Friday, December 31, 2021

What I Read: 2021

 This year I set myself a goal to read 60 books and ended the year with 67. This is a really unsatisfying number, but I also didn't love 66 and knew I wasn't going to make it to 70. So 67 books it is. Discomfort makes us grow, right? 

Non-fiction for people who don't like non-fiction: I have come to accept that while I love a historical fiction, I do not love a non-fiction or a memoir. And after years of trying, I'm just accepting that some people like different things. And then here come a couple books that prove me wrong. So if you typically don't like non-fiction, I'd still try these out. The Soul of An Octopus: I was gifted this book from a friend and read it on the plane.  It's beautifully written and fascinating, even if you don't know that you love octopuses (yet). Also, you can use your octopus trivia to impress your friends when we can eventually be around people again. Broken: This originally was a DNF, but I picked it up later in the year and devoured it. So I think that means that this is one of those books that you need to have on hand and ready, but you also have to be in the right mind space for it. 

Books with clever premises: I think cleverness is my favorite strength. I love when something is so unique and interesting and makes you rethink what you thought you knew. These books were all so clever and fun in their own ways. Miracle Workers: A Novel: I tried to tell people about this book as if it was a show I was watching (it is a show now, BTW, but I haven't seen it.) The premise is hilarious and the characters are awesome. This was a quick read and super fun The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter: I stumbled on this one accidentally while I was browsing in Barnes and Noble and OMG. SO GOOD. The main characters are all the daughters of classic horror monsters. It's the first in the series and the only reason I didn't keep going is because book 2 is about seven million pages long. It's high on my list for 2022 though. Outlawed: I love a story that tells a historical event from a different perspective or with a twist and this one did not disappoint. I loved this one so much that I gave it to my sister for Christmas. 

Books that lived up to the hype: There were a lot of books this year that "Everyone is reading!" and to be honest, lots of them fell short for me. These are not those. These books got a lot of attention and 100% deserved it. The People We Meet on Vacation: I really hope they make it into a movie. The Vanishing Half: Amazing. Beautifully written. I was rooting for everyone, even when they were terrible. The Midnight Library: This was one of the top three checked out books at my library and I get it. This book was lovely and sad and inspiring all at the same time.  

Books that made me question reality: You know this is my all-time favorite genre. I just love a good mind fuck. A few times this year I found myself staring at my To Be Read shelf thinking "I just cannot do another weird right now." The Upstairs House: Dude. That was a weird one. Little Eyes: If you watched Ron Gone Wrong, this is that but with add in some toxic manipulation and weird sex stuff. I'm also surprised that these aren't a real thing yet. You'll Thank Me for This: Coming from a small town where things seemed normal and now seem like TERRIBLE ideas, I could relate to "Hey! Let's drop all the kids off in the woods at night and see how they do!" Mirrorland: I love when a book makes you wonder what's real and what isn't and this one did it so well. 

Delightful books that I'd recommend to everyone: Usually the "feel good" category is my sparsest, but I guess maybe being on year whatever of the apocalypse made me reach for these more often. The Dictionary of Lost Words: I love words and this was such a lovely perspective. It made me want to read The Professor and the Madman (currently on my hold list). Mary Jane: Oh this was lovely. The author wrote an adolescent protagonist so perfectly. Florence Adler Swims Forever. I cried real tears reading this book. The Family Fang. Another one that needs to be a movie. This one was fun and silly and still poignant. 

So there you have it! And this is year FIVE of a yearly wrap-up, which feels like an accomplishment. If you want to check out my previous wrap-ups, you can find them hereherehere, and here. I always go back to my old ones when I start to write this and it was fun to see how I'd organized previous lists and how my numbers fluctuated. I really do think that the 60-70 range is my sweet spot so I'm going to stay there for next year. I plan to incorporate more audio books, especially on my commute. Now that I've discovered the secret of listening at 1.5x or 2x, I find that they hold my attention much better. I also want to make more of an effort to read my BOTM club books in a more timely manner. That TBR pile is getting kind of out of hand.  

