A Love Letter from me to 2014

Another year has come and will be gone within the next 6 hours… while I’m staving off sadness, I have a lot to get through and celebrate.
2014 was another of those special years that was defined by a single life-changing event. Usually I see a certain movie or I get introduced to someone really special that opens me to several new experiences.
Anyone who’s followed my blog this year knows who that special someone was for THIS particular year. Which is why I’m going to start with literally everything else that happened first.

***
PROFESSIONAL
St. Patrick’s Day this year was particularly special because it was my first day working in 3 years…
…after three harrowing years of being unemployed, unable to get hired for anything I applied for, and giving into bouts of depression… the best part was that I interviewed with this person before a couple years ago and she had had me on file in case there was a new opening, and it involves data entry.
I work maybe three months at a time, have a few weeks to a couple months break in between, but the pay is good and it’s something I’m good at that and REALLY enjoy. My typing skills are finally good for something besides routine blogging.
I’m currently off until mid-February and this stint will last a good 4 months. Maybe 5.

I got some work done for my latest book. I have at least 8 partial chapters written.
***
HITS AND MISSES
For sporting events and reality TV, it’s been mostly misses and a couple hits.
*Bubba Watson won his second green jacket [HIT]
*the wire-fox terrier won the Westminster Dog Show [miss]
*Seattle Seahwaks beat the Denver Broncos in an embarrassingly boring SuperBowl [miss]
*Barring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruno Mars had my favorite HalfTime show [HIT] since Madonna’s, but Prince was still the best.
*Meryl Davis & Maks and Alfonso Riberio & Witney won Dancing with the Stars [HITs]
*Josh Kaufman & Craig Wayne Boyd won “The Voice” [HIT and hit… I like Craig, but I liked 4-5 ppl more]
*San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series [miss… now we’ll never be royals…]
*Courtney, who I picked from Day 1, won Masterchef season 5 (and I can’t wait for her cookbook) [HIT]
*Ricky won “so you think you dance” which THANKFULLY got renewed for another season [HIT]
*Caleb Johnson won “American Idol” [a hit that became a miss for me by the end of the season]
***
MUSIC

This was a year that made me really appreciate crowdfunding campaigns because it is helping former “American Idol” and “The Voice” contestants get albums made.
*my girl Juliet from “The Voice” season 2 is days away from releasing hers
*Alexis Grace, I’d been following closely since I found her on Twitter, is getting closer every day to her release and put out a great first single “I’m so done”
*Angie Miller has an EP out thanks to crowdfunding… I enjoyed it on YouTube, but not enough to buy it on iTunes.

and I just got news that Alex Preston hit his goal in record time and will be putting together an EP as well

Jessica Meuse was on my mind a lot this year as well because she was my stand-out “American Idol” contestant who had everything going for her… except votes and Jennifer Lopez, who I incidentally lost respect for between her slighting of Jessica and the ridiculous amount of screentime she had while other people were singing.
I subscribed to Jessica’s YouTube channel, listened to a lot of covers and enjoyed many of her original songs. I hope she gets something going in her music career this coming year.

Ricky Manning also kinda caught my attention on The Voice after he did “Wrecking Ball”… my first ever iTunes purchase for “The Voice”, “Royals” by Taylor John Williams was my second… I checked out some videos on Ricky’s YouTube channel and he’s got great talent as a songwriter as well as a singer.
I still wish he and Taylor Phelan made it to the top 12 and therefore eligible for a wild card spot.

Otherwise in music, I got 13 albums this year. A lot of great music, several were from the past couple months.

Colton Dixon released a second album, “Anchor,” that took me a little while to warm up to, but I really enjoy. Most of the time, though, I admittedly listen to more upbeat, darker tracks because they match what I feel better.
e.g. Our Time is Now, Anchor, Fool’s Gold, Back to Life
but I’ve been also been known to get stuck on “More of you” 😛

Thanks to Alex Preston’s time on “American Idol,” I decided to revisit the other ‘white guys with guitars’ in my album collection I hadn’t listened quite enough.
Doing so allowed me really get into Ed Sheeran’s first album… and subsequently led me to buy his second album, “X,” which I’d rank among my favorite albums of the year.
…I also really enjoyed Kris Allen’s 2nd album and David Cook’s first… both I shelved for a long time cuz I didn’t connect to them right away.

