08 January 2014

31 Things to do Before 31

  1. 100 Pushups
  2. Do another 28 or 30 day challenge
  3. Log my food and exercise every single day for a minimum of 3 months
  4. Go ice skating
  5. Run a 10K
  6. Go to sleep early
  7. Improve my posture
  8. Buy a house
  9. Knit a sweater
  10. Schedule "me" time at least once a week. Strive for at least two hours of solitude
  11. Meditate
  12. Visit a new state
  13. Visit a new museum
  14. Go to at least one lecture or creative performance
  15. Read Four Classics:
    The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
    The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton)
    The Stranger (Albert Camus)
    The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  16. 52 Weeks listing Things for which I am Grateful
  17. 52 Weeks to an Organized Home
  18. 90 minutes of Yoga at minimum once a week
  19. Learn about my family tree
  20. Make cheese souffle
  21. Buy a watch
  22. Make hot buttered rum
  23. Take a stunning photograph
  24. Write a haiku
  25. Make a pair of earrings
  26. Get my eyebrows shaped professionally
  27. See a Penn State Game at Beaver Stadium
  28. Letterpress
  29. Buy number or letter balloons for an occasion
  30. Find a new shade of lipstick
  31. Buy It's a Wonderful Life on DVD

07 January 2014

30 Before 30 List Update

Up until 30, for some reason it made sense to me that I wanted to to x-1 things before I turned x. But 29 before 30 seemed kind of...silly. 30 is big. 30 is...thirty. So without further adieu, my list of thirty things I wanted to do before 30:
  1. Visit Fallingwater
    Frank Lloyd Wright's PA treasure was beautiful, and definitely worth the wait. We got tickets for the in-depth tour, and we learned some really interesting facts about the house, plus I was allowed to take some really great pictures with a wide angle lens that I rented from borrowlenses.com.
  2. Visit a new state
    I was not able to do this this year. We made it up to Maine, out to California (twice), Nevada, and back to PA, but we've been to all of those places before.
  3. Visit a new museum
    I visited the Andy Warhol museum while I was in Pittsburgh over the 4th of July weekend. It was pretty awesome, and although they didn't allow photos, I was too mesmirized by the David Bowie interview to really pay attention to anything else (well, besides the silver clouds)
  4. Make my own flavored vodka
    I made cherry flavored vodka with a mini-bottle of Bully Boy and some in-season black cherries. Sonic ain't got nothing on my homemade cherry limeade slushes!
  5. Make ice cream
  6. Find a piece of good furniture
    I feel like I did one better and got a very beautiful rug by Austin artist Alyson Fox (from West Elm). It is gorgeous and I love it. We even bought a vacuum cleaner JUST BECAUSE I love this rug so much, and want to take care of it properly forever. We also finally got around to getting a cube Expedit for our vinyl collection.

  7. Grow tomatoes
    Yeah, baby
  8. Add a lens to my camera collection
    After some deliberation, I decided to rent the lens I wanted whenever I needed it. This worked out for the best, financially. Although I'd still like to add it to my collection eventually, the cost for this one was prohibitive.
  9. Take bird pictures
    Done! Got a photo of a hawk a week after I posted this, which was more than I ever could have dreamed! Now I need to use the good old telephoto lens and get some "real" bird pictures as the telephoto intended.
  10. Make a lightbox
  11. Finish knitting a blanket
  12. Sew a skirt
    I will update with this project soon!
  13. Make a travel book for guests/Scrapbook about Boston
    I collected some maps from the airport, and gathered all of those plus soaps, shampoos, and a list of suggestions for things to do.
  14. Take a haunted trolley tour
  15. Ride the Swan Boats
  16. Learn to play guitar
    Ha. Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking.
  17. Take spanish lessons
    I didn't really follow through on this, even after I looked it up and asked around.
  18. Read Three classics: War and Peace, Persuasion, and Crime and Punishment
  19. Start waking up early
    I had to start waking up before 6:30 for my new job. So...done!
  20. Visit a national monument
    Turns out that Symphony Hall is a National Monument, so check!
  21. Run another 5K
  22. Repaint/refinish our kitchen chairs
  23. Overhaul the sh*t out of my closet
    My intentions were good, but I did not have time for this.
  24. Overhaul the sh*t out of my online portfolio
    I kind of did this, but not to the depth or extent I wanted.
  25. Serve on a Jury
    Okay, this wasn't strictly on my list, but I did finally get to serve jury duty. It felt great to do my civic duty, even though the trial was pretty abysmal and left me with little sense of justice. Innocent until proven guilty, though, right?
  26. Get my first tattoo
    I decided I'd rather have a house. We'll see what happens after we save all our extra $$$ and buy property.
  27. Do 30 days of yoga
    I did this challenge
  28. Keep a Therapy Journal
    I never got around to this, but I do jot down some of the more important things when I think of them or when they help me more than usual.
  29. Set a measurable goal in therapy
  30. Eat a cleaner diet
    J and I started doing Paleo in July. We hoped to make it a lifestyle change instead of something we did for a few weeks. I think it made us more aware of where our food was coming from, and how lazy we had become since I started working full time. We're still making adjustments, but it was good for us, and we both lost some weight and learned some things.
Total: 20/30

