Is it the end of the year? I suppose so. And boy it was a rotten one for me. My trip was amazing – it was! But I wouldn't have had to take it if my dog hadn't died, coupled with me the thing I haven't written about yet. I know I know, I haven't told that story yet. Give me time, dear reader. It is much appreciated.
But let's wrap things up, shall we?
Let's start with the good things that happened this year.
- #jenin50: Amazing! The trip didn't go quite as I planned, but I still saw the 18 states I hadn't been to yet, all before before Labor Day. If you do or plan to do any travel around the country, I cannot recommend enough getting a Passport to Your National Parks. It includes the more than 400 sites run by the National Park Service, and formed the backbone of my journey. When I do shorter trips now, I usually turn them in the direction of getting another stamp. I saw so many things that I wouldn't have known existed otherwise. Get on that!
- Annie Oakley Tater Tot: I had my picture taken in front of the Montana sign by a couple with a three-legged dog named Montana, with my new pup by my side. She's incredible. I wouldn't have found her without this trip of course since I found her in Idaho. I didn't know if I was ready for a new dog (and sometimes I still don't know) but she has been a light ever since she hopped into my Jeep in July.
- And work. I had hoped to work 3/4 of the time while on my trip. That ended up being about 1/2. Couple that with feeling paralyzed at the beginning of the year, and, well, I didn't write so much. But I did write some, so I wrote a blog post about my top 10 stories of the year.
- Fiction: The Poet by Michael Connelly. I've been screaming through Connelly's Bosch book series this year, and went back to The Poet, which is not a Bosch book but in that same universe. I stayed anchored on the couch for an entire Sunday afternoon and evening finishing it. What a masterful book. I gave it to my mom to read and guess what: same thing happened to her.
- Non-Fiction: The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone. This has been optioned for a TV show – as it should be. I am so glad they went with "woman" instead of "girl" in the title. Elizabeth Friedman changed the course of history, and is finally getting her due.
- Audiobook Fiction: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I had no idea this was a children's novel when I checked it out of the library (which you can do with audiobooks on your phone if your library offers Overdrive! It's amazing). It was an incredibly touching, charming and sometimes sad book – and well done by narrator Jayne Entwistle. The narrator really can make a difference (which is why I didn't narrate my own book!)
- Audiobook Non-Fiction: Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler by L. Jon Wertheim. I may be partial to this one because it's a road trip book, and I was driving in the same states at the same time as where I was in the book. But it is also a good road trip book, and trust me when I say there are plenty of bad ones. Great for a long drive.
And now our regular business.
"How Freelancers Are Harassed – With No One to Tell" for DAME Magazine
"Can a Fitness Tracker Help You Run a Better Race?" for The New York Times
"The Best Kind of Losing" for Runner's World. They bought this *two years* ago, so yes it's a bit odd to see it in print, but not jarring enough that I hate it.
What I'm Reading
- Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead. I listened to her book A Train in Winter a few years ago. These books are meticulously researched and told (and sad – and sadly relevant today).
- The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan. I'd read one of her books before, but forgot about following up in this romance series. Then Milan, whose real name is Heidi Bond, spoke up about her experiences with Judge Alex Kozinski, and he promptly resigned. So many women are punished for speaking out – I wrote about that a bit in the DAME Magazine article above. Buying one of her books wasn't a bad response to the news (and I liked it and hope to read the next book in the series soon).
- The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. I read his book Notes from a Small Island while a new student at Oxford University and perplexed by how I spoke the language but didn't understand the language. That book helped me enormously – and I later found a first edition at a library book sale. The audiobook versions of this book popped up a few times on my Overdrive app, and I've resisted. Bryson is a delightful speaker (I remember seeing him interviewed on the BBC while I was there, and him taking the interviewer through his filing cabinet where he kept oddities to be used later), but he's also a master comic writer. I want to study how he does it because, if I write a longer piece about my trip, it has to be funny because a lot of weird and wonderful things happened on it.
- The Last Jedi. This was so good. SO GOOD. I saw it on a Tuesday morning, and I heard audible gasps in the theater. Ignore the sad bros who hate it for stupid reasons. GOOOOOO see it. I also want a porg.
- The Big Family Cooking Showdown. It's the BBC's replacement for the Great British Bakeoff, which went to Chanel 4 (very British fight here). What you need to know is it's on Netflix here, and it's delightful.
- Outlander. I'm finally watching season 3, which is going to lead me to reading the next book in the series. I do like that I know what's coming because I've read the books. I'm curious what it's like watching the show without the books to back it up. If you're one of those viewers, let me know!
And with that, I'm off to Florida. Well, I'm off to Florida in six days, where the pup and I will be parked for two months. I can't think of a better time to leave New Jersey than when it's (forecast to be) nine degrees.
Until next time – from a warmer place!