It was a very good year

Now it’s New Year’s Eve.  Like most of the New Year’s Eves of my life, I’m not really doing anything special.  Except that everything is different.

I’m sitting here on a sofa in England–not my friend’s sofa, but my husband’s (and now mine).  I knew this would be a big year at the start of it, but I didn’t know just how big.  Last December 31st I was newly engaged, but also in a long distance relationship and preparing to say goodbye to my husband the very next day.  We were vaguely beginning to plan a wedding in England and a life in New York.  The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men go aft agley.

So without any further ado, here’s what actually happened in 2012.

1) The world didn’t end.

I’ll admit–the Mayans had me scared.  It all goes back to this Nostradamus special I watched when I was 14 that scared the bejeezus out of me.  Quite literally–I had the scariest dream involving a floating crucifix after that special.  Then leading up to 2012 all this scary stuff started happening, like cities being leveled (hurricane Katrina), and I remembered something about a seven year war with the third antichrist (OMG Bin Laden!).  Of course I should have seen the flaw in this when they called the first antichrist Napoleon on that special, because Napoleon was certainly a megalomaniac but certainly not an antichrist.  Anyway, 2012 seemed like this far off Jetsons-era date and yet we were closing in on it–surely the world would end.

I knew in my head that was pure silliness, but I couldn’t shake the fear.  Apocalyptic movies like 2012 troubled me to the point where I couldn’t watch them, even if they were hilariously bad.  Last year for Christmas as a joke gift I got an end of the world scenario page a day calendar from MR.

Then, slowly but inexorably, Dec 21st came creeping up.  In June it was still a little worrying, but in December, when it was a week away, and then two days away, I would think “The end of the world is the day after tomorrow?  That can’t be right.”  It wasn’t some mystical far-off future, but a date I could see on the calendar.  It didn’t feel like the world could end.  And of course, it didn’t, dispelling all the apocalyptic fears I’ve had since childhood.

Well played, Mayans.

2) My world did change.

According to the Mayan prophecy interpretation I have gleaned from news reports, 2012 isn’t the end of the world but the end of an era, the start of a new one.  Now that was certainly true.  Everything changed for me in 2012.  But I have to say that not only was I due a change, the changes were pretty fabulous.

I’m living abroad.  Not studying abroad and doing it for awhile, actually living in another country.  I have a semi-permanent visa which can be renewed ad infinitum.  In just a few weeks, I will own a house in this other country.  I didn’t even dream of owning a house in NYC (that makes sense considering the real estate prices).

I thought my visa days were over, and when my passport with my student visa expired I remember being sad because those days would never come again, and I wouldn’t have a visa in another passport.  How silly of me.  How very, very silly.  Now I am an actual immigrant, with all the pains that come with it.  Although admittedly I forget sometimes to look around at how far I’ve come.  It’s easy for life to go on as life–I need to appreciate this adventure for what it is.  Originally we wanted to live in NYC, but American immigration rules being what they are, doing so meant at the very least a nine month separation after we were married.  Considering all the time we’ve had together since September, I know I made the right decision.  Back when I was deciding people were telling me nine months was a drop in the bucket of life, but after spending these months together and not with the ache of being apart, I know that’s not true.  We met each other so late, we have to seize all the time we can.  So I moved to another country to be with him because he was prohibited from doing the same for me.  But I have to remember that on a certain level, this move was for me too.

Speaking of that…

3) I got married!!!

Boy, did I think that was never going to happen.  I was the most hopeless singleton you could ever meet, someone who lived in fear of the opposite sex yet hope desperately that one of those creatures would deign to recognize her…while she was still in her house.  Against all odds, this happened.  At the beginning of this year I knew I would be married, because MR proposed on Boxing Day 2011, surprising the hell out of me.  But now I actually am.  I have to change my name on stuff.  I’m officially Mrs MR (or Mrs GeekErgoSum if you follow his blog).

I got all the fun of being a bride, of having the people I loved around me while I said my vows, of saying those vows, of having my first dance in a 14th Century Guild Hall (see: reasons to get married in England).  I got the big dress and the honeymoon in the Maldives, and it was all so utterly fabulous that I’m really sad to see 2012 go.  It was certainly one of the biggest years, and one of the best.  I definitely did not come out of this year the same as I went into it.  I was a fiancee and now I’m a wife.  At the start of 2012 the biggest thing ahead of me was my wedding, now it’s the rest of my life.

4) My career has taken some interesting turns

I was a teacher for eight years.  I suppose I still am, though can you call yourself a teacher if you don’t have a classroom?  I absolutely love teaching, but the thing about it is it’s always going to be kind of the same.  Always pretty awesome, but nothing really changes.  And, thankfully, huge amounts of job stability.  I happened to be teaching at my alma mater, which was so fun.  I am a freak who loved high school, because rather than the experience so many have of feeling like a misfit, I felt like I belonged there, in this world of nerds and geeks where getting a high SAT score and playing in the band made you cool.  I got to return to that as a teacher and live out my Dead Poet’s Society fantasies.  This year I left all that to come to the other side of the pond (see above), and I experienced a period of government imposed unemployment–the longest in my working life, I might add.  I’m still not sure how I feel about not working.  On the one hand the rest is nice.  On the other I miss the challenges.  It’s nice to have so much time to do things I want and work on my writing and for once, be somewhat neat in my home, but it’s also a bit isolating.

2013 will most likely be back to teaching, but having some time to myself has been interesting to ruminate on.

5) Oh, you’ve heard of Les Mis?  It’s only everywhere

And my most favorite musical *of all time.*  As a geek, I relished in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings mania.  I certainly loved when the Chronicles of Narnia came out, but it never got to be that huge.  But nothing compares to the awesomeness of hearing everyone gush about the musical that I have been gushing about since I was fourteen.  The musical I made my then eight year old cousin listen to and memorize when I cast him as Gavroche in our family singalongs.  The musical my sister had to reference in her maid of honor toast.  I’ve read the book, memorized the lyrics in French, and the entire libretto in English, and until now, only a few people would even remotely understand.  I had met less than ten who understood my fervor when discussing the merits of Peter Lockyer as Marius and the finer points of the various cast recordings, or who could sympathize when I was gutted that they cut out Combeferre’s lines after Javert is exposed as a spy.

But now I understand fully what all the LOTR fans who had Frodo Lives! bumper stickers felt when the movie came out 12 (!) years ago.  Validation.  Sweet, sweet validation, that I liked something that was intrinsically cool all along.  It only needed Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway to show the world.

A downside to living in England, though–the movie has not come out here yet!  I am dying.  But at least that’s something to look forward to in 2013.  I need something, because it will be really hard to top 2012.

5) Bucket list item–accomplished

I went to the Olympics.  It was an early football/ soccer match of Belarus versus…someone I cant remember.  I was with a friend who is a die hard football fan, and he said it was not exactly thrilling play.  It was in Coventry the day before the opening ceremonies.  BUT IT WAS STILL THE OLYMPICS, DAMMIT.  I have always, always wanted to go to the Olympics, and now I have.  The Ricoh arena was covered with the London 2012 purple.  The Olympic rings stood proudly on roundabouts and banners lined the A45.  My ticket, which I of course saved, has the official Olympic rings on it.  I still want to go again, and be there for the opening ceremony live, but I went.  And the rest I watched on BBC, which was as good as being there because they don’t package anything and there are no commercial breaks.  We can at least give the BBC the Olympics, despite their humiliating failures elsewhere.

 

I remember thinking 1992 was an amazing year.  In retrospect, it’s hard to pinpoint why–I got chicken pox and my family lost our house thanks to a pre-Clinton recession.  Nevertheless, the movies, the music, the *Olympics*–it was the first year I felt alive, part of the world instead of a kid living in my own bubble. 1992 was amazing.  I remember the Queen saying she was very glad to see the end of 1992.  I remember there was a fire in Windsor Castle and Prince Charles and Princess Diana separated so fair play to her–not a great year for her Majesty.  Still, though, when that statement was publicized, I remember feeling personally affronted that this year that I loved living in was just a waste of time to others.  There have been some “Phew, thank goodness 2012 is over!” posts on Facebook, and while I get that not everyone had a banner year, I still feel that same sting when the world is happy to put 2012 behind them as though it never happened, because it was monumental for me.  Perhaps that is a bit narcissistic, but I can’t help the sting even so.  I hope you out there, whoever you are, are both as sad to see 2012 go as I am and yet also looking forward to big things in 2013.

Goodbye 2012.  You weren’t the end of all things, but now you’re ending, and I shall miss you.  You changed everything.

