Category Archives: best-of

I’m terrible at music: Top Twenty Songs of 2013 (Part Two)

Well, since you’re back today from yesterday’s musical debacle, that means I haven’t killed you with my musical choices. Not YET, anyway. We’ve still got ten more to go. You never know what might happen. You might want to have emergency vehicles present. I don’t want to be held responsible for your downfall, yo.

So here are my top ten songs of 2013, this weird, wild, and wacky year. I’m equally sad and glad to see this year go; it’s had some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my entire life. Oh, 2013, I should have known, you with your built-in triskaidekaphobia.

10. “Patient Love” – Passenger (All the Little Lights, 2012)

Three words on the tip of my tongue/Not to be spoke nor sung/Or whispered to anyone/Till I scream ’em at the top of my lungs again

I just discovered Passenger this year. I love this guy’s voice and his accent and how he sounds kind of far-away and dreamy and I love that you can hear the longing in his voice. This is a beautiful song. Can’t you just see this guy singing this song? Kind of down on his luck and waiting for someone and everyone’s saying she won’t come back, but he’s still waiting, and he’ll keep waiting?

9. “The Moorings” – Andrew Duhon (The Moorings, 2013)

Oh my darling my dear I have reason to fear/That you know not the man you’re adoring

This sounds like a folk song, and I think that’s what drew me in, and then I listened to the lyrics and I fell crazy in love and I play it very loud in my car and sing and sing. I like to imagine this song being sung as someone sails away from someone as he goes off to make his fortune even though he isn’t sure it’s the right move. Isn’t it so old-timey and beautiful? I love that it’s acoustic, too. I’m a total sucker for acoustic music.

8. “Applause” – Lady Gaga (ARTPOP, 2013)

I’ve overheard your theory/Nostalgia’s for geeks/I guess sir, if you say so/Some of us just like to read

I absolutely cannot hear this song without dancing around. I’m listening it to it right now and keep having to stop blogging so I can couch-vogue. I’m not even kidding. Lady Gaga makes me ALL KINDS OF DANCEY. She is just the best. SO DANCEY! This is an awesome song. (SIDENOTE: Dad hates her and said Obama created her to distract “us dirty libruls” from what he’s doing to the economy. TRUE STORY!)

7. “Let Her Go” – Passenger (All the Little Lights, 2012)

Only know you love her when you let her go/And you let her go

OMG, this SONG. The pause at the end of this song before you find out he really, really did let her go, how his voice kind of trails off on that line, and that’s why he’s singing this, and that’s why he’s feeling all these feelings, why he’s so lost; he made the wrong choice. He’s mired in regret. He didn’t realize what his choice would do to him, and now he does…but it’s too late. I get very misty-eyed when I listen to this song. Every damn time.

6. “Paranoia in B Flat Major” – The Avett Brothers (Live, Volume 3, 2010)

With paranoia on my heels; will you love me still/when we awake and see that the sanity has gone from my eyes?

I think I discovered The Avett Brothers last year, but this year CONTINUED my adventures in listening to all their lovely music. This song makes me both happy and wistful, which is an excellent combination for me. Their voices are so joyful, aren’t they? I can’t listen to these guys without smiling. I share them with everyone I know. I want everyone to love them as much as I do. (One of the worst books I read this year started every chapter with an Avett Brothers song quote. I was so mad they put one of my favorite bands into such a craptastic book.)

5. “Live and Die” – The Avett Brothers (The Carpenter, 2012)

You and I we’re the same/Live and die we’re the same/Hear my voice know my name/You and I we’re the same

And I like THIS Avett Brothers song even MORE. Seriously, listen to this one, you guys. It is SO HAPPY. And there’s a cheerful banjo, and it makes you want to dance around, and it’s romantic, and I so want to see these guys in concert someday. Come to Albany, Avett Brothers, I will sit down front and smile so big that you’ll feel so welcomed!

4. “Last Night on Earth” – American Idiot (American Idiot: The Original Broadway Cast Recording, 2010)

My beating heart belongs to you/I walked for miles ’til I found you

Best song of the best musical I saw all year. I WEPT when I heard this song performed onstage for the first time. It is gorgeous. If you’ve heard the Green Day version, do yourself a favor and listen to this version; the addition of the female voice…oh, my. I can’t even describe. Haunting. Heartbreaking and haunting and so, so beautiful.

