Right now: November 2021.

Making: A scarf; lots of plans for December, yikes; myself anxious with all the stuff I have to do and my own executive dysfunction (I need to find a way to keep my mental health from tanking at the end of every semester, yikes!)

Cooking: Less meat and more beans! I’m trying to cut back on my meat consumption for the sake of the planet, even though I know my individual action is just a drop in the bucket, but it’s something, and my body mostly feels better as a result, too.

Drinking: Just finished an oat milk chai latte at my local coffee establishment. Trying to drink more water, even if that takes the form of an orange HEB fizzy water more often than not.

Reading: For class, mostly, but I just checked out The Making of Biblical Womanhood from the library and I’ll try to sneak that in during lunch breaks or something. I also just checked out a book about the Enneagram and self-care (Take Care of Your Type, I think?) and I skimmed the chapter for 4s and it has already completely read me for filth, so there’s that!

Wanting: My brain to actually start working correctly again—it might help if I actually practiced better self-care, which is kind of a catch-22 because it’s hard to get yourself to do good self-care when your mental health is tanking, yikes.

Looking: For snacks that aren’t 1) fried 2) full of sugar 3) aren’t expensive and 4) aren’t nuts, because I like nuts but I’m a little tired of them. Suggestions?

Deciding: Where to go and what to do during the winter break!

Listening: Advent music! I broke out Handel’s Messiah the other day and I might try to get some housework done to Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God.

Buying: Christmas presents, wine for dinners and parties, new work clothes…

Smelling: The coffee and all in this shop. At home, I bought a fresh evergreen wreath for my dining table to use as an Advent wreath and I keep forgetting that it’s there until I walk by.

Watching: Tick, Tick…Boom! (it’s so good!), lots of Sondheim tributes (may his memory be a blessing). Haven’t watched Hawkeye yet, but it looks fun!

Wearing: Jeans, my t-shirt from Revoice, and Tevas, because it’s almost December but I live in Houston, hooray.

Noticing: I really need to drink more water, yikes

right now: september 2021

Making : A couple of scarves as watching TV/I need something mindless to keep my hands busy projects

Cooking : This salmon from the New York Times, but with agave syrup instead of maple since that’s what I had, and it was still delicious. I also just made a big pot of curried lentils, and I have also taken up the practice making a big pot of rice at the beginning of every week because rice is life.

Drinking : Right now, a Coke Zero. Lots of coffee. Trying to drink more water.

Reading:  Blue Like Jazz for the first time in more than a decade just to see how it holds up (so far it doesn’t), Without You There Is No Us for a book club (it’s about a woman who teaches English in North Korea, so far kind of interesting); The New Testament In Antiquity for class

Trawling: For area rugs–my apartment is all wood laminate flooring, which is nice (easier to clean) but I would like some rugs to make it not as echo-y.

Wanting: Another long weekend and more self-discipline (these two things are not related)

Looking: At hotels to maybe crash at during my winter break.

Deciding: Which classes to take during the next academic year. I’ve decided that financially and psychologically I can only roll with one class per semester, so I’m trying to space out my degree plan accordingly.

Listening: The podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, which is bringing up all of my church-related PTSD, yikes; the new Billie Eilish album; old playlists; the podcast Recipe Club

Buying: A lot of tinned fish–I have recently discovered sardines and they’re actually delicious(?!) so I’m experimenting with different kinds to find my favorite. I realize this probably makes me weird.

Watching: What If? (and YouTubers reacting to What If?, which probably also makes me weird); the news about COVID in Harris County

Marveling/cringing: At how bad UPS is at delivering packages to my apartment (insert eye roll here).

Needing: To start working out again.

Questioning: Established narratives in a lot of areas of my life

Smelling: The aftermath of the curried lentils

Wearing: Gray shorts that I got at Goodwill (they’re sweatpants material and they have pocket!) and a Ravenclaw quidditch t-shirt

Noticing: That I really want to re-read Harry Potter over my Christmas break in a few months

right now: june 2021.

