2011 – Year In Review

Highlights of Claire’s 2011


That Was the River, This Is the Sea at the Art Department (now ADX).  I spent over a year working on this play with my writing partner Gilberto and I was so proud of the work we did.  That lovely brunette in the center on the left is Morgan, a friend from high school that I reconnected with when we cast her in this show and has since moved back to Portland, totally reinvigorated her artistic life, met a really great guy, got a really great apartment, basically gave herself a new lease on life, and become one of my best girlfriends – even closer than we were in high school.


So Marabeth, the “Nativity Fairy” of OBT, concocted this elaborate holiday scheme of Christmas magic for me.  I waited several months for payback, but I achieved it during the OBT Secret Valentine party.  Laura gave me Marabeth as my Secret Valentine on purpose so I could enact my scheme – a pink gorilla singing telegram who showed up at the party where we all revealed our Secret Valentines, and in front of the entire OBT staff and company, serenaded Marabeth with an original song.  There were streamers.  There was audience participation.  There was terrible rhyming poetry.  Marabeth was equal parts mortified, amused and befuddled.  It was my finest work.


March 2011 was also known as The Month of Claire’s 2nd Break-In, but let’s not focus on that.  A lot of really amazing youth ministry experiences happened in 2011, which, since it was my last year as a youth minister, feels appropriate.  These are my girls at the Rise Up Rally, being hilarious and adorable.  They snagged seats in the front row and impressed musician Ike Ndolo with their over-the-top singing and dancing.  I miss seeing those smiling faces every Sunday night . . .


The two biggest moments of April were winning the Oregon Literary Fellowship and finding out about my I-Park residency (see July).  But I don’t have photos of those moments, so instead, this is me working coat check at the OBT gala and making my own fun by trying on the hats of our best-chapeau-ed guests.


Eli’s wedding was one of the most awesome weekends of my life.  The wedding was tons of fun (especially the part where I caught the bouquet and won a dance with Eli’s teenage brother), with delicious food, great wine, and a beautiful, amazing surprise snowfall mid-ceremony.  Plus Michelle, Marabeth, Laura and I rented a vacation house together for the weekend, leading to some hilarious drunken moments of girl bonding.


Our family has a long and proud tradition of creating a staggering ruckus at Central Catholic graduations, and this year’s was no different.  This AMAZING panorama is the whole Willett-Boliba-Laskowski-Hainley clan, hooting and hollering as my cousin Mike gets his diploma.  We’re like this at all of them.  Nobody ever really wants to sit behind us.  We’re gearing up to hit the big leagues this spring when my sister Cat gets her Masters at Chicago Loyola.  I’m working on my Graduation Cliché Bingo cards now.


If you know anything about my life over the past year, you know that I spent a completely amazing and mindblowingly awesome month in the middle of nowhere at an artists’ colony in Connecticut with a group of incredible people.  Of all the things that happened to me this year, I already know this is going to be the thing that defines 2011 for me when I look back on this year way into the future.  To go somewhere so unbelievably beautiful and peaceful for four weeks with nothing to do but make friends and write a play . . . what an incredible gift.


I turned 30 this year.  And I rewarded myself with a big crazy party full of people I love, great food, cocktails named after myself, and the greatest cake anyone has ever made.


September 2011 marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a semi-annual tradition: the OBT beach-stravaganza, a weekend of board games, cocktails, laziness and debauchery in the week before we go into rehearsals for a show, so everyone gets a chance to unwind.  It has been an awesome way to bond with some of my dancer colleagues I don’t get to hang out with that much.  This is Lucas being adorable at the top of the jetty.


Chris and I carved pumpkins together, and he made this totally awesome shark.  I should say, WE made this totally awesome shark, since he is terrified of squishy pumpkin guts and I had to do all the scooping for him.


I hosted Easter at my house this year (something I can’t believe I took no photos of, except that I think it was before I had a decent camera), but hosting Thanksgiving was sort of my coming-of-age as the official holiday hostess of my family.  Even though my dad made the turkey, I was still the Thanksgiving hostess – decorating the table with dried leaves and turkey candlesticks, making sausage-and-cornbread stuffing, and fancying up the house for the holidays exactly as my mother would have wanted.  I feel like this was when I sort of consciously took on the mantel of wanting to be the person whose house you always have those great dinner parties at.


This Christmas was so great for so many reasons.  It was super relaxing in comparison to holidays past – no family drama, a fairly light Nutcracker schedule for me and not an insane amount of schoolwork for the college siblings, a fairly balanced amount of holiday social obligations, and most awesomely, a large number of cool new family traditions – from playing the dreidel game before opening our stockings, to a late-night walk down Peacock Lane after Christmas dinner.

So goodbye to a totally awesome and life-changing year of amazingness, and hello to 2012, which will hopefully rock even harder.


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