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2012: Year in Review

The 2013 calendar on my wall suggests another year is over. I marked the end of 2010 and 2011 by answering the following set of questions. The questions annoyed me this year. I hope that means the dying embers of my “I have to track everything” fire cannot be stoked back to flame. I’m cultivating a new mellow vibe. Next year I will sum up 2013 by how I feel at the end of the year, not by how many boxes I can tick off a list. I don’t plan on doing this quiz again, so let’s send it out with a bang (or a whimper).

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Enrolled in some adult education, started making ice cream, created an ice cream blog, published a memoir piece, gave up trying to de-link my name and this blog (note to co-workers: while I mutter profanity under my breath at the office, I write it out loud here), “won” a craft contest, and had a tarot card reading.

The tarot reader was kind, but these cards basically said, “get off your ass and make a decision already.”


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes and no, and not really. The monster in my head set 30 goals for 2012. You can see them here. I have a different mind-set about goals right now (stay tuned). I have no desire to paste my 2012 goals here and painstakingly document which I met and which I did not. Does it matter that I didn’t run a 5K in under 30 minutes when I trained really hard, completed two races, and ran faster at the end of training than at the beginning? Does it matter that I went to bed an average of 20 minutes earlier in 2012 than 2011 or that I got 33 minutes extra sleep per night on average when I’m still tired a lot? Isn’t it disturbing that I can tell you those figures?

Looking at last year’s goals cracks me up now. How did I get to a point in life where I could suggest “scheduling weekly unstructured time” without irony? How did I type “go cold turkey on perfectionism” as one of 30 goals with a straight face?

One of my goals was to “locate my inner voice.” Wait…shh! What’s that? I think I hear something…


I like my inner voice.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I’ve been meeting quite a few childfree people lately. And I’m getting old. So I’d be really shocked if anyone close to me got pregnant/gave birth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I spent several horrible days believing one of my in-laws was not going to make it, but thankfully (and possibly miraculously?), he did not die.

5. What countries did you visit?
If the U.S. doesn’t count, then 0.0.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Enough money to retire. Not kidding.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I could talk smack about the ice cream class or some other happy event, but the only day from 2012 that “will remain etched in my memory” (which I interpret to mean “never going to forget the date of the event”) is November 6. That was the day my Mom told me she had cancer.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I guess I’d say making new friends. I had really started to worry I wasn’t capable of doing that.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Negativity? Not being a good-enough listener?? Not getting enough sleep??? Tracking my failures so vigorously???? Fuck this question.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Ice cream machine!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Seriously? Mortgage. It will always be mortgage (or rent), won’t it?

13. What did you get really excited about?
Ice cream!

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
A whopping 9.5 percent of my music collection came out in the last ten years. Here is the only new music I bought all year even though I’ll almost certainly not associate it with 2012 long-term.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
Both. The more I know, the harder it is. The closer I get, the farther away it seems. You know?

b) thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?
Richer, bitches (it’s all about retirement, baby).

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
What I wanted to do.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
What I didn’t want to do.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Erie with my family. Spent the first few days of my vacation frantically trying to finish my first cross stitch ever. I won a Subversive Cross Stitch in the Craft Whores contest and selected the bad boy below for my brother, only to be surprised (and horrified) that it was a kit I had to make myself. This was one of my brother’s favorite phrases in our misguided youth. By the time I got this in the frame, it also turned out to crystallize my thoughts about cross stitching eloquently.

peace on earth

peace on earth

19. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m addicted to watching House Hunters International while saying “fuck you” with jealous venom. You guys need a vacation home in Belize? Of course you do. Fuck you. Accountants can easily find work on Grand Cayman? Fuck you. You’re really going to complain about the lack of double sinks in a vacation home? Fuck you. Special shout out to the guy with a 2 million dollar budget who expressed disappointment that there were no windows in the closet: OMFG, FUCK YOU!

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
If I wanted to read, I’d go to school.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Holy repetitive quiz, Batman. See #14.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Jesus, I don’t get out much, do I? We streamed Moonrise Kingdom for our 2nd annual pajama night and were not amused (we have a 0% success rate for avoiding movies in which a dog bites the big one on our “happy family PJ movie night”).

