This New Year’s Eve was spent almost exactly the same as the previous year: me and Layth on the couch, under blankets, watching movies until we dozed off. Since he’s recovering from a cold, that means he was snoring by 8 pm.
But this time last year we were bracing ourselves for him moving to Saudi Arabia for work, which meant I’d be more or less on my own in Jordan. We dated long distance for a long time, but after a year or so when we hadn’t spent more than a few days apart, the distance was daunting. But we both knew it was the best thing to do. At first, I cried a lot and kept making coffee for two people in the morning instead of one, and cried over the wasted coffee.
But family invited me for lunches and sent me home with tupperwares of leftovers to make sure I wouldn’t starve, I still had my job and friends, and in mid-January, I brought a pet rabbit home to keep me company. Said rabbit is now best friends with my mother in law’s cat, and they hang out on the regular.
2017 took me to Jordan, Turkey (twice), the United States, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Germany.
I’m full of conflicted feelings as 2016 starts – mainly because it’s been a year since I quit my job in DC and moved back to the Middle East, and because it’s coming up on the 5th anniversary since I landed in Amman for the first time. This picture is from one of my first outings in the country, from the citadel that overlooks the whole city.
I like the idea that this is a new year, and I can start all over – after all I escaped 2015 relatively unscathed. But another part of me is just tired of trying. Tired, depressed, not sure what I’m doing wrong.
So here’s what I’m going to try to do better this year:
1. I need to fix whatever it is that’s holding me back from doing the work I want to do. I can’t blame it entirely on money, because I’m here, and at least the cost is a lot less than if I were flying from the US to work on a personal project. I can’t blame it all on not having an assignment, because if I don’t go and do the work, I don’t have anything to show editors to get assignments. I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s about 90% fear and the rest is shyness, being unsure of myself, not knowing where to begin, etc.
2. I didn’t run much last year and I don’t feel great about that. I want to run a race this year. And I’m going to try to get into a more regular yoga practice.
3. I didn’t hit my goal of reading 50 books last year, but I’m going to try to read more than last year. For educating myself, for the pleasure of reading. And if I can’t get into a book, I’m going to stop reading it.
4. Start speaking Arabic proficiently. I’m at the level where I actually do understand most of the conversation around me – not like before where I would catch maybe half of it, and couldn’t tell you what tense or which person a verb was conjugated for – and I can often guess meanings of words by context now. But I need to actually start speaking more.
6. Learn how to deal with my stress better and stop letting worries and little things take all the power out of my life.
On a global scale, 2014 was, well, pretty awful. But in my personal life, things went pretty much according to plan. I did a bit of traveling, I read some good books, I finished up the year by leaving my job and in three weeks, I’m off to Turkey.
So here are some resolutions I’m making up right now, at 11:16 pm.
1. Make it through a year of freelancing and living abroad. Let’s be real, that’s all I really want.
2. Get better at speaking turkish and arabic.
3. Read 50 books. I think I read about 25 this year, and a couple of those were Robert Fisk books. But I guess with all my unemployed time, I can catch up on reading.
4. Further to goal #1, really push myself as a photographer and a journalist. I feel like this might be the last chance I have to do something like this, so I want to go after it and never look back.
5. Run at least another half marathon. Thinking about Beirut for this year.
More TK. Or not. I feel pretty good about this list.