Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Lana Del Rey Conundrum

If you've never heard of Lana Del Rey before this very sentence, you've probably been under a bit of a rock - and no, I don't mean that in the sense that she's so famous you surely must've heard of her.  If anything, really, she might be infamous following her recent turnout on Saturday Night Live, and therein lies my meaning behind my certainty you've probably at least heard her name in passing since the January 14 episode hosted by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.  You may never have heard her open her mouth whatsoever, but you might have heard about the trainwreck that was her two performances.

I feel it right to say, I'm a fan of hers.  She caught my attention as her song Video Games kept popping up on year-end lists covering the best-of 2011 music.  Interestingly, the day I typed Video Games into the Youtube search bar was the day that her first professional music video for her second officially released single, Born to Die, was released, and as I absorbed the slow melodic sounds of the former song I was stared down by the apathetic glare coupled with dark and pronounced lips that were Lana Del Rey's face on the banner for the new video.  A click away and I found myself watching the five minute long clip, and by the time it drew to a close I found myself compelled to play it again, and before I realized it completely I'd listened to the song (watching grew tiresome after a couple views even though the video is visually stunning) a good five or six times.  I was eager to hear more and I was greeted with a large amount of old demos on Youtube; I reserved myself to only listening to the songs which were to be included on her debut album, Born to Die, due out on the 30th of January but is somehow already playing on repeat on my iTunes.  (the only other songs being Blue Jeans, Diet Mtn Dew [which received a heavy hip-hop makeover for its final version and which consequently has become a favourite] and Off to the Races, my favourite by miles) I suppose it's largely due to my music library growing stale - yeah, Gaga has a great replay value, but Born This Way has really become mundane for me to listen to, save for the select standouts - but I was somewhat enthralled with Lana Del Rey.  Now, being a reader who's never heard of her, potentially, it's at least my duty to explain to you her sound, but as my backspace button can attest to this fact I've struggled to sum her up.  Pop music, sure, in the loosest of senses, borderline the elusive 'alternative' mantle that I label nearly half of my library as for lack of a better term; her voice is extremely unique, smooth and somewhat like Nancy Sinatra, a singer whom she's been professionally compared to.  Her songs are of the slower nature, melodic and hypnotizing, but now having heard the full album I'll say the split between slow love-like songs and, shockingly, pseudo-rap songs with boisterous beats is even.

Returning to her SNL performances: I was not a fan; anything but.  I was excited for her first televised performances, happy that such a talent was given such a platform for a large splash of an introduction.  The chimes of Video Games started off after Daniel Radcliffe's intro and the spotlights came upon her figure, clad in a gown preserving her pinup bombshell-like image.  (Christ, I don't know!  Just go with it)  Lord, though, she did not sing well live.  Her voice wavered and went flat, changing pitch throughout the song at cringeworthy moments.  Blue Jeans, her second performance, was no better, and safe to say I was glad she left Born to Die untouched by her live performance, or else I wouldn't be able to return to that song with the love I have for it now.  I understand her poor performances to be to nerves, and I feel for her: during the cast goodbyes you can see Seth Meyers hug a downtrodden Lana and read his lips which clearly say, "it wasn't that bad."  The backlash was somewhat painful to witness: for a debut performance, she was panned, and as an avid Twitter user (follow me!) I witnessed brutal trending topics burning her performances rise to the top of the most popular trends in the world.  Reviews since have been anything but glowing, and I feel bad that they've served as a large blow to the anticipation for her new album - if to prove anything, I had come across an article touting her as "2012's Adele," but I'm afraid (for now) she'll have to do a lot to overcome the public's negative outlook on her.  I admit I was a heavy critic after her performances, largely due to my sheer disappointment; I'll also admit that probably, because of the likes of Gaga or Adele, the precedence for live performance has risen once again from the likes of lip-synching Britney, and no longer does it cut it to be just a recording artist: you need to be a singer.  In that sense, it was upsetting to know the voice I grew to love wasn't a live one.

And yet, her debut album is flawless.  (yes, it leaked early this morning, and no, I do not have the willpower to resist listening to it for another week) I can say that there is no weak link to the tracklisting as every song is, in its way, a perfect standout.  Her voice seems flawless, but I beg the question: how much of it is genuine?  All the same, I'm enjoying her music immensely: from Dark Fantasy to Lolita or from the new hip-hop Diet Mtn Dew (..I'm thinking it's my favourite) to This Is What Makes Us Girls to the title track or her fame-maker Video Games, I can't pick the sole standout, which I suppose serves as a testament to the overall strength of Born to Die as a whole.