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I guess I’m too old to remember what I did on my birthday. I know I ate cake, but that’s only because I have a blog. I turned 39, and I don’t plan on aging further.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Errr! How does this question differ from #6? 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Not naked

26. What kept you sane?
Fear of anti-depressant side effects.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
A lot of the stuff I thought was important (or at least devoted a lot of time to) is really, really not. Like tracking every last detail of my life…ahem…like end of the year surveys such as these.

This Post is About Something

The point of this post is that I need to have a point to my posts.

I didn’t type that as an introduction, I typed that to try to stay on point.

Perhaps the problem is just A.D.D., but it’s not (usually) like I want to say random shit such as “I like eggs” in the middle of a post about something else. Although it is A.D.D. that made me stop writing to go search for a way to share how I meant “I like eggs” to sound (it’s at the 2:26 mark)

No, most of my veering is at least tangentially related to the original topic. I always thought I was a very analytic person, but apparently in my writing I’m a synthetic (wait, what?) person. I have a compulsion to cover topics from every angle. I spend hours drafting lengthy posts once a week or less when I could write two or even three shorter posts that people might actually read. Seriously, it usually takes me at least three hours to write a post and that is just counting ass in the desk chair time, not all the time I spend thinking or jotting little notes down here and there.

This is bad. It’s bad because it makes something I enjoy doing into a struggle. It’s bad because blogging “experts” say one of the keys to writing a good blog post is to keep it to a single point.

Since I need help deciding when I’ve entered the realm of “this should really be a separate post,” I’ve been disappointed with the specific guidance provided by blogging “experts,” which is not helpful.

They conflate topics with points. Like don’t write a post about your maple bacon cupcake recipe along with a review of the new Katy Perry movie (which Dave said he’d go see if it were in 3-D, by the way). No shit, those are two different topics? Although I could see Katy Perry wearing a bra with cups made of maple bacon cupcakes…maybe this could be one post.

Jesus, I just found out the Katy Perry cupcake bra is actually a thing. I knew she wore weird crap on her buzooms but I’m 38 years old, I haven’t seen an actual Katy Perry video. I thought I just invented the cupcake bra. Oh well.

I swear to all that is holy I didn’t know about this before writing the line about Katy Perry wearing a maple bacon cupcake bra.

Anyway, the Katy Perry maple bacon cupcake bra post is not my problem. My problem is isolating a single point within a topic area. I have no trouble selecting a single topic to write about, but my brain then wants to synthesize every possible point I could make about it. I am thorough, y’all.

Here’s a recent example:

I wanted to write a post about my backlog of post ideas. The idea was to solicit feedback from you to help me prioritize the list and see who was still with me (I hate the unintended but real consequence of losing subscribers with the move to self-hosting.).

This led to writing about wanting to figure out how to write posts that will resonate with people. This led to writing about the mystery of finding kindred spirits out there in the internet ether, when you are as weird as I am.

I wrote 1,300 words before realizing I hadn’t really made my original point and now had at least three posts going in one. I still haven’t finished writing any of them because I’ve exhausted myself.

Blogging isn’t going to last much longer as one of my hobbies unless I become more efficient. Solution #1: having a point!

I’ve decided to start every writing session by typing “the point of this post is….(insert point here).” If I don’t know what the point is, I will stop and figure it out. I will touch base with this topic sentence periodically to make sure I’m not writing a new post. Lather, rinse, repeat until I have a shiny new post without giving myself a migraine.

So how did I do on this post? I’m 1 hour and 40 minutes in and I’m about done. Even on a post focused on having a point, I still also wrote several nebulous strands that should be separate blog posts. I don’t think I can make my brain stop doing that, but I did manage to pretty quickly identify them as not on point and successfully table them. But I do seem to have given myself a migraine.

Do you have trouble staying on point? Do you have any tips for staying on point? How do you feel about eggs?

 read to be read at

Fixing a Hole

For someone who spends as much time in my own head just thinking as I do, I don’t reach very many conclusions. For someone who has as many lists and plans and goals as I do, I don’t get very much done.

