life, monthly updates, reading, writing

2021 Wrap-Up

I re-read my 2020 post before I started writing this one. If nothing else, I can say that 2021 was better than the year before it. Not as much better as we had hoped, of course, but better. There was that brief, heady period back in June when we were 4/5 vaccinated here, and it seemed like the end was in sight, and then… well. Not really surprising that I slid into a funk over the summer. That seems to be lifting, although we are now staring into the maw of an unnervingly warm winter.

So what did we do this year?

Finance: Savings are steady. We are moving our money out of Bank of America for climate reasons. Hello, credit union!

Home: We got a lot of stuff fixed and got rid of some stuff we aren’t using (I have rediscovered Freecycle). It’s far from a “room of one’s own,” but I do at least have a workspace now. House ownership seems as far away as ever, so I guess we should continue trying to make this place comfortable in the meantime. Got some new bookcases this month, that’s always fun. I experimented with a bunch of sustainable products this year, and enjoyed my little driveway garden.

Work: No-longer-new job is going fine. I have divested myself of two volunteer obligations. Hopefully the result will be a less frazzled me in ’22.

Writing: My goal this year was to treat writing like a serious thing, which I did pretty well until the summer pandemic spike and attendant mood crash. A lot of activity went on here, but not much got finished. Much of the year was spent in querying, editing, and preparing for self-publishing two projects next year; these things don’t happen entirely on my schedule. I did work on a couple of drafts for new books, but did not get as far as I had hoped with those. I have written dozens of letters, however, since I discovered Penapalooza.

Knitting: Very nearly the entire year was spent on one project, which is now done and gifted– yay! I also bought a shameful amount of yarn to power me through ’22.

Reading: As of this writing, I read 39 books in 2021. I might add one or two to the total still. 22 of those were new reads, most of the remainder a Terry Pratchett binge I went on this fall. 14 were non-fiction, two were epic poetry, one was whatever you call The Secret Commonwealth, and one a novella. My favorite non-fiction read was How to Do Nothing, which I still think about regularly as I walk around the neighborhood, and my favorite new-to-me fiction read was The Dispossessed. Nothing like catching up on books the same age as me!

Media: We still haven’t been back to a movie theater since Onward that last weekend before everything shut down. The eldest child and I watched a lot of TV this year, much of which I liked (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts was my favorite) and some of which I did not care for (Centaurworld). We seem to be in a grand period for animated shows. This month we’ve been working our way through the Ghibli catalog, most of them old friends, but there were a few I either hadn’t seen at all or haven’t watched recently.

There was a bunch of other stuff, of course, but looking back on the year, much of my activity seems to have happened in fits and starts. I did yoga off and on, running off and on, languages on and then decidedly off for months now. We saw friends a handful of times before gathering started to seem like less than a good idea again (although at least the youngest is vaccinated now). There hasn’t been much continuity anywhere except for hiking. I am so happy to have found hiking this year! It’s gotten to the point where I am cranky all week when I don’t get out on the weekend.

Could have been a lot worse. Next up: 2022 planning.

monthly updates

April Wrap-Up

This month seemed to go by a lot faster than has become usual lately. Perhaps it’s having more things to look forward to again? We’ve been making an effort to get outside when the weather cooperates–the month has been wildly variable that way, but we took an afternoon to visit World’s End Loop in Hingham, and another for a rare trip in to Boston to see the flowers in the Public Garden.

The month’s most exciting development is that I got my first vaccination this morning! I’m feeling a lot of emotions about it. The combination of relief for my personal bubble and continued anxiety about the situation worldwide is a little overwhelming.

The second most exciting thing is that I finished the first draft of a new book! Ended up around 95,000 words, a solid effort. It’s going to need another going-over before I inflict it on a beta reader, and I’m currently planning to address that in Q3. I fear it’s another quirky little book that no one will want to buy, but that appears to be my niche. (Speaking of quirky books that no one wants to buy, Fairy Hills is on its final agent query before it joins the self-pub queue.) I think the most exciting part to me is that I set the goal and actually did the whole thing in four months. Once I started, I only missed one day of writing (and that was when I cut my fingertip and typing was awkward).

Continue reading “April Wrap-Up”

life, monthly updates

March Wrap-Up

February was rough, no two ways about it. It usually is; the weather in New England tends to be at its coldest, and for some reason they give the kids a week off from school. We got through it, and then through the anniversary of Everything Changing. It’s definitely weighing on folks; after a year-plus, I think we’re all just exhausted. 

