My calendar just reminded me that this time last year I was wandering around Terceira, oblivious to what was about to happen.
I miss traveling. But I am not sure when I’ll feel safe to fly if/when restrictions loosen.
I’ve done a summary post of the books I read, places I visited, etc., for the last couple of years. 2020 has very little to recommend for itself looking back. The early months were pretty good, but later not so much.
I finished 33 books. The highlights were Megan Whalen Turner’s The Return of the King and Ben Aaronovitch’s False Value. There are two former autobuy authors who finally tipped over the edge for me to not even being library borrows, and a lot of ~meh~ mixed in. I tried a couple of self-published works from writers I’ve found via fandom(s); sometimes the original fic works for me and sometimes not, which is perhaps a function of the canon and backstory in fandom that requires more work to establish in original fiction. I’ve been letting myself read Obama’s memoir in bits and pieces, as a comfort, so I started in 2020 but it will finish as a 2021 read. (It’ll be a highlight, I’m pretty sure.)
Books I’m looking forward to in 2021:
According to LibraryThing, I read 28 books. I have two others still in progress that I started in 2018 and have stalled on a little, mostly because I haven’t had the patience to settle in to a long read since about Thanksgiving. Several of the 28 books were the Rivers of London graphic novels, which I find to be easy/quick reads, although I don’t love the art particularly. The highest rated books were Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series, which I read all in one go, and two pieces of non-fiction: a biography of the Widow Clicquot and The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy. The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs that I have stopped recording) were the two In Death books I tried to read: one had victim blaming and slut shaming, while the other had transphobia and showed a complete lack of knowledge/research about civil and criminal securities fraud investigation/prosecution. Stick a fork in me, I am done.
Theater and film: Just film this past year, because I didn’t love what was scheduled for the then-upcoming theater season and so did not renew my subscription.
NWHL – all the Riveters’ home games for the end of the 2017-2018, including playoffs and the Isobel Cup Final; all but one home game for the beginning of the 2018-2019 season (it was Thx weekend), as well as the neutral site game in Pittsburgh.
NHL – an embarrassing number of games, including playoffs. But I didn’t renew my partial season ticket plan to the Capitals; in part because they jacked the prices up in a crazy way, and in part because I’m tired of being harassed and threatened at the games. One of my colleagues swears the harassment should stop now since they’ve won the Cup, but the two individual games I went to early in the season (Toronto, VGK) did not bear that prediction out.
For baseball, there were just three games: NYY, Marlins, and Rays, all in June and July.
Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, so much in Rome that I need to write about. Two Frank Turner shows. Sunday in the country, which I went to more to be social than because I knew anything about any of the acts.
Professionally speaking, the beginning of the year was a grind. The middle of the year and into fall were pretty good. And then the end of the year was okay in terms of the substance of work but a nightmare because of the furlough. (So much work is accumulating. It will take a massive effort to dig out. And the longer it goes, the harder it will be to get current again.)
According to LibraryThing, I read 22 books. I probably started another 20 but I don’t count them if I don’t get past 100 pages. The two highest rated books were non-fiction, Eight Flavors and The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The highest rated fiction were The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles and Penric’s Fox by Bujold (novella). The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs) were Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs (I think I’m done with her books entirely) and Prisoner of Limnos by Bujold (part of the Penric series).
Theater and film:
For baseball, I know I went to at least two Orioles games, one vs NYY and one vs DET, but I cannot find the ticket stubs.
Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, National Museum of the American Indian, and a bunch in Portugal. Which I need to write about. Two Frank Turner shows.
To say that I am not particularly fashionable would be an understatement. My wardrobe isn’t small, but the section that I wear on a regular basis is. While I joke with colleagues about how bland and uniform-like most suits are for people in our particular line of work, there’s a certain relief in knowing that there’s a uniform of sorts for days with meetings and for business casual.
But I am always keeping an eye out for clothes that travel well, are easy to mix and match, and are wash and wearable.
A few days before leaving for Portugal, I stopped by REI, looking for a pair of shoes. They didn’t have exactly what I wanted: the particular style had been on clearance and sold out. But I ended up buying a pair of Merrells and a pair of Mammut pants off the clearance sale rack.
The Merrells are as excellent as Merrells usually are: the black Dassie shoe worked with pants and casual skirts and wore well for walking miles on cobblestones. The Mammut pants wound up being better than I anticipated for traveling. They are made of lightweight material that dries quickly when rained upon, didn’t feel binding even after 12+ hours of wear, were easily cleaned, etc.
Highly recommend both…although it looks like the pants aren’t available any longer.
Still…if you don’t want to wear sneakers as you travel but still need good support and sturdy shoes for walking, Merrell might be a brand to try. And I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for more Mammut on the sale rack.
Next time, permit more time for wine tasting. Two port caves per day is really my limit, but there are so many, and I won’t have time to try them all. 😍
Also: this fascinated me. Up close, it’s a bunch of mangled car parts stuck on the corner of a building for no apparent reason. A few yards away, it is clearly an Art Installation…maybe one with a message I don’t really get. But still, it’s ingenious.
I read 33 books or novellas in 2016; that doesn’t count the books I picked up and put back down or returned to the library unread or unfinished, since I may circle back to some of those at some point. The two best fiction reads were Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas. Best nonfiction was Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies. Biggest disappointment was Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.