Why is this?

I have trouble focusing. I’m overwhelmed by the clutter that surrounds me. I don’t even mean just physical clutter. For example, at any given moment I have 3-5 different internet browser windows, each with 5-20 tabs, open at once. My online to do list has hundreds of tasks sitting in it. There are probably 20 tasks listed for today (I’m not bothering to look), if for no other reason than the program automatically moves tasks not completed from one day to the next. How helpful.

Twelve weeks ago, the clutter situation in my office at work reached a peak. I could barely function around all of the books, and piles of papers, and proliferation of post-it notes. I wrote a post wondering out loud how a perfectionist like me could have an office that looked like that.

Then I read the Pish Posh call to action. She proposed a 12-week “Get Fit Challenge.” The challenge wasn’t just about losing weight. And thank goodness for that, because although I did post a race report to the challenge, I haven’t lost an ounce during the last 12 weeks.

I wasn’t the most devoted Get Fitter, and I didn’t really even articulate explicit goals. But guess what? My work office is clean, my work email inbox is still under control (down from 1,600 emails to zero) and I’m looking forward to chucking the clutter from the rest of my life.


The deepest reaches of Hell (A.K.A. my office)


I’d forgotten what my simulated wood-grain desk looked like.

So what have I learned?

I hold on to too much: clothes in my closet I never wear, books I will never read again, emails I don’t need to keep, songs I always skip on my iPod, tasks I can’t prioritize, things I’ve stumbled across on the internet that I don’t want to forget, blogs I don’t have time to read, and 800 scraps of paper with thoughts I don’t want to, but maybe should allow myself to, forget.

All this crap distracts me from what’s really important. It’s allowed me to stay stagnant. It’s long past time to let this crap go or I will never be able to figure out what I really want to do.

I have to learn to focus on one thing at a time. With pride, I can say that I did NOT check any of my email accounts or Facebook before writing this post this morning. I got up, set a timer for 15 minutes and just wrote. I’m going to edit for 10 minutes, add my pictures and publish this thing. It may not be a perfect post, but I focused on writing it and only on writing it and did not allow myself to get distracted by anything else. Go me.

Do you have trouble staying focused? Or clearing out clutter (physical, digital, mental)? Want to support each other and check in sometimes? Let me know, I need all the help I can get.


Photo Friday: This is What Perfectionism Looks Like

On the surface, it may seem counter-intuitive for a perfectionist’s office to look like a cyclone hit it. But those of you who have the perfectionism affliction, or love someone who does, see the truth.

Am I comfortable with this picture? No. Do I enjoy working in this environment? No. While a normal person might think, “just spend a few minutes cleaning this up,” I know it would take hours or even days (hours and days I don’t have at work) to clean and organize it the right way. To do anything less is not comfortable, so it will just have to wait until I can do it right.

I’m a perfectionist; I’m hardwired to do shit the tediously inefficient but right way.

I think I would have skewed this way no matter what, but my first grade teacher didn’t help. She split my classroom into the “good side” and the “bad side” and placed me on the bad side because I’d forgotten to turn in a permission slip. Mistakes, no matter how small, would be noticed, would be punished. Got it, thanks!

This experience lodged itself into my amygdala, where it still drives me toward a goal I can’t reach. When I was little, my thoughts on perfection were simple, “if I stop making mistakes, people will like me more.” I even had a code word, “NOW,” that I’d say to myself as a pep talk to be perfect from that point forward. Until the next time I made a mistake, of course. These days, “NOW” has been replaced by exhausting post mortems on what I could have done differently to avoid a mistake and often an internal berating for not knowing this already.

I’m sick of it and I’m trying to recover from perfectionism. I’ve realized there’s so much I want to do. I just don’t have time to do everything I’m interested in doing as well as my brain tells me I have to do it.

