Firsts of the Year
It's useful to have special times that bring some concept or some practice into greater focus.
I love calendars, and I love holidays. There's something about breaking up time into repeating patterns that appeals to my sense of order. Back when I went to church I loved the liturgical calendar, with each season having a different spiritual focus. When I've gone through phases of being curious about paganism, the Wheel of the Year has been one of the ideas that appealed to me most, because it's sort of the same. When time is separated into units like years or months or seasons then you can think of it differently; you can reflect about what happened in a unit, like it's a chapter in a story, instead of just a conglomeration of days with different things happening in them.
I used to be surrounded with the kinds of people who did not love calendars. The kinds of people who were like, "Why do we need a holiday celebrating [thing]? People who care about [thing] should do [thing] every day! They only made a special day for it so they could sell us stuff." And don't get me wrong, I'm not going to sing the praises of unnecessary commercialism here. But I think it's not the only reason people make days for things. I think it's useful to have special times that bring some concept or some practice into greater focus.
A new year is a natural point for a special day. We celebrate time into years anyway (and there are actual physics reasons why a year means something concrete.) At the end of a unit of time it's natural to look back at that unit and ahead at the next one. It's a chance to get a little bit of perspective when we'd otherwise be concerned only with the next urgent task, and the next, and the next.
We've already filled December with posts looking back, but in these past few days I've found it very satisfying to keep a lists of firsts: the first instance of one mundane thing or another that I've done in the year 2022. It feels like setting the tone for the year ahead, and it makes me more aware of what I'm doing.
Some of the firsts are private, but here are several that I'm comfortable sharing.
First words typed: "Happy new year!" to Gracie
First clothes I wore: comfy, louche PJs
First food I had: vegetable lasagna that I like
First music I listened to: a playlist that reminds me of Gracie
First chore I did: made the bed
First thing I did with my voice: sang along to one of the songs on Gracie's playlist
First words I said aloud: "Hello" to Ninja
First tweet: this very gender-y tweet about wanting a compression top
First bread I baked: an indulgent lemony-raisin bread
First book I read any of: "Love/Hate" by L.C. Mawson
First poem I read: “Plures,” a sad COVID poem by Sonya Taaffe
First fanfic I read: “On the Thermodynamics of the Nine Houses' Cuisine: A Treatise by the Reverend Daughter” by Yoon Ha Lee
First outing: drive-through COVID-19 booster shot
First original short story I read: "The Rainmakers" by Megan M. Davies-Ostrom, a fun romp about magic post-apocalypse drag queens
First work task: responding to student email about a reference letter
As far as setting the tone for the new year, my “firsts” tell me that I’m indulging in all the creature comforts I can, that I’m in love, that the pandemic is definitely still happening, and that I’m maybe ready to start exploring my sense of gender a little more actively in 2022.
What have been some of your firsts this year?
Meanwhile (ETA because I keep forgetting this section), some news:
Two of my Christmas microfictions from 2020 were reprinted in MacQueen’s Quinterly.
Want to see my top ten blogs or top ten tweets of the year? They’re up here on Twitter.
THE FALLEN made it to Shades of Orange’s list of top 10 sci-fi books published in 2021 (and also John Scalzi tweeted about it)
THE OUTSIDE appeared on Luminous Library’s list of 10 best backlist books of the year.
First Project Finished: Did the last of the formatting on my new short story collection and got it up for preorder. I've been trying to kick this thing out the door for months now.
First Book Read: Die Trying by Lee Child, after finally deciding to give the Jack Reacher series another try. I think last time I put it down at a Kissing Scene and never picked it back up, because sometimes I'm that kid from The Princess Bride (and also, the depth and plausibility of the romances is not this series's strong point).
First Sparkly Fountain Pen Ink: My 2021 favorite, Tala by Vinta Inks.
First New Important Document: I got the third COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot on Dec. 31st. In my “EU Digital COVID Certificate”, which I received this year, it says, “Date of vaccination, indicating the date of the latest dose received: 2021-12-31”. Unfortunately, it seems that we are not leaving this thing behind.
First Important Purchase: On Jan. 2nd, I bought new winter shoes, with only 40 percent discount. I had found them before and waited for the price to go down, expecting the, for me usual 60-70 percent discount. Here in an Arctic country (my present location is somewhat below the Arctic Circle) these Arctic Boa Gtx’s are good to walk in the snow and on ice even though the brand is Austrian, and the shoes are made in Myanmar.
First New Book and Author: This year, I started reading Sam J. Miller’s The Blade Between, “bright raw wintertime”, which I borrowed from our City Library on Dec. 23rd. (it is the only copy).