The New Year’s Eve retrospective post – 2011

Books, Music, Art, Movies, Life

This past year has kind of been uneventful, if I am comparing it to previous years. If there were a word to describe it I would have to choose “introspective.” I’ve done much thinking and observing and working on myself. I have faced things in myself that have needed to be faced for years. It has been a year of awakening. An awakening that I’m sure will continue on through this next year and further, if I am lucky.

Here are a couple of “notable” lists:

Notable Books of 2011:
I read a lot of really good books this year!

  1. Tinkers by Paul Harding. This book blew my mind.
  2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman. I ended up reading it in one sitting. I simply could not put it down.
  3. Strange Piece of Paradise. A true story about a woman who, when she was in her early twenties on a bike trip across American, was brutally attacked by a stranger in Oregon and lived to tell the tale.
  4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I love anything by this author but this one was especially good. It was a One Book One Twitter read.
  5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I was introduced to Jamie Ford when we connected on Google+. The first post that I saw was this one with the comment, “it looks like we just murdered a clown.” I became an instant fan. I’d heard of his book because everyone who walked into the library asked for it but, for some reason I hadn’t picked it up. I finally did this year and am so glad! It was excellent!
  6. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read it you must.
  7. Blankets by Craig Thompson. This graphic novel has been on my To-Read list for ages and I finally picked it up a few months ago. A most excellent coming of age story.
  8. Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy. If you like beautiful love stories this is your book. The writing was wonderful.
  9. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Fantastic book for kids who are dealing with grief. Superb illustrations, too.
  10. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. I find myself thinking about this book all the time.

I discovered some excellent music this year, too!!

Notable Albums of 2011: 
Lots of really great music this year! These are just the albums that I bought and really liked.

Settle Down by Kimbra. A very recent discovery and OMFG. Love her. I mean, seriously. Listen to this voice. She is the real deal.

Zonoscope by Cut Copy. My current running music. Great album.

Only in Dreams by Dum Dum Girls. Fun girl-band, poppy songs.

Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay. I’ve been listening to this album lots these past couple of months.

Codes and Keys by Death Cab For Cutie. Not my favorite album at first listen but it has grown on me.

Personal Life by The Thermals. One of my favorite albums of the year. LOVE IT.

Alright You Restless by Agesandages. I discovered this band when I saw them live at Live Wire. Loved them!

And, Finally, Here is my Year In Pictures for 2011. May 2012 be filled with peace and love! Happy New Year!!!

Goodbye, 2010

Life

Why hello there! It’s New Years Eve, and time for me to take a look back at the past year.

The past couple of years on this day I have tended toward the negative. And, rightly so. There were some crazy-bad things that happened. 2010, though was pretty darn good. I honestly can’t think of a single thing that was bad about it.

  • I originally declared 2010 the year of the Banjo, but I ended up learning the Ukulele instead. One of my Summer Reading Performers, Cinda Tilgner, brought hers to the program and I fell in love with it. One thing led to another and I ended up buying one and performing in Cinda’s Uke Orchestra. It’s been lots of fun!
  • I was invited to a meditation group in April  and I  haven’t been the same since. In a good way. I’ve written lots about this experience this year, so no need to go into detail. But I’m very glad my friend had the instinct to invite me. I’ve made some fantastic friends through this group and am so happy that they are a part of my life. And I’m so happy to have finally developed a Zazen practice.
  • Raf became a Tattoo artist! If someone would have told me ten years ago that my husband would become a tattoo artist I would have told them they were crazy. But it was something that he wanted to do and he did it and I’m proud of him. And now I have my own personal tattoo artist in the house. I’ve always loved tattoos and have wanted to get more of them but I, generally, don’t like being touched by strangers. I hate the dentist, I don’t like getting my hair done, I don’t like doctors, and I especially dislike massages. So now that Raf has his tattoo license I can get tattoos and not feel uncomfortable. So I got a few of ’em this year.
  • I had a blast exploring the area. We went on a number of really fun hikes.


My favorite reads this year? I’m so glad you asked!

In short: 2010 was pretty killer.

Be safe tonight and I’ll see you tomorrow.

2009: A year that changed my life

Life

Here we are, another year later. It has been bittersweet. It was the best and the worst year of my life all at the same time. It has been a year that has changed me forever.

Up until a month ago I would have said that this was one of the best years of my life. I turned 40, and while that could have been scary and terrible, I have decided to look at my Forties as the prime of my life. Because, really, it is. I feel really good about myself and have more confidence than I have ever had. I have thought a lot about my life and what, exactly, I want out of it. What is important and what isn’t. At 40 I think that this phrase sums up my thoughts on life: “wherever you go, there you are.” In other words, I’m not going to be happy trying to run to or away from things. I am not going to be happy getting things. Happiness is always there, accessible within me all the time.

That said, I am proud of myself for picking myself up out of Spokane and finding a place to live that I love. As much as I tried to find happiness in Spokane I realized that I needed to be somewhere else. I don’t know what it is about that town that oppresses me so much but it always has, even growing up there. I loved the friends I made there, and I love my family. But the vibe of the town doesn’t jibe with me. I do believe that cities have certain “voices” or “vibes” or whatever you want to call it. Spokane doesn’t do it for me. But this little town of Sandy does. I love it here and am so happy to be living here. I feel so blessed. I love living so close to Mt. Hood and I love seeing its beauty everyday (well, when it’s clear out). So in that sense, I feel like 2009 treated me very well.

