When 2006 turned to 2007, I created a file in Word to document all of the books I read, the movies I viewed and the plays I attended. I even went so far as to creatively title the file - Paige’s Books and Stuff 2007. Suck it. I'm a writer, not a marketing exec. Anyway, each category was broken down according to month and each item received a quick description with a personal review and formal rating. Stars to be exact, best of five. I didn’t do this to flaunt my sophistication. I didn’t do this to revel in my fondness for the arts. Nope. I did it because I can’t stand loving something and then forgetting about it. Well, save for the men who break my heart. Anyway, you take pictures. I take notes.
“Are you reading anything good?” Bess asked as she flexed her chopsticks around a piece of yellow tail sushi.
“I just started a memoir about a woman whose husband got hit by a car and suffered severe brain trauma. A real pick me up,” I noted before raising my glass to my lips to take a quick sip of water. “If it plays out anything like Didion's depressing memoir, I’m so not finishing it. Oooh, but the book I read last? That one was awesome. Shit, what was it?”
Bess offered a blank stare.
I slammed my open palm against my forehead before telling her I’d check when I got home. Which I did. After stumbling through the door but before releasing the knot on my paisley scarf, I turned on my computer and opened the file with my list. According to my notes, the last book I read earned all of three stars so I’m either not remembering my recent past very well or I forgot to update my registry. Seeing I’ve worn my underwear inside out twice in the last three months, this one’s a total coin toss. Even still, sitting there on my sofa, I fell in love with my list all over again. I slipped out of my boots, tugged on my scarf and gently rested my laptop on my crossed legs. Then I scrolled through all of the ways I entertained myself in 2007.
When I got to the end, I felt blanketed by a comforting warmth. All of the items noted, both those I adored and those I could have done without, impacted me. Maybe I laughed, maybe I cried or maybe I just lingered in place awed by the brilliance sprawled out before me. In some instances, the film or book or play captivated me for the entire stretch. Other times, there was a mere kernel of perfection buried within the piece. What matters in the end is that those creative efforts all took me on a journey I never expected and sometimes a journey that I never wanted to end.
As the year comes to a close and I create a new Word file for 2008, I wanted to take a moment to share some worthwhile finds.
The Glass Castle
Interpreter of Maladies
A Fine Balance
The Foreskin’s Lament
The Ghosts of Cite Soleil
After the Wedding
And while I don’t track my exposure to music, here are my picks of people who released some worthwhile tunes this year:
Sometimes I stumble across a book because I'm leisurely strolling the aisles of Barnes & Noble. Or I get turned onto a musician because NPR does a review or WMVY, my daytime ear candy, samples a new tune. But more often than not, I am exposed to creativity simply because someone I adore makes a suggestion. I read A Fine Balance because while perusing the shelves at Borders, Alaska found me in the fiction section, handed it to me and insisted I read it (so I did). I saw Once because Bess wanted to see it. So much so that she offered to pay for my ticket if it sucked (which it didn't). And I listened to Sigur Ros because my friend Kermit had a post highlighting a snippet of music (which penetrated my bones). So I suppose this quick list of picks for 2007 is nothing more than me reciprocating the gesture - a little creative paying it forward.