But letting the perfectionism go has been hard, for at least two reasons:

1. My brain doesn’t seem to have the capacity for the kind of flexible thinking needed to create shortcuts.

2. Even if by some miracle, I think of a shortcut or someone offers me a different solution to a task, I don’t feel comfortable implementing it. It feels half-assed to me.

I didn’t even realize how crazy my methods seemed until the running shoes conversation. You see, a few weeks ago my knees started feeling wonky and I wondered if it might be time to buy new running shoes. I thought nothing of my process until I talked to a normal person about it. I mentioned how I needed to add up the mileage I’d run on my current pair of shoes, but before I could do the calculation I had to enter the back log of data from my Garmin GPS watch into my workout log spreadsheet.

I’ll never forget the look that passed across the normal person’s face.

Her: “How long will entering all that data take you?”

Me: “I’m not sure…probably two to three hours at least.”

Her: “Uh, what would be the harm in just buying new shoes without doing all that data entry?”

This suggestion blew my mind.

Today I reached two personal milestones. I achieved a goal I’ve had for over two years; to get my work email inbox of almost 1,600 emails back to zero. And, perhaps more importantly, I did it by implementing a shortcut that my perfectionist brain had previously convinced me was “cheating. ”

I moved everything older than 2012 into a separate archive folder labeled “unsorted.” If I get around to culling that great, if not, c’est la vie. I had told myself I needed to wait until I had time to cull 1,600 emails. But that was going to be never. After removing the old emails, I culled the 404 emails left in my inbox to zero in a few hours. Yea!


2012: My Last (According to the Maya) Annual Goals

Probably not the most thrilling content I’ve ever written, but I’m pasting my 2012 goals below:

  • because I said I would,
  • to help with accountability, and
  • to serve as a foundation for what I’ll inevitably write about some of these.

As a reward for sticking with a list post in table format, see the end of the post for an embarrassingly unflattering photo of myself–menacing and holding the umbrella I attacked in a vicious rage.

I welcome feedback on any of what’s below, but particularly seek input in the “go cold turkey on perfectionism” area. Too much of my time gets sucked into the perfection spiral of attempting to make the good enough better. “Perfect is the enemy of the good” is my new adopted mantra, but the perfectionism is so ingrained in me it’s difficult for me to devise ways of knocking it the hell off.

Big-Picture Goal

Specific Activities / Strategies

Increase energy/reduce anxiety
  • Get more sleep!
  • Have nightly relaxation time & schedule weekly unstructured time
Go cold turkey on perfectionism
  • Use timer to snap out of over thinking and hyper-focus
  • Viciously cull to do list (stay tuned, I’ll be failing at this soon!)
Find career fulfillment
  • Locate inner voice / expand knowledge
Increase fitness (run faster, build strength)
Maintain intimate and fulfilling marriage
  • Walk Chuck in the evenings/take over 1 weekend morning walk for Dave
  • Real (not visiting family) vacation (London for Wimbledon?)
  • None of your business
Develop and maintain meaningful relationships
  • Host at least two events
  • Develop annual get together tradition
  • At least monthly social event
  • Reach out more frequently to friends (not just Facebook!)
  • Make amends where needed
Continue to write and build blog community
  • Post 2-3 times/week (develop editorial calendar)
  • Visit and comment on favorite blogs
  • Finish blog redesign
Plan for early “retirement”
  • Save refinance and health care savings
  • Confirm plan with financial planner
Simplify and customize house for oasis-like awesomeness
  • Declutter
  • Reorganize basement, get treadmill

There’s other stuff I’d like to do, like read some damn books this year, but this list is already too long. Hopefully there can be some synergy among my goals. For example, I plan to start a nightly reading before bed ritual to ease into an earlier bedtime and get more sleep. Presumably this will also result in my reading more than one book this year.

So I promised you an embarrassing photo, eh? I’d put the umbrella photo here, but that wouldn’t help me pimp the Logy Express Facebook page.

Go check out the photo, freshly published there. While you’re there, why not click the “Like” button?


Do you set goals or make resolutions? What are your plans for 2012?

