2015 Goals: August

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Sidewalk blooms, North Ballard

Prettiest lunch date

Downtime: August was just a lovely blur of sunshine, work, sunglasses, chores, weddings, homies, and summer.

Shilshole Marina, Seattle

Summer BBQs done right

Happy 21st birthday to Dan!

Exercise: I’ve been experimenting with exercising later in the evening. For years, I would work out immediately after work but with a 50 min commute I was just too hungry and tired and it wasn’t happening. Now I come home, make and eat dinner right away, chill for a bit, and then work out around 8pm. It’s not a perfect system but it’s yielded more consistent results than before. And my strength is improving! Yoga with Adriene has been fantastic for gaining strength and flexibility. Her jokes are corny but, hey, so are mine!

Bridesmaid-ing on the beach, Carkeek Park

Snack break

Travel: Just over a month to go….and I’m ready. London is all set and Spain is coming together as Siiri’s fall plans solidify a bit more.  Need to brainstorm a rough packing list so I don’t box up things I need in the move (plug adapters and my passport come to mind).

August bounty

Retirement: I managed to not freak out the day the stock market nose dived! And then I held off for two whole days before looking at my accounts. Working on taking deep breaths and forgetting they are there.

Currently receiving much fiscal inspiration from my buddy Megan who is blogging openly about her six month campaign to get her financial house in order on The Billfold.

The beat lives on

Arts: Blerg. This just hasn’t been on my radar. It’s like summer, man. So in true summer spirit I went to two outdoor concerts with my beloved Kat: Alabama Shakes at the gorgeous Marymoor Park concert space (new to me!) and The Coup at the Mural, part of KEXP’s awesome free summer concert series.

The Seattle Public Library summer reading challenge really pushed me to try new things. While I wasn’t successful in completing a “bingo” I did tackle some new or lesser explored genres. Plus, the bingo square prompts were so fun!

Published the year you were born [1986]: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Finished in a day: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Author under 30: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (didn’t finish this one, it just wouldn’t hold my attention)

And a fun beach read plug for The Royal We by Heather Cock and Jessica Morgan. A well researched and engaged meringue of a novel! Would probably be equally great for a rainy weekend under a fluffy blanket.

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Under the needle

*Edited to include all the books I read and rudely forgot to post. I’ve been posting book recos on instagram under #LTTW2015readinglist.

2015 Goals: June and July

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Sailing on Lake Washington

Forgive me, condensing June and July is my final attempt at catching up. Rollllll with it. Summer is just one big blur anyway, right?

Downtime: It’s summer which is the most leisurely of all downtime. Been lounging around to nearly sloth-like levels, soaking it in before everything goes insane again.

Peas by Siiri, Cuoco, Seattle

Like a boss

Penultimate lunch break, Meat and Bread, Seattle

Exercise: After several weekends of being out of town, fête-ing soon-to-be-married people, and general revelry I decided to dry out a bit. This has taken the form of a personal ban on weeknight drinking. Wellllll, “ban” might be a stretch but a sharp lessening. It’s dovetailed nicely with our living room fitness campaign. My buddy Erin, creator of the supremely awesome Birdseed field guide, introduced me to on the living room floor, a tumblr for all your free youtube workout video needs.

My parents circa 1985. Happy 30th anniversary!

Travel: Spent the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago attending a political conference and seeing my peeps. Had an incredible dinner at Publican with some internet buddies. Met up with my brother and Margaret for a catch-up lunch at Avec (homemade nutter butters!) before scooting to the airport. The trips to Chicago are always too quick and I am excited about the prospect of a work related trip next winter.

My trip to Spain morphed and became a week in London and a week in Spain whoneedsmoneyletsdothisssssss. Kat and I are moving out of our apartment after two beautiful years of cohabitation and I’m seizing the prospect of a rent-free October to get on an airplane and peace out for a bit. London is fairly much squared away thanks to some native Londoner I picked up to be my tour guide but Spain is still somewhat up in the air based on what pans out with Siiri’s DIY culinary school adventure (follow her on instagram for jealousy inducing travel photos). There will definitely be some Barcelona time so send over your best beach/bar/tapas/clandestine cava drinking spots my way.

Nosies who dine, Publican, Chicago

Monday mornings with Em, Chicago

Couple of fools in looooooove

Margaret and Mike, Avec, Chicago

Flying into Seattle

Retirement: Slow and patient saving to hit the next investment threshold like some sort of adult.

