Q&A Part 3

  1. When home alone, do you shut the door when you use the bathroom?

I wish I could say yes to this…

  1.  If you could afford it at this moment, what would you buy?

A house, a day of spa treatments (including a wrap and a massage, my two favorite treatments), an alarm clock wake up light, new pillows, a new mattress!! (sleep number, preferably), a towel warmer, dinner at Komi.

  1. What is the greatest goal you want to achieve in the next five years?

Get married, buy a house, have a kid, take a couple of big vacations, and get promoted. Easy, right?

Of those, the biggest “goal,” as in something to work towards and that will require effort, planning, ambition, sacrifice, etc. is buying a house. We’re hoping to save enough to buy something in 2017 or, at worst, early 2018.

As for the other things… married in November. I applied for promotion today – if I don’t get it this year, next year should do it. We plan on going on a big honeymoon, but aren’t sure where yet; over the next few years, we have a trip to ireland/scotland/england in mind, italy/greece for a friend’s wedding, and possibly China. We intend to wait until late 2018 to start trying for kiddos, at the earliest, but that obviously could change at any point.

  1. What are five things you are grateful for?

A wonderful fiance, friends that care deeply about me, my job and it’s stability, my and my loved ones’ health, my financial independence and positive progress.

  1. If you could own the world’s largest collection of anything, what would it be?

Board games! Alllll of the options for game nights… Or books. I’d love to own a huge library. However, given the existence of public and academic libraries, that’s never going to happen. Maybe the largest collection of electronic romantic erotica? That’s a random goal, right? But it wouldn’t take up space…

About Me Q&A Part 2

The next  five questions: 

  1. Would you rather be on the cover of Time, People or Food & Wine magazine?

I’d rather be on the cover of Time. To me, being on the cover of Time signifies an acknowledgement that you’ve made an influence on society in some way. I’d love to make a positive change in our society for the better. That said, while my job does inherently serve as a public good, I’m not on a path to make a huge impact on society. I make lots of tiny improvements, but I’m not an agent of change. I don’t run or plan to run a nonprofit or write a new law or something. Could it happen someday? Sure, but my goals aren’t that lofty. I think at most, I’d work to contribute in a big way like that within a smaller community (school board, downtown improvement, social welfare programs, etc), which would never merit a major national publication covering it.

On the other hand, I do cook and entertain a lot, and I enjoy it quite a bit. Ignoring what I’d rather, Food & Wine is more likely. I’m not an expert chef, and I have no plans to be an expert, but I could see some midlife crisis cooking or entertaining project that may merit some press coverage from a food magazine. It at least has a semblance of being a possibility.

  1. What would you do with one week to do anything, all expenses paid?

Travel to France or Italy and take cooking/baking/cheese-making classes. Go to Finland and see the Northern Lights and stay in a glass igloo. Buy, furnish, decorate, and move into a home :). Tour the country to see relatives on every coast.

  1. Would you rather be a painter, writer or musician?

I’ve dabbled in all three of these areas. I think I’d most want to be a musician, and star in a broadway show. I used to sing and dance competitively. I’m not terrible, and more talented than some, but I’m definitely not broadway-level, so I never pursued it at that level. I also used to write song lyrics. My analytical side won out though, so it’s a hobby that was left behind with my young adulthood. 

Nowadays, though, I occasionally ponder the idea of writing erotic fiction. I haven’t even written a short story in such a long time, however, that it seems a far off thing. I’ve also never written anything longer than 30 pages, so I’m not sure my plot/character development would stand up to even a novella-length product.

  1. Do you think you are hard on yourself?

Yes. I’m my worst critic.

  1. Do you have any phobias?

Full on phobia? No, I don’t think so. There are definitely things I’m not fond of, but I can’t think of anything that causes paralyzing fear.

About Me Q&A

I found a list of 20 questions to ask on a date years ago, and saved it as a conversation starter. I have that and the 34 questions that inspire love (look it up in conjunction with the new york times). As a get-back-to-blogging exercise, I am going to answer all of these on the blog over time. 

