Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

P90X. It sucked a whole lot, so I quit!

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

From last year: “To create space in my mind, heart, home, and life for whatever, whomever, whenever. To be open and not closed. My friend C. taught me about picking a word for a year, and my word for 2011 is OPEN. As both verb and adjective. (Also: More yoga.)”

I absolutely did not do more yoga, more’s the pity, but I did try to be more open to things and people and experiences in general.

As for 2012, I need to think about it a little more before I resolve anything official. I like the idea of picking another word, but I’m not there yet.

3. Did anyone close to you become a parent?

Babies! Each one, no matter if they are still here with us or if they are not, has been cherished and beautiful and I love them all both near and far.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

People I love have lost people they love this year, and I hold them in my hearts.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. But I did go lots of places … New York City, the beach with girlfriends, Funroe, the beach with family, Washington state, San Francisco, New York City again, Nashville, Connecticut, Savannah, Dallas …

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Healthy pets.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The day my dog almost died was a game changing day for me, and it was horrible, and I still haven’t processed how terrible and terrifying it was, so let’s focus on better days. This day in New York was a pretty special day. And this day was pretty fun, too. They are my two favorite cities, now and forever. The end of the Oprah show was kind of a big deal for me if I am telling the God’s honest truth. And the days spent floating in the water with my family were some of my favorite days.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Keeping my sh*t together when sometimes — in spite of the fact that nothing that happened this year was close to the worst that can happen to a person — all I wanted to do was start yelling “Really? REALLY?!?” like Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler. And I’m glad to have finally finished a master’s degree I worked on part-time for many-a year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Can’t think about life in terms of failure. That just seems dumb. Although recently I realized I’ve never seen 9 to 5, and that seems like an enormous lifelong failure that should be rectified immediately.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

None to speak of, thankfully.

11. What were the best things you bought?

Plane tickets and show tickets … Broadway and live music made me very happy, as usual. Highlights of the latter were Mumford and Sons at the Railroad Revival Festival, and later in the same week at Jazz Fest with my beloved Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile headlining at the Ryman in Nashville with my brother, and the Weepies. I also bought a new laptop, and I still like it a lot. [Look, this year-in-review entry takes a while to write, so I started it a few weeks ago. It is kind of comical that the laptop in question was stolen the week of Christmas. I mean, comical in a tragicomical kind of way.]

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The cast and crew of Parks & Recreation.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Brutal law enforcement officers … I don’t want to hate on the police, but seriously. The videos and photographs and stories do not lie. Everyone complicit in the Sandusky nightmare. Basically every single potential Republican presidential candidate. I am sorry to paint them with a wide brush, but I kind of think they are all crazy. I mean, right? They are crazy! And awful. I am trying to be diplomatic and see their bright sides, but I cannot. I wish I could.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Far and away: vet bills. Perhaps one day they will build the Zuko Memorial Wing at the animal hospital.

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

Our team’s undefeated football season. Rosie’s new show. The gift of an orange couch. The 2012 Jazz Fest lineup. When my brother was joined onstage by Kelly Clarkson. When my parents ran into Rick Steves on a Roman street. A moment of pure sobbing joy. When Kyle Chandler finally won the Emmy as a big heartfelt thank you for five wondrous, perfect years as Coach Taylor.

Plans to see Bring It On: The Musical in the new year. Seeing five Broadway shows — In the Heights, Next to Normal, Billy Elliot, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Book of Mormon – during glorious winter & summer trips to New York City. Sasha and Twitch. Melanie’s flying leap. The Swell Season documentary (great review here). The moment in this video when Michael held the note for so long that his fellow singer, the cute tall skinny bass guy, didn’t know when to come in with “find me somebody to love, find me somebody to love,” and he kept trying to come in but couldn’t because Michael was still on the floor wailing and he smiles like, “holy shit, this is awesome,” and it made me burst into tears.

Other miscellaneous things that I really liked this year:

– This beautiful little piece by Kirk Douglas. “I think of life.” This wonderful piece on the anniversary of 9/11.

– Both of Jonathan Groff’s appearances on Side by Side with Susan Blackwell. He is one of the most delightful human beings on Earth, I think.

– Huxtable HotnessSlaughterhouse 90210. ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS. Creative, funny people on the Internet really pleased me deeply in 2011.

– A drink in Oakland called the Bad Ass Sidecar. If you ever find yourself there, you should order one. You’re welcome!

– The Ultimate Pop Song Tournament. I will never forget riding around in the car with my sister and brother-in-law in Connecticut, reading aloud the song analysis from my phone, and arguing for our choices. Some of the decisions actually felt gut-wrenching to me in a very Sophie’s Choice kind of a way. I loved it.

– The excellent coverage of the end of Friday Night Lights, including this and also this:

“FNL makes me feel the way that one LCD Soundsystem song about friends makes me feel. Like once I danced all night in a condemned loft with my friends but now I do not. Both of these things are totally okay.”

And this, too:

“This little Texan secret, this beautiful swoosh of afternoon light and twanging wistful music that was all ours, just the happy few of us.”

– The Snakejuice episode of Parks and Recreation and how when I watched it again later with girlfriends at the beach, we laughed harder than we’d laughed in approximately twenty years. Jean Ralphio! Dance up on me.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Helpnessness Blues by Fleet Foxes.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Depends on the day, I guess!

b) thinner or fatter? Let us not speak of this.

c) richer or poorer? Poorer. (See #14.)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Last year, I wrote this: “Fretting. Regretting. Particularly with respect to the passage of time and the spans of our lives and how we are all just barreling towards death. I can get a little crazy when I think about this too much, and I am working on letting it go and just living.” And I have to say that I have found the solution to this: simply do not allow yourself to think about it! There is no point. I am much happier this way, hand to God.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Mass, big family meal, lots of eating and lying around, The Help On Demand with my mom and sister. A mediocre movie but a very nice day.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

This is going to seem like a psychotic amount of television, but there was a lot of really good television happening this year.

Repeat favorites: Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, Community, Raising Hope, Chuck, Friday Night Lights, So You Think You Can Dance, and Mad Men.

Recent favorites: I tried and failed to dislike New Girl. The truth is that I LOVE IT. The Sing-Off. (Every time Michael opened his mouth on The Sing-Off, it was like watching A Star Being Born and I LOVED HIM SO MUCH.)

Other newer favorites: JUSTIFIED! Downton Abbey. Slings & Arrows. The degree to which I loved the shockingly violent/vulgar Game of Thrones made me doubt my inner Pollyanna. I think the Lannisters killed her. It wrecked my whole life and perception of myself, basically. And most recently, Terriers, which has made me grow irrationally attached to Donal Logue in a way I never imagined possible.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Only fictional people, such as Cersei Lannister.

24. What was the best book you read?

Young adult fiction: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King.

Grown up fictionSwamplandia! by Karen Russell, The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. And in a category all by itself, Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America.

NonfictionAre We Winning? by Will Leitch and Life’s That Way by Jim Beaver and Half a Life by Darin Strauss and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I knew a little Bon Iver before this year, but if I sat here and said that there’s any artist I spent more hours of my life listening to this year, it would be a giant honking lie. And this was also the Year Of Adele, obviously. Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn, which I listened to 10,000 times for no reason other than it was the catchiest song I’d heard in forever. (Taran Killam loves it, too. I love Taran Killam.) And I really loved listening to a bunch of my old mix CDs.

26. What did you want and get?

Tickets to Book of Mormon.

27. What did you want and not get?

Rid of my under-eye circles. Emmy speeches by Connie Britton and Steve Carrell. As Ken Tremendous tweeted on Emmy night: “The fact that Steve Carell never won an Emmy for playing Michael Scott is a goddamn fucking embarrassment. Good night!”

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Crazy Stupid Love. I loved it so much and will never understand why its praises aren’t still being sung the world over.

29. What did you do on your birthday?

This: “It was lovely, and I felt loved. What more can you ask for on your birthday? The weekend kicked off with a night of dog bathing because dogs are so much better when they’re clean and smell good, continued with a wonderful massage and a fun girls’ night on a patio with lots of raspberry caramel pecan chocolate cake and strawberry beer and mojitos, and wrapped up in the big city at my favorite brunch place, a gourmet popsicle, a sunny run in City Park, a good but gravely depressing movie, the worst Oscars telecast ever, cake and ice cream and merriment at work, and a great family dinner of shrimp & corn soup, homemade mac & cheese, my favorite cabbage salad, and the favorite family dessert. Overall it was a very fun and beautiful weekend. I’ve decided to wholly embrace birthdays. All weekend, I felt like, ‘This is the youngest I will ever be. I might as well celebrate. I am alive. Life is wonderful.’ The perfect weather played a large role in this feeling, I think. Also, there were tulips.”

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

Fewer graphic and terrifying pet catastrophes. Not having my house burgled.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I wore dresses on more calendar days in 2011 than ever before, particularly during the spring and summer. I enjoyed it.

32. What kept you sane?

The usual: great parents, great siblings, great friends, great co-workers who abided my series of nervous breakdowns, particularly over the holidays, GOD BLESS THEM ALL. Also, I continued my tradition of a rather extreme number of hot bubble baths this year.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Raylan Givens, no contest. Runners-up: I fancied Ben Wyatt, as played by Adam Scott, A LOT. I also had inappropriate thoughts about Kit Harrington, who played Jon Snow. Oh! And Garrett Hedlund in Country Strong was so dreamy that I’m still not over it even though no one believes me.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The Occupy movement. Not even all of the reasons behind it, which quite frankly are kind of beyond me, as much as the horrible way the peaceful protesters were treated. It makes me sick to even think about it, still.

35. Whom did you miss?

Tim Riggins. My sweet cat.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Would it be wrong to say Hank Dolworth? Probably.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

My friend Jessie and I were talking about Community and how Abed is an oracle or something, and she said this to me:

“I feel like you are one of my models here, because you are always so willing to just dive into loving something and then later see what else you want to do about it, without getting tangled up in ‘maybe I should feel differently!’”

And it made me stop and think, because I’ve never thought of myself this way, but the truth is that this is how I am. And I stopped to wonder if this is a way I should not be, or if it something I should try to change about myself. It’s kind of weird to realize something that you like about yourself, but I decided that this is something that I like about myself. And I hope I am always this way.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Looking back on 2011, the highs far outweighed the lows. Thus:

What good is it to sing helplessness blues?

– Fleet Foxes


I’ve got everything that I need.

–“Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppets


Previously … 2010200920082007200620052004, and 2003. Also, thanks to Linda, who first introduced me to this survey.

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2 Responses to Year in Review

  1. rudybarbarossa says:

    You are wonderful. Have a beautiful year.

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