31 December 2013

Wrapping Up 2013

Wrapping up 2012

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
  • Planted tomatoes and peppers
  • [Finished] Strip[ping] and repainted furniture
  • Visited a Frank Lloyd Wright house (Fallingwater)
  • Visited the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh
  • Saw the Boston Pops with J
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
From last year:
  • Run a 10K • I did not do this, but I did run two 5Ks. That counts, right?
  • Open an etsy store • I also did not do this, but I got a job, which was really the point of the etsy store at the time the goal was made. I would still like to do this, but it's no longer at the front of my mind.
  • Redesign my website • Nope. I did move everything over to Behance, though.

This year:

  • A bad habit I'm going to break: Snacking mindlessly
  • A new skill I'd like to learn: Photoshop (like a pro)
  • A person I hope to be more like: My manager, who is patient and kind and outgoing
  • A good deed I'm going to do: Donate blood. It's been a while since I've been able to do this
  • A place I'd like to visit: The El Paso Mission Trail

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One of my besties from college had a baby boy, and managed to name him after a member of N'Sync. Another College bestie had a baby the same month. Babies, everywhere!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?
None this year—we stayed Stateside.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A house

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
January 29th, because that was when I was hired to contract at my new job, which I love. December 11th, because that is the date they told me I would be hired as an employee.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finding a job that I love, learning that I need to love myself first.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not loving myself enough, blaming myself for things I cannot control.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just the usual: colds, stomach flu, banged up fingers and toes.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
An Alyson Fox rug from West Elm, and a Rabbit bottle opener for my mother-in-law.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My managers really went to bat for me when it came to hiring me after I temped for almost a year

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Only my own

14. Where did most of your money go?
We've been saving for a house this year, but as usual, a large percentage of our non-housing money went towards travel: travel for weddings, travel to see family, and vacation(s).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
  • Seeing Fallingwater
  • Getting hired at [job]
  • House hunting
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Cinema by Skrillex, which will forever remind me of J's 30th birthday that we spent in PA with his brother. A great weekend, for sure.

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hiking and general outdoorsy-ness.

18. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating. Particularly processed and canned foods.

20. How did you spend Thanksgiving?
Vegas, baby!

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In PA with J's family.

21. How will you be spending New Years?
Probably at home with Dial-A-Pizza and a mini champagne bottle.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Again and again.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Breaking Bad, which went out with the biggest bang and most satisfying ending since Six Feet Under, although like Six Feet Under I was devastated when there were no more episodes.

Then we rewatched it and realized it's just revenge porn.

24. Do you "hate" anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I think that I've come to decide that "hate," even the mild pretend "hate," is a completely wasted emotion. This doesn't mean that there isn't anyone that could have made this list, just that I choose not to participate in this question anymore.*

*I have added an addendum to include the strong sense of dislike that I feel for people who mark up library books.

25. What was the best book you read?
Crime and Punishment

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
fake electronic music (only the pop stuff for me!)

27. What did you want that you also ended up getting?
A trip to Fallingwater, time with a very expensive wide angle lens (from borrowlenses.com)

28. What did you want that you did not end up getting?
A greyhound, again. We had finally started to pull the trigger, even going to an adoption agency to meet dogs, then I got a job downtown, and realized I couldn't juggle those two life changes. One day we will have a dog, and a house, and kids, and chickens. One day.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
We didn't really see any movies this year that were stand outs...probably my most enjoyable theatre experience was It's A Wonderful Life at the Brattle—our yearly Christmas tradition.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 29. J and I went to one of our favorite tapas/cocktail places, CasaB, and were treated like royalty—they even had champagne cocktails waiting for us when we arrived! It was wonderful and low key and perfect.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A patch of land in the country.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

33. What kept you sane?
Prozac and Klonopin

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Benedict Cumberbatch—I even had a series of dirty dreams about him. As Sherlock Holmes, of course.

I didn't realize how many things I've seen that he's been in because really, this started out as a Sherlock thing more than a Cumberbatch thing. And I hardly seem like the only one to have realized this in 2013.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Pretty much the same as always.

I was upset about the Marathon Bombings, and the aftermath of how it was handled. I don't believe in the goodness in people the way I did when I was younger, and all of it just rang so false to me. It made me very angry, and I was too close to the issue to appreciate it when other (far away) people got worked up about it.

What does any of this have to do with politics? Nothing, which is why I got worked up when people tried to talk about this awful thing in terms of political action, inaction, or different sets of (religious/political) rights and wrongs.

36. Who did you miss?
I always miss my grandmother, but this year I missed her especially. I have no idea why it was so difficult this year in particular since she passed in 2005, but it was nice to be able to sit with her memory for a while longer than usual this year.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Many of the people I work with now

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
To love myself.

