2016: The Year In Review

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At the end of each year, I always take a moment to examine the ups and downs I experienced. What follows is my personal and professional review of 2016. I:

* Produced hundreds of breaking news stories about the worldwide refugee crisis, the slaughter in Syria, the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Brexit referendum, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Orlando nightclub massacre, the spread of the Zika virus, the Panama Papers leak, the North Korea nuclear tests, dozens of terror attacks, the Juno probe’s arrival in Jupiter’s orbit, the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the 2016 election and countless celebrity deaths.

* Passed the 45,000th tweet mark on my personal Twitter account (@jadewalker).

* Entered an essay contest to win a house in Maine.

* Penned 68 journal entries.

* Wrote 2 poems.

* Worked on my novel.

* Interviewed by Vanessa Lowe for the Nocturne podcast.

* Walked over 1.06 million steps (more than 445 miles) and climbed over 1,060 floors.

* Read 50 books and numerous magazines.

* Watched 39 films and dozens of TV programs.

* Updated The Written Word and The 10th Muse mailing lists.

* Participated in the The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, the New York City Writers Group, the South Florida Freelancers Group, the Journalism & Women Symposium and the Author’s Guild.

* Launched the New Hampshire Writers Guild.

* Traveled to Maine.

* Twice hosted vacationing friends.

* Completed three escape room adventures (and died twice).

* Crossed off an item from my bucket list (was locked inside a bookstore late at night).

* Participated in National Readathon Day.

* Saw Henry Rollins in concert.

* Attended two plays: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Stone Witch.”

* Shot off a large cache of fireworks.

* Completed the Zombies, Run! 5K Virtual Race.

* Suffered from at least 23 migraines.

* Spent nine months caring for my youngest cat Sera, who had terminal cancer, then mourned when she died.

* Celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary.

* Helped my husband find a new job after he was laid off.

* Lived separately from M for months once he landed a great position at a university in Massachusetts.

* Revealed my entire financial background to various firms to qualify for a mortgage.

* Viewed dozens of houses in three states, trying to find one we could afford.

* Bought our first home.

* Turned 43.


End of the year

Goals for 2017

* Finish unpacking.

* Work on my fiction.

* Write more obits.

* Read at least 50 books.

* Win the lottery.

My top 10 favs of 2016: A year spent reading, watching and listening to intriguing stories

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Bookstore

This year, I consumed 50 books, 39 movies, dozens of TV programs and many podcasts. Here are my favorites.

(Note: Not all were released during the past 365 days.)

MY FAVORITE BOOKS
 

1. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2. “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” by Erik Larson
3. “Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History” by Erik Larson
4. “Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training” by Tom Jokinen
5. “The Red Notebook” by Antoine Laurain
6. “End of Watch” by Stephen King
7. “Red Right Hand” by Chris Holm
8. “My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir” by Garry Marshall
9. “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food” by Jennifer 8. Lee
10. “In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem and Fun in the Sandbox” by Carol Burnett

(Honorable mentions: “My Memoirs: Fifty Years of Journalism, From Print to the Internet” by Bernard Gwertzman, “On My Own” by Diane Rehm, “The Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore: Three Instructive Essays” by Ann Patchett, “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House” by Kate Andersen Brower and “Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism” by John Norris)

MY FAVORITE TV SHOWS
 

1. This Is Us
2. Stranger Things
3. Grace and Frankie
4. House of Cards
5. Madame Secretary
6. Lucifer
7. Blindspot
8. Outlander
9. Timeless
10. Daredevil

(Honorable mentions: Sherlock, Luke Cage, Elementary, Agent Carter, Supernatural, The Americans, Designated Survivor, The Good Place, iZombie, Covert Affairs, Person Of Interest and Suits)

 

MY FAVORITE MOVIES
 

1. Spotlight
2. Cooked
3. I’ll See You In My Dreams
4. Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World
5. Trumbo
6. Money Monster
7. Sully
8. Before the Flood
9. Doctor Strange
10. The Big Short

(Honorable mentions: Learning To Drive, Captain America: Civil War, Hello, My Name Is Doris, Elvis and Nixon, Mr. Holmes, Jason Bourne, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Finding Dory, Hologram For The King, Weiner, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and He Never Died)

 

MY FAVORITE PODCASTS
 

1. The Vinyl Cafe
2. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
3. Limetown
4. Nocturne
5. Death, Sex & Money
6. 99% Invisible
7. Dear Hank & John
8. Criminal
9. Radiolab
10. Fresh Air

(Honorable mentions: Tavis Smiley/PBS, The Sporkful, The Diane Rehm Show, The Nerdist, NPR Books, WTF with Marc Maron and the 10 Minute Writer’s Workshop)

My life, at the moment, in numbers

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kitchenwitchery

Steve Glassman, the writer behind the wonderful Sunshine. Whimsy. Tacos. blog and a long-time friend, recently posted an entry about the current state of his life, via numbers. Since he encouraged others to share their stats, I went ahead and broke down my next 30 days.

From today, it will be:

1 day until my 43rd birthday.

2 days until Thanksgiving. Somewhere in between these two numbers, I must continue packing and make a feast.

9 days until the Boston Common Tree Lighting ceremony, an event I’m attending to boost my holiday spirits and as research for my latest novel.

13 days until the closing on the new house. Yikes!

14 days until the movers arrive at the rental to pick up our belongings. Everything must be packed, or else.

15 days until the movers drop off our belongings at the new house. Then, the massive job of unpacking begins.

18 days until I take a break from unpacking and return to working on my book.

25 days until I have to attack the thousands of emails that will have piled up during my less-than-relaxing vacation.

26 days until I return to work.

30+ days until Christmas Eve. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Manchester, N.H., looks like during the holidays. Will there be lots of light displays?

–Photo by Humusak2

November, an update in four parts

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HO-HO, MERRY-MERRY: Normally, I’d be done with my Christmas shopping by now. I start putting my list together in January, begin purchasing items in July and complete the task by November 1st. That way, I don’t have to fight the crowds or worry about the bills that are due, and can just enjoy a stress-free holiday season.

But as we all know, 2016 was no ordinary year.

XMAS CARDS: Between the insanity of work, the election, job losses, illnesses, deaths, separations, a long search for a new house and more injuries/accidents/disappointments than I care to count, it’s no surprise that I’m less than jolly and really far behind in my holiday preparations. Although I’ve ordered our Christmas cards, they likely won’t be mailed until the middle of December; in the past, I’ve dropped them off at the post office on Black Friday.

XMAS PRESENTS: Due to our current financial situation, I’m also culling my annual gift-giving list to a handful people. If you normally receive a present from us, and do not get one this year, please don’t take offense. It’s not a reflection of our relationship status or affection. We’re just completely tapped out from the upcoming move. Hopefully, we can make up for it next year.

MOVING ON: Speaking of the move, M and I are about to purchase our first home. If all goes as planned, we’ll close on the house during the first week of December and spend the next week moving our stuff across the state.

Living apart these past few months has been incredibly difficult so you can imagine how excited we are by the prospect of being under the same roof again.

Neither of us has purchased a house before. Honestly, it’s not something we ever planned to do. But so far we’ve survived the insanity of applying for mortgages, searching the real estate listings, attending dozens of showings/open houses and the process of making — and losing — four bids.

In the end, we finally landed a house we wanted, and made it through the arduous process of revealing our entire financial history to strangers and dealing with the many deposits, inspections, appraisals, insurance assessments and mortgage proceedings. This week, while I’m packing like a mad fiend, we’ll receive the final bill for closing costs.

Ugh.

On the plus side, barring any complications, M and I will be spending Christmas in our new home together. Can’t wait!

–Photo by Vaniatos

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