Also, I read an excellent original hockey fic on AO3. I really like the writer’s voice and style…but the typos and punctuation abuse make my brain hurt.
I started Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine on 12/31 but have not finished it yet; I think it’ll be one of my favorite reads when it comes time to tally up 2017.
Theater, Museums, Music:
Okay, this category, now that I look at it, is a little excessive. Sorry, not sorry. Also, I’m sure I went to at least one more baseball game, but I can’t find the ticket stub or a note on my planner, so.
Goals/plans for 2017:
According to LibraryThing, September was my best reading month this year — five books! It feels like an accomplishment, when in my reading heyday I read five books or more a week. Still, it’s an improvement.
I spent the last two weeks in Toronto, visiting museums, walking all over, and watching All the Hockey. Literally, I attended sixteen World Cup of Hockey games in 13 days. Twelve of those games were crammed into six days. Some of them are a blur, but for some really specific plays, like Nathan MacKinnon’s OT goal; Crosby’s highway robbery of Kucherov and backhand goal; a shift by Malkin behind the net in which he seemed to have the puck on a string; McDavid to Eichel to Matthews; etc.
Other observations: The building going on downtown is striking — there’s so much of it and it’s so beautiful. I stayed in the St. Lawrence/Distillery neighborhood and walked pretty much everywhere, as far as Spadina and Little Italy. Lots of green spaces, friendly people. I noticed a lot of smokers everywhere, almost as much as in Paris, which surprised me. And the odor of pot was especially prevalent around ACC.
And my streak continues. Once again in a foreign country (or in any city I’m visiting, even in the US), I was asked for directions. On multiple occasions. I do not understand it. I mean, I was able to answer because they were asking for a specific landmark or street that I knew, but what about my face or posture says, “Hey, she knows where you need to go?” Because, seriously, I have a horrendous sense of direction.
It has been a few years (3 maybe?) since I’ve gone to the tournament at Indian Wells. Skipped because moving, then for Paris, and then because I had hockey tickets for a back to back that weekend. So I missed all of the development that has gone on. And there has been a lot, thank you, Larry Ellison.
First, Stadium 2 with its restaurants – Nobu, a steak/chops place, and an Italian/brick oven pizza place. Each morning over the weekend, there would be a line of people to get in, because the seats are all good and the line up was excellent. [Rafa Nadal and Fernando Verdasco played the Bryan brothers Saturday evening, and you can be sure that people staked out seats WAY earlier that the “no earlier than” start time. Monfils, Mugaruza, a bunch of other good matches played there.]
Second, the Brita water filter stations at the base of both stadiums – best thing ever, far better than the limited water fountains I’ve seen elsewhere.
Third, the sheer volume of vendors is crazy. Last time I was there, there was a big awning with a Corona sponsored bar. Gone is Corona; now Moet et Chandon is in that spot. Of course, there’s a different beer tent, and a RumChata tent, etc. And the food vendors are better than average. Ice cream, iced lattes, deli, seafood, CaliMex, salads, it seemed like you could find anything you wanted. [Except maybe a ladies t-shirt in a size larger than XS or S.]
Actually, IWTG is the only sporting venue I’ve ever been to where the lines out the men’s bathroom are longer than the lines out the ladies’ bathroom door. Uniformly. More often than not, there was no line for the ladies at all. I don’t know if it’s because the tournament designed the buildings with more stalls for the ladies or what, but I was totally impressed.
I saw some random matches, just because. This time around, I went out of my way to see Inigo Cervantes, a Spanish player who was completely schooled by Raonic, just because I loved his name. And Bjorn Fratangelo, who took a set from Djokovic. Plus Venus and Serena and Andy and Rafa. So glad to see Juan Martin del Potro back, even if he looked a little rusty against Berdych.
Also, because I’m a dork, I was thrilled that I got to use a line from one of my favorite TV shows ever: “It’s raining in Indian Wells.” It did! Followed by a dust storm.
Actually, the dust was more noticeable than in the past because the wind was so high the whole time. In fact, it was so cold and windy on Sunday after the first night match that pretty much everyone left…so the scattered fans up in the Loge were invited down courtside to watch Halep’s match, which I appreciated. Driving back that night, I was confused by the haze in the distance that I could see off other drivers’ headlights; it wasn’t until I hit the highway and saw the dust/sand drifting that I realized what it was.
ETA: Anecdotally, the sentiment among fans there regarding Maria Sharapova’s drug ban/violation seemed *much* less forgiving or lenient than what I’ve seen on social media from fans, sponsors, etc. In short, most people seemed really skeptical about extended use of meldonium for a variety of reasons and not particularly sympathetic. Sorry she’ll be out of the game for some period of time, but not like she deserved a pass for failing the drug test.
ETA #2: on the tennis kits. Rafa’s kit looks less turquoise in person than on TV, almost like a baby blue with a hint of grey. The outfit Bouchard had was weird – the colors were fine but it looked like a babydoll nightie…or a maternity shirt. Serena looked amazing. When did Berdych leave H&M for Adidas? (Whenever it was, it was not soon enough.) That fluorescent Adidas shirt the men are wearing was tolerable when paired with brown/khaki shorts but awful when worn with red shorts. The ladies’ version with darker colors that Halep is wearing is not terrible.
Some less tennis-oriented observations: