2013 in meme


Photo by Nicolas

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Went to the Bahamas, Traverse City, and an electronic music festival; attempted to integrate cats; biked over 1,000 miles; knit cables; tried miracle berries.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I’m most proud that I’ve kept up with the year of no pants. I think next year’s list is less aspirational, though it has some big ones.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yep, but many fewer friends than in previous years.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I lost one friend.

5. What countries (or new places) did you visit?
The Bahamas with Karen, new parts of Michigan with Nicolas, and Portland with Annette. I also saw a lot more of Chicago, Seattle, Indianapolis, and St Louis.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Certainty.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My divorce was finalized on June 5.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Trusting my gut; quitting smoking (again); back-to-back PRs.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Judgment.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was sick in January, February/March, August, and December. I had all manner of menstrual weirdness that seemed to resolve itself after tests in May. I’d like to think my insides were scared straight. A nagging hip thing started to flare badly in July, and was diagnosed in December as a hypermobile SI joint. I have done a terrible job at keeping up with my PT.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My Divvy membership, which made hacking my commute possible.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I’m really proud of a number of my friends for the awesome things they’ve made happen in the last year.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Same as last year.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food and drink; running and biking (race registrations, gear, travel, Gu)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Sand cats and biking in Chicago.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

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

ii. thinner or fatter?
About the same, though my weight has shifted around a bit.

iii. richer or poorer?
Richer in lots of ways.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More time at the beach. More naps. More reading.

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

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family in Rockford

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Game of Thrones

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope.

25. What was the best book you read?
Haruki Murakami: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Brad Kessler: Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese
Ryszard Kapuściński: Travels with Herodotus

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Another year of a lot of electronic music: Darkside, Moderat, Modeselektor, Four Tet, Trentemøller, Tensnake, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and FM Attack.

And oh yeah: Nicolas Jaar, Nicolas Jaar, Nicolas Jaar, Nicolas Jaar.

27. What did you want and get?
Love.

28. What did you want and not get?
A sand cat.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
In the theater: The East; Blancanieves; Upstream Color.
At home: Samsara; Baraka; Bill Cunningham New York.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Drove to work very early, stopping to pick up an absurdly foofy free coffee in my vintage dress and with my hair in rollers. Gave a presentation to the entire library at 9am. Got new passport photos taken. Quick post-work run before dressing up for dinner with my best girls at Karyn’s on Green. One solo drink at Neo. More celebrations over the weekend, which was spent with my (new) guy. Not a bad way to turn 33.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More time – on the beach, in the water, on my bike, in the forest, with my loved ones, unplugged.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
No pants in public.

33. What kept you sane?
Running. My girls. Love.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I might have mentioned Nicolas Jaar.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I spent a lot of time thinking about urban planning than any specific political issue.

36. Who did you miss?
There are a number of people that I expected to see all the time since moving to Chicago that I just haven’t.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
This year was more about solidifying friendships with people I met previously. I met online friends Heidi and Patrick for the first time IRL, and I made friends at work.

Best non-person: the sand cat, which we visited often, and my sponge:

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
I’ve lived by this quote from my friend Susie: “Lead with your fractured heart. It can be broken more, yes, but it has practice — like bones and other things, we mend and move on. Use it or, well, what’s the point of having it in the first place?”

See also: 2011, 2012

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Last Weekend

A pretty good fortune after a really good lunch.

There are so many ways in which the life I have in Chicago is not the life that I imagined a year ago when a life in Chicago was still just the glimmer of an idea. There are lots of days that are hard, and lots of days that are lonely, and lots of days when I think about getting the hell out of here. But then there are weekends and weeks like this one, full of moments and events that were beyond the reach of my imagination a year ago – running a sub-2 hour half in my vinyl dress, riding my bike all over the city, drinks and dinner and brunch with so many new friends, impossibly happy late-night texts, dancing til 2 on a Thursday, crying like a baby at New Order – and then I stopped, realizing that I couldn’t possibly capture all of the ways and times I felt my heart swell over those few days.

If you’re reading this – if you’re a part of my life in any small way – thank you, thank you, thank you. For holding me through this last year. For loaning me your steam cleaner. For sending me real mail. For calling me out on my shit. For picking up the check, or letting me pick up the check. For longer walks than either of us expected. For the bourbon and the coffee. For over a thousand texts in under two months. For the yoga and the dancing and the bike maintenance and mentorship. For you, all of you, all of the time. My heart is so full, you guys.

