2013: In a Nutshell.

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I can’t believe that 2013 is coming to a close and 2014 is mere hours away. Much like last year, I’ll be spending New Years Eve dancing and drinking champagne with good friends all night long at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City. We’re forgoing catching a performance of “Sleep No More” and the pre-production dinner that’s offered to instead gallivant around Manhattan for a few hours before we go straight to the party- the theme requiring black & white attire and a masquerade ball style mask- to countdown to midnight. I’m very excited.

People often say that “time flies when you’re having fun,” and I think that statement has never been more appropriate to use than right now when describing the whirlwind of fun, adventure, accomplishments, personal growth & success, and wonderful memories I’ve made and experienced over these past twelve months- which were drastically needed after the loss of my father in 2012.

2013 was indeed my first “real” year without my dad here to share milestones with me: my birthday, a big promotion at my job, my travels and tales from the road, Father’s Day, re-connecting with my older brothers and members of our family I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, and so many more. But whenever I started to feel sad, I thankfully had good friends and family to surround me and support me and remind me that he was very much there for everything- every moment- in spirit. Keeping his memory alive by being the best that I could be and doing the best that I could in everything I did this year helped fill the void that his absence had left in my life and in my heart. I miss him tremendously, but I think I’ve found a sense of peace.

Indeed, 2013 was the year I pulled myself up, as difficult as it was at times, and dove headfirst back into the world to live and savor each day to the fullest. I traveled- sometimes on my own just for the hell of it- I tried new things, and I met so many new people who have quickly become beloved friends. I also launched this blog on January 1st of 2013, and as a result- I’ve reached an audience of incredible people and have had wonderful interactions with so many individuals from all walks of life who follow and read my posts. I was welcomed with warm and open arms into the Boston Blogger community, and I’m so beyond grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and the doors that have opened from “Legally Redhead,” and for every single one of you who continue to support it.

From celebrating Dropkick Murphys’ latest album with the band at McGreevy’s in January, getting snowed in following the “Nemo” Nor’easter, seeing the Rolling Stones live in concert, getting the chance to meet and talk to fun, down-to-Earth celebrities like Chris Hardwick, Henry Winkler, Joey Fatone, a bunch of the cast from “The Walking Dead,” and most recently- Joe Manganiello- to taking day-trips and spending weekends in NYC, the White Mountains, and Southern California, or just doing some urban exploration and discovering fascinating places right here in and around New England.

From learning how to do the Charleston at a “Great Gatsby” themed party at a beautiful estate in Ipswich, to learning something more serious, i.e. how to control and ultimately overcome my panic attacks and Hyperventilation Syndrome. From getting my full-blown geek on at Wizard World NYC all the way to Boston Comic-Con. From looking like a very scary zombie in “The Walking Dead: Escape,” to feeling like a very scary zombie after cheering myself hoarse and into exhaustion following the Red Sox Rally after their World Series win. From all of those events- and everything in between- all the way ’til now as I’m getting ready to head into NYC- 2013 was one of the most eventful, one of the most fun, and overall, truly one of the best years I think I’ve ever had.

Here are just some of the newsworthy events, pop culture moments, and usually strange phenomenons that happened this year:

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Boston Magazine’s May 2013 Cover following the tragedy.

The Boston Marathon Bombings: I think in terms of major events in 2013, especially since it hit so close to home, the April 15th bombings at the Boston Marathon comes to mind almost immediately. I, like many others, remember exactly what I was doing that beautiful, sunny afternoon when I first heard about the explosions near the finish line. I remember the panic as phone lines went down as I tried to contact my friends and loved ones, and they tried to contact me, as we all tried to make sure we were okay. I remember everyone taking to social media to provide updates to those outside city lines as all of Boston went into lock down following a shoot-out between the two terrorist brothers responsible for the bombings and police officers in Watertown, and I remember the sense of relief, and even joy in some ways- when one of the two brothers was killed and the other was finally found- alive- and taken into custody.

But more importantly- I remember the unbelievable display of bravery and heroism as police, paramedics, runners in the marathon, and bystanders- ran towards the danger following the explosions to try and help in any way they could. I remember the overwhelming response to The One Fund, which was established to help the families of those killed in the attacks and provide aid to the 250+ people who were seriously injured. I remember the emotional rendition of the National Anthem at T.D. Garden just two days after the attack where the crowd took over for Rene Rancourt and sang loud and proud. I remember the city of Boston banding together to support and care for each other during some of our darkest and uncertain days, and the sense of camaraderie through inspiring and hopeful moments throughout the year as we moved forward without fear- showing the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, what being “Boston Strong” is all about.

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Logo courtesy of the National Security Agency

The NSA is watching us. ALL OF US: Men and women everywhere briefly second-guessed sending selfies or sexting when it was revealed that the National Security Agency had been monitoring millions upon millions of phone calls, messages, e-mails, and data collected without warrants from Americans, as well as allies to the country- sparking resentment and protest from citizens who felt their right to privacy was not only invaded, but disregarded all together. The leak of the NSA’s controversial surveillance tactics came from Edward Snowden, a former contractor to the NSA who went from relatively unknown to international fugitive in a matter of weeks until being granted temporary asylum in Russia. While some thought Snowden was nothing more than a criminal, many seemed to support his efforts to expose and inform the world of the National Security Agency’s spying operations.

