So. Today is January 3rd, which puts me right on schedule. Are you ready for an image-heavy recap?
Looking back, it definitely feels as if 2013 was nothing but college work - and in fact it was, for the first half or so. Nevertheless, I got to do a handful of fun things: first, I created this blog; I spent most of my birthday alone, which was surprisingly therapeutic; I got a shoulder tendinitis, which has been incredibly fun; I made a tiny terrarium in a Nutella jar; I adopted a second puppy, who is almost hilariously unlike our oldest dog; I wrote book reviews for this blog, for the first and last time; later, I created a book review blog; I spent some of my free time burying dead animals so I could unearth them later (no progress so far, that's going to happen in 2014); I started writing for Carnival Of Aces, which has been a very interesting experience in validation and self-discovery; I took up knitting (I haven't advanced a single inch since October); I finished my first set of butterfly lockets; a little after that, I also opened an Etsy shop; I learnt how to make raspberry brownies; and I made a frankly AWESOME twig Christmas tree.
Events worth photographing were the the medieval fair in July, the Steampunk Convention in September, and the NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party in November, all pictured below.
There were no big travels in 2013 (something I hope to change in 2014) but still, I visited a few new places. Behold, the sad Palacete Pinto Leite, in Porto; and the incredible Museu Soares dos Reis, also in Porto (covered in three posts: one, two, three).
Later in the year, I also got to see a random and slightly creepy chapel in Nazaré; the not-so-aptly named National Museum Of National History And Science and Butterfly House in Lisbon; and an impossibly cool taxidermy exhibit, unsurprisingly, in Porto.
The year's greatest musical discoveries were The Civil Wars (listen: Barton Hollow | The One That Got Away), Mélissa Laveaux (listen: Postman | Triggers), Alice Fancis (listen: Shoot Him Down | Gangsterlove), and Foe (listen: Mother May I? | The Black Lodge).
In the world of Korean pop, there were dozens of good songs, videos, and albums, but because it's easier to measure time in singles, here are my favorites, in no particular order: IU's Red Shoes, a super energizing 20s-inspired electro-jazzy song with a video to match; Brown Eyed Girls's Kill Bill, an homage to the Tarantino film with a slight comedy twist; and History's What Am I To You, which managed to play the tropes of a boyband video completely straight (the elaborate choreo, the close-ups) while going in the completely opposite direction with the other half of the video (heavy smoking, heavy drinking, depressed boys in their underwear, etc etc etc).
The second batch of favorites, still in no particular order includes: Jaejoong's Mine, a badass song/video about fighting the people who contamine your room and block the light that shines on you (I swear I'm not making this up); Sunny Hill's Darling Of All Hearts, a good-humoured take on what it's like to be the single girl who somehow ends up giving out relationship advice (with bonus folk-ish intrumental!); VIXX's Voodoo Doll, which is quite frankly a little too gory for general audiences (you probably shouldn't watch it if body modification... and blood... and guts... and needles... freak you out), but just right for this morbid blogger; and Block B's Very Good, the official comeback of the world's most inadequate boyband, where they rob a bank, make fun of the world's obsession with swag, and wear corsets. You know, the usual.
2013 was more or less the year I came back to watching TV. I lack the attention span to watch long series, you see, so generally, I don't even start. Still, this past year I found myself obsessively following American Horror Story: Coven, which you've probably heard of (the witches! the hats! the house! in New Orleans! hold me before I start singing The House Of The Rising Sun!), and unearthing a Korean drama from 2011 called White Christmas.
Now. Both shows are really good, but I will always have a thing for the Break The Cutie trope, and White Christmas pretty much runs on it. The story is simple: in a high school for the top 1% students in the country, seven kids receive a mysterious letter with a poem and a threat, stating they will find a body in the school grounds during Christmas break. So what do they do? They stay in their glass cage of a school for the duration of the break, with only one teacher to keep them company. The show poses one question, and it's right up my alley: are monsters born, or created?
Oh, and finally, because I don't live under a rock, I might have gotten a little too invested in Attack On Titan. I will say one thing and one thing only: this anime knows how to make an impression.
I read 40 books in 2013, a large number for me, but still a good ten books short of my goal. The only book I rated with five stars was Tanith Lee's Disturbed By Her Song, a collection of "tales of homosexual love and desire". It's the perfect book for those days when all you want to do is curl up with a blanket and daydream.
Four-star ratings were slightly more common, befitting the likes of Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment; Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife; Benjamin Alire Sáenz's Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe (I cried like a baby); Janni Fagan's The Panopticon; Kevin Miserocchi's The Addams Family: An Evilution (which compiled the original work of the Family's creator, Charles Addams); Stephen T. Asma's Stuffed Animals And Pickled Heads: The Culture And Evolution Of Natural History Museums; Michelle Lovric's The Book Of Human Skin; and Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover.
I didn't watch a lot of movies in 2013 - in fact, I think I went to the movies exactly once. Actually no, wait. Twice. Like every self-respecting Portuguese person, I went to see La Cage Dorée, a Luso-French production about a family of Portuguese emigrants in Paris. It hit a little close to home, being a granddaughter of emigrants myself, and I must confess I did cry a bit. Ok, a lot. But so did everyone in the room during the same exact scene, so it felt right.
Like every self-respecting fan of cool-looking movies, I also went to see Pacific Rim - it wasn't perfect, but some of the characters were. Just like the soundtrack, the incredible action sequences (boat sword!), and of course, the overall concept. They say a sequel has been approved. I am 110% in for it.
There were other movies, of course, and these three were my favorite: Byzantium, a very awesome, very fresh take on vampire lore by the director of Interview With The Vampire and The Company Of Wolves; Stoker, an almost Freudian tale of love, desire, and of course murder; and American Mary, a pseudo horror movie about a medical student who lets the promise of easy money lure her into the world of underground body modification.
Can you say YAY for complex female characters? I can, and looking back, I can tell 2013 was a good year to be Team Girl. Hopefully 2014 will be even better? Wish me luck, and see you next week!
Love, a slightly shaken Anna who, somehow, still thinks we're in 2013.