Right Now

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  1. Settled in a great new apartment in a great new neighborhood with a great new roommate.
  2. Spring and maybe summer have arrived in Chicago. On Tuesday, it was 85 and sunny for my post-work run.
  3. A couple of great overnights in Champaign, and vacation on the not-to-distant horizon.
  4. Lunchtime walks in beautiful places.
  5. Lots of demands at work, but most of them are interesting and stretch me in good ways.
  6. So much good music in the next two weeks: Zoe Keating, Emily Wells, Front 242 (DJ set), Colin Stetson, Four Tet (DJ set). And then Movement not long after.
  7. Back to back PRs in a set of races where I PR’d last year.
  8. A new relationship that isn’t really new at this point, but that continues to fill me with wonder and joy and peace.
  9. A battery of tests proving that I’m in excellent health.
  10. Horoscopes that tell me to follow my heart:

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19): Despite everything I wrote to you last week about weighing self-gratification against fairness-to-others (which probably still requires some consideration), I can’t help but encourage you to veer slightly more in the direction of pursuing whatever the hell makes you happy. While it’s useful to reflect enough on your privilege relative to your friends or colleagues so you’re not blind to their potential responses, you can’t live a satisfying life by concentrating too much on assuaging others’ discontent. In fact, with multiple 5th-house planets now moving into a supportive trine to Pluto in your 1st, I’m sure you’re feeling pretty emboldened to make the personal most of any situation… and why the fuck not? These energies sure seem to be formally inviting you to intentionally put yourself at the unapologetic center of this week’s decision-making—and not just out of some future-minded commitment to ‘becoming your best self’, but in order to choose whatever will bring you immediate joy, creative fulfillment, and/or positive flirtatious attention. In closing, yes, I suppose I should reiterate the possibility that certain social allegiances could suffer tension, as envious or disapproving others react to seeing you so unapologetically serve your own pleasure. Maybe it’s because they’ve become too accustomed to you taking care of their needs first?

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2012 in music

According to last.fm, this year doesn’t look all that different from last year in music. I finally jumped on the Spotify bandwagon sometime around February, and that has allowed me to binge on an assortment of New Wave playlists without having to identify, locate, and download whole albums in order to listen to that one track I really liked at Neo (or wherever) (but mostly Neo). I’ve also really liked using Shazam to identify tracks on the radio or at the grocery store or on the dance floor at Exit or in the middle of an Essential Mix.

Speaking of Essential Mixes, while he doesn’t appear anywhere on the below charts, honorable mention must be given to the Nicolas Jaar Essential Mix, which I listened to 29 times, or for a total of 58 hours, or 2.4 days. By comparison, I listened to my top track (New Order – Run) 89 times, or for a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes.

Top Artists of 2012
1. New Order
2. The Cars
3. Lana Del Ray
4. Talking Heads
5. LCD Soundsystem
6. Robyn
7. Pulp
8. The National
9. The Cure
10. Crooked Fingers

Top Albums of 2012
1. The Cars – Complete Greatest Hits
2. Robyn – Body Talk
3. Lana Del Ray – Born to Die – The Paradise Edition
4. Rihanna – Talk That Talk
5. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
6. The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You
7. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
8. The Cure – Greatest Hits
9. New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies
10. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

Top Tracks of 2012
1. New Order – Run
2. The Cars – Magic
3. Erasure – Love To Hate You
4. Lana Del Ray – National Anthem
5. Pulp – Like a Friend
6. Roxy Music – Over You
7. Lana Del Ray – Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)
8. Pulp – Disco 2000
8. LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
10. Robyn – None of Dem

See also: 2011 in music (honestly)

For Your Hump Day Reading Pleasure

I present a carefully curated list of the best Wikipedia wormholes my internet acquaintances have to offer. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you if your Wednesday morning productivity takes a significant hit.

Brane Theory
English Royal Family
Esperanto
Feral Children
Glenn Danzig
Grand Unified Theory
Heel (Professional Wrestling)
Irish Travelers
Iron Lung
John Munch
Limnic Eruption
Lists of Animals
List of Cognitive Biases
List of Constructed Languages
List of Ghost Ships
List of Hairstyles
List of Keytarists
Lists of Lists
List of People Who Have Disappeared
List of Sexually Active Popes
List of Shipwrecks
Particle Physics
Porcupine
Professional Wrestling Attacks
Progressive Rock
Rat King
Rogue Wave
Roy Sullivan
Semen
Serial Killers
Stockholm Syndrome
Ultimate Fate of the Universe
Unseen Character
White Bread

A Short List Of Things I Want To Do When My Cast Comes Off

  1. Wash my hair with two hands. Apply product, put it in rollers, and then pin up the curls.
  2. Jump in the lake. Or any body of water where I can be submerged over my head. Repeat until my toes look like raisins.
  3. Go to yoga. My balance will be totally off. There’s no way I’ll be able to do the things I was starting to be able to do two months ago. But push back into down dog or pull back into bow and feel my whole body extend in ways that are simply impossible right now.
  4. Give lots of tight, strong, two-armed hugs.
  5. Take an effing beach vacation. Or a vacation near the beach. Or a vacation involving me jumping off a sailboat or a dock or a pier.
  6. Eat ph? or some other noodle/soup dish that requires two hands.
  7. Wear jewelry. And my new, amazing vintage stockings. And dresses that I can’t currently put on over the cast or that I’m too afraid to snag with the cast.

This Weekend

Friday this-and-that:

– So hey, NATO’s coming to town! Which means that basically everything related to commuting or public transportation or the lake is just – ugh. On the bright side, it will be a good excuse to get on my bike and see the crazy.

– On Saturday, I’m taking a Chimpsy workshop so that I’ll be slightly more competent in my use of the DSLR that we bought, oh, three years ago.

– I realized earlier in the week that since I drive up Lakeshore every day, it was silly to go home, change, and then run in my neighborhood. Instead, I’m paying $1/hour, parking on the lake, and getting my run in immediately after work. I’ve also decided that modesty is overrated on days when it’s over 70, and if people don’t like the sight of me RUNNING in a sports bra and shorts, they can deal.

– It’s pretty likely that I’ll continue to obsessively listen to The Cars, as I’ve been stuck on the same song for the last three weeks.

– I’ve been stupidly busy after work every night this week, and while it’s been mostly fun stuff, I’m SO looking forward to having no responsibilities or plans other than reading magazines and watching Mad Men and thinking about summer vacation, whenever and wherever that will be.

– My grocery list currently contains three items: olives, dark chocolate, and bleach. You know, just the essentials.

And some links for your perusal:

– A woman in California picked up some pretty rocks on the beach AND THEN HER PANTS CAUGHT ON FIRE.

– These dance-bombing teachers are pretty much the best ever.

– Renowned silver fox David Byrne turned 60 this week. I celebrated by looking at photos of my nephew in an oversized suit.

– A perfectly curated and edited video of Sherlock Holmes insulting people.

This Tumblr is full of vintage love.

2011 in Music (honestly)

I loved this post from The Awl, which so accurately describes my approach to music.

Now that we’ve finally cleared out all of those “best of” and “year end” music lists of 2011—and good riddance!—here’s something different: most played songs. The songs that show up on your most played list aren’t necessarily the songs that defined the year for you. They can be timeless—the comfort songs you return to over and over again. Or they can reflect periods of brief, intense obsession, such as, in my case, with “My Heart is a Drummer” by Allo Darlin’, which I first listened to on a recommendation from a friend, and proceeded to play 50 times in a span of three days.

I’m an inveterate music binger. I get absolutely, completely hooked on a song or an album and then have to force myself to move on by enforcing arbitrary rules concerning the contents of my iPod – i.e. can’t add any other music until I’ve listened to everything on it, can only have 5 Essential Mixes on deck at any one time, etc. This tunnel vision also means that I’m slow to discover new music, especially since nearly every time I decide I need new music, I end up downloading music that is new to me but generally dates to the decade of my birth. Oops.

