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December was one of my read-a-bit-of-everything months, so I didn’t technically finish many of them. Here are the ones I did finish that stuck out.

  1. Winter by Ali Smith – I really like the way Smith wrote these characters. Some of them were more likable than others, of course, but they read real (if that makes sense). I am looking forward to reading the spring and summer novels.
  2. Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo – This memoir was rich and deep. I found myself re-reading passages because the language was so lovely. I would expect nothing less from Joy Harjo.
  3. Taste by Stanley Tucci – I enjoyed reading this book for many reasons, but mostly because it seemed that he got more relaxed as the book went on. It went from TV persona to putting things like “a fuck of a lot of garlic” (I think it was garlic – if not, let’s just pretend it was because a lot of garlic always makes sense) in an ingredient list. The only thing that would have made it more enjoyable was listening to him read it to me which I am likely to do this year some time, since he reads the audiobook. Yay!
  4. Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo – Is it a poem? Is it a novel? Yes. It’s the best of both worlds. Beautiful story about the influence of a name, understanding where you come from, and finding where you belong.
  5. A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw – I like the way the author developed this plot. It kept me curious all the way through. Without giving too much away, I felt compelled to scope out Ernshaw’s social media for real world context and its potential influence on the plot. I could see this book being used to make points that she didn’t intend for it to make, but I liked the premise and the twists.

What did you enjoy reading last month?

January TBR

I love my book club selections this month!

I have a slightly bigger reading goal this year (150), so I’m starting out ambitious. Some of these books are ones I started in December and hope to finish up this month, and some of them are books that I’m starting but know they will take longer than the month to finish. At any rate, I hope to get a good start on the 12.5 books a month needed to meet my year’s goal!

Book Clubs

I am a member of six book clubs (not counting the library club, where we talk genre instead of a specific book we’re reading together). Three meet at a specific time (in-person or Zoom, depending on various factors), and three are ongoing discussions online. All add fascinating reads to my TBR list.

  • Dial “A” for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto – We discussed this one on Tuesday, so I’ve already finished it. It was a wild ride. I listened to the audiobook. Highly enjoyable.
  • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – I love this author, and I’m looking forward to reading and discussing it over beer with the church folk.
  • I Forced a Bot To Write This Book by Keaton Patti – We were going to read this last month in Follow the Reader, but several had a hard time finding a copy so we pushed it to January. I’ve read some of it already, and it’s pretty entertaining. This is the sort of thing I’d enjoy reading aloud to party guests when I’m schnockered (aw, remember when I had parties? I…don’t miss it. But also I do. It’s complicated).
  • Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon – Happy Endings selection that sounds fun.
  • The Maid by Nita Prose – I’ve had this on my list since it was announced, and I’m so happy that it’s finally out and it’s our Fantastic Strangelings pick for the month. It sounds like a great read for fans of Clue, cozy mysteries, and charming characters. 
  • Noor by Nnedi Okorafor – My Christmas present to myself was a Literati subscription so I can just have Roxane Gay’s book picks mailed directly to me. I don’t choose a lot of science fiction on my own, but I think I’ll like this one.

Reading Challenges

In addition to my book club selections, I want to be more intentional about keeping up with the two reading challenges I’m doing this year. 

Lush Reads

Committing to my word for the year through reading/study/reflection worked really well in 2021, so I’m going to continue the practice. Part of this is to get back in the habit of journaling, so I’ve chosen four books that help me explore topics on well-being-esque topics with daily or weekly prompts. Real talk – I’ve already gone off the rails and completed several “days” in one sitting for at least two of these books, so I’m not sure it’s going to take me all year to finish them as designed, but at least they will get me back into the habit of daily journaling, which is my purpose in reading them in the first place.

I also am finishing up/starting three books that talk about living abundantly and seeking delight and remaining healthy and sane in the process, all of which go along nicely with “lush.”

  • The Book of Delights by Ross Gay – If being utterly charmed is something you’re into, just go ahead and keep this one by your nightstand.
  • Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel – Practical advice from Modern Mrs. Darcy.
  • The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – I ran into this one as I was going down a hygge rabbit hole after seriously cozying up my bed linens. Intrigued.

Other Selections

December was one of those months I couldn’t settle on just a few books. So I have a couple of books I’ve read a few chapters of and want to finish up. Also, I have quite a few books that I need to return to friends or the library soon, so they’re on the list, too.