Of course, Taylor Swift rocked it out BIG TIME with her “1989” album.

Alex & Sierra put together a great debut album that I really love chillaxing with…

Karmin put out another great album of their own. Not quite as cohesive as their debut, but has plenty about it I enjoy.

And Depeche Mode is the lucky compilation album from an 80’s band that I’m currently obsessed with 😛
***
Lots of great TV.

“Once Upon a Time” was a little annoying with their “Wicked Witch” saga and I really got into their “Frozen” season… although it’s unfortunate I had to choose Captain Swan over RumBelle
“How to Get away with murder” was a great new show and “Gotham,” OMG, Gotham has just been amazing. Particularly the actors being a young catwoman and Penguin. I can’t wait to see what happens with them next week.
“The Mindy Project” really got into its stride after Mindy & Danny finally got together (and STAYED together). Danny’s sexy dance to “American Woman” is probably my favorite TV moment of the year, lol

I finally got some answers about Lindsay Lohan watching her docu-series. I’d been ignoring the tabloids for so long it was nice to get at least some truth from her about what her life has been like. A lot of people are still being negative about her, but I still stand by her. Although I ought to see her newest movie “The Canyons” because I hadn’t touched base with her in the movies since “Georgia Rule” and that was some time ago.

“Black Box” was another great new series… that sadly got cancelled after one season 😦 I’m still sore about that
***
CLOSURE

I also found closure with a lot of things and people.

One of my most popular entries this year, oddly enough, was my discussion about The Click Five. Revisiting their music from both albums (before and after Eric Dill left). And I found out the band had broken up a couple years ago and Eric has himself well established in the indie music scene.

The House of Night vampyre series has FINALLY come to a close and it was a good finale that made 12 books and 3 novellas all worth it.

I said goodbye to Adult Swim when my last animé series Bleach came to an end after 386 episodes… a very long time. I’d been watching it since I was in college in 2006… technically they are airing a subsequent series of InuYasha that takes us from the end of the first animé series to where the source material, the mangas, ended…
I got as far as episode 3 online and haven’t gotten back to it since. 😛 so maybe I ought to that this year… or maybe wait for the DVD boxset, haha. I’d already spent over $150 on my DVD collection. What’s another 50 bucks?

I returned to my PS2 Spyro games to see if I could get as skilled and as familiar with them as I had with the Playstation trilogy… still working on it, but I am getting better. I also have gotten hooked on “A Hero’s Tail”… just finished another game actually today.

I got enough Precursor Orbs in Jak II to access Hero Mode, but hadn’t bothered to play… the game’s hard enough in regular mode, I’m not sure if I can go beyond that 😛 but on YouTube, I did finally found out how the series ended with Jak 3, a game I never bothered to get and it was probably good that I didn’t.
Maybe this year I should make a resolution to finally beat Zelda: Ocarina of Time… I started my game back in 2000 and still haven’t gotten around to beating it 😛

I looked up the synopsis of “Imperial Bedrooms” to see what happened after “Less than Zero”… and have long since decided to leave that book/movie alone forever…
***
BOOKS

I read at least a dozen books.
*Have one “Mortal Instruments” books left… I’m waiting for the hardcover 😛
*finished the “Infernal Devices” series, which I enjoyed more
*read through the “Divergent” trilogy and enjoyed it.. until the finale, which I’m still recovering from
*enjoyed Mindy’s book “Is everyone hanging out without me?”
*read “50 shades of grey”… and so far am not up for continuing on with the series… not because I couldn’t handle the sexual content, but because I just couldn’t handle Christian Grey’s controlling nature anymore
*reread “The Giver” and put together what I felt was the proper way to adapt it to the movie (unlike what Hollywood came up with)
*read the first book of Chris Colfer’s series… he’s got a great future as a writer for when “Glee” ends 😉
***
NEW THINGS FROM MY FAVORITE PEOPLE

It was as if the stars aligned this year because a couple of people who had major impact on me were coming out with great new projects.

Jesse McCartney put out his first album since 2008 and it was WELL worth the wait.

