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Jan. 3rd, 2016

Things I want to do in 2016

I think I'm only doing this since last year's list was so wildly...um...different from reality. But, what the heck. Definitely not resolutions. Not really goals. Just stuff I don't want to get lost in the pursuit of other stuff.
1. Host Chemgal again, or visit her (or both)
2. Crochet a tallis or a table-runner (depending on whether I'm ready to wear a tallis...).
3. Perfect my giardiniera recipe
4. Take an improv class at the comedy theater Around! The! Corner!
5. See more plays, hear more live music
6. Find a yoga class, at least once in a while
7. Find people to run with (Literally)
8. Keep adding to the people I run with (Figuratively)
9. Make it through the full scroll on Tippling Through The Torah
10. Visit Muse and the BoM and the New Girl
11. Write a SAS paper

For giggles, an update on last year's list:
1. Set up the guestroom, including buying a rolltop desk if I can find the right one. (Yeah. No. I bought an air conditioner. That's it.)
2. Hang up the gallery wall (Nope. But have some new ideas for that.)
3. Read a little Megillat Esther again. Maybe the same portion, maybe different. (I did, one verse in the community production.)
4. Crochet a rug for the sunroom. (nope. But I did crochet a kippah on a steel hook. And lots of other things, but the kippah was on the skills to learn list.)
5. Consider learning all of the Torah readings for Hanukkah (only applies if all 8 are as alike as the 4th, 5th, and 6th appear to be--I read the 4th this year and realized I could sightread the next two from the chumash). (Hahahahaha. I did read the new moon aliyah during Hanukkah, and I hope to get to do this for many Rosh Chodeshim to come.)
6. Achieve some of the goals I have for my new leadership role (there's no way to do everything that needs to be done, which luckily everyone realizes) (some of them.)
7. PR in My Favorite Race (Nope. Mostly due to training lapses with the unexpected Shul Drama in First Months of New Job. But the first two miles of deluge didn't help.)
8. Re-learn how to turn while swimming laps, in pursuit of actually swimming laps (forgot this was a goal, even as I tried to relearn for the failed attempt at signing up for a triathlon)
9. Take a solo trip, no matter how short (Detroit? Memphis? Nashville? Austin?) (Whoops. Must re-start in 2016.)
10. Try new challah recipes (Vegan challah is now neighborhood canon.)
11. Experiment with lacework (I'm actually good at this!)
12. Keep on picklin' (And how.)
Of course I also started a booze blog, basically joined a start-up, got back in the conference game....

Dec. 31st, 2015

Year in Review, 2015

So what if I'm the only person in the blogosphere who still does this? This is a completely unbreakable tradition by now, damn it

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Chaired a statistics conference session. Got recruited. Was the boss. Am the boss.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not sure I made any New Years' resolutions, but I've been keeping my promises to myself.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yeah. And some people didn't, which is a new thing we get sad about.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
I went three months without leaving my county. (I will never do that again.) Countries definitely didn't happen.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
This sounds selfish but…more single friends.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
A lot of good dates this year (both kinds, actually)>

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I have to pick just one?

9. What was your biggest failure?
Sometimes I was a pretty awful human being.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The deafness carried over from 2014, which is shockingly hard to adjust to.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A smartphone.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Life is one unending party around here.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
More than a few members of police forces (most of whom are upstanding citizens and everyday heroes. But the bad apples are such appalling poor excuses for human beings). And more than a few members of the Exec board, but hey they’re quitting.

14. Where did most of your money go?
I bought so many pieces of modern professional grown-up life!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
More or less most of my life.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Kimya Dawson's "So Nice So Smart." I wasn't always either one.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter. I need more gym time, for many reasons.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer, in so many ways.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?.
Applied Statistics?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Board meetings

20. What was the best thing you ate?
Either one of many kinds of pickles, or a certain picnic in Omaha.

21. What was the best thing you drank?
Hard to choose, but it’s probably featured on Tippling Through The Torah

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?

23. How many one-night stands?
Define “one night.”

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Downton? Though I’m still holding out hope for the new Muppets.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Mmmm, see #19

26. What was the best book you read?

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Soundcloud? Though I mostly listen to podcasts....

28. What did you want and get?.
A dining room table!

29. What did you want and not get?.
Too embarrassing to admit (but it's linked to number 23)

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I saw the new Star Wars! (That's it.) Liked it, though.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
What day is that, again?

