Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daily Routines (Maybe It's A Meme?)

So I'm sure most of you out there trolling the blogosphere and twittersphere and Facebookectangle have already been alerted to the existence of Daily Routines, a blog which collects and posts the daily routines of famous people.

Today, for example, we learned that President Obama (it is so awesome to type that) "shows up at the Oval Office shortly before 9 in the morning, roughly two hours later than his early-to-bed, early-to-rise predecessor. Mr. Obama likes to have his workout — weights and cardio — first thing in the morning, at 6:45." (Full story is here. He eats breakfast with his family every morning. Obama is so friggin' cool.)

What's interesting is that nearly everyone profiled is a morning person, in that they do something substantive and meaningful (usually exercise, writing, or exercise then writing) first thing in the morning. In fact, when one calculates the aggregate, it becomes clear that most of the profiled individuals do their most important personal item as soon as they wake up.

I'm terming it a "most important personal item" because, for example, President Obama's exercise is probably categorically less important than most of the other stuff he does all day; but it is probably top-of-his-list in the category of "things he needs to do to take care of his person; things that no one else can do but him."

Exercise and writing.

(I exercise every morning. I don't write. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I did write, but I haven't made time for both and so I choose exercise.)

Anyway. The point of this is that, about a year ago when I was all career-search-angsty, I tried to do an exercise in which I wrote out my ideal daily routine (in the hopes that it would illuminate the types of jobs I should pursue). I was going to poke fun at that post, since--before I re-read it--I could only remember that my then-ideal daily routine consisted of starting every day with eggs for breakfast. (I was a starving grad student at the time. Eggs were a novelty.)

But when I went back to check, I had actually written that I would start every day with yoga, then eat eggs, then bike/Xootr to work.

And here's my current daily routine:

6:00 a.m. Wake up. (I used to wake up at 5:45, then realized that it actually took me longer to get ready with less sleep.)
6:02. Drink large glass of water. I learned this one from French Women Don't Get Fat. It changed my mornings.
6:15-7:30. Yoga, either at yoga class or in my apartment.
7:30-7:50. Check Twitter, email, Google Reader. Tweet.
7:50-8:30. Shower, etc.
8:30-9:00. Walk 1.7 miles to work. 3,900 steps from apartment to office.

Breakfast isn't eggs, but has become a ritual of Kashi GoLean! Crunch with homemade yogurt. In the evenings I walk the 3,900 steps back to my apartment, and I don't have a true evening "routine," though there's usually cooking involved and I'm experimenting with trying to read something substantial before bed (instead of reading internets).

So there you go.

But now I'm curious: what are your daily routines? Can we meme this thing out? Do you also get up and do something vital first thing, or is yours more of an XKCD morning?

Monday, January 26, 2009

In Which We Get A Second Crack At New Year, And Blue Takes Full Advantage

Since it's the first day of Chinese New Year, I thought I might as well take a look at how my (American) New Year's Goals have been holding up. For the record, here's what they were:

  • Cooking school
  • Cooking vacation (that is to say, "find some kind of cooking-themed vacation package, enroll, etc.")
  • Yoga vacation (there is actually a place that does a combination cooking/yoga resort vacation, but... it's in Kerala)
  • Meet more people interested in Ashtanga (either through a or by simply posting a sign on the wall of my yoga studio which reads "Ashtanga Students' Happy Hour, because classes are so quiet and no one ever talks and wouldn't it be fun if we all got to know each other?")
  • Attend 5-year college reunion
  • Go to at least one conference in my field
  • See Arcadia at the Folger Theatre
  • Take day trip to NYC and see a taping of The Daily Show
  • Take day trip to NYC and see TMBG live (see, that's why that $50 AB&B gift certificate will come in handy)
  • Enter the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest... every week
  • Eat at The Grill From Ipanema (but not alone)
  • Eat at Lauriol (ditto; see, I walk by both of these restaurants several times a week and I've always wanted to go in but never have)
  • See the Richard Avedon Portraits of Power exhibit (is running through Jan. 25, so had better get moving)
  • Start attending open-mic nights both to meet new people and to see if it's something I want/would be able to do
  • And two "secret" goals
And here's what I did:

Cooking School

I signed up for two months of cooking classes at the Lebanese Taverna, but found out they weren't at all what I was looking for. Now I am looking at signing up for different cooking classes, but I am a little hesitant because I don't want to lay out money for something unless I am doing a considerable amount of actual cooking.

Ashtanga & Ashtanga Friends

My actual resolution (different from goals) to clean up my Ashtanga practice is working out well, thanks in part to a yoga intensive I took a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I had to squander the opportunity to make new yoga friends at the yoga intensive because I had to leave before the party/mixer at the end (there was a work thing I had to do that evening).

Attending a Conference

Yeah, did this one too. I'm not going to comment on it too much because I want to keep my work life out of my blog. *_^

The New Yorker Caption Contest

Haven't won yet. Find it baffling that none of the finalists for the below entry used the (obvious) word "overturned," as in "I hate it when they overturn my verdicts."

Portraits of Power

Saw the exhibit on its last day. MOST AWESOME THING EVER. It really was an unbelievably fantastic exhibit. They made you wander through rooms and rooms until the last thing you saw, before you left, was the Obama portrait. I'd love to do a whole post on this but probably won't; let's just say that I love photography and portraiture and the whole thing really tripped my geek. I don't have a great facial recollection memory, especially for politicians (they all look alike), so it was interesting to stare at the faces and then look at the caption and realize "oh, that's George McGovern!"

And then, at the end, you got to get your own portrait taken in Avedon's style. That was icing on the cake. (Really want to post the portrait but am hesitant to put face on the blog. Will think about it.)

So... those are all the goals I've accomplished in one month. Well, those and one of the secret ones. (I was going to have the second secret goal accomplished today, but something else happened today that made me a little hesitant to spend the money, as the second secret goal is a buying goal.)

As for the rest: haven't eaten at the restaurants because I don't want to eat there alone; haven't planned the vacations or the college reunion trip or bought the tix for Arcadia because they're too far out in the future; haven't even looked at how one gets tickets for The Daily Show because... well, because I think I believe that goal is too impossible--or too complicated--ever to come true.

And haven't even set foot in an open-mic night. Although I keep singing in the shower.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Cooking

To master a new language, you'd better get the bulk of your study in before the age of twelve; to become an athletic superstar or a genius inventor, the cut-off age is even earlier (and it helps if you're surrounded by the best schools and coaches and you are an Aquarius); but the master cooks I've uncovered all got their start after age thirty.

At twenty-seven, this puts me ahead of the game.

I wonder why the cooks in my admittedly-small sample set of three (Julia Child, Madhur Jaffrey, and Kathleen Flinn--the last of whom is not as internationally renowned as the first two, but I just finished reading her book and she fits into the "after thirty" category) all came to it later in life and managed to overcome the steep learning curve that separates introductory study from mastery.

The answer to the first question is pretty easy: most households are structured so that young people don't have to do a lot of cooking. One doesn't practice cooking the way one practices sports or music. Cooking well doesn't net many college scholarships. It makes sense that people might not seriously think about food and cooking until after they move out on their own, and might not seriously decide they need to learn how to cook until they have had a few years of weird/boring/badly prepared novice meals.

The learning curve thing is more interesting. The part of my brain which could learn a new language has all but disappeared; the brain-muscle connection that might have helped me become a star soccer player is long gone (let's face it; in my case, it was never there to begin with); but the part of my brain that knows how much ground coriander to add to a pan of steaming cauliflower and zucchini is just getting started.

Let's take it a step further. When I was eight years old, I wanted to be a ballerina. So did Kathleen Flinn and so did thousands of other little girls. Sure, you can say, it's because the tutus were pretty, but could it also have been because my brain was primed, at that moment, for that kind of learning?

Has anyone ever strapped electrodes to people's heads while they cooked a meal, and compared the parts of the brain that light up, and determined whether certain parts "light up better" in adults than they do in adolescents? (This would be difficult to do, perhaps, because to really see the inside of the brain one needs a MRI, and there's no room to get a mixing bowl and wooden spoon inside the MRI machine.)

