Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

Cheers to 2014!
All year I've been wondering when I would get around to posting an entry in 2014.  Well, here I am, procrastinating and cutting it close as usual.

After all, it's been a huge year for me. I moved cross-country back to Pittsburgh after The Great Adventure that was my life from mid 2006 until this January. Just a few days after my last entry from 2013, my good friend Ralph flew over from Germany to visit me in my last 10 days on the West Coast.  This is us to the right celebrating my last Ring in the New Year Party with my former employer.


Then, one of my very best friends and undoubtedly my road dawg, Tina, flew out to San Diego and helped me not only pack up my apartment, but also get rid of 3/4ths of it on the free section of Craigslist to a massive swarm of people, and drove with me as far as Kansas City in 2 days.  One of the nights we spent driving through the night, alternating every 2 hours so the other could rest.  If that is not a true friend, I do not know what is.

Packing at some point late at night


Once returned, I faced down one of the worst winters I can remember.  I basically white-knuckled my way through it and reminded myself that Spring and Summer in the Northeast are fantastically green and lush, which is something I actually missed while living in the temperate San Diego climate.

During those two seasons, I got to take a few get-aways with some of my best friends--Liz, Tina and I to Nashville, TN and Lindsey and me for a concert in Cleveland.  I went to a Pirates game with a bunch of old friends from high school.  I spent many a summer evening sipping cool drinks on either my parents' back deck or in Liz's living room. I became part of Yelps Elite squad and attended as many events as I could in order to further my goal of re-acquainting myself with the city.
At a Bruno Mars Concert
Enjoying the Nashville sunshine



By the fall, my schedule was in full swing crazy.  I attended three weddings in six weeks, two of which were out of town.  One of those was back in San Diego, and let me tell you, going back after 9 months was really rather weird.  I do have my moments of missing California living and I don't regret the time I spent there one bit, but in the 4 days I spent back in Los Angeles and San Diego, I realized that it no longer felt quite like home.  I am really glad that I went back, though, and I want to take people back to San Diego for vacation as often as I can, especially those who weren't able to visit me while I lived there.  *coughLindseycough*
Wedding #1: Pittsburgh, PA

Wedding #2: San Diego, CA

Wedding #3: Rochester, NY
Later on in the year I got to take a great adventurous road trip in New England with Tina (3x of us seeing each other in one year is definitely some sort of awesome record, btw), and I fell in love with the state of Maine and the city of Boston.  I would go back to either in a heartbeat.
An all-too-brief stop in Portsmouth, NH
As the year wound down, I got to meet the newest member of my family, my second eldest brother's first child.  It meant a trip back to Tacoma, WA, which is actually where I myself was born and spent the first 8 years of my life.  I hadn't been back in all this time since, so it was really incredibly surreal to see old familiar sights and spend time with my family where it all began, or so to speak.

Proud papa right there!


I also lost a dear member of the family, the four-legged kind.  Miss Amelia passed away quietly on October 2nd, just shy of 7 years since I adopted her.  She was about 17 years old.  In the end, she completely stopped eating--only barely chewing enough wet food to take her hyper-thyroid medication--and was generally listless.  The last morning I saw her alive, I gave her a kiss on the head and told her I loved her.  My parents found her body that evening.  No one was surprised, but we were sad all the same.  I miss her all the time, and I like to think of her in a sun patch somewhere. Someday, I will get another cat and I even have designs on getting a dog, but that's further down the road.

Now that I'm staring down the barrel of the last 6 hours of the year, I find myself in awe of where my life is now compared to where it was a year ago.  It's so different living back in the Northeast, and in most ways it's good.  I like to think that I've brought a lot of the lessons that I learned in CA with me, but I'm also really appreciating Pittsburgh for what it is.  Even if I don't stay here forever, it's where I need to be right now, and it feels good to know that.

So what's in store for 2015?  First of all, I'm itching to get some stamps back in my passport since all of my travel this year was domestic.  Tina and I have been tossing around a visit to the UK, and I am really dying to get back to Germany, especially Berlin, and particularly because it will be 20 years since my first trip to Europe.

Secondly, I signed up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon again.  Kill me.

Thirdly, I will be looking to get back into my own place by next Spring.  The arrangement of living at home with my folks has been working out beautifully, but I am ready to re-establish my own homestead and be closer to the city.

Wishing you and yours all the health and prosperity in the New Year!

Maria