Well, it's the end of 2004. Looking back, I'm not even quite sure how to summarize it as it was a very strange year for me. I've been struggling with metaphors to describe how it's left me feeling, from getting a lot of personally important things done and returning back to the country I was raised in, to the incredible frustration of trying to move into the not-for-profit sector post MSc, or find gainful employment equal to what I consider my skills, education and experience (ie. no McJobs). Never having lived out on the West Coast and having been absent from small towns (particularly very conservative ones) from 15 years also made adjusting to those particular social dynamics again quite, um... challenging.
In a very real sense, I felt like Wile E. Coyote. No matter how many grand plans I hatched or how much heroic effort was expended or the number of Rube Goldberg-esque schemes I came up with, things simply did not go as planned and blew up in my face in unpredictable and often tragically hilarious ways. At least professionally... Romantically, life was more like Pepe le Peu.
It'd be easy to characterize the year as a let down, but in some others ways the year was an unmitigated success for me looking back (which is weird for me as the last say 10 years except for the past one have been an real upward arc in terms of success). I managed to get back to Canada after years in Europe and spend a whole year hanging with my long-suffering-from-my-absence (regardless of what they say) family. I polished off MSc coursework, started an archaeological degree and even worked on my Arabic a little. Spent a lot of time snowboarding, honed my sailing skills, made some new friends along the way, managed to leverage some business trips into week long vacations in cities I had never seen before (which always makes me happy). Of course, it wasn't the planned trip to Egypt or Cambodia, but still...
So, here's the annual breakdown on how things went. Everyone who knows me knows about my insane list of New Year's Resolutions I make at the dawn of each year. As the months go by, I nudge towards accomplishing them. Some years are more successful than others. Really though, what they are is really a form of annual goal setting. And at the end of the year, even bad ones, it's nice to look back at the end of the year and see everything I've managed to get done and reflect on the things that didn't.
Things I Accomplished That Were On the List
- Started the BlogMastered Snowboarding
ok, not really mastered, but can definitely carve down black diamonds now Learned to Sail
same deal, got all the basics down but need more serious sea time Finally travelled to Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria and Washington, DC
Yes, I know it's a laugh considering all the places I have been, but never having lived on the West Coast before I had never really seen its cities before. Cleaned up on the MScStarted another degree part-time for personal interest
a BA AnthropologyArchaeology which I've really been enjoying Went on an archaeological dig
special thanks to Dr. DF on this one for allowing me this fantastic opportunity Read a load of books
33 to be exact which was almost double my goal of an average 1.5 per month Pulled my butt off the couch and got back in shape
This was more a end of year thing when I got disgusted with myself. I am now back in great shape at a few pounds above my amateur super welterweight fighting weight after losing the 30 pounds I put on in in Amsterdam after France. Scary. I feel amazing though (special thanks to a few people like CC, KS and TU who were very helpful, supportive or catalysts even if they don't realize why they were Learned some lingo
Kind of a half got done. Started off the year strong on the languages front, but the lack of being able to find a really solid Arabic tutor (really hard out here in the middle of nowhere) who could reliably commit to regular lessons made this harder that I could have thought possible. This is part of a longer term 5 fluent languages by age 50 goal which I'm not doing so bad on (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese)
Things I Didn't Get Done
- The permanent career change into the not-for-profit sector didn't happen
I really tried on this one. I'm still confused as I keep hearing charities and NGOs crying about finding talented people to work for them at the prices they can afford and yet, here I am ! Still shovelling CVs out the door to places as fast as the positions come up. Been volunteering a lot since the autumn and doing significant pro bono work, but it still falls short of the goal. Not sure why I keep just missing the mark on these top posts here and tired of being told I'm overqualified for the mid level posts. I had meant to make one big trip to either Egypt or Cambodia this year
Not hitting #1 and stubbornly sticking to try to move into the NGO sector rather than taking a fallback job, meant financing #2 was really not possible. Upsetting, but a financial reality. Technically, I was supposed to take 6 trips as well over the year (5 small, 1 big), but really only took 4. Killing off my MSc debt and my financial house in order
Focusing on #1 made this harder than I would have thought possible. It's still sitting there, compounding like an evil time bomb and turning my once dreamy financials into a fiscal nightmare. Got paid to write
This started off well at the top of the year with me having a few articles published on some major sites (including one that was the top article on Google News and got a half million page views !), but most were on spec and the promised payments never arrived from the site I wrote for. The blog was a pretty good fallback however. In a sense, it's weird though I find I blog more and write in my journal less, which worries me as it doesn't feel like real writing or journaling in a sense. Need to find a better balance there. Programmed an application
I had something non-specific in mind in order to keep my programming skills sharp as I feel they've gotten rusty but instead I ended up hacking a lot of existing code rather than doing things from scratch. Basically, part of the problem here is that I did not have an overwhelming need to create something which wasn't met sufficiently by a combination of other software that already exists. Did get a very solid start on one, but it still needs some serious work before it's ready for prime time release. Figured out where to live and work next
I had hoped coming back to Canada would give me some perspective on deciding between Europe or Canada or an idea of where to try next. I really felt I needed to come back for a while though hadn't intended it to be this long when I first got on the plane. Torn then and still am. A flat job market here has not been helpful either. Overall, still feel like I am sailing without a specific port in mind, which is not a good plan and technically not a plan at all.
All in all, it was a very strange 2004. I'm glad to be putting the past year behind me, chalk it down to a tie between me and the forces of chaos (personally and professionally), and I'm looking forward to big, shiny new things and adventures from 2005.
So, Happy New Year everyone and best wishes, prosperity and karma for the upcoming year !
Bring it on !!!