Life

23 Things I Didn’t Hate in 2023

MONUMENT VALLEY. I’d wanted to visit Monument Valley since I watched Forrest Gump in 1994, and 2023 was the year I finally made it happen. It was worth the effort to get out there and the moody March weather only added to experience as the monuments shifted in and out of view.

BARBIE. I hadn’t been to a movie theater since before the pandemic and I went twice for this absolute masterpiece.

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. One of my best friends has lived in New York City since 2020, I visit her at least once a year and yet I, a National Park nerd, persistent traveler and great-granddaughter of immigrants, had never visited Liberty Island. Until 2023.

RELAXING MY GOODREADS GOAL. For pretty much as long as Goodreads has been a thing, I’ve been setting an annual reading goal. It is, in theory, a great way to encourage myself to read more, but it also tends to stress me out. I don’t read to increase my stress level and I don’t read because of an arbitrary goal I entered into a woefully outdated and often infuriating platform. Instead of beating myself up over how many books I hadn’t read, I set my goal for 2023 at 15 and then, when I got to 14, I bumped the goal up to 20. Then, when I got to 19, I bumped the goal up to 25, and on and on until the end of the year when I finished my 49th book.

Among the best books I read in 2023 are Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, The Overstory by Richard Powers, Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler, and Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson.

SILLY GEESE. Sometimes, when you drink a few martinis, the day you planned to spend on the couch watching bad reality television with a few of your best girlfriends takes a turn into a tattoo parlor and you end the day with a silly goose tattoo.

BLUEAIR AIR FILTER. After suffering through another pollen-ridden spring, I bought this air filter for my bedroom. I live in an old house full of dust and animals, this thing sits right next to my bed and it’s definitely improved my sneezing and sniffling.

NOAH KAHAN. I fully understand that me being a Noah Kahan fan is exceptionally unsurprising, but here we are. I saw him live in June and it was fucking phenomenal.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK. I wasn’t prepared to love this park as much as I did. I knew it would be beautiful, I wasn’t doubting the hype, but I also thought it would be overcrowded and chaotic. It wasn’t. I never struggled to find parking when I needed it, I had lots of time to myself and the only time I felt annoyed by the crowds was when I watched the sun rise at Delicate Arch, but that’s the most popular spot in the park, so it’s not surprising. Arches is captivating.

LANEIGE LIP SLEEPING MASK. This is one of my favorite potions. It’s the only thing that keeps my lips from being wrecked all winter by the cold, dry air.

CULT DOCUSERIES. You tell me there’s a new show about a cult and I will clear my schedule to watch it. Love Has Won: The Cult of the Mother God is hands-down the most wild, jaw-dropping, bananas thing I watched in 2023.

LUKE. 2023 was the year I said goodbye to Luke, in August. I told him he owed me two years after Sadie died, and he gave me that, plus a few months. Saying goodbye to him broke my heart, but he was a bright spot in my life for the months he was with me. He was the goodest, most sweet creature, and I am forever thankful he was in my life for so many years.

FRIENDS. With Luke’s passing, I had to ask for help, a thing I am truly terrible at. I was across the country, in Montana, when Luke’s health took a sharp decline, so I rallied my people to help my (beloved) pet sitter provide what was ultimately his end of life care. He passed an hour after I walked through my front door, still surrounded by all those friends, and I will forever be grateful for the support they provided both me and that good, good dog.

THE BOYS. Eddie and Claude came into my life just four months apart. Eddie was first in October 2021, and then came Claude, in January 2022. They’ve been best friends from the start. They are full of chaos and they make me smile every day, even when I don’t want to.

GOOD & WELL CANDLES. I first discovered these candles in Hudson, New York, at a small outdoor outfitter, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. They have a National Park collection and National Forest collection and a Dark Sky collection and I love them all.

DRUID ARCH. It’s a slog to get to Druid Arch, especially when you’re hiking on a tweaked ankle like I was. This thing is massive, but really, it’s just another insane view of Canyonlands National Park.

BUDGET SPREADSHEETS. I’ve been a longtime user of You Need A Budget, but I also use Wealth Diary’s spreadsheets for a more comprehensive look at my finances. The latest annual wealth dashboard is one of my new favorite things.

SPOTIFY DAYLISTS. I truly never know what I’m going to get when I check my daylist. Sometimes it is a logical blend of songs I listen to on a near-constant rotation. Other times it is ambient noise because of that one time three weeks ago I listened to 10 hours of ocean sounds while sleeping.

HIKING INTO BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON. You lose 1,800 feet in less than a mile on the way down the canyon to the Gunnison River. It is ridiculous. It took me about an hour and a half. I fell just once, right after I said “I’m fine,” to a couple I passed, but I thought I was going to fall at least 458 times. BUT, eventually, you get to the bottom of the canyon and it’s amazing.

CELEBRATIONS. For me, the fall was all about celebrating the birthdays of the people I love. I went to New Orleans, Shenandoah National Park and Washington, D.C. for hikes, pool floats, parties, karaoke and general shenanigans.

SNAIL STUFF. A friend smeared this stuff on my face when we were doing our skincare routine and I liked it so much I immediately bought a tube of it and now rubbing snail juice on my face is an integral part of my day.

RICHMOND, VA. I was able to show off some of my favorite parts of Richmond to friends and family a few times in 2023, and each time it provided another opportunity for me to be thankful for the city I’ve called home for the last 20 years.

THE PERFECT BITE NACHO. 2023 was the year I started putting individual chips on a baking sheet, individually topping them with cheese and meat and whatever other toppings I want to make the perfect, delicious nacho bite.

FIGURING IT OUT. I hit 20 years of military service in 2023, which means it’s almost time for whatever comes next. Over the last few years I’ve come up with a bunch of ideas of what I want my post-military life to look like, but none of them ever felt exactly right. But then I figured it out, figured out what I really, really wanted to do for me, and now that it’s 2024, it’s time to make it all happen and y’all, I can’t fucking wait for what comes next. 

4 thoughts on “23 Things I Didn’t Hate in 2023

  1. Love you, love our geese, love perfect bite nachos, and I especially love your creatures (will miss Luke forever) <3

  2. Love this list. 2023 was a hard year (RIP Luke!) but I’m glad you had so many positives. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  3. From this post I have realized that I need to go back to Canyonlands, and I’ve been making nachos wrong my whole life.

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