Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Besides the Books

In my my End of Year Book Survey and sharing my favorite books, I've told you guys a lot about my reading life this year.  Since I'm a person and not a robot, I sometimes like to share a bit about my life outside the world of blogging, and I know you guys like reading it.

As a lot of you guys know, 2013 got off to a busy start filled with transitions.  I kicked off the year by moving to start a job as Youth Librarian at a small public library in a rural area.  I was lucky to make some good friends as soon as I moved to Iowa who've become really dear to me, so I got to hang out with them in January and February.  I also spent a lot of time acquiring little things for my apartment to help me settle in better.  I joined my local Y at the beginning of January because I realized I was going crazy not exercising.

Posing with Gwyneth, my bicycle.

Since I had a steady income, a made a fairly large purchase at the beginning of March: a road bike!  When I was growing up, I lived really close to an amazing bike trail, and I always loved going on long rides down it.  Through high school, I rode a bike that my mom and I picked out for me in 5th grade.  We actually picked up that bike for me during the two years of my childhood we spent in Iowa.  It served me well, but it was a cheap bike from a hardware store, and I'd been wanting to buy myself a nice bike for a long time.  A friend who's more knowledge about bikes than I am went shopping with me and road along aside me for some test rides.  I walked away with a gorgeous road bike that I love.  Because of the weather, I had to wait a few weeks until I could ride it, but after that I had lots of chances to ride it, especially since I decided to start training for a sprint triathlon.

April and May brought a lot of time with family and friends: lots of bike rides and delicious meals, and I got to see my brother when he came to visit my parents.  Memorial Day weekend brought a cold and rainy Ren Faire.

 There's not a good place to put a deflated inner tube when you're out riding, so I fashioned it into a necklace.

In June and July, each weekend was filled either with a family commitment or plans to go bike riding.  Of the bike rides, two are especially notable. One involved 90 degree weather, lots of humidity, and tons of hills, all over the course of 67 miles.  Another weekend I rode 100 miles with a group of friend.  Saturday we rode about 50 miles from the beginning of a trail to the end, where we rode off to a town right off the trail and stayed in a hotel.  I got my first flat tire that day in the middle of an open field where it was pouring rain. Sunday brought much clearer weather, thankfully.

Finishing my race! I am pretty damp and chilly here.

I also completed my first sprint triathlon! The swim was 300 meters, the bike 15 miles, and the run 4.  The run was supposed to be a 5K, but the course had been incorrectly measured.  The swim was really tough because I could barely see in the water and thus got a little off course, but I finished in one piece.  Also, we ran through some woods, which was exciting because not only had it been raining for a month, but it thundered and lightened during the race.

My extended family celebrated the marriage of my cousin and her fiancee, in Wisconsin.  My cousin lives in California, but she and her now husband are both from the midwest, so there was a reception at my uncle's house the month before the wedding.  I actually drove to another part of Iowa where my met another uncle, and rode up with him, which totaled for an 8 hour trip one way.  It was definitely worth it to see so many aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandparents.  On the way home we had to take a detour, and nearly ran out of gas as we got lost taking the detour.  I had to eat my uncle's emergency salted nut roll because we drove through a lot of communities that were too small to have a gas station.  If you think it's weird he keeps a salted nut roll in his car, it's because they don't melt or freeze.

I wrapped up July by doing a few days of an event called RAGBRAI, short for Register's Annual Great Bike Race Across Iowa.  While it's a week long, I did three days of it, for lack of vacation time.  I did this with a friend, and quickly learned you have to really enjoy the person you'll be riding and camping with so much.  I fell out with that person at the end of the event, but I'm so glad I had to chance to try such an awesome ride. I can't wait to do the whole thing at some point in the future.

 The end of August brought one last long bike ride, that was filled with gorgeous scenery.  I found that September and October included lots of family time.  A close friend of mine from grad school moved a town that's an hour away from where my parents live.  One weekend when life got stressful, I brought her to my parents' house where we ate cupcakes and deep fried cheese curds, snuggled with my dog, perused a used bookstore, and watched some ZeFrank videos on YouTube.

Going back to one bookish thing, during the fall, fellow Youth Librarian Ally and I started a library blog, called Library Lore.  I wanted to start a separate blog about library services, but didn't want to do it alone.  We've had lots of fun so far, so come check it out!

My brother, who picked up a stuffed monkey for me when he went to Indonesia.

Late September and early October brought some tough times.  A family friend who had struggled with brain cancer for a year and a half passed away.  Her funeral was more like a traditional church service than a funeral, which was appropriate because she was a pastor.  It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and healing all at once.  While I was with family that weekend, we also learned that my Uncle John passed away.  It was unnerving two experiences so close together: one that we knew was coming but was still too soon and another that was a bit more out of the blue.  I made a point of spending extra time with my mom in October, because I knew it was hard for her.  Luckily my brother came to visit in October, and while we didn't get to all four hang out as a family, I got some time to hang out with him, and so did our parents.

 November brought a nice 3 day weekend with my father and my puppy, as well as Thanksgiving!  We held it at our house, and I got to celebrate with my friend from grad school, lots of immediate and extended family, and a friend of my brother's who's joined us for several years. While there was a lot of lying around (my turkey hangover felt more extreme than usual this year), we ventured out to see Catching Fire, which was enjoyable.

I spent December happily preparing for Christmas. I baked 200 cookies for my women's group and indulged in watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music.  I was lucky enough to travel to my parents' house and then my grandparents' house. It involved 16 hours of driving not only in one week, but in freezing cold temperatures.  I had The Wise Man's Fear audiobook to keep me company, and all of that driving was so, so worth it to get to see my family.

2013 was definitely a year of ups and downs.  I found myself reminded of how important is both to spend time with loved ones and welcome new people into your life.  I was reminded that to be happy in life, you have to be proactive, put yourself out there, and take chances. It was a crazy ride, and I'm curious as to what 2014 will hold.


  1. Thanks for sharing all of this with us, Liz! I love personal, "behind the blog" posts like this. I'm looking forward to following another year of your blog and chatting about books and such with you! Happy New Year!

  2. Sounds like 2013 was a busy year with some good and some bad. Sometimes I think that's all we can ask for! All that bike riding looks amazing. I used to do a fair amount of riding as a teenager, but I fell out of the habit in college and while living in NYC and I would definitely like to get back into it.

  3. Just picked up the Temple Wars book! Book 1 is fascinating and had me engaged from page one! You guys should check it out! Temple Wars



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