It’s over. I’ve spent the past 365 days taking pictures of myself, and this afternoon, as I sat surrounded by thumbnail-sized print outs of each shot, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I don’t know why I’m feeling sentimental about the completion of this project–more than anything else, my life will undoubtedly be easier
now that I don’t have to worry about looking good enough to feel comfortable posting my face all over the Internet. My life is not going to change in any quantifiable way from today to tomorrow, yet I feel as though I will stop moving forward: as if my life in the past year has seen so much action that it’s not possible for there to be anything worth looking forward to.
I think, more than anything else, I’m just feeling spectacularly reflective. I went back again and looked at each of my shots, and I swear, I love flickr more than life for allowing me to remember, in precise detail, exactly what happened and how I felt this year.
It’s a little past New Years, but I think it’s still close enough to the beginning of the year that a look back at what happened this past year is not irrelevant.
Though I didn’t start my 365 until the middle of the month, I rang in 2008 in Des Moines, Iowa, at a pre-caucus event for Hillary Clinton. I saw the caucuses in action and shook Barack Obama’s and Tim Russert’s hand. When I got back from Iowa, January saw me pack up from Cincinnati and head to Washington, DC. I began my ill-fated stint as a grad student at American University and moved into a house with five guys. I read The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby and discovered Marah. I got hired as a legislative research assistant on Capitol Hill. I learned to navigate public transportation and took my first trip to Georgetown.
In February, I got a trans-Atlantic drunk dial and a demand to include visual evidence in my 365. After all my other guys officially dropped out of the race, I cast my vote for Barack Obama in DC’s Democratic primary election. I wandered over to the 9:30 Club to see Jason Isbell and Will Hoge and barely caught the last Metro home. I discovered Zenni Optical and bought my first pair of $8 glasses. I got long bangs. And I celebrated Leap Day on the platform of Union Station.
March in DC brings with it blooming Cherry Blossoms and tourists. My first frustrations with grad school started to surface and I spent St. Patrick’s Day drinking red wine rather than reading French philosophy. My old bike bit the dust and I replaced it with a bright yellow road bike from the 1970s–it was perfect! My weightloss project started netting tangible results. The bangs I cut in February started driving me insane. And I joined the fun in DuPont Circle for International Pillow Fight Day.
April saw me move out of Yuma and into Chesapeake. I spent innumerable hours in the AU library, reading up on approaches to peacebuilding and working on final papers. Libby came to visit and we spent a crazy night in Adams Morgan with tequila and gin. I braved a thunderstorm for the Earth Day concert on the Mall and got to see Chevy Chase and Edward Norton make the case to go green. Katie and my mom came out and I had a mini-breakdown on the 32 bus to Georgetown. My very last day in academia came and went and I was featured on Now Public for my picture of Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day.
In May, I stumbled upon the Capital Crescent Bike Trail and as a result, my weightloss hit two big milestones: I passed the 25 pound mark and the 30 pound mark before the month was out. I turned in my very last paper as a student and four new pairs of glasses arrived from Zenni. I went home at the end of the month and Libby and I got tattoos on my 22nd birthday. Finally, after many months of annoyance and complaining, the Big Hair Cut arrived and I donated nine inches of my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
June was a doozy. I came back to DC to a notice from my landlord saying he wanted us to sign a year lease–which I couldn’t do at the time, since I had no idea where I would be in a year. DC was fiercely hot and humid, but Tim Russert’s death left me cold all over. I officially became a member of the Blogosphere and was linked on DC Blogs for my commentary on what I would and would not miss about the District. My dad came out to collect my belongings after I made the decision to move home while I looked for jobs. And my lifelong dream came true when I boarded a plane for Vienna, Austria on June 25 and landed in Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 26.
July was, hands-down, the very best month of my life. I spent the first two weeks roaming around Bosnia, swimming off hangovers in freezing mountain waterfalls, and meeting peace-making legend, Svetlana Broz. I stayed in Sarajevo and felt truly at home. I commemorated the 13th anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica and spent a good part of the day crying. I left Bosnia with a heavy heart, but with undeiable excitement, as I booked a week-long detour to Scotland before coming back to the US. I finally, after nearly eight years of friendship, drunk dials, and text messages, met Lis. I saw the Atlantic Ocean from the opposite side and I spent 12 hours sleeping in Dublin’s airport. I checked off ‘Visit New York City’ from my list of things to do when I got off my plane at JFK and I made the eight-hour drive home from DC to Ohio, as that period of my life came to a resounding close.
August brought me back to Cincinnati. I did Jell-O shots on the way to the Kenny Chesney concert and drank SoCo slushes at Poison. I saw the Bengals lose, twice. I drove down to Nashville after a series of phone interviews landed me an in-person interview with a publishing house. I got the phone call of my life when I was offered the job as an editorial assistant. I planted a lucky kiss on Elvis when I found my perfect apartment and in anticipation of joining the professional world, I got my hair cut and dyed an acceptable color.
I started my grown-up life at the beginning of September. I moved to Nashville and lived with Melinda while my apartment was getting fixed. I went to work as a serious professional and got my first adult paycheck. I got my hands dirty compiling materials for a meeting and let off steam at happy hour with Michele and Katie. I went to a book signing and met two of my authors. I moved in to my very own apartment and felt the South’s influence on me when I discovered that I enjoy sweet tea.
October kept me busy at work, as I finally started to understand the ins and outs of my job. The weather started out warm, but got chilly just before Halloween. I spent nights on my patio reading and listening to my neighbor play his guitar. My Mr. November t-shirt was delivered and my Sarah Palin glasses came. The seventh anniversary of Elliott Smith’s death came around and I spent the night remembering how much I love his music. I went to a wedding in Cincinnati and met baby Riley for the first time. I went home for Halloween, dressed up as Sarah Palin, and got to see my sister.
I voted in my second presidential election, gladly casting my vote for Obama. Katie, Joey, and I spent the night in their living room, watching Wolf Blizter and getting a little choked up when he said, “California has just closed and CNN can now predict Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.” I hit Day 300, and was struck by how uninspired I was feeling. Bob Barker called me on a daily basis to talk about his book. Katie and I played 365 Charades. My mom and K-Cubed took a trip to Nashville to come party with me, and I went home at the end of the month for Thanksgiving and Katie’s 25th birthday.
I finally caved to the Twilight hype at the beginning of December. I read all four books in less than a week and couldn’t get enough. I started listening to Muse after several years of Katie insisting I would like them–I did. Creativity started to flow just a little, and I started spinning a little piece of fiction. I offically became a Tennesseean when I traded my Ohio license plates for green Tennessee tags. Katie and Ryan came for a visit and we saw the Predators beat the Islanders. I slid off the road on the way home for Christmas and spent the night in Sparta, Kentucky, listening to The Hold Steady and trying to hold myself together. Christmas was low-key, but I gave myself a new camera and my mom finally graced my 365 with her presence.
I rang in the New Year with my very best friends and lots of gin and could not have had a better time. I got back to Nashville and crashed, letting the holiday booze drain from my system, along with a cold I picked up at home. I joined Flickr Group Roulette in the last days of my 365, looking for inspiration. Katrina and Patrick came to visit and I was thrilled when the Predators beat the Penguins. I went to a piano bar for the first time and danced like a maniac to a cover of Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me”. Katie Riley came down and I got to go out with our Bob-Dylan-Look-Alike friend, Lance. I officially called it quits on my 101 Things to Do in 1,001 Days list, giving up with only nine months left and only 60 items completed. And, sadly and after many hours of frustration, annoyance, and dedication, my 365 Day Self-Portrait came to a close.
It’s been one hell of a year.