Totally appropriate dockwear.

Bastille Day picnic

Arts: Been hitting the books hard! Summer is peak reading time for me with warm temperatures and the desire to be outside. Read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, a tiny pamphlet you can breeze through in an evening. Polished off Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel on the flight to Chicago and read Olive Kittenridge by Elizabeth Strout on the way home. I’ve recently been on a bit of a memoir bender, plowing through Redefining Realness by Janet Mock, My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss, and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. Last but not least I absolutely inhaled Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of Dear Sugar columns by Cheryl Strayed. Seattle Public Libraries is running a summer reading challenge for adults complete with a book bingo card! It’s been a fun way to stretch myself outside of my typical book picks.

My non-literary arts diet has been a bit lean. Once again indulged my undergrad nostalgia and saw Neutral Milk Hotel at the Paramount. Cruised on down to Ballard Seafood Fest to support two of my local faves The Dip and Eldridge Gravey & the Court Supreme. Snuck in a Thursday night set with my buddy Tom Eddy. Other than that it’s been a big ol’ nothing. Will have to keep my eyes out for a good fall arts preview.

Beach! Beach! Beach!

Madison Park, Seattle

Saturday mornings

2015 Goals: May

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Forever peonies

Downtime: I’ve been semi-consciously attempting to unstructure my weekends with moderate success. Over Memorial Day, I took two extra days to extend the long weekend into five glorious days of unfettered downtime. The weather oh-so-helpfully cooperated and I got to finish the sixth season of The Good Wife sans lingering guilt that comes with “wasting” sunny days.

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Celebrating 29, Boat St Cafe

Birthday sunset, Green Lake, Seattle

Exercise: The living room circus continues. I mentioned this development to a friend who mentioned he would pay money to watch Kat and I make fools of ourselves trying to do a bunch of push-ups. I won’t deny that it’s pretty hilarious. Beyonce jokes cost extra though.

Discovery Park, Seattle

The Dray, Seattle

Travel: Remember when I tried to pretend that I could go a whole year without leaving the country? I know, I know. It seemed possible and even prudent at the time. But then Siir invited me to visit her in Spain once she settles in a bit and that’s just too good to pass up. Sooooooo I’m going to Spain for 10 days or so in October. Hit me up with your best recos.

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Saturday mornings with Siir

Retirement: BOOM. Crushed this goal. After five years, I finally rolled over my private sector 401(k) into a Roth IRA. The tax hit was worth it for me but obviously consult a financial professional if you have questions. Cathy, my all-knowing finance guru, helped me draft an investment plan I’m super pumped about. I was prepared to write a fairly large check but it turns out that if I save another $5k before investing I hit a threshold that will keep my brokerage fees a handful of percentage points lower in the long run. So that’s my current plan. Save some more and then roll around in gold coins like Donald Duck.

Seriously though, peonies

Arts: This month I dug into an incredible biography of Karl and Jenny Marx, Love and Capital by Mary Gabriel. I’ve pretty much obsessed to everyone about how awesome this book has been. Gabriel draws on extensive primary source research to construct a lovely, approachable narrative that guides the reader through Marx’s political development and the political context that drove those conclusions. A top notch political biography and highly recommended. The 2015 concert calendar has organically evolved into a quality over quantity equation. Between sheltering my weekends and trying to save money for two relatively large goals (retirement and travel, as always) I’ve focused my time on the bands that mean the most to me. Kat and I saw Sleater-Kinney at the beginning of the month and it was super super awesome. As a pre-birthday treat I caught the closing weekend of the Seattle Rep’s run of “Outside Mullingar” which I found delightful but the Irish Times completely panned so your mileage may vary. Snuck in a great dance showcase by Whim W’him on the verrrrry last day of the month. Modern dance is still a bit elusive to me – I don’t feel like I have the vocabulary for it – but all good art makes you feel something, right? The showcase was wonderfully framed to allow for that kind of personal discomfort and exploration.

The Spanish Table, Seattle

2015 Goals: April

Marina selfie

Sailing on Lake Washington

Downtime: I’ve taken up coloring. I’ve never considered myself terribly artistic but a few friends started posting their projects on instagram and it looked so relaxing. Kat gifted me the Secret Garden postcards a while ago so once I selected some colored pencils from Amazon I was set to go. It’s been an absolute treat and something I really look forward to. Typically, Kat and Reuben take over the living room on Sunday evenings to watch Game of Thrones. Coloring has let me hang out with them even though GoT isn’t particularly my jam. What can I say? I prefer butterflies over decapitated heads.

