Tis the season to be listing

by doradueck

That time again, lists taking over like dandelions. The best or most important in news, people, books, movies, fashion. Experts summoned for the top picks of whatever they’re experts about.

For the most part I enjoy reading these retrospectives, if only to refresh my memory or compare “their” favorites with mine or be alerted to all that I missed. I often feel somewhat lethargic and retrospective myself just before the new year breaks and find myself paging through the past year’s diary/journal.

For me, less voluminous note-keeping is definitely trending (one of the words I see on lists of words to abandon in 2014), so a year takes less time to review than it used to. 2013, in fact, has been quite nicely contained in one relatively thin Moleskin-knockoff, written on only one side of the page no less. Here’s a bit of a list of what I discovered when paging back.

In 2013, I did a lot of writing and writing-related stuff like reading events but published nothing. Well, yes, there was a review, some blog posts, and my annual week of Rejoice! reflections. But nada of what I’m mainly writing. The novel-in-progress is still in progress, and a longish short story tentatively titled “Mask” which came to me with a flurry of excitement and invitation early in the year is still being added to and subtracted from and wrestled with and revised. That’s just how long it can take.

In 2013, during the intense cold of a Winnipeg winter, I sweated the heat of Paraguay and the past in my father-in-law’s diary and was surprised at the emotional rollercoaster it took me on. His frustrations seemed mine, also his successes, and always I worked with this weird awareness of knowing while in the middle of it something of what was coming in the future. I have not finished processing this experience.

In 2013, we road-tripped to a few places I had not yet seen: Dauphin, Manitoba, for one (a wonderful drive that included close-up bear sightings), and the states of Wyoming and Montana. We camped in some campgrounds we had not previously camped in and I joyously picked a great many saskatoons and H. joyously planted and harvested a great many tomatoes.

In 2013 I got inwardly worked up about the unequivocal Robert Gagnon being keynote speaker at a study conference our church denom held on sexuality, and at the paucity of women’s voices in that public conversation (how can this still be!), but was subsequently encouraged by presentations at said conference by John Neufeld and John Unger. (I did not attend the event, but listened here, session # 4). I was inspired this year by Pope Francis and the life of Nelson Mandela and am mulling Madeleine L’Engle’s provocative assertion “that if we take the Bible literally we don’t have to take it seriously.”

IMG_4271In 2013, my hair grew long enough to twist into a bun. In the larger scheme of things, achieving this is of no consequence, but it was a goal of mine and I reached it. So yay! I’m not sure why the desire to fuss with twisting and pinning has arisen, but maybe it’s a empathetic bow to my female forebears who had decidedly less choice in matters of hair.

In 2013, 56 % of the books I read were written by women and 40 % were written by men. I don’t think that author gender affects what I choose to read (or hope to get around to reading), but since Pasha Malla was ruminating on the topic in today’s Globe and Mail, I decided to count and calculate and this is how it landed this year.

Ah, this is but a snippet list. Not listed, but most significant, really, are what we experienced with friends and family – the notable transitions that happened career-wise for our children this year, the birth of a granddaughter, our being together on various occasions, the affection which sustains us, the extended visit of a brother and sister-in-law from Paraguay. And challenges too, like the continuing decline of my elderly mother. These connections are what carry us into a new year. — And to each one of you, friends and readers, my warmest best wishes for 2014.