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I have been slowly reading this one for about three months now. The story and characters and language are all wonderful. 
  • How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith – I started listening to this on the way home for Christmas and the chapter on Angola Prison made me madder than it’s responsible to be while driving. So I’m only a little bit into it, but it’s a fantastic tour of several monuments and landmarks and their significance. Highly recommend. Check your blood pressure beforehand.
  • Role Models by John Waters – I borrowed this from Sarah 14,000 years ago, and I found it while dusting shelves last week. Past time to read and return it!
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – This has been on my TBR list a long time and is due at the library this week, so I want to hurry and finish it so the person waiting for it can get to read it. It’s so lovely.
  • Music on the Brain by Arlene R. Taylor, PhD & Michael R. Hudson – I received several copies of this from my friend Matthew (thank you!), who works across the hall from Dr. Taylor, so I have a couple left to loan if you’re local. Great read so far!
  • Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger – Gosh, I love mystery series. And I want to get this one back to Lois so someone else can enjoy it. 

So the list may look a little daunting, and I’m not expecting to actually finish everything this month, but this is what’s on my current pile.

UGH HOW CUTE IS MY NEW PLANNER

In addition to focusing on LUSH as my word of the year and continuing my work with Sarah on our album, I am also setting a few tangible personal goals. Most of my resolutions this year are measurable, longer-term versions of some of the habits I am already tracking. Having a specific, larger goal in mind is useful for days when I’m like, “Hmm…maybe I just watch another episode…”

So here are some things I’m going to keep doing and the in-about-a-year goal that goes with them.

Read 150 books – Given that I almost read this many books in 2021, I feel like this is a gentle reach. It’s still challenging but perfectly attainable, even when my schedule stays busy. In addition to reading for book clubs, I’m participating in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge because I particularly like the prompts for 2022. Girlxoxo’s Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge looks interesting, too (and some of the books I’m reading in January already fit).

Write 5 short stories – My first instinct was “write a short story every month!” but since I finished a whole two stories in 2021, that high of an expectation might sabotage me before I even get started. Specifically, I want to practice writing dialogue. Fishbowl rewrites have been dry lately, and I think this will help me practice my skills for that long-term project as well.

Finish expanded rough drafts of Feast and Epic Meal Planning – My 31 Days series in October 2021 about books was challenging but also exciting. I forgot how much I enjoy writing essays. Over the past few years, I have started drafting two different essay collections (some of you may remember the epic meal planning series), and I want to finish the expanded drafts this year. I’ve already kinda planned the menu for the celebratory gatherings when each one is complete. Because priorities.

Earn $7500 with copywriting job – Last year, I set a word count goal for this job to write more articles. But what’s better than more work? More money. I’ve stayed within the $6500-$7000 range the last few years, but I want to give it a little boost in 2022. Depending on what is available on my teams, this can either mean adding an article or two to each pay period or focusing on articles that pay more per word. My preference heavily leans to the latter, so this will be my focus whenever such things are in my control. Is this what they mean by working smarter, not harder?

Build a consistent practice of an average of 30 minutes/day of movement – I have added activity to my life this past year, but the draw to sit for long spells is strong. As I continue to get older, I want to make sure I don’t lapse into a sedentary state and lose more agility/balance/etc, than necessary. So I want to be more intentional about making sure I keep and expand good habits. Also, some performances this year may include a little dancey action, so I want to be ready for that.

This is a solid list to start with. I’m sure I’ll amend them as needed, but I feel pretty good about these goals.

Lush

My word for 2022 is LUSH. It’s the sort of word I feel compelled to type in all caps and use italics for emphasis. I like that. This is gonna be fun. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word LUSH means…

  1. “…having a lot of full and healthy growth”

I often come to the new year feeling as if I haven’t quite finished exploring the word for the previous one. In a way, this makes sense. Growth is continual, lifelong, etc. I wanted my word for 2022 to acknowledge that. My first thought was “nourish.” I wanted to look forward and continue to grow in all the things I have learned these past few years. I want to continue to have experiences and read books that explore joy, but also that feature hope, wild, alive, lucky, fun, true, and other core values.

But LUSH encompasses my underlying goal better. There is an implied immoderate quality to this word. Not just growth but a lot of growth. An abundance of growth. A fullness. All the growth I can possibly squeeze into this little pocket of time and space. Maybe I should add “rest” to that list above so that I remember that it, too, is important. Overworked and stressed out does not fit in with a lush lifestyle. Healthy is a vital part of the definition.

  1. “…covered with healthy green plants”

I am currently looking for a place in my apartment to put a huge Poinsettia that I bought in honor of my MeMaws for the Christmas season at church and gazing fondly at my faux Christmas tree. I don’t even want to think about what’s happening in the office with The Little Juniper That Could (but if I did want to think of it, I might confess that I fear its days are numbered. RIP, probably). On the porch outside, my briefly successful tomato plant has long given up the ghost (but that’s not my fault – that’s just on account-a it being not summer), but the flowers that died when I was caring for them have resurrected now that I’ve stopped doing anything, which seems unnecessarily petty of them.

When it comes to plants, I have great plans and motivation but little success. I’m going to take this part of the definition literally. My goal? Have a live, thriving plant in each room. Also, flowers on the table make me happy, so I’m going to make more of an effort to do that more often.

Don’t think I didn’t notice that they snuck in “healthy” again. I see what you did there, M-W.

  1. “…having a pleasingly rich quality”

I love this turn of phrase. Yes, I would like this to describe my life. In many ways, it already does. But wouldn’t it be amazing if just about every aspect of my life had a pleasingly rich quality? I think so. Let’s delve deeper into how to make that happen this year.

  1. “…lavishly productive: such as…”

…fertile. NOPE. Unless we’re talking about a fertile bank account. Or garden. Or birthing a book and an album. Otherwise? Nope, nope, nope.

…thriving. That would be lovely. Not just to make it through but to flourish. 

…abundant/plentiful. Are we talking about books? Trips? Friends? Coffee? Peace? Love? Kindness? Cash? To all of the above I say yes.

…prosperous/profitable. I could definitely handle a little prosperity. Let me go submit some more applications and write some more articles. What I would really like? Get paid for the work I already do in my spare time (and that I actually enjoy) so that I can ultimately spend more time doing it and also still have a place to live. #CapitalismIsTrash

…savory/delicious. I’m not sure if this means enjoying more savory and delicious things or recognizing how savory and delicious I am. Either way, I’m on board.

…appealing to the senses. As a sensory sensitive person, this is a welcome goal. Too much of my time and energy are spent having my focus derailed by extraneous, irritating sounds or that smell that NO ONE ELSE CAN SMELL BUT IT’S THERE I’M NOT IMAGINING IT BECAUSE IMAGINARY THINGS DON’T MAKE ME SNEEZE. Finding ways to better navigate (escape?) consistently assaulting environments would be grand.

…exuberant/profuse. With vigor and vitality, and without restraint. There are some areas of my life that could definitely use this treatment.

…opulent/sumptuous. Oh, gosh I love these words. Also known as rich, luxurious, lavish. Splendid. And ostentatiously so. These words make me want to crawl right into a cozy bed with scandalously soft fabrics and pillows of the exact right firmness. Or a warm bubble bath with a glass of wine and some good cheese. 

And finally, speaking of wine…

  1. “…intoxicating liquor” or “…a habitual heavy drinker”

I mean, it’s not a goal, per se (although my limoncello, while mostly delicious, could use some tweaking). But if it happens, it happens. Here’s to enjoying life a little more and worrying about what all could go wrong a little less. Just as long as I remember to hydrate.

One Year Ago Today

This was not a Christmas Eve 2020 fire. I was definitely fantasizing about throwing parts of 2020 into a fire, though.

Today’s December Reflections prompt is “one year ago today.” On this specific day, I was likely driving to the farm to spend time with the family. The vaccine wasn’t a thing yet, so I was still in general isolation – working from home, social distancing, endless Zoom meetings – and even more so in the week or two prior to seeing my parents. But in anticipation of the new year, I was also already starting my reflections on joy. I talked about comfort food and books and animals and the parts of being outside that I find least objectionable.

Throughout the month, I also wrote quite a bit about the difficulty of holding on to joy (and hope and other good things that we’re often told we’re supposed to feel, particularly around the holidays). I remember not being excited about joy being my word for the new year. There were too many moments it seemed too far-fetched to be a possibility. I felt particularly lonely last year at this time.

