I’d never done more than lurk on websites before, but LTT, with its DC Talk and costume design jokes, was obviously full of my people. Soon I was clicking in daily while I fed the kid breakfast (an interminable task), right as the 8 a.m. post dropped. I followed my first fanfic link and fell into a whole new corner of the internet. I made it less than a month (and a full archive read) before I started commenting… and refreshing regularly to see who’d replied. I’m pretty sure my first comment is the brainstorm for my crowning fandom achievement: the Contemporary Christian alternate Twilight soundtrack I burned CDs of for Bekah and Nikki before meeting up in L.A…. that time I scheduled an anniversary trip to coincide with the Breaking Dawn premiere. Because I love you all I dropped it into Spotify last night for your listening pleasure. That fandom was A LOT, but when I wrote letters of my own the commenters made me feel so loved and, well, normal. It helped me remember I was good at things besides changing diapers.
By the time TN came to be I was incredibly grateful our community would continue as LTT quieted. I was buried in babies and toddlers and loved my ten minute respites here to laugh at grown-up jokes. When my girls were independent enough for me to think beyond the next round of pureed squash, writing for TN was the first thing I took on just for myself. It helped me figure out who I was apart from them and re-find my voice… even if my first few drafts were written in the notes app while sitting in the dark waiting for a toddler to sleep. Eventually I got to interview one of my favorite authors, and even my kid got to write a book review. TN pointed me to the books, tv shows, podcasts and skin care that were my next bits of self-care. It let me know I wasn’t alone when the world went to heck. It even got me through the Whole30.
These days I enjoy every minute at TN, but need it less. Thank goodness, since it’s going quiet around here. I have work that I love and kids who are rarely boring and never short on conversation. TN has given me more tv recommendations than I’ll ever get to, innumerable book boyfriends, a TBR I’ll never catch up on, and a place to word-vomit about things nobody in my real life cares about. But the book recs will never end, because Beth got me to join Goodreads (drop your account in the comments so I can follow you!). And when I need to word-vomit you’ll find me on Twitter (which, naturally, I initially joined for TN contests).
There’s a giant list on my phone of topics I haven’t gotten to posting about since I started working last year. Freelancing sounds thankless in 2019, so before we go to you only getting my takes in 240 character increments, let’s clear the docket with Real Quick versions of the posts living in my head.
- Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday was a delight, like all her others, and I didn’t want to throw it at you in October and have you forget about it before the festive season. It’s November now! Get on the library’s hold list! I’ve read Women’s Fiction about ladies in their fifties, but not full-fledged, candy-cane scented romance, and it was an excellent change of pace. Plot inspired by this tweet from one of my faves:
Having read this news, I know NEED a charming romance about the single mother of a new Duchess falling in love with an appropriately aged royal retainer while spending Christmas at Sandringham. https://t.co/pn3DFqLR4H
— Margaret H. Willison (@MrsFridayNext) November 4, 2018
- I’m not sure if American Royals was objectively good, but it’s entirely in my wheelhouse, and I loved it. I am, however, super-irritated that I didn’t know ahead of time that it’s the first in a new series and I have to wait a year to read the sequel. I haven’t read an unfinished series where the books don’t stand alone since the one-two punch of Mockingjay and Allegiant.
- Classic books I waited too long to read and implore you to pick up right away: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (maybe my favorite audiobook of all time), Cold Comfort Farm (movie gets you a Rufus Sewell so hot it’s satire) and Barbara Pym‘s Excellent Women or Jane and Prudence.
- Books that make Christmas feel magical again: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever; Madeleine L’Engle’s The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas; Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect; Pearl S. Buck’s Christmas Day in the Morning; all of Tomie dePaola’s stories, but especially Christmas Remembered for grown-ups and Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner for kids. While you’re reading dePaola, you’re going to want to grab his series about growing up during World War II, 26 Fairmont Avenue.
- Books I planned to review but haven’t gotten my hands on yet: add them to your TBR so it can be almost as long as mine! Lyssa Kay Adams’ The Bromance Book Club; Natalia Sylvester’s Running; Lois Lowry’s On the Horizon; Julia Quinn’s First Comes Scandal, Saadia Faruqi’s A Place at the Table; Ally Carter’s Winterborne Home. For that matter, I have sorely failed you all by barely mentioning Ally Carter at TN. Go read Gallagher Girls and Heist Society and Embassy Row posthaste. Hooray for completed series about girl action heroes
- I watched Amazing Race Season 1 this summer. It was a delight and you should all head to Hulu to remember what 2001 looked like.
- More brooches for gift lists. Always brooches. If you need elegant or bookish pins you should go dig through my Etsy favorites.
- I’ve been stockpiling things that make me happy to get us through election season:
- the British sitcom Miranda, which passes the Bechdel test, makes me laugh even more than Parks and Rec, and features the guy from Lucifer being tremendously hot without being evil
- Nora Ephron’s New Yorker archive, especially Serial Monogamy, about her love life and cookbook obsessions
- the enormous playlist Questlove made for Michelle Obama’s book tour (yes, this was long ago, last year!)
- This, perhaps the most affirming five minutes of television ever:
- Podcasts soothing my politics-addled mind this fall: Truth’s Table (black female theologian friends); Bubble (hilarious sci-fi); Women of Harry Potter (so calming and makes my heart grow three sizes); The Anthropocene Reviewed (the episode on Googling Strangers is probably my favorite thing John Green’s ever written).
- Christmas before last I visited Phoenix with 4-8 year olds and found so much to do with them in the land of retirees that I was overwhelmed and never wrote about it, despite promising Nikki I would. In short, the Children’s Museum and Zoo are great (spring for feeding the giraffes!), the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale is a whole day, and the adjacent Butterfly Wonderland fits perfectly with the nearby Railroad Park for a day of pure kid joy. No matter your age, you must eat at The Fry Bread House. Afterwards you won’t need to eat at all for 24 hours.
- I don’t know what California wine country will look like next year, but I highly recommend a trip to wine country in Washington State. We like to visit a closely clustered group of wineries that work well even with kids in tow thanks to available games, room to run, and a very fancy milk tasting. Fly from Seattle to Walla Walla and have dinner at Brasserie Four. Saturday have breakfast at Bacon and Eggs or The Maple Counter Cafe, buy fruit (and tamales if you have a cooler) at the farmer’s market, and pick up lunch from Graze. Then work your way through the wineries west of town: Three Rivers, Cougar Crest, Waterbrook, and L’Ecole No. 41. If dinner isn’t tamales, eat at Saffron (without kids) or pick up takeout from Andre’s Kitchen or the Worm Ranch. Sunday enjoy the tasting rooms if you have time before flying out. Anybody want to meet up next summer? Could be a side trip from that Forks/ LaPush adventure I’ve been imagining for almost a decade.