I tell everyone all the time that I am a writer. But really, what do I write? Because I'll even confess to not writing as much as I should be.

Part of this I attribute to laziness. Part to ADHD. Part to anxiety. Part to...I could make a really long list.

Suffice it to say that a few days ago I dredged my computer for excerpts and scenes from my novel, and I found way more than I realized I had. Go me! I *AM* a writer! Including whole scenes that I think about and say "hmm this will be difficult to write." Yeah, except I already wrote it!!! :)

So to help me overcome some of my obstacles... I've been trying to find ways to be more creative about my creativity. The newest foray: Choose-your-own-adventure-style collaborative decision-making. I've resurrected my other blog and will be peeling back the curtains on my writing. Which scares me to death. I'm also kind of excited.

But I'm doing it anyway. I will be sharing characters, cities, world, etc., as well as bits of my story. But my readers will choose who they meet and what gets written next!!! (Genius!)

Please note that because of the sensitive content on this blog, IT IS PRIVATE. There's just too much opportunity to have my materials stolen/pilfered if it's not. Sorry. If you'd like an invite, please comment, text, message, etc., and I will invite you at my discretion.


50/50 (Jan 7) - Grade: B. Triple play action! To celebrate my newly-rediscovered freedom, we went to the Dollar Theatre for a triple-flick extravaganza! Woo! First was this movie which I had seen slated as a "comedy." And Seth Rogen was in it too. So I was thinking your Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express type of comedy I don't generally appreciate. But I believe this film was mislabeled. It was serious, and actually rather heavy amid its light-hearted comedic quips. I really enjoyed this film.

Real Steel (Jan 7) - Grade: B-. A lot of people have hated on this movie for being absurd, horrid, ridiculous, etc. You name the adjective, it's probably been thrown at this movie. But I don't really agree. Granted, it's not your X-men, but I didn't think any of the acting was poorly done. It's a camp story, but it was executed in the right ways, and I enjoyed this flick just as much as the next kid.

The Help (Jan 7) - Grade: A. I haven't read the book, so maybe I missed out, but I loved this film. Loved. Emma Stone was priceless, the message was heavy, heavy, heavy. It raised a lot of questions for me about issues we still face in 2012 and not just in terms of race. Which is still an issue, contrary to popular belief. I definitely cried at the end. What an amazing testament to human spirit and resilience. This is a must-see.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Feb 9) - Grade: C. The previews for this movie made it look like this movie was going to be absolutely incredible. And with it centered around an event so near and dear to my own heart, I was hoping it would find a place on my shelf of "movies that I bawl through, destroy me, and make me a better person all at once." But it just didn't come together on this one. Don't get me wrong. Most of the performances are amazing. But there are pieces missing. It didn't grab my heartstrings and rip them out and never stop like I wanted it to. I would have written the ending just a little differently to get the result I wanted. There were pieces that should have been included that weren't, and that frustrated me.

The Secret World of Arrietty (Mar 8) - Grade: A-. I love The Borrowers and I grew up reading The Littles so I already wanted to see this. And then to find out that Miyazaki was involved? Yes please! I really only had one complaint about this movie, and that was the wasted opportunity in animating their house. So many things like the needle, etc., were "big" stuff that the "littles" used, but that was absent in the house make-up for the most part. I wanted to see the kitchen table be a button, and them using a thimble as a pitcher, etc. I think there was a great opportunity for a lot of that to be incorporated that was missed. Other than that, I loved it.

The Hunger Games (Mar 23) - Grade: D. I am one of like 3 people on Earth who hated this movie. [ INSERT RANT HERE]

John Carter (Apr 12) - Grade: F. This movie was awful, which for Disney is saying something. The best part of the whole movie was that giant slobbery dog-lizard thing. Only redeeming character. The movie was camp and it wasn't supposed to be. The acting was sub-par, the writing terrible, and it was awful. Don't waste your time.

Lockout (Apr 13) - Grade: C. This movie was so forgettable I couldn't even remember what it was and had to look it up. Then I still couldn't remember having seen it. I had to read a complete synopsis to jog my memory. And then, only just barely. Nothing to write home about here.

