Whose Reality Are We Reflecting?

In Amazing Grace, one of my favourite childhood picture books, Grace, a black girl, is told that she can’t play Peter Pan because he is a white boy!

No adult has ever told the (multiracial) nursery class that Peter Pan can only be white. But it is the only thing they have seen. Despite securing the audition for the role, Grace even starts to doubt it herself.

Eventually, Grace’s Nanny takes her to a ballet to see a black ballerina and gives her the “you can do anything” pep talk. Grace, of course, gets the role of Peter Pan. On the night of the play, Grace GIVES IT TO DEM. She kills the role of Peter Pan in the play like none of the other kids could- they even apologise for saying she couldn’t do it right.

I talk a lot about my status of Book Aunty. I find and buy books every year for kids (at request of their parents).

Nurturing younger readers brings a serious joy to my life. It helps me feel closer to my late godmother, I’ve talked about it before (she bought me books, I buy them books). It brings me joy to see these kids with their noses in books, for them to be excited because the book they wanted has finally been added to their collection, to hear them talk about their favourite characters and authors.

I was born twenty-five years ago. My parents struggled to find books for my childhood library that included black people; the parents of these kids are going through the exact same struggle.

Black kids who should be able to see themselves and the people around them reflected in the books they read.

This week, a study by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) showed that in 2017, about 4% of children’s books published contained BAME characters. Only 1% of the books had a BAME protagonist. All of this, despite BAME children making up 32% of the children in compulsory education.

There were 9115 children’s titles published in Britain. That means that 391 books published for children have Characters of Colour present, that 91 books have Protagonists of Colour.

Am I surprised? No.

Am I disappointed. Yes… still.

I’ve been disappointed for years. First as a child, and now as an adult.

I wish I still had the application essay that helped me secure a place at Kingston University to study Publishing. I can’t recall the exact words, but I know the sentiment hasn’t changed.

Children are being failed.

Children are smart, smarter than we give them credit for.

They are intuitive, can pick up on cues. They listen in on “grown up” conversations. They watch the news. They look at the world presented to them in real life, on the page and on the big, small and tiny screens.

They don’t need to be told something explicitly to get the message.

And they are not colour-blind.

They see discrimination just as clearly as we do- even if they might not have the vocabulary to express what they are seeing and experiencing. And it affects them deeply. On a psychological level- the basis of their ego, their self-image, their worth in society.

Somehow, I guess I just didn’t think it was that bad.

After all, I always manage to find the books for the kids that aren’t just “issue” books for kids. A lot of books featuring black characters often do tackle the delicate way to explain racism and discrimination to children, there’s less black kids just doing “normal” kid things. Imagine being a child where the only characters that look like you are experiencing racism when you, yourself are also dealing with racism in your life.

Please, where is the escapism (something a lot of us value about reading) in that?

When I look at the titles I have purchased, they fall in to one of two categories: Books I remember from my own childhood and  American imports. This industry can’t just rely on Americans to do the work, nor can it rely on nostalgia- this country has to support and represent its new, home-grown talent.

There are so many nuances in the BAME British experience that America will never address because it doesn’t have them. Imagine hearing that BAME authors are not even attempting to get published initially in the UK but are instead exporting their stories because they are being told that there is no market for what they are writing!?

The Publishing industry in the UK needs to be braver. To be smarter. To do better.

We already know how. We’ve discussed it enough.

The time has come to match words with action.

Below are some people I know of who are doing more than talking, if you know any more, please add them in the comments below:

This is Book Love – a multi-cultural, multi-lingual pop-up (and online) book store.
Booktrust – The UK’s largest children’s reading charity.
Knights Of – A new children’s publisher team who decided to do the DAMN THING themselves. Originators of the #BooksMadeBetter campaign.
Alanna Max – An indie children’s publisher with naturally inclusive children’s stories.
Inclusive Minds – publishing collective committed to changing the face of children’s books.
Spread The Word – London based writers development agency devoted to the new writers of all backgrounds living in the capital, hosts of the annual London Short Story Prize.
Commonword – Manchester based, writers development agency that has been open since 1977.
The Good Literary Agency – the team behind best-selling, award-winning collection of the British BAME Experience The Good Immigrant working to supporting homegrown writing talent.
Mediadiversified – giving a platform to BAME Brits and founded the Bare Lit Festival, which amplifies the voices of writers of colour.
BAME in Publishing – a networking opportunity held every month for BAME people trying to get into publishing and those of us who have finally gotten our feet through the door.

