Based on years of observation and personal experience, I’ve realized that even the most motivated and well-intentioned people who start recreational lifestyle blogs about really anything (i.e. music, travel, home decor, marathon training, gluten free recipes) – they almost certainly end up de-prioritizing and neglecting their respective sites. Fresh ideas, dreams of grandeur and hopes of one day becoming America’s Next Top Influencer can be quickly squashed by the mere fact that blogging takes a long time and entails a lot of work.

I am the first to mock full-time bloggers – especially the Fashionistas and the Mommys – the ones who house online banner ads and receive random, but awesome endorsements from Estee Lauder or Dole Bananas – Why do they get all-expense paid trips to Manhattan to try on the latest pair of New Balances or get to give away gift cards good for 250 letterpress wedding invitations? Psh, I could do that.
Well, turns out I can’t. Technically, I could. But I don’t, so I can’t really judge. It takes me a long time to write posts, edit them, re-read and sometimes, re-write them. On top of that, uploading, organizing, captioning and embedding photos and multimedia is a time suck too. Deep down in the recesses of my subconscious I know that I will never meet my modest internal goal of posting once a week as I already struggle to find time to call my family or run errands with my full-time job. And when I do have free time to spare to enjoy a concert, finish a book or travel to a far-off land – the last thing I want to do is open my uncomfortably warm laptop and attempt to write something clever or coherent about said experience.
But I just concluded 10 whirlwind days of SXSW, and anyone vaguely connected to me would know that South By is my favorite week of the year. Every free, waking moment that I’m not earning a living is spent actively exploring my beloved city; watching my favorite artists; discovering new ones while shamelessly eating free tacos, drinking free Budweisers and unwisely collecting free tshirts that I have to carry around for the rest of the day. Though a true blogger with a press credential would probably be updating their sites on a daily basis; Tweeting and Instagramming in real time; and providing intelligent analysis about whatever shows they got to see – I’m secretly glad that I could just blissfully live in the moment without any obligation or responsibility to report. However, since it was such a fun, jam-packed week – I did want to write a follow-up post detailing my most notable adventures and share some photos I captured with my new iPhone 5s. Teehee
Most Energy: TIE between Travi$ Scott and Sleigh Bells
Travi$ Scott fucking killed it. In the span of 30 minutes, Travi$ Scott stripped off his shirt, crowd surfed and sprayed liters of water (dare I say, 100 bottles?) all over an amped up, over-excitable crowd at Fader Fort. One of the wildest shows I’ve ever witnessed – I anticipate a big future for this dude. You can watch a vid of him performing  “Upper Echelon” here on the Fader site.

Travi$ Scott at Fader Fort

Travi$ Scott at Fader Fort

I’ve seen Sleigh Bells several times; and I’ve always known they were heavy on the distortion, loud on the volume and epileptic with their lights, and though they’re not necessarily new or undiscovered, I couldn’t not include them on this list. Sleigh Bells always delivers a loud, rambunctious rock and roll show. Their double-bassing drummer is immaculate; Alexis Krauss’ stage presence is undeniable; her sex appeal is unquestionable and in the tiny confines of the Red Bull Sound Select 4 Days in Austin SXSW series – headbanging ensued.

Sleigh Bells at Red Bull Sound Select

Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells

Best New Discovery: Strange Talk
So I got to see these Australian fellows twice throughout the week in two uncrowded intimate settings and thoroughly enjoyed what I heard – I’d recommend them to anyone who likes Friendly Fires or The Rapture. Will definitely check out their new album when it releases at the end of the month.
Best Multi-tasker: Robert DeLong
So this kid isn’t necessarily a new discovery either; in fact, he was all over SXSW last year, but I will forever be impressed with the mere process of how he creates and performs music. One guy mastering like.. 27 technologies including a Wii, XBOX controller and an Atari – it’s just fun to watch.
Best Production: Chromeo
That leg keyboard gets me every time. First time I saw them, and definitely not the last.

Chromeo at the Fader Fort


Best Celebrity Sighting: Chromeo’s brother
I’ve had a stupid fan girl crush on A-Trak for as long as I can remember. He was just chillin’ and watching the Chromeo set at a Dell-sponsored event riddled with middle-aged Dell employees and business school grads. Given his approachability and cool demeanor, you’d never guess that he’s quite possibly the most famous DJ and producer in the world. I bet those Dell bros had no idea the “Barbra Streisand” guy was calmly standing right next to them.

