I started to compose this blog on January 4th, as part of my annual tradition, and in the three weeks since I drafted the opening paragraph, I:
- I ended up in the ER.
- had to close my bank account because someone was creating fraudulent checks.
- found out a very special person passed away at the beginning of the year.
- had my car window smashed and my backpack, which included my laptop, stolen.
Thus, here we are, at my office after hours so I can finish this blog while it is still January because the tradition must go on. I’m getting the hint that some dark power (or an angry person with a Jenny Voodoo Doll?) does not want me writing in 2020. Well, here’s what I have to say about that:
Get behind me, Satan.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my tradition, it’s a standard Buzzfeed-type list (though I first likened it to David Letterman’s “Top Ten” because I’ve been blogging since the dawn of time), and each year I try to do something slightly different: Top Pictures of Food, Best Quotes, Favorite Surprises.) Next year I’ll have to do a Top 10 of my Top 10(ish) Blogs–because it will have been a decade since I started.
Speaking of decade, we’ve crossed into a new one, so I wanted to do something different this year. Instead of a Top 19 of 2019, I’d like to do a Top 9 of 2019 (forthcoming) and make the other top ten the defining moments of the last ten years. It’s an effort to show just how much can change in the course of a decade.
Regarding the year 2020: did you know that the movies Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, and The Lion King came out in theaters closer to the moon landing than to today?
In light of that non sequitur, let’s get started.
Ten Years Ago…
At the start of 2009, when I was 22-going-on-23 years old:
- I had never traveled solo to another country.
- I hadn’t even considered visiting a non-English speaking country by myself.
- I was still a biologist by training.
- I was obsessed with tennis.
- I was recently un-engaged to be married.
Now I present you with the last ten years, summarized by a single sentence, in the style of the Chinese calendar — because we’re now closer to the Chinese New Year than our own (as an FYI, I was born in the Year of the Tiger. I don’t think Tigers and Rats get along.).
2009 – The Year I Started Dartmouth
Dartmouth College certainly was not on my radar as an undergrad, and even after I applied for a masters program–on the day of the deadline–I didn’t know in which state the school was located. “You know, somewhere in New England. Maybe Delaware?”
My Ivy League “safety school” (Northeastern was actually my top choice) was the best default decision I could have ever made. These were the College Years that people always spoke of so wistfully that I hadn’t experienced as an undergraduate. It was Gilmore Girls and Animal Farm rolled into one, and I loved it there.
For the record, I now know Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, and that the state of Delaware is not considered New England.
2010 – The Year I Traveled By Myself Internationally
My best friend from middle school, Lauren, and I always wanted to visit Scotland.
Actually, that’s not true. She might have always wanted to visit Scotland, but I only wanted to visit after I discovered that Gerard Butler was from Scotland, and I wished to marry him. The first lesson I learned about international travel is that it’s unwise to tell the custom’s agent in London that I’m visiting Scotland in search of Gerard Butler’s look-alike. But after having my passport flagged as an “international security threat,” I had the best time. I met cool people from around the world, chased around a Scottish musician–not in a threatening way, but in a fan girl sort of way–and on my last night, took so many photos with strangers that people walking into the bar thought I was famous.
This must be how the travel bug bites you: you connect with people from across the globe and realize there’s so much of the world you haven’t seen, and you become greedy to discover it all. Even though you have no idea how to order coffee (what the heck is a “flat white”?), and you order the vegetarian haggis because it seems safer than the real kind, you’ll leave as a new, transformed person.
Or at least that was my story. Sadly, however, I did not find Gerard Butler’s next-of-kin, and I returned home without a Scottish husband.
2011 – The Year I Visited Rhode Island
I had already fallen for a boy from Rhode Island, but during the summer of 2011, I fell for his home state. I think he and his family had a lot to do with it, but that was the year I first tasted coffee milk, I first ate a stuffie and a clam cake, I first visited Charlestown Beach and made a sand couch. When H.D. drove me around Brown campus, which I likened to a secret garden, I heard a voice inside my head (I call it the Holy Spirit, but you can think of it however you’d like) saying, You’re going to be here someday.
“What?” I said, perhaps out loud. Did I really just hear that? I wasn’t sure what it meant–would I be a student? a teacher?–but it felt prophetic.
And three years later, I would find out the voice was correct.
2012 – The Year A Whole Lot Changed
I began the new year in, well, Australia, actually. Then I spent three months in New Zealand on a working holiday, with an exit trip through Bali (if you recall my visit with Ketut, from Eat, Pray, Love); then I returned to New Mexico to gather my wits and my car; drove back to New Hampshire where I couch surfed and eventually (thankfully) graduated from Dartmouth, visited Hawaii with my parents, broke up for real with my grad school boyfriend, H.D., and cried a lot; and moved back to New Mexico where I worked as a professor at the New Mexico Military Institute. There they called me Captain Currier, even though I resisted being called a name that sounded like a cereal brand. No really, please, call me Ma’am. I developed a fondness for 30 Rock and wrote a lot of blogs when I should have been grading.
2013 – The Year I Up-And-Moved to Rhode Island
No job. No place to live. No friends or family in the area*. Just a Prius full of clothes and books.
