First, a bit of housekeeping. To my great sadness, Tinyletter (the service I use to send this) is shutting down. I like Tinyletter a lot because it really is just a text editor where I can toss my thoughts out and send them to you all, and every other newsletter service I’ve looked at is either meant more for sales and formal communication, or is Substack, which I’m not into.
All of which is to say, I’ll be moving this newsletter somewhere else (probably just to Mailchimp), starting in January. I’ll strive to actually send out a January newsletter to make sure you all get it, in fact, but if there’s something like a re-subscribe prompt or whatever, that’s why. (And to be clear: I will never share your emails, sign you up for anything, etc!)
In the meantime, I’ve also moved all of my old newsletters into my blog so I can keep the archives. I’ll probably cross-post there, too, going forward.
Alrighty. That said: it’s December, which feels very much like time to look back at the year. I wasn’t quite sure how to frame that and finally decided, you know what, any year has ups and downs and I’d rather focus on the ups. So here are 23 things that I experienced in 2023 that made my year better. Some are recommendations and some are just little moments in time, but I think they were all lovely.
1. I finished the WIP I’d been working on in various forms since 2017. I did my best by that project; it may never see the light of day, but I’m proud of it and pleased to finally have put it to bed, at least for now.
2. I got a raise! Capitalism is the worst, inflation sucks, getting a raise is always nice.
3. I got to take on a major project at work (in concert with many coworkers) – I think it’s public enough to say I worked on the redesign of APNews.com as part of my day job. (I do not work for AP.) It was so cool to work on.
4. I walked a TON. This is cool both because I’ve regained a lot of mobility thanks to my new meds, and built up some stamina from swimming, but also because it turns out going outside and moving around regularly is good for your mental health, who knew.
5. One perk of walking — there’s a family of geese that lives in one of my nearby parks, and I got to watch them grow up all summer!
6. My arthritis is far enough in remission that I could go off one of my meds, which happens to be the one that always upset my stomach AND meant I couldn’t go out in the sun!!
7. For my 40th birthday a bunch of my favorite people, some of whom are pretty far flung these days, were all willing to fly to San Diego and hang out for a few days. It was so wonderful to see everyone and kick a new decade off right.
8. Also for my birthday, I took surfing classes and it ruled! Day one was rough, but on day two they moved me to a wider board and I was able to get up on my feet a few times. It was incredible!!
9. Also on that trip, we took an hours-long trip to the zoo. The San Diego zoo is lovely and nature is so cool.
10. My game of the year, hands down, was Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This game is beautiful and an absolute triumph of mechanics. The sheer number of times I gasped aloud, or yelled “You can DO THAT?!” while solving a puzzle was incredible.
11. In November, I went with my sister and her friends to see Some Like It Hot on Broadway (a musical adaptation of the movie from the 50s)… And then I took my best friend to see it for Chanukah. Then she took me to see it again a few weeks later. The adaptation took a story that was already subversive and queer, and made it thematically about identity, with a beautiful trans narrative… AND more shenanigans than I’ve ever seen on stage before. I’m so sad it’s closing in a few weeks, because everyone should get to see it.
12. Another trip: in August, two friends and I did our annual writing retreat/long, lazy weekend in Cape Cod. It was good fun, good food, and lots of creativity.
13. I started a new manuscript!! I shared a bit about my prewriting process earlier this year; as of drafting this newsletter, I’m about 75,000 words in, and still going strong.
14. I bought a new desk and rearranged my bedroom at the beginning of the year. The joy of working from home in a Manhattan apartment is finding the space, but now my room is set up much better and split pretty clearly into a bed section and an office section, and also my new desk is gorgeous.
15. I’m still swimming. This time last year, I was out with mystery pain (it turned out to be tendonitis) and I spent the first few months of 2023 in physical therapy and then easing back in. During the winter, it’s hard to convince myself to go out after work, into the cold and dark, to go get in a pool… but I always feel so much better after.
16. I read (a bit) more in 2023. I feel like every year I try to read more and I rarely do, and there’s a whole newsletter I could write about that (maybe someday…). My favorites were not from this year — I maybe the last person in the world, but I picked up City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty and ended up reading the entire trilogy in the space of about four and a half days. I was not a very good employee that week but man, it was worth it.
17. My sister and I bought tickets for a big trip coming up in March!! For the last decade, we’ve attempted to do a big trip every other year (we swap off who picks the destination), but between global warming canceling a planned cruise and the pandemic, we’ve missed a few. Next year, we’re going to Japan for two weeks, and it’s going to be amazing.
18. I cooked more in 2023. Well, that’s been growing for awhile. Historically, I have really hated cooking, but we’ve been getting various meal kits for a long time (currently, vegan meals from Purple Carrot, not sponsored). I’m the one who cooks them most weeks and I’ve realized I’m actually a decent cook?? If I wanted to do things like meal planning and grocery shopping I could do all of this on my own, even. I just don’t want to do those things, so the meal kits are staying for now.
19. I saw one of my favorite actors (Corbin Bleu) in Little Shop of Horrors! It was, of course, a delight. A great show with a great cast, tons of fun, and seeing it right around Halloween certainly didn’t hurt.
20. I bought a suit. It’s awesome. It does need to be tailored (that’s on the to-do list for early next year). Theoretically, I bought it so I’ll have something to wear to some upcoming weddings, but mostly I bought it just because I wanted it, and it’s very, very gender euphoric to wear.
21. My BFF took me to see Big Time Rush — yes, the Nickelodeon boyband who have inexplicably put out a new album and gone on tour, a decade after the show ended. We also saw them for my 30th birthday, a decade ago. They are still delightful. It was an outdoor concert and it poured, we were absolutely soaked to the skin and it was a miserable, clammy trip home on the train, and it was so worth it.
22. Speaking of “we saw this show, and it poured”, we went to see Carly Rae Jepsen at an outdoor venue. Carly Rae absolutely slaps. The weather held through the opener, started to rain when she came on, and three songs into her set the lightning started and the venue had to kick us all out and shut down the show… and then rescheduled it for the next afternoon. So we both took the afternoon off work, wandered downtown again, had some ice cream, and enjoyed an afternoon show. It was a great show, and we were home by dinner. A+, more summer concerts should involve surprise days off work.
23. My cats remain cute. Even when things are less good, and I’m stressed or sad, I’ve got these two purring dummies who love me and want to cuddle.
That’s it! Goodbye, 2023. You were not the worst year. Friends, I will see you in January for the newsletter switchover, and my annual post about wordcounts.