Saturday, January 4, 2014

Return and Report

Part the First: Reflection

Well, 2013 has been a crap-bucket of a year.

Or so I thought when I initially sat down to write this, my yearly recap.*

Then I realized how much the extreme, soul-crushing suckitude of the past four months has colored my views.  Just because the latter third of the year drained me of all optimism and hope doesn't mean that good ol' 2013 has been a total wash.  In fact, it was a magical year in many ways.

Because this
In 2012, I fell in love with Seattle.  In 2013, Seattle became my homea sad fact I didn't fully understand until I left it behind for the rocky coldness of the East Coast.  Somewhere along the road, despite the gray skies and the truly horrific traffic, Seattle snuck into my heart and settled down.  It packed up Thai food, Alki beach, the lighthouse at Discovery Park, the house in Queen Anne, the apartment by Silver Platters, the car full of educators starting and stopping down the 90 blasting music along the way.  It smuggled in memories of barbecues on the patio, where my fingers picked charred lamb off the cutting board, where I drank ginger beer and feasted on the best damn guacamole I've ever had.  Thoughts of Menchie's runs and reading on sunny days by Green Lake.  The sunsetssweet mercy, the sunsets!viewed from rocky beaches or Pike Place or the top of Cougar Mountain as I finished work and headed out to carpool.

Gorgeous view above the clouds

One of the best parts of having a place you love is sharing it with others, and Taylor and I got to share Seattle with many people this year (Paige, Ryan, James, Jihad, Sarah, Leo, my parents, Lauren).  We had the tour down patdinner at Orrapin on Queen Anne or Bengal Tiger down the street from our apartment.  Desserts from Menchie's, Trophy Cupcakes, Top Pot, or one of the many, many incredible bakeries.  One day had to be spent at Pike Place, going to Golden Age Collectables and wandering through secondhand bookstores.  Stopping for soda at the Pear Delicatessen.  If the lines weren't too long, maybe grabbing some Piroshky Piroshky pastries,  Beecher's mac 'n cheese, or the meatball sub at the Pasta Bar (a personal favorite).  Sometimes I would take people to wander around Capitol Hill, stepping into Eliott Bay Book Company or any of the shops on Broadway.  Often, I'd talk someone into visiting my happy place at the EMP and then checking out Seattle Center.  At some point, Taylor would take visitors on a driving loop on Queen Anne, where we'd point out sites from Seattle history and our own personal backstories.

Basically, the first two-thirds of this year were spent soaking up Seattle.  Taylor worked hard to finish school, graduating with his Masters.  I worked hard to save up money for the move to Boston, and despite some bratty kids I mostly enjoyed teaching history and journalism and mythology, going on some great field trips (NCI!) and interacting with six-year-olds for the first time at summer camp.

The North Cascades

That was before we packed up everything and headed out to Boston.  The road trip back was amazing.  In Montana I finally learned the truth of the phrase "purple mountain majesty."  I felt a sacred peace in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I drove through the Badlands in a lightening storm and was completely alive.  Taylor and I braved the staid cornfields of Iowa to visit Scholte, and in Chicago we met with rain and blues and Gary and Giordano's.  We cozied up in an Eerie bed and breakfast, feeling nervous about the move for the first time and trying desperately to lose ourselves in the beauty of a small town.

And then came Boston.  And grad school.  While we've enjoyed exploring this city, exploring revolutionary history and cemeteries packed with my literary heroes, and while I have loved going to classes and constantly writing and the people I've met through articles and stories, I can't quite talk about Boston without bitterness in my voice.  Because I miss the happiness I left behind.

But that's OK.  Because now, on to 2014.  The year of endurance.

This is the year I put my head down and work.  Where I take Boston and feast on all it offers me.  And then next year, once I have sucked out all the education and experiences possible, I can leave this withered husk behind me and move on to real life.

*Previous recaps: 2012, 2011, 2010

Part the Second: Reporting

Last year, I set a few goals.  Here's how they went.

1. Get published.

Well, not so much.  Not officially.  BUT!  This year I started the television review site Lightbox Heroes with dear friends Mary and Rosemary.  It has been the single most beneficial thing I could have done for my writing, and it is several steps closer to what I want to be doing.  I feel pretty good about this one.

