Tag Archives: lists

Jan
23
2012
Now I Am as Happy as a Little Girl…

Now is the time on Sprockets when we acknowledge being acknowledged. I have had bestowed onto me the coveted Love My Monkey award (or Liebe mein affe-mienke in the original German…OK, Liebster Award, whatever).

I am much too lazy to copy and paste the award rules here. Suffice it to say I’m to give props where props are due: to the blogger who nominated me and five other bloggers of my choice.

These award memes activate my acute fear of forgetting, ingrained early by the worst teacher in Bachelor elementary school history, as well as rejection. I forgot to include some people last time I did one of these things, even though it was one of the longest posts EVER. I’m sure after hitting publish on this, I will immediately think of a dozen others. I follow a lot of blogs. They are all special snowflakes. Dieter says my blathering has become tiresome, onto the links.

Thanks to Recovering Supermom for giving me this award. I first read her blog around the time I made homemade advent calendars and her post about homemade gifts spoke the truth and greatly amused me. She is a recovering perfectionist kindred spirit.

Here are some bloggers I want to highlight for their awesomeness. No need to perpetuate the chain if memes aren’t your thing, just bask in the glow of the liebster love:

Apathy is Green: Apathy is a self-described “minor cog in the bureaucracy.” I feel his pain. I’m also sometimes amused by his pain…like his office “talkopotamus.”

The Book Stop: I’d meant to include this blog in my Versatile Blogger post because: a.) she’s a friend in that thing called real life, 2.) I love her blog, and c.) she’s a versatile blogger. She writes thoughtful book reviews, and about book and literacy-related topics. She sometimes throws in a more personal post, which I appreciate as a friend and all-around nosy person.

Kid-Free Living: Another blog I meant to highlight before and didn’t. Amy’s an honest-to-goodness writer and as such needs no linky props from my little blog, but I want to give her a shout out anyway because her shit is funny. Just go check her out, it’s all good. If you need a place to start, here is a post that spoke to me.

Ramblings and Rumblings: Having a post Freshly Pressed was great, but it took months to check out the bloggers who had visited what with that “job” thing cramping my style. “Speaker7″ left a Wegmans-related comment and that alone should have made me reciprocate the visit, but the name “speaker7″ sounded vaguely spam-ish on first glance. When I eventually visited speaker7’s blog, I laughed my ass off and realized I’d been missing out. Here is a tribute to fleece. Here is the written and graphic equivalent of a haul video, only intentionally funny.

Zoe Says: Zoe is a fellow Belgian waffle lover and career fulfillment searcher (so excited about her photography career move). She writes charming posts. This one, about the icky-ness of mint, made me realize we are long-lost twins. I totally could have written that post myself and kind of wish I had.

Jen Has A Pen: I’m a rule breaker. I’m linking to six blogs instead of five. I found Jen through Write on Edge. She’s a great writer and is currently entertaining me with posts about her move to New York. I’m also jealous of her adventure as well as her super-cute blog design.

That is all the time we have. Until next time, auf Wiedersehen!

Jan
3
2012
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?

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

Dec
31
2011
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 WordPress.com. 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?

No.

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.

Dec
21
2011
2011 Favorite Christmas Song Addendum

I shared my favorite Christmas songs last year, but I also like to expand my collection each year. So here’s an addendum to last year’s list, although it’s getting harder and harder to find new stuff.

The Sirius Christmas channel, “Holly,” makes me want to stab somebody this year (program director, perhaps?). I really don’t need Taylor Swift to sing ever, let alone sing Christmas songs that sound exactly like all her other songs. I would also prefer to live in a world without Christmas songs performed by the seemingly hundreds of interchangeable and faceless (to me anyway) “Talent” reality show contestants, and the frigging cast of Glee. And was anyone clamoring for new versions of Wham’s “Last Christmas” (where does the exclamation point go when you need to add apostrophe-s to “Wham!”?)? Dude, if you gave your heart away last Christmas, you no longer have possession of it to give to someone special this year. Stupidest lyrics EVER.

So I switched to Sirius’ “Holiday Traditions” channel this year, and I feel like I’m ready to retire and move to Florida. But I’ve found some good “dirt old, but new to me” songs to add to my collection this year.

“Snow” from White Christmas

I’ve never heard people so awestruck by snow, it’s like they’re from Mars (or D.C., HA!). Seeing the scene from White Christmas just makes it worse. Danny Kaye seems to be implying he wants to shovel. Dude, you’re welcome here anytime, wash our car while you’re at it.

“To see a great big man entirely made of snow…” Take it easy, little lady. Sexually frustrated much? 