Me and Trizzy

“Hey is that the Barbra Streisand guy?”

Best Event Lineup: SPIN at Stubb’s 
Disclaimer: This list was only based on the events that I attended. I did not have an official SXSW wristband or a Music badge. If I had greater access to more exclusive events, I’d guarantee that I’d have a very different answer.
This was my first time attending the SPIN SXSW party, and it might be a contender for my favorite event of the week based on an informal cost benefit analysis. Short line with non-existent wait time, uncrowded venue with two stages featuring a well-curated lineup of some really talented and diverse artists – none of whom I’ve ever seen before, but have always liked and respected. Temples, Warpaint, ScHoolboy Q, Cloud Nothings, Future – all of them were great – Q being my favorite of the bunch. Only downside was that free Tito’s wasn’t available until 3 pm, meaning I had to sip on free Crispin cider tallboys for a few hours. Felt like drinking a gallon of overly sweet and carbonated Mott’s apple juice.


ScHoolboy Q


Best Kept Secret: The COMPLEX
Complex is one of my favorite magazines – providing quality entertainment coverage about everything from technology to sneakers, not to mention hip hop. This showcase was small, obscure and surprisingly under-attended the two times I stopped by. The COMPLEX touted free drinks and good rap and DJ sets curated by good blogs like Green Label and Pigeons and Planes – it just had a chill vibe populated by lots of trendy people wearing camouflage print, fitted hats and some really fucking dope sneakers. I didn’t get to see any of these guys, but Childish Gambino, Pusha T and even Skrillex graced The COMPLEX stage. Definitely making a point to come back next year. Mental note: need to cop a pair of Nike Rosche Runs.
THE SNDCLSH - DJ Lupe Fiasco and DJ Sky Gellatly spinning at The Complex at SXSW

THE SNDCLSH – DJ Lupe Fiasco and DJ Sky Gellatly spinning at The Complex at SXSW

FOMO Award: Watch the Throne
Most Disappointing: Julian Casablancas and The Voidz
Stereogum put it best in their headline “Watch Julian Casablancas’ Unfortunate Show at SXSW Fader Fort.” After the aforementioned riot that Travi$ Scott incited on the final day of Fader Fort that eager fans literally waited 3+ hours in line for, this personal hero of mine was a total let down. I’ve seen him perform with The Strokes twice and the stage presence, showmanship and volume I so badly wanted to experience again simply wasn’t there. The lights were turned low, he was hunched into as awkward a fetal position that someone of his height can muster and he muttered his way through songs no one was familiar with save his Daft Punk collaboration “Instant Crush.” I’m assuming he was hungover. As usual.
Meh, you win some you lose some.

Best of the Week: Jimmy Kimmel

This could technically contend for Most Disappointing since this was the one and only SXSW experience I badly wanted to attend, but did not get to. However, I knew my odds of receiving access to one of Kimmel’s five coveted Austin tapings was slim to none – so no tears were shed. Fortunately, all of the content still lives on his Youtube channel and as you can see from this video – he totally embraced his time here and I hope he returns in 2015.

Worst of the Week: Car Accident on Red River

The tragic events on Wednesday night shocked and saddened every single person in this city. I read that in the 28 years of SXSW, the accident on Red River was the first ever fatality. With events of this size and thousands of people milling around, accidents are bound to happen. However, in this particular instance I firmly believe that the culprit is the single person responsible for this horrific event. Not only does my heart go out to the victims and their families (and in case you haven’t heard the third victim passed away in the hospital this morning), but that beloved part of town will always be tainted with sadness and bitter memories. The Mohawk is my favorite music venue in Austin and I’ve had countless euphoric musical experiences there. I hope everyone remembers to be safe, careful and responsible and to remember how lucky we are.
If you have anything to spare, please consider donating to the SXSW Cares Fund where all proceeds will go toward a community-based recovery fund for the victims. I will say the light at the end of the tunnel is how evil acts such as this never triumph over good. The entire Austin community has united to donate blood and financial aid for the victims. In mere days, Vans raised over $20,000 in proceeds toward the cause. A sweet 18-year-old girl who plans to attend UT this fall was serenaded by her favorite band in the hospital. These acts of kindness remind me that the world isn’t always the evil place we make it out to be. And I wanted to give a sincere thank you to all of the friends and family members who called, emailed or texted me at godawful hours of the night to check on my safety. I love you all and I am so thankful you’re in my life.

