A 2014 Reconnoiter

Dawned cold in Seattle this morning, which means it’s clear and gorgeous, mountains out. Hello, 2015, good to meetcha.

I’ve been out of school for ages now and am not a teacher, but fall still always feels like the real start of the year to me, calendar and tradition notwithstanding. This year in particular — I got a big new job and moved to Seattle in October, a brand-new start on all fronts. (I even have new hair! growing it out after something like 15 years of having it very short). And years are funny anyway, some have those moments you can specifically date, when someone close died, when someone had a wedding, when you got your puppy. Other years you remember but can’t date, that year we all had terrible coughs on Orcas Island and had to sleep sitting up in the beach chairs in the living room, which year was that? that year the family friends’ boys so entertainingly hog-tied their mother’s pugs with Christmas ribbons, which year was that? the year I finally broke down and started texting, which year was that? the year I read like all of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels back to back, which year was that? And now I’ve got my Portland years, nine of them, and fairly soon I won’t be able to remember which apartment I had while I had with which job, which year I started going to Stumptown for coffee every morning, which year my writing group started.

I’m frequently reminded how awesome it is to live in an era when you can get around to things later, and over again. I didn’t get around to starting to watch Justified until last year, and it started in 2010. My favorite new song discovery this year was “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine“, which came out in 1958. I did watch Fargo when it aired though, so 2014 is too for me the year Alison Tolman was brand new amazing. And then there are the larger cultural moments. Will we remember 2014 as Ferguson and Gamergate because something changed after them? Which things that we think have begun or ended something this year actually did?

Years are personal and arbitrary, I guess is what I’m getting at. What big shared cultural moments and intimate personal moments will boulder into anchoring importance or sift into sand you don’t get to know until later on. Pundits name years the Year Of, and mostly they’re determined in the not too distant future to be wrong. I just re-read my 2013 year-end wrap up and had forgotten most of the reading/watching listed as worthy of note as having anything to do with 2013 in particular. Though perhaps 2013 was just kind of a whatevs year.

But I love year-end lists anyway. Half mercurial notwithstanding, I love taking a mo to reconnoiter what happened to me when I saw what I saw and read what I read and listened to what I listened to.

Best Film: Snowpiercer. Because of all the excellent stories excellently told on film this year, it surprised me the most and kept me ‘in the moment’ the most. It felt like an experience to watch. Also, Chris Evans did such a good job of completely not being Captain America from the first few frames. I just saw The Imitation Game (excellent biopic; Cumberbatch so, so good, and he too is completely not Sherlock despite a few common character traits) but although he did a nice job, that guy from Downtown Abbey remained for the whole movie still that guy from Downton Abbey.

Most Damn-I-Wish-You-Were-Alive-So-We-Could-Be-Friends Poet: Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems. Actually the recordings of him reading his poems, particularly.

Best Poet I Hadn’t Read Before: Linda Bierds. I haven’t written about her on this blog yet, because she is a very, very fine poet whose work demands an equal level of intellectual attention and I haven’t had the time to delve in to her analytically at that level (c.f. moving and new job), but I will, and in the meantime, you should check her out.

Favorite films: Guardians of the Galaxy, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Edge of Tomorrow, Grand Budapest Hotel, American Hustle. It was a good year for big fun thrillers and high-end-production-design comedies.

Most interesting films: Life Itself (the Roger Ebert one), Finding Vivian Maier (the photographer one), Lunchbox (the Indian one), Locke (the Tom Hardy in a car on the phone one).

Most disappointing film: The Hobbit: Desolation of Tolkien. Ye gods. The excellent Martin Freeman being excellent in a total rubbish script. Peter Jackson, WTH happened to you?

Best Awful to Watch But So Well Done and Important and Worth It Film: 12 Years a Slave.

Worst film: Lucy. I will regret probably for the rest of my life not walking out on that one. Even though it did keep me out of my then-ant-filled apartment for a couple hours, life is too short for movies that pretentious and dumb.

Best Novel in Poems: Suzy Zeus Gets Organized by Maggie Robbins.

Best Essays: The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten.

Most Revelatory Book About A Poet I Thought I Had a Handle On: Anne Sexton’s Transformations. Thanks again to my friend Jeremy for bring that one to my attention.

Best I-Should-Have-Gotten-Around-To-These-Award-Winning-and-Deservedly-So Books Sooner: Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose and Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger.

Favorite New Album: American Middle Class, Angaleena Presley.

Favorite Compilation CDs: Country Soul Sisters (thanks, random Ballard library browsing!), and I Heard the Angels Singing, Nashboro Gospel (thanks, NPR First Listen for the first listen and thanks, Tom and Shannon for the Christmas present!)

That’s it! Happy New Year to you all.

2 thoughts on “A 2014 Reconnoiter

  1. Janelle Dahlsten says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Happy New Year! I just wanted to drop a line and let you know that I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog.

    Congratulations on the big new job and good luck in the new year!

    Janelle

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: