There is something about this time of year that makes people want to organize everything in their purview into neat, ordered lists of 10.
With a simple Google search, you can find a Ten Best of 2013 list for just about anything you could possibly imagine. (And if you aren't careful — for things you can't and shouldn't.) Ten Best Movies of 2013. Ten Best Restaurants of 2013. Ten Best Farmer Dating websites of 2013.
The ubiquity of best-of lists is a testament to mankind's need for closure: It's a way of making sense of the year, of turning the messy experience of living into quantifiable data that can be analyzed and codified.
But if you're anything like me, when you get to the end of the year, the first thought on your mind isn't "What are the 10 best artisan soft cheeses I have eaten while shaving in a hammock this year?" Instead, you are overcome with questions such as "How did I get here? Where are my keys? My feet hurt!"
Life is a learning process, and at the end of the year, I can only look back through the fog of my experience and try to tally up everything I learned.
Things I think I learned in 2013:
1. "DUCK DYNASTY" IS NOT A SPINOFF OF "THE MIGHTY DUCKS"
The older I get, the less inclined I am to try to keep up with popular culture. "Duck Dynasty" was one of those things I had heard about, but since I don't have cable, I always assumed it was the continued adventures of Emilio Estevez coaching a ragtag peewee hockey team.
Then the brouhaha with Phil Robertson and his views on homosexuality overran the Internet. My main takeaway from this fracas (besides an opportunity to use the words brouhaha and fracas) is that Emilio Estevez needs a job.
2. TWERKING IS SOMETHING I DON'T WANT MY DAUGHTER TO DO
Poor Billy Ray Cyrus. How that guy managed not to have three or four heart attacks this year, I will never know. First, his daughter Miley made the Internet go cray-cray after a video surfaced of her twerking onstage with rapper Juicy J (not quite as scandalous as it sounds, depending, I guess, on what you think the J stands for). Then in August, she shocked (somebody's grandma?) at the MTV Video Music Awards when she gyrated all over Alan Thicke's son, Beetlejuice, before ending the year by getting buck naked and swinging around on a wrecking ball for a music video that has been viewed more than 400 million times.
In a hundred years, when the robots look back at the history of the now-extinct humans, all that will exist of 2013 will be a single animated GIF of Miley Cyrus shaking her biscuits and gravy. For better or for worse.
3. THEY ARE WATCHING YOU
This summer, every guy living off freeze-dried food in his fallout shelter got the reassurance his lifestyle so desperately needed when it was revealed the NSA has been spying on American citizens like a jealous ex-lover with your Facebook password.
They see you when you're sleeping. They know when you're awake. They know how long you spent on Pornotube — so cut it out, for goodness sake.
4. POOR PEOPLE DON'T WANT NO COMMUNIST HEALTH CARE
In 2013, nobody seemed to be a harsher critic of the Affordable Care Act (henceforth known, between your grandpa's gritted teeth, as "OBAMAcare") than people who could not differentiate between the use of "there," "their" and "they're" in a sentence. Sometimes it seemed that the people who would stand to benefit the most from subsidized health care — the elderly, the poor — were the people who fought against it the hardest in comment threads and Facebook posts.
Perhaps they had been misinformed by a biased news media and the half-truths of men and women with lucrative hidden agendas — much in the same way they have been misinformed about the number of spaces to put between the end of a word and a punctuation mark. (Pro Tip: None)
5. A SEAT ON THE CITY COUNCIL DOES NOT A TRASH BAG FULL OF SHRIMP GUARANTEE
Who in central Illinois could forget where they were when they first heard about Shrimpgate 2013?
When a local city councilman (I won't say his name, because, poor guy, it's been printed enough already) tried to strong-arm his way out of a function at the I Hotel with a garbage bag full of shrimp, he learned a swift lesson in social justice: Guardians of banquet shrimp platters have friends with blogs.
The thunderous hammer of ridicule that came down upon the councilman (who, in addition to violating good taste and sanitation guidelines, allegedly insulted and threatened the worker) was scalding enough to saut some scampi.
6. IF YOU WRITE IT, JOHN OATES WILL TWEET IT.
I conquered every goal and aspiration of my writing career in March, when John Oates re-tweeted a Reluctant Townie column and brought me literally dozens of Facebook likes.
Of course, like a creep, I started writing about Oates every week after that, in hopes of provoking another re-tweet. This lead to a one-on-one interview with Oates and culminated with Hall and Oates being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You're welcome, Hall and Oates.
7. I AM BAD AT WRITING TOP 10 BEST OF 2013 LISTS.
Because here we are at the end already, and I don't even have 10 things ...
Ryan Jackson will be ringing in the new year twerking with a garbage bag full of shrimp. He can be reached at email@example.com.