2019 was quite the year. i didn’t travel as much as i did the previous year, but i was able to take more meaningful trips and see some of my closest people. i began and ended the year with a roommate, but i had about 6 months in there where i lived on my own and learned to enjoy my own company again. i said farewell to some of my favorite people as they moved on to new adventures, and i met some great new friends i look forward to getting to know better as we move into a new year.
as always the highs were high [which doesn’t include the horribly high temperatures] and the lows were low [repeat after me: boys are dumb], but it was certainly memorable. there were grizzlies games and orpheum shows as always, and there were wild west adventures and a reunion with the devaraj sisters. there were summer conferences that nearly sucked the life out of me, and there were evenings spent on the porch watching the world go by. i celebrated one year in my house, welcomed classmates back to memphis to celebrate our 15-year college reunion, and began contemplating what the next phase of my life looks like.
it was a very introspective year for me, a year in which i spent time focusing on what and who makes me happy. here’s to more of that in 2020.
but first! we must look back at the year that was and take a moment to enjoy the 12 months that flew by far too fast.
my 2019 goals.
i am going to go ahead and admit that i did not do a great job with my 2019 goals. i’m thinking i set too many goals for myself, and then i hunkered down for a lot of the year and mostly didn’t think about them.
complete the chattanooga 4 bridges half marathon. i had the best of intentions on this one. i registered for it. and i started training, even keeping up a pretty steady running schedule through the summer when i was bordering on exhaustion. but then summer stretched on forever, and the thought of doing 8- and 12-mile training runs in 80-degree heat sounded so miserable to me that i decided it wasn’t worth it. i wasn’t enjoying my running, and the more i thought about it the less i wanted to do it. so i didn’t. yes i lost the registration money, something that a few years ago would have irked me to no end. but in the end it wasn’t worth it to me. i’ll be visiting chattanooga next fall for my high school reunion [20 years!], and that will have to be enough.
an alex-veena reunion. i don’t know how, but we managed this one just under the radar! our schedules all year never lined up – when i was free he wasn’t, and vice versa – and we could not figure out how to make this work. and then i magically had a week off in december, and the more i thought about it the more i realized how much i missed london. i hadn’t visited since march 2012, and i was missing my people and the energy of the city. so in the end i snuck in a visit – with a quick hop over to barcelona – and managed to see this lovely little brother of mine.
actually make the recipes i’ve been bookmarking for years. this was the year i made so many things i’ve not made before. i tried out some new recipes in the instant pot and refined my chili recipe. i bought a dutch oven and made some delicious soups and curries in it. it was fun to make some new things and to experiment a little, and it is always nice to have freezer leftovers that i can break out during those weeks when i don’t have the time or the energy to cook. but of course now i have even more recipes saved. it’s a never-ending cycle.
take 6 new-to-me fitness classes. weeeeelllll. i’ve always known i’m not much of a group exercise person, so honestly this one was always destined to fail. and that’s ok. but i do like one of the weekly core classes at the crosstown y and am hoping to make it a regular part of my routine, so i guess that’s something.
join the board of a local nonprofit. well this was a big fat no. i had a few i was interested in, even one i reached out to, but ultimately this wasn’t my year. i wasn’t able to make the time or financial commitment necessary for the boards i was interested in, but such is life. there’s always 2020, and i already have a good lead on one potential opportunity.
go on three farther away hiking trips. thanks to work and my travels i was able to make this one happen. in march we took some of our students to tishomingo state park in mississippi. in may jesse and i hiked the donut falls trail outside salt lake city. and in september kat, jeremy, alex, and i hiked the spray falls trail at mt. rainier national park, which also counts for another goal below.
learn hand-lettering / calligraphy. every now and again there is a goal that i keep around for a few years in the hopes i will finally get to it, and i just never do; in 2019 it was this one. it is still something i would like to do, and hopefully one day i will get around to it.
re-read shantaram. this one was shaky even when i typed it out in january. shantaram has been such an influential book in my life and i knew i wanted to revisit it, but i just wasn’t sure i had the energy to devote to it this year. but i did follow through on my compromise: in mid-december i re-read all of the passages i copied out of the book back in 2006 and remembered why i loved it so much all those years ago. one year i will re-read it, but it wasn’t 2019. maybe in 2021 when it’s been 15 years? i think it’s safe to say 38-year-old veena will find so many new things in it that went straight over 23-year-old veena’s head. it’s a thought.
visit a new-to-me national park. kat deserves a huge thank you for helping me achieve this one. when jeremy, alex, and i visited her in tacoma in september, we knew kat would be taking us on a hike, but we had no idea what she had in store for us. mowich lake and the spray falls trail in mt. rainier national park were stunning, and none of us were ready to leave when the time came. that wasn’t the park i had in mind at the beginning of the year, but of course it was the exact perfect one. sometimes these things have a way of working themselves out.
get started on one house project. does getting all of my art hung up count? because that took quite a few months to make happen, but i am happy with where everything wound up. and a huge thanks to brandon for helping me with that.
my 2019 reading goals.
i didn’t specify these goals with their own post, but i did have some reading goals in the back of my head for 2019.
at least 25 books. i never know at the outset of the year what my reading will look like. will i have time to read every night the way i like? will i start some books but not finish them because they don’t capture my attention? will i get sidetracked binging a show and let my reading fall by the wayside? all of these are things that have happened before and so therefore are entirely plausible, but last year i managed to surpass my goal of reading at least 25 books and wound up with 31 by the end of the year.
