BOOKS I READ
One-sentence review: Laugh-out-loud funny, clever, and touching; you don't have to know anything about D&D to understand the plot, but diehard fans will get even more of the jokes.
One (or two)-sentence review: I would happily read Rainbow Rowell's grocery list, so of course I ate up this short story. It was cozy and sweet and a little taste of what a pandemic-themed romance could look like without having to read a novel-length pandemic love story (thank god).
One-sentence review: (Yes, I'm a little late to the party, I know.) Even though I (thought) I knew the myth of Achilles, this book still shocked me and ripped my heart out and tossed it into the blender for good measure (BUT IN A GOOD WAY).
One-sentence review: My least favorite compared to the first two books because this dragged in the middle, didn't have quite as much excitement, and had an ending that fell flat for me, but it was still addictive and had all the great tropes of a You novel.
MOVIES I WATCHED
One-sentence review: I really enjoyed the fresh take on the classic Peter Pan story that still retained iconic quotes and character elements; it was sweet and fun, if a little predictable/cheesy at times.
One-sentence review: This was so good and didn't feel like a two-and-a-half-hour movie at all; it flew by in typical Aaron Sorkin fashion.
One-sentence review: I wish I could rave about this more, because it was really good and smart and funny (more so at the beginning), but the second half of the movie was just straight-up, soul-crushingly depressing.
One-sentence review: A much-needed tone switch after "Don't Look Up" LOL: it was fluffy and fun (even though I was disappointed that the book publishing setting established at the beginning wasn't carried throughout the story).
OBSESSIONS I ACQUIRED
"Every Single Album" podcast (the Taylor Swift episodes) - I binged this podcast during my last couple weeks at school and found it completely fascinating the whole way through. Both hosts were likable and they had a great energy/dynamic with each other. The deep analysis of each Taylor Swift album was really interesting, especially since they gave so much insight about the state of the music industry at the time and what was going on in Taylor Swift's life (personal and business). It made me view certain songs in new lights and gain more appreciation for albums I maybe didn't connect with as much the first time around.
"Grey's Anatomy" - I hadn't been able to get into a new show for a while and was looking for something I could throw on in the mornings at school while I got ready, so I figured I might as well round out my Shonda Rhimes knowledge, and apparently she can do no wrong. I was a little skeptical about how much I'd get into this series because I'm definitely more interested in the legal/political environments of "Scandal" and HTGAWM versus a hospital setting, but the characters really make this show. I raced through the first five seasons without any trouble (so I'm a third of the way done 😂) and am still invested in the plot. It's definitely my least favorite of the three shows I mentioned, but I still like it.
QUOTES I WROTE
Bonnie and Clyde
and photos in monochrome,
the Barrow Gang.
was a pinup girl
poet with a rifle.
With cigarette smoke
and sex appeal,
the scandalous “Suicide Sal”
dreamt of talking pictures,
was a bootlegger.
Met his partner after prohibition,
a cocoa-stirring criminal,
and he said he wouldn’t hesitate:
he’d shoot anyone
who got in their way.
Cameras caught the cold-blooded killers,
the grit and the glamor,
the gunned-down lawman,
and Clyde said,
“I’ll never be free,
so I’ll meet a few of them in hell.”
The papers papered
its thousand-dollar reward.
Vacant Texas electric chair:
for Bonnnie and Clyde.”
Decrepit shacks couldn’t conceal
shot in Louisiana woods.
Clyde’s snapped spinal column,
So many holes in their
embalming fluid spilled from
Amidst lingering gun smoke:
arsenals of stolen automatics,
fifteen sets of license plates
from seven states.
Their bodies were sold
Bonnie’s trigger finger,
shards of shattered windows
from the bullet-riddled Ford.
Caskets in crypts,
vows died on blue lips.
Couldn’t be buried side-by-side,
but so say the epitaph of Clyde:
but not forgotten.”
-an assignment for my final poetry portfolio
PICTURES OF THE MONTH
Happy holidays from (all but one member of) ADP! Messing around with photo filters instead of finishing my poetry portfolio was PEAK procrastination Scratch that, spending the morning impulsively writing a brand new one-act play for a contest with a deadline of less than 24 hours away instead of finishing my final paper was peak procrastination Said final paper I was procrastinating Ice cream trip on an unseasonably warm December day! My favorite picture of Mia and me Positive graffiti in the Wismer bathroom?? Unfathomable
|You are about to receive a truckload of cuteness from my dogs
|We interrupt this slew of dog pictures to show you mocha rolls, aka the one fancy dessert/breakfast I can make (and now make every holiday season)
|I bought Penny a sweater for an early Christmas present and she looks SO pretty in it (even though she hasn't figured out that her legs still work when she's wearing it)
|Making a mood board for my WIP > actually drafting my WIP
|My parents got Penny a DNA test for Christmas and LOOK . . .
|. . . wildly different from ALL of our guesses, Penny is mostly pug 😳
|Obligatory school break zoom with Elliot, except this time we could just hangout instead of doing homework
|New Year's Eve virtual party with friends!
