My List 2014

Every year at this time I sit down to reflect on the past year. It all started several years ago when I read about Joni Mitchell putting together a CD of songs she liked from the year and songs that meant something to her. Ever since I have done the same.

I just reread My List 2013. Wow, what a dark year 2013 was and what a dark place I was in one year ago.   2013 started off great and 2014 ended in a fantastic way.  The middle 12 months of 2013-2014 weren’t great, but the best news is that I survived!  My List 2013 was pretty much about the darkness I was experiencing at the time.  Songs like “Suitcase” by Emeli Sande-

“If you must kill me then please, please tell me why.” “I can’t stop my heart from leaving through the door.”

And every single lyric from Paloma Faith’s “New York”-

He left me for another lady. She stood so tall and she never slept. He left me for another lady.” “Her name was New York, New York. And she took his heart away oh my. She had poisoned his sweet mind.”

But there was light and release in Nina Simone’s gorgeous “Everything Must Change.

“Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Everyone will change. No one, no one stays the same.”

 “There are not many things in life one can be sure of, except rain comes from the clouds, sun lights up the sky, hummingbirds fly. Winter turns to spring. A wounded heart will heal. Oh, but never much too soon. No one, and nothing goes unchanged.”

“Everything must change.”

 —

In 2014, so much did change. I lost the love of one of my best friends. I got back on my feet and felt the love of friends, old and new. I gained love like I have never known before from a man who says what he feels and means what he says. The love I have felt this year is like no other love I have felt in my life. He is generous and so kind, sassy and so fancy, loving beyond imagine. The second half of 2014 has certainly changed for the better; much much better!

Heaven – Beyoncé

“Heaven couldn’t wait for you, so go on, go home.”

On December 31, 2013 we lost one of the best souls I knew, a legend in our own time, my friend Lesley. Those who knew her can remember her laugh, snarky remarks followed by a cackle, her wit, her generosity, and her love. When you met Lesley you instantly felt her warmth and her care. Lesley was my weeknight dinner buddy, travel roomie, fellow Spartan, and one of my closest confidants. She is so dearly missed.

My favorite Webs story goes like this:

The Ladies (my girlfriends) were sitting around reflecting on weddings.  Pretty much everyone was married now except Lesley and me.  Lesley, “I have to say, I was pretty lucky in brides maid dresses.  You guys picked good ones.”

Amy:  Well Matty is left.

Lesley:  Matty would never make me wear ANYTHING ugly.

I miss you every day Lesley.  Love.

 Jealous – Beyoncé

I just love this song. That is all and that is why it made my list.

Oh and last winter SUCKED! The snow! The cold! The SNOW! There was one night in February that I went over to my friend Dennis’s condo and we intended to have a few drinks, order dinner, then head out to the bars. We had a few drinks. We ordered dinner. Then, we proceeded to sing and dance to Beyonce’s then new album until 2 a.m.  Yes, it was a blast!

“I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer….”

 

Questions – Jon McLaughlin

“She’s asking a question, oh how will it be, after this next one eventually leaves me? How can a man be all that they say? All that I know is that men run away. I think I lose a little bit of me in every man that I see.”

In February I met a guy I liked. We seemed to connect. As I started to date again I was very honest with guys, “If you have any plans of moving away from Chicago, don’t date me.” This particular guy, “Oh no, I just moved back here to be with my family.” When the topic of New York City came up, “Oh I lived there when I was 24. It was great, but I’ve done that.” Six weeks later he moved….to New York City.

April 27, 2014

I had dinner with a friend I met through my ex. She told me he had a new boyfriend. Enough. Enough!

Heart of the Matter – India.Arie

This is a stunning, stunning song.

“I got the call today I didn’t want to hear, but I knew that it would come. An old true friend of ours was talking on the phone. She said you found someone.”

“I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter but I think it’s about forgiveness….forgiveness….even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.

Right to Be Wrong – Joss Stone

Remember Joss Stone from around 2002? She was going to be huge, the first Adele, but she never quite caught on here in the States. This past year I rediscovered my love of Joss and her debut album, Mind, Body, & Soul.

