Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

My friends and I spent a few hours at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena this weekend and did some serious damage (especially me). It was so nice wandering around and not feeling rushed like I do sometimes (which meant carrying my max amount of books and then buying them). We had lunch at a fancy Italian place after and then visited a new little pie shop- it was the best kind of indulgent day. Extra friend time, extra books, extra food. 

Sawyer's friend is over right now and the two of them are happily playing upstairs and there's no threat of tears, tattling, or breaking things. Those really are the best kinds of playdates, am I right, moms? 

The weather in Southern California has been incredibly rainy lately, which we can't complain about because of the drought. But... it's a lot of water. A LOT. And, actually, I will complain for a second, because too much of the deluge will be wasted because we don't have the infrastructure to catch the extra and save it for the summer. 

I'm running a half marathon in a few weeks and am at my peak mileage right now- I am so tired and hungry. I am zero expectations besides finishing, since my runs just have not been amazing these past few months. I knew this going into it- I just needed something.  I work out almost daily without a big race or hike on the horizon, but I guess I just needed some additional accountability and structure. And there's just this little itch I get occasionally to torture myself, I guess. 

Check out yesterday's post on Demon Copperhead. That book just killed me in the best possible way. 

No pun intended, but I just finished We All Want Impossible Things yesterday, about a woman who is dying in hospice and her friend who is there with her until the end. It was funny, heartbreaking, and just really well-done. It wasn't overly sappy or morbid, just the right amount emotion to make you so thankful for friendships and life. 

I was SO OVER THE MOON EXCITED about the newest season of Yellowstone and even watched the season premier without Scott while he was in Korea, but have failed watch an more episodes since. I am so invested in the show (the only show... really) that I don't want to do anything else while it's on, which means I can't embroider, grade, or run on the treadmill, which also means that I'm having some serious trouble carving out time to devote to it. My dentist, who I see in less than a month, is going to be seriously disappointed in me if I don't catch up, so I need to make it happen. He gave me constant shit for year about never seeing the movie Coming to America and I finally redeemed myself with the cowboys and now I'm destroying all cred I had acquired. 

The US part of the pandemic is almost three years old (happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!) and I am just now starting to have covid dreams. I haven't had it (yet), but I've had two dreams in 2023 where I have come down with it in weird scenarios (last night's fun included me getting arrested by district police because I was in my classroom trying to put together plans for the sub and forgot to wear a mask). Fun. 

Demon Copperhead- 2023 Top Ten Contender

It’s not often I am confident in January that a book will make my top ten of the year list, but my intense love for Demon Copperfield by Barbara Kingsolver has pretty much all but secured it a spot. Demon, the narrator, is subjected to a life in poverty, foster care, and chaos, all worsened by the lurking impact of the opioid crisis in Appalachia. My heart constantly ached for him while still cheering him on towards the small successes he was granted, albeit most temporary. The supporting characters are mostly endearing, and the ones who are not just give you more of a reason to offer your undying support for Demon. Kingsolver’s writing is unsurprisingly brilliant and you won’t want the book to end (even at nearly 600 pages). Just go buy it and bump it up your TBR.

2023 Goals and 2022 Revisited

I love pushing myself to take on new goals, whether it's on the yearly or monthly level. Last year I had an extensive list of things I wanted to accomplish and printed out a google doc for each month for tracking progress (I posted it in my office/treadmill room and the visual was really helpful). Here's how I did:

1. Read 75 books- check!
2. Non-stretching yoga once a week- nope! I did more yoga this year, but because of the hiking and running I needed session focused more on stretching
3. One home-related project a month- Yup! 
4. Pay off car- Yup! 
5. Hike once a month- Yup!
6. Donate to a cause once a month- Yup (set up 2 monthly contributions)
7. Stay on top of reviews/blogs- Not really... I did okay on bookstagram, but not great here
8. Organize something once a month- yup!
9. Send mail to someone once a month- yup!
10. 120 hours a month on the Forest app- yup!

All in all, I am really pleased with how I did. This year will have some of the same and some new ones. I am also using a habit tracker chart I bought recently, which will help. A lot of things from last year are just habitual now, like hiking and donating money (reading is, but I just like to include it). Some things I'm not interested in pushing myself on, like staying up on blogging or bookstagram- I will do what I have time for and what feels interesting! 

1. 150 hours a month on the Forest app (average of 5ish hours a day)
2. One 32 oz water bottle a day (I am the worst at drinking water when I am not actively running, so this is a start).
3. 76 books for the year
4. Deep clean something once a month (my house is clean, but I want to really get in there)
5. Send actual birthday cards to friends and family (I need to make a list!) 
6. Some sort of strength training at least five days a week (arms, abs, legs)
7. Do my year-in-review book by month; finish the previous month within the first week of the next month
8. Keep $xx,xxx in my savings, even after travel plans 
9. Make an average five times the amount of the required HELOC monthly payment (this sounds crazy, but it's not)
10. Any kind of yoga twice a week 

2022: The Best Year... Ever?

