Today is February 20, 2018. Hello world.
I wish I had a great excuse. A reason why this post (that no one is really looking for but me) is only going up today.
There are a lot of good reasons to put the blame on. On being too busy. On the state of the world. On the unexpected. On letting fear of change effect the way I feel, think, act. On a surprising lack of will power. On procrastination. On having nothing to say.
That’s all a lie.
But also all true.
So instead I will tell you a story about two years in one.
It began with these words (on February 1):
And I was. I marched. I marched. I called, I fumed, I wrote postcards. At times the seeming futility and ignorance became unbearable. I want to say I was brave. But I was safely brave. Privileged brave. It never felt like it was quite enough. I’m not sure if it ever will be, but we try.
This past year, that world was like an undertow. Pushing and pulling everywhere you turn. In DC – the city that I love – this world is inescapable.
But then there was the other year. The one with friends, and family, and joy. The year where I tried to take care of myself. To cherish my optimism so that it pushed against the anger and frustration. I took a chance and spent sixty days dreaming, eating, thinking, feeling. It was year where I traveled to (Charleston, Italy, London, Prague, Indianapolis and Chicago) and towards a possible turning point.
This was the year in which I turned 35, and realized I don’t have any idea of what my future holds. For a decade I knew what came next and where I wanted to go. Now that I am here, it is terrifying.
But most of all, as the months wound down into a new year, I learned that sometimes being selfless and kind is essential, but that being a little selfish won’t hurt you either. Self-preservation is sometimes necessary.
Above all else, I need to find a way to embrace rather than fear change, especially when it is least expected.
So this is what I ask of myself in 2018.
Be wary. Be kind. Be selfless, to thine
own self be true. Be aware. Be ready
to jump. Jump. Be wanting. Be forward.
Be truthful. Be strong. Be laughing.
Be a historian.
Be centered. Be ready. Be READY.
Be yourself. Be willing to
say no. No. Be open
to new possibilities. Be determined.
Be a storyteller.
Best of 2017
Movies: I didn’t do a great job of tracking what movies I saw in 2017. However, two stand out as being particularly resonant. Both Hidden Figures and Lion were emotionally effective as they told two divergent stories about technology and the way incredible people had their lives changed/changed lives because of it. Of course both also reflect inclusive storytelling with great lead actors and actresses.
Fun Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnorak
Other Movies Worth Mentioning: Lady Bird, The Post
Books: Over the last year I read 70 books (barely made the deadline again this year). I read a lot of romance as means of escape, but I also wanted to give a shout out to the following three:
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
It was a strange moment for him; looking back, after, he would say that he grew older during the course of that long night by Fezana, that the doors and windows of an uncomplicated life were opened and the shadowed complexity of things was first made known to him. Not the answers, of course, just the difficulty of the questions.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson
I do not know if these hands will become Malcolm’s—raised and fisted or Martin’s—open and asking or James’s—curled around a pen. I do not know if these hands will be Rosa’s or Ruby’s gently gloved and fiercely folded.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Intended for young readers, this book is amazing for its simple message. Choose kind.
Worth Mentioning: City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty I received an ARC of this book in August and thought I would direct you to my full review for this book on the FANgirl blog.
Television: Some fun TV in 2017. While I’m still immersed in the many, many shows of the CW, this year brought with it the second solid season of Stranger Things, The Queen and Masters of None.
But the shows that really resonated were The Handmaid’s Tale, The Bold Type (a surprising Freeform show about supportive, strong, complicated women), and The Good Place. Three very distinct show that made me laugh, cry and think. (This is Us falls within realm of a moving show, but it does this without nuance. Doesn’t make it a bad show, but one that I appreciate in a very different way.)
I also should mention that I cheered loudly when NBC reneged on its cancellation and brought back Timeless. (It comes back on March 10. It’s never too late to catch up!)
Saying Goodbye: Broadchurch (fantastic end), The Mindy Project, and the emotional conclusion to an amazing story starring amazing actors on Orphan Black.