Cabin in the Woods (Apr 15) - A+. Love, love, love. Joss Whedon is pretty a complete genius at everything he does. I was a little worried about this movie since I'm not big on horror or the 'hack and slash' genre, but Whedon was at the top of his game here (though he's gotten more fame from Avengers when he made this. It's almost a parody of the horror genre in its entirety. There are scary and bloody parts, but trust me, it's NOT what you think it is. AT ALL. And that's part of why this movie is so amazing. Maybe the best film I've seen all year!

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) (Apr 19) - Grade: C. I continue my seemingly futile quest to find quality gay flicks that are not Prayers for Bobby. I was intrigued when I saw Jim Carrey starring in this film, but apparently his acting swings both ways. Ewan McGregor is super attractive in this film, but the storyline is a little too contrived for my liking. And Carrey's character is clearly crazy. I didn't hate it, but I don't recommend it.

BULLY (Apr 29) - Grade: A. This movie was incredibly eye-opening. Before I say anything else, I will say this: SEE THIS MOVIE. ABSOLUTELY SEE THIS MOVIE. It is engaged in enlightening people about a very serious problem that affects our young people. I totally bawled through at least half of this movie, because I identified so, so strongly with the characters. After it was over, I was chatting idly with my friends and I was absolutely shocked to learn that this story was NOT in fact all of theirs as well. I had just taken for granted that the people I took with me had all suffered like the kids in this movie. Like me. I will never be able to look back at my childhood with fondness or happiness. I can only take from it the strength that was beaten into me. And that to me, is a tragedy. I made it, but there are so many more who don't. Bullying is NOT okay, and somehow that message needs to be spread, because as they say in the film - most of the kids who bully learn it (unfortunately) from their parents. It doesn't just all of a sudden spawn out of them. This film was heart-wrenching and a little too close to home for me, but I believe that absolutely everyone should see it.

Thor (May 29) - Grade: B-. This movie was okay. Capt. America was better. Maybe the Iron Man(s) were too. This movie was probably the most important prequel to see going into Avengers, but it wasn't the best. Maybe Natalie Portman was part of the problem? I just don't really love her. Chris Hemsworth is pretty... but I liked him better in Cabin in the Woods to be honest. I dunno. Maybe I'm just biased because I want my Justice League.

The Avengers (June 5) - Grade: A. I can't really fault this movie. Because it's Joss. And Joss is everything. This movie undertook something that hadn't been done before really, and with 5 prequels, it definitely lived up to the hype. It was a great story, the fx were ridiculous, and Joss made it hysterically funny as well. Wonderful action movie. No qualms here.

The Adventures of Tin Tin (July 10) - Grade: C. Everyone was really excited for this classic comic to come to the big screen. I was excited too. The animation was absolutely mind-blowing, and sometimes I forgot it wasn't live action. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with the comics, but there was too much camp for me. It was just overdone and needed to be toned down a bit in my opinion. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't anything amazing.

BRAVE (?) - Grade: A. I'm really sad that I don't remember when I went to see this movie! But I loved it. Everything about it. Such a great story, such great characters, loved the female lead, everything was spot-on with this movie. Definitely a must-see.

Magic Mike (July 15)- Grade: C. Em and I went to see this one together. Because let's be honest... So the movie was not at all what I was expecting, which was hot men shaking what they got. Well, it DID give that, but then it also tried way too hard, way too late, to be a serious movie with a plot. I mean, I'll give it credit for trying to have a plot when almost everyone believed it wouldn't have ANY, but it tried to be heavy-hitting in the wrong places without enough backstory and/or character support, and it just hurt the film badly. Especially the ending. That shouldn't have happened. There should have been more shaking and dancing. The best parts of the whole movie were when Channing was actually legit dancing. Because he can!