more nonfiction than fiction. i have been reading more and more nonfiction in recent years and wanted to see if 2019 could be the year i actually read more nonfiction than fiction, something that’s never happened before. i didn’t quite get there, with only 12 of my 31 books being nonfiction, but that’s probably the closest i’ve ever come and i will take it.
majority authors of color. i am working hard to be more intentional about the authors i am choosing to read with the hope of increasing the number of authors of color – particularly women of color – that i seek out. in the end 13 of my 31 reads were by authors of color, and this is something i will continue to strive for in the years to come.
favorite novel i read in 2019: as bright as heaven by susan meissner. this was one of those books i read at the exact time i needed it, and i was so much more moved by it than i anticipated when i started it. other favorites: rich people problems by kevin kwan / normal people by sally rooney / a woman is no man by etaf rum / the chestnut man by søren sveistrup
favorite non-fiction i read in 2019: no hard feelings by liz fosslien and mollie west duffy. i’ve said it so many times since june, but this book is chock full of great advice and anecdotes and i think everyone should read it. other favorites: becoming by michelle obama / educated by tara westover / biased by jennifer eberhardt / just mercy by bryan stevenson / range by david epstein / killers of the flower moon by david grann
2019 highlights month-by-month.
january. kat, jeremy, alex, and i took a long weekend road trip to chicago and spent 2 days and 3 nights wandering and eating and drinking and traipsing through snow and pretending to be city slickers. we had an absolute blast.
february. thanks to shamichael, i was invited to participate in a civic commons tour in dallas. i spent a few days meeting people from the other civic commons cities and learning about the great work better block is doing in dallas to increase access to public spaces. i learned so much from the conversations i was able to participate in, and it is also where i met ruby who has become a really good friend. a close runner-up would be the night i got to be the grizzlies mvp spotlight.
march. i’ll be honest, march had a lot going on. work was crazy between hiring summer service members, parent orientations, and finalizing our last month of programming. i had a lot of personal things i was dealing with and was not in a good frame of mind mentally. definitely the coolest thing i did that month was attend the young collectors contemporary opening party where i not only rubbed elbows with local artists but also walked away with two fabulous pieces and some new friends. i’m so grateful to have been introduced to whitney and her team.
april. i got to spend easter with my kiddos! on a whim i messaged lindsay a week or so before easter to inquire about their plans for the weekend, and she said they were staying put in nashville and would i like to come visit? obviously my answer was yes. i drove in on saturday and was able to meet some friends at the jackalope ranch for their earth day birthday party [bonus points for contributing to their fundraiser for my organization] and then spent the rest of my time in the wright homestead. it was fun to be a part of their easter traditions [lizzie and i were in charge of hiding the eggs], and i am so happy it worked out for me to be there with them.
may. this one is a tie: i got to visit jesse in salt lake city and then a week later visited montreal and toronto with amai, sneha, and nithya. two out-of-town trips in the same month is a feat in itself, but these trips had the added bonuses of seeing jesse for the first time in a year and the devaraj sisters for the first time in three.
june. dillard and i went to the leslie odom, jr. concert at the orpheum and then snuck into the orpheum gala and gorged ourselves on food and drink. it was such a fun evening and i love the crazy antics dillard and i get up to when we’re left to our own devices.
july. the month i got to see hamilton not once but twice. my mother and i saw it as part of our season ticket package, and lauren and i saw it as our final date night before she and sam moved to boston. it only gets better with each viewing, and it was great to finally be able to share it with my mother.
august. i had the first week of august off work to recover from the summer, and it also happened to be sarah’s final few weeks in town. we lived it up on that week off, hitting up her favorite restaurants, taking riggs for a hike in shelby forest, trying out bouldering at memphis rox, lazing by the pool, and going big for one last night out in memphis. it was so nice to be able to spend so much time with her before she moved, especially since we were at separate conferences for the summer and didn’t get a lot of time to just hang out and catch up.
september. alex, jeremy, and i flew out to washington to see kat and make our way around seattle and tacoma. we had a nature day and a city day and house hunted and generally had a blast. also jeremy and i drove to little rock to see rbg and that was seriously cool.
october. i don’t know how i managed to get so lucky, but in the same week one friend offered me tickets to the facing history benefit dinner and another asked if i wanted to be her plus-one for the ncrm’s freedom awards ceremony and party. both were incredible events that i would not otherwise have been able to attend, and i am so, so grateful to will and to jen for thinking of me.
november. november kind of lasted forever, but we also had some fun things in there. indie memphis film fest is always a blast, but it was topped this year by my 15-year college reunion weekend. it was so much fun to catch up with all the people who came in town, and it was fun to see memphis again through the eyes of my friends who don’t live here and see it every day. i met some great people at rhodes, and i’m grateful i got to see so many of them that weekend. and an honorable mention has to go to seeing harry potter and the chamber of secrets in concert with the symphony. talk about a great way to close out a month.
december. this one is hands down the week i spent traipsing around london and barcelona with jeremy. i got to catch up with so many friends i hadn’t seen in years; we ate and drank so many delicious things; and we explored and wandered until our feet couldn’t take another step. it was awesome. close behind were st jude memphis marathon weekend [as it is every year] and my spontaneous adventure in key largo with chrystal and pat.
like i said, a lot happened in 2019. i am hopeful for some changes in 2020, but i am always grateful for my family, my friends, my job, and my home.
here’s to a wonderful 2020 for us all.