Sunday, January 30, 2011

A few highlights from my 1.5 weeks back in Baltimore:

I spent my birthday (the 20th) in Washington D.C. with my roommate, trying Ethiopian food then visiting part of the Smithsonian. Also had an amazing carrot cupcake from a place called "Red Velvet."

Went to my first house party here, in honor of a friend from class; had a good time and met a few cool people. Also got to know a couple of my classmates better.

Experienced my first Baltimore blizzard. Made a snowman.

Was told by my boss at the library that I'm not allowed to graduate ever because she likes the work I do and doesn't want me to leave. Also, I'm getting a raise.

Got a writing/art table for my room. It fits into its designated space perfectly. I have used it for its intended purpose.

Hung out with my friend Jon whom I haven't seen in weeks. Had a Manhattan (the drink) for the first time.

Got out my keyboard (the musical variety) to try and learn a song by ear. Discovered that the time I spent last summer learning and practicing scales was actually beneficial. It's a pretty good incentive to keep practicing. Now I kind of wish I had a real piano with a full set of keys.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Notes to self:

Saturday -- dad playing @ White's
Sunday -- family dinner/Nick's hockey game/art mash-up/family skate
Monday -- Anna in Mt P
Tuesday --
Wednesday -- Cash O'Riley @ White's; mom?
Thursday --
Friday -- Kelly

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holy cow I've fallen off the wagon here. I could use the holidays as my excuse but really, I suspect that Bejeweled Blitz is to blame here. It's a terribly addictive Facebook game that I've started playing the last couple weeks, and it's preventing me from being any kind of productive (I meant to read several books over break, for example, but have only managed to complete one). I've hardly written a word anywhere, despite my goal to keep up and fill up the journal I started in creativity class.

Well, I guess I'll try to get back on track by getting down some highlights from December.

Class ended, I flew to MI, and have been staying with Jake and his roommates. There are a total of six of us in the house, and despite there only being one bathroom, the arrangement works out quite well. Probably mostly because it's rare to have all six of us here at once, but also because everyone gets along pretty well. Aside from Jake, a couple of my best guy friends are here, which makes it even more fun.

The week before Christmas was largely spent accompanying friends on their last-minute Christmas shopping ventures (as well as completing my own). The holiday itself went pretty well; we managed to spend time with Jake's family and both sides of mine without any scheduling conflicts. Plus we got three delicious meals (one of which I acquired all the leftovers from, which was like a bonus gift). I feel like most of the gifts I gave were well-received. Most people seemed fairly conscious of the fact that there's only so much space in my suitcase, too. As it is, I'll still have to ship a box back separately (in part because of my book-buying addiction) but my parents have agreed to do that for me.

After the Christmas celebrations our friend Dan had a party at his apartment, complete with drum circle. I actually ended up playing (and drinking) more than anticipated, and it was quite fun. My wrists had bruises and my hands were sore for a couple days after, but I'd do it again.

I've been to see my favorite rockabilly act, Cash O'Riley, a couple times as well -- the second time he had the band with him (two other guys -- one plays lead guitar or harmonica and the other plays the upright bass, which I am a fan of). Next week he's promised to have CDs available, so hopefully he makes good on that. He's doing a tour within the next couple months which will bring him out to Baltimore with any luck. I gave him a list of potential venues a few weeks ago and he's having his agent contact them. I feel pretty privileged -- he's a cool guy, always takes time to talk to me and thank me for coming to the show, remembers my name and asked me how my first months in Baltimore were -- it'd be great to see him out east.

Jake finished his novel here about a week ago too. And I actually finished reading it on Tuesday. I don't really feel that I've been all that much help to him lately in editing and revision, as he has another, more experienced friend working on that, but he seems appreciative of the fact that I've offered what I could. Whether he'll use any of it I don't know yet.

I spent a day with Anna and Kelly just after Christmas; we had lunch together, did a little shopping, had dinner with Jeff and Cari (who actually both had a night off for once), then had a game night here at the house with Nick, Tif, Scott, and a couple of Nick's friends. Scott and I paired up for a game of Cranium, and it turns out we make a pretty good team -- we won.

The day before NYE I went to spend the day with my mom, grandma, and little sister. We also had lunch together, went to a used book/movie/music store, then to see my mom's new house. We returned to my grandma's for food and tea, then had an Elvis dance party in the basement, which evolved into an Elvis singing party, which evolved into... howling dogs? Probably the most I've laughed in a long time. And the most exercise I've had since being in MI.

NYE wasn't especially eventful, though Jake, Scott and I ended up going to three different parties. The first one had a lot of smoke and a lot of people I didn't know. It was kind of loud and I felt like I didn't have anything to talk about, even with the people who weren't already drunk. Several friends made appearances too, so we rang in the new year there then headed out. The second party -- my friend Peter's -- was pretty small (though there was some delicious spinach dip made by our friend Felicia) and we didn't stay long. The third was fairly late into the night; I'd guess we got there around 130 or 2. Jake and I played a game of euchre against Jason and Erica (two of the roommates) and won -- possibly partly because they'd had a lot more to drink than we had.