How was your December?
END OF THE YEAR
TOP 10 BOOKS
|(Cover size isn't an indicator of liking one book over the other - I was just going for ⭐aesthetic⭐)
This year, a lot of my reading came from school assignments, so I didn't have as many novels to choose from as I would've liked. Most of the pleasure reading I did do was really good though!
The unofficial "Bridgerton" musical
"Red (Taylor's Version)"
"Every Single Album" podcast
MOST PLAYED MUSIC
I have to give a shout out to my friend Shelby who released her first single this year. Even if I didn't know her personally, this song still would've been one of my top summer songs because it's so similar to the style of music I listen to anyway. It's a great roll-your-windows-down-in-the-car-and-sing-along song.
My music tastes are so hard to track with Spotify Wrapped since I listen to soundtracks I make for my books more often than other songs (so it'll list things like "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri as my top song even though that's nowhere close to my favorite song). So I'm only listing "new to me" music below (or songs that I only started playing regularly in 2021):
(In no particular order):
"Good as Hell" - Lizzo
"Bad Seed Rising" - Bad Seed Rising
"Kyoto" - Phoebe Bridgers
"I Know the End" - Phoebe Bridgers
"Breakup Mashup" - Pomplamoose feat. Dodie
"Rebel Girl" - Bikini Kill
"folkore: the long pond studio sessions" album - Taylor Swift
"Fearless (Taylor's Version)" album - Taylor Swift
"Build a Problem" album - dodie
"Sign of the Times" - Harry Styles
"Hold the Sun" - Maya Hawke
"SOUR" album - Olivia Rodgrigo
"Rent Free" - Shelby Snyder
"READY" - Montaigne
"Pancakes for Dinner" - Lizzy McAlpine
"Happier Than Ever" - Billie Eilish
"Butter" - Vitamin String Quartet
"Cherry Bomb" - The Runaways
"The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical" album - Barlow & Bear
"Red (Taylor's Version)" - Taylor Swift
"tick, tick... BOOM!" album - the Netflix soundtrack
BIG THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 2021
For as shitty as 2020 was, I feel like 2021 was even more confusing, strange, and a mixed bag of emotions because of the constant roller coaster of "damn this quarantine really sucks" to "yay we're vaccinated and can do things now!" to "oh shit not nearly enough people are vaccinated" to "yikes that's a new variant" to "okay we just need a booster I guess" to "so we're back to normal quarantine life again? cool cool cool . . ."
That's not to say it was all bad though. 2021 started out real rough, but I had such a good fall semester, and a bunch of great highlights sprinkled throughout the year:
-Worked as a social media representative for Wordsmith Workshops
-Did my spring semester of sophomore year virtually
-ADOPTED MY DOG PENNY 💖💖💖
-Got vaccinated (and boosted) 💪
-Wrote a LOT of poetry
-Performed a solo in a virtual cabaret
-Got to start seeing friends in person again thanks to the (very brief) reprieve vaccinated people had in the summer
-Performed in person for the first time since quarantine: "Rock of Ages" with my dad (SO much fun)
-Finished revising Once Upon a Stage through AMM and started querying
-Started vocal lessons with Mary Kate Hughes
-Joined forces with a theatre friend of mine to write a Taylor Swift jukebox musical
-Wrote a poem every day in April for National Poetry Month/Camp NaNoWriMo
-Finished my sophomore year of college with a 4.0 and made the Dean's List
-Watched Max perform as the Genie in "Aladdin Jr."
-Wrote a few songs (and even recorded one!)
-Binged "Desperate Housewives" with my mom
-FINALLY went back to school in person for the fall semester!
-Performed in the Consent Event for Ursinus' freshman class
-Lived in a suite with four other fantastic suitemates
-Became the president of Ursinus' student theatre club
-Performed as Mary Bennet in Kate Hamill's "Pride and Prejudice"
-Made great new friends at Ursinus
-Initiated six new members in ADP (and got two great "littles" in the process!)
-Performed in another cabaret (this one in person on campus)
-Watched my play "Ghost Light" come to life onstage as part of Ursinus' one-act festival
-Took a day trip to New Jersey with college friends to go to a corn maze and get good food
-Got a job at the Career and Post-Graduate Development Center on campus and became a Writing Fellow
-Broke out my flapper dress again for a 20s-themed ADP event
-Was cast in a big part for the spring 2022 play, "The Oldest Profession"
-Got a callback for a professional theare opportunity
-Made a charcuterie board and played way too much Mario Kart with friends to celebrate the end of classes
-Found out Penny's shocking DNA (she's part PUG???)