I keep trying to come up with even sillier lyrics than “I’ll wash my hair with snow,” (I’ll get some hookers and blow?). Who the hell would want to wash their hair with snow, well…unless they watched this YouTube video and believed an ice-cold rinse would help their charming new frizz problem, when really this woman is just fucking with people. “Let’s see if I can get people to rinse their hair in ice-cold water…suckers!” Yeah, doesn’t work (not that I tried it or anything, ha-ha very funny lady, you got me!).

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme “Hurry Home For Christmas”

Oh good lord, this is bad. In a good way. “Until you get here, jingle-bells-won’t-jingle-not-a-single-jingle-baby…” Listening to this makes me feel dirty somehow.

Pearl Bailey “Five Pound Box of Money”

Tell it like it is, sister! I’m so with her. I don’t want a lot for Christmas, just early retirement. Santa, can you hook me up?

Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby “We Wish You the Merriest”

I love the almost frantic need to provide yuletide greetings. As is so often the case with Frank, he sounds a little drunk (even though there’s no dit-dit-dit). For some reason I find this drunken persona of the Rat Pack endearing and think they would’ve been fun to hang out with until I remember how uncomfortable I am with habitually drunk people.

Amazon has been giving away a free Christmas song download every day in December. I needn’t have been so excited about this. My favorite of the bunch so far, I already knew (but didn’t own, and now own for free, so yea!).

The Superions “Fruitcake”

Dave’s been threatening to make fruitcake for years…shudder. The song includes a fun mace reference.

The Grand Candy “America, It’s Time to Shop (Best of Black Friday)”

This song by Dave’s talented guitar teacher (who I’ve mentioned a few times and think I always refer to as “Dave’s talented guitar teacher”) makes me smile. Sort of a Christmas/current events (well, current as of 2001 anyway)/yet funny version of The The’s “Swine Fever.” And I’m willing to bet you don’t have any other Christmas songs that mention anthrax or smallpox (please, please tell me if you do!).

But, my favorite Christmas song ever is still this version of “Carol of the Bells.” Who doesn’t want to induce a burst aneurysm for the holidays?

——————————–

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Oct
24
2011
The Versatile Blogger

Versatility

A mantra that became very familiar about starting a blog was “you need a theme.” I heard this from my blogging instructor (yes, I took a blogging class), when researching blogs on the internet, from my one real life friend with a blog, from random people on the street. This worried me and kept me from starting this blog for a long time.

You see, I don’t do themes. AT. ALL.

When Dave and I got engaged, several people asked me what the theme of our wedding was going to be. “Uh, how about getting married?”

So there’s no real theme to what I write about here other than “whatever the hell I feel like.” Sometimes this makes me feel lame, like I lack passion. But I don’t have a passion for any one thing; I’m interested in lots of things. This might negatively affect how many people read, but c’est la vie.

So when JT and Natalia both tagged me with the Versatile Blogger meme, I was verklempt. Although versatile is probably a euphemism for “unfocused.”

Thanks to JT and Natalia for tagging me. Reading JT is like having a thoughtful conversation. He says he likes thoughtful conversation (me too!) on his about page and it shows in his writing.

Natalia is a wonderful photographer. I wished she lived close enough to do our holiday card photo shoot. We’ve been doing it ourselves the past few years and it’s difficult to get the camera to focus on us when we aren’t all in frame at the time of auto-focusing. I blame the camera, but it’s probably user error.

Now is the time in the Versatile Blogger response when I provide seven random (useless?) facts about myself. I recently wrote 38 things about myself in honor of my birthday, so I’m going to have to dig deep here.

Seven Random Facts About Me

1. Having freshly groomed eyebrows makes a surprisingly big difference in how I feel about myself.

2. I feel naked without Carmex.

3. I suffer from early morning calf cramps more than I think is normal. They wake me up and I had three last week, two on the same day.

4. My house is decorated with several things from Pottery Barn Teen and (gulp) Pottery Barn Kids.

5. Perhaps related…I keep waiting to feel like an adult and it keeps not happening. The older I get, the weirder this feels.

6. I worked as a telemarketer for part of a summer during college. “Part of” because I walked out on a break one day and didn’t go back. I’m going to out myself as a snob now and say that I couldn’t deal with taking direction from people who thought “rebuttal” was a verb (“Rebuttal ‘em!!!”). Also I sucked at telemarketing like I’ve never sucked at anything before or since. When the poor schmuck on the phone said “no,” that was good enough for me. My “superiors” were constantly berating my unwillingness to “rebuttal ‘em.”

7. I love to step on and crack acorn tops, to an almost obsessive degree. As in, I will walk out of my way to step on one. Fall is a satisfying time.

Blogs I Love

Now I will tag some others, not because I want them to feel any pressure to acknowledge it or keep the chain going (I know some have been tagged already), but because I want to show my appreciation. I don’t do that enough and I want all of these people to know I’m glad I found their blogs and enjoy reading.

