There’s something about the end of the year that makes one think back over the year, and then make a list. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I’m doing. It’s sure taken awhile, but I blame the early January moving to Brussels situation.

Here are things I liked, as in Best of 2006

10. 0 DOLLARS CREDIT CARD DEBT- For the first time in 5 years, my credit card debt reached zero. Not my personal debt, but still, it’s a step in the right direction.

9. FIRST TURKEY – I made my first turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving in Rome, for the first time. It more officially marked my place in less-than-semi-vegetarianism (it’s hard to claim vegetarian status whilst sewing up the skin of a dead bird). However, I’m comfortable with my ‘flexitarian’ standing, emboldened by the generally held opinion that the turkey and all the trimmings were wicked delicious.

8. PUBLISHED ARTICLES- I’d written some journalistic stuff before published in some other underground erstwhile magazines, but as I’m starting to take it a little more seriously it’s nice to see it be greeted with open arms by publishers eager for some free content. Tiscali Europe, The Roman Forum and Stirred Up Magazine all had issues with a byline by me. Everybodies scratching each others’ backs.

7. MOVING TO BRUSSELS Too soon to tell if this is/was an actually good idea, but it has that potential.

6. US MIDTERM ELECTIONS Ohmigod, good political news, for once. How it’s panning out I don’t know, but I like to se a group of assholes get their comeuppance, oh yes, I do. So cheers to Mark Foley and masses of right wing warmongering conservative pedophiles eating humble pie while being handed their political asses on a platter. Cheers to the voting public for sending the ‘Worst President Ever’ a loud-and-clear “You Suck!” message.

5. 2 TRIPS TO VANCITY I went back to the west coast in March for three weeks, it involved much friend and family time, 3 improv shows (1 great, 1ok, and 1 poor) and a guest appearance at Camp YES It coincided with the end-of-season implosion of my Vancouver Canucks, but I got to watch some hockey anyway. I also went back in September with Chiara, for my Dad’s 60th birthday and general good times.

4. IMPROV CLASSES: I taught 2, count ’em, 2 series of workshops culminating in 1 brilliant performance. The first round, in May, was 2 full weekends with 8 beginners, 6 of whom had never ever improvised before. After the two weekends we performed a show that was actually really good. Amazingly so. The second round, in autumn, was only OK, but we pulled off another good show and even got the ball rolling for some regular improv in Rome.

3. BIRTH OF ROAN- My nephew was born in April. So cute, such a powerful experience for me to be peripherally involved in from long-distance. Almost enough to make me think of making one of my own.

2. EYE SURGERY I got elective corrective eye surgery December this year. Now I can see way way better than I could before. That makes my ‘best of’ list, because seeing is important. The three days I spent with my eyes squinshed shut sitting in the dark weren’t that great, but now it’s awesome.

1. WORLD CUP 2006. This shit was pretty much the best thing going. Football football football for one whole entire month! It’s the best shit ever pretty much, the whole world goes apeshit and I’ve really amped up my excitement progressively over the years beginning with a mild passing interest for USA 94, when it was right on my doorstep. I also unfortunately missed Mexico ’86 when Canada went, for the one and only time, to the World Cup. However Canada scored zero goals and got zero points, so maybe it’s a mixed blessing I gave it a pass.

This year I was uberfan. Because for one whole month I planned my life around the World Cup, I was able to watch at least part of every single game,. They were all blogged about and can be found in my archives. I even went to see one live at the Olimpischstadion in Berlin, Germany (Brazil vs. Croatia) and soak up the atmosphere in Berlin (Incredible!) during the World Cup 2006TM “A Time to Make Friends.” Beer and football fans, sporting an enthusiastic spirit of excitement, hope and good sportsmanship with a healthy dose of flag capes were the order of the day. I then came back to Italy and was in Rome for the final. Italy won. And then we partied. Me and all of Italy. All night long. Parading around the Colosseum and dancing on busses and celebrating the fucking awesomeness of it all.

Here are some things I didn’t like about 2006


5. MY 29TH BIRTHDAY- This past summer I turned 29. I’m already looking back on my roaring twenties with some fondness, and feeling alternately torn between a desire to live it up more in tune with my carefree romp n’ stomp 20’s ie. plenty of partying and muckracking, and looking ahead to the coming decade and feeling desperately unprepared for the more general crush of adulthood that, time says, I can hardly deny for much longer. Friends with real jobs still make me think, “Wow!” like I’m sharing some inside joke with them, as if we’re collectively putting one over on their employer, if only they knew who they had working for them. When in fact they have exactly what they thought they have: a young capable professional. Something I should be soon, because I’m almost 30. Are you listening Potential Employers?

4. MY SECOND SHOW AT WINK I was back in Vancouver in March. I heard there was a regular Sunday Show (The Sunday Service) at awesome vegetarian café Wink. All persons involved friends of mine. I signed up to do the show. Couldn’t wait…I did my first show, during my first visit to the opened Wink, the day after my arrival. I got to do a show with Taz and Ryan Beil, two great guys and incredible improvisers: Though I hadn’t improvised in months it was like riding a bike. I jumped back on and jammed with those dudes, creating what was an awesome show, according to audience feedback and the feeling. Short form hilarity, plus a long form freeform coming of age tale, also hilarious. It was a great feeling, one I couldn’t wait to have again. So I asked to play again. No problem of course.
But it was a problem because the next time I stepped to the stage I had a hangover that transcended the usual definition of the word ‘hangover’, not so much pain, but a brain fog as if my thoughts were moving underwater: slow wobbly and muddled. By the time the Sunday in question rolled around after a great party on a friend’s island I had in fact wisely decided to pass on the show, but as it turns out I was expected. By Taz and Ryan, and also by some audience members… Coming home I neglected to tell anyone about my first show, in case I sucked, but after it went so well, I invited anyone who would listen to the second. And it was terrible. Not homogenously terrible, those guys are too good for that to happen, but it was a decent show in spite of me. I think I said and did a couple funny or clever things, but it was tough to recall them afterwards. My time on stage was me trying to make sense of what was happening, and slowly respond. Anyway lesson learned: No matter how much I think “aaah, it’s improv. I can just wing it.” I can’t.
If I’m too retarded to hold a conversation, I shouldn’t be on stage.

3. SPENT A DAY IN JAIL-Sort of. Basically just got taken to the police station to get my records scrutinized to see that I wasn’t an illegal immigrant, or wanted by INTERPOL. But I’ve been to nicer places to spend the day. The worst place you’re thinking of right now is probably nicer.

2. THE DERBY It wasn’t until late in the season last year that I started supporting AS Roma with any degree of passion. Perhaps stirred on by the upcoming World Cup, an increasing understanding of Italian, and a general improvement in their game since they got rid of that shitbag Cassano to the galacticos. Whatever the reason, I started hitting the AS Roma pretty hard. So fall 2006 I’ve been digging pretty hard as Totti and Co. blaze through Serie A, unfortunately a 2nd to Inter Milan, but so be it. Anyway, what really matters to football fans in Rome is the twice yearly derby where AS Roma plays their arch-rivals Lazio. This years derby was greeted with tonnes of fanfare, as I guess they always are. I was right there too, more frequently buying Corriere dello Sport, the Romeboosting sports paper, and reading interviews and pundits speculation and tracing the glorious history of the derby, right back to the first in 1929 (which Roma won 2-0). This derby though, which I’d been priming for for days and days, had all kinds of exciting subplots: Roma’s Totti chasing the scoring title, Roma chasing Inter Milan for the scudetto, Lazio closing in on a Champions League spot, plus of course all the usual excitement, drama and blood and sweat that attend the battle between two of sports greatest rivals. I was there in Rome, at home on the edge of my seat, to watch my team suffer a huimiliatingly embarrassing 3-0 loss. They got hammered. They also lost valuable ground to Inter in the title race. It wasn’t even an interesting game.

1. ACTIVELY DESPERATELY SEEKING POORLY PAID WORK This was really an end-of-the-year thing spilling over to my current time in Brussels. But it’s the shortside of moving to Brussels, I think. Or maybe it just highlights my lack of real-time office job experience, either way, I don’t like it. I also don’t like competing against all these multilingual go-getting keeners I imagine are thwarting me at every turn, for said poorly paid assistantships.

BEST/WORST-Here are the Mixed Blessings

5. JJ ABRAMS. Creator of some of televisions finest shows. Engineer of the greatest time-sucking tandem in my home: ALIAS and Lost. But God, that is engrossing TV!

4. BERLUSCONI OUT, STEPHEN HARPER IN. Italy finally gets a decent person to lead the country, the same year as Canada gets a slimy weasel to run her government. I got my feet in two separate political waters and one always stinks like shit.

3. CANUCKS- Sure right now they’re incredible, in 2007. But last year they weren’t. They imploded at the end of last season, the spectacular kind of implosion that’s preceded by 2 months of a painfully loud sucking noise. Consistently inconsistent, at the start of this season they couldn’t score more than a goal a game. But still, the pain is peppered with the occasional glory, and of course now, they’re really coming together backstopped by an amazing goaltender, with a pair of alien wondertwins leading the offensive charge.

2. FISHING TRIP FOR DAD’s 60th– It was the best of times. My bright idea for my fall trip to Vancouver, some male bonding over poker and salmon fishing. In 2005 there was a salmon fishing trip off Vancouver Island. I didn’t go. My brother, my father, my sisters’ boyfriend Jason, and my uncle all went. They caught so many salmon they almost sunk the boat. I longed for that kind of action. So my brother and I planned a fishing trip for late September when I would be back, in time to coincide with my Dad’s 60th birthday. A present for him, where we could all reap the rewards, and the fish. Me, my dad, my bro, and Jason. Guys time. We had guys time, but didn’t catch a single fish. Not one. As awesome as it was, and it was awesome, it was hard not to be a little disappointed.

1. THIS LIST- I’m determined to post this year end list even if it’s really past due date, I mean, year end retrospection is really passè by February. But it means I got the job done. Better late than never.