2021 Retrospective

What a year! Or, I suppose, three-quarters of a year, since I didn’t post my 2021 Prospective until April 2021!

2020 lingered into 2021, and it seems to be tagging along into 2022, as well. We are still living the pandemic lifestyle, which for me is also the pajama lifestyle, despite my best efforts at this year’s theme. As I write this, Omicron variant is surging throughout the U.S., and I have spent the last two weeks either hiding out in my house or in the woods.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about my 2021 theme“making my outsides match my insides,” i.e. my year-long focus on dressing up my meat car.

How’d I do?

Er… not so well.

I’m hesitant to call anything a failure — “I learned 100 things that didn’t work,” etc — but I was probably less invested than I have ever been in one of these themes.

And, in fairness, I knew it going in. After all, it took me three months to write my 2021 Prospective! I even talked to my therapist about the ambivalence I felt going into the year.

And as a result… I saw few results.

Time-lost gentlethem?

I still don’t look like a time-lost noblethem in my day-to-day life. I still routinely spend my days in pajamas or athleisure.

I did, however, pull together some cool outfits for parties!… of which there were few in 2021.

Stylebook?

I did add a bunch of clothes to Stylebook — 52 tops, 16 bottoms, 4 pairs of shoes, 7 dresses, and 20 accessories!

I’m not exactly predictable about using it to record or plan my outfits, though. But! I am still using it as of this week, and that’s not nothing.

Selfiegeddon 2021?

Let the record show that — until today, when I went back and added a whole bunch of forgotten photos — I hadn’t added anything to my “Selfiegeddon 2021” album since July 2021.

However, after collation, I do have 53 photos in there, which means I actually met that goal? Hooray! Here are a few I especially liked:

Snazzual Fridays (or any days)?

A partial success. I did a few of these, but I also frequently got to the end of the month, saw the item in Todoist, and hit “postpone” — especially near the end of the year. I can’t remember which of my selfies were for Snazzual Friday, and I can’t honestly recall what the last one I participated in was.

Body image?

I haven’t gotten more comfortable with having the body of a hobbit and the aspirations of an elf. I can’t say I’ve actually cut my hair as I’d planned, still worried about looking like a chubby teenaged boy. I basically never feel like someone other people would find attractive.

Wardrobe curation?

Generally a success. I got some great new clothes from StitchFix, but I recently discontinued my scheduled fixes, only because I couldn’t fit more in my wardrobe!

I did get rid of some items that didn’t make me feel great, didn’t fit well, or didn’t fit my personal style (such as it is). I also got better about doing seasonal purges.

Health, not weight?

I can’t say I remembered this goal past April 2021! Sweeteners (artificial or otherwise) and beer still have a large role in my diet. I would definitely not say that I killed my sweet tooth or that my diet got better.

But my various health measures remained stable, and I don’t want to kill anyone for a donut, so I can’t say it was an unmitigated failure.

But what did I learn?

I learned that, more important than looking like a time-lost noblethem is… being comfortable.

I can’t even stand having an itchy tag in my clothes; how am I supposed to stand hosiery, fitted suit jackets, or jewelry that clangs against the keyboard?

I also learned: I’m not doing it for myself. I put on real clothes only a) if I’m in a meeting and I’m going to be on camera, or b) in the rare event I leave the house. If I were doing it for myself, I’d do it as part of my regular routine. But I don’t.

I want people to see me and see an eccentric time-lost noblethem. But I’m not convinced that’s something I care about seeing myself; I’m fine with the vision inside my head.

… which doesn’t exemplify “inhabiting my meat car,” does it?

Also: I still struggle to see fat as beautiful. An ad for plus-size lingerie comes up in my Facebook feed, with an actual plus-size model, and I still feel revulsion. I don’t like this, and I wish it weren’t so, but there we are.

I need more positive body role models, but I’m struggling to find them at the same time as I work to cut back on the media I consume.

But! I will say this: I got a lot of joy looking back through those selfies from the year. I do see progress towards loving what I am — towards expressing myself through fashion — even if it’s not what I could have hoped.

Now, on to what else happened this year…

A year of endings

This year, we unfortunately lost two of our cats, Brianna and Burnbright.

Brianna was 15, and passed in March, to an aggressive nasal tumor. Burnbright was 17, and passed in May. He was still recovering from brain surgery to remove a meningioma when complications from diabetes and kidney failure told us it was time to say goodbye.

It’s hard to lose one cat in a year, let alone two. Burnbright was the first cat I adopted as an adult, and has a special place in my heart. Brianna was the cat we never expected to adopt, my beautiful feisty princess who we almost lost once, in 2020.

I still miss them, and it still hurts.

One less momentous ending was the end of my Out of the Abyss campaign. You know, that thing that caused me to write 80k words of emotional hurt/comfort with my character’s NPC boyfriend? That had a big impact on me — it literally felt like the end of a relationship.

A year of new beginnings

Because having merely one cat in our house seemed untenable, Matt and I adopted three new kittens in June from the local shelter. They were ~9 weeks old when we adopted them; two of them are biological brothers, and one of them was socialized along with the other two. As soon as we saw the trio, we knew we couldn’t split them up.

Nerds that we are, we named them after characters from P.G. Wodehouse novels — Monty Bodkin, Gussie Fink-Nottle, and Pongo Twistleton.

The only thing that has made the stress of this year bearable is having these kittens around; at my most bereft, I would just take a break to pet them.

Also this year? I became a manager — my title is now Engineering Manager, Frontend, and I have a team of two reporting to me. Nothing can really prepare you for management, but I’ve been studying the theory and attempting to apply that to my work. My company has also provided a great deal of training, mentorship, and onboarding assistance in this regard.

Other interesting stuff

  • I read 16 books. I did not reach my goal of 27, but honestly pandemic brain has ruined my ability to read, and reading is a habit I have to relearn.
  • My first short story publication — “The Mirrors of Her Eyes” — appeared in Daily Science Fiction.
  • I queried 10 different agents for Lioness; had 5 requests for partial/fulls, but so far no offers of rep.
  • Did a “Words in May” challenge.
  • Wrote 35 blog posts
  • Wrote 80k+ words on Bright Future, my druid and drow-fancying retelling of the Out of the Abyss adventure.
  • Started playing Pathfinder 2e, running through the Agents of Edgewatch module with some marvelous human beans I somehow met on r/lfg.
  • Traveled to San Diego for a work retreat. I stayed at the historical and haunted Hotel del Coronado, met my coworkers for the first time, and saw my friend Skye for the first time in 15 years. Of course, I also took lots of pictures of flowers and sea life.
  • Visited my mom several times.
  • Went camping with my dad in August, in some of the worst heat of the summer!
  • Hosted a visit from Matt’s parents.
  • Started my Morrowind Remastered stream and YouTube series.
  • Spent 3 nights, 4 days in a yurt in western MA for my birthday.
  • Made 249 iNaturalist observations
  • Took a Bushcraft 101 class
  • Spent a great deal of time in my garden and in the woods.
  • Grew an elderberry from a cutting. (Let’s see if it survives the winter in the ground).
  • Foraged and ate a wild mushroom for the first time!
  • Actually got to do some larping! I played two one-day events for Cottington Woods 2, and a 1-day event for Shadowvale.

All right, friends, I think that wraps it up for 2021. Let’s lay this one to rest and grow just enough in 2022.


Featured image by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Author: Lise

Hi, I'm Lise Fracalossi, a web developer and writer. I live in Central Massachusetts with my husband, three Maine coon cats, and a collection of ridiculous hats.