Since the fall-out, there has been heated debate as to whether or not the NSA’s surveillance is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. Representatives for the NSA have stated that any monitoring is strictly for defense purposes, i.e.- to thwart any possible terrorist threats.

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Images via HLN, CNN, and the NY Post.

Images via HLN, CNN, and the NY Post.

Jodi Arias, George Zimmerman, and Whitey Bulger: 2013 saw three high profile trials come to explosive conclusions. First was Jodi Arias, who after weeks of gruesome and often scandalous testimony, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the brutal killing of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Jodi is currently awaiting a decision to determine whether or not she’ll receive the death penalty.

Then there was George Zimmerman, whose shooting and killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin as he walked back to his father’s home from a convenience store sparked widespread debate over racial profiling and Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder, but has had numerous run-ins with the law since the trial.

Lastly, after sixteen years on the run, notorious Boston-based mobster Whitey Bulger finally faced charges for murder, racketeering, weapons charges, money laundering, and extortion. Following explosive testimony, some from Whitey’s former criminal affiliates, he was found guilty and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He is 84 years old.

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Photos courtesy of PEOPLE and the NY Daily News

Photos courtesy of PEOPLE and the NY Daily News

The world welcomed a new Pope, and England welcomed a new Prince: TIME Magazine named Pope Francis as their 2013 “Person of the Year,” and it fits, since he’s actually pretty likable. Not only has the Argentinian called out the Catholic Church for their poor treatment and intolerance of the gays, women, and the poor- but he’s actually taken strides to set an example as opposed to just talking the talk. Although his views on abortion may be, in my opinion, more than a little old-fashioned, his overall enthusiasm to change and in some ways, to even modernize the Catholic Church, is admirable. Also? He’s technology savvy, which makes for an interesting connection to the Vatican.

In England, my ultimate OTP, William & Kate, welcomed their firstborn son, George Alexander Louis. As expected- the kid is really, really adorable. I think his parents are just one of the cutest couples ever, so this was one of those stories that made me very happy this year.

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Images via E! Online and the Washington Post

The final season of “Dexter” was unwatchable, and “Breaking Bad” delivered the goods: If there was ever a series finale that made an audience feel cheated to the point of rioting- it was the one thrown at the viewers of “Dexter.” In a sloppily written, pointless, plot-less, and overall messy season that focused on new characters that didn’t contribute anything to the story while neglecting to round out established and important characters, the last moments of the series finale were infuriatingly bad. The only consolation I took from Dexter’s final season was that it prepared me for what will undoubtedly be an equally horrific final season of “True Blood” next year.

On the flip side, “Breaking Bad,” one of the greatest TV dramas of all time, had an incredible final season filled with jaw-dropping and nail-biting moments, humor, and a finale that left everyone satisfied. Brilliant writing. Fantastic acting. It was, and will remain, a perfect show. It will be missed!

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Image via E! Online

Hannah Montana couldn’t keep her tongue in her mouth: Deciding to forego what little talent she has as a singer to instead go down the “shock value” route previously paved by artists like Marilyn Manson and more recently, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus was all over the place in 2013. Grinding on Robin Thicke in latex underwear at the VMAs, licking sledgehammers in her “Wrecking Ball” video, smoking pot on stage at the EMAs, taking her clothes off for hack photographer and creep extraordinaire, Terry Richardson, mouthing off to the press, so on and so forth. I’m sort of hoping that all of the media attention Miley received this year satisfies her, her management, and her P.R. team for a while so we don’t have to see so much of her (or her tongue,) in 2014.

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Via ABC News

Three women, missing for a decade, were found in Cleveland: Ten years ago, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, all from Cleveland- went missing- seemingly without a trace. After searches and media attention eventually died down, and their disappearances were overshadowed or pushed aside by other news stories in and around the Cleveland area, no one had ever suspected that the women were all still within the city until May 6th when Amanda Berry, with the help of neighbors who had overheard her screaming for help, was rescued with Knight and DeJesus at the home of Ariel Castro- where they had been repeatedly chained, beaten, raped, and psychologically tortured for a decade.

After their rescue, including that of Berry’s six year old daughter fathered by Castro during her captivity, the bizarre and disturbing details of what the women had suffered through came to light- made even more horrifying by how no one, including Castro’s own family- had known what was going on behind closed doors in his home.

Castro was eventually sentenced to life in prison (plus 1,000 years) only to hang himself in his prison cell a month into his sentence. Meanwhile, Berry, Knight, and DeJesus are still recovering from their ordeal.

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Images via CNN

Celebrities said some really stupid shit: As it seems to be the case every year, 2013 wasn’t lacking in celebrities saying stupid and/or overly offensive things and subsequently creating outrage and backlash.  Paula Deen saw her endorsement deals slip away this year after it was revealed she’d used the N-word more than once in conversation, and more recently- ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch Phil Robertson came under fire for his strong (and insanely misinformed) views on gays, resulting in his temporary suspension from A&E Network and causing a rift between people who agreed with A&E’s decision, and people who didn’t understand how the First Amendment actually works.

Via Yahoo! News

Via Yahoo! News

The Government shut down: When politicians in Washington failed to come to an agreement about funding for ObamaCare, they did the only mature, reasonable, and logical thing there was to do- and shut down the government for sixteen days- resulting in thousands of federal workers being furloughed and national parks and landmarks being closed to the public until a solution, any solution- could be reached. It was pretty shameful, definitely frustrating, and more than embarrassing to watch both sides of the debate bicker like stubborn children- more so than any other typical day in D.C., that is.

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James Gandolfini

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Images courtesy of E! Online, PEOPLE, CNN, and Huffington Post

Images courtesy of E! Online, PEOPLE, CNN, and Huffington Post

We lost a lot of really good, talented, and interesting figures in 2013: I feel bad leaving people out of an “In Memoriam” section of this post. There were quite a few losses, some under horribly tragic and unexpected circumstances- and all of them sad- in 2013. That included, but certainly wasn’t limited to: Paul Walker, Lou Reed, James Gandolfini, Marcia Wallace, Roger Ebert, Cory Monteith, and Nelson Mandela- among many others.

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Via Google

– HONORABLE MENTIONS –

– Aaron Hernandez (may have) killed someone: Former New England Patriots’ tight end and longtime thug Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, during the Summer of 2013. You know who would have never done something like this? Tim Tebow.

– A meteor flew over, and into, Russia: Thank God for dash-cams, which seem to be a staple in most Russian cars (to document accidents and prevent fraud, FYI,) because some drivers on their morning commute back in February captured the meteor’s semi-terrifying descent before the resulting debris and shock waves injured over 1,500 people.

– Lorde conquered: Perhaps one of the best breakout artists of the year, 17 year old Lorde (real name: Ella) dominated the charts and the radio with tracks from her debut album, “Pure Heroine.” With a voice beyond her years, the infectiously catchy single “Royals” was hard to escape from this year. It was everywhere.

– Rob Ford went batshit crazy: Between denying, then ultimately admitting to smoking crack, being caught on video drunkenly making threats to kill people, and giving some unsolicited info about his sex-life to the press- it’s been an unusual year for Toronto’s mayor. On the plus side, his meltdowns and then quick attempts to save face have been legendary to watch unfold.

– Carlos Danger: Not to be outdone by Rob Ford, former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner yet again made headlines this year when it was revealed that the married horndog hadn’t learned his lesson when it came to sexting other women. Messages exchanged between multiple women (under the hilariously bad alias “Carlos Danger”) were soon revealed, resulting in more embarrassment for Weiner, who has since kept a low profile.

And there you have it. 2013 – in a nutshell. I’m positive I’ve unintentionally left out and/or overlooked some big stories or moments, but everything I’ve listed is what stands out most to me when I think of this past year.

Moving forward into 2014, I’ve reinstated some of my resolutions that fell to the wayside in all the craziness of 2013:

1. Get back into healthy, tip top shape: I eat well, and I’m as active as I can be given my schedule- but there is always room for improvement. In 2014, I’d like to lose a little more weight, tone up, get my exercise and sleeping patterns under control, and overall just be a more healthy and fit.

2. Go on a cross-country road trip (or visit Ireland!): I had originally wanted to head out on the remnants of Route 66 this year, driving from Chicago to Santa Monica and back- but my workload caused that plan to be postponed. In 2014, I’m hoping I can get around to accomplishing that life-long goal, or, if not- I’d like to at least visit Ireland for a couple of weeks. Fingers are crossed!

3. Brush up on another language: I don’t expect to be 100% fluent in French by this time next year, but I also wouldn’t like to be as rusty as I am (I know the bare minimum and that’s about it.) In 2014, I’m hoping to strengthen my language skills, preferably in French, but also in Spanish, too.

4. Attend San Diego Comic-Con: This is actually a new resolution on my list. I’ve been saying I’ve wanted to do it for years, but have never gotten around to actually committing to it- but in 2014- I want to attend San Diego Comic-Con. If only to say I was there, at least. Will I wear a costume? We’ll just have to wait and see.

5. Write/photograph more: I think I did a good amount of observing this year, both through my camera lens and without it, but in 2014 I’d like to do even more- just to challenge myself. I want to do more urban exploration, pull apart my closet for more fashion-centered posts, go to more shows, etc. I enjoy blogging very much, so I’d like to do it more often.

I’m sure I’ll add others to the list as they come to me.

But I’ve got to end this entry here. NYC awaits! 2013, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for being such a phenomenal year. I hope 2014 is just as good, if not better.

Have a safe and happy new year, everyone! I’ll see you all in 2014!

xox

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