Remember how I resolved to learn to sew in 2016? No? Me neither. That’s why I didn’t follow through on my resolution and why I have paid someone else to have curtains hemmed, seams re-sewn, and dresses taken in over the last twelve months. As a firm believer in exchanging currency for services rendered by a qualified professional who can do a much better job at whatever task than I can, I don’t feel too guilty.
Historically, I’ve stuck to my New Year’s resolutions. I was a successful vegetarian for a few years, bought only goods on sale for a year, and cut out using my laptop in bed. All of these resolutions have developed into meaningful habits that have stuck with me; I eat meat on the side, budget and shop consciously, and my bed has become a sacred space for relaxation only. Sewing didn’t work out, though, perhaps because it wasn’t something that could develop into a habit, just a hobby.
On the heels of not following through with the 2016 plan, I’m going back to focusing on habits, not hobbies. This year, no formal New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I’m going to figure out ways to measure my regular, everyday habits–books I read, walks I take, mantras I chant, budgets I fund, sights I see. Not sure how I’m going to do all of these things in a meaningful way yet, but that’s the plan.
We hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the holiday season. For our friends up north, stay warm. For our friends in the south, stay cool. For our friends abroad, good luck with whatever weather is happening wherever you are.
The Man and I spent the holidays in chilly New York last year, but are staying home in warm Texas to be with our families this year. A lot has happened since that trip to NYC. Let’s recap.
The Man’s employer sent him to Australia a few times this year to work with the team he manages from Austin. His trips are largely spent working, but each gives him a chance to explore the country a little more. On his most recent adventure, he spent a day cycling around Sydney and exploring the harbor (but continues to miss out on snuggling a koala). He’s also just finished building a new computer to fuel his gaming obsession and is trying to set up his office to be the darkest room in the house…reliving those good-ol’ college days. As I type this, he’s trying to wedge his new desk through a doorway. It’s going about as well as you might expect.
For my part, I got a new job in early spring. I left book publishing and am now in marketing in the travel industry. Working in the travel industry has its perks, including periodic travel to beautiful places like Breckenridge, but also plenty of paid time off every year. I spent one of those weeks at Disneyworld’s Food and Wine Festival. If you haven’t gone before, you must. The festival is miles and miles of extremely tasty small plates, endless varieties of alcohol, and trying not to vomit on the spinning teacups.
I was also invited to join the PEO Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization working to promote educational opportunities for women worldwide. It is a cause very close to my heart as the PEO Sisterhood supported my own education, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give back.
Perhaps the most exciting part of our year, though, was getting Brodie, our goldendoodle pup. He is a floppy, drooly delight to have in our house and I’ve accepted that we’ll never have clean floors again. Brodie is a wonderfully friendly dog, always happy to stick his nose in someone’s crotch, and has finally figured out how to bring the ball back after you throw it. We immediately became the cliché white, middle-class family that takes our designer dog to the neighborhood farmers market every weekend to buy kale. I love every second of it.
As you may recall, The Man purchased our house in Austin last year. We’re proud to report that we have successfully ripped out the last of the original orangey-pink tile, gutted our hall bathroom down to the studs, discovered the source of a strange smell that had been lurking under the sink for months, and learned that it is never worth the hassle to DIY crown moulding. We are looking forward to giving the place a good scrub and relaxing in a fully-finished home.
If you’re ever in Austin, we now have a guest bedroom ready and waiting to host you!
Yesterday was my birthday and, coincidentally, the first birthday of this blog. I wish I had something profound or particularly thought-provoking to share about blogging–how it changed me to helped me refine my writing skills or drew me closer into a new community– but I don’t. I wrote some things; some of them were good, some of them were pointless, but all of them were written. 👌🏻
Although it wasn’t the most exciting birthday I’ve had, yesterday was perhaps the best birthday. With a new puppy and plenty on my plate at work and in life, I simply didn’t have the energy to celebrate (although next year is going to be a good one–drunk spelling bee, anyone?). I sat around at a friend’s house watching her play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword while I ate fried chicken and delicious homemade mac and cheese. It was quiet, it was calm, and it was perfect.