If you would like to read the CLPE report for yourself, it is available to download in full here.

What’s your favourite?

Hi Lads,

Quick question, one I’d like to pose to you all. Just out of curiosity.

As I said before… I usually devour books. That is the only way to describe how I breeze through them with a quickness that sometimes has me forgetting I’ve read the book and taking it out again at the library (this has happened to me multiple times and I’ve only realised like a third into the story….)

I usually don’t want to put the book down, I gotta get through it as soon as possible and then marinate in my thoughts.

Recently though… as I’ve been reading books on short intervals via my stop-over commute to and from work/ during my lunch hour… I’m starting to enjoy taking my time with stories. Actually savouring the words instead of acting like I’m Naruto Uzumaki at Ichiraku’s you know?

Both ways are fun methods of reading… but back to my question.

What’s your favourite kind of read?

  1. That un-put-downable, I don’t want this to end, counting how many pages til I reach the end book. aka. The book you can’t wait to finish
  2. That slow-burn, I need to ruminate over the sentence structure and cyclical themes to collect every single detail book in bits and pieces book. aka. The Book You Don’t Want to End.

There’s no wrong answer.

THAT book

“You know… I don’t actually like reading…”

Kwasi told me… and upon seeing my eyes widen and eyebrows touch my hairline (probably), he was quick to expand the statement “unless it the books you give me.”

So we started to talk.

Why doesn’t Kwasi like to read books?

They don’t get him excited, he’s not interested, most of the reading he does, is reading for schoolwork. He’d rather sit down with his brother and play on the xbox or laptop. The usual things you’d expect to hear from a teenage boy who is justifying why he doesn’t make the time to read for pleasure.

The biggest reason though, Kwasi can’t find a book that he feels is for him.

He hadn’t had that book yet.

The book that made him excited to read.

I remember back in the early 2000s when my brother borrowed that very first copy of Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak from the school library. Omari wasn’t a reader like I was, so it was really weird for our parents to see the boy who’d rather be biking on the street or watching Dragon Ball Z curled up with a book in his hand all of the sudden.

It set off a chain reaction in him.

He didn’t want to borrow from the school anymore, he wanted a copy that was his alone (seriously, he would not share, when I wanted to read them, I had to buy my own copies when I wanted to read it). And then, every time he saw a new addition had been released, he’d head down to the local WH Smith with mum and a tenner to get his fix.

After encountering this book, my brother actively started looking for books to read, first, books by Darren Shan, after all, he devoured the Saga of Darren Shan, why wouldn’t he also enjoy the Demonata series or The Thin Executioner? After literally exhausting his complete Darren Shan collection, my brother went on to Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider, and Justin Somper’s Vampirates (absolute banger of a book series tbh).

(To tell you how much my brother and I appreciate Darren Shan’s horror writing; there is a small bookshelf in our upstairs hallway stocked with a near complete list of Darren Shan’s bibliography… and we both got hyped at our big university ages when we found out that Darren Shan had been releasing instalments of Zom-B.)

Omari had found his book.

It’s harder when the book recipient has particular tastes. Kwasi’s not big into magic, so fantasy is out of the question (which as a devotee to SFF, dissertation on High Fantasy writer, broke my heart). A lot of the books I read at Kwasi’s age had female protagonists, great for me, but I he’d wasn’t interested in Georgia Nicholson’s confessional diary and similar titles. It takes time, patience and experimentation to help a kid find that book.

But I found that book.

Malorie Blackman’s Boys Don’t Cry.

I actually got a text from Kwasi thanking me for finding that book for him, and if I could get him some more Malorie Blackman books. Since then I have been, mostly books that I’ve read and loved myself. I know his mum takes him and his siblings to the library as often as she can, and I give him names of books I remember reading, or authors I think he’d enjoy. For his fourteenth birthday, he got an entire book series (Gone by Michael Grant) and he’s currently working his way through those.

Seeing him carry around a copy of these books with the cracked spine and doggy eared pages doesn’t inspire anger in me it might some other book lovers- after all, the books are his now, I should just be glad he’s finally found joy in reading.

What’s good Twenty Eighteen?

At the end of 2017 I said to myself, you’re already making the moves Fayola, you know what your goals are, it doesn’t matter when you start them or when you achieve them as long as you’re striving towards them.

Last year my most important goal was to get a job in publishing. It was one of the few I ended up achieving. (unpacking from undergrad after…. 3 years… was also one of these things).

I set myself this challenge in January… it didn’t happen for the longest time. It wasn’t until the summer that I was actually going to interviews on the regular and actually landed an internship which eventually led to me looking experienced and comfortable enough to get hired full time at my job (which I started at the end of October).

I know what sort of things I’ll be trying to make progress on this year.

I want to complete the renovation of my room aka reclaiming my space at home, knowing that I’ll be living at home for a long while still.

I want to learn how to drive, I still can’t drive. On this year where I’ll be living for a whole quarter century, I think it’s time I actually step up, plan it and follow through.

I want to be healthier to myself. Get a better relationship with food and exercise. To be healthier with the boundaries I set and enforce with my loved ones. To be able to say “no” with my chest and not feel bad about being pliable, unavailable or too broke for something else.

I want to take time to enjoy myself, attend more events, travel more, try new hobbies until I find something that I don’t want to stop.

I want to be the best version of myself possible, but of course I want that every year.

I want to replenish my savings account, which has suffered over the few years of my unemployment.

I want to continue using the bullet journal method- because in the month that I haven’t been… my life has been a small, small mess.

I’m also going to take the time to acknowledge that even though I only achieved a few things, they were good things. And honestly, that was an achievement in and of itself.

Bookkeeping

Cleaning out my bookshelf has been an emotional event.

I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the generation who love and adore Toy Story, or because humans pack-bond with just about anything, or even if it’s just because I was probably a busy, heavily scheduled child and spent a lot of time with my belongings as opposed to people- but what happened is… I became very much attached to all of my belongings.

Sometimes its sentimental, other times… I spent money and I didn’t want to confirm that this money has been wastefully spent or misused.

Books have been… very important my whole life, and I’m blessed now that I get to work in this industry. My home has two bookshelves, one upstairs, one downstairs, both of which were previously housed in my room, but are now out in the communal areas of my home. On these many shelves, often double-stacked. Lay 90% of the books in the house… of these books, again, 90% of them were mine. The other 10% comprised of my brother’s small collection of teen horror, fantasy and spy books, and my mum’s holiday reads that she never quite got around to.

The first thing I noticed was that I had had some of these books for…. Years and had probably never touched them since the first time I read them cover to cover. There were books I have had since primary school…. Chronicles of Narnia, Rhol Dahl box collection, a whole lot of Enid Blyton… Stories I remembered fondly, but didn’t really want to revisit. I had and will continue to carry the memories and feelings but I don’t need the item myself. I can pass it on and give this experience to someone else.

The second thing I noticed, was how many multiples I had collected. Mostly given as gifts, or maybe I forgot that I had the same book at home and bought it again. No, they were not signed, no they were not different, no they were no more special than the other copies. They were exactly the same. It’s a bit mad to see all of my books spread out in front of me. Like… I truly didn’t realise the extent of books that I was holding onto because as a self-labelled “book worm” I felt that to give them away or throw them out would damage my imaginary cred.

Sorting through the books there were originally three categories:

1 Books I’m going to keep.

2 Books that are going to my cousin’s school (primary school) in Trinidad.

3 Books that are going to charity.

When I was finished sorting the books, I then damp dusted all of the shelves and some of the books. Before putting the Keepers back on the shelves. That left me with seven boxes full of things that I was letting go. One huge book (more like a mini-crate) for my cousin’s school and six books that were going to get donated. My local Cancer Research charity shop had asked for donations… boy I had a lot of them.

Only my mum asked me to put some thought into it. Six boxes of books are a lot to donate to one place. What else could I do with these books to spread out the joy?

The first thing- one of my Work Aunties TM from Sierra Leonne was fundraising for her former secondary school to get a library. Yes, I had to look through all of these boxes again, but I found that there were enough books for tweens and teens to fill two boxes.

Next, what about my cousins back home? About all the family who visit the house and would maybe like a way to pass the time? Again, another huge box full of things that I thought they would enjoy, that I wouldn’t mind revisiting on the holidays I take but wouldn’t want to keep for myself.

