It’s so hard to come up with different ways to celebrate year after year. I was uninspired to do a photo montage or a list of things about me or just a recap after the fact, like I’ve done in years past. Then, I kept thinking “year after year” and I thought about all the years of my life. Not just my birthday, but this happy and remarkable life that I’ve lived. I wanted to record it, to put pen to paper (so to speak) and detail some of my best memories. I will warn you (Mark) that this will be very long. As I’m typing this intro, it is already the longest blog I’ve ever written and I still have five years left to record. But, I break it up into manageable bits, so you don’t have to read it all today. If you’re curious, bookmark it and come back to it. I bet you’ve always wondered what I liked about the first grade…
Happy Birthday to me and all the years of my life!
2012– This was the year of the unbeleiveable birthday weather. Somehow, the weather is paying me back for all the years it was cold and snowy on my birthday by letting it roll into the 70s. Each year, for as long as I can remember, I tried to NOT wear a coat on my birthday. In March, in Minnesota, it’s rare. It is usually cold, often snowing, a few years I was able to get by without one (the year I turned 30–but it was cold, I just rallied and drank a lot) but mostly, the weather is still winter. Not this year, this year it is SPRING! As a matter of fact, for the first time in my life, I slept with all the windows in my house open last night. I turned 33 to fresh, crisp air. What a wonderful feeling.
Also, last night, my last night of being 32, I sat out in my yard, in a t-shirt, and watched the sun set. It was a gorgeous evening.
And there is zero snow on the ground! Happy Birthday to me.
2011– This was the year of the epic birthday party. It went from 7pm to 7am. I’ve had a lot of great birthdays, but this one was by far the most legendary.
2010– This was the year I bought a house. 31 years old and single and I own a home. This was a very big year for me. I also *broke* my foot.
That’s the very first time I ever unlocked my house.
This was also the year I became an auntie, again!, to this pretty little girl.
2009– This was the year I turned 30 years old. My family and friends threw me a gangster themed party, people were in costumes! It was terrific.
2008– This was the year….What is up with 2008? Didn’t I do anything? I can buy not having a memory from 1982, but to not have a single thing to talk about from four years ago? This is weird. I went through my online photo albums to see if I was forgetting something…nada. Surely something interesting happened to me this year. Or maybe the interesting thing is that 12 months passed without anything of note happening? A ha! I thought of something, after rereading the whole thing. How about a parallel to when I was one? This was the year that we elected our nation’s first black president!
2007– This was the year I graduated from Library school and moved home from DC. I also spent seven months unemployed, doing odd jobs to get by. When I finally got a library job (in July) it was for 8 hours per week. And they had the nerve to ask me to sign a one year contract. Ballsy. Then I got a second one and started working four jobs on a regular basis. Good times. This was also the year that I became an auntie for the first time, to this charming fellow:
Look at how little he was! And finally, this was the year (December, but it counts!) that I started blogging.
2006– This was the year I was offered a FT librarian job in Berkeley, NJ. I turned it down because I wanted to move home after graduation, not to New Jersey. It was also the year I traveled to Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Dover, DE, and Charlottesville, VA on my own time. Most notably, I traveled to the Czech Republic to study abroad and to Austria for some adventures. This was definitely a year of travel for me. I also got an internship at a public library in Hennepin County, working with my mentor. Gee, 2006 was a pretty big year for me!
Interior of the National Library of Austria
2005– This was the year I moved. A huge year for me, I moved from the home I’d always known, halfway across the country to live in our nation’s capital. I attended grad school at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington DC. I lived for two years in a convent, three blocks from campus. There were actual novitiates at the convent, but mostly it was used as a boarding house for women. I had a curfew (10pm Sun-Thurs, 12am Fri/Sat) which was bizarre to me, it was the only time in my life I had a curfew. My parents never even gave me a curfew in high school (I was the good kid). I did live in the heart of DC and managed to take advantage of that as often as possible. I visited most of the museums, I traveled up and down the coast, I went to events at the Capitol, (Rosa Parks funeral, the swearing in of a new Supreme Court Justice) I learned how to live by myself. It was a huge adjustment, but one I am so glad I made. If I had never lived outside MN, I would have always wondered. Now I know. I was meant to live here, but leaving once in a while is good for me.