This whole musing, incidentally, was spurred by a brief thought I had when walking to work the day after Obama was elected. I passed by one of the newspaper boxes and saw the headlines sticking out: Obama Ends War On Terror, etc. And, walking breezily past the newspapers under the bright-blue sky and smiling at how glad I was that Obama had managed to reverse all of Bush's executive orders in one morning, I thought--completely spontaneously--"if Obama can become President and do all of this on his first day, then I can become the best cook in the world."

And then I thought "why did I think cook? why didn't I think writer or worker or Ashtangi or any of my other identities or interests?"

Which led me to believe that my brain is somehow, at this point, primed for cooking; the way it was primed for ballet when I was eight years old.

It also led me to believe that I need to get myself into a for-real cooking class instead of the pretend one I've enrolled in for the next two months. ^__^

And there you go.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama Will Protect Me From Zombies

I was on the National Mall for the inauguration.

Here's what happened:

I was originally supposed to meet a group of friends at some ungodly hour of the morning at the Chinatown metro. From there, we were to walk down to the mall, etc. etc. etc. just to make sure we would get a place in front of a Jumbotron. Well, at 11:30 p.m. the night before we all started txting back and forth; some people were dropping out of the group, other people wanted to meet on the Mall itself instead of walking to Chinatown and backtracking, etc. Around midnight, txting with one hand while scanning predicted inaugural foot traffic reports on the computer, I realized that the following day was going to be completely unpredictable, and all best efforts to organize would only result in frustration. I sent off a txt along the lines of "Will meet you on the Mall. Entering 17th Constitution and will proceed east towards 7th Constitution. I have to cross Penn Ave to get there so if I am held back by crowds DON'T WAIT FOR ME; go through security xpoints and stake out a spot!"

Once I had instructed everyone not to wait for me, I went to bed and slept.

I woke up, deliberately, well past the ungodly hour (it started with a 5) at which we had originally agreed to meet. It was one of the smarter things I did that day. I took the long route, circumventing the parade entirely, and was on the Mall by 8:00, while some of my friends who took the early route had been waiting in queues since 6:00 a.m. (It helped that I came at the Mall from the back, through the Washington Monument, instead of waiting in the lines near the Capitol Building.)

By 8:30 my cell phone had stopped working, and I had no idea where any of my friends were. I wandered east for a while and then realized the futility of playing a giant game of live-action Where's Waldo. Also, it was cold. I decided that I had soaked up plenty of Obamamania atmosphere (and there was plenty of Obamamania, with everyone around me cheering and jumping up and down--unless that was just to keep warm), and that I would be much better off watching the inauguration in a cafe. I'd jet out as quickly as I came, be at Busboys and Poets by 9:30, and from there (where, no doubt, my phone would work again) start txting my friends to join me.

And then I discovered that no one was letting anyone off of the Mall.

From 9:00 to about 11:00 I wandered up and down the fringes of the Mall with hundreds of other people, all of us wanting to leave, all of us being blocked at every potential exit. Security was locked down. No one was being let on or off. Many of us had maps; mine was printed from the internet, others were more official-looking purchased maps, and some of us tried to use the maps to argue with the policemen and National Guard: but this says that 14th Street is reserved for pedestrian exit! The guards said they were sorry, but the exits were now closed.

It made sense that we couldn't leave on the north side of the Mall, because we would be crossing the parade route; but we couldn't even leave on the south side. Again I was stuck with hundreds of people, moving in a slow shuffle only to end up in front of policemen who told us to go back onto the Mall.

The Federal Triangle metro was closed, but the metro station itself was open and marginally warmer, and I ended up waiting there for a while with crowds of others trying to stay warm. The saddest people in my group were a very well-dressed family who had flown in to DC to watch the inauguration from some VIP hotel; their limo had let them off by the Capitol Building and told them they could cross to their hotel at 7th and Constitution, which had been one of the streets reserved for pedestrian crossing but which was now blocked off. The mother and her daughters were wearing strappy heeled shoes and no socks; the father kept saying "rub your toes, baby."

I had a book; I read it, and by 11:15 decided to head on back to the Mall to watch the jumbotrons. Despite the crowds I had a great view, and watched as Obama and Biden appeared to wild cheering, Bush and Cheney appeared to boos and hisses, and the inauguration oaths were given and received. It was a historic, humbling moment.