When I first stumbled across blogs years ago, Linda at Sundry Mourning was one of the first bloggers I ever made a point to follow. Her honesty and humor sucked me right in and I’m often astounded at how well she writes. She writes posts you wish you could write, like this post about genealogy. There aren’t many “can’t miss a post” bloggers for me and Linda’s one of them. She has more Twitter followers than Dave’s favorite band, but I’m giving the shout out anyway.

A newer favorite is Abby at Abby Has Issues. I was hooked after reading this post about work that gave voice to exactly what I was feeling (well, except for the Stallone love child bit). Her posts are often truly funny. I often find posts that are clever or amusing, but one of the only blog posts I remember ever making me laugh out loud was this one about Abby’s road rage. Loved the WWJD line.

I love Katie at Chicken Noodle Gravy because her blog has “no identity” either, but is inherently readable. She wrote about the identity thing here and it obviously resonated with me quite a bit. She occasionally shares recipes (check out the charming recipe on her blog header), but also writes poignant memoir and dark, clever fiction. Katie also is a founding member of the Lightning and the Lightning-Bug community of writers.

Kelly at Cordelia Calls It Quits just rocks at this blogging thing. Two of her posts have been featured on WordPress and with good reason. Her mission to live more deliberately and “quit” the things that “sap her time, energy, or money to no good end” is inspiring. She has a running list of “quit posts,” and it’s like she wrote this one about hitting the snooze button for me. She accepts quit posts from readers too. When I submitted my idea (which I still need to finish and submit, oops), she didn’t know me from a hole in the wall but got back to me right away and also visited my fledgling little blog and sent some much-needed encouragement my way. 

Jill at the Cinquecento Project recently said she fantasizes about the career stability I have while I’m totally enchanted by her current temporary Italian life. Proof that the grass is always greener. I love the upbeat theme to her writing. I’m amazed she can come up with five highlights for most days. Many days my highlights would include things like: “my couch is still comfortable” and “managed not to accidentally blurt out snarky thing in my head at work.”

Margaret at Figuring Out Fulfillment guest posted for me a couple of weeks ago and her posts are wise and calm and give me hope about, well, figuring out fulfillment.

Tracy at The Heso Project is also on a quest to do what she loves. I believe she will create a job for her heart and soul (heso, get it?) and I will enjoy reading about it along the way.

When I first found Half Empty For Now, I thought, “huh, that could have been my theme, why didn’t I think of that?” Ms. HalfEmpty is a super-pessimist married to an optimist and she writes about her quest for passion in a compelling manner. As someone who once said “I’m cautiously not pessimistic” at a staff meeting, her half empty yet hopeful point of view warms my cold black pessimistic heart.

Catherine at Inside Out certainly represents versatility. She writes everything from memoir to book reviews to recipes she’s tried. She writes with an honesty that makes me wish I could talk to her over some coffee. And I don’t even drink coffee. She’s even knowledgeable about fashion, which I’m hoping will rub off on me.

Cindy at Beside a Life tells a mean story. This one inspired me to speak my mind the next time someone insults me.

Scales of Libra is doing a music listening challenge inspired by the shuffle challenge I did. I was so honored she decided to do it. I’ve been enjoying her write ups of the experience. And she taught me how to play Tetris in my Mac’s Terminal. And she has a “Castlevania” tag. Awesome.

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying is a fabulous writer who I found through the Write on Edge (formerly The Red Dress Club) writing group. She had me at her beautiful memories of her Nana and her lilac scent. She’s since had her latest post about hemorrhoids explode (sorry) her Facebook likes and readership and she deserves it. And she doesn’t write about hemorrhoids all the time, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Roxanne at Unintentionally Brilliant is another blogger I found through Write on Edge. She is truly versatile and I enjoy reading her funny stories about online dating, touching stories about her young son, and stunning fiction like my favorite, the Agnes series.

Last, but not least (these have been in no particular order), I want to take pictures like Rebecca when I grow up. I had trouble picking the post to link to, so I just went with her latest. The fall colors are astoundingly beautiful.

I know I’m leaving out many cool blogs I love, but I have to stop somewhere. This post is over 1,500 words and I’ve been working on it for over a week. Time to cut bait. My reader is full to the brim with great stuff I’m so happy to have found and I’m always on the look out for other great blogs to read.

Have any suggestions?

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Hey, do you like me? Do you really like me? Why not like me on Facebook? Or follow me on the Twitter.

Aug
25
2011
Thirty-Eight

I’d like to welcome everyone who found Logy Express through Freshly Pressed on WordPress.com! 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.

WEB A 0838

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

Aug
19
2011
Ten Jobs I Would Be Willing To Do Without Pay

Do you know what today is? It’s my anniversary. Today I celebrate 15 years of employed bliss. As I discussed yesterday, one of the reasons I have stayed where I am so long is a lack of a “big dream” to pursue.

I recently saw a suggestion to think about what you would still be willing to do even if you weren’t being paid for it. I guess the theory is it helps you identify your true calling and maybe shake loose a possible idea for turning it into income. I remember laughing heartily at the suggestion, because the only thing that immediately came to mind was sleep. I would definitely be willing to sleep for free. Anyone want to step forward and make my dream of a new career in somnolence come true*?

In honor of my momentous employment milestone, I decided to brainstorm some dream job titles to try to uncover my passion. It must be in there somewhere.

Ten Jobs I Would Be Willing to Do Without Pay (in alphabetical order):

1. Back Rub Critic

2. Dave’s Wife/Stay at Home Dog Mom (additional husbands and windows would require a paycheck). Also, can someone please explain to me why Gwyneth Paltrow kept popping up when I searched for images of “traditional housewives?”

3. Family Photographer. All I mean by this is taking pictures of whatever I feel like. Ironically this photo shows Dave would make a good photographer.

4. Grouch (Oscar’s bound to retire sometime, right?)

5. Ice Cream Taster. This is making me want krunch kote.

6. Lode Runner

 

7. Lounge Singer (thank you!)

8. Neighborhood Watch President. I would write copious amounts of front porch sitting into this job description. EDITOR’S NOTE: This used to be accompanied by a photo of a very disgruntled older lady wearing a clear babushka, but the link is sadly broken now. So I’ll replace this one with Segway Meter Maid (photo of us on Segway tour is a placeholder until I can sneak a picture of the dude I see writing tickets on a Segway several times a week).

9. Orgasm Reviewer

10. Red Panda Caretaker. The July/August 2011 issue of the National Zoo’s Zoogoer magazine has an article about hand-rearing baby animals, including red pandas, at the zoo. Mother of God did I ever go into the wrong profession. The photos of the baby red pandas made my eyes melt out of their sockets. I haven’t seen the new babies yet, but here is a picture of a regular old, ridiculously adorable, red panda I took a few months ago.

IMG_5992

How about you? Are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? What would you be willing to do without being paid?

*I realize somnolence means drowsiness. Why isn’t there a Latin word for the act of sleeping?

Dec
30
2010
2010: Year In Review

With just a couple of days left in 2010, I thought I’d summarize my year. I found this year-end quiz years ago at Linda’s and have enjoyed reading her recaps ever since. This is the first year I’m filling out the quiz myself–it seems like a good way to reflect on the past year and kick off the new year.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

I ran a 10-mile race and came in within my time goal. I finally ran a half marathon after many aborted attempts (most ending without even completing the Couch to 5K first step!). In 2009, I completed all but the final two weeks of training for a half marathon in my hometown (had a flight booked and everything) before injuring my knee and having to bail on running the race. I was devastated. The disappointment colored everything for the last half of 2009. Being able to start running again and complete the race in 2010 was a huge accomplishment and a big relief, quite frankly. The constant paranoia and nagging worry about every little twinge was getting exhausting.

I also started wearing my gorgeous engagement ring regularly after stupidly letting it sit in a drawer for 11 years.

I also started this blog, which was something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

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

Yes, I usually make resolutions. For the first time last year, I set some specific goals rather than more vague resolutions. Here are the goals I set for 2010, along with my assessment of how well I did.

2010 Resolutions

Get back into running without injury

This one is a resounding yes, thank jug of milk. In addition to the two races mentioned above, I also ran a 5K in September (missing my 30 minute time goal by less than 30 seconds) and the 10K associated with the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I’m also pretty proud of running throughout the year, even in some pretty horrific winter weather. The winter running group I joined helped motivate me to get those long runs in during January through March, when I really just wanted to burrow into my bed and hibernate.

Get more sleep

I’ve always had trouble falling asleep and there is no amount of sleep that satisfies me. I have the absolute wrong internal body clock for normal work schedules, to which my employer unfortunately expects me to adhere. Going to bed at a reasonable hour is something I have less willpower to do than abstaining from dessert (this is saying something). No matter how exhausted I am the next morning, I stay up late that night. This is some deep-seated shit–I resent the hell out of what I consider to be inadequate free time, particularly on weekday evenings, so I just take the free time from my sleep. You might think, just go to bed earlier, what the hell is your problem? I sort of agree, but since I’ve been unsuccessfully working on this for about 20 years, I have to acknowledge the depth of the issue. If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about myself, it would be this. Because I am tired. Last year I had concrete plans for meeting my goal of getting to bed earlier and getting more sleep, which I won’t detail here because this is going to be long enough already and because I didn’t really successfully do any of them. I failed at this one pretty miserably.