I entirely realize that her voice is so unique that she's very polarizing: that is, you'll completely love her music and sound, or you'll find yourself unable to get into it.  There's no grey area there, and I wouldn't expect there to be - there isn't one for Lady Gaga, either - because her sound is so defined that you'll either adhere to it like glue or repel it like a magnet.  She's certainly an acquired taste.  That being said, my disappointment in her Saturday Night Live appearance is that she's turned off everyone from her completely.  Here's what I mean: given that she's a very love/hate sort of act, I would never expect SNL's target audience to lap up her performances.  However, had they been solid, she would've garnered respect; I hate to keep bringing it back to Gaga, but I know of many, many people who dislike her music and/or image but straight up respect her because of her powerful voice when singing live.  In that respect, Lana Del Rey has missed that completely: not only did she appear to be that weird girl with an offbeat voice and strange song, but she missed the vocal mark completely, pitchy and shaky and painful to listen to.

It's a difficult concept for me to comprehend, but I'll have to understand her as a recording artist.  She's at the point in her career where the live performances are at a minimum, and my liking of her is low enough that I don't follow her like a hawk so my exposure to her (potential) live missteps will be at zero.  I can only hope with time her voice will become better when singing live, but even still with SNL I fully realize it was probably entirely due to nerves: after all, I can't even imagine having my first televised performance to millions to occur on Saturday Night Live which makes the concept of 'live' as live as possible.  And yet, reversing everything I've just spelled out, I heard a recent performance of Born to Die which sounded ten times better than her recorded version.

I'm in a constant state of confusion with this girl.  She's drop dead gorgeous, so there's definitely that.  For now, I'll reserve myself to enjoying her album as immensely as I have been - I've lost count on the repeats.  I highly suggest her, at least to try: there's a massive, massive chance you'll dislike her, perhaps even hate her, but I'll say if you like her, you'll have a lot to like.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Falling in love with love

What is love?  Take a moment now to get the Haddaway lyrics out of your system, because I know for a fact you just sang that song to yourself and I'm dutifully refraining from saying so myself.  (though I suppose this avoidance in and of itself is as much of a reference as if I typed the lyrics themselves, but I won't stoop so low) My honest answer: who knows, I've never experienced it.  Halt, self: I'll make an amendment to that.  Of course I've experienced love, but it's been restricted to familial and platonic love: I would assume then that my definition of love as it pertains to my family might involve something deeper than words could explain, and perhaps somewhat similarly, I suppose the love I have for the closest of my friends entails an unquestionable selflessness (on my part) or an exertion of genuine interest and emotion or an unwavering and indestructible trust.  No, when I say I've never experienced love, I mean it in the romantic sense, as to tie into the topic I've chosen to write about at hand.  At least, I don't think I've ever been in love.  Yes, there have been instances of absolute lust or attraction in response to someone I've liked in that way (although even now that I think about it - past my self-embarrassment - such instances have been somewhat numbered), but I would never venture out and say that I've felt love for someone, and I'd wager a guess that that's because I've never been in the situation to do so.

I've made brief mention of 'crushes,' and I really hate that term because it's so trivial and juvenile and yet there's no better way to describe it.  My point being, the furthest romantic endeavors have been limited to the confines of my mind - and yes that sounds incredibly dirty but I mean it in the sense that I've never physically been in a legitimate relationship and the only lust or attraction or 'crushes' that I've had have never come to a tangible fruition, save for becoming words aloud or in text to those few aforementioned good and loved friends.  Therefore, it's a given I've never had the chance to love in that way.  Is it disappointing?  Somewhat.  But I think when I yearn for a relationship - 'yearn' being the operative word (it's a rather desperate word), and also overall being something I'll probably continue to talk about - I'm not entirely interested in falling in love because I don't know what love is.  That isn't to say that my only criteria is the physical - surely that very much does exist - but when I think about, say, a girl in class I catch looking my way and sometimes who catches me looking hers, I don't think to myself, "god, I wish I felt love for her."  Surely, I would assume, when I were to date someone, I doubt I'd think "I can't wait to fall in love with this person" on the first date, but I know subliminally I'd be conscious that that would be something to strive toward in the long run - besides, why else date someone?  Unless you're loose, but that's what one night stands are for.

