The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

December 31, 2010

2010 lookback: In which I mention the word "deck" a lot

Even when I kept a paper journal, back in college, I always loved writing a “year in review” entry at the end of December. This meme, while a meme, makes it easy. I think I’ve only done it twice before, in January 2008 and 2010, and in looking at those old entries I see I’ve been resolving to write more for awhile. Maybe 2011 is the Year of Writing Regularly! Ahem.

What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Ran more than four miles (in fact, I ran 13!), took a photography class, visited the Amalfi Coast, got fingerprinted and tested for TB (those were for the adoption), bought a toddler-sized T-shirt, colored my grays, and hosted a big outdoor party on our deck.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My 2010 resolutions were to run the Chicago half-marathon, make time to read more books, do more photo walks, write online, and make the most of our new neighborhood. I’m pretty proud that I accomplished most of these—I could’ve done more photography and writing, but I did some, and that counts.

Resolutions for 2011: Run the half-marathon again and beat my first time, become comfortable driving again (it’s been nine years since I regularly drove a car, and I’m woefully rusty and somewhat fearful), continue reading at least one book per month, take a more in-depth photography class, and hang out in my neighborhood café in the winter when I feel particularly sad about the lack of light and warmth.

Where did you travel?
Italy! Closer to home: Washington DC, Michigan, Wisconsin.

What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
My child. I’ll at least know his face in 2011, but I might not meet him until early 2012.

What dates or images from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory?
Several from our September/October trip to Italy: Dinner on our final night at that little neighborhood restaurant we stumbled upon near the Colosseum… complimentary glasses of prosecco while we waited, an amazing bottle of reserve Chianti, sitting outside near the fountain, feeling like we blended in just a little. Weaving through the Tuscan hills in our little Fiat Panda, the unreal landscape unfurling around us—green and brown hills, pointed cypress trees marching in straight lines, centuries-old farmhouses brooding over it all. The first time we opened the terrace doors of our hotel in Positano and saw the town spilling down the cliff to the glittering sea. I will never, ever forget that.

August 12, a screening of Once at an intimate concert space in Lincoln Park, followed by a five-song show by Glen and Marketa. They played one of the suggestions I called out (“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”). Before the show, while we were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant, seated near the window, Marketa walked by outside and we smiled at each other.

August 22, what was hopefully our First Annual Rooftop Deck Party. Seeing so many of our friends gathered in one place and having a blast. Feeling grateful for them and for the life we’ve made here in Chicago.

September 12, gliding along Lakeshore Drive, a thin glowing band of sunrise on the water’s horizon, my first half-marathon just two hours away. The pure adrenaline and excitement of running that race, strong, and meeting my goal time of 2:15.

December 9, when I checked my email at work and finally saw the message from our social worker that our homestudy had been sent to Korea.

What were your biggest achievements of the year?
Running! Realizing what I can do if I work hard enough at it—it’s still kind of mind-boggling to me. I ran my first 8k, 10k, and half-marathon. I did training runs of 11, 12, 13 miles. I had a personal best of 26:24 in a 5k.

With John, I completed the homestudy for our adoption. That’s no small feat.

I also bought my first DSLR camera, took a one-day boot-camp photography class, and began to gain a faint understanding of things like aperture and shutter speed. I’m proud of the photos I took in Italy.

What was your biggest failure?
I’m glad I did some writing here, but I could have and should have done more.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
I think this may be the first year I did not miss one day of work because of sickness. Of course, after typing that, it will probably be the last.

What was the best thing you bought?
I love the colorful painted tile that I bought in Positano and the sideboard we found for the dining room. The geraniums, impatiens, and petunias that we bought for our first summer having a deck were greatly enjoyed as well. And my trusty Garmin watch was a constant companion during my training.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Stella’s! This dog has come such a long way from the fearful girl who was literally afraid of her walks. I’m not sure if she just needed time or if perhaps the new neighborhood made a difference, but she’s regularly taking long strolls now and pausing to sniff everything in her path. She enjoys meeting other dogs, isn’t afraid of trash cans or street signs, and even has a dogwalker. She’s still timid about some things, but the change is remarkable. I’m so proud of her.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Republicans in the Senate and Congress, especially toward the end of the year.

Where did most of your money go?
The mortgage, Italy, adoption fees.

What did you get really excited about?
Running. Italy. Living outside on our deck in the summer. Girls’ weekend in DC. My neighborhood. Meeting a great group of fun, generous, local parents who have adopted from Korea. Finally watching Mad Men. David Gray/Ray Lamontagne, Swell Season, and The Frames concerts. Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter beer. Watching Stella run on the beach and in the snow.

What song will always remind you of 2010?
I can’t think of a particular song, but probably something by Frightened Rabbit, Mason Jennings, Mumford and Sons, or the Avett Brothers.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Photography and writing.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being sad in the wintertime because it’s so dark. Worrying about the possibility of a running injury. Being snarky when it’s really not called for.

What was your favorite TV program?
Mad Men, with Modern Family as runner-up

What was the best book you read?
I read 15 books this year, two more than last year. The New Yorker takes up a lot of my reading time! I liked The Road and The History of Love best.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Frightened Rabbit

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I dress pretty conservatively for work, I put on stretchy pants as soon as I get home, and I love getting dressed to go out on the weekends—heels, slim jeans, a fun top, and always interesting jewelry, especially long necklaces, bangle bracelets, and big rings (not all at the same time). I tend to buy too many coats.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—really, anything to do with gay rights. Health care is still a biggie, too.

What kept you sane?
Late Sunday afternoons with a glass of wine and InStyle magazine, preferably on the deck. Summertime camping. Any stretch of a few days where I didn’t touch a computer. (Mind you, these are exactly the same as 2009.)

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
If I try hard enough, I can do something I never, ever thought I could.

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