2013 was…



At the top, resting on everything else – often as harmless as a high cloud, sometimes as heavy as a textbook – was Mom’s passing. She died at the end of 2012 and so ’13 was colored with unexpected emotion. I didn’t write much at Daily Cup this past year, but when I did, it was often about her. Having children changed my life immeasurably by the addition of others – plus three – but just as colossal was losing my mom – minus one. I’m ready to ‘move on’ even as I’m sure those aren’t the right words. I will always think of her and likely laugh and cry in equal amounts. “Get over it,” she’d tell me. It is what it is.

Other layers of 2013 included high school for my oldest – a toddler just yesterday – and more soccer than I ever thought possible. My running took a hit with an injury, now mostly healed. The husband excelled at work, a dear friend moved away, two nephews came home, my sister’s dear dogs departed. So much made me cry, it was ridiculous.

I saw some movies, happily read more books than previous years, watched television when I felt time allowed, and listened to music in the car. Some thoughts:

Of the 119 domestic releases in 2013, I barely saw two handfuls. Last Sunday was “Philomena,” worth the time and then some. That whole Irish thing, with nasty nuns and repressed sexuality, hit home and it was fun to see the rest of the story taking place around Washington DC, where I’ve spent the last several days. Also worth mentioning: “Mud,” “The Way Way Back,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Gravity,” “Monsters University,” “Lone Survivor” and, for pure fun, “Now You See Me.” Thumbs down: “Great Gatsby,” “Man of Steel.” Still want to see: “Before Midnight,” “The Heat,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Sharknado” (I kid), “The Butler”, “Nebraska,” “12 Years a Slave,” “August: Osage County,” “Prisoners,” “Enough Said,” “Rush,” “All is Lost,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” “About Time,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Her,” and “American Hustle.” As I said, not much time was made for movies. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Books I carved out moments for, which turned into hours when no one was looking. My favorite novel I read this year was The Poisonwood Bible from 1998. However, currently on page 450 of Donna Tartt’s 771 page The Goldfinch, I can’t imagine it won’t shoot past Barbara Kingsolver’s masterpiece and land next to my most beloved reading experience of all time, Great Expectations. Coincidentally, The Goldfinch is modern-day Dickens. The main character Theo recalls Pip and Oliver Twist; Theo’s best friend Boris, the Artful Dodger. All the messed up adults who surround him might as well be Miss Havershim, Fagin, and Bill Sikes. It’s a tremendous novel and I want everyone to leave me alone while I finish it. Others worth finishing: Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Alice McDermott’s Someone, Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, Andre Acimen’s  Harvard Square. Can’t wait to read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens. I read too many short stories to list here but thoroughly enjoyed Maile Meloy’s collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It. Can’t wait to read George Saunder’s Tenth of December and Ann Patchett’s essay collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Please, please tell me what you’re recommending as the best books you read this past year. Leave a comment.

The thing with television is that I almost always think there are more important, worthier activities I should be participating in than lying on the couch watching a show. And that’s true except I love lying on the couch and watching television. It’s neurotic. So while the husband and I devoted time to “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” – both highly engaging for different reasons – we’ve finished neither. “The Daily Show” is the only program to which we’re completely faithful, though “Modern Family,” “The Good Wife,” “Homeland,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Downton Abbey” (was that this year?), and the NFL seem to be all I can do. I know, I know, still no “Breaking Bad.” Perhaps 2014. I won’t even necessarily ask for recommendations because there’s an excellent chance I won’t heed them.

My main source of music remains the car radio, particularly on drives in the swagger wagon to soccer tournaments around the Southland. My knack for predicting hits was strong this past year as it was in 2012, with Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” and Lorde’s “Royals” hitting the top of the charts many, many weeks after I first heard them (and no one else had). My newest bet is on The Goo Goo Doll’s “Come to Me,” which has been around for awhile but you haven’t heard it yet. My top songs of 2013, in addition to the four songs just mentioned: Macklemore’s “Same Love,” Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” Bastille’s “Pompeii,” Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It,” and of course Pink and Nate Ruess’ “Just Give Me a Reason.”

What I hope for in 2014? Productivity. Time spent on worthy endeavors. Always more reading. Good health. More time spent with friends I love, even if just on the phone (hear that Beth Downes?). Always more writing. The ability to recognize and acknowledge my wonderful life.

Happy New Year. Go hug someone.

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  1. Anne says

    oops!….although I’ve known you for 30+ years I just butchered your name!! Should have said, “here’s to you JoAnn”…so sorry my friend, whatever your name is!

    • Jo says

      I’m sure people spell your name “Ann” all the time. You get used to it, but thanks for acknowledging the annoyingly unique way my name is spelled. – JoAnn JoAnn JoAnn

  2. says

    Cheers, JoAnn! I love that The Poisonwood Bible from 1998 was on your list! Having had my first child at the same time as yours, that was a book that eluded me too. Thanks for reminding me about it. XO, and I hope to make on your must see list this year.

  3. Cathy dore says

    The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

    And of course…
    Anne LaMotts newest

    So those are my recommendations on books.
    Mostly, I’m leaving a comment to say thank you. Whenever you do get to writing the blog I so enjoy it. You are a true kindred spirit (or at least I like to think that). Keep writing friend.

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