At the start of 2014. I sought to be more productive, to experiment more, and resolved for a year of joy.
So how successful was I? It’s hard to say. In terms of productivity I’ve been living in a year of distraction. I took a trip to India in the summer which was followed by a few days with my sister in Portugal. I went to Cabo for a bachelorette and then to Monterey (CA) and Savannah (GA) for conferences. September brought with it my sister’s wedding which, after a year of planning, was filled with a relative amount of stress, laughter, and a new family member. I tried to write, but got hit with writer’s block for months, but at the same time made progress on some other long term projects I hope to share at a later time.
At the same time I have experimented. I’ve cooked, baked, and tasted new recipes. I unexpectedly sang bars of Eternal Flame during my toast to my sister – not something I ever thought I would do. And I tried to push myself to say yes, when I normally would have said no and say no when I would instinctively say yes—freeing up time to think through what I want and where I want to go. That is still a work in progress.
As for joy? When an event happens that brings family and friends together for a great occasion joy is the only thing that will follow. We got dressed up, danced, and ate some really, really, good food.
So in the end, all I can really say is that I have no complaints about 2014. My regrets are but little, uncontrollable things. C’est la vie.
Here is my annual best of list:
I’ve had a robust year of reading and two stand out above all the others. Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings is a powerful fictional narrative about the Grimke sisters early leaders of the abolition movement. The real life work of Sarah Grimke is balanced against a fictional account of Hetty one of the Grimke slaves. In the post script of the book Kidd describes her reaction to seeing slaves on an inventory for the household. As someone who spent countless years looking at lists such as these it was a reminder of how powerful documents can be. These inventories illustrate how people were diminished to columns and monetary value rather than as human beings.
This year I also had a chance to read Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of Louis Zamperini. While Wings is a fictional version of reality, Zamperini’s life is the opposite. It is reality that feels like it could be fiction. But it’s not. In Unbroken we are faced with just how much the human spirit can go through, and how it is not possible to come through the other side completely unscathed. Reading about the full scope of Zamperini’s life is incredible. The movie, while admirable-but limited by its medium-is forced to conclude with Zamperini’s story unfinished.
Finally I wanted to give a shout out to The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and the Andre Agassi autobiography Open. The Luminaries is intriguing, but takes determination to get through, while Open gave me a glimpse into the life of my favorite tennis player. This was also the year my friend Tricia Barr published Wynde. A fantasy/space opera story about a girl forced to make a difficult decision — worth a read.
In my post on writer’s block I point directly to two artists that essentially took over my music world in 2014. Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. While in recent months I’ve been able to pull away from their albums both X (Multiply) and In the Lonely Hour have been in heavy rotation not only for the amazing voices, but also for their lyricism and poetry.
I went to two concerts this year. The Little Black Dress Tour with Sara Bareilles. She is fiery. A vibrant voice that is powerful and emotional. Definitely someone I was glad to see live. I also completed an almost decade long saga to see the Gipsy Kings live and in concert. Both were well worth seeing — especially at a great venue like Wolf Trap.
So much television! This year I did a full scale marathon of Parks and Rec. I have no idea what took me so long to watch this show. I love Leslie Knope. Then there is Ms. Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Recommended by my friend Diana it is a show with an awesome female detective set in post World War I Australia. I am so excited there is going to be a third season.
I also watched, hated, and then changed my mind about Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal. I’m still way behind but am slowly catching up. PS: If you like superhero shows I recommend giving both The Arrow and The Flash a try.
Of course this year in television for me involved saying goodbye to How I Met Your Mother and Psych. Two shows that made me laugh even when they were not in their prime. Ironically both shows involved pineapples.
And I can’t write about the year without mentioning Season 3 of Sherlock. The Sign of the Three might be the greatest hour and a half of television I have ever seen. That may be an exaggeration but I swear I laughed, cried, and sighed all while sitting at the edge of my seat. Unbelievable.
As for movies? Veronica Mars was perfect. Exactly what I wanted from a movie of a television show. Interstellar was visually spectacular (though I felt, at times, like I was watching a different version of Contact). And I enjoyed the escapism that was Captain America and X-Men.
Above all else the best book to movie adaptation I saw was David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl. The movie managed to keep the stunning transitions, while also shocking those of us that had read the book. It brought to life these vile characters in a situation that can only be described as ‘messed up.’
Theatre and Other Fun
I’m into my fifth or sixth year being a subscriber for the Shakespeare Theatre. I think my favorite production of the season were their two non-Shakespeare productions. Both Private Lives and The Importance of Being Earnest were immaculately produced and staged.
Other memorable moments from this year? Hearing the end of the Serial podcast and talking to friends about the issues it raised and the things it may have left out. Going to two Smithsonian Associates talks. The first with Shonda Rhimes and the second with Jill Lepore who spoke about her book the Secret History of Wonder Woman.
Which brings me to resolutions for 2015. In terms of travel I’ll be going to Tampa, Nashville, Atlanta, and am planning a trip to California for the summer so those adventures await.
I know I want to encourage myself to continue moving outside of my comfort zone, but I also want to find the element of focus that I lost midway through 2014 (at least in my personal life).
I want to continue writing not only for myself but for others while also pushing my boundaries of creativity.
Perhaps my words for the year are encompassed in the phrase “taking control”. It may be another way to say productivity but it feels stronger, firmer. Above all else I want to define success for myself. What does that mean? What does it entail? What are my dreams for the next 5 years?
And finally. By the time I write these words for 2016 I’ll be able to say something about the latest in a galaxy far, far, away. The Force Awakens is coming. I can’t wait.
MTFBWYA. Have a great 2015.
2014 Posts In Review:
- Andre Agassi: Image Isn’t Everything
- Nobody Knows Where They Might End Up
- Away, Writer’s Block, Away
- The Ordinary Extraordinary
- Energy Efficiency + Climate Change: A Conversation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Beyond Fifteen Minutes of Fame
- Going Beyond: Suzanne Persard, Writer and Activist
- Exploring “Dots” with Anujan Ezhikode
- Going Beyond: Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Artist
- Dot not Feather
- Beyond Fifteen Minutes of Fame (crosspost)
- Four Years and Counting – Priya
- Interview with ‘The Secret History of Wonder Woman’ author Jill Lepore
- Wonder Woman Unshackled
- “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station”: Preservation’s Origin Story Now on PBS
- Beyond Beauty: Seeing Possibility in All Historic Places
Preservation Leadership Forum
We’re Wicked SMAHT