Batman: Dark Knight Rises (July 20) - Grade: B-. Midnight Premiere! I've seen all the Batmans now and I have to say this one was my least favorite. (Although Joseph Gordon-Leavitt FTW). I always thought this inception of Batman sounded completely idiotic... then I heard Bane talk. Really, though? There were some exciting plot twists that took me by surprise, and the action was wonderful as always. Also, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was spot-on casting. She killed that role. I think I liked the first one best, though this one did not have its redeeming moments. The second one was incredibly dark, and I'm not so much into that, which is why I think they got progressively worse. Again, though, don't hate them. This is still a B- film and I wouldn't try and stop you from seeing it.

More movie action is coming your way!

James Dashner's The Death Cure - Grade: A. This is the third installment in The Maze Runner which, if you haven't started reading them, you should. Because they are pretty awesome. Again, I struggled to remember what happened in the previous book, especially some of the characters. I don't know if that's because they weren't developed well-enough to be memorable, or just that I suck at remembering. But again, Dashner is in his element, producing a heart-pounding, page-turning, gripping novel. As I got near the last 30 pages, I didn't want to keep reading, because THE END was coming! Nooooooooo!!! I don't WANT the end! My heart was racing for so much of the book. Dashner knows how to keep readers on the edge of their seats, that's for sure. I enjoyed this one alot.

Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune (second book in The Heroes of Olympus series) - Grade: A-. Another victory for Riordan. I struggled to get through this book at parts, but for the most part the action and story were intriguing, engaging, and the characters believable and relate-able. I think Riordan does a good job of continuing the saga, and feel that he has achieved success where authors like Jacques fall short in simply reproducing what they've already done, simply in a different light. Riordan is not that author. His material is fresh, diverse, and always interesting.

Charles Jensen's The First Risk - Grade: B. This is a collection of poetry documenting four separate accounts: 1) the murder of Matthew Shepard and the myth of Venus and Adonis through the eyes of Italian Renaissance painter Luca Cambiaso; 2) the eccentric women of Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother and their search for authenticity; 3) the nature of love and obsession in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and the pain and confusion of loss; and "The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon," the compelling novella-in-verse of a physicist in search of his lost wife, haunted by a phantom voice that may or may not be hers. This collection really struck with the poems about Matthew Shepard. I found them very, very powerful and spell-binding in their prose. I cried too. I found the poems haunting, and beautiful at the same time. The other three sections left me wanting, but that could have been simply because I didn't connect with them on the same level. The words were pretty, they didn't seem poorly written... but they did not capture like the Matthew poems had.

Allison Burnett's Christopher - Grade: C. I actually stumbled across the sequel to this novel (The House Beautiful - review forthcoming) when I was doing my search for gay poetry. I put it back though, so I could read this one. It was eh, which seems to be my opinion on most gay-themed Lit. The main character was a soppy, hopeless fat man who gives real gays a bad name. I'm glad this book isn't wildly popular actually. The main character has a hopeless crush on the dashing young tenant next door...I'm just glad it didn't play out the way I thought it would. Christopher (said dashing fellow) remained ardently straight and B.K. never got what he wanted. Which I suppose in all fairness makes the book more believable and reliable, but still. The unattainability of Christopher led B.K. to do raucous, unfulfilling things that most people who are ignorant of gays think we ALL engage in. Not my favorite 'model citizen' book.

Leah Cypess' Nightspell - Grade: A-. I'll bump up the grade on this one ever so slightly, because I thought her second novel really outdid Mistwood. The plot was more cohesive and well-done. She's definitely improved. There was less characterization than her first novel, but overall still well done. Apparently, there is a character that spans both novels, though the connection was so stretched/faint I could not even tell/remember. I did read some on the subject though, and the link is there I guess. The world was interesting, as was the concept, though some of the "twists" were predictable. I like her writing, and will read whatever she writes next.

Clint Catalyst's Cottonmouth Kisses - Grade: B-. This was one of my poetry forays, and was a book with short stories, poems, and essays. Parts of the book really resonated with me and I said, "yes, he got it. This is what gay feels like." But other parts were drug-tripped, chaotic, and seemingly nonsensical and I could not relate to them no matter how I tried. So, mixed bag.