3. “Just Give Me a Reason” – Pink featuring Nate Ruess (The Truth About Love, 2012)

We’re not broken just bent/And we can learn to love again

I think I might have listened to this more than almost anything this year. This came on the radio earlier in the year and I was all HOLY HELL I LOVE THIS and over and over and OVER, I listened. I’m telling you guys, I love Pink. This is a gorgeous duet, and it, again, really hits home – the divide in a relationship, when one person knows there’s a problem, and the other person denies it. Are they lying? Should you believe them? Do you dare put your heart out there for them to potentially hurt again? Do you NOT dare?

2. “Bulletproof Weeks” – Matt Nathanson (Some Mad Hope, 2007)

Talking to what’s left of you/And watching what I say

This is just about the saddest song ever. If you can listen to this and not think back to a relationship that imploded, I think your heart might be dead. I can see the man singing this; I can see him remembering the time that things were perfect…until they just weren’t, and no one could predict them going wrong, they just went wrong, because sometimes things do that. You can’t predict it. You can, however, mourn it, and look back, and wonder what you could have done. When I discovered this song I listened to it on my phone in my bed over and over and just cried and cried. I love this so much.

1. “Monster” – Meg Myers (Daughter in the Choir, 2012)

what have I become?/I’m a fucking monster/when all I wanted was something beautiful/my love too much/your love not enough

I know. This is the weirdest choice for a #1 song of the year EVER. But I am OBSESSED with it. It is SO DARK and SO MOODY and I love her voice and she’s so powerful and so pained and I seriously sing this so angrily and so passionately when this one comes on in the car. And then I start it over. And I do it all over again. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Alright, bloggonians. Did I kill you? Are you dead dead dead? Listen, a lot of you have been here for a while, you know I have the musical taste of someone raised by wolves; none of this can surprise you much. But I hope you liked some of them, at least, and I hope you had a good year of music on your ends, as well. *smooch*

I’m terrible at music: Top Twenty Songs of 2013 (Part One)

For the past three years, I’ve done a year-end best-of music post. I always do it wrong, and my taste in music is TERRIBLE. Just a warning.

Ways I do this wrong:

  • As stated: bad taste in music. It’s going to probably make you cringe.
  • Probably very few, if any, of these songs actually came out in 2013. All that matters is that I first HEARD them in 2013. I’m very behind on what’s good and/or what I enjoy.
  • I usually do thirty songs. This year I only came up with twenty. I don’t know why, either. Slow year for music in Amyland? You’re probably going to be thankful when I’m done, because, as mentioned…TERRIBLE TASTE IN MUSIC.

So we’re breaking this up over two days…20-11 today, 10-1 tomorrow. I’m putting in videos whenever possible so if you’re so inclined, you can listen. Maybe someone reading will LIKE my terrible taste in music! As they always say, there’s no accounting for taste.

As for where I find the music I get obsessed with, it’s a little of this and a little of that. Pandora, background of television shows I’m watching, the radio, people recommending it to me, musicals, Facebook or Twitter telling me “ZOMG THIS IS AWESOME,” things like that. Where do most people get their new music, I wonder?

So, here we go. Hopefully you won’t hate these as much as I worry you will. These songs have made me happy since I heard them and I’ve since purchased them from iTunes and listen to them over and over at work and my coworkers are all “you are bopping at your desk” and I’m like “yep.”

20. “The Bed Song” – Amanda Palmer (Theatre is Evil, 2013)

You say I would have told you if you’d only asked me

This song is not only beautiful, it’s intelligent and heartbreaking. The end of this song killed me, the first time I heard it. It’s really relevant, isn’t it? To a lot of situations, I mean. I admire Amanda Palmer. I know a lot of people were angry with her this year, but I think she’s kind of awesome; she believes so fiercely in her art, and in love, and in creation. So she sometimes makes mistakes. Has no one ever made a mistake? She owns up to them, you know? And I’m not as judgmental about the alleged mistakes, to be honest. I think a lot of people hate on her because she dared marry Neil Gaiman, and he is our geek god. You know what? Good for them. I’m all for love. More of it, I say.

19. “Without You” – Ingrid Michaelson (Without You, 2013)

My life will go; my love will grow/without you

Ingrid Michaelson gets me. When I need something sad and moody but with a tinge of hope, I turn to Ingrid Michaelson. I love this song. It’s got loss, but also the potential of moving on, all with her beautiful, sweet, bubbly voice. I’ve listened to this so many times since downloading it.

18. “Beautifully” – Jay Brannan (Rob Me Blind, 2012)

It’s not that you’re not beautiful, you’re just not beautiful to me/she said, how beautiful do I have to be?

