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Music Monday: rolling into the new year on a wrecking ball

6 Jan

Just because the year’s over doesn’t mean we’re safe from the earworms that defined our year – those dudes at the thrift shop, that chick on the wrecking ball, the techno beats that wake us up and get us rocking.  Having a Spotify account this year made me so much more hip as I could listen to these songs as they came out.  What will 2014 hold?  Dare I predict… a lot of Beyonce?

 

Top 13

3 Jan

I know it makes me sound like an old fart, but I don’t care: I don’t know where this year went.

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing the wrong year on letters (yes, I still write letters) and scheming for summer adventures, and now we’re back at the top of the year again, ready to dive into a new 12 months.  Here are some of the moments I’ll remember as we close the book on this journey we called 2013:

  1. Getting to see 4 great friends marry the loves of their lives and start their happily ever afters, and seeing others get engaged and plan their own bashes!
  2. Adventures with Grandma Boo Boo, including sharing our love of crafts with other people in her community and endless shopping trips to Target
  3. Two great visits to California, including an epic road trip down the coast with my sister
  4. Running my first – but certainly not last – half marathon
  5. Sitting on the couch, watching TV for 10+ hours with Katie during the Boston lockdown following the marathon bombing, and running back inside with our froyo when we heard that the suspect had been caught
  6. Finally getting to work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to do online advocacy for a cure
  7. Winning the World Series and feeling like a united city and a family, instead of a bunch of people who just happen to live near each other
  8. Awesome family vacations from Maine to NH to a cozy Christmas week in our hometown
  9. Saying goodbye to my Grandma Sugarplum, who taught me so much and loved us all endlessly
  10. Going to my 5-year college reunion and realizing, more than ever before, how much my beloved alma mater and the friends I made there mean to me.  Mount Holyoke forever shall be!
  11. Making all sorts of delicious food for my friends, officemates, and family
  12. Seeing the fight for women’s rights unfold across the country, and getting to stand with Wendy and other politicians who were standing up for women – this fight is far from over, and I’m planning to be on the front lines in 2014
  13. Having extraordinary fun with ordinary life – from our annual Oscar party to weekly breakfast with Sara to trivia nights with Katie and the gang to joining TWO social sports teams (volleyball! softball! what will I do in between??) to dinners out with friends, this year has been full of reminders of the joy that can be found in the everyday moments.

How I learned to stop worrying and get clean

5 Dec

I’m a tidy person (as long as you don’t ask my coworkers).  I take good care of my space and I like getting down and dirty now and then, with the reward of a sparkling house to show for my work.

But since I’ve started living in my current apartment, I never had time to really take on my chores the way they deserved.  There was always something else I needed – or really wanted! – to do.  Going to the gym, trivia with my friends, getting some great project knocked out at work, catching up with my family – there are a million ways I can think of spending a few hours, and they all kept winning over cleaning.

Then I read this amazing book: Happy Money, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.   I heard Michael speak at the Boston Book Fest, bought the book on the spot, and think it’s the best purchase I ever made.  Until this week.

Because this week, I finally got a house cleaner.  And now, I’m never looking back.

Coming home and seeing that my stove really CAN get clean, looking at our shiny mirrors and smudge-free floors, kicking off the month with a squeaky-clean start – it made me realize how much I had resigned myself to just be constantly a little bit unhappy with our apartment, our home.  I thought that somehow, if I couldn’t make this work on my own, I deserved to not be satisfied.  But after reading Happy Money, I realized that this simply isn’t true – not when I could spend a few bucks to have some help.  Now, I don’t just have a cleaner house – I have more time to do the things I care about (who would have thought you could buy time!  These authors did!), and I have a house that I want to welcome people into 10x more than before.  And I plan to do just that.

And if it gets dirty again because my friends and I have some fun?  The cleaners are coming back next month, and we can start fresh – together – once more.

Redefining traditional – response needed!

25 Nov

My friends and I have been mentally preparing for Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast, including running through our family recipes and traditions.  In doing so, we found that the Thanksgiving meal we were picturing was all different.  Sure, we expected this when we lived in London and no one had heard of this wacky holiday, or in college where people came from all over, but surely three women raised in one small town would have the same menu in mind… right?

Wrong.

