Yearbook, Minus The Ugly Pictures: Bye Bye 2010

Today I told someone that my motto was now "2011: Better than 2010". I have been wishing everyone that 2011 be their best year yet, but maybe that's just setting the expectation too high? Normally I say I had a good year, but let's be honest, there were a lot of reasons 2010 kinda sucked, and not just because for half of it any time I turned the TV on, I was greeted by the Cabbage-Patch-Kid-as-grownup face of Snookie. Ugh. A quick recap:

What Was Junky About 2010:
*Many friends' loved ones passed away. More than any year year before. Realizing that maybe that's just what happens when you get older, and not liking it one bit; it was too much tragedy everywhere we turned. I was constantly being reminded of how short life is and that we are not owed time, and more importantly, I was being reminded that there is some pain I can't take away for people, and feeling helpless in that regard. The obsessive optimist in me tried to turn it into living it up a bit more and expressing my love for people -- especially those friends -- more often.

*My neighbor who reads my garbage decided NOT to move after all. As a result, daydreams of hot new straight (in my building you have to specify) neighbor moving in did not pan out.

*Realized I needed to part ways with some people in my life. Broke my own heart doing so. It was kinda like the heart version of what Aron Ralston had to do.

*Working myself sick. Literally. Realized I'm not invincible. Disappointment.

*Realizing I need to prioritize better in my life.

There's more, but that gives you the idea.

What I Loved in 2010:
*Traveled tons, as I had promised myself - I rang in the new year in Hong Kong and jetted to Indonesia that morning. Later in the year I did a road trip through Tuscany with hilarious girlfriends. Visited new cities including Houston and Atlanta. And in the fall I went on a Caribbean cruise (in theory). I am ending the year in Vegas, my home away from home.

*Watching my mom publish Sky of Red Poppies, her novel that she has been working on for 23 years. Throwing her book launch party. Watching this gorgeous novel be received by people all over the country who responded to and have supported it beyond my wildest dreams.

*Spending time with friends who make me laugh til it hurts. I'm not naming names, they know who they are.

*Working on my bucket list and my travel list.

*Knocking "Learn to sail" off said bucket list.

*Helping promote Real Medicine Foundation's work around the world and specifically in Haiti. Feeling for once that I wasn't just watching a world disaster, I was doing something to help.

*Reading my face off. A smashing year for Celebrity Trash Bio Book Club, for one thing, by far the best-attended book club in history. Reading The Hunger Games, the first book to completely suck me in in a while; made me gasp out loud and talk back to the book, etc. Recommending it to friends who don't have time to read but made time to, and then loved it too.

*Got way stronger. Can almost do the splits. (It's the little things.)

*Out of town visitors. Old friends, including my old roomie and one of my best friends from high school, came through San Diego. Whoever said old friends are the best friends had it right.

*Seeing an issue that had been plaguing my sister come to an end. Seeing how empowered her art makes her.

*Cooking tons more. Feel so comfy in the kitchen these days. Not ashamed to wear onion goggles in front of other people.

*Seeing so many friends become wonderful new moms. Getting to know my friends' kids. Whispering in their ears that they should come back to me in 18 years for the real dirt.

Favorite moments in 2010:
*Lying in the sun at the resort in Kuta, Indonesia the first week of 2010. Specifically, the part where, in the blazing sun, I carried on a debate with my travel partners over whether the European guy lying on the chair next to us was a member of a-ha. Letting myself think it was.

*Looking around and realizing I was the only woman in conference room on the Exec team and realizing that it took me about two years to even notice.

*The moment when I decided to officially burn my boats.

*Any and all of my hikes with friends at Torrey Pines or walks in PB along the boardwalk with JG, recapping our weeks and strategizing fun and mayhem for days to come.

*Lying in the sun on my pool deck reading the day after I got back from the cruise from hell. Realizing that I pretty much live a vacation life and perhaps I should never leave again.

*Having one of my best friends (my freshman year, rooming-blind roommate from U of M) move across the street in San Diego.

*Jessica's birthday weekend, which gave us occasion to round up a few college girlfriends who and hit a newer club in town. Realizing through said escapade that as much as everything changes, nothing does. (hazing with drinks, giggling about boys, and stories that will be retold for years) Shortly thereafter, describing my life to someone as "just like college, but with more disposable income", perhaps one of the best highlights of my year, that quote.

*Going to Faith No More with my brother. Feeling like he's not my baby brother but a really freakin fun friend. Seeing FNM sing Reunited and Easy live. Loving them as much as I did when I was 16, and not feeling a day older.

*Christmas dinner, sitting around my parents' dining table listening to my parents and their friends tell endless stories about their fathers' bad driving back in Iran. Laughing til we were all crying.