2004– This was the year I switched jobs again. After four successful years at Awada’s, it was time to move on. I just graduated from college and I needed a change. My sister and I took a trip to Mexico and partied like rockstars, but this is STILL before I went digital, so all my photos from Mexico are home in an album. When we returned, I job hunted and found myself working for Great Waters Brewing Co. It was a change to go from a suburban restaurant to a city pub, but it was a fun change. And it was that job that made friends with Niki, Peter, Amy, Frodo, and Niki. I was there when Niki and Peter got married later that same year. And also when Amy met Joe, they’ll be getting married later this year.
I know that’s a bad photo, but we’re not that in to pictures. It’s the only group photo I have.
2003– This was the year that I discovered the cult universe of Joss Whedon, when someone recommended I watch Angel. While the show is terrific, no doubt, it will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the place I first saw Christian Kane. And, well,
that obsession led me to this photo, eight years later.
2002– This was the year that Mindy and I went to Grand Old Days, we wandered around, drunk as skunks; we were at the Mick Sterling concert and we had to pee. The line was soooooo long, there was no way we would make it if we waited. Actually no physical way. We would have wet ourselves. In the spirit of that, we found an empty janitorial closet, we went inside, drained our 12 oz plastic cups of beer and refilled them with our urine. Yep, we peed in plastic cups, in a janitor’s closet. Of course, the problem with the brilliance of this plan is that the bladder holds more than that. Sure enough, pretty soon our cups were full and we were just outright peeing on the floor. I should probably feel worse about that than I do. It’s weird that these are back-to-back memories of Mindy. She and I spend a lot of time together back then–no kids, no spouses, no houses, just freedom and beer. The good ol’ days!
2001– This was the year that Mindy and I road tripped to Denver to visit Justin, who had moved out there. I, once again, don’t have pictures from this part of my life in digital format. Someday, my friends, someday. But what I remember about that trip is that my white mustang broke on the way there and the entire car filled with smoke. We thought it was fine, but then on the way home, it actually broke down, in North Platte, Nebraska, on a Sunday. We were stranded, because nothing was open in the booming metropolis of North Platte. We ended up staying overnight in a motel and getting the car fixed the next day. That trip was also when we saw the great bird migration, and if you ask me when you’re at my house, I’ll show you the picture and tell you all about it. It’s pretty incredible.
2000– This was the year I turned 21 years old and Kelly jumped me, tearing the MCL in my left knee.
(Isn’t it weird that we have a photo of the exact moment it happened?)
That one accident changed me and put me on a new path. I changed jobs, majors, and friends. My life went a totally new direction, but one I’m pretty happy about.
(I look particularly happy, right? And I took that picture just for this blog!)
This was also the year I became close friends with Tom
who have helped shape me for many years, and who I hope will always be there, by my side, as my friends, giving me advice, helping me celebrate, convincing me that I’m still the kind of girl who takes shots, and always, always reminding me that in order to have a great friend, you have to be a great friend.
1999– This was the year I got my first apartment. I lived in the basement of a house in St. Cloud, with three roommates. Katie Oldakowski, Sean Malloy, and Ryan…dammit! (Longwell? Is that right? Something like that? Katie will know, I’ll ask her) (okay, so I am bugged I can’t remember Ryan’s last name. I just googled Ryan Longwell to see if that’s right and turns out, he’s the kicker for the Vikings. I don’t know how that information got in my head, but definitely NOT my former roommate). Oh, and let’s not forget the snake. The girl who lived there before me, got sent overseas, she was in the military, which is how the room became open, but she had to leave her SNAKE behind and it lived with me. Good thing I am not afraid of snakes, all thanks to Mr. Klingberger, my elementary science teacher, and the boa constrictor he kept in class that he would take out and place around student’s necks, for special occasions, it was an honor to wear the snake in that class. What I didn’t like was that the snake ate live white mice and I was expected to feed it. Um, no. I made the boys feed it, in return for letting it live with me. This was also the year I dropped out of college. (I did NOT flunk out, no matter how my sister remembers it) I ended up moving back home because I was broke and getting my first FT job as an administrative assistant for Dayton’s Corporate Travel. M-F, 9-5. I was a corporate stooge. That cured me quick and I went back to school.
