I write this a little early every year because I get caught up in a lot of stuff around the holidays. But 2012 is essentially over for me so it’s okay. 2012 was probably the most important and meaningful year of my life to date.

In 2012, I:

  • Called 10 different edifices “home.”
  • Lived in 5 different countries on 3 different continents.
  • Hiked Machu Picchu
  • Began learning 2 new languages (French and American Sign Language)
  • Spoke in 6 languages to some extent, even briefly (English, Spanish, French, German, Esperanto, ASL)
  • Learned to dance… and then actually did dance in public.
  • Kayaked for the first time.
  • Launched, with the help from dA’s Dream Team™, DreamUp.
  • Laughed so hard I cried.
  • Cried so hard I laughed.
  • Loved so hard I laughed and cried–sometimes simultaneously.
  • Ate a guinea pig. And had its claw confiscated by a U.S. customs official.
  • Saw La Jaconde (the Mona Lisa) in person and was thoroughly unimpressed!
  • Skinny-dipped in the Mediterranean late at night
  • Explored the Parisian Catacombs
  • Met countless people in countless settings.
  • Did olympic snatches again for the first time in 3 years.
  • Learned more about myself than I ever have any other year.
  • Felt emotions I’ve never felt before.
  • Read some really amazing books.
  • Wrote a large portion of a book!
  • Really worked on, really struggled with, and really owned up to, for the first time ever, so many of my flaws and at the same time, found so many things about myself to love and embrace. I really became myself this year.

If you told me in December 2011 that I would do all of this stuff in 2012, I never in a million years would have believed you. But I did. And I’m a happier person for it.

2012 started, just like 2011, with snow:

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Cold, gloomy snow. Briefly showered onto the back lawn of the highrise apartment I was living in in Portland, Oregon. Questioning for the first time in a while, “Things have been stale for a while and a lot of things in your life just came to an abrupt end, why not try some new stuff?”

I started a cathartic purgation of my apartment that led to me uncovering the top of a Pokey costume among other things:

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2012 also started with some fairly memorable mistakes on my part on the job:

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(no, this never made it to the live site, but it almost did! And yes, we really were using SVN at the beginning of this year!)

A month into the new year, I started some planning and well… I was soon steeped pile-high in adventure. I went to Perú in late February for an entire month, which is late summer in South America. Most of my time was spent in the sunny Miraflores District of Lima, a bustling on-the-rise capital by the ocean. But I also set my foot into the Andes around Cusco and hiked Machu Picchu 🙂

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I was very sad to leave Perú! It was probably my favorite place of all the places i’ve been this year. I dearly miss huancaina y churros lleno de manjar! I returned home to Portland for a little while and enjoyed “spring”:

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Although spring never seemed to really hit Portland this year. It was cold and rainy up through May. Which was a jarring disappointment. Returning home felt like I was stepping into fall after a summer abroad.

At some point in April or early May, I made a very big decision. In June, I was going to give up my apartment and try my hand at being nomadic for a while. I had never done this before and was a little bit scared! I got a storage space and put literally only 3 things in it: a road bike, a stuffed shark, and a tiny grocery bag of cold weather clothes. Everything else, I sold or gave away.

I started my nomadic life in June when I was summoned to Les Sauvages, France to hang out with my DeviantArt dev team brethren, where I pleasantly bestowed everyone with “Ass from the Past”:

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I spent a good two weeks trolling everyone with a rusty axe, drinking box wine from a large trophy, and serenading Djordje with a children’s accordion I found in a toolshed. I also wrote a bunch of blogs. I occasionally publish them when I’m feeling charitable.

In France, we had a good time exploring some new projects!

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As you can see, we had box wine, baguettes, pirate flags, and even a freaking rusty hatchet to keep us entertained. Every single person pictured above was sick at some point during this 2-week adventure with something resembling the bubonic plague. I’m still not completely certain that everyone pictured above is still alive.

Sometime in the middle of this, I got a taste of south France.

After Les Sauvages, I lived in Paris for a while in the neighborhood of Menilmontant (in 20e). And I learned that Paris is a very dirty place! I had many misadventures here and met many people–some who were awesome, some not. I had some incredible conversations walking around Paris with friends, talking about 30-foot posters of John Reisig’s head and touring Pigalle. My feet were very tired for most of my stay in Paris.

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Paris was probably the low point of my entire year. And that’s not really saying much because my whole year has been pretty fucking fantastic. It was like if you graphed x2 + ∞ or something. As much as I’m known as the cry-baby of #DT, I will note that I only cried in one Parisian grocery store! And no one really seemed to think much of it. It seemed to be the norm in France! Learning adequate conversational French was a very difficult process for me, which surprised me because I am partially fluent in Spanish. The two are more different than I expected.

I went to Berlin right after Paris. I was sick for a couple of days in Berlin and so my first memories of Germany involve lots of meat and lots of Fervex, a French cold medicine that has enough sedative power to put out a 2-ton gorilla. But I had fun and I met a lot of people in Berlin! I went to komputerspielemuseum and weird restaurants and ate doner kebab and rape parks and ate a lot of meat and wore gas masks and M. Bison-esque S.S. hats and embraced my inner weirdo.

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“Be kawaii to each other.” – Kurt Vonnegut

On my last night in Berlin, I got lost in the outskirts of town while trying to make my way home from going out with some friends I had met. A guy with Down’s Syndrome gave me directions at the U-Bahn station to Alexanderplatz but I was having trouble really understanding what he was trying to tell me so I just started… you know… running! As I ran down the street, i ran into this…

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and it freaked me the fuck out! This is not something you want to run into at 3:30AM on your own in Berlin! Look at him! Scary bear pimp!

I went to Barcelona after Berlin. I lived in El Raval for 6 weeks, which is the most immigrant-heavy Muslim area of Barcelona. It’s culturally deep and dirty and a good place to dive into adventure.I rode a scooter around town and through a highly elevated cemetery, where I made out with some statues:

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I also went to the beach a bunch. And rode around on Bicing bikes.

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Sometime in the middle of my stay in Barcelona, Chinmay, Micah, Sandis, and I launched DreamUp into public beta. It was a mad scramble and ever since, we’ve only continued to, well, dream up.

I wanted to stay abroad longer and go to Egypt, but the weather there wasn’t very accommodating and also it was right in the middle of Ramadan and I didn’t think they’d appreciate my finesse for wearing short-shorts too much. And apparently my U.S. visa limits me to 3 months in Europe in one go. So instead I returned to Portland (Oregon) for about 3 weeks. Boo-urns. But it was good, because I got to catch up with friends, drink Totally Radler at Hopworks, chillax and relax on the Max, etc.

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It was a very peaceful and quiet detour, right next to Mount Tabor. I lived with 4 hippy strangers and their cat for 3 weeks. It felt like Portland had changed without me, so I started working on a new book, called You Can Never Go Home. I am still writing this book! And it is going very well!

To celebrate my 28th birthday, I moved on to Austin, Texas with my boyfriend Chris, where I promptly discovered a giant pair of my favorite thing in the world aside from boners, balls:

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I also found a sweet gym and did some mad deadlifts:

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Being physically strong really helped build up my confidence. If you can lift a bunch of weight and throw it over your head and stand in place like an olympian, you know you’re hardcore.

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Also, I had a fond moment with Santa Claus:

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I’m definitely on the naughty list. Trust me.

2012 frightened me in many ways. I gave up everything in my life, save my job, to have everything that I have right now. Although I wrote it 11 days before the year started, this is what really started 2012 for me:

Summit

Out my window sits a mountain,
stout, cold, and parched for sun
in a juncture of foggy vapor reflections
where I sit alone as one.

Reminds me there’s a reason
for everything I do.
Even when it’s not on the horizon,
there’s sunlight breaking through.

3 months before the year ended, someone very close to me at the time sat me down and seriously asked me for the first what I wanted to do with my life. And when I gave him those answers, I had a very sudden clarity that told me, “It’s time to actually do these things, bitch!” So I did.

I could easily whitewash the entire year and say it was all a happy blast. It wasn’t. I had a lot of highs and lows, a lot of personal challenges, and a lot of times where I questioned the very foundation of my being. But I’m resilient and being as independent as I am, I don’t take long to make up my mind figuring out what my priorities are.

Most of my friends and family do not understand the decisions I made. My resolution for 2012 was to “be more self-confident.” And I realized I could never be that if I didn’t have a clear picture of who I was. And the only way to find out who I was was to let go of everything I knew. I lost a little, but I gained so much.

And that was 2012!

In 2013, I think my resolution will be to become a better communicator with the people I love and care about and be more assertive over all. I’m a very expressive person but on interpersonal matters, I am often a closed book and want to change that about myself because, well, it’s just the right thing to do. Hopefully 2013 takes me to new and wonderful places just as 2012 did. But I don’t have to hope too much, because I know it will!