2017 In Review

2017 was a hot mess, I think we can all agree. But when I look back on it, I don’t want to think about all the ways 2017 was a dumpster fire. I want to look back on all the great things that happened. So here’s my highlights:

The Top 10 of 2017:

  1. After 4 years of annoying the crap out of each other, Lucas and I are engaged! I almost ruined my own proposal by being overzealous about how many miles we could hike in one day, and almost gave up before getting to the top of Lost Lake Butte, which overlooks the beautiful Mt. Hood. Thankfully, we persevered and it was absolutely worth it. (Pro Tip: don’t do two hikes in one day involving steep inclines and declines totaling over six miles the day after touring wineries.)
  2. Tying into #1, we went to Oregon this year! We’ve been wanting to go for the past two years, and with our lease being up for renewal next fall, we knew we had to go and scope it out before considering moving there. And we absolutely fell in love. We only had five days there, but we spent them wisely. We spent an afternoon in the city, where I was in heaven at Powell’s Books. We spent a day in wine country at Domaine Serene and Bethel Heights, where the winemaker, Ben Casteel, gave us a vineyard tour and way too many barrel samples and we loved every minute of it. We spent a day hiking Multnomah Falls and Lost Lake Butte (see #1), with a pitstop in Hood River at Pfriem Brewery (hello, kumquat saison). For our last day we recovered from all our adventuring at Cannon Beach. And it goes unsaid but we ate and drank our faces off while we were there. This Southern girl was in heaven with all the barbecue and chicken & biscuits offered everywhere. Oregon stole our hearts and we cannot contain our excitement to soon call it home.
  3. I’m fortunate to work for one of the best wine distributors in Illinois, and every three years they do a company trip out to California. We visited over 20 wineries in Napa & Sonoma in five days, and it was absolutely a trip of a lifetime. Verticals of Cabernet at Chateau Montelena, single vineyard soil comparisons at Diamond Creek, blending competitions at Hess, meeting Steve Kistler and his daughters at Occidental and drinking the Pinot Noirs named after his daughters and having his daughters pour it for you?? Having your mind blown by Jason Jardine from Hanzell and drinking mags of 1996 Chardonnay, meeting Randy Dunn and previewing the 2014 vintage before its release, the views at Chappellet?? This is something I would have never been able to experience as an average consumer, and I’ll never forget the hospitality shown to us by so many wineries.
  4. Any year I get to escape the dreary midwest weather and melt in the Florida heat for a week is a good year. This year, we dragged two of Lucas’s friends down to Key Largo, my home away from home. I’ve been going there my entire life, my parents investing in a timeshare there when they first got married. It’s one of the only vacations I go on where I actually feel relaxed after coming back. It’s like a second home, and I need the annual visit to keep my mermaid gills wet. The weather wasn’t the best this year for scuba diving, but we still managed to make six great dives. We ate tons of food, ate even more ice cream from Mr. C’s, and I’m already itching to go back.
  5. Have you noticed a trend yet? All my most important items involve travel, my parents instilling wanderlust into my brother and I from a young age. And this year, I got to take Lucas back to where it all started, my hometown: Albany, Georgia. It’s small, and the tour of the town takes less than fifteen minutes, but nonetheless, it holds a special place in my heart. The coordinates tattooed on my right forearm will lead you right to my parent’s house, which my father designed and built right before I was born. (The vision of my incredibly pregnant mother overseeing construction and bossing around all the workers while my father was traveling for work is one of my favorites.) It’s the only home I’ve ever lived in, and I was glad to get to share it with Lucas. We went kayaking on the Flint River–Lucas getting an up-close-and-personal experience with it by falling in–attended my father’s dive shop social, ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant which I haven’t had in four years, and got to see my grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins who I haven’t seen since graduating college.
  6. I attended my first live hockey game this year! Being a Georgia native, hockey isn’t a big deal down south. But ever since moving north, I’ve been dying to go. And I’ve been spoiled silly by getting to go twice this year–for free. Once, with friends of Lucas’s who had two extra tickets with killer seats. Second, with Lucas’s cousin who is friends with the Blackhawks’ CEO and got us catered box seats after someone else cancelled last minute. Talk about luck. I’ll likely never attend a game in such style ever again but it was nice to see how the other half lives for a night.
  7. I got to see my best friend Alisa twice. She went on an epic cross-country road trip and stopped through Chicago twice, and I got to be a bum on the couch with my best friend and drink coffee and drink wine and margaritas and be obnoxious with her TWICE, you guys. That’s a big deal. Outside of that, we continued our tradition of (somewhat) weekly FaceTime DrinkTime dates, which is really just a weekly catchup on everything happening in our lives and sending each other stupid memes and laughing our asses off. And she listens to me ramble about writing. Good times.
  8. On that note, 2017 was a great year for friendships. I became friends with Kristine, who I’ve followed on tumblr for years now, and she introduced me her friends: Solange, Brenna, and Claire, and it’s been so great to have more fandom friends. I’m no stranger to internet friendships. In fact, I highly recommend them. I met Karrie via LiveJournal and we hit a milestone of eleven years of friendship this year! Sadly, we procrastinated too long and didn’t get to have an epic long weekend together this year, but we’ve already got trips on the books for next year. The #bifflesquad is still going strong, and the group chat is as strong as ever, if not stronger due to all of us getting on SnapChat this year, thus allowing us to rant verbally whilst using cute filters, which is much more effective and entertaining than texting angrily. So bless up for that.
  9. I also got to see my mom twice this year! In addition to seeing her when I went home (#5), she was kind enough to fly all the way up to Chicago to house sit for Lucas & I while we were in Oregon. With a large dog and two cats, it’s hard for us to find pet sitters and boarding is expensive, so she did us a major favor. But I also think she just wanted some good ole peace and quiet for a week. She spoiled Freya silly with morning walks and afternoon trips to the dog park, and put the cats on a much-needed diet, ha! But mostly, I was just happy to see her before and after our trip, which was especially sweet since I got to see her in person just days after getting engaged.
  10. And lastly, because I can’t go a whole post without talking about it: Death Becoming. This book has a piece of my soul in it. I finished writing it in early 2017, and immediately started writing the sequel because I was so excited. But I quickly realized I wasn’t done with DB, and went back and began editing. I’ve never undertaken such serious edits for one of my projects before, and I think that’s what makes DB so special to me. I knew I was onto something from the first dream I had about it that set me on the path to writing this story, but even with all the frustrations and writer’s block and countless edits and subplot tweaking, I’m still in love with it. This world is so real to me and the characters never cease to surprise me. But I also cannot wait to be done with it and begin my publishing journey. 2017 may have been a roller coaster, but it will always go down as a huge year for me as a writer. And for that, I’m so grateful.

Thank you to everyone who helped me make it through 2017, and to everyone who brought love and light into it. I’m incredibly lucky in this life, not in material possessions, but in the true wealth: the quality of the people who surround me and create priceless experiences and moments that cannot be bought. Thank you for being you, because you help make me a better me.

Also thanks for reading my blog.

UP NEXT: My goals for 2018.

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