Reduce time wasting activities

As I’ve written about in the explanation of this blog, I’d like to be more productive. I’ve done pretty well on this one, although there’s always room for improvement. Using the timer, which I’m sure sounds crazy to most people, has really been helpful for me. If I’m not very intentional about how I use my time, I can end up watching five hours of Law and Order reruns without blinking an eye.

Read a book per month

This one’s really embarrassing, especially given that the friend who gave me the final push and encouragement to start this blog is a voracious reader whose own blog is focused on books. In 2010, I read a grand total of four books. Oops.

Go off birth control

Birth control is certainly effective and convenient, but after 17 years it just felt like the right thing to take a break. Why it was so hard to commit to doing this is now a mystery to me. My doctor insisted it was fine to stay on and we bantered about it for several years. 2010 was finally the year I stopped listening to her and decided to just give stopping a go. While having more frequent (the key thing I miss about Seasonale was being gloriously period-free for 8 months out of the year) and less predictable periods is annoying, I can’t imagine going back now. This decision was a slam dunk.

2011 Resolutions

My goals for 2011 follow. With the exception of the critical sleep goal being first, they aren’t in any particular order.

-Get more sleep (no, seriously)

-Exercise in the morning rather than the evening

-Keep running:  run a 30 minute 5K, join winter running group, run the Cherry Blossom in April, run a 10K or longer race in fall

-Get stronger:  strength train at least twice per week, work up to Cathe Friedrich’s STS by September (and complete STS September through November)

-Be more productive: schedule someday tasks (like closet cleaning, photo organizing) for specific days, write blog posts twice a week, keep using the timer to stay on track and schedule daily tasks

-Become a better photographer: learn how to use my 6-year old camera already (rather than point and hope), finish culling and organizing digital photos, make prints and/or books of good shots, frame a good picture of each place I’ve lived

-Take a French class: I studied French all through high school, minored in it in college, and studied abroad in a French-speaking country, but have almost completely lost it. When we went to Belgium for our tenth anniversary in 2009, I couldn’t really communicate noticeably better than Dave (who studied Latin). So pissed at myself for letting this go.

-Be more social: I’ve been coasting friendship-wise for years and haven’t made much effort to meet new people or reach out to friends. This year, I plan to host at least a couple of get-togethers and just generally make more of an effort to reach out to people.

-Eat dinner in the dining room and not in front of the TV

-Walk Chuck in the evenings: it’s pretty lame that I have to make this an explicit goal, since this is actually supposed to be my job, but I’ve slipped to evening exercise recently and Dave’s been taking up the evening dog walk slack. It’s not fair to him.

-Fucking chill: don’t over schedule, make time for relaxation and Dave, take a real vacation with Dave (even if it’s just a long weekend), leave work on time, do not check work email from home, think/take deep breath before you react in anger

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Erin had her second son about 6 months ago. He’s rolly polly and super cute. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone else, because that would be embarrassing.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

5. What countries did you visit?
Holy crap, none.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I’ve been scratching my head over this one long enough that I’m going to go with the only thing that keeps popping up–I’d like to have more peace and clarity of thought.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Snowpocalypse and the associated snow days in February,  running the Cherry Blossom in April (and being beaten by a juggler) and having brunch with Dave after, finally finishing the Presque Isle half marathon in July and seeing Dave, Chuck, and my nephews Ned and Sam at the finish line, Mom’s back surgery in July, getting all dressed up for our fancy anniversary dinner in October, the Rally to blah, blah, blah, and seeing Dave perform at his first gig (he’s not in any of the currently-posted videos) and the group “Wonderwall” sing-along.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Completing the half marathon

9. What was your biggest failure?
Allowing myself to be overtired all the damn time, and cranky behavior when tired, and/or frustrated, and/or overwhelmed.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Babied my knee all year like it was fine china, but didn’t re-injure it. No illnesses, not even a cold (knocking on wood as it’s not 2011 yet). I can’t recommend hand washing strongly enough.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My Garmin GPS running watch. I don’t have to spend runs trying to calculate my own pace anymore. The best thing someone else bought for me was the iPad.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Our single biggest expense is and presumably always will be our mortgage. We also carpeted the stairs to make them easier for Chuck to navigate and put super cool iridescent green tiles in the kitchen.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Running, starting a blog

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Interpol’s Success and the Bed Intruder Song

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?  YES! I actually had changing moods this year. Given that my highs were pretty high, my lows (which were, uh, shall we say monthly) were a little more noticeable
b) thinner or fatter? frustratingly the same, on the bright side I’ve kept the weight I lost in 2009 off
c) richer or poorer? financially a little better off

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Read, go to movies, sit on my porch, sleep (I should be in bed right now.)

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying, getting bent out of shape, checking work email when not there

18. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas in Erie with my Mom.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
InfoMania, because it’s one of the few that Dave and I both enjoy watching. In terms of what I looked forward to most, I’d have to say In Treatment and Parenthood (I know, WTF, Tracy? I got sucked into watching the relationships among the adult siblings, not so much the parent/child stuff, but that’s actually kind of compelling too, go figure).

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I guess I could list all four that I read? Quite frankly, I don’t think any of them really rise to favorite level. Happiness: the Science behind Your Smile was a pretty cool book. I can see how some people could find the research evidence on happiness depressing, but I actually found it helpful, in a ‘you just need to get a grip’ kind of way.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
It’s been harder to discover new music that I like as I’ve gotten older. This year, we went to several shows and that was fun. I went with Dave to see some of his favorite bands, which is only fair given the number of times he had to go see the Police with me in 2007-8. I discovered that the Wedding Present (one of Dave’s favorite bands) was doing a ‘Bizarro’ anniversary tour. When I emailed Dave to tell him, his response was “What would I do without you?” Saving that email forever.

Dave’s never seen Rush before, so I got tickets for their show for his birthday. I didn’t get tickets earlier because I worried they’d play a lot of newer stuff, and I love Rush, but I don’t love them that much. Then I heard that they were playing Moving Pictures in its entirety on this tour and I felt like a moron for not getting tickets sooner because we were on the lawn.

We also saw Interpol. I don’t like to see shows when I’m not familiar with most of the songs. I thought I only liked a handful of Interpol songs. Surprisingly and happily, in preparing for the concert, I discovered that I like their music a lot. You have to let the songs sneak up on you.

We also saw Dave’s guitar teacher’s band, The Grand Candy, a couple of times. He encouraged us to flip him the bird during his song ‘Birds Are Not Free,” which was the most cathartic concert audience participation experience ever.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I have to say Inception since it was the only movie I saw in the theater. Dave and I watched Up on cable and thought it was pretty good, although we both pretty much cried throughout a good deal of it (hello, unwelcome look into my possible future).

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We went out for a nice dinner and to see my one movie of the year (see above). Dave also made me Harvey Wallbanger cake from scratch this year and it turned out that the doctored-up box version is better. I turned 37.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More weekday free time

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
This question kills me. How about ‘not naked?’ Not sure what the question is getting at. Is ‘closet full of clothes that don’t fit right and no initiative to remedy it’ an appropriate answer? If so, then that.

26. What kept you sane?
Running and Dave (and by Dave, I mean sex)

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
I sort of woke up a little this year. This is it, this is my life, and I’m only going to get out of it what I put in (cue ‘The End’). I have to own this thing and I don’t have to agree to do everything that people ask me to do.

Dec
19
2010
The Twelve Days of Christmas Songs

Keeping up with a blog is not so easy once you’ve been sucked into the Christmas preparation vortex. I am just about done with my shopping. I also finally got the two family photo calendars done this past week and have made three of my planned five kinds of cookies. Luckily, Friday was my last day of work until January 5th. Words are inadequate to describe the joy of that.

Now for some long overdue content. A friend has been posting his top ten Christmas songs on Facebook the past few days and I am now going to blatantly steal that idea. Music might be my favorite part of Christmas (well, maybe after the time off, or maybe the cookies, or maybe the presents, OK it’s not my favorite thing, whatever). It helps keep me festive while prying pecan tassies out of uncooperative mini muffin tins, etc…  While I enjoy the Christmas songs played on the radio, the selections can get a little monotonous. The radio station that I listened to in college used to slip Christmas songs in among the regular rotation during the holidays, which was very cool. I’ve been building up a Christmas music collection for years. My Christmas super shuffle has almost 300 songs now and I like to seek out new (at least new to me) songs every year. It was difficult to pick twelve favorites, and in fact I’m cheating and including two extras.

Honorable mention goes to these two songs that I found this year. It’s too early to tell if they’ll stand the test of time and become favorites, but this year, I’m loving them pretty hard.

“Holly Jolly Hollywood” by the Wedding Present featuring Simone White. If you know anything about David Gedge and his music of angst, this song might seem, uh, counter-intuitive? But I think it’s charming…and a fucking ear worm. “I know we’ll always be in love.”

“Deck the Halls” by Pomplamoose. Over Thanksgiving, Dave was all: “You know those music people you listen to on You Tube…they’re on TV.” And I was all: “What the hell are you talking about?” Then I saw the Hyundai commercial myself and was all: “Wow, that is awesome.” I love the “Christmas in Space” part of this song. You can download this and several other Christmas songs just for donating a book to a school.

