2014 was to be all about continuum and balance, words I forgot within a month of posting them. Looking back on the year, though, I think I did pretty well on finding the in-between that worked for me, finding that which gave me joy and gave me challenge. Basically, I did what I wanted and needed, and sometimes they overlapped. To that end, here are my “best of” lists. (Also, maybe the dates are off because I left my calendar at home so JUST DEAL [also I know you don’t care]).
Best of 2014 Firsts
Had real Dr. Pepper with real sugar 1.21 – big deal in Waco, TX
Skyped with a baby (three-week-old Alice) 2.5 – first baby Skype date of many
Bought a Cameron Park Zoo membership 2.8 – and I never stopped talking about it
Had a Sergio’s burrito 2.15 – you really just don’t know what you’re missing
Went to a tennis match 2.23 – sunshine, sitting and ridiculous scoring, which is sporting ideal
Ate my first King cake 3.5 – apparently this is a cultural thing
Went to Oklahoma for a conference 3.6 – where the wind goes sweeping down the plains
Visited Hill Country, Enchanted Rock 3.13 – beautiful places in this here Texas
Drove a Prius 3.19 – and it was a frickin’ dream
Had a drink with the sister 3.20 – having adult siblings is the best
Had 4 out of 5 Kelms in Texas 3.22 – I make my family come to me
Visited the Waco Mammoth site 3.27 – THERE ARE [DEAD] MAMMOTHS IN WACO I’M NOT KIDDING
Hammocked 4.29 – also a cultural thing that I love very much
Drank a mint julep and watched the Kentucky Derby 5.3 – apparently the Derby is three hours of preshow and then a minute of sports
Became a godmother 5.10 – and she’s the best and cutest thing in my life, by a long shot
Drank champagne from a bottle 5.12 – I’m an adult; I can do what I want
Ate a piroshky in Seattle 5.23 – another cultural thing; I don’t know, it was delicious
Learned to read a foreign language in five weeks 7.3 – HA this is a joke but also I got 6 credits for it
Gained a sister (in-law) 7.5 – another awesome blonde Kelm
Went to the Calgary Stampede and ate poutine 7.7 – culture, culture, culture; also, rodeo
Kayaked 7.10 – summer in Texas is a billion degrees but also kayaks!
Went swing dancing in Austin 7.17- ridiculous swingin’ fun
Saw fireflies 7.19 – I swear I had never seen them before but they are pure magic
Saw a musical in the park with good friends 8.2 – Oklahoma! in Texas with a New Yorker, a Missippippian/North Carolinian, and a real Oklahoman!
Ate fried okra 8.3 – delicious because, fried
Saw Les Miserables like it had never been done before 8.7 – futuristic dystopian Les Mis? YES PLEASE.
Turned 27 8.8 – eh. Had to happen eventually.
Ate fried pickles 8.8 – delicious because, fried
Had my bike stolen 8.13 – NOT GREAT
Taught two classes right in a row 8.22 – Exhausting but delightful
Ran through a fountain on Baylor’s campus 8.28 – sometimes you gotta be an irresponsible child
Learned what sorghum is at Homestead Heritage 9.1 – it’s a syrup, kinda
Heard Marilynne Robinson speak 9.11 – I’ll love her forever for Gilead
Rode my bike to the zoo 9.13 – bike rides are my jam
Heard Amy Tan speak 9.19 – A delight
Attended a real Texas tailgate 10.11 – and there was barbeque
Rushed the field at a football game 10.11 – because sports! (also, “rushed” might be an overstatement)
Went on a road trip to Arkansas 10.17 – #fayettevillefallbreak was magical
Had a baby houseguest 11.6 – I learned much about baby children and received a lot of cuddles
Had buttermilk pie 11.8 – another delicious cultural experience
Watched a wedding online 11.8 – huzzah for technology and the interwebs!
Surprised sister in Seattle 11.13 – super proud of this, btw; also, she’s an acting rock star
Saw a celebrity on an airplane 11.13 – David Alan Grier, LA to Seattle.
