This year, I mean…
I can’t really summarize…
I know I am one bent to hyperbole. Trust me, I type this in full awareness of my linguistic history.
My life is revolutionarily different than this time last year. As I was snuggled in Yardley last year preparing to ring in this new year, I was a single PhD student who barely knew how do to her job. I was blissfully unaware how hard my professional life was about to become and honestly thought I knew what the year would bring. I was emailing this delightful Irishman I had been on a few dates with, but wasn’t sure where things would go once I returned to Belfast.
One year later, I am no longer single and I am typing this from that delightful Irishman’s parents’ house. John has gone from a periphery character in my Belfast life to the centerpiece of it and I could not feel more blessed. I have an Irish family who have made me feel like I’ve been around forever and pieces of a beautiful future falling into place. I am now an official Doctoral Candidate engrossed in fieldwork and loving every minute.
That is not to say the journey between those two paragraphs was delightful at all times. Au contraire, mon ami. My silence on this blog and other outlets is because this year was unspeakably challenging. I learned new levels of panic and new levels of discipline as I spent months crafting a new proposal – which was deemed worthy in the middle of November. Both families let out the breath we had been collectively holding and things began to fall into place.
So as I sit on the cusp of 2013 and I get to ring it in with my fella, I know I have much to look forward to. Weddings and vacations and laughter and adventures. Frustrations and stress and fears and fieldwork. But before we get into that, I want to pause and appreciate the year that was. So here’s the photographic summary of the year that was.
I started off the year with an adventure to Londontown with Penny and then journeyed off to Oxford to see Miss Suzanne! We decided to celebrate her birthday with a trip to the land of too many “w’s” (ie: Wales).
March brought my delightful baby brother to Belfast. We explored two of the major histories of the province: the building of the Titanic and all the industries that represents and then the conflict. Mostly we were ridiculous together, which is our wont.
And, of course, there were adventures with the MC43 crew. From board games to hockey games to random nights out, they were the first welcoming committee for the Irishman in my life.
Easter break brought new friends and reminders of how silly beautiful this country is. John had a friend over from his Los Angeles life and we got to spend a week showing her that Ireland is the prettiest place on earth.
While the rest of the UK was celebrating Lizzie’s Diamond Jubilee, John and I headed for Oslo, Norway for a quick city break. Fish, fjords and fun was the theme of our trip. As it came on the heels of my proposal rejection, it was the perfect time for us to have some large blocks of time for future planning.
Summer in and around Northern Ireland meant lots of work punctuated by beautiful weather and great celebrations. We were actually graced with summer on a few brief occasions and took the opportunity to be outside as much as humanly possible. We also celebrated Penny’s Fake 40th, Muzzo’s bachelorette party, America’s birthday and I had my first girls’ weekend in Letterkenny.
End of July meant a trip to Newcastle, England to be part of John’s baby sister’s university graduation.
A quick trip home to ‘Murrica meant time at the Bank, a trip to Beantown with the sisters and time in Vermont to see my precious Muzzo pledge life to the man of her dreams.
Snapshots from Autumn, clockwise: The Church in Dublin for a Donnelly family dinner, finishing up work on the dreaded diffdoc, John kitted out for Tacoma’s Halloween party (we went as tourists) and me and John at Titanic Belfast for high tea to celebrate his birthday.
The best birthday gift anyone could have given me: my Tamale came to visit for 10 whole days! We explored Belfast, the Antrim Coast, Omagh, London and Oxford and even had time to celebrate my birthday with Belfast favorites.
And then it was time to bring John home to meet the family! We spent 10 days in Yardley, celebrating both Christmas and Thanksgiving and spending time with family of all sorts. The visit kicked off with a wedding of my oldest friend/ former student/ pintrest goddess, Emmy. I also got to grab a bit of time with a Baylor favorite and Fiki registered his displeasure at being forced into the festive spirit.
Before I knew it, it was time to journey to Omagh for Donnelly family Christmas – which involved a visit from Santa and a lot of Jenga. Not pictured: the obscene amount of food we consumed between Christmas Day and Boxing Day.