So I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this earlier (though I guess it’s only January 3rd…), but I want to give you my top five books of 2020. As you know if you’ve read my blog, I got a treadmill and a Kindle last year in preparation for a possible COVID lockdown that would basically leave us housebound. This never happened (luckily), but there were enough days of crappy whether where the treadmill came in super handy. On these days, I got to read for about four hours straight while I walked. Thus, I ended up reading a lot of books last year (at least in comparison to previous years).
So let’s look at the best ones! From fifth best to best.
#5: The Bonfire of the Vanities (Wolfe)
I think this is my #5 because of the writing style. The story itself is good, of course, but the way Wolfe writes is engaging, funny, and very poetic in places. It definitely influenced the style of my 2020 NaNo, which I started writing about a month after I read this book.
#4: Exodus (Uris)
This is a hard book to get through because of the subject matter, but I think it’s also a very important book to read for the same reason. Uris does a really detailed history of the Jewish people through several characters and their experiences and he shows how it all connects in one way or another. I’m excited to read QBVII when I get to my “Q” book.
#3: I, Claudius (Graves)
I love the style of this book. Like I mentioned in my review of it, I had no knowledge of this time period in history and so I was expecting to be completely unengaged with the book itself. But it was written in a very approachable way that also helped to put you in the time period so that you knew who everyone was and what was going on even if you had ZERO knowledge of it prior to reading.
#2: A Separate Peace (Knowles)
I love how organic and pure the friendship is between Phineas and Gene. This is a relatively short book, but that friendship is so fleshed out that it makes the story seem longer, if that makes sense. It makes you feel like you’ve known the characters and their relationship as long as they had known each other. I think “natural” relationships can sometimes be hard to write or at least hard to introduce, but Knowles does it beautifully here.
#1: A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving)
I have yet to read a book that more perfectly takes every little aspect of the story and puts it all together in a two-page climax. It just…everything just comes together at that one moment and it’s not contrived, it’s not lacking, and it’s not unbelievable (even though it’s a pretty dramatic climax). It’s everything I’ve always wanted to get out of the climax of a story.
It’s a long book, and there’s a lot to it, but read it. It’s worth it for that climax. Trust me.
Happy New Year!
As always, January 1st is dedicated to reviewing last year’s walking mileage. So let’s get to it! But before we do, a quick disclaimer: I am including my running mileage in all of these totals, too, but I’m just going to refer to everything as walking mileage because it’s easier.
Here are my walking stats for January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
Total number of walks: 347
Total mileage: 5,160
Total number of steps: 11,687,919
Total calories burned: 355,903
Total walking time (minutes): 78,727.87 [that’s about 54.67 days]
Average speed (mph) per walk: 3.80
5,160 miles is approximately the great circle distance between Juneau, AK and Barcelona, Spain or between Naples, Italy and Cape Town, South Africa.
And for anyone who’s keeping track (probably no one), yes, this is a new yearly mileage record. I beat 2017’s record of 5,100 by 60 miles, which isn’t a fantastic jump in distance or anything, but it is a new record.
Happy last day of 2020!
I’d say good riddance, but I suspect 2021 will be just as much of a garbage fest (if not worse), so weeeeee!
Anyway, this is the first year since my Decade of Music project ended, so I have not downloaded a new song for every day of the year and thus can’t give you a full summary of the year’s songs to the same extent that I’ve been doing since 2010.
But I can give you my favorite songs (and maybe favorite music vids?) of the selection that I did download this year.
Yeah, let’s do that.
Top 5 Favorite Songs
Blinding Lights by The Weeknd
This is THE song of 2020. This is also, as I mentioned in a blog back in May, my pandemic song. I heard it just as COVID was starting to burn through Canada at the start of all this madness – back when no one knew how bad it would get – and I still get that little pang of anxiety I associate with that feeling whenever I hear the start of this song.
(Still love it, though.)
Sogno di volare (The Dream of Flight) by Christopher Tin
This is an amazing, beautiful, soul-lifting song. I mentioned this one in an earlier blog, too, talking about how I felt like I’d heard it before somewhere long ago.
