I used to call these ‘Year in Review’ post ‘memes’. Not too sure why – doesn’t make sense in today’s age of the cat/internet/viral content meme. So here it is: simply, my Year in Review. It’s late for various reasons, not least that I was out of the country around the time I usually write these (more on that later). As always, dear Reader, hope you enjoy my ramblings.
What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Emigrated. 2018 was the culmination of my life-long dream to live and work abroad. I am thrilled to be a new inhabitant of the United States; read more about my experience as an English girl in America.
Where did you begin 2018?
In a tiny village in Wales, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, for my university friend Rachel’s New Year’s Eve wedding. It was a beautiful occasion (everyone knows I love a wedding) and a great chance to reconnect with some of my old uni friends.
Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
As always, I’d forgotten my NYRs until I re-read last year’s blog post: “For 2018, I’d like to get back in the gym again; all my travel this year has made it preventative.” Well, I got back to the gym thanks to far reduced travel and completed a 6-week Crossfit programme at Mud, Sweat and Tears over the Summer. Nutrition has been more of a challenge here (American food so BIG! And so GOOD!) so my inevitable resolution is to sort out my nutrition. I’m going back on the 5:2 Diet as it’s been the only lifestyle change that’s ever worked for me. Plus I’m finally booked in with a nutritionist. I’ve definitely loved not being a slave to a wedding dress diet, but my metabolism has not.
What was your status by Valentine’s Day?
Married for over a year to G. We went to the Ice Bar in London, which was gimmicky but fun.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
My SIL Tamara gave birth to my nephew Noah, who I met for the first time when I went back to the UK for the holiday season. It was weird not meeting him until he was 6 months old, but that’s one of the sacrifices I’ve had to make with my move abroad. It made meeting him for the first time all the more special, plus I got to hang out with my other cute nephew Zack. Bonus.
Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year, thankfully.
Were you in school?
Same answer as last year and the year before and the year before that: School of Sony. This time, Sony North America!
What countries did you visit?
US, UK (yes, I can count both, even though both are kind of home) – and that’s it! What a joyous relief from last year’s craziness. I went on a couple of trips while in the States – one to LA for the Climate Reality Project conference, and one road trip to Florida for some Disney/Universal childish ‘vacay’ fun.
What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
Stability and savings. It’s taken some time to get my feet on the ground, but I’ve finally settled into a routine of sorts. I’ve made every effort to make friends, join new groups and clubs, continue hobbies and start new ones, and take each and every opportunity that comes my way. 2019 is the year of cementing these routines and building a new life for me and G in my beloved new home of Montclair, New Jersey.
What moments from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Getting our visas at the American Embassy in London, and that sheer moment of elation that we were actually moving and that it was actually happening. That one-way flight over to America was pretty unforgettable. Just looking out over NYC as we came in to Newark and thinking this was going to be our new home. Watching England do surprisingly well in the World Cup, in a variety of American sports bars. Trips to the white, sandy shores of NY and NJ. Watching the fall colours change. Firing apples out of a cannon, because, ‘MURICA. Going back to Grandfather Mountain, where we got engaged. And the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios – my first ever American ‘haunted house’ experience – was wicked. It was like being INSIDE Stranger Things.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Moving to a new country and continuing to watch my career thrive within Sony. I love this company and I owe so much to the people who made it happen.
What was your biggest failure?
Did you have to go to the hospital?
No, but don’t get me started on the American healthcare system. It’s expensive and whack. I have a new-found appreciation for the NHS.
What was the best thing you bought?
This is cheating a bit as I saw it in early 2019, but tickets to Frozen on Broadway. What an epic production. Also The Lion King had me in tears within 5 minutes. Having Broadway on my doorstep somehow seems cooler than the West End. I’m determined to go more in 2019.
Where did most of your money go?
On basically everything. The US is definitely pricier than the UK, apart from petrol (gas), which is a shame really considering how the oil companies are killing the climate.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The same answer as last year: “Worldly life adventures with G – past, present and future”.
What song(s) will always remind you of 2018?
This is a strange one, as I didn’t listen to it for the first time in 2018, but Family Portrait by Radical Face. I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about my own friends and family and leaving them behind. There’s also a song by this Country singer my Dad used to make us listen to when we were kids (Country not my thing) called From Clare to Here by Nanci Griffith – pretty apt since I live in a ‘Clare’ of sorts, and again, it’s all about leaving family behind.
What concerts/shows did you go to?
See above for Broadway shows. Also Grizzly Bear at my local (very good) music venue, the Wellmont Theater.
Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? Happier.
II. thinner or fatter? Fatter, for sure! But I can lose again.
III. richer or poorer? Poorer. Looking forward to saving some dollar-money now the move is out of the way.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Blogging. I’ve been a bit poor at keeping up with The Edible Editor – I try, but I get distracted. However, now I have my ‘English girl in America’ angle to work on. I’ve been thrilled at the writing opportunities in Montclair though – I’ve joined a fantastic group through The Writers’ Circle, with a view to finally getting my first novel into a publishable state.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying. It was stressful, but everything turned out A-OK.
How will you be spending Christmas?
Back in the UK. It was strange, as it was the first time going back since moving. But it was so wonderful to see everyone and remind myself of English pubs, mulled wine and mince pies.
What was your favourite TV programme?
True crime: Season 2 of Making a Murderer, The Staircase. Also loved re-watching The Sopranos as it’s all set around Montclair!
What was the best book you read?
Couldn’t put down Educated by Tara Westover, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and of course, Stolen Beauty, by my teacher and friend Laurie Lico Albanese. All of these books came highly recommended by my writing group.
What were your greatest musical discoveries?
Just Graham’s Soundtrack to 2018. Nothing else new this year.
What did you want and get?
To start a new life.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
For my 33rd birthday, G and I went to a spa up in the snowy Catskill Mountains. It was only a week or so after moving, and it was the perfect antidote to jet lag and move stress. Poor Pepe missed us terribly, especially after his Transatlantic flight ordeal.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Nothing. This year was super satisfying.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
On point. As always, loving bold, creative and feminine. I have my style and I don’t apologise. Now that I’m more of a ‘Jersey girl’, I’ve got inevitably more bling, with sparkly nails, faux furs and designer boots. Hair extensions will be making another appearance soon…
What kept you sane?
G and Pepe.
Who did you miss?
Family and friends in the UK, although we had so many visitors! Thank you everyone for taking the time to visit and spending the money on flights. We’ve loved hosting you all.
Who was the best new person you met?
There’s no way I could choose. We’ve met so many new, cool people in America – everyone has been so warm and inviting. I always joke that we had almost as many people come to our Housewarming than we did to our Bon Voyage party…
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:
Moving abroad is so bonkers but so worth it.
Did you move anywhere?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
What’s something you thought you would never do but did in 2018?
Become an eco-vangelist. I’ve blogged about how the Climate Reality Project changed me. Never, in a million years, did I put myself as an environmental activist after watching former Vice President Al Gore give a life-changing presentation, live. But this shit matters, people.
What was your best month?
March: Birthday month and America move. Unbeatable.
Overall, how would you rate this year?
One of the best of my life. 9.5.
What did you like most about 2018?
That I followed my dreams.
Other than home, where did you spend most of your time?
Home is a tricky concept now: I have two homes, really. But other than the States, I topped and tailed the year with time spent in the UK.
Change your hairstyle?
Not really. Still favouring the half-up, half-down do à la Amy Winehouse. I do miss my mermaid locks, though.
Get a new job?
After five glorious years at Sony Europe, I began a new adventure in the same field at Sony North America.
Do anything embarrassing?
Not that I can remember.
Get married or divorced?
Did you get sick this year?
Start a new hobby?
Is Crossfit a hobby if it only lasted a few weeks? Continued with writing and Zumba.
Are you happy to see 2018 go?
It’s been epic, but I’m always ready for the next year. I hate to think of time as a linear concept; instead I just hit the January reset button and start again.
What are you wishing for in 2019?
I remember I couldn’t go into detail in my 2017 meme because I was going through visa preparation and couldn’t reveal too much. Everything I wished for last year came true. Now I’m wishing for stability, happiness and mindfulness in my new American home. I’m an eternal optimist and I doubt that’ll change in 2019. Here’s to the future.