*I considered the creep-factor of moving across the country to where my ex-boyfriend was from, but since I wasn’t deluded into thinking I’d show up at his door and have a Pretty Woman moment (but in reverse), I took the chance and accepted external judgement.
One of my most memorable conversations was when some friends from Hanover came to Block Island in late summer and commented on my tan. “Wow–you’re so dark! What’s your secret?”
The good news is I did find a job (PF Changs preceded Brown), and a place to live, and a community, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
2014 – The Year I Became a “Writer” (and Joined Tinder)
In true Rhode Island fashion, I happened to meet the owner of Motif Magazine at a bar called The Hot Club. I was far enough along into my happy hour that I had no reservations telling him I was an aspiring writer, though he didn’t ask–neither, to my knowledge, did he tell me he owned the magazine. I thought he was a photographer. Nevertheless, he and the Editor-in-Chief decided to give me an assignment, a preview piece on “The Taste of Block Island,” and despite the panic that ensued, I wrote something they found worthy of publication.
I was hired as a pub crawl columnist, which was ironic because at the time I didn’t drink often**, and eventually my role morphed into a restaurant reviewer. This was a dream come true–on par with being asked to judge a cookie contest–but the pay remained miserly and did not include food. I was losing money in order to write the articles.
**despite meeting the owner of the magazine at a bar.
Enter Tinder. In 2014 it went from being a sketchy hook-up app to a “legitimate” dating service. In fact, I received so many facebook messages from friends telling me I should join Tinder that I thought their accounts were hacked. Once I realized they were genuinely recommending it, I bit the bullet. I made a profile. I went on dates. And it’s *possible* I may have orchestrated these dates to align with my magazine assignments.
It was the most entrepreneurial I’ve ever been . Also noteworthy in 2014 were my European adventures with Lauren, followed by couch surfing in Italy and attending my friends’ AMAZING Persian/Italian wedding. #midnightgelatocart
2015 – The Year Greece Ruined Me
Until this point, I’d enjoyed traveling to as many countries as possible, aspiring to see the whole world. But after spending a month on a Greek island, I was ruined for all other countries because I could not fathom a year without returning to this place.
Greece, my eternal happiness.
It was a landmark year that involved me returning to Rhode Island only to spend hours each week taking Greek lessons, throwing myself at unsuspecting ex-pats and foreigners when I heard the sound of their accents, listening exclusively to Greek music. It was the year I began making everyone I know cheers with the word “Yiamas!”
One of my proudest achievements is knowing they do this–they Yiamas each other–even without me present.
2016 – The Year I Moved-ish to Greece
Once again, I packed up my things, but instead of putting them in a Prius, I stored them in a basement and bought a one-way ticket to Greece. That summer, while living abroad, I turned Thirty on Thassos, which inspired the planning for my save-the-date Destination Birthday of “33 on Thassos.” Unfortunately, I was unable to stay longer than 90 days because I could not get a visa.
Two weeks after I returned to the States, the island of Thassos caught on fire. Everyone survived, but it was a year in which the landscape – both of the island and of myself – completely changed.
2017 – The Year of Joyfulness (and the Global Scavenger Hunt)
One of my resolutions in 2017 was to start a new blog in which every day (every day) I wrote down my moments of gratitude, and I called it the Joyfulness Project. That year I experienced the most profound emotional and spiritual growth of the past ten years. The blog wasn’t entirely responsible for it, but it played a significant role. It’s also nice knowing that all of those moments, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, are preserved in an archive–364 blog posts of joy (I missed one day).
Also, no big deal or anything, but I competed on a three-week, around-the-world trip called the Global Scavenger Hunt with my teammate, Mark, whom I met on the first day in San Francisco. Although it wasn’t required, we raised $8,000 for charity and documented our adventures.
2018 – The Year of the Roommate
I had not had a roommate since my Dartmouth days, but after I (re)read Blue Like Jazz, I had a scary thought that God might be calling me to live in community. Thankfully, my “community” turned out to be the marvelous Sydney S., who is the best platonic life partner anyone could hope for. She bought flowers for me on my first day as a food tour guide; she left me 32 notes on my bedroom floor on my 32nd birthday; and she helped organize soirees in our apartment to get to know our neighbors. The year 2018 was an especially difficult year for me, a transitional year, and having Sydney as a roommate kept me afloat.
2019 – The Year of The Harper Lee Year
This was the year I was able to dedicate myself to writing. (You can read about how that came to be in my last blog.) I was “living the dream,” as it were, but I realized it is harddddd work to be a full-time writer. Yet: I finished the first draft of my book, had an article published by The Boston Globe, and spent a week in Italy rebirthing my book. I also got to celebrate 33 on Thassos with 16 friends (including my mom), which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But you’ll have to read more about that in my Top 2019 blog, which I will hopefully post before November.
2009 – I began grad school at Dartmouth College to study creative writing for the first time, with a sizable fear of traveling outside the country by myself.
2019 – I finished a book manuscript and worked full-time as a writer, having lived overseas by myself for 6+ months (New Zealand/Greece) and traveled to 19 countries.
That’s quite a poetic arc.
So now let’s flip the script. Where were you ten years ago, and where are you today? Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment and let me know the arc of your story.
I have a feeling there are greater things in store, the kind we can’t even imagine. But it’s fun to try. 🙂