Free from pregnancy and sobriety, I treated 2013 like I was coming out of a cannon, constantly in motion and catching up for all the alcohol I didn’t get to consume last year. It wound up being a great year for drinking since we went through sorry, sorry times in Washington — our creeping surveillance state came into sharp focus thanks to Edward Snowden, we went into the previously-unthinkable sequestration budget cuts early in the year and the utter intractability of our leaders climaxed in a government shutdown by August. The story of the year was HealthCare.gov’s disaster of a rollout, which became my primary work focus for the final months of 2013.
My travel was a little limited to short trips or taking Baby Eva with me, since I breastfed until this fall. But this was the first year I felt like I was arriving home when my flights descended toward Washington.
Professionally the entire NPR team moved into gleaming new headquarters and I found a new home covering the intersection of technology, culture and policy, a coverage area my bosses at NPR slid me into when I pressed for a beat that would allow me to spend lots of time in the field. And that I did — exploring and telling stories from all over: a bossless office in Michigan, a wholesale Asian grocery store in Houston, conducted interviews from atop a Utah peak overlooking four states, tried out the new zipline at Snowshoe Mountain Resort, went without WiFi and cell service for days, for a story about the National Radio Quiet Zone, slept in a safari-themed motel room (real mosquito net and everything!), cooked in a modern-day San Francisco commune, caught up with former National Spelling Bee champs, put my toddler on national air and told lots and lots of stories about the problems with government IT procurement. You know how much I love my job.
Triumphs: Grew my first a vegetable garden, mainly full of cucumbers and lots of herbs to share with coworkers. Used soil from my new compost bin. TSA Pre-check. Making Fantasy Football semi’s in both my leagues, but my editor Uri somehow beat us all, in his first fantasy season ever. Winning celebrity death pool, again. Actually getting to drink through the nearly week-long party in DC for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. The baby grew into a lively, rambunctious Mandarin-speaking toddler.
Noteworthy Discoveries: George W. Bush’s work as a portrait artist, ABC’s Scandal, Scandal viewing parties, reading on my iPad instead of actual paper books (I don’t know why I held out so long), Huckleberry vodka
Great Disappointments: Death of Google Reader. Driving over my iPhone. Saying goodbye to my brother-from-another Dave Wright, who moved to San Francisco. Not seeing my parents and brother enough, since they are on too different continents.
New Experiences: Turkey (the country, not the meat). Croatia. Judging an Air Sex competition. Speaking at Harvard. Driving the tech blog at work. The Lactation Station. Narrowly avoiding having to pump in a bathroom at Tao nightclub in Vegas. Learning all about electromagnetic sensitivity and magnetic levitation.
Favorite Moment: When Eva started walking around in the kitchen all by herself while she was listening to herself on All Things Considered, her national radio debut. Dinnertime with four families together at a mountain estate in Colorado, with massive meals prepared by my favorite chef, Jimmy.
New Friend of the Year: Rebekah Monson, my new lady bro. She is always game to gorge on fried things with me, talk about big ideas, crack wise about the latest in low-brow pop culture and cuss a lot. Basically I have found my kindred spirit.
Memorable “Celebrity” Encounters: Interviewing super pop music producer Dr. Luke, leaving it to him to record himself in his studio. Gave a homie to Robert Siegel, my new homie. He was gracious to help me make my first Instagram video when the feature rolled out in the summer. Got coffee for the band, The National, as they played for about 60 of us in our new building. Joked with Tony Goldwyn (President Fitzgerald Grant III) about whether he would let me into a party after the Correspondent’s Dinner. And that party where Pete Cashmore tried to take a selfie of us.
Most Random New Text Message Buddy: Rapper Chingo Bling, who got me in touch with Bun B, and G-Dash, who texted GuU, who called to try and set me up with Paul Wall. Yep.
Recurring Themes: Top knots (partly because my hair was falling out post-baby), gifs, Miami (4X), Homies, race and talking about race, MichaelManess! (I pronounce it as one word), data-driven baby (used an app to track all of Eva’s sleeping/eating/pooping for her first year) and, oddly, ski resorts. Somehow I visited four ski resorts this summer, in four different states.
Travel Log: 57,995 miles, 7 countries, 29 cities for me. 25,485 of those flight miles with baby Eva.