I feel almost guilty admitting this, but 2022 has been once of the best years, if not the best, of my life. People don't want to hear this, whether it's because misery loves company, they think it's bragging, or whatever the deal it is (their deal...). And I get it, if you've had a shitty year the last thing you want to hear about is someone raving about why they're so happy. So, that's why I do it here, since basically no one reads (blogs are dead, it's cool) and if they are we're either strangers, they're hate reading to begin with, or they're a genuine friend that like to catch up on my ramblings. 

So, here are my top ten reasons why 2022 was great (we have to keep with the obligatory top-ten year-end lists, right?):

1. Travel! I could really put a hundred exclamation points behind it, but finally, I got on a plane again! We did a lot in the state, as well. Here were our various destinations:
    - Yosemite 
    - La Jolla (just me, on my solo weekend trip)
    - Modesto (my sister's wedding)
    - Bay Area (including San Francisco)
    - Sequoia National Park
    - The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks 

We have some very exciting places on the docket for this year (writes reminder note to deal with passports)

2. Hiking I made it my goal to hike an average of once a month ago and definitely exceeded it. Here are some of my favorites:
    - Yosemite
    - Sequoias
    - Tetons/Yellowstone
    - Big Bear
    - Idyllwild
    - Peter's Canyon
    - Claremont Nature Loop
    - Skyline Trail (it's actually not a great trail, but the beauty comes from it being       so close)
    - Santa Rosa Plateau 
    - Joshua Tree 

3. Happy family My marriage is really good and my son is thriving (swim, art, friends, reading). We found a babysitter who is amazing, which has allowed us to go out much more often, which is super nice. 

4. The best friends I remember when I moved out to the area I live in now and I had no friends or family. I had my husband, my then boyfriend, but I was never close to his family, so I was starting from scratch. Which has turned out amazing! Seventeen years later I have the best friends, and I work hard to maintain my relationships with them. Even if it's just a quick cup of coffee, a walk, or a drink for an hour on a Friday, we make it work. Obviously I love the readings in LA, the lengthy brunches, or afternoon pool dates, but we get what we can take. 

5. Financial goals Oh! The F word! I paid off my car after only one year, hit a savings goal, and set up monthly contributions to two charities I feel strongly about. 

6. Family Time Besides time with Scott and Sawyer (we definitely did more together as the three of us than ever before), I also went to Modesto for my sister's wedding, visited my other sister in the Bay Area, got together with my brother, his baby, and some other family in San Luis Obispo, and hosted some people down here (including for Thanksgiving). 

7. Reading Goal Hit I already published a post on my reading goals, but books are a huge source of happiness for me, so the fact I had such a good reading year was a huge positive

8. Small Home Improvements One of my goals this year was to either coordinate or do some sort of home project each month, as simple as installing solar walkway lights or logistically annoying as  hiring someone to paint our kitchen and living room. By necessity we had to have a tree cut down out back, replace a huge pool part, get a new washer and dryer, and have a leak in our downstairs living room fixed. I also painted a bathroom, did some work in the yard, and had someone finally come and clean out the dryer (PSA- if you don't do this or have someone, put that on your calendar ASAP; that is the leading cause of dryer fires and is an easy fix). This is a boring, adulty positive to have on the list, but it felt good to fulfill. 

9. Fun Stuff  We do a lot, it's how I want to spend my time and money, what can I say? Museums, amusement parks, trails, restaurants, whatever sounds good. I like having a life that is full of variety and movement. I know that's not for everyone, and I do like the occasional weekend where we don't have plans, but this year I took advantage of life basically being back to "normal" and enjoyed it extensively.

10. Small Joys A new tattoo, becoming unapologetically obsessed with the show Yellowstone, discovering one of my new favorite bands Lord Huron, figuring out that doing my nails during my runs (well I hop off to paint really fast) is super efficient, walking down the hill to Starbucks (and back up), and lots of other microjoys that help me get through the daily. 

2022 Top Ten Books Read

I made my goodreads goal of 75 books read with a day or two to spare this year! A miracle, indeed. I had a really, really good year of reading and it was tough to pick my favorites- I need to come up with some sort of elaborate scoring rubric to make this process more scientific and easier (really, I might). Here are some stats, taken off a very fancy note I wrote in my phone to post on social media:

I know it's controversial, but I do not count audiobooks as reading. It's listening. The two are different. Sure, you're consuming a text, still, but it's a much more passive experience and you lose so much when trying to analyze the language (believe me, I can tell the kids who listen as opposed to read their assigned texts for work). I can listen to a book while I drive, walk, or clean- it's constantly something done when multitasking, which detracts from the attention needed to really fully comprehend a text. I listen to audiobooks and it's a totally different experience. 

Okay, stepping off the soapbox, removing chip from shoulder. Moving on. 

Next year my goal is 76 books, since I just move up one a year, but hopefully I'll squeeze in a few more, since my TBR is, shall we say, exceptional.