I'm still working on it.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Raskolnikov felt sick, but he couldn't say why
When he saw his face reflected in his victim's twinkling eye
Some things you do for money, and some you do for fun
But the things you do for love are going to come back to you one by one.

13 November 2013

Your Body on Yoga

A great info-graphic from the Huffington Post. See more information here.

yoga infographic

10 October 2013

Therapy Goals: Things to do Before I'm Thirty

On my list of 30 Before 30, I wanted to set measurable goals in therapy. This has been an awesome goal to have in mind when I talk to my therapist because it makes me go in with a purpose.

Our latest thing is building a communication model that will get more of my needs met, so that I can stop feeling so shitty because my needs are not being met. This might make little sense out of context, so here's an example:

Our neighbors smoke on their balcony porch (observation without evaluation). When they do this, I feel aggravated and tense because I have a need for the air in my personal space to be free of allergens (I have asthma). An actionable request would be to ask them to smoke on the front porch.

Insert Empathy Here

One way to ask this is, "Hey, I can understand why you guys would like to smoke on your balcony—I love to hang out here, too. I hate to be a pain, but I have asthma, and the smoke aggravates my asthma. Do you think that you could smoke on the front porch, instead?"

My communication model has never gotten me what I wanted because in my mind I always start aggressive, maintain aggression, and finish aggressive. In reality, I am passive. Passive and pissed off, all. The. Time.

See, technically, the lease doesn't allow smoking on our balconies. But if I walk over with all my pedantry, I look like an asshole, and of course they can smoke on their porch (I "can't"? Watch me!). Does the landlord like the person who phones him about the smokers on the second floor? No! He hates that person! Will he do anything about it? Probably send a letter. Which they will burn. On their balcony. And round and round we go.

This is not a communication model that works for me, even though it is the one I fall back on time and time again. This is not a communication model that I would like to pass on to my children.

Did the new model work in our real life example? Sure, it did (our neighbors were nice about it, too). We'll see what happens in the future, but in the meantime the need was met, and that's more important than being "right."

11 September 2013

Rural, MA

One of the reasons I want to move out beyond the 'burbs


10 August 2013

My Hollaback Story

I was inspired recently to share a story of street-harassment that I went through, because a lot of the anger I carried around for years was about feeling helpless in these situations, and for some reason they happened to me exponentially more when I was unemployed. There is something about being a lone woman at 2:00pm on a Wednesday that makes you more likely to be a target for some reason. This is only one of many stories, but it was by far the scariest:

I was once riding my bicycle back from Trader Joe's during the day, when a man who was also on bike started following me. I didn't notice when he first appeared, but in hindsight, I'm pretty sure he was in the parking lot, and kept a safe distance as I left, then caught up to me on a small quiet side-street where there were less people.

He didn't say anything overtly sexual or lewd, but he was definitely coming onto me in a very aggressive way, not as someone showing interest, but as someone who saw an opportunity to belittle me as he made it very clear with his body language that he could do what he liked with me at any moment. I had bought myself flowers that day, and he kept commenting on how I was very beautiful like those flowers—like a thing, and something about his tone made chills run down my spine. I ignored him, which is when he started calling me a "fucking bitch" and a "stupid stuck-up cunt." I felt like I couldn't even breathe, because anything I did wrong might set him off physically—there was sporadic traffic, but I didn't trust people to intervene, so I just kept my eyes ahead and tried to get to a busier street as quickly as possible without looking quite as terrified as I was. He passed me and slowed down to a snail's pace, just to prove that I was too afraid to pass him, and that's when I truly began to panic. Thankfully, a row of cars came by at that time, and I jolted back into action. I pedaled like hell. I made it to Mass Ave in record time, safely and without incident, and I lost him in a crowd of cars and people.

I later talked to my therapist about it, and it affected him so much that he ended up asking a police officer on traffic duty, out of curiosity, if I should have reported it. The police officer said emphatically that, yes, I should have reported it. Maybe nothing happened to me, but I'm surely not the only woman he harassed that day, that week, that month...Regardless of what he did or didn't do to any other women what he did to me was a crime. I could have (and should have) biked to the closest police station with a description immediately. Better yet, now I know to try to take photos when I can. I have not had another incident quite this scary since then, but I wish I had not had to learn this lesson this way. I don't go down the long quiet street for the pleasant bike ride without being aware of my surroundings, and knowing my options for getting, quickly, to a more trafficked area. I wear a camera on my helmet. I shouldn't have to do any of this. But I do. Because I can't go for a jog without getting honked at, wolf whistled, picked up. And that isn't even the sinister side of street harassment. The wolf whistles are NOTHING like the FEAR that I felt that day, and I don't think that he was just a "guy being a guy"—I have no doubt that if those cars hadn't come by, this would be a very different story.

One day four years ago, a man thought that a lone woman grocery shopping in the middle of the day was a target instead of a person. And that makes me angry for all of the women, and all of the harassment.