Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best and Worst of 2009, Self-Involved Edition

So, I really feel like I should post some kind of year-end list, since everyone else is doing it and I can't think of anything else to blog about. The problem is I didn't really read any books or see any movies. Well, I did read some books but probably fewer than 25 and most of them didn't come out this year. So ... I'm just going to list some shit I remember from the past year, good or bad, most of it not applicable in any broad way. Sorry, kids, this isn't Entertainment Weekly.

* The first quarter of 2009 (am I finally outgrowing my habit of conceiving of years in semesters?) completely fucking sucked. My job turned horrible and I was so stressed out from dealing with that and applying/interviewing for other jobs at the same time that my health took a complete nosedive. I had three or four colds in as many months, developed stomach issues that still haven't completely gone away, periodic insomnia, anxiety, etc. I had no time or energy for poetry. This was all capped off with a miserable wedding. Then I found a much better job and gradually felt better and started writing a little more, but it kind of tainted the whole year for me. I'm glad 2009 is over.

* The best poetry I read this year was Maggie Nelson's Bluets and Sam Starkweather's City of Moths (which technically came out in 2008). The thing I'm working on now (a chapbook? a book?) is me trying to do what these books do formally (a series of untitled blocks of prose) and lyrically. What I've got so far is really idea-y, not as beautiful as theirs.

* It's recent so I remember: Heather Green's new chapbook, No Omen. This is really good.

* Some other good things I remember: Celebrating with Farrah Field and Jared White on election night, after reading at the NYPL; hanging out at their beautiful cabin in the woods in all seasons. Phone calls with Sam about Birds and The French Exit (best editor ever). Visiting Mark Wallace and Lorraine Graham in SoCal with Kathy. Dan Brown Book Club w/ Chip Cheek (the best time I've had reading the worst possible book). Some weird charades night. Anniversary dinner at Bin 26. Getting tsunami'd on the beach in NC.

* Some things I'm looking forward to in 2010: Doing a mini book tour with Chris Tonelli and Chris Salerno; AWP, during which I hope I will not be in crisis mode, as I was last year; something John-related I'm not allowed to talk about yet; all my credit cards expiring (JK; don't "2010" and "2012" look like expiration dates?).

I'd like to look back at the whole decade but my psyche isn't up for it. Time's goddamned winged chariot and all that.

19 comments:

  1. I am always amazed at how emotional people get about Obama. I mean I'm a democrat and I like Obama. What was it that moved you so much on election day? Was it the fact that the repubs were kicked out? That a minority got elected into the highest office? That you just personally liked Obama that much? etc

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  2. I actually didn't/don't like Obama that much. For real, I was never that into him. I would have voted for Kucinich or Hillary first given the option I think. I was annoyed by all the hype. But I obviously didn't want McCain to win. And I was in a bar full of liberals and got caught up in the moment. It was probably the only time in my life I've felt emotional about something politics-related ... not counting the ire that Hillary-bashing inspires in me.

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  3. Have you considered the possibility that you are a knee-jerk contrarian?! Let's hate on some Mac shit

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  4. Yes, I have considered it.

    Still waiting on that Mac-bashing guest post.

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  5. Whenever I try to put together End of the Year/Best Of Lists, at least half the stuff it occurs to me to include is ineligible owning to it not being from this year. Like ALL THE KINGS MEN was excellent, but it's totally from 1946. Good post.

    Allen, why *don't* you get emotional about Obama? For the record, I liked Kucinich tons, too, but sometimes I'll stop and imagine a world in which McCain-Palin won instead and I always picture a just-this-side of apocalyptic dystopia.

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  6. Yes, how can you *not* get emotional about Obama? And not just in a not-McCain/Palin way. He's not perfect, and Hillary is pretty cool, too, but among many other things he's smart, nuanced in his thinking, a great speaker -- and yes, black. That's significant. I wept on a election night.

    But aside from Obama and a few, scattered wonderful things (e.g., Dan Brown's "Deception Point"), overall 2009 was one of the worse years of my life. Come on, 2010!

