The darkness that shadowed the end of 2013 carried into 2014, with losses all around me, including the shocking murder of a beloved Sheriff’s Deputy, which horrified the entire county; the sudden loss of my friend Joel; and the loss of my job.
Trips to San Francisco: A mere three, versus last year’s nine times.
Rainfall for 2014 to date: 32.75 inches. At this time last year, we had about 5 inches. Still a long way to go to get out of the drought, though: 11 trillion gallons, to be precise.
Power outages: 7. One in February, one in April, three in May and June, including one on my birthday, and one in July. Go figure. The final one was on Christmas Eve.
I read 100 books this year, a marked improvement over last year’s 83, though to be fair, some were kid lit and some were YA. I will never be too old for YA. Favorites this year were:
- Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders and the Crime That Changed America, by Kevin Cook
The Genovese murder was a cause célèbre that we all grew up hearing about – the girl murdered while many people stood by and watched but didn’t help. This legend is far from the actual, though horrible, truth and Cook’s meticulous research debunks the myths while revealing the truth about Kitty and her killer. I really felt like I got to know Kitty and the place and time she lived (and died) in. A fascinating read.
- The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Perhaps a strange choice for someone trying to escape the gloom of real life, this novel is set in an unnamed prison and is narrated by a killer on Death Row. The author is a former death row penalty investigator, and her knowledge is reflected in this remarkable book. Despite the darkness of the subject, the writing is, at once, moving, poetic, and beautiful, both reflecting and transcending its subject.
- The Short, Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
Although the title is something of a spoiler, I couldn’t put down this memoir of the author’s roommate at Yale, who overcame so much to be there but was not, in the end, able to escape his demons. Beautifully written and unforgettable, this is a haunting, complex, and fascinating read.
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I was originally attracted to this because its setting – kids spending summers together on an island in New England – reminded me of my youth, but it revealed itself to be so much more. I did not guess the shocking twist at the end at all, and both the surprise and the lyrical writing stayed with me for several days.
In my quest for escapism, I re-read several childhood favorites, such as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (I still think the character I most closely resemble in fiction is Claudia Kincaid) and Harriet the Spy. I found “Harriet” to be much darker than I remembered, with the bleakness of Harrison Withers’ life, the disturbingly carnivalesque Mrs. Golly, and the protracted revenge Harriet’s schoolmates take against her, apparently sanctioned by their parents – bullying long before the internet. But I did enjoy the glimpses of long-ago New York in both of them.
And the TV shows that I enjoyed the most were also on the dark side: the half season of Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, True Detective, and Rectify. Escapist fun was provided by House of Cards and Nashville, along with the ever-enjoyable and ultra stylish Sherlock, House of Lies, Suits (which is set in New York, but clearly filmed in Toronto – I have fun spotting locations and remembering my Bay Street days) and White Collar.
On the bright side, I managed to stay out of the courtroom and remained subpoena free for the first time in two years. Score!
I did a little blog improvement, adding a peek back at the previous year’s posts to this year’s blog posts, and a page with my end of day reports for the jobette. Here’s a look back at what happened this year:
January: Happy New Year! A beautiful party. Curses! The flu foils and spoils my plans. Stella the foster dog decides to meet the neighbors. A beautiful oceanside walk. Is there any other kind? A visit from dear friend (and professional cook) Paul. Driving adventures.
February: Shopping with Stella. My sister’s misadventures in the City. manicures and a movie. Visiting Erica and Jessica – and the rarely open Museum. A look around the garden. First power outage of the winter.
March: Refreshing my hair and my spirit at the little salon in the big woods. My intrepid brother once again takes the Polar Plunge. An earthquake, a cat burglary, and my jobette boss meets the President! Clyde’s antics. Stella wins her Canine Good Citizenship award on Dad’s birthday. He would have been proud of Megan and Stella. A tragic loss shocks our little community. Farewell to a hero. A delightful play.
April: The ludicrous bureaucracy of healthcare begins (not that it ever ends). Another lovely evening at the theater. An afternoon at the beach. Another power outage, this one driven by someone driving into a power pole at midnight. My blog turns thirteen! A conference in the City. A memorable visit to the de Young Museum. Jessica’s 11th birthday. An early heat wave.
May: More healthcare madness. Home improvements. A field trip. The beginning of the bathroom fix up. It can be useful having an outdoor shower, especially during a heat wave. Too many losses. Megan’s birthday. Car repairs.
June: A bright and beautiful birthday to me! Silly me! Progress on the bathroom front. A sunny Sunday. Adventures in transportation. I would prefer transportation to be a little less adventurous. Farewell to a friend. A reading at the bookstore, and some unexpected art.
July: Anniversaries all around! The pleasures of my commute Renovations continue apace in the bathroom. Goodbye, electric lime green plywood floor! A birthday celebration for a beautiful girl. Fantastic, faux pho.
August: A snow day, California style. Meetings and modernism. More modern art, a visit to the inimitable Swan Oyster Depot, and a diamond as big as the Ritz. The bathroom is better and brighter. Working on the new and improved door. The anniversary of Dad’s death arrives for the thirteenth time. A brand new (to me) tree! My back gets back at me.
September: Happiness is a new puppy! And new iThings. Dinner and a play with two of my favorite girls. The always delightful County Fair. Welcome rain. And other news. Dramatic Before and After pictures.
October: I suddenly lose my job. Why not? Loss is the theme of the year. A little jaunt to the south coast lifts my spirits. Living in limbo: I don’t recommend it. But dinner and a movie with people you love always helps. Celebrating my fifth Hooterville anniversary with tacos! Early morning job testing.
November: A happy Halloween, both in San Francisco and in Hooterville. Clyde gives me a Stephen King style scare. No news is not particularly good news. A lovely evening out with friends. A not very productive trip to San Francisco. A rainy trip home. A happy Thanksgiving.
December: Walking the dogs with my sister between storms. Getting ready for Christmas. After the storm. A grueling job interview. A merry Christmas after a Christmas Eve power outage. Lichen’s new and unusual house. A sparkling soirée.
I kept my new year’s resolution for 2013 of staying out of the courtroom, and am encouraged to set one for this year, too: spend more time with friends (especially Erica and Jessica) and family (especially Jonathan). May the new year be bright and beautiful for all of us!
A YEAR AGO: Recapping 2013.