I Open At the Close: A Recap of 2013

With the new year just around the corner, I wanted to do a personal recap of what 2013 was like for me. This whole year has been a period of uncertainty but it led to a lot of personal growth as well.

January: This was the beginning of the third act of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which was one of the best new web series of the year. I also decided to take a hiatus from Once Upon a Time, not knowing that the show itself would have a series of hiatuses. One song that describes the whole uncertainty I felt was Fun’s song “Some Nights,” which I finally listened to. I found myself relating to that song. Also, when The Lizzie Bennet Diaries started the Lydia/Wickham relationship arc, I started getting anxiety attacks because it triggered memories of exboyfriends who emotionally manipulated me. On the bright side, I published an article in my college newspaper and found out that one of my favorite vloggers who retired a year ago has decided to return to vlogging.

February: I know that some people would consider this The Year of Beyonce, but I’m only a casual fan. I just liked that she performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Yes, I wore nostalgia goggles when Kelly and Michelle joined her. But things started to take a sadder turn when Benedict XVI announced his resignation from his papacy. I cried. A lot. I liked Benedict XVI not just because he was pope, but he was someone I could relate to. He was introverted, played the piano, liked cats, and wrote some seriously good stuff relating to Jesus.

And that was just the beginning. A Lizzie Bennet Diaries episode that premiered the same day Benedict announced his abdication added to the tears. Someone I thought I could trust with my life started manipulating me, eating up my time with constant phone calls. I had absolutely no idea what was going on at the time, but since I started getting sick, I started having trust issues with my family and wanted to trust my friend more.

March: Things finally came to a head in early March. My so-called friend was manipulating me, driving me away from my family and isolating me from things I loved (even if they were giving me feels). Ultimately, my parents had to intervene and I blocked my friend from all possible forms of communication. But losing my friend left a hole and with my Church being in a Sede Vacante state, I felt lost. It didn’t help that I was also recovering from a cold. However, a trip to Austin helped me put things in perspective.

I realized that my friend was ultimately leading me away from God and that if I let it, that friend would have emotionally damaged me and turned me into a person I wouldn’t recognize. I realized that I had my own voice and that ultimately, I had to let my friend go.

I watched the movie version of Perks of Being a Wallflower and got into the new Lara Croft video game. But things finally changed for the better on March 13. The white smoke came from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney and all of a sudden, every Catholic in the world began partying. Nobody knew who the new pope was gonna be for almost another hour, but I knew that things were going to be okay again. I danced around my living room, happy for the first time in weeks. And then when Pope Francis appeared, it finally sank in to me that there is a new pope. And I prayed that he would be for me what Soon-to-be-Saint John Paul II was to my parents’ generation. Needless to say, that prayer was answered. But it wasn’t just me. Every Catholic was filled with joy and happiness that could never be duplicated by anything else. In other words: Ain’t no party like a Catholic party cuz a Catholic party don’t stop!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries came to an end, but it left me wanting more and thankfully, there would be future projects from the creators that came around later in 2013. Ultimately, I felt sad that it ended, but I also looked forward to what would come around next. I also discovered an old song by Semisonic called “Closing Time” which quickly became a favorite.

April: I admired Roger Ebert. I hope that he’s in a better place. But he left a good influence behind, especially on Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic. As for me, he was a critic who got me into looking deeper into film and analyzing it. My brother also started playing Bioshock Infinite which turned out to be an amazing game. I discovered gluten-free waffles and got started on knitting, which has become a good hobby for me.

The Boston Marathon took me by surprise, but I love Stephen Colbert’s reaction to it. And ultimately, 2013 became a great year for Boston. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series (again) and everyone’s faith in humanity was restored by seeing all the good that came out of the horrible moment. I also found that I wasn’t alone in the world. I still had a place to visit in my alma mater and friends who understood what I was going through.

Also: Doctor Who came back with a new companion who is totally awesome. I see Clara as someone who lacks a lot of self-awareness. She’s adaptable, but hopelessly devoted to the Doctor. A mix of Martha and Donna with some Captain Jack.

May: I knitted my first project, graduated from college, and began discerning religious life. This was also the month that Pemberley Digital (the name of the production company for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) released its new summer series: Welcome to Sanditon. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but it was at least interesting to watch. Plus, I loved seeing Gigi again.

My brother and I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness and we definitely liked it, but it wasn’t without flaws or problems. Also, “The Name of the Doctor” quickly became one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes and basically made me a Whouffle shipper. I also returned to watching Once Upon a Time and shipped Swanfire faster than you can say the ship name.

June: The Nostalgia Critic started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and vlogged about each episode he watched. I loved watching him fall in love with the show and remembered how much loved it. I also discovered new online friends who were younger than me, but devoutly Catholic. Through them, I gained a huge support group and learned more about my faith. I started following Catholic New Media through YouTube, Patheos blogs, Twitter, and Tumblr. And I LOVED it!