“Got a right to be wrong, so just leave me alone. Got a right to be wrong. I’ve been held down too long. I’ve got to break free so I can finally breathe. Got a right to be wrong. Got to sing my own song. I might be singing out of key, but it sure feels good to me. Got a right to be wrong, so just leave me alone.”

 Grateful – Rita Ora

Life challenges us. We get up each day and realistically have no idea what may be put before us. What I know for sure is that through the last year and a half of learning from life, I’m grateful for the wisdom that has been bestowed on me by life. I would never wish emotional pain on anyone. It is awful and much more painful than physical trauma. At some of my darkest days the summer of 2013 I could barely get out of bed.

path2

Now on the other side I can see all the experiences in life that I have been afforded because my past didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. I’m in such a better place personally. I have learned so much about my own strength. I am grateful for the life experiences in 2014 for they made me a better ME; A stronger ME; A ME who understands his worth and is not willing to compromise it for anyone.

“But I had to fall, yeah, to rise above it all. I’m grateful for the star, made me appreciate the sun. I’m grateful for the wrong ones; made me appreciate the right ones. I’m grateful for the pain, for everything that made me break. I’m thankful for all my scars, ‘cause they only made my heart grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.”

 

Break Free (feat. Zedd) – Ariana Grande

This was the summer of Ariana. She’s been around over a year or so, but never broke into the pop arena like she did this past summer with “Break Free”, “Problems”, and “Bang Bang”. Is she the new pop diva?

“This is the part when I say I don’t wanna, I’m stronger than I’ve been before. This is the part when I break free cause I can’t resist it no more.”

Maps – Maroon 5

Last year’s List was filled with Maroon 5. They have a way of writing the perfect heartbreak anthem. This year I give you just one.

“Maps” is pure pop. Maroon 5 continues to write lyrics to speak to my life. There was a time I did not like them (“This Love” era), but that time is well over. They keep producing fantastic pop music. It’s just catchy and fun to sing!

“But I wonder where were you when I was at my worst, down on my knees.”

I Luh You Papi – Jennifer Lopez

As spring was turning to summer, my spirit had rebounded and this song was such a fun one to sing in the car. I have a co-worker whose maiden name was Pape (pronounced Pa-pi) so it was a fun June song to sing as we were getting ready for summer break and the adventures to be had in July and August.

Here It Comes (feat. Rick Smith) – Emeli Sandé

In late spring I got a Facebook message from a high school friend Dana, who I hadn’t seen in over 19 years. She was going to be in Chicago and wondered if I wanted to get together for a drink. I said of course. As I was riding the train downtown my friend Sarah texted me and said something along the lines of, “I can’t believe you are meeting up with Dana. You haven’t seen her in over 19 years.” My response, “I’m saying yes to life.” Right then and there my blog started in my head, www.sayyestolifeblog.com. I met with Dana and we both quickly went through 19 years of life. Then we settled in on relationships, the ups, the downs, the good , the bad, the joy, the sorrow, the clarity, the uncertainty. Dana encouraged me to turn my #100HappyDays Instagram posts into a blog. All in one 3-hour period of time on a May evening, my blog was started. From creating the title on the train ride down to meet Dana was the final encouragement that I needed. It all started then and there.

A week later Dana sent me this song, “Here It Comes”.

“Here it comes.” **DRUMS** Anthem! As I charge into my new life, a year after heartbreak, a new man emerges.

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

Sometime in the spring this song was played as a cool down during yoga.   Yoga was such an inspiration to me in 2014. Each day I practiced brought me closer to understanding and finding peace in my heart. I fell in love with the lyrics and the message at the end of this song. When I started my blog, www.sayyestolifeblog.com, I knew what my description would be.

“How long will I love you?  How long will I need you?  As long as the seasons need to, follow their plan.”

 feb13-blog

 

Summer 2014

Bang Bang(feat. Nicki Minaj & Ariana Grande) – Jessie J

The song of the summer? This song filled the radio stations all summer and fall. It is a trifecta of Jessie, Nicki, and Ariana. The “Moulin Rouge” of 2014!!

Jump (For My Love) – The Pointer Sisters

How could I forget to add this song to My List 2014.  The Pointer Sisters performed at the Opening Ceremonies of the Gay Games in Cleveland.  When “Jump(For My Love) came on the place went wild.  I had a sneaking suspicion that the guy I was standing next to would become the man I would “Jump” for his love.