2011: Year in Review

I like traditions. I’ve been reading Linda’s yearly recaps for years so it seemed natural to do this little quizzy thing myself last year when I started the blog. Even though trying to come up with answers to some of these questions makes me realize how piss poor my memory of day-to-day stuff is, here is my 2011 recap.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Started writing memoir and linking up to Write On Edge, an online writing group. Completed my iPod shuffle challenge (listened to my entire music collection without skipping a single song). Saw Paul Simon in concert. Saw a Broadway musical. Came out of the childfree closet. Had one of my posts “Freshly Pressed” on Learned how to make videos out of my pictures. Celebrated my husband’s 40th birthday. Finally rented a dog-friendly beach house.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Here are the goals I set for 2011, along with my assessment of how well I did. Since this whole blog is basically the articulation of my goals, I’m going to discuss my 2012 goals separately.

-Get more sleep. Not so much.

-Exercise in the morning rather than the evening. Jesus, no. But I did do a decent job of keeping up with running anyway.

-Keep running (see last year’s post for specifics). I ran with a winter running group, and improved my personal best at this year’s Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Race, but I didn’t run any races longer than 5K after that. Even though I tried several times, I also couldn’t break a 30 minute 5K.

-Get stronger (see last year’s post for specifics)Oops.

-Be more productive (see last year’s post for specifics). On one hand, I don’t feel like I’m more on top of things now than at the beginning of 2011. But I also added things (blogging, meeting new people, thinking about a career change) without taking anything away. So while I still think I need to become more productive, this year I feel I need to do that by letting unimportant things (and my perfectionism) go, whereas last year I was just piling unrealistic expectation upon unrealistic expectation. I need to give myself a break.  

-Become a better photographer (see last year’s post for specifics). I signed up for the County’s photography class in summer and fall, but it was cancelled both times. I also wanted to make better use of my pictures. To that end, I did a massive photo digitization project in 2011, made videos for Chuck’s and Dave’s birthdays and our anniversary, and I framed and hung some of my photos in our powder room (post forthcoming). 

-Take a French class (see last year’s post for specifics). Non.

-Be more social (see last year’s post for specifics). It’s difficult for me to assess my progress in this area, and given my introversion I don’t think it’s fair to be too negative. We did host two get-togethers at our house and have made a pretty big effort (for introverts anyway) to meet new people and stay in touch with friends.

-Eat dinner in the dining room and not in front of the TV. Not even once. In my defense, the dining room table was inundated with stuff for big projects (photo digitizing and the Advent Calendar) most of 2011.

-Walk Chuck in the evenings (see last year’s post for specifics). I feel like I did better at this in 2011 than 2010, especially while I was still doing my iPod shuffle challenge. But Dave would probably beg to differ. Dave still does more of the evening dog walks than is fair.

-Fucking chill (see last year’s post for specifics). This might be the most important goal, but it’s vague. We did take a nice, relaxing (non-driving to visit family) vacation this year. But I wasn’t good at leaving work on time or taking time to relax, or avoiding angry reactions. And I also experienced more anxiety in dealing with people than I’d like.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I hope not, because I don’t remember any babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

Outside the U.S., zippo. I entered the public lottery for Wimbledon tickets next year, so fingers crossed for a trip to London in 2012.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

An inner voice on career that says something other than “this is not it.”

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

New Year’s illness (see #10), seeing the D.C. fireworks for only the second time in my 15 years of living here, my birthday weekend in Erie, seeing the look on Dave’s face at his 40th birthday celebration, walking on the beach with Dave and Chuck during our week at the beach and feeling peace.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally getting all of our pictures (mine, my family’s, and Dave’s family’s slides) digitized. I also feel pretty slick for pulling off 40 gifts for Dave’s 40th birthday. Honorable mention for reaching my 15th anniversary at work.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not getting enough sleep.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Dave and I both got horribly sick over New Year’s (days after I had bragged about my hand washing and good health in my 2010 review post). Not a good way to start off a year. It was the first time I’d vomited since 1994 (if only I could say “vomit free since ’93…”). I also had a pretty annoying cold in June.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Photo digitizing services from Foto Bridge (post about this is long overdue).

