How do you measure time?
Up until I finished my degree at SFU, I would recall events by what grade (K-12) or year (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) I was in. After there were no more school years, I remembered things by whether they happened before or after Russia, my stint in Australia, the US road-trip, or Peru. I’ve gotten so used to measuring things by grade levels or international borders that not boarding a plane between Montréal last summer and Vegas this summer made it difficult to remember what happened in between. This memory-lapse phenomenon might be why people make annual summary newsletters or blog posts; it’s why I’m doing it.
2011. I remember going into the year thinking that it couldn’t be worse than 2010. It wasn’t.
I started the year by taking a full-time contract administrative position at an engineering firm, while working part-time at a medical clinic doing their billing, and taking on two new clients as a freelance copy writer. I remember being in Victoria when my friend called about the first client, and then in Bellingham when another friend called about the second client. I was working between 50 and 70 hours a week for the first four months of the year and I was in love with my busy schedule. So in love that I filled any time I had between working hours with volunteer shifts at the PuSh Festival, snowboarding on Grouse Mountain, and organizing the WordCamp: Developers conference. Even my lunch breaks were spent either on the phone with clients, with MSP billing services, or reading one of the five books I got through in the first four months. I drank a lot of coffee and developed a very bad habit of eating chocolate whenever I entered or left the apartment or my car (I always had a box of chocolates by the door and in the car), but I was having a good time.
Though I loved my schedule, I knew I couldn’t keep this up forever and I had come to realize a few things along the way about what I really wanted. And so, it was a fresh new start. My contract at the engineering firm ended, I trained new hires at the medical clinic, and focused on my clients and the WordCamp: Developers conference. The conference went so well that I was beaming for days afterwards. But once the conference was over, I suddenly had all this free time and I didn’t know what to do with it.
This is where things got tricky. My close friend asked me to be a bridesmaid for her destination wedding in November (which I accepted of course!). There was also a stagette in Vegas and a bridal shower to plan, a birthday trip to Tofino for another close friend, and a trip to Squamish with the two – all spaced a month or two apart. I wouldn’t be able to travel or take a permanent full-time position until after the wedding, so I was in a bit of a limbo with a lot of time to fill between engagements, and a lot of upcoming costs. I started to worry a bit (and then a lot), but I consider myself a very lucky person so I knew things would work in the end.
An old classmate then contacted me out of the blue and offered me a temporary summer position with flexible hours, a client referred me to another company who contracted my copy writing services, and a company in the UK offered to sponsor some blog posts. Things started to slowly fall into place, and I spent the summer making day-trips to the states where I sorted some paperwork for American citizenship (I’m now officially a dual citizen), and to the island where a company arranged a sponsored caving trip for me. The PuSh Festival had long ended by then, but the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon was just revving up for its third year so I worked on that with Ang and Morten, and then started volunteering at other events like SPCA’s Paws for a Cause, and updating First United’s Raiser’s Edge donor database. I also wrote my first short novel during the 3-day Novel Contest. This relaxed do-whatever summer was a huge departure from the frantic pace of the first third of the year. I had fun but I wasn’t sure I enjoyed having quite so much free time, so I decided to fill it with something else in the fall: school.
I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to continue taking classes! I love learning new things. 8 ) I enrolled in two classes at UBC as a political science major, another class outside of university to pursue a passion in the arts, and ended up taking sword fighting lessons for kicks. When I was at the UBC bookstore to get my student ID, I overheard a first year student who didn’t want to buy a used textbook even if it was in perfect condition just because it was “used.” I remember thinking the same thing in my first semester and then realizing by the second semester that new textbooks are a major money pit. I really wanted to tell him what I knew – what he would eventually learn but would help him to know now. I couldn’t very well approach every first year student on campus to give advice, so I pitched a student life column to Vancouver 24 Hours and was positively thrilled when the editor-in-chief read my sample article and offered me a paid weekly column!
Throughout the term at UBC – part three of my year – things got a bit rough on the relationship front with the strain of my friend’s wedding taking its toll on everyone. There was one point after my birthday where I was ready to throw in the towel as a bridesmaid and forego the money I had spent so far on wedding trip deposits and payments (over $2,000 at this point). Like I said, it was a rough patch. We ended up talking through it all though, and the Vegas weekend stagette, the Vancouver stagette, the bridal shower, and all three parts of the wedding in Vancouver, Mexico and then Vancouver again went on (almost) as planned. The week in Mexico was an incredible disaster as far as a destination wedding / “vacation” goes (LOL) but because it was so awful, it ended up being one of my favourite trips to date! I learned the most in this third part of the year thanks to my enabling friends, and I wouldn’t have changed our time together even if it was an option.
And that was 2011! It was like living three years in one, with some better than others and a lot of learning done along the way. I’m looking forward to 2012 and plan to make the most of it!
Here are some photos from 2011 that sum up the year (maximum one photo per event). There are lots of memories that I didn’t get to capture with the camera, and others that I did but wouldn’t post online out of courtesy to family and friends.