1998– This was the year I moved to St. Cloud. I started my freshman year of college. I remember my parents drove me up there, unloaded my stuff and then my dad said, “Okay, we have to go, be good.” And gave me a hug and they left. It was like 10am. I was so scared and sad and all alone to unpack. I wanted them to stay, to take me out to lunch, to drive around this strange new town I was living in. My mom told me later that she cried because she wanted to stay, too. It was also the year I met a new best friend, Jason. We met in the “smoking pit” outside of Shoemaker Hall, or Shoe, as it was called. We met because we were both smoking and I was gesturing wildly and bumped my cigarette against his shirt and it caught fire. How do you not love a girl who sets you on fire? Right, Jason? And since this was well before I went digital, I don’t have any photos of him. That’s annoying, because I probably have 100 photos of us together, we used to take pictures together all.the.time. Like for fun. If we were hanging out, we’d grab the camera and do these crazy poses, just to do it. But they are all physical and at home. But, we are still friends and don’t see each other nearly often enough. But our lunches do help ease the pain.
1997– This was the year, I graduated from high school. I was so young as I set out in the world to become a pilot.
I wanted to fly the planes and travel the world. In the fifteen years since, I’ve taken many different roads–always by car–but I’ve seen a bit of the world. If I could go back and chat with her as she was about to finish high school, I’d tell her “don’t worry, you’ll be just fine. You’ll make some mistakes and you’ll feel pretty bad about some of them, but overall, you make great choices and are a wonderful person. Your life has been pretty terrific so far and we have high hopes for the years yet to come.”
1996– This was the year that I finally learned not to judge by first impressions. The year before, in choir, I sat behind this red haired girl, clearly very smart. She never looked my way, responded to my comments, or laughed at my jokes, in short, she ignored me. I hated her. Then, the next year, we ended up with English and French together. Perhaps it was a bond over the evil Madame Hicks, who hated me and went out of her way to be mean to me, but more likely it was the clever and creative Mr. Zabel’s advanced English that forced our friendship. We were paired on a project, our collaborative ideas earned us an A, and I realized that she is a strange and wonderful friend, plus she’s funny. I learned a lot from her that year, and I still learn from her, each year as we become better friends. Who would have known that she’d go on to become my best friend?
1995– This was the year I learned to drive a car. My dad tried to teach me to drive his old blue pickup and that went, well, disastrously springs to mind. But my mother stepped in and in a few brief tries in my junior high parking lot, I was cruising along like a natural. Then, on the drive home, I misjudged my speed when turning left and overshoot our street, landing the truck in the neighbor’s yard. Later that summer, we took a family road trip to Florida. I’d been a driver for three months and really, really, wanted to test my skills. I begged for the entire length of the country. (His ability to ignore is super-human) He finally conceded and handed over the keys, just as we’re about to drive across Lake Ponchatrain (Louisiana) and its “white knuckled” bridge. This was the scariest bridge in the world.
Uphill and it looks like you’re going to drive off the edge of the world. We were in a full-size conversion van and the wind was buffeting it so hard it was actually swaying from side to side and my arms ached from holding the wheel so tight to keep it in one lane. It was, frankly, terrifying. I drove across one bridge (granted, the bridge is almost 30 miles long) and refused to drive the rest of the trip. To this day, he swears he didn’t know it would be that bad. I’m still not sure I believe him.
1994– This was the year I started high school! 10th grade. I felt so grown up. Also, so very lost. They had just build this huge new school and it seemed very overwhelming. Back then, it was carpeted and everything was shiny and new. This was also the year I gave up my crush on Rob Shanley and moved on to Josh Lohmer, who was so cute and such a nice guy, I was able to carry that single crush right up until graduation. (Okay, truth? A small part of me still has a crush on him).
