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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Looking backward, looking forward

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I was reading something recently that cited a study that could “predict” aggression levels in people while they’re drinking, and I’m going to attempt to extrapolate these findings to non-boozy settings. Sounds like Real Science, right?

Everyone lives his or her life preoccupied with some combination of the past, present, and future. Too much of any single one of these can lead to some serious periods of funk (and not in a fun, dance-y P-Funk sense), and I’m hoping that I’m coming ever closer to striking the balance that’s right for me. I was never much for focusing solely on the past– where’s the fun in that?— and have always preferred to have a fairly active imaginary/dream-life in which I envision all the different paths that I can take– pretty much like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but with actual life…where you don’t get to mark your place in the book, just in case you want to go back. In the past couple years, I’ve made more of an effort to appreciate the present moment, which has led to richer memories and a still-satisfying view of the future. The difference, I think, has been that I’ve found myself in moments in which I think, “I can’t believe this is actually happening.” (See: walking the streets of Tokyo in September, for example.)

In 2011, I made a set of resolutions. They were (in case you missed the dozen or so update posts):

  • Take more (and better) pictures
  • Read 40 books
  • Meet a blogger in real life
  • Try 30 new recipes
  • Regularly practice some form of exercise
  • Dinner at the table at least twice a week

Having achieved at least a moderate level of success in most of these, I feel comfortable establishing some new goals for 2012. Sure, I have the 30 Before 30 to work on, but what’s a few additional goals between me and the internets? In 2012, I want to…

  • Read 45 books
  • Host friends for dinner monthly
  • No computer/internetting (in the case of a possible smartphone acquisition) after 8 p.m.
  • Establish and stick to a personal spending budget
  • Eat mindfully (less booze and caffeine, more water, less fast/junk food, more produce)
  • Be active (either join a new gym or commit to moving my body regularly)

Happy New Year, internet! May you raise your glasses at midnight in joy, and find everything you hope for in 2012.

Christmas in review

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We’re not even done celebrating Christmas yet– have to go to my Mom and stepdad’s tonight, and celebrate with my Dad tomorrow night– but it would be nice to get through all the Christmas-ing before 2012 rolls around, right?

As is our biannual tradition (which the Cambridge online dictionary says is the right way to communicate “every other year,” but I’m still skeptical), we headed to New York to spend the holiday with the in-laws. The day after our cross-country flight, we continued the traditional boys-go-skiing, ladies-go-to-the-spa outings (I think the MIL and I got the better end of that), then packed up the Saab and headed to Rockland for Christmas Eve with my sister-in-law, her husband, their adorable baby, and about twenty other extended family members from both sides. We brought painstakingly-decorated cookies (see the below likenesses of my FIL and GP; please also note that these two men are basically identical) and a whopping eight bottles of wine in our (free!) checked baggage.

We returned home last night with a bottle of champagne, various books about Disney World (where we’re headed in just over a week), some awesome aquamarine earrings (see the below no-makeup-Christmas-morning shot), and assorted other gifts.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to demolish and a cat to molest pet an appropriate amount.

2011 resolution check-in, day 347 of 365

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Oh, lordy, the lists! I know. And I’ve been doing exciting things, too, things that I want to tell you about! But first…the penultimate entry in my 2011 resolution series. Tracking all these things that I’d said I’d do at the beginning of the year has helped me to feel like I’m progressing toward something. Even if that something is just the last day on a calendar, or a check mark next to a number, it helps when I get that feeling that nothing is getting accomplished around here. (I like to balance my more manic bouts with supreme hopelessness. It’s super fun.) So, here’s where we are:

Take more and better pictures
I took eleventy katrillion pictures in Japan, and will be (of course) documenting the trip out to New York for Christmas. We’ll look at Flickr for final judgement, but I think I’ve been doing fairly well at this.

Get a grownup, non-intern job
I still have it, they still like me, it only makes me crazy about 15% of the time. We should all be so lucky, right?

Read 40 books
36 of 40 so far, and multiple in progress. Maybe next year I’ll get all crazy and go for 50?

Meet a blogger in real life
So, all right, here’s the deal: either I don’t live in an area rich with bloggers, or I’m unfortunately friends with lovely bloggers who happen to live rather far away from me. Maybe both? I did head to a ‘pinup in October, which was a cool exercise in Meeting Strangers From the Internet, and ended with a few new friends and some (real!) bottled Coke in a Mission taqueria. Close, enough, I say!

Try 30 new recipes
31. Awww yeah. AND! We had a cocktail party last weekend, and…you know how I am good at Making Way Too Much Food? Yes, that. Also, n.b. about parties, particularly around the holidays: when you tell people it’s ok to bring things, they will invariably bring sweets. (Or wine, which we also have a ton of.) So, when you’re planning your party, it’s ok to lean toward the savory end of the spectrum. Either that, or just get excited for the dozens and dozens of cookies that will be left in your house, and which do not interest your husband in the least.