SXSW memorial on Red River

“I don’t make comparisons. I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything. I’m an utter egotist.”

Howard Roark from The Fountainhead

For many years, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead has been a silent, yet palpable force emanating from my bookshelves. I’ve always wanted to read Ayn Rand for the same reason I wanted to read Moby Dick, and for the same reason I want to read Gone With The Wind and Infinite Jest. The Fountainhead was one of many white whales that I knew I had to conquer due to equal parts curiosity and necessity. Any epic American novel that important and that influential is unquestionably meant to be discovered and experienced, but the difficulty and sheer size both posed intimidating obstacles and for a long time, I opted to succumb to the distractions of newer, shorter, and more attractive books.

I don’t know what compulsion coerced me to finally pick it up and start reading it last week; I specifically remember my elated Reader’s High after finishing Meg Wolitzer’s excellent book The Interestings and being inspired to read another long, worthy book. And perhaps I was mindful of my New Year’s Resolution to read more Classics this year. Whatever the reason, whatever the impulse, I’m so glad I decided to read it.

Howard Roark, Architect – the protagonist, the hero – is an Outlier in the truest sense of the word. Talented, but misunderstood. Honest, but disliked. Smart, but unpopular. Respected, but feared. Unconventionally handsome. Notoriously different. Roark reminds me of Atticus Finch and Hester Prynne – strong, able characters who are easy to hate for all of the qualities that should make them likable. Isolated people who stick with their convictions in spite of popular opinion; people who are maddeningly unscathed by their damaged reputations; and people who are so purely good, independent and esteemed that the level of compassion they incite from the reader is borderline unbearable because of the impossibly unfair situations they wind up in.

Presumably, a 700-some odd page novel about architecture in the early 1900’s would be slow, dull and difficult to read. To my pleasant surprise, I found quite the opposite to be true. The book was well-paced, beautifully written and very digestible in spite of its length. The narrative spanned several decades, following Roark from the tail-end of his college career as a wide-eyed, idealistic student well into adulthood as a struggling professional. All of Rand’s characters from love interests to brutal enemies were well developed, brilliantly intertwined and polarizing. There was no neutral ground; there was no indifference. Readers inevitably chose sides and either loved or hated every character, interaction or plot point throughout the entire narrative.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help comparing The Fountainhead to one of my favorite long reads of all time – Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Though drastically different, taking place centuries apart, I couldn’t stop myself from drawing parallels between the two novels. After all, both Jack from Pillars and Roark from The Fountainhead are two unquestionably brilliant architects who undergo extenuating circumstances with unadulterated vision and ambition and have their sights set on the most coveted women in their respective societies. They both pour their lives into their craft and they both exhibit debilitating patience in light of the ugliest, most conniving and calculating of adversaries. Both novels were epic. Both spanned a few decades, and not to mention – both Roark and Jack have unforgivably red hair!

It’s not often that a subject as random as architecture can captivate a reader, but architecture is one of my favorite subjects because I love the idea of it, and Rand and Follett describe and humanize it in a gorgeous way. Architecture is the truest form of functional art; the result of left and right-brained genius; the combination of physics and poetry. The accuracy and necessity of pairing balance and engineering with finesse and creativity is just a beautiful concept to me. I only know one actual real-life architect and he might be the brightest mind I have the pleasure of knowing, but like Roark and like Jack, my friend The Architect is so independent and intelligent that he floats on a lonely wavelength that transcends everyone else in a weirdly tragic way.

I suppose I loved The Fountainhead so much because I relate to Roark and his plights on a deeply personal level. His impossiblely unattainable expectations, his standards of beauty, his inability to compromise, and his unwillingness to settle for anything less than perfection when it comes to anything from his sketches, his buildings or his relationships – I aspire to be like him. I could only wish my life and values were that definitive and pure, even though I know they’re not. Perhaps I can only compare the other worldly, transcendental experience and joy I feel when reading incredible books to how Dominique Francon feels when she looks at beautiful buildings.

Reading this novel made me feel depressed, lonely and quite despairing at times. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions – the love story in the Fountainhead was among the greatest, most passionate and heartbreaking I’ve ever read. Tumultuous, tempestuous – seemingly hopeless. Among the ranks of Jay Gatsby and Daisy. Jack and Aliena. Ygritte and Jon Snow. Peter Parker and Mary Jane.

However, this despair only made the contrasting uplift and inspirational components that much more powerful. I will always remember the catharsis and bright joy I felt at the climax of the tale – that magical pinnacle hidden in that massive brick of pages. I’ll never forget how unbelievably full and ebullient my heart was when I finished the last page of The Fountainhead, knowing that the world was a better place and though grossly unfair at times, life can be pretty damn beautiful.

So this brilliant little infographic has been circulating on the Interwebs and Austin social networks over the past few days in humorous response to the influx of people flocking to the city and boosting our ever growing population count and property values – UT graduates who squat; Silicon Valley techies who seek sunshine and cheaper rent; actors or models who can’t make it in LA; and your general free-spirited folks from colder, less exciting parts of the country who either caught the Austin bug on their first visit or through word-of-mouth, and then impulsively decided to pack up their cars and head South.

I try not to be a hater. It does unnerve me every time Austin makes another Top 10 List for Best Places for Young People or Top Tech Cities in the U.S. because I know the long-term consequences of our ever-increasing population – higher rent prices, insufferable traffic, skyscraper construction – but I too am an implant who sought employment and permanent residency in Austin because the evidence is undeniable – Austin is a great place for young people and creatives and music lovers and foodies and hipsters and vegans and runners and hikers and bikers and geeks and gays and pet owners; it’s warm, welcoming and non-representative of the rest of the state of Texas. We can’t blame people for wanting to relocate and plant roots in Austin any more than we can blame engineers and developers who want to move to San Francisco; bearded hipsters who want to move to Portland or cocaine-snorting finance folks who want to move to New York. (that last generalization may or may not have been influenced by recently watching The Wolf of Wall Street)

However, I think there are a few other things that this illustrator left off that would even further deter a prospective resident from moving here so I thought I’d list a few extra contributions:

  • Heinous allergies: This time of year is absolutely miserable for a huge chunk of Austin residents and the dry weather in the winter months makes it worse and worse each year. The cedar pollen count levels are astronomically high and every morning I suffer from a terrible mix of symptoms that are impossible to abate. In fact, the clouds of pollen coming off the trees were so enormous that some residents thought there was a forest fire.
  • Mopacalypse – the traffic on I-35 is included in the infographic, but I think the traffic on MoPac is worth mentioning. MoPac is the only other major freeway in the city, and traffic will get exponentially worse as construction workers plan to expand the freeway and transform it into a toll road. I believe a recent article stated that an Austinite with a 30-minute commute will spend an average of 83 hours a year in traffic, a soul-crushing, life-sucking data point and a truth that I’m realizing very slowly and painfully.
  • Homeless people – Sure, there are homeless people everywhere; in a lot of sexy cities too – NY, Chicago, San Francisco – but many hobos migrate here during the winter months because of the warm weather. They are getting harder and harder to avoid.
  • Franklin Barbecue – People wait in line 3 hours for barbecue, and don’t get me wrong it tastes fantastic and is probably the best barbecue in Austin. But three hours? THREE?  Waiting that long for anything is so excessive and unnecessary and unappealing and I would never recommend that anyone go there unless they had a week day off and got there right when the restaurant opens. I’ve only ever tasted Franklin once in my life at a private rehearsal dinner that rented out the space, and I don’t ever plan on going back. (Which is a shame because it’s delicious)
  • You’re still in Texas – Austin is the diamond in the rough and unrepresentative of the rest of the state. It is liberal and vibrant and there are always protests campaigning for Pro-Choice legislation and gay marriage and all sorts of politics that I support. BUT we are still in Texas. There are still TONS of rednecks, racists, Bible-thumpers, drunk Dodge Ram drivers and idiots in office (ahem Rick Perry and ahem Ted Cruz) that live in Texas. There is a smaller percentage of these folks in Austin per capita, but Texas is a proud state that tried to secede from the Union at one point – so there it isn’t completely fair to compare Austin to places that legalize gay marriage or marijuana or abortions. Plus other than lakes and hill country, Texas is flat, dry and ugly in a lot of places, and it takes about 13 hours to drive across from point to point. If I ever left Austin, I’d probably have to leave Texas. Though I’ve lived here my entire life and love being from Texas – the more populous cities like Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio have their own charm and personality, but are ultimately utterly uninhabitable.

