100! or, 2017 in retrospect

One of my Facebook friends did a 2017-in-retrospect post, and I decided to try imitating him.  Did mine take a fortnight longer to assemble?  Well, yes.  Surely this comes as no surprise to any of you.

In no particular order (but roughly chronological), these are the top 100 things that made my year.  Not all were necessarily happy items or events, but many were.

  1. Singing at church, either as part of the choir, a trio, or solo
  2. Learning to use Noteflight, both to create my own sheet music (!!!), and to rehearse difficult pieces without a piano
  3. Making a point of using my favorite tiny teacup
  4. Visiting George, Amanda, and their daughters throughout the year: gathering violets, eating sushi, making coasters, playing board games, sledding, reading about Wee Gillis, etc.
  5. Keeping a list of daily to-dos/accomplishments for later review at work
  6. Following proper channels to address a dangerous situation in my apartment building, with eventual results.
  7. Helping my brother with his corned beef feast fundraiser.
  8. Asserting some style with regard to luggage, aka buying a cuter duffle bag in an attempt to stop overpacking on short trips.
  9. Rediscovering audio books
  10. Visiting Hanners in VA and being able to join her other friends for her baby shower
  11. Having monthly dinners with my brother Mark,
  12. and using them to check in with each other about our goals.
  13. Attending absolutely zero weddings.
  14. Celebrating my first niece’s first birthday
  15. Reading a lot of fluffy books: Flavia de Luce, Trenton Stewart, Maryrose Wood, and (okay, less fluffy) Fredrik Backman
  16. Playing Pokemon Go – which, every once in a while, causes you to meet a 60-something-year-old professor who shows you how she’s walked 1000 kilometers playing it.
  17. Helping with a cocktail class – thus being behind the bar at The Last Word.
  18. Getting out my paint to make some pretty vibrant watercolors.
  19. Writing a whopping 14 blog posts for EC. Which is still more than anyone else *gives other muses shifty eyes*
  20. Making homemade vegan Nutella.
  21. Winning a GoodReads giveaway!  Even though I haven’t finished The Benedict Option yet.
  22. Celebrating Shrove Tuesday with folks. We were fully prepared to have a pancake-flipping race, but then it rained.
  23. Being mildly useful at my brother Mark’s house.
  24. Making Deb’s rhubarb chevron bars.
  25. Learning all manner of things from the AADL Summer Game (and going some places I wouldn’t have gone without it!)
  26. Getting some amount of vegetables, and lots of dill, from my brothers’ gardens
  27. Learning the recipe for this chickpea salad to use said dill.
  28. Getting more fish in my diet (also to use said dill, some of the time).
  29. Continuing to be a person who reads fanfiction.
  30. Experimenting with using aquafaba (both for vegan chocolate mousse, and for cocktail fizzes).
  31. Singing Missa Solemnis in Detroit and Toledo.
  32. Laughing with Em over Beer and Board Games.  Also, watching the fabulously awful Crimson Peak.  And Psycho, for the first time ever.
  33. Visiting Dad’s side of the family in June at the JAS III Memorial.
  34. Hang out with Jem and Maddie.
  35. Keeping up with various friends by going to brunch together.
  36. Buying a MacBook Pro.
  37. Combining bourbon, Carpano Antica, and Benedictine without seeing someone else do it first.  Which might mean I accidentally made a Preakness?
  38. Taking some lackluster marketing materials at my firm and improving them substantially
  39. Sharing Dorothy Sayers with more people
  40. Watching The Tempest at this year’s Shakespeare in the Arb.
  41. Encouraging others to sign up for library cards
  42. Visiting Mom’s side of the family in May and July
  43. Watching a lot of the Great British Bakeoff.
  44. Started listening to 90.9, the classical station, in order to be less heartbroken.
  45. Utilizing InfiniteLooper during work or workouts or cleaning marathons.
  46. Improving my approach to eyebrow makeup, if slightly.
  47. Going to Stratford, Canada with my friends to see Guys and Dolls (for the first time), 12thNight, and HMS Pinafore.
  48. Starting to get Mum and Dad ready to move out of Warwick
  49. Learning some Gaelic (or, well. Faking it convincingly) in honor of Bob
  50. Finally reading The Handmaid’s Tale
  51. Taking charge of preparing music for the Tolkien feast, including a book of popular pub tunes for everyone to sing
  52. Learning some fundamentals of CSS and HTML with CodeAcademy
  53. Getting into Rundle D on LearnedLeague (when I’d previously been in E) and not being immediately kicked back out
  54. Trying Blue Apron for free, so as to have Opinions about it, and actually cancelling timely
  55. Trying a jackfruit (they really are the party fruit!), passionfruit, and mirto.
  56. Celebrating St. Augustine with readings and poires St. Helene.
  57. Taking a winery tour of the Old Mission Peninsula to celebrate my roommate’s finishing grad school
  58. Hanging paper and tea towels to liven up the walls.
  59. Taking care of certain aspects of home maintenance; tightening screws on closet doors and saucepan handles is very satisfying.
  60. Starting a ketogenic diet.
  61. Catching Carbon Leaf at The Ark.
  62. Tugging a friend onto Tumblr *steeples fingers wickedly*
  63. Joining the St. Paul Young Adult Bible study (after years of frustration that every Bible study seemed to meet during the workday)
  64. Using Google Calendar more than I had been, to some effect
  65. Buying ice skates, and actually going skating with them at least once.
  66. Discovering the musical stylings of Lizzy Shell! I meant to blog about this woman for you – suffice it to say that I love her lyrics a lot.
  67. Celebrating the feast of Crispin Crispian with French food and Henry V excerpts.
  68. Figuring out an apartment-friendly Quiet Workout, and doing it somewhat regularly.
  69. Measuring self and keeping keto for two months.
  70. Utilizing Google Doc of tracking/rewards/goals to encourage myself,
  71. and checking in on a daily subreddit as well.
  72. Walking through my first corn maze!
  73. Bidding farewell to my brother from the firm we’ve both worked at since 2009.
  74. Celebrating the feast of St. Bruno at Chartreuse, which restaurant we’ve been wanting to visit for years.
  75. Losing twenty pounds and fitting into things I hadn’t fit in, and buying smaller jeans: a thing that has not happened in the past decade.
  76. Drinking tea/coffee without sugar and liking it, and similarly, doctoring my soda water with Regan’s No. 6 orange bitters and not missing potables.  For the first time ever, I’ve used an entire bottle of bitters!
  77. Adding Glitter and Gold to my list of Songs That Make Most Any Task Possible.
  78. Attempting a bodyweight fitness routine – I’ve a long way to go, but the idea of potentially being able to do a handstand eventually…it beckons.
  79. Finally reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  80. Singing in a 300-person celebration chorus for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
  81. Actually hitting the unsubscribe button on some things.  Doubtless I should hit it a few more times, but still.  Progress.
  82. Facilitating my roommate meeting one of my co-workers, as well as my friend Ruth.
  83. Buying new blush for the first time in a very long while.
  84. Roasting radishes and spaghetti squash, to my own enjoyment.
  85. Finally reading Macbeth.
  86. Hearing and seeing Chanticleer with friends.
  87. Singing Bernstein’s 3rd symphony with the NY Philharmonic and Jeremy Irons.
  88. Meeting my second niece, Lucy Rose.
  89. Buying winter boots that actually cover a part of my calves and fit.
  90.  Watching my nieces (while at least one parent went on a hunting trip)
  91. Celebrating my 30thbirthday with my roommate and friends
  92. Finishing Frankenstein, which has plagued my “currently reading” on GoodReads for 3 years.
  93. Joining George in a December writing challenge, even if I didn’t write much.
  94. Observing Our Lady of Guadalupe and my roommate’s explication of why tequila is a second-class relic.
  95. Watching Stranger Things (and part of ST2).
  96. Sending out Christmas cards. Have I had some of said cards since 2011?  Yes.
  97. Negotiating various new systems: new attorneys, new phones, new court sites, and so on.
  98. Receiving my first ever live Christmas tree.  Did it still have needles by Christmas?  Well, a few.
  99. Assisting my roommate with yarn (having gotten better at using the swift and having improved my detangling strategy).
  100. Hearing the Boys Choir of Ann Arbor and thus discovering a deep fondness for “Carol of the Stranger.”

What were the highlights of your past year?  Here’s hoping that 2018 includes just as much learning and growing!

Uncut 2015 Christmas Letter

Hello, people-I-swear-to-write-but-never-do, relatives, and/or those who have filled me with a sense of obligation by mailing me something first!  Greetings of a seasonal variety to you!  May your Christmas season be full of love, hope, peace, and other fruits of the Spirit.

What follows is my attempt to sum up my year, despite the fact that you probably have learned most of this information via Facebook and, moreover, don’t expect changes of any great magnitude, because there weren’t any.  Unless you count starting on an antidepressant, in which case: there was one change of some magnitude in the past few months, and it is somewhat obvious if I forget it.   …pardon me a moment, I just realized I forgot something…

Right, so.  Life!  And the aspects thereof.  Well.  First off, there’s my…

Job: Yeaaah, I’m still at the law office.  I’ve now spent half a year as secretary for two attorneys, without more salary to show for it. Awesome.  Also awesome: doing anything with the court of appeals for the first time; we are all of us flailing about and consulting the court rules every 5 minutes.

Housing:  You may recall me living in a rental house with 3 other ladies.  As one of my erstwhile roommates got married and remained with her spouse in the house, Cecilia and I moved a whopping .8 miles north and east across Washtenaw.  This is close enough to walk between them, but far enough that anything you sent to my old address will miss me.  Except that I eventually put my mail on forward.  I meant to send you a tidy little handwritten note with my new address, but that just didn’t happen.  Sorry.

