I suppose blogging in general took a big hit in 2011 eh? I mean, everywhere you look now, people are using tumblr, Facebook, or even Google+ for blogging these days, and the old-fashioned site-as-blog has more or less evaporated. But I've always been part futurist and part luddite, so I've no intention on following suit. This blog may have become sparse over this past year, but it's still the one place where I can post anything I want, on any topic I want, and still retain control over my content. I'll likely keep this up and running right until Diaspora becomes more portable/accessible, or some other similar project comes along and does a better job.
But this post, I couldn't skip out on this one. It's the annual recap post. It's like the Christmas Card I never sent to anyone that recaps what's happened in my life this past year. Like all of its predecessors, it's a long one, so you might want to grab a beverage ;-)
An Unhappy Start
2011 started out pretty down for me. I'd been laid off from my less-than-enjoyable gig at Work [at] Play and had, on the advice of my good friend Chris Rhodes, decided to take the opportunity to look for work in Europe. I had moved out of my $1300/mo apartment in Vancouver's West End, and into my grandparent's basement in Delta, and was actively looking for work overseas: France, Germany, and the Netherlands were all candidates, and Japan & Korea were both pie-in-the-sky hopeful locations. I got three interviews in Europe, two in Munich and one in Amsterdam, and from them, two offers. Unfortunately, I didn't much like the prospect of those offers, and the 3rd company wasn't interested (I wasn't sufficiently enthusiastic about Perl). I was unemployed, in debt, and living in my grandparent's basement. I was 31.
But then Shit Got Real
Things started to look up though after I had an interview with a Dutch company who offered me a gig literally 15minutes after the phone interview. They offered to handle my visa and arrangements for my initial lodging, and wrapped this in a six month contract for a rate that seemed reasonable. I was set. I was moving to Europe.
I said my goodbyes to my friends, and then to my family, packed all of my worldly belongings into three bags, and got on a plane. It wasn't scary, rather I had gone into that "autopilot" mode I have, where the future is committed, there's no sense in worrying about it. In retrospect though, I'm still surprised that I managed it with so little stress.
Just when I thought that money was going to get super-tight, I stumbled into two $5k cheques: one from the Canadian government, a tax refund for the six years I'd been putting off doing my taxes, and the other for my involvement with TheChange. Together, these two helped pay off my growing credit card balance and finance my move into a new, unfurnished place here in Bussum. Kids, never let it be said that money is the problem. It's not. If you line up everything else, it always seems to work out.
Five Weddings in Five Cities
Then there were the weddings. Jesus Christ people, did you all have to get married all in the same year??? I'd missed Annie & Desmond's nuptials back in 2007 and will regret it forever, I wasn't going to let that happen again with some of the closest people in my life. Shawna & Michael had their ceremony in Yeosu, Stephen & Irena had theirs in Toronto, Chrystal & TJ had a reception in Vancouver, while my brother & Shawna got married in Kelowna, and Noreen & Craig rounded out the year with their wedding in Honolulu. If you're curious, that works out to roughly 35,653kilometres (about 1/10th of the distance to the Moon), about $5507CAD (before carbon credits, Mother Earth hates me) and 26 days off work (105% of my vacation)... and I'd do it again. Each wedding was an exciting experience and a milestone in the lives of people I love. I can think of no better way to have spent my time and resources this past year.
Politics and Missed Opportunities
Somewhere in there, Canada got a new King government, a new NDP Official Opposition (yay!), and the Green Party saw it's first MP elected (more yay!). Politically, it was a HUGE year in Canada and I really felt left out of it all. There are days, on this side of the Atlantic, that I feel like I gave up on a life I could/should have had when I left Toronto, or Vancouver, and I wonder if it was the Right thing to do. What would it have been like to work with Adriane Carr on her campaign? Could I have helped enough to see her take a second seat? If I'd stayed in Toronto, could I have helped keep Ford out, or even just helped another candidate take a council seat? Would I be running for a council seat in the next election? I suppose that the biggest lesson learnt from this year so far has been that each decision commits you to walking through one door to the exclusion of others, and that commitment requires a certain acceptance of this fact.
Rounding it all Out
I ended the year with a trip home for Christmas with the family, paying off my student loans, and closing my account at CIBC. I entered 2012 100% debt-Free and unsupportive of big banks. I even managed to ditch Facebook.
The bulk of the rest of the year was filled with weekend trips to different cities and towns around the Netherlands, a pair of trips to London and Paris, a short romantic relationship with a lovely girl that turned into a wonderful friendship, and a few more friends on top of that -- all of this wrapped in a cloud of shell shock, excitement, and frustration that comes with living in a new city, new country, new continent, and new culture. It's been good for me I think, and I'm glad I've made the decisions that brought me to this time and place in my life.