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  7. I just didn't and don't. I guess my default stance for Obama was observational rather than emotionally connected. I think he was, and still is to some extent, really overhyped, and that is generally a turnoff for me. I think a lot of people shared your (Kathy's) view where if the repubs won it would have been the apocalypse, and I didn't share that view and would have considered it hyped/sensationalistic.

    It was a big deal to me that he was black. That is really big. So that was a big turn-on, because as a minority I am very sensitive to issues of race and discrimination. But it was more intellectual and less emotional for me, possibly because while I am a minority I am not black. I saw a black conservative commentator on Fox who had been bashing Obama come around after he won and do a brief spot where he teared up and I found that very moving. Because I saw the authenticity there. But Obama himself, I just saw a young guy, yes charismatic and intelligent, but without a lot of experience, no track record of doing anything, and really hyped. And still very much a politician. There just wasn't anything emotionally engaging for me. I mean, my teddy bear, I'm emotionally engaged.

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  8. I feel similarly to Allen here, in general (though as I said, I did get emotional that night). I think I would have been more affected, though, if we'd elected a woman.

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  9. He is (was) overhyped -- I was nervous about it during the campaign, and I think his overhypedness is a factor in the general disillusionment with him, which was inevitable.

    Anyway, cool; emotional engagement is obviously, by definition, personal and can't be argued.

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  10. Yeah before Obama I would have guessed we'd have a woman prez way before a black prez. Goes to show. Woman prez, the final frontier? Black woman prez? East asian prez? I am putting east asian prez at the new bottom due to deterioriating Sino-US relations.

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  11. This last election made it blazingly clear to me that racism is no longer socially acceptable in America ... sexism is. Generalized sexism is far more acceptable than specific feminism.

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  12. Agreed, I think US culture is totally regressing on the gender issues front. It is really kinda sad. I sort of lump it in with regression along other dimensions as well, e.g. "TigerGate". I want to start "GateGate", can we do that? If someone appends Gate to one more thing I am gonna fucking lose it!

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  13. People are really calling it TigerGate? Jesus. Watergategate. It's a stupid hat party party. Gate.

    We should expect that Americans are getting stupider, right? Since educated folks have fewer kids? We're a falling empire.

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  14. Re: sexism, I've sometimes wondered whether "Mad Men," which has become an important cultural referent whether you like the show or not (and I do, actually, a lot), exhibits the "All in the Family" effect, where the thing it means to critique (racism, in the case of All in the Family, via Archie Bunker) is in fact sort of reinforced: that is, with Mad Men, non-sexists are like, Yeah, look at how awful these people are! and sexists are like, Man, those were the good ol' days -- and Don Draper, you're my hero! I mean, I wonder if the show legitimizes workplace sexism, even, when that's clearly the opposite of its intention (if it has that kind of lofty intention, which maybe it doesn't)?

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  15. Obama *was* over-hyped, but that wasn't entirely his fault, and even though his administration so far has had its disappointments (unavoidably; anyone's would have) it's hard to overstate the positive change in the atmosphere since November 2008(being polite, attempting a civilized discourse, trying for bipartisan cooperation, diplomatically engaging other countries instead of fighting them, etc). There were other candidates, early on, including Hillary, that I would have gotten more emotionally invested in too, but from the time he got the nomination through the rally in Grant Park, I got really on board. Being in Grant Park was intoxicating. I felt sort of high. But yeah, Chip, emotional investment totally can't be argued, so I guess I'm just sayin'.

    E, we are definitely an empire in steep decline. And I'm afraid that the first female prez "we" elect will probably be a Republican. Gross.

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  16. Chip: I've never seen Mad Men, but I can see how it could function that way, where you can watch and enjoy whether you condemn or condone the lifestyle portrayed. Kind of like Gossip Girl.

    KR: I don't think Obama's hype was "his fault" in any meaningful sense, but that doesn't negate the effects on how he's received both then and now (hope backlash ... hopegate).

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  17. EG: def didn't think you meant anything was anyone's "fault." And so glad you used gate again. Twice, kind of. "Negate" and "hopegate." Well-played.

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  18. yeah, some people will never get the joke. like, there was an episode of south park about kicking redheads. it was satire about something, but then i read in the news how these redheaded kids were getting attacked in california by kids who were mimicking the show.

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