I went from eating a nearly-vegetarian, largely organic diet of mostly salads and whole grains to eating the kind of thing that most Americans eat: refined flours and sugars, meat, and not that many vegetables (this is one thing I am determined to change in the new year).

I went from being worried that I would not find any cheeseburgers in my new country of residence to eating them more than I ever have before (it’s research).

I went from doing Pilates twice a week at my Brighton gym to doing yoga whenever I can fit it in at a random empty house in Islamabad that is hot as a furnace all summer (we just call it “bikram”) and chilly in winter. (Mostly I am just grateful that great yoga classes exist in Pakistan and are even free!)

I went from being acronym-averse to using the following a million times every single work day: USG, GOP, COP, PSD, AIP, PMP. (Yes, I’m annoying.)

I went from thinking of Pakistan as a very far-away, very dangerous place troubled by conflict and violence to thinking of it as normal, as mostly peaceful, as home.

I went from being a committed environmentalist to someone who gets all of my water out of plastic bottles (granted, tap water’s not safe) and throws each one right in the trash when done with it (granted, there’s no recycling here). It still hurts me a little every single time.

In addition to traveling to Asia, I’ve also done the following things for the first time ever this year:

Wore shalwar kameeze

Saw the Himalayas

Had meetings at a U.S. embassy

Went to Dubai

Had visa trouble

Went horseback riding in heels

Tried a shisha pipe (I recommend double apple flavor)

Attended a Pakistani wedding

Witnessed a Presidential inauguration

Appeared on Pakistani television

Found the super-secret sneaker shop in Boston

Took a golfing lesson

Had my own orange tree

Had all the oranges stolen off my tree (This too is worthy of a whole other post as I am still mad about it. Title: “Bitter: I Will Find My Orange Thief”)

Shipped 11 boxes of health food internationally

Ate chicken karahi eleven thousand times (it only felt like that)

Visted a Pakistani emergency room

Broke security protocol to see a movie (Star Trek)

Bought a plane ticket to go to Thailand. Finally.

All in all, it’s been a good year and certainly one to remember. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it here, and I hope you’ll continue in the new year: I promise new adventures, new near-calamities, and new cheeseburgers to write about. Have a lovely ending to 2009, everyone!

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