Which left three boxes for my local. Something a bit more understanding that as the new year starts people start throwing out and donating things or dumping them on these charity shops. We dropped them off today. Tomorrow my Work Auntie TM is going to collect the books for her school. The books that are going to the house in Trinidad and my cousin’s school will be sent along with the next set of barrels.

The way I felt at the end of that three-day deep cleaning of my books made me feel so good.

I always thought that I’d feel pained to remove books from myself, which was one of the reasons that I was so hesitant to finally tackle my bookshelves. Also thought I’d be one of those minimalists who had one thing that they would continue to splurge on, this thing being books and stories.

I always love collecting a good series, and I imagine I will continue to do so… most likely in an e-book format (though to be honest I am particularly weak when presented with a beautiful hardback or paperback).

Bookgiving 2017

In this 2017 all my kids getting books and pyjamas because we want to encourage them to (what?) READ and get enough SLEEP (and give their parents a break in this coming 2018th year of our Lord). Some of my kids’ families don’t celebrate Christmas- which is why this is about book-giving.

I try my best to find brown protagonists for my brown babies, introduce them to familiar folklore or re-imaginings of things they may have heard sitting in Grandma’s lap. Because that’s what Book Aunties DO!

I got 9 kids to shop for aged 2 to 13 years.


Afia is my little Ghana princess, my baby ghel. My dolly-child. She loves Disney princesses, legos and taking care of her two big brothers, even when they are mean. A serious petite madam who is always excited to read to me.

What they got: Ada Twist, Scientist Andrea Beatley, With Love from Anna Hibiscus Atinuke

Why I bought it: With Love from Anna Hibiscus was a request, lads, when you get that premier book from a series you are SET. Here is proof- the next book in the Anna Hibiscus series was a request. Like Pokémon- Afia’s trying to catch ’em all! Ada Twist, Scientist is a fun book about a little girl who’s smart as HELL and has a supportive family who encourage her all through her life- just like my girl! Plus it’s cute AF!

Kwasi has been through a lot in his short 13 years. Sometimes I know I spoil and indulge him because I know I want him to feel loved and supported, and now I’m seeing the teen angst and anger sweep through him. I try to find him books that are a bit more mature now so he doesn’t feel like he’s being talked down to.

What they got: Pigeon English Stephen Kelman, The Spider Weaver Margaret Musgrove

Why I bought it: Pidgin English, I wanted to give my boy some more male protagonists who are also black because Mallory Blackman’s Boys Don’t Cry was such a success. The Spider Weaver because well… his mum is always telling me about how  her brothers weave Kente and I didn’t know this story that comes with a mini-history lesson on the fabric. I assume he had too, but I always remember loving having physical copies of Trini folk-tales, not just memories of the oral and thought he’d enjoy the same.

Lizzie is the sweetest little thing! She’s such a nice big sister and is learning how to read for herself, though she still needs help. Her mum was doing my hair and Lizzie came to keep me company all day and read Jack and the Beanstalk with me (her favourite part, that she can recite by heart- little actress in the making: FEE FI FO FUM I SMELL THE PONG OF AN ENGLISHMAN (the publisher changed it from “blood” I guess to make it more child-friendly? don’t @ me)

What they got: Lila and the Secret of the Rain David Conway

Why I bought it: I wanted a cute picture book! Also… like, do y’all know how deep picture books are getting nowadays? I literally love it. This is a cute story about trying to do your best for your community… and the joy when it prevails.

Hannah is my baby sister (who’s 13)! If not in blood, then by face. When we are out together, especially at weddings people are always saying how nice it is to see sisters with our age gap (lol) get on so well. She’s bi-lingual! My girl speaks Twi, cause her daddy taught her, she’s a lil mix of the islands and the motherland, sweetest thing.

What they got: Pigeon English Stephen Kelman

Why I bought it: Honestly I heard bits about this book for the longest while and yes, I bought it TWICE. My girl’s dad is Jamaican and Ghanaian, like I said, she speak Twi! I don’t come across books for kids this age with African protagonists, and even then, harder still for me to find a Ghanaian protagonist? Plus this book is doing bits on the english secondary school curriculum I heard?