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage, savings (early retirement, baby!). The photo digitizing, beach vacation, and 40th birthday celebration for Dave were also fairly large (but totally worth it) expenses.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Blogging (finally getting some readers and also finding some great new blogs), taking a vacation, making new friends.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

I’ve been obsessed with Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel for most of 2011, but I have to be honest, the song I will most associate with 2011 is a ridiculous song by Beetlejuice of Howard Stern’s “Wack Pack” fame. Dave and I have been saying “Let it roll” all fucking year (although the best part is his emphatic “yeah!”). Sorry about this:

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?  YES! I find the more I work on my issues, the more emotion-ey my emotions are. So I’m happier and sadder.

b) thinner or fatter? pretty much the same

c) richer or poorer? financially better off

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleep, relax, read

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being anxious, looking for stuff, trying to do things perfectly

18. How did you spend Christmas?

We always spend Christmas in Erie with my Mom. The twist this year–we went to my brother’s in the afternoon. So Mom, Dave, and I decided to open presents Christmas evening, making 2011 the only year ever that I didn’t open presents right after waking up on Christmas morning.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Switched at Birth. Makes me want to learn sign language. I also started watching How I Met Your Mother on my Mom’s Roku over Christmas vacation and I’m hooked. And also pissed that Dave convinced me not to start watching it back when it started in 2005.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I’m pretty open on this here blog, but this shit is embarrassing. I finished (wait for it…) one book this year. I partially read a couple of other books, and my list of books I’d like to read grew even larger, but…I guess the Sweet Valley High sequel has to be my favorite (and least favorite!) book of 2011. Good lord.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

As we learned through my iPod shuffle challenge and re-ignited obsession with Simon & Garfunkel this year, I need to infuse some new music into my collection. I don’t think I have any favorite music from this year. I (like everyone else on the planet) liked that Adele song “Rollling in the Deep.” I’m going to train Pandora to feed me great new music in 2012.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

The embarrassment continues. We saw The King’s Speech in the theater and I believe that’s it. We rented Blue Valentine and Crazy, Stupid Love on streaming video. And we are going to see the Muppet movie tonight (best New Year’s Eve plans ever, eh?). I’m guessing the Muppets will win me over for favorite film of 2011.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I ran a tenth of a mile for each year. I went to the Erie Zoo with my Mom, Dave, an old friend from high school and her two kids and rode the red panda on the carousel. I turned 38.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More time to spend however I want.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Sahalie butterfleece sport pants.

26. What kept you sane?

(Who says I was sane this year?) Having this place to write shit down. Dave. Loving on my dog.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Still need to learn to apply this to my life.


I’d like to welcome everyone who found Logy Express through Freshly Pressed on! I was overwhelmed, in a good way, by all of your thoughtful comments. I’d love to keep the conversation going. Make yourselves at home. Perhaps you’d like a cold, refreshing beverage? We restock the Belgian beer annually.

Beer Mania!

I was on vacation during the whole Freshly Pressed thing. Oops. I’m still going through the comments and loving every second of it.

The notification about being Freshly Pressed came from someone who signed her email “Story Wrangler.” Who knew? I’m totally adding that to my list of coveted job titles.

I turned 38 this week and in honor of the occasion, I thought it would be fun to provide “38 More Things About Me.” At first I thought this would be difficult, but I’m the world’s foremost expert on me.

1. Red pandas are my favorite animal. I celebrated my birthday on Monday by visiting them at the Erie Zoo and riding the red panda (on the carousel, people!). EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to my friend Erin for the heads up about the carousel red panda!

I'm 38.

2. I’m an introverted Leo. So while people can sometimes drain my energy and I don’t like calling attention to myself, I want people to notice, be interested in, and like me anyway. This is as problematic as it sounds.

3. I’m a recovering perfectionist. The phrase “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” could have been written about me. I’m working on being more efficient and simply letting some things go, because I have a lovely front porch on which I’m dying to sit.

4. My only sibling is nine years older than me. Due to his early influence, my taste in music overlaps disturbingly with that of a middle-aged man (see: Rush).

