Categories
Miscellany

100 things that made my year in 2016

  1. Kansas City barbecue. The fry seasoning at Joe’s KC. The jar of pickle slices next to the cash register at Arthur Bryant’s. Wet-Naps and standing in line and burnt ends and Boulevard Wheat on draft. Taking my mom for deep-fried pickles at Char Bar every time she visits.
  2. Catching lightning bugs in a mason jar with my sisters on the art museum lawn.
  3. Pop-up yoga in the park. Classes at Karma Tribe Yoga on Broadway.
  4. Volunteering at Heartland Therapeutic Riding. Seeing kids and adults communicate with horses and blossoming for it.
  5. Long walks in Loose Park.
  6. The coconut milk-based chocolate ice cream at Betty Rae’s. Sometimes with a scoop of peanut butter on top.
  7. The pilot episode of Broad City, featuring a terrifyingly infantile Fred Armisen. And then every other episode of Broad City.
  8. Media featuring strong female friendships: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Call Your Girlfriend. Girls. A Few Things with Claire and Erica.
  9. Renting 530 square feet of my own. Two nearly-full bookcases. A dishwasher. Houseplants and a ninth-floor view.
  10. Walking a block to work.
  11. Spending my weekdays with coworkers who are intelligent and social justice-oriented and clever and kind and engaged.
  12. Michael Chabon on taking his son Abe to Fashion Week in Paris.
  13. Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet.
  14. Brisk, biting winter days with blue skies and sunshine.
  15. Revisiting The Cranberries’ Tiny Desk Concert whenever I needed a pick-me-up.
  16. Late-night swimming with friends in Phoenix in February.
  17. Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies.
  18. The World’s Easiest Cookies from Nom Nom Paleo.
  19. Concerts at Crossroads KC: Brandi and the twins putting on another amazing show on a week when we were all feeling fearful. Shakey Graves singing about haunted houses. Sylvan Esso bouncing around on a hot, heavy night.
  20. Seeing movies at the blast-from-the-past Rio and Glenwood Arts theaters. Captain Fantastic.
  21. Chelsea Fagan and her team at The Financial Diet keeping finances and money talk real and approachable for millennials.
  22. Obama and Biden’s bromance. Joe Biden finding two quarters.
  23. Leslie Jones lovin’ on Colin Jost. Leslie Jones covering the Summer Olympics. Justice for Leslie Jones.
  24. Playing the most brilliant April Fools’ prank on my baby sister by using her cell phone number for an amateur Chewbacca impression contest.
  25. Practicing my Spanish with other eager hispanohablantes in the ¡ClaroKC! club.
  26. Gentle, welcome Twitter morning greetings and evening sign-offs from Esme Weijun Wang and Lin-Manuel Miranda. 
  27. KonMari-ing my phone thanks to an episode of WNYC’s Note to Self. Feeling more zen every time I look at my nearly-empty home screen. 
  28. Great journalism: Ta-Nehisi Coates on his black president. Taffy Brodesser-Akner asking what Cool Jesus would do. A massive Mother Jones investigation that led to the DOJ ceasing the practice of contracting with private prisons.
  29. Making up stories about other people’s pets and restaurant servers.
  30. Authentic Mexican food in the Midwest. Strong margaritas at Ponak’s. Mexican beer and carne asada on the patio at Los Tules. Tacos al pastor in a backyard.
  31. Catching Hammerhedd, Kansas City’s kid metal band, playing on a front porch during Porchfest.
  32. Watching classic movies for the first time. The Truman Show. American Beauty. Boogie Nights
  33. Maria Bamford being her wacky, wonderful self in Lady Dynamite.
  34. Drinking grapefruit La Croix. Sitting at the office conference table comparing flavors with my coworkers. Bon Appetit’s rejected flavors. “Sippin’ on La Croix.”
  35. Laura Turner’s brave writing on anxiety and deciding to stay on her meds while trying to conceive and miscarriage.
  36. Escaping into a funnier political reality by binge-watching Veep.
  37. My sister’s curiosity about my toiletries
  38. Going to the mountains with the family. Playing card games late into the night. Driving home packed like sardines, all six of us in one SUV. Skiing for an afternoon and not falling once.
  39. Laughing at the ludicrous conceits behind Anthropologie furniture catalogs. Thinking about social class and being “basic.” Reassuring myself about renting for now by thinking about keeping a low overhead
  40. Learning to embrace the outdoors in the Midwest. Hiking on the plains. Swinging through the trees at Go Ape. Going outside at dusk to walk around the neighborhood. 
  41. Standing in the produce cooler at Costco on hot July days.
  42. Campari and soda with a generous wedge of lime.
  43. Mike Birbiglia’s six tips for making it small in Hollywood. Or anywhere. Mike Birbiglia’s five reasons to support independent films.
  44. Turning on the TV during a bout of insomnia and coming across Jacques Pepin cooking with his granddaughter Shorey. The way he calls Cornish hens “ze tiny chickens.” 
  45. Reliving my fourth-grade Oregon state history education at the Frontier Trails Museum.
  46. Zinger tea for colds or sore throats or especially cold nights.
  47. Walking blind into seeing Lion and coming out grateful and sobbing.
  48. New-to-me vinyl albums: Bread, Baby I’m A Want You. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water. Michael Jackson, Bad. Billie Holiday, Music for Torching. Diana Ross and The Supremes, Anthology.
  49. Refilling bottles of Tea-Biotics kombucha at the Overland Park Farmers Market.
  50. Revisiting silly, stupid comedies. Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Just Friends. I Love You, Man.
  51. Greasy cheeseburgers and Irish sandwiches with a kind, humble former priest and current cartoonist. 
  52. Finding poetry on Twitter. Wendy Cope, “The Orange.” Nael, “The Tiger.” Sharon Olds, “Douche-Bag Ode.” Christian Wiman, “My quiet.”
  53. Texting long-distance friends on a daily or weekly basis.
  54. Visiting friends in Madison. Eating lots of good food. Looking out over the lake in the dark. Playing Mario Kart and Bananagrams and Balderdash. 
  55. The music video for Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).”
  56. The National World War I Museum. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The National Mustard Museum.
  57. Aly Raisman’s double layout during her floor routine. 
  58. George Saunders on his next novel and knowing when to dive into a new project. 
  59. Eating pineapple popsicles and drinking rosé on a bright, wet spring afternoon.
  60. Cozy brunches with visiting family at Gram & Dun.
  61. Patton Oswalt on suddenly being a single dad. “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”
  62. Cuddling.
  63. Seeing Miles Ahead and then hearing native Don Cheadle talk about the process, with much of his family in the seats around us.
  64. Flying my curly hair flag. Applauding those who question why we often don’t.
  65. Watching too many YouTube videos of 12-year-old Grace Vanderwaal
  66. Bringing my parents’ smelly black Labrador in their demolished dining room for treats and some Christmas morning hugs.
  67. Good advice the way only Garrison Keillor can give it: “Do the right thing. Travel light. Be sweet.”
  68. Lattes and writing at Quay Coffee. Walking through the City Market on a warm fall morning. Buying myself flowers. 
  69. Spending an evening at Knuckleheads with Sara Watkins and her lovely voice and her fiddle skills.
  70. Kate McKinnon
  71. Remembering to appreciate—and hoping to someday emulate—how much the Obamas love each other.
  72. Walking to dinner at Shio Ramen Shop and breakfast at Krokstrom Klubb and Market.
  73. Tilda Swinton’s incredible Christian Dior wardrobe in A Bigger Splash.
  74. Surprising my dear friend Ali by showing up on her doorstep in Spokane for her thirtieth birthday. Wearing flower crowns and eating shortbread cookies and sipping champagne with her family and friends in her darling little house.
  75. Bringing a little of my old home to my new home with a wooden mountain range, a vintage pennant, and art from friends.
  76. Kansas City mayor Sly James singing “Kansas City.” 
  77. Scaachi Koul tweeting about her hilarious, charming immigrant parents.
  78. A tour, dinner, drinks, and live music at Weston Brewing Company. Who knew hanging out in a underground cave could be so festive?! 
  79. Bon Iver’s 22, A Million.
  80. Reading the comments. Thinking about what a publisher owes its contributors and its audience. Making the conversation more civil. Thinking about an engaged audience as an asset.
  81. Tall cups of hot tea and eavesdropping at Westport Coffee House.
  82. Being in the water on hot, humid summer days: the pool at my apartment, a cool shower, the lazy river at Schlitterbahn Kansas City.
  83. Getting sucked into The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up just like every other American woman.
  84. Revisiting my alma mater’s basketball superstar of 2005.
  85. Receiving a box of Oregon apples and pears in the mail, thanks to my mom.
  86. Beyonce’s Lemonade.
  87. Playing Ms. Pac-Man at Tapcade and imagining I might be good enough to someday approach the high score.
  88. Long phone conversations on Sunday afternoons. 
  89. Documentaries: Amy. Merchants of Doubt. Amanda Knox.
  90. Saying goodbye to a dear friend by drinking Bloody Marys and trying to hit targets at TopGolf
  91. Visiting the Oregon coast to listen to and look at the waves. Steamer clams and salmon chowder. Grilled shrimp. Running my fingers over baleen at the whale-watching center in Depoe Bay.
  92. Bite Beauty lip crayons.
  93. Being okay with a little social media fatigue.
  94. Marveling at the crazy-huge historic homes along Ward Parkway and in Janssen Place.
  95. Gonzaga: The March to Madness on HBO.
  96. Boulevard Brewing’s Ginger-Lemon Radler. 
  97. Peppermint oil in a cool bath during the summer. 
  98. Supporting KCMO small businesses, especially Hand & Land.
  99. Embarking on the Pulitzer Project, in which I read the Pulitzer fiction winner for every year of my life.
  100. This guy.
Categories
Reading