And then I did something very stupid. I was pressed up against a tree, it being one of the few places where a short person could get a bit of a height boost, and I suddenly thought I would take a small piece of bark from the tree to commemorate the moment. The instant I did it, I was ashamed at my thoughtlessness--after all, if everyone in the four-million-strong crowd took a piece of bark, or a rock, the National Mall would be stripped bare--and let the piece fall without putting it into my pocket.

After the speech was given and the presidential parties left the stage, it came time to consider how to get home. My original plan was to stay for a while and watch the parade on the Jumbotrons; to try and let the crowd disperse a bit before making my way out of the Mall. (This, in retrospect, would have been a stupid move.) Instead, after staring at the Jumbotrons for a while and deciding that they didn't seem to be showing anything but a message advising the crowds that the only available exit was on 14th and Independence, I gave up and decided to go home.

Did I mention that the only exit was on 14th and Independence?

Here's where the zombies come in.

You've all seen those movies: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, National Mall Egress of the Dead. People spreading out in all directions, climbing up onto overpasses, walking over bushes and flowerbeds (never mind my poor piece of broken bark), squeezing between gates and embankments and that plastic orange netting which blocks off construction zones, tearing down the netting, walking over turned-up earth and the grates where the water drains from the road, swarming over any available piece of ground looking for any exit other than the only one that is actually available, the only one not blocked at the end by the National Guard.

Where do people end up in zombie movies? The mall. And that's where we ended up, too; pressed back to back (belly to belly) inside the mall at L'Enfant Plaza, shuffling forward an inch at a time as we slowly made our way towards the L'Enfant Plaza metro.

It took me over three hours from the moment I set foot inside that mall to the moment I made it the hundred yards (or so) to the metro itself. Just like in zombie movies, the mall was lit up and the music was cheerfully playing; the stores were even open, if we were interested in taking a break from the crush of things to explore the sales at Lady Foot Locker. As we slowly inched by some people begged the store employees for water; when one woman fainted the crowd demanded that the man at the nearest store call 9-1-1 (as none of our cell phones were working, yet); he said "Do you think I haven't called anyone? I've called everyone! Police, 9-1-1, nobody will come!"

We passed by the mall restrooms and, surprisingly, very few people peeled off to use them (I did, and there was no line whatsoever). About two hours into our travel we inched past an Au Bon Pain, and the workers stood at the doorway calling out "Water! Three dollars!" and money and bottles passed their way over the crowd.

And then there was the kid in front of me, who was probably eleven years old and who began to beg his mother for an Au Bon Pain cookie. Sure, you might say, the kid was hungry, but this kid had been continually snacking out of his mother's purse since we had started our egress. His mom told him no; the kid kept whining "I want a cookie!" until finally the elderly white couple in front of us, no doubt wanting to show Obama-love to this young black child, offered to buy the boy a cookie. The mother took a moment to restrain her anger at this couple's attempt to co-opt her parenting, then said graciously that it would be all right. Then the Au Bon Pain employee got in on the game and announced that the cookie would be free and handed it to the kid, who took one look at it, said "eew! raisins!" smushed it up in his hand and started demanding a chocolate-chip cookie. At this point his mother gave him a few harsh words and that was the end of it all.

I had my book, which I read; when I got to the end of it I started at the beginning again. Every ten minutes we shuffled forward a few more inches, which I thought was strange since I knew the metro trains were supposed to be running on rush-hour schedules (one train every three minutes) until I got close enough to the door to see that there were two huge masses of people trying to get in; us, on the inside of the mall, and another group at the metro's outdoor entrance. I was so glad that I had chosen the indoor route.

The police let two groups of the outdoor crowd in to every group of the indoor crowd; which made sense, logically, but did not make the people at the front of the line very happy. It was only near this very end of the line that things started to get chaotic; it was only near this very end of the line that I remembered the trampled Wal-Mart worker and realized that I had no way of getting out of a very similar situation, should one occur. But the police with their bullhorns kept order, never mind the people trying to push and shove and get through out of turn; and finally, finally, it was my turn and I was shoved through the door to the metro escalators and on my way.

Once inside it was a simple trip and I was home in ten minutes. The parade was long gone, the balls were starting, and the line inside the L'Enfant Plaza mall was still slowly pushing its way through towards home.

But it was worth it--I guess--because we were there, on the National Mall, to watch Obama's inauguration.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Not-Cooking Cooking Class

There's a book I'm reading right now that I've kind of fallen in love with: Kathleen Flinn's The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry. It's the story of Flinn's adventures through the three levels of cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu (the original one, in Paris). Essentially, it's cooking pr0n; stories of ingredients and implements and hot ovens and hands kneading breads. Yes, there's a narrative folded in there like butter into a puff pastry, but the real draw is the pages and pages of sentences like "and then I folded the butter into the puff pastry."

Anyway. I kind of thought my cooking class would be like that.

But it wasn't. It was a drinking class.

The advertisement on the Lebanese Taverna website ("Best Middle Eastern Cooking Classes") clearly says the classes are "full participation." And yes, when I went for my first class they did give me an apron, a cutting board, and a chef's knife.

And then they gave me a glass of wine.

During the next three hours, I used my cutting board and knife exactly once: to cut an eggplant into chunks. They didn't even have to be even chunks. For the rest of the time I and my compatriots watched--and drank--as our master chef selfishly did all of the cooking himself. He took our bits of eggplant and carrot and leek and stirred them into a sauce; he ground the chickpeas into hummus; he made the rosewater perfume for the baklava; and he had pre-folded the butter into the puff pastry so all we got to see were the completed squares.

Sure, I think we were supposed to be learning by watching, but this got more difficult--or less interesting--the more wine we drank. I think once we figured out that we weren't actually going to get to touch the food (and I was not the only one surprised by this) we stopped caring about what was going on at the kitchen end of things and started talking about jobs and boyfriends and the recession.

Anyway. Long story short, it wasn't at all what I was expecting or wanting. If I'm going to learn more about cooking I need to get my hands into the ingredients myself. Unfortunately there seems to be a dearth of cooking classes in the DC area. I haven't yet explored the community college/continuing ed route, so there might be some options there.

In the meanwhile I guess I'll have to finish reading Flinn's book and dream that I'm the one folding the egg white over the egg yolk. ^__^

(In addition to the cooking pr0n book, Kathleen Flinn also has a blog. It is less cooking pr0n and more eating pr0n, but still fun.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thoughts, In Order, From A Weekend Ashtanga Intensive

This instructor has gigantic feet. Like, Sideshow Bob-sized.

I am the least-experienced person here.

I don't care if I am the least-experienced person here, the instructor just asked who here didn't know how to find her bandhas and I am absolutely going to raise my hand.

And I am the only person who raised her hand.

Bandhas are awesome!

And ha! Now other people are raising their hands and asking the instructor to help them find their bandhas!

Oh--that's why Lululemon sells "yoga thongs." (I wonder about my own panty lines for about two seconds and then decide not to care.)

Mula bandha uses the same muscles as holding in a fart. I think that's why I seem to take naturally to it.

(Then we start the Primary Series, and my brain stops churning around so much. Mostly it thinks "I love yoga," if it thinks anything at all.)

(Later, when we are working on jump-backs/jump-throughs:)

All of the best students are in the front rows, and they're all wearing Lululemon. And all of the students having difficulty are in the back rows, and they're all--like me--wearing generic "yoga pants" and t-shirts. It's strange that there's not at least one student up at the front wearing an old t-shirt. Is there a correlation between people who have long, flexible hamstrings and people who have both the means and the desire to spend $150 on a pair of Lululemon yoga pants?

They have better hair than I do, too; the women up at the front in their Lululemon. They have better hair and better clothes and fantastic hamstrings.

I wonder if it's a class thing; they're all my age or younger, but they're more advanced at Ashtanga than I am because they started taking it earlier. And they started taking it earlier because they had the opportunity to take it earlier; and that means they came from a position of social or economic privilege, which means of course they would choose the $150 yoga pants.

