And so another year ends and another begins. As it goes with the circle of life. We live, we eat, we smile, we laugh, we cry, we are sad and we die. Life is so everyday and it so mundane sometimes, that we just don’t really know what to do with ourselves about it sometimes I think. But, with the end of the year also comes the time to reflect on the past 12 months. At least that’s what everyone else is doing. I guess you can’t help but look back. Maybe you wonder at what could have been or what should have been. Or in some cases you are just so fond of a memory you would love to relive it. So, here are some of the best music, places, books and things seen/done this year. As I write this, I realize that on a personal level I did more to make myself happy than in other years. Maybe it was because I was done with school and didn’t really find a long-term job, but whatever it was I tried new things even if those things were not all that exciting.
I went to Italy in March. I was invited as an alumni (from my university) in a time when I was really like “I want to travel somewhere.” I didn’t think I would end up going though, though my family pushed me to try it and travel. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Seeing the cathedrals in Florence and Siena and being near the Vatican when a new pope came in was something. (I was literally in the Vatican the day before the announcement was made. Many of us wanted to go back to see, but we had to stick to schedule). I went to Pompeii, I went to Pisa, I spent some time in Rome and ate some gelato in Pisa and stared at the canals in Florence. It was magical. A part of me wonders, though if I got a bit of a free trip out of essentially (there was an initial deposit) and I had to sit in on some of the classes that were going there. On the whole, I lost contact with the people. This makes me think I should get back on fb just to get that back and to tell all of them I loved the trip as much as they did. Yup, not going to forget this one.
In early August, I believe I went with my family for a weekend in the mountains. We stayed in a condo type place. Not too high up, but high enough that it was peaceful. We went on like three hikes in the mountains, but the most memorable was going up this trail in which is started raining so hard. But once we started, we had to finish so we kept going totally getting wet and soaked to the core. The walk back we just laughed it off and I knew then that I would not forget that day. Pigeon Forge is a little too touristy for my taste and Gatlinburg can be too, but it’s not as bad. I like the quiet of the mountains better than the commercialization which comes along with it. I definitely want to go back.
This was the first music festival I went to. I went with my sisters in mid July, like a week after the fourth. The festival was three days, but we only went to the first day. I pretty much loved this because I saw Walk the Moon and Fun on the same day and they were both awesome and the energy was high. Plus, it was summer and the location was good and it reminded me of happy days and carefree thinking (for only a few hours, of course).
In the last week, I went to California. I went to San Francisco, visited parts of Silicon Valley, and then drove with my family along the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the highlights of the two day roadtrip there included Hearst Castle, a magnificent castle/mansion built by William Randolph Hearst. The other highlight was the ocean. Just looking at it. Eventually we arrived in LA, but went to Glendale first for nostalgia (used to live there). Basically, California is the best place ever. I would love to live in the Bay Area one day or even more south. The west coast stole my heart and I’m pretty sure it stole my family’s too (we’re still thinking about it with my dad threatening that “if it doesn’t get warm soon, we’re going back.”) I would love that actually. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m definitely going back west.
It’s really hard to think back to like January and wonder what I was listening to then. It might have been something like Walk the Moon and the Mountain Goats (also, probably some fun and other trending music e.g. Katy Perry).
Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis So, I don’t remember when I first heard Mackelmore, it might not have been this year but I definitely did listen to him a lot and I think he deserves his fame. I will be a bit of a hipster and say that I remember when someone tweeted Same Love before it went mainstream and suddenly it was everywhere and was listening more closely to the song and it sort of became an anthem without meaning to. It was awesome.
She & Him Around September, I heard of She & Him. This through reading about Zooey Deschanel and listening to music and watching 500 days of summer (one of my favorites). I never bought any of their music, but I realized that I had seen it around the indie scene and heard them in cofeeshops and things. Like elevator music that was calming you could fall asleep soundly. Once when I heard them in Panera, I got excited and smiled to myself but probably no one else could hear the music if they weren’t listening hard enough. Do I wish they had more recognition? Maybe, but I like their indie feel. I have a playlist on spotify dedicated to them. This is how I know they are awesome.
Fitz and the Tantrums I really started listening to this band on spotify. I had heard of them before, but had not really listened to their music. It’s the best ever. After finding out that the concert I was going to would be theirs, I pretty much binged on their music. It worked well and when the concert came around, I knew all the songs. Really though, they’re awesome check them out if you’re a fan of a bit of motown and some rock on the side.
Capitol Cities That concert I mentioned? It was to see this band. It was both together. In a matter of a few months, I would say I got slowly addicted to both bands and listened to like nothing but them. I just want to dance to all their songs.
Twenty one pilots I’ve heard of them, too but only started listening to them until recently. As to be expected, I am in love.
American Authors I heard this band at Bunbury. They were not famous. I heard them on the radio the other day. They are going places people, buy their ep on itunes. I’m sure they’ll have a full length soon. They are def a band to watch out for.
Bastille Alright, so at the moment I’ve only really listened to a few of their songs. I really like Pompeii. It played a lot on my recent vacation and it made me want to know more about the band. So, yeah check them out.
I don’t really feel like describing all these books, so I’ll just link to where I posted summaries on my tumblr.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
So I read the whole series, actually but the first book is where it all started. I really liked it and wanted more. I made we want to continue reading, so I would say that makes it a book worth reading (especially if you are drawn towards the genre of dystopian fiction).
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Yet another dystopian novel trilogy. I liked this one and it stood out to me because in it love is forbidden, no banned. At eighteen, youth in this society undergo a procedure to remove all emotion thereby removing any cause for love. I fell in love with a book saying love was bad.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Getting on to the classics, I finally read this this year. Yay. Just as good as people make it out to be.
Emma by Jane Austen
The only Jane Austen I read this year, but it’s one of my favorites by her actually. I read early in the year and it feels like years ago, but yes. This book was love and I would read it again.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
An incredibly powerful fable about following your destiny. Everyone should read this story. It shouldn’t take you that long and I’m sure you’ll remember it when you’re done.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky
Read this after wanting to for awhile too. I didn’t get the ending right away, but when I did I knew it was a real and heartfelt story (It is fictional, but the message I mean).
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I now love Rainbow Rowell. Not only for this book, but for her awesome writer self. This was a sad, romantic book but I still loved it.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
This is one of the few non-fiction books I read this year. I really have to say that it was insightful and showed that the author had done her research well.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
I almost forgot about this one. It was the best. It’s part mystery, part thriller and set in a mysterious setting of deserts in a faraway middle east land. Filled with magic, mysticism, and mystery it is definitely one to read.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
I read this book in the summer. I think it goes on the top for best book I read this year. Now, I know the movie just came out and I do want to watch that. But, I have to say don’t let the size of this book throw you off. It’s good. Really good and the story will not only make you sad, it will make you think. So if you have nothing to do for the next two months, then read this book.
Also this year, I thought about volunteering. Thought about some more, then finally did it. I thought about teaching. I thought about substituting. I thought about Teach for America and teaching english as a foreign language in another country. I applied to different places. I almost got an offer. I don’t know if I’m going to live in New York this time next year or not. I’m probably more happier though. I bought some stuff and whoops, I want to buy more stuff (and throw away old clothes).
And that’s me. So, wherever you are maybe you’re stressing out about the end of the year deadlines or maybe you are ready to party it up and ring in the new year. Whatever your new year’s plan, it’s not bad to look back either. Also, stop making resolutions and just jump in because life is short after all.
Live the life you want to live, don’t worry about others.