Christmas Vacation Dispatches Part II: Year in Review

To fully appreciate 2011, I have to step back and think about how truly awful years 2009 and 2010 were.  For one thing, in 2009 I was working for a perfectly good organization that was simply and sadly a terrible fit for me.  I was just miserable.  On top of that, I found out someone I loved dearly had betrayed me in some completely unbelievable and totally unnecessary ways.  By the time 2010 rolled around I was just coming out of my shell-shock, enough so to start a job search and stop thinking about voodoo dolls.

Thankfully, the job search landed me at a place that I feel really good about, both because of what we do AND how we do it.  And while 2011 could have been better, I helped raise enough money that we surplussed, which means that in 2012 we can take on at least one long-standing project for the organization.  THAT feels good.  There were definitely some major disappointments, mostly proposals I thought were really good that were turned down flat, and I have to rethink some things for 2012.  But by and large, 2011 was the first year in a very long time that work was satisfying and meaningful.

I can’t lie though; the best thing about 2011 was hands-down going to Ireland, even though it was a short trip and I was sick the entire time.  Frankly, between the cold medicine and the beer and  Irish coffees people kept pouring down my throat (to stop me from coughing on them), it’s a wonder I survived.  Also, though I came home with some great photos I wish I’d taken more (actually, the header photo of this blog is a flower from Saint Stephen’s Green in Dublin).  So, I’m not at all done with Ireland – I want to spend more time in Dublin, and I didn’t get to Galway or several other places I’d like to see.  But it was a start.  There was a lot about Ireland that reminded me of Maine, and I spent a lot of time thinking about the O’Neill’s, my Irish ancestors…the farmers in County Kerry that, I’m told, left at the height of the potato famine for Canada, where I still have relatives that operate a dairy farm in New Brunswick.  Things would have to be really terrible to leave a landscape like this:

I wish I had a Harry Potter-esque Pensieve so you could step into my memory of standing on the side of the narrow, winding road to take this picture…the road was so high up I got a bit of vertigo…the wind strong enough to almost knock me over, the smell of salt air and green carried with it.  Alas, the photo will have to do.

(Incidentally, I also learned that one of my O’Neill ancestors married into a family of French Huegenot descent, and some of my umpteenth-cousins own this major chocolate empire.  Which, y’know, explains a lot about my own personal chocolate consumption.  It’s genetic, hee hee!)

I also turned 40 in 2011.  I don’t really know what to say about that.  I still feel like I’m 14 in my head, and still have to think about it when someone asks my age.  It wasn’t awful, in large part because the day I turned 40 I was sitting on an Aer Lingus plane bound for Dublin.  And also because I’ve discovered that life just tends to march on regardless, so there’s just no point in fussing about age too much.  It is sort of weird to be this age and not be married, and to not have kids.  I will admit there are times when my nieces are watching “Say Yes to the Dress” and I get a little sad that I never got to be that perky, excited, naive little 20-something bride dropping ridiculous amounts of money for a big pouffy dress…but oh well.  I don’t know what my word is yet, but I’m certain “perky” isn’t it.  And I’m okay with that.

I’m also glad that I was able to catch up with a few old friends this year – something I must be better about in 2012, but it was a start.  And I made a few new friends as well, some knitters and quilters, as well as my friend K. from India.  In fact, the latter half of 2011 felt like India was stalking me; everywhere I went there were people from India, or pictures of India, or Indian music, or a TV show about India. This includes a huge banner promoting tourism in India that went up at South Station, which I saw every morning I went to work.  K. says this stuff was always there and that I’m just noticing it now, like how you buy a car and then you start seeing your particular model of car everywhere.  All I can say is, I bought a new car this year and I never see anyone else driving one like it.    But lately I keep tripping over Edinburgh, and it’s making me want to explore my Scottish roots.  It probably won’t happen in 2012, because I have to move at the end of May and moving is always expensive…but I’m thinking I will spend 2012 planning for a 2013 trip.  My mom keeps talking about going to Canada, so maybe that will happen in 2012.

There was much more knitting than quilting this year, in part because I wound up being the treasurer for my quilt guild, and somehow all my quilting time is getting eaten up by bank statement reconciliations.  There is a lesson there, my friends.  Also, there was very little writing outside work – I basically stopped all recreational writing in June, and I have no idea why.  I just haven’t been that driven or passionate about my writing as I have been in years past.  I had been writing these essays about my family, which (thankfully…) amused my relatives, but I kind of ran out of steam.  Mostly the blog got reinstated as a way of answering everyone telling me to write more, though I’m still not entirely sure I have enough to say to sustain it.  (Hence the knitting and cat pictures.)  Time will tell, I suppose.


Speaking of the cat…let me end 2011 by cementing my crazy cat lady status and saying that I still have absolutely no regrets about adopting that 8-year old cat from the shelter in 2010.  Pets are good for what ails you…even if they claim as theirs the blanket you bought on your Ireland trip, and occasionally get mad and pee in your laundry basket.  Here’s to a happy close of 2011, and a better 2012!



About Lori Allen Writes

Lori is plotting to take over the world one essay, one quilt, and one hand knit sock at a time.
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