  1. What was your funnest subject in high school & which one did you dread?

It depended a bit on the year, because I had different required classes and electives each year. I dreaded geometry and trigonometry/precalculus. I was never terrible at math, but it required a lot more work for me to get a decent grade. Math never came naturally to me. I loved show choir, when I was in it, and french class was always fun. At various times, I also really loved ceramics, us government, and my block AP US history/honors english class, mostly because of the teachers.

  1. What is one attribute of your mother that you see in yourself?

My mom was super easily amused and had a wacko sense of humor (with a tinge of perversity), and she used that to entertain others and keep others’ spirits up. I have a very similar sense of humor/entertainment, and I use it in much the same way she did. I’m a little more withdrawn/shy than she was, but the elements are all definitely there.

  1. How did your mother and father meet?

My mom lived with her mom while she was recovering from a surgery. My dad was my grandmother’s neighbor in the condo building, and he used to help care for my grandmother (take in her mail, etc.). They met that way, and bumped into each other over laundry in the building’s common areas enough times that my dad was able to get the nerve to ask her out. They were 30/31 when they met.

  1. Who would you like to have a closer relationship with?

My aunt and uncle in the midwest (my mom’s youngest brother). These relatives have a daughter that lives with her husband and newborn in DC, and we’ve hung out a few times more recently too. I never really saw these relatives growing up because of distance, but they’re all intelligent and kind people with good senses of humor. They also value family and show up for one another. When my mom passed, this aunt really went out of her way to show me love and support. I think we both want to build a better relationship, but it’s a bit awkward for me since it’s still so new. I’m going out of my way to visit them this May so we can try to foster the relationship, and she’s offered to plan a shower for my wedding which shows her interest too. Hopefully, we can build something. I get really sad and anxious when I think about having a baby and doing major life things without my mom. My future MIL is nice, but she has lots of kids and isn’t the most supportive…she doesn’t really put a lot of effort in reaching out, and she reacts oddly when I do, so we haven’t built much there yet. This aunt would be there for me in a second if I asked, and I want to establish something where I’d be OK calling on her, and I can be there for her and their family too. We’ll see how it goes…

  1. What do you think happens to you when you die?

This is a hard one. I think something happens. I don’t think we just go into the ground/dust forever. I don’t know what the exact next steps are, but I think there’s some sort of afterlife place or experience, where we reunite with loved ones, and we reincarnate or in some way are able to support people on earth. I’m pretty agnostic at this point, wherein I think there’s something, but I don’t know what, and I don’t spend a lot of time on trying to figure out what’s next.

January 2016 Recap

 

I thought it’d be a good idea to check in on my goals each month this year, just to see how things are going and how I’m doing.

Frugality: I successfully completed my tame version of no-spend January. I spent less than anticipated on our trip to NYC. We didn’t go out to eat at all on our own dime, although we were treated to two dinners from our respective family members that were in town for a quick visit. I turned down plans that involved food, but I was able to make plans with folks that were free. I had a baking day with a friend, and some people over for dinner at various times. We went on a free date to a Macy’s registry event, where I won some salad tongs. I didn’t buy any fun things or clothing. Other than groceries, I used amazon points to replace my broken cell phone case, and I got flowers and candy-making supplies for our wedding at the grocery store. I did have some unexpected expenses – I had to have my tires rotated, I owed some money when I filed my taxes, and my car registration (done every 2 years) was up. I’d budgeted for some of these, but didn’t realize they’d occur so early in the year.

Fitness: I joined the gym at work, and went twice. I’d have gone more, but we had a bunch of snow days where I didn’t go to the office. It’s also promotion application season, and that took over a bit. I need to be better on prioritizing gym time. My sister has been going to a gym near her and using MFP, which is motivating, and the fiance joined a gym with me and has been going. Hopefully all the good juju will help me out. I did reactivate my MFP profile, and as of Feb 1, we’re going to be tracking calories for everything. The plan is to just track and not limit lifestyle in February, then move into the actual calorie counting in March. We thought going extreme on frugality and on calorie counting all at once would be too much.

