2021: welp, what a year

Kid talking to a blonde interviewer starts out okay then starts sobbing, a visual of this year

It’s been a year, amirite?

To be honest, it’s almost harder to take stock of this year than it was to take stock of 2020. I’m deeply grateful for vaccines, and have now had three doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. The second was scary (I almost fibrillated); the third was a doozy (I could barely move for three days). The fourth, whenever it comes, will also be a doozy. But, since my immune system has never worked the way other people’s immune systems apparently function, I both know that my reactions will suck—and know I won’t make it without that vaccine. (This is not a great time to be a chronically ill public services librarian, to be honest.)

This has also been, for me, a year of reckoning with (ill) health. Mine has always been a disaster, and now, after spending thirty years trying to get help, I’ve learned that my ankles are chronically damaged due to a sports injury from, most likely, back when I was four years old. (My pediatrician sucked.) My fibromyalgia diagnosis followed short on my chronic ankle injury’s heels (ha, ha), meaning that for the first time in my life I have an actual word for the debilitating pain flares I’ve been living with since I was a teenager, if not before. (It also turns out that my spine’s not made right, but hey, I guess we all gotta have some genetic spice. Thanks ancestors!) My mother also had two knee replacements—and, between that and other injuries, I’ve spent a lot of my year caregiving.

But, in this wash of horror and drudgery and medical bills, I’ve also had some incredible bright spots. Meat for Tea published my flash essay, “Hoppin’ John,” in Raw, otherwise known as volume 15 issue 4. I was one of five co-authors on a (very short) publication about public services in academic libraries during the pandemic, and published thirteen (!) reviews in Third Coast Review. (Which is despite the fact that my fall felt like a lengthy pain flare, and I had little or no energy for anything at all.) And, of course, I’ve finished up Novel in a Year through StoryStudio, have a nearly-completed second draft, and am taking additional writing classes—including this, which is hella fun—as I go along. It’s actually been a pretty incredible year for me, on the page.

It’s been a Year, good folks. I’m going to try to read more next year, because my concentration has been garbage. I want to watch Barbarians again, because I fucking loved it. I’m probably going to watch the second season of Bridgerton, even though I didn’t make it through the first. (Or not.) I’m going to hang out a lot with Elvis, who’s one of the smartest cats I’ve ever known, and also the most cheerful (as well as being a total pistol). I’m going to finish up that second draft, and start drafting something else.

But, most of all? I’m going to work on staying healthy, and safe. And I hope, wherever you are, that you’ll be safe, too.

  • a black cat looks over the side of a gray chair.
  • a black cat with gold eyes stares defiantly at a camera while holding onto a cardboard scarthing post.
  • a black cat on a chair reaches out with claws at the ready
  • a black cat sitting on flowered sheets looks up in horror

because it’s a lot:

I did some book reviews here, this year, including these:

general book reviews this year

The Sealey Challenge 2021

  1. Soft Science
  2. The Shortest Day
  3. Deaths of the Poets
  4. Listen! Early Poems 1913-1918
  5. Milwaukee Avenue
  6. Yonder
  7. The Twenty-Ninth Year
  8. Crown Noble
  9. A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems
  10. El lenguaje es un revólver para dos / Language is a Revolver for Two
  11. I Have Never Been Able to Sing
  12. Readings in World Literature
  13. Black Movie
  14. Eye Level
  15. Behind the Wheel
  16. Eyes that Kiss in the Corners
  17. Drum Dream Girl
  18. Cowboy & otros poemas / Cowboy & Other Poems
  19. Knock on Wood: Poems About Superstitions
  20. Washes, Prays
  21. Lineage of Rain
  22. Catcall
  23. The Hill We Climb
  24. Fry Bread
  25. Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams
  26. New Moon / Luna Nueva / Yuninal Jme’tik
  27. Dark Matter
  28. Boys Quarter
  29. Transit Blues
  30. Good Luck Gold and Other Poems
  31. (Selections from) Liberamerica
  32. (and I think there’s one missing?)

Third Coast Review publications

  • Review of Live Literature: The Experience and Cultural Value of Literary Performance Events from Salons to Festivals by Ellen Wiles, Third Coast Review, October 2021. Available online.
  • Review of Bill Gates with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Carol Leonnig and Andrea Mitchell at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Cornelius Eady and Joe Morton at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Elizabeth Kolbert and Eula Biss at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Heather McGhee and Helene Gayle at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Jhumpa Lahiri and Jennifer Scappettone at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Joy Harjo and Layli Long Soldier at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Michio Kaku and LeVar Burton at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Qian Julie Wang and Greta Johnson at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Salman Rushdie and Srikanth Reddy at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of Walter Isaacson with Steve Edwards at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.
  • Review of “Youth Leading Change” at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Third Coast Review. Available online.