Half My Life
In about seven hours--at the time I'm writing this--I will have been with Juliette for half of my life. When we started dating, I was seventeen, a senior in high school. Now I'm thirty-four, and we have a mortgage, a dog, two kids, and a third on the way. She has seen every step of my adult life, and then some--and I hers. Seventeen years ago, we couldn't have known what we were getting into, where we'd be a whole lifetime hence, and now here we are, and what a life it is. I'm thankful every day to have gotten to share my life with her, and to get to keep on doing so.
Before I lived with you I never made the bed.
I never really cared how the bed looked, whether I was in it or not, and in any case I didn't see the point in spending the time straightening up a bed I was just going to mess up again half a day hence, and which no one who didn't live with me would be seeing.
Honestly, I still don't really see the point.
But you like the bed to be made, and so I do. Every day.
It's not my favorite part of my day, and it's not the worst. I don't take any joy or pride in the work or the result. It still doesn't matter to me. But it's because it doesn't matter to me that I do it, because it's something I do only for you, only because you like it. It's something I can do, a small thing, to make you happy and let you know that you are loved.
If there's one thing I do like about making the bed, it's getting to see the evidence that you were beside me in the night. When you're not here, I wake up in the morning to find your side unmussed, unrumpled, un-slept in--of course. It makes the job easier, but it makes me sad.
Tomorrow when I get up, you'll most likely be gone already, taking Jason to school or running an errand. When I strip the comforter, I'll look and see the morning light caressing the wrinkled topsheet, and I'll think of us together. And then I'll run my hands across the fabric, smoothing it out, fluffing and stacking the pillows, pulling the blanket straight. Because that's the way you like it, and because I love you.
In 2013 I read the most books of any year since I started keeping a reading log (39); I saw about the same number of movies as I have every year since Jason was born (8); and I wrote fewer reviews than I have in this history of this blog (2). By now, I'm past pretending that there will ever be a regular review column here anymore, but I nevertheless find it somewhat comforting to take time now and then to reflect on the stories and pop culture I've taken in. Thus, here are a few impressions of the previously unreviewed movies and books from 2013:
The Engineer Trilogy, by K. J. Parker: A number of people whose opinions I respect spoke highly of K. J. Parker's work in general, and of this series in particular, so I was excited to finally check it out. But although I do agree that Parker's writing was excellent, I nevertheless found this story quite unenjoyable. As I put it to a friend when I was midway through the second book, "If I am not interested in any of the characters, why should I care about anything they do? If I don't care about any of the characters or anything they do, what is left to care about in a narrative story?"
Abbaddon's Gate, by James S. A. Corey: I have really enjoyed seeing how this series has progressed from its pre-publication roots to this latest installment, and I'm really looking forward to the next one. In terms of balancing entertainment and literary value, this was probably the best thing I read all year.
The Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: I started reading this series in middle school, and gave up on it in college, at which point it was still only about two-thirds finished. Coming back to it as an adult was interesting--on the one hand revisiting the places and characters I had loved as a kid was very nostalgic, even comforting. On the other hand, the poor writing was much harder to look past. Still, it was nice to finally get some closure on it.
The Gentleman Bastards series, by Scott Lynch: I don't think I would ever have thought to put a series of caper stories into a high fantasy setting, but the results were highly entertaining. I'm very much looking forward to where this series goes next.
Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson: Sanderson has been kind of hit-or-miss for me, but I think that the fact that this story is explicitly for a YA audience makes it work a lot better for me than some of his previous work.
The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien: I used to go back and re-read this along with The Hobbit every year, so this was probably the tenth or so time I've read it. It's been quite a while since the last time--almost a decade--but it remains one of my favorites.
The Dresden Files, books 7-14, by Jim Butcher: I read these eight books in two weeks, and the only reason I stopped there is because the next one hasn't been released yet. Loads of fun.
Blood of Tyrants, by Naomi Novik: I'm not sure that Novik's worldbuilding has been very consistent across this entire series, but nonetheless her stories are pretty entertaining. I'm in for the long haul on this series.
Quartet: This was a small and, as far as I know, fairly unknown movie, but for all that I think it was probably my favorite of the year. A really lovely story about aging and music.
Admission: Going into this one, I expected it to be boring, predictable, and mostly unfunny with a sprinkling of excruciating awkwardness. And although that turned out to be more or less correct, getting to have dinner and a movie with Juliette is always nice.
Star Trek Into Darkness: After this one ended Juliette asked me if I liked it, and my response to her was that it wasn't really a Star Trek movie but, all the same, I still enjoyed the heck out of it. I'm not sure it will hold up to repeat viewings, but the writers knew just how to hit me, a lifelong fan, where I live.
Monsters University: I ended up liking this one much more than I thought I would. I still don't know that it was really necessary--few sequels and even fewer prequels are--but it had its moments, for sure.
Planes: It's funny how a completely mediocre and forgettable movie can be made so much better by seeing it with your five-year-old son.
12 Years a Slave: This movie was brilliantly acted, beautifully filmed, and near perfectly executed. It is an important film, one that has been and will continue to be rightly showered with awards. I think I may be a better person for having seen it. And I never, ever want to see it again.
Anchorman 2: There was simply no way that this movie could ever have the impact or quotability of the original, but despite the fact that it recycled a bit too much from the first one, I still laughed my ass off quite a few times.