Highlights Reel, 2015

Robert Burns, Breabach, and Emily Smith ftw.

2015 has been a strange year: not the best, but one with highlights. And so, because I don’t much enjoy the holiday season and have a tendency to focus far too much on the parts of the year that have been bad, I’ve tried to pull together a list of my highlights.

Achievement: Unlocked

In May I graduated with my second Master’s degree, this one in Library and Information Science. I am a failure at this school spirit thing, and I can’t say that I felt any surges of school spirit when I graduated–mostly, I was just incredibly bored at the ceremony, and I really wished that they’d had a bagpiper, like we did when I got my MA in Spanish. Bagpipes ftw, guys. (Also social media, which, although it’s not as good as in-person, lets me keep in touch with my friends from grad school–wherever they may be.)

I flew for the first time in my life this year, to Pittsburgh for a job interview, and a short (but wonderful) visit with family. Flying wasn’t actually as interesting as I guess I’d thought it would be: it was kind of like Amtrak in the air, right down to the bumping around. (It turns out I don’t have air sickness, which shouldn’t be a surprise since as far as I know none of us have sea sickness issues, either.) I did feel a weird and wild surge of love for that little world down below, however. It’s the only one we’ve got, and it’s ours, now, to care for and to love.

Thanks to a course in Museum Informatics (the professor is amazing, take his classes if you’ve ever got a chance), I had the chance to actually play with technology–and, thus, to learn a hell of a lot more about it than I’d known before. (Rapid prototyping ftw!) My posts on Berthe Morisot and Édouard and Eugène Manet and Michelangelo Merisi (better known as Caravaggio) both spun out from this class, as did the timelines I created for both. And, of course, I learned to use the heck out of Northwestern University’s Timeline JS software, created by the excellent minds at the Knight Lab. It’s great and it’s easy and it’s structured interactivity, all of which is terrific! (And it really doesn’t require any coding knowledge, although some super-basic html can come in handy.)

New Mapping manet-morisot-copy
Did you ever wonder how the Manet and Morisot families were connected? Well, wonder no longer!

Meanwhile, my brother S transferred to a four-year school; my brother E joined the international math honors society. And my mother had something like six or eight Messiahthis year, which is really great. I even went with her to one, and the singers were amazing, and the church was stunning. (Next year, if she plays it again, I might bump along to the Messiah at Dankmar Adler‘s grand Ebenezer Baptist, in Bronzeville. I hear the acoustics are–unsurprisingly, since we’re talking about Dankmar Adler, the grand acoustical engineer–fabulous.)

Books and Exhibits and Culture (and NASA, because why not)

JK Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, put out a new Cormoran Strike novel. This is obviously fantastic, because I love JK Rowling! And I love Cormoran Strike! And also Robin! But, along with my friends, I’m also kinda a member of the Please Dropkick Matthew Anywhere (Like Isn’t There a Bridge In London) club, and we’re kinda still waiting on that. But, you know, we live in hope. Next year, guys. I have no clue if the Cubs will win, but surely Matthew will get dropkicked somewhere.

I went to a lot of really amazing performances at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, ranging from the tremendous operatic productions of Lyric Theatre @ Illinois to the Chicago Symphony, Apollo’s Fire, and St. Martin in the Fields. I was incredibly lucky, and I miss those performances the most–or, rather, almost the most. It’s hard, not being able to simply wander out and see my friends.

Photography is one of my favorite art forms (admittedly I have a lot of favorite art forms), probably in part because it was my college art–at Roosevelt, back in the day (aka when they still had art history as a major), one had to have an applied art to graduate, and photography was mine. So, I watch a lot of sites that have a lot of photography. The Chicago Tribune‘s photojournalists are an amazing group of artists; if I could drum up more traffic for them, I’d be delighted–maybe it would help ensure that the Trib maintains full-time photojournalists. Samplings from their art consistently appear here; the page is always a highlight of my day. Similarly, The Atlantic‘s Photo blog curates some of the best from around the world. And, of course, Le Match, out of Paris, always finds amazing photography, too. (They even have good Instagram pages, one for contemporary photos, one for vintage photos.) And, at least sometimes, Time posts some tremendous photography, some of it hailing from Life. Then there’s NASA, which has this amazing ability to bridge art (photography) with science in its stunning space images. (A lot of them are available on NASA’s Tumblr.)

Medieval art is about as far from photography as one can go, yet Discarding Images–which is on TumblrFacebook, and Twitter–is another frequent bright spot. S thinks it’s amazing how bad some of the medieval artists were, which might just show that S isn’t all that familiar with medeival art–it isn’t bad, just different. I really wonder if they were high as kites, or if, like Two Monks Inventing Things of The Toast, they just didn’t have a damn clue what those things were supposed to look like after all. (It should be noted that they pretty consistently get cats right; clearly cats are the Most Important.)

Things Coming, Things Continuing in 2016

After a year and more of job searching, I’ll be starting a job in January. It’s part-time, in my field and my area of expertise. It offers me a good personal and professional fit–and, in that wonderful and infrequent combination, it will also provide me with space for professional development. It’s an exciting new thing coming in the New Year.

In part because I’m going to be starting a new job, I’m back to scanning through the concert schedules–though I missed Merry Widow, Lyric will be showing Rosenkavalier! I’ve loved Strauss, and Rosenkavalier, for years; if I can possibly find peanut gallery tickets, I’m going to try to go. The cast looks amazing.

It’s really rare to find much of anything showcasing my instrument, which is precisely why I’ve added He Lu Ting‘s beautiful Berceuse, played by Gary Karr  and Yuan Xiong LuI think it’s really beautiful, and I think it’s really worth watching–if only to see two virtuosic musicians performing together on an instrument whose beauty is so rarely utilized. I’m hoping for more: He Lu Ting (or Luting) may have left us in 2003, but the arranger, Blaise Ferrandino, is here and hale and hearty, and I hope he’ll bring us more beautiful music for bass.

I also get to look forward to the literary version of chocolate (or maybe something fluffier). Maggie Stiefvater will publish the final installement of the Raven Boys cycle, her Raven King, which is both terrifying and exciting since there is a prophesy that our heroine will kiss her one true love (probably Gansey)…and he will die. Clearly, I want Blue and Gansey to kiss, and I don’t want anybody to die. This is a conundrum. It is also a conundrum that I have to wait pretty much an entire year for the new Cormoran Strike novel to come out, which is incredibly frustrating. (I am, natch, rooting for Matthew to get dropkicked somewhere.) And my favorite writers of literary puffball fantasy, also known as romance, will be turning out new novels beginning midway through January. (I’m the kind of woman who keeps track of publication dates on all calendars. It’s probably not a surprise I have a degree in literature and a degree in LIS.)

Happy 2016!

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions (except for the one about seeing friends more often), so instead of anything of the sort I offer a picture of the family cat, who is an amazing and oddball eight-year-old:

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This little guy is definitely something to look forward to in 2016. He’s a very, very bright spot, all the time.

He probably wouldn’t actually say hi, because he’s painfully shy. (If you play an instrument he’ll come out eventually, and cry like a baby when you play out of tune. And he’ll beat up dogs, even the nicest ones in the world. Like, he’ll chase said nice dogs all over the house, terrifying them.)

May this coming year be good to you and to yours! (I’m really hoping that tomorrow doesn’t start out with another bathroom flood, because I had plenty of that today.) Here’s to 2016, and all the new experiences and new books and new concerts and new exhibits that it will bring!

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