Thursday, January 28, 2010


SO I decided to make some goals for the new year, as many people do around this time. People call me goal-oriented because I like to accomplish things. But I really don't know if it's an appropriate description. I think I'm much more stop-and-smell-the-roses oriented, enjoy-things-on-the-way-for-that-is-life oriented. But. Nonetheless. There are some goals.

1. Eat more fruits and veggies. I am convinced that this can't be bad for me, even if I get these in a less-than-healthy manner. Like this amazing looking salad from smitten kitchen: Mixed Citrus Salad with Feta and Mint. I hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed a picture to show you how delish this looks.

2. Cook so much more! For the first 6 months (January-June), I'm going to cook at home for one week straight. For the second 6 months (July-December) I'm going to cook at home for one week straight, twice per month.* I'm always looking for new and delicious recipes to try, so feel free to leave me links or ideas in the comments!

*Note: I already didn't do this for January, but I've been out of town most of the month, so I'll just do it twice in February. Yikes!

3. Walk an average of 3 miles/day. This one is going well. It helps that I live a bit from the train. If I move closer I'm sure this will become much more challenging. When will I have time?

4. Find my own place! I'm super excited about this one. I've been picking my brain recently and I realized that I just really NEED to live by myself. Because of financial stuff, I've always needed a roommate (or several) in order to afford rent. Now I am planning on spending less and living further away in order to get my own place. I know that this isn't the most viable of strategies in NYC, but I'm sure it is possible. As soon as I find someone to sublet my current place (well, and some place to go), I'm outta here! The hardest part of settling in I imagine will be cooking with my limited cooking supplies after I've paid my security deposit. Ie: When my sister left Madison her friends pitched in to get her a going away gift of a collection of nice spices. How awesome is that? I own a bottle of onion powder and some ground nutmeg, and no measuring cups. I need help! Clare and Rachel had a good idea though, which is to allow themselves to buy one spice each time they go to the grocery store. Maybe I'll let myself buy one kitchen utensil each time I hit the g.s....

5. Publish or present two papers. This one is pretty straightforward. I want to get two articles accepted to be published by the end of the year, or to present or discuss them at conferences. Conferences for grad students count. I am currently working on 3 different submissions, so hopefully this bears fruit.

6. See the bioluminescent bay in Vieques.

You may have heard about this bay. I have had the very great fortune of being able to visit Puerto Rico twice in the past two years as the result of someone else's funding (thanks!). This year I am on my own, but I think I could do the whole thing for under $500. If you're like me and the twin and all you want to do is sleep, eat, and swim in the ocean, this can be a very inexpensive option (especially with But the trip out to Vieques is more money. Essentially to see the bay you have to stay one night on Vieques, which can be costly, and transportation on Vieques is harder. I've twice visited the bay in Lajas which was phenomenal, but the one in Vieques is supposed to be far more brilliant. You can kayak or swim in the bay and that would be amazing, so I'm trying to work extra now to save up!

7. Be more crafty! This is a compound goal with four parts:
a) Scrapbook 12 projects. I know Jessi's aim is 100 LOs (10 times my own pitiful goal). But she is a Master Scrapbooker, and I, only a novice. Nonetheless, I certainly have the supplies and the desire to make more pages/projects. In fact, when I was in Boston I visited a paper store and picked up some brown and pink stripes for a sweet project I have in mind. More later.
b) Knit two more useful items. Again, not as cool as The Boss, but good enough for me. These can be gifts for folks. Technically this year I finished these wrist-warmers that I now wear, but I don't think those count, as I just set the goal and I finished the wrist-warmers a few weeks ago.
c) Draw/paint 6 projects. I love drawing and would love a reason to start/finish some major projects I've had in mind. This one will also be hard to do with classes, etc., but I'm optimistic.
d) Make my own holiday cards. Last year I tried to make my own cards at the end of the year, and ended up not finishing them and not sending them out due to lack of materials and motivation. This year I will be better prepared!

8. Get two of my wisdom teeth out. I've been putting it off for insurance reasons (that and now I don't know how I'd get home after they knock me out). But if I don't exceed my insurance limit I think I can get half of them done. I'll get the next two the year after, and that will be quite enough of that, thank you.

9. Get contacts. I've always thought about it, never done it. I'd like to get some disposable ones and just wear them occasionally, like when I dress up or hit the town. I recently got eye insurance through my school, so perhaps now is the time.