Music and Podcasts: In looking at my Spotify listen list I realized I did a lot of listening to songs that were from days gone by. That being said five tunes were in heavy rotation.
A-Flat by Black Violin
This Bitter Earth by Dinah Washington
Runnin’ Home to You by Grant Gustin (on the Flash)
Green Light by Lorde
Wanderer by Heather Mae (I first heard Heather Mae at a concert by SoFar Sounds. She is amazing, and a force to listen to live).
Museums: In a year that sent me to Italy and England it’s hard to narrow down my history and museum experiences into a short paragraph. From seeing the David up close, wandering through the Vatican Museums, finally visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and an epic tour of the Harry Potter Studios it was the trip of a lifetime. You’ll be reading more about the experiences in the months to come now that my writing groove has returned.
Back at home it’s worth mentioning the incredible work of Theaster Gates at the National Gallery of Art (The Minor Arts) and the Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibition — in a word, mesmerizing, and the incredible exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour at James Madison’s Montpelier and the incredible story at Jane Addams Hull House Museum.
Theatre & Performance: This was a year where I got to see Ramola Garai in person at the RSC production of Queen Anne. She’s an actress I really admire from her performance in Emma a few years ago and the short lived television show The Hour. I also got to see my favorite Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, at the Globe. A slightly political production it poked fun at the current state of the United States’ relationship with Mexico while also staying true in beauty, irony, and laughter.
As I come to the end of my young theatregoers subscription at the Shakespeare Theatre Company I was wowed by King Charles III, the interesting performance of Macbeth which was set in an era of modern colonialism, and the hysterical School for Lies. All three once again remind me how much I adore this company.
The Kennedy Center gave me two different performances that mixed artistic genre’s – a collaboration between Theaster Gates and Jason Moran (the KC Artistic Director for Jazz) brought art and music together, while in DEMO: Song & Dance, Damian Woetzel brought together performers like Christopher Jackson, Michelle Dorrance, and Kate Davis creating a night of expression and beauty.
I can’t not give my seventh U2 concert a shout out (and my foray into the world of Westros) while also acknowledging a brilliant reading of Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Vanity Fair – hysterical and witty. The Shakespeare Theatre Company just picked it up as a full production in the 2018-2019 season. Make sure you go.
…this is what comes next
- Fracture: The Last Jedi
- Unexpected: The Last Jedi
- Herculaneum & Pompeii: Fingerprints on the Earth
- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Soul of a Nation at the Tate Modern
- One Foot in Front of the Other: Defining Terms
- The Layered Past, Italian Style
- From Europe, With Love
- (Seven) With or Without You
- Visual Storytelling: Tone, Texture, and Scale in Westeros
- Beyond the Written Word: Historical Storytelling in an Interdisciplinary World
- Dear William Shakespeare
- Journey to the Past: Timeless & the History Film Forum
- 75 Years Later: Allegiance and Executive Order 9066
- Dream Gardens: Talking Number the Stars with Jody Mott
- Hamilton: One Last Time
- Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
- Interview with Desi Geek Girls
- Telling Hi(stories) using Gaming: An Interview with Mariaelena DiBenigno and Khanh Vo
- Telling Underrepresented Stories with NBC’s Timeless
- Start the Conversation with 15 Essential African-American History Books
- Getting To Truth At The Smithsonian’s History Film Forum
Preservation Leadership Forum
- 2017: A Year of Challenges, A Year of Change
- PastForward is about the Future: A PastForward 2017 Recap
- Preservation is about Story: A PastForward 2017 Recap
- Preservation is about Action: Kicking off PastForward 2017
- Interpreting Women’s History at Historic Sites: An Introduction
- Enhanced Content: Preserving Difficult Histories
- When Does Historic Preservation Become Social Justice? Public Art and Cultural Heritage Preservation
- Re-Imagining the New York State Pavilion Using Virtual Reality
- How PBS Digital Studios Uses Digital Storytelling and Virtual Reality to Evoke a Sense of Place