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I’m not sure that’s possible. Oh, right, a little more #23.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
If you want me to wear a suit, I will wear the hell out of a suit.

34. What kept you sane?
Three cheers for impossible goals!

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Possibly Ta-Nehsi Coates.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Sixteen shots. Thirteen months. (With Enigma, Conundrum, JQ, and the Pride of College Green)

37. Who did you miss?
Whenever I meet up with the Ace Gang, I realize how much it sucks that we're all spread out.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Oh, probably the Yankees fan in the Cubs hat.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:
You never know everything about who you really are.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
"I'm just following my compass
following my compass in the dark", Kristen Hall, "Following My Compass"

Oct. 11th, 2015

The thing that has changed

I walked out, a few verses in to the Rosh Hashanah haftorah. (Dear Old-Line Urban Shul, why are we reading that in English, among all of our insane high-church affectations?) Penina mocks Chana for her childlessness, reduces her for her childlessness, tells her to keep her mouth shut during shul education discussions because of her childlessness--okay, maybe not that last one exactly but this Chana decided not to listen to it any more.

(Also, don't go looking for answers about what happened next, between the two of them. You just can't reconcile it for yourself.)

So I walked out, and without guilt chatted until I was sure the reading had passed. And it was so lovely that I also found reason to slip out when the sermon was dull, or the essay by a congregant was insulting (an error in logic and an error in grammar rendered Reform Judaism the equivalent of Mussolini and Hitler, and a high percentage of my friends "not Jewish").

It's not that I'm a stranger to running away, as we all know. But somehow I've finally learned to ask myself, "why am I engaging in this?" Sometimes there is a good fight worth fighting, but sometimes there's only a battle because you escalate a skirmish.

I mean, not that I usually stop fighting, but I'm sometimes recognizing the futility in the fight. It feels like progress. It feels like a sort of freedom.

Aug. 11th, 2015


And sometimes you're losing your shit on the phone with one of the Aces, and she points out,
"Whatever. We'll all move to a colony in the mountains when we get old." And that makes everything okay. Or not really, but at least less un-okay.

Jul. 5th, 2015

Maybe I Was Wrong

The MusicNerd has been living here for the summer, along with the Canine Niece. Just during the week, really, as Muse is enrolled full-time at a school down the street (and two hours from her current place, during rush hour). I keep saying it's the first time I've had a roommate since college, and then I catch myself (Is it good or bad that I've completely erased a seven-year relationship from my personal history?).

Obviously it is fantastic to have the world's most fantastic dog for the summer, and really have no responsibility for her. Obviously living with Muse is really nothing like having a random roommate. If I thought this would be less than okay, we wouldn't be doing it, but I've been surprised at just how pleasant it is to come home to someone I like hanging out with. (Bonus perk: I've completely shamed myself into giving up the bear-with-furniture habits I've picked up over the years. The dishes are done, the laundry is clean, there's some semblance of meals and the trash is taken out. There's fur all over the floor, but we sweep twice a day, I swear.) I'm sure this is all not quite as pleasant for Muse, who dislikes the city (but concedes that "College Green sucks less than the rest of it") and is living out of a suitcase in the weeks before moving to the Great North to rejoin the BoM. (We'll talk about that some other day), but it's basically pleasant and companionable.

So. I can be around other people, on a regular basis. And an interesting fact of life in College Green is that I am surrounded by people not unlike me; my friends have partnerships that support and sustain them, while maintaining full lives in which they are, separately, themselves. I've had few models of this.

The Neighbor Kids, for all their worry about my life choices (read: lunchbox contents), seem to have decided that I am in fact a responsible grownup ("Well, at dinnertime you're a kid, because you don't have to sit with your husband. But other times you're a really good grownup") and mostly one whose reminders to get in line are worth heeding. Somehow I have learned to speak as College Green Grownups do, enforcing responsibility for one's actions and tolerance and kindness (would that the College Green Grownups remembered to treat one another that way), all while having the freedom and the body type to engage in wild physical play.

"MathNerd is really good with kids," I overhear at a dinner party. I am surprised by this trust, even though there is one toddler on my back and another clinging to my right leg, both giggling. I am not supposed to be this person.

Or so I was told.

I made the right choices, then, or let the right choices happen to me might be more accurate. But I also allowed myself to be told...nay, to believe...that I couldn't be fully present with another person, that for the good of everyone around me, and everyone I might bring around me, I should stay separate.