So, with no apologies, I present my top 5 artists and albums from 2011 based on last.fm play counts:

Artists:

  1. Talking Heads
  2. LCD Soundsystem
  3. New Order
  4. Front 242
  5. Magnetic Fields

Albums:

  1. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening. It’s actually not worth listing my top tracks as they’re all from this album.
  2. New Order – Power, Corruption And Lies
  3. Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
  4. Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
  5. Talking Heads – Little Creatures

Note: I have removed The Diane Rehm Show from both of these lists as while it contains interstitial music, it doesn’t meet the ‘music’ definition used for this post. It is, however, my 4th most played ‘artist’ and 2nd most played ‘album’.

Things I Miss About Champaign

I’ve been meaning to make this list for a long time, but Gemma’s recent photos have pushed me to actually writing it up.  My feelings for Champaign are all wrapped up in my grad school experience, my first really fulfilling (and challenging) professional job, and a prolonged period of personal growth and experimentation between the end of my marriage and the beginning of my relationship with Shane – so lots of complicated, complicating things factor into my relationship with that little city in the corn.

  1. Riding my bike down University towards GSLIS early in the morning in the summer – empty roads and the sun coming up through the trees.  A 7 minute commute on a good day.  And then the long months when I couldn’t ride because my arm was in a cast.
  2. West Side Park.  Living across from West Side Park.  Walking home through West Side Park after a long shift at Aroma or a movie at the Art or a too-late night at Mike & Molly’s.
  3. Coffee and sandwiches at Paradiso.  Consistently good music on the stereo.  The smoking section at Paradiso, barely partitioned off by a row of ficus trees.  Books or homework on the “patio”.  Paradiso’s perfect imperfectness.
  4. Living near downtown Champaign, where I never paid more than $500 for a one bedroom apartment, and even that included utilities.  My first solo apartment directly across from the park.  My studio apartment that never really got above 50 degrees in the winter, but that in the summer offered the most fabulous porch for parties.  The apartment with the Wild Things on the wall and the yellow kitchen.  Our last place on Clark, where we rented the entire ground floor for around $750, planted our first garden, spent $300+ on heat in the winter, and enjoyed the mixed blessing of a screened-in entryway – great for cats in the sun, not great for cats escaping.
  5. Saturday mornings at the Urbana farmers’ market, bringing home things I didn’t recognize and that would eventually go bad in the fridge. Splurging on fancy cheese, meat, and a croissant from Art Mart.  Riding our bikes to the market and bringing a dedicated backpack for watermelon or canteloupe.
  6. Friday afternoon Revolution Lunch at Jerusalem Restaurant with my favorite nutters.  The food was fine, but the company was effing crazy.  I’m glad to hear that it hasn’t changed.
  7. French toast at Sam’s, where Shane and I went for breakfast one of the first times he spent the night.  We drew maps of our hometowns on the rectangular napkins.  In case you ever forget, the special is at the top.
  8. Late nights studying at Merry Ann’s with Sarah and Nicole, drinking TERRIBLE coffee and eating fries and goofing around with the servers.  Going to Merry Ann’s at bar time, ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, and being in and out in under 10 minutes.  Greg and I standing on the booth and singing happy birthday to Mark, who brought us screwdrivers mixed in the back.  Hanging out with Shane for the first time after Carl and I had gone to see 2046, all three of us wasted but on totally different things (exhaustion, alcohol, an emotionally weighty movie).  Many many plates of fries before Subversion.
  9. Boltini bingo.  We went almost every week the last summer we lived there, but I didn’t win ANYTHING until my very last card on my very last bingo.  Marv gave me his oversized clapper, which I kept until we moved to Michigan.
  10. AromaWorking at Aroma.  Drinking mojitos outside Aroma in the spring of 2003.  Working 20 hour days (Aroma + Carle) in the fall of 2004 when it was easier to not sleep than to deal with my heartbreak.  10 hour kitchen shifts with all New Order all the time, getting fake engaged to Sam, smoking out front with Carl and Erich and Leah in the summer.  Ryan’s shark mug and Dave catching flies out the air.  Flirting with customers who became friends.  Coffee grounds permanently under my fingernails.  A good place and a good time, though definitely not the best coffee in the world.
