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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Life. Love. Photos.

I can't believe it's been a whole year since Ben and I moved into our current home in St Paul! I also can't believe that last year at this time it was 80 degrees, and today it is 45.  Womp womp.

Anywhoo...this week is kind of insane, with the easter holidays, my sis is in town (yay!!), many choir-related activities and family times. I have rehearsal in 30 minutes, I just got back from a 3 mile run, and need to finish up some work and eat dinner first are some photos from the past year to entertain you.

My life is pretty damn awesome. It's easy to lose sight of this in the day-to-day craziness. I try to remind myself as often as I can - it's the little things.

Last spring - with the pup in our (then) new place

Introducing my lovely husband to GOOD margs at La Cuc :)

Where the Hell is Roscoe!??!

Random stove in the backyard. NBD.

This is a sunrise

This is a bottle of scotch. And my RSA token.

Photo by kristinamack16
Some tea and a book :)

Photo by kristinamack16

...the end!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The universe took my car keys

“All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.” - Swami Vivekananda

Life has a funny way of getting us to where we need to be. Remember when you were little and your parents prevented you from making stupid decisions? Like telling you you can't order that third roast beef sandwich at Arby's because it will probably make you puke, or taking take your book away because even through you think we can read while crossing a busy street, they know you will probably die.

(Just me?

Yep. Probably just me. )

When we're little, we don't always have the reasoning skills to understand the difference between what we want and what we need, so our parents make them for us. We might hate them at the time, but later we look back and think "OK that was probably the right call."

A few months ago, I thought I wanted something. I went after it. It didn't work out. I was upset, but part of me also knew that deep down it didn't feel right. The timing was wrong, the direction was wrong, and my motivations were wrong. I was making a decision based on a lot of raw and negative emotion.  I just wanted to get out of the pose because the pose was hard and shitty and I didn't know when the timer would go off, or if it ever would. Basically I was trying to drunk-drive my life and the universe went 'NOPE. Girl you are in no condition.'

So I stayed in the pose. I decided to really commit and be present, and give 100% to being where I was and suddenly everything transformed. Remember that post I wrote a few weeks ago about not giving up on something just because it's hard? Well I suck at taking my own advice. As it turns out, I was already exactly where I needed to be.Thanks Universe.

My mom is from Montana, so I listened to a lot of country music growing up. Lately I can't stop thinking about this Garth Brooks song called "Unanswered Prayers". It's about a guy who goes to a high school reunion with his wife and runs into his old girlfriend. He thinks about how much he wanted her back in the day, how hard he prayed that they would be together, and ultimately how thankful he is that things didn't work out because if they had, he never would have met his wife.
Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.
Or, put another way:

Oh, you can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

The last few weeks have been one of the most simultaneously humbling and inspiring times of my entire life. So far, 2013 has been one big lesson in what can happen if you just let go of expectations and commit to being where you are.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Read All the Things

As I'm sure you are aware, I am a huge nerd and I love to read books. I started reading at a very young age, and just didn't stop. I would read while walking down the street (much to the concern of my parents). I read in class (much to the dismay of my teachers, especially when they called on me because they thought I wasn't paying attention and called on me, only to have me spout off a correct answer. I'm not sure my ability to multitask is a good thing necessarily). I would eagerly await the delivery of a new book from our school's Scholastic delivery program (anyone else remember this...?), only to devour it halfway during the ride home from school, and the other half sitting in the stairwell because I couldn't put it down for even one second.

Hence my currently being in three book clubs. Luckily, one of these book clubs (my work book club) keeps picking books I've already read which is fine with me at this point.

Anyway, I came across this reading survey on Tumblr and thought it was fun and that I should fill it out because I love the books.

Montana 039

But first, sidebar.

Did you know that Gillian Anderson was offered the part of Lady Cora Crawley in Downton Abbey? And that she TURNED IT DOWN??!  My heart is so sad you guys. I mean, Elizabeth McGovern is...fine I guess...but how bad ass hurts too much, I can't think about it.

Moving on.

55 Reading Questions

(poached from Tumblr)

1. Favorite childhood book?
  • Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede - still one of my favorites actually.  Cimorene is a princess who is tired of being a princess, and runs away to live with dragons. I love how Wrede plays with standard fairytale tropes, and this book was a true inspiration to a girl who would rather have taken barbies on 'safaris' through the backyard than watch them lounge in their dream house all day
2. What are you reading right now?

