2011… One More Year to Go!

Time for my traditional new year’s post.  Mind you, it’ already Jan 3rd, which means this will likely be the Year of Procrastination.  And let’s not forget that 2012 is the year the universe ends, so we’ve got almost 2 years to get our shit done.  (And if I hear that the Large Hadron Collider has a special experiment slated for Dec 21, 2012, I’m gonna shit my pants.)

I rang in 2011 at my friend Kerry’s black tie party.  Here’s a sweaty pic of me from that night:

Jan 1, 2011

Now compare that to a similar photo taken Jan 1st, 2002, at a very boring New Year’s party at the National Press Club in Washington, DC:

Jan 1, 2002

In 9 years I lost hair and gained fat and glasses.  Aging sucks.

What’s in store for this year?  Well, I can only tell you my intents.  Frankly, the only thing on my mind right now is my career.  I need to maintain my productivity and get tenure!  But we all know that the comic books and ladies will get in the way somewhat.  And the burritos.

So, without further ado, here are the things I was grateful for in 2010, in no particular order.  Compare with 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.

My beloved parents.  I am acutely aware that my time with them is dwindling.

Being a professor.  Seriously, I never planned on being an academic when I did my PhD.  I’d always intended to be an independent contractor… and I did that for many years.  But here I, against all expectation, a full-time faculty member at the U of Ottawa.  And I love it!  I work every day of the week, often for 100 hours in a week, but I don’t mind.  I really do love it.  And not least of which because of…

My students.  This might surprise many of my colleagues, but I actually like my students.  Yes, they drive me crazy.  They often disappoint me.  Sometimes, their laziness and unfounded arrogance know no bounds.  But universally they mean well; and in a weird way, I like seeing my own lost niavete and enthusiasm reflected in their beedy little eyes.  And I do enjoy their company.  As much as my affection for students may surprise my colleagues, the following statement may surprise the students themselves: I –and my colleagues alike– actually care what happens to the students.  We care if they’re learning.  We care if they’re on the right career and life path.  We care, believe it or not.

Social networking.  People like to basj blogging, Twitter and Facebook, which is their right, I suppose.  But just like those people a decade ago who wouldn’t shut up about how much they disliked cell phones, I say: “no one is forcing you to get one! Stop your whining!”  To the same people who complain about Facebook while still being on Facebook, I say, “Stop you’re whining and delete your account!”  For me, the online social networks have been a salvation that provide a form of social contact in the wee hours, so I don’t feel like a complete loser when I’m up at 4:AM trying to get some work done.

My new condo.  I completed one year in my little box in the sky.   Who knew I’d be content in a tiny hovel in freakin’ Ottawa?  It’s been nice having a hole of my own.

My scooter.  Nicknamed “Libby”, my little green TNG Venice scooter makes this list because few people in their 40s ever bother to learn new physical skills or to take physical risks.  This year I decided to learn to ride a motorcycle, one of the more terrifying things I’ve done in the past few years.  Terrifying because, at heart, I’m a wimp, and because I actually managed to crash a Kawasaki 125 in training.  Purchasing my little scooter and using it daily has been one of the great joys of 2010 for me.

Ottawa.  My home town is Toronto.  I have sung the praises of Toronto in this space many many times.  And I would despair at being stuck in Ottawa, a small town forced to be a city.  But this past year I started comparing the two cities according to some meaningful indicators.  I don’t miss Toronto’s rudeness, crowdedness and asshole drivers.  And I really don’t miss the growing belligerent attitude of many of its residents.  Ottawa, as boring as it is, is nonetheless a friendly and manageable place to live.  I’m still a Toronto Boy at heart, but I don’t mind being in the nation’s capital as much as I used to.

India.  My ancestral home has been an important player in the growth of my career this year, as India herself is undergoing profound transformative changes.  The projects I explored there in 2010 will, I hope, see dramatic fruition in 2011.

Guyana.  And the nation of my birth played a big role in 2010, compelling me to visit three times for two jungle expeditions and one family-based adventure.  Seeing my birth village with my parents, probably for the last time, was as meaningful a moment as one can have.  And, completely unexpected, being able to find a direct link between the village in Guyana and my ancestors’ village in India, was yet another transformative event that I intend to explore further in 2011.  Watch this space for details.

And there you have it.  See you here next year!