Gone year

It was the worst of years, it was the best of years.

I’m not prone to reflecting on a year once it’s past, but sometimes the internet with its year-in-review everything – blogs, photo collages, thoughtful essays ‘liked’ by multitudes – pressures you into doing things you wouldn’t otherwise dream of doing.

[Like pinterest, for example.]

Also, I’ve been reading the Christmas Carol to the Hen, which (at least in the ten pages I’ve read so far) has me feeling reflective. ‘It’s very Dickensian,’ I told the professor. Because it seems like something smart people might say. [Except they wouldn’t, of course, say it referring to words Dickens actually wrote.]

So on January 1st I paused for a moment (while the professor vacuumed a tree’s worth of pine needles from our basement) and tunnelled through the preceding 366 days in an effort to recall highs and lows.

It felt a lot like sticking one’s head under water for an extended period of time; aside from diminishing lung capacity, the details are fuzzy. Really, my first instinct is to label 2014 a big bust. Much like my first instinct is to label IKEA Christmas trees ‘the worst ever’. (The latter assessment is correct.)

But of course, 2014 wasn’t completely void of fine moments – no year is. There was a surprise trip to see my favorite band on my birthday with my sister. There was a trip to Oregon and Seattle complete with sunsets on the beach, a stop at Ecola State Park and the buttermilk old-fashioned donut at Blue Star in Portland. And there was a tiny trip to London and Paris with coffee at Monmouth, live music and stunning views from the Arc de Triomphe.

Not to mention a twice-in-a-lifetime hike to see the larches. DSC_5823

Upon trying to link back to the post about our (second) trip to see the larches – one I was sure I’d written – I discovered it was but a draft paragraph, titled ‘who cares about the larches. Written one month after this rather horrendous journey.

Let’s just say we shan’t be seeing the larches in 2015.

But now that I think of it, this photograph is perhaps the perfect depiction of 2014. Though I really need one and a half children to be crying their eyes out. Just to make it true-to-life. The professor and I also had the chance – courtesy of grandparent visits – to escape the madness on two occasions. These getaways usually coincide with our annual (or in this case, semi-annual) trip to the movie theater for a non-child movie.

This year’s first movie was ‘This is Where I Leave You.‘ The professor and I had both read the book, which was amusingly poignant in the way of Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons. A solid 3 out of 5. The movie featured Jason Bateman and Tina Fey which, upon first glance, would compel most lovers of comedy to add it to their must-see lists.

This is, unfortunately a mistake. For Jason and Tina – much as I love them – are never in any good movies. Have you seen Identity Thief, Couples Retreat, or Baby Mama? Add This is Where I Leave You, whose comedic highlights consisted of a three year old carrying around and using his potty chair at inauspicious moments, to the list. I also spent much of the movie perplexed by the (mis)casting of Adam Driver as the youngest brother.

Which leads me to our latest after-the-fact foray into the theater, to see Gone Girl. ‘I feel kind of scared that you chose this as our date movie,’ the professor muttered halfway through. But it was at the cheap theater. And I’d read the book. And the movie had gotten ‘great reviews’.

And I spent most of the movie thinking about how Ben Affleck was the wrong choice to play Nick. In Gillian Flynn’s book, the reader’s perception of Amy and Nick shifts constantly. She’s the crazy one. No, he’s the crazy one. They’re both crazy. I didn’t find this to be true of the movie. After a butt-numbing 2 hours and 25 minutes, the professor and I used the car ride to dinner to discuss alternate casting possibilities. ‘Ryan Gosling,’ we both settled on a better-as-Nick alternative.

We were stumped on an alternative to Amy, though neither of us liked Rosamund Pike. But now that I think of it: Katniss Everdeen! Kidding. But I’m pretty sure Emma Stone – though a bit on the young side – could have done the job nicely. And without the husky voice.

Entertainment-wise, this was the year of the Netflix binge-watch, though 2013 was probably not vastly different in that respect. Having sworn off the likes of Scandal, Homeland and Downton Abbey, we plowed through season 2 of House of Cards in less than forty eight hours, continued with the second season of The Americans, got hooked on Kelsey Grammer’s evil Chicago Mayor in Boss and finished up the year with both seasons of Rectify.

I don’t recommend a binge-watch for Rectify, because it makes for accent and mannerism overload – the professor started saying ‘Tawney’ in a bad southern accent at odd times during the day. That’s when he wasn’t imitating Aden Young’s Forrest Gump-like voice.

This was also the year the boys started piano lessons. [Much] more about that, later. Suffice it to say the professor and I have had to figure out a way to do daily activities – which includes thinking – to the constant, repetitive (increasingly faster and louder) soundtrack of awesome tunes like ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ and a little ditty – which really deserves its own blog post – called ‘Russian Sailor Dance.’

May your 2015 have very memorable highs, good television (err, Netflix), movies and books. And may it be void of bad hikes, stale Christmas trees and the Russian Sailor Dance.

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