  • The second volume of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home has been on request for eeeeeeeeverrrrrrrrrrr.

4. Bad book habit?

  • Probably buying too many books and then not having time to read them

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

  • Nada

6. Do you have an e-reader?

  • No. The luddite in me refuses to purchase such things. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of not having to carry several paperbacks with me every time I go on vacation, but I just love having books. I love looking at them on the shelf, flipping through the pages to find passages I underlined. Nope.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
  • I definitely prefer one at a time so I can be completely immersed in that world.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

  • Not sure this question is relevant to me. No, not at all.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?

  • I haven't read anything this year that I disliked.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

  • Hmmm...probably Swann's Way actually

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

  • Haha good question. My comfort zone is very broad. I love everything from classics, to YA lit, to sci fi, fantasy, contemporary lit and everything in between. The only thing I don't reach for as often is non-fiction, but I wouldn't say that is necessarily because it's outside of my comfort zone, it's just not the first thing I tend to reach for. One of my all-time favorite books is non-fiction.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
  • See above. I honestly don't know that I have one.

13. Can you read on the bus?
  • Well, I don't take the bus anymore since it isn't really convenient to home or work. I did take the bus to school when I was in my grad program, and I read on the bus all the time.

14. Favorite place to read?
  • On the living room couch, or a coffee shop if I can find a comfy chair.
15. What is your policy on book lending?
  • I'll absolutely lend books, but if someone loses it/fails to return it/destroys it then they lose their borrowing privileges. I've never actually had this happen though.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
  • Not really. I tend to underline more than dog-ear.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
  • All the damn time.

18. Not even with text books?
  • See above.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
  • English, which is the only language I speak fluently at the moment. I used to be fairly fluent in German and would read in German at that time, but I've kind of gone lax on my Deutsch skillz.

20. What makes you love a book?
  • How drawn into it I get. The beauty of the prose. The depth of the characters. How the book makes me feel. If it can make me feel deeply and it's beautifully written, I'm pretty much in. It's a very visceral thing for me, if I love a book, I love it deeply and despite its flaws.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
  • Hmm, this is a tricky one. I actually tend not to recommend books I hold too close to the chest, unless I really trust the person I'm recommending it to. I'm afraid someone will ruin the magic, especially if it's a book that might not be for everyone, or if it's not necessarily the greatest work of literature ever but I love it anyway. I'll usually recommend a book if while reading it, I think 'wow, so-and-so would LOVE this' and it's somewhat independent of my own feelings about the book.

22. Favorite genre?
  • All.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
  • I kind of wish I had the initative to read more non-fiction.
24. Favourite biography?
  • Wagner and Philosophy by Bryan MaGee is fantastic. It's not necessarily a biography, more an exploration of the ways in which philosophy influenced Wagner's work, and how his views changed and developed over time. It also explores Wagner's relationship with Nietzsche which is friggin fascinating.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
  • Nope

26. Favourite cookbook?
  • The ones I go back to over and over are anything by Heidi Swanson, and So Easy by Ellie Krieger. I never thought a book by a FN chef would be one of my favorites, but there are some winners in that book.
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
  • Inspirational? Honestly I'm not sure. I've been immersed in BKS Iyengar's Light on Yoga lately, which is pretty damn inspirational actually.

28. Favorite reading snack?
  • I don't snack a ton while reading - all I need is a good cup of tea, and maybe a cookie if I'm feeling peckish :)

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
  • I hate to say it but, Gone Girl. I heard all these things about how OMGAMAZEBALLS it was, and I expected it to blow me away and it just...didn't. Don't get me wrong, it was very good and I enjoyed it but I wish I'd read it without hearing all the hype, so I could absorb it without expectations.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
  • I don't read critical reviews too often. I tend to avoid them until way after I've had time to digest the book.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
  • Oh I have absolutely no problem with it. If I dislike something I will be very blunt, but it doesn't really happen that often.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

  • French - so I could read Proust and Hugo in the original language :)

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

  • I tend not to be intimidated by books. Well, except for really dense philosophy. I was fairly intimidated by Kant when I read him in college.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

  • Again, I tend not to be intimidated by books.