Here is an excerpt from my August blog post I Beat the Fastest Woman in the 10K-Gay Games.

Cleveland, you rocked.  You accepted us.  You loved us.  You rocked with us.  Thank you.  Forevermore, Thank you!

I’ll remember the people I met along the way.  The German reporter who sat with me and interview me at a basketball game. The speedo clad, tatted up, nipple rings, overly tanned, slightly saggy older man in the swim competition.  Erik, the teacher from Montreal, I sat with on my way to the 10K start line.  We chatted about teaching and kids these days, and how Cleveland rocked the Gay Games.  And there were the two Germans I ran with during the half marathon, Fritz and Michael.  Once I realized they were in my age bracket, I left them in my dust.  Sorry guys, it was nice chatting with you.  There was the girl who waited on us for brunch following my race.  “Did you guys participate?  Did you win?”  My response, “He’s a sliver medalist in volleyball.  Mine is just a participation medal.”  Haha, it’s fine.  She said, “Oh cool.  This is all so cool,” with a huge smile on her face.  Finally, all of the guys I call my new friends.  You know who you are and you are pretty awesome.  It was a joy to participate with you and all the shenanigans.  Thanks for opening your arms so wide to me.

The only thing missing from their GG9 Opening Ceremonies performance was one Pointer Sister(R.I.P.) and those dresses.

I love at 3 minutes when the synthesizers take it up a notch and octave.  I get chills every time.

I Belong to You – Whitney Houston

There was a lot of talk about Whitney Houston in the later part of 2014 as a first ever Live album and an Angela Bassett directed biopic for Lifetime TV were being produced. I never need a reason to listen to Whitney, but I was also falling in love with a boy I met in July. For some reason I was drawn to the I’m Your Baby Tonight album, Whitney’s underrated and undersold third studio album released in November 1990. I listened mostly for “All the Man That I Need” but I rediscovered two fantastic R&B songs, “Lover For Life” and “I Belong to You.”

“All of my life I’ve longed for this, someone who makes me happy.”

“I’ve been to the bottom but I’m back on top. And I’m feelin’ the rhythm as we start to rock.”

What a wonderful feeling it is to love a guy who isn’t afraid to express his love. Bliss.

Didn’t We Almost Have It All – Whitney Houston

Throughout 2013 and 2014’s self-discovery for me, I realized what does NOT make a mutually fulfilling relationship and what DOES make a mutually fulfilling relationship. At the Gay Games in August my boyfriend and I were holding hands and laughing. A group of guys passed us and said, “Did you guys just meet?” Fake angry, we looked at each other and at them, “NO, we’ve known each other a LONG time….six weeks!” When you know, you know. He has brought such joy, fun, consistency, stability, and mutuality to my life. He also allows me to listen to Whitney, A LOT!

One song that we heard in the very early days of our meeting was “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, and we still listen to it often. It might be about a relationship that didn’t work, but the root of the song, the message, is “Once you know what love is, you’ll never let it end.”

 Listen to Whitney’s vibrato and purity. It’s a gift.

In September 1987, I remember waiting by the television in our family room for the live feed of Whitney in concert, singing her new single, “Didn’t we almost have it all. This Saratoga Springs footage became the official video for DWAHIA. Whitney starts out slow and gets to her soul roots at the end with, “Didn’t we, Didn’t we, Didn’t we almost have it all.”

“Cause once you know what love is, you’ll never let it end.”

Home(Live from The Merv Griffin Show) – Whitney Houston

In May 1983 Whitney Houston made her television debut on The Merv Griffin Show. She was 19 years old. This is an incredibly special performance. You can hear Whitney’s purity and undeveloped potential power. Two years later she would release her debut album, Whitney Houston, which went on to score award after award after award between 1985 and 1987.

This is another song played in yoga (to which I shed a few peaceful tears) this fall and I call it “going to church”. Yoga is my church and so is Whitney. Sunday mornings, whether in yoga or simply listening to Whitney, my boyfriend joins me, and I love it. That time is special.

“Time please be my friend and let me start again.”