I hope that dissuades any of you outsiders from entering our city limits. And I really do need to reiterate – it does get really fucking hot here.

We’re exactly one full week into 2014 and after giving it some thought – I’ve decided to make a few New Year’s Resolutions. This should come as no surprise. After all, a lot of people make resolutions around this time of year in an effort to better themselves and start fresh, but this is actually very atypical behavior for me.

I’ve never been a believer in New Year’s Resolutions, and here’s why:

  1. They are usually generic and cliche (like the list depicted above)
  2. They are usually difficult, unappealing tasks (like the list depicted above)

And though you will ultimately be happier, healthier and extremely proud of yourself if you lose weight or quit smoking – the end result will not make the means to reach those goals any more attractive. For example, probably the most popular, universal New Year’s Resolution is losing weight. I would love to lose weight. Who wouldn’t? But do I want to get out of bed on Saturday mornings and head to the gym? Do I want to adhere to a strict, sensible diet? Do I want to quit drinking alcohol? The answer to all of those questions is a loud, emphatic and undeniable ‘NO!’ and I’d challenge any of you to disagree with me. Resolutions are things we know we should do, but they are also things we don’t really want to do. Otherwise, we already would be doing them. There’s a reason for the expression, ‘Resolutions are meant to be broken.’ It’s because resolutions are hard. They’re really fucking hard. They’re not fun, and that’s why I don’t like them and that’s why I don’t make them. I see nothing more futile than setting goals that you probably won’t reach or making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep.

So Alison, if you hate New Year’s Resolutions so much – why did you make some this year? Good question, clever Reader. After ruminating over this for the past seven days, I realized that I can still set goals for myself that will ultimately make me a healthier, happier person. The key difference is that all of my resolutions are reasonable and positive. For example, my resolutions are either things I really, really want to do or enhancements of things I already do and enjoy doing. Rather than treating New Year’s Resolutions like daunting tasks, we should be using them as opportunities to try new things. There is no shortage of activities, behaviors or good habits that will make my existence in 2014 better than it was in 2013, but said activities do not necessarily have to be terrible, uninspired and mundane tasks (like the list depicted above) Instead of focusing on abstaining from vices or depriving myself of tempting things, my New Year’s Resolutions are fun and exciting. I challenge you to quit treating New Year’s Resolutions like Lent and start brainstorming creative ways to enjoy and improve your life while having fun in the meantime. Quit treating resolutions like work and start looking at them like play.

I think this will all make more sense once you actually read my list. I thought 10 was an appropriate and elegant number to strive towards. Here goes:


1. Run a 10K. This is a perfect example of a positive, yet reasonable resolution. I like running; I really do. I never thought I’d like running, but I started last year and genuinely enjoy it and want to continue doing it. Running a 10K isn’t as lofty a goal as say, a half marathon, which would require a significant time investment, weeks of training and a certain element of sacrifice. A 10K makes sense. I can do a 10K, but I never have before. In fact, I’ve probably run 6 miles before, but never achieved the gratifying sense of accomplishment that comes with officially completing a race.

2. Read six Classic novels. Perhaps one every other month. Y’all know I love reading; this is just a way to force me to pick up those timeless novels I’ve always wanted to read, but never got around to.


4. Try a new restaurant every month – I actually just did this last night so I can already check January off my list. My friend and I decided to try a new sushi joint and had such a terrific time that it actually inspired this entire blog post and set of 2014 goals. The Head Chef at this place was the friendliest, most unassuming sushi chef I’ve ever met – rather than the usual quiet, brooding, hyper-focused chefs that deftly prepare your sushi (and don’t get me wrong, I love watching those guys work in respectful silence too) this guy welcomed questions, customized several of our orders, and gave us complementary dessert and tea. We not only scored a delicious meal and discovered a new gem, but we learned a lot about seafood and culinary artistry and made a new friend!

