decimal highlights

So, yeah, I'm not a good Holidailies updater. There's some breaking news for you.

But I'm not dead, and this has actually been a pretty interesting year for me. Since I haven't been keeping official records anywhere, I figured I might as well make a note of some of the things that made it so. List time!

- Travel. This year I took two major international trips, and two domestic trips, based around work. In March I was a keynote speaker at a small conference in England, which was amazing, and also gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a college friend I hadn't seen in years. In June, I was flown to New York to give a brief seminar, which made me feel all important-like. The end of June and July were spent in Italy: first at a conference in Italy, specifically Riva del Garda, which was an area I'd never visited; then I headed down to Bologna to see the old stomping grounds and friends (stomping folks?). The last time I was there was March 2007, for Giorgio's funeral, so this was a very different vibe. Not without its own emotional drama (see below), but still an overall good experience. And in November, I tacked on a vacation weekend to a conference in San Francisco, and had a marvelous time. Highlights of that trip included bicycling around Golden Gate Park, my first-ever dim sum (oh, so good!), an amazing exhibit on voyeurism and photography at SFMOMA, and getting refused entry to a tiki bar after basically climbing a mountain to get there. (That last is a lot more fun in retrospect than it was at the time.) The conference part of that trip was also productive and stimulating.

But more uniquely in 2010, I had some travel that was entirely unrelated to work. No, seriously. I know, that never ever happens! I believe the last purely recreational trip I took was when Dario and I visited the US in April 2001. (Huh; I guess I took those entries down when I pruned the archives years ago. I wonder why? Oh, well.) Anyway. I spent a weekend in the mining town of Jerome, early in the summer--but not early enough: it was sweltering. Our hotel was quaint but, as often happens in these instances, sacrificed comfort for "charm." The a/c was in the bathroom, so turning it up meant entering a meat locker to pee and shower, but with no discernible difference in the sleeping area climate. Still, it was a fun excursion. I also went to two scooter rallies, another new experience. The first involved an overnight of camping up near Flagstaff--I hadn't been in a tent since about 1987, so that was fun, and made for a good start to my birthday weekend--and the other had us in yet another charming-yet-not-very-comfortable hotel in Tucson for one night, and sleeping in absolutely freezing temps at a camp site down near Nogales the next. The place was also crawling with immigration police, being so near the border. (As the world now knows, Arizona is not exactly the most welcoming place for immigrants these days. Don't even get me started.)

So, anyway. I got around a fair bit in 2010. Next year is going to be very very tame in comparison.

- Bed. Since I moved to Philadelphia in May 2004, I'd been sleeping on a cheap, futon-esque, faux-memory foam mattress on the floor. For years I longed for a bed, but the combination of limited funds and impracticality (especially in my Philadelphia bilevel apartment) kept it from happening. 2010 will go down in my personal history as the year I finally got myself a for-realz bed. And I love it! It's exactly what I wanted. It actually came as a set with a dresser and nightstand, on clearance, and even though I'm not really a matching-set kind of person, it was too good a deal to turn down. Which means not only do I now have a bed, I also have drawers! Amazing how my quality of life has improved as a result.

Fred also approves of the bed, not least because of the ledge that runs around the perimeter (it's a platform): she now has her very own, for-realz catwalk. The set even came with a very nice, actual memory foam mattress that is amazing to sleep on. Have I mentioned how much I love sleeping on a big-girl bed? I finally feel like a grownup. (Well, okay, sometimes. When sleeping.)

- Divorce. Another thing that was kind of on the to-do list for many years, aside from buying a bed, was finalizing the legal aspects of our divorce. We legally separated before I left Italy, which was more expensive and legally involved than anything that goes by the name "separation" in this country--it cost us around $8000 and required us to appear in court together, which felt pretty damned final. We had to wait three years before we could finish things off, but between the expense (thankfully, less than the separation) and the hassle (once again, we would both have to appear in court together) it kept getting put off. Since I was going to be in Italy anyway this year, for my conference, it made sense to take advantage of the opportunity.

The divorce itself was quite painless; I'd say we spent about 3 minutes in front of the judge, tops. Including pleasantries. And that was quite a nice day overall: we went for a drive, bought some cheese, and went out for a really fabulous dinner at one of Dario's favorite restaurants that opened after I left. For some reason, I wasn't counting on this legal formality dredging up a lot of emotional detritus, but of course it did, so my stay in Bologna wasn't quite as relaxing as I'd hoped. Even though we've both moved on, and are still close (we text and email a few times a week, and still talk on Skype a couple of times a month), putting the final seal on ending our sixteen-year marriage made us both a little edgy. But our relationship has been through a lot in the nearly 25 years we've known each other, and it's proven over and over again to be solid and resilient regardless of the form it may take at any given moment. Dario and I are family, there's no better way of putting it. We may not be married anymore, or have any desire to be, but we have a permanent bond nonetheless.

- Relationships. Speaking of relationships... in 2010 there was a boy. (Well, a man, I mean I'm not even a cougar, much less a cradle robber.) It's been a long time since I could say that with any real meaning, and I was kind of basket-casey a lot because I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but eventually we found our groove and it was very very good. Life's complicated, though, and so now the boy is gone and it's time to move on again.

That's pretty much all I want to say about that here, I think.

- Improv. Last summer (2009), in a desperate attempt to find some kind of pastime that could get me a) away from work and b) interacting with other people, I took a longform improv class. I nearly fainted with panic attacks for almost two full weeks before our Level I student show; the whole enterprise was terrifying to me. But being a masochist (I mean, I have a PhD, which is the pinnacle of self-punishment), I signed up for Level II, and then Level III, and then in February of this year I somehow found myself in an improv troupe, performing at least once a month. Sometimes even two shows in a week! And I took a class on the Deconstruction format--which was awesome--which ended in my favorite-ever show so far. I also (voluntarily!) participated in a tournament that takes groups of three people, one of whom I'd never played with before. I have a lot to work on, still, but I can say without hesitation that improv has fundamentally altered my life in ways I probably still haven't figured out. It's reconnected me to other people, and to non-working life, my silly side, and also helped make me better at leading classroom discussions. I'm looking forward to starting up with regular rehearsals and shows again in 2011. We have our first troupe meeting Sunday morning to start planning, so it should be an exciting year of theatre. I'm a regular performer! Who ever would have thought?

So you can see, lots happened in these past twelve months. I try to do at least one thing every year that pushes me out of my comfort zone. In 2010, I did several. And with my new acquisition, I'm guessing 2011 is going to have me in the scary-tingly-excited-OMGwhatamIdoing place on a fairly regular basis.

I think that means it's going to be a very good year. Not necessarily an easy one, but a worthwhile one. I'm hoping for a year of valuable experiences. With any luck, most of those experiences will also be enjoyable. That's my wish for everyone for 2011: may you have a year of fruitful experiences, and have some fun while you're at it.