This is a really sappy song? And I’m aware of that? But it speaks to me. I’ve been the “yeah, you’re great, BUT” girl. Like, more times than I want to discuss at the moment, thanks. So sometimes I need a really sappy song to talk to me about that, that tells me that someone else understands that. Shush, no judging. (Also, this guy’s voice is really pretty. I like it a lot.)

17. “Lovely Tonight” – Joshua Radin (Wax Wings, 2013)

I see the rest of my life with you

Joshua Radin is my romantic-song go-to guy. His VOICE! Sigh. He gives me those good chills, you know? Those really good chills? I could listen to him all day. This song is (again) a little sappy…but I adore it. Listen, I like sappy. I like sad songs more than anything. Sad, moody songs are my thing. I’m not even going to apologize.

16. “True Love” – Pink, featuring Lily Allen (The Truth About Love, 2012)

At the same time, I wanna hug you/I wanna wrap my hands around your neck

This song made me smile every time it came on all year. It’s true, right? You can love someone right to pieces, but sometimes, just sometimes, you totally want to murderize them because they can be so damn CLUELESS about THINGS. And sometimes you know that’s why it’s the person you love, you know? Because who else could get to you like that? Someone that doesn’t matter wouldn’t bother you, that way-down-deep-under-your-skin way. (Also, I adore Pink. She is just about my favorite.)

15. “Say Something” – A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera (Is Anybody Out There?, 2014)

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you/Anywhere, I would’ve followed you

Apparently everyone loves this because it was on The Voice or something but I love it because A., it’s so damn moody and pretty and heartbreaking, and B., I heard it driving home one rainy, foggy night and it was perfect for my mood and it stuck in my brain and wouldn’t leave so I downloaded it and listened to it over and over when I got home. I love a good moody driving-in-the-rain song. Back in the day, I used to make driving-in-the-rain mixtapes. Over and over and over. I couldn’t have enough of them.

14. “Cups” – Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2013)

It’s got mountains, it’s got rivers/It’s got sights to give you shivers/But it sure would be prettier with you

This song makes me happy. Anna Kendrick has a surprisingly pretty voice; I loved the movie it featured in; the song itself is just so damn great. Both romantic and fun and perky. This song makes me sing and chair-dance when it comes on, every time, and I know I’ve listened to it like a hundred times since it came out.

13. “Hold Me” – HAIM (Just Tell Me That You Want Me, 2012)

I’ll be waiting for you/If you ever want to be there

Good grief, people, why didn’t you tell me how pretty the voices on these sisters were? SO PRETTY. Their harmonies make me SWOON. I love this cover. I’m a complete and total sucker for covers and this one is AMAZING. The way their voices just twist around each other…oh, my. Love, love, love.

12. “Samson” – Regina Spektor (Songs, 2002)

You are my sweetest downfall/I loved you first, I loved you first

I love this. I love Regina Spektor, but I love this reimagining of the Samson and Delilah mythos; well, it’s not so much reimagining, I suppose, but a prequel; someone loved Samson before he was Samson. Of course someone did. Someone always does, don’t they? This is a wonderful story of a song, and it’s also heartbreaking; it’s from the girl that history left behind.

11. “Paperweight” – Joshua Radin & Schuyler Fisk (Dear John Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2010)

I give up/I let you win/You win ’cause I’m not counting

No, I haven’t seen the movie. It has Channing Tatum in it. He makes me nervous. Also, it’s one of those Nicholas Sparks things…I am not at all a Nicholas Sparks fan. But this song is majorly pretty. I love the feeling of just falling in love it has in it, when everything seems magical, you know? And you know my Joshua Radin love. Sigh, Joshua Radin.

OK, folks, there’s your first ten. How painful were those. Bad? Not too bad? Ten more tomorrow. My very very VERY favorite songs of the year, if you’re still around, that is!

Why am I on this desert island and where did this CD player come from?

Well, in a surprising twist, opening night was cancelled tonight (well, your last night, I suppose, but my tonight, as I am currently sitting here on the couch watching all the shows I missed this week – fine, Glee, I AM WATCHING GLEE, stop judging) so I ended up with an unexpected day off. Which means YOU end up with an unexpected blog post. Win-win? Perhaps. Let’s see how this shit turns out.

So last week (earlier this week? Ugh, my timeline is all off, sorry, not getting enough sleep will totally mess with your already-effed-up internal clock, you guys, no joke) my wonderful sj blogged about her Desert Island Discs. Well, she didn’t call them that, *I* called them that. Because that’s what they call them in one of my favorite plays I saw last year, The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard. Apparently, there is a radio show called Desert Island Discs on BBC where famous people come on and tell the audience what their top 8 albums would be, were they to be stranded on a desert island. This show has been running since 1942. Do you find that as amazing as I do? Good grief, that’s a long time. I assume it would be classy, since it’s the BBC. The BBC does CLASSY shit. If it was NBC, it would be like the cast of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or some such nonsense.

sj only allows FIVE albums. She is totally strict, yo.

So since she posted this post, I have been mulling. Mull, mull, mull.

Here’s the thing. I don’t listen to albums. Because I am a music cretin. I listen to SONGS from albums (well, obviously, where else do songs come from) but whole albums? Nah. Not in this instant-gratification-digital-age. I like a song, I download that song. I don’t listen to the whole album. See, entire albums always have at least one or two songs that I don’t like. And then I have to skip past those songs. And that means it would have been cheaper to just download the songs I LIKED, rather than buy the whole album, you know? I know. I suck, musically. I really do. I’ve accepted it.

HOWEVER! I soldiered on. Soldier-like. Soldiery. And came up with my five desert-island discs, were I stranded on a desert island. Where I would immediately probably die, because a., I need daily medication to, well, survive, and wouldn’t I not have it on that island? and b., I would frizzle up and die because I’m about as pale as the underbelly of a fish and I can’t imagine I would have all the sunscreen on that island, come on. Also, how am I playing these CDs on this island? And if I have a way to play these CDs, why can’t I have my phone and play all the music I have there? I mean, I’d have to have power to play those CDs. Can’t I use that for my phone? I don’t need my 3G to play my music.

Where is the POWER coming from? Are we creating it from coconuts or something?

Where is the POWER coming from? Are we creating it from coconuts or something?

FINE I WILL PLAY THIS GAME CORRECTLY. These are five albums that I like all the music on and could listen to without wanting to stab…well, whoever’s on the island. The seagulls. Or crabs. Or…um…I don’t know, what animals are on my desert island with me, sj? Is that part of this game? Shit, is this island like that Stephen King island from that story where that guy had to eat his own fingers and said “lady fingers lady fingers they taste just like lady fingers?” Ugh, that gave me nightmares for like a MONTH.

My Five Desert Island Discs (in no particular order)

Flood – They Might Be Giants

I can listen to this whole album over and over and never get sick of it; it’s one of my go-to road-trip albums. This has been the case since…let’s see, I got it in…crap, 1992, I guess. So that’s 21 years. And I’m still not sick of it. So it’s an easy choice.

Favorite songs: “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”, “We Want a Rock”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band – The Beatles

This was a tough one. I was GOING to go with The White Album. I even told sj I was going to go with it. Because, well, why wouldn’t you? It’s the longest of them. You’d get the most bang for your buck, as it were. But as much as I love some of the songs on it, there are some songs I do NOT love as much, because that’s the album where they got all experimental and weird and then Charlie Manson was all “this inspired me to have people stab people, yo.” So it almost made the cut, but then I went with Sgt. Pepper’s.

Because honestly, if I’m going to be on a desert island forever (am I going to be on a desert island forever, sj? Is that how this works? Good grief, do I have any books or anything? I’m really freaking out about this) I don’t want to go the rest of my life without ever hearing this album again. Wait, seriously, how did I even GET on this island? Was I on a boat? I hate boats, this is ridiculous, how did someone even GET me on a boat? Was it a cruise ship that sank or something? Do I even have Fed Ex packages like Tom Hanks did to play with? DO I EVEN GET A WILSON?!?!?!

Favorite songs: Kind of all of them? FINE. “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m 64”

The Assassins Original Cast Recording (the 1991 one, not the one with NPH. Sorry, NPH!)

I know every single song on this album. I can sing them WITHOUT the album, actually. So maybe it’s a waste to bring it to my desert island. Will I have chocolate on my desert island, sj? I don’t know that I want to live somewhere that there’s no chocolate, sj. OMG, sj, WILL THERE BE PUDDING EVER AGAIN? I’m kind of all a bundle of nerves about this, I’m not going to lie.

Anyway, if I had this album, I could play it, and them also probably put on the musical with the various animals and palm trees and such on my island in case I started missing theater. So that wouldn’t be me losing my mind on the desert island or anything, now would it?

Favorite songs: “Unworthy of Your Love,” “The Ballad of Guiteau,” “November 22, 1963”

Running from a Gamble – Company of Thieves

This one’s a fairly new album, so I’m going out on a bit of limb. But I love it, and I’ve listened to it over and over since I got it…um…last year, I guess?…and I’m not even close to sick of it. I love this band. To total distraction. They are just amazing. So, maybe I’m jumping the gun, since this one’s not a tried-and-true love…but I’m going with it.

