How about that December, huh? Mid-month, melancholy settled deep a few times. Part of that, I think, was the weather, part was the inexplicable creeping of depression, and part was dealing with the disappointments that come at the end of the year, looking back at the things that didn’t happen that I hoped would. That’s the thing about expectations: lean on them too heavily, and you might fall down and bruise yourself.
Then I remembered December 2012, a month that felt like the end of the world. It really was an apocalyptic month: I finished my doomsday column, ended a longtime relationship, fought the worst flea infestation in the history of civilization (thanks, formerly outdoor-indoor cat), and for the first time dealt with sleepless, weeping anxiety. The new year could only have gone up from there, right? And it did.
This isn’t really meant to be a wrap-up post, but I’ll mention that 2013 was a pretty okay year. Many a good thing did happen: I started this blog, joined one fine online writing community, wrote more words than I ever had before, visited and had good friends visit me, moved in with great roommates, started envisioning what I want from my 20s, unshackled, free.
So no, I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to, but 2013 laid a solid foundation for my next goals, prepared me to push into this holly jolly new year.
PLACES & STUFF
My roommates and I headed to the Roseland Theater one frigid evening at the beginning of the month to see The Head and the Heart. Also playing was Frank Turner, who is one of the most energetic performers I’ve seen, and The Wild Feathers, a Nashville boy band who my three companions adored (they did have nice harmonies and facial hair). I love H&H, but the thing we all agreed on after the concert was that Charity Rose Thielen needs to do her own album. Girl has pipes.
In coffee news, if you’re ever in Twin Falls, Idaho, you can head over to Twin Beans Coffee. It’s just expanded into a full cafe, in a cool downtown building that used to be Crowley’s Soda Shop. A family from my parents’ church is spearheading it, and it’s something little ol’ Twin could use more of: laid-back gathering places where you can study, converse, or just waste time. And they have a chalkboard wall at the bar-counter.
At the risk of letting the NSA know where I spend too much of my free time, I’m gonna give a shout-out to the three greater Willamette Valley coffee shops I basically live at:
– Symposium Coffee in Sherwood is funky, set in an old house, open late. It’s in the town’s small historic district by a residential area convenient for stretching your legs if you tend to sit for three hours reading too many articles and writing too few words. For suburbanites, Symposium has the feel of a Portland cafe without having to drive into the city.
– Singer Hill Cafe is the only Oregon City coffee shop I’ve been to, but it’s so cool that I feel no need to look elsewhere. They have delicious food, strangely diverse seating, an old town location, a play area for kids, and a wall of plants. I wrote most of my NaNoWriMo project here.
– Salem has an embarrassment of hometowny hipster locales — The Beanery, Broadway, and Ike Box among them — but The Governor’s Cup, just a block from the Capitol, has my heart. I order the same thing — a white mocha — at every place I go and they largely taste the same, but the Gov Cup ambiance and diverse demographic is my favorite, not to mention their live music on weekends and a solid wi-fi connection.
For Christmas, my brother got my mom a game called Incan Gold. We enjoyed it. Easy to learn, pretty simple but still fun to strategize. We also broke out the old Clue: The Great Museum Caper, which was one of my favorites as a kid. It’s the one Clue version I know of that deals in burglary rather than murder.
MOVIES & TV
The Omega Man. I’ve been meaning to see this for years. It’s Hollywood’s second attempt to adapt I Am Legend, and it’s by far the …. well, kitschiest. I don’t even know what’s happening in this film, but it’s fantastic.
The unspecified undead (neither garlic-averse vampires nor grunting, stumbling zombies) are a philosophical, anti-automobile, anti-nuclear, anti-human pyromaniacal cult called The Family. Kids, these are not your grandpa’s undead. These spooks shoot guns. They coordinate their outfits (cloaks and sunglasses, natch). They rappel up buildings. They organize courtrooms and hunting expeditions. They burn books and other cultural paraphernalia. And they have a penchant for poetic monologues and maniacal laughter!
And our heroes? Man, they have groovy style. Unlike the gritty suburban minimalism of, say, The Walking Dead, where everyone’s wearing mud-covered tank tops they scavenged from Shopko, Robert Neville and the gang don the finest 70s disco couture. It’s like live-action Scooby Doo, with Charlton Heston as Shaggy. Omega Man: Come for the undead, stay for the costumes.
Scandal. My best/worst awful meanie jerkface friend told me to watch this, and I was like, “Psssh, will I even really even like this even” and then three days later I’d finished the first season. I’m almost through the second now, and honestly, each episode I’m terrified it’s going to overstep itself. It can’t get this complex, swimming so close to so many fins, and not jump the shark. It just can’t. But these characters? So good. My faves are probably Huck and Mellie. And Abby. And everyone.
BOOKS & ARTICLES
The Martian Chronicles. Holy Bradbury. I cannot over-recommend this series of short stories about the colonization of Mars. Written in 1950, when we had seen some grainy images of Earth from space but not yet witnessed the iconic Blue Marble, the stories, though set on a foreign planet, retain a sense of being trapped in an atmosphere, of being in a distinct place where you settle in and get stuck with your vices and myopia and hopes, and you look out at space and all those other planets — including Earth, in this case — are just unreachable bright dots in the darkness.
Today, we have walked the moon with Apollo and traveled the universe with Hubble; Mars One, over-ambitious though it may be, is planning a Martian colony where your family back home will be only a seven-minute delay away. I don’t know if we now can be as incisive, as intimate, in our science fiction as Bradbury was then. Space is too near, at once glamorized and sterilized. The Martian Chronicles is phenomenal storytelling, unsettling in its appraisal of human nature and rich in its critique of the cosmic gospel.
Of Homeschooling and Cohort Effect at on Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings (via Love Joy Feminism) This post articulates well what it can be like growing up in a subculture. “No matter what part of the country we are from or how old we are, we experience a cohort effect that other people in our age group do not.” It’s part of why we have unique nostalgia. One thing this post mentioned that I hadn’t thought much about before was how differently we experienced historical events, like Princess Diana’s death, that one might assume everyone our age experienced similarly.
It Is Written on Truth Be Told. My friend Bethany is hosting this series on the words we whisper against our skin as reminders. Great truth-telling from several writers. I particularly resonated with those by Aaron, Rachel, and Natalie.
What I’m Into is a sychroblog by Leigh Kramer. You can read more or add your own at her place.