That's the thing: when you look at me, Matt, you do not think 'player.'  I mean by 'player' just what you'd expect - I'm not the type to hook up with random people every time I step foot outside of my house.  Does that mean the intentions aren't there?  Hell no.  Had I the chance, I would to a respectable extent, but that's neither here nor there.  (here's where things might get sticky in respect to my stance on blogs getting to be a little too personal; actually, this entire post has been one massive red flag, but what can you do, so I'll be a hypocrite for the sake of writing something down in text that's been in my head for ages) I hate to self-deprecate but I have a serious lack of confidence, whether it be physically or personality-wise.  Who doesn't?  Cyborgs, that's who.  Unfortunately for me I've always fixated on what people might think of me, and no matter what I do, the pessimist in me automatically leaps to figuring that when someone looks at me, they're scrutinizing me no matter what.  A look my way can never signal interest - I always consider it as scrutiny.  I've had this conversation with someone before - albeit, I was drunk - about the idea that coming to university as an adult you can forget about everything behind you and be who you are and put yourself out there without any preconceived notions with a staggering new confidence.  It worked for them, but I can't quite bring myself to do so for myself.  I'm conditioned to reject compliments.  I'm self-withdrawn enough to prevent myself from the kind of oncoming compliments from strangers so I doubt their existence whatsoever.  Like I said, I jump to conclusions about how people think of me.  As far as I know, I've never been attentive to someone who's thought I was attractive, physically or not.  (as shallow as it is to say, yes, physical appearance counts, or at least it does for me - I believe in people having hearts of gold, of course, but I'm not up for digging for it restlessly unless it's immediately apparent; however, that all being said, and me being the not-player, I don't value a girl on their chest alone) Returning to the concept of compliments, I've been built up by the best friends, much like I do the same.  I guess that's what I get for having the closest of my friends being female: often am I the rock who insists on their goodness regardless of hardship so naturally I see that in return.  It's nice, of course, but like I've mentioned I'm completely conditioned to oppose compliments and to assume ulterior motive.  Enough with the pity party.

One of the rudest things I've been told was that I want a girlfriend so badly only for commodity, that I want one because I'm tired of being a minority - single - amongst my tight knit group of friends, that I want one for the sake of it; things like that are a deep burn.  (mind you, it wasn't the rudest to come from this individual)  Sure, sometimes I don't enjoy the position of being nth wheel, but I don't weep to myself that I'm single.  That isn't to say that I don't want a relationship: that's the point I've been driving at.  I'm tired of being forever alone; tired of knowing I haven't yet gone on a legitimate date or knowing that the only physical things (I hate myself for writing about things like this!) have been restricted to times where an obscene amount of alcohol has been in my system.  I want the sickeningly romantic stuff.  I want to spoil my girlfriend.  I want to be completely enthralled to the point where people around me want to slap me in the face until I'm grounded again on earth.

To play my own devil's advocate - or, perhaps more appropriately, playing the figure of the aforementioned horrid comment-disher: what if I really am just in love with the idea of finding love?  Love's everywhere: I dare you to turn on the radio without hearing a song centered completely around love (that might unfortunately be because of the high frequency of the cursed We Found Love playing constantly..) or watching a movie where attraction or lust is not a subplot.  Love, actually, is all around.  (where'd I get that quote from?) You walk to class, and you're likely to come across a couple holding hands and walking so slow you want nothing more than to get a streamroller and make your own path over their dreadfully glacial pace.  Is it possible that I want it for all the wrong reasons; that I want a relationship so I can be satisfied in knocking that off of my list and kicking back and saying, mission accomplished?*

As for the time being, I can't see my situation altering itself in any drastic way.  Sure, I could wake up tomorrow morning and tell myself I'm looking attractive today and that I'm a catch and exude enough confidence to suffocate those around me (without being a douche, naturally) much like what my one friend spoke of doing - there's no harm in trying, they continued, but I digress - but I know I won't do that.  I fear, given my lack of confidence and, quite candidly, my horrific flirtation skills, I'm thinking the only time that something good will happen is when it walks straight up to me and punches me in the face, but even then I think I'll either miss overt signals or misinterpret them entirely.  Maybe I'm overthinking, and maybe this will serve as a catharsis, considering I've attempted to - and failed at - writing a post on this topic countless times before.  (that's what I meant by saying I've had this in my mind for forever.. I'm happy it's worked out tonight!  Good job, res room, you've rejuvenated my creativity.  A pat on the wall for you!) Perhaps I'll reserve myself to thinking about that girl in class and taking care to make sure I look presentable.  It's always fun to do, singling out someone as an interest.  You know you do it too.

Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no mo.

*I can barely stand to continue on with that thought: there is no way in hell I'm that person.  I'm a sickeningly horrific hopeless romantic.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Some sort of existence

If: 1. you are a Canadian university student (if that were the case you were likely referred to this post by my Facebook profile - am I a psychic?) and 2. you are currently still not back to school, kindly leave, because I hate you.

Indeed, I am regretfully back to the daily grind of class, although my schedule seems lighter despite my taking of six courses this semester.  (that is, of course, aside from my Wednesdays as well, which I'm sure will soon revel in infamy considering that I have seven hours spread over four classes uninterrupted and will complain about it often) Perhaps it's due to the seemingly lowered work required of me: true, I now have two writing classes that require weekly assignments (assignments - essays included - take me a matter of hours, so they're no hassle), and yes, the entirety of my courses reside in the realm of humanities (meaning that the physical workload is less strenuous given that every course largely has one or two massive assignment), but I'd chalk it up to the absolute lack of required readings of my upcoming semester that I can foresee a disgusting amount of free time on my hands for the next few months.  I've already filled the my week with my rewatching of Parks and Recreation, and saddle up before I report that I'm already nearly finished the third season and started only four days ago.  Of course it was in part to my wavering health, but I have yet to reach that topic.  Being back on residence is somewhat jarring; at least, moreso than when I moved here back in September.  I deduct that's because this time, I knew exactly what I was coming back to, and having returned to the place that I love (home, duh) for the month of December, the not-so-great things about res life now stand out blatant against home comforts: no longer do I enjoy the meals prepared by my mother, no longer do the cleaning ladies barge into my room every other Tuesday while I'm still asleep and possibly hungover, and no longer am I somehow entangled in some sort of yelling match with any member of my family on a daily basis.  Aaah, home.  That isn't to say I don't enjoy residence, oh no: the opposite, surely.  I like the independence.  I like the reunions with the friends I actually missed.  I like the time I have to myself, and my computer, and my Parks and Recreation DVDs.  I like Pizza Pizza.  I don't like, though, my lack of drive to cook for myself, the dastardly presence of dust and crumbs in my room, the knowledge that my best friends are miles away, select strained conversations, and my idiotic immune system's decision to take a vacation the moment I'm thrust back into an environment where thousands of people breathe their diseased breath over every surface and into every conceivable open space filled with air.

I moved Sunday night.  I unpacked my things and settled in, crestfallen because I didn't pack pajamas - who does that.  I went to three classes on Monday: French Cinema, taught by perhaps the dumbest woman I have ever encountered (class, how do I turn on this computer?  Okay, how do I get this DVD to play?*); British Literature: Medieval to some other time period or something, which I haven't done readings for since October and whose hour has become somewhat farcical (the drawings all over my notes are golden.  You may find many Lady Gagas and various Pokemon); and Italian Cinema, which I thoroughly enjoy because ayyy, I'm Italian.  I promptly went to Pizza Pizza and purchased two slices because Pizza Pizza is my kryptonite and damnit, I'm hungry.  (I also purchased a drink to which the woman said, "don't you need a second drink?", this is all for me) I watched the entire first season of Parks and Recreation.  I went to bed with a strange feeling at the back of my throat.  Then I woke up sick.