5. Watch a new old film once a month.  I’ve never seen The Princess Bride. Or The Goonies. Or The Gremlins. Or Labyrinth. Or Never Ending Story. Or The Godfather. Or Rocky. Or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Or Back to the Future. Or [Insert any must-see, timeless film that most everyone’s seen] Whenever people learn this about me, they without fail respond with the most overdramatic sense of disbelief, and it’s really disheartening. This list of movies I’ve been deprived of all these years keeps growing and growing. That in itself is so miserably overwhelming and daunting that I usually give up before I even start. But I can do one a month. Anyone can do one a month.

6. Watch a documentary once a month.

7. Complete 5 DIY/craft/organization projectsI could easily spend 2 hours continuously perusing a plethora of Pinterest boards and DIY blogs, but I almost always lack the motivation to make the trip to Michael’s, buy materials and execute a project. When I buy a piece of artwork, it’s not uncommon for me to take weeks, months even, before framing and hanging the damn thing. I have all these hopes and dreams for potential storage solutions or cute ways to displaying my Instagram photos. I don’t think finding the time or money is as decisive a factor as simply, finding the motive.

8. Write a letter to a someone who lives in another state once a month. I love the thoughtfulness and nostalgia of hand-writing notes and mailing them to people you care about. I know how much it means to me on the rare occasion that I receive a handwritten card so I think the most deserving recipients of these special gestures are those I care about, but rarely get to see in the flesh.

9. Donate to a deserving charity. I usually do this in some form or fashion every year, but this year I want to find a nonprofit that supports a really interesting cause that might not be as widely known as other, better established organizations.

10. Treat yo’self once a quarter. I think treating yourself to a manicure, massage or facial once in a while is healthy and important to your own well being. Once a quarter seems like a reasonable amount that’s not too overindulgent.

*I think it’s also important to note that each of my resolutions has some sort of tangible number, timeline or level of frequency attached to it. This is one of the most important, but commonly ignored rules of goal-setting both professionally and personally. Rather than “run more” – I determined a set distance. Rather than “read more”, I designated distinct numbers and types of books. Even if your resolution is as cliche and unoriginal as losing weight – you should have a target weight you want achieve. You’re more likely to attempt your resolutions and accomplish them when you have a figure or deadline associated with it. Therefore, if you do decide to make resolutions this year, I’d encourage you to keep that in mind.* 

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Well that about sums ’em up. Hopefully, I’ll keep you guys updated on my progress on this blog, which could also double as an honorary 11th resolution to blog more often. However, I know my limitations and writing these actually takes a really long time so I won’t make any promises. But I can commit to writing a year-end review of what I actually accomplished and I’m optimistic that I will actually achieve all of these things.




So, after my strongly-worded diatribe I penned a mere two days ago that detailed my negative opinions about how terrible New Year’s Eve is and why I had every intention of avoiding people, places and all things associated with the occasion, I ate my words and actually partook in almost all of the awful, cliched activities that characterize celebrating New Year’s. Whoops!

To be fair, my New Year’s Eve plans were spontaneous, last-minute and ultimately influenced by a group of my oldest friends who were visiting Austin for the day and now live in North Carolina, California and New York respectively. If I was asked to dress up, go to dinner, pay a cover and brave downtown Austin in the biting cold with any other group of individuals I would have definitely said “no” or feigned some compelling excuse about washing my hair or explaining that… “as much as I’d like to join you guys, I don’t really want to join you guys….”

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But I’ve known these dudes since I was 13 years old and some of my fondest memories of summer camp, Vans Warped Tour, the first boy I ever liked (none of the above by the way) and my entire four years in college involve these goofy guys so I would have been a terrible friend if I denied the rare opportunity to spend meaningful time with them. Plus, it evened out the group for the one solo, girlfriend-free, fiance-free bachelor, who happens to be my oldest and closest friend of the bunch. Accompanying him was a pressure-free, innocent and fun way to start off 2014 single, but not alone – free of any sort of anxiety or expectation, arguably the most unattractive aspects of the entire New Year’s Eve experience.

