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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November

Books:

  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith ~ I didn’t love this one the way I did Winger, but it was good and I will definitely keep reading all of his books.
  • Noggin by John Corey Whaley ~ I loved the Printz-winning Where Things Come Back by this Louisiana author. And really I think I loved this one, too. More and more the more I think about it after the fact. It’s about a teenage boy with cancer who get his head frozen and is resurrected five years later after medical science has advanced to the point where it can be attached to a donor body. And so there he is, still sixteen, while everyone he loved has lived and grown up five years, but he feels like he just left them moments before. It is kind of crazy, but beautiful in a way.

And of course it wasn’t okay. But that’s what we have to do, right? We have to tell people it’s okay even when we know it isn’t. That’s what we say to people we love when we realize that maybe we can’t have them the way we want them. I guess it was kind of like that with everyone. For me, anyway. No one would ever be exactly who they’d been, and I’d never be exactly who I’d been either.

  •  Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson ~ I don’t know how I can consider myself a lifelong lover of young people’s literature and not know about Jacqueline Woodson. I didn’t, though. But now I do. What John Green says about this book is correct. It is simply gorgeous beyond all reckoning and I loved it very much and I am so happy it won the National Book Award. It also made me realize that I need to read all of her books, so …
  • Beneath a Meth Moon by JW ~ Phew. I will always dig deep Katrina novel this well-written — if I may re-recommend Salvage the Bones – and this one is definitely worth reading.
  • If You Come Softly by JW ~ I really can’t. I thought I was reading a teen romance — albeit a really good one — and didn’t know that I was sitting down to read a book published in 1998 as people marched through the streets of Ferguson and raised their hands and lay down all over America in protest of the killing of black men and boys and this book — this book. It broke my heart. That nothing has changed since it was written breaks my heart a million times over, over and over.
  • Behind You by JW ~ The follow-up to If You Come Softly — about what comes after you lose a light and love in the world. To the surprise of no one, I’m sure, this book is beautiful and devastating. DAMN IT JACQUELINE WOODSON.
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler ~ Liked it better than Fey, Kaling, and Dunham if we’re ranking recent celeb memoirs. Worth reading if only for the SNL and Parks and Recreation retrospectives, which would have been enough for me – I loved them.
  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes ~ Kind of a snooze honestly, my love for this movie notwithstanding.
  • Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff … Parts of this resonated with me, but most of it did not. I could not relate to a lot of the negative vibe of this book and I kind of wish I hadn’t read it.
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh … The dog parts were my favorite. I listened to her episode of WTF after reading this and was sad to hear of her sister’s recent suicide. Worth reading for sure – it’s a quick read.

Music:

  • I’ll just be over here listening to Hozier sing “Take Me to Church” for the 1,000,00th time.

TV:

  • Olive Kitteridge ~ Love, love, love, love, love.
  • The Comeback ~ Loved it before, love it now. That is all.
  • The Newsroom ~ Somehow this garbage is suddenly kind of good? What is going on? I don’t know, but I like it.
  • Getting On ~ This is such an uncomfortable and wonderful show. The main cast members are all perfect but so are the guest stars. Betty Buckley!

Podcasts:

  • Latest faves – Daniel Radcliffe being adorable on Nerdist and Julia Sweeney on WTF. I really do love Julia Sweeney. I loved God Said Ha, I loved Letting Go of God, I love her blog, and now I can’t wait to read her book. I also enjoyed the WTFs with John Mulaney & Martin Starr, and the Jenny Slate episode of You Made It Weird was kind of all over the place but definitely entertaining while traveling. W. Kamau Bell’s episode of You Made It Weird is also good, natch.

Favorite things on Internet:

  • I always appreciate when anyone touts the greatness of Slings & Arrows.

Best Food Eaten:

Probably AB‘s birthday brunch at my beloved Dante’s Kitchen.

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A Thanksgiving weekend dinner with these tried-and-true bozos was also pretty dang delicious.

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Pets Still Alive:

Both. Marley continues to have mysterious health problems and is on all of the medicines and all of the million-dollar food. Who knows what is wrong with her? Not me. And not the vet, although she’s super nice and we recently chatted for a long time about life, babies, and s’forth. Therapy! It’s everywhere.

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Bullets Being Bitten:

I flew to once again the midwest. My mom came with me this time. It was cold like I don’t think I have ever experienced. The two of us were basically like aliens from another planet in terms of driving/walking/living while skidding and slipping and sliding around on ice. Ridiculous really. But the visit was good and I remain hopeful.

Flowers, Trees, and Plants:

These aren’t mine but I wish they were. I had a lot of plant/tree envy walking around the neighborhood in November.

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Best Walks:

Speaking of walks … I love autumn walks so much.

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November brings the white pelicans back to us, praise be, and I am honestly kind of worried about this one. I hope he was not injured but rather was thinking about how to everything there is a season and all the fish he ate for breakfast and the circle and meaning of life.

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