Making: A hat (your basic rib-knit beanie, in a random red acrylic that I think I found in my parents’ garage)

Cooking: Stuff that doesn’t heat up my kitchen too much

Drinking: Right now? A blueberry banana smoothie, with a little bit of tahini and oat milk

Reading: Far As the Curse Is Found (for class), The Wonderful Works of God (for class), The Song of Achilles (for fun)

Wanting: A new couch, art for two of the bigger walls in my apartment (and maybe something for my bedroom?), a rug, brighter lamps

Looking: For affordable versions of all the stuff listed above (I might need to go Home Goods or something similar).

Deciding: Where to go on vacation for a couple of days in the fall or winter.

Listening: Lots of podcasts, and the Rosewave playlists from NPR Music on Spotify.

Buying: Trying not to go nuts buying stuff for my apartment, haha. I did just get a new work shirt since a lot of my wardrobe over the past year has slowly moved toward t-shirts and shorts, which I can’t really wear to the office.

Smelling: The candle that’s not burning but is open (Trader Joe’s grapefruit)

Watching: Loki (it is bananas, y’all) and Cowboy Bebop (also bananas)

Wearing: Blue shorts, floral tank top

Noticing: I’m sleepy enough that I might go to bed before 10 tonight, yikes.

takeaways from my first semester of seminary

  • Personal spiritual evil is real and it wants to take you out, especially if you are trying to be involved in ministry of some form
  • I’d never heard of Christopher J.H. Wright before I took these classes and I think I need to read all of his books
  • Everybody wants me to read Bavinck, so I guess he’s next
  • I’m somewhat disheartened by the fact that our required reading was so many white dudes, but on the other hand I had my first Korean-American teacher ever, which is not nothing
  • Said teacher told me “I think that you’re still trying to figure out who you are, and maybe you’re not seeing the big picture of what God’s doing in your life” and I’m still kind of shook about it, actually
  • Taking two graduate-level classes as a 36-year-old with a full-time job during a pandemic is way different than doing so as a 23-year-old who works 15 hours a week
  • Saying no to things is okay
  • Taking time to rest is not only okay, it’s necessary
  • I am not a burden to other people
  • One thing I’m kind of thinking about is creatively communicating theological truth to people, but I’m not entirely sure how or in what form. I don’t think I’m a scholarly theologian, but maybe I could be a different kind of teacher or proclaimer. (I listen to a handful of science communicators and I kind of want to do their jobs, but about Jesusy things instead.)
  • Procrastination is bad!
  • Taking care of my mental health is absolutely crucial
  • It’s really, really great to be in an environment where you know your professors care about you and are praying for you

right now: march 2021

Making: A hat, to try to use some of the smaller yarn scraps I have sitting around; plans for moving next month

Cooking: A lot of spaghetti and meatballs for some weird reason

Drinking: Coffee, always (I got a subscription to Trade Coffee and it’s actually pretty great); HEB brand lemon fizzy water; red wine leftovers from a backyard hangout the other night; smoothies (I bought some from this company called Kencko that are actually pretty good–they come in powder form but since the fruit and veg in it are freeze-dried they keep all the nutrients and fiber and stuff).

Reading: Jesus and John Wayne (for…fun? I don’t know, it’s not exactly a fun book); How to Write an Autobiographical Novel for book club; The Mission of God’s People and Finding Jesus in the Old Testament for class

Wanting: A day or a week to buckle down and really get stuff done.

Looking: At dining tables and chairs, armchairs, maybe a new couch?

Deciding: Where I’m going to live as of the end of next month.

Listening: The pre-loaded Spotify playlists, because I’m lazy, honestly; a recently discovered podcast called Films to Be Buried With, which is stellar.

Buying: A replacement lid for my Nalgene since the original got eaten by the dishwasher, oops.

Smelling: Coffee, and the white tea & ginger body spray from Bath & Body Works that I bought almost six years ago and am trying to use up

Watching: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and reaction videos to each

Wearing: Blue shorts, green thrift store t-shirt

Noticing: The mosquitoes are back in full force, yikes.

right now: january 2021

Making: Still working on the blanket. Almost done, though; it should be finished in the next couple of weeks, hooray. Making plans for projects, time management, things to get done in the next few months and the next few years.

Cooking: I made something the other night that was pretty decent–ranch-style beans, corn, cheese in a baking dish, topped off with cornbread batter and baked off like normal. Eat with hot sauce or jalapenos or chili crisp, depending on how you’re feeling that day.

Drinking: I have coffee, water, and strawberry mango fizzy water on my desk at the moment, and I think I might make myself a smoothie when I get done here.

Reading: Creation Regained by Albert Wolter for class; Their Eyes Were Watching God for a book club; The Vanishing Half for fun.

Wanting: Someone else I know to watch In & Of Itself on Hulu so I have someone to talk to about it–it is phenomenal, in multiple senses of the word, and I need badly to process my thoughts about it with someone…

Looking: At my syllabi for the upcoming week.

Deciding: How I’m going to structure my time now that I’m working full time and taking two classes.

Listening: Rufus Wainwright’s latest album Unfollow the Rules. Also been playing a lot of Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer’s album of Bach trios when I’m trying to do work.

Buying: Textbooks, mostly…

Smelling: Coffee, and the white tea & ginger body spray from Bath & Body Works that I bought almost six years ago and am trying to use up

Watching: In & Of Itself (see above); The Dig (on Netflix–low-key lovely film with some solid acting); One Night In Miami (same, but on Amazon Prime); Chef (I’m slowly working my way through Jon Favreau’s entire filmography, I guess); reaction videos to the last season of The Mandalorian. (I’m saving WandaVision for a future time in which I can binge the whole thing at once.)

Wearing: Green pants, a Ravenclaw Quidditch t-shirt

Noticing: Maybe I shouldn’t wait until 10:30 in the morning to eat, yikes.

an observation

when we have been trained

by the ones that we love

in the art of using God

as a tool as we try to carve the world into

a shape that we want it to hold forever

as a flame to burn away what we deem impure

as a slave to follow our commands or suffer our wrath

is it any wonder

that we use and are used

the same way

by the other makers in this workshop?

epiphany: a magus.

The chronicles told us about a handful of our predecessors,

Men with foreign names, even though they advised our king,

Exiles from a conquered land. One of them had a vision

Of a stone that would fall to earth to crush the powers in its path.

Our own nation is no longer the great empire that covered

Half the world–it has been pushed back by another, the same

Whose shadow haunts this village.

Who knew that we’d find a royal house in poverty,

The great stone such a small gem in the rust and clay

Of Judaea?

2020 book list.

Y’all know what’s up by now. Asterisk means I’ve read it before, stats come after the list. Links are to Bookshop.org (except for one) because Jeff Bezos doesn’t need my help, but also don’t forget to support your local indie bookstores and public libraries. (Or buy from Amazon if you want! I don’t run your life!)

(Previous lists: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007)

total: 50

fiction: 30

nonfiction: 20

graphic novels/memoirs/comics: 13

e-books: 16

library books: 33

re-reads: 12

books written by women: 23

books written by Black people, indigenous people, or people of color: 22

most read author: Bryan Lee O’Malley, with 6, followed by C.S. Lewis and Suzanne Collins, with 4 apiece

top 10 (in no particular order):