Poppy Z. Brite's Drawing Blood - Grade: C. This novel was suggested to me (again) during my gay poetry phase. I finally got to it, and I can't believe I read the whole thing. Again, my feelings are torn. First off, the plot is insane. Twisted, horrific, and dark, it's about a boy whose father murders his whole family and then commits suicide, leaving this one son alive. The son returns after 20 years to the scene of the crime and tries to reconcile his past with his present. It ended up being gay lit, featuring a love story with the two main characters. But the story was tainted by creepy, weird, bizarre happenings and love-making evolving out of bloody fighting. It was just weird and didn't sit right with me. Not one I'd recommend unless you go for that sort of thing.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind - Grade: A. Wow, wow, wow. Wow. I haven't read a book this good since The Magicians. I devoured this book, loved every moment of the plot, and could not put it down. The one issue I took with this novel was that I felt like Rothfuss started to build up the story, and then was like, just kidding. Before we can get to that, we have to go back to when I was 5... and then he launches into his main char's backstory, while dangling tidbits of the present every so often. I have now read the first two books in the series, and I still feel like the "story" hasn't even started... sigh. I don't know. Everything about this series is brilliant though. Riveting, and a must read.

Mary-Elaine Jacobsen's Liberating Everyday Genius - Grade: B+. So, in my attempt to better myself and better know myself, I picked this book at the recommendation of Sarah. Basically the book addresses the fact that in our society we have designed curriculum and programs for Gifted children, so they can learn and excel at their own speed, but then once they graduate... we pretend they disappear. Which isn't the case. As a gifted person, I find this plight unique, baffling, and sometimes daunting. But it's true. We just expect these kids that we've separated out and provided accelerated learning to, to just re-integrate into normal society once they turn 18, and that's just not possible. So the book addresses this issue and proposes things we can do as Gifteds, to alleviate some of our struggle and difficulty. It didn't provide all the answers, but it offered quite a few. I also felt like every time I read a chapter in this book, I found some way to apply it to the work I was trying to do with myself in meeting goals, and getting more writing done. I really enjoyed this book.

Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins - Grade: B. Now there's a classic kickback. Just like I had an itch oh so long ago to reread The Giver, this one has been on my list for a while. I finally found it for like $0.25 or something, so I got it and read through it in a few hours. I didn't remember it being as lonely as it was, nor did I remember it being based on true accountings, so that was cool. But it failed to move in the ways the very best of books do, so I didn't love love it.

Benjamin Alire Saenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Grade: B+. At first I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about, or where it was going. But I have to say from the very beginning all the way to the very, very end, I super, super enjoyed the narrative voice. I felt like it was 100% spot-on and really, really accurately reflected a 15-18 yr old. I felt like with making the characters Mexicans the author was trying to run some sort of commentary on race and discrimination, but it ended up feeling very underdeveloped to me, and fell flat it the places I felt like it was trying to be accented. Some of the time I couldn't tell if one of the characters was white or not. But I think I settled on them both being Latino. I also really struggled with the ease with which pot and alcohol had their places in the story. I can understand how my personal bias would play into that somewhat, but really the book all-but advocated under-age smoking and drinking. Once you're 18, I support the do-what-you-will mentality, but here it just seemed to me to be borderline-advocacy for teens to drink and smoke, which I would think would have some resonant with parents, no matter who they were. Am I crazy? It didn't seem to bother anyone else. But I liked the story and how it slowly sprang the "love" story on the reader. Some people I've seen have criticized the book for having a rushed ending, but I thought it was picturesque and perfect considering. For once, I found a romance that worked and wasn't painted in the wrong way. Granted, the other pieces of the book tarnish it's splendor, but at least it was there. Certain plot elements were too cookie-cutter "draw-attention-to-the-plight" for my liking, but I could see why the author included them.

More books to come in 2012! Keep on Reading!

So here we are again, except this year I'm posting this in October. So 2010 clearly wins. And you've all been good and read the Best of 2011..., right? You better! Also, can I just say - part of the reason I think I procrastinate posts like this (and the Best of's) is because they take SO LONG! I can't just gush and his "publish." These posts take work, editing, setup, comparison, etc. This post took me like 4 hours to completely write.

