My personal 2010 Year in Review

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{Featured photo by Dafne Cholet, via Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons Attribution license}

As I worked on the 2010 Year in Review article for KC Stage‘s January 2011 issue, it got me thinking about my personal year in review that I typically go over around New Year’s.

Back in 2005, I started a personal diary – but not for going over my feelings and thoughts as the stereotype assumes. When I tried doing my year in review that January of 2005, I realized I could not remember what had happened in 2004. So, I created my diary to write up what happened during the day to help me remember. In March of 2005, I also started keeping track of books I read, movies and TV shows I watched, and performing art productions I attended: this was because I started reading a book I thought I hadn’t read before, only to get about halfway through it and realizing I had.

So, I combed over my diary for 2010 and this is what I came up with.

2010 did not start out well for Rich and I. In the space of two weeks, one of my aunts died, Reeses (our older cat) passed away, and a friend and ex-coworker was killed in a murder-suicide. Rich also quit his job at Laidlaw to try seasonal work at the IRS, but did not pass training and became unemployed as a result. And this was all in January. (By the way, Rich’s job issues may have been bad at the time – and made our situation worse as the year progressed, as unemployment denied his claim as he hadn’t worked at the IRS long enough – this actually has the proverbial silver lining in that it was partially the reason we ended up moving to Olathe, and us living in Olathe is why he was offered and accepted his current job, which is a lot better for him personally and us financially.)

The year didn’t get much better for the next few months. My unemployment claim was denied since I had been fired from my old temp agency for ‘misconduct’ (long story – e-mail me if you want the details), but thankfully I did get reinstated as a temp at State Street through another temp agency. And despite four interviews over the year (and countless applications), I’m still trying to find a full-time job.

Since we were in financial straits, Rich got booted off his insurance (I haven’t had personal insurance since 2009) – and we couldn’t afford his medication every month. This was part of the other reason we moved to Olathe (at the end of April/beginning of May) – but it didn’t stop from his health deteriorating enough to make me take him to the hospital over Memorial Day weekend (this leading to our unofficial mantra of 2010: “I don’t wanna die!”). Health issues also were plaguing a friend and a relative, but I don’t want to go into that for their sake.

However, it was our move where things started taking a turn for the better. Earlier in the year, I had applied (for the third time) for a fellowship with the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. Finally, I was accepted in March, and attended in May. For 11 days, I was in Los Angeles – watching ten professional performances (of every kind, it seemed), all of which were fascinating in their own right even if I was ‘whelmed’ by many of them; attending several workshops on everything from a master class with ArtsJournal editor Doug McLennan to a dance class taught by Kay Cole; and meeting 24 other arts journalists and creating a network and support structure that I still maintain. I came out of this experience more hopeful in my place as an arts journalist than I had been in a long time, and got several ideas that I’ve been utilizing for both KC Stage and myself. (In fact, this blog was directly a result of that fellowship.)

The NEA Fellowship also gave me the incentive for three other ideas I started, one of which still has to premiere. The first idea was an event I entitled “A Conversation With …”: an evening with a local performing artist about how he or she approaches the craft. The first one was in June, with Art Suskin of The Theatre Gym. The second was another event, one I titled “KC Stage Live!”: a ‘play-watching’ club in the same manner as a book club, where we pick a show to go see together, and then have a conversation about it after the fact. Imago Dei‘s A Christmas Carol: An Urban Cautionary Tale was the first outing. Finally, in late December, I got together with Jen Morris and recorded the first episode of my Stage Savvy podcast. I hope to post this podcast to the blog (and iTunes) on January 10, and the goal is to have this podcast be monthly.

I also applied (but didn’t get) the reviewer job at The Pitch, and my test review for them started another goal brought about by the NEA fellowship: to write a review for every show I attended. (I used to only write a review if I felt strongly about the show.)

