This post has a soundtrack.

Like 2020, 2021 was trash. But a different kind of trash? It was also big and transformative and important. I'm still grateful to be alive, housed, and fed.

I'm stepping into 2022 with no goals, only vibes. These are the vibes:

A bright green rundown building with fish decals in the window. It has a sign that reads 'The Outdoor Adventure Store'. The sky is cloudy and there is a beautiful and bright rainbow above the building.

Here are some 2021 highlights.

Babby's First Car Accident

I got into a car accident. Some ding dong ran a red light and t-boned me. I got a chemical burn from the airbag and repairs took three months, but otherwise I was fine, and me being there meant two pedestrians and a dog didn't get hit and almost certainly die.

A black Tesla Model Y that is on the side of intersection after a collision. A bloody forearm
Out-of-frame: the Dunkin' Donuts the other driver had craned his neck backwards to find while blowing through a red light. America runs on Dunkin', am I right?

The Big Freeze

Hell froze over and I experienced proper snow for the first time in a long time. In Texas of all places! I tend to speak in jest about The Big Freeze, but it was actually two of the most strange and difficult weeks of the pandemic, which is impressive.

I'm from Northern Michigan so I'm no stranger to cold, snow, and iced over roads, but this sucked in a way that winter in Michigan never does. The roads were unplowed and unsalted and therefore undrivable, grocery stores ran out of food, we couldn't heat our home, and water had to be boiled to be made potable.

The cold was relatively mild, but it was a uniquely horrific kind of cold, because millions of folks were without power or knowhow to safely stay warm. Texans know hurricane and flood safety, but reasonably don't prep to survive several days in below-freezing temps.

Homes were destroyed by burst pipes. Hundreds of people died. Millions others spent almost two weeks cold and stressed and scared. Fuck. I can barely believe it was this year, or that it even happened. What a mind-bending two weeks.

A small snowman Tara Vancil walking outside in the snow. She is wearing a brown puffy jacket and a blue beanie.

The Gang Goes Back to the Climbing Gym

It became safe-ish to return to the bouldering gym, and over the course of the year I've become a much better climber. I climb v4s now and sometimes even v5s!

I quit my job and took most of the summer off to garden, climb, and take a road trip to visit my friend Olivia in Arkansas.

An okra flower A tall, bushy plant with bright orange-red flowers A woman riding her bike on a paved bike trail flanked by large green trees.

I got tattoos.

I tried to start a new blog, but well, life got in the way. Maybe it'll happen in 2022.

I turned 29, which so far is a beautiful and messy age.

I started a new job.

Some big personal stuff happened that doesn't belong on a public blog.

I spent a bunch of time back home in Michigan visiting with my family and old friends.

Tara Vancil with three young girls in a landscape. Tara Vancil smiling in front of a large body of choppy water. Tara Vancil and her family carving pumpkins A dock jutting out into a lake. The sky is pink and yellow and blue, and those colors reflect onto the water. A light fog sits on top of the water.

Even more big personal stuff happened that doesn't belong on a public blog.

I spent some much-needed solo time in Sam Houston National Forest and Big Thicket.

I started burn school.

I started writing poems, which definitely don't belong on a public blog.

2021 was devastatingly painful at times, but it also had countless moments of pure joy, all thanks to good friends and good dogs. Lots of dogs.

Tara Vancil with a small grey terrier dog sitting on her lap. They're both smiling.
Tara Vancil lying in a hammock while a curious Great Dane shoves her nose into the frame. A small black lab looks up with a cheesy grin on her face. A large light brown dog. He stares blankly and you can see that he's getting old.
A black lab sitting on the lap of a person sitting in a passenger seat.
A boston terrier on a leash. In the background there is a river and a large ship. A large yellow lab mix stares wistfully, anticipating a treat or a head scratch. Tara Vancil with a corgi mutt sitting on her lap. She is smiling, and the dogs eyes are closed. He looks peaceful and smug.

If you made it through the wall of dogs, congrats and welcome. All we have is each other, we'll all be dead soon, and love is the most important thing. Let's all try to make some weird and beautiful art/food/love/etc this year, yeah? Ok bye. Thank you for being a friend.

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