So now I want to know – what’s on your required list for Thanksgiving?  Does it ever change?  Are you allowed to help with the cooking?  Are we the only family that doesn’t religiously eat squash, and can anyone confirm that turkey really is better when deep fried?

Here’s our family menu for 2013:

  • Turkey (always)
  • Stuffing (always, made with bread, apples, onions, eggs, etc. – no cornbread (!!), no meat (??))
  • Mashed potatoes (usually?  I feel like we’ve gone without)
  • Gravy (always since Grandma Boo Boo has joined us!)
  • Cranberry sauce, homemade AND canned (always)
  • NOT broccoli casserole (retired for 2013, though it may resurface at Christmas)
  • Caesar salad (almost always)
  • At least two kinds of vegetables (always)
    • Butternut squash with kale and pumpkin seeds – recipe here
    • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • At least two kinds of pie (always – I believe that other kinds of dessert are acceptable traditions but should never replace the all-American pie)

What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?  Post what YOU think this meal entails – and your favorite recipes, if you’re willing to share! – below!

Video

Music Monday: Ten Minutes Ago

4 Nov

This weekend, I brought some magic back into my life courtesy of “Cinderella” on Broadway. From row G (thanks TKTS!), I got to celebrate the rags-to-riches musical with a bit of a feminist and “Occupy” twist. I would have loved to see even more agency from Cinderella – she takes her shoe when it falls off the first time, then carefully places it on the step when she actually wants the prince to find her, but at the same time she hands the politics book to the men to read instead of just telling them what to do (if you want to show the people you’re listening, establish a democracy).

Still, the costumes and the drama and the joy of finding something that fits – whether it’s a leadership role, a revolution, or a perfect glass slipper – stuck with me long after the final waltz ended.

Here’s one of the best songs from the show, the Brandy TV version. I dare you not to have this stuck in your head all day!

Goodbye 26, goodbye 27, hello love?

5 Oct

Where did the last year go?

It was full of adventures, tears, tasty food, triumphs, and life lessons.  Since my 27th birthday, I lost my Grandma Sugarplum, one of the best people I’ve ever known and someone who inspired me to cook, read, and love relentlessly.  And just a few months later, I ran across my first (and far from last) half marathon finish line.  I got to help three great friends celebrate their weddings, with one final fall wedding ahead this evening.  I played two seasons of softball, got a promotion, had my heart broken, read great books, drove down Highway 1, and tried out for a game show.  I also got to spend tons of quality time with the people I love – from shopping at Target with Grandma BooBoo to running with Mom to going to baseball games with Dad to laughing my butt off with my sister and making last minute plans with my awesome friends in the city.

Since I set myself some goals last October, I have done them all except leaving the country.  Given how much else I did that I never thought possible, I’m going to call 27 a victory.

Now, what’s ahead?

Living up the single city life – every moment with friends while we’re still in the same place, every frenzied playoff season (go Sox!), every office pie day, every morning run on the bike path.  Hopefully flying a plane for the first time.  Ideally leaving the country.  Definitely celebrating as two best friends (my sister, Kat, and Priti) each marry the loves of their lives, with perhaps more weddings yet unplanned (you never know!).  New risks, new dates, my first full triathlon, volunteering at camp, and checking more items off my 5-year bucket list, since I only have 24 months to finish it all.

And really trying to attend to every moment that I’m in.  Even if that moment is waiting for the ridiculously delayed red line because our city’s transportation system is falling apart.  A friend’s partner recently died at a young age, and it reminded me how grateful I should be – for youth, for love, merely for life.  So this year, I’m going to honor her and myself – past, present, and future – by really being grateful for these moments, no matter how late I might be for work.

Thanks for sticking with me these three years so far – let’s go out and live a little!

*Bonus points for anyone who gets the musical reference in the title.

Climb every mountain

1 Oct

IT’S MOUNTAIN DAY! (and I totally called it!)

The best of all holidays – that one random, crisp fall day where obligations are canceled, tests are delayed, picnics are packed, and ice cream is consumed at the top of Mount Holyoke.  And to make it extra special this year, the government is joining in the shutdown as well!  How friendly of them.

I will be enjoying this day by sending love to all my MoHos, eating ice cream in Cambridge at 6:30 (text me if you want to join!), and trying to get outside for some fresh air later.  How will YOU spend this Mountain Day?

