One of the best things I read in December was Bruce Springsteen’s book Born to Run.
I’m only the occasional Bruce fan* so I didn’t get a lot out of the detail surrounding his musical journey. But I do have complicated relationships with my family, friends, faith and country and his exploration of these themes gave me a lot to grab and hold tight. I was especially riveted by the following:
We honor our parents by carrying their best forward and laying the rest down
Which I plan to apply to painful remnants of my relationship with my late dad, (as well as painful remnants of my relationship with 2016, my evangelical upbringing, messy friendships, and Madonna…she’s practically all that’s still standing from my beloved 80’s childhood**, so I need to come to terms…right?)
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m gonna hold “Borderline” tight and let go of “Bitch, I’m Madonna”
*Born to Run, Jesus was an Only Son, Dancing in the Dark, The Rising, My City’s in Ruins are particular favorites.
**obviously Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Benatar, Bryan Adams and so many others who had space on my record player are still bringing it 30 nights a year (in stadiums or casinos)…but the recent loss of Carrie Fisher and George Michael feel so painful as to take up most of the space in my heart.
As most of you know I moved home to Washington State in August of 2014 and my dog Mr. Knightly passed away upon our return. It was a lot of change all at once and much of the next few months were blurry with grief, finding work, finding somewhere to live and trying to be, as we all aspire, “Strong Britney” (the one with the snake, not the bald one)
Here at the end of 2015, I still feel like I’m trying to catch my breath most of the time.
After many attempts to adopt a new dog, we finally found our Boo Bear
I never thought I’d have a little dog, but he needed me and of course it didn’t take long for him to be mine. I also work full time with Jason now. We opened up a little architecture office in a small town without a stoplight where Jason does the design work and I do the project management work. We play good music, offer our favorite wine and coffee, and generally try to make building a house a good time.
Andrews & Andrews Architects
And I’m still out here writing and opining and trying to cure global loneliness when I can. Hopefully you’ll find me on your radio again someday soon. Until then, please know that I’ve missed you.
I’m about half way through The Silkworm and I’m liking it even more than its predecessor, The Cuckoo’s Calling.
Robert Galbraith (or J.K. Rowling) has created such a likeable leading man in Private Detective Cormoran Strike, that I love spending time with him regardless of the mystery he’s working on (but the mystery is pretty great too!)
Usually on finale night, I have picked my favorite, I’ve placed my bet, I’ve cooked an appropriate meal. I like CEREMONY.
But this season on Project Runway, I just can’t commit.
Yes, Kini is fast and seems like a good guy. But I see no spark of genius there (and his preview collection was the worst…I’ll never get over that coat.)
I really like Sean and I loved the white outfits he made the last couple challenges, but I have to agree with Nina. The fringe is too much.
Char is a a breath of fresh air with her gratitude and humility, but I’m not blown away by her talent. She has had it pretty rough this year though. (May the condescension, arrogance and cruelty shown her by Korina follow Korina all the days of her life!)
However, Tim has been way too emotionally involved and invested in Char’s success on the show (He practically forced her to buy that fabric in Rome!)
I guess that leaves Amanda. She’s been the most consistent and she seems to have learned her reality show lessons about how to not be a dick. As a repeat contestant, she’s been gracious and used her time well (as well as the Aldo accessories wall thoughtfully!) Go Amanda? (please read with up-speak.)
Every Sunday night I settle in to watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It’s funny and it’s smart and the amount of time and research his staff devotes to these topics is really impressive.
However, I’m not sure what to do with my feelings at the end.
*He explains that the Miss America pageant isn’t really giving away all that scholarship money they claim. (Annoying, but not unexpected.)
*He explains that our drone policies in the middle east will come back to bite us in the future. (Scary, but I’ll probably be dead by then.)
*He explains that a little known law, Civil Forfeiture, allows local police officers to confiscate cash from law-abiding citizens who’ve broken no laws (Infuriating.)
*And this week he explained how many of the translators in Iraq and Afghanistan who risked their lives (as well as the lives of their families) to help our troops and are in imminent danger, are not being allowed to move to America. Even though we promised. (Now my head is about to explode.)
