2010. This was the year destined for greatness, wasn't it?
But then, to paraphrase the Passover Haggadah, why should this year be like any other year?
Because it had to be. It just, Had to. 2009 was just... well, it sucked.
And unfortunately, the better part of 2010 was Girl Loses Job, Girl Finds Job, Girl Loses Job, Girl Goes On Whisky Bender and Eats Like Someone With a Much Faster Metabolism. And a very promising romance went up and down more times than the Cyclone, and made seven months feel like they were in dog years.
But some truly amazing things (and yeah, that romance with a cute Mexican man 12 years my junior can be counted among them I guess) happened. As most of you know, I hate Top Ten Year End Lists (and somehow the upcoming Royal Wedding has made every one this year, even if it's a Top 10 worst outcomes of the Gulf oil spill). But screw it. I do have a countdown of sorts of the year's highlights, images and lessons learned. In no particular order:
1. Scotland. The trip came together like matched jigsaw pieces. My friend Dan would be there to host at just the right time of the year and air miles became available to me. It almost didn't happen due to a menstral volcano in Iceland wreaking havoc on European air travel, but on a rainy NY May day, I made it out. When I arrived, almost immediately, there was an unforeseeable tragedy in my host's girlfriend's family that could have spoiled everything, but in the end, we made it to almost all the locations we'd planned. Dan, to whom I am forever grateful, was an amazing guide and I truly fell in love with Edinburgh, the Highlands, and most of all the Isle of Skye. Of the four distilleries we stopped at, we had a dream visit to Auchentoshan on the outskirts of Glasgow. Master Distiller Jeremy Stephens, whom I'd met in NYC at an industry function and who Dan had met several times at the distillery, gave us the golden ticket tour, and then invited us to taste anything we wanted from vast containers of cask samples dating back to the sixties. Truly, one of the best moments of my career and an amazing trip I desperately needed. Plus, it didn't hurt that I happened to catch the country's most perfect week of warm, sunny weather for the year.
2. Working at the NY Philharmonic Archives. Though it was temporary and paid little, I got to hang out with a fantastic bunch of people three days a week and have access to an amazing collection of priceless correspondences, music scores and vintage programs. I learned so much there and it awakened my inner librarian again as well as getting me re-acquainted with classical music. I still crack up when I think of the name Thadius G. Crapster.
3. Drinking Nancy's Wines. Last April, we finally made that day trip out to CT to visit Max's step-grandmother in her crazy, Escheresque house with the big wine collection left by her late husband. We had free reign of the cellar and got to taste some incredible vintage Burgundies, Bordeaux and German wines while listening to stories, looking through some of her husband's old Playboys and generally cracking each other up. The house was almost entirely windows, which made a gorgeous country backdrop to all this. Sadly, Nancy passed away last month after a sudden stroke. But she went with dignity and living by her own rules. I'll never forget that incredible afternoon and her generosity.
4. The Manhattan Cocktail Classic Three Hour Tour. My boyfriend suddenly went all Telemundo telenovela (the first time. Why didn't I listen to you people?) and it looked like that trip to Scotland wasn't happening because of that volcano, plus I had a screaming hangover. But I dragged myself to the Pier and got on that boat. Good call. What followed was a crazy fun afternoon and evening with great friends, libations and picture perfect sunset scenery.
5. A visit from Ruth and Yasmin. Leave it to my Israeli cousins to show up in New York City in January during one of the season's most wicked cold snaps. But we bundled up against the elements and managed to have so much FUN! The highlight being when, after dinner in the hood at Watty and Meg, where Yasmin and Jason got into a Dainty Ladies Contest (first one to break form and belch loses. The neighboring tables loved us), everyone ended up back at my place. And in my bed. Yep, Ruth, Yasmin, Jason, myself and my cat Bruce all piled into bed and read Eloise aloud to Yasmin (Bruce only sight-reads). As my friend Rob said, "You can't plan that." One of the best nights ever.
6. My birthday. My friends knew I needed a great night out for the last birthday of my thirties and that's exactly what John, Stephanie, Jason, Rob, Malaika and Ricardo gave me. From rooftop drinks at the Rock Shop, to a delicioso dinner at Palo Santo to nightcaps at Jakewalk and, so help us, Boat. We had a blast. Plus Malaika gave me the Nelly Olson book and Alison Arngram became an e-pal for a few weeks (long story). Awesome.
7. Chicago!!! If you read my posts about this trip, then you know my bestist pal John and I painted the Windy City haute red last October while visiting Liza. From brunch at Hot Chocolate to dinners at the Bristol, the Publican and a fab Mexican joint in Pilsen, to cocktails at the Violet Hour, essential dive stop at Mike's Takeout and final nightcaps at Silver Cloud. Plus a long double-decker bus tour, a Steppenwolf play and good first trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, with some help from Liza's mom, Anastasia, we did it all in three days except pizza. Hey John? Next time? Pizza.
8. Dad's 75th birthday, August 13th. How do you fete a guy who treats any given Thursday like a major landmark birthday? I was in charge of the electronic invitations and unofficial head of the planning committee (the other two members were my parents). But unbeknownst to my dad, Jason and I also had designs on showing a roast in video form during the party. Putting that together was no easy task. I managed to lift some great pics from photo albums unawares and after a lot of emails and a long night in Jason's office clunkily editing on the Mac, it came together. The well-attended party on 30th St. was a smash despite a gray day. And ended like any great Schusterian gathering: the main crew listening to old records (some courtesy of Dennis), popping open some gems from the cellar, grazing on left overs from Marianne's catering and the telling of classic stories. Here is a link to the short video Jason and I put together, now on Youtube.
10. Right about nowish. OK, so yeah. Here I am back to square one. I've had a monthlong jump on a couple of major self-improvement strategies, unlike last year. I don't think New Year's resolutions work. Honestly, I think most gyms should just be open in January and be a bar for the rest of the year. So that's why I started early, while it's still this year. A realistic goal: not letting 2011 totally suck. Happy New Year everyone!!!!