The numbers are pretty interesting this go-round, and I'd say they have definitely been affected by Pandora. Because I could listen to that at work, but not my iPod/iTunes. So my #4 from last year comes in just under the #1 for this year, but then I have 9 songs this year that received less plays than the #25 last year. So there's alot more disparity in numbers in 2011.

I went on a shopping spree right at the end of 2010, so alot of new music, plus further buys in 2011 based on my Pandora loves. There's almost as big a shake-up as before, with only FOUR songs returning from last year. Although, 2 have resurfaced from 2009 as top favorites, so that's exciting. Last year was a year of Gothic music, with 6 songs showing from VNV Nation. None this time. So interesting how my listens change year to year. Okay, let's get to it!

24. Hero by Skillet (53), One of my more recent forays into rock has yielded this treasure of a band. I love them, and I'm glad that this song made the Top 25, but I'm actually surprised it's not higher up on the list.
24. The Night of Your Life is When You’ll Die by Capital Lights (53), this is one of only TWO ties we have this go-round. So that's saying something! Also, this band is fabulous. I was introduced to them via Pandora. They have such a unique style and sound. Oddly, this isn't my favorite song by them either.
23. Never Alone by Jesse Bonanno (54), he's also from my Pandora. I bought his album for this song, and he's not well known or popular, but this song is definitely a go-to when I'm feeling down.
22. She is Love by Parachute (59), I almost picked this band as my favorite of the year. But then I found that this album actually came out in 2009, though I did get in 2011, so technically I could have picked it. They are a super great band, I love their sound and style, and I saw them in concert.
21. Worth as Much as a Counterfeit Dollar by Capital Lights (60), again I love this band. Again, oddly not my favorite song. But definitely check them out if you haven't before! Their sound is original and like nothing else I have.
20. Marchin On by OneRepublic (64), a newcomer in 2010, debuting at #2, this song would almost seem remiss if it didn't make it again in 2011. Obviously I didn't need it as much in 2011, since it's dropped 18 spots, but it's still here. :)
19. Lifeline by Angels & Airwaves (66), this song has been in the top 25 every single year since I started. That's pretty impressive. I think it might be the only one! 2008: 14th, 2009: 25th, 2010: 20th.
18. One of These Days by New Crystal Dolls (68), interesting that this song made the cut. This is actually the new incarnation of Making April, at least the main singer is the same. Which kind of makes me sad, because I loved them SO much. This is either the only, or one of two, song(s) I have from them.
17. Beautiful Love by The Afters (70), I'll pretty much repeat verbatim what I said about Dirty Little Secret last year: "I don't know that I actually love this song... it's just that it's the first on my playlists, so if I just hit play this one comes on. So maybe it's here by default?"
15. The Saddest Song by Until June (87), I'm actually kind of sad this song didn't place better in the countdown. I absolutely love this band and this song is one of my personal favorites. Thank you again, Pandora. This band, like Capital Lights, has such an absolutely unique sound. I love the lead singer's voice. Check them out!
15. Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae (87), so this is radical news. This song comes from the FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT ONLINE. Like ever, ever. I had always bought the cd and ripped the music. But when this song came out... I could NOT get it out of my head, and then one day I was like WAGH!!! MUST LISTENNNNNNNN, and so I bought it. :) And here it is, tied for 15th.
14. Whatcha Say by Jason Derulo (88), this is one of my favorite songs to dance to, so I broke down and got the album. Clearly, it wasn't a waste.
13. Who You Are by Jessie J, (97), we have Stephiekins to thank for this one. She introduced me to this artist, just before she got super huge. Now probably everyone knows who she is (especially if you watched the Olympics). But I love her because she is a legit artist. The first video I saw of her was an acapella. No auto-tune here like so many other artists these days.
12. Shine On by Needtobreathe (102), yet another Pandora, yet another I bought the album for this one song. I like them, but some of their songs are too religious-y for me. This one, though has a special place (obvi).
11. Good Life by OneRepublic (110), Marchin' On isn't the only good thing to come out of OneRepublic's new album. This song also helps me pick myself up and feel good about everything when I'd rather not.

10. Bleed by Hot Chelle Rae (111), every single one of the Top 10 are on a special playlist I have called "My Top Rated." As they should be. I love, love, love this song and it was an unintentional gain when I got the HCR album. I'd put this in y personal Top 5, but it didn't show as well here, sadly. This one should be around for a while though.

9. Three Cheers For Five Years by Mayday Parade (acoustic) (121), Again, personal Top 5. Every time this song comes on, I listen to it repeatedly. I love, love, love this song. Except to see it again in 2012.

8. Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls (124), I was wrong about Lifeline. It wasn't the only song that's been here every year, here's another one. And I do love this song. None of these in the Top 10 are songs I'm ever like, "eh" and skip. It just wouldn't happen. 2010: 17th, 2009: 20th, 2008: 3rd.

7. Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade (127), I don't know where this song was last year! Because this song has been a staple otherwise, and it was #1 the first year I started keeping track. He hasn't had anything that impressive recently, I don't think one of his songs off his 3rd album struck me as 'love.' Supposedly he's working on new stuff though, so we'll see. 2010: X, 2009: 5th, 2008: 1st!

6. When The Time Comes by The Classic Crime (128), again, where was this song last year?! Because if you ask me to name my FAVORITE song (personal, not via iTunes count), it will always be this one. This is my absolute fave favorite song. I just love everything about it. So the fact that is wasn't there in 2010 is kind of puzzling to me. Because if there's a song I LOVE, it's this one. 2010: X, 2009: 10th, 2008: 2nd.

5. Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins (129), okay, so I loved this song in High School. It's just always resonated with me since the first time I heard it (prolly in Drew's car. He was obsessed in HS). Now I have it, so clearly I'm going to listen to it. :)

4. This is War by 30 Seconds to Mars (134), I don't remember who put me on to this band (Pandora?), but I know many of my friends love them. Turns out I do to. And I may or may not have used their music as a way to pump myself up/warm-up tracks for Ultimate in 2011. Like, repeatedly. So that's why it's here.

3. These are the Nights by Making April (136), last year this band had 4 songs in the Top 5. And this song was #1! So we have to crown a new winner. Interesting that no song has repeated yet as #1. Still love them, still love this song. It belongs here or even higher.

2. Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast) by Lostprophets (142), this one surprises even me a little. This was one of my myriad Pandora purchases (got this at the same time I got Jason Derulo, Needtobreathe, Until June, etc.), yet this one has risen almost all the way to the top. And honestly, it could have been, since only 1 play separates the Top 2.

And finally, coming out of left field to claim the victory, the Top Song of 2011 is:

1. KINGS AND QUEENS BY 30 SECONDS TO MARS with a whopping 143 listens (46 less than the #1 last year!) There was a movie with this song in it that came out in 2011, but I didn't see it. This song was just on all the right playlists I guess, including the one I used for Ultimate. So it stomped the competition and wins the title: Best Song of 2011! I'm excited to see what this band comes next. They have some really cool stuff going for them. I really liked on this album how they allowed the fans to participate in the singing/recording and they used fan faces for the Album Cover. That was pretty ingenious marketing.

Until next year, keep listening to muzak peeps!

So 2011. It was a year of routine, hard work, and changes. I definitely had my share of struggles in 2011, but overall it was a good year for me. This is going to be a really hard post to write though, because this information is all almost a year old now. Oh, I'm such a bad blogger!

Best Trip of 2011:

You're probably thinking I'm going to pick Cedar Point since it was my favorite trip in 2010, and we did have our first Family Reunion (just my family, no extendeds) there this summer. But I'm going to have to pick a different one, to be fair.

The winner? Pittsburgh.

Because it was my first time to this City, and it happens to be home to two of my favorite people. Love ya ladies! We had a blast on this trip exploring and riding boat/cars, visiting the sights, spending time, good eats, it was just an amazing trip (so great that I went again this year!)