My year in reading, 2016

10 books I loved this year, in no particular order:

 

Brit Bennett, The Mothers

A lovely debut novel in which a church community and an abortion have equal heft and importance in three young black lives.

Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

A memoir of the modern relationship. Melton writes about her history of addiction, disordered eating, and intimacy issues with a lucid, loving voice.

Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

A gorgeous family epic that makes me feel like maybe I could write a sprawling story with such economy and beauty.

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

I chose this novel because it won the Pulitzer the year I was born. It’s a beautiful American origin story. I wanted to be outdoors and horseback the entire time I read this book.

Rebecca Traister, All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

This is a book that ought to be read by all women in their twenties (and thirties). We’re unmarried and childless or maybe feeling pressured to have kids or thinking about adopting solo or tired of crappy first dates or secretly enamored of our solitary lives, and this book tells us that we are not alone.  

Michael Zielenziger, Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation

A fascinating look into the cultural malaise that runs rampant among Japan’s young adults, particularly the hikikomori, young men who shut themselves in their rooms and withdraw from society. 

Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club

A fierce, unsentimental memoir from the woman who brought this genre to its current staggering popularity. Recommended for anyone who wanted to escape their hometown.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

The work that we need in these times. Required reading for all Americans.

Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things

A surprisingly engrossing and richly researched novel. This feels like a book Liz Gilbert wrote for herself, which made me love it all the more.

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies

Oh my god, this novel blew me away. I loved the flawed characters and the lush writing. Scenes from this book still play across my mind months after I closed the cover.

Here are ten more books I read and liked, any of which could probably go in the list above: