This year, I filled approximately three composition books cover-to-cover, mostly with first-draft, stream-of-consciousness music and film reviews. As I mentioned in 2001, I never took the time to develop these scribbled assessments into pieces anyone else would actually want to read. Paging through them now, that’s a shame. Early in the year, I wrote a review of Concrete Blonde’s first reunion album, Group Therapy, which I approached carefully, skeptically. Three years later, I probably haven’t listened to it in well over a year (or two), but reading through that initial review now, I want to hear it again, which is always a good measure of an engaging, well-written critique.

My first serious relationship ended that June. Although its demise seems painfully inevitable to me now, at the time it had all of the bludgeoning force of a Monty Python sixteen-ton anvil abruptly dropping from the sky, only without the laughs. I hate to linger on it—after all, as Black Box Recorder’s Sarah Nixey sang (without a hint of pity) two years earlier, “Nobody goes through life without getting hurt,”—but it irrevocably colors this year in my memory like an impenetrable black cloud. The week it happened, I barely mentioned it in my writing notebook; I think I was a little shellshocked and wary of leaving a record of my then-mental/emotional state that I might regret revisiting at a later date. Instead, I wrote about Belle and Sebastian’s recently released Storytelling soundtrack, picked up a used copy of The Housemartins’ London 0 Hull 4 at the Davis Square CD Spins, and life went on.

How ironic that one of the suckiest years of my life produced an overstuffed cornucopia of monumental, excellent new albums: Stew’s The Naked Dutch Painter… and Other Songs, The Mekons’ OOOH! (Out Of Our Heads), Sleater-Kinney’s One Beat, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Badly Drawn Boy’s soundtrack for About A Boy, Alison Moyet’s Hometime, and Tori Amos’ miraculous return to form, Scarlet’s Walk. One Beat arrived in mid-August, right when I needed it. Angry, defiant, passionate, uplifting and LOUD, it was absolutely fucking therapeutic for me: a soundtrack for many lengthy, have-to-get-out-of-this-goddamn-apartment-I’m-living-in-with-my-ex-boyfriend walks through leafy, subdued Watertown and Belmont. It never failed to make me feel invincible, or at least a little better.

It’s fitting that right after everything fell apart in my personal life, I began volunteering at the Brattle Theatre one night a week. This humble activity was really the genesis for establishing an identity away from the ex and my entrance into the Boston film geek inner circle. It surely cemented the notion that I loved film just a teensy-weensy bit more than music. The writing notebooks also support this, with film reviews outnumbering music reviews two-to-one. Obviously, I didn’t abandon scouring multiple libraries and used record stores every week for new stuff to listen to—I don’t think I ever could—but it’s safe to say that at this point, I knew I wanted film to provide the basis for my career (rather than boring admin stuff), whereas music would always remain just a hobby, albeit a mildly obsessive one.

By autumn, I felt overwhelmed by the writing notebooks. I wasn’t getting anywhere in my feeble attempts at sifting through all the crap I’d produced in order to retrieve golden phrases and ideas. I’d wanted to start my own website for awhile, but how, man, how? So, after reading an article by Kate Sullivan in the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2002 anthology, I found out she had something called a “blog” when I referenced her name in the book’s list of contributors. Weeks later, via Blogspot, I started my very own (The one you’re reading right now! Imagine that!). The first couple postings were predictably crude and innocuously cute, but it proved, as I’d hoped, an invaluable tool to push me beyond those illegible first drafts and share my thoughts on a particular movie or song with a potential audience—whether anyone wanted to hear them or not.