Year end wrap-ups before the end of the year?! That’s for the overachievers. Or the regular achievers who can follow a calendar. Which, let’s be honest, is usually me. But not this year. Lots of things have felt “usually me” but, well, “not me this year.”
This year, I’ve had a lot more tiny moments of being entirely unproductive. (More like feeling entirely unproductive since carrying a child, keeping said child alive, working, and ensuring there’s food to eat and clean dishes to eat it on is actually quite important and productive.) So I’m learning. I’m always learning, but I’m learning to embrace the moments where I just play my part. To understand my worth outside my usefulness, my value apart from my identity as a worker bee.
And if I could sum up 2017 for me, it is just this: a year of being unproductive, in the normal sense of the word. But also, of being still. Of waiting without distraction. Of existing without proving it so.
Even if I did less last year, I was able to read some things and watch some things that I really enjoyed. So, a month late and a few references shorter than years’ past, here are the things that had moved me, inspired me, challenged me and made me laugh in 2017. Thanks for reading!
Great British Baking Show (or to our brethren across the sea, the Great British Bake Off; GBBO): I had this blood sugar thing happening in my third trimester with Nellie where I would get stressed and my blood sugar would spike. The doctor said I had Gestational Diabetes, Chris said I had stress. Either way, in order to curb my stress levels, each night Chris and I would watch an episode of GBBO. Oh, the serenity! The peace! The bucolic countryside of Britain where we watch well-meaning folks bake together, support one another, cry for one another, and compete against one another…?! I KNOW. If you haven’t watched this yet, stop reading this and go watch it. You will instantly feel better about the world, and we need to all feel better about the world.
Master of None: Regardless of the dialogue happening around Aziz right now, I still found so much delight and authenticity in this 2nd season of Master of None. That show handles lots of complex topics– from religion to family dynamics to what the internet has done to dating. I loved every second.
Black-ish: Everyone should watch Black-ish. EVERYONE. I cried when they did an episode on postpartum depression. I yelled PREACH when they did an episode about maternity and paternity leave. And I bowed in gratitude to a recent episode which dove into the hardship of a woman reconciling her identity as someone who does not work outside the home. Keep preaching, Black-ish. We need good people addressing these things.
Hasan Minhaj’s Comedy Special on Netflix – Homecoming King: This guy alternates from straight fire to hilarity, sometimes within the same phrase. His special on Netflix was part standup comedy, part performance art. Even the video editing was on point (I know, right, it’s standup!). Anyway, I loved it.
Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practice in Everyday Life: Talk about living in the mundane for the past year! This book was the antidote to my feeling useless. It gave meaning to feeding a baby and brushing my teeth and brewing another pot of coffee. I needed it, my restless soul needed it. Would recommend it to every adult person, man. Our lives are rhythms and routines– it’s time we find the meaning them.
Commonwealth: The one (I think?!) fiction book I read this year. And it was really excellent – though it did take me some time to get into. By the end, it was as if this family grew up down the street from me. I knew them, I knew their dynamics and I knew their sorrows. I loved it (and a lot of it takes place in Virginia! Hence, Commonwealth….).
You’ll Grow Out Of It: If someone were to ask me my favorite type of book, I would say: funny lady memoir genre. And this book was exactly that. Uproariously funny, yes, but also keenly observant of the female (and male) species, what makes us tick, and how we relate to one another. Smart funny women are (sorry) my favorite type of women.
I don’t really watch movies, much to the unending disappointment of my husband. However, The Big Sick was excellent. Tackling multiple complex topics and still managing to be funny, authentic, and respectful of the gravity of those complexities? I don’t know how they did it, but they did!
Sandra McCracken: When I had to keep my stress levels in check at the end of my pregnancy, I would turn my phone on airplane mode a few hours before bedtime, and stream all her records till I fell asleep. Peace, peace to my soul, that is what Sandra’s music is to me.
Jason Isbell: Always and forever. His latest album which came out this year, The Nashville Sound, is as Jason always is: true, startling, and occasionally sentimental (but you know, in the real way, not the fake fluffy way). But it is also heavy on the electric this go ’round which makes my rock n roll heart happy.
Anyway, that’s about it. Here’s to hoping I can write more in 2018! Tanti bacci.