Everything Else: 2013 in Review

Top row: S & I in the mountains on vacation, our new dining room, gifts my teens at the library gave me. Bottom row: some of my best friends, my amazing writer friends, and S & I announcing the pregnancy.

I suppose it’s no surprise that, aside from getting a book deal, the biggest highlight of 2013 for me was learning S and I were going to be parents. I mean, you can’t top that, can you? I think not. So even with the mood swings and weight gain, the aches and pains, the cravings and exhaustion, I’m still celebrating the little human that’s growing (and kicking) inside me. A friend said that once you’re pregnant you instantly fall in love, despite not knowing anything about your child. Well, she was right.

Highlights:

S and I took a crazy road trip from Orlando; up to Pine Mountain, GA; over to Nashville, TN; through the Blue Ridge Mountains; around to Asheville, NC; down to Charleston, SC; and then back home. We learned to like country music, swooned over waterfalls and mountains, ate a ton, saw friends, and bought a lot of records. (Ok, S bought a lot of records. I bought a book. Surprise!)

I enjoyed my job at the library more and more with each experience. Sure there are moments when patrons make me want to throw things, but those scenarios are quickly trumped by memories of a girl giggling over her first library card, a boy telling me he likes the books I pick out, my regular kid visitors who made me a bracelet because they like me, the grandmas from my book club shrieking over the baby news. One of our high school volunteers designed her own program, and we successfully put it on (and let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more proud). Summer Reading Program was a HUGE success with some events having more than 120 very happy children. My teen club, the nerdfighters, celebrated its one year anniversary, and they surprised me with a party and scrapbook that brought tears to my eyes. If starting the club, and bringing all of them together, was the best thing I ever did as a librarian, I’d be set.

Also…we bought a house! Yeah, S and I are homeowners which feels so adult (oddly more adult than having a kid.) We fix things and paint things and own a rake. It’s awesome, though, having this little house of our own. It’s ours to do as we please with (like paint the kitchen teal, which I might have done) and ours to love. And now, ours to create a little nursery in.

I turned 30. Scary. But kind of great, too.

Other Favorites

Movies: I think I saw a grand total of four movies in the cinema this year. Maybe more. I don’t know. I love watching movies, but I also get restless. And I hate being disappointed. So I don’t really have favorites of the year. I did really love Catching Fire and Frozen though. (The soundtrack of the latter may be on repeat at our home. S definitely does not want to build a snowman anymore.)

TV: During my first trimester, when all I wanted to do was sleep, I decided to check out Awkward because I love teenage melodrama (surprise surprise). I might have finished the first season in a weekend. And then the second. And then the third (as the last few episodes aired). So, yeah, you could say I’m a fan now. S & I together finally jumped on the Friday Night Lights bandwagon and I’m so glad we did (see: teenage melodrama). We might have just purchased the box set. Riggins! As for old favorites, I’m still highly in love with Mad Men and Parks and Recreation.

Plays: We saw Book of Mormon this year, and it was awesome. I love the songs (as awkward and awful as some are), the story, the whole moral. (Yes, there’s a moral!) It’s just a supremely well-done show, and I’m so happy it finally came to…ORLANDO!

Music: Let’s be honest, I haven’t updated my iPod since college. Aside from radio hits, the only *new* CD I checked out (aside from the aforementioned Frozen soundtrack and other various Broadway musicals) was Rkives by Rilo Kiley. A compilation of previously unreleased b-sides from a band I loved…in college. So I guess my music taste hasn’t changed much. But, man, that CD was great.

And, I suppose, that is it. There were downs, too, but I’d prefer to reflect on the ups, on the ways the year will be remembered. 2013 was great, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

And to you all, thank you so much for reading my blog, and going through these journeys with me. Your comments and likes make me smile. If I could hug you all, I would.

And so, until next year. Thanks for reading!

xo, Lauren

I’ll Cover You

In high school I was the drama girl. I wasn’t planning on that life, but after signing up for Drama 1 freshman year, I was kind of hooked. It was within that crowd that I met some of my best friends (fun fact: 2 of which were my test readers for TNWSY!), and became, well, me. I loved the people, and I loved the ability to turn into someone else completely just by reading a few lines.

I wasn’t a terrific actress but I was okay enough to score a monologue for district/state competition, and get a few decent roles throughout my four years. (favorite: Simba in The Lion King. Because…sure, I can be a lion cub.) But my singing? My singing was atrocious. And I’m not saying that in a “please don’t make me sing” Kristin Wiig character sort of way, but more so in a I was called back for the role of Baby Louise in Gypsy solely because of my terrible singing voice kind of way. Seriously.

Anyway, drama helped me open up a bit more and towards my senior year I became more comfortable within myself. One day in the drama room, with a few people still milling around despite the fact that the school day ended an hour prior (we had a tendency to just stick around), a friend (note: my first gay best friend, of which I’ve had many) started singing “I’ll Cover You” from RENT. He took the Angel part, swung me around, and demanded I be his Collins.

But, yeah, remember my voice? Right.

But in that moment, with him twirling me around, I just couldn’t help it. So I took a leap, and bubbled out the lyrics. (Because, let’s be honest, I love that song.) People were around, but they didn’t notice. He was there, and didn’t care about my voice. And for a second, I just lost myself in lyrics and melody and laughter. Because we were having so much fun, and ability didn’t even factor into it. Why hadn’t I thought of that sooner?

I can’t say I became a dedicated singer after that. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really sung in public since (with the exception of karaoke nights and shouting out lyrics with my friends in cars – who doesn’t do that?), but that one moment was exciting and – as it turned out – memorable.

I think my writing is a bit like that. I kept it private, untouched for so long. But once I finally braved an audience and put it out there, I felt great. Sometimes you just need a little push to do something that’s frightening. Or, I guess, a twirl.

Hair

Broadway Playbill

Last weekend I had the chance to see the musical Hair when it stopped here during it’s nation-wide tour. I honestly didn’t know much about it, only that the musical took place in the 60s and represented the hippie counterculture. My mom was excited; it was her time period we were going back to. While she was still quite young during those days, she remembers her older brother, my uncle, wearing bell bottoms and tie-dye and going to his fair share of protests and music festivals celebrating peace and love.

I learned quickly that the musical itself has a very loose story – one that’s more experienced than understood. It is about the hippie youth and what they stood for – peace, love, freedom – and didn’t stand for – war, segregation, hatred, violence. They were considered anti-American, yet, essentially, what they were preaching about wasn’t really bad. They were trying to save their country in the way they felt right – without guns and killing. In a way, they should be considered just as American as anyone else and that was greatly shown in the show.

The acting and singing was all fantastic, as expected. The stage very simple – a truck and light tresses for the actors to climb atop. The wardrobe vintage, the hair long. As a way to showcase the vitality and inclusiveness of the characters’ “tribe,” the actors were literally on top of the audience. They ran down the aisles, climbed atop seats, messed with audience members’ hair. It was interactive and fun. It brought the message that much closers. As a show, it was fantastic, but, in the end, I feel like I got more out of it than an entertaining night.

Halfway through I wondered if the message was lacking since we’re far from the late 60s. I still wonder what it must have been like to see the show when the time period reproduced was all around. When audience members dressed as those onstage, when in San Francisco, it probably just felt like an extension of the normal protests and goings on.

Upon the show being brought back to Broadway in 2008, James Rado, one of the original creators, wrote “It was a show about now when we did it. Now it’s a show about then – but it’s still about now.” It still felt relatable. Switch out the wars discussed, it’s still about the same thing. It’s about what’s important, and what’s not. It’s about defying censorship and questioning why violence and murder is okay, but nudity isn’t. It’s about the joy – and sometimes naivety – of being young and idealistic and only wanting what’s best in your mind. Ultimately, it’s still about peace, love and affection, over hatred and pain. And I loved that.

At the end of the show, after the curtain call, the actors brought audience members onstage to dance, much like in the original production. Anyone could go up and experience the music, the moment. Of course, I ran right up, storming up the stairs to join the cast onstage. And while I felt self conscious dancing in front of an entire theatre, I let the moment take me over, as the cast encored “Let the Sun Shine In.” And with closed eyes I let go and felt what they were trying to explain. That it’s okay to want what you want, that it’s okay to be naïve and hope for a peaceful, beautiful future. Because despite everything, it might still be possible.