35. Favorite Poet?

  • I'm not a huge poetry person but I do love T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman and Octavio Paz.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

  • One or two

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

  • Never
38. Favorite fictional character?

  • Hermione Granger
39. Favourite fictional villain?

  • Iago
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

  • Well, on my last vacation I brought two fantasy novels by Patrick Rothfuss and 1Q84. On our honeymoon I took Treasure Island, The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest, Kafka on the Shore, Love in the Time of Cholera and The Toilers of the Sea. know. Anything.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

  • haha

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

  • Then We Came to the End. I just was not feeling it at ALL. You only have so many hours in your life to read, and I don't think there is any point in wasting them on books you don't like. I also refused to finish the Twilight series.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

  • The internet. My cat.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

  • The Lord of the Rings is quite excellent actually. And Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman etc.
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

  • The Time Traveller's Wife. Goddddd it was terrible.
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

  • not know?
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

  • Hardly ever. I usually just dive right in.
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

  • If I get too busy and then forget where I stopped. Or if I'm just really not feeling it and decide my time would be better spent reading something else.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

  • Yes I keep my books categorized by genre and then alphabetized. Shut up.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

  • Keep them if I would ever plan to read them again.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

  • Not really.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It was just so whiny, and it's a shame because Dave Eggers is a really great writer (see What is the What). Vomit.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

  • The Casual Vacancy. My expectations were not super high but I really liked it!
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

  • Matched by Allie Condie. I really thought it would be a good bit of entertaining, YA dystopian lit but it was pretty bland. Boring characters, story ripped straight from The Giver. Not impressed.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

  • YA fantasy. I've really been loving Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, Colin Meloy's Wildwood books and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Lani Taylor. I also re-read all of Madeline L'Engle's Time quartet recently, and have been meaning to give The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (see question1) another go-round.

Friday, March 8, 2013

And I know what time it is now

Hey, welcome to my first post in approximately forever.  A combination of trying to stay caught up in Asana Junkies and various book clubs, plus working one billion hours a week has kept me off the interwebs.  I also gracefully tripped over a box next to my desk this morning, so, aces all around.
Anyway, two weeks ago I turned 30! When I was in my early/mid twenties, getting older was terrifying.  I remember feeling OLD when I turned 24.  Like, really old.  I was convinced that I was past my prime or something. Fast forward six years and I could not care any less that I'm turning 30.  I'm pretty sure yoga is responsible.  For one thing, yoga has gently forced me to become more accepting of myself in general, but in addition, it's introduced me to amazing, beautiful women of all ages. Being 30 does not have to mean I am suddenly old, married and boring. I can and will have just as much going for me when I am 35, 40, 50 and beyond. Age truly is just a number.

I was lucky enough to spend my birthday weekend in Chicago with my sister, my husband and a handful of my dearest friends.  Kristin and Katie live there already, and RT and Linz flew in from Boston and the bay area, respectively. 

Ben and I took Friday off from work, and drove down to Chicago on Friday. Julianna met us at a coffee shop after she'd finished up for the day, I changed out of my road-trip clothes (aka yoga pants) and we headed to Wicker Park to meet up with Kristin, Amanda, RT and Katie at Violet Hour.  After hearing stories of horrendous lines, we opted for pre-dinner cocktails and arrived at 6pm sharp, with plans to get pizza and beer at nearby Piece afterwards.  Fortunately, we avoided a wait at VH!  Unfortunately, we took our time with drinks and by the time we got to Piece, they had a two hour wait.  Fortunately, the time at VH was well spent catching up over cocktails, and there's nothing like a speedily made burrito to solve all hunger problems. 

After our south-of-the-border adventure, we traveled back to Kristin's place with two bottles of wine and several cupcakes from Molly's Cupcakes.  After a few ridiculous Youtube videos, in-depth conversations about the state of our education system ensued and I was reminded of some of the many reasons why I love, love, love my friends.  (You can take the nerds out of the liberal arts college, but...etc)

Saturday was a day of many adventures. Julianna had discovered brunch spot Bakin and Eggs a few weeks prior, so we decided to all meet there at 10:30 for some delicious meat products. We were all pretty hungry already when we arrived, and Ben and I started drooling over the flight of bacon, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Unfortunately, just as we were about to place our order, our server informed us that they were having a "plumbing emergency" and everyone would have to leave. At first I thought this was some sort of cruel joke. It wasn't, but we did get free muffins.

