I know. I know.
It’s been forever since I’ve written a real post on this blog. Like, basically the whole of 2019. (Yes, I posted a few Words of Wednesday posts over the winter / spring, and yes, I wrote my annual year in review posts, and an Ash Wednesday reflection, and one poem — oh, and a preface to a post that, a year later, is still pending — but, yeah, that isn’t the greatest track record).
Honestly, I don’t really have one. I mean, unless starting a new job, transitioning to a new state, and reading, like, a whole ton of books count as excuses. In the second half of 2018, my highest priority (other than hanging out with my nephew) was getting words written. In 2019, I was distracted by the need to establish myself professionally, earn an income, and pay rent. But that still feels like a bit of a cop out on the writing front. The truth is, I didn’t write very much in 2019 because I didn’t make it a priority. And while the completionist in me is horrified at the scattered inconsistency of the last twelve (er, fourteen?) months (so much for weekly blogging), when I think over what the year did hold, it seems rather significant, writing or not.
So here, briefly, are nineteen highlights of 2019.
1. I started copyediting professionally. Like, for a publishing company.
2. I earned money writing words.
3. I attended Hamilton. In San Francisco. I even hung out in Aaron Burr’s dressing room for a while. And had a chat with King George.
4. I hung out with my little brothers — first cheering for our dad as he ran the Boston Marathon, then visiting my youngest brother in Redding, California, where he’s been living (and thriving) for the past three years.
Cheering on the Babster with the brothers.
In Redding with Thani.
5. I edited my brother’s thesis. On the poetics of videogames. It was excellent (and made me want to teach poetry all over again).
6. I said goodbye to the redwoods. To a year of walking (and living) in their shade.
7. I lived by the ocean, spending six months of 2019 in sight of the Pacific — first in Santa Cruz, then in Oregon. (I even kayaked amidst the otters in Monterey Bay.)
8. I said goodbye to Magnus. This was not a highlight, but a devastation. After a year of being a fairly large portion of his small world — feeding him breakfast, taking him on walks and runs, playing a million rounds of tower building and peek-a-boo, reading him stories and cuddling at naptime and bedtime — catching so many of his firsts (his first crawl, his first walk, his first word) — the thought of missing so many changes — the thought of not being recognized the next time we met — all of it was unbearable, and I cried harder than I’ve ever cried before. But the pain is a sign of the gift — the gift of months and months of his joyous, daily presence. Of roadtrips spent playing magnets in the backseat. Of him knocking for entrance on my bedroom door. Of stopping to examine his favorite boulders on the UCSC campus. Of his love for flowers and delight in deer and the songs that he sang to the trees. Of being reminded, every day, of the wonder of this world we inhabit — with its ants, and its rocks, and its growing things. What a miracle to know this boy, to love this boy, to be his aunt — no matter how many miles might currently separate him from me.
9. I moved to Colorado (by train, with a rose in tow). And into an apartment inhabited by two of my oldest, and closest, friends. I even (for the first time in my life) signed my name to a lease.
“Welcome to Colorado” (and birthday) hike.
Flying over Peru.
Wedding preparations in Trujillo.
10. I visited Peru. For a beloved friend’s wedding. Adding both a country, and a continent, to my list.
11. I went on a silent retreat, spending eight days at an Ignatian retreat center — my third such retreat in as many summers (though my first in the US).
12. I celebrated my 10-year college reunion. Not by returning to my alma mater, but with a mini-reunion of dear friends in Denver.
George Fox ladies now . . .
. . . and then.
13. I ran a 5K. In downtown Denver. And finished in the top 4% for my age group. (Not too bad for someone who runs for distance and not for speed.)
Running the Hot Chocolate 5K with Amberle.
14. I completed my 5th NaNoWriMo. My 4th co-writing with my long-term writing partner, Elftree — and this time, for the first time, writing with a table, and not an ocean, between us.
15. I went on a business trip. To San Diego. Yep, someone paid me to travel.
16. I hung out with my cousins. One of them, five times in five different states. Quite the new record. (And evidence, it would seem, of what can happen when one lives in the same country for a while.) I also had many escapades with other cousins — in California, in Oregon, and in Minnesota. What a delight to realize (to continue to realize) that you’re related to some of the most thoughtful, kind, and fun-loving people you know — and that the age difference, which used to seem to matter, really, really doesn’t anymore. Yay for friends who are family (and family who are friends).
Cousins in Colorado!
Cousins in Santa Cruz!
More cousins in Santa Cruz!
Cousins in Oregon!
Cousins in Minnesota!
Thanksgiving with my grandmother.
Thanksgiving with Magnus.
17. I spent Thanksgiving in Minnesota. With my beautiful grandmother. My first solo trip to the homeland — a special and delightful time of fellowship. (Which also involved reconnecting with my nephew.)
18. I met my future sister-in-law. And was present when she became my brother’s fiance.
A story-telling proposal.
Magnus learning to game.
Auntie Kar and Magnus Joy.
Adventures on the beach.
The art of cookie decorating.
A purple Christmas unicorn.
19. I celebrated Christmas on the Oregon coast. With my beloved parents and all of my beloved siblings (and siblings-in-law). With Christmas tea, and sugar cookies, and Star Wars-watching, and game playing, and feasting, and laughing, and lots and lots of talking . . . and many, many hours spent building with DUPLOs and reading books and playing hide-and-seek and going up and down stairs with a small person who can now say “Auntie” quite clearly (along with many other things) — a small person whose “Auntie, up!” is my favorite way to wake up in the morning, and whose delight in stockings and small books were the joy of Christmas. And so I ended 2019 as I began it: being an aunt still feels like the best, and most important, thing I am doing with my life. And, of course, it’s not a doing at all. It’s a being. A gift that was bestowed upon me. All I have to do is say YES.
And it’s 2020. This year promises to be rather momentous in its own right. My niece (who shares my middle name, translated across languages) was born on February 20th (in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico) — and I’ll be traveling in April to meet her (assuming I can survive the anticipation of the next several weeks). I just returned from another business trip (this one to the UK), and, along with my trip to Mexico, I have trips planned for every month until May — at which point I’ll be running my second half-marathon, my little brother will be getting married, and, at some point this summer, my rose and I will be relocating — destination or destinations unknown.
And hopefully, at some point in there, I will find time (and motivation) to write a few more blog posts. In the meantime, thanks for your patience. And I hope you are having a lovely (and hopeful) start to your 2020.