A list of things for the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024

Wide lake horizon with pale bluish clouds covering the sky and the dark blue-green lake surface rolling with waves

Usually, I send a list of things from the month just passed; but in this liminal time when one year blends into the next, I felt compelled to incorporate a bit longer range of retrospection than usual, and maybe a little more looking ahead.

This past year was one of transition. My kid graduated from high school and turned eighteen years old, events that seemed so far away when I was starting out as a young mother on my own. Most of my adulthood has been tied up in sustaining and then improving our lives, and now I'm tiptoeing into claiming territory for myself that many others spent their twenties and thirties staking out. In spring, I realized the school I chose to resume my once-abandoned undergraduate degree was not the right one for me and I transferred to a different one for the 2023 fall semester, a hugely beneficial switch. I learned the lesson that even if you deliberately take on a challenge that is difficult, there are levels of difficulty that do not serve you or your goals, which is when you make a switch. I started long-distance walking (a real thing, look it up—I finally figured out that running annoyed me but I love to walk, so I went all in on that instead). I celebrated three years of making my podcast. I started painting for the first time since I was a teenager. I didn't accomplish much else on the creative front: I wrote a few unsatisfying stories, got a couple of magazine rejections paired with a couple of long-term submission limbos, and had one story accepted for publication. I hacked away at a novella and a short screenplay. Most notably, I got a clearer idea about what to aim at next.

Next year I have a lot of goals, but nothing entirely new. Solidfying habits, building higher foundations. Doing some things more and other things less. I don't know how I feel about resolutions, the signficance-laden word it now is, but I'm a fan of strong, flexible intentions. The kind that you keep in your head, to yourself, and tend like a secret, growing garden.

Happy new year, friends. I wish you all the best in 2024.

Here are some things from December and the beginning of January.

  1. I posted one list of things I've recently read, watched, and/or listened to: Recently 28 December.
  2. My little horror film podcast got festive and released two episodes covering all the Christmases of the Black variety: Black Christmas 1974 and Black Christmas 2006/2019. Raise a glass to Barb.
  3. I'm busy compiling all my favorite things of 2023 lists, but, in the meantime, my media log of 2023 is now, necessarily, complete. First item: The Apartment. Last item: Repeat Performance. If you're new around here, this is the seventh complete year of me recording books read, movies and television series watched, podcasts listened to, theater and music performances attended, et cetera. I keep all my logs indexed at my website, plus a couple of years ago I wrote up a bit about why and how I keep a media log, and I also have a freely available HTML media log template, in case anyone wants to play along at home.
  4. "We all have goals, but it is good to offset lofty ones with simple and practical ones. Write a poem and take a walk. Make charitable efforts then take a subway to the sea, and always drink plenty of water." Patti Smith.
  5. Some words from Henry Miller at the American Writers' Museum (mileage may vary):
Portion of museum wall with a watercolor image of Henry Miller, an older white man, with the quote: "Work on one thing at a time until finished. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is at hand. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards."

I'm pretty much updates-only on Twitter now, but I'm active over on Bluesky. I still have a handful of invitation codes for Bluesky so if any of my newsletter readers would like one, let me know. You can reach me by email about that or anything else at [email protected].

Thank you for reading! I'm grateful for you. 🖤