FloriDada by Animal Collective
This song is so freaking weird and so freaking cool and so freaking WTF that I have to like it. Also, don’t look up the music video unless you want to have multiple seizures.
Bummerland by AJR
I love the energy of this song. AJR does great things with drum beats.
DVNO by Justice
The bass pounds my ears and it hurts so good.
Top 5 Favorite Music Videos
DVNO by Justice
Logo parodies/homages with smooth transitions + killer song = YAY
Bummerland by AJR
The only thing better than an AJR song is an AJR song with an accompanying fun music video.
Dynamite by BTS
I am definitely not “army” as this is the only BTS song I have (I heard it in a commercial and had to look it up, haha), but I love the song and I love how fun the video is. Also, Jung Ho-seok (dude in the “OBEY” shirt/red shirt) has an awesome smile.
365 by Katy Perry
Y’all know I like music videos that tell a story.
The Rest of My Days by S+C+A+R+R
So it’s December 27th, which has become the day on which I review my resolutions for the current year, figure out how badly I did at keeping them, and then set up resolutions for next year that will likely be kept just as badly.
A review of the 2020 resolutions:
- ACCOMPLISHED: The blogs. Yup. And I actually posted them this year! HOLY CRAP
- ACCOMPLISHED: Walk at least 4,500 miles. I’m actually getting at least 5,000, so that’s pretty cool. A review of my walking miles will come, as always, on January 1st.
- ACCOMPLISHED: Do something with my writing. Finally.
- ACCOMPLISHED: Run a half-marathon. I guess technically this should go in the “sort of accomplished” category since it was a virtual version of the Calgary half-marathon and not an in-person thing, but let’s be honest – that was really the only way to do it this year. So I’m counting it.
- FAILED: Run a marathon. Wasn’t able to get my distances far enough fast enough because I’m a loser.
- ACCOMPLISHED: Win NaNoWriMo 2020. Done! And I’m actually still working on it, which is new for me.
- FAILED: Get my blogs in physical form. I didn’t even touch this project this year. Go me.
- FAILED: Get a body composition analysis. Okay, to be fair, I had one scheduled for the beginning of April, but pandemic.
- FAILED: I’m going to try to be more consistent in posting these blogs, but pffft. I mass-posted twice, that totally doesn’t count.
- FAILED: I’m also going to keep trying to be better for Nate. I’m still the worst. And probably worse than normal because I’m not handling this pandemic very well, let’s just say that.
THAT’S A LOT OF FAILURES I’LL TELL YA WHAT
How about some resolutions for 2021?
- The blogs, as usual.
- Try to be more consistent with actually posting my blogs. No more of this “once every 500 days” nonsense. Maybe…every few months at most?
- Walk at least 4,800 miles. I could probably try for 5,000 again, but who knows what nonsense 2021 will bring and I think 4,800 should be reachable.
- Run twice weekly whenever possible.
- Keep working on my 2020 NaNoWriMo. I’ve somehow managed to keep working on it after November ended this year, which is unheard of for me. But I like the story even though it’s a dumb idea and I have no idea what to do with the ending at this point in time, so let’s keep truckin’.
- Run a marathon. Hopefully this year I’ll be able to get my distance up to that point. It’d be nice to be able to do an in-person marathon, too (preferably the Calgary Marathon), but I seriously doubt we’ll be at that point with COVID come the end of May.
- Win NaNoWriMo 2021. November is always the busiest month of the year, so LET’S THROW A NOVEL IN THERE TOO WHY NOT
- Do stuff with my writing. What? Who knows. That’s part of the fun, I guess.
- Try once again to get my blogs in a physical format. I really need to do this. I fear losing them, which would be losing almost 15 years of daily logs.
- Revamp my “200 Books” list and keep reading fiction. Ever since I’ve gotten Kondle, I’ve had such an urge to read. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve had that urge. I think it’s because I feel like I can get any book I want whenever I want it and I don’t have to be limited to whatever measly selection the U of C library has (for whatever reason, it’s selection seems way worse than UI’s library) or how prepared I am to carry a chonking 600-page book around with me.
