Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Measuring 2014

How does one measure a year? (In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee...) I sometimes feel as if my life is measured in cups of tea, concerts and services sung, and books read. This year was marked by all these things - sometimes in a big way - and by some pretty spectacular additional landmarks.

Seeing the world? Yep, I'm still amazed to say, I did a bit of that. We spent three months in England this summer, and I frequently get homesick for London. We have plans to spend not this summer but the next one back again, and since husband applied for doctoral work at Cambridge, we both might be seeing a lot more of England than we ever dreamed.

Academic development? I've finished all of my doctoral coursework and am now working on my dissertation in earnest - which is why, I confess, this blog has gone neglected. I also wrote an article for a forthcoming Oxford encyclopedia, had my first article ever published, and will be a part of a panel at a conference in February.

Restoring creativity? I've been depressed lately that my creative impulses seem to have disappeared as I delve deeper and deeper into the academic life, where one deals with fact and analysis more than imagination and impulsivity. I've spent much of this year lamenting that my ability to write fiction is gone, but it's not. While it's a struggle, every so often I do take a few moments to write creatively. I also sat around cutting paper snowflakes a few weeks ago (and then it snowed the next morning!)

Cups of tea? Countless. Great tea, awful tea, and about a bajillion cups of Twinings Earl Grey tea. And I've begun hosting themed tea parties on a regular basis, which are tremendous fun to put together and have become rather a hit:

Christmas tea
A Redwall tea party

Singing? I still sing with the Duke Vespers Ensemble, and we're headed to perform at the Boston Early Music Festival again this summer. Our recording of Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri came out this year - the second time I've appeared on a real, live, published CD! I've become a sub at Christ Church in Raleigh, and have really enjoyed my occasional mornings with their more formal liturgy. In the most exciting news, a friend and I started our own early music ensemble, Concentus Carolina. He's a choral conductor and I'm a musicologist with a real interest in early music performance practice, and it seems a perfect match. Our first concert last Eastertide, music on death and resurrection, was a success, and in February we present music celebrating music, dedications, and coronations.

Books? To date, 150 fiction books this year. A lot of that due to daily rides on the London Tube this summer - 45 minutes each way gives you a lot of reading time. I've noticed some trends in my reading this year, ones I'm still thinking through and will then share here. I'll also do a post on how successfully I achieved my reading goals laid out last January (not as well as I'd have liked, unfortunately, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the many books I did read).

This tallying doesn't mention the innumerable great conversations, amazing meals, raucous board games, or thoughtful moments. It doesn't include the delight of dragging your husband out into the first snowfall of the winter, splashing in a puddle with abandon, or finding that book you were looking for on the shelves of a secondhand bookstore. It doesn't capture the bittersweetness of your great-grandfather's funeral, a chance to catch up with far-flung family members you haven't seen in years. It doesn't note the utter joy of your one and a half-year-old godson learning to recognize you and asking for your company. All of these things happened too, and helped make 2014 the incredible year it was.