2006: a look back

Two years ago, I came across this set of questions via Alex’s blog. My archives are still not up past a year ago so I can’t tell you how I got to it– just that it was through his site. For the last two years, I’ve looked forward to answering them again. This is my third time. So here you go: my 2006.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you’d never done before?

Shot a gun. Went to India. Visited a slum.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I mumbled something about staying healthier I really didn’t work on it much. For next year, yes: I’m making several. Finances will be in better order in a year. And I’m going to be a better email correspondent.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Ruth and Erez had their wonderful son, Liam. I got to see him in London in August.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Three weeks ago, I lost two friends. In unconnected events, Leslie Harpold and Allison Lange died the same weekend. It’s terrible and very sad.

5. What countries did you visit?

Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium for a couple hours, India, Canada (Quebec). (And I took the Eurostar!)

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

An acceptance from a Ph.D. program in architecture, a promise, better finances.

7. What date from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory?

July 3

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Reconnecting with Birke.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Probably still the money front.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from a couple of colds and the requisite stomach upsets one gets in India, nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A sari I bought from Archana’s mother and some clothing made especially for me in India.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Enrique. Birke. Abhishek. Archana. Udai. Asha. Paul. Carolyn. Jonathan and Caitlyn. Sean. Kentaro. Aditya. Gautam and Nimisha. Jenn. Rachel. Gaby. Thom. Meredith. My MED cohort. Enrique’s family. My brothers. Their kids. My parents and step parents.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

The Republican party. The friend I gave up on.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, paying down debt, groceries.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Cedric Price, who I am researching. Bangalore. Finding Birke again.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2005?

“If you come tomorrow,” by Rajkumar. “If you come tomorrow, it’s too early, if you come today, it’s too late… you pick the time, a ticktickticktickticktick a ticktickticktickticktick… Darling!”

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

1. happier or sadder? as happy

2. thinner or fatter? yeah, fatter

3. richer or poorer? slightly more money

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

Writing on Girlwonder. Being more daring with my writing.

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

Being scared to be a daring writer. Wasting time worrying about other people’s opinions.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

In Minneapolis with my family, and then new year with Enrique’s family in Texas. Possibly going to Michigan to visit the architecture Ph.D. program.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?


22. Did you fall in love in 2005?

I stayed in love. Does that count?

23. How many one night stands in this last year?


24. What was your favourite TV programme?

I actually watched TV! My favorites were Lost, Entourage, and Mythbusters (starring my old friend Adam).

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

No, because I don’t hate people. But I did give up on a friend after being disappointed one too many times.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?

For the first time, I’m having a terrible time answering this. I did read–lots–but it was connected to my thesis projects (and Cedric Price Works II is more a collection of drawings and articles). Most of these were articles, not books. The most illuminating thing I read was “Network Fever” by Mark Wigley. I also quite liked Hadas Steiner’s dissertation, but she’ll kill me for saying so. I’m working my way through Haruki Murakami’s short story collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman but I prefer his novels (and I loved Kafka on the Shore).

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Lady Sovereign. The Clientele. Grand National. But I’m more musically out of touch than I’ve ever been, and I should create a whole new set of musical resolutions.

28. What did you want and get?

I got a sister again! I found Birke, my German host sister. I lived with her family in 1990 for two weeks and stayed in touch with them till 1994. She was 7, her brother was 5. Then, they moved and the mother changed her last name. I googled Birke in May and not only found her, but discovered she had been an au pair for George Knight, a New Haven architect my friends work for and who teaches at Yale! Moreover, she was coming back to New Haven to care for the Knights’ newest kid. So from October till last week, we got to hang out for the first time in 16 years. She is now 24, beautiful and very bright–it was a ton of fun to be able to spend a lot of time with her.

And a sister-in-law, too — Carrie and my brother married in November. It’s different, now that she’s family.

And Bove (Jenn, that is) moved back to the US from London. I see her a lot more frequently.

29. What did you want and not get?

A chance to make it back to Italy before the Interaction Design Institute shut its doors. I’d never gotten to see the Milan incarnation and I’d never missed a graduation. Many of the students are dear friends and I wanted to be there for them and the professors… and to say a final goodbye to that chapter of my life. But I just couldn’t do it.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?