5. I curse. A lot. (see: older brother).

6. I have no first cousins.

7. My Mother preferred to keep me in shorter hair styles growing up, which I detested. Ever since it has been up to me, I’ve kept my hair long.

WEB A 0446

8. I love having blue eyes. One of my teachers in high school once said, apropos of nothing, “dark-haired, blue-eyed women are the most attractive women in the world.”

9. Lest you think this swelled my dark-haired, blue-eyed head, another high school teacher once told me she could tell I was from the Baltic countries because of my “pale, oddly-shaped face.”

10. There are a bunch of things most people take for granted that I can’t do: snap my fingers, whistle, wink, tie shoelaces. OK, I can tie shoelaces, but I have to tie two loops together.

11. I need more sleep.

12. One of my favorite things is the feeling of waking up and realizing I can sleep longer.

13. I attended Catholic school from preschool through twelfth grade. Wearing a uniform for 13 years did not help my fashion sense.

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14. Catholic school did an excellent job of teaching me to think for myself. I thought myself right out of being Catholic.

15. At eighth grade graduation, I received an award for “honor,” which I still think is one of the coolest things ever.

16. Tom Ridge doesn’t believe I am lazy. He conducted my alumni interview when I applied to Harvard and argued with me when I replied “I am lazy” to his question about my biggest weakness. He also said he thought I’d have no trouble getting into Harvard (I did not get into Harvard).

17. The first presidential election in which I could vote was 1992. It was the first and last time I ever got excited by our political process. Between parsing the meaning of the word “is,” and the horror of the 2000 “election,” I now have to fight the urge to yell “la-la-la, I’m not listening!” when politicians speak.

Absentee Ballot 1992

18. I am smart enough to be painfully aware of how much I don’t know/understand.

19. Discussing things I don’t know much about makes me uncomfortable.

20. Tennis is my favorite sport.

21. I spent one summer during high school in the Netherlands and a college semester in Belgium. But my knowledge of Dutch/Flemish is limited to counting and phrases from Yahtzee.

Waterloo, 1994

22. I love taking pictures. I am irritated when I have to use Photoshop.

23. My only recurring nightmare involves really needing to go to the bathroom and not being able to find an acceptable place to do so. I go to the bathroom a lot.

24. I’ve never wanted kids. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve held a baby.

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25. Although…I never wanted to get married either, and then this happened.

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26. I hate musicals. They all remind me of the scene in “Elf” when Buddy sings “I’m in a store and I’m singing!”

27. Music, on the other hand, makes my world infinitely better.

28. My favorite band is the Police. For some reason this was the world’s most uncool thing to my classmates. There are millions of Police fans, and somehow I have never met another one.

29. Howard Stern wakes me up every weekday morning.

30. I own over 100 exercise videos and DVDs, have worked out with some of my favorite instructors, and have even seen the filming of several videos, but since 2008 have gotten most of my exercise through running.

me and Cathe Friedrich, 1999

31. Glass half empty or full? I once reported being “cautiously not pessimistic” about one of my projects during a staff meeting.

32. A nickname I’ve heard for my Myers-Briggs type is “the Inspector.” I don’t think all of the Inspector characteristics fit me and I certainly don’t believe rules should never be broken, but I do often notice when they are broken and I also sort of enjoy pointing it out. Maybe I should be a meter maid?

33. I have a thing for frogs.

Victoria Knowledge Totum frog

34. I don’t get flip-flops. They are neither attractive nor comfortable. They are good for the beach, pedicures, and slipping on for emergency dog walks. I could never commute in them.

35. Inept reporting of research findings irritates the crap out of me.

36. Dave does all the cooking. I don’t like to cook. When I cook, my food tastes only of my effort. I’m horrible with knives and my eyes tear up even half a house away from a cut onion. If I had to fend for myself, I’d eat a lot of takeout, eggs, starchy carbs, and dessert.

37. I brush my dog‘s teeth every day.

38. My favorite element is Molybdenum.

Molybdenum on the Periodic Table of the Elephants