As you can see, I didn’t post a Progress Report in November. Nor did I make any other posts in December. As predicted in October, I did not finish my chapter in November due to holidays, travel, and other assorted commitments. But I’m happy to say that now – I finished the chapter I didn’t finish in October or November.
So I’m two months behind. Fuck me, but I’m done.
This was chapter 4 of 6, which means I still owe my editor 2 more before I call myself finished with part 5. I’ve got the re-writes outlined for chapter 5. Meaning, I can jump on it as soon as I’m done with this post. And yes – this is going out mid-month instead of at the end of the month because 1. I’m done early, and 2. I thought it would be therapeutic to do an end of the year wrap-up of what kept me sane and grounded this year. After all, we’re living through Year 2: Pandemic Boogaloo and there are a few things that we all cling to for survival. None of this is SponCon because I’m not that lucky or popular.
This list is by no means comprehensive and in no particular order.
Starting in college, I began playing World of Warcraft dedicatedly until 6 years went by and I had to relocate and couldn’t take my gaming PC. Without that physical breakage, I would probably still find some excuse to play that fucking game (well, no – I’d have quit by now with the Activision Blizzard sexual harassment issues). These days, I play a game called ARK: Survival Evolved – which is right up my dinosaur-taming alley.
Anyway, Mythic Quest – it’s a show about how MMOs are made. It’s equal parts hilarious and cringe. Lots of representation and plenty of heart. Ian (pronounced EYE-an) is the narcissist creative director; Poppi is his frazzled head of design; David is the mealy-mouthed executive producer, Brad is the bottom line money guy, Jo is the psychotic assistant, and CW is…F. Murray Abraham. As I said on a recent episode of Pop Medieval, the trajectory of my career is in this show: I started out as Jo (unassuming but frighteningly aggressive); I’m currently Poppi (exhausted and ignored); and one day I will be CW (resting on the laurels of faded genius). However, I love everyone – even Brad, from monetization. My litmus test of a well-written show is having difficulty trying to pick my favorite character, and MQ passes that test no cap.
Yes, I wrote no cap like a Gen Z in a desperate bid to appear relevant. There is a LOT of Millennial vs Gen Z humor in this show that absolutely slays – perhaps the hardest I’ve laughed is when Ian tries to explain both Rudy and Kerri Strug to Poppi and fails.
Midnight Mass (Netflix)
I don’t want to give much away about this show because it will spoil it. I’m not familiar with The Haunting of Hill House (saw one episode, turned it off to watch The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina instead) or The Haunting of Bly Manor. But per my brother’s suggestion. I watched Hush and had to watch Midnight Mass, the book within the movie.
As a former Catholic, I knew all I needed to know about Mike Flannigan – creator and director of the series – just from the first three episodes of Midnight Mass. I figured he must be a former Catholic, too. One would have to be in order to write something this scathing and this good.
Impeachment: American Crime Story (FX)
If you were alive and aware at the time of Monica Lewinsky’s, you probably made a fat joke or a blowjob joke at her expense. You probably didn’t think about her being a 23-year-old girl who fell in love with her predator boss with a long history of sexually harassing women and using tricky legal language to get out of it.
But now that we’re post #MeToo and we’ve had time to re-contextualize her relationship with President Clinton, we’re all apologies and smiles. So SORRY Ms. Lewinsky. You were WRONGED Ms. Lewinsky. You deserve so much more than this world threw at you, Ms. Lewinsky. Yeah? Well, that doesn’t fucking matter – we shamed her, vilified her, humiliated her, and then forced her to live like a pariah every-fucking-day afterward. We can’t make it up to her. The Clintons can’t make it up to her. But what we can do is learn to treat other women with a shred more dignity, right?
Ms. Lewinsky, I see you. I’m sorry for what you went through.
It took me a while to start watching Letterkenny because I saw the description of Hicks in rural Canada and thought, not a clone of Trailer Park Boys, please. And I love Trailer Park Boys. But I don’t want to see another show about halfwits and their get-rich-quick schemes from selling drugs.
That’s not Letterkenny. Letterkenny is sharp, fast-paced, and rich with smart wordplay. Once an episode, there’s a tongue-twister so complex my mouth goes dry. The actors are goddamn good at their jobs – from Squirrelly Dan’s accidental plurals to Wayne’s alphabetical alliterative fighting words. And just like Mythic Quest, this is another show where it is too well written to pick favorites – but the McMurrays are very close to tying for number one.
By the way, Wayne is my dream man; Katy is my dream woman.
I said I would get this as a trial just to see what it was like. I now work out multiple times a week: core, strength, yoga, and pilates.
Two years ago, I would have slapped you had you said I would love working out. Now it’s part of my identity. Nina the Gym Rat. Nina, who wears Lululemon most of the time. Nina, who will bore you to death about her regimen. Nina, who now has abs. And calves. And arms. I lost 30 pounds during the pandemic because yeah I fucking did. I feel and look great.
I have my favorite trainers. Sam, who says Hola, mi gente whenever I do my strength training. I have a massive crush on her. In my head, we’re running away together and just going to do sumo squats and biceps curls on the beach – and I hate the beach. Then there’s Coach Kyle, with his Canadian accent, who says “aboat” every time we do core work. We got aboat 45 seconds, he threatens, see if you can give me five more bridges! For you, Kyle – I can do six.