Ran a 5k 11.29 – and I didn’t even stop even though maybe I wanted to give up and die?
Saw Chip and Joanna at a concert 12.5 – if you don’t know who they are, you don’t watch enough HGTV
Gave a final 12.7 – i.e. gave encouraging smiles and checked FaceBook for two hours straight
Ate duck feet 12.22 – not a fan, not a fan at all; also, WHY
Best of Television
HGTV ruled my life, as I graded papers to the dulcet tones of the Property Brothers (I like Drew’s suits, but there’s something about a man with a hammer…). I was obsessed with Fixer-Upper, because Chip and Joanna are the cutest, and it’s set in my home of Waco. Also, sports became a fixture in my life between the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the World Cup, the latter which I became obsessed with. I also watched gone-too-soon shows like Happy Endings and Pushing Daisies, both cleverly-written in different ways. Thank you, PBS, for showing Endeavor and Vicious, not to mention the long-awaited return of the third season of Sherlock. Benedict and Martin forever. Lastly, while Doctor Who had a rocky season, I’m in for the long haul.
Best of Movies
This year I binged on movies, particularly Netflix’s independent films, foreign films and social documentaries. The highlight of the latter was 20 Feet From Stardom, a documentary about backup singers which you need to watch right this second. Also, I watched Six by Sondheim (a documentary about the man himself) and 700 Sundays (an HBO production of Billy Crystal’s one-man play) on a really delayed plane, and both made me cry. I was pleasantly surprised by movies like The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Into the Woods. I also got to share two of my favorite flicks with good friends, and so I watched those older movies over and over again–I was not complaining. The Way Way Back means it’s summertime and waterparks all the time, and Noises Off! captures the joys and pains of theatre productions. Basically movies are the best.
Best of Theatre
So many good live theatre performances, but the ones that stand out: 1) Oklahoma! (Zilker Summer Musicals) in Austin was an excellent outdoor performance of a musical that is simultaneously cheesy and terribly dark. 2) Merrily We Roll Along was a recording of a London revival, but this tragic and touching show about the pursuit of art and loss of friendship may be my new favorite Sondheim. 3) Lost in Yonkers at Seattle Pacific University was not only poignant, but also my sister was amazing in it. 4) Proof by TheatreSquared (an incredible company in Fayetteville, Arkansas) had a beautiful set, an intimate space, and strong performances (shout out to the fabulous Seth Bridges!). 5) Lastly, Dallas Theatre Center reenvisioned Les Miserables in a futuristic dystopian setting, which worked unsettlingly well. Besides a stellar performance by Nehal Joshi as Valjean, the production made me consider how little the world changes and how we still deal with the pain of poverty and social unrest.
Best of Music
Well, duh, like everyone, I listened to the Frozen soundtrack until my ears bled. Dave Van Ronk, thanks to Inside Llewlyn Davis, graced my Spotify playlists, as did Lorde. I finally got a new record player, thank God, and listened to Bob Dylan as much as possible. Towards the end of the year, it was the Lone Bellow and JohnnySwim, thanks to a fantastic concert with the two groups. The entirety of December was basically Pentatonix Christmas, which I may still be listening to (don’t judge me).
Best of Books
Mostly I read books for school: modern novels, American realism, the Harlem Renaissance, and Shakespeare. Oh, and I learned French. In the midst of all of that, I read some books for fun, somehow. Rainbow Rowell’s novels Attachments, Eleanor and Park, and Fangirl got me through Spring Break, and the latter in particular resonated with my inner fangirl. Gaudy Night was a mystery jaunt with sides of academia and Britishness. O’Connor’s Prayer Journal made me think about how writers choose to express their inner selves. Rabbit Run was my first Updike reading, and I reread The Giver, remembering how subtly genius it is. I love my memoirs, and highlights were Preston Yancey’s Tables in the Wilderness, Kathleen Norris’s The Cloister Walk, Nadia Bolz-Webber’s Pastrix, and (FINALLY) Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. And lastly, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead is just as quiet and simple and utterly beautiful as I had always heard, a lovely musing on spirituality, family, and growing older.