The haphazard nature of how quickly I had to alter my original plans of running errands, staying in and starting my latest literary conquest saved me the time and money of buying a dress, getting my nails done and even showering – things I probably would have done under different circumstances. But I ultimately managed to appear presentable and though my opinions about New Year’s Eve are steadfast and unwavering, I would be a miserable liar if I said I didn’t have a good time. Because I did. You can call me a hypocrite if you want, but the evidence for my original arguments is still crystal clear – I did have to spend an unreasonable amount of money on cover fees and alcohol. I did have to worry about finding a cab, and I did have to withstand 40-degree weather in an insufficient ensemble paired with excruciatingly painful high-heeled shoes. These components are all undeniably terrible things indicative of celebrating New Year’s Eve. However, the company I was with was worth the extra effort I wouldn’t have otherwise made – so judge me if you like, I don’t really care.

I still hate New Year’s Eve. I just love my friends.


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Photos complements of the beautiful Melissa


Around this time every year, I always mentally compose an evaluation of the year’s activities – best albums, best books, best vacations, concerts, etc. This year I’m sad to report that I thought 2013 was ultimately pretty underwhelming. Perhaps we can blame the ever-unlucky #13 or maybe I’m just being extra negative as I’m wont to be every New Year’s Eve, contender for my least favorite special occasion aside from my birthday, but nothing about this year was particularly memorable, fun or special to me, and I’m okay with that. That’s the bright side of starting a New Year. I personally think that’s more worthy of celebration – the inspirational onset of Change and the Future. Therefore, getting plastered on the Eve of said Change only promises brutal hangovers and regret over half-hearted kisses on the first day of a fresh beginning. No thanks.

Like birthdays, I think New Year’s Eve is tainted with lofty expectations of dressing up and having the Best Night Ever, but in my experience, it’s always more trouble than it’s worth. Two of my good friends are hosting house parties and several others are attending various events at bars or music venues around the city, but battling the cold weather, paying exorbitant covers only to stand in line at overcrowded bars plus the added worry and hassle of ensuring safe transportation tonight are all effective deterrents to leaving my warm couch and ever-faithful sweatpants. Why on earth would I do that?

Before you bestow your piteous sympathies on me and wrongfully group me with those bitter anti-Valentine’s Day single ladies, you might be surprised to learn that my sentiments towards New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are actually quite different. Sure, they are both considered “romantic” occasions, but Valentine’s Day is actually romantic. I love Valentine’s Day. It makes me happy every year even though I’ve been single for the past several. Some argue that it’s petty to celebrate Love because if you love someone you shouldn’t need a holiday to tell them and bestow thoughtful gifts and attention upon them, which is true. But c’mon – New Year’s Eve? Birthdays? At least Valentine’s Day celebrates the wonderful, special phenomenon of Love rather than the mere inevitable (somewhat depressing) passing of Time. And sure, you may or may not get a kiss at midnight, but if you’re single, more often than not you’re hoping you get one just to avoid feeling left out. I can’t think of anything more utterly unromantic and frankly, sad than searching for an equally lonely stranger to ring in the New Year with if you don’t have a significant other.

But don’t despair, readers: I will look at some of the brighter moments of the past year in a feeble attempt to lift your fragile spirits. Some of my favorite moments or proudest accomplishments did in fact, occur during this otherwise, boring year.


READING: I had a goal of reading 50 books this year, which in itself is essentially a stretch goal. That’s almost a book a week, which is near impossible if you have a full-time job and a social life. However, having this goal, unattainable as it may be, caused me to always, ALWAYS have a book. There was never a point in which I didn’t have a book on my nightstand or in my purse, and there was never a solo meal or gap of time in which I wasn’t reading, and that to me is fantastic. I hope I continue this rewarding good habit in 2014 and quite frankly, for the rest of my life.