10. Meet new people. I'll keep this one broad, as the main point is to get to know people in my new city. I'm sure it will happen; I'll just be cool ol' me and the cool peeps will come rolling in.

Alright, 10 is plenty for 2010, don't you think? Oh yeah... number 11. Make-outs! Woo!


Saturday, January 23, 2010


No no no no. I mean, where the f have I been? I know, you don't accept that Photo Hunt nonsense as blogging content, not after I proved I could do nablopomo last year.

The last several weeks of school were hectic. I finished my papers and passed my exams, and then ran out the door of the Graduate Center with the most luggage I've ever brought on a trip in my life (read: one medium suitcase and a backpack). (The main reason New Yorkers spend a lot of time caring about and feeling superior about transit is because it takes a ton of work to learn your way around here. I had prepared a self-inflated rant about how I have now learned enough to navigate even though I thought I was lost, but I'll save it for some other time!). Regardless, I've spent the last month ish traveling, thanks to my new-and-improved Grad Student Income!

First it was Chicago, to crash with Dan and Merilee, and spend the day hanging out with Mingwei. We ended up at a fabulous bar where I had about 45 minutes to catch up with kiran, Neily, and other NASCOol people. It was over in the blink of an eye, and I had to leave to catch a bus out of town. It was the beginning of a series of visits that were far too short. I met the twin (!) at the bus stop and we took an overnight bus up to Minneapolis (which was terrible...*shudder*). We got picked up and spent the next week visiting Dad, Jacki!, Sara, and Robin. We even got a visit from the other syblings, and on Christmas Day picked up the new Sherlock Holmes movie with our brother. The next day we drove to Dodge Center and met Mom and the rest of the family there for Christmas. We had a great time playing games (I learned Hand and Foot, although hell if I can remember it now), conquering Super Mario Galaxy (at least, as Mario!), cooking/eating, and talking, talking talking. It was the most relaxing way I could imagine to spend those days, and lovely to see people! Because of the icy weather we ended up staying an extra night, which felt like winning the lottery! I love my family!

Then, of course I had to spend a few weeks in Madison. I spent the first few days hanging out with my Mom and sister, and getting over a small cold. I first ventured out into Madison for New Year's Eve with Lindsay and Patrick, their friends Mike and Celina, and our old friend Laura (who lives on the West Coast, alas!), and diverse other folks like Scott and Emily and Kat! It was definitely the best NYE I've ever had, even better than the one year I accidentally made out with Emil's bi then-boyfriend. :) It was a much smaller, quieter party, but we barely noticed when midnight rolled around. We played games and talked and laughed and shared the evening and the morning after in a very sweet and special way. It wasn't the first, nor the last time that I realized I'm honored to know such wonderful people. Lindsay and Patrick became my gracious and amazing hosts for the rest of my time in Madison.

Throughout the next two weeks I saw Kathy, George, Kevin, Steph and Jared, Nicklaus, Anna, Rachel and Ari, Maya, Erica, Quentin, and various Phoenicians, coopers, and Madisonians. I felt so loved and I am so blessed and lucky to know you all and have such warm and wonderful, loving people in my life. I visited many of my old Madison haunts, spent a ton of time with my awesome family members, and even took a day trip down to Milwaukee to eat at our old favorite, Capri. I played trivia at the Alchemy, went to the Weary Traveler five (5!) times (including for an amazing pork-off: candied bacon FTW), drank at Paul's Club under the tree, had dinner at the Phoenix, napped at the MCC Office, had brunch with Mama Davis at Lazy Jane's, drank strawberry vodka at The City and coffee at ERC, discovered new things with Rachel, washed with soap made by Steph2, waited in line for over an hour at the Old Fashioned, bought 10-year cheddar from Carr Valley, flirted with a bartender for the Merc, spent an afternoon reading and sipping at Barrique's, saw a play at the Overture Center (a great one! Called Why Torture is Wrong and The People Who Love Them, by Christopher Durang, and produced by the new group in town: Forward Theatre Company. Madison theatrites and art-heads, you should be excited!!), looked out on the lake from Observatory Drive, learned to play Sheepshead (!), shopped the Frugal Muse, had a salted caramel from Gail Ambrosius, drank wine at Kathy's place, and yes, ate cheese popcorn. It was a veritable orgy of pleasant experiences, hopefully enough to keep my level of joy and self-esteem flying high through the next semester and summer of loneliness in New York!

