Thursday, December 31, 2009

"What I Liked in 2009--My Year-End List"--A New Year's Eve Journal

Every January 31, we close the lid on the previous 365 days, as though that period of time was a box, a container of the same size and shape of all the others that passed before. So we play that amusing year-end game of filling the box with a set amount of objects that can easily be portioned into bundles of 10, or 100, or some other arbitrary number:  10 Best Films or Books, 100 Most Memorable Images, 5 Things We'd Like to Forget, and all the rest. 

It would be so much more interesting if each person filled his or her "container" of a year with just their own appropriate amount of artistic or cultural favorites, memorable events, or significant trends.  As few or as many items could be included, without having to stretch in order to fill a pre-ordained list...or worse yet, to squeeze out a true favorite because the pre-ordained list is limited.

And yet, it's a nice time to review the things that we gladly carry with us across the threshold into the new year.

An old year coming to an end is like moving away from home, or leaving school.  A new year feels like a blank slate, a second chance, trying a new restaurant or seeing a new film.  Of course, years don't finally end or suddenly begin.   The joys and anxieties of 2009 will follow us into 2010 like a New Year's Day hangover, that will remind us either that we had a great time, or that there were a lot of questionable things that occurred that we would just as soon forget, but that we're sure will come back to haunt us in some way.  I'll bet that for most of us, it will be some of both.

I wonder what I will want to remember about 2010, when I look back on it a year from now.

For now, here is what I'm filling my 2009 "box" with...(and to keep it festive, I won't mention the world events and personal headaches that will sneak in like unwanted insects, destined to annoy me well into the new year!)

What I Liked In 2009

Book: "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout.  13 linked stories featuring an unforgettable title character. A deceptively simple collection about love and regret, the naive wonder of youth and the terror of aging, and the unique stories hiding in the most ordinary places.

Book: "Physics of the Impossible" by Michio Kaku.  What is impossible? Time travel? Invisibility? Death Stars? Teleportation? Physicist Kaku's entertaining argument for long-term possibilities...gave one of my dormant brain muscles a good, invigorating stretch.

Book: "Alex and Me", by Irene Pepperberg.  The story of the bond between  scientist Pepperberg  and the parrot (Alex) she trained to speak.  Funny, amazing and heartbreaking...Alex' last words: "You be good..I love you."

Book: "The Lazarus Project" by Aleksandr Hemon. Bosnian expatriate and Chicago native Hemon penned this novel that parallels a photographer's visit to Europe with a history of his ancestor's mysterious death.  Politically astute and funny, with haunting photographs as might be imagined by the fictional protagonist.

Additional Favorite Books and Re-Reads to remember: "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" (Michael Chabon); "Land's End" (Michael Cunningham), "Hot, Flat and Crowded" (Thomas Friedman), "One Nation Under Dog" (Michael Schaffer), "Revolutionary Road" (Richard Yates), "Columbine" (Dave Cullen), "Independence Day", (Richard Ford), and "Middlesex" (Jeffrey Eugenides)

Movie: "Milk".  I saw it first last year, but re-visited it in 2009, still the most satisfying and moving work I have seen all year.  A faithful and worthy tribute to a singular human, Harvey Milk.

Movie: "Every Little Step" . A documentary look inside auditions for the Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line". Rare and wonderful study of the creative impulse.

Movie: "Capitalism: a Love Story"  Michael Moore continues to tackle timely issues with unbridled honesty and amazing footage. (Reviewed here October 11)

Movie: "Nine" (Reviewed here Dec. 29...I've said it all there).

Movie: "An Education", A young british student preparing for Oxford must choose between her intellectual future and a life of excitement with a seductive older man. 

Movie: "I Love New York".... An "anthology" of several short films whose link is the diversity of the people of the Big Apple. 

Additional Movies I will Want to Remember: "Away We Go", "Brothers", "Taking Woodstock", "Precious", "500 Days of Summer".

And I will never forget these: 

Talking to Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge, see above) at the Printers Row Book Fair

Starting this "Reinvention" Journal!!

New York in October

The Imagine Circle in Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mark, Jillian and Max in theVillage


The Bethesda Angel

Fenway Park! (See Photo Above)

Harvard, The Book Co-Op, and the Huffington Post Book of Blogging

The Ferry from Boston to Provincetown

"Hair"--and dancing with the cast on-stage for the finale.

My shared birthday with Mark on the North End, where we were both Italian for a night

Provincetown, the theater, and "Take me Out"

The Breakwater on Cape Cod

A Night at the Opera---"Merry Widow"

President Obama's Inauguration

"39 Steps"

"Superior Donuts"

"Fiddler on the Roof" in Chicago, starring Topol

"Jersey Boys"

NPR and Fresh Air, especially Tom Ford's Interview, and so many others

Friends....old and new...from California, to Maine, to Phoenix, to Connecticut

Maggie, who will always be there....

All of you....

Best 2010 to everyone!!


  1. Happy New Year to you and your readers.

  2. Thanks Tom for the nice comment on my blog. that was very sweet. I've enjoyed your writing as well! Have a great 2010!

  3. Happy New Year Tom! Wow, what a great list! I think it's going to be hard to top that for 2010 but I'm sure you'll manage! Here's to more of your amazing posts in the coming year! Cheers!

  4. I'm proud of you, Tom. In 2009, you took the creative plunge. I watched you pour your creativity into the launch of your blog -- and together we rediscovered the theatre. I think the trail leads back to the breakwater in Provincetown. In spite of the financial fright and uncertainty we all lived through in 2009, that's the day (and the personal journey) I won't forget. Keep writing!

  5. Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for your support this year. Mark, I can't wait for our 2010 "breakwater" experience!

  6. hey tom! I enjoyed reading through your list. made me think about my favorite moments from the past year-something i often don't take the time to reflect back on.

    hope 2010 is even more incredible for your journey of reinventiion!


  7. It will be great to watch Fiddler On The Roof, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.