Starting in June, I stage managed (and eventually became assistant director) the show Rich was directing for the Alcott Arts CenterShakespeare in the Parking Lot IV: Much Ado About Nothing. Rich and I nicknamed this the bipolar show, as it really did feel like something good would happen, then immediately be followed by a problem, which as soon as we found a solution would immediately be followed by a problem again. It did end up being a pretty okay show, but I am thinking of taking a break from being involved in theatre (outside of a reviewing capacity) for a while. But other theatre involvements during 2010 include Rich and I doing a workshop on improv for the Alcott, and having a few staged readings of radio plays for the Alcott’s Second Saturdays.

Over the year, I saw a total of 25 productions (not including the plethora of rehearsals and performances for Much Ado). This may sound good, but it becomes really impressive when I write that the first performing arts of 2010 that I saw wasn’t until my Fellowship in May.

My overall favorite performance I saw in 2010 was Boston Court Performing Arts Center’s performance of The Twentieth Century Way, which was the last performance I saw in LA. This show moved me in a way I’ve not felt with regards to a show in a very long time (and not just because it ended with two nude men expressing their interest in each other). The acting was superb, especially as the story involved the two actors playing a vast array of characters, and I got chills as the show reached its climax.

On the local KC side, my favorite performance of the year is a close tie between two shows that couldn’t be more different. On one hand, there was the Barstow’s Fringe production of Not Just For the Birds. As my review stated, this was good edutainment, and while it had a few bumps in the production I saw, it had a great energy to it. Great energy also applies to my other favorite show, the Unicorn Theatre’s A Very Joan Crawford Christmas. This show was just fucked up enough (phraseology definitely intended) to make me remember why I love theatre.

In 2010, I also read (or re-read) 23 books (not including the three books I had been reading when the year started that I finished in 2010) – this breaks down to 1 play, 3 nonfiction books, 12 fiction books, and 7 graphic novels. This was the year I gave Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series a try (one sentence review: some I enjoyed, some I didn’t care for – but all interesting), as well as Buffy season 8 and Angel: After the Fall, and realizing I just don’t ‘get’ reading comics. My brain just doesn’t process them well. Other highlights include starting the Anita Blake series (I read the first three), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I gave it a solid B – it was amusing and a quick read, but the joke got old real quick and it was a little too clever for its own good), and Judy Blume’s Forever, which somehow had escaped me when I went through that phase in my adolescence of getting my hands on every book she wrote.

I’m not even going to count how many movies and TV shows I watched (or re-watched) – it’s five and a half pages long! However, some highlights (and new discoveries) include:

For TV:

  • Steven Moffat’s Jekyll and Sherlock (not to mention season 5 of Doctor Who: while I awaited Matt Smith’s arrival with trepidation, and wasn’t disappointed in his first season outing, it wasn’t until “A Christmas Carol” until I fell in love with him as a Doctor)
  • Spaced and Flight of the Conchords – loved the first, liked the second
  • I discovered Veronica Mars and Defying Gravity, and added both shows to my ‘was too short of a life’ list
  • I started watching Castle on a regular basis (had only caught an episode or two before) in 2010, and anxiously awaited Leverage and The Guild (and not just because both had guest star Wil Wheaton on it)
  • The Daily Show‘s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” kickstarted me to watching both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report again (this time online, as I still prefer no cable)
  • SQUEE: Futurama returns! “It’s sort of a Comedy Central shipping channel and now we’re on it.”

For movies:

  • my being able to mark off The Toxic Avenger, Deliverance, and A Chorus Line off my “Citizen Kane list” (long explanation, if you’re curious)
  • Blood: The Last Vampire and Death Note worth watching if you’re into that sort of thing
  • I got to attend a live cinecast of A Prairie Home Companion (and loved it so much, I wrote a review)
  • Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) – an operetta version of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, in the same way that Spamalot is a musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • happily impressed with Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, loved Toy Story 3 (good ending to the series), and declared Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the best animated film EVER (STEVE!!!!).

And that is 2010 in review. My next post will be some of the goals (not resolutions, but goals) I have for 2011. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading!