It’s the very end of 2011. Thoughts? I have several.
Busy, busy, busy. Soccer, writing, and mothering consumed all my waking hours after I finally moved past the January shooting rampage in Arizona and my outrage over guns. There was little time in the day to contemplate a Japanese earthquake and tsunami beyond “Isn’t it horrible?” and “Didn’t this happen last year in Chile?” Fortunately, YouTube took care of our emotions, showing us the worst of Mother Nature, while Twitter and Facebook aided in the nascent, now continuing, Arab Spring. The Royals married and for those interested – i.e. most of the world – didn’t disappoint. Osama bin Laden met Seal Team Six and his demise, as did Moammar Ghadaffi at the hands of rebel fighters. North Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, also bit the dust, though of natural causes. None will be missed. Those who will? Steve Jobs, and for me and many others, Amy Winehouse. One of my wishes in last year’s New Year’s Eve post was for her to live another day and make more music. Sadly, not all wishes come true.
The economy improved slowly, stalled, started up again, and continues inching its way back, not fast enough for most, especially those who continued to make up the 9% of unemployed. The 99% made their voices heard in the continuing Occupy Movement. Congress moved us to the brink of insanity with partisan, last minute shenanigans that left us questioning our faith in government to, ahem, govern.
There will never be enough time, not ever, ever, ever, to read as much as I want to. 2011 was my year, accidentally, of the disparate-chapter novel, where each section is about someone or something different, coming together organically in the end. Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home, Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men Are Gone, and Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin were a part of this group, as was my favorite book of the year, 2010’s A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Finally got around to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, though having enjoyed it thoroughly, wasn’t compelled to read books two and three in the trilogy. Devoured Kathryn Stockett’s The Help like the good consumer of popular entertainment that I am, finishing it moments before seeing the movie. Both were greatly appreciated. Philip Roth made an appearance in my life this year with his American Pastoral, proof in one novel why he is one of our preeminent authors. What a book. Nuala O’Faolain, Haruki Murakami, Mary Karr, Flannery O’Connor, and every short story writer under the sun spent time in my head the past year and for that, I thank them all. I’m excited about turning more pages in 2012. What would you suggest?
I can’t remember another year of my life when I was less interested in the film offerings than in 2011. I saw several mediocre movies not worth mentioning. There were hundreds released that I didn’t even put on my list for future DVD viewing. That said, I still haven’t seen “Midnight in Paris”, “The Artist”, “Hugo”, “Warhorse”, “Moneyball”, or Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”. Can’t wait to borrow the screener for “Young Adult” starring Charlize Theron. Movies I’ll mention: “Win Win”, which makes director Tom McCarthy three for three with me (“The Visitor”, “The Station Agent”); “Margin Call”, “The Ides of March”, and “The Debt” filled my need for political suspense. Won’t ever see “The Tree of Life”, by the emperor’s-new-clothes director Terrence Malick. “A Dolphin Tale” and “Like Crazy” owe me about four hours of my life back. I was disappointed with the adaptation of “Water for Elephants” but not “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. Harry Potter’s last installment got it right, as always. “The Help” felt perfect. In terms of pure entertainment? My favorite movie experience of 2011 was “Bridesmaids” and I will not apologize. Laughter is the best medicine even if you’re not sick, though all of the ladies in the movie were and for that, I loved them. Please, if you saw movies the past year worthy of recommendation, share it in the comments.
My listening time was limited to the radio, usually, so my tastes were mostly mainstream. What was better than Adele this past year, specifically “Someone Like You”? Nothing. Her album 21 was as satisfying as any I can remember, from the first song to the last. My new favorite was Eliza Doolittle, with her sometimes retro interpretations and playful ditties. Neon Trees and The Black Keys had different sounds that grabbed me. Singles like “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People, and “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull amused and entertained me. Florence + The Machine put out an excellent second offering. Rihanna continues to come on strong. Bruno Mars appeared in everyone’s songs and that was okay by me. The young generation’s anthem will be “We Are Young” which had its debut with New Directions on “Glee” a few weeks ago. The husband wants music suggestions for the next year and I’m relying on all of you to come up with them.
This will be quick. Though I love lying on the couch watching the boob tube as much as the next person, I simply couldn’t find the time beyond my previous addictions – “Modern Family”, “Glee”, “Nurse Jackie”, “The Good Wife”, “30 Rock”, “The Daily Show” – and we’re all waiting for the return of “Mad Men”. Showtime’s “Homeland” was my only new addition, and a worthy one at that, though I’m four episodes behind. The HBO documentary “Hot Coffee” about tort reform and other legal ailments was a valuable use of my time. Football and women’s World Cup soccer rounded out my viewing.
My theatre going was so anemic it’s barely worth mentioning. “God of Carnage” met expectations but did not exceed them. Alvin Ailey did. Perhaps I’ll find average courage this year to shed the warmth of hearth and home and spontaneously take myself to a night at the theatre. Los Angeles has plenty to offer.
Looking ahead, it appears 2012 will be the busiest yet. All three girls are playing tournament sports, I continue coaching, there are hundreds more posts to write, and then there’s yoga. The dogs would appreciate more walks. The husband and I are often ships passing in the night, but we wave and smile lovingly, wondering where the time is going.
Wishing you and yours great health, much reading, laughter that makes you cry, time with friends, strong cups of coffee, courage on any level and, of course, happiness in the coming year.
(Resolve to hit that Facebook “like” button more often in 2012.)