Now for the official Logy Express list of favorite Christmas songs:

12. “Gloucestershire Wassail.” This one and number 11 are both songs I sang at the Boar’s Head dinner in University Choir (the singing group formerly known as Glee Club) back in college. I couldn’t find a version of it on You Tube that spoke to me of my Glee Club days, so here’s Blur’s version, which I was so excited to find today I could have spit.

11. “The Boar’s Head Carol.” It took awhile to find, but this version is pretty close to the way we sang this.

10. “Gaudete” by Mediaeval Baebes. Dave’s years of Latin are finally useful.

9. “Skating on the River” by Lily Frost. Damn if I can find this on You Tube or anywhere else, so here is the Amazon MP3 preview link. This cute little gem of a song is part of the “Christmas Songs” CD that I bought for the Bare Naked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” but grew to love for this song, the song at number 10, and several other really good songs. There’s even a 20-minute long comedy routine which I listen to at least once in its entirety each year. This doofy Canadian guy gets 20 kids drunk at a neighbor’s Christmas party. Hilarity ensues.

8. “Gabriel’s Message” by Sting. Maybe everyone convinces themselves that the music of their youth was awesome, and that the youth today have crap taste in music, but that’s pretty much what I think. The Christmas music being forced into my ears by contemporary “artists” these days is so boring and also quite possibly auto-tuned (talking to you, Miley).

7. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers. There are so many versions of this song and I enjoy most of them. But this version adds “gaily” to the mix. How can you not love that? Ten lords a-leaping gaily! Nine ladies dancing gaily! Eight maids a-milking gaily…what???

6. “Sleigh Ride” by the Carpenters. Yeah, I’m going there. So what? Logs on the fire fill me with desire, I can’t help it. It was hard to pick just one from their two-CD Christmas collection. I used to make fun of my mother mercilessly for listening to it, but damn if it isn’t some good catchy Christmas-y shit. It just edges out the Johnny Mathis version for me, but not by much. I love how this song validates my irrational love of pumpkin pie.

5. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. This song was a significant part of my Christmas enjoyment as a child. I was six when it came out and I didn’t know this dude was a Beatle. All I knew was that this song sounded like Christmas.

4. “Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte. Somehow I got through more than 30 years of life without knowing this song existed, which is a travesty. I think I heard this for the first time on the “Sounds of the Seasons” cable TV music station. Then the Sirius Christmas channel started playing it too. Given how many great Christmas songs exist, there’s just no excuse for the number of times Sirius’ Holly is playing remakes of Wham’s “Last Christmas,” not when they could be playing more Dominick the Donkey.

3. “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano. You know, forget it. This one might just be the only Christmas song you ever need. This thing rocks and I never get sick of it.

2. “Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season” by Andy Williams. I’m sure I heard this song 8 million times in my life, but for some reason, I have no memory of hearing it before the National Tree Lighting Ceremony a friend took me to sometime in the late 90s. I remember Jose Feliciano performed, which rocked. But then this Broadway theater company (possibly included Lilith from Frasier, I can’t really remember) sang some stupid, grammatically odd song about Santa coming down the chimney down (yeah, you already said down). Then I heard the Andy Williams version, and it clicked for me. It’s hard not to be happy with Christmas-ness when this song is on. I used to enjoy making this song filthy and making my Mom cringe, but I’ve matured a little in the past couple of years and can now sing along with “whoop-de-do and dickory dock, don’t forget to hang up your sock” without wanting to change the words.

1. “Carol of the Bells (A Demonic Christmas)” by DJ Demonixx. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a version of “Carol of the Bells” I didn’t like. The natural frenetic quality of this song seems so appropriate for a holiday that most people go bananas over. Until I’ve heard this song, the Christmas season has not begun. I’ve already mentioned the story of the first time I heard this version here.

Dec
2
2010
A Great Big Bundle of Joy

Holy shit, it’s December.

This turn of events is horrifying–where did 2010 go exactly? On the other hand, yesterday I got to open door number one on my Neuhaus advent calendar. Beyond all reason is a good way to describe the way I love Neuhaus chocolate. Look at how adorable this year’s advent calendar is…

So this means it’s Christmas time, and there’s no need to be afraid.  But I am a little afraid of my to do list.

Christmas was magical for me as a child. What’s not to love about Christmas as a kid, with the special events, vacation from school, the cookies, and the much-anticipated presents. Some of my childhood home life was, shall we say, unsatisfying, but at Christmas things seemed different. Christmas somehow lightened my father’s mood and the tension in the house that often permeated our day-to-day existence dissipated during the holidays. The front two rooms of our house were transformed by the tree and the beautiful soft glow of Christmas lights and our ridiculous, but awesome life-size light-up Santa. I can still feel the warmth and coziness of our house at Christmas and remember fondly all the traditions we religiously upheld (cutouts frosted in pink, orange-flavored drop cookies frosted in green, driving around the neighborhood to see light displays–the house with lights that blinked in different colors blew my mind, and even where we all sat to open gifts on Christmas morning). Christmas was like cuddling under a favorite blanket.

