What You’re Looking Forward to in 2024

January is a month for feeling hopeful. The year is new and offering us all a chance to re-evaluate and reset.

In fact, my colleague Steven Kurutz argues that January is the best month, because of the sense of calm it offers after the flurry of holiday obligations that we all get caught up in.

In honor of the fresh start, I’m sharing a few of the notes that readers have been sending me about what you’re looking forward to in 2024, which were all delightful to read.

“My big pandemic project was completing a master’s degree entirely online. I just finished it and I get to enjoy my commencement at Harvard in May, having never been on campus at all.” — Cameo Wood, San Francisco

“I am looking forward to a year of fun, free of the worries of caring for my 97-year-old mother who passed in September. It was an honor to spend the last five years near her and to donate some of her life earnings to deserving charities per her wishes. So far, I have three international trips planned and one local adventure. Like many of my active friends, I’m anxious to enjoy traveling while I’m still able.” — Jan Foster, Auburn

It is going to be a big year! I am taking my licensure exam to become a licensed clinical social worker and getting married in April. I am excited for lots of good things to come.” — Hayley Iwig, Los Angeles

“I’m looking forward to celebrating my 75th birthday in March. The plan is to take a bus tour of Hollywood, have dinner at the historic restaurant Musso and Frank, and conclude with the musical ‘Chicago’ at the Pantages Theater. My wife of 50 years and our daughter’s family will join me.” — Bill Bescoby, Rancho Cucamonga

“I am looking forward to cooking new stews and casseroles, taking myriad cat photos, gawking at oak trees while tuned in to audiobooks in the nearby park, and continuing my voter registration and voter encouragement work leading up to Election Day on Nov. 5.” — Pamela Beck, Sacramento

“The best part of my 2023 was rediscovering my love of running and competing as an athlete. After more than 10 years away from a sport that I dedicated my entire school career to, I found an amazing, diverse community of athletes and people who are building community. See you all out on the trails in 2024!” — Ryan Lester, Oakland

Jasmine Rae de Lung, a baker in San Francisco, has made a name for herself in the cake-making industry with unusual and dynamic creations that mimic the natural world and its unpredictability.

De Lung, who primarily makes wedding cakes, studied art in high school and eventually pursued a master’s degree in psychology. Her cakes, which typically cost $5,000 to $10,000 for local weddings, reflect that background: They’re often abstract in form and decorated with unusual techniques, like using craggy rice paper to make flowers or stretching fondant to create a rough, skinlike texture. The final product reflects de Lung’s surroundings and the baking process itself.

The photographer Sasha Arutyunova and the writer Anna Diamond profiled de Lung for The New York Times in an article last month about her business and her artistic practice.

The inspiration for her cakes, de Lung said, comes from “surrendering to what’s going on, as opposed to designing and creating every last detail.” She added, “You’re buying the process, not the product.”

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