2013, take notice.  You have a lot to live up to.

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The BBC is Swifter, Higher, and Stronger

These Olympics are in some city in Europe. But they are brought to you by the PEACOCK!

 

I am a self-confessed Olympics junkie.  When I saw the parade of nations in Albertville in 1992, I was hooked, and it continued right through.  I’ve watched all the Olympics—Barcelona, Lillehammer, Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Torino, Beijing, and now London.  I love everything about it—the mere idea that for two weeks the world can come together for something as simple as sport, that feats of human strength unite us all, that it is open to everyone to create a miracle.  And of course, there is the dazzling pageantry.  I love pageantry.

I also thought I loved NBC’s Olympic coverage.  Since 1992, the genial Bob Costas

The face of all my Olympics

with his alien blue eyes and preternaturally preserved features has narrated me through every record, every fall, every triumph.  I know the tune of “Bugler’s Dream,” NBC’s Olympic theme tune, better than the Olympic hymn.  I looked forward to the athlete profiles, and even the cheesy commentary of the deeply involved commentaries, in particular gymnastics and diving, where the commentators love to hiss and coo as they play enthusiastic judges.  I even got used to the ethnocentric coverage where it became easy to think that Team USA was the only team in the Games.

 

I grew used to it, but it always did bother me, that unless an athlete was nominated as worthy of a four minute profile which showed the difficulties of growing up in post-Soviet Ukraine, or communist China, or unless an athlete did something as amazing as Usain Bolt, I never saw them.  I also have a penchant for knowing everything about an Olympic event, crawling behind the scenes.  I wanted so badly to know what it’s like to actually be there.  But the NBC coverage is so frenetically paced and carefully packaged, there is none of that raw realness in the coverage.  I forgave them this, figuring that was how televised Olympics were always meant to be.  Witness the video from Sydney below, which has it all: sweeping aerial views of the city to the ubiquitous Bugler’s Dream, Bob Costas, and lots and lots of drama.  Doesn’t he just make you want to shout “Yes, Bob!  *I* am ready!”?

 

Until I started watching BBC coverage.  It is amazing.  The BBC has no less than 20 channels devoted to Olympic coverage.  Not only is this all live, but there are no commercials.  Not a one.  British people pay for tv licenses, and this tax goes to funding the BBC, and means that it doesn’t have commercials.  This is amazing enough, but the other beauty of the coverage is there is no packaging.  They turn on the cameras and let them roll.  If I turn on swimming, I get to see the entire meet as if I were there, each race in the order it comes, each heat and semifinal.  I get to see the athletes get introduced, not already standing on the blocks, and at the end they show the medals ceremony in full, and I can hear them play the theme to “Chariots of Fire” as the champions walk out.  Watching gymnastics, I get to see the athletes warm up, the Olympic volunteer coming out with a hook to stop the rings from swinging.  It is actually as good as being there.

Even better, the commentators are much more about giving necessary information without any of the cheesiness of American sportscasters.  As I write this I’m watching the Men’s Individual All Around in gymnastics, and on the dismount from the rings the British gymnast took a huge step.  I can hear the commentators in America saying “Oh, *big* step on the landing—that will cost him.”  But the British commentators instead focused on the fact that he did a double twist instead of one and a half twists.  Despite the British propensity for self deprecation and caution, these announcers are particularly optimistic, which is really nice to hear.  When Michael Phelps lost to South African Chad le Clos, they focused on the Le Clos’s tears and pride in his own stunning victory rather than the fact that Michael Phelps lost.

Look at that face! If you are not crying along with him you have no soul.

I’ve had the amazing good luck to actually go to an Olympic event—football (soccer) in Coventry.  It wasn’t the best game—a rather lacklustre showing from New Zealand and Belarus, but it was still pretty fantastic to go.  They’ve opened more tickets, and if I weren’t getting married and going on a very expensive honeymoon, I would spend every spare penny to go.  But at the same time, I feel like I don’t really need to.  The only thing I’m missing is actually being there and cheering along with everyone else.

And for the record, in my living room I’m cheering as hard for my newly adopted country as I am for my native country.  Although I do miss Bob Costas.

Let’s give NBC some credit here–this is way classier than the actual London 2012 logo

…which may or may not look like certain animated characters doing certain things to their animated brothers.