I was originally inspired to do this by Sarah, who reads an INSANE number of books and does a really nice monthly wrap up that I always reference when looking for something to read. If you do anything similar, please comment with your link! I'm always looking for ideas on what to read next.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas 2021 (photo dump)

 Merry Christmas :) The holiday was chaotic (but I also watched three movies and ate my weight in cinnamon rolls) so it seems fitting to leave the pictures in random order. I hope your day was fun and your cinnamon rolls perfect! 

Friday, December 24, 2021

A very merry Christmas surprise

 I was checking my email last night and saw a notice from my student loan holder. They’ve been hounding me to update my information in advance of payments resuming so I typically don’t pay them much attention. 

Guys? It wasn’t that. It was a notice that they’d audited my account under the temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver and as a result, the remaining balance of my student loans had been forgiven. ALL OF IT. No fight. No “file this in triplicate.” No sitting on hold forever. Just…gone. 

I’ve been working towards this for years. Made job choices with this in mind. Dutifully calculated and recalculated. Watched as my outstanding balance never seemed to go down even though I was paying so much towards it. Accepted every time my end date got extended. Nodded my head when mortgage brokers and bank loan officers “just want to confirm that this number is accurate because it’s…a lot.”

I still hadn’t fully appreciated how good this would feel. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Happiest Season


We’ve reached the part of the holiday season when my bathtub is full of gifts, my garbage disposal is manually operated, and I just tore my house apart looking for a gift that turns out hasn’t been delivered yet. Happy Holidays! 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Squirrels don't need coffee!

My mom had a scan on Friday night, which is typically kind of a mundane appointment. However, I have never been privy to this VERY SPECIAL waiting area before. Imagine that you've trekked through the deepest recesses of a very stereotypical hospital, at night, on a Friday, only to be ushered into THIS room

What in the actual fuck? It's not a pediatric area. It's just the regular radiology area, except late so the main waiting area was closed. This weird, skinny room had lots of signs for "patient changing area" so I'm guessing it's where patients go once they're brought back? I have no idea. It is NOT soothing or relaxing though. It's like a weird acid dream if you were also on Chantix and in another dimension. Plus the seats had this weird 8 inch gap where a backrest should be, forcing you to literally perch on the edge of your seat.  
Why is there a sloth? Sloths don't share habitats with red squirrels, foxes, and bunnies, right? I mean, I think it's like a whole different continent. And why are the butterflies so fluorescent? And why is this squirrel drinking from a tiny to-go cup?!?! 


Thursday, December 9, 2021

Stream of consciousness

It has been A WEEK. Averson tanked after her second shot. Choices were made in the house that resulted in a lot of consequences and strong feelings. I was PMSing, so everything felt that much more terrible. And yet. There have been some delightful silver linings. 
Averson finished soccer with a tournament that was so cute and she *almost* got a goal! It was also ridiculously cold because it's California and none of us thought to bring coats. 

The teenager has been spending more time in the common areas of the house, and it's been delightful. Like, really really nice. C and I were both remarking that we didn't realize how much we missed him. If you get a chance to temporarily seize all in-room electronics, I highly recommend it. 

I chaparoned a middle-school skate outing and this guy surprised me by showing up to keep me company. We had a delightful couple of hours pretending we'd never seen our children before. 

Someday. Someday I will learn not to shop too early for Christmas. Averson presented this as a speech, so of course I had to track it down. And of course of course, this Lego series is retired and going for STUPID money on ebay (BTW, WTF?), which triggered my competitive spirit and now I have to completely revise my present tracking sheet because... of course.

And finally, because there's no good segway so I'm going to hide my humble brag here. I had been whining to a friend (see above re PMS) about the gym and feeling like I wasn't making any progress. I missed a few days (see above re "week from hell") and went back last night. Two completely different people commented on how different I look, and another person described my squats as "absolutely beautiful" and asked how much weight was on my bar. I try not to rely on external validation, but it felt good last night and I loved hearing it. 


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Yay Science!!!


And with an enthusiastic skip down the aisle at a CVS, "a little pinch," and a celebratory fidget, sucker, and National Geographic magazine , every single member of my household is vaccinated. We'll still wear masks out in public but now that we're all at least partially protected, I suspect that we'll begin to loosen up more about socializing etc. It feels good to be heading back towards "normal" or at least back to my normal anxiety levels


PS: Six people vaccinated. Disappointingly, no one has developed superpowers or magnetism yet :(