I started counting down the days more than a month out and created elaborate color-coded countdown calendars (now I have an electronic countdown timer because I am more mature and sophisticated).

I’m not sure when I turned this corner exactly, but lately I’ve started to see Christmas more as something to get through than something to look forward to and that depresses the crap out of me. Now if I want cookies, guess who’s baking them? Right, that would be me. (Shout out to my Mom for still making the traditional green-frosted orange cookies I loved as a child). Even if I don’t want something, I just might be making it.  Also, as a child, your Mom wraps up shaving soap for your Dad for you and your gift-giving is complete. As an adult, you are expected to put more effort into the giving. When I have a great gift idea for a loved one, usually my Mom or Dave, I get pretty jazzed about the giving. When I don’t have great ideas, or even OK ideas, which seems to happen more and more frequently, I feel gift-giving performance anxiety.

A couple of years ago, I found myself lingering in a surprisingly wistful way on a catalog page depicting a mother and daughter in matching flannel nightgowns sitting by their Christmas tree. Panic-stricken, I thought “am I changing my mind about having children?!?” I started to imagine myself in this catalog scenario and realized that I didn’t see myself as the mother in that picture. Imagining myself as the mother did not replicate the warm and fuzzy feeling. No, I was wistful about being the kid.

As I was writing this post, one that was originally intended to be about my Christmas to do list and trying to rekindle the joy, a possible explanation hit me for the dampening of my enthusiasm (I mean, in addition to having to create the magic myself now rather than my parents being responsible). Christmas used to be more interactive, a shared experience among family and friends. My immediate family was never large,  but through the early years of high school, my Gram was around to celebrate with and now she’s gone. In high school, my music class practiced Christmas songs for weeks and it was so engaging and special. We sang this absolutely hideous yet wonderful song called “Jazzy Jinglin’ Bells” (go ‘head, baby) which I will never forget even though it’s been 23 years (gulp). Our foreign language teachers taught us “Silent Night” and we sang the song in English, French, and Spanish at the Christmas assembly.

Making many different kinds of cookies has felt like such drudgery during recent Christmases. I was in high school when I first started this tradition. My friends used to come over and keep me company while I baked. In fact, there’s a cookie I can’t make without them. Napoleon Hats are almond-flavored cutouts filled with a ball made of almond paste and shaped to look like a tri-cornered hat. I’m too spatially challenged to shape these cookies myself. I get the dough made, rolled out, cut into circles, the almond paste balls placed in the middle and then… Yeah, try as I might to make three equally sized folds on a circular-piece of dough, I cannot do it so that it stays or looks like a Napoleon Hat. Miss you Erin and Sarah and Kristen, come help me make cookies!

In college, the University Choir hosted an annual “Boar’s Head” dinner. As a member of the choir, I helped serve the dinner to my fellow students and prior to each course we sang a festive holiday song. Wassail! In college and the years immediately after, visiting home at Christmas was a chance to catch up with everyone. In more recent years, I’ve lost touch with some friends and others have since moved away from my hometown.

One of my favorite Christmas-related memories is from a visit to Dave’s hometown when we were still dating. I can still make myself crack up thinking about the time we went shopping with Dave’s friend Jim on this visit. Dave and I were looking to spice up our Christmas music collection and Jim offered to buy him a CD for Christmas. Dave selected Acid X-mas. We popped the CD into the car’s player and cranked it up for the drive home. I will NEVER forget the look on Jim’s face as the first strains of “Carol of the Bells (A Demonic Christmas)” washed over us. We laughed so hard I thought I’d be sick. I can’t even remember how long it’s been since we’ve seen Jim.

So adulthood might take some of the shine off Christmas for more than one reason. At this point, I no longer want to provide a boring list of my Christmas to dos. Suffice it to say that it’s long, and that in my new time management spirit, I have created a spreadsheet (I know!) to ensure that completing it all is actually a do-able feat. I’ll probably share the fruits of some of the tasks here, but as for the list, who gives a shit. I’ve thought about cutting back, but I realize there’s a reason I do all this stuff. The tree is pretty. The gifts give people pleasure or at least let people know you care about them. The photo calendars let me use the photographs I’ve taken over the year in a creative way rather than just staying trapped on my computer. People enjoy the cookies and the buckeyes I make. And I’m GLAD that people enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Happy Advent!