Favorite songs: “Nothing’s in the Flowers,” “Death of Communication,” “Tallulah,” “Won’t Go Quietly”

More Adventurous – Rilo Kiley

sj and I love Rilo Kiley. Love love love. So we totally have been discussing this. I chose this album, even though I am the most heartbroken that, in choosing this, I will never again, as I am STRANDED on a desert ISLAND, why aren’t you people even LOOKING for me, have you FORGOTTEN me? Already? Good GRACIOUS but you have short memories!, get to hear “A Better Son/Daughter” again, which is probably my favorite Rilo Kiley song. HOWEVER, this album has MORE good Rilo Kiley songs on it, so I had to go with this. This is why this game is super-hard, because you have to choose ALBUMS, not SONGS.

Favorite Songs: “Does He Love You?”, “Portions for Foxes,” “The Absence of God,” “More Adventurous,” “A Man/Me/Then Jim”

And just because apparently I am being SENT to DIE on an ISLAND, here’s my favorite Rilo Kiley song which I will never get to hear again, sniff:

There you go, people of the interwebs. The five albums I would take on a desert island. How badly did I embarrass myself right now? sj, how’d I do?

sj told us all what her favorite song of all time was on her post. So I was thinking about that. I don’t know that I have one. I fluctuate. If you looked at the songs I listen to most, it’d read like a schizophrenic’s playlist, seriously. I just don’t know. I can’t pick a favorite song. I can pick a favorite book, but not a favorite song. I have too many favorites. Here’s probably the one I’ve been listening to the most over the past couple of months? And sometimes I have to turn it off at work because it makes me weep? It’s the part near the end with the tears in her voice that does it. And the lyrics that hit really close to home. But I don’t know that it’s my favorite. It’s just wonderful, is all. And it’s wonderful because it’s true.

Tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever I blog again, we’re going to talk about ANOTHER music thing. I know, it’s like a little theme I have going on. I would talk about it today but it’s late and I’m tired and it’s snowing like a son of a bitch, were a son of a bitch to snow, and I have to get to bed so I can get up super-early and drive in terrible conditions on roads that have not been plowed. Yay…? Also tomorrow is opening night. However, the roads will have been plowed by then. I hope. Gulp. Happy weekend, people of the internets. Stay warm and dry and not snow-covered and such.

Last year’s words belong to last year’s language

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

New Year’s Eve always makes me all reflective. Like those strips on your running shoes so cars don’t hit you in the dark.

Super-reflective and artsy as shit.

Super-reflective and artsy as shit.

Tomorrow is for looking forward; today is for looking back.

2012. What can we say about 2012?

2012 was a roller coaster of a year. And listen, it is a fact about old Lucy’s Football that she HATES roller coasters. They make your stomach hurt, they bounce your head all around, they dig your earrings into your neck and they make you dizzy. I’d rather walk through the animal barn at the fair or something, that’s less distressing and sometimes you get to pet some sheep with their warm fleecy wool and soft noses.

Aw, sheepers! *pet*

Aw, sheepers! *pet*

There were good things this year and there were bad things this year and I’m still not sure if I consider it a win or a loss, to be honest. I’d like to say it’s a wash, but I don’t know if that’s the case, even.

But let’s not make this TOO depressing right out of the gate, right? I mean, do you come here for total depressing navel-gazing? What’s that? Sometimes you do? FINE, never let it be said I don’t deliver.

Let’s go through the highs and lows of 2012, yeah? It’s the day for it if there ever was a day. Tomorrow we can optimistically opine about 2013 but today we can look back on the year that was.

Fired. There is really nothing like being called into a conference room with your boss and the HR rep and to be told you are not only being fired, you need to be out immediately. And then being escorted to the door because you’ve possibly become a scary liability who might cause some sort of scene. In this economy, it is one of the most frightening things ever. Especially when you totally kind of brought it upon yourself because the reason you were fired was ostensibly for too much internet usage and also blogging at work even though you kind of weren’t REALLY blogging at work, only writing the drafts there and setting them to publish during work hours once you got home at night, and the only reason you were using the internet at work at all was because there was very seldom enough for you to do and the days stretched out looooong in front of you.

However, when you hated the job – and I mean hated, hated, HATED, to the point you had to pep-talk yourself into going in every morning and not sit in the car weeping, you kind of think, huh, maybe this isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened, on some level. Then the unemployment stretches for about four and a half months, and you spend a month of it sitting on the couch so depressed you can’t take a full breath or move and all you want to do is sleep, and the remaining three and a half months working 50-60 hours weeks just to pay the bills…well, you get tired. July to December was a very long stretch, and a good third of my year. It’s hard to look back on 2012 without thinking of it as the year I lost a third of it to working too hard and being technically unemployed and worrying. Constantly. From the minute I woke up to the minute I fell asleep.

It’s not all bad, though. If I hadn’t had that part-time job that became full-time when I needed it to, I would have been living in my car, or back home with my parents. I was lucky to have it. It saved my life and sanity.

Hired (x2). But for every bad, there’s a good. Finally, after months and months of worry and work and toil and trouble, I was lucky enough to find not only a full-time job, but a wonderful full-time job, with people I love, doing something I enjoy, at a location I really like, getting paid enough money to not only live on, but live on comfortably. I pinch myself daily. I’ll never think I deserve nice things, and when they happen, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. I still wait. I have one ear out for that other shoe at all times. I feel like it’s going to be a very loud, very clunky platform sandal of some sort.

Or a big ol' loafer.

Or a big ol’ loafer.

Not only did the amazing job come through (thanks to theater friends) but ANOTHER job came through thanks to theater friends and I now can say I write for the paper. And I get to see plays for free, and review them, and people can read what I’ve written, and how much that actually influences people, I don’t know, but it’s what I do that I love more than anything else. When you have a job that doesn’t at all seem like work…well, you might be the luckiest person alive. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? It’s what I always dreamed of for myself, a job that I loved, that I’d do even if they didn’t pay me. And I have one now, even if it’s very much part-time.

Friends. Any recap of 2012 would not be complete without mentioning the friends that have walked through it by my side. I’ve made friends this year (one of whom is, I’m quite sure, my sister separated at birth – sj, my love, what would I do without you? I can’t even imagine) and become closer than I ever thought possible to others (Andreas, my beloved Science Fellow from the land of the Finns, you are a blessing I will never stop being thankful for), both near and far. I know some of the best people in the world, both that I’ve met with my face and that I’ve yet to meet but talk to on a daily basis. I’ll never stop being grateful for this; I’ll never stop being a little tearful when I think of how lucky I am.

I have also lost friends this year. It’s the way of the world, I think. Life’s constantly changing; things happen, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the…well, not-better. People change. You change. Whether you want this to happen or not. Sometimes you can fight this; sometimes you can win. Sometimes it’s beyond your control and you lose, or you’re just so tired of fighting the inevitable you just give up. Sometimes the loss is a good thing. Sometimes the loss leaves you unable to breathe and with a heart so filled with sorrow and regret and memories that sneak-attack you when you least expect it that you don’t know how you’re going to pick yourself up from it because you never imagined a life without that person in it. But you do, of course. Pick yourself up from it. Of course you do. Life goes on. It’s what life does, right? No matter how shattered you are inside, life just keeps on truckin’. And every day things hurt a little less, until the most hurtful thing that’s left is how something that once mattered so much is now no more than a distant ghostly memory.

Sometimes being an adult is all eating chocolate for dinner and staying up past your bedtime and sometimes it’s the deepest sadness you can imagine. We don’t tell our children this when they’re little. Otherwise they wouldn’t want to grow up, now would they?

Book. For all of the other things it was, 2012 was the year I finally had a book I’d written published. It is possibly my proudest moment of not only the year, but of my entire life. Holding a book in my hands I’d written…hearing from people who’d read it, talking to them about words I’d written and labored over and worried about and lived…seeing reviews of it go up, seeing it hit number one in the Kindle store, even if for a very brief period of time…absolutely amazing. All of it. I’ll never get over that as long as I live. Thank you to all of you who bought it and told people about it and geeked out with me about it. You helped make a dream come true. Someday maybe I’ll do it again, who knows? Life’s a funny place, really. You never can tell what will happen.

That’s one big apple. It wasn’t a year of much bon vivantery, but the teeny amount I got to do was awesomeness. I got to go to my favorite city in the world and meet one of my favorite PEOPLE in the world, my wonderful Susie. And we had a day of adventure and walking and talking and shopping and eating and so many things. Say what you will about the interwebs, but if you do it correctly, you can meet the best people the world has to offer. My Susie is one of those people, and meeting her in person just proved that. Love you, Susie!

Blog. What would a year-in-review be without talking about what takes up a majority of my free time, this here thingamabobber? The day in 2011 when I decided, “what the hell, let’s start a blog, Ms. Amy, what have we got to lose, really?” will live in infamy as the day a very silly off-the-cuff decision led to rewards beyond imagining. Without the blog, where would all these words in my head go? Without the blog, how would I have met all you wonderful people? Without the blog, how would I be this person I am now? The answer to all of those questions is a big old, “I don’t know.” A lot can live in an “I don’t know.” A lot of emptiness and sadness. I love it here. I love what we’ve all built. I love every bit of this. Thank you all for being part of this. Without you, it’d be a lot less fun, now wouldn’t it?

Half an hour trumps three and a half hours. As of two days ago, The Nephew and his mom have officially moved half an hour away. Half an hour is much better than three and a half hours, visiting-my-favorite-person-in-the-world-wise. I’ll be polite. I’ll give them some time to settle. Then I’m going to show up like the magi bearing gifts and I’m going to read him books and play with him on the floor and giggle with him and tell him stories and big words that thrill him and I will be happier than all the things in all the land.

So if we weigh the good and the bad…well, I guess the year was a wash, all-told. But not the awesome kind of Wash like on Firefly.

More than ready for my 2013. Big plans for you, year. BIG OLD PLANS. Starting with a whole day off tomorrow in which I will do whatever the hell I want.

Hope you all had the best 2012s known to man, and that your 2013s are amazing wonderful sparkly affairs full of wonder, mystery and magic. It’s all I want for you, really. It’s not too much to ask, right? Right.

The most important thing is that people read…

“[D]on’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read… ” — Neil Gaiman

Now, it wouldn’t be the end of the year without an end-of-the-year best-books post, would it?

Here’s the problem, though.

I was totally broken this year and read NO BOOKS.

Well, I read SOME books. But I used to read hundreds of books a year. I’m not even exaggerating. I just counted, and this year I read – ready? it’s totally embarrassing – 53.

Fifty-three books. This is utterly shameful.

Here’s the problem. The stretch of unemployment (or, I guess you could call it, overemployment, as I was working a LOT) kind of made it so I had a choice: read or blog. Or, I suppose, read and blog and don’t sleep. But sleeping isn’t really something that’s on the table and able to be cut, you see. And that was a big chunk of my year. (4.5 months! That’s over a third of the year!) Since I started working at my new job, I’ve had a little more time (not a lot, but a little) and have actually read a few books (well, plays, but that’s what I have to read right now – I’ve mentioned, I think, we’re in the middle of play selection at the theater so I have to read a billion plays so we can decide what we’re doing next season…but I have high hopes that once that’s over, I can read REAL BOOKS again) since. So I have high hopes for 2013 and upping my number from – UGH – 53. FIFTY-THREE. What am I, in KINDERGARTEN? This is EMBARRASSING.

Also, my most abject apologies to my beloved Susie, because this lack of reading means I can’t write reviews for Insatiable Booksluts, and oh, I want to. So badly. I feel terrible that I haven’t been able to. Because it’s something I love doing. Writing for IB is one of my proudest achievements, and I’m not able to do it right now. So, yeah, that’s kind of killing me.

But! Like an intrepid soldier! I went through my meager list of books and picked out the top ten books I read this year, because I’ve done this every year since I moved here, and I didn’t feel like I could stop now, even though I embarrassed myself with the number of books I read this year. 2013! I WILL CONQUER YOU BOOK-WISE!

So here are my top ten books of the year – again, much like the music post, these books weren’t necessarily published in 2012, but I read them this year, so they make this year’s list. Amazon links included for those of you who like such things, of course, and in case you end up with a bunch of giftcards for Christmas and are wondering, hmm, what should I BUY with these, I wonder?

10. Us – Michael Kimball (my review of this one at Insatiable Booksluts here)

I like books that make me cry. I like all things that make me cry, let’s be honest. Television shows, movies, music, books. This made me cry. It’s a teeny little book about love and the fragility of life and how well we know the ones we love and it just tore me apart. It was so beautifully written. Just an absolute gem of a book.

9. Deathless – Catherynne M. Valente

This is a gorgeous retelling of Russian folklore. I’m a sucker for anything fairy-tale related, and this one doubly won, because I wasn’t aware of the fairy tale it was based on (the Russian tale of Koschei the Deathless) so it was all new to me. And it was beautifully written – it had a very modern-fairy-tale feel, with just enough mystery and magic and romance to make my heart swell. I loved it so much. (sj, if you haven’t read this one, I think you might like it – I know we both have a love for all things fairy-tale related.)