But there were already little sprouts of joy poking up through the soil. If you’ll indulge the navel-gazing (and you’re reading my blog, where that phenomenon often runs rampant, so I trust that you will):

“When I think of the characteristics I particularly love in a partner – and especially when I meet someone new who embodies a lot of those characteristics – there is that jolt. The familiar memory of loving someone combined with the anticipation of the possibility of feeling that way again? That feeling is pure magic. This is the sneaky good thing about joy that may just be my favorite part. It doesn’t just show up in the middle of a particular difficulty. It shows up, in part, specifically because of it. Joy will tailor itself to you.”

And that’s precisely what joy did all year long. Several things about the past year have not been easy or great, and a big part of how I handled them had to do with where the joy showed up. It’s become a bit of a navigator, and I really like that.

I wonder where it will lead next.

Bring Me Joy

My word for 2021 was joy, and I loved it. I think what made a big difference was the commitment to study it rather than just pondering or wandering about, looking for something that might resemble or cause feelings of joy. Choosing books with joy in the title was a simple way to keep it in the forefront of my mind, so I want to remember that in future years. Some books were humorous, some serious. The ones in this category I finished this year were (sometimes wildly out of order of planned start date):

  • The Joy of Being Online All the F*cking Time by Jennifer McCartney
  • The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place by Jennifer McCartney
  • The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCartney
  • Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
  • The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday by Jordan Matter
  • Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller
  • Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
  • The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Still working on The Joy of Cooking. It’s so long.

Because I was reading about it and reflecting on it a lot, it was easier not only to notice moments of joy when they happened but also to find ways to seek it out. Savoring a favorite dish, spending time with people I love, remembering habits and hobbies I enjoy rather than just tolerate, creating a comfortable and joyful space to inhabit, etc.

I’ve chosen a new word for next year, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop looking for new ways to explore joy:

  • Random acts of kindness, especially toward people in the service industry and retail (because whew – the things I have seen lately, particularly yesterday when finishing up the shopping – they all deserve raises, pastries, and foot rubs)
  • Making an even cozier, more joyful home
  • Love notes to friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Positive gossip (talking about how much you like someone behind their back) (and also to them – see above re: love notes)

I hope you all have at least one solid moment of joy this week (and every week forever).

I Said Hello/Goodbye to…

The prompts for the December Reflections Challenge for today and Sunday are “I said hello to…” and “I said goodbye to…” but I’m just going to put both in one post. There were some small adjustments that I made this year that are working out better for my schedule and my sanity.

I said hello to… 

  • Rise and Shine Book Club (public library) – I always enjoy finding new people who like to talk about books, so joining the monthly discussion about different genres and recommendations within them was a sure win. I enjoyed both the online and the in-person versions, but I am definitely partial to meeting in person where there is coffee and free ARCs to take home.
  • RIC – Our church is exploring whether we want to be a Reconciling in Christ church, and the process has been a lot of work but it’s important to me, so it’s worth it. I think it’s going much more slowly than our team anticipated, but not necessarily because people are opposed. The feedback we have gotten from the people who are participating has been really positive; we just aren’t getting a lot of engagement from even some active members. We have a small church, which means those who are active are typically stretched pretty thin. So what comes across as apathy may just be the fact that they’re already committed to doing a lot of things with the church and are hesitant to commit to one more thing. We don’t want to rush a vote, though, because it’s important that as many people as possible understand what being inclusive (and thus the designation) means before we claim it as something we do. And this understanding requires engagement. This is probably not a good time for me to reflect on it, as I am currently pretty discouraged. Maybe people will be more enthusiastic about having these conversations in the new year.
  • Making an album – Probably the most exciting new thing of the year is the album I’m working on with Sarah. We are doing field recordings, playing instruments, singing hymns, and adding spoken word pieces (etc.) on the theme of growing up in West Texas. We are getting a lot of recordings together the days after Christmas. Someday, I’ll be able to share a link with you!