Romantic Relationships: Hahahaha, psych!  There’s been nothing of the sort for the last eight years at least.  This year, I went on 3 mediocre dates and 1 decent one, followed by some uninspired texts and no calls.  Friends have suggested I broaden my field of search to include more states, or at least the Fort Wayne seminary.  I may yet do so.

But! I am not without commitments: I have bought two new bookshelves this year and, by virtue of having a roommate who did the actual acquisition, acquired two kittens.  I’ve also become an official member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, having decided after 1.5 years in their choir that I wouldn’t just run off somewhere else.  Except for the weekends when I’m off attending weddings, when I will run most anywhere given sufficient notice.  There were three such weddings this year – those of my erstwhile housemate Hannah G. W., my other erstwhile housemate Liz C. N., and my concert-going, somewhat-indie music-supplying, lemon-jousting drinking buddy Hannah M. K., whose Astoria wedding was a delight to witness and stand up in.  I also attended my friend Zach’s ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood, which is basically like a wedding, except without a 300% markup on the celebratory cake.

There is now another wedding on the horizon, as my brother Paul is engaged to one of my dearest friends, Michelle; I am quite pleased for them (mostly because I am not the one currently dealing with obscene markups for nuptial celebration paraphernalia)(but also because I love them both dearly and, you know, hope they will carry on in delight together &c)(that said, Paul could be a bit less nauseating in his effusions of loving feeling)(someone get me a bucket).

I'm not even an engineer. Just label me "Exhausted" or "Envious" or something.

I’m not even an engineer. Just label me “Exhausted.”

Other celebrations: 12th Night (complete with Shakespeare, almond cake, and crowns); my first Feuerzangenbowle (complete with fiery sugar and carol-singing); Michaelmas (complete with more Milton than I’ve ever read in one sitting before); St. Crispin‘s Day (complete with yelling the Henry V speech to passersby on Mackinac Island); and birthday celebrations of several people, including me (complete with playing two games of Boggle at once!  Or eating Moroccan food/bowling/drinking Greek wine/reading Evelyn Waugh/however we celebrated birthdays).

I also basked in the reflected glory of my brother John competing on Jeopardy! in January, and his return for the Tournament of Champions in November.  My own knowledge of trivia has not been sufficient to get me past the online Jeopardy! test, but it HAS won me a few rounds on LearnedLeague.com.  Aw yiss.  So much less of a timesink than either TriviaCrack or JetPunk, addictions which I have overcome!   …Sadly I have not overcome my addiction to Sherlock fanfiction; please pray for my soul and/or recommend a support group.

No one can tell this deer is wearing jeans anyway.

No one can tell this deer is wearing jeans anyway.

On the bright side, I have profited greatly from reading both The Joy of Less and unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com, not that you can necessarily tell by looking at my work desk or my bedroom.  But I’ve managed to dispose of some papers that had lingered for the last year or six, and got rid of some brown pants just in time to miss them at Halloween.

Other consumables:  Continuing my tradition of checking things out of the library for as long as possible, I’ve had a couple books by Milosz out for 2 years now. It’s like grad school library privileges without needing to be in grad school.  Books I actually read include some volumes on orthography, a couple intriguing books by Neil Postman, and I, Robot; generally my reading material has been more poetic, word-loving, critical, depressed, and mildly feminist.

Viewing-wise, this has been the year of my finally watching Die Hard, The Room (via RiffTrax Live), Zoolander, and White Christmas for the very first time.  National Theatre Live brought Coriolanus and Hamlet within my purview, for which I both bless and curse them.  2015 also involved an Iron Man marathon (which, lest you be deceived, involves no physical activity) and more watching of The Decoy Bride / Not Another Happy Ending than is strictly advisable.  Not to mention The Mindy Project, Inspector Lewis, and odds and ends from Parks and Rec.

I remain a member of the UMS Choral Union, which performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah; as mentioned above, I’m part of my church choir as well.  Occasionally I pinch-hit as an alto because we are as poor in altos as we are rich in sopranos.  Shocking, I know.

This year’s culinary adventuring included the eating of Moroccan bistilla (would recommend) and the cooking of meringues, gluten-free pizza, and gluten-free fried chicken.  There were also a fair allotment of cocktails: lots of G&Ts and a fair sampling of Drinking with the Saints.

Also wik:  I read with some alacrity the epic saga of Brother Orange; I learned more of the geography of John and Elizabeth’s neighborhood whilst dogsitting, when I accidentally walked their dog Hektor 5 miles longer than necessary;  and I did the most Pinterest-y project of my life, namely, using twine and clothespins to hang a bunch of stuff, mostly calligraphy, on my bedroom wall.

963

There you have it: a far longer summary of a year than you might want or need.  Merry freaking Christmas, y’all.  See you all in 2016, unless I don’t actually.

Much love,
(really, I promise)
Joy

Onward, majestic Frog Steed!

Onward, majestic Frog Steed!  Onward to 2016!