Resolutions 2011 (a work in progress):
*make it to Nashvegas

*listen to jazz in a New Orleans jazz bar

*read War and Peace, to prove it isn't just a doorstop in my house

*take up guitar again

*plan a trip to central or south america. go.

*sleep on the beach (once, not regularly)

*take up yoga again

*cook the perfect steak

*learn more about the history of classical music

*give more unexpected gifts

*learn how to conjugate Spanish beyond present tense

*read Acide Sulfurique (in French)

*learn how to make one of my mom's best dishes from her (fesenjoon?)

*blog more

I Saw 127 Hours & Read The Hunger Games... and Now I Know I'm a Wimp

My new rule is that the less I know about or anticipate a movie, the more likely I am to enjoy it. The opposite is definitely true; the movies you wait forever to see (see also: Sex and the City 2) pin you to your theater chair in absolute despair as the admission price and sheer will keep you from getting up and salvaging the rest of your day.

The other night I was meeting up with with old friends and we wanted to catch a movie. The thing is, much as we're friends, we've never gone to a movie together. So what would we see? I suggested a movie I had heard good things about and thought at least one of the other two was likely to like- 127 Hours starring James Franco. The description you hear on that one is "the movie about the hiker who cut off his arm", which is not much of a pitch/movie trailer. But, per my new rule, that made it a more likely selection for me. And let's be honest, James Franco on screen for 90 minutes? It could have been a freakin screensaver (which coincidentally is Susie's assessment of Lawrence of Arabia) and I would be in.

I was interested to see how the director would make this story of Aron Ralston's struggle between a rock and a hard place (literally) something the rest of us would want to watch. Would it be Cast Away: Part Deux, with less Wilson, more Clif Bar? The idea of a 90 minute monologue worried me, but again, relying on James Franco's beauty and ability to make even the smallest role interesting, off we went.

As it turns out, 127 Hours is creatively done, telling the story through gorgeous cinematography, flashbacks, and intriguing fantasy interludes. It flew by, and there was a good soundtrack to boot. A few hours (his time) into the ordeal, my mind started to wander. What if that had been me?

As the movie went on, I was more and more impressed with Ralston's resourcefulness. Is that learned, or is it something that comes to you in a moment of crisis? Setting up a pulley to create suspensions so he could dangle and sleep, for example. I never would have done it. So, that begs the question: what would I have done?

Well, I would have probably started by feeling really bad for myself. Then I would have thought about who I could possibly blame for the predicament I was in. In the movie he seemed to go right to self-blame, which I'm sure I'd eventually circle to, but then you're cutting out the fun part of pinning your troubles on someone who isn't there to defend themselves. I would have probably yelled until I was hoarse. And then I would have probably died of a heart attack because I have incurable fear of the dark and particularly the intersection of animals and the dark. Also, I don't do cold.

These same questions came to the surface when I read The Hunger Games trilogy recently. Long story short, a group of kids 12-18 are put in a biodome to fight to the death, with only one surviving. My strategy in the Games was clear to me, because I worked it out as I turned the pages of the books. While everyone duked it out, I would have grabbed provisions and run for the hills. So, even as a thirtysomething, I am aware that I basically would have played a very hopeful game of Hide and Go Seek with my life on the line.

Although, who knows, maybe I would surprise myself in a similar situation to the one in 127 Hours. Maybe I could be like one of those women who lifts a car off her child, surprised by her strength. It would be ideal to be one of those people who has incredible survival skills (MacGyver), since I'm in awe of them, but I'm probably not *like* them at my core. Partially because I'm lazy and partially because I'm curious about what comes next and I believe in fate, so if I got such a cue that it was time for my exit I'm not sure I'd *know* to fight for survival. I could actually die of just being too dumb to realize I didn't have to. I probably would have misread the cue of the falling rock as "the end" rather than "there's a way out". This is an aspect of myself that perhaps I should work on now ;)

I'm trying to write this without spoilers, because I really do want anyone who sees this to take the time to watch it. There aren't very many movies that make you think or make you feel good or inspire you these days, so I don't want to ruin anything. But, generally speaking, what was amazing was that not only did Ralston find creative ways to keep his cool (he was very aware that if he lost it it was bad news), but he stayed positive and realized what he was meant to learn from the experience. Somehow that felt more than inspiring, it felt miraculous. And the benefit of seeing the movie was to experience, on some level, his predicament, and learn lessons through his experience *without* having to go through it yourself. I'm always grateful for those stories... Although it did make my Torrey Pines hike the next morning a bit tense.

When we left, Tina noted that she had felt too guilty to drink her bottle of water during the movie. Same here. The good news is that my new ability to forgo water made me feel a step closer to those survival instincts I was craving just a paragraph ago.

Solidarity and inspiration, not bad for a Friday night.