The last day of 2021
The rain cleared today, leaving washed, blue skies and a pile up of rusty sycamore leaves in the driveway. I did a little raking and a little walking. I swept the dog hair from the kitchen floor and folded a weeks worth of laundry. I made some lists and transferred all important dates from my old paper planner to my new paper planner.
The planner works a little like a calendar and a little like a diary. I keep track of how often I do yoga and what birds I see in the yard. I write down snippets of conversation, book recommendations, and things to watch on TV. In 2021, I started to track my pitch submissions and writing goals, marking the day I sent off an email to an editor and the day I received a reply. While not all replies were positive, recording the loop of action and reaction was satisfying. Seeing evidence of my effort nudged me to do a little more. In 2021, I wrote about my conversations with artist/writer Miriam Feldman, and the inspiring Pamela Weir-Quiton . I pondered the four-way stop and looked into how we might peacefully prepare for airline altercations. Inspired by local climate activist, Edgar McGregor, I stepped up my own trash pick-ups and wrote about others doing the same. I contributed to the marvelous Elizabeth Marro’s newsletter, Spark, created a list of books for Shepherd to help caregivers cultivate flexibility and compassion, and made a little progress on my own big book project.
I got vaccinated in the Spring of 2021 and was able to visit my family in New Mexico and Maryland after a long, long time apart. In the fall, my husband and I dropped our son at college to begin his sophomore year on campus after a freshman year at home. As our daughter sent out her college applications, I was inspired to fill out a few of my own, and landed a summer writers’ residency.
According to my phone, I walked over two million steps at all hours of the day. Thanks to a new neighbor friend, I witnessed numerous sunrises in Griffith Park and met an owl, some deer and a bunch of coyotes.
I watched a fair amount of TV and I read a lot. Some of my faves: Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha, Wife/Daughter/Self by Beth Kephart, Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy, Half Broke by Ginger Gaffney, The Wanting Was A Wilderness by Alden Jones, Still Life with Oysters and Lemons by Mark Doty, Family Solstice by Kate Maruyama, Kindred by Octavia Butler, Lazarus by Maryanne Melloan Woods, Becoming a Man by P. Carl, The Great Offshore Grounds by Vanessa Veselka, I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell, A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky by Lynell George, Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade, The Big Hurt by Erika Schickel, Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, Real Life by Brandon Taylor, The Removed by Brandon Hudson, Blow Your House Down by Gina Frangello, Girlhood by Melissa Febos, Festival Days by JoAnn Beard, Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village by Kathi Hofer, Processed Meats by Nicole Walker, Disappearance: A Map by Sheila Nickerson, Weather by Jenny Offil, and I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins
2021 was tough. I sometimes felt like I was in a deep hole. I imagine I’ll probably feel that way in 2022, too. But I’m finding ways to take care of myself and the people around me. I’m picking up litter, volunteering where I can, smiling at strangers and working to make things easier, happier, calmer whenever I can. It’s all I can do.