The night before I left for Tennessee—moving out on my own for the first time—my dad gifted me a set of stationery and matching envelopes, so we could keep in touch by writing letters. Every week or two since then, he has faithfully sent me news from the home front—updates on the dog's antics, the family's move from Chicago to Cincinnati, the backlash he received from my mom and brother when he cut his own hair too short for their liking, etc. Every letter is full of love, and reading just one page is usually enough to make me weep.
But there is almost always one story in each letter that makes me laugh out loud, and I wanted to share the one from January 1, 2019. (Backstory: my parents recently moved to Cincinnati to downsize but had to build a new home in a new neighborhood. They've been in a construction zone ever since.)
We're down to two houses under construction on our street. Someone moved in two doors down over the weekend. Caught me by surprise because they don't have a driveway or sidewalk yet. I didn't think you could get an occupancy permit without those?
To welcome them to the neighborhood introvert-style, we baked some chocolate chip cookies and ate them while we watched them move in from our window.
I love my family so damn much. Never change, y'all.
Best nickname given: Ice King
Best nickname received: Fire Queen
Best nickname stolen: Knife Pervert
Best Twitter name squatted: @BigSkirtsEnergy
Best boyfriend: Ice King
Best new crush (sorry, boyfriend): Marty Scurll
Best friend forever: Tyler, aka @thursdayschild
Best new Twitter bio: "I'm into smart and beautiful chicks fucking everyone over."
Best inside joke: "Sip."
Best imaginary harem invented with Tyler: The Great French Bless-up
Home & Abroad
Best pet adopted: Gus the Explorer, a very cute and very aloof hedgehog
Best furniture inherited: a couch, finally; I sat on wicker chairs for two full years
Best plant not killed: a bird's nest fern ordered online from The Sill
Best meal cooked after a month with Blue Apron: this tilapia recipe, omg
Best food not found in Tennessee: bagels
Best pizza shipped across the country: Giordano's
Best new-to-me root beer: Virgil's
Best event attended, #sincerely: NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed
Best geocache found: definitely not the one that required walking through small ponds in a forest until my socks and shoes were destroyed forever, Dad
Best unhappy travel companion: Gus, who does not like road trips one bit
Best new television show: The Good Place
Best television show to watch on repeat literally every week for the entirety of 2018: Great British Baking Show
Best television show for taking nine seasons to give me the romantic relationship I wanted all along, oh my gosh, just kiss already: Frasier
Best album for really letting loose in the car: A Pentatonix Christmas, which was on repeat for at least two full road trips
Best soundtrack to encourage speeding: Baby Driver: Music from the Motion Picture
Best Pentatonix song covered by my church (with a professional beatboxer and everything!): "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
Best movie sequel watched out of order, oops: Once Upon a Deadpool
Best oh-so-pretty movie that was also oh-so-good: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Best holiday movie watched with family: The Christmas Chronicles
Best video game watched: Assassins Creed: Origins
Best mobile game completed in one sitting: Donut County
Best mobile game full of garden gnomes: Sims Mobile
Best book read for self-improvement: The Five Love Languages
Best book read to expand and challenge my worldview: The Hate U Give
Best book read purely for entertainment: Foundation
Best podcast that I will actually stay caught up on: My Brother, My Brother and Me
Best podcast that I am very behind on but still love: Roderick on the Line
Best podcast episode that I immediately wanted to listen to a second time: Kristen Bell's interview on Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend
Best app: Pacifica, a mental health app which I downloaded at the recommendation of my boyfriend; I love it so much that I spent real money to unlock additional features for a year
Best smart home upgrade purchased for a hedgehog: Philips Hue bulbs, one of which is set on a schedule to simulate summer sunrise and sunset in the guest room (to help my nocturnal hedgehog maintain a steady schedule even in the dark winter months)
Best day of the whole damn year: November 16, when a new Panera opened in Tennessee (only thirty minutes away from my house; prior to that, the closest one was two hours away)
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what a conventional political race is supposed to look like. For the first thirty years of my life, I lived in Illinois, where four of our most recent seven governors ended up in jail. Political ads there might as well skip to the point with slogans like "slightly less corrupt than the other guy you could vote for" or "only embezzles on Wednesdays."
In Tennessee, meanwhile, the postcards I've received this month all start off listing qualities like "Sunday school teacher" and "upstanding citizen" and "family man."
The last one hit me like a ton of bricks earlier this week, as I realized none of the women running for office listed "family woman." In fact, I've never in my life heard the phrase "family woman"—presumably because it's considered redundant. No one applauds a woman for spending time with her children; instead, they belittle her if she dares to pursue goals outside of being a caretaker and homemaker.
They get to award themselves a TITLE and probably a TROPHY if they can manage to glance at their children after a hard day's work of embezzling, and I'm here to report that this is still STUPID.