IMAGE FROM THIS YEAR
|Photo credit: Mark Garvin
A photo from "Pride and Prejudice" felt fitting to sum up the good parts of this year, because it shows two huge changes from 2020 to 2021 that did WONDERS for my mental health: going back to college in person and getting to perform again in front of live audiences.
This is probably my favorite part of the post to put together because who doesn't love colorful pie charts about books??? But first, I thought I'd share some screenshots from Goodreads' "Year in Books" feature:
|Woo for good ratings this year! Not as many 5 stars as I would've liked, but I enjoyed most of my required school reading, so that helped boost things.
|Read a loooooot of scripts this year #TheaterMajorLife
|I'm so sad, because my diversity ratings were on a roll for most of the year, but then my internship tanked them because I had to read so many books by straight white men 😭
|Once again . . . read a lot of scripts for my theatre classes
|The scripts skewed these stats for sure, but I actually read pretty quickly for my pleasure reading most of the year too!
2021 IN ONE WORD
Getting to go back to school, performing/theatre, and being with people in person made this year sooo much better.
GOALS FOR 2021 I ACCOMPLISHED
-"Finish revisions on Angel of the Underworld." I'm giving myself half a point here, because I dove headfirst into revisions for AOTU, but once I got into AMM and started work on Once Upon a Stage, that took up my focus. So I DID finish revising a novel, even if it wasn't the one I intended to focus on at the beginning of the year.
-"Read 40 books." I read 43 books this year!
-"Practice healthier eating habits." I did well with this, overall! When I was home, I cooked a lot of healthy lunches and snacks, and at school, I was able to get salads and smoothies and all kinds of healthy meal options.
-"Learn more graphic design." I totally did this! I took a couple free courses online that introduced me to new websites and tricks and I got a job on campus doing graphic design for the Career and Post-Graduate Development Center.
-"Perform 1 "random" act of kindness per week." I did this too, and it was super fun! I did a variety of things: doing someone else's chores at home, surprising a friend with their favorite Starbucks order, helping classmates with their homework, sending notes in the mail, promoting small artists online, etc.
-"Keep practicing music." Check! I continued virtual vocal lessons throughout the year, played the piano way more than I usually do, and brushed up on my violin.
-"Get bangs." Done!
GOALS FOR 2021 I DIDN'T ACCOMPLISH
-"Read the Raven Cycle." Apparently I'm physically incapable of ever following through on finishing a series I say I'm going to finish. But I'll give myself, like . . . a quarter of a point for this, because I did finish the You series, so I at least finished something that I started.
-"Exercise 5 days/week." I give myself another half point for this, because I actually was able to get five days of exercise in each week all the way up until about mid-October. Once tech week for Pride and Prejudice hit and all of the schoolwork that snowballed to the second half of the semester, I was only able to exercise 2-3 days each week. Still, I think I did all right, considering how busy I was.
-"Brush up on ASL and Spanish." Good intentions . . . poor follow through.
GOALS FOR 2022
Energy for 2022: "Romanticize life"
e.g., pay attention to the little things and find joy in the everyday moments. I even made some wallpapers for my phone to remind me.
-"Finish drafting No Body, No Crime": I'm about halfway through the rough draft right now, so this shouldn't be impossible. It'll be challenging just because I have a busy school year ahead of me, and finishing a rough draft is hard, but I know I can do it.
-"Read 40 books": This was doable but still forced me to take a break for pleasure reading throughout the year, so I'm going to stick with this number for now.
-"Exercise 4 days/week": This isn't as ambitious as five days, but it's enough that it'll motivate me to stay active, even when I'm busy at school.
-"Experiment with new clothing styles": I've found some really cool clothes through online thrift shopping that have helped me branch out from my usual graphic t-shirt and jeans combo, but I also want to find ways to repurpose my old clothes so they feel more exciting. I came up with a list of a bunch of different fashion styles/aesthetics and I'm going to try new ones every few days to mix things up.
-"Write/record a song": I had a lot of fun doing this on a whim earlier this year, so I'm going to try it again! It won't be anything fancy or professional, but it'll be a good way to practice different skills.
-"Figure out grad school/career options": This is kind of a vague goal, but I need to come up with ideas for what I might want to study in grad school so I can start researching different schools and gathering application materials. Junior year is flying by, so I don't want to leave all of this to the last minute.
-"Learn ASL on Saturdays": Part of why I didn't stick with learning/practicing ASL is because it's hard to practice without another person, but my roommate has a free ASL course she's been wanting to go through, and she also needs an accountability buddy, so the two of us are going to do this together next semester.
Goodbye 2021, and hello 2022!
2022 not only equals Taylor Swift year, but also MY Taylor Swift year, which means this is DOUBLE the Taylor Swift year, which means both Taylor Swift and I hold ultimate power and cannot be stopped. 🎉😤💪
What are your goals for 2022? Anything big (and exciting) happen in 2021? What were your favorite books this past year? Leave a comment!