March

Life:

  • The major development around here is that I adopted a baby born in January who is perfect in every way. This has turned life upside down, obviously, but in the best way. This post will cover the past few months as a whole.

Books:

  • I haven’t read a real book since 2014 unless it’s about babies and how to keep them alive. Will I read a novel in 2015? Time will tell. What should it be?

Music:

  • Brandi Carlile’s new album is the most exciting new music for me. Eternal love!
  • I’m also super excited about The Weepies — comes out next month. When I learned Deb Talan had breast cancer … damn. But it sounds like she is doing well and this album will touch on that experience. I think it will be awesome.
  • Meanwhile, I am already predicting that I will listen to no music more in 2015 than the music of Empire. This is a very enjoyable post ranking the show’s songs, and I agree with the verdict that “You’re So Beautiful”, in its various versions, is the best. The White Party version? Are you kidding? And the version at the bar where everyone sings it together? Endorphins. I think my runner-up is “Conqueror,” just because I loved that scene so much because it’s just Jamal being Jamal, joyfully creating music and being free.

Movies:

  • The Last Five Years ~ Melissa first told me about this musical in 2003 when I was going through a rather savage break-up. It was love at first listen, and I’ve never stopped loving it. This is kind of a weird movie, but then it’s kind of a weird musical. It sure does make New York look beautiful. Anna Kendrick is predictably good. But Jeremy Jordan is G R E A T. There is no voice in theater that can touch Norbert Leo Butz’s for me … maybe Brian Darcy James’ comes close … but Jordan’s voice is no joke. And he does a fine job of making a character who behaves (spoiler!) badly likable anyway. Ugh. EFFING JAMIE. Anyway – Jeremy Jordan is a star. A star! Even though I can’t hear his name without remembering Donna Martin saying “Jeremy Jordan, all right!” in that 90210 ad from the days of yore.
  • Neighbors ~ Hilarious. Rose Byrne stole the movie, and that’s what I liked best about it. I love Rose Byrne! Let’s go watch her as Rose in I Capture the Castle again. She was the perfect Rose. She can do anything, I think.
  • Obvious Child ~ Very, very, very good.
  • The Duff ~ Mae Whitman, as ever, can do no wrong, and the guy in the movie was VERY cute and good. A fun birthday outing with girlfriends.

TV:

  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ~ Singlehandedly saved the day the baby got first shots … this poor child just wanted to sleep while being held, and rocking while watching this and giggling hard and trying not to wake the baby up was a day I will remember fondly (shot sorrow notwithstanding).
  • Felicity ~ On a dark, dark day a few weeks into motherhood, I decided I wanted to watch this but couldn’t face going into the messy hall closet to get the DVDs of each season, which I own. And I couldn’t find it streaming anywhere and wept in defeat. Wept like a crazy person. Then I found it on Hulu Plus and all was right again. This, along with A Different World, have made Hulu Plus worth its weight in gold to me. They are like comfort food.
  • Empire ~ This is my new obsession. I thought it would be a guilty pleasure, but then I just end up falling in love with everything about it. Especially Jamal. JAMAL! I spend a lot of time thinking about Jamal. But really — everyone is so good. And the music, as mentioned, is beyond. And noticing Taraji P. Henson as an R.A. in season 1 of Felicity made me laugh and laugh. She is amazing and I can’t remember when I loved a TV character more than Cookie Lyon.

Podcasts:

  • I discovered Totally Mommy in my nonstop searches for podcasts featuring Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham and just decided to go back and listen to them all. I’m making my way through them as the age of their baby then matches up with the age of my baby now, usually as we’re strolling the neighborhood for hours on end, and it’s been really valuable both entertainment and info-wise. I really love it. It is a lifeline and a light. Thank you, Elizabeth Laime, Andy, and all of the wonderful guests.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • I am very, very, very excited about all things Hamilton. Just knowing it’s out there makes me happy. As did this tweet.

Best Food Eaten:

Snacks for dinner when my beloved friend from First Descents came to visit.

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Pets Still Alive:

Both. My friend Kristen took this photo of Marley, who continues to barf her way through life. Zuko, who hates sirens and alarms, heard about two seconds of crying and decided he wants nothing to do with any baby, any time, anywhere. I think if he’s still alive (15!) when the baby starts dropping food he might change his tune but for how he’s dunzo with us all.

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Sipping and Seeing:

Dear friends hosted the loveliest sip and see for the baby … it will always be one of my favorite memories of my earliest days as a mom.

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Flowers, Trees, and Plants:

My favorite maternity leave activity has been our walks around the neighborhood. Spring is here, and it is wondrous. The Bob stroller is the greatest investment I’ve made as a mother, and when it gets too hot to walk with the baby, all may be dross. But we’re really loving it for now. I will forever be thankful that my maternity leave fell during spring.