But that's being presumptuous (and mean). Maybe it's a value thing; at this point the people in the front rows value their yoga practice so much that to do it in anything other than the best athletic wear would be to do it a disservice. But does that mean that those of us in the back value this class less? Or value ourselves less? That doesn't make any sense; and yet the truth of the matter is that the people in the front have expensive yoga gear and great hamstrings and the people in the back have old t-shirts and difficult hamstrings and there has got to be a reason why.

Why do I have short, inflexible hamstrings? Is it my genetics or my personality? And if I practice for a bazillion years will I ever be able to lift my leg over my head?

I am so grateful whenever the instructor comes to work on my body. He could be spending more time up at the front with the Lululemon crowd, but he seems to like working in the back rows best.

(During the passive stretching exercises:)

Damn it, I didn't feel any pain until the instructor said "don't pay attention to the pain!"

Now it really hurts.

Really, really hurts.


"If you try to run away from pain, the pain will never go away. You have to face it head-on and confront it and then it will start to go away slowly. This is advice for all aspects of your life." This is uncomfortably true. Now I'm sweating, in pain, trying to cheat by adjusting my weight to get out of the pain, making the pain worse, and remembering the times in my life where I avoided confrontation and everything turned out worse off for the avoidance.

This is the part of yoga intensive where I feel like a complete failure.

(And at the end, during the question-and-answer period:)

So this instructor started Ashtanga in "middle age" and has only been doing it for ten years? That means that when I'm 37 I could be that awesome. And on Third Series. (Never mind that I have been steadily working on Marichyasana D for two months and still haven't progressed past it.)

Wait--most Ashtangis, including teachers, don't actually practice full series every day, six days a week? This is the part of yoga intensive where I feel like... well, for better or worse, I do get up and meet my mat every day. Which puts me ahead of most other students, apparently. (Never mind that I have been steadily working on Marichyasana D for two months and still can't make my fingers touch.)

Is the natural path for a talented yoga student to evolve into a yoga teacher? This instructor never did yoga until he started Ashtanga ten years ago and now he's teaching it; and half of the advanced students are training to be teachers. I love Ashtanga but I don't think I'd ever want to go into the teaching track; my years of teaching piano lessons have de-romanticized the whole concept.

Everyone is going out for a party now. My workplace needs me to come in and work on a project this evening, so I don't go. Very disappointing. But I like my job, and I want to do the best at my job that I can do, so... off to work!

I have got to get myself a yoga thong.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Checking the "Conference" Box

Today I registered for a conference. I'm not sure if it's the best conference in the world (the seminars sound interesting, but the online reviews aren't great), but there ought to be at least one or two solid takeaways I can bring back to my job. So cross your fingers that my first dip into the world of professional development turns out well!

I also... um... had six inches cut off of my hair. At least six. I hadn't planned on doing it, but I had just signed up for cooking classes and registered for this conference and gotten new adjustments in my yoga class and I was running around the office managing an event this afternoon and at one point I saw how disheveled I looked, with my eighteen-odd inches of hair shoved out of my face by two bobby pins, and I thought "this is not the image of success I want to portray."

And yes, it is completely lame that I actually thought the phrase "image of success," but I went out immediately after work and asked one of Dupont Circle's nice young gay salon artists to please make me over, and he did.

I guess that's what writing out New Year's goals will do to you. (I wonder what crazy thing I will do next?)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Yorker Caption Contest Entry

Here's my entry for the week:

Happy Blue Year, Part IV: Goals

Last year, I wrote out a New Year's dream: to sing at an open-mic night. Didn't do it. (To be fair, I spent half of the year living in a town that didn't have open-mic night.) I think part of it was because my language was too vague; it was a dream that I wanted to do but didn't really take seriously.

So this morning, in the spirit of my "getting out there," etc., I wrote out a series of goals. These are different from resolutions because they are not necessarily mandatory; I resolve to clean up my Ashtanga practice because if I don't, I won't progress and I might even hurt myself again. But goals seem a bit more concrete than dreams, without the feeling of having "broken" them if I don't manage to achieve them all.

The first goal I wrote out was "cooking school" and you will be happy to know that in under an hour's time I had located and enrolled in monthly Middle Eastern cooking classes at the Lebanese Taverna. Already I feel like I have accomplished something!

