in recent years


totally top five 2k17: reading

2017 was an awful year for me in terms of reading, so much so that I actually decided to halve my Goodreads challenge for this year so that I wouldn’t feel quite so disappointed in myself over something, uh, fairly trivial. (I haven’t completed a challenge since 2015! I’m a disgrace!) But I did like a lot of what I read and here are my Totally Top Five for 2017!

5. Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella – This was my only audiobook of the year and it was a joy. A sweet story with a great reader and a nice rendering of the struggles of teenagerdom, but a version where there are institutions and people in a place to provide care for your mental health with little stigma. I had some issues with the story (there’s some med-shaming and too much emphasis placed on a romantic partner in the recovery process) but I enjoyed my time with these characters.

4. Trouble Makes a Comeback, Stephanie Tromly – This is the sequel to Trouble Is a Friend of Mine which was my favorite book of 2016 and though it wasn’t quite as good as the first, it was just as much fun. I love these characters and the way that they talk to each other and the dubious capers in which they get embroiled and I cannot wait to read the next one.

3. Say What You Will, Cammie McGovern – I absolutely loved the characters in this book and was so grateful to see disabled teenagers with full narrative voices living their lives and having a romance! I also really appreciated that the depiction of mental health and disability were more complex and uglier than the sort of soundbite version you often see in media, especially because it was largely devoid of pity AND inspiration porn. I also just really love a story where two people are kind of tossed together and you get to see how they fit into each other’s lives and this is an awesome version of that.

2. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, Kate Hattemer – This was an absolute joy to read, funny and charming with engaging, vibrant characters who I wanted to spend lots and lots of time with. I loved the friendship in this and the dialogue and the way that characters interacted with each other. Also, I think this book genuinely has one of the weirdest, goofiest, and most unexpected Chekhov’s Gun situations in the history of, like, human language and I am better for having read it.

1. All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders – I have a habit of buying books based on the absolute shortest blurbs or, in this case, pretty much just based on their covers and then forgetting everything I know about them before I read them. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, sometimes good, but in the case of All the Birds in the Sky it was a complete windfall because I absolutely never would have bought or read it if I’d know what it was about and I would have missed out on my absolute favorite book of 2017.

It’s weird and funny and charming and unexpected and the characters are engaging and well-developed and they grow and evolve and I am not going to tell you a single thing about it because I can’t do it justice. If you haven’t read it yet, do.

Honorable Mentions

Courtney Milan, Trade Me | Kasie West, By Your Side | Diane Adams & Claire Keane, Love Is


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totally top five 2k17: listening

I listened to so much more music in 2017 than I have in kind of a long time! Mostly because I’ve been at my job long enough now that I know I can get away with listening to music at a much higher volume than I would have previously imagined, but also because I started paying attention when Spotify recommends things to me because it turns out that The Algorithm actually understands me sometimes.

Below, in no particular order, are my Totally! Top! Five! for both albums and jamz. Yeah, that’s right, I listened to WHOLE ALBUMS this year!! 2017 might have been a shitshow in an increasingly vast number of ways, but at least we had some pop culture to cling to, yeah? Yeah.

Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love” is gooooorgeous and cool and old-school and reminds me of my childhood while also sounding insanely new. I was amped for this as soon as it was announced and even after an entire year with it, it does not disappoint. Standout tracks: “Me and Your Mama,” “Redbone,” and “California.”

Lady Gaga, “The Cure” – This song hit me in a real weird place and made me cry a lot in the first few weeks I was listening to it, but it was good, cathartic crying and, uh, it eventually tapered off so I could just listen to this and do a kind of weird interpretive dance and yell while being intensely over-invested in it.

A Tribe Called Red, We Are the Halluci Nation is soooooooo sooooooo good. I haven’t been disappointed with an album from A Tribe Called Red yet, but this one is particularly powerful and also manages to also be packed with jamz. If you don’t already know A Tribe Called Red, you are EXTREMELY missing out. Standout tracks: “R.E.D.,” “Sila,” and “The Muse.”

Matt & Kim, “Let’s Run Away” – I have absolutely no idea how I first heard this song this year, but I am super glad I did. This is such a jam, so fun, so aurally pleasing, so rich with kind of weird vocal and lyrical and musical elements, and obscenely good for playing loud in the car with the windows down.

Moors, Moors is an EP from 2014 that I somehow stumbled upon this year and could nooooooooot stop listening to. I know Lakeith Stanfield is pretty busy being a super talented and handsome actor and stuff right now, but I could use like 100 more songs from Moors, like any time. Standout tracks: “Gas,” “Fire,” and “Smoke.” Also, the rest of it.

Charlie Puth, “Attention” – This was my first real “Spotify says I should listen to this–OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS” experience and even though that was in APRIL, I am still not sick of this song. This is fun and dance-y and hits all those perfect pop notes you need to have a great summer jam. Also, the bass line is killllllllerrrrrrrrrr.

Harry Styles, Harry Styles is the album I would have least expected to see on this list prior to hearing its lead single because, I mean… The one with the hair from the boy band? Really? Really really? But yeah, really really because this album is great and I could probably listen to that lead single 10 times in a row without getting sick of it. Standout tracks: “Sign of the Times,” “Carolina,” and “Woman.”

Fall Out Boy, “Young and Menace” – This was my number one most listened song this year according to Spotify and I’m absolutely not going to argue because I listened to it a lot, I think so much so that I blame it for me falling into a very intense (and seemingly unending) 2008 nostalgia loop for the last couple months of the year. Also, if you aren’t immediately charmed by an “Oops!… I Did It Again” reference, what are you doing with your life?