The Glass Hotel

The Nickel Boys

On the Road With Saint Augustine

Circe

All You Can Ever Know

Caste

Handle With Care

Piranesi

Glorious Weakness

Reading While Black

2020

  1. Going to see Little Women for the second time in the theater with a pair of girlfriends
  2. One of the last things I did before going into lockdown was the Banff Film Festival Tour at the Alamo Drafthouse–I sat next to a guy who worked at Memorial Hermann in the Med Center and now I’m wondering what became of him.
  3. Going slightly insane and stir crazy for a month and a half while living alone in my old apartment
  4. Moving in with my friend from church (and her dog) and becoming slightly less insane and stir crazy
  5. Following the news coming out of Bon Appetit in July (and all the aftermath)
  6. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arberry. Elijah McClain. So many others. Too many others.
  7. Becoming more and more aware of how divided we are as a country, and wondering how we can get put back together, if at all
  8. Helping my roommate build a patio in the backyard with the help of a rotating cast of characters–margaritas may have also been involved
  9. Hangouts in backyards, front lawns, parks; walks through neighborhoods
  10. The first Sunday my church had a service in our new building, in mid-March
  11. There was a huge water main break in south Houston in February, and campus closed and I ended up going to a Barnes and Noble to hang out for a while
  12. My dad had a somewhat minor procedure done in the summer and I acted as his chauffeur to and from the hospital, which was a super-weird day
  13. Watching someone else shoot off (illegal) fireworks in the park across the street from my house with my roommate on the Fourth of July
  14. The weird New York Times mini crossword league we had going on Twitter for a while
  15. Broadway.com did a thing for Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday that was both beautiful and hilarious because the tech broke down so many times
  16. Dropping off foil-wrapped packages of cake in people’s mailboxes
  17. Marfa (but I wrote about that already)
  18. Standing in an insanely long line to vote on Super Tuesday
  19. Theater! (Remember that?) Hello Dolly and Come From Away at the Hobby Center; Hamilton, when it got released on Disney+; Three Kings, over Zoom(!) thanks to the Old Vic in London; Heroes of the Fourth Turning (again, over Zoom)
  20. Virtually attending the Revoice conference this year and having good and necessary conversations with friends who did the same, and good and necessary conversations with other friends in the months afterwards
  21. So. Many. Zoom. Calls.
  22. Starting up a chapter of the And Campaign in Houston. (Stay tuned for more details!)
  23. Opening my acceptance letter from Covenant Seminary–it was sealed with wax, and that was when I knew I had found my people
  24. The (virtual) Ecclesiastes Bible study that we did in the spring, during which I met people at my church I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet before
  25. The Monday night Zoom book club for Divided By Faith
  26. Knocking out dry wall at my friends’ house that they remodeled
  27. Leading music at a women’s retreat for my friends’ church in February–got to meet a lot of really sweet ladies and get out of the city for a weekend
  28. Things that I did not go to: The Festival of Faith and Writing; Fiddler on the Roof, and so many other shows I was looking forward to seeing; a concert in Austin that I was looking forward to
  29. I helped throw a baby shower for a one of my best friends!
  30. Speaking of: So. Many. Pregnant. Friends. (Not to be crass, but, like, when you’re around each other all day…)
  31. Playing Four On the Couch with the Droxford crew after being spontaneously invited to dinner after our church’s 10th anniversary party
  32. My friends’ backyard happy hours with our bubble
  33. I went to a wedding in February, I forgot!
  34. Voting early in a hotel lobby–the ambient music while I was there just happened to be a Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit song, which elevated the experience for me
  35. Sitting in a Chick-Fil-A parking lot listening to Joe Biden’s and Kamala Harris’s acceptance speeches on the radio after a week of being stressed out about the election
  36. Watching Miscast (an annual theater fundraiser) on YouTube with my friend Hannah and texting each other the whole time
  37. The utter delight that was #ShareYourWishList on Weird Christian Twitter
  38. Counseling sessions over video every other Wednesday with my excellent counselor (she’s so good that I’ve recommended her to three other people)–said sessions have involved a lot of crying, but that’s a good thing
  39. Having a COVID exposure and my roommate and I staying on opposite ends on the house for a week and a half and wearing masks in the common areas
  40. I think we can all agree it’s been a heck of a year, right? I had it fairly easy, to be honest, much easier than a lot of people, and I’m grateful for that. The year’s forced me to sit with myself and pay more attention to all the ways I try to distract myself or numb myself out, and to be honest as I’ve stopped doing that it’s been hard to look at all the stuff I hadn’t been dealing with. I always say I don’t want to ever take my people for granted, and how I want to be more intentional about my relationships; 2020 elevated how important that really is. Here’s to 2021–even though it’s still going to be hard, and our problems aren’t going to go away overnight, but maybe we can start fixing some things where we can, and celebrate what we can.