Monday, December 28, 2009

The Year that Was

It is customary at the close of the year to reflect on the events of the past 12 months. The purpose, for me, is to see where I was 12 months ago and where I'm headed in the upcoming year.

2009 began with my first trip to India and ended with a new friend's first trip to Sydney. In between, I experienced a host of interesting events, which I will attempt to sum up briefly here.

3rd January 2009: I return home from a Christmas trip to Phoenix.

4th January 2009: I depart for New Dehli, India for a week long business trip. I know what you're thinking: how does one survive a 15-hour flight from the United States to Australia, only to turn around and take another 13-hour flight to India from Australia? The answer: business class upgrade on my LAX to Sydney flight!

My week in India was fascinating and grueling at the same time. I had a class with 20 students, but also managed to get in the sights of the city with some fellow co-workers, as well as a day trip to see the Taj Mahal. As impressive as the structure is, it is still a tomb. I prefer monuments to the living, which is why skyscrapers have always fascinated me.

Over the several months after the trip, I began settling into my new life in Sydney more and more. I made some new friends and attended my very first Australian Football League game. I am not much for sport, but I found the AFL game fast moving and exciting.

Throughout the year I had several out of country visitors, starting with my old friend Daniel who flew down from Montréal en route to Bali and then back to Sydney again to spend several days with me. In August I welcomed my parents to Australia for an entire month and practically exhausted them, I think, with escapades all over Sydney, as well as to the Hunter Valley, Melbourne, and Port Douglas in North Queensland. Finally in December my friends Randy and John came down for several weeks to experience summer in winter, so to speak. It was John's first trip down, so I was amused to see his reaction to Sydney and to my eclectic mix of friends and neighbours. We even attended a number of parties and partook in Janets Pies, which are about the best I've had in the area. John is now a huge fan of the meat pie!

If my first year in Sydney was a little solitary, then the second has turned out to be much less so. After careful thought and planning (is there any other way?) I decided to move to a larger apartment away from the centre of the city. I found a lovely little townhouse apartment in Alexandria, which is an inner city suburb not too far from the Sydney Airport. At the same time, it is still only minutes away from my office, so it was no compromise for me. I fell in love with it the minute I walked in. Two full bedrooms and bathrooms. The guest bedroom downstairs even has its own bathroom, so my guests needn't bother coming upstairs. It also has a decent sized balcony with doors that open all the way. Perfect for entertaining!

The nicest surprise of the new neighbourhood is the Love Grub cafe, just downstairs from me. The staff and patrons alike are friendly and full of life. Within weeks, I'd met several new people, many of whom I call friends now. Thanks to the Love Grub, I met Wendy and Daniel, a lovely couple who run a photography studio up the street from me. I was even able to take their beginner's course at the end of 2009. In October, Jacqui and Justin - who run the Love Grub - moved into the unit next to mine. And to round things out, Jacqui's sister Domonique lives in the one-bedroom apartment just above the cafe. Domi quipped that we've become Melrose Place, and I tend to agree!

2009 was not without its sorrows, too. In September my dear friend's mother passed away after many years of battling cancer. The loss of Marilyn was a terrible blow to the family and to me, too. I even dedicated my first blog post to her. It was my way of ensuring that her memory lives on. She is sorely missed.

I have deliberately skipped discussing politics in this article, for the obvious reason that I do not wish to engage in topics of little value to me these days. Until a man of integrity and principle rises to steer my home country back towards its proper founding ideals, I will have little to say on the matter.

In closing, I'd like to recommend my two favourite films of the year: Up and Julie & Julia, which I have discussed in greater detail in previous articles. Both appealed to my childlike sense of wonder at the world I live in, as well as my admiration for great achievements in life. And yes, two of my goals in 2010 are to perfect Julia's Boeuf à la bourguignonne AND to de-bone a duck. Take that, Julie Powell!

Here is to a fruitful and value-laden 2010!