  11. Symposium at the Esquire, and the Esquire in general.  For at least the first year after we left Champaign, I would often sigh and say that I just wanted to go the Esquire for dinner – cheap beer, cheap bar food, endless bowls of peanuts.  Always the same, never disappointing – just a solid townie bar.
  12. The Blind Pig in the winter of 2004-2005.  Holding hands with Carl on my 25th birthday.  A snowball fight in the middle of the night in the middle of Walnut Street.  It’s still a great bar, and I know Shane misses it greatly, but (oh this is so hipster) I stopped truly loving it when the sign went up.
  13. Swimming laps in the outside pool at IMPE in the summer of 2005.  I had started exercising that spring, but realized after my first botched length that Curves had nothing on laps in the 50 meter pool.  Sunshine, chlorine, hard work, bliss.
  14. Sunday nights at Bentley’s – our Local Neighborhood Bar – with the GSLIS crew.  Beth’s Bloody Marys and Blue Moons adorned with loads of snacks.  So many games of Bohnanza that we bought a second copy – one for the bar, another for occasions when we were less likely to spill drinks.  Planning our first Bonnaroo, celebrating our first NYE, eating a whole lot of miniature pizzas.
  15. Gyne instruction totally changed my understanding of my own body, and of the range of what constitutes ‘normal’.  I am so thankful for having the opportunity to work with such a remarkable group of women and to become empowered to advocate for my own health.  In the years since, a number of friends have felt comfortable asking me about gyne health stuff because they knew I had this experience and was willing to talk about it openly.  What a remarkable gift.
  16. Porch parties at my place on Springfield.  There weren’t many of them, but oh, they were wonderful.
  17. So much enduring love for Cafe Kopi.  I can’t believe I lived in Champaign almost a year before I found it, and can’t believe I haven’t found a comparable spot since.  Actually, I can believe it.  Kopi has something really special going on.  The coffee and food aren’t remarkable, but they’re solidly good, as are the staff and the ambiance.  I spent way too many nights doing my grad school reading over their cafe miels and tuna salad salads – and swatting away the ever-present flies on the patio.  Those things will survive the apocalypse, I swear.
  18. Mike & Molly’s may be my most favorite bar ever.  Shane preferred the Blind Pig, but my heart belongs to M&M.  Lots of nights reading with a beer, hanging out with townie friends, dancing to music played in the loft by friends.  Someone – Tim? Steve? – trying to explain darts to me.  The chalkboard in the bathroom.  Knowing that I was a regular when I forgot my ID and the bartender vouched for me to the doorman.  The bar’s vignette in Tell Me Do You Miss Me.  Carl arranging for my induction into Pi Omega Omega on my next-to-last night in town.
  19. Nox/Subversion and the year that saw me on the dance floor almost every week.  I told Shane recently that I missed out on being a raver girl because I didn’t live in a big city in my early 20s.  Instead, I had Tuesday nights at the High Dive with Emily and Jim playing the music I always wanted to listen to but didn’t know how to discover on my own.  Saturday nights with Tim in the booth and reciprocal pants protection with Shane and Karin.  Meeting Brian and Ben and Kristina and so many others.  Dancing when I was sick, dancing when my heart was breaking, dancing when I’d had too much to drink, dancing on the patio in the pouring rain.
  20. And then there’s everything about GSLIS: getting my job, making my friends, meeting Shane, finding a career path, getting a real job, discovering and falling in love with and then hating and then loving research.  All the wonderful, remarkable, challenging, and exceptional people who over the years became friends, colleagues, trusted associates, and family.  I can’t even begin to articulate the ways that this school changed my life.

Ultimately, though, what I miss is being able to walk everywhere – and the fact that wherever I went, I would run into someone I knew.  Hell, it’s been four years and that is still often the case.  And it goes without saying that the people and relationships made Champaign my home, but there are far too many of them to list here.