by Elisabet

2010: A year that hosted some of the bigger changes in my life. A year that gave me some of the best opportunities so far. A year that gave me more depth.

I made a big move when I moved from Sunny SoCal to the weather-ridden East Coast (Los Angeles to Red Bank, NJ). Not one of the bigger moves of my life, but one that will still stay in the books for a long time, possibly for the rest of my life to tell my grandchildren.

Our family took a road trip across the entire United States of America, starting in Los Angeles, going through the desert into Arizona, where we visited and walked along the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon, we kept driving up through the Four Points and into Colorado, where we experienced the Rocky Mountains, and even saw  snow when we got to a certain elevation. Snow! In the middle of summer? I guess when you climb so high the dynamics change. I say we experienced the Rockies because when up there, I realized one does not only see the wonder and beauty, but experiences it. After Colorado’s Rockies we entered into Plainsville, which seems only reasonable as Kansas and all her “glory” came next. Let me be honest, I liked our road trip across the country, but oh my! All we saw for hours and hours were plains (duh! The Great Plains), and unfortunately, a few cattle slaughterhouses, with thousands among thousands of cattle. However, I must say that despite the boredom, the Great Plains did have a very peaceful and picturesque feel to it; nothing but open space going on forever is quite a site, not necessarily a bad one, but a site. Luckily, this painful experience (again: experience) came to and end when we started coming into some hills and soon after, there were more hills than plains and it was Missouri. Missouri was still pretty open land space, but it was not as, uh, plain-y as Dorothy’s dear Kansas. From Missouri we drove to Kentucky. We did not see the Bluegrass side of Kentucky, but the grass was green enough for me. Kentucky was a variety of things. If I can say anything about driving through Kentucky, I would say the part of Kentucky we drove through was a variety of scenery. We saw the cute little towns with those gorgeous homes, we saw the sort of, not to be rude or anything, but the “country” side, the hills, and even mountains; oh, must not forget the bridges, as there were plenty of them. All together, Kentucky was beautiful. Virginia came after Kentucky, which was beautiful as well. In Virginia, however, we started to veer more away from the small highways that aloud us to see the scenery of the country, and we drove more on the interstate and major highways. But Virginia was still beautiful and lovely, and one of the best parts of the whole trip. It may perhaps be due to family. Family, after all, would trump the Grand Canyon and the Rockies. After our stay with family in Virginia, the rest of the trip seemed a breeze; and the next resting stop on our list was our new home, New Jersey. Of course, there were other states after Virginia, and attention must be given to them. From Virginia we drove through the tip of Maryland and Delaware. We, or at least I, did not see much of anything amazing like the former part of our trip, as now we were completely on the Interstate.

Looking back, my trip across the country was one of the biggest events this past year; also one of the events that brought me so much joy. I believe I was truly blessed and glad to have had the opportunity to have an experience such as a road trip across the country.

Being the artist and photographer I am, I took countless photographs of the trip with my camera. I took photographs using the digital pocket camera and my personal Canon Rebel film camera. I still have countless rolls of film to develop (some of which include the rolls from our Texas to California trip).

2010 also included the opportunity to attend the Teen Vogue Panel Discussion hosted by Beauty and Health Director Eva Chen. I am so blessed that I was able to attend the event, where, among other teenage females, we discussed the topic of “Body Image and Celebrities.” It was so amazing to be able to listen to the opinions of other females on what a positive body image should be. Of course, discussing all of this with Ms. Chen at the head of the table was an honor. Her Beauty Assistant, Laurel Pantin, was also in attendance and am so glad I got to meet her. Both Eva Chen and Laurel Pantin are just some of the nicest people in the world.

Among everything else, this year I met some really amazing new friends here in New Jersey. These friends are now some of the people I have really grown close to and don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have them in my life. Just their company alone is wonderful. With these friends, I was able to have fun at my first Homecoming dance, which was an experience in itself.

I had the chance to visit some really cool places, when we drove through some areas of New York [state] and walked along the Atlantic City boardwalk.

And lastly, probably the most meaningful thing that happened this year: my grandmother came to visit us for almost 2 1/2 weeks! I cried for a while when I saw her and when I gave her a hug, I could not let go. Prior to this year, I had not seen my grandmother in 3 or 4 years. It was really difficult to say goodbye at JFK when she was leaving to go back home, Finland, but nonetheless, I am glad I got to spend so so much time with her. Rakastan sinua, mummi!

Yes, 2010 was amazing; but with everything that will happen in 2011, I know this will be one fantastic, cool, wonderful, outstanding, superb year for me. This will be a year of changes, growth, and beginnings.

[all pictures except the last one are owned by me; tumblr]

Bonne Nuit,

(About to fall asleep in my bed, with laptop still here. Noooo! Must remain awake.)

E. Hovilainen