Ramalah I’m dying with all these Tweens. Ramalah is a bright girl, she can bake cakes, brownies and doughnuts as well as her professional baker mum. One problem…. she don’t like to read all that much.  Book shopping for Ramalah is like a science experiment, I’m still on the look out for that book that will let her see reading can be fun.

What they got: Zahrah the Windseeker Nnedi Okorafor

Why I bought it: I had so much fun reading Zahrah the Windseeker. It was the first Nnedi Okorafor book that I ever read and it spurred me into reading as much of her work as I could. It feels like Sci-fi and Fantasy all based in Nigerian cultures. The setting is very mystical and feels very solar punk (the people live in interactive house trees, you can GROW computers from seeds!) and the cultures of the characters are vivid af.

Sam is the most serious six year-old you ever met. Despite thanking me for his gift, he let me known that he mostly reads non-fiction and would like a book about science, space, dinosaurs, history or archeology. Yes, in that order. So yes, I have work to do.

What they got: Anna Hibiscus Atinuke

Why I bought it: I’ve had great success buying Anna Hibiscus titles. All the kids I’ve previously bought it for love it. I especially buy these books for my little Naija babies because they’re books their parents love reading these short stories to them as well, as the characters go through situations that the parents may’ve had in Nigeria and tell their kids about when parents go into one of those “back in my day” times.

Shamfa My sweet angel, the love of my life, the light in my heart. My little clone! Who was also born in December. The Terrible Twos are here, and even though she can’t read- she will remind her big, big sisters that what they’ve got in their hands are “[her] book!”

What they got: Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rapunzel, The Princess and the Pea Rachel Isadora

Why I bought it: It was my baby’s birthday. She loves being read to. I love reading books to her! So does her mum and dad. The main pull of purchasing these Rachel Isadora versions of classic fairy tales- my uncle and his partner are very afrocentric and loved that these stories were being given a different cultural setting than the ones we grew up on.

Taymiyah is easy to shop for. My girl will read any and everything under the sun. She’s bendy so I was gonna look into some kid-yoga books, but then I remember just how much she loves reading a book where she and the protagonist are the exact same age.

What they got: President of the Whole Fifth Grade Sherri Winston

Why I bought it: Like I said- easy buy. Taymiyah just went into year six. Last year, I got my girl a book with a protagonist of the similar age- her mum reported that she did not put down that book at all (and is still revisiting it). The cover art of this novel looked cute, and it’s a series! So if she loves it… thats a few gifting opportunities sorted (who doesn’t love a complete set?).

Yaw– Recently bespectacled, my tiny professor. He whinges often, but loves to ask questions. My boy’s first words were chiding Oscar Pistorius for the crocodile tears at the sentencing hearing- he pays more attention to the news than I did… and he was also the easiest to shop for as he’d been asking for one particular book since it came out.

What they got: Jaden Toussaint- The Greatest Episode 1 Marti Dumas , The Getaway Jeff Kinney

Why I bought it: Yaw been asking for The Getaway since it’s pub-date. I promised him I’d get it for his birthday, but it wasn’t published until well after. He lives for this series. Because this birthday he just got the promise of the Getaway and some legos- Jaden Toussaint was a fun extra- this was the best choice, my boy is smart and inquisitive and I thought he’d enjoy a book with a child genius protagonist.


That’s it all folks.

Bookgiving 2017, all done.

Book Auntie antics- over!

Unicorns, Hot-flash Honeys and Biblio punishes me.

Wow, wrapping up the first week at my new job. The job that is actually like… related to my dream career, the official first working step towards that. First of all, turn up. Second of all- my log from that first week is complete and just interesting to look at? For me anyway, probably not for everyone else.

I’ve been doing daily logs since… May? When I took up bullet journalling. Something about helping with my memory and also becoming aware of just how much I am actually doing. The first week was easy, in the sense that I’m still learning and they’re all being very nice to me. Anyway, here are the stupid notes:

Day one- not a dream. am employed. have a mac?! wow, everyone is so nice. biblio is so easy (this will come back to bite me in the arse) I AM EMPLOYED! Unicorns everywhere. Tired AF.

Day two- wow, like they actually employed me? VISTA IS SO HARD? Mail outs? Deliveries? O my. Hands aching. Bookshelf rearrangement= work out for life.

Day three – so, many books! Buddy lunch? Thai food! How did I not fall asleep after lunch? Steps and shelves are my work out, whomst is a gym? Hotflash… honeys? That sounds like… something dirty. Maybe that’s not the right title for that book.

Day four – ISSA WRAP. Week the first. Dummy making for dummies aka sopping up that dummy knowledge. Biblio thinks I’m a mug and won’t connect me to the server. Lunch with sales- sour dough pizza and a raspberry/white chocolate brownie (NUT! *three drop emojis* Hello excel my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, I get… a SCALPEL! Are they sure? BABIES FIRST SALES PACK! Shookedt.

Anyway so like, tomorrow’s another day. Feels very solid now that I’m a person with a job and I’m liking the pace that I’m learning my duties at. I feel prepared and chilled for it and making my family laugh by already planning what my first pay check is getting me (out of debt. its’ getting me out of debt.).

This won’t be a regular thing, but it feels special and I wanted to share it anyway.

Issa Employee

To be honest y’all, it’s been a madness.

On my return from Trinidad for Latoya’s wedding, we got stranded in St. Lucia. I wanted to fight the pilot, because the day after my return, I was supposed to attend an second interview (for a job where I had my first interview literally days before flying out)… but luckily for me, we were only stuck for under two days and the company were very understanding of my situation.

Roll around Friday 6th . I’m actually acclimatised somewhat to the English temperature again, and I’m trying to commit to drinking as much water here as I did overseas.

Knees weak, arms are sweaty, no vomit on my sweater already (mom’s spaghetti). Quick 40 minute train trip that I’m hoping to memorise because wow, could you imagine a transport so quick and easy? I’m wearing a pencil skirt, my skin is still caribbean soft and my hair- well, mum did my hair because I was feeling lazy last night and wanted a little babying (I’m an adult…).

Great bit of banter with the girls in the reception room who loosen me up with Harry Potter because let’s all be real- Dumbledore did not YELL “Harry, did you put your name in the goblet?”, he said it calmly. I believe it’s even italicised there? I’ll have to do a re-read- but that’s not the point.

So then there’s a test. It’s something I actually can do with a bit of confidence (after having done many such tests in many such undocumented interviews july was a very busy month) and I have a half an hour. Fix an AI sheet. Come up with a marketing strategy. Thank you social media marketing internship- I have my interviewers laughing and relaxed and I answer questions with a sort of authority I wasn’t quite sure I had. I meet more people on the team! Swelling with hope here, I mean, why else would they have me meet so many people on the team if not to gauge if we’d work well? After some handshakes I’m reassured that I’ll know the employment tea by early next week.
As I leave I check my watch, I arrived about ten minutes before the interview. The test was 30 minutes. The Q&A… an hour?! Again, I’m hoping its good news. I check in with my parents, because they asked and then I head off to catch up with a friend.

Checking my email for a shopping order, in the Westfield Costa, deciding on whether or not I’ll get that blueberry muffin with the medium hot chocolate or nah… it arrives. Letter from my interviewer. ISSA JOB OFFER. Mate. I almost fell down my knees were like jelly. Big beaming smile on my face as I send screenshot to the family chat on whatsapp because literally we’ve all been talking about this job for the better part of a month. I decide I deserve the hot chocolate and the blueberry muffin and get to snag one of those comfy chairs overlooking the window while I wait for my friend to show up.

I’ve told her I got news but I wanted to say it in person. I am buzzing like a swarm of bees, literally can not sit still for the life of me. When she sits down with me, her order on a tray, taking in this ultralightbeam smile on my face she asks about the news. And I tell her. And she says- I knew that’s what it was. I’m so happy for you!!!

I am low-key dying. Congratulations from the famalam start coming through as news spreads through the pumpkin vine family gossip network. I post not so cryptically on twitter because I want to share the news, but I still don’t believe its real? I’m just glad it’s finally happened. Wow. Your girl’s employed and in the industry she’s been trying to break into for about 3 years (incl. the year of MA studies for this industry).

It’s really starting to sink in!

I start next Tuesday!

2 years old!

Celebrating 2 years of writing about my life, starting from my publishing MA to graduating, finding work experience and the full time employment search and all the life stages in between!

A bit unreal.

I know I don’t update super frequently, but I am trying. This is probably the longest that any of my blogs has lasted, so that’s something. Here’s to another year!