2012: The Unexpected Journey

Looking back, there’s no way that I could have predicted half of what happened this year. But that’s to be expected I suppose, as — plan though we might — life has a habit of getting in the way.

I started this year in Edinburgh, hopelessly hungover, hurrying around the Grassmarket as I attempted to collect tokens as a part of the city’s inaugural New Year Games. I was an Uppie, you see, and I had a Minotaur to de-ribbon.

After finishing my Christmas temp-job in January, I started to prepare for the following month’s Glasgow International Film Festival. My job-seeking took a short hiatus as I caught a couple of movies and lost myself to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and its two equally superb sequels.

Knowing that I had a friend’s overseas wedding to prep for, I took a position as a runner on a multimedia beer commercial back in Edinburgh. I saw out February on a pier at Newhaven Harbour, fetching coffees and hosing down the nearby fishmonger’s for filming. After a week of camera-sitting in the rain I genuinely thought I might have hypothermia. Little did I know that my year was set to get much, much colder.

It was during the first half of the year — in early April — that I attended the first of two funerals. Tragically, in 2012 I lost my uncle long before his time, as well as my great aunt just a few months later. I was also left to watch helplessly as my grandmother’s memory was savaged by Alzheimer’s. Each was mourned, and each will be missed.

Still unemployed, I took the opportunity to focus more on my writing. As I continued to contribute to HeyUGuys and BestForFilm, I also began writing for WorkInProwess and started filming the occasional reaction for STV’s MovieJuice. My efforts were rewarded with a growing readership for my own blog, PopcornAddiction.

In June I set off for Boukari Beach, Corfu. My lawyer friend and my musician friend were set to get married, and after a number of other friends pulled out I decided just to forget the finances and go anyway. Stopping off in London on the way, I caught up with various BFF co-contributors before heading out to the airport where the bride and groom almost missed their flight.

Less than a week later I was back in Glasgow with the slightest of tans and a rash where I’d accidentally leaned on a sea anemone. No sooner was I back, than I was in Edinburgh for my second and final film festival of the year. For one glorious week I watched movies, conversed with critics and interviewed Robbie Coltrane for Pixar’s Brave.

Like most people, I spent the last two weeks of July obsessing over the London Olympics. Usually anti-sport of any kind, I nevertheless found myself caught up in the excitement and patriotic pride that seemed to grip the nation. I watched everything that the BBC had to show, and still smile whenever footage from the opening or closing ceremonies is aired.

After a summer of sport and cinema, in which Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Prometheus and The Amazing Spider-man kept my jaw planted firmly on the ground between bouts of vicarious volleyball, I resumed my attempts to find a job, and attended my second wedding of the year. In August, out of sheer desperation, I answered an advert calling for a teaching assistant in Russia.

I interviewed for the position in between my mum’s graduation and my own birthday. Successful, I spent September on Skype with a wonderful and preternaturally patient Ukranian woman down in England, learning the basics of the language and attempting to get my invitation, insurance and Visa in order for the trip.

I left Edinburgh airport on the 25th of October, and landed in Syktyvkar three flights and 30-odd hours later. For two months I taught English, made lasting friends, explored the surrounding area and drafted a pair of magazine articles to be published upon my return. In order to keep a record of my day-to-day adventures, I started this very blog.

It was in Russia that I first tried tongue, that I finally experienced true cold and where I realised my childhood dream of being a travel writer — just like an amateur Bill Bryson, Michael Palin or, er, Tintin. Sort of. Maybe. I soon found a new audience, learnt something of Komi culture and gave an interview for the local newspaper.

I returned home the weekend before Christmas, spending the intervening days devouring Homeland, catching up with friends and family, and attempting to finish my Christmas shopping before the big day. Eating out for the second year in a row, I binged on game pie, turkey and desert, happy to be home and with my family for Christmas Day, and free from washing up.

And that was 2012; a year of heartache, homesickness and apparently endless unemployment. But it was also an exciting year, a successful year, and a hugely enjoyable one. It was twelve very different months that I am unlikely ever to forget. I wouldn’t want to.

Here’s to the future, and to hopefully finding my niche in 2013.

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