Here are the others:
  • Cooking vacation (that is to say, "find some kind of cooking-themed vacation package, enroll, etc.")
  • Yoga vacation (there is actually a place that does a combination cooking/yoga resort vacation, but... it's in Kerala)
  • Meet more people interested in Ashtanga (either through a or by simply posting a sign on the wall of my yoga studio which reads "Ashtanga Students' Happy Hour, because classes are so quiet and no one ever talks and wouldn't it be fun if we all got to know each other?")
  • Attend 5-year college reunion
  • Go to at least one conference in my field
  • See Arcadia at the Folger Theatre
  • Take day trip to NYC and see a taping of The Daily Show
  • Take day trip to NYC and see TMBG live (see, that's why that $50 AB&B gift certificate will come in handy)
  • Enter the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest... every week
  • Eat at The Grill From Ipanema (but not alone)
  • Eat at Lauriol (ditto; see, I walk by both of these restaurants several times a week and I've always wanted to go in but never have)
  • See the Richard Avedon Portraits of Power exhibit (is running through Jan. 25, so had better get moving)
  • Start attending open-mic nights both to meet new people and to see if it's something I want/would be able to do
... and two more which are secrets.

What's interesting is how many of these goals are ridiculously achievable. What's stopped me before from doing these kinds of things was a misplaced sense of frugality, which in retrospect I took a little too far (trying to save $15 by not going to SPX was idiotic). But I have my little nest egg tucked away and so it is about time to start exploring the city a little more.

And I've already enrolled in cooking classes! Woo-hoo!

Happy Blue Year, Part III: Indebleu

So last night I went to Indebleu, to a "mixer" for people in the DC area who had registered with AirBed and Breakfast. (AB&B is a place where people, literally, rent out their airbeds or spare rooms to travelers who want a cheap place to stay. In DC, it's specializing in inauguration rentals. Would much recommend over, say, Craigslist; I posted an inauguration rental on AB&B and it got rented within the week.)

I was a little disappointed -- with Indebleu, not with AB&B. If you go ahead and click on the Indebleu link you'll see what I thought the place would be like; but when I got there it was just a bar, and instead of playing the jazz-mood-music they play on the website, they had several giant televisions, all tuned to The King of Queens.

In short, I was overdressed.

The AB&B hosts were great; they had goody bags for everyone with a toothbrush and toothpaste and a $50 gift certificate if we ever wanted to stay somewhere. (Which I do. But that is another post for another time.) I was kind of more excited about the toothbrush than I was about anything else that happened that evening; as a mixer it was 95% female and we spent a lot of time standing around trying to make conversation, but getting a free toothbrush was pretty awesome, especially because that very afternoon I had accidentally dropped my old toothbrush behind the toilet.

So there you go. But I put myself "out there," as it were, and that's a start.

Now I'm going to go brush my teeth!

Happy Blue Year, Part II: Resolutions

All right. So my first resolution is pretty easy. I need to clean up my yoga practice. It didn't get sloppy while I was doing the modified practice (I had pulled a rib muscle and my teacher put me on some modified asanas); it got sloppy afterwards, when I began to catch myself doing things that were sort-of-halfway between "modified" and "full."

This essentially means I need to focus my attention a little more on what I'm doing, and start going to class more often!

My second resolution is to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that I get invited to a NYE party next year. This means that I need to put myself out there and start meeting new people. (I am not, necessarily, very good at this.)

Happy Blue Year, Part I

Sorry I didn't do a New Year's post... spent most of NYE filled with gloom and doom and did not want to add that to teh blogosphere.

Why gloom and doom?

I wasn't invited to a single NYE party.

Part of it, I know, was because nearly everyone I knew took off for vacation last week, and no one was really keeping track of who was in the city when, and nothing got organized.

But then I met a group of friends for a New Year's Day brunch, fresh back from their vacations, and they were all talking about the parties they had been to in DC.

And I got pretty gloomy because no one had asked me to go anywhere. (At one point, I had even tried to invite myself to a party and it didn't work out.)

And yes, you can say "then why didn't you throw the party and invite them?" and it comes back to "well, everyone was on vacation last week..."

So there you go.