An incomplete list of the most memorable things I could think of from 2016, a seductive year with a crappy personality.
The East Side Gallery in Berlin – One of the most flat-out beautiful and immersive things I’ve seen while traveling. Abstract but still manages to take you back and feel connected to a part of history.
Applying and getting accepted to grad school – In the Fall of 2015, I couchsurfed in Copenhagen, Denmark and slept on the couch of someone doing a Master’s in Global Development at the University of Copenhagen. The next thing I know it’s January, I’m back home in America and I’m applying to only that program. I get accepted two months after that, and a year later almost to the day from applying and here I am.
Kubo and the Two Strings – A lovely animated movie and one of the best movies I’ve seen in years, which is sadly likely to get looked over by the likes of Finding Dory and Zootopia (not that those are bad films).
CHVRCHES concert in Boston – Seeing my favorite band at the House of Blues for the second time was a great reminder of why they’re my favorite band and why I love Boston. Need to go to concerts more often than I do.
Random overnight trips to Montreal with my best friend – The most memorable things people do are often the things that happen out of nowhere. One Monday I text a classmate I’m only acquaintanced with to hang out. It’s Spring Break, so the next thing I know we’re planning an overnight in Montreal Wednesday into Thursday, just a five-hour drive from Boston. We wandered drunk around Montreal and that’s the story of how me and her became best friends.
Hiking every week of the summer – I was more physically active than I’ve ever been this summer and hiked nearly twelve mountains, seven of which were in the White Mountains. I have really fond memories of hiking both with friends and on my own. I think my favorite memory was a long solo hike I did on the Fourth of July up Mount Monadnock and down the backside, and then back up and down the front. Really nothing more beautiful; it’s where I’m at my happiest. ‘Merica.
The Chainsmokers – Some of the only Top 40 I can really get behind. ‘Nuff said.
Thanksgiving in Europe – After arranging a Thanksgiving potluck at the University of Copenhagen, I was happy to see that nearly three-quarters of the Global Development class came out to enjoy the night with us. A smashing success if I do say so
An amazing month of summer and new friends in Copenhagen – The first month of my grad program was one of the loveliest months in memory. Drinking by the lakes, getting to know new friends, cycling around the city, the newness of everything, still excited to be in a foreign city, the sun is shining, learning to fall in love with my new home before the weather takes a turn for the worst.
Vacation in Burlington, Vermont – Another great overnight with one of my best friends. Beer, whiskey, driving through the Vermont countryside, donuts, improv comedy, burritos with a friend-of-a-friend’s 50-something coworkers. What more could you want?
Living in my first apartment – Bills sure are overwhelming? My non-successful attempts at self-sufficiency were nevertheless memorable for the experience of near-complete independence and the feeling that I had more control of my life. The apartment was okay, but the location close to the Merrimack River in Lowell, Massachusetts made summer nights feel very satisfying.
Lost and drunk in Denmark – It’s a new city and I have no idea where I am because I’m drunk and cycling home to an apartment in a country I couldn’t place on a map five years before. Life is good.
Going to a meeting of the New Hampshire Democratic Party in a snowstorm – I do miss the feeling of snowstorms, which don’t seem to be a thing over here, at least like they are back home. After a sort-of bad one, it felt very appropriate and memorable to drive up to Manchester, New Hampshire with some UML Political Science people and see Bernie, Hillary, and others speak. Reminded me why politics is so exciting despite all its absurdity. Seem like such halcyon days given the current perversion of reality that is our current political situation.
Revisiting Scotland – A lot of memorable nights with a lot of good people on the other side of the ocean. Was fortunate enough to spend three years in the Model UN at UMass Lowell, and was glad to be back in Scotland at another conference. Especially memorable are the long nights just talking in the hotel room and revisiting the Scottish Highlands. Could certainly see myself retiring to the Scottish countryside…
Starting the Gilmore Girls (bear with me…) – An actually amazing show with great characters and dialogue that isn’t just for girls. Only half way through.Presents an idealized version of New England that I can be nostalgic for despite my lack of sureness that it ever actually existed in that way…
Working on the Bernie Sanders campaign – I had the privilege of spending about a month and a half volunteering and ‘interning’ for the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. I met new people, reminded myself why I studied politics, and reinvigorated my faith in America and humanity. The grunt work of politics is unendurable and I like Europe, but I feel guilty when there’s so much to do back home and it feels like everything’s falling apart.
Slate podcasts – Podcasts – of which I’m as active a consumer as you’ll find – got me through the 2016 election and 2016 in general. They are how I stay up to date on news and culture, and the podcasts from Slate Magazine and Panoply are the best on the Internet. I listen to stuff about comedy and politics mostly. I also recommend the Run-Up from the New York Times, Politico’s Nerdcast, The Ezra Klein Show, Maeve in America, FiveThirtyEight Politics, NPR, WTF with Marc Maron, The Axe Files, the Tim Ferris Show and Rachel Maddow for those interested in increasing their podcast diet. Do it, it’s worth it.