“Gather all around the things that you love, I thought, and prepare to lose them.”

My horoscope for this week suggests that I take maximum advantage of the big opportunity that’s ahead for you, Capricorn: an enhancement of your senses. That’s right. For the foreseeable future, you not only have the potential to experience extra vivid and memorable perceptions. You could also wangle an upgrade in the acuity and profundity of your senses, so that your sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch will forevermore gather in richer data. For best results, set aside what you believe about the world, and just drink in the pure impressions. In other words, focus less on the thoughts rumbling around inside your mind and simply notice what’s going on around you.

And maybe that’s what this broken arm is for: finally getting me to slow down and notice, appreciate, invest, and give back in ways that I’ve been too busy and distracted and heartsore to do these last few months.

Last night a new friend came by after work – I’d stayed home after a painful casting appointment and a couple of nights of bad sleep – and we took a long walk around my neighborhood. We stopped to look at statues in a park I’d never noticed. We were roped into a game of tag by a bunch of kids playing on the sidewalk. We walked by a new bike repair place and peered through the windows of a soon-to-be coffee shop. We kept an eye out for “my” ice cream truck after hearing a snippet of its signature music. I wouldn’t have taken that walk had I been able to ride, and we wouldn’t have had that visit if I hadn’t had my accident.

On Friday, a friend cut through my stubbornness and kidnapped me for the day. She and her 5 year old made me a futon nest, plied me with margaritas and The Muppet Show, and generally forced me to be still and engaged and present. It was a great day, pain and cast notwithstanding, and it wouldn’t have happened without my accident.

This has been a physically and emotionally difficult week, and will likely be a physically and emotionally difficult summer. There have been and will likely continue to be nights where I’ve cried myself to sleep out of anxiety, frustration, pain, and loneliness. I also know that my physical and emotional pain are so minimal in the grand scheme of things.

But that doesn’t diminish what I’m feeling right now: profoundly grateful for everyone who has reached out, expressed their concern, offered a shoulder to cry on, sent flowers or funny mail, gotten me out of my house or back in it, and generally reminded me that love isn’t binary, that family isn’t defined by blood, that community isn’t bounded by physical space, and that what you put out into the world will be repaid tenfold if only you’re brave enough to let it.

Friend Feature: Karina L.

Do you see the gorgeous girl on my left?

That’s my girl, Karina, and my gorgeous date to New Wave Prom at Neo last week.

Karina’s also a force of nature, and one of the most amazing women I’ve had the privilege to know. I met her six years ago, when we were more likely to wear gowns like these:

Ms Karina

I know Karina from gyne instruction, and it’s safe to say that there’s no part of me that Karina hasn’t seen – and vice versa. Aside from the challenges and closeness inherent in this work, we also shared some beautifully intimate experiences during gyne instruction, and I’m so thankful to have had her having my back throughout my work with the program.

We parted ways when she moved to Vermont and I moved to DC, but remained correspondents and online friends, and have reconnected since my move to Chicago started to happen earlier this year. Karina is a tremendously wise, thoughtful, and intelligent woman – and she’s also a total knockout ball of energy on the dance floor. Every time I spend time with her, I come away with my spirits recharged and my heart and mind challenged.

Here’s looking at you, amazing girl. Thank you for being in my life.

Friend Feature: Carl L.

A lot of aspects of my life changed or began to change in early 2005. I left my clinic job, where I shared an office the size of my current office’s closet, to start grad school and a job I loved from the first day. I was beginning to come to terms with the end of a relationship that destroyed me, and to understand that being alone might be the state of things for a long time. I was working too much and sleeping too little – but that had been the case for a while. I felt – then as now – that my life was unfolding with possibility.

I met Carl sometime in late 2004 – I don’t know exactly when, and you’ll forgive me for that, as that was a time when I was working for up to six weeks with no time off, when I was sleeping little and eating less, when – as now – life was moving at a dizzying pace, and all I wanted was time to sit down and be still, just for a bit. I remember seeing him at the laundromat and crushing a little on him for his big book and long hair and stack of black t-shirts. We talked about The Dark Tower across the counter at the coffeeshop where I worked, or on the back patio while he smoked and I swept.

A few days before my 25th birthday, I was at the Monkey with friends, having closed the coffeeshop with Bailey’s in our coffee, followed by drinks at Jupiter. Carl was there with a friend, and we got to talking, and I mentioned my 25×25 list. He asked first about a pencilled-in item related to the devastating break-up, then asked about #12: have a memorable first kiss (or just a memorable kiss, period).