Regularly practice some form of exercise
You guys. My gym closed. While this, of course, sucks…it’s pushing me to be more creative about how I’m getting myself moving. This usually means walking like a maniac, but I do miss the structure of the gym. Maybe I’ll join the Y with all the other resolutioneers in January?

Dinner at the living room (like people) at least twice a week
GP is pretty great at keeping me on track with this one– it’s nice to feel a little more like grownups when we have a proper dinner setup, I think.

30 Before 30

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This will probably end up being its own page (much like my Reading and Cooking pages…if you’re in a Reader and don’t usually click over, you should!), but I thought it would be appropriate to post my 30 Before 30 on my 28th birthday. Celebrations started last night, when my mom and I went to a local “Ladies Night Out,” which mostly consisted of dodging over-Chardonnay-ed white ladies as we browsed Christmas tchotchkes, but also included my first birthday present! Thanks, Mom. Also, thanks for giving birth to me. That can’t have been easy, from what I hear.

And now, without further ado (not “adieu,” as much of blog-land seems to believe)…

  1. Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant

  2. Take a cooking/cake decorating class

  3. Take three weekend-trips to destinations I haven’t visited before

  4. Complete a 10k (or two non-back-to-back 5ks)

  5. Go horseback riding

  6. Hike to the top of Mt. Tallac

  7. Host a ladies brunch

  8. Send birthday, thank-you, and just-because cards to three friends each month

  9. Have a live Christmas tree in my house

  10. Attend a UCLA football home game at the Rose Bowl

  11. Have a Big Fat 30th Birthday Party

  12. Wear skirts/dresses every day for a week

  13. Fill up a paper journal

  14. Save $10,000

  15. Learn to apply liquid eyeliner well

  16. Watch every Best Picture winner

  17. Watch 12 live performances (musical, theater, etc.)

  18. Take a photo a day for a year

  19. Donate to a charitable organization each month for a year (money or time)

  20. Support local artists/businesses

  21. Adopt and train a dog

  22. Reread six books that I loved as a kid

  23. Teach someone to do something

  24. Learn to knit or crochet

  25. Create and send out photo holiday cards

  26. Eat only non-processed food for a week

  27. Weed my book collection

  28. Develop a signature dish

  29. Visit five local museums or historical sites

  30. Own three “investment pieces”

28 Things I Have Done in 28 Years

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I’ll be 28 tomorrow, and that’s when I’ll share the 30 Before 30 list that I’ve created. (See? I promised lists and…voila! They are ready to be unleashed onto the internets.) While I was making that list, however, I started feeling like it was a little silly to think of all the things I want to accomplish in the next two years without acknowledging at least a some of what I’ve accomplished in the preceding 28. It was an experiment in both reflection and curation, as it turns out that I’ve done more than 28 things…hopefully what I’ve included actually bears inclusion. (As in, yes, “Learned to read” seems basic, but literacy is important, and I really like reading.)

  1. Learned to read

  2. Played the violin

  3. Tasted wine in Australia, Napa, Sonoma, and the Sierra Foothils

  4. Swam in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico

  5. Visited 10 Disney parks in 3 countries

  6. Completed 18 years of formal education

  7. Hiked to the top of Vernal, Nevada, and Chilnualna Falls in Yosemite

  8. Worked as a grocery bagger, a barista, a tutoring center co-manager, a research recruiter, a library intern, and a research assistant

  9. Learned to speak, read, and write in Spanish

  10. Developed a strong relationship with the Oxford comma

  11. Driven a moving truck

  12. Flown first class, internationally

  13. Traveled to seven countries and fourteen states (I’m including D.C., adjust accordingly)

  14. Seen two Broadway shows

  15. Taken ballet and gymnastics classes

  16. Colored my hair

  17. Made bread, ice cream, caramels, and jam from scratch

  18. Explored Paris, London, and New York on foot

  19. Gotten married

  20. Lived in a sorority house for two years

  21. Cooked a meal for my family and used my wedding china

  22. Snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef

  23. Watched every episode of West Wing, Sopranos, Mad Men*, Dexter*, and Friday Night Lights (a couple of these are in progress, and I plan to keep watching, idiotic marriages or M. Night Shyamalan-esque plot “twists” notwithstanding)

  24. Rowed a boat in the Grand Canal at Versailles

  25. Made a latte for Tom Hanks

  26. Eaten at the Chez Panisse Cafe

  27. Traveled by train (Frankfurt to London and Rhinecliff, NY to Montreal)

  28. Read Chaucer in Middle English (with glosses, fine, but still)