Goal Setting for a Chaotic (Yet Hopeful) New Year

a road twists through rolling fields
(Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash.)

As a lover of lists and goal setting, I’m generally excited at the shift into a new year as a new opportunity to consider the road ahead an make some plans. Over the past several years, however, how I approach the process of setting goals has been evolving — and with this new year dragging forward a continued sense of uncertainty, I’m considering things from a new angle.

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Beyond Surviving: My 2020 in Review

reaching for the light
Reaching for the light. Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

“If I get through this year, no matter how badly, it will be the biggest victory I’ve ever done.”

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, November 5, 1957

Looking back on the events of 2020 is surreal — January feels like a century ago, some months have blurred together into non-existence, and others contained a constant amalgamation of mundane stress and anxiety that bubbled through the walls of my apartment space.

I find myself asking, what did I even do this year, anyway? Does it even mean anything?

Let’s be real, 2020 came along and kicked us all in the sensitive bits — and then kept on kicking. Like many people, I’m grateful to have just survived. This year has been brutal and normal measurements of one’s accomplishments seem inadequate. It’s enough to just be standing (or sitting) here, having made it to 2021.

At the same time, I want to dig through the mushy mess of this year and pull out the good things — because there were indeed a few good things that happened.

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Culture Consumption: December 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my last culture consumption of 2020, with all the books, movies, television, games, and podcasts that I consumed in December.

I’ve shared my favorite books and media from the year in separate posts.

Books

The Hollow Places by T. KingfisherT. Kingfisher is a fantastic writer, taking fantasy tropes and turning them into pure horror. Portal fantasies tend to lead to wondrous worlds filled with fantastical creatures and adventures. However, in The Hollow Places, when Kara and her friend Simon (both of whom I love) discover a hole in the wall that leads to an abandoned bunker in another world, their curiosity quickly leads them into terrifying danger.

Kingfisher’s characters always seem so well wrought, with the way they dress, talk, and react to situations feeling so real. I believe that these two would make the choices and mistakes they make. In fact, I could almost see myself making the exact same mistakes, which only adds to the horror.

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Books I Loved in 2020

Among the many other challenges presented this year, my reading has dropped significantly. As of writing this, I’ve finished reading a total of 40 books this year — certainly not bad in the grand scheme of things, but far below my personal average of 90-100 books from a few years ago.

Though, I can’t blame the drop entirely on 2020 (for all it’s anxiety and stress), since my reading has been dropping each year. In general, I’ve had a more difficult time focusing on reading, particularly longer books. So, I’ve shifted somewhat to shorter, quicker reads.

Nevertheless, I’ve read many fantastic books this year — more than I can fit on this list. Lately, I’ve been wanting to get back into reading more of the horror genre (which I’ve been writing lately as well). Horror seems to hit a certain intellectual itch in me, providing a safe means to explore and process my anxieties. So, it’s no surprise that horror fiction makes up a large portion of the works mentioned here.

(ETA: If you want to know the movies, shows, and other media I loved this year, check out my post on Medium.)

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Culture Consumption: November 2020

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, games, and podcasts.

Books

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - gothic horror novelThe standout read of the month was most definitely Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia — a book that has received well deserved praise since it’s publication.

When Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin describing some terrible doom and begging for help, she travels to High Place, a house located deep in the Mexican mountains. The site of once booming silver mining community, High Place and the surrounding community is now run down and giving in to decay. The family themselves are for the most part cold, distant, and strange — and hiding some dark secret.

Mexican Gothic is a masterfully told story, building an unsettling tension into every moment that Noemi is in the house. Noemi herself is also a new favorite heroine. As a debutant accustomed to attending glamorous parties in the city, she’s caught off guard by the remoteness of the house. In addition to the glamour, though, she brings wit, intelligence, and determination. However cold or controlling the family may try to be, she matches them with her own will, not allowing herself to be overcome by them or anything else. A genuinely fantastic book.

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