It's that time of year again when I really start thinking about what's happened in the last 12 months. How have I changed? What has made this year different? Was this year my best yet, as it always should be?

2009 was a hard year for me. Probably my hardest actually. Probably my most exciting too. Definitely my most life-changing. I can't believe how much I've been able to experience in such a short time. Some of it was really good. Some of it, not so good. But all of it is responsible for making me a different person than I was last December; all of it is responsible for making me a person that I like much more than I liked the person in my shoes last December.

In 2009 I left my bank job that I loved so much. I fell in love with school. I tried ten new flavors of vafly. I got a parasite. I made new life-long friends. I lost some friends that I thought were going to be life-long. I felt how hard it was to see people leave. I felt how great it was to see them unexpectedly come back. I went to a Russian banya. I learned about religious freedom. I competed in several gruelling legal competitions. I saw our nation's capital. I got swine flu. I broke my hand. Had some surgery too. I lost 18 pounds in six weeks. I finished a year and a half of law school. I applied to a thousand firms. I accepted zero jobs. I lost a great grandma. I learned how to party. I grew my hair. I started wearing ties more often. I learned how to parallel park. I visited 10,000 Russian Orthodox Church services. I bought an icon. I fainted twice. I saw my Ukrainian friends that I've missed for five years. I cried my eyes out at the train station when I had to say goodbye. I helped teach a contracts class. I started taking sleeping pills. I sort of started sleeping. I finally learned about the federal income tax system. I fell in love with Moscow. I got a tan and retained it for four whole weeks. I moved twice. I learned more about how strong my family is. I only ran two road races, but did better than expected in both. I was gifted a build-a-bear by a crazy person. I went through four phones. I learned a few new songs on the guitar. I forgot most of them. I bought a Wally Lamb book at an airport and didn't get past the third chapter. I got to know the US embassy in Moscow. I ate about forty gallons of borshch. I saw the Hermitage. I saw Lenin. I bought art from a guy underground in the middle of the night. I learned how to make cookie-fruit-salad. I lived at the law building. I got Adeno virus. I fell in love with Promethazine. I fell out of love with Lortab. I stopped caring about things that don't matter. I started the walk-America campaign and held to it for two straight months. I switched from only hating one political party to hating two political parties. I got only slightly closer to finishing Crime and Punishment. I visited an orphanage. I decorated for Halloween. I fought a couple of battles. I won them at a cost. I didn't regret it. I had dinner overlooking an ocean. I lost a flip-flop in the snow. I accidentally ran 13 miles with a friend. I emailed strangers thousands of miles away to beg them to let me come live with them. I slept on a communal train with my bag tied around my body. I drank out of a river. I got rescued by a Tajikistanian in a beat up Lada. I learned how to schedule three meetings at once, several times a day, without missing anything. I ate broccoli soup in the middle of the night in a new cafe. I gave a couch away. I had a sleepover with my six year old niece. We ate broccoli and ice cream. Vintage. I played spoons in a pool. I played what time is it Mr. Fox with some cute kids in their backyard. I ran in the mountains. I started eating chocolate a little bit. I took a wagon ride on Halloween. I was grossed out by a water park. I accidentally carried pepper spray onto a tiny plane. I became obsessed with a tv show about high school football. I almost ate a stuffed green pepper that looked like puke. I bought four dollar sunglasses and lost them in the ocean 24 hours later. I bought replacement sunglasses for five dollars that don't seem quite as good. I lost my voice because of pollution. I watched the movie "Taken" on the floor of an abandoned corner in a German airport. I learned how to Salsa dance. I edited a treatise. I took naps on the grass. I enjoyed life.

I'm not really sure what's going to happen in 2010. We never really know; and that unsurity for some reason seems to be much more obvious during this time of year, forging a tighter bond yet highlighting the difference between our future hopes and growing nostalgia for the past. I always find myself trying to balance my thoughts between that nostalgia and a focus on the future. It won't do much good to continue to obsess over things that came and went. But it would seem like a total waste to just ignore all the laughs and drama simply because their fifteen minutes are up. I guess as long as we figure out how to take the lessons from the past and use those as a part of the process of molding our future hopes, the nostalgia is justified and should even be encouraged. In any event, blogging world, I hope the lessons of 2009 help 2010 just get stranger for you all~