I felt a lot like Frodo at the end of Return of the King on the last day of 2018. As the ball dropped, I whispered, “It’s gone. It’s done.”
2018 was a doozy for me, and I know a lot of you feel the same way. A quick recap of the year, shall we?
- Massive falling out with a close friend.
- Finding out my father figure is a disturbed man.
- Aunt diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Mom’s in poor health off and on through the year.
- Car wreck ruins my future as a hairstylist.
- Sister from another mister in poor health.
- Baby sister from another mister traumatized by family drama.
I’m glad 2018 is over. There were times when I wasn’t sure I’d come out the other side. But it wasn’t all bad. Last year I made some new friends, and I grew much closer to old ones. I endured horrible mental and physical pain, and I got through it. I have a better understanding of myself than I ever have, and I know part of that is due to my experiences last year.
But not all of 2018 sucked! I didn’t get to try out as many things as I’d hoped, but I discovered enough goodness to share it here with y’all. Here’s what I loved about 2018, from the brand new to the new-to-me.
Beauty & Skincare
1.) Perricone MD Cold Plasma+ Face: I have a host of skincare issues, namely rosacea, adult acne, and (gulp) a few fine lines on my forehead, and I’m always looking for a miracle cure that targets all of the above. When I got the opportunity to test out Cold Plasma+, I was completely blown away. I was suffering from a major rosacea flare-up at the time and had loads of under-the-skin bumps threatening to erupt on top of being bright red. Within three days of using the cream (which I will admit has a funky smell and weird texture), the redness had faded to a faint, patchy pink, and the bumps never fully surfaced. Even better, my fine lines were less visible within a week or two. This is truly a holy grail product for me, and I don’t use that term lightly!
2.) Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme: A brand rep at Ulta recommended this to me at the height of a pre-Perricone breakout when my skin was so sensitive that even plain water hurt my face. Frankly, I was terrified by the thought of any cleanser, especially one I’d never tried, but I am so glad I listened. It’s incredibly soothing and hydrating, which is great considering my formerly-oily skin has decided to become Sahara-dry, and it made washing my face a calming, pleasant experience again after weeks of being something I dreaded. Love!
3.) Covergirl Goes Cruelty Free: This was the biggest news in the beauty industry for me. Apart from products I have to use due to my skin being as moody as a Grumpy Cat meme, I try to use as many cruelty free items as I can. Covergirl is really paving the way in terms of affordable, cruelty free beauty, and I’m so thrilled I can finally point my budget-minded girls in the direction of the local drugstore for beauty products. (It should be noted that both Milani and Wet N Wild are also cruelty free, but they don’t have the shade range Covergirl does.)
1.) American Prison by Shane Bauer: Author of the shocking Mother Jones exposé, which earned him a National Magazine Award, reveals his harrowing four month stint at Winn Correctional Center, a privately run facility in rural Louisiana.
2.) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari: Released in 2015, this #1 international bestseller blends science with history in a fascinating narrative on humanity’s creation and evolution. Over one hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans walked the Earth, and now there is only one. Renowned historian Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks new ground to answer that nagging little question: why?
3.) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Despite the fact that this was released way back in 1990, when yours truly was only a small child, Good Omens has found its way onto my 2018 favorites. It never fails to cheer me up when I’m sad, and I was a mopey gal for the better part of the year. The premise, you ask? If you’ve never read this gem, all you need to know is that the end of the world is coming. Actually, it’s coming next Saturday… a little before dinner. Our salvation rests in the hands of a rather charming demon and a very fussy angel. Oh, and the Antichrist is missing.
1.) Preacher: Texas preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) is having a crisis of faith. The problem is that God has rage-quit Heaven to shirk His duties, and Jesse is the only one with the power to find Him. To make matters worse, the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) is hot on his trail, and tensions between Jesse and his ex-girlfriend, Tulip (Ruth Negga), run high. Preacher is like nothing else on television. It’s irreverent, crude, and brutal, yet its core — thanks to the phenomenal Cooper and Negga — is strangely sweet. Go on. It’s on Hulu. I’ll wait while you catch up.
2.) Victoria: I will admit I’m a recent convert. My mom’s been a fan since day one, but I have seen the light. The story of the monarch’s life begins with the death of King William IV and follows Victoria (the stunning Jenna Coleman) after she assumes the throne at the age of eighteen. With her devoted husband, Prince Albert (Tom Hughes, whose Albert is endearingly awkward), and equally dedicated Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), at her side, the young queen thrives in her new role. Victoria offers a human — and often surprisingly humorous — look into one of the world’s most famous monarchs. Even if you’re not into history, it has so much to offer. You can watch it on PBS in America.
3.) The Exorcist: Due to work/school/life being uncooperative, I only got around to watching this show in 2018. After it was rudely canceled by Fox. Needless to say, I am displeased. Guided by a vision, young parish priest Father Tomas Ortega (brilliantly played by Alfonso Herrera) seeks out our titular exorcist, Father Marcus Keane (the inimitable Ben Daniels) for help when suspicions that a young girl from his parish may be possessed arise. Filled with I-did-not-see-that-coming plot twists and an incredible supporting cast including Oscar-winner Geena Davis, The Exorcist is at turns hauntingly beautiful and genuinely scary. What the actual Hell was with that cancellation, Fox? You can watch both seasons on Hulu.
1.) Black Panther: After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman, who truly comes into his own in his first solo outing as Black Panther) returns home to his native Wakanda to assume the throne. From its intricately crafted and sympathetic villain (Michael B. Jordan) to the most stunning cinematography I’ve ever seen, Black Panther has all the hallmarks of the Oscar-winning film I hope it will become. Wakanda forever!
2.) A Quiet Place: Written, directed, and starring the incredible John Krasinski, A Quiet Place centers on a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where blind aliens with impenetrable skin hunt anything they hear. I don’t want to give too much away because you need to see the film for yourself if you haven’t already. But I can tell you one thing: Emily Blunt’s heartbreaking performance as Evelyn is sure to leave you breathless.
3.) Venom: The critics might have called Venom a disaster, but it’s one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a long time. Tom Hardy (one of the most talented actors of his generation) balances humor with vulnerability as disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, who bonds with an alien entity that takes a liking to its new home and vows to protect it.
1.) High As Hope by Florence + the Machine: Florence Welch has the sort of voice that can raise the dead, and it’s never been more honest than it is here, on the band’s most understated album. Simultaneously ominous and airy, High As Hope often feels like reading Welch’s diary, and it’s all the better for it. It’s like MTV Unplugged… with magic.
2. Wanderer by Cat Power: The first time I heard Cat Power sing, it was a cover of Wild Is The Wind, and I burst out crying. Few singers have a voice as emotive as Power, and her latest album is an emotional journey that leaves you feeling raw and hopeful all at once. Woman, her duet with Lana Del Rey, may be the most Cat Power Cat Power song. Go listen to it. You’ll know what I mean.
3.) Soil by serpentwithfeet: I’m not entirely sure what serpentwithfeet is doing on this album, only that it’s never been done before. Soil has the heart of R&B, the soul of gospel — fitting, as Josiah Wise (our tour guide in this strange, new realm) got his start as a Baltimore choirboy — and the guts of something completely unique. Equal parts ‘what the Hell?’ and ‘oh, my God,’ Soil is the most arresting album I’ve heard in a very long time.
That’s all, folks! 2019 is already off to a much better start. I hope it’s the same for y’all. What are your picks for best of 2018?