For more on why I love Mountain Day – I even gave my commencement address about it! – click here.  And add your own memories in the comments!

In defense of online dating

9 Sep

Why I love online dating:

  1. It connects me to with cool, smart guys who I missed out on meeting earlier in my 20s since I went to a women’s college (and loved it!)
  2. It allows me to screen for that perfect dude who loves Back to the Future and London and agrees with gay marriage and actually likes his life – something you can’t know about an average Joe at a bar
  3. It gives me great stories to tell my friends
  4. It has led to love and happiness for at least 2 of my close friends, probably many more!
  5. It introduces me to videos like this one of Bill Murray’s awkward kisses, shared by the overpriced but hilarious folks at How About We… 
  6. … and to videos like this powerful talk from Meg Jay on “Why 30 is not the new 20″.  More on that later. 

And hopefully, someday, it will lead me to someone awesome who gives me a great incentive to leave it all behind.  Until then, I’m off to answer some dating questions!

Welcome [back] to the O.C.

9 Aug

Ten years ago this week, the best show on television premiered.

I remember the moment when I fell in love with Ryan, Marissa, and all the other stuck-up surfers of Orange County.  My cousin Fleur was visiting from France, and we had spent the day at the mall, walking past posters featuring sun-kissed hunks declaring “It’s nothing like where you live… and nothing like what you imagine.”  After we shopped ’til we dropped, we spent the evening in my basement, where we tuned into this mysterious new TV show that promised to be the best 7 hours of our summer.  And it was.  I spent the night making excuses to Fleur “I swear, this is NOT what parties look like in NH…” and by the time the episode ended, we were both hooked.

Over the next four years, the O.C. took me on a wild roller coaster of emotions – would Marissa pick the bad boy or the hot jock… or the rocker chick?  Would Seth ever get the girl?  Would Sandy run out of puns?  Would we really suspend our disbelief that these “kids” were still in high school? And with every rewatched VHS, then DVD, it also took me from the end of high school onto the adventure of leaving home and going on to college.

It gave me the strength to ask that guy to come to a New Year’s party… and then years later, to finally kiss him, because “the way you spend the new year is the way you’re going to spend the rest of the year.”

It introduced me to the mojito – if it was good enough for Marissa Cooper, it was worth trying, and quickly became my favorite drink.  I’ll let you know if/when I finally get tired of it.

It showed me a side of the country – the Pacific Ocean – that I had never visited.  When I finally did, there were decidedly fewer water polo players having bonfires on the beach, but still great views and romantic lifeguard stands.

Actual OC beach shack, circa spring 2008, my first time visiting the West Coast

Actual OC  lifeguard stand, circa spring 2008, my first time visiting the West Coast

It led me to new friends – Sarah, Steph, and countless other MoHos bonded over sharing the tv in our first year dorm, then I watched the dvds with my flatmates in London as the show was winding down stateside.

It made me love new music – the first soundtrack is still one of my favorite CDs of all time.

It forced me to think about our criminal justice system, and our class system, and why we don’t all get to have cotillion dances with or without brawls between the dads on the dance floor.

It brought me out of my London flat to meet my favorite water polo as he starred in Tennessee Williams’s Summer and Smoke – the run got cut short and I rushed to make it to the last performance.  My reward: a handshake, autograph, and photo with Chris Carmack aka Luke.  He was so nice in person, it’s hard to believe he could pull off being such a jerk on the show.

Chris Carmack

My fellow Yankee in the land of the Brits, London 2006

It satisfied my dorky side, my cheesy side, my overly optimistic side, my dramatic side – from Spiderman kisses to flaming car crashes to adorable outfits to snarky one-liners, it captured what it meant to be 18-22 year old me.

And all these years later, it still gives me and Fleur something to talk about.  Though I swear, that’s not how we all party… or drive… or dress… or talk.

But it is part of the story of how I became who I am.  Happy ten year anniversary, OC!

Video

Music Monday: When I’m Gone

5 Aug

This is my latest jam – for sunny mornings, rainy afternoons, days when I’m missing camp and our own game of cups (ours involves passing it down the line at increasing speed – take that, Anna Kendrick!). I love the musical background and her voice. Learning to play this is my next musical adventure – stay tuned to see how it goes!

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