Finally graduating – Feels good, huh? Especially after an all-too-quick semester of working thirty hours a week and typing up loose ends at the university.
Election party in Copenhagen – As we realized he was going to win at five in the morning, I started to cycle home knowing he’d probably be President by the time I woke up. If the bike ride home at 5:30 was any indication with its unrelenting snow/rain and dark clouds, I think there was an omen buried somewhere about the future of the American electoral process.
Halloween in Latvia – Weird nights figuring out last minute Halloween costumes and drinking with people you met on Couchsurfing in the Baltic States while on vacation with one of your new friends from grad school. What more to want?
Star Wars: Rogue One – An amazing film experience that reminded me why I love Star Wars so much. The only thing that really makes me feel like a kid again. Real talk.
Bon Iver – 22, A Million – The best album of the year, hands-down. Nothing creates a better mood.
The 2016 election – Well, that happened. No really, I was there. “Back in my day…..” –future self
Board games in a hostel in Germany with friends – Quiet nights in a hostel in Hamburg playing board games on the floor of a hostel with your friends before you head back to university – and having a damn good time of it.
The Crown – The best new series on Netflix and a fascinating look at the first decade of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Can’t help but get the sense that none of it matters because monarchy is stupid, but it’s good drama and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill is about as good as it gets.
Canvassing in the back roads of New Hampshire – Listening to NPR on the morning of the New Hampshire Democratic Primary while skidding out in my car while I try to canvass and get out the vote for Bernie Sanders in the back roads of New Hampshire. Lot of “Beware of Dog” and ‘Trespass and I’ll Shoot You” signs. Good news: he won. That was a good night; regret not going to the after party in Concord.
Charlie Rose – I like interviews and am a 58-year old man who reads the New York Times at heart. What can I say?
Laid over in Munich – A chance to breathe before the holidays and catch up on life and my thoughts. Yay for missed connections.
Overnights in Washington DC – Road trips to the nation’s capital during finals week to do emergency biometrics for your Danish visa. Memorable except for my active repression of the George Washington Bridge and the New Jersey turnpike. *shudders*
Adopting a cat – There’s nothing like winters in New England, so what do you to get through in your first winter on your own? Adopt a mean cat with your roommate and pretend like it’s fun to be around.
The year of politics – I was more active this year in politics than I’ve been before (which is still not a ton) and got more of an education with the 2016 election than I did with an entire Political Science degree. I think I’ll look back on it with fondness despite the outcome because of everything it taught me.
Walking over the Charles Bridge in Prague – Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited and you get a sense of that history walking over the Charles Bridge. I might just move there after grad school for no other reason then it makes me smile just thinking about it and its history.
Quiet summer days reading by the river in Lowell, Massachusetts – I was semi-successful in rediscovering my love of reading over the summer. I had a beautiful backyard near my apartment and have a lot of nice memories of late mornings drinking coffee and reading a book.
Book signings in Cambridge – Nothing like an extemporaneous reminder that I need to read more. I went to see Anu Partanen, a Finnish writer, speak about her new book The Nordic Theory of Everything. It was a beautiful reminder of what we could do better in America and what Nordic life really means with all its quirks. A month later and I’m experiencing the Scandiavia she described. (Where oh where has it gone on these cold winter days?)
TA-ing for the Model UN – I was fortunate to get the experience to be a teaching assistant for the Model UN. It reminded me that I can be a leader when I need to be and that I have the capacity to teach if I really need to. Have a lot of work to do as a public speaker, but it’s certainly interesting to get the vote of confidence to see that side of the classroom. Learning and campuses are infectious – maybe I’ll still yet do a PhD? Maybe.
NPR – I’m an audio learner. It’s easier for me to retain information I hear than information I read because I have a poor memory. Audiobooks don’t work for me and lecture’s sometimes don’t, but podcasts and radio certainly do. Discovered a love for National Public Radio in all its earnestness. (I’m officially a fuddy-duddy I would have made fun of five years ago.)
Summer nights watching Game of Thrones – Getting home after long sticky summer nights, oftentimes spent hiking, and watching GoT with or without friends is a memorable experience in-and-of-itself. Television is so compartmentalized these days that it’s special to get that collective experience of something these days. Best show on television.
Rediscovering Massachusetts – Whenever I could this summer, I tried to waste my gas by doing day trips all over Massachusetts or running in different parts of the State. Reminded me how beautiful New England is and how much I love Massachusetts in spite of a pretty overwhelming election season.
Bagel dates with friends – Saturdays. Bagels. Friends. Bagels.