2017 in Meme

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
What did I do in 2017? Participated in a protest march; ran the entire Lakefront Path; made an impressive-looking maqluba; potty-trained a kid; broke a finger; baked with aquafaba; kept a book club going for the entire year; submitted an article for publication; went an entire year without getting my hair cut*.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
About half of them, and probably.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister, sister-in-law, and several friends had babies this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My friend Molly passed away at the beginning of the year.

5. What countries (or new places) did you visit?
No new places this year. Conference travel to Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. An overnight to visit my grandma in Davenport. A one day trip to East Lansing for a football game with Mom. A quick trip to Madison to celebrate the kid’s third birthday.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
An actual vacation, as Timehop keeps reminding me that I haven’t been out of the office for a full week since we went to Belgium in September 2016.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched up on your memory, and why?
At the moment, nothing stands out.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’m pretty damned happy with some of the work I did this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I have basically lost my last shred of patience over the holidays between multiple days of sickness and extremely cold weather have kept us cooped up inside. I’m sure there have been days when I was grumpier, but not in awhile.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In August, I broke my right ring finger while getting on my bike. Yes, you read that correctly. I also had a wicked stomach bug over the holidays.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
We picked up an electronic keyboard for $30 a few weeks ago, so that’s been the standout purchase recently. Other great buys for the year include the Fjällräven totepack N bought me for my birthday and the terrible spiralizer I got for free that convinced us that we would actually use a spiralizer. Oh also we finally bought an actual bedframe after multiple years on the floor.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I never cease to be proud of and amazed by my sister.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Most elected officials’.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food and drink and rent, as usual.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Aquafaba, spiralizing, weekend long runs (miss u, warm weather), being able to walk to work.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?

ii. thinner or fatter?
I’m striking this question.

iii. richer or poorer?
More money and less debt than this time last year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
The usual: sleep, running, time with friends, lying on the couch doing nothing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Emotional labor.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We’ve made a real effort to keep all holidays low-key. Sometimes it’s really hard, but sometimes it’s really worthwhile. This was the first year the 3 year old was excited about “Christamas”, and basically everything about the last month was magical for him: making decorations for our tiny tree, opening the doors of the paper advent calendar, drinking hot cocoa and shaking sleigh bells at the winter celebration in the park, looking forward to eating apple pie at my parents’ house on Christmas Day. The day itself was hectic and exhausting after a 4:45 wake up, but he was so happy, and there were big hugs all around, and now I understand why parents work so hard to make these moments special, even if their kids won’t remember.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?
We finally moved to the neighborhood where I work after almost six years in my job. When I first moved to the city, I had absolutely zero interest in living in this neighborhood as it felt like the suburbs, and that was NOT the point of moving to the city. Priorities change, however, and the move has been such a net positive for our family that it’s caused me to see the neighborhood in a whole new light.

22. How many one-night stands?
Also striking this question.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Comrade Detective, followed distantly by The Crown, Game of Thrones, and Twin Peaks. Also let me just tell you that texting about TV with my pal Jimi makes just about any show better.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
See above re: elected officials.

25. What was the best book you read?
This was the year that I maxed out my library account – apparently you can only check out 50 books at a time from the Chicago Public Library? Most of them were for the kid’s obsessions with dragons and Mr Putter and Tabby, of course, but I read a number of good books as well – more than in the last few years put together. My top three were:
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life – Amy Krause Rosenthal
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? – Roz Chast
Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The new lcd soundsystem album was the first album in a looooooong time that I deliberately chose to sit down and absorb the first time through rather than treating as background noise.

