Taken at the apex of a hike up nearby Bailey Canyon on Labor Day.
This is my eleventh Best of the Year post! Here's a list of all of them, mainly for my own convenience.
I know that when it comes to the world at large, 2016 was annus horribilis. But for me, personally (when I don't think about politics), this year has been terrific. I've loved my first two semesters of grad school. I got to take my mother to Paris for a week to celebrate our milestone birthdays. (I turned fifty, but I'll let Mom tell you her age...or not.)
Our dog is still delightful. Our kids are growing in all the right ways. I've made new friends. Patrick continues to be the best husband of all time. And I've consumed a lot of great media and delicious food (as you'll see).*
As always, books are first. In the past twelve months, I've read 130 novel-length books and 120 new-to-me picture books--both all-time highs spurred by my MFA program. (My previous recorded high number of novel-length books was 85, and I've never kept track of picture books before.)
Top Ten Novel-Length Books Read:**
1) My Book of Life by Angel, by Martine Leavitt
2) Symphony for the City of the Dead, by M.T. Anderson
3) Calvin, by Martine Leavitt
4) Long Lankin, by Lindsey Barraclough
5) Jellicoe Road, by Malina Marchetta
6) The Elementals, by Michael McDowell
7) Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson
8) Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racciula
9) Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by E.K. Johnston
10) The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
Most Disappointing (not the worst) Book:
Favorite New-To-Me Picture Books:
Lester's Dreadful Sweaters, by K.G. Campbell
The Iridescence of Birds, by Patricia McLachlan
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, by Michelle Markel
Monsters Eat Whiny Children, by Bruce Eric Kaplan
The Dark, by Lemony Snicket
Duck, Death, and the Tulip, by Wolf Erlbruch
Boxes for Katje, by Candace Fleming
The Lion and the Bird, by Marianne Dubai
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman
Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt
Because of school, I didn't see that many movies this year. But there were some good ones.
Best 2016 Movies Seen:
9) Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
8) The Legend of Tarzan
7) Midnight Special
6) Batman v. Superman
5) Mr. Right
4) Suicide Squad
3) 10 Cloverfield Lane
2) Eye in the Sky
Ditto on the TV (but I never watch that much, anyway).
1) The Magicians
2) Stranger Things
Best Music Downloaded:
Summary: A whole lotta French pop--and another terrific album by one of my new favorite bands.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones: Sea of Noise
Vianney: "Pas là"
Soleil: "Ce qui guide mes pas"
Best Resturant Experiences:
Maison Christian Faure, Montreal
Au Pied de Cochon, Montreal
Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Paris
Bistro de la Gare, South Pasadena
101 Noodle Express, Arcadia
Goals for 2017 include further improving my French and writing and turning in both theses (critical and creative) required for my MFA. Happy New Year!
* Sometimes I rank things in ascending order. Sometimes I rank them in descending order. Sometimes I don't rank them at all. It just depends on what I feel like doing.
** I am not and have never been an Amazon affiliate. I include links purely in case you're interested in knowing more.
Twenty-four hours ago, I went to vote. I cried a little with joy as I voted for Hillary Clinton, then wiped away my tears and carefully voted on the many measures presented in California.
As I left my polling place, I thought back to November 4, 1984. I turned 18 that very day and got to cast a ballot for the first time. I was thrilled to vote for the first female vice-presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro. Of course, she and Mondale lost--hugely--to Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. But in the years that followed, I hoped that a door had been opened with Ferraro's nomination.
When Barack Obama won in 2008, my faith in newly opening doors was bolstered. Even though I'd supported Hillary in the primary (I also campaigned and voted for her when she ran for the senate in NY), Obama won me over with his integrity and vision. And then, I thought, it would be Hillary's turn. Surely it was time.
Our son, Christian, has been employed by Hillary's campaign since early this summer. He's worked 18-hour days seven days a week for months. He's had amazing experiences along the way, and has felt--rightly--that he's been a part of history.
Today is his last day of work. He's broken-heartedly packing up the temporary office he's been in charge of in Pennsylvania and heading back to Virginia. In a few days, he'll be with us for Thanksgiving, and it'll probably be the biggest family group therapy session ever. I am so proud of my boy, his strong ideals, and his tireless, cheerful work on behalf of our first female presidential candidate.
Last night felt Apocalyptic with a capital A to me. As a devout Christian/Mormon, I do believe in the Last Days foretold by Jesus and all the prophets before and since. They may well be upon us.
But until then, I feel called to rise up and be better. A couple of weeks ago, I read this piece by David Wong (warning: language), and realized I'd been smug and selfish, and that I needed to reach out to those to whom our president-elect has appealed so strongly. I feel chastened and humbled; I know I can be a more involved citizen and a better practitioner of my beliefs.
I believe in tolerance and love; I believe in peace and understanding.
I believe in taking care of the poor and the disenfranchised--in every part of this country and in the world.
I believe in working to eliminate injustice and inequality of all kinds.
I believe in careful, radical stewardship of our precious, irreplaceable environment.
I believe in action and dialogue and co-operation.
I believe in asking God--and working myself--to bless not one nation, but ALL nations, with freedom and prosperity.
Because I believe we are all children of God. Now, with this unlooked-for result, I'll be called upon to live those ideals even more fully.
Patrick often says we get the government we deserve, so I will now set about deserving better than what I got last night. Here's hoping we can find our way.
I have this great friend named Trevor. I haven't seen him in years, but he's one of those people who seems like a spiritual twin. Yesterday, he tagged me in an email conversation about favorite books. Here's what I wrote back to the group.
Trevor, I don't know that I've ever received a better compliment than being included in a group of "people whose lists [you] would almost kill to see."