Prince, who hadn’t put out an album in stores since 2009, came out with TWO albums. Both are great in their own ways.
He did more promotion of himself and his music than he had in a very long time… the sad part is that he’d withdrawn from social media again and apparently a special edition of “Purple Rain” for the 30th anniversary is back on the back burner.

Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan had a new baby. a baby girl.
They also released the first movie from their production company, Team Downey, “The Judge.” Behind “Divergent” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” it was my 3rd favorite movie I went out to theaters to see this year.

Robert and Jesse also noticed me on Twitter, favoriting the following tweets:

JMac favorited tweet

RDJ favorited tweet

****
2014- MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH RUSSIA
Every year kinda starts in a ho-hum sort of way. The previous year still lingers in my mind until my life kicks into gear or someone/something new comes to my attention.
Oddly enough, every year that special event seems to happen for me in February [except for, I believe 2009, 2010, and 2012 when that moment was in March… all those occasions only took stock in my head for 3-5 months…]

I think as far back as Nancy Kerrigan’s time, I’d looked forward to the Olympics every year.
In the winter time, I primarily watch figure skating.
And for whatever reason, it was probably the first time I watched any figure skating since the previous Olympics… where an American guy, Evan Lysachek finally won Gold, and historically, the man from Russia who won Silver was displeased because he lost to someone who didn’t have a quadruple jump.

…to be technical, though, I did watch some of the US figure skating championships with Jeremy Abbott and saw Jason Brown on YouTube.

The last time I thought about Evan Lysachek was looking back on “Dancing with the Stars” and I was pissed off that he still lost to a Pussycat Doll. I still believe he was the better dancer.
As cliché as it sounds, I never thought I’d see that man from Russia in these new Olympics.
The first time I saw him was the free skate at the Team event… in retrospect, it wasn’t him at his best, but it was good enough to catch my attention. That amazing charisma and artistry.

Then February 13th happened and everything changed…
Evgeni Plushenko reinjured his back during warm-ups and had to withdrawal moments before he was to skate in the individual competition…

After that, he never left my mind…
I started wearing this necklace the day of his 2nd back surgery (which removed the broken screws in his back originally placed there in a previous surgery to stabilize a plastic disc)
IMG_0904

Praying became a nightly ritual. First it was all for him. Then I started focusing on myself and it has brought me a great deal of comfort.
Plushenko is the reason I more or less became addicted to Twitter this year… I started checking on his progress, following his official news team and following him. As time passed, I started getting followers. People were responding to my tweets with kind words.
I went from maybe 20 followers to roughly 80. A bunch are fans of his, but I’d also gotten follows from Jessica Meuse, Jeff Gutt, Alex & Sierra and a couple people from “The Voice”.

Thanks to him, I also learned of an amazing violinist Edvin Marton from Hungary. He’d written and arranged music for several of his programs. But I listened to a lot of his other music on YouTube. Something magical happens when I listen to him. I couldn’t help gaining a better appreciate for music, both classical and current.

My mindset expanded just beyond my world and being in the United States. When Russia’s in the news, I read up to see what’s going on. There’d always been this mystery about that country for me I couldn’t quite shake. Probably because we used to be enemies in the Cold War days. Not many people in America particularly care for the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. But my attitude is that as long as he’s a supporter of Plushenko and Russia’s figure skating program, he can’t be all bad.

And I had been very mindful of Russia’s figure skating program since Plushenko’s retirement (which still isn’t a sure thing, he changes his mind so much). Not so much that any of the Russian men will ever be at this great level, but I’m curious to see who will succeed him.
In the women’s program, I have my eyes on Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and still hoping that Yulia Lipnitskaya will find her way back to being as amazing as she was in Sochi.

Aside from skaters from my country, Jeremy Abbott in particular, my favorite male skater currently competing is Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan. He wow’d me in Sochi and he’s had a rough season since, but I’m always excited to see him skate.

I also became a bigger fan of Johnny Weir, not just as a skater, but as a person as well. Thanks to his commentary with Tara Lipinski during Sochi. Loving how they’re now the go-to commentary team for figure skating.


so yeah, 2014 has been an amazing year that has brought so many things and people to my attention…
I can only hope 2015 is half as great as this year was.

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