Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It’s the beginning of the new year, which calls for resolutions and year-end lists looking back on highs and lows. At times, I think this serves as useless filler for magazines but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t about to do the same. Last year, I made a resolution to read twenty books during the year and find a babysitting job nearby for extra income. I ended up babysitting all of three times this past year. Instead of earning extra money, I spent more time working on the first goal, reading eighteen books in total. All in all, I’d say it was a success. Or, you know, something of the sort.

Basically, I'm just happy that last year I went from having big, lofty goals to small, specific ones. Goals that I actually accomplished (and that eventually will get me closer to the big, lofty ones). I hope to keep on doing this next year, and maybe even do it a little bit better.

Like last year, I wanted to use this space to share my favorite works of writing that I've stumbled on through the internet. So here it is: a favorites list. For various reasons, these pieces have stuck with me.  

"Good Pilgrims" by Sarah Menkedick - An immigrant tale of a different nature that speaks of returning, of wanting to hold on to what’s good in both places. In this case, a man conflicted, who is “not fully here, in poverty and tradition, and not fully there, in emptiness and wealth”.

"You're Boring" by Tim Mazurek - My favorite blog post of the year. Mazurek writes about food but touches on larger issues such as diversity and the suffocating nature of certain creative environments.

"If It Bleeds It Leads" by Bea Malsky - I’ve lived in two places (Chicago and Tegucigalpa) where homicides occur frequently. At times it makes me anxious but I've been lucky enough to live somewhat isolated from it all. I read about the violence everyday, which affects me, but again, at a distance. This article came about when I was wondering the very question it asked: how does documenting the violence affect the victims, the reporter, the community?

"No-Man's-Land" by Eula Bliss - Eula Bliss has received a lot of press for her new book, On Immunity, and her New York Times' piece on White Debt (which I recommend) but before I read those, I stumbled upon her essay about living in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. She can come across privileged and very woe is me but she dissects that feeling and uses it tell a story I'm interested in reading.

"Letter to my Readers" by Sandra Cisneros - Sandra Cisneros is my soul sister, woman crush, literary idol. We grew up worlds apart but ni modo, I sped through her newest book A House of my Own in a daze. I discovered she was publishing the memoir after reading through letters to her fans on her website earlier this year. This particular letter struck me, especially the part where she discusses why she never married and doesn't have kids: “I am not against marriage, but I never met anyone who I thought would stick around for sixty or more years... I could not afford to have children alone and my heart would break if I had to get divorced." There was a period a few years ago (that I don't think will ever go away) where people were asking if women could have it all. But that question always seemed lacking to me. I don't think anyone can have it all. I prefer to talk about sacrifice and hear Cisneros speak honestly about what she had to give up in order to achieve her sueño

"How to Become Batman" by Invisibilia – I listened to this podcast when I needed it in more ways than one. It’s riveting, also hopeful, and possibly even transformative.   

"The Problem We All Live With" by This American Life – Another one of my favorite podcasts of the year. The comments from parents at the town hall meeting were expected but utterly depressing. Listen so you never become such a parent!

"The Summer That Never Was" by Tim Kreider – Finally, I love this essay about a summer the writer spent unable to get to all the plans he envisioned. It’s a piece of writing that I could read over and over again.

If you're looking for more regular updates on my internet wanderings, you can follow me on Twitter. Most of the time, I just retweet the articles that Annie Avilés reads so you can always look there too.

Also let me know, what have I missed?'

Pictured above: some books I treated myself to this Christmas, buying them used on Amazon. I'm hoping to put the books to use for a new project this year.

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