On a recent afternoon in 2012

Here’s a quick recap of the year 2012 – a collection of first lines of stories published in the New Yorker throughout the year (not including fiction).

Happy new year!

On the evening of January 12th, Chitmin Lay was in his cell, in Moulmein Prison, in the lush tropical hills of southern Burma, when guards informed him that he was a free man.

On a mild Monday afternoon in mid-January, Ester Dean, a songwriter and vocalist, arrived at Roc the Mic Studios, on West Twenty-seventh Street in Manhattan, for the first of five days of songwriting sessions.

On Thursday, January 19th, the front page of the Daily Mail carried a story about Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

On a mild Thursday afternoon this past February, Mitt Romney and his entourage arrived at a big house in a small town called Clarkston, about forty miles north of Detroit.

On February 10th, an eclectic assortment of conservatives streamed into a ballroom in Washington to hear Rick Santorum speak.

On February 29th, two days before parliamentary elections in Iran, I joined a few dozen foreign correspondents – along with official handlers – in the parking lot of the Laleh, a formerly five-star Tehran hotel with tatty rooms, an ornate lobby, and a surfeit of eyes.

On the third Friday in March, Nicholas York, a student at the University of East Anglia, packed a bag for five days in Porec, Croatia.

One afternoon this spring, Will Guidara, the general manager and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, arrived at work limping and gray-faced.

One night last May, some twenty financiers and politicians met for dinner in the Tuscany private dining room at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

At nine o’clock on a wet Monday morning in June, Twenty-fourth Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues was parked solid with megatrailers and tech-support vehicles.

One night last June, outside the town of Lakota, North Dakota, three cows, with three calves, wandered off a ranch and onto a nearby property farmed by a family named Brossart.

Last summer, Lucianna Amato, who turns twelve this month and lives in Sayville, on Long Island, went to a science camp, where she spent a lot of time outside, looking at plants and birds.

Last summer, when New York announced that gay couples could finally get hitched, Jay Fischer couldn’t make it to the Stonewall Inn, where an impromptu celebration had begun.

On Labor Day weekend, the writer Lynn Vincent was shopping at a used bookstore in San Diego, in a neighborhood called Normal Heights.

One night last fall, I emerged from a subway stop downtown and encountered a raucous demonstration connected to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

On October 2nd, a few weeks after Occupy Wall Street began, Colin Robinson, a British man with a head of loose gray curls, fished a Natural Light beer case out of a trash can in Chelsea.

On a rainy night in late November, Robert Kyncl was in Google’s New York City offices, on Ninth Avenue, whiteboarding the future of TV.

On a clear December afternoon, Roger Thomas was completing a four-month renovation of the high-limit slot-machine room at the Wynn Las Vegas resort.

On one of those indecisive early winter afternoons – warm in the sun, nippy out of it – Chucker Branch and Christine Lehner, his partner, were on the roof of the Whitney Museum, winterizing their bees.

One night last month, Emily Conner, a twenty-five-year-old playwright from Toronto, and Charlotte Matthews, a twenty-three-year-old sailing instructor from Staten Island, stood in their kitchen in Crown Heights and griped abut their new roommates.

One stormy night earlier this month, Franklin Paulino, an aspiring doctor from Perth Amboy, was talking about his favorite work of art, a marble sculpture called “Ugolino and His Sons.”

On a Tuesday evening not long ago, Ajay Singh Chaudhary, the founder of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, and ABby Kluchin, who teaches Freud at the institute, were in the back room of Building on Bond, a bistro in Boerum Hill.

On a Thursday not long ago, the singer Ronnie Spector and her husband of twenty-nine years, Jonathan Greenfield, drove from their home in Connecticut into Manhattan to rehearse Spector’s one-woman show, “Beyond the Beehive,” which is a work-in-progress.

On a recent Thursday, at a dinner held in the butcher section of the old Essex Street Market, about two hundred guests – some having paid several thousand dollars for the privilege – raised their glasses to the mentally unbalanced.

On a recent Thursday, Mike Cote stood in front of a bathroom mirror in a midtown hotel, combing gray dye into his temples.

On a recent afternoon in Santa Monica, Trevor Neilson met with his staff at Global Philanthropy Group, a company that guides the philanthropic activities of the very rich.

One recent afternoon, two art movers visited the Mütter Museum, at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, to prepare two thin slices of Albert Einstein’s corpus callosum and temporal love for travel.

One recent Friday afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, Flynn McGarry crept into a neighbor’s yard.

On a recent Sunday morning in the black township of Kwa Thema, near Johannesburg, a young lesbian couple went to church.

Not long ago, Daniel Pinkwater opened his front door, in the Mid-Hudson Valley, to greet a person who had come to mow his lawn.

Last week, His Eminence the Eleventh Shingza Rinpoche Tenzin Choekyi Gyaltsen, while sleeping, fitfully, at a friend’s apartment in Woodside, Queens, had a dream.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a group of Cooper Union alumni gathered on the sidewalk in front of the school’s Foundation Building, on Third Avenue just south of Astor Place, carrying a tank of helium, a spool of kite string, and a large stash of balloons.

Last Tuesday evening, just before the returns came in from the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama, Mike Allen was zipping through the corridors of Politico, the five-year-old Web site.

At 2:30 P.M. last Wednesday, the sales clerks at the New York Jets’ official retail shop on Fiftieth Street off Madison Avenue, were awaiting word from management on what number the team’s latest reported acquisition would be wearing on his jersey, and deflecting the early birds who stopped in, hoping to beat the merchandising rush.

On a warm evening last week, Ben Cohen, one half of Ben & Jerry’s, walked across a parking lot in Fort Greene toward a white Ford van called the Illuminator.

The other day, an elegantly dressed man entered Room 819 at the Empire Hotel, across the street from Lincoln Center.

How does that make you feel?