Green Lake Park, Seattle

Liliac for days

Volunteer Park, Seattle

Exercise: Ellie’s 30 Day challenge was a solid improvement. Predictably, my enthusiasm waned mid-month but I stuck it out and worked out 15 days this month which is a notable improvement over my…..much lower number in previous months. I’ve always struggled with working out at home but managed to make that the cornerstone of my approach this month. I’m excited with that development and glad the Ann Friedman newsletter turned me onto the Living Room Floor, a tumblr full of awesome free work-outs.

Sunday night coloring

Travel: Flew down to Austin and saw all my love bugs. Congratulations again K & C, hope you had the best time in NOLA!

Say WHA?

How airplanes fly

“Mah stick”

Retirement: Writing last month’s round-up kicked me into action. Had a great meeting with my accountant and I’m pumped about the plan we put together. I’m (finally! only took five years!) rolling over my old 401(k) and setting up an investment account. It feels empowering and terrifying in equal measure.

Union Bay, Seattle

Arts: What a fun month! Spring is truly magic. Whipped through Amy Poehler’s Yes Please on my flight to Austin. The way home I finally finished Jesse Hagopian’s More Than a Score, an anthology of resistance to high stakes testing by teachers, parents, and students. I spent the rest of the month utterly consumed by Women in Clothes, a fascinating exploration of our relationship to dressing. The night after I returned from Texas I joined Siiri for America’s Test Kitchen Live! where we got to let our cooking nerd flags fly and soak up some Chris Kimball kitchen magic. My buddies in the Dip played an AMAZING album release show at the Tractor. Congratulations guys, you were the tightest I’ve ever seen you and all praise is richly deserved! Jessi and I said goodbye to April by absolutely fan girl-ing out to the incredible Kathleen Hanna last night. She is a deep well of inspiration repeatedly compelling the audience to take the ideas of feminism and advance them forever. Her unconditional support for women and girls challenges all to do more.

Kathleen Hanna, Neptune Theater, Seattle

2015 Goals: March

With Siiri, Hotel Albatross, Ballard

Downtime: Kat and I have instituted a new house rule that bans us from starting new episodes after 10pm. Apparently I’m 9 years old and need rules to enforce a reasonable bedtime. I’m on the hold list for both The Happiness Project and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I hope to learn a few things from both books about bringing balance into my daily life.

Shamrock macaroons

Exercise: Oof. I struggled with body image A LOT this month. It’s happened before and will probably happen again and it mostly just effing sucks. And the part that sucks the most is that the easiest solution always seems to involve sitting on your couch eating popcorn. I’ve mostly emerged from it after a couple of sweaty work-outs and some good ol’ fashioned retail therapy. My buddy Ellie talked me into trying the 30 Day Shred so that fresh hell awaits my return from Texas. (JK. It’ll be fine and I will probably thank Ellie for forcing my to kick my own ass in April. Plus she’s got a really cute kid which makes up for a lot of sins.)

Westland Distillery, SoDo

Travel: Headed to Austin this weekend! Gonna marry off one of my besties and have the high school reunion I truly wanted!

The morning commute

Retirement: I should probably get going if I’m going to meet my birthday deadline!

Accidental roommate matching

Arts: I picked up The Russian Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart. It took me a bit to get into but I ended up being so intrigued by the characters that I kept it a few days past the due date to finish in up. Totally worth owing Seattle Public Libraries 75 cents. March marks the beginning uptick of spring concerts. I saw Caribou at the Showbox and Kindness and Geographer (separately) at Neumo’s.

Salty’s, West Seattle

2015 Goals: February

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Cherry blossoms bloomin’

Downtime: I’m feeling mostly balanced but also like I’m not doing super well on this goal….? The internet is weird and I have a weird love/hate with social media. It’s mostly lovelovelove except when I feel like it takes over my life. The concept of a digital detox seems extreme but perhaps stronger boundaries would help. How do folks help protect their downtime and maximize their relaxation? My goal is to feel less like I need to have my phone glued to my hand to feel like a whole person.

Letterpress workshop, Constellation & Co, Seattle

Exercise: I’ve been hitting the pool and really digging it. Well, let’s be honest, sometimes I hate everyone in my lap lane. But the swimming part is wonderful. I put my head down, swim my laps, and find the zen. [emoji thumbs up]

Farmers’ market Valetines

Travel: I found out that Grace Jones and Future Islands are playing at the Hollywood Bowl in September so that’s happening. See you in the fall, LA!