27. What did you want and get?
Good news.

28. What did you want and not get?

29. What was your favorite film of the year?
Moonlight absolutely destroyed me.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I got a brand new birthday buddy – niece #4 was born on my 37th birthday. My fell on a Monday, so a friend babysat the night before so that we could go out for a wonderful birthday dinner at Dusek’s. I was pretty hung over the next day. We went out for lunch and coffee, and apparently had pizza for dinner, though I can only tell you that because I’ve been keeping track of our dinners in my planner all year.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More time at home with friends. I sincerely miss having the people I love in my home, even (or especially) when it’s for no good reason.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
My Lent challenge this year was trying out a capsule wardrobe. My core wardrobe was something along the lines of 4-5 sleeveless tops, 3 cardigans, 2 skirts, a favorite t-shirt, and a pair of jeans (and maybe other things that I’ve forgotten because it was 9 months ago). These were, of course, the things I gravitated towards wearing anyway, but I was surprised to find that it wasn’t difficult at all. Of course, you’ll note that workout clothes aren’t included in there – or pajamas, for that matter – but these 12ish items worked out just fine for me. So: drapey sleeveless tops, a colorful skirt OR sweater paired with a dark sweater or skirt, kneesocks or tights, and practical shoes.

33. What kept you sane?
Running. My sister.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Nicolas Jaar tweeted about frogs and I replied and he liked my tweet and it was basically the best.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Everything was terrible all year. It’s hard to pick just one.

36. Who did you miss?

*I may have actually gone a year between haircuts before, but not in at least a decade, and since that’s long enough for things to fall off a credit report, I think that’s long enough to count here.


May is for new music

I’ve been in a music slump for the last six-or-so months. Of late, I listen to the news on my commute, the same 4-5 DJ mixes while running or at the gym, and then whatever N puts on at home, which tends to be instrumental/electronic/classical. I tried to Shazam something I really liked the other day, but it didn’t work.

It was confounding to me as a teenager (and after) that my parents seemed to have minimal sense of the music that was popular when they were in their 20s and 30s – coincidentally all of the stuff that I was really into in my early 30s. That impression has turned out to be not entirely accurate, but as I’m hitting my mid-30s full on, I guess I get it? Pop didn’t have much time to listen to music when he was working 10+ hour days, and Mom was home with 3 little kids and wasn’t ever really into music anyway. And there was no Spotify or internet, so it was radio or nothing, and who knows what the local radio stations were playing in the small amounts of time when they might’ve tuned in?

So having acknowledged my ongoing music slump, I resolved to listen to one new-to-me album for every workday in May. I didn’t hit that goal, but I did listen to a bunch of new stuff, and have a Spotify playlist populated with more than a day’s worth of music still to try. Perhaps I’ll try for the same goal in June!

May Playlist
Lykki li – I Never Learn
Hiroshi Watanabe – Genesis
Kina Grannis – Elements
tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
Seabound – Speak in Storms
Fennesz – Bécs
Parov Stelar Trio – The Invisible Girl
The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Tess Parks – Blood Hot

Nicolas Jaar

Nicolas Jaar

A few weeks ago, I sat down to try to write about Nicolas Jaar’s Essential Mix, a piece of music that has blown my mind like nothing else has done musically in a very long time. The result was a 435 word email, excerpted here and sent just before walking to Pitchfork where, by the spontaneous grace of Carl, I got to experience Nicolas Jaar’s hypnotic set in person.

To quantify the extent to which this mix has transfixed me for the last two months, in late June, I drove from Anaheim to south of San Diego and back twice. 110 miles in each direction times four equals eight hours in the car in three separate days of driving. This two hour mix is all I listened to.

There was a day at work in early July when I listened to this mix three times, the last time spilling over into my drive home and then my 30 minute walk in the rain to meet friends for dinner. And then, after a lot of bourbon and arriving home from the bar at 2:30, I poured a digestif for my two friends, and we lay awake until nearly 5am, listening to the mix again, drifting in and out of sleep.

The Essential Mix is traditionally two hours of electronic dance music, broadcast at 1am on BBC Radio 1. Every DJ who is anyone has had an Essential Mix. This is unlike any that I’ve heard. There’s electronic music, but also classical, jazz, film scores, classical guitar, and Motown. There are weak points in the mix, certainly. There are points where you might be tempted to turn it off – Beyonce? really? – but I’d admonish you to give it a chance, particularly because just moments after the Beyonce bit, it goes to a place where I without fail turn the volume all the way up and put my head down (or back, if I’m driving) and let the music wash over me.

Pour yourself a glass of something and put on your good headphones. Get in the car and drive somewhere an hour out. Load this up on your phone or your iPod and go for a long walk somewhere quiet. Get lost for awhile.

“We continue…”



Nicolas Jaar