lounging in Hawaii in November
i realize it's more popular to hate on a departing year than love it -- and 2014 was mighty ugly on a global scale with its ebola scare, police brutality, missing airplanes, midterm elections and scary religious fundamentalists -- but on a personal level, it was about 8 different types of AWESOME. so i'd like to take this time to give it a warm hug, sloppy kiss, bag of chips and playful smack on the ass as it makes its way out of the front door to join the ranks of other years most people would rather forget.
as cliche as it sounds, for me this year felt like the first chapter of a new book about the rest of my life. it's the type of book i never thought would be written for me, as it involves marriage and motherhood, two Big Life Events that i'm still surprised are going to happen. but happening they seem to be, more fast and furious now as my due date and date with a courthouse justice appear early on 2015's calendar.
visiting the rubber duck that floated into the Port of Los Angeles in August
but before i get there, i want to gaze lovingly at 2014 to acknowledge it as that pivotal year that has made all prior years and will make all future years look starkly different from one another. of course, central to this year has been my beloved Warren, whom i never thought i would end up with when we first met back in 2010. i still didn't think it a year or three later. so much for love at first site and other youthful delusions of romance. ours was a slow, steady burn, with a year-long interruption and then reconciliation that culminated in a pregnancy and proposal that were equal parts magical and disorienting.
though we've both engaged in our fair share of traveling separately, our recent travels together have easily been the best trips of my life. i'm not just saying this because i have to, since you know, i have to say such a thing about my fiance, but we really do make excellent travel companions. i know this was a non-negotiable check box in both our lists of Things My Life Partner Must Be.
as great as our trip to Costa Rica was in 2013, our trip to New York in January of this year was the most thoroughly magical, from start to finish. the sightseeing, socializing with new and old friends, road trip to Rhode Island, Times Square at 3am, overeating at Jewish delis, visiting the Ghost Busters firehouse, drinking hot toddies at a jazz bar at midnight, and freakish snowstorm that delayed our departure and gave us a true winter wonderland to experience -- all while holding hands, laughing and looking at each other amorously -- could have made an excellent music montage in a romantic comedy.
Warren gazing at a red and white pizza from Lombardi's; freezing my nuts off outside the Ghost Busters firehouse
then in May, we found ourselves in Japan, visiting a country and continent that were new to both of us. Japan certainly brought us a fair share of magic, but it stayed a work trip first and foremost, as we had to cover Japan Night for GEEK magazine, so we had fewer opportunities for the revelry and random adventures that made New York so special. plus, i got a horrendous case of food poisoning halfway through the trip that rendered me feverish, weak and dehydrated for several days during and after.
Warren played hero throughout the whole episode, enduring the worst of it alongside me, as he took my temperature and brought me water, soup and cold compresses through a very long night when i ran to the bathroom every 20 minutes and tossed in bed. it was around then that i began wondering whether he could be "the one" -- or, rather, hoping that he would be.
turntable battle with a robot at the Robot Restaurant
sadly, our post-Japan excitement was tempered by the news that the publisher of GEEK was pushing us off its roster in its efforts to rebrand, making the eight-page, photo-heavy spread of our trip to Japan, which Warren took photos for, an impossibility as we never published another issue. i did manage to get one article up on the GEEK website about Japanese band Man With a Mission, who played at Japan Night. but months later, the site would be redirecting visitors to the revamped publisher's new website, making all the stories published in the two years of GEEK's operations, some of them mine, vanish. a definite low point of my year.
my last piece in the last print issue of GEEK, published in May.
we also welcomed two new furries into the family, a decision neither of us would likely replicate today with a baby on the way, but one that made a lot of sense at that time given all the tears i was shedding over my still-very-much-missed Pinko's death. the two boys did plenty to cheer me up, or at least distract me, while also providing a steady stream of mischief, destruction, puddles of piss and aggravation. nine months later, i'm happy to report that the household is (mostly) calm with the furries fully integrated. though, like in any family, the boys still drive us crazy but we put up with it because we love them.
more dogs than people
aside from my annual 4th of july fireworks viewing party on the deck, this summer's highlight was watching the World Cup with my Tico and our assorted friends of all stripes and loyalties. i yelled at the TV like a bonafide sports fan and got pregnant after a heated game like a total soccer cliche. but to my credit, i will not be naming my son after a star goalie or kicker. that unexpected surprise did much to change the course of my summer from the usual drinking and late nights to one of doctor's visits and early bedtimes as the first trimester and all its assorted anxieties ran their course.
if you told me at the start of 2014 that i would be pregnant this year, i would have laughed in your face (while secretly hoping you were right). though being a mother has been a longstanding goal of mine, it always seemed like some abstract concept to be saved for later. but given that i'm nearly 40, an alarming fact i've always been in denial about, i'm glad i'm facing it now. i'm also glad this pregnancy was a surprise and that this baby is coming at me like a torpedo without the forethought that comes with planning for a child. because if i had the chance to overthink this, i may have delayed it even further, which would have made my aging eggs even staler.
my patootie in 3D in October
the fall saw Warren officially moving in with me after unofficially living with me for over a year, an event he commemorated by building out a mancave in the garage, where much of his old furniture now resides. then came a fun-filled trip to Disneyland for his 36th birthday in September, a day he concluded by dropping into a bended knee proposal that i was not expecting despite being three months pregnant. of course, i blurted out a bumbling response that amounted to a "yes" in the least romantic way imaginable. of course, we laughed it off and, of course, we haven't done any planning for a real wedding, though a quickie shotgun wedding at the courthouse when i'm 8 months pregnant is in the works, just how i always imagined! super classy.
an appropriate metaphor for our dive into marriage and parenthood, courtesy of Splash Mountain
in October, Warren shuffled off to a month-long solo adventure in Southeast Asia, a trip he had been planning and anticipating for over a year. it took him to several countries and wildlife refuges he had always wanted to see, while allowing for Skype sessions for us to stay connected (god bless the internet). meanwhile, i took a girls trip to Hawaii with the same girlfriends i went to Italy with two years ago, where i sat on the beach, tanned my big belly, drank virgin mai tais and binged on starchy cuisine. it was HEAVEN.
overdosing on estrogen at a Hawaiin lookout in November
later in November, Warren and i were joyfully reunited and have spent the remainder of the year lounging, laughing, streaming movies, cooking for each other and whiling away the few lazy sunday mornings we have left in bed before our son turns our world upside down in march. it's been delightful to do nothing and i hope to do it as often as possible for as long as possible going into the new year.
the nothingness was interrupted by our hosting of Thanksgiving this year, which saw our families meeting for the first time, an event we were happy to see go exceptionally well, despite or perhaps because of my dad's odd, off-color jokes. then came a christmas tree in the living room, a first for this jew, though i must confess i've enjoyed its pretty lights and fresh pine scent. and lately, we've been back to the nothing, with a growing dose of motivation to finally get the nursery together.
a special ornament Warren made for our tree (miss you, sweet girl)
now as i bid 2014 a final goodbye to begin a chapter that will likely be the most transitional of my life, i feel perfectly at ease about what the future holds, a sensation i never thought i'd know. maybe it's the time, timing, finally having the right person by my side or the pregnancy hormones, but i've gotten better at enjoying the present goodness without worrying about all the elements outside of my control.
and though i know my life is far from settled, with many more chapters to be written -- chapters that will probably surprise, discourage and disappoint me -- i'm happy to live them because they are mine and every step has been a gift, even when it's felt like a punishment. or at least that's what all the zen master, self-help crap has been telling me.