Thanks for all the good birthday wishes, friends. I’m excited to share the next year with you. ❤️
ps– Hooray! The dog is taking a nap on the floor. I am going to enjoy a four minute nap on the couch while I can. 💤
Boo Thang (everyday, with sass)
Boo Bear (when I feel alliterative)
Bear (when I feel handsy)
Sleepy Bear (when he’s sleepy)
Snoogly Bear (when I’m sleepy)
Sweet Potato (when I feel affectionate)
Meat and Potatoes (when I’m hungry)
Dr. Boyfriend (when I’m sick)
Sweet Boy (when he’s sick)
Bb (when I feel needy)
The Boy (when we are interacting with animals)
I gave notice at my job today and it. felt. amazing. Why did I put in my two weeks? Because I am the newest member of HomeAway Software’s marketing team! Who’s feeling like a boss? I’m feeling like a boss.
It felt so awesome and freeing to give notice at my current job. I feel like I’m one thousand percent in control of my future. Like I’ve just snatched up something not-totally-clear-but-definitely-there-goal that’s been taunting me inches away from my fingertips. It’s mine. I have conquered it. I am a winner. The winner is me.
To be clear, I did not leave my job in publishing because it was terrible. On the contrary, it was a pretty good gig. I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful boss for whom I genuinely feel a great deal of love and appreciate. She’s given me many opportunities and endless encouragement while working under her tutelage. I have great co-workers who became close friends. I do feel some guilt about leaving the people who have given me so much…but I don’t feel guilty for looking for new opportunities for myself.
This job offers me the chance to develop new skills, work with new audiences. To learn new technologies and dive deeply into a new industry. It’s a new challenge and I’m so excited and happy and ready. I’m also nervous, curious, and anxious. I’m feeling so many feelings at once that I can’t figure out how to express them in any way other than to make squealing noises and wrap myself in blankets in an attempt to create some sort of bubble that will preserve all my happiness.
The Man and I went for a late lunch at Haymaker today. In between bites of his delicious croque monsieur (omg go eat that sandwich immediately), he leaned toward me and said “I’m glad we didn’t get a dog.”
In case I haven’t already told you about this, we just came out of a three-month frenzy of looking at dogs. We researched even the most obscure breeds, spent hours at the local shelter every weekend getting kisses from sweet doggies (and sometimes being dog-farted on), refreshed Craigslist every five minutes, and put in applications for a few of the best contenders. And after all of this–months of this every day and every weekend–we realized we didn’t actually want a dog.
But we realized we aren’t really interested in sharing. We like having our king bed to ourselves! It’s so big and squishy that it feels like we’re sleeping on two adjacent clouds that periodically bump up against each other. We like being fully in control of our own schedules–sleeping in until 9 on weekends (crazy, I know), going to the gym or a happy hour after work and not feeling guilty that we’re asking the other to “run home and let the dog out because I’ll be home late.” I like not feeling obligated to vacuum dog hair off of our microfiber couch or forever wiping snot and slobber off of windows. And I really, really like not paying to feed, entertain, and maintain the health of a creature entirely dependent upon me.
We are lucky to have many people in our lives we do want to share with. We do want to share our time, love, and energy with our friends and families (and their dogs). We are so lucky to have parents we adore, siblings who support all of our crazy ideas, and friends who challenge us to be and do better. Our hearts are full.
So, no. No dogs for us. Instead, we will continue our life of basking in the sunshine on the patios of great restaurants, enjoying extended silence at home, sharing only when we actually want to, and spending money on ourselves like the smug capitalists we are. Aw yeah.
Love, like mathematics, is a concept that exists in all cultures. Love, like math, has many different forms: algebra, calculus, and trigonometry are paralleled by platonic love, romantic love, and altruistic love.