“Have you had a memorable first kiss?”

“No.”

“Could I be your memorable first kiss?”

“Yes.”

Two days later, he took me out on the eve of my birthday. We had dinner at Crane Alley, went back to my house, and sat in the Papasan chair and talked and laughed until we were both motion sick. My best first date ever.

There were other dates after that, but we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be a thing, and instead settled into a close and intimate friendship that has remained close and intimate for years, even though we’ve gone long periods without speaking or seeing each other. He’s been a non-negotiable in my life through a lot of stuff, and I’m tremendously thankful for that. I’ve never been able to really explain our friendship, nor who we are or have been to each other, except that when we’re together, it is as he wrote years ago, that “We have a world that runs parallel to the regular existence, one we have to jump just a little to the side to inhabit.  I can always tell that that’s true because no one ever quite shares laughter with us.”

Happy birthday, love. One of these years maybe there will be a better picture of us than these.

hands

e + carl

Elizabeth and Carl at Merry Ann's Diner

Essential friend data:
Met: Aroma? Probably?
Years known: 7-8

Friend Feature: Chris M.

So hey, it’s his birthday, so let’s all celebrate Chris! Happy birthday, Chris!

Here’s Chris being awesome!

Also here!

Are you getting the idea? Chris is awesome. And the world knows it. But even better? His wife and kid know it. Colin might not know it, though.

Untitled

I met Chris through his wife Angie, a classmate and friend at GSLIS. I can’t remember who invited whom to a thing first, but I know that they were at a party that I threw in the spring of 2005, and that by that fall, we were moving in the same tightly-knit social circles. Over the years, I’ve been consistently impressed by the ways that Chris and Angie work together so that they can, in many ways, have it all. Which isn’t to say that they’re perfect people or have a perfect relationship – but that over the years, they have done a pretty damned good job of figuring out how to love and support each other in being the (very different kinds of) rockstars that they are.

Chris and I had a conversation about Champaign last summer – how good it was, how it was good fit for both of us, how we both miss it. My nostalgia for that time in my life is wrapped up in so many things, and I felt that he put the same feeling very well – that it’s helpful to remember that those were good years, and would have been good years wherever we were – that very little of it is particular to the place, which to some extent alleviates the feelings of homesickness for a home that no longer exists.

Essential friend data:
Met: at a party at my house through his wife and my friend Angie
Years known: ~7

The Return of the Friend Feature: Loretta G.

This NPR piece on Facebook and the ephemeral nature of online “friendships” has me motivated to resuscitate a project I started in early 2011. Inspired by my friend Loretta, and in an attempt to validate the friendships I was trying to foster online, I wrote a series of posts detailing my relationships with each of my Facebook friends. Or, rather, with two dozen of them.

Since the introduction of Timeline, the Notes app seems to be at least somewhat deprecated (can something be somewhat deprecated?). At best, previous notes are hard to find. At worst, they’re basically invisible. So instead of further shackling my content and my relationships to Facebook, I’ll be resuming the series here.

And, since she was the inspiration, I will start with Loretta.

Loretta is awesome. In fact, here is a video of Loretta being awesome:

I met Loretta when we were both PhD students at GSLIS and both ended up in Leigh Estabrook’s Preparing Future Faculty class. While I didn’t go on to become a faculty member, I took a tremendous about away from the course, especially the importance of keeping your personal stuff personal, and your professional stuff professional. I mention this because I think it’s a lesson more people could learn – and also because it is, in a roundabout way, something I really admire about Loretta.

I know she doesn’t always feel like it, but Loretta is a tremendous role model for those of us who aspire to have it all. She’s fiercely intelligent and passionate about her work. She’s articulate and funny, and along with her similarly intelligent and passionate husband is raising two daughters are also intelligent, articulate and funny. Oh, and she also used to be in a band.

I regret that I didn’t have more time with Loretta at GSLIS – that I didn’t meet her earlier, and that I left before we had much time to hang out. She and her family came to a party at my house once, and her girls – who couldn’t have been much more than three – were especially vigilant at keeping Basil inside despite his best attempts to escape. Loretta, if you’re reading this, I still have your Tupperware. From 2007. I promise I’ve washed it.

Essential friend data:
Met: LIS490TP at GSLIS
Years known: ~5