I discovered a love for sunflowers and learned about bird nesting and ladybug mating seasons. Also: the Kingdom Hearts fandom woke up and discovered the sequel we waited forever for: Kingdom Hearts 3.

Something horrible also happened in June, though. I lost a lot of followers on Tumblr and Twitter due to…disagreements over politics. I won’t name names, but let’s just say that for me, all politicians are the same: opportunistic and self-serving no matter what they advocate to the world.

July: I took part in a photo-a-day challenge and volunteered at my local church’s vacation bible school. It was a lot of fun. I aIso watched Tom Hiddleston take over Comic-Con as Loki and realized that he’s a total life ruiner. Also, I have a crush on him. My brother got into Animal Crossing, which later became my favorite video game ever.

My family and I traveled to Corpus Christi where I faced my fear of heights at the USS Lexington and discovered jellyfish-infested waters.

Pope Francis feels abounded when World Youth Day came around and I was reminded once again about how awesome the Catholic Church is. And how it basically breaks all the stereotypes that people have. There were millions of young adults, cardinals dancing, and children discovering vocations. I myself went to a vocations retreat at the end of the month and found others like me who were discerning.

My brother and I also got to watch Pacific Rim which became one of my favorite movies this year.

August: In August, I discovered that I had a gift for something other than writing and teaching: Intercessory prayer. In the previous month, I learned that one of the bloggers I follow had a spinal cord injury and I started praying for him. By the end of the month, he was able to move his left foot and checked out of the hospital to enter into physical rehabilitation. The fact that he wasn’t a vegetable and that he wasn’t cut off from life support was a miracle in and of itself.

Word also came out that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is now an Emmy Winner, just as Welcome to Sanditon came to an end. I also met actress-turned-nun Dolores Hart and decided to keep pursuing religious life. My family and I revisited Corpus Christi and I finally got to swim again. I also got into The Autobiography of Jane Eyre which I didn’t think I’d get into, but it happened.

I also started writing another rough draft of a completely new novel. Even though I started out the year with fantasy, I wanted to go back to something I loved: stories about real life and relationships.

September: I went to my first concert ever: Audrey Assad, promoting her latest album Fortunate Fall. It. Was. Awesome! Plus, The Nostalgia Critic (after going through all 3 seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender) finally reviewed M. Night Sham-of-a-man’s The Last Airbender. To date, it’s still my favorite Nostalgia Critic review. I always have this philosophy about critics: they need to have passion for what they do if they’re gonna talk about how much a movie or television show sucks. If they come off as either detached, cynical, or whiny, it’s hard for me to believe that they really have a passion for something.

I attended another retreat and learned that I needed to look outside of myself and remember that we are all connected through our shared Baptism. I discovered new music and learned to like some Praise and Worship songs.

Through all these days, I kept writing with the intent of adding 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo. I also started watching the 3rd season of Once Apon a Time and started blogging. I found that I needed to take risks in my writing in order to have my character grow. Also, the Pope’s interview with America Magazine was published and I found different things in the interview. It confirmed what I knew: Pope Francis was seriously down-to-earth, like Benedict, but had the benefit of being an extrovert, like JP2. He’s relatable and pointed out some important things about society.

October: To get into the Halloween Spirit, I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. Best. Decision. Ever. I also finally got into Channel Awesome’s Blockbuster Buster, who proved that being a fanboy adds something to being a critic. My family and I visited the Houston Jollibee’s and I played some retro games.

Much Ado About Nothing (the version by Joss Whedon) finally came out on DVD and I gotta tell you that Joss has a new thing now. If he starts creating stuff that actually has a happy ending , he might actually start surprising people again. Also: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. turned out to be underwhelming.

Also, I discovered an order of sisters that I really wanted to get to know. It was cool.

November: The month of NaNoWriMo. I discovered that I shipped Whouffle shipped SwanQueen as a Bro-TP, and decided to take a hiatus from Once Upon a Time due to the writing disappointing me. I took a break from watching Buffy to concentrate on my novel.

However, I still had time for Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary. It was a divisive episode, but in my opinion I loved it! In my opinion, fans of Doctor Who needed to watch a few things alongside the 50th: Peter Davison’s The Five-ish Doctors, Paul McGann’s Night of the Doctor, and Adventures in Time and Space. I also started praying a 54-Day Rosary Novena and discovered another step towards my vocation.

December: With The Year of Faith coming to an end, I found a lot of prayers answered. The blogger with the spinal cord injury now lives in an apartment as an outpatient, still going through rehabilitation, but getting better everyday. So many babies have been born this year and there are more to come in 2014. And most of all, Pope Francis showed the world how awesome the Catholic Church is. Benedict did the same, except the media chose to ignore it.

2014 is gonna be a good year.

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