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1. Buffets are a good thing. I was at an Indian / Korean / Nepali buffet (yes, really) recently with my friends Pamela and Andy where we all realized that we eat our feelings. Also, we realized that feelings are delicious. I spent my birthday at a casino buffet that had endless crab legs and shrimp. I spent another friend’s birthday at a Chinese buffet-slash-Mongolian grill and when they started getting ready to leave I said, “But… I’ve only had two plates.” I have devoured my way through every moment of all-you-can-eat self-doubt this year and it’s been fucking awesome. Also, a buffet fills you up for the entire day and is thus fairly cost-effective.

2. Paper beats pixels (sometimes). I tried to read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara on my Overdrive app. I really did. I probably got about 75 pages in before I said “uncle.” (Does anyone know why was say “uncle” instead of “auntie”? Is it merely misogyny or do we not want to imagine wrestling our aunts?) Once I got the hardback from the library, though, I devoured it—and I’m glad I did. Every once in a while you read a novel that dismantles you and forces you to put yourself together in a slightly different way. I’m not sure the reassembly is complete, but it has me thinking about writing (my writing, specifically) in a different way.

3. Exercise is an essential component of my sanity. See also item 1.


4. I still need to challenge myself in my reading. Last year (2014) my goal was “fewer straight white guys,” so books by women and queer writers made up most of my reading list. That went so well, this year my goal was to read more books by writers of colour, which is how I found Octavia Butler. (I know, she wasn’t lost, and I’m probably the last person on the planet to realize what an amazing science fiction writer she was.) At the Indian / Korean / Nepali buffet (see item 1) I lamented that I only found my way to Butler after her passing. Pamela noted that’s the great thing about books: They outlive us.

5. There is enough alcohol on the planet to persuade me to do karaoke (for further reading, see Trevor Corkum’s “Thursday Night Karaoke”—while you’re at it, see everything written by Trevor, because he’s pretty fantastic). Having mustered up the (liquid) courage to sing “Vogue” (yes, really) one night in Johnson, Vermont, I quickly moved on to “Shake It Off” with my friend Theodora and now it’s only a matter of time before I attempt Kate Bush, Kylie, or (dare I say it) Barbra, because on the outside I may be a schlubby forty-something gay guy, but inside I’m a diva.

6. A year of freelancing may have rendered me unfit for full-time employment. This may be cause for some concern but is not necessarily an emergency. Somewhat related: I did a lot of writing this year.

7. Despite item 6, I still manage to find money for books, although I’m going to the library a lot more often. Seriously, support your local library, folks. That being said, the number of books I own yet haven’t read is ridiculous; next year’s reading goal: books that are already in this house, ferchrissakes.

8. While in Canada getting my MFA, I discovered that Poutine is a way of life, along with universal health care and people who are polite on mass transit. Sadly, none of these things are readily available in the United States, but I can make a passable poutine at home. It’s taken a fair bit of experimentation, but experimentation is also delicious. (Somewhat related to item 3.)

9. There is no better way to procrastinate on a project over which you have tremendous self-doubt than by starting eleventy billion (this is an actual number) other projects. The upshot: You look super productive but never finish anything. Note to self: Just pick something and finish it.

10. When feeling isolated, social media is awesome… except when it’s terrible. It is usually both at the same time. Ration it like something carcinogenic that you nonetheless for some reason enjoy.

11. Margo Channing may have replaced Julia Sugarbaker as my Patronus.

Jeffrey Ricker is the author of Detours (2011) and the YA fantasy The Unwanted (2014), both published by Bold Strokes Books. He is also a 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow and author of a damn fine story here at Little Fiction called “Looking for Bigfoot.” We’ve never met Jeffrey in person, but we think he’d be the kind of person you’re always happy to see. Maybe because we think he’d always show up at your door with a bottle of wine or some good craft beers. Or takeout from a Chinese buffet-slash-Mongolian grill.

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