Issue 83: 100 things that made my year
8 min read

Issue 83: 100 things that made my year

I’m someone who always does their year-end reflections in January. By the end of the year, I just want to cozy up on the couch and catch up on my reading. Austin Kleon’s newsletter is always a source of creative inspiration (see: commonplace books), and his annual top 100 list inspired me to do the same!

  1. The dance class I go to going back to 90 minutes
  2. Playing Spelling Bee, Connections, Wordle, The Mini almost every day
  3. Superiority Burger reopening. The tofu scramble they serve at brunch is incredible.
  4. AMC A-List and (almost) memorizing the Nicole Kidman monologue
  5. Reading with E on the couch. Reading more books together and watching their movie adaptations so we can talk about both versions. Literary analysis is our love language.
  6. TikTok “homework” with my sister, where we send each other 10+ TikToks en masse and require the other to react/reply to each one
  7. Omsom marinated pork belly and homemade nước chấm for easy weeknight dinners
  8. Romance novels, browsing The Ripped Bodice bookstore, seeing a Fated Mates podcast taping, and semi-monthly book clubs with Amrisha
  9. Scrapbooking as a group trip activity and memento all in one
  10. Hiking in Washington, Tennessee, and South Africa. I’m not a big hiker, but I enjoy walking with a view.
  11. Ezra Klein on routine: “I’ve been forced out of the illusion of control. I'm much more interested in the question of, what can I do to make it likeliest that I can meet the situations I'm in with a better rather than worse version of myself—and a more present rather than a more distracted form of my attention?
  12. A Great British Bake Off cooking class with Rosa, in addition to our tradition of watching new episodes together
  13. A postcard from my parents from Geneva, and photos of our old house there
  14. Spending almost every day on Animal Crossing. Getting really into breeding hybrid flowers and building zen gardens and vegetable patches.
  15. The poetry of the Margaritaville about page
  16. Setting myself reminders to reach out to people, instead of texting “let’s hang out soon” and never following up
  17. Anniversary tours of my favorite albums: alt-J’s “An Awesome Wave,” The Postal Service’s “Give Up,” and Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism”
  18. Attending friends’ book launches and celebrating their book deals, finished novel drafts, and other writing milestones
  19. Seeing Béyonce live!!! Literally crying in the presence of her perfection.
  20. Seeing the Renaissance movie!!!
  21. Making a pot of peppermint tea after dinner
  22. Mandy Brown’s essay on work friends: “Perhaps the challenge facing us now isn’t to avoid making work friends, but to inoculate those friendships against the capriciousness of both good job offers and investor brain worms. We don’t have to cut ourselves off from each other; we can take our work friends to-go.”
  23. Watching E tear up the dance floor at weddings
  24. Birkenstocks. I resisted them for so long but they’re so comfortable and left very amusing tan lines.
  25. A chia seed pudding recipe that made me go through ~2 large bags of chia seeds this year
  26. Hanging out most Friday nights with my sister. Sometimes getting dressed up to check out a new cocktail bar or attend a book event. Other days, eating bologna sandwiches (a childhood favorite) and watching a movie at home.
  27. Seeing old friends and having new experiences together. Reminiscing is great, but so is creating new memories.
  28. Boy Movies and boy movie nights with Sarah and Allison
  29. Teaching my first writing class! How fun it was to put together reading lists and do close readings of work I admire.
  30. Designing a ring with E
  31. The Bonne Maman Advent Calendar and crowdsourcing all the ways to eat jam: thumbprint cookies, stirred into plain yogurt, in a whiskey cocktail, with pão de queijo or good ol’ buttered toast
  32. Episode 3 of The Last of Us
  33. Art gallery dates with friends
  34. Thinking about bad gamification and continuing my Duolingo streak, but moderating my use so that I’m not relying as much on it for productive procrastination.
  35. Writing workshops—my generous instructors and peers, thoughtful organizers and staff, and lecturers/readers/publishing professionals
  36. Thät’s Dazs! Dazs the spring! You can’t just use Dazs as any catchall verb/noun/adjective but I love that Häagen-Dazs is trying so hard to innovate the English language.
  37. Trying new dance classes with my friend Carolyn and getting out of my comfort zone
  38. Finally throwing out a shrink-wrapped, peeling armchair that’s been with me since college in favor of a real accent chair
  39. Trivia nights
  40. Too Good To Go
  41. Celebrating friends’ weddings in Long Island, Seattle, Brooklyn, and Beacon. Heartfelt vows and speeches that made the whole room tear up.
  42. The amazing gift of an Avatar Lego set (thanks Jon!), which I assembled with Linda in one focused afternoon. Losing exactly one piece during the assembly but finding it later that night underneath the couch.
  43. The Center for Fiction’s Summer Reading Challenge, which made me feel like a kid again
  44. Keeping our orchid alive for the third year in a row. The air roots are crazy but it has bloomed 1-2 times every year, and always in the winter.
  45. YouTube karaoke, including a tentful of people singing “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson at the top of their lungs
  46. Rayne Fisher-Quann’s essay no good alone: “Being alone is hard, to be sure, but it’s also deceptively easy—it requires nothing of us. People, on the other hand, challenge us. They infuse our life with stakes.”
  47. Urban Decay makeup setting spray and other great TikTok makeup recs
  48. My mom’s post-Thanksgiving turkey soup, which uses every part of the turkey
  49. Being gentle with myself and more realistic about what I can accomplish in a day
  50. Playing DDR again at Dave & Busters on a Friday afternoon and working up a sweat
  51. My cohort at the Poynter Leadership Academy for Women and the incredibly creative ways people presented their “personal development plans”
  52. Short cookbooks
  53. Sitting at concerts
  54. Kathy and Yessenia taking us around Olympic National Park and planning the trip with so much care. Talking about art, nature, and community while crumbs of banh mi (a superior picnic item) fell to the forest floor.
  55. The Uniqlo cross body bag, puffer, cotton tees. Just all Uniqlo everything, really.
  56. Ted Chiang’s writing on AI: “The tendency to think of AI as a magical problem solver is indicative of a desire to avoid the hard work that building a better world requires.”
  57. Finally framing and hanging art. Discovering the iPhone can be used as a level.
  58. Cooking with my mom, particularly her 丸子汤 (Chinese meatball soup). I’m in awe of how she manages to fill the huge stock pot to the very brim, but never lets anything spill.
  59. Not scrambling to make year-end plans with friends when everything is chaotic with holidays and travel, but reaching out again in the new year
  60. Pomodoro timers, which are so simple but I find to be incredibly effective
  61. My mentor’s guidance, coaching, and sponsorship
  62. Celebrating friends’ engagements
  63. Libraries
  64. Participating in another #mini1000, which helped me draft a short story
  65. Remembering my own advice
  66. Stay True by Hua Hsu and its depiction of friendship: “Friendship rests on the presumption of reciprocity, of drifting in and out of another’s lives, with occasional moments of wild intensity.”
  67. Reader replies and responses to my newsletter—thank you!
  68. Cleaning a little bit each day
  69. Walking around Union Square Park with Maura on the eve of her move, reflecting on our years in New York
  70. The rooftop of the NYPL Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library on a balmy day
  71. Espresso martinis and affogatos
  72. My Kenyon cohort’s group chat: memes, story swaps, opportunities, Zoom writing hours
  73. Trying to get better at interviewing. Chatting with authors who work in different mediums or genres.
  74. Preserving old laptop stickers in the back of a notebook
  75. Making big leaps!
  76. What Haley Nahman calls “the snag in the fabric of online identity.” She says, “You can’t merely exist, you have to exist there intentionally. To be known online is to be known for what you deem knowable about yourself filtered through the rigged engagement incentives of the platform owners. I remind myself of this every time I have the urge to post an update on Instagram: Being known by strangers on the internet feels nothing like being known by people in my offline life, or more crucially, by myself.”
  77. Spending time with E’s family
  78. Embracing physical media. E for buying Blu-rays of my favorite movies.
  79. The giant fuzzy blanket my sister got me because I liked hers so much 😇
  80. Being able to bookmark and organize TikToks
  81. Baking and sharing snacking cakes, which are unfussy and delicious
  82. Elaine Hsieh Chou’s Tin House craft class on what film and TV can teach us about stories and novels. I’m still revisiting this Scriptnotes episode and Eric Heisserer’s approach to writing Arrival.
  83. The perks of doing some things in person
  84. Being told you should aim high
  85. Seeing my therapist in person again!
  86. Getting clothes from Costco. Kirkland sweatpants IYKYK
  87. Embracing friction
  88. Finally getting a phone with the 0.5x lens
  89. Shout stain remover > Tide pens. Keeping a Shout wipe in my bag at all times because ~I’m messy~
  90. Handwritten cards for all kinds of occasions
  91. Tumblr, which is now the longest social media site I’ve used (over a decade now). How their new parent company is thinking about downscaling—”we’ll try a different structure with smaller, more focused teams working on the core parts of Tumblr that people say they want improved.” A refreshing alternative to just shutting things down that provide value but can’t make money!
  92. A week of funemployment between jobs
  93. Buying gifts opportunistically and saving them for the right time. Otherwise, jotting down gift ideas for later.
  94. Keeping a stick of butter at room temperature
  95. In writing, understanding what you’ve done for yourself and what you’ve done for your reader
  96. Staying on top of annual check-ups
  97. Conversations with my parents
  98. Hard conversations, because it means you care enough to have them
  99. Third places
  100. Telling people how they changed your life
On the left side of the image is the Sad Ant With Bindle meme, labeled 2023. On the right side is 2024, depicted by a swankily dressed ant in heeled boots and a large hat, holding a large burlap sack.
via @hopes_revenge

Creative resources

Recent reads & other media

I plan on sharing my annual 52 books in 52 weeks reflection in the next issue. Since the end of last year was hectic, I gave myself grace to read a little into the new year. Recent (final) reads of 2023:

E and I watched May December (messy sex and intimacy is back in movies), The Iron Claw (I wept and Zac Efron was phenomenal), and American Fiction (a fantastic satire about the expectations of Black artists, commerce, and art). On the plane, I watched Shortcomings, an understated movie exploring the nuances of Asian American representation and interracial dating.

I got to contribute to the Boy Movies year-end extravaganza! If you’re looking for a fresh take on dinner and a movie, check out my recommendations for girl dinners to pair with boy movies.

Recently read short stories: None

Note: Book links are connected to my Bookshop affiliate page. If you purchase a book from there, you'll be supporting my work and local independent bookstores!

~ meme myself and i ~

Normal kids vs. Ghibli kids. POV: you’re experiencing jazz for the first time. Dramatic dog when she’s thirsty. Deciding to watch a movie from my watchlist. The proper response to “text me when you get home.” It’s just a little bit windy

Willem Dafoe poses in a gray hoodie and jeans with his hands in the waistband, a confident smirk on his face. Text overlays the image: "I just gotta make it thru the next 52 weeks."