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Best Art:

This photo does it no justice, but I am thrilled to have been given the very first in a series of prints by my sweet friend Madeline, whose creativity and kindness know no bounds. I love it so much, and it is hanging happily in the baby’s room. It is a treasure.

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Year in Review

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

  • In 2014, I resolve to see Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig — Done.
  • To run a race, even if it’s really short — Done. I ran a 5K and a spring 10K and a fall 10K and I would like to start running more again.
  • To go back to Paris and go to some place I’ve always wanted to go like Switzerland or Amsterdam or Bruges — Nope.
  • To spend as much time outside as possible, even if it’s just walking around our beautiful lakes, and taking moments at places like this along the way just to take a breath. — Yep. I spent time outside on beaches and just walking around our local lakes and in the Pacific Northwest and it was all the best.

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  • I would also like to take to heart what Anne Lamott says about embracing as her “motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.” I would like to be better about enduring the beams of love. – I think I tried to be better at this, but I guess it’s probably a lifelong endeavor.

For 2015, I resolve to stop worrying.

Did anyone close to you become a parent?

My sister had a daughter and she is pretty much the cutest thing any of us have ever seen.

Did anyone close to you die?

People I love lost people they love, and my heart continues to be broken for them and I remain astounded by their strength and grace.

What places did you visit?

I kind of went bananas with the traveling this year … I think I felt so homebound for the end of last year and the first few weeks of this year that I just wanted to break free and be alive in as many places as I could … Seaside with Anna Beth in an impromptu decision to celebrate the end of cancer treatment where I got the diagnosis phone call, Nashville to visit my brother and friend, New Orleans for Jazz Fest and other various and sundry good times, Connecticut and New York to visit my sister and her family and for the Tony’s and Beautiful and Hedwig and Molly in Brooklyn and back for tick, tickBOOM! with my dear Anne, Oregon for First Descents, Hilton Head, Minneapolis, and Alys Beach with the family, where I got to see S. and her family, which was super swell.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A year with no chemotherapy and no news of others being diagnosed, learning of recurrences of friends and loved ones, and so forth.

What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Traveling to Iowa for the first time.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes, but moving on … January was rough, but most of the year was healthy and awesome.

What were the best things you bought?

Plane tickets and show tickets. Visiting loved ones and Broadway and live music made me very happy, as usual. [Same answer as last year.] Highlights in terms of music were Ani DiFranco at the beach and Josh Ritter and Shovels and Rope. And Jason Isbell and the Avetts at Jazz Fest and every time I saw my brother play.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Same answer as last year: The work being done by John Green and Hank Green to change the world by inspiring others to change the world and just being wonderfully funny and teaching people about all sorts of wonderful things and their delightful Tumblrs and the ways they discover to harness the power of the Internet and use it for this wide, explosive array of general goodness made them my heroes of the year again this year.

Where did most of your money go?

Travel, show tickets, the Tony Awards.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The first time I ran outside without a hat. The Tony Awards! Seeing Mike Birbiglia live for the first time and the opening night of the So You Think You Can Dance tour and when the hotel upgraded me to a giant presidential suite when they caught wind that it was my first race post-chemo. When Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming. When I found the perfect green wig for St. Patrick’s Day and wore it while walking all over town and then taking it off and just being bald and happy and in love with life. For the first half of the year, nothing excited me more than going to Oregon for First Descents. For the second half of the year, nothing excited me more than Iowa and the baby due to be born there at the beginning of 2015.

What songs will always remind you of 2014?

My favorite new musical discovery of 2014 was probably Lydia Loveless thanks to my friend Amy.  I also really liked Ingrid Michaelson’s new album. I just like her in general. My favorite overall album this year was Strange Desire by Bleachers. I probably listened to Like a River Runs more times than any other song this year. I wish I had seen them on tour. I also really loved and was really proud of Benjy Davis’s self-titled album. He is basically part of the family, and we all embraced it; it’s just kind of a dream. We’ve all debated what our favorite track is, and I love them all, but I always come back to I’m Still Here. Or Six Feet. Other miscellaneous songs I loved in 2014 include Ride This Feeling by Kate Miller-Heidke and Breathing Underwater by Metric and How the Day Sounds by Greg Laswell and Consummation by Patrick Hawes, which I first heard on Rectify and love very much, and Taking You With Me by Daniel Tashian & Mindy Smith and Back Before We Were Brittle by Say Hi (and very beautiful cover by Priscilla Ahn). And, last but not least, A Change Is Gonna Come by Aretha Franklin. Forever and ever, amen.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Running.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Wearing hats.

How did you spend Christmas?

The usual routine, which I like a lot: Mass, delicious lunch prepared by mom, family, lounging. I also played soccer in the front yard with my nephew and brothers and it was so fun and I will never forget it.

What was your favorite TV program?

  • Had the most fun watching and talking about with friends: Playing House (and Best Friends Forever). Honestly, Playing House just made me so extremely happy on so many levels. It really did my heart good.
  • Favorite new show: Jane the Virgin
  •  Shows that were my favorite hilarious/awkward combination: Getting On and The Comeback
  • The shows that moved me the most: Transparent and Rectify

What was the best book you read?

  • Young adult fiction: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy NelsonWinger by Andrew Smith, and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.
  • Grown up fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What did you want and get?

I wanted to get through First Descents without dying on a river, and I did.

What did you want and not get?

I can’t really think of anything…overall it was a really good year.

What were your favorite films of this year?

Enough Said, X-Men: First Class, Guardians of the Galaxy, Boyhood. No movie really changed my life this year. I’m still processing Boyhood and I just didn’t see that many movies. I was also very fond of The Fault in Our Stars if not for the movie for itself than for the extreme shock and awe experienced when seeing it.

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What did you do on your birthday?

My actual birthday was a big deadline at work, so I don’t think I did much of anything. But my friends threw me a wonderful party a week later, and I will never forget it. I felt so surrounded with love and so lucky to have my tribe.

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What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I don’t know. A cure for cancer? Forever.

What kept you sane?

Yoga.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Oh my stars, Lip Gallagher. And in a case of two Brits playing Americans, I think it’s a toss-up between Peter Quinn and Finn Polmar.

What political issue stirred you the most?

At year’s end, gay marriage is legal in 35 states + DC. That is pretty stirring.

Whom did you miss?

My siblings, nephews, niece, and friends & their children who live far away.

 Who were the best people you met?

My new crazy, ridiculous, brave, awesome First Descents family.

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Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

There’s a river of love that runs through all time

There’s a river of grief that flows through our lives

It starts with a heart that’s broken in two

By the thief of belief in anything that’s true

But there’s a river of love that flows through all time

–Sam Phillips

And one day we will die, and our ashes will fly

From the aeroplane over the sea,

But for now, we are young,

let us lay in the sun

And count every beautiful thing we can see

–Neutral Milk Hotel

I get lost, so far out,

I get back to it somehow.

They say time is all it takes,

Well, I’m taking my time now.

In the evening, when sun is going down,

I’m still breathing, I’m still six feet over ground.

–Benjy Davis

Praise the water under bridges, praise the time they say will heal.

–Josh Ritter

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December

Books:

  • The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen ~ Not sure what this means, but this book totally hit the spot for me.
  • If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother by Julia Sweeney ~ A delight from start to finish. I laughed & laughed.
  •  The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer ~ His other books definitely have their dark streaks running through them, but this one was a bit too grim for me. I did not feel like reading about teens murdering teens over the Christmas holidays.

Music:

  • There will never be enough Latin choral music in the world to satisfy me in December.
  • I also really loved seeing these guys play.

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Movies:

  • Edge of Tomorrow ~ Which is now apparently called Live Die Repeat? I don’t know. All I know is that it was Tom Cruise at his Tom Cruisiest, which I really just like and I can’t help it, and Emily Blunt, as usual, can do anything.
  • The Skeleton Twins ~ Funny/sad. Kind of uneven but the lip synch scene lived up to the hype and it was nice to see what Bill Hader can do in a dramatic role. I really liked it.

TV:

  • Getting On ~ Honestly – I love this show. The Carrie Preston episode made me cry & the finale was utterly perfect.

Podcasts:

  • Latest faves – The Lennon Parham & Jessica St. Clair episodes of the J.V. Club with Janet Varney and the Dana Carvey episode of You Made It Weird were my faves this month. I had no idea Janet Varney is the same person who plays Jimmy’s ex-fiancee on You’re the Worst until I looked her up later. I also fully wept during Jenny Slate’s interview on WTF. It took me by surprise when driving my car. Those are my favorite podcast moments, honestly.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • These letters made me weepy and made me miss New York and a place I’ve never even been.
  • The trailer for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Best Food Eaten:

This sandwich was mighty fine …

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… but my favorite food was giant piled up plate of favorites prepared by my mother on Christmas Day and eaten surrounded by the whole gang in town for the holidays.

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Pets Still Alive:

Both. So old, so crazy.

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Bullets Being Bitten:

I flew to once again the midwest. What will come from these journeys I do not know. Come January, I will know more.

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Flowers, Trees, and Plants:

Bees buzz everywhere on some of the few remaining flowering shrubs not recently mowed down at work. I try to park next to them whenever I can so I can lose myself a little in them before heading into the building.

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And I love my Christmas cactus very much.

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Best Walks:

December walks are no joke.  There are suns setting and birds flying and red berries sparkling and you think about what you’ve lost & found in the year you’re leaving behind.

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I don’t know who first sang this song, but I know I listened to the Indigo Girls sing it about a million times this December and it was everything.

My soul was lost, but here I am,

So this must be amazing grace.

One tiny child can change the world,

One shining light can show the way.

Beyond these tears for what I’ve lost,

There’s still my joy,

There’s still my joy for Christmas day.

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