2016 in Meme

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Ran a marathon; spent 3 weeks in Belgium; took a vacation with the entire family; launched an intranet; took a bootcamp class; found Divvy Red (twice in one day!); used a hospital-grade pump; facilitated a strategic planning discussion; ran 1,000 miles.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For the most part, and yes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Several friends had babies, particularly in the first half of the year, and several more are expecting in the new year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I lost friends, but my year was nothing compared to the losses experienced by many people close to me.

5. What countries (or new places) did you visit?
No new places, but plenty of travel: 3 weeks in Belgium, 2 trips to DC/Virginia (conference + friend visit + wedding), and trips to Ann Arbor (wedding), Orlando (conference), Michigan City (family beach rental), Long Beach (friend support), Iowa City (family weekend), and Carlsbad (vacation).

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Let’s just carry my 2016 list forward for another year: more dates with my partner, more time with friends, and more sleep. And more dancing.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My marathon, and the day after the election.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My marathon, obvs.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Same as last year: I’m sure there are aspects of early parenting that we’ll regret. I wish I were more patient, and that I did a better job of communicating at times.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A couple of random bugs, but nothing serious.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I’m slavishly devoted to my Get To Work Book. I also bought a new bike, but I haven’t had a chance to ride it yet.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
A lot of people complained about their social media and friend circles becoming toxic during the election. I feel incredibly fortunate that this wasn’t the case for me – and that many of my friends have continued to engage, to push buttons, to keep those of us inclined to armchair activism moving forward in this post-election season.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The President-Elect and all around him.

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

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I wouldn’t say that I loved marathon training, but I did love many hours of podcast listening, especially Criminal, More Perfect, and Revisionist History.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
We sing a silly song from one of the Winnie the Pooh movies a lot. Otherwise, I didn’t actually listen to all that much music.

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

ii. thinner or fatter?
Fitter

iii. richer or poorer?
More debt, but also more money.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
The same things every year: spending time with the toddler and his papa. Sleeping. Watching movies. Reading books. Dancing. Drinking. Spending time with friends and family.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Driving. Trying to convince someone that he really, actually does need to sleep.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We drove out to Rockford Christmas Eve, made a quick trip to the Nicholas Conservatory, and had Indian food for Christmas Eve dinner. The toddler got to have a snowy Christmas morning adventure with Pop, and I got in a quick run before Jenn and her family came over for packages and snacks. The toddler absolutely refused to nap and was in complete meltdown by dinner, so he had to miss the delicious food. We headed home on the 26th after a quick trip to the Discovery Center.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
With podcasts and early morning long runs

22. How many one-night stands?
Zero

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Game of Thrones, Man in the High Castle, Westworld

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year
Some elected officials

25. What was the best book you read?
Bring Up the Bodies was so good. Fates and Furies was way better than expected.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I really didn’t listen to much music this year.

27. What did you want and get?
Different responsibilities; a good training cycle; new friends

28. What did you want and not get?
More responsibility; a PR

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I watched maybe 4 movies this year. It wouldn’t be fair to try to pick a favorite.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36. I took the toddler to our parent/child class at the Waldorf School down the street, then N treated us to brunch at the Cherry Circle Room. We took a walk and had cupcakes at Molly’s. We had literally just come back from vacation, so a low-key day was just fine.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Different election results. More sleep.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Workout clothes + comfortable layers

33. What kept you sane?
My sister

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
So many people lost their heroes this year – I’m afraid to name mine.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The entire election was a shitshow.

36. Who did you miss?
My people.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
This was the year that some of my work/professional friendships got real, and I’m so, so grateful for that.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
Listen more than you talk.

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What’s on your Travel Wishlist?

I read this post from Cup of Jo on my first day back to work after a week of vacation followed by a long birthday weekend – exactly the wrong time to fan the flames of wanderlust.

I have a love/hate relationship with travel. I love seeing new places. I hate flying and get terribly motion sick. I love exploring new cuisines (and grocery stores). I hate feeling overwhelmed. I love the feeling of every day bringing something new. I hate being out of my comfort zone. Now take all of those feelings and multiply them by 100, and you have travel with a toddler (particularly the hassle-y, stress-y parts).

Maybe this is a sign of time passing and priorities shifting, but when I tried to daydream a list of destinations, the places I kept coming back to were places I’ve already been that I want to know better, places I want to make my own.

Though I suppose there are a few dream spots (for various reasons):

Camino de Santiago: Etapa de Sarria a Portomarín

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsSalk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Appalachian Trail: Totts Gap to Mount Minsi (4)

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThe Atomium//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Northern Lights Fan

What’s on your travel wishlist?//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

40 Hours in Istanbul

Back in December, we started seriously exploring our options for a long visit with N’s family in Belgium. International airfare was considerably more expensive than the last time he went home, so we spent a lot of time looking at every possible route. Much to our surprise, it was cheapest BY FAR to fly through Istanbul.

With two flights out to Brussels each day, we determined we could either have a very short layover or a very long layover, albeit overnight. OR we could book as a multi-destination flight, and spend 40 hours in Istanbul, which is what we did.

After an exhausting and, for me, harrowing flight, we arrived in the early evening and were immediately overwhelmed. Istanbul is an enormous city, both in terms of population and geography. It is also populated by intensely crazy drivers, as we learned on our ride to the hotel. We were later told by a family member that riding in cabs in Istanbul cured her of her fear of flying. I would believe it!