The problem is, he just lays out the facts with great righteous indignation and then says goodnight. I can’t sleep, I’m disturbed for days, but most of all, I’m helpless to do anything.
Am I missing something here? Is it just an exercise in futility? Is he just trying to ruin my week? Is anyone in power watching? I’m not sure I can do this if there’s no possibility of righting these wrongs.
WHAT DID SHE DO TO HER FACE!! – Shout the internet headlines
Renee Zellweger looks a little different. The first thing I thought was, “Yeah, she looks different, but not bad different.”
Then I thought how unfortunate for her that people used to make fun of her unusual appearance and now that she looks more conventional, they’ll make fun of her for plastic surgery.
NYMag‘s Dave Holmes tweeted it like this:
So, here at the end of 2014, we still make fun of people for the face they were born with and then we express shock that they try and “fix” it.
I feel a little like sh*t. We probably all should.
One of the best things I’ve ever read on grief is the book Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield. (It is his story of losing his wife suddenly to an embolism.) This passage has always stuck with me:
“I was helpless in trying to return people’s kindness, but also helpless to resist it. Kindness is a scarier force than cruelty, that’s for sure…when you experience this type of kindness…You lose your right to be a jaded cynic.”
I just wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for your tweets and notes and emails and thoughts of kindness toward me and Jason. In the face of death and mayhem and injustice all over the world, I’ve received a portion of goodwill that overwhelms me and reminds me that most people are kind in an unkind world.
It leaves us determined to be more patient with one another, and give people the kind of break we’ve had to ask for as we stumble through grief. And we’re doing better today.
Sadly, our Mr. Knightly has passed away. After 15 years together, he was tired and frail and in pain and we knew it was time. We had just returned to Washington state after years away and we like to think he held on in order to get us safely home. It is a heartbreak unlike anything we’ve ever felt, but one of our comforts is how much he was loved by all of our friends.
We were honored to have him in our care for so many years. Thank you for the all the good times you shared with our little family. We have an empty space that will be tough to fill. As we said to him as he slipped away to peace, “what a good boy you are”
As life must go on in good times and bad, we have rented a little house in Roslyn, WA and are moving in this week to start a new chapter that looks very different from what we planned.
Jen and Jason Andrews
PO Box 199
Roslyn, WA 98941
The Grand Budapest Hotel is so good. The one-two punch of Schindler’s List and Lord Voldemort (and let’s be honest, Maid in Manhattan) had led me to believe Ralph Fiennes was incapable of being likeable on film. I was so wrong. I am now pretty much in love with him.
Side note: A while back I had decided to try and excise “darling” from my vocabulary. (It’s my favorite term of endearment, but I feared it was making some people uncomfortable…too lovey and familiar, I surmised.) After Budapest though…I’m thrilled to say “darling” has been returned to me and I delight to use it again!
I do not hesitate to say that for me, this is Wes Anderson’s finest effort yet. If you don’t like his movies this will be no fun for you, but for those of us who do…I think it’s great fun to rank them, and I do it by how happy I was as I left the theater.
So from least happy to most happy:
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Cheers to Wes all the way around!
Update: I’m on a work deadline and you’ve probably figured out that when I commit to a deadline, I’m obsessed with it. So I’ve been absent from this blog as well as @tbtljen on Twitter. I miss it and I miss all of you and I’m sure I’ll be back soon.
In the meantime, I find myself using the time I have to look for things that make me happy. So here’s my list this week:
**The Parks and Rec finale was as close to perfect as it gets. I would give anything to have been at the Unity Concert!
I made a pork roast using this recipe and it was a triumph!
I rented About Time from Redbox and I loved it. It’s all about all the good things in life, it’s by the same guy who made Love Actually, Four Weddings and A Funeral, and Notting Hill and it’s funny and romantic and heartbreaking and ultimately joyful…the stuff that makes me cheer. (Plus, Bill Nighy is a god among men)
And the song, “Birmingham” by Shovels and Rope
(Quick notes about the song and video: a)don’t worry about the dog in the video…he’ll be okay & b) a “nickajack man” is slang for men from the foothills of the Appalachians)