- Respond to all the blog comments I’ve gotten over the past several years. I’m really bad at that, sorry.
- Work out my arms. My legs are strong (from walking/running). My back is strong (from hauling tons of nonsense in my backpack when walking). My core is relatively strong (from walking/running/other stuff). My arms? Carrying a gallon of milk up from the car to the condo makes them burn like the center of the sun. I hate strength training so much, but I’d like to get my arms on par with the rest of my body.
I think that’s everything. I’ll add more if I think of anything.
I’m calling it right now.
I am going to work hard this year. I am going to get what I want. I am going to get what I deserve. Nothing is going to stand in my way.
Edit from mid-April: okay, okay, 2020 is COVID-19’s bitch. I concede. But on a personal level, this year’s actually going pretty well so far, too. I’m still sad and angry and hate myself on a cellular level, but at least I’m accomplishing my goals.
HELLO, PARTY POOPERS!
It’s that time of the year again where I review all of my FREAKING FAILURES and set up some more FREAKING FAILURES for next year.
So without further delay, let’s get to it!
A review of the 2019 resolutions:
- ACCOMPLISHED: The blogs. As always. Not even a hard resolution, but I keep putting it on here ‘cause then I get at least one “ACCOMPLISHED” on my list, haha.
- ACCOMPLISHED: The musics. There are only a few more days left in this Decade of Music project! MADNESS
- FAILED: Get my music organized before the end of the year. I had every intention of doing this and have a few years organized, but I’ve been S U P E R B U S Y and thus haven’t gotten it all done. Hence my pushing back the Decade of Music review.
- ACCOMPLISHED: Walk 4,000 miles. Done. Easily. I won’t hit 5,000, but I’ll probably be in the 4,800s maybe?
- ACCOMPLISHED: Get back to running 10k distances. I was looking at this resolution list a few months ago and was thinking “hey look, this one’s going to be a failure!” But over the past month or so I’ve picked up running again and just recently started running 10k distances. Hell, I ran 10k today! So that’s coolio.
- ACCOMPLISHED: Win NaNoWriMo 2019. I almost didn’t do NaNo this year, due to – you guessed it – being S U P E R B U S Y. But I did it, I won it, and I actually want to keep working on the story, even though it’s a craptastic premise.
- FAILED: Get my blogs in physical form. Hahaha. S U P E R B U S Y.
- FAILED: Write at least 500 words a day, 5 days a week, until my NaNoWriMo 2018 story is done. Then start editing it. NOPE
- SORT OF ACCOMPLISHED: POST THESE GODDAMN BLOGS. As of my writing this list, I haven’t posted my blogs since the end of September. But I posted a whole slog of them earlier this year, I should get credit for that! …Right?
- FAILED: Be. Better. For. Nate. I’m such a bad wife. I try not to be, but I am. It’s rage-inducing.
And now for the 2020 rez list:
- The blogs.
- Walk at least 4,500 miles. This is assuming that I’ll be teaching all year; if I’m not (heaven forbid), let’s say 4,000 miles.
- Do something with my writing. I don’t even freaking care what, really. Just something. I need to be more consistent with it apart from banging out 50,000 words every November. I want to work on one of my old NaNo projects – maybe this year’s, or 2009’s or 2014’s. Or do something with my old short stories. SOMETHING.
- Run a half-marathon. I don’t want to just run half-marathon distances, I want to run in an actual “official” half-marathon race.
- Run a marathon. See above, but replace “half-marathon” with “marathon.”
- Win NaNoWriMo 2020. Let’s keep the streak going!
- Get my blogs in physical form. I really need to do this. I fear losing them more than I fear losing my own life (priorities: I have them)
- Get a body composition analysis. I have no idea what my body fat percentage is, for example, and I’d like to know. I also want to do this near the beginning of the year and then work to improve it (less body fat, more muscle, that kind of thing)
- I’m going to try to be more consistent in posting these blogs, but pffft.
- I’m also going to keep trying to be better for Nate. I really do try, but I’m absolute garbage, so it probably doesn’t even seem like I’m trying half the time. But I am. Sorry, Nate.