Like math, love is also tremendously complicated. I believe that it’s something you don’t understand until you suddenly–for whatever reason–understand it. Just as you wake up one morning and go “Oh, that’s how to solve for X!”, so do you one day look around and realize “I have never wanted anything more in my entire life than for this person/animal to be happy and I will do everything I can to make sure that happens.”
For the record, I still don’t understand most advanced maths. Really. Anything beyond college algebra is pretty much lost on me as I’m not an abstract thinker–I’m a nuts-and-bolts kinda gal–and that shows in how I express love to others. I’m not great at bold, abstract expressions of love like writing elegant poetry or composing images that accurately represent my emotions; instead, I express love through folding laundry, preparing my loved one’s favorite snacks, making sure they’re cozily tucked into bed, or simply asking them how they’re doing after a long work day.
The Man has been a part of my equation for two years now, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. He is the X axis to my Y axis because, while we always intersect at a mutual point of origin, he supports my desire to reach in new directions to learn and grow. He always integrate functions to help me (the Little Spoon) find the comfiest area underneath the curve of his Big Spoon shape when we’re cuddling on the couch watching Netflix. He always helps me solve for my hypotenuse when I’m confident that I’ve reached the right angle but am unable to see the opportunity just opposite of me.
As you may recall, The Man and I went to DC and NYC for Christmas this year. We didn’t have any real reason to– we don’t have family or friends in either city, but we were looking forward to being away and hoping for a little bit of snow.
There was no snow, but we did have a good time. Or, at least, I did.
I didn’t win the Powerball. I know, surprise surprise. Logically I understood that wasn’t going to happen, but I was still emotionally optimistic. So, my sweet million-dollar plan has crumbled. Goodbye fantastic luxurious life of my dreams. Goodbye buying wine by the bottle instead of the glass at a restaurant. Goodbye laughing at the peasants in business class on airplanes. Goodbye paying someone to mow the lawn. It was nice to entertain the thought of you for a few days.
Still, thinking about what I’d do if I had seemingly limitless resources gave me a chance to think about things that matter to me. What you’d do with your life if you didn’t have to worry about money is probably what you should spend your life doing regardless of how much wealth you have. So, here’s my adjusted life plan:
Pay off my student loan debt. So maybe I won’t get to write one check and never think about this again. There’s no reason that I can’t tighten my belt on other expenses in order to pay off my loans in five years instead of fifteen.
Hire a wealth management advisor. I don’t have enough “wealth” to require an advisor, but I can continue to manage my money, budgets, and future planning with YNAB.
Do something really nice for my parents. I not only returned their tupperware, I returned their tupperware withthe right lids. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
Donate a bunch of money to causes close to my heart. Just because I don’t have bunches of money doesn’t mean I can’t give back! I’m happy to give even twenty bucks a year to Cottey College and continue to recruit new students at local college nights.
Eat everything tasty in the world. Austin is a big tech city that’s growing steadily, which means new people are moving to the city every day and bringing their food culture with them. Want authentic ramen, sushi, or dim sum? Austin’s got it. Want a mean burger, brisket, or top-quality steak? Austin’s got it. Want the tastiest tapas, curries, or wat? Austin’s got it.
Ride the hell out of some amazing trains. While the US doesn’t have much in the way of an cross-country train system, Amtrak does offer some stunning routes up the west coast at reasonable prices. Could be a great way to spend two weeks!
Do all the fun, expensive stuff at Disney World. I’m goin’ to the Food and Wine festival in the fall anyway! Who’s with me?
Purchase a vacation home in Iceland. I can certainly begin planning and saving for my next vacation. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Iceland a few times and have enjoyed riding ponies through the alien landscape and marveling at the Northern Lights, but there are a few things left on my bucket list: exploring ice caves, SCUBA diving the Silfra fissure, and driving the ring road through the northernmost part of the island.