I said goodbye to… 

  • Pilates – I mean, not really completely goodbye. I’ve been doing mat work at home and I still make a few classes a month. But I haven’t been to the studio as much this year as when I first started going. I wanted to start going back since being vaccinated but…it’s been so nice not having to wrangle it into my schedule, and I’ve gotten used to that. The studio only offers classes on Monday-Friday mornings from 6:00-11:00, Monday-Thursday evenings at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30, and Saturday/Sunday mornings. This doesn’t really fit my life. If there was just an 8:30 or 9:00 class on a couple of weeknights, or if they offered Friday/Saturday/Sunday night classes, I would be able to make 8 times a month no problem. I might even upgrade my account to unlimited. As it is, though, scheduling is a struggle. Before the pandemic, I used to take a class every free weeknight I had (leaving me no actual free weeknights, which was not ideal for my mental health) or set an alarm on Saturday (OMG THE WORST I HATE IT) to go to a class then. If that didn’t fill out my 8 classes I was paying for each month, I would shift my entire work schedule some days so that I could make either the 5:30 p.m. class or the 7:00 a.m. class (see note above re: THE WORST). Now? I’m not so motivated to kill myself making it work. Turns out, I’d rather exercise at times that actually work with my existing schedule. That’s been working out pretty nicely.
  • Traditional grocery shopping/food service – I can count on one hand the number of times this year I walked into a grocery store or ate in a restaurant, and I LOVE IT. Curbside pickup is everything I never knew I always wanted, and I’m so happy it’s persisted in many of the places where I shop/dine. Occasionally, it’s a pain in the ass when they leave things out I need or when they don’t plan well enough to honor the times they list as available, but overall, it’s one of my favorite services, and I may never go back to the way things were before.

Are there any changes that have made life a little less stressful for you this year?

Favorite Movie/Show of 2021

Cozy viewing position, complete with fuzzy socks

I don’t watch a lot of movies. I like TV better, because I have time to get more invested with the characters. But I also don’t typically keep up with TV shows in real time. My favorite way to watch TV is to binge once the series finale is available on the Netflix. 

Therefore, my favorite things I watched this year aren’t particularly new. Just new to me. Actually, one of them wasn’t even new to me. So to confirm – we are 100% off the rails with this prompt (does this really surprise you?).

At any rate, here are the highlights of the audiovisual stories that accompanied my year:

  1. My Neighbor Totoro – I watched this online with Spiderfriends. It is very cute and sweet and I love it.
  2. The Magicians – This is one of the rare instances where I like the adaptation much better than the book. I don’t know if it’s because TV allows for musical numbers (Under Pressure! One of my favorite scenes!) or because just seeing the characters as others saw them made me like them better (really not a fan of Quentin in the book but in the show he’s ok) or because the actors are just so lovely (well, hello there, Arjun Gupta). Probably all of the above. But it’s one of my favorite shows I’ve watched in a long time.
  3. Once Upon a Time – I never finished this show in its entirety, so I am rewatching it from the beginning. I love a good fairytale retelling, and this is all of them in one. Plus I can leave the music that plays on the DVD’s home screen (yes, I am one of the relics who also still have a Netflix DVD subscription) running for hours. It’s so soothing.
  4. Schitt’s Creek – Another one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time. I loooooove this show so much. It’s hilarious and endearing and helpful. If you haven’t seen anything I’ve listed and are adding them to your list, watch this one first. Or if you have seen it…you know you want to rewatch it. 

Is there a movie or show you’ve really liked this year?

Best Book of 2021

So many books to choose from…

I bet you think I can’t do this, but I am. I’m going to narrow it down to just one book. Not necessarily the best book that came out this year but rather my pick for best book that I read this year. 

I put a lot of thought into it. I hemmed and hawed with fervor. I tried to choose specific criteria. Most relatable? Most touching? Most thought-provoking? 

I tried keeping you in mind. What book would I recommend the most? That process immediately branched off into a lot of paths. Because it depends on who you are and what you read. Do you like character-driven fiction (Anxious People) and exquisite storytelling (Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and The Song of Achilles and The Book of Longings)? Do you like books that challenge you (Hood Feminism or Caste)? Do you want to like the main character (I Wish You All the Best), or do you get a thrill from an unreliable narrator you know is up to no good (You)

So I scrapped all my criteria and asked myself what book meant the most to me. What book – of all the ones I read – was exactly what I needed to read in 2021.

That book for me was The Hollow Kingdom.

That’s right. The zombie novel narrated by a crow (named Shit Turd, of course – ST, for short) who loves humans and wants to be one.

That look on your face right now? I feel that. The premise is odd as hell. And the author could have gotten real weird and super dark with it. 

