- Raul Malo. This list could start and end with Raul Malo and probably will (as my eye-rolling Facebook friends would attest). After being largely ignored on my CD rack for years, he came to the forefront of my attention one Saturday night in January when I saw him sing “live” on TV (live changes everything with Raul), and December had me at two of his holiday shows and buying tickets for a Mavericks concert in New York in early 2013. I am not alone in finding his big voice hypnotic, his big face adorable, and his big personality magnetic. Also, good songs. He unknowingly cheered me more than I can say, repeatedly. Thanks for that, Raul.
- Speaking of Facebook, Facebook. I undoubtedly spend too much time there, navel-gazing and oversharing, but I’m not going to apologize for that. Yeah, it’s flawed and annoying and doesn’t give a crap about your privacy, and I technically should have better things to do. But it’s also diverting and diverse, and “better things to do” hardly matters now that the internet exists: we all have better things to do. Twitter is wittier and clearly considers itself superior, but I don’t know those people and they sure don’t know me, funny as they are. Facebook seems less about creating an impressive internet persona than about sharing interests and other things about oneself with people who’ve expressed a desire to know – sorta friends anyway, not just followers. Or that’s how I treat it. But maybe I’m doing it wrong. Nonetheless, Facebook, I like ya.
- Getting together with a group of women friends for monthly private movie viewings at a tiny local theater (now sadly going out of business). We crowded into a little room and took turns picking movies (like “Rear Window,” “Strictly Ballroom,” and “His Gal Friday”), and we drank wine and stuffed ourselves with snacks while we watched. Like a book club but without the pressure to get the book read, it was something I looked forward to every month. And, consequently, I got to know several local ladies better and to spend individual time with most of them. (My little town does local ladies better than practically anywhere, I’m finding.) I shopped, dined, drank, road-tripped, and live-musicked with at least four new women in 2012, and I like to think that was a nice development for them too.
- “Pulphead,” a book of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan that covers topics as diverse as Michael Jackson, his own brother’s electrocution, and caves in Kentucky, all with insight, wit, and uncommon understanding. I loved it. Ditto the essays of David Foster Wallace, which I’d not responded to the first time I tackled them a decade ago, but which amused and stirred me deeply this time around. Rediscovering DFW was one of those bittersweet occasions when I grieved for someone long dead, but not so long gone that I couldn’t regret not having appreciated him more when he was still here. I’ll just be glad that John Jeremiah Sullivan is still with us, still writing.
- My darling little nephew, who is four, talking, snuggly, and unintentionally hilarious. That he took immediately to the harmonica I gave him for Christmas, referring to it as “his instrument” and playing it with real gusto whenever he got near it, only added to his appeal. My teenaged nephew is, well, teenaged, but he hasn’t lost all the sweet to puberty yet, so I’m mighty fond of him still too.
- That I’ve got two years under my belt as a full-time freelancer and I’ve not lost the house yet. While it’s a little lonesome and lacking in traditional benefits like health coverage and paid vacations, you can’t beat self-employment’s hours, flexibility, or understanding management. I expect that things will get a little more challenging fiscally in 2013, but so far, so good. I just need to learn to budget.
- Podcasts, still. I listen to a bunch of them, ones about books and more books and pop culture and TV (too embarrassed to link this one), and I’ll probably find even more in 2013. I enjoy listening in on intelligent, informed discussions and it gives me something to talk with others about. Oddly, however, I’m not big on TED talks. Maybe in 2013.
- Yoga and riding my bike. I didn’t do as much of either as I should have, but I did enough that I got a little better at both. I even put a new rack and new grips on my bike, all by myself. I’m trying, people.
- The new deep, deep army green paint job my brother gave my house trim. Paired with small amounts of a yellowy beige, it really woke the place up, just as my friend Emily, my color consultant, said it would. I didn’t realize how yucky the original medium green was until it was replaced. It’s nice to live in a pretty house. Nice enough that I had to bump this list up to 12 to include it. Now, just to get Greg to finish it …
- My iPhone 5. This needs no explanation, but I’ll say that its speed and ease and hell-yes-I-can-do-that attitude make me regret the 2 years I spent with a buggy, pokey, battery-draining EVO. Its slogan should be, “Life’s too short. iPhone.”
- My pets. I lost a cat this year – Picket, who had been hyperthyroid and skinny and very, very loud for several years. But we’d muddled along with meds and constant feeding and probably less patience than I should have shown him (Shut. Up. Picket.) until he took a quick, sharp downturn in the fall. He was special to me for several reasons and is missed, but Clementine has become far friendlier as an only cat and is picking up his slack more than I’d have expected. My old mutt Ruby is still my best buddy though. She is literally my reason to get up and get moving every day. Otherwise puddles.
- The Magnetic Fields soothed my savage breast repeatedly too. I went to this show all by myself and met Stephin Merritt’s mother, which was a nice little perk for stepping outside my comfort zone. Also, Raul Malo. (Told ya he’d probably get the last word; he deserved it.)
Monday, December 31, 2012
Twelve Things I Loved in 2012