Friday, December 28, 2012

a year from the rearview mirror, 2012.

Well, I'll say this for 2012: It was not boring. I traveled a lot, and went out with a whole raft of weird boys, and lost friends, and learned a fair bit about what it is that I really need (that part's still a secret). Here's my usual random assortment of Bests for 2012; I would love to read yours, if you feel like it.

Joel Plaskett lyrics that best sum up my life, basically: "Got drunk at a party/Drinking red wine and Bacardi/My constitution ain't that hardy/And I'm not much good at mingling."

Most temporally jarring moment: Scanning through photos of dudes on OkCupid and suddenly realizing that this one is standing in the kitchen of the house you grew up in (I'd know that bright blue countertop anywhere). The guy had a bunch of photos of himself from inside my old house, so I figure he must've bought the place. I sent him a message, asking him if he lived there, but I never got a reply, which is too bad, because I feel like that could've been the start of a really interesting story. Also, given my penchant for both awkwardness and nostalgia, I really thought it would be hilarious to date a guy who now sleeps in the bedroom wherein I lost my virginity. 

Best way to tell, with absolute certainty, that it is time to break up with your boyfriend: When, on your birthday, the waitress at brunch does more to wish you well than he does. But seriously, huge props to the adorable girl at the West Town who so kindly stuck a candle in a single-serving peanut butter package--it was wonderful. Who knew that the straw that broke the camel's back could also be so whimsical and delicious? 

Best writing, self-deprecating judgement category: I guess I was pretty proud of how the Valentine Project entries came out. My greatest strength, in both writing and life, seems to be my ability to lay my heart bare; writing those posts made me realize there's nothing really wrong with that.

Best Joel Plaskett show: Oh, it's always a tie. I saw Joel three times this year: in April, in Ottawa, at the Charles Bronson Centre with Freya; in October, in Hamilton Place, on the stage I used to sing on with my children's choir; and in December, during a 5-night stint at the Horseshoe in Toronto. All three shows fucking ruled. Plaskett shows are like snowflakes, each one unique and lovely in its own way.

Best non-Joel Plaskett show: Man, this could go one of about a million different ways. I've gone to a lot of shows this year--32 really is the new 22 (wait, no one says that? Well they OUGHT to). I guess I'll settle on Sloan's Twice Removed tour in November. There are few things that feel better than hearing a band you've loved for a million years play through their best album in its entirety.  When they got to Bells On, I felt like I might throw up. When they got to I Can Feel It, I felt like my faith in humanity had been restored. Not bad for a Monday night.

Best outdoor concert: Harvest Picnic at Christie Lake on Labour Day weekend. A part of my heart lives at that conservation area, and for the second year in a row I was lucky enough to spend a long and sunny day there, listening to the Sadies and Gord Downie and Emmylou Harris, swimming at the beach, hanging out with my friends and my family, eating the best ice cream in the universe. It was a day that felt pregnant with possibility. The day after that show, my friend Kat and I got up early and drove up to her cottage for one last Indian Summer weekend on the lake, paddling our own canoe. It is a good way to live.

Best compliment from a dude:  "Honestly, if I made a list of all the cool things for a girl to be, I think you would be like Weird Science for me." (I am paraphrasing, but only very slightly.)

Best scene in Girls: Episode 5, when Hannah is at home in Michigan, and she's just gotten home from boning the pharmacist she knew from highschool. Adam calls her and tells her he wishes she were back in New York, more demonstrative and direct than he's been so far. She stands on her parents' front lawn looking really defeated and wistful as he tells her about the crackhead outside his window, and they fade out with the Fleet Foxes playing that song about how he's now older than his parents were when they started having children. I don't think Girls is a perfect show, but MAN it's got some really incredible moments that feel ripped from the pages of my own existential navel-gazing memoirs. The combined intimacy and distance of that phone call, that feeling of being so close and also so far, standing outside your parents' house in old pajamas, head hanging low. If you are nonplussed about Girls I hope you give it another shot, I really do.

Best musical re-discovery: Well really, I've been listening to these guys all along, but last winter, during a series of emotionally fraught bus trips back and forth to Toronto, I really felt like the Walkmen's album You and Me was just about the only thing keeping me sane. Sometimes it's just the right record at the right time, I guess.

Best literary reference in a young adult novel: A quote from Richard Hugo in The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green. Green always weaves incredible intellectual and emotional moments into his brilliant, tragic, hilarious writing, and Fault In Our Stars is no exception.  The Hugo quote is this:

"Say your life broke down. Your last good kiss
Was years ago." 

It comes in one of the many sweet and heartwrenching conversations between the star-crossed teenagers in the novel. Green wrote that it's his favourite line break. As a former English nerd, I love thinking about favourite line breaks. But mostly, I just love a perfectly placed, evocative allusion.

Best epigraph: This quote by Sandra Cisernos at the beginning of This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz (a book that will break your heart, incidentally, if you're in the mood for it):

"Okay, we didn't work, and all memories to tell you the truth aren't good. But sometimes there were good times. Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep beside me and never dreamed afraid. There should be stars for great wars like ours."

It's been a year of emotional learning, a year of heartache and joy and wistful nostalgia, a year I'll write about many years from now as a time when I became increasingly okay with the notion that my life looked exactly NOTHING like I had expected it to. I hope it's been as memorable for everyone else.

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