feel like home.

Previous Years in Review:
2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 |

*My ultimate favorite emotion is nostalgia, if it even counts as an emotion.

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