2. Get into grad school.

Done.  Masters of Journalism at Boston University, scheduled to be finished January 2015.

3. Stop eating food in the faculty room.

Ha. That's cute.

4. Keep track of the media I consumed.  Consume more media.

Done and done, and reported below.  While I don't know for certain that I consumed more media than last year, it certainly felt like I did.  And I was much more conscious of actively working to watch more movies and read more books.

One huge milestone I overcame was being comfortable with mass media consumption.  For many people, these types of activities are methods for release or ways to laze about, and so I would always be self-conscious about how frequently I would partake in these activities.  But considering that this is what I want to dowrite about pop culturethis is precisely what I should be doing with my time.  So this year was a time for throwing off the shackles of what other people thought and growing my portfolio of expertise.  Making up for lost time, if you will.

5. Write reviews for every book I read.

Another negative.  But I recorded all the books I read, and I am working on slowly making up for lost time.  Writing for Lightbox Heroes showed me how easy it can be to write reviews, I just have to do them immediately and not let them pile up.  So with that in mind, I should be much more reliable this year.

Now without further ado, the media stats. 


-Jurassic Park                                                          -Justice League: Doom
-Spiderman                                                              -The Untouchables
-Django Unchained                                                  -The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
-Inglourious Basterds                                                -Escape From Alcatraz
-Two Mules for Sister Sara                                       -Pale Rider
-National Geographic Explorer: 25 Years                    -The Fountain
-Good Will Hunting                                                   -Naked Gun 2 1/2 
-Objectified                                                              -T2
-Serenity                                                                  -Safety Not Guaranteed
-Raising Arizona                                                       -Last of the Mohicans
-The Departed                                                          -The Godfather 2
-Side by Side                                                            -Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker
-Capote                                                                    -Into the Wild
-Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037          -Zero Dark Thirty
-Reality Bites                                                            -Once
-NFFTY Opening Night                                            -Slacker
-Legends of the Fall                                                  -V for Vendetta
-Ironman 3                                                               -The Great Gatsby
-Watchmen                                                               -Bachelorette
-Willow                                                                    -Reservoir Dogs
-Akira                                                                      -Psycho
-The Town                                                                -Snatch
-Mystery Men                                                           -The Iceman Tapes
-Clerks                                                                     -Training Day
-Ronin                                                                       -Ninja Scroll
-Pitch Perfect                                                            -13 Assassins
-James and the Giant Peach                                       -Let it Be
-The Bling Ring                                                         -Chinatown
-Paranorman                                                             -Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
-Chasing Amy                                                           -Oldboy
-Pacific Rim                                                              -Butter
-Goldfinger                                                                -Johnny Carson: King of Late Night
-The Way Way Back                                                 -Cloud Atlas
-The Breakfast Club                                                   -Shaolin Soccer
-Rifftrax: Titanic                                                         -Wristcutters
-Hang 'Em High                                                          -SLC Punk
-Paranoid: Black Sabbath                                            -Rifftrax: Starship Troopers
-The World's End                                                       -The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
-Hero                                                                         -The Elephant Man
-Dr. Strangelove                                                         -East of Eden
-Who Framed Roger Rabbit                                         -The Other F Word
-Before Sunrise                                                           -Before Sunset
-In a World                                                                 -Tombstone
-My Kid Could Paint That                                           -Escape From Tomorrow
-Hocus Pocus                                                             -Boondock Saints
-Dances With Wolves                                                 -Muscle Shoals
-Shattered Glass                                                         -Baraka
-Hitchcock                                                                 -Se7en
-Inside Llewyn Davis                                                  -Absence of Malice
-No Country for Old Men                                           -Night of the Living Dead
-Rifftrax: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians               -Star Trek: First Contact
-The Master                                                              -Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox
-A Brady Bunch Movie                                              -White House Down
-The Patriot                                                               -Fargo
-Brave                                                                       -Brick

TOTAL: 110

Favorite Discoveries: The Fountain. The Departed. Snatch. Paranorman. The World's End. The Elephant Man. Dr. Strangelove.

Most Uncomfortable Movies: Oldboy. The Master. Bachelorette. Escape from Tomorrow.

Movies That Made Me Angry: Watchmen. Pacific Rim.

Movies Whose Popularity Flummoxed Me: Ronin. The Boondock Saints.

Movies That Were An Unexpected Delight: 13 Assassins. White House Down. Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox.

Clint Eastwood Movies: Escape From Alcatraz. Pale Rider. Two Mules for Sister Sara. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Hang 'Em High.


-Moon Over Manifest                                               -Y the Last Man: Girl on Girl
-Y the Last Man: Paper Dolls                                    -Y the Last Man: Kimono Dragons
-Y the Last Man: Motherland                                    -Y the Last Man: Whys and Wherefores
-Perks of Being a Wallflower                                     -That Summer
-Confessions of a Serial Kisser                                   -The Running Diaries
-Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway                     -Chew: Flambe
-Astonishing X-men: Dangerous                                 -Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale
-I,Q: Independence Hall                                            -One Crazy Summer
-Watchmen                                                               -Anna Karenina
-The Road                                                                -A Gathering of Days
-The Paris Wife                                                        -A Girl of the Limberlost
-Think Tank, Vol. 1                                                  -Good Omens
-Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore                         -Habibi
-Me, the Missing, and the Dead                                 -Court of Owls
-East of Eden                                                            -1602
-Cloud Atlas                                                             -Island in the Sea of Time
-Covering America                                                    -American Vampire, Vol. 5
-Gods Like Us                                                          -Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
-Attachments                                                            -Eleanor and Park
-Black Hole                                                              -Wanted
-Relish                                                                      -Court of Owls (2nd time)
-The Game of Thrones                                              -The Black Mirror
-A Clash of Kings                                                      -Ex Machina: the First Hundred Days
-Ex Machina: Tag                                                      -Ex Machina: Fact v. Fiction
-Ex Machina: March to War                                       -Ex Machina: Smoke Smoke
-Ex Machina: Power Down                                        -All-Star Superman
-Joker: Death in the Family                                        -A Storm of Swords
-Hawkeye 1                                                               -Fangirl
-Such a Pretty Fat                                                      -The Elements of Journalism


New Favorite Books: Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Anna Karenina.  East of Eden.

What I'd Recommend: The Paris Wife.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  Attachments.  Good Omens.  The Y the Last Man series.  Relish.

Favorite Discovery: Rainbow Rowell, the author of Attachments, Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl.

Biggest Surprise: How addicting the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) books are.


Completed series watched in entirety: 

-Bunheads                                                                 -Firefly
-Stephen Fry in America                                             -Terriers
-Breaking Bad                                                            -30 Rock
-Welcome to the Family**

Ongoing series watched faithfully:
-Mad Men                                                                  -Parks and Recreation
-Community                                                              -Nashville
-Sleepy Hollow**                                                        -Brooklyn Nine-Nine**
-The Crazy Ones**                                                     -Dracula**
-The Goldbergs**                                                       -The Millers**
-Reign**                                                                     -Arrested Development

Series with a significant portion of episodes watched:
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer                                           -Friday Night Lights
-Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23                                       -The Carrie Diaries
-The IT Crowd                                                           -It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
-Futurama                                                                   -Saturday Night Live
-The Walking Dead                                                     -Felicity
-How I Met Your Mother                                            -Robot Chicken
-Full Metal Alchemist                                                   -Greg the Bunny
-The Following                                                            -Batman Beyond
-Fringe                                                                        -The Vicar of Dibley
-Gossip Girl                                                                -The Michael J. Fox Show
-Game of Thrones                                                       -Avatar: the Last Airbender

Series with one or two episodes watched:
-Ben and Kate                                                             -Hannibal
-Workaholics                                                               -MythQuest
-The Black Donnelly's                                                  -Orange is the New Black
-Freaks and Geeks                                                       -Boy Meets World
-The Simpsons

**signifies a show watched for Lightbox Heroes 


Kate said...

I agree on: The Perks of Being A Wallflower (longtime favorite!), Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Library (picked it up cold at the library and loved it! What an excellent and enjoyable examination on the old crashing into the new.) and Eleanor & Park. Love. love. love.

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