Suffice to say, this has been a year of many firsts. It’s been a year of many challenges, a few accomplishments, and a bit of passion deflation. Never before did I look to a new year with such a simple hope: to find passion and some semblance of clarity for what path I should steer towards. But that said, here’s a list of the highlights of 2012.
1. Pilates. Not to sound like a new-agey soccer mom from an elite suburb in Orange County or a trendster-in-training, Pilates has been the greatest highlight of my year. This is the first year of my life that I have been completely dedicated to my physical health, and in addition to the cardio-machine workout that lulled me into boredom, I began practicing Pilates. It has improved my singing, my posture, eliminated stress and has given me the strongest body I have ever had. It also prompted family members, who have for years said I’d fall into the family trend of fatness the moment I hit 30, to finally say, “Michelle, I think you will always be thin.” It’s nice to not have the unhealthy energy of projected obesity during family visits, but even more importantly it’s helped me find peace, excitement, and a growth of passion where such stirrings may have dwindled this year in other facets of my prior inspirations. Pilates is an immediate sanctuary I can go to, as opposed to years past when I would dream of finding such solace and peace fantasizing about an escape to a desolate island and come up short (or on an impromptu, expensive brief reprieve). Most of all, it reminds me that I’m still breathing. And we all need to remember that from time to time.
2. Night of a Thousand Stevies: What a blessing. Scott and I released Crystal Revisions at the beginning of this year. It was a work of love and praise for the woman who has most inspired me as a songwriter and artist. To be invited to perform before a sold-out crowd of Stevie-lovers at the Highline Ballroom was truly an honour, as it was to be a part of the NOTS community. If you haven’t yet, please download it for free and share it with your friends.
3. Relationship growth. Oh yeah. Challenges were ever present in year three. Lay-offs, small spaces, economical damage. Yes, this is the real life I remember observing my parents endure as a child. Thank God, this year is over and we move forward to a new start. But in spite of this, we still manage to laugh and crack up uncontrollably a few times a day. Typically after one of my screaming fests. Which gets me back to Pilates. And more breathing.
4. Money. Yes, I live below my means as much as humanly possible. I carry the fear of leaving an unforgivable carbon footprint. I am frugal and resourceful, but this year on my modest artist income, I managed to have three of the most profitable days of my entire life. One included a 23-hour day doing extra work on a high profile film on Long Island while recovering from the worst case of the flu I’ve had in years, but that one day more than paid for a month of expenses. And because of this year, I am close to completely paying off my student loans. I never thought the day would come, or that I could etch away such a debt, often envying all my friends who escaped debt thanks to the help from their parents. For the first time in my entire adult life, I can experience a life without a concrete burden of debt hanging over me. Sadly, I don’t feel as different as I thought I would. But in 2013, I’m sure that will change when I’m able to spend a thousand dollars on a trip to some exotic locale, in lieu of writing one more pithy note attached to a check made out to my lenders.
5. New songs! Yes, I got to work with the awesome Giuseppe D. on a new song, “Yesterdreams.” It was so much fun as an artist to work with someone who I’ve been friends with for years and create a new sound. And to write again… after having such a long hiatus from songwriting. I’m convinced I will write more this year. Or maybe I won’t. But regardless, there is something nice about not being in pain all the time- which tends to be a great partner in writing.
6. A milestone. Bye-bye 20’s. I hated you with all of your pressure to succeed and maintain a facade that everything was somehow figured out. Truly, I felt that I had more figured out at 17. But I remember 20, the first time I felt inclined to lie about my age, not yet ready to enter a new decade. This time I was ready. And on a fun off-season adventure in Atlantic City with family and friends, I got to turn another page. And thankfully that new page has a lot less debt, only one random gray hair, and a healthier life.
7. Music. Concerts. Musicals. Book of Mormon. Anything Goes. Chaplin. Feist. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Stevie Nicks at Jones Beach one more time before Sandy came and destroyed my temple. Not only did I see great music, I often went for free or with a wonderful discount (often thanks to www.scorebig.com you must check out that site if you love to take in sports and the arts). I’ll even add Katy Perry, who I was paid to dress up like and watch as she entertained a few thousand hot boys in uniform for Fleet Week.
