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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blog "Way Back" Machine: Lake Front Biking

In case you haven't heard, we've had some really freaking cold days here in the windy city, definitely the coldest of this winter season and probably the top five coldest days I've experienced in the 4 years that I've lived here. Right now its 5 degrees outside and they're predicting wind chills as low as 30 BELOW zero tonight. We've got about a foot of snow on the ground, which used to seem like a lot but now seems like nothing. Thanks to my awesome knee length coat--its pretty much like wearing a sleeping bag around town--and the facemask I got from REI a couple years ago, getting to and from work hasn't been that miserable.

Nevertheless, I was looking through pictures from last year and I found this video I took while Nick and I were riding our tandem bike on the lakefront trail on Lake Michigan back in August. Tonight, I'd imagine that being on the lakefront would probably be the coldest place to be in the city, so its hard to believe that just 5 months ago it looked like this. Cabin fever hasn't set in yet this winter, but its still nice to look back and have a little reminder of how great summer in Chicago really is.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Year In Review

I thought it would be fun to look back at what I was talking about last year around new years time at yee ole blog. It turns out I used a meme I got from VBGirl to talk about 2007 and to give my resolutions for 2008. At the risk of being umbaribly boring to everyone except myself, I think I'll leave in what I wrote last year so that I can reflect on it and also give my answers for this year. Here goes:

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
2007- bought a house, sold another one

2008- wow, I can't belive its been over a year since the whole house buying/selling circus. Its DEFINITELY become apparent that we managed to complete both of those transactions about a mili-second before the declining housing market would have stopped us from moving. I feel so lucky that all that worked out.

During 2008 I did a few things I'd never done before: Visited the pacific northwest (Seatle and San Fransisco); took a ride on a sail boat; ate leeks, parsnips, and turnips for the first time (as a vegetarian this is really hard to admit); decided to rekindle my community organizing from college and try to start a community garden in my neighborhood.. on ongoing process; grew the biggest most succesful and fun garden I've ever grown; I guess that's about it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

2007- Honestly, I can't remember what my resolutions were from last year, which may be why I have a HUGE list for this year....

2008- Well thanks to the blog I can no longer fall back on the "I can't remember" excuse regarding the success or failure of last years resolutions. So, lets go through the list and see how bad I sucked:
  • clean out the litter box every other day - FAIL
  • walk/run on the treadmill three times a week -FAIL
  • practice fiddle four times a week - FAIL and for all practical purposes I guess you could say I've sort of quit fiddle for now
  • be more patient with the dogs (yell at them less)- I think I did a good job at this. Also I don't know what this says about me, but I think Bo Dog and I have bonded a bit since he's gone blind.
  • get us on a budget, and stick to it - We did pretty good at this one although it still seems like we're just scraping by
  • continue with the diet - This worked for a while and I did reach my goal, but I've slacked off again and gained about half of it back. Nick and I have decided to become diet people again--starting today actually--but I'll say more about that later.
  • save more money- um yeah, FAIL
  • give more money away- FAIL- well I did do some microlending through Kiva so I guess it wasn't a totall loss.
  • spend more time with existing friends and maybe even make some additional ones- It seems like we saw just about everyone at some point this year so I think this was a pretty good success. I didn't make very many new friends though...
  • put away my laundry the same day that they come out of the dryer- Wow, I made this resolution a whole year ago? This is still hard for me but I'd like to think I've gotten better about putting the laundry away, even though I know there is still room for improvement.
  • have two days out of the week when we don't turn the TV on- we did this for a few months actually. I think this should be one we renew for this year and try again. It was nice to not be a slave to the TV every night.
  • set a daily schedule for myself (this will help me stick to the other resolutions like practicing fiddle and treadmilling) and stick to it.- FAIL I don't even know where my day planner is (OMG Nick just pointed out that the planner I bought myself was the Procrastinators Handbook... such irony you guys)
  • be more focused at work and stop "info snacking" while on the job (I'm at work right now.. oops haha!)- I think I did a pretty good job at this. The info snacking is definitely down and I have actually begun to take pleasure in working hard.

So, what are the resolutions for this year?