Friends: I finally had a facetime date with a college friend back in the midwest, and made plans for her and her beau to visit in March. I initiated and scheduled a virtual book club with my college friends that are scattered across the midwest, which I’m excited for. I also finally finished asking all my peeps to be bridesmaids. We caught up with a friend who moved to Philly while we were in town there, and I’ve been able to see all of my local bridesmaids in the month of January. I also did a coffee and magazine date at barnes and noble (coffee on a gift card, so still free!) with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and made plans for a February dinner with grad school folks. I’ve been texting regularly with my sister, and my aunts have been coordinating helping with a wedding shower. I also called my aunt in the midwest to plan a visit for May. All in all, good work this month in keeping connections strong. In February, I’m going to try to send mail to people, just for funsies.

2016 Planned Travel

So, as I mentioned in my 2016 goals page, travel is a big priority for us this year, at least financially. We have a LOT of travel planned, which is exciting but also stressful. Here’s the year’s plans, at least as of now (and this is AFTER cutting some travel out):

  • January: Go to Philly/NYC. I got my man tickets to a broadway show and a night in a hotel for the holidays, so we redeemed that over MLK weekend. We also paired it with a trip to Philly to see some friends and his family and with a tasting at our wedding venue.
  • February: Future hubby (FH) has a surprise trip planned for us for our 2-year anniversary/Valentine’s weekend. Since we had our first date on Feb 16, it’s easy to combine the two for a mega-love celebration.
  • March: no travel, but have people coming to visit us
  • April: two trips! First one to Cape Cod for FH’s sister’s wedding, then one later int he month to PA for our engagement photos.
  • May: memorial day trip to see family in the great plains. This one is one of our “optional” trips, but I really want to foster a growing relationship with my aunt and uncle who we’ll be visiting. I need to feel more familial connection than I currently do, and so far, the connection is most with these folks.  Also may throw in a trip to Philly for mother’s day for future MIL.
  • June: TBD trip for friend’s bachelorette party (I’m in the wedding party)
  • July: two trips! First one to MA for the fourth of July with family on the beach (if we end up able to pull it off, leave- and money-wise), and the second one to NYC/PA for the wedding I’m in.
  • August: a trip to AR to see my grandmother, who’ll be 91 this year. Will also need to do a trip to PA for final details for the wedding (either late this month or in Sept).
  • September: TBD bachelorette party for me!
  • October: NY for FH’s cousin’s wedding
  • November: PA for our wedding and then honeymoon!, and then back to PA for turkey-day
  • December: Midwest for the holidays

My FH really wants to shove in a trip to Disney somewhere, but right now, we have no clue how that’d happen before the wedding. We may tag it onto our honeymoon, or for part of the winter holidays.

Easy to see where our leave and money is going, right? It’s nuts. There will be a lot of extra hours at the office to make up for all this.

Going to the chapel and I’m…

Gonna get married!

I’ve been really, really, really remiss in blogging this past year. Life got in the way, and priorities shifted.

Honestly, blogging still is a great catharsis for me, but I get lazy. I used to blog on nights I wasn’t out with my man, but then we moved in together…and, well, love!

Anyhow, last Christmas, we decided we’d move in together when my lease was up in May. Telling my roommates went better than I expected (I don’t think they were all that surprised). I was sad to leave them, but it was fun to start looking at places and such. I learned a lot about apartments in the area. Eventually, we found a lovely townhouse that we ended up renting from foreign service peeps (they’re in Russia). It’s beautiful, has a lovely patio, and our neighbors are great! (Which we learned more than ever this weekend when they helped us dig out of our house…)

Moving in together was more seamless than I thought it’d be, too. May itself was a bit rough. We had a lot more “deep” conversations, or our version of arguing, as we figured out how we each communicate and our preferences. That all settled down pretty quickly, though. I started getting super suspicious and curious about whether he’d propose…but it didn’t happen. My best friend got engaged, and we went to 3 weddings last fall… and then, November 7th, he proposed :), the last weekend before wedding #4 of the season. I said yes! And now we’re wedding planning, and our wedding will be in November of 2016.

