This year was a doozy, and these last two months were the sugar rush on top of an already lopsided, over-decorated, gluten-to-the-max cake. I feel full in so many ways (most of which are good).
Before I get down to business, a big thank you. Thank you for following my wee blog to its new location, for the comments and the shares and the likes. Thank you for encouraging me and your kind words about our work or our kids. Thank you for still reading.
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As a special Christmas gift to myself, I purchased (in hardcover, no less) Amy Poehler's fantastical Yes Please. I like to think of myself as a Leslie Knope Feminist, and with Yes Please, Poehler solidifies her cozy place in my heart. Not only is the book visually beautiful, but it's (obviously) hilarious, poignant and smart. Like Tina Fey's Bossypants, I am absolutely eating up all the improv intel, the girl who's trying to find Her Thing, and the beautiful, arrogant bravura that comes with being young and stupid. But my favourite bit is about apologizing, and about the one time she didn't. Her haunting story rings true and she's brave to share it with us. Buy this book for the Leslie Knope Feminist in your life. She'll love you forever and keep you up at night with her reading lamp, snorts and giggles.
(Aside. I don't particularly have delicate sensibilities, but still feel a little weird reading a lot of swearwords. If that's not your thing... read with one eye open and a Bible nearby for palate cleansing. End of Aside.)
Sadly, I'm not having as much luck with Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James. This is my second attempt at this "sequel" to Pride & Prejudice and it is absolutely dragging. I simply don't care who killed Denny, let alone what happens to Wickham. There's no risk in this novel and the drama is plodding and boring.
Favourite reads from this year include Yes Please, Bread & Wine (Niequist), Bird by Bird (Lamott), The Cuckoo's Calling (Gilbraith), Interrupted (Hatmaker), Red Joan (Rooney) and the Wool trilogy (Howey).
Let's be friends on Goodreads.
My humble pick for movie of the year is Calvary. Brendan Gleeson stars as a good Irish priest awaiting death, marked as a scapegoat for the sins of terribly bad priests (substitutionary atonement, if you will). Like most films I'm drawn to, this was not easy to watch. Though it was beautiful and the acting was phenomenal (particularly by Gleeson and by the actor portraying his possible executioner), Calvary was uncomfortable and heartbreaking. Gleeson's priest finds himself metaphorically taking on the sins of his colleagues, parishioners, a terrifying criminal and his own daughter, and we witness his breakdown in the face of such darkness in the world. Without a doubt, Calvary was the most affecting, troubling and brilliant film we've seen this year. And the last scene will leave you in bits. Devastatingly good.
On a brighter note: Miranda! You know how I love Chummy on Call the Midwife, and so it was that a friend lent us Seasons 1 and 2 of Miranda Hart's self-titled comedy. It is funny and silly and laugh-out-loud embarrassing. I love her.
And I've just recovered from the season finale of Homeland. I'd nearly given up on this show, with Brody dying last year and another hunky asset for Claire Danes to literally shake down. But the last half of the season was fast-paced, shocking and sad. Give Mandy Patinkin all the awards!
Favourite films of the year: Calvary, Shadow Dancer, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Lego Movie and American Hustle (Matt LOVED The Grand Budapest Hotel. I'm still undecided).
Surprise twist: we did not like Guardians of the Galaxy. Like, at all. Many friendships now hang in the balance.
Like so many others, I spent the last two months waiting for Thursday mornings when I could walk the dog / clean the kitchen / lay in bed listening to the Serial podcast.
And, of course, Christmas music, including all the usual suspects: Over the Rhine, Sarah McLachlan, Sufjan Stevens, She & Him, and new additions Rosie Thomas and Sleeping at Last. Check out Noisetrade for a good mix of Christmassy tunes.
Most read posts from this year:
- Do you feel good about your parenting? Well Steve Jobs (from beyond the grave) says you shouldn't.
- It'll be grand :: the long and the short of my immigration debacle
- Traveling with cats... I mean kids
- Gift-giving for the far away family
- 10 things you need to know about Call the Midwife
- On not owning a house
Christmas Eve on Grafton Street
Friends like family
Warm mince pies (I don't know what's happening to me)
Parcels from America
Christmas morning carols
Making my grandmother's French Silk Pie for Christmas
Surviving the winter solstice and the light slowly creeping back into view
Keane's Somewhere Only We Know as sung by 2nd Class students in their Christmas play. All The Feels.
Spending the night in the poshest hotel I've ever been in (poor Matthew; I have extremely high expectations now)
A bridesmaid dress you can wear again
Board game shenanigans
New friends who know just exactly the kind of gift to give your children.
Extensive personality tests and discovering why you end every meeting in tears (hint: not crazy)
This explains so much: Children named Ella, William, Olivia and Joshua are most likely to be naughty says new study
Look over yr 1st draft. Cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can. Then the verbs. Then the nouns. Nobody wants to read yr writing— Rachel Jane Andelman (@rajandelman) December 26, 2014
The Colbert Report. Mr Colbert was a starring player in our nightly traditions in America, keeping us smiling during some of our darkest days. We caught his last episode last week, still as funny and ridiculous as ever. Cheers, Stephen
Stamps in the passport and being allowed back in the country
Waking up to the sound of waves and the sunrise over the Mediterranean
"On the last day, when we arrive at the Great Mansion in the Sky, many of us will be bloodied, battered, bruised, and limping. But, by God and by Christ, there will be a light in the window and a "welcome home" sign on the door.
Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins, December 31
Thank you for walking through 2014 with me.
What were YOU into this month, this year, this season?