I think we can all agree that the past couple of new years haven’t felt so new, what with Covid flattening our social circles and our daily lives into something resembling a long, endless ling of Zoom calls and sweatpants (on the plus side, I now own a LOT of comfy joggers). Sure, 2021 was perked up a bit by the anticipation of a new US president, but that bubble was popped by the insurgency just five days later. We had vaccines, but we didn’t know when we’d get them – once we did, many of us were able to muster some excitement about ‘the end of the pandemic,’ but delta came along to laugh in our faces and then omicron turned to delta and said “hold my beer.” It’s been a tough time for sequins and dancing late into the night, is what I’m saying.
Although to be fair, I’ve always felt kind of funny about New Year’s Eve. As someone who spent many of her formative years without someone to kiss at midnight (obviously the most important thing about NYE if you’re a young woman raised under the patriarchy), I usually found myself mourning another year gone by rather than planning for great things to come. And since finding my various someones-to-kiss (never more than one at a time), I’ve discovered that, actually, it’s still not as sparkly or exciting as ads and movies make it out to be – at least not for me.
Now that I’m old and married and settled, I’m fine with that. I like to stay up until midnight (if we can make it) to witness the year turning over, maybe drink a glass of something fizzy for the hell of it, but other than that I’ve made my peace with the lackluster feel of New Year’s. And of course, it was just as I made that peace that I started actually anticipating the coming year with new vigor, even during these all-the-same, ever-exhausting pandemic years.
Last year, I resolved to dedicate more time and energy to my short-form writing; if you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know that I’ve followed through. I also resolved to get serious about starting a family, and as my ever-growing belly would indicate, that’s on track too. I wanted to continue to work on healing and boundaries and body image and empathy, which I did, if not always with perfect results. I also planned to get into a gardening/cleaning/yoga/reading routine – I give myself a C- on all that, which would be devastating if not for the aforementioned As.
This year is different. I couldn’t make any resolutions or predictions, because a few months into the year it’ll all be upended; we plan, and the fetus laughs. I can’t take more time for my writing (very sadly) because I have a new, much more demanding day job that’s going to suck up all my energy right up until it hands the baton to the baby and then they pass it back and forth for the rest of my life. But, on the other hand, who knows what joys 2022 will bring? If nothing else, I can say with confidence that it’ll be unlike any other year I’ve ever lived, and there’s adventure and novelty ahead.
Get ready for this section to be slim pickins for a while as I wind down my freelance work ahead of the birth. That said, I do have a piece that went live this month, though I wrote it back in October – publishing is a strange, halting/racing/halting world. A note: if you’re squeamish about sex, or just about the thought of me talking about sex (ahem, Mom), I suggest you skip this one, but otherwise it’s definitely worth a read. I interviewed a previous source about a class she’s doing, presented to me as “kink for vanillas,” and I even got to preview some of the coursework – it was published in Cosmopolitan UK.
So far this year I’ve finished one book I really enjoyed, which is Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s an odd book, with a very contemporary feel despite being set 40+ years in the past, and very intimate-feeling despite covering the experiences and backstories of a ton of characters – some more in-depth than others, but all with a strong verisimilitude. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for an easy read that’s nonetheless quite thought-provoking.
I’ve also been reading (but haven’t yet finished) The Death of Vivek Oji, by Awaeke Emeki. This one is also really good, and also dips into multiple characters’ heads. It deals with very different subject matter: Malibu Rising is a classic California story, a west coast family saga, while The Death of Vivek Oji is set in Nigeria and deals with issues like queerness, immigrant communities (I love this, by the way, reading about immigrant experiences outside the US), and violence against difference – as well as family saga/friendship/coming of age/relationship themes. I’m about 60% of the way through and would definitely recommend it.
A Random Joy
Months after ordering the kits and far too late for this past Christmas, I finally started making the first of three needlepoint stockings for our little family. I have a beautiful stocking that I grew up with, that my aunt made and I love, and my husband has one too, but we decided that we wanted all new ones for our house so that we could leave our childhood stockings for visits to our parents’ homes. Let me tell you this: needlepoint is NO JOKE. My eyes were burning after just an hour, to say nothing of the brain tangle that was figuring out the color-coding on the four-page instruction booklet, but once I started to see a little progress I felt the familiar tug of joyful obsession that I get with a great craft project. Now to find the time (and daylight) to make three of these suckers by December…
A Less-Random Joy
After literal months of planning, cancelations, replanning, angsting about the size of my body vs the size of plane seats, omicron taking over the world, and planning some more, my husband and I actually made it to Italy! We spent a week in Rome and another in Venice – which I’ve literally never seen so empty of tourists, and which was blissful – and we somehow avoided Covid, too. A win all around!