It's no secret I am not the healthiest person on the planet, disease related or otherwise.  In fact, I've never been in absolute good health: recall, I broke my goddamn knee in May, and then I got bronchitis in August.  It's a known fact now that in my life, the moment I'm in a foreign environment - and I use foreign loosely, obviously, because I count my university to be "foreign" to me in contrast to home and yes, it's still very much a Canadian university - I immediately get sick.  Knock on wood, knock on wood.  To nobody's surprise, least of all mine, I got sick the moment I'm back to school.  It started off as just minor congestion on Tuesday, which is nothing a profuse amount of Vitamin C (I know it doesn't take affect but I'm a paranoid) and Kleenex couldn't fix to sustain me through my only class of the day.  (The Graphic Novel.  So cool.  Will enjoy and will get a 90) And so commenced one of the worst nights of my life.  My old friend Mister Fever knocked on my door and then punched me in the face.  I got the upwards of two hours sleep combined that night, as I was constantly kept awake by my body's nearly schizophrenic temperature: I wore a sweater and socks and an extra blanket to compensate for my entire body's shivering even though I was sweating like a beast, and not a half an hour later I slept in a t-shirt and sweatpants without covers at all because I was too hot even though I knew I felt cold.  Absolutely drained and now positively congested, I skipped two of my classes on Hell Wednesday, and my condition didn't brighten up through to Thursday, what with the serious lack of energy and constant sniffling and threat to collapse every time I stood up or general apathy towards food.  I'm happy to now at least report that I'm almost all better, save for an occasional sneeze or a pesky booming and horrific cough which happens every time I laugh.  (which has been often, given what I've been watching nonstop.. I really don't feel like typing its title or italicizing it again) I effectively infected a friend of mine - sorry (but it has been festering in my room) - and I'm sure I spread the cold around to many of my classmates, but after the dismal days I've had, I say: HA HA.

I look ahead to the hope of a prosperous semester.  I know already in a week's time I'll be at a New Year's Eve party (huh? you say.  Merely a redo) and a week after that I'll journey over to my bestie's place for mad hangs and chillz (and hopefully no bar ejections), so I've got that covered.  As for my classes, I'm eager for most, though I sit in dread for some; I'm sure my positive outlook will be dashed away in a few weeks' time when the midterms and essays due before reading week roll around - what is it with every professor insisting that everything is due right before reading week?  (okay, aside from the fact that it's quite literally midway through term..) They have a coalition against us - and I'll return to the cliche university student who whines about the workload and boasts about their misfortune on every social media faculty.  But then again: is it weird to say I kinda miss writing essays?

*in a French accent.  Naturally.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dead and gone

(2011, that is!  I'm still alive despite downing an entire bottle of whiskey last night)

I'm a sentimental at heart, so I always find it somewhat beneficial to conduct this sort of review on the past year of my life to relive the fond memories and learn from the troubles.

I'll start off by revisiting a certain post I wrote a year ago entitled 2011 where, instead of giving the past year a review (as I am about to engage myself in writing), I looked to the future and set out things I wanted to see accomplished.  There's no use in linking to said post - if you're just that committed to my life, be my guest, I wrote it last December 31st before a mess of a New Year's Eve - largely because I feel like I've already outgrown my writing style and I'll be rehashing the "goals" I set out for my upcoming year.  It's quite evident that I fulfilled my self-prescription of keeping up with my blog as I've written a whopping seventy eight posts this past year: check.  I'm more than halfway done my university degree: check.  I'm now twenty: well, that was inevitable.  X-Men: First Class and the final Harry Potter lived up to my insane expectations and excitement: check.  From May onwards I technically only listened to Born This Way, yes - although a lot of the songs are quickly becoming stale to me; never Americano or Heavy Metal Lover, though - so: check.

Would you hold it against me if I took the cliched route and gushed about how much of a different person I am now because I've learned and loved and lost throughout the penultimate year to the apocalypse?  Don't worry, I won't do so.  As much as I enjoy looking back at my year with a reviewing eye, I pride myself on generally avoiding the "I'm so much stronger now that x happened!" sort of jargon; taking a cue from my favourite character from one of my favourite movies of the year, Bridesmaids, people do change, and it's honestly inevitable.  Of course I'm a different person than I was a year ago: for one, a year ago today I was vomiting the contents of the night before into a garbage receptacle, and damnit, this year I wasn't hungover at all!  Clearly, I'm a full year older, and from a technical outlook, I am officially an adult at the age of twenty.  (the idea of my next birthday being my twenty first makes me shudder, but I have another five months until I have to deal with that) I don't feel any different from a maturity standpoint; similarly, I wasn't given any new responsibilities, so I could get away with saying I've been nineteen for another year.  If only.

What was noteworthy this past year?  Alright, from a more superficial level: Lady Gaga released an album that was the second coming of Christ incarnate (a title which may be passed on to Beyonce's child: I swear, she's pregnant with Jesus) and if was a legal music listener with a physical copy I'm sure I would've destroyed the disc from obscene amounts of repeat listens.  I'm glad to have discovered new music this year, too, whether it be Lana Del Rey or Zooey Deschanel's musical project She & Him.  As I already outlined in my post about the movies of 2011, I was in a sort of heaven with the X-Men prequel or Bridesmaids or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I watched a ton of new television this year, too, whether it be discovering the greatest and funniest show on TV, Parks & Recreation, or catching up on Dexter (a really disappointing sixth season, to be honest) or sticking to American Horror Story like glue.  I'm happy to say, too, that I read a great deal this year, and the bookshelf across from where I sit currently is beaming at me with its very full shelves of books.  I always strive to read as much as I can and I only hope that this upcoming semester won't interfere too much with my reading habits - after all, I need to see how Lisbeth fares in The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  (in fact, I might just start reading that the moment I'm done writing)

You may say to yourself, that was an irrelevant waste of a paragraph, and I'd agree with you.  As for the more substantial events of my life, I moved away from home for the first time, a move which will be replicated in just three hours' time as I return to school a full week ahead of everyone I know.  I regretfully leave behind my PS3 and cable and, oh, my family for another three months where I return to a realm of uncomfortable beds, cold rooms, poor eating habits, a constant itch to drink, and closed doors.  Perhaps my mind is being lazy, but I fail to think of another massive event occurring in 2011 that garnered a real impact on my life, positive or otherwise.  I suppose from a health standpoint it's worth noting I broke my bloody knee back in May - typing that makes my knee twinge - and I had bronchitis for those horrid, horrid few weeks of my summer vacation.  Like I previously mentioned, there weren't any new responsibilities to be tackled in turning twenty: in that sense, twenty is a rather empty year, and the only news it brings is the knowledge of being halfway to forty.  Next year comes the time where I'm legal everywhere, but it's not like I'm a jetsetter based on the weeping contents of my bank account.  Ah, of course!: I rediscovered my love for writing this year, and I don't mean blogging; rather, creative writing, as I participated in NaNoWriMo even though I wasn't successful in completing it.  As I think I touched upon in my most recent post I'm eager to return to my creative outlet, and I hope 2012 brings about a highly prosperous year in terms of product.  I'll finish NaNoWriMo this year, and I'll then celebrate with a complete story for only twenty one days before the end of times comes.

I've done a good job of stopping myself from being overly cliche, right?  I might flirt with the line in this upcoming blurb.  I met a great deal of new people this year along with igniting new friendships with familiar faces, and I'm grateful for that sort of prosperity considering I think I have some sort of social anxiety and I'm dreadful at first impressions or initiating contact.  As ever, the best friends I have remained as such, and with every passing day that I find I'm still extremely close with these great people I'm certain I'll never lose contact with them.  Conversely, I grew to discover just how much I can't stand the company of a select few, and I suppose I'm proud of myself in the sense that I'm able to realize that being so vastly different from someone can work to an extent up until clashing just becomes fatally toxic to the relationship.  It's horrible to say, but I hope this year I'm able to get closer to the people I'm already close with, and I wouldn't mind trimming the excess, considering it'll be in my best interests and will hopefully improve my mood.  (which, I find in instances like that, is constantly dreary)

What do I have to say for the upcoming year?  Well, I sure hope we don't all die on December 21st.  (I joke about the end of the world a great deal but it's surely a coping mechanism considering the concept terrifies me completely) Like I said, I hope I keep networking to find even more rad people, and I hope the friends I have now don't find me to be too much of a nuisance and will decide to keep me around for another year or two.  Also previously mentioned, I hope to read a great deal, and on the creative side of storytelling, I hope to complete perspective projects I have in my messy head.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'm successful in my bid to become a don on residence for next year because something about the experience seems to call for me and, without seeming too cocky, I think I scream don material.  I hope my studies keep up as successfully as they have been recently, and I hope I don't break any bones this year - knock on wood - least of all my knees.  As always, it wouldn't hurt to become more healthy in the way I eat or in the sense of my very lacking physical activity, but meh, my vegetative mind is content.

Happy 2012, all, and I hope my year turns out to be as good as I'm sure yours will!