“Living here in this brand new world might be a fantasy, but it’s taught me to love so it’s real to me.”

“And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find, yeah we gotta find, a world full of love, like yours like mine, like home.”

Fancy(feat. Charli XCX) – Iggy Azalea

Ok, I’m going to reference yoga again because it played such a huge role in my life in 2013 and 2014. There were nights that I did not want to be home alone so I would take two yoga classes after work. On the other side of that part of my life now, “Fancy” was a fun song played during yoga and a huge hit in 2014. It also describes my boyfriend, “fancy”. Recently at his work holiday party, “Fancy” was played as he made his way to the dance floor with his boss and his wife. “Fancy” is his song!

Night Changes – One Direction

Fine, yes, I still love a good boy band. Although One Direction has only been on my periphery, I saw them perform at the American Music Awards in November. It was so simple. I loved it.

Daily I think about my friend Lesley who passed away in January at age 38. I’m reminded that as we get older, the value of time with good friends and family should be cherished. It might be a special event or a special trip or just Sunday brunch, whatever it is, cherish the time because it can be fleeting.

“Having no regrets is all that she really wants.”

“We’re only getting older baby. And I’ve been thinking about you lately. Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes. Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of, disappearing when you wake up, but there’s nothing to be afraid of even when the night changes.  It will never change me and you.”

Time:Friends

I Wish You Would – Taylor Swift

You are witnessing history here. Yes, I am putting a T Swizz song on My List 2014. This is the very first time she has appeared on any of my lists. She drives me nuts. Her winning awards drives me nuts. However, her new pop album, 1989, is classic pop perfection.   She writes catchy, can’t get out of my head songs. “I Wish You Would” is probably my favorite song from 1989. It’s pure pop and a throwback to music of the time, 1989!

**Sorry no video yet**

You and Me – You+Me

Alecia Moore, yes, Pink, has gotten together with some guy to create You+Me. “You and Me” was a free song at Starbucks in November. I got it. I liked it. Here it is.

“You and me were always with each other. Before we knew the other was even there. You and me, we belong together, just like the breath needs the air.”

Chandelier – Sia

SONG OF THE YEAR! (for me anyway). I love this song. There were times during marathon training on long Saturday morning runs I’d sing it to my friend JP. There were times in my car this fall that I would sing it at the top of my lungs as a release and empowerment anthem. There were times I would sing it at the top of my lungs just to sing at the top of my lungs(my vocal strength-the top of my lungs). Needless to say, it is a sing at the top of your lungs song. I even created in my head what I thought were the lyrics and to this day, my lyrics mean more to me and I sing them rather than the real thing.

My lyrics:

“I’m gonna fly like a miracle tonight. Fill my dreams in this life. I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier.”

Actual lyrics:

“I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night. Feel my tears till they dry. I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier.”

Other meaningful lyrics to me, a guy who finds strength and perseverance through song lyrics.   There were times in early 2014 that I was still desperate to let go of something that wasn’t meant to be. There was still holdover from my breakup. But I so desperately wanted to move on. I wanted to find the strength but some nights I couldn’t.

“’Cause I’m just holding on for tonight, help me I’m holding on for tonight. On for tonight.”

But Chandelier is also an anthem of power for life. “I’m gonna swing from a chandelier.” Yes, yes I am and yes I will. Surely, the second half of 2014, finding love and living life with my love has been truly joyful. For anyone who has been in love before you know the feeling. It just makes your lens on life a little bit better, a feeling of swinging on a chandelier. Joy. Happiness. Love.

So I’m going to swing from that chandelier and I’m going to “fly like a miracle tonight” and I’m going to “live my dreams in this life.”

3 thoughts on “My List 2014

  1. Matthew Topham, you are just as sweet and forthright now as you were when you were a preschooler! I admire how much energy you bring to your relationships. Happy 2015 from Minnesota.

  2. You are an amazing human being! We are so proud of you and your strength of character. The struggles that you have overcome to become the man that you are is a testament to the human spirit. Love you, Dad

  3. Matty I’m so glad we got to reconnect last summer. It was just for a few days but I loved every minute of it. You have a wonderful set of friends (at least the few I met) there and you will always have a friend in a Spartan. See you again this summer?

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