113 rapid-fire memories from 2013

It was the best of times and the worst of times. And I hardly know where to begin this list. Do years just continue to spiral more and more out of control the longer you live?

Recalling events from the past sequence of years, it certainly feels like it. It’s not a bad feeling necessarily, just a “Seriously? Do years just continue to spiral more and more out of control?” kind of feeling.

Here’s a taste of my memories from this past year, rapid-fire style:

  1. Driving 100 mph down the road with my head out the window
  2. Taking photos at the Houfs wedding in Dallas
  3. Teaching Zach to ski
  4. Bowling with the big group before I left for Saudi Arabia
  5. Reading Kisses From Katie to Momma
  6. Signing the contract to teach in Jubail
  7. Getting my international driver’s license
  8. Getting my first credit card
  9. Seeing friends’ lists of rapid-fire memories from 2012
  10. Talking with Ted about Neustar
  11. Taking the express lane for frequent flyers when I got on the plane to Saudi, not realizing it was only the beginning of an extensive travel year for me
  12. Eating the best thali I’ve ever had that first time with the guys in Bahrain
  13. Crossing the causeway into Saudi Arabia while Shabir’s asking if it was our first time in the Kingdom
  14. Getting stuck at the causeway for an entire day on a visa run
  15. Being observed by my boss without knowing I was supposed to prepare for that (but still doing a good job)
  16. Driving through Cairo with our amazing Egyptian driver that first day
  17. Ducking down the tunnel into the heart of a pyramid
  18. Seeing my bank account grow past its previous record high
  19. Hearing the call to prayer outside my window
  20. Walking to the Valley of the Kings from the east side of the river
  21. Realizing my photos from the pyramids didn’t copy to my hard drive correctly and I’d already deleted them off my camera’s memory card
  22. Celebrating my birthday without much fanfare at a Korean restaurant
  23. Exploring old Jubail with Ryan the weekend before he got fired
  24. Moving into the unfinished housing on JTI
  25. Dune bashing with coworkers in Qatar
  26. Boating in the cove just outside Doha with the McGill clan
  27. Walking out on our first basketball game as a team in Jubail because the refs weren’t calling a fair game
  28. Winning our first game as Al Shabaab
  29. Finishing the five-week long Arabic course
  30. Waiting for the public beheading in Dirah Square in Riyadh, leaving, and then finding out we missed it by just a couple hours
  31. Buying a Kindle for the first time and realizing it’s one of my favorite things I’ve purchased for myself
  32. Driving across Saudi Arabia on a three day weekend with Caleb and Fil
  33. Barbecuing with the McGill teachers
  34. Learning how to build and operate a homemade still illegally
  35. Pillaging rooms after teachers left the McGill program
  36. Going through all the hassle of trying to get my visa for India from Jubail
  37. Exploring Goa on a rented motor scooter
  38. Letting myself get drenched in rain as I strolled down the monsoon soaked beach in Goa
  39. Ruining part of my camera by getting sand stuck in it
  40. Following the guide to the burning ghat in Varanasi
  41. Watching kites take flight from rooftops as strangers helped their neighbors keep their kites afloat
  42. Feeling the poverty in Kolkata (but not the way I thought I would)
  43. Eating banana pancakes on the hostel rooftop overlooking the Taj Mahal
  44. Drinking chai in a train on the way to somewhere in India
  45. Finding out that we’d been locked out of our places back in Jubail while we were away on our holiday
  46. Hurrying the administration at JTI to open our rooms with Martin, the man they were looking for, hurrying them along right there with us
  47. Renting a car for the second to last month in Saudi
  48. Growing out the goat for seven months
  49. Driving down the dirt road we thought was the road to Kuwait only to later discover the freeway that ran parallel to our dirt road
  50. Watching the last episode of Breaking Bad on the widescreen projector with Patrick, Tommy, and Rob
  51. Getting extra pages added to my passport
  52. Researching about rental properties in Old Louisville
  53. Meeting with Lucas each week to talk about finances
  54. Commissioning a tuktuk to drive us out to this lake outside Addis on a terrible road and then getting stuck up on the mountain in the cold
  55. Hanging out with the student who showed us his falcon and let us watch their hunting sport
  56. Chatting with Meagan on Facebook
  57. Playing chess with Nick and Martin and Rob and the guy in Bogota
  58. Getting robbed by a man with a knife in the streets of Bogota
  59. Listening to blues in a hostel in Armenia, Colombia
  60. Walking away from the World Vision office after getting Alisha there safely and on time to meet the girl she sponsors
  61. Wondering if I had malaria in India
  62. Wondering if I had malaria in Ecuador
  63. Getting stamped into my 20th new country
  64. Listening to fireworks exploding on Christmas Eve while seeing what everyone was up to back home in America via Facebook
  65. Chatting in broken Spanish and English in the same conversation
  66. Finding, writing, and sending postcards from foreign countries
  67. Going to the zoo
  68. Feeling totally underwhelmed by the airport in Dubai
  69. Watching the fountain show outside the Burj Kalifa
  70. Landing in Ethiopia, and it feeling like Africa, finally
  71. Busing through the mountains and desert overnight in South America
  72. Reading with my shirt off on top of the compound in Saudi Arabia
  73. Eating felafel sandwiches (or wraps) in the cafeteria at JTI
  74. Hanging out with William and Lauren for the first time (that I can remember) since they’ve been together
  75. Helping the owner of Raquel’s ballet company set up the stage before a performance so that I could watch it even though I wasn’t supposed to attend
  76. Noticing “Gangnam Style” playing in unusual contexts around the world
  77. Taking Spanish classes in Lima
  78. Lending money to friends who had their debit/credit cards stolenĀ in foreign countries
  79. Falling in love
  80. Admiring the old Victorian homes in Old Louisville
  81. Sleeping at the church in the freezing cold
  82. Driving to Atlanta with all the bad weather warnings
  83. Cooking adobo for friends in Saudi Arabia
  84. Taking cool showers for five months straight
  85. Coming up with a signature knock and using it consistently
  86. Nose kissing guys in the Middle East
  87. Taking photos with students before their class graduated
  88. Taking photos of my traveling buddies surrounded by children
  89. Struggling to take Spanish lessons via Skype
  90. Telling students about the United States and hearing them tell me about Saudi Arabia
  91. Saying farewell to friends I worked with this year
  92. Waking up at 4:00am every morning because of the timezone difference
  93. Enjoying the new housing at JTI once we finally got to move in
  94. Finding out that Little Ricky died
  95. Living through Ramadan in arguably the most Islamic country in the world
  96. Running around trying to get a sick note from a doctor when I got sick in Saudi
  97. Getting to #97 in this list and realizing, “Oh, I don’t have three left. I need to get all the way to 113!”
  98. Starting a new blog, Marshbox, but then not really doing much with it
  99. Making or finding or buying virtual presents
  100. Having diarrhea off and on for a few months thanks to delicious Indian food
  101. Playing guitar when I got back to Kentucky after my stint in the Middle East
  102. Reading the same book over the Bible every day for about three weeks in a row and then hearing a sermon from a chapter in that book my first week back in the United States
  103. Confirming with the McGill project director that I could get a reference letter from the university
  104. Enjoying the “It’s not so bad” conversations within the first month or two of Saudi Arabia
  105. Eating cheap shawarma sandwiches and drinking fresh juice that cost about as much as each sandwich
  106. Stepping on five continents all in one year
  107. Losing contact with almost all my friends back in Kentucky
  108. Missing home, so many times
  109. Feeling like I might have retired from teaching ESL for good
  110. Adding a Failed list to what I’ve done
  111. Noticing all the “Te amo” graffiti in South America
  112. Breaking my own record for longest letter I’ve ever written
  113. Feeling excited about starting yet another chapter (or maybe it’s another book) in my life

Happy New Year!