8. Zazen – Vanessa Veselka (Susie and I discuss the book at Insatiable Booksluts here)

This is a dark, poetic, powerful book. It’s an alternate reality, but not so far from our own, in which bombs drop all the time and it’s just the way things are; people live in constant fear, talking about leaving, going somewhere that’s safe – but where’s safe, really? The narrator is lost, but trying her hardest (oh, how I relate to that) and the writing is just gorgeous. This is the author’s first book – and if a book like this is your first book, whoa. Good for you, you know? Think of what you can do from here. The mind utterly boggles.

7. Wildwood – Colin Meloy

I’m fairly sure this is for children. I don’t even care. It made me happy. Prue’s younger brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows and brought into the Impassible Wilderness just outside of Portland, Oregon and she has to go rescue him with the help of her friend Curtis and some totally kickass talking animals (oh, you know I love talking animals.) It’s also written by the lead singer of the Decemberists, which kind of makes me smile, because you can sing AND you can write? Well, you might just be the perfect guy, I don’t know. (I like The Decemberists. I don’t LOVE The Decemberists, but I like them very much. I appreciate what they’re doing. I’m just waiting for that one perfect song from them, I guess. In the meantime, I like what I’ve heard.) Plus the illustrations are GORGEOUS.

6. Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion

Yes, yes, again, I think this is for the kiddos. Well, the kiddos of the young-adult variety, anyway. Don’t care, loved it. It’s zombie fiction and it’s a love story and it’s WONDERFUL. The zombie apocalypse has hit, and we’re seeing it from the zombies’ point of view – or one zombie, really. And that zombie falls in love with a human girl. And that love starts to change him, somehow. And it’s not at all cheesy or stupid or childish. It’s funny and dark and twisted and intelligent and it made me both laugh and cry and I was so happy I gave it a chance. Also, the trailer for the movie actually looks pretty decent. A little campy, but good. And it has John Malkovich in it! Come on, you know I love that. WHO DOESN’T LOVE THAT!?!?!?!

5. Americas – Jason Lee Norman (review at Insatiable Booksluts here)

I’ve been randomly thinking of this book on and off all year. It’s just that good. It’s lyrical and poetic and beautiful and it will make you laugh with the discovery of new and magical things and it will make you cry with the realism and heartache and sorrow. I can’t recommend this enough. Just a perfect little book. I can’t wait to see what Norman comes up with next; I predict great things.

4. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (review at Insatiable Booksluts here)

This book made me laugh probably harder than anything I read this year. Also, it hit me out of nowhere with sneak-attack tears, but mostly all the laughter. You all know Jenny Lawson as The Bloggess, and I’m sure most (if not all) of you read this book this year – it made a LOT of best-of lists this year, and with good reason – but if somehow this book escaped you this year, please do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s funny as hell. You deserve that, don’t you think?

3. Citrus County – John Brandon (review at Insatiable Booksluts here)

Such a gorgeous, sad, beautiful book. Written so, so well. And just utterly filled with longing. Longing so thick and so deep it just welled up and off the pages. You could feel the humidity of Florida and you could hear the insects and you were just utterly immersed in that longing for something not…quite…tangible. And when the book was done, it stayed with you.

2. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

I love Gillian Flynn, and have read (and enjoyed) all of her other books – but this one. Whoo. I can’t even describe. It brought you one way, then another, and I am not even a thriller person, and her other books weren’t so much thrillers, and this one was, and holy HELL but did this book work for me. I had no idea where it was going or what was coming next and I could not put it down. And it wasn’t like one of those thrillers that you buy because you’re about to get on a plane and there’s nothing else in the store and it’s KIND of thrilling but meh, throwing peanuts at the guy sitting across from you on the flight would be, too, I suppose. Nope. This was well-written and twisty and intelligent and not your typical stupid thriller. This woman can WRITE.

1. In One Person – John Irving

I loved this. Well, it’s not overly surprising – I mean, I’m a total John Irving fan, I’d read anything he’s written, gladly. But this one hit all the right levels with me. I related to the characters; it had that gorgeous Irving storytelling I know and love; a very gay-friendly storyline; a lot of big, deep thoughts and ideas that made my headarea super-happy; and there was a section in the middle with some flirting that was completely conducted with German poetry. Oh, well THAT made me grin. Then also cry, because it was so melancholy and also beautiful. Nice job, Irving. I will continue to read anything and everything you publish until the end of all time.

So, there. I read a few other wonderful books this year, but these are the top ten. And next year there will be more. THERE WILL. I have the BEST OF INTENTIONS ABOUT THAT. *shakes fist at world*

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