Thursday, January 01, 2009

year in review.

i had sent the note below out with my hilarious (as always) Christmas Cards. seemed appropriate to share given the day and all.


Friends, Ramans, Countrymen:
i usually scoff at those who send an “annual letter,” so believe me, it is with some reserve that i write you this holiday update. it’s been a pretty eventful year, so if receiving this, you’re someone i care enough about to (1) send a funny card, and/or (2) keep up-to-date the latest happenings you might not have already heard about (seriously, why is ONLY my mom reading thus begins my 2008 “Year in Review” (in written, not drawn form :)

JANUARY: the new year was rung in alongside one of my closest friends in Chiang Mai, Thailand (↑). paper lanterns were lit, as we watched them float into the sky with thousands of others. 2007 had been a long year, i was ready to see what lay ahead.
before moving BACK to the States (from my 2007 work stint in SE Asia, where Kathryn & i took the chance to travel the region extensively – the only nations NOT covered being Laos, Brunei, and Myanmar –a return is inevitable) – a week alone was spent backpacking thru South India, a region which may as well be a country unto itself. from the backwaters of Kerala to the temples of Tamil Nadu (↑), I had plenty of time to explore a facet India different from my own heritage, and reflect on what part the culture/religion of my people played in my life. and i saw a lot of elephants. they smell.

coming back was like hitting a brick wall in many ways. the return-culture shock of too-big portions, the 24/7 news cycle (where little of value is said), bad reality television, and the cold Cincinnati winter quickly gave me pause. but i WAS able to get good Mexican food again, catch up on my comic books, be in a closer time zone to my family, and draw the news (→) on a weekly basis with my friends. so it was all good. my new job had me leading some really cool, BIG stuff on Tide, Downy, and Gain. not having to buy laundry detergent was also a plus.

APRIL: shortly after returning, Kat finally jumped ship from P&G (the company where we met some 5 years earlier), and took a position in NY. thus began the no-fun long-distance relationship. but have no fear, we had a plan. it would just take a bit. now i had to find something to do with all my free time.
little did I know that i’d wind up making toys for kids. i soon discovered Happen Inc., a local non-profit, whose mission is to bring parents and kids together thru creative arts. one of their programs, Happen’s Toylab, was where i'd spend weekends donning a lab-coat and using power tools to make kids happy (←). think Sid’s toys from Toy Story meets Build-a-Bear, only 53x times* cooler. i quickly got involved with Happen’s other community programs, while also lending my professional hand to help take Happen Inc. to the next level. by far this work has been one of the more fulfilling things i’ve done in my adult life. AND the easiest way to becoming a professor i’ve found to date. though i am still remiss to have discovered it so late in my time in Cincinnati.
*(when compared to typically lame kid things like video games, ready-sweetened cereals, and Chuck-E-Cheese)

JULY-OCTOBER: taking the fulfillment angle a notch further, i also got involved with the Obama campaign in Cincinnati (“think globally, act locally”). reading the news, discussing with friends, and donating while abroad was one thing, but rolling my sleeves up in Ohio (a “battleground state” in US politics), like so many others, young AND old, knocking on neighborhood doors, near and far, and talking to people about “my candidate” made a difference. especially when on Nov. 4 the Ohio win pretty much sealed the next leader of the free world. but winning the election was one thing, fixing the current state of affairs is another. though for the first time in a long while, i’m really excited to see where WE can take our country. that, and hopefully Jon Stewart might stop being so funny and sad at the same time. a boy can dream.

NOVEMBER: the day AFTER the election, i gave myself a bad haircut, and stepped on a plane for Ushuaia, Argentina, where i'd join my college roommate, board a Russian boat, and make way for Antarctica - where I would set foot on my 6th continent, one step closer to my goal of “7 before 30” (Africa is last). words can barely describe the scale and wonder of the Antarctic. only possible to go to during their summer, the continent halves in size as the surrounding sea ice melts, a fantastic sight. and yes, there were penguins everywhere (↑). and NO, i did not bring one back for you. that would be illegal.

the week after was spent wandering Argentina, hiking glaciers in Tiera del Fuego, hanging out with friends in Buenos Aires, and even making a side trip to Uruguay. highlights? gazing cemetery statues, hilarious local children, and a really big pillow fight (←).

DECEMBER: upon returning home to Cincinnati, preparation for my next trip would commence immediately – moving to NY, where i'll be taking a transfer with P&G to focus on broader media/measurement work. the best part (and the real reason for going) - being back with Kathryn (→). where do go from here? well, there, but after 5+ years as friends and otherwise, let’s just say i'm optimistic. i think that’s become a personal theme of mine these past few years, as life is good.

so, i think i got around pretty well in 2008. saw some neat things. spent time connecting with family & friends of old, while also making friends anew from all over (Austria, California, India, Israel, Korea, Sweden, St.Martin, and yes, even Canada). and there were even 2 REALLY good comic book movies. i mean, what are the odds?

i hope this year has been equally as great for you & yours, & only wish you the best in the new year(s) to come. please do stay in touch.
-Raman (December 2008)

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