This past Monday Jake and I ventured down to John King's Used Books in Detroit. We spent nearly $50 each; I got a few books of poetry (and an abridged copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace by mistake -- I wanted the full text) among others and Jake bought just about ever Paul Theroux book they had. Both of us were in need of an extra bookshelf before this trip. There are worse things to be addicted to, though, haha. Jake was also kind enough to stop at Great Lakes Crossing and let me do a little other shopping, despite his distaste for malls. I tried to be considerate and only went into two or three stores (again partly due to my lack of suitcase space).

That mostly brings me up to date, I think. We'll see if I can start getting down some daily highlights in between Bejeweled binges from here on out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I've done this survey every year for probably seven years. Can't break the tradition now.

1.What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? Moved across the country from MI to MD and started grad school. Relied on public transportation to get around the city and got an apartment with someone I'd only talked to online beforehand. Used InDesign and a Mac to design newspaper pages.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make more for next year? I'm sure I made some last year, but I can't remember what they are. Probably something about reducing my debt, in which case I failed miserably. I'm giving some consideration to some resolutions for this year.

3. What countries did you visit? I don't want to talk about it. Mainly because the answer is "none."

4. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010? A trip out of the country? I really can't think of much.

5. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Well, NYE 2010 was pretty memorable. My trip to Memphis in January also. My first trip to Baltimore, my first days living in Baltimore, and Jeff & Cari's wedding were all pretty memorable too.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting into, then going off to, grad school in Baltimore to get my MFA. And surviving my first semester alone in a new city.

7. What was your biggest failure? Parking in Baltimore City. Two parking tickets and a trip to the impound lot to retrieve my towed car (all of which happened within about a month and a half) were enough to cement my decision to send the Grand Am back to MI.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing a little antibiotic or cold medicine didn't cure.

9. Whose behavior merited celebration? My dad's for moving me from Saginaw to Baltimore -- he loaded everything up and drove it all out there for me, and covered the expenses (including a motel room in Ohio along the way). Also Jake's for sticking with me through all this -- long distance isn't fun but he's stuck by me through it.

10. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I'd rather not talk about it here. Besides, "appalled" and "depressed" might be too strong of choices.

11. Where did most of your money go? Aside from the obvious (bills), my savings account went toward moving expenses and tiding me over 'til I got a job and my financial aid check.

12. What song will always remind you of 2010? Anything from the Black Keys album "Brothers" or Yeasayer's "Odd Blood."

13. Compared to last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier. This time last year I was pulling myself out of a pretty bad funk.
ii. thinner or fatter? Walking everywhere has definitely caused me to lose weight.
iii. richer or poorer? I feel richer, but the records at the Department of Education would definitely tell you otherwise.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of? Budgeting?

15. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worrying what other people thought of me. I got better about it at the end of the year though.

16. How did you spend Christmas? in Michigan, with Jake's family then with my mom's side of my family. There were of course Christmas celebrations with my dad's side on Christmas Eve and with friends at various points. The last was just today.

17. Did you fall in love in 2010? I don't think so, because to say yes would mean that I wasn't in love previously, and I think that I was but that it took me awhile to realize.

18. What was your favorite TV program? I actually have an answer this year! HBO ran a show called "Treme" that I saw every episode of in season one (partly because Patrick [my roommate] paid for OnDemand so I could catch the ones I missed).

19. What was the best book you read? Hm. Zadie Smith's On Beauty was very good. I loved Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut. These are the ones that come to mind first -- I read a lot of books over the summer. A couple of the Han Nolan books I read were pretty good. Oh, also Still Life with Oysters and Lemon by Mark Doty and Ariel by Sylvia Plath.

20. What was your greatest musical discovery of 2010? rockabilly -- specifically Cash O'Riley in MI and BW&TS in MD. I'm loving the fact that the Baltimore/DC area has a rockabilly scene.

21. What did you want and get? An apartment in the middle of a big city and a fresh start somewhere new.

22. What did you want and not get? An assistantship to cover all of my tuition. Also, an MD driver's license. I'm trying again soon on both of those.

23. What was your favorite film of this year? Inglourious Basterds was good, as was Shutter Island. Those are the two that immediately come to mind.

24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 24. On the day itself I spent the majority of my time in the car coming home from Nashville. But the highlights included a stop at Jack White's record label/store. Also, the preceding several days were spent in Memphis.

25. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I'd been able to bring some of my MI friends (or at least Jake) to Baltimore with me.

26. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010? Evolving again. Baltimore has some pretty fabulous thrift/vintage stores.

27. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? The Black Keys. I don't know if "fancy" is the right word -- I just really loved their album.

28. Who was the best new person you met? Nick K. is my favorite new person by far. We had some pretty great Saginaw adventures over the summer before I moved to MD. But, that said, my new roommate Maureen is my favorite new MD person. She's been very cool to live with and to explore Baltimore with (especially since she knows more about it than I do).

29. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010: I've better-internalized the notion of being/doing what I want without worrying about what other people think. Also gained the sort of perspective that one gains when she moves 11 hours away from home.

30. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "Without any love, there's nothing at all."