Monthly Archives: December 2012

My end of 2012 homework

In 2010, Jamey assigned me some homework, ordering me to reflect on everything that I accomplished that year. So, I did and I wrote a post about it. It was really helpful. So helpful that I did it again last year and I’ve been writing 2013’s homework in my head pretty much all year long.

The 12 Achievements of 2012:

1. I turned 30. I watched the Saints-Lions game at a neighborhood bar with a bunch of friends who decided the only way to make me feel 30 was to encourage me to drink like I was 21. The Saints won, I got to spend time with friends while celebrating the start of my thirties and everybody was happy. At least, we were all happy that night. Darker times were ahead for the Saints. But, thus far, my thirties are still going well.

2. I got my 5th tattoo and “finished” my birthday tattoo project, undertaken between the pivotal years of 25 and 30.

3. I attended a local premiere of 21 Jump Street with cast and crew, which was a really fun experience and the movie was hilarious. Then, I spent the first three-fourths of the year working on two more movies I’ve very proud to have been involved with (#1 and #2).

4. I went on a road trip with Mamma Mia!, after I evacuated for Hurricane Isaac and stayed with some friends. Since we visited both of my grandmothers in Columbus, Ohio and Chicago, I called it The Grandma Road Trip. Not only did we get to see a lot of family members we hadn’t seen in years since we’re all so spread out, but Mamma Mia! and I spent more time together than we had in probably a decade. And we both survived.

5. I wrote a skit for The NO Show, Helen Krieger‘s new-school old-fashioned radio show, then got to see it produced. Helen was looking for material, I said I might have have some and next thing I knew, we were writing a 5-minute version of my idea. Then, there was a table reading and a “punch-up” draft with the actors and other funny people. Then, one of our actors couldn’t make the re-scheduled recording and I had to step in and voice one of the characters! It was a rollercoaster ride, a fun one, and I hope it keeps going.

6. I freelanced for the last quarter of the year. It was really tough, but it was also one of the most important things I’ve ever done. I continued to write for 225 Magazine and also continued some editing work I’ve done for a while. I worked for a friend of my dad’s in the industry I grew up in (conventions and trade shows) and discovered I’d picked up a lot more as a kid than I’d realized. And I wrote. I freelanced on another movie and recently accepted some new work on a tv show, which I won’t be able to talk about for a long time.

My obsession with tango continued. There were a lot of firsts this year.

7. I bought my first pair of tango shoes. This coincided with me dancing as much as possible, at least once or twice a week, and sometimes more, so my dancing improved a lot.

8. I danced in new communities, in Atlanta (three times) and Chicago (once). I hope to go back and dance with them more in 2013, and also, I plan on checking out new places to dance as well.

9. I performed for the first time. I almost didn’t, then changed my mind at the last minute. It was a terrifying and utterly satisfying experience and I hope to do it more. I’m glad I made the decision to be bold and dance.

Photo by Shari Stauch

Photo by Shari Stauch.
Partner is Casey Mills.

10. I won NaNoWriMo. This year, it was easy. I was freelancing, so I had the time to commit. I had a great, fun story. I watched Saints games, tv shows, movies, went out with my friends. Even with voting, Thanksgiving, my shower exploding and getting sick, I still finished early.

11. I won my first major literary prize. My essay “Tango Face” won the essay category of the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Literary Competition. In my “end of 2011 homework” post, I said I was submitting my work diligently and promised I would brag on myself when the submitting paid off. So, as promised, when it paid off, I bragged on myself.

12. I achieved better balance. Literally, with my dancing, I achieved better balance, working on my core and maintaining my own axis. There’s still lots of room for improvement, but I’ve come a long way. Figuratively, I sought out and achieved better balance in my life, between work and play, between paying the bills and passion. I fought for and found better balance within myself. I talked about balance in both my 2010 and 2011 end-of-the-year homework assignments, each time with more clarity and cohesion. I mentioned balance by accident in 2010, unaware of it’s importance. I knew I needed balance in 2011 and I was looking for it. In 2012, I achieved it for glorious patches of time, which convinces me that it’s attainable. It’s still the goal.

2012 was a banner year, not only because of my 12 personal achievements, but also because the world didn’t end. And since it didn’t end, I’m looking forward to all the experiences and achievements 2013 has to offer.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Atlanta, bragging on, coolness, family, freelance work, Friends, musing, NaNoWriMo, New Orleans, New Orleans Film Industry, random rant, tango, The Grandma Road Trip

Emilie’s 2012 Best List

I thought about not doing this post this year as I tend to dislike “best lists” lately. But, since I love to brag and my best list is all positive, it seemed a shame not to give the folks who created the following media, my best of 2012, a big ol’ shout-out. Still, if you particularly like this end-of-the-year tradition of mine, I hope you’ll say so.

Books:

These are roughly in the order I read them. I am not ranking them. That would be way too difficult and this is hard enough. Last year, almost half my list was nonfiction, which surprised me. This year the numbers are the same: 4 out of my best 10 titles were nonfiction.

1. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson (1st Quarter)

2. Delirium and Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver (both 2nd Quarter)

3. Zone One, Colson Whitehead (2nd Quarter)

4. Oyster, John Biguenet (3rd Quarter)

5. Tiny Beautiful Things, Dear Sugar/Cheryl Strayed (3rd Quarter)

6. The Lover’s Dictionary, David Levithan (3rd Quarter)

7. How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran (4th Quarter)

8. Wild, Cheryl Strayed (4th Quarter)

9. Torch, Cheryl Strayed (4th Quarter)

10. Reached, Ally Condie (4th Quarter)

Notables: Most of these would’ve been on my best list any other year, if they hadn’t been nudged out by my obsession with three books by the same author that I couldn’t legitimately count as one. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Ed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling; Bayou Vol 1 and 2, Jeremy Love + Patrick Morgan; River Road, Suzanne Johnson; Wife 22, Melanie Gideon; The Mapmaker’s War, Ronlyn Domingue and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami.

Movies:

This list includes movies I saw in the theater (1-5) and watched at home (6-10), and is also not ranked but listed in the rough order that I watched them.

1. Hunger Games

2. The Five-Year Engagement

3. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

4. Pitch Perfect

5. Argo

6. Friends with Kids

7. First Position

8. Buck

9. Ruby Sparks

10. Your Sister’s Sister

I was really impressed with kids’ movies this year and I had the opportunity to see quite a few. This year, I really enjoyed: Brave, Madagascar 3, ParaNorman, Hotel Transylvania, Wreck It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians.

TV:

This was a rough year for me and TV. Between work and dancing once or twice a week, not to mention other distractions, I largely abandoned my TV. When I did watch a show, I caught up on several episodes or an entire season all at once, either online or DVD. The shows below are the ones I stuck with the most loyally.

1. Falling Skies

2. Dancing with the Stars

3. So You Think You Can Dance

4. Castle

5. Downton Abbey

6. Survivor

7. Revenge

8. The New Girl

Notables include another sadly canceled show, favorites I can get into anytime and a new show that is much better than the commercials make it look: Breakout Kings, 30 Rock, Law & Order SVU, Leverage, Big Bang Theory, The Mindy Project.

Music:

It’s probably not an accident that you can tango to a lot of my favorite music this year. The first single listed was the song my partner and I performed to and most of them are highly danceable.

Albums –

1. Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel…

2. Danger Mouse & Daniele Lupi’s Rome (ft. Jack White and Norah Jones)

3. Jack White’s Blunderbuss

4. Norah Jone’s …Little Broken Hearts

5. Just Tell Me That You Want Me, a Fleetwood Mac tribute album

Singles (not from any of the above) –

1. Karen Choi’s “Tangled” (free download)

2. Guillermo Figueroa’s “Insula III – Las Indieras de Maricao: Andantino misterioso”

3. Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbin'”

4. Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up”

5. Emily Wells’ “Symphony #2 Click Clack Boom”

6. Alex Clare’s “Too Close”

7. Lianne la Havas “Is Your Love Big Enough?”

8. Clare Bowen + Sam Palladio “If I Didn’t Know Better” / The Civil Wars version

9. Gotye “Somebody I Used to Know”

10. Taylor Swift + The Civil Wars “Safe and Sound”

This list would be different if I created it at the beginning of the year, or the middle. I suspect I’ve forgotten about a lot of things that I really loved, though the Quarterly Reading Reports helps me be very “accurate” with my favorite books of the year. Regardless, everything on this list is quality media that I really, really obsessed over and enjoyed in 2012. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under books, literature, movies, music, musing, pop culture, what I'm reading

2012 Q4 Reading Report

I’m not going to hit my annual goal of 100 books in 2012 and while that disappoints me, I am not disappointed in the books I chose to spend my time with this year. I read more nonfiction than ever and I tend to read that more slowly. Keep in mind that I also read much more than what I track in these reading reports – scripts as part of my film jobs, short stories and essays for Narrative, stuff that I am legally and professionally required not to discuss. Additionally, I often read essays and articles, work by Peauxdunque members and other writers. A lot of that undisclosed reading picked up this year, which meant a decline in just-for-pleasure and even for-review reading.

October

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield – This is the book that Mamma Mia! and I listened to on the return leg of The Grandma Road Trip, but didn’t get to finish. I checked out the audio from my library and Mamma Mia! and I set aside some time and both listened to the rest. I was obsessed with this story while we were listening to it, but something about having to wait a while to conclude the story and not being in the same situation (listening to it in the car, mostly at night, with Mamma Mia!) dulled the conclusion for me. Maybe the suspense couldn’t be sustained, either over the break between listens or over the 400+ pages worth of story. Maybe it would’ve felt different if I’d read the book itself over time, or if we’d listened to the whole thing in one go.

Three to Get Deadly and Four to Score, Janet Evanovich – These are silly and fun. I can read two books quickly, be absorbed in the world, and feel a sense of accomplishment. I like that Stephanie Plum has such a distinctive, specific voice.

The Uninvited Guests, Sadie Jones – I read about this one in Entertainment Weekly and was intrigued. The hostess whose house I stayed at during Isaac was reading it, too, but she wasn’t that impressed. I knew what she meant when I read it. The mystery was compelling, but it was hard to invest in any of the characters.

How to Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran – This book literally had me busting a gut quite frequently. It’s been a long time since a book has made my stomach hurt from laughing. It was thought-provoking, too. There were many genuine points about womanhood mixed in with the humorous delivery. Sometimes I disagreed and quite frequently, Moran’s feminism contradicted itself, but it was always smart and I was always invested. She has another book called Moranthology, I discovered when I went looking for the link. I’ll probably read that one, too.

November

Wild, Cheryl Strayed – I was not intrigued by the subject matter. It honestly sounded like it’d be the most boring and excruciatingly sad book, simultaneously. However, Entertainment Weekly wouldn’t stop talking about this book, nor would any of the other print or online media sources that I read. And then I read Tiny, Beautiful Things and I knew I had to read it. Even so, I was surprised by how quickly I got sucked in and how completely this book took over my life. I couldn’t think about anything else until I finished. If I can write with a fraction as much honesty and clarity, I will be incredibly pleased with myself.

Hive Five and Hot Six, Janet Evanovich – Have you noticed a trend? I tend to read something immense and/or devastating and then I read two of these books, and then I dive back into something consuming. I like books that know what they are and don’t pretend to be anything different. These are palate-cleansers for me. Light and easy between heavy courses.

The Mapmaker’s War, Ronlyn Domingue – my interview with Ronlyn about this book is forthcoming. The book will be available in March.

Torch, Cheryl Strayed – I doubled down on the heavy courses here. It was fascinating to see how Strayed dealt with the same material in fiction and two different forms of nonfiction. Maybe more than anything else this year, reading these three books was instructive. The novel told a story that was very close to the stories relayed in the nonfiction books, if you’re looking at a bullet-point list of facts. Yet it was so different, the why behind the story and the how of its construction. Somehow, it touched me even more deeply than the nonfiction, though I think I admire the nonfiction more.

December

Reached, Ally Condie – I ate this book, the conclusion of the trilogy begun with Matched, consumed it as fast as I could. I had to know what happened and I barely blinked. If you just read the premise of Matched, you might think it was all hook and no substance, but it wasn’t very far into Matched that I realized I was reading something unique and fierce. The way the characters in this series respond to poetry and art, the way they use it to become themselves, pass messages between each other, and change the world, is a strong argument for literacy and art, why they are entirely vital.

Seven Up and Hard Eight, Janet Evanovich – I took four of these home with me for Christmas, figuring I deserved a nice long dessert after the hardy courses I’ve read this Quarter. There’s some heavy, dense stuff on this list and I wanted to be able to focus on my family and enjoy a nice story. That’s what I got.

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster – I somehow never read this growing up. I don’t know how I missed it. I think it would’ve meant the world to me if I’d read it when I was a kid and I have friends who still respond to it that way. I enjoyed it a lot, marveled at the word craft and the imagination of it. I’d like to read it several more times and I regret I didn’t read it earlier. I checked it out from the library months ago but, and I’m not sure why, it took me forever to pick it up and get into it. Probably because its reputation had preceded it. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to what I’d heard.

To the Nines and Ten Big Ones, Janet Evanovich – These two were particularly good, fast reads. They seem to be getting a bit darker, too.

[12.31 Update:

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami – I checked this book out of the library at the beginning of the year and I’ve been renewing it ever since, dipping in on occasion. This is a slim book, an extended meditation, but I’ve been reading it all year long, finding it dense, at times boring, at other times humorous, always enlightening. I read more than half of it yesterday and today, finally ready for it I think. “Still, when I finished,” Murakami says in the afterword, “I had the feeling that a weight had been lifted.” I feel that way too, now that I’ve finished reading it in the last hours of the old year. I’m not a runner and this book illustrated that more than ever. I don’t have the mentality for it, but it was fascinating to get inside a runner’s head for a while, especially one who is also a writer.]

I’ll be picking my favorite books of the year when I post my 2012 Best List later today. On the one hand, I read fewer books this year than I typically do, so that narrows the field and theoretically makes it easier. But on the other hand, because I read fewer books and more nonfiction, I usually lived with the books longer, letting them rattle around inside me. It’s going to be tough.

1 Comment

Filed under books, literature, Quarterly Reading Report, what I'm reading