(Real talk – I probably still would have read and enjoyed that.)

But it’s so clever. It’s funny and delightful. I swapped between reading the print version and listening to the audio on commutes, and I think I liked the audio better. The reader captures the characters well.

I love ST. This crow’s purity of heart and stubborn hopefulness is so endearing. ST’s unwavering belief in and love of humanity – even in the face of all of them becoming mindless zombies – makes me want to feel that way about humanity, too.

I don’t know if you would enjoy this book. It may be too strange for some people and too crass for others. Having a pretty high tolerance for both, though, I was able to enjoy all the delights that kept surprising me throughout the story. I loved a lot of the books I read this year, but The Hollow Kingdom was my favorite.  

Food and wine with friends is always a good day.

The prompt for today is “best day of 2021,” so I thumbed through my planner to find the best day. I was already up to five by April, so I just decided to go top ten. In order (somewhat) of occurrence:

  1. Inauguration Day (January 20) – I am not a person who believes that political leaders (particularly milquetoast, capitalist, and/or status-quo-y ones) are the answers to our problems. I suspect that in order for someone to make it to the highest offices in our country, they’ve probably had to (and will continue to) compromise a lot and do some pretty shady things that likely do more to add to our problems than to solve them. When I vote, it’s typically for the least objectionable person who could actually win whose future speeches are the least likely to inspire me to damage whatever screen I’m viewing them on. But I enjoyed Inauguration Day. I enjoyed hearing Amanda Gorman share The Hill We Climb, and I loved watching her capture the day on Instagram. The Bernie memes still make me laugh. It’s just a day to take a breath, and it was nice to do so.
  2. Spiderweb Loves You – This virtual performance on Valentine’s Day was a poem I pieced together from text conversations with Maggie and Michelle. As with our conversations, topics ranged from favorite TV moments to the stressors of the day. I love them both a lot, and I love that Spiderweb gives us a specific space each year to love on the people who are important to us.
  3. Birthday celebrations (technically spanned more than one day, but let’s be real – there are no rules here) – Between visiting Texas Tulips and having lunch with Tammy, wine/coffee/pastry/book shopping, dinner and hangout with CM and Sarah, an All Booked Up outing with Sarah and Joan, and new shelves and delicious early dinner with Steph, Nathan, Tammy, and Matt, I was especially well loved on the days surrounding my birthday in March.
  4. Wine and pizza at Fortunata with Kim and Beth – It was the perfect evening. Friends, food, wine, live music that we definitely sang along to, getting out of the house. Such a lovely time with two of my favorite people and some of my favorite simple pleasures.
  5. Denton Community Market – Maybe I went on opening day? The day I’m remembering was at least one of the first days in April that it was open for the season. I usually avoid DCM early on (let the crowds thin out and the summer veggies show up), but this year I was excited about it. At any rate, my favorite DCM day was the one where I saw (and hugged!) so many friends in person whom I had mostly just seen virtually for the past year.
  6. Maggie and Michelle weekend!!! In late May, Maggie and Michelle came to see me! It was so exciting. We ate delicious things, chatted, and watched TV for a long, luxurious weekend. I miss them so much. The weekend was so fun we decided that it needs to be a yearly(ish) ritual.
  7. In-person gatherings – My Cookbook club, church book club, and Follow the Reader are meeting in person again! We started getting together again about mid-year, and it’s been so nice. 
  8. Spiderweb at the farm – One of CM’s friends has a farm nearby (with sheep! And donkeys!), and we were invited over to lounge in the pool, enjoy the outside and make art a few evenings during the summer. It was an amazing little mid-week reprieve. 
  9. Colorado trip! I actually took a vacation this year. I went with Spiderfriends to a cabin in Colorado where we hiked (well, they hiked. I mostly wheezed and stayed at the cabin), read, played games and enjoyed each other’s company. It was nice to take a real break (from both jobs!) for a few days.
  10. Spiderdead – So many of my best and most memorable days include Spiderweb Salon. I really love these people and the community we have together. I got to help share a friend’s poetry during our yearly grief ritual, and it was a great experience. It was my first time performing on stage at Rubber Gloves, so that made it special to me, too.

The fact that 2021 holds so many best days for me indicates that I had a pretty good year. It hasn’t always felt that way, so this was a nice discovery.

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