I don't know that this changes anything. I don't know that I want it to. And maybe I'm wrong now and they were right all along and, in fact, I can't; certainly I know that, if I don't, it's all still quite good.

But I think maybe I could. And I'm not sure what I'll do with that thought.

Jun. 9th, 2015


I don't recognize this body.

I mean, it's fine. A little chubblier than I'd like, this time of year, but I'm behind on the running and the training and all of that for many good reasons. It wears suits well, and pretty dresses with coordinating jackets, these lovely clothes that are also unfamiliar but necessary in my fancy new life. It looks fine, and it more or less works, but the weight on my thighs and legs and bum is unfamiliar, and uncomfortable. I don't know how this body moves, it's not strong in the places I'm used to bearing weight. I'm slower than I used to be, lack of training and lack of motivation (and, oh, the exhaustion) but also just an inability to move in this.

Marco will fix the hair soon, which is too long for good reasons (Shavuot followed by half-marathon) and that is fine. But Marco will also need to fix the strange-colored roots that I've never noticed before. Maybe it's just the scourge of fluorescent lighting. Maybe it's the need of a good shampoo. Or maybe it is, in fact, the last six months caught up to me.

I say the thing I cannot reconcile myself to is the ear that is blocked and will never stop ringing, and at some level it is okay to be shaken off-balance by such a change. I'm left-eared now, lucky to have scored a desk with my bad ear toward the noise and my good ear toward the phone. Listening to recorded music is not the pleasure it once was; summer concert season is about to begin and I don't know if I'll have to adjust or how I will adjust. The hearing loss is minor, as is the pain, but at some level I've seized on this change as the one I'm allowed to rail against, focusing all this anger at this body that is not mine.

It's fine, this body, even lovely and certainly capable of doing the things it needs to do. It's just not one I recognize at mine, in a life I'm not sure I recognize as my own, and I don't know how to learn to live in it.

May. 10th, 2015

(no subject)

I had a plan, to keep it all together and to get it all done. It was held together by a thread and I knew one more crisis would cause it all to fall apart.

And I knew the crisis was coming.

And then it did. And for some reason, of all the things that fell apart, it's the lack of running that makes me angry and crazy. Four weeks until my Favorite Race, and my 8.5 miles are slow and staggery. With the wind and the wet and the wind, I had to accept a few minutes standing alongside the trail, watching the lake pound against the shore. The jewel tones and the anger and the push-pull of the waves and the shore, the receding cold and the exhilaration and the immenseness and the immediacy of it all. And when I turned around, the wind was at my back, pushing me faster into the wet and the cold and the passion of those waves.

I don't understand some of the choices I'm making, but I don't feel wrong about them. This is not what I want, but this is where I am, and right here-right now is so fiercely right.

I hope.

This year, in all its shattered glory.

Mar. 15th, 2015

I think this much is true

I'm not particularly motivated by money. I mean, it's nice having some (for things like the completely gratuitous cab ride home from last night's HipHood party), but it's not a great way to assure my loyalty or determination. (Fact: The New Ringleader is actively and openly encouraging gratuitous raises and promotions, purely and openly out of fear that more of The Band will leave. Fact: I am the only member of The Band who did/would not have to take a pay cut to work at The Hospital. Fact: frugality buys you freedom. )

I'm not particularly motivated or impressed by status, thought I try to understand where I fit in any particular structure and I certainly expect to be recognized for what I do. (Fact: I am a little bitter at how the systems of Big Insurance had me a bit screwed.)

One of the members of The Band once asked me what did motivate me, professionally, if money wasn't a strong inducement. It took me a minute to describe it in big-girl words. "Earned respect. Loyalty. Opportunities to learn."

Fact: I am a sucker. It's just that I'm just a sucker for weird things.

Mar. 8th, 2015

So we came to February

Actually, it started in January. (Actually, it started in October, but we don't need to delve into ancient history.) I had a hole in my ear, and somewhere in the ringing and the buzzing and the silence the Best Boss Ever announced that he was leaving, and they fired The Mentor, and something was very off in the reports concerning The New Ringleader. Also, I needed new running shoes and a new phone. Then the toilet started leaking, and I burst into tears.

(Mind you, I knew why the toilet was leaking, and it was nothing a quart container couldn't deal with in the short-to-mid run. But there was a lot I couldn't deal with, and I needed to depend on my plumbing.)