However, this is the year I lost my step-dad. This has been the most devastating and painful experience of my life. It is still so raw and I tear up whenever I think about it. I still can’t believe he’s gone, even after watching him die. So that part of 2009 completely sucked horribly. But I also learned things from that experience that have changed me forever. I learned about Karma. I learned that in the end, things don’t matter, money doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is love. Doug was a very giving and loving person and he left this world with his family and friends by his side. That’s karma. I also learned that there might be something beyond this life. I know that sounds all weird and metaphysical and I understand that this is very debatable. But this experience with Doug made me think about the afterlife a little bit differently than I have in the past.

So that was my 2009. I hope that next year is filled with less drama.

I don’t have any resolutions but I do want to do one thing. Learn how to play the banjo. I finally got my banjo last night and I can’t wait to learn. I declare 2010 The Year of the Banjo!

Hope you all have a happy and peace-filled New Year.

Good Riddance 2008.

Life
New Years Eve at Borovets, outside hotel "...

Image via Wikipedia

Let’s just face it. 2008 sucked. Big time. And not just for me, it sucked for almost everyone I know. I am so ready to just move on. But first, I thought I would take a look back at the past year. Let’s look at the laundry list of suckage, if you will.

  1. The bad news started in October of 2007, really. With the untimely death of my step-brother. I didn’t really talk about it here in detail and I won’t go into detail now because thinking about it makes me sad. It was really horrible. My aunt died a couple of weeks later when she went in to have surgery. That was also really awful, obviously.
  2. The year started at the end January with “the great snowstorm of winter 2008” (hoo boy, if I knew then what I know now) When we came back from San Jose I was in shock at the amount of snow that was on the ground. I mean, the trees in our backyard were bent in half! At the time, I had never seen anything like it.  (As and aside, I can’t believe I took this picture a week later! It was already melting a week later? sigh.)
  3. In February (actually on my dad’s birthday) I got hit by a car while I was crossing the street on my way to work. Thankfully, I was okay. I was banged up a bit but I was o.k. I have been kind of twitchy regarding cars and crossing streets and parking lots. When I am crossing at a crosswalk I do not cross until the cars have stopped. And when they are slowing down to stop I don’t even trust them. I make eye contact with the driver of the car and stare him down so I know he/she actually sees me crossing the street. In other words, I do not trust cars. Ever.
  4. March was, relatively, uneventful (thank god) but, looking back, I really got tired of snow. I mean, it snowed on the first day of Spring! Stupid Mother Nature. Oh, and I turned 39. The last year of my thirties. which isn’t really a bad thing.
  5. In May I had a REALLY creepy experience with my massage therapist which pisses me off to this day. In fact, I was telling someone about it this morning. The sad thing is that I would really love to see an massage therapist right now because my freaking back is freaking killing because of all of this mother effing show shoveling I’ve been doing but because of the bad experience I had with this moron I’m hesitant.
  6. In June My kneecap popped out of its socket during a hike in the middle of a forest in Idaho. Also, I almost got hit by a car again while crossing an interestion to catch a bus.  Oh, and it fucking snowed. In June.
  7. July included probably one of the worst days of my life. Again, can’t go into any details but it was not pretty.
  8. In October my husband’s cousin passed away. He was not much older than me. We both felt really sad about it. He had his problems but I really liked the guy and felt really bad about his death.
  9. October was also the month of The Sickness. I started getting a sore throat while working at the annual Spokane is Spelling spelling bee. I helped all of the kids get onto the stage and directed them off of the stage. When I think about how sick I got and how many kids I probably infected it makes me hang my head. poor kids. I ended up actually completely losing my voice. It was gone for about a week. I had to actually write notes to people because I literally could not talk. It was really weird.
  10. November probably was the worst month of all. The Friday before Thanksgiving my step-dad had emergency brain surgery to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball from his frontal lobe. We found out he has lung cancer and that it had spread to his brain. I can’t imagine hearing about anything worse than that. The worst news I have ever gotten in my life. That weekend was filled with despair and worry, and then relief when he made it out of surgery o.k.
  11. December? I have one word. Snow. omyfuckinggod the snow. And to think that this all started only two weeks ago. I read in an article that in December alone we have gotten almost 60 inches of snow just this month alone! And you have to realize, that this has only been in the last two weeks! Way back in January I had no idea what a lot of snow is. The past two weeks have been absolutely insane. It’s actually getting kind of frightening. There are roofs collapsing all over town, including one at a supermarket and one at a gym. It’s really not a good situation.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. There have been some good things:

  1. I was in the media all over the place this year. Strangely, I didn’t really blog much about it. In January there was an article written about my mom and I regarding her watercolor painting and my photography. My picture was also in the paper to coincide with an aritcle about the Summer Reading Program. I was also in a little “commercial” for local public television that featured the library and how it helped students. And again I was in a commercial for a local television station’s “success by six” program in which I read a little bit of a picture book for a group of preschool kids. It was kind of fun being in the spotlight :). I actually had people come up to me saying, “I saw you on t.v.”
  2. My photos were in a little gallery showing (well, at a coffee house in the middle of nowhere) along with my mom. I actually sold 3 pieces. That was a wonderful ego boost.
  3. We went on some fun trips! We went to San Jose at the end of January, to Wallace Falls in June and Long Beach in March and August.
  4. I’ve been really enjoying learning about the principles of Zen. It has actually helped me get through a lot of rough times this past year.
  5. Obama won! This was such a huge relief. When I think about it I just feel a huge wave of relief roll over me. I know that he is going to be a fantastic president.

So what else is there to say? This has been a challenging year. I’m ready for something less dramatic in the upcoming months. Goodbye 2008!

Hope you all have a happy and safe new year!