I followed that up with a little more than 24 hours back in NYC before I hopped on a bus to DC. I visited Clare and Rachel there in a whirlwind 48 hour trip, and managed to squeeze in the official reason I was supposed to have gone: to see Black Voices: The Stories We're Going to Tell, a festival for the new works of black playwrights. All of it was awesome, although I missed the whole discussion for the rest of the weekend and didn't know anyone there. Also, Georgetown is a strange and isolated campus, so no one could tell me how to get back to the train (they've chosen not to have a train stop so the rabble can't bother them), so I had to walk a few miles in the cold to the area where I knew there would be a train. Boo. But this was all made up for by the fun I had the next day with Rachel and Clare, playing dress up in Clare's vintage store and drinking too much beer and reminiscing about the coop. Clare helped get rid of my burgeoning mullet while we were drunk, at the expense of a small chunk of hair about my left ear. But anything is better than a mullet, so I guess that was a net gain.

Finally, I stopped back in NY to check on the cat, and then took off for Boston, to eat vegan for 48 hours (yay!), wander through Boston Commons and the Harvard Campus. I visited Nick (therefore we talked about oppression for hours and watched star trek), Shira (hi Shira, I told you I would blog about it), and was graciously hosted by Avi and Alexa in their charming Boston College area flat.

But now I am on the megabus again, this time coming back to New York, where I look forward to cleaning and sleeping and finishing the Baroque Cycle (by Neal Stephenson) before classes start on Thursday. They are late this year, but that's fine with me. It's been a marvelous tour of various large and larger cities around the Midwest and the east coast, and I don't really feel at home anywhere anymore, but I'm almost looking forward to a few days by myself. Which is good because that's precisely what I have in store for myself.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Photos Photos Photos Photos Phooooootoooooooos!!!

Sorry for the delay folks! I've spent the holiday with my family, and internet is not so easily available. Nonetheless, here are my photos from this past month. Enjoy this weird mix!

1. Holiday Lights (Every quarter hour these illuminated snowflakes faded out and lit up again according to a different holiday tune. I caught them flashing to Jingle Bells on my way to the airport this evening.)

2. Holiday Spirit

3. A Holiday Treat (the best home-made pumpkin bar with homemade vanilla gelato and pecan praline I have ever had. And the best Americano I ever had to go with it (see photo 13). I just stopped in this place randomly because I thought it was a coffee shop and I needed to charge the lappy. Turns out it is a chocolate restaurant. Let me say that again. Chocolate. Restaurant. Needless to say I will be going back. They have chocolate beer floats with that homemade gelato. I'm not even a dessert person...)

4. An Ornament

5. A Gift-Wrapped Package

6. A Window Display

7. A Winter/Holiday Icon

8. A Tree

9. A Tradition (My wonderful friends Patrick and Lindsay, graciously hosted me for NYE. Here they are opening a bottle of port; don't worry, we're not doing shots! They have a delightful tradition for ringing in the New Year. It may be someone else's New Year's tradition, but I hope it becomes mine!)

10. Something that says Noel

11. Something Precious (Flying somewhere over the U.S. between New York and Chicago. Flying, if nothing else, keeps me conscious of how fragile humanity actually is.)

12. Something Peaceful (BUNNIES!)

13. Something Hot (The best americano I've had so far...)

14. Something Cold (Not the best picture I've taken, but it was the coldest on the solstice, probably 30 below at least, everything windy and frozen. At about 5 in the evening, only two brave ice skaters remained at the park across the street from my dad's house)

15. Something Red

16. Something Green

17. Motion Blur

18. Black and White Photo with Selective Coloring
(Ok, so technically I did this wrong because I thought we had access to Photoshop through my department but I can't seem to access it remotely. The consequences: I had to use Picasa, which I am not at all familiar with. I could not get it to do what I wanted at all, so this is the best I've got folks.)

19. Infrared
Ok team, you really can't do this one without a fancy expensive program like photo shop. Well, again, I downloaded Picasa (which then took over my photo management, so I am now doubly displeased), and anyway, I just cannot find anyway to create the desired affects with this one. I feel sort of whiny saying this, but I can't make it work and no one seems to know how to do it on the internet, which I take as a good sign that it probably can't be done. So disappointed my first photo hunt included something that isn't accessible to folks without a ton of money to spend on photography. :( Enjoy a picture of my cat playing with a straw instead!

20. Digital Macro (The only my cheap camera does well. Salmon maki!)