However. Here we are near the end of March, and things are looking up. Vaccination rates are getting better. The weather has improved, which means I can go running again. My goal for the month was to get back up to three miles at least a few times a week, which goal I passed handily. I’ve started planning this year’s container garden. Got outside a couple of times.


Halibut Point

Continue reading “March Wrap-Up”

monthly updates

January Wrap-Up

The month was more exciting than I had hoped for as far as national news goes, but with any luck things will settle down going forward. Personally, the year is off to a good start.

Inspired by last year’s reread of The Happiness Project, I experimented with setting an intention: Use what you have. Although when I first sat down to review the month, I felt that I hadn’t done great with that, the more I considered, the happier I felt with the results. In no particular order:

  • Wrote 29,000 words of the first draft of a new book
  • Did well on running (until the deep cold arrived this week), and have been using my new weight set regularly
  • Learned how to knit mittens
  • Hit a 125-day streak on Duolingo
  • Went cold turkey on Diet Coke; soda consumption is down to a mini-can of Polar ginger ale (Coca-Cola Co. is literally the worst plastic polluter)
  • Picked up some cloth napkins for everyday sustainability
  • Read three of the books I received for Christmas
  • Got a new microwave/hood to replace the one that hasn’t worked for an embarrassingly long time
  • Bought paint for the kitchen
  • Replaced ratty bath towels, uncomfortable pillows, and broken wine glasses
  • Stayed involved with the mutual aid association, doing grocery shopping for housebound neighbors
  • Managed two weeks straight of daily sketching
  • Finished watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power with the older teen (pure joy); middle kid very into Kung Fu Panda right now, so we’ve watched all three a couple of times lately

Not too shabby!

Which is not to say all has been wine and roses; pandemic blues and cabin fever are a recurring issue for everybody. I may be a homebody, but this is ridiculous. There have been some very draining days, and a lot of frustrated hours. It’s hard to focus sometimes, to go through yet another instance of routine.

I think the next month or so is going to be rough, as we close in one full year of this while simultaneously coping with the end of winter. I’m going to try to focus on writing the new book, painting the kitchen, and cooking my favorite cold-weather meals while the season is here. There will be a lot to look forward to in the spring; I already bought a bunch of seeds.

life, monthly updates

The Inevitable 2020 Summary Post

I kind of want to ruminate on the glimpses of domesticity we see in Beowulf, but maybe I’ll leave that cozy topic for the year’s final post.

On the one hand, what even can be said about 2020. On the other, I feel like we all deserve a badge, a “we did it!” symbol to commemorate having gotten through the deluge. Natural disasters, pandemic, politics, omnipresent and graphic illustrations of the fragility of our social systems–the ones that aren’t demonstrably broken–if you made it through, then well done.

Last January looks utterly unreal in its distance from the present day. More than once it felt like this year was never going to end at all. (I suppose that publishing this two weeks in advance is taking a certain risk.) Compared to a lot of people, we’ve been incredibly lucky this year, and even so, having gotten anything at all done feels like an astonishing accomplishment.

In Significant Life Events, two of my grandparents passed away early this year, although one I hadn’t seen since I was tiny, and the other wasn’t much of a surprise after years of steadily worse health. Looking at this now mostly occasions a sense of “that was THIS YEAR?” wonderment.

In the plus column, I got a new job. This has reduced my stress levels by a substantial amount, making everything else that little bit more bearable. It means that for at least the next year or so, I don’t need to put “re-skill for immanent career change” at the top of my priority list.

Writing-wise, I finally finished a project that had been sitting half-done for what, eight years?–and got it to the point of querying with a feeling of genuine satisfaction with the story (no results yet). And then I did NaNoWriMo again. I postponed another project to next year, and while I hated to do it, I think that was a good decision given this year’s emotional demands. I’m looking forward to working on it again with real anticipation and energy.

I spent a fair amount of time this year reflecting, crystallizing goals, coming up with my three-year plan, and starting to turn those goals into tasks. If I’m successful with that, you’ll be seeing a lot of action here in 2021.

And then there’s all of the other stuff, irregularly chronicled here–knitting, running, professional group organizing, community work, gardening, reading, learning, family life–all under the penumbra of pandemic this year, home and school and work and hobbies hopelessly smushed into one another.

It’s going to be a rough winter; the news this past week has made that painfully clear. The vaccine is less “the end is in sight” than “there are seabirds, so there’s gotta be land in that direction.” Let’s look out for one another, and prepare a better 2021.