Khalid, American Teen is unbelievably good and also infuriating because this talented-ass bitch is only NINETEEN!! Thankfully the album is so good that it actually keeps me from spending the entire time thinking about how I’m one foot in the grave without having accomplished jack shit. Standout tracks: “Young, Dumb & Broke,” “Another Sad Love Song,” and “Winter.”

Kesha, “Praying” – Speaking of crying… I heard this for the first time while I was waiting in the car while Crystal ran in and grabbed us coffees and I just fully started sobbing as soon as the song started and was so overwhelmed with feelings by the time Crystal came back, I just sort of waved at the car stereo and hiccupped between my weird snotty cries. I am extremely glad Kesha is back.

Honorable Mentions

Eric Prydz, “Call On Me” | J Balvin & Willy William, “Mi Gente” | Local Natives, “I Saw You Close Your Eyes” | Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, “Despacito feat. Justin Bieber (Remix)” | Selena Gomez, “Bad Liar”


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totally top five: holiday romcoms

Crystal and I have spent like, the last three holiday seasons, watching a whole bunch of those made-for-tv(ish) holiday romantic comedy/dramedy movies available on various streaming services because the holidays are a time for ignoring your problems and watching laughably bad movies made on shoestring budgets, so here are five of my favorites in no particular order!

The Spirit of Christmas mostly gets points because it has, by far, the best looking male lead in a sea of mediocre white guys. Also, he’s a ghost and kind of rude and stand-offish in a way that’s both infuriating and kind of hot. Jen Lilley is also enjoyable, even if her character is a little too tv Christmas movie trope-y for my extremely refined tastes. Their chemistry is good and the movement from antagonistic to romantic is extremely enjoyable. Also, this is the only movie on this list that I paid actual money to watch and I didn’t even feel ripped off!

A Snow Globe Christmas is great because they took Alicia Witt and let her be kind of caustic and then paired her with a cheerful, patient (and handsome!) Donald Faison and then actually let them kind of play and push at each other instead of just making them walk a standard romcom line. This one is kind of a weird ride though, let me tell you. And it’s one of the first that had an ending I couldn’t exactly predict!

Naughty & Nice or Christmas Mix (How much do I love that so many of these movies have multiple names? SO MUCH.) is one we put off watching for a long time because we’d been avoiding all the Haylie Duff movies (I have an aversion.) but had to finally give in because we were running out of other options. She is actually very charming here and Tilky Jones is probably the second handsomest mediocre white dude I’ve seen in these movies. Also, he used to be in a boy band. This one’s got good chemistry which helps tolerating the unnecessary complications of the third act easier. Also Marsha Brady’s a badass, mountain-y mom in this, which was a delightful surprise.

Married by Christmas or The Engagement Clause is our most recent watch and possibly my very favorite? Jes Macallan is great; pretty and pretty normal and super funny, especially while playing drunk, and Coby Ryan McLaughlin is handsome and extremely charming even while being a dick. This one was mildly frustrating because the lead is blamed for things she shouldn’t be, but it makes up for it by actually featuring a gay character (!! I still absolutely cannot believe Hallmark isn’t churning out at least one gay/lesbian version of these movies every year. Honestly. What a waste.) and also being intentionally funnier and missing the typical unnecessarily complicated third act! Also, shout out to the world’s ugliest wedding dress.

A Holiday Engagement has an okay-ish dude the the very charming Bonnie Somerville who is way better served by this script than she ever was on Friends and Jordan Bridges is pretty good-looking. (I know where my priorities are, thank you.) I loooooooooooove a good fake relationship story and this one is very dumb and very cute. The real winner in this though is the kooky family element and all of the Christmas-y fun that develops from it. Also, Shelley Long is a DELIGHT.

Honorable Mentions

How Sarah Got Her Wings | Window Wonderland | Christmas Crush or Holiday High School Reunion

If you need even more recommendations for holiday viewing this season, I also have a Totally Top 5: Christmas Movies edition. 🎄🎅🏿

jolly jingles: 2k17

christmas ornament background with jolly jingles 2k17 in chalky script

track listing

listen at spotify

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

I apologize for not having a free listening option anymore/yet. Let me know if you have any ideas!

it's okay to step back

I saw an extremely good tweet the other day that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about because I really needed to see it and thought that maybe you might need to see it too.

twitter user lrsphm says that it's ok to go offline bc we arent made to process human suffering on this scale

We are living in a technological future that pretty much no one could have predicted. The speed and scope with which we are presented with information is almost unfathomable for us even though we are alive right now, living through it. We hear about natural disasters and acts of violence and terrorism near-instantly. We see human suffering constantly, in real-time. There is information coming at you all the time, from every angle, in absolutely every space you inhabit, virtually or physically (When’s the last time you were in a waiting room without a TV tuned to some kind of news?) and it is emotionally and mentally exhausting.

And you should step away from it when you can, when you need to.

It’s a privilege to be able to disengage from the news and you shouldn’t do it, like, permanently, but if you can stop the constant stream of information for a little while, you probably should.

Whatever that disconnection looks like for you is FINE. Maybe you like nature, maybe you like mindless comedies from the 80s, maybe you want to read a YA novel while you curl up in bed, maybe you want to listen to Enya and take a bath, maybe you want to take a nap. Whatever lets you feel a little bit detached from the information stream is going to help you feel less overwhelmed.

You deserve to feel a little less bad. You deserve to feel a tiny bit of peace. You deserve to chill out for five minutes. You deserve more than that, but again, I’m trying to be realistic here. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for disconnecting. Also, don’t let yourself disconnect forever. Life’s a balancing act and you deserve to find the closest thing to balance that you can.

Take care of yourself! You’re wonderful. 💖