I Prefer the Term “Vintage,” Thank You

Chickadees, 2014 is officially over, and while there is absolutely nothing lazier than a “Year in Review” post, well, here we are! While I’m seeing loads of less-than-lovely sentiments about 2014 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I have to say that it was a year that challenged me not only to be a better person, but to be a better adult. 

(Which, let’s face it, I’m still only moderately proficient at.)

(Despite seven years of practice.)

(Shut up, I’m trying.)

As a child I assumed that when I reached adulthood, I would have grown-up thoughts.” – David Sedaris
I was nearly a Christmas baby; or, at the very least, a pre-Christmas baby, but thanks to some bad math, I arrived in the early days of 1989; therefore, 2014 was my 25th year, and if I were a car, I would officially be an antique. As it stood, 2014 was the year I began to set myself on the path to happy, healthy adulthood. And part of that was setting myself a bedtime. In college, I was famous for the two-hour cat nap – your Gal could stay up until 4AM, sleep (literally anywhere) until 6AM and then roll out of bed/chair/tuba cubby fresh and ready for class. This miraculous ability to function left me somewhere around the age of 23, but the 1AM-4AM bedtimes didn’t, and so over the years I steadily developed the morning personality of a crotchety old woman. It wasn’t until late in the year that I discovered the combination of six hours of sleep and a sensible breakfast/lunch make me a FAR more pleasant person throughout the day. In 2015? I hope to figure out how to make kale taste as good as huevos rancheros.

Your Gal, any time before 12pm in 2014.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank
You know what doesn’t feel great in the short run? Parting with your money and not receiving some sort of sparkly bauble within 3-5 business days (I’m looking at you, katespade.com). You know what feels great? Receiving adorable photos and pictures from a child you sponsor, or knowing that you have the ability to help give people in need access to much-needed livestock. While I’m trying to find places to volunteer in 2015, this past year was the one in which I started giving back as much as I can afford monetarily, and knowing that money is helping to improve someone’s life is worth far more than a bracelet or a bag.

Sharing is caring, y’all.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo DaVinci
You know what’s great? Looking at your college diploma, being able to make decisions about your future and your career, carrying on an intelligent conversation and being proud of your accomplishments. You know what’s not? Feeling like you’ve become a complete and utter moron since graduating. This year I embarked upon a quest to re-smarten myself through the classic, which I’ve slightly modified to allow myself 50% “fun reading” (including the classics) and 50% “mind expansion reading,” which dictates that for every novel I buy, I’m also required to purchase and peruse something in the realm of science, history, politics or biography. Is it the same thing as grad school? No, but at least I’ll be able to talk about something aside from how my hair won’t hold a decent curl.

Of course, everything is a process. Sometimes I have a milkshake and french fries for dinner. Sometimes I read a trashy romance novel and spill nail polish on the coffee table. I’m still stuck on making pro/con lists rather than listening to my own intuition when it comes to major decisions (2014’s big career move, I’m looking at you). Oh, and rather than sticking to my “only buy what Stitch Fix” sends you rule, I’ve made a few (too many) trips to J. Crew.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on self-improvement, and if you really want to see how it’s done, you’ll refer to Jen Lancaster; in the meantime, I’m prepared to face 2015 a little older, a little wiser, and a little bit of a better me.

(And with my own insurance. Sigh.)

Love,
Your Gal

NaNoWriMo is Ruining My Life

Do you watch Broad City?

(FYI, if your answer to the above is “no,” please stop reading immediately and head over to Amazon for 4-ish hours of delight.)

In the second, spectacular episode, main ladies Abbi and Ilana discuss what breed of dog they would be; even before I watched, I had my answer. I would be a pit bull. From their big, dopey smiles to their full-body, I’m-so-eager-to-please wagging, there is nothing about a bully breed I don’t love. And while there are far too many misconceptions about these sweeties floating around, it’s true that they are famously tenacious.

If your pit bull decides she can fit in a shoe box? She is going to fit herself into that shoe box.

I’m a lot like a pit bull in this way. Stubborn. Determined. Thankfully, not a hockey mom.

And it’s ruining my life. Because, for the first time, I’ve tried to dedicate myself to NaNoWriMo. If you’re unfamiliar, those participating attempt to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. And while I’m usually great against a deadline, for some reason, NaNoWriMo is a non-starter for me.

Well.

That’s not exactly true.

I’ve started precisely 15 novels. And have probably written about 75,000 words thus far.

Unfortunately, they don’t all happen to be in the same damned book.

As someone who’s fairly hard on herself, this not doing great things for my psyche. To the point where I’m waking up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas in any one of the six or seven notebooks I’m currently keeping. For me? The best part of waking up is figuring out who is supposed to say what in which book (a.k.a, deciphering my own 3am chicken scratch.) On top of that, I’ve been skipping meals in order to write. Because I am bound and determined to finish one of these projects if it kills me. To bastardize Mark Zuckerberg, it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be done.

Is this healthy behavior? Probably not.

But at least I don’t have writer’s block!

(There’s some of that doggy optimism.)

Love,
Your Gal

One Year, 100 Classics

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Friends, Romans and countrymen, I have been woefully neglectful of this little corner of cyberspace, but I promise it’s only because I’ve embarked upon the previously mentioned journey to re-smarten myself through the classics (and I don’t mean that one class I took in college where all we talked about was psychedelic mushrooms.)

Living in a college town has its perks. And one of the biggest? Is great book stores. Towering, multi-story book stores full of that gorgeous smell that’s something like a melange of new paper and cheap leather and burnt coffee and binding glue, which in my opinion is the only safe glue to inhale. Disclaimer: I am not a scientist or a doctor, so take that last bit with a grain of salt.

Book stores are my happy place. Book stores are my sanctuary. Book stores are where I do terrible, awful, unspeakable things to my checking account. Things for which I feel the need to send my local bank branch that delicious Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark at Christmas.

My most recent set of acquisitions is a blend of old and new, classic and not. The classics are some of my best-loved – Hemingway and Huxley and Vonnegut, since my previous copies had been read to death. But since I doubt my ability to focus only on raiding the summer reading table over the next year, I’m also allowing myself one history book (a deep-seated passion) and two fun reads every time I hit the book store. You should do the same! And if you’re looking for a starter list, should you decide to take up your own #OneYear100Classics challenge, I’d suggest the following blend, which is guaranteed to keep your neurons firing and your heartstrings tugged:

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Howl and Other Poems, Allen Ginsberg
Serena, Ron Rash
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Note: I’m not fancy enough to have an Amazon affiliate link, so these recommendations are quite simply a few of my very favorites (and yes, I understand they are essentially the equivalent of saying The Beatles are your favorite band. But The Beatles kicked ass, and so do these books.) Also? The relationship between Hemingway and Fitzgerald was just as fascinating as their novels – you can read about it in this great book, or you can watch Midnight in Paris. (I’d suggest both. An extra ten points to you if you go on to read Djuna Barnes’ fabulous Nightwood!)

Happy reading!

Love,
Your Gal