Tag Archives: 2013

What Have We Learned?

Once upon a time, upon reading one of my blog posts, the most excellent Elaine told me that someday, I should write a book called What Have We Learned? as I used to end a lot of my blog posts with that phrase; I’d write a post and at the end, write “what have we learned?” and sum it up with something sarcastic.

Now, let’s be honest: I often don’t have time to do LIFE things on a regular basis, like read, eat on time, or go out with friends I actually care about, so writing a book’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. I mean, someday, maybe when I’m, I don’t know, retired, or something, I’ll have time to sit down and put my thoughts down on paper…or maybe I’ll never get to retire, because apparently when I get to that age, Social Security will have disappeared and I’ll be one of those old women handing out salsa samples at the grocery store. You know those old women. The ones that have those pathetic “PLEASE LOVE ME!” smiles and listen, no one wants their salsa. NO ONE. I’m going to be one of the salsa ladies someday, ladies and gentleman; please be kind to old-lady-of-the-future-me as I attempt to foist unwanted salsa upon your personages.

PLEASE TAKE MY SAMPLES I AM SO ALONE!

PLEASE TAKE MY SAMPLES I AM SO ALONE!

But “what have we learned” is too good of an idea to go to waste. So when it came time to write a post about looking back on the year, I thought…what better than to think about what we have learned in 2013? Because I’m pretty sure we learned some things, didn’t we? 2013 was all about learning things. Whether we wanted to learn them or not, sometimes.

So, ladies and gentlemen and…well, it’s the internet, so kitties and such, too, I suppose, of the interwebs:

What have we learned in 2013?

Sometimes you need a little help.

Sometimes things get a little much. You can try to handle it alone; you can work really, really hard to fight genetics and upbringing and years and years of learned behavior but sometimes you can’t do it alone. There is no shame in getting pharmaceutical help when things get to be too much. You might think there is; our society has trained us to think there is. But you’ll realize, once you find medication that actually works, you’ve been walking around with about two hundred pounds of weight on your back you didn’t know was there, and once it’s gone, you can walk upright again. You can breathe again. You can laugh again; you can go out in public again; you can trust again; you can stand up for yourself again. The very things you were fighting against, that you considered weaknesses? They saved you. There’s nothing weak about needing a ladder to help you out of the pool in which you’re drowning.

You are only as good as the friends you keep.

And good heavens above, do I have some of the best. I have been so lucky in my life. I have somehow come across some of the world’s most amazing people, the kind of people you could only dream of being friends with – and can you even imagine? THEY WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH ME. Me! Dorky, goofy, constant-foot-in-her-mouth, over-the-top, ALL-CAPS, me! I don’t know, either. I’m not going to question it too much, because when you start questioning it too much, I think that’s when you wake up and it’s all been a dream, like in that episode of Buffy where she’s been in a mental institution the whole time? If I’m anything, if I make you laugh or cry or think or anything? Thank them. They make me the person I am today. They’re my scaffolding, you know? They’re my bones. They keep me upright.

Silver linings aren’t just in tacky 70s overcoats.

Just when you think things are at their worst, sometimes something magical happens and it’s like that rose growing out of the sidewalk. Surprise! Beauty where it doesn’t belong! I’ve spent the last year working the best full-time job I’ve ever had; not only do I love where I work, I love the people I work with, and I get paid enough that I can actually LIVE, and not just subsist. I fell into theater reviewing, and that’s been such a blessing; not only do I get to travel, I get to see amazing theater, and I get to write, and I get published, and I get paid for it. An entire year of expecting the other shoe to drop and for me to be back where I was last year, unemployed and desperate. It hasn’t happened yet. Kind of amazing, really.

Time spent alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely.

I stepped back from things this year; left the volunteer work at the theater, pulled back a little from the internet, cut back on the blogging. This gave me a little more time for myself. “What will you do with yourself?” people asked, as if I was going to wander around my place like a little lost ghost. What I did with myself? I read a lot. I watched movies and television. I spent time with friends, both virtually and real-life-ily. I watched a LOT of theater, most of it very good. (44 shows this year! Totally a personal record!) I spent time with the furriest roommate anyone’s ever been lucky enough to have. I wrote a lot of words, some published, some private. I…well, you guys. I enjoyed the hell out of my life.

Not all endings are the end.

Sometimes you come to the end of something, and your heart is broken. Sometimes, that is the end. I’m not going to say it’s not; endings happen all the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, the end isn’t the end at all. Sometimes it’s worth holding out hope; that childish little flame of hope that stubbornly refuses to go out. Not always. Not at all. But it’s that sometimes that gets you. It’s that sometimes that’s where the magic lives. I am so thankful for that magic.

Your comfort zone is a warm cocoon but get out of it, sometimes, dammit.

The times I’ve gone out on a limb this year and tried something scary and new, something that I was sure I’d hate? Almost every time, it’s been kind of amazing. It gave me a panic attack leading up to it, most of the time, but afterward…it led to me meeting people in real life that have become some of my best friends; it’s led to me saying things I was afraid to say that led to amazing things happening; it’s led to me going places I’d never have gone; it’s led to me being braver than I ever thought possible and making changes in my life that needed to be made in order to move forward from places I was miserably stuck. So sure, your comfort zone is warm, and safe…but that place right outside of it, or even WAY outside of it, sometimes, can be pretty damn fine, too.

Never underestimate the power of words.

Words have been around long before we were even dreamed of, and will last long after we’re gone and forgotten. Never, ever think they don’t mean anything. There are the words in books – the sweep and fall of poems, the truth and heartbreak of prose, the sharing of lives and ideas in nonfiction. There are almost an infinite combination of words, and when you find the ones that get inside you and hit the chords you’ve got so carefully placed in your heart and your mind, it’s a sort of magic, isn’t it? But it’s not just books (or magazines, or blogs, or, hell, status updates or Tweets); it’s the words you get from your friends, the conversations you have, the long emails you get just when you need them the most, the back-and-forth where you share the kind of things you’re not often comfortable sharing with people; those words are just as important as any other, and it’s a shame to underestimate those. They should be taken just as seriously as any other. Your words have the power to help and the power to hurt and the power to heal; your words have the power to lift people up just when they need it, and never think, with just your words, you can’t show people how much they mean to you, and how much you love them. You owe it to your words to give them the weight they deserve; with a combination of letters, you can move the world.

It’s never too late to start over.

I’ve had people re-enter my life this year that, for reasons varied (and some more foolish than others) had been absent. Some for quite some time. Starting over can be scary – but it can also be something very amazing. There’s nothing lost in trying again – and there’s sometimes more than you ever thought to be gained. Letting old grudges go is the lightest feeling you can imagine – and opening your heart is even better still.

All you need is love, love; love is all you need.

And that, ultimately, is what we’ve learned in 2013, isn’t it? There’s nothing that can be done without love behind it. The love of family, and friends, and yourself; the love of what you do, the love of life. If you put love out there, you will get love in return. Why bother putting out negativity when it’s just going to come back to you? Do you really need that in your life? More of that? There’s enough of that as it is. Love. And love, and then love a little more. Put love in everything you do. Put love in every interaction you have. And you’re going to be amazed at what you get back. I am surrounded by the best people in the world. Their love and support of me knows no bounds. And I hope I’m able to return that in the same manner they give it; I hope I live up to their standard, their very high standard, of friendship. They deserve that, all that and more.

Those are a lot of things to have learned, right? Important things. Good things. 2013 had a lot to teach me. I only hope I was able to learn my lessons as they were presented; that’s really all we can do when they come up, try to learn them as best we can.

Happy New Year, people of the blog. Thank you for reading, and for being here. May you shake off your 2013s and step into your 2014s with bright eyes and happy smiles and all the hope for the future; what else are new years for, other than starting over (and, most likely, learning a whole NEW set of lessons?)

May you be up to the challenges, whatever they are. I have all the faith in the world in you. Each and every one of you.


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!


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