Best Restaurant of 2011:

What can I say? Old habits die hard. I'm cheating, I know. But I'm picking the same place twice. Just because this place is such a part of me now.

Good ol' Faustina.

I mean, I've had birthdays here, parties here, it's a loved spot of my besties and I. I just have way too much history here to let it go. It has to win again. I don't eat anywhere else near as much as here.

Best Article of 2011:

Yeah! Way to keep a list for this one! Which makes it impossible to pick just one. Too bad my list for 2012 is only about 25% as good as this one.

I'm going to pick 3, in no particular order:
1. Male Rookie of the Year: Jared Hulet - because it's about my brother. And Ultimate. And both of those things deserve to be celebrated.

2. 11 Things to Know at 25(ish) - because this article is rife with good information, and good advice, and everyone should (have) read it.

3. I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay - because this is one of the most important articles I read all year. It was informative, provocative, and really resonated with me. It's a love thing.

Best Book of 2011:

So I read somewhere between 25 or 30 books in 2010. 2011 was clearly not a year of reading for me, it was a year of working. ALOT. With repeated, nigh-constant overtime. So I only managed to read 17 books.

And many of those were re-reads. So the choice for best book of 2011 is easy: David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.

My review: Grade: A+. This book is a product of GENIUS. I spent more than a month reading this book because early on I realized how awesome it was and I wanted to savor its brilliance. The story is formatted in a way that I have never come across before, with story as nested dolls. So the first section starts out in the 1500s or somewhere around there and goes about 39 pages and then just ENDS. Like middle of the sentence ends and just goes to the next section. When I got there I was super weirded out. I was like, wait, I'm missing pages, or there's a misprint, or something got formatted wrong! Nope. Totally intentional. The next section is about a chateau where a boy is learning to be a composer, and he's stealing books from the library and he finds this book that only has 39 pages and then just ends! Genius. The second section is written in the form of 9 letters, then the third section is about a guy who is trying to not get assassinated and in his pocket he has these 9 letters. I mean, it was mind-blowing. So the story progresses and you go deeper and deeper into the nested stories until you're at a post-apocalyptic one and then the story turns around and heads back the way it came, tying up all the loose ends. The very last section of the book picks up mid-sentence where the first left off and resolves itself completely. I freaking loved reading this book.

Best Movie of 2011:

In 2010 I saw 30 movies and thought I did pretty good (that's over 2 a month!). In 2011, I saw 38! Even better! All my work hours couldn't keep me out of the movie theater (netflix helped too)! I saw alot of really great movies in 2011! It's so hard to pick.

I'm going to have to go with:

Here's my review of this brilliant movie: Grade: A. I was SO excited to see this movie! The trailers looked AMAZESAUCE. And it proved to be true. Went to the midnight showing and so glad I did. This movie was everything it promised in the names of Spielberg and J.J.Abrams. Definitely one to see if you haven't.

If I remember correctly, I went back and saw it again in theaters. And we all know how I feel about seeing movies more than once. Seriously. This movie is awesome. And I'm pretty sure it's on netflix too.

Runner-up: Definitely Sucker-Punch.

Best Night Out of 2011:

Again, a very difficult decision for me. I think I have to go with the Equality Utah Allies Dinner though. It was a fantastic night, surrounded by great people, all brought together for one thing: Equality for all people. My highlight of the night (other than having my favorite Professor from the Y there with me), was this video being played on the big screen:

Best Blog of 2011:

I sort of dropped the ball on readings blogs in 2011 (and 2012). They just kind of stopped being a thing I do. Probably because I would go away for a few days and then come home and have 100s (1000+) of new ones to read thanks to failblog and winfail and powm, etc. So there's that. I think I will give the award to the one webcomic I semi-religiously read.

That counts as a blog, because 1) I say it does. 2) What I say, goes. It's MY blog! 3) I am RSS'ed so it comes to me like blogs do.

Best Conference of 2011:

Yup. 0. I am a conference-free soul. I think I'm okay with that. I don't know if this one will make the cut into next year.