Nothing knocked my socks off. Things were cute and fun to see, like Prairie Home Companion and Little Miss Sunshine. I kick myself for not seeing Krrish in India but everyone else had gone.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 (!) on November 26. We gathered at the Anchor in New Haven the evening of the 25th. Over the course of the evening, a bunch of people stopped by. Birke came with a beautiful cake, shaped as a castle and dusted in powered sugar, like snow! At midnight, she lit candles and everyone sang happy birthday. I wore the requisite birthday tiara. When I gave a guy sitting alone a piece of cake, he thanked me by biking home and giving me a robin’s egg blue cashmere sweater that I wear.

On the day of my birthday, Birke and I dressed up as rockstars for a photo shoot. Her friend Chris shot us as Nagelack (German for nail polish) and we shouted, “Nagelack fuckin’ rocks!” as we loudly sang Nena songs in German. Birke makes a badass rockstar. Me? I don’t look as good in red leather pants as I did when I was thinner, but I did my best. When I got home, Enrique and I had steak and broccoli rabe for dinner.

I also discovered that when you turn 35, people say things like, “You don’t look that old!” One person walking by at the Worldchanging book launch party overheard me telling someone I’d just turned 35. “You do NOT look like you are 35! You do NOT!” This is well and good–but there’s a backhandedness to the comment, namely the perception that 35 is old. It’s problem pregnancy time. It’s why-aren’t-you-married time? I don’t have a problem with my age, I’m glad to look young, but the response to my age is weird.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Bringing Enrique with me to India. I wish he could’ve met my friends.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?

Introducing the kurta (long flowing Indian shirt) into my wardrobe.

34. What kept you sane?

Conversations with Enrique, my MED classmates, Jenn, Ali and Maggie.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Maybe Viggo Mortenson.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was stirred–and heartened–by the elections.

37. Who did you miss?

Enrique every day I was gone. San Francisco. Mike and Liz. Ben (aka Neb). John. Abhishek. Yashas. Archana. Now, Birke.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

There’s not a single person, but a bunch. It’s the people I met in India. First, I worked with a great crew: Jonathan, Carolyn, Kentaro, Udai, Nimmi, Prasad, Asha, Paul, Archana, Indrani, Aishwarya, Savita, and dozens of other people I’m not naming, were welcoming and smart. I love the work we did, the conversations we had. Then, Nimisha and Gautam, who worked with me as research assistants on the mobile sharing project. They opened up their worlds to me, introducing me to friends and family and many days of great conversations. Second, thanks to John Thackara, I met Aditya. Then, thanks to Aditya and Archana (who are more connected than anyone I’ve ever known), I met Yashas and Jasmine, Archana’s lovely group of friends, Zack and Abhishek. Not surprisingly, some of these people knew each other. It was a rich and wonderful 8 weeks, filled with some of the best conversations I’ve had in many years.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005.

There are several.

  • From Peggy Deamer, who’s departed Yale for New Zealand: always be able to state what’s personally at stake for you and develop your argument from there. (After my final review, this was the conversation we had in the bathroom).
  • A corollary to that, from my advisor, Emmanuel Petit: don’t be afraid of criticism. It never stops.
  • Ballsiness pays off. That’s what I learned when I met Sean at the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium in May– I asked what I’d have to do to spend a month or two in India. A proposal and a few phone calls later, I was on a plane.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

It’s The The. I got the song “This is the Day” stuck in my head the week before I left India and listened to it nonstop.

“Well… you didn’t wake up this morning

Because you didn’t go to bed

You were watching the whites of your eyes

Turn red

The calendar, on your wall, is ticking the days off

The calendar on your wall is ticking

the days off

You’ve been reading some old letters

You smile and think how much you’ve changed

All the money in the world

Couldn’t bring back those days.

You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes,

You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky.

This is the day — Your life will surely change.

This is the day — Your life will surely change.

You could’ve done anything — if you’d wanted

And all your friends and family think that you’re lucky.

But the side of you they’ll never see

Is when you’re left alone with the memories

That hold your life together like


1 comment

  1. Happy New Year! I hope 2007 brings us all closer to realizing our dreams and a contiuation of a good adventure!

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