I long ago abandoned the idea of New Year's resolutions, though I always have a long list of long and short term goals in mind. Resolutions sound more like penance: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, and this is how I'm going to make it good. No. I'm only too well aware of my own deficiencies, and I'd rather address the stuff that I know I need to fix than to have some third party bless me with his/her own action plan. With age, I've learned that one makes goals attainable, or what is the point of setting them? And I don't mean that one should aim low, but I aim for reasonable.
2010 wasn't the gut punch that 2009 turned out to be, but it was far from smooth sailing. Still, I made good on my promise to take back my life and get back on track, even if there were days that it looked more like grim determination than living beautifully. I wasn't raised to be selfish, but this year I reminded myself that a little responsible selfishness--also called taking care of oneself--makes me a happy girl. So, I took a photography workshop that reset an internal (infernal?) machine and opened up a different path to me (beginnings) though it was also a return of sorts to something that I'd long enjoyed. And I went out amongst strangers, which I'm sometimes loath to do.
To that end, I also took off on the concert trail again. Albuquerque, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Each with its own charms and challenges, but mine, all mine. For the most part, hugely satisfying in that regard. And it was a time to meet up with friends and have long, funny conversations that lasted late into the night.
Oh, the year was still rife with anxiety: kid planning for college, kid planning for high school, the employment situation, the depressing reality of California in general. But I've regained the ability to back out of the gloom and into the light. Sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes through nightmares and sleeplessness, but in a better place altogether than last year.
SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING I'D LIKE EVERYONE TO CONSIDER DOING IN 2011:
Go do something good, worthy or awesome that you've never done before or haven't done in a long time. Start going for walks (call it "spying on the neighbor's gardening project" if going for a walk sounds too much like exercise); volunteer at your local library or soup kitchen; teach a kid or an adult to read; be creative. I will report on my own endeavor as the year progresses.
BEST BOOK I READ THAT WAS ACTUALLY PUBLISHED IN 2010:
I can only think of one book I read that was published in 2010, but fortunately, it was pretty good: Maggie O'Farrell's The Hand That First Held Mine. I think that I've liked some of her previous works better, but she is someone whose writing I really enjoy. Otherwise, I was pretty much reading Dorothy Dunnett, Alice Thomas Ellis, Margaret Atwood, and after several months, I finally finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
BEST ALBUM I BOUGHT THIS YEAR:
The New Pornographers' Together takes honors this year. I also really liked the Muse stuff I picked up this year, but while I find some of the lyrics quite thoughtful, I find some of the themes hilarious. In a good way. I mean, I don't think they take themselves overly seriously. At least I hope not.
BEST PLACE I STAYED WHEN I WAS AWAY FROM HOME:
Hands down, Fairmont Pittsburgh. Lovely staff, nicely furnished rooms, and for crying out loud, they upgraded me to a suite that would make most apartment dwellers envious.
Hidden Ridge Resort in Banff was perfect when the family was traveling over the summer. We had a large 2-bedroom plus loft condo within walking distance of the downtown area for a quite reasonable price. We also had a kitchen, and everyone was grateful for a couple of Meals by Mommy in the midst of a long driving vacation.
SINGLE MOST BIZARRE MOMENT OF THE YEAR:
Watching my 16-year-old son slalom my car around the Irvine Meadows parking lot on a summer afternoon as he exhibited his new defensive driving skills during his class "graduation" while in the background, Rush was soundchecking on the stage for the evening's concert. It was one of those seriously weird moments in life when multiple facets of my youth and adulthood all collided in the hot summer air. It was odd watching the bemusement on the other parents' faces at all the noise coming from the amphitheater while I was thinking, "Cool!" And of course, we were at the show that night.
BEST CONCERT I SAW THIS YEAR:
Rush Time Machine Tour, August 13, Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA, and August 29, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH. I enjoy every show, of course, but these two were the best of the four that I saw. At Irvine, watching my 13-year-old daughter air guitar like a mad thing made me laugh out loud, and my 16-year-old son caught one of the t-shirts tossed out by guitarist Alex Lifeson, which made the boy's night. And Columbus was just a blast.
Muse, September 24, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA. Really have come to like their music and the show was one of those unexpected little gems of showmanship that are just so much fun. Not too many bands I'm willing to see more than once, but these guys I'd see again.
THE MOMENT WHEN I FELT MY HEART IMPLODE:
Out in the world, I am generally circumspect. I watch people, and I keep a carefully crafted pleasant expression on my face. I try not to give too much away about what I am thinking or what I am feeling. But there are a few people out there who can catch me off guard, can see what I think I'm keeping close and unrevealed, catch me in that moment when I laugh out loud--in joy, in appreciation, with sheer happiness. And that night, in that brief, single moment of shared laughter, I felt my heart implode. I was brought up to believe I shouldn't take chances, but the leap paid off because I forgot for a moment to disguise myself, and we laughed together. The memory is one of the best of the year.
We none of us know what the future might bring. Last year, I said I intended to live life beautifully, and I approached that goal with a certain unbeautiful determination. In 2011, more beauty, more beginnings, more middles, desirable endings. As I said, this will be the year of fixing and there is a lot in my life that requires that. But I don't feel the need to approach it like an auto mechanic (though I imagine my doctors will be approaching me that way. *sigh*). Here's to beauty; here's to artistry; here's to moments of shared laughter and undisguised happiness.
My wish for everyone is that we come out shining on the other side. Thank you, as always, for spending time with me.
Be safe, be good and remember to eat your black-eyed peas.
...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.