Wherein I Am Late to the Party, As Usual

I’m having a hard time, these days, coming up with anything to write. So, I’ll just steal Leah’s year-end meme.  And I realize we are already 11 days into the new year, but the words, they are eluding me these days. Also, I’m reminded that last year was “Reboot 2010,” and I think I managed to do just that. Anyway:

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
 Attended BlogHer in New York. Visited (a little) New York City. Played drums (badly.)
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I’m not big on resolutions, though I do like to have a word or theme for the year. Last year it was Reboot 2010. This year, Peace. So far, I’m kinda failing on the peace agenda, though I did kick my Diet Coke habit. So there’s that.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One of my college roommates had a little boy, and the other roommate is pregnant and due in February. It’s kinda blowing my mind.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just the United States, but I managed to hit an amazing number of those states during the last half of the year. My mind boggles at the travel I’ve been doing.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
More patience and a thicker skin. I might be waiting a long time for those two virtues.
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
8/2/10 was my last day at Apple, after eight years there. And those eight years were something else – from the days when it looked like the company wouldn’t survive to, well, the juggernaut it has become. I’m proud to have been a part of it all, proud to have made a difference, and I’ll miss it.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Landed a new job after a rather grueling interview experience. If you’ve ever been Topgraded, you know. And if you haven’t been Topgraded, try to avoid it.
9. What was your biggest failure?
The temporary falling-out with my sister. I regret that.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was stricken with the flu during my new hire training week. It was all I could do to remain upright. I’m sure I infected half the company. Sorry, guys.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The Mini Cooper. SO. MUCH. FUN. TO. DRIVE! And, also, the drum kit. SO. MUCH. FUN. TO. PLAY!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband, who put up with my mild depression earlier in the year, who celebrated new hobbies with me, who endured that grueling interview process, and who celebrated with me every step of the way. That man is a keeper.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

 Pleading the fifth here.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Besides the mortgage? Good food and cheap wine. We made a conscious effort in 2010 to eat more organically and to select naturally raised meat and poultry. It has been worth it.

15. What did you get really excited about?
BlogHer in New York! The Mini Cooper! A red drum kit! A new job!
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Seven Bridges Road by The Eagles. Because we saw them live, and they opened with this song, which they rarely sing but has always been a favorite of mine. I like to believe they sung it just for me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

–happier or sadder? Happier, considering the near-crippling depression of last winter. But not nearly as happy as I thought I’d be, which is kinda sad.
–thinner or fatter? About the same, actually, though I feel healthier.
–richer or poorer? Richer, by a little. But no amount of income will ever erase that feeling from childhood that money is scarce and we’re on the brink of financial ruin. I know it’s not true, but it’s there in the back of my mind just the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Hanging out with our families, including a three-hour midnight karaoke marathon wherein I sang all the songs (and I don’t sing in front of people. ever.), an epic nerf-gun battle with my dad, brother, and nephews, the gift of music for my side of the family, and a lovely road trip with my darling husband.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Every single day.
22. What was your favorite TV program?

We only get basic cable, because it keeps the cost of our internet service down. But we rented and watched the entire series, My Name Is Earl. Loved it. And I have no idea how we missed it when it was originally on TV. Go figure.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
My favorite books of the year were the Sunday Philosophy Club and 44 Scotland Street series written by Alexander McCall Smith. I loved their gentle humor and irony, and I loved the tenderness of human interaction. They’re something special.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

First is my unadulterated joy from learning the drums. I am fascinated at how time flies when I’m playing. And second would have to be Iron Maiden. Don’t laugh! Husband has been a fan for years, and I’ve just never seen the appeal. Then, he found an acoustic, Spanish-guitar version of one of their songs….and suddenly! I got it! I really get their music now. And I like it. So there.
26. What did you want and get?
A drum kit. The Mini Cooper. A new job.
27. What did you want and not get?
I’m pretty spoiled. But I wanted things for my husband. We’re working on those now.
27a. What did you not want and not get?
How about “what did you not want and still get?” instead. An allergic reaction to my allergy shots, that’s what.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I can’t really think of a favorite film for 2010. There’s nothing that stands out in my mind – mostly because we only went to the theater maybe twice all year.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 37 in September and spent Labor Day weekend in San Francisco. Seeing the city and visiting my in-laws. It was exactly what I wanted.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Seriously? A lot of satisfying things happened this year, so much so that I’m a little embarrassed by how fortunate I’ve been. Immeasurably more satisfying? Probably more chocolate truffles.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Mostly jeans and t-shirts, till I got that new job. Now it’s conservative suits and heals for work, and jeans and t-shirts for everything else. That’s not really a “fashion concept.” It’s more like the daily uniform. Whatever.

32. What kept you sane?

Husband, drum kit, xanax. In that order. Seriously.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I have an intellectual crush on a world famous drummer. I’m not saying more than that.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?

We talked a lot, and passionately, about health care reform and immigration. I have strong opinions about both, which don’t necessarily fall into either of the current political ideologies.

35. Who did you miss?

I miss my grandmother. A lot.
36. Who was the best new person you met?

I met Pam in person for the first time, though we’ve been online friends for years. And April, who was a surprise instant friend and BlogHer roomie.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
I feel like I keep learning the same things over and over, which probably means I’m not getting the lesson the first go round. As always: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not proud. Love is slow to anger. Love endures all things.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

A chance to break from the past / The caravan thunders onward / Stars winking through the canvas hood / On my way at last / In a world where I feel so small / I can’t stop thinking big

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I’ve been traveling pretty much non-stop since the first week of August. I have been on six flights, three subways, five cabs, two rental cars, and one train. The girl gets around. And, in lieu of a detailed analysis of all I’ve seen and done, I offer up these snapshots:

The Winds of Change

Life has been slightly turbulent for the past month here at Chez Knighton, and it looks to continue for another three weeks or so. Mainly because I’ve resigned my position at my current fruit-flavored employer and will transition to another company on August 9th.

To add to the adventure of changing jobs, I’ll be traveling to New York next week for BlogHer. Then taking the train from NYC to Boston to meet a new colleague and attend a few meetings, and later in the week flying home to entertain my parents for a few days, just before flying out to Virginia for an entire week of training at the headquarters. August is booked solid.

And while this looks like a lot, and actually is a lot, I’m more excited about work and this new adventure than I’ve been in a long time. I can hardly wait to get started.

But first, I must plan my wardrobe and shoes!

The Day It All Began

Well, it wasn’t actually that day. Looking back now, I can see that it all began at lot earlier. But one fine Spring day in a classroom at a small university in West Texas, I got my first taste of what it feels like to be rejected for one’s faith.

At a staunch Southern Baptist college, I had one radical professor who insisted we read the Bible with new eyes, like we had never been exposed to it before. Mind you, he was talking to a room full of life-long Christians, most (if not all) raised in strict, conservative evangelical homes. We had been memorizing scripture since before we could write. And this doctor of theology wanted us to read the New Testament without preconceived notions, to think for ourselves for the first time in our lives.

I was secretly thrilled for the challenge. So I did. Or at least, I tried.

It was in classroom discussion later in the semester, that I opened my mouth and uttered an interpretation that differed wildly from everything any of us had ever been taught. And the looks I got were some of the angriest I have yet encountered.

Several of my friends refused to speak with me. Some for nearly a month. It rocked my little world in such a way, that I never again criticized the accepted doctrine while attending university. At least not while the critics were listening, and only vaguely, tangentially when in the company of my dearest friends.

And for the next fifteen years, I towed the doctrinal line in public, and harbored doubts and questions in private. Until a couple years ago, when the exhaustion of all that deceit finally got to me, when I was maligned and judged by people who had no real insight into my life or my faith. When a casual comment revealed months of hurtful gossip, and I walked away.

I have mentioned before that I am not an open book. My internal workings, thoughts, hopes, and dreams are not on public display to be perused, discussed, judged, and dismissed. I developed the art of concealment in response to well-meaning Christians who behaved as though transparency was a requirement rather than an option. And I learned long ago, in that fateful classroom, that to avoid the pain of rejection and judgement, I had to keep my big questions, doubts, and ideas to myself.

It is thanks to dear friends like the Agnostic Pentecostal, and new-found sojourners like Rachel Held Evans, that I hold some semblance of hope that I can work out this faith and all its questions. And maybe this time, just maybe, I won’t be rejected. Maybe I’m not actually wrong for seeing the world differently. Maybe I’ll be ok.

Chicken on the Drums*

Don’t panic.

That’s what I told myself all day as I waited in anticipation of the delivery of a set of wine red drums. Which my drum teacher would be helping me assemble and tune. And then play.

Don’t panic.

So, we set up the kit and got to work. But not before I admitted my anxiety, my perfectionist tendencies, and my serious fear of playing any kind of instrument in front of another human being. And also my crush on a world-renowned drummer, to whose skill I could never hope to aspire.

He thought that was ok and we got to work. And you know what? To my astonishment, it wasn’t bad or scary or intimidating. Well, maybe a little intimidating. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I ended the lesson with a huge ridiculous smile on my face.

Because that? That was a whole hell of a lot of fun. And if I hadn’t been playing for over an hour already, I’d practice a little more. I’m having a blast!

*Bonus points for catching the reference.

Unlearning the Easy Lessons (Source Material)

The function of public education was (and is) to turn out compliant workers. Not educated voters, not passionate ideamakers. No, we spend all this money on school taxes to be sure that there will be enough people to do all the work that the factories once needed done. Exceptional teachers, the ones who make a difference, are not only rare, but they’re almost always in trouble for bending the rules and not optimizing for the standardized tests.

I love math. I love the idea of working with numbers, of inventing cool ideas that click. But memorizing factors of 32? It’s clearly an effort to teach you to be taught, to instruct you in compliance, to follow the curriculum.

The brainwashing continues to this day. You’ve been brainwashed to believe that you’re stuck with what you’ve got, that you need to punch a clock, follow a manual and do what you’re told. I wonder who dreamed that up? It’s certainly in the interest of the dominant forces of our society to create an oversupply of eager and compliant workers. But now, as the power shifts, so does your opportunity.

Are you serious about transformation? I’m not talking about polishing yourself, improving yourself, making things a bit better. I’m talking about the reset button, a reinvention that changes the game. That means an overhaul in what you believe and how you do your job. If you’re up for that, then right here, right now, you can start.

Do work that matters.

– Seth Godin, Brainwashed