Remember those golden years when you thought you knew everything? This year was not one of them for me. 2013 was full of surprises. Here are eight of them.
- The Catholic Church is evolving. I'd figured it for a lost cause, a musty, judgmental church darkened by terrible scandals. And then, a Pope resigns! The Cardinals elect Pope Francis! What a breath of fresh air, with his messages of humility, acceptance, understanding and compassion. He's said he won't judge gay priests. He's washed the feet of AIDS patients, prisoners and women. He cooks his own meals. He rides in a mini-van instead of the Pope-mobile. For the first time in a long time, I consider going to back to Mass.
- It's never too late to start exercising and training. Diana Nyad, 60, showed us when she swam from Cuba to Florida in Sept. She's one of my motivators when I'm doing a long run.
- My friends in Tulsa, OK, felt more earthquakes this year than I did in Los Angeles. Plus they had tornadoes, hail and ice storms. Glad this Okie came west.
- Politicians are nearly as entertaining as reality TV stars. Toronto Mayor Tom Ford and his drunken stupor. Anthony "Carlos Danger" Weiner and his sexts. The FBI raiding the office of Montebello's bribe-taking, cigar-chomping good ole boy Ronald Calderon in the California state capitol.
- There were about two weeks in March when I was really loving JCPenney for women's clothes. I'd only bought drapes in JCPenney before; now I was finding cute outfits that got compliments at work. The Joe Fresh and Cosabella Amore lines were stylish and well-priced. Then they fired the CEO who brought them in. Oh well. Back to Nordstrom Rack.
- I spent ten days in China and wasn't served a grain of rice until it was nearly time to leave. I expected rice every day, at every meal, in China, based on my limited experience with American Chinese food chains like Panda Express. I think that they just didn't serve it much to tourists; but it certainly was a staple there, based on the 10-pound bags of rice stacked tight in the grocery store aisle.
- After years of turning off all electronic devices on airplanes, suddenly it is OK to leave them on during take off and landing. I spent decades worrying that my cassette tape player, then my CD player, then my MP3 player and finally my iPod were interfering with air traffic control messages, and then with the flick of a switch, it's suddenly all right to play Candy Crush Saga while listening to Arcade Fire. Remember when they threw Alec Baldwin off of a flight for not turning off Words with Friends? He should sue.
- Dogs can look surprised. We saw it first hand, when my miniature dachshund sniffed the butt of what she thought was another dog outside my building. Chloe pup did a double-take and took several steps backward when the animal turned around to reveal the snout of a pot-bellied pig. Now she just barks at it whenever she sees it. She won't be fooled again.
I can't wait to see what 2014 will bring!