31 December 2007

An end has a start

You came on your own
That's how you'll leave


Another year come and almost gone.

It was the best of years and while I can't honestly say it was the worst of years, we had some pretty awful moments. But who doesn't?

It was a busy year, which isn't exactly unusual for us. Working in the consulting world on the sorts of projects the spouse and I were involved in isn't conducive to a quiet life. Fortunately, we made the move to simplify things a bit, which was a relief to everyone except those I worked with because "simplifying" also meant that I gave up the office and returned to freelancing. While I miss the challenge of the work I was doing, I don't miss the chaos. I am abundantly capable of making my own chaos.

Time for my own year-end list. These were, by and large, the good things. The bad things, well, I try to learn from them, and move on.


SINGLE MOST AWE-INSPIRING MOMENT OF THE YEAR:

Standing at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns at twilight and watching the bats set out on their nightly hunt for food. Second place would go to watching my family's reaction to White Sands National Monument. Third goes to watching my 10-year-old daughter spill out impassioned rage as she wrote her reaction to Hiroshima in the guest book at the National Atomic Museum.


BEST BOOK I READ THAT WAS ACTUALLY PUBLISHED IN 2007:

I tend to do things in my own time frame. However, I caught this one shortly after it was published: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell. Not nice, not happy, but the story caught my attention and I didn't put it down.


SINGLE MOST BIZARRE MOMENT OF THE YEAR:

The daughter was "discovered," and cast in a TV show. No way, no how did any of us see that one coming. To my relief, the show didn't go anywhere. Selfish, I know, but I'm just not stage mommy material.


BEST ALBUMS I BOUGHT THIS YEAR:

Porcupine Tree, Fear of a Blank Planet, released April 2007. Stunning music, stunningly bleak lyrics. "Xbox is a God to me." Indeed.

Rush, Snakes & Arrows, released May 2007. Stunning music, thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics. "All my life I’ve been workin’ them angels overtime." My mother would certainly agree.


BEST AIR TRAVEL MOMENT:

TSA is frequently reviled and rightfully so. However, the respect and courtesy the agents in the Albuquerque airport showed to the son, who was stuck in an immobilization cast and on crutches, cannot go unmentioned. It was July, the height of the summer travel season, and they were really kind to him. I remain grateful for that consideration.


BEST PLACE I STAYED WHEN I WAS AWAY FROM HOME:

Without a doubt, Casa de Suenos in Albuquerque. We had La Mirador suite, a tailor-made thunderstorm, and homemade breakfast. Everyone had a great time here.

The runner-up would be Intercontinental Toronto Centre for the view alone, but the service was generally excellent too.


...when you caught my eye
I saw everywhere I'd been
And want to go to...


BEST CONCERT I SAW THIS YEAR:

Rush, First Midwest Bank Amphitheater, Tinley Park, Illinois, September 8.

This show isn't just the best show I saw this year, it's in the top 10 of those I've seen in my life. I've been listening to this band for...um...ever, and I've seen them play live many times, each show uniquely wonderful in its own right. But the energy level this particular night was simply phenomenal. That this was one of two shows where D. and I had managed to get front row seats certainly didn't hurt, nor did it hurt that my favorite live version of "Natural Science" was recorded off the same stage, so hearing it live that night was a huge treat (ok, hearing it live any night is a treat, but it was really special that night). Then there's Snakes & Arrows: that album was meant to be heard live. If I have any quibble with what was played from it, it's only that I would have added "We Hold On" to the setlist. Definitely a night of visceral excitement, aural bliss and tremendous fun.

Genesis should get an honorable mention. The stage set up was very cool, the light show was quite something, and the setlist was a good balance of older and newer material. While the Hollywood Bowl is one of my least favorite venues period, the show's sound was pretty good. But after watching Rush tear it up onstage, Genesis was just a little...tame.


BEST THING THAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR:
The best thing happened many times this year: it's that moment, when you meet someone else's eye--your spouse, your child, your friend, a stranger--and you both smile. Just because. Because you're both enjoying the same moment, because you both saw something that struck you as funny, because you're both stuck waiting on the same plane. It's a moment of connection in the best possible sense.


I'd like to finish out the year with eloquence. But I'm too tired. Be safe, be good, and remember to eat your black-eyed peas.

Happy New Year.

...with hope in your hands
and air to breathe


Go listen to some good music: "An End Has a Start" from the album An End Has a Start by Editors.

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