Our hotel was located in the Sultanahmet district – tourism central – and anyone who has done any traveling knows it’s hard to really judge the nature of a city by these areas. With such a limited amount of time, however, we were happy to be proximate to the major tourist sites, which is where we headed after dropping our luggage. We arrived in the gathering dark, just in time for the final call to prayer of the evening. It’s hard to really explain how breathtaking it was.

Aya Sofya
We took more than 300 photos in the 40 hours we were there, so please assume that for every photo shared here, there are several more on my Flickr.

After a quick dinner followed by sahlep and baklava, it was back to the hotel for a relatively early bedtime. With our schedules turned upside down by long flights and time zones, we were awake half the night, falling back to sleep suddenly and soundly after the first call to prayer of the morning.

Turkish breakfast

After our highly satisfying hotel breakfast, we set off in search of the Spice Market. We found the Grand Bazaar:
Grand Bazaar

a number of street cats:
I am a crazy cat lady.

Istanbul University:
Minaret

and the beautiful Süleymaniye Mosque.
Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque

We also found urban chickens, a small botanic garden, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a bridge across the Bosphorus:
Walking to Asia

We did not, however, find the Spice Market, despite quite a lot of famished wandering around on our part. Conceding defeat, we tracked down lunch in a very strange basement “restaurant”, crossed back through the Grand Bazaar, and went on to the Basilica Cistern, which was at the top of N’s must-see list. Built in the 6th century to provide water to the city, it can now be accessed from an unassuming building near the much more grand (at least above ground) Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque. It’s an incredibly dramatic place – hard to imagine the same grandeur from our contemporary public works projects:

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

From there, our day went a bit downhill. We arrived at Aya Sofya after it closed, and at the Topkapi Palace just as it closed.

Aya Sofya

N talked me into trying an ear of corn from a street vendor, and it was gross.

Untitled

The Blue Mosque didn’t disappoint, but also lacked some of the peace and quiet of the smaller, less centrally-located Süleymaniye Mosque from earlier in the day.

The Blue Mosque

After not getting to see any of the things I really wanted to see, the restaurant I chose for dinner either didn’t actually exist, or the map was incorrect. I was about ready to throw in the towel on Istanbul when N found a restaurant that didn’t have an annoying barker out front AND had Iskender kebab on the menu. I promised a street kitty that I would give her a bite of my food if she came back later, and let me tell you: it was hard to keep that promise.

Iskender Kebab

Iskender kebab face

We finished the night with Turkish Delight and a quiet walk back to our hotel before our early morning flight to Brussels.

A month removed from the whirlwind visit, I feel like we did a reasonably good job of seeing the touristy parts of Istanbul. We did a lot of walking, ate some traditional foods, and saw a few amazing things. Our long layover provided me with what will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore that part of the world; while I enjoyed it, I doubt I’d go out of my way to go back. But stranger things have happened, as indicated in these warning signs:

Warning signs

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

In June, I went to Seattle (again)

Annette wanted to do a destination race, and I had a $500 travel voucher to burn, so in June, we hopped on a plane to Seattle. We ran the Rock N Roll half marathon, saw a lot of naked people on bikes with Natalie, got sunburned (me), climbed a giant hill to eat amazing burgers with Emmi and Mike, and toured a library and took a ferry ride with Carly.

We had hoped to go to Vancouver for the last night of our trip, but poor (passport) planning on my part meant scrapping the border crossing and instead heading south to Portland, which was 100% as expected. We watched the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, went to the Queen Bee mothership, saw some backyard chickens, ate good sandwiches, and were joined in an absurdly long donut line and a wardrobe_remix photo shoot by Patrick.

It was a good year for making good memories of the PNW. Here’s to more of the same in 2014!

2014 Resolutions

  1. Eliminate my credit card debt. I made progress in 2013 but not as much as I’d like.
  2. Bike 2,000 miles. A repeat from 2013. I made it more than halfway thanks to hacking my commute, which resulted in biking more than 500 miles in the last quarter of the year, so this should be easy enough.
  3. Bake one new pie per month. A repeat from 2012, when I made this resolution and then baked zero pies. Savory pies count, but not quiches, as I mastered them a number of years ago.
  4. Leave the country at least once. A repeat from 2013, with the added incentive of loved ones of my loved one living on another continent.
  5. Read 25 books. This was my goal for 2013, but I fell short by several books despite increased commute reading time.
  6. Score a new PR. This means either besting one of my 2013 times in the half or 5K, or running a new distance.
  7. Complete at least one item per month from my Chicago bucket list. Because if I don’t make a list, it won’t happen.

The Bahamas

A prelude from the Lakefront on a cold Wednesday in February. I had errands to run, and good company, so I played hooky, signed a new lease, and walked by the lake in the falling snow.

Untitled

24 hours later:

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Ocean!

Sunset, Day 1

On Friday, we borrowed bikes from the resort and rode all over the central island

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– from the resort to Port Lucaya

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Miami Vice

then to the International Bazaar

International Bazaar

Payphones

then to downtown Freeport, where we visited the post office and the only vegetarian-focused store on the island, then back to our resort, 20 miles in total.

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This was my first time traveling with Karen – my first time traveling with anyone except a partner since the road trips to Bonnaroo – and it worked splendidly. We complained in equal measure, shared a mutual disinterest in being social with other resort guests, and savored naps and free girlie cocktails. We avoided the resort staff like the plague, called in a noise complaint at midnight, and were unduly interested in Cool Dad’s mealtime choices. On our last day, we didn’t do a damned thing.

Doin' it right

Braids!

And it was perfect.

Beach. Sunset.

Happy