Best Challenge of 2011:

I really think that if you know me at all, this will be self-explanatory. We finally, after 3 years, got to the deciding moments, which were agony, aggravation, and all-around HELL. So, so glad it's over.

Best Moment of Peace 2011:

Why is this one always so hard for me? I think I'm going to have to pick the first night of my Bear Lake trip. Everyone else that came up was inside laughing, joking, playing games, and having a good time. My heart was somewhere else. I was content to sit out on the porch and hear their happiness and stare at the stars. A friend came outside and we started talking. Deep, connective talking. The kind where you trade souls for a minute and you stare into each others' eyes and nothing is lost to you. We connected on the level beyond friends hanging out, and those moments are the ones where I really feel like I'm alive. We spent probably 3 or 4 hours under the stars just talking about ourselves and our lives and it was heaven.

Best Album of 2011:

I think I'm going to have to go with Angels & Airwaves: Love I & II for this award.

I got this double album (and movie) near the end of 2011 and have loved it every minute since. The movie wasn't awful either.

Best Rush of 2011:

I am going to have to go with Cedar Point on this one. :) My brothers got me to ride some of the super tall, drop you, scream my guts out, SCARY rides I don't usually ride. And I screamed like a little girl. But I did it. And it WAS a rush, so it wins this one.

Best Change I Made to the Place I Live in 2011:

Couch! I got a couch! And artwork! I'm still working on the artwork... I don't think the place is totally done, but it's much more home-y than before.

Best New Food of 2011:

So last year I picked chips. I think this year I am again picking chips (wahhttt?!):

I always, without fail, eat the whole bag in one sitting. They are just so tasty-licious! Let the nom nom nom continue uninterrupted.

Best Place of 2011:

This one is going to sound sentimental, but I have to pick it. I'm choosing my house on Thanksgiving. I hadn't had a Thanksgiving home in years and years. So I decided to fly in and surprise everyone. Getting my sister lost on the way home from the airport (after assuring her I knew the way) did not help the situation, and the surprise collapsed before it was a success. But on the way there, I was elated beyond words. And being with my family always brings me more joy and happiness than anything else. I love them so much.

Best Tea of 2011:

I didn't really drink much tea in 2011. It was a thing for a minute, then I sort of moved away from it again. Habits are harder to make for me I guess.

Word or Phrase of 2011:

Mmmmmm. I don't even remember what words or phrases I was using in 2011 that were incessantly annoying my co-workers or harassing my friends. Sounds like a cop-out, but I honestly don't think I can answer this one. I have some ideas for my 2012 words, but it's not over yet!

One more backpost of 2011, and then on into the details of this year!

6 Months without a blog.

Has it really been that long? Man, I suck at blogging. Heh. And sometimes I dream about getting paid jut to blog. Yeah, not like this.

Well. Some of you miss me, and I sort of miss me, so I guess I'll come back. :) Maybe I just needed a break? Or maybe I'm just lazy.

It's kind of funny really, how things change in your life. When I was in college, you'd never ever find me without my journal. I wrote in that thing like a madman. 1000s of pages. About everything. And I don't regret it. I wish I had written more actually. And then when I started blogging, the scene shifted and I journaled less. And blogged more. Because then other people could read my "secrets" and react. And I liked that sharing aspect.

Then things got more balanced, I figured things out, and my blogging tapered off. I guess I should be happy and chalk that up to the joys of "self-actualization" and adjusting to society. But I'll be honest - I miss it sometimes. Yet, just like journaling, I always have to play catch up. Always. It's OCD, or something else unidentified, but I can't tell anything about this past weekend unless I finish talking about 2011 first. :/ And that was always the problem I had with journaling. Something wonderful or amazing or life-changing would happen and I would want desperately to write about it, but I couldn't until I caught up on the last 3 months. Sigh.

So long ramble short. I'm coming back to blogging.

But be warned, I'm going to go back and finish my "draft" 2011 wrap-up posts before we move forward. :/ That said, I'm been maintaining my drafts religiously, so you won't have missed out on any books or movies. :)

Here's to bad bloggers! Cheers!


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