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2016: What Didn't Suck (For Me)

This year I am thankful for Instagram. Yeah, that's right. Effin' Instagram, y'all (oh, did I not mention? After almost 9 years, I have fully embraced the "y'all"). I'll admit, there have been easier end-of-year highlights to write. I know we all love complaining about how horrible 2016 has been (there's still a few hours left, everyone keep Maggie Smith safe!) to the point where it seems like a tired joke. But it's true. We have experienced some shit this year. Shit that maybe doesn't seem all that horrible to people who have experienced terrible shit every day of their lives. But still. The shit is undeniable.

As much as I'd like to think that tomorrow will start a new magical cycle in which 2016-type shit doesn't happen, that ain't reality. Horrible things are not contained to a single 365-day period. Horrible things will follow us into 2017 and beyond (aren't you glad you're reading this?). But I would still like to take some time today and, for the first time in about 6 months, not focus on the darkness and think about the non-shitty things, the shit-less things if you will, that happened to me this year. Because we all love reading about great things that happened to other people, right? (I do. I'm not being sarcastic. I'm not.)

Let's start with an easy one. Italy. ITALY! ITALIA! I mean, this was literally a life-long dream come true. I have been wanting to take a road trip through Italy for as long as I can remember. I am sure I got the idea from a cheesy airport book or a movie about a divorcée who moves there and has life-altering sex with a bell'uomo italiano, I don't really remember. But the point is, the good ole gringo made it happen. We can pretend that I helped, but honestly, he is the planner and the maker of dreams. Anyway. We spent two weeks driving (okay, he drove and I navigated, occasionally missing an exit or two) a little Fiat called Bippity around Italy.

Jonathan and Bippity the Fiat in the hills outside Verona

Jonathan and Bippity the Fiat in the hills outside Verona

We spent four days in Rome with wonderful friends (Hi Nicole! Hi Paola! Hi Claudia! Hi Savannah!), met up for dinner with our favorite honeymooners (Hi Derek and Le'Ann!), drank too much Chianti in Cortona and San Gimignano, found the best pizza slice ever in Siena, and witnessed Florence's finest (and I mean finest, these firefighters could be supermodels) saving a cat from a fire (like, really). We spent a rainy day in the Corpus Christi of Italy (sorry, Genova), walked the beautiful streets of Modena (no sight of Massimo!), made passionate love in Verona (you didn't think I was going to leave out the dirty stuff, did ya? Also don't worry, we didn't just make passionate love in Verona. We did it everywhere!!!!!!!!!!) and, yup, took a gondola ride in magical Venice (to those people who told us to skip Venice: you're all idiots). 


Yes. I experienced a bit of legit depression when we returned to Texas. But it was worth it. 

Another thing that happened in 2016 that didn't suck: I got a new job. I now work at one of my all-time favorite places in Austin, BookPeople. I started in September, so it has only been a few months, but I have already met amazing, inspiring writers like Laurie Halse Anderson and Gene Luen Yang, not to mention some fancy celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and Anna Kendrick. Plus, everyone who works there is super cool and smart and sometimes make me feel like maybe I am not that cool and smart, which is honestly a reality check we all need once in a while. And I get to visit schools and see kids excited about books! I have already been called The Book Lady twice! Ahhhhh isn't that everyone's dream? No? Just me? All right.

I also wrote a few things this year, even though it was probably the hardest year for me as a writer. I don't know why, I'm just being honest. It was really, really, really hard to write decent writing this year. I am not sure I accomplished it at all. Most things I wrote made me puke. Literally. (OK, OK, not literally.) But I did get a few pieces published, including one I am actually proud of. It was difficult to write and even more difficult to share once it was accepted. Which leads me to another piece I was happy with, a short blog post I dedicated to my sister after the Pulse nightclub shooting. I continue to think about the people who were killed at Pulse for being who they were, and their loved ones who mourn them every day. It's horrible to think that a tragedy brought me some sort of good, but in a way it did. This year, my relationship with my sister grew more open and honest; we are closer than ever, and I am thankful for it every single day. A shout-out to this beauty, who even flew me down to Mexico City so we could spend time together this year, mainly eating and watching TV. 

From a recent visit to Mexico City with my sister

From a recent visit to Mexico City with my sister

So, good things have definitely come out of this year. Great things. And even though the big moments are easy to remember, there are smaller moments that have made my year not-so-terrible, as well.

Enter Instagram.

I started scrolling back through my year's feed (most of you probably know I post A LOT OF PICTURES, so this took longer than it sounds) and man... I ate some amazing food this year! Some delicious, mouth-watering, super-fattening, life-defining food!

And man, I read some great books this year, a few of which have become fast favorites! Some old, like Stephen King's It, some new, like Brit Bennett's The Mothers.

And man, I hung out with some badass folks this year! Like my fantastic friends, who surrounded me on my birthday dinner at Justine's, and who hugged me after Hillary Clinton lost; friends who gifted me their favorite books, partied with me in Vegas, and hosted me at their cool beach house, not to mention gave us a place to stay in Rome!

I saw some of my best friends and family get married! I celebrated an anniversary! I beat my husband at Game of Thrones RISK! I got a haircut and didn't hate it! I spent a week with two cats and didn't die! I saw Connie Britton and Bradley Whitford and didn't get a restraining order! My adult acne improved, sort of! I bought a lot of beautiful plants, and managed to KEEP SOME ALIVE! Whaaaaaaat?!


My 2016 will not be defined by the horrible things that happened. I have that privilege, which I will admit to and take advantage of, which allows me to focus on the good instead of the bad. I know not everyone is that fortunate, and I am trying to keep that in mind, well, at all times. That I have the least shitty end of the shit stick. 

Happy new year, everyone. I wish you happiness and good fortune and lots of champagne and food and family and friends half as wonderful as mine. Also, I hope you get the chance to see Connie Britton up close one day too, her hair is JUST AS AMAZING in real life. And if you made it this far, and you'd like to share some of the stuff that made your 2016 not suck, please! Tell me! I DO like to read about great things that happen to other people. 

Oh and now, a line from the last book I read in 2016: "Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I'm about to kick the shit out of life." I mean thank you Bernadette Fox, for my new life motto. 

la tortilla azul

Of Two Novembers