1993– This was the year I “graduated” from junior high. We got to have a grad dance, it was on the Jonathan Paddleford riverboat. I wore a dress (my confirmation dress) and really, really, really hoped that Rob Shanley would ask me to dance. He did not. In fact, no one but the teachers actually danced. The dance floor was tiny and we were all more excited about the fact that we had minimal supervision. There were chaperones, sure, but they didn’t hover, we were on a boat! How much trouble could we get in? I remember my friends, Ryan, Greg and Mike Coleman (they were twins), Rob, another boy whose name I cannot remember, were hanging out and the boys had a spitting contest over the side of the boat. I also remember we ran around the boat trying to find things we could throw over the side, but interesting things, like plastic cups. Man, we were so cool.
1992– This was the year I was in the eighth grade. Two things stand out about this year. For Halloween, I dressed as a nun. Unfortunately for me, a teacher (not even one of MY teachers, but a young, handsome, popular teacher) came dressed as a priest. All day at school, people were making fun of me for dressing up with my “boyfriend”. Now, of course, I find it humorous that at the age of 13, none of those kids knew that priests and nuns don’t date. Also that year, was the acquittal of the 4 LA police officers who were on trial for savagely beating Rodney King. The acquittal sparked riots across LA and many other parts of the country. Heidi Novak, a friend of mine, organized a sit-in at school, for us to protest. It was my first and only participation in a protest. Of course, the administration found out and we were stopped about 30 seconds into our rally, but I think it still counts.
1991– This was the year I started junior high. It was one mile from the house, but the bus ride lasted 45 minutes. That annoyed me to no end. I remember my very first day, I had a new wardrobe, a green blouse with a ruffle collar, like a pirate shirt, and cream colored stirrup pants. I was so in love with that outfit and that morning, while eating breakfast, I spilled milk on the shirt. My mom made me change the shirt. I don’t even know what I wore instead, just that I was so sad. She even did laundry that day and washed the shirt so that I could wear it the next day, but I was still heartbroken.
1990– This was the year my family moved from the big, bad city to a beautiful house in the country, the place I still call home.
I switched schools, to Mrs. Miller’s class. This is probably TMI, but this is also the year I got my period for the first time, which I remember distinctly because we went on a class trip and stayed overnight in these cabins. I ended up with my period and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, so I used toilet paper until I got home and I cried to my mom about it and she said, “you should have told your teacher.” Yes, I should have. Sometimes it is hard being a girl. This was also the year I met my friend Ryan Monson, who would end up taking me to the prom my senior year. Even though we were the best of friends and saw each other every single day, he still called me on the phone and asked me formally. He also used to buy me white roses for my birthday every year (16, 17, 18, 19, 20, for sure…might have tapered off after that).
1989– This was the year of the Exxon Valdez oil spill it monopolized much of our learning that year. I think 10 is too young to talk about lawsuits, endangered animal deaths and that oil does not come out of water. Also, this is the year I met Kelly. She had just moved to the area and we were both in Mrs. Krupich’s class. It’s hard to believe that I’ve had the same friend for 23 years. It’s been a lot of changes, but that day in 5th grade, something in me must have recognized something in her, that same something that connects us and makes us friends.
(Obviously, that is not from the 5th grade, that is from my high school graduation party in 1997)
1988– This was the year of fourth grade. I cannot, for the life of me, remember my 4th grade teacher’s name. That’s very strange. I also don’t remember kindergarten or first grade, but those are more explainable. I also have no awesome stories for this year, so this will be particularly short.