  • Continue to stick to the budget... this will be even more important since our property taxes doubled this year.
  • Yes, indeed, we've started dieting again. The difference now is that Nick's doing it with me now so I'll be counting calories for both of us. We've also made a commitment to start working out again, using a combination of the treadmill, yoga DVD's, and free weights.
  • We like to have an adventure each year. Our first adventure together was running the marathon. Since then our adventures have been kind of lame like: buying and selling a house. So this year I wanted to pick something unique and kinda crazy but something that would hopefully allow us to develope a new skill / improve on an old one. So, this year we've made a commitement to speak Spanish at home 1/2 of the time. Currently we're speaking in spanish the second half of each hour, but we could modify the rule so that we speak spansih for 3 hours straight and then english for the next 3 hours. Why not just go all spanish all the time? Because for two people who haven't used their spanish in a long long time and who weren't even really that fluent in the first place (particularly in my case) trying to speak only spanish is quite a frustraiting experience. We're afraid that if english was no longer allowed, that we'd just stop talking to each other, which probably wouldn't be so healthy for our relationship. So for now its a 50/50 split. We'll see how it goes.
  • Nick and I each have our own big project we're working on. For me its getting the community garden up and running. For him its continuing toward completion of his PhD program (first comprehensive exams and then the abhored dissertaton). So we've made a commitement to spend 5 hours a week working on our respective projects. Hopefullyt his will keep both of us making progress... at least that's the plan.
  • Finally, we'd like to bring back the no TV two nights a week. The evenings without TV turned out to be quite nice and relaxing, so we're going to bring that tradition back.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

2007- Yes- new niece YAY

2008- Ummm ummm.... *thinks to make sure she's not forgetting someone*... no. Niece is doing extremely well and is as cute as ever though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

2007- Yes

2008- nope

5. What countries did you visit?

2007- None other than this one

2008- Still didn't get outside the country again this year...

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this year?

2007- Focus and motivation

2008- I think my focus level, especially regarding work, got a lot better this year. Regarding what I'd like to have next year that I didn't have this year would be... more relaxation time and less stress about incomplete projects or goals.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

2007-June 29th, the day we closed on our house

2008-I can't think of any specific dates from this year in particular that I'll remember.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

2007- starting and sticking to a diet (I've lost almost 10 pounds yay)

2008- I guess the community garden thing. Last year at this time there were no plans to have a garden in my neighborhood, but now we've organized people who want to have plots and have gotten tentative go-ahead from the Village so I guess that's a noteworthy accomplishment.

9. What was your biggest failure?

2007- money management

2008- a bunch of little things combined: not practicing fiddle enough, not excercising enough etc.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

2007- no, yay

2008- again a year of good health.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

2007- the house, the house, I love our house!!

2008- I think it was technically this year that we bought our iMac and iBook and officially became a mac only household.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

2007- Nick, who totally rocks and does nice things for me every single day. :)

2008- Nick, again, was awesome. I hope I was pretty awesome too. Also I'd like the say that the collective behavior of this country that managed to elect Obama as president requires some celebrating too.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

2007- George W, the majority of the US Congress, the Illinois legislature (who STILL can't seem to give us transit funding), and our lovely Mayor.

2008- As good as the election outcome felt--I still can't believe it actually happened sometimes--there was a lot of stuff that took place during the election that made me wence and want to crawl under a rock somewhere in Canada. Sara Palin anyone? And don't even get me started on Prop 8 in california or the taxpayer financed bailout of banks and corporations....

14. Where did most of your money go?

2007- the house, selling the other house, buying stuff for the new house, did I mention the house? Oh yeah and some travel...

2008- to monthly morgtate payments, gardening supplies, tasty fresh local food, trave travel travel, house sitters, and unexpected animal care bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

2007- I got really excited about the holidays this year, maybe because we had several good snowfalls in early December. I was singing carols and thinking about baking cookies for weeks. .. oh yeah and I got really excited about the house

2008- I got really excited about the garden this year...

16. What song will always remind you of this year?

2007- ummmmm... several different songs for different reasons:
  • Falling Slowly- the theme song from the movie Once which I saw twice and totally fell in love with. We also saw Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in concert, TWICE! yay
  • a few songs by The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutee, since I seem to be obsessed with them since September and listen to them a LOT.
  • Britney's first single "Gimme More", obviously because it will remind me of all the entertainment news drama that's happened with her this year.
2008- This year I discovered that for me top 40 pop music is surprisingly invigorating and helsp to get me out of a bad mood / motivate me to do things like actually clean the shower every once in a while. So, I listened to a lot more of that type of stuff than I'd like to admit... so my list for this year is as such:

  • Kenye West's song about "Chi City" (although I don't actually know the title of it)
  • Britney's "Womanizer"
  • anything Rhianna
  • all those hip hop songs about Obama
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

2007- happier, slightly thinner, and poorer

2008- happier, probably about the same weight wise, and probably as poor as last year (but with slightly improved budgeting skills)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

2007- practicing fiddle

2008- gardening.. don't get me wrong.. I did a LOT of that this year but I also completely failed at getting a fall crop planted, so I'd like to do better on that this year.

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

2007- watching reality TV

2008- being moody ... I think only Nick (husband) will know what I'm talking about...

20. How did you spend Christmas?

2007- we went to Indiana to hang out with my Dad, Step Mom, Sis, and college friends.

2008- we went to Nebraska and spent some lovely family time with husband's family... despite getting stuck in the snow on the way there and the dog getting really sick two days before our departure.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?

2007- still very much in love with Nick, yay!

2008- I think I fall in love with Nick all over again several times a day... so I guess the answer is yes.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

2007- ummm... well we did watch Tell Me You Love Me (on HBO) regularly, but I also had my crappy reality TV staples including Bridzillas (and the other dozen or so WE network wedding shows), True Life on MTV, You Are What You Eat and How Clean Is Your House on BBC America, Gardening By the Yard, any house selling or buying show... that's probably about it.

2008- I really enjoyed Top Chef and Project Runway this year... oh and Daily Show of course... from a purely time-spent-viewing standpoint, Daily Show probably wins since its on 2 hours a week.

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

2007- No

2008- No hate.. this is a dumb question lol!

24. What was the best book you read?

2007- Ummm... well I really enjoyed David Rakoff's Don't Get Too Comfortable; its a really funny quick read. I also enjoyed two Michael Pollan books, The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, both of which I read twice.

2008- I read quite a few books this year so a) its hard to really say and b) I may be forgetting some of them but here's my try at a best-of list:
  • Best nonfiction science-y book= The World Without Us
  • Best garden / local eating related / pick something and do it for a whole year book = Animal Vegetable Miracle
  • Best fiction= Middlesex
  • Best comedy= When You Are Engulfed in Flames (close runner up: Ask a Mexican).

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

2007- Postal Service and Death Cab

2008- Zoe Keating (avant cello rocks the house, yalls)

26. What did you want and get?

2007- a house with a yard for the dogs, nearby shops and restaurants, and near transit.

2008- in terms of posetions, I'm not really sure that there was one big thing I wanted that I got, although it is true that I got an awesome still / video camera as well as my iBook, which is AWESOME.

27. What did you want and not get?

2007- a million dollars?

2008- still don't have a million dolalrs...

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

2007- Once, and then Juno (a not-so-close but still really good second; I just liked Once a LOT)

2008- ummm ummm ummmmmmmmm..... didn't Juno come out in 2008? can I still claim it? Yeah.. no real awesome movies this year... at least not that I can think of.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

2007- I was 27 this year and I have no idea what I did. lol!

2008- Dude, how am I supposed to remember what I did almost a year ago? Maybe I blogged it *goes to check* nope, didn't blog about it either. I turned 28 thought... I do know that much.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

2007- I'm actually really happy and feel really lucky to have what I have and be where I am in life right now

2008- Maybe its just the kind of mood I' in right now but I'm finding these questions slewed toward the pessimistic side of things... I guess what I'm saying is I'll have to agree with 2007 me and say that I'm already has a very satisfying year.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?

2007- Um, well, most of the clothes buying I did was for work and that consisted of what was on sale at Marshalls or Old Navy. I still am wearing the same two pairs of blue jeans that my mom (yep, that's right!) bought me two years ago. lol!

2008- Still wearing those jeans from mom. My most recent clothes purchase was a $2 black turtle neck shirt off the uber-clerance isle at Sports Authority... that pretty much says it all about my fashion sense.

32. What kept you sane?

2007- Nick, friends, information, time

2008- same as above plus KITTIES

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

2007- like, as in , have a crush on? Well, I was pretty obsessed with Glen Hansard (from the Once movie)

2008- not so much like had a crush on but more in the sense of admired and found interesting - Obama

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

2007- Dude, HEALTHCARE! And that reminds me that I need to add Sicko to the best movies answer. It is completely insane that people die because they are poor (which is basically what things boil down to in our current insurance-ruled healthcare system.)

2008- Prop 8 (booo!!!) and Obama's win (yayyyy!!)

35. Who did you miss?

2007- most everyone, since almost no one lives close enough to see them very often

2008- my friends who go to Target without me

36. Who was the best new person you met?

2007- ummm.. I guess I need to meet some new people.. lol!

2008- still not meeting cool new ppl apparently... and what do you mean by "best" anyway... ?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

2007- I realized this year (and its probably a function of my age) that my life is happening now, and that I need to think about what I want to accomplish in my life and then I need to start doing that. When I was young, I spent so much time waiting on my life to start, but now I need to realize that the starting gun has sounded and that this is ineed a timed race.

2008- Still in the "life is now / make it what you want" place... also had a whole new appreciation for how fast time goes and how "I'll do it tomorrow" can SO easily turn into "I'll actually do it in sic months"

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

2007- Dude, that's hard. I hate to end this survey with a "thud" but, I really can't think of a good answer to this question. :)

2008- "... fire works over Lake Michigan...." just a little piece of Chicago ambiance I like... (from the Kenye song)

Thanks for reading again this year. :)