samedi 1 janvier 2011

Best of 2010

It's over, 2010. So last year. 2011 is here and I am starting the year off right with a dinner composed of the best marinara sauce (sauce tomate) in the universe, made by the W.
We saw the year out properly too, with a Moroccan dinner inspired by Nawal, who was here from Paris via Fez last year but - alas! - not this year.

Three days later...

This was going to be my first day of the year post, but I got called away to eat that marinara sauce and then got involved in watching a movie "on demand". A very good movie on demand. One of the best of 2010, at least as far as I am concerned. It's called Please Give and stars Catherine Keener, one of the best actors around, as a guilty white liberal from the Upper West Side waiting for her bitchy elderly neighbor to die so that she and her husband can break down the wall separating their apartments and expand. The couple's day job is selling newly hip and hugely marked-up furniture from the past that they mainly purchase from the bereaved adult children of the kind of elderly people who live next door. Thematically, it reminded me of a largely overlooked novel by Nick Hornby from a few years back called How to be Good.
I recently mentioned True Grit, also a top movie pick for 2010, though it is not destined to be as underwatched as Please Give.

Did I see other movies in 2010? I went to SIFF, but all the films I saw, mostly French, were released in 2009. We liked Roman Polanski's The Ghostwriter, but I can't even remember if we saw it in 2010. Could have been 2009. I also liked a Claire Denis film I saw two weeks ago called White Material, which ran for a nanosecond at the Harvard Exit. Isabelle Huppert is always great as a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown. In fact, one of the best movies I revisited in 2010 was Claude Chabrol's La Cérémonie, starring Isabelle Huppert as a madwoman/postal worker who kills her baby and then, in an act of cold blood fueled by simmering class resentment, an entire family. Sounds grim, doesn't it? But actually, the movie is quite funny.

There were notable books in 2010 as well, though the only ones I read that were actually published in 2010 were Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, Just Kids by Patti Smith, and Angel Face, by Barbie Latza Nadeau, about University of Washington exchange student Amanda Knox, who was convicted in Italy in December of 2009 of participating in the murder of her then roommate, British Erasmus student Meredith Kercher. Knox and her erstwhile boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are currently serving time while awaiting the outcome of their appeal, a process that is automatic in Italy. Unless you have been brainwashed by woefully biased coverage in the US, you probably know that the case against the pair (and the third accomplice, Rudy Guede, who has exhausted all appeals in Italy) is strong and was well-argued by the prosecution. Two forensic items (out of far more than that number) are being re-examined and a couple of new witnesses will be heard. The prosecution is asking for a stiffer sentence, as it feels the first court was too lenient in sentencing Knox to 26 years and Sollecito to 25.

2010 was also the year in which I got back into yoga for real. It started on my birthday, as a gift to myself, and now feels like something necessary and good.

And finally, 2010 was a year of graduate study in French at the University of Washington. One class at a time, since I also have a full-time job. I feel blessed to be doing this at my age. And I have a 4.0 GPA so far, with one incomplete. I hope to write a paper next summer to fulfill the requirement that will erase the incomplete.

On the work front, the impact of the global financial crisis on my profession, financial translation, has been significant and is probably permanent. There are fewer transactions; financial services firms, banks and start-ups are less willing to spend money on translations, etc. This is an endlessly repeated cycle, but this time around the trough is longer and deeper. No matter. I feel blessed to still have work with clients I have had the pleasure of knowing for more than a decade; I feel even more blessed that they decided to stay with me when I moved back to the US. Sometimes I get kind of cranky, like when I have to work on the weekend or late at night. But on the whole, I feel blessed because I am self-employed, which offers a tremendous amount of liberty and autonomy, and also because I do work that allows me to use a rare skill and more than 50% of my brain. Even at its most boring, repetitive and stressful, translation remains a challenge; and I still take genuine pride in the finished product.

I'm not really one to make New Year's resolutions. But maybe it would be fun to try.

To be continued...