Friday, December 19, 2008

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly...

Happy Holidays 2008! I hope this annual holiday letter finds you well.

2008 was a ‘Tale of Two Hemispheres’ for me with the first half still in Australia and the second half back home in NYC.

I’m still working for Accenture, now in my 10th year (can that be possible?) and now a Senior Manager. This year I’ve worked in Melbourne for Telstra, in Dallas for AT&T and in Minneapolis (where I am now) for Best Buy. In between Telstra and AT&T, this August, I got the opportunity to teach a new joiner school for a few weeks in St. Charles, Illinois and that was a great change of pace.

I started 2008 on a trip to Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa. It was an incredible trip. (I’ve done the scouting now, so do let me know if you want to join in on my return trip to SA for the 2010 world cup.) I enjoyed safaris in the Pilanesburg National Park, gambling at Sun City, climbing Table Mountain and touring Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned.

While South Africa was the most beautiful place I have ever been, the striking beauty was paired with unavoidable scenes of struggle and inequity. Millions of people live in Townships in abject poverty with few opportunities and little hope. Shacks like the ones below stretch for miles in all directions. It was a sobering reminder throughout my trip how lucky I am.

African wildlife isn’t fairing much better with continual reduction in habitat pushing many species to the brink of extinction. Outside of Cape Town, I visited a Cheetah rescue. While orphan cheetahs raised in captivity cannot be reintroduced into the wild, the funds raised from tourist attractions like this one (below) are used for conservation efforts. This cheetah was impossibly soft and shockingly, painfully beautiful. Being close to it was one of the highlights of the year.

In March I went to Rimini, Italy for the Paganello World Beach Ultimate Championships. I had a blast with my team, D-Rex. It was cold and rainy and we partied pretty hard. I think we finished 9th overall but none of us could still count to 9 when it was all said and done.

Back in Australia, the ultimate continued as I played a second season with the top women’s team from Melbourne, Sporting Team Box Althetico United. In April, I road-tripped to the Australian National Ultimate Championships in Coffs Harbor with my pal Lauren. Team Box is an incredible group of women and girls and we bring an irreverence to ultimate that is sorely needed.
Team Box (I’m in the very middle.)

All over the landscape of Australia there are these big tourist attractions like "The Big Banana" pictured below. They are hokey, quaint and a lot of fun, not unlike Australia itself.

This May, I made a trip back to the US for my sister Lynn’s 40th birthday. (Man Lynn, you are really getting up there!) Another reason for that trip was to attend my friend and Ambush teammate Jennifer Christenson’s wedding to Brian (Chip) Stout in North Carolina. They had a beautiful ceremony and we all had a wonderful time. Here is me as a bridesmaid on the far left:

In July, I left Australia and moved back to NYC and back into my East Village apartment. I had a great time while I was in Melbourne and I’ll miss all the friends I made there. There was a fun ultimate pick-up game send off my last day there, which was the perfect way to say farewell. I spent a few days in Fiji on the way home. Fiji was beautiful, but by that point I was impatient to get back to the city. I’ve really enjoyed being back home and getting reacquainted with the best city in the world. I’d say my favorite thing about being home is good places to get brunch.

As soon as I got back home I synced up with my NY Ultimate team, Ambush. This year we played tournaments in Ottawa, Vermont, Santa Cruz, outside of Boston and also qualified for the UPA national championship in Sarasota, Florida in October:

We finished up in 14th place and had a great time at the big dance. (I’m in the middle.)

With 2008 drawing to a close, I got the chance to spend Thanksgiving in Myersville, Maryland. Again I was surrounded by animals, but this time slightly less exotic ones: 2 parents, 2 dogs, 2 cats (not pictured), 2 horses (not pictured) and 2 “mini” horses.
We had a feast for twenty (divided by only 3) and I spent some time with my parents and all the animals. My dad and I caught a Wizards game as well. (Thanks to all of you who continue to ask about my nieces Kate & Lindy. Both are doing just great and spent Thanksgiving at Disney World with their parents.)

That’s about it. Look forward to next year’s letter when I’ll tell you about all my antics 2009. Happy New Year!


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas

I really enjoy reading your blogs, if you ever get to Louisville try to call, would love to see you.


courtney said...

Hey Aunt Sara! Merry Christmas. Give my best to Pat & Sean. I hope you had a great holiday and have a Happy New Year.