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O Best Beloved, the weekend horoscoop* column returns Thursday January 1st. in honor of finally kissing 2008 goodbye, i bring you SDJ’s list of the 12 best things of the year; a completely subjective list, in no particular order except for the 1st slot - cuz Obama is #1 no matter how you slice it:

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1. BARACK OBAMAI spent much of this year being consumed by and working for Obama’s magnificent presidential campaign. I believe him to be a leader the likes of which we’ve never seen before. We’ve so desperately needed to hear those words we heard him speak during the moment of victory on November 4, 2008 in Grant Park, especially after the incredibly bloody, hateful, divisive road he had to walk on to get to the White House: We have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States; we are, and always will be, the United States of America. Two wonderful strong women are smiling down at him from the next world; his mother Stanley Ann Dunham and his grandmother Madelyn Dunham.

2. AMANDA PALMER - A tip from a friend whose taste I implicitly trust led me to see Amanda Palmer perform in November at New York City’s Webster Hall. I stared openmouthed at the stage for much of the night. She’s brilliant, she’s special, she’s beyond belief. There is no doubt in my mind that she’s going to be a supernova. Someday I’ll be telling people that yes, I was there, in the way people have told me they witnessed Nirvana’s CMJ gig (I think I was home washing my hair that night). Which reminds me - she’s playing the Bowery Ballroom at 2am on January 1st. Go. Just go. And next New Year’s you can tell people you were there. Because she won’t be playing at places that size for very long.

3. LYNDA BARRY - I was lucky enough to spend a week studying with writer/cartoonist Lynda Barry this summer at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Picture going to summer camp again - but you’re an adult and therefore you can enjoy it even more than when you were a kid and had to do what other people told you to. And picture the very best teacher you ever had, a full week of studying with that teacher, who regularly inspires you to take your creativity to the next level. Made you laugh. Made you cry. And you’ll get a little bit of what that week was like.

4. DAY OF THE DEAD IN QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO - After a blissful week I spent in Mexico at the end of October, I’m now in love with the country, particularly the Yucatan. I was able to join with a community of beautiful Mayan women in preparing their Day of the Dead altar, tamale making, and participating in the Day of the Dead ceremonies when the wall between the worlds dissolves. What a beautiful custom, what a spectacular country, and what warm and lovely people. Not to mention the tamales and chocolate coffee.

5. DR. MARK HYMAN - My dear friend Gloria P clued me in to Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss by Dr. Mark Hyman, formerly the medical director of Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass.  It was a life changing read; after dropping gluten, dairy, and sugar from my diet I realized a sense of health and well being I hadn’t had in years. Also, no longer eating any processed foods or high fructose corn syrup. Read it and try it; even just for a few days. You’ll be amazed at how your life changes for the better.

6. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and the E STREET BAND - Bruce and his merry band were on the road again this year supporting the album Magic. The shows; electrifying, magnificent. Just when I thought he couldn’t possibly wow me any more (I’ve been seeing his concerts since 1978 - a staggering 30 years) he completely whips out the rug from under me and blows my mind again. During this tour he started a delightful practice of reading and honoring fans’ song requests on signs. Hence, many songs were played live (can you say Drive All Night?) that I never thought I’d see again except in my mind’s eye. Also, the mighty E Street Band suffered its first casualty; Danny Federici died in April of melanoma. I think we were all humbled to realize that Bruce and his paisans were indeed not superhuman and the fabric of that splendid musical texture they’ve created for so many years could be rent.

7. FACEBOOK / LINKED IN - Both these sites have changed my life, rekindled old friendships, found me new clients, and allowed me to keep in touch with people I thought I would never see again. Facebook is like sitting in homeroom but the teacher never coming in so you’re free to do whatever you want and even throw a paper clip at the cute guy across the room. Linked In is far more serious, yet endlessly entertaining in its own right.

8. RACHEL MADDOW - I pegged her months ago as someone who needed and deserved her own teevee show on MSNBC after admiringly watching her punt for Keith Olbermann. Apparently the suits at the network also realized her great potential and now she’s the hostess with the mostest. She’s so damn smart and likeable! Yay, Rachel, yay.

9. FRIENDS AND FAMILY - My friends and family are wonderful and I love you all. And undying thanks for your love and support. Happy 2009!!!

10. MR. BOY, MY CAT - Saturday May 10 was a big day here, the day that Mr. Boy came to live at my house. He’s a rescue, five years old, and a sweeter more friendly feline there never was. Thank you Teri L and Dorothy S for putting us together!

11. DEMOCRACY - This election brought so many new people into the political process (me, for one); it energized and moved me, it made me want to keep my eyes wide open and my mind engaged instead of burying my head in the sand. I want to know what’s happening and who’s doing what. I don’t want to go back to sleep.

12. BLOGGING - I started this blog one year ago and made a commitment to it. Blogging and the internet have changed our world beyond recognition. We can all have a voice. We don’t have to wait for a magazine publisher to hire us and pay us to write. Quoting Barack Obama again - We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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This post has 2 comments. Add your own.
naomi dagen bloom - 24 Dec 08 at 19:30:10

A big “Yes” to Mr. O at #1, Rachel Maddow at #8, darling tabby at #10–and definitely Blogging at #12–synchornicity of that plus great Obama storefront being how we connected.

Have a great new year, Holly!

Pam - 02 Jan 09 at 01:07:33

As always, a great list. Here’s to lots more wonderful things in 2009. Happy New Year, HCP.