Pilates are new and brutal. Marimba keeps telling me to “scoop my abdominals,” but I can’t scoop them anymore. My belly button is already touching my T4 or L1.
The OG of my workout gear. I bought this last year, but I use it every other day. I’ve worked on my form a lot this year and really noticed a change in my back. I’ll still never go near water, but I’ll get into USC before Aunt Becky’s daughter’s do again.
I traded in the Mac Mini for an M1 Macbook Air and have no regrets. It is bedecked in a pink case and pink keyboard cover.
I also traded in the iPad Pro for the new iPad Mini this year. It’s smaller, but because I have the MacBook, I don’t need a bigger iPad. Plus the smaller size fits in my hand when I’m taking notes, reading, or watching Sam and Kyle yelling words of encouragement to me.
I broke down and bought a brand new iPhone for myself this year. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always been a “last year’s model” person, but this year I wanted the new camera. It was a splurge and I’m happy with it.
My first pair of wireless earbuds aren’t AirPods; they’re Beats. So far, the only complaint is that they like to connect to everything if I have the Macbook, iPad, and iPhone operating all at the same time – particularly while podcasting. Otherwise, these are great.
Ninety-five percent of my communication goes through the Signal app. Single chats, group chats, even quick pictures to send out – I use a secure, end-to-end encrypted app.
My engagement on Mastodon is very low. I never really connected with the user base, so it’s mostly just me posting pictures of the new kitten (Walter!) and making the occasional caustic remark.
Target, Starbucks, DoorDash and other shopping apps
Thank you for keeping me safe (and stocked up).
This app has been my saving grace for the last 7 years, but even more so this last year while I’ve written my book. However, I don’t know how long the shelf life is for this one. Microsoft doesn’t know what it wants to do with it. There’s no update with the new MS suite, and the online version is stripped down of a lot of features. Thing is, I don’t know what else to use. I’m looking at my iOS Notes app and wondering — is this the replacement? I don’t trust anything else.
I went out to eat at the closest Cali Mex restaurant when Covid numbers were low and I could eat outside. The first thing the server asked me was if I wanted to do a shot. I hesitated, because 1. It had been a while since I had consumed alcohol in public and 2. I’m not someone who likes to do shots as it is. But I thought, to hell with it, and said “Let’s goooooo!” like a 20-year-old in Cancun for the first time. He brought me a shot of Milagro tequila, which was the most delicious poison I had ever consumed up until that point.
Either that, or I was very eager to get blasted.
I had another one, too. After dinner, of course. Luckily I’m not in my twenties; I know how to drink well.
I hope this doesn’t change your opinion of me too much, but I’m a high functioning [REDACTED] enthusiast. I’m good at it, and I enjoy it. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me. It helps my seizures, my anxiety, and it takes the edge off the day. I also got through a week at my parents’ house with the help of [REDACTED] to mellow me out. So, thank whatever deity for [REDACTED].
Agent Provocateur, Trashy, and Yandy
Regardless of how much I’ve been working out, I still need a confidence booster every now and then. Yandy gets a bad rap for it’s cheap costumes and absurd contraptions you have to strap into, but I have been genuinely pleased with the items I’ve purchased. Trashy, the famous LA-based boutique, sells beautiful and impressive lingerie within all budgets. But the creme-de-la-creme of luxury goods is Agent Provocateur, for the high-end stuff.
“Thot Shit” made it to number 5 on my Spotify 2021 list. I’ve made it a habit to shake my ass on my own thot shit after work, on the rower (as best as I can) and in the shower.
Still waiting for that next album to drop, Frank. But Blonde and Channel ORANGE will tie me over for now.
Everything on the Euphoria Soundtrack
Technically, I watched Euphoria in 2020, so it didn’t make it to the TV list. But I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Spotify while I’m writing like a fucking fiend.
This was a birthday gift, and I haul everything in it. The only knock against it is that it doesn’t have enough inside pockets, but it’s tough as nails.
have a lot of shoes but the toughest pair of boots I own are my Ahnu hiking boots. I’ve stomped through mud, streams, leaves, pavement, and probably dog poop (thanks Paige) in them and just hosed them off afterward.
My new favorite preppy brand has a wide collar and a pineapple on the sleeve.
Devoured in a weekend. It was an ebook, otherwise I would have scribbled in the margins and taken notes on the marginalia.
My favorite MTV VJ’s memoir. Hilarious and insightful. Includes the famous hot tub story featuring *ahem* Schmid Smock.
All the Smut I Consumed Unapologetically
In prep for this book I’m going to write next, I read a LOT of erotica. Like, TONS. A lot of it was good (as in…good). But most of it was ridiculous (as in…what the fuck, this is NOT sexy but holy shit I’m committed now). Do I recommend any of it? No.
So goodbye, 2021. I didn’t finish my book, but that just means I will in 2022. I’m also planning a HUGE change, which is for the better and I will let you know in the coming months what that is. Maybe new opportunities will open to me as well. Who knows what the new year will bring.
Here’s to a marginally better 2022. I won’t ask for great things; so I’ll just ask for good things.
I leave you with a picture of the recent adoptee, Walter (the Man in Black). He’s adorable and precocious. Though he is not a replacement for Phoebe, he is helping to heal my heart of the sorrow she left behind.
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