1987– This was the year of third grade. It was the only time until junior high that I had a male teacher. Mr. Boesel. We also went to the MN Zoo this year and both of my parents chaperoned. That was weird, I don’t remember my dad ever chaperoning anything, but he did on that trip and the boys in my class, friends of mine, were fighting to be in his group. I ended up with my mom (shocker). Also, one day in class, a boy asked Mr. Boesel, how do you spell judge? Which is pretty hard for third graders–and I spelled it perfectly before Mr. B could say anything. He was impressed enough that he nominated me for the school spelling bee, which I did not win until the 5th grade. That year, my brother Nick won (6th grade) and my brother Zack won (3rd grade) we all got identical t-shirts that said “Parkway Elementary Spelling Bee Champion” on them. I think they were gold with maroon letters. When we wore them home, my dad decided to surprise my mom, so he sat the three of us on the couch in our shirts and put a blanket over us, pulled up to our chins. When she came home, she immediately thought we were all sick, then we threw off the blanket and jumped up and yelled surprise. Can you imagine getting home from work and thinking that somehow all your kids got sick? Somewhere, my mom has a picture of the three of us in our shirts…
1986– This was the year Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album came out, forever changing and defining my musical tastes. But, I promise it was years (YEARS!) later before I understood all the ramifications of that title…
And may I just say,God bless the 80s and the awesome-beyond-belief hair! It’s almost impressive in its sheer volume.
1985– This was the year I started first grade. Again, not a lot of memories of first grade, but I do remember I was chosen to be interviewed by a newspaper. I don’t know why. There was an article about me and a picture of me in my first grade class. In the article I said I loved roller skating, which cracks me up. My Gramma Conway cut that article out of the paper and it hung on the corkboard in her basement for my whole life, until she died in 1998. I don’t know what happened to that article, it’s probably in a box somewhere, but that stands out as my strongest memory for this year. I also remember that I got stubborn and wouldn’t let my mother brush my long hair. She kept threatening to cut it all off if I didn’t take care of it–I did not and she followed through. That is why, in my 2nd grade school picture I have a bowl cut. Very classy. Perhaps the root of my dislike of haircuts, who knows? But I grew my hair out again after second grade, kept it long until my senior year and then cut it a week before my senior pictures, and those are the only two photos of me with short hair. Go figure.
1984-This was the year I started kindergarten. I don’t honestly remember much about kindergarten except that I went to Parkway Elementary and my brother, Nick, and I walked six blocks, by ourselves to get there. It was a different world back then.
1983-This was the year, my fourth, that the fourth child in my family was born, my favorite sister, Emily.
that is, hands down, one of my favorite photos of her.
and we’d grow up to be these wonderful sisters. Pretty lucky, I guess.
1982– This was the year…that nothing happened? (Actually, I can’t remember that far back and I couldn’t find any particularly fun facts to put here…so, zilch)
1981-This was the year, my second, I received my second brother, Zack.
(apparently I have yet to upload any pictures of him as a young boy, I just stumbled across this, the photo is originally of my grandfather, I cropped it to reveal my brothers–Zack in front, Nick in back)
And he would grow up to be:
and, also, my favorite brother.
1980– This was the year we got a new president (Jimmy Carter was president when I was born), I’m told I was just glued to the election results that fall.
1979– This was the year I was born at 5:00pm. The very beginning of an excellent life, now 33 years in the making. It is also interesting to note that I was born on a Thursday (“Thursdays’ child has far to go” boy, do I ever!) and that today, the day of the massive memory blog, is also a Thursday. Perhaps that helped my inspiration.
I do believe that was taken slightly after my birth… that’s my grandfather, and if I’m not off my rocker, that was Christmas Day 1982 (so I was three).
1976– This was the year my parents married, making this blog possible. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
44BC– This was the year Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by his best friend, Brutus, creating fodder for Shakespeare to immortalize the popular expression, “beware the Ides of March“. I just wanted to throw that out there, as it happens every year on this day, someone says “your birthday is the Ides of March” and almost no one knows what it means. Technically, it means middle. There is an ides in all months with 31 days. The usage has become nearly extinct. The only reason that people still talk about the Ides of March is because of Julius Caesar being murdered that day and Shakespeare writing about it. I really feel like I’ve blogged this particular fact before, but I cannot find it, so there. A brief little TYNKYNK for you on my actual birthday!
Happy Birthday to ME!!!
Okay, if you actually read this, all the way through to the end, be impressed you’ve managed my longest blog at 4,650 words. (More than 500 words longer than the previous record holder at 3,933 words.) Congrats!