8. The beach. The glorious beach. Nearly every month of this year I was able to set my bare feet in soft sand and run with my dog along the beaches of the Northeastern seaboard. To the end of the Cape to Fire Island and the Jersey Shore, I was so blessed to heal my heart and remember the childlike joy that the surf brings when it crashes along the shore.
9. Commercials. I worked on more than in any year past and am so incredibly grateful. I enjoy a commercial set more than I’ve ever enjoyed the long, dreary days that can be found on a movie set. Everyone is in it for a short haul on a commercial, simplifying a story to a 30-second arc, and making lots of money to have fun doing it. I got to see young legends rock out, dance like a hippy to maniacal music, bring out the very best of my hipster wardrobe, and have made and solidified some great friendships. As I look to 2013, I really hope to book some amazing commercials.
10. Summer 2012 in New York. Cut-off jeans, early morning walks with an iced coffee to the dog park, impromptu trips to beaches, out of the blue job bookings, and new friendships. I returned to volunteering with seniors on a regular basis. Photo below is not with a senior. Or from a day volunteering. That non-senior is my mom giving her best attempt to follow her daughter’s glamorous pose.
11. Pat Conroy made my year once again. “My Reading Life” was a book that tore apart the barnacles that had gathered around my spirit, his words like a warm light piercing to the center of my heart and breaking it open with the potential to dream again. Yes, this year, Pat Conroy was my pacemaker. I walk through life with profound gratitude for all he has shared and written.
12. I became a domestic goddess. And I don’t mean cleaning (although with a man and two fur babies, it is inevitable). I stopped buying crap and started making it. Actually, what I’ve learned to make is far from crap. I’ve made all my bread from scratch, tired of buying bread stuffed with preservatives and chemical fiber enhancements. I learned how to make my starter grow. I taught myself how to infuse vodka with original flavours since my sugary Pinnacle was not offered at an of the closet-sized liquor stores in my neighborhood (Peach Ginger and Toasted Coconut are some of my favourites). I learned how to make my own syrups and sodas (thanks to a Sodastream now in my life) and am priming 2013 to be the year I can enter the world of mixology. Not to mention my quests with some Indian-Chinese fusion. Anywhere in the country it may seem ridiculous to make this a highlight of the year, but when your kitchen is 10-square-feet, it certainly feels worthy of celebration.
13. My teeth gave me a fucking break by not breaking. For the first year in a stream of many dreadful, expensive years, my insurance premium was used only to cover x-rays and two cleanings. Because you know what? I didn’t need any work done. Which means those thousands of dollars could go towards my student loans, and if I’m tooth-lucky this year, to some exotic trips.
14. My best friend got married. And what’s a big wedding without a big misunderstanding. But after a decade and a half of being best friends, it was all figured out and I’m so happy for her and for having such an enduring friendship. I also appreciate her having a big wedding we could party at so should I get married, I can still follow through with a low-key destination elopement as planned.
15. Social networking may have found it’s expiration date for me. I realized my days were becoming a series of soundbytes of witty comments, humblebrags (and some not-so-humble brags), and concerns about what some jack ass I knew in 12th grade was thinking of my latest sassy comment or mundane update. My boyfriend, God love him, is way more of an introvert than I ever will be, but his dismissal of social media is something I aspire to. I don’t need to see an hour-by-hour Instagram update of what the fuck someone is eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in between, or a Tweet about how many push-ups and miles were burned by that person, how my first-grade crush stubbed his little toe and feels the need to whine about it into the dawn hours, and I certainly don’t need someone tracking my own foibles and observations that much. So I’ve resorted back to this blog; my safe haven with just a few readers, which have dwindled since that one time I was mentioned in Gawker and had to swat away all the boys. I’m okay with that because in 2013 I aim to be less noisy and dim down the barrage of online social racket. It’s making us all too mindful, needy, and insecure. Or at least appearing that way to 90-percent of an audience that we wouldn’t even talk to face-to-face if given the opportunity. So only because I can be verbose, treat this as my own protected diary that only subjects those crazy enough to find it, and carry on in a tradition that pre-dates Facebook and Twitter by a decade, will I resort to some of the aforementioned naughty and annoying behavior on Xanga.
So that’s my 2012. What started as a dismal year that grew bleaker has at least afforded me and my loved ones good health, new memories, and appreciation for the simple things. It was challenging, but I’m ready to re-focus and remember the muses that feed my need to create and be true to my life’s path.