Sunday nights with The Dip

Retirement: I need to spend some time thinking about mini-goals to break this down. The saving is going well because automated transfers are smarter than me. The most recent episode of Call Your Girlfriend has a great discussion about saving. Let’s make a to do list, folks!

Little Big Show in support of Rain City Rock Camp

Arts: I read the incredible Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie this month. When I was a senior in high school we read a bit of Alexie each Friday morning but I managed to never read this collection of short stories. Consider them highly recommended. It was a great month for concerts: saw a secret line-up at a top secret location in the Columbia Tower, The Dip covered Sharon Jones’ “Naturally” in full at the Seamonster, helped support Rain City Rock Camp with St. Paul & the Broken Bones at the Neptune, and celebrated a new album with the Tom Eddy Band at Barboza.

Friday evenings on Lake Union

2015 Goals: January

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Wake up!

Downtime: I set an alarm on my phone to go off at 7:30pm on Sundays to remind me to unplug for the evening. It’s surprisingly hard! Maybe not so surprising, I’m aware of how tethered I am to my phone but I’m definitely embarrassed by how itchy I get when I “can’t” scroll through social media. I successfully refrained from instagramming a delightful Thursday night dinner party. Definitely still loads of room for improvement here!

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Wear your heart(s) on your sleeve

Exercise: Man alive if this isn’t my Achilles heel. I gave myself the month of January to join the gym so naturally I’m signing up on the last day of the month. Swimming continues to be awesome just need another option with more time flexibility.

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Umbrella Dance, Husky Stadium

Travel: Three of my internet girlfriends are descending on the NW in June and I can’t WAIT to show them around. We’re fine tuning our itinerary but it definitely involves a weekend in the San Juan Islands. There shall be much cheese consumed and naps taken.

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MLK Day

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University District, Seattle

Retirement: I bought the YNAB software! My buddy Alison and I made a date for dinner and user tutorial (she’s also helping me pollinate my orange tree yeahhhhh gurlllll). I suspect that I will totally geek out in assigning all my dollars jobs. These updates will be sooooo boring because this aspect of adulting isn’t sexy but I super need you guys for accountability.

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The Electric Eat, Robert Indiana

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Seven Gables Theater, Seattle

Arts: The winter seems like a good time to kick off this goal, I’m on the lookout for good reasons to stay indoors. Squeezed in Pop Departures at the Seattle Art Museum before it closed. The curation was rather underwhelming but spurred a great conversation about the representation of consumption in American art. While the Seahawks were winning the NFC Championship (go Hawks!), three of my favorite feminists and I went to a showing of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a phenomenal documentary about the women’s rights movement in the late 60s and early 70s. Off to see my buddies Jessi and Jamie with the Seattle Ladies Choir tonight!

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Green Lake, Seattle

Behold! 2015!

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2014 was a year of defining and defending boundaries and then learning to give zero fucks what people think. It was a year of saying “yes!”. Yes to a trip to Mexico, yes to staying out late, yes to hard work and a promotion, and yes to friends and family that show up (and who I, in turn, show up for). If 2013 was a year of adventure then 2014 was a year of leaning into the good life and doing exactly as I pleased. In 2015 I would like to build on this work and transformation and restore some balance.

Reclaim my downtime. Balance fiction reading with political reading. Finish Capital. Practice internet-free Sunday evenings. Invite people over to dinner and refrain from instagramming it.

Exercise. Move three times a week. Join the gym. Create a travel-related reward system.

Travel domestically (at least) three times. After two years of robust international travel itineraries I’m ready to explore more of America. I’ll be in Austin in April and Chicago in July. I’d like to take a week-long trip in the late summer or fall and am currently debating between New York and New Orleans. The goal is always to use all one’s vacation days.

Plan for the future. Fully fund my Roth (I’ve been practicing for a few months and I’m ready for primetime). Build a budget with YNAB that reflects my actual spending patterns. Nail down an investment plan by my 29th birthday.

Engage with the arts. My concert goals for 2014 were overwhelmingly successful but I miss visual and other forms of art. In addition to maintaining my two shows a month regime, I want to attend at least six “other arts” events this year: museums, dance performances, film, etc. Let’s do it.

Find the center. Listen to your voice. Be present.