We immediately began strategizing around where to go next. Amanda and Katie had driven, but Ben, RT, Julianna and I had all taken the bus, so in order to get to our next destination as a group we all had to pile into Katie's Toyota Echo. I'm fairly certain this is not legal.

At first it seemed like we would probably never eat again.  If you think this is overly dramatic, try driving around Chicago at 11am on an empty stomach after a night of drinking, no coffee in your system, and repeatedly being told you will have to wait 2+ hours for food.

But finally - M. Henry to the rescue!  M. Henry is one of my favorite brunch spots in all of Chicago, and miraculously there was *no wait.*  I have no idea how this worked out, but it was clearly meant to be.

After brunch, RT and I took the bus downtown to meet Linz at her hotel. Of course we got lost for about 15 minutes. But, we found our way there eventually and had a dramatic and tearful reunion. Back at Julianna's place, we did what any sane people would do - enact dramatic readings from Julianna's psych textbooks, the bible, Cosmo, and Maya Angelou, with Kenny G playing in the background.

We all met up again for dinner at Wakamono, a great sushi place that's close to both my sister's place and Kristin's in Lakeview.  While we were on our first round of drinks, someone - I can't remember who anymore - decided that my friends would all go around the table and name one thing they love about me. It made me cry!! Somehow it was determined that there would be three rounds of love, and I forced them to give the last one to me, so I could throw some love back at my friends.

After dinner we cabbed it over to Old Town, with high hopes for pop rock martinis at Suite Lounge...only to find that Suite Lounge was completely booked with private parties.  This marked the third and final time we tried to eat or drink somewhere and were unable to. 

At this point we were outside, and it was freezing cold so we snuck into a bank/ATM situation and hit up the Google to figure out where we could drink that was reasonably close by.  We found a place about a mile away that looked promising, and walked there (the longest mile EVER.  it was really, really cold) only to find that it was boring and full of douchebags.  Womp womp.

But it seemed like a total waste not to have a drink at the douchebag bar since we had walked across all of Siberia to get there, so we had a cocktail and discussed where to go next.

Luckily, Julianna remembered a dive bar near her place called Friar Tuck, which she described it as "the kind of place where you make your own fun." If you know me at all, you will know that this is my kind of place.  Off we went. What followed was a succession of jukebox magic, singing, and general shenanigans so wonderful that I will remember (most of) it for the rest of time. 
After Friar Tuck, we went next door for nachos because what else are you going to do at that point.  We finally had round 3 of the "I love you" game, which at that point was pretty much me yelling "I LOVE YOU YOU ARE AMAZING" at all of my friends, in a super tiny and sketchy mexican restaurant occuped by us and maybe two other people. It was...special. I had grand visions of yoga at 8:30 but by the time we got back to Julianna's place on Saturday night it was clear that was not going to happen.

The next morning we had brunch at Ann Sathers, and drove back to Minneapolis.    It was a total whirlwind weekend, but we all had a great time.  I am so blessed to have such amazing friends - especially friends who are willing to congregate for a random weekend in Chicago in the middle of winter.

Reunion at Violet Hour

Ordering fancy drinks

chandelier = classy

I always wanted to go snorkeling with a I know I should not do this

When given the option, sprinkles in your coffee is always a good idea

At Bakin and Eggs, hungry and hopeful

The flight of bacon, which sadly never arrived :(

Unaware of impending sewage doom at Bakin and Eggs

Katie's car = clown car

M. Henry to the rescue!

Linz arrives!

J and I, ready to hit the town

J and Amanda at Wakamono


Side-eye from RT

Bottles of wine as big as your leg at Wallgreens!


Found a friend for Trixie!

Peacing out from the douchebag bar

Bringing the classiness to Friar Tuck's

More classiness

Not quite as classy

This is probably when things started to go downhill

The whole bar sang happy birthday to me...which was embarassing...

Friar Tuck has a birthday tradition involving an inflatable sheep

posing with my sheep friend

nope...that's not how it works....


Amanda and Katie


Again with the classy

The end!!

Hope you are all doing well!  I really am trying to get back to more regular posting but work and other commitments are making it we'll see what happens :)  It's my goal anyway.
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