I ended up reading 37, which is respectable and eight more than I read last year. Notable literary moments:

A Song of Ice and Fire

  • Biggest Accomplishment: This summer, I read the entire 5,000 some odd pages of the Song of Ice and Fire series in less than four weeks. This was easily my proudest and most fulfilling reading accomplishment of the year and ignited an unquenchable obsession for all things Game of Thrones and George R. R. Martin-related. It’s been years since I’ve been so enraptured by a series, comparable only to the seven Harry Potters in my personal experience, and I can barely contain my excitement and frustration about the upcoming books, whenever they may be published. A Storm of Swords was probably my favorite of the series, but shit gets pretty real in A Dance with Dragons too. The HBO series doesn’t hold a candle to its origin. No contest.

    Son of Poseidon

  • Most Fun: Don’t judge me, but over the Thanksgiving break, my 9-year-old cousin would not stop raving about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Being familiar with the movies and a fan of Greek Mythology in general, my curiosity took over and I bought and read that whole 5-book series in 15 days. Sure, I purchased them in the “Chapter Books” section of the bookstore and they are very obviously written for 4th-grade level readers, but that didn’t detract from the adventure, humor and clever fun of the books and I’m excited to read the Heroes of Olympus Series in 2014.
  • The Classics: I read four Classics this year and enjoyed all but one. My favorite was Slaughterhouse Five, but I’m glad I finally read 1984 as well.
  • Most Influential: Reading Eating Animals propelled a major lifestyle change a few months ago. I’ve been more conscious about my diet and what goes into my body than ever before and I doubt I can ever reverse what I know about factory farming and animal products thanks to this book. Review here.
  • Favorite Book: The first book I opened in 2013 remains the best one I read all year – Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay moved me unlike any other novel probably has ever before. Not only was it my best book of the year, it might be my favorite of all timne. You can read my review here.

WEDDINGS: I attended more weddings in 2013 than I have in my lifetime combined. I suppose I’m reaching that age when all of your friends are getting hitched, and even though they’re expensive and sometimes stressful, it’s always fun and so, so special to witness your loved ones make a huge, monumental step in their lives. I traveled to Wisconsin for one, served as a dutiful bridesmaid in another and celebrated at all of them. I even have a celebratory marriage gathering back home this weekend, but by then it will be 2014 so doesn’t technically count.


MUSIC: I think 2013 was severely lacking in good music this year. My friend Allison and I were trying to think of our favorite songs, albums and shows of the year, and struggled to come up with any. Maybe the industry’s in a slump or all of my favorite bands are hibernating and busy writing and working on their next big projects – but I found 2013 profoundly boring from a musical perspective. Sure, I went to a lot of shows and festivals and saw a lot of bands, but none particularly affected me in the way a genius album or an amazing concert typically can.

  • Best Performance: Atoms for Peace at ACL – I remember standing alone near the sound board, freezing in my flimsy festival clothes and being rendered speechless by the entire production before returning to reality and meeting up with my friends who saw Lionel Richie instead.
  • Best Album: N/A – I really can’t think of one that truly amazed me this year, but I will say Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, CHRVCHES and Daft Punk did not disappoint me.
  • Best Song: “We Sink” by CHRVCHES is probably the song I’ve listened to the most in 2013. From the energized, well-paced intro to the catchiest chorus ever, I think this song is perfect and I still listen to it a few times a day.
  • Worst of the Year: Lorde – I just don’t like this chick’s music and without fail will hear ‘Royals’ or ‘Team’ at least six times a day. I don’t deny her talent or lyricism, but there are just some artists and songs I simply don’t like – and in 2013, Lorde is my personal most overrated breakthrough.

FOOTBALL: The Dallas Cowboys, The Texas Longhorns and my Fantasy Football team all performed horrifically this year. I still love football and will watch the various bowls and playoff games dutifully for the duration of the season, but seeing all of your teams under perform and lose is understandably upsetting and disappointing. A tie for the worst game goes to:

  • The Romo-less NFC East Championship where Kyle Orton’s noble efforts actually produced a close game which ended in an interception, loss to Philly and the end of another typical Cowboys season.
  • The saddest Texas bowl game I’ve ever watched – Not only did the Horns fail to score more than once during the entire game, but getting royally stomped by the Oregon Ducks during Mack Brown’s last game was even more heartbreaking.

That about sums up my best and worst of the year. Regardless of whether or not you agree with my anti-New Year’s Even sentiments or my generally underwhelmed opinion of 2013, I hope you all have a great day off tomorrow and a safe and happy evening.