Best of, question mark?

The year that was was a weird one, friends. I know you likely feel the same, how could you not? We’ve been bandied about like balloons in a strange will we or won’t we kind of atmosphere when it comes to all parts of our lives. I’m exhausted. We’re all exhausted. It’s hardly even worth saying anymore, really. So few answers to the question “How are you?” other than “oh, you know” or that old chestnut, *gesturing vaguely to everything*.

We just learned today that we’re taking a step (a few steps? I can’t keep track) back in Ontario but as usual it’s a real lights are on but nobody’s home kind of vibe which, well…fuck. Typical.

And sure, I’m bummed because I won’t be able to go out for my birthday but more than that, I’m also bummed for my friends and neighbours who won’t be able to get their much-needed surgeries. I’m bummed for my parent friends who are staring down another virtual school term while also trying to work and not lose their minds. I’m bummed for their kids who are also staring down another virtual semester, who may struggle with virtual school. I’m worried for friends in healthcare who are pushed to the brink, and I’m worried about my in-laws locked down once again in their residence which is virus free for now, but for how long?

I can get takeout, have a cake delivered; I will be fine. It’s not the point.

And I could spill a lot of laptop ink going on and on about the incompetence, the sheer cruelty of our government. But you know that. If you live in Ontario you very much know that. If you live elsewhere, well, I hope your leaders are treating you better. But I watch the news. I’m skeptical. It’s all pretty bleak.

And yet, there were bright spots, weren’t there? Here are a few of mine.

In 2021 I read 49 books, and I loved them all. That is one of the good things about carefully curating your reads, you rarely end up with ones you don’t like. I tried to do a “Top 5” but it came out at 7, and later this week I will try to do a recap here.

My writing group has been the most wonderful balm in a trying year, honestly. Since the beginning of the pandemic writing has been a struggle for me, but having this group to offer support and to be inspired by their incredible work has helped so much. Forever grateful to them.

One of my short stories, Dog Walkers and Murderers won the Hamilton Arts & Letters Magazine Short Works Prize for fiction (for unpublished authors) and I am still not over that, to be honest. There was a cash prize AND I will be mailed a certificate! I got the news on an evening when I was dealing with a pretty severe UTI, so you know, it’s all glamour over here.

Our older son moved home at the beginning of the year and I really think that having the four of us together under one roof again has helped me make it through. I think the kids *mostly* feel the same way.

And as an aside, shout out to the 20-somethings (my kids and others) who have, contrary to what you might read, been EXTREMELY responsible throughout this whole ordeal. Lining up to get vaccinated, remaining masked when out for walks with friends early on, taking all precautions as things started to open up, being respectful of the rules, the whole deal. We love, as they say, to see it.

I know there were other bright moments in 2021, and I’ll probably think of them later, but those are the ones that jumped out. I hope you had your fair share too, friends, I’d love to hear about them!

And you know, it’s ok if you didn’t, or if maybe you did, but for now they are hidden in the murkiness of how hard it all was. If that’s the case, here’s to a much, much brighter 2022.

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