I told ChemGal about these things, as I do, after returning from the frigid shopping trip for the phone and the shoes, and she replied back with love and support and her own stories (as she does), culminating in an inspiring yoga photo, on facebook, reminding me that I was in the right place. Of course, at the same moment, I was opening my work email, finding a quick note from the Best Boss Ever. "Hey Math, hope things are going well, but you'd mentioned you might be interested in talking about [new company, which we shall call The Hospital]. Now's a good time to discuss, if you'd still like to have that conversation." "You sure about that 'right place' business?" I asked ChemGal, who knows when the universe is enjoying a cosmic joke.

We had that conversation, and damned if BBE did not have the exact kind of job I wanted, in discipline that I love, in a type of company that made a great deal of sense for a ten-year-plan I was beginning to flesh out. Oh, and in a building that was an acceptable commute* away. I decided that we should talk some more. Meanwhile, The New Ringleader had joined us. At least in theory. He had not yet spoken to any of us, or looked anyone in the eye.

I called a plumber, and lo and behold the first appointment was the same day as I'd scheduled the phone interview. I took the day off to deal with the plumbing. The New Ringleader hadn't said anything yet, so I felt pretty secure that there would be no questions about this. Then The Mentor texted--the exiled gang was getting together for drinks that afternoon, and I should come out. I did. And while I tried to focus on being a friend and a sounding board for her, it also came to pass that she knew about BBE's plans**, and she and Former Awesome-Enough Boss encouraged me to actively re-imagine my future, to seek out whatever it was I wanted. And I walked away that night knowing that they all believed in me. And the next day, The New Ringleader tried to address The Band, and failed miserably, and I rage-shopped for new suits for the interview with BBE, and any other interview I could get. They are amazing suits. I was afraid to buy them, but I remembered that Mentor believed in me, and BBE believed in me, and FA-EB believed in me. And also that I looked fucking amazing.

That next morning, I had a talk with myself; under what circumstances would I take a pay cut, what did I truly make now, and what did I really need to keep going. And then I was right about the plumbing issue, which was easily resolved, and the phone interview went beautifully. Then it snowed 20 inches in a single day; it was February.

And right after my disastrous "introduction" to The New Ringleader, within minutes I mean, I left the office for an afternoon at The Hospital. Everyone was used to me wearing fancy suits for meetings, and for leaving the office to take those meetings. I suppose I could have gotten away without taking the time off, if I'd felt like being sneaky. But I wanted to remain the sort of person they all believed in. The sidewalks were clear enough for high-heeled boots. The interview was good, and I left in a freak snowstorm, on my way to a crazy-awesome volunteer event with a wacky crowd from College Green. (I changed clothes in the bathroom of a coffee shop.)

There were bits of drama along the way but it was always clear that BBE and I wanted the same outcome, and fast. One day, I had to approach First Boss and ask for a recommendation. He said all the right things, and as always was too honest, and so I remembered that First Boss believed in me, too, and always had, and that was why all this was possible. As things got more awful with The New Ringleader, I would chant that under my breath: the Mentor believed in me and First Boss believed in me and FA-EB believed in me and BBE did, too. I could do this. They all had my back. And The Band had each other's backs, as we always have, banding together to survive the insanity that has so nearly consumed us. Do not discount The Band in this story, though they never knew what I was doing and how I needed them every step of the way.

Eventually BBE and I got what we wanted (I got more than I wanted, as a matter of fact, and I'm more than a little surprised at that). The Band reacted to my news with universal delight, of the sort you expect from your friends but are warmed and sustained by nonetheless. And I have a strange little mantra of support, and that is how I lived through February.

*OK, in theory I hop on a bus three blocks away, and exit said bus in front of the building. In reality, I do not think I can trust rush hour traffic. But with a 4-6 block walk, I have a very nice commute, which will be pleasant in good weather.
**There are hints that this was Mentor's idea; certainly she encouraged the idea (she and BBE were "work spouses"). She will never tell, I will never know, but I do love the thought.

Jan. 28th, 2015

Dear self,

When you don't go around the house singing, it's a pretty good sign that you're not happy. I mean, maybe it was a little bit because of the ear infections and the deafness and the laryngitis that you got out of the habit. But mostly it wasn't, and you know that about yourself. Don't hide behind lies.

It's good to hear your voice again.
love, Me.

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