I was mostly surprised when he proposed. I definitely had considered if he’d do it over that weekend since we were traveling with friends, and it seemed to be the last good chance before the holidays. That said, a lot of things had thrown me off, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I definitely hadn’t figured out how he’d do it – he made me a lovely book, and there really aren’t words for how special it is. I cried, the ring is beautiful, and our friends joined us after the proposal for a day of fun. The only downer is my best friends got terrible news that weekend about their mom/MIL, and that sucked.

Also, FYI – weddings are expensive as fuck and people get crazy and opinionated about some weird-ass shit. Plus, there are WAY too many neat places in the world to pick just one for a honeymoon…

Books of 2015

This is just for personal record-keeping. These are the 68 books I read in 2015. Divided by category.

In 2015, I read 71 books: 11 Nonfiction (5 memoir), 22 YA, 23 Misc. fiction books, 9 erotica, 2 re-reads, and 4 books I didn’t finish.

In 2014, I read 63 books: 16 Nonfiction books (5 [7?] memoirs), 19 YA books, 13 Misc. fiction books, 8 Erotica, 4 Re-Reads, and 5 books I didn’t finish.

Nonfiction:

  1. I Feel Bad About my Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (memoir)
  2. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (memoir)
  3. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (memoir)
  4. The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now by Meg Jay (psych)
  5. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (food)
  6. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (psych)
  7. Yes Chef by Marcus Samuelson (memoir)
  8. 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Know by the Time She’s 30 by Pamela Redmond Satran (self-help)
  9. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (psych)
  10. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (psych)
  11. Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling (memoir)

Young Adult

  1. Roomies by Sara Zarr
  2. Some Boys by Patty Blount
  3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  4. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
  5. The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen
  6. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
  7. Durable Goods by Kate Nash
  8. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  9. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  10. Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger
  11. The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  12. Split by Swati Avasthi
  13. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
  14. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  15. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  16. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce
  17. Lionness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
  18. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
  19. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nivan
  20. Arcana by Jessica Leake
  21. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
  22. Bliss by Shay Mitchell

Miscellaneous Fiction (includes chick lit/romance)

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (romance)
  2. Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty (fiction)
  3. Flat Out Love by Jessica Park (chick lit)
  4. The Secrets of Sir Kenworthy by Julia Quinn (romance)
  5. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (fiction)
  6. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben (mystery)
  7. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (fiction)
  8. Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncompagni (chick lit)
  9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (romance)
  10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (chick lit)
  11. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (chick lit)
  12. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill (fiction)
  13. The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones (chick lit)
  14. Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (chick lit)
  15. Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis (chick lit)
  16. The Analyst by John Katzenbach (mystery)
  17. The Martian by Andy Weir (fiction)
  18. Last Call by Alice Clayton (chick lit)
  19. Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin (chick lit)
  20. Delicious by Ruth Reichl (chick lit)
  21. The Royal We by Heath Cocks (romance)
  22. Dietland by Sarai Walker
  23. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Erotica

  1. Bared to You by Sylvia Day
  2. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
  3. 1001 Dark Nights: Adored (Masters and Mercenaries #8.5) by Lexi Blake
  4. Luscious by Lexi Blake (Topped #1)
  5. Just One Taste by Lexi Blake (Topped #2)
  6. The Dom Who Loved Me by Lexi Blake (Masters and Mercenaries #1)
  7. Her Master’s Secret Service by Lexi Blake (Masters and Mercenaries #4)
  8. Love and Let Die by Lexi Blake (Masters and Mercenaries #5)
  9. A View to a Thrill by Lexi Blake (Masters and Mercenaries #7)

Didn’t Finish:

  1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  3. The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
  4. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Rereads:

  1. 1001 Dark Nights: Show Me, Baby by Cherise Sinclair
  2. An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn