Saturday, December 31, 2011

good times.

in lieu of making useless resolutions* i won't hold to (such as the ones i've made previously about cutting out sugar or sarcasm, which were obvious failures), i've decided to cull through the dizzying amount of bad news 2011 brought with it to build a list of all the things that happened this year that i am grateful for, because if i've learned nothing else recently, i've come to understand that life is a process, a journey you might say, and i can't make myself a happier camper by hating on my life or by faking the resolve to change everything overnight.  thus, the list of bright lights in 2011:

1) luke landed a dream job at an incredible private school and also made his book club business official.  while the year started off rocky for us financially, it most definitely shaped up to be a time of fantastic opportunity for him, which is of course amazing.

2) my brother sam graduated from college and moved home, and as sickeningly sweet as this is going to sound, i have truly loved the chance to get to know him again now that we're both grown ups and are less angsty (well, he is at least).

3) i reconnected with some great people from my hometown and have had the pleasure of hanging out with their adorable babies.

4) this year alone, i've been employed as an osteologist/archaeologist excavating a cemetery, landed an internship analyzing unknown skeletal remains at the coroner's office and have worked/attended meetings with some pretty remarkable people from the city attorney's office.  it's difficult to see it while i'm in it, but this year i've literally fulfilled dreams, doing things i'd only ever read about and been fascinated by.  totally worth it.

5) i still have a 4.0 in school.  i'm only acknowledging this because this list is pathetically short and it's technically a good thing, yes?  however, during this year of insanity, i've realized that my decade-old love affair with using grades as a barometer for my life success is over.  doing well makes all the craziness worth it, i suppose, but i'm definitely ready for a grade point average to stop ruling my life.

ok, so that was sad - for 365 days of happenings, it's a relatively short list of good things.  however, while the bad was pretty bad, the good was exceptionally good.  also, this year served as an opportunity to prove to everyone that odd numbered years really are worse than even numbered years.  it's not just because i'm a nut, guys!  it's true!  here's to 2012!

*i'm notoriously not a person of extremes, so making huge blanket statements about how i'm going to CHANGE EVERYTHING usually don't work out for me.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

christmas vacation!

i was a little nervous about the holiday season this year, as 2011 has left a pretty sour taste in my mouth and i assumed this trend would continue with glee until 11:59 pm on december 31st.  in addition, luke had a raging cold/flu monster for thanksgiving, which was supremely sad, so i had reason to believe things were right on track to be disastrous the whole way through.  however, the christmas/hanukkah season literally could not have been better.  my mom hosted a fab hanukkah party, complete with a white elephant game in which my grandparents pointedly cheated to allow me to keep a $30 trader joe's gift card, and we ate chinese food like the good jews* we are at a second family party a few days later.  the photos** from these events are currently locked in the fort knox that is my mom's digital camera, where pictures enter and yet never leave, so i'll have to wait to post them.  suffice to say, though, that they were amazing good times.

enter: christmas.  luke and i offered to host a christmas day brunch this year, in an effort to a) be grown ups and b) establish some traditions of our own, and while it seemed like an excellent idea in theory, as the day approached, i started to panic a little about having lots of people in our two-bedroom bungalow house, as the only thing that differentiates it from a tiny apartment is that it is free standing and has a backyard.  i was a little frantic about having to corral all my family into our living room for hours on end.  luckily, christmas day was about 80 degrees in the valley, so we were able to utilize our fabulous patio deck and no one had to sit on anyone else's lap.  yay!  seating crisis averted, it really was one of the best christmases on record, if i may say so myself.  luke made an amazing brunch (...i can take zero credit, as he is the chef of the family), presents were fantastic, and grandparents and aunts stayed for hours and hours.  it was super fun and i hope we get to host again next year.  loved it.

i present to you our 6.5 foot tall, 21 inch (at the base) fake christmas tree.  we waited until the last minute to get a tree this year, and so i couldn't justify getting a real one, not even for the delicious smell.  on friday the 23rd, i went to three different targets and found this gem at the last one.  it was so close to christmas, the holiday decor was already on sale, so i scored this bad boy for $25.  it's a little silly, a lot adorable and suits our small couch corner just fine.  yet another thing about the holidays that actually worked out.  imagine that!  (this is a horrible photo, and i acknowledge it.  my android phone only takes decent pictures if i'm outside and the sun is shining.  sad face.)

luke's mom stayed with us for the long christmas weekend and i slipped out on christmas eve for a few hours to visit my dad's side of the family for their first christmas without my grandpa.  tradition calls for us to go to knott's berry farm, where i went on exactly one ride.  and i didn't sway my log.

when i got home on christmas eve, luke gave his mom and i pairs of bear paw slippers.  i am such a craze that i wore them for our entire brunch and called myself "santa paws" as i headed out gifts.  obviously, luke knows me well.

here i am absolutely destroying luke in a maze solving contest.  i am, as everyone in my grad program can attest, perhaps one of the least competitive people in the world.  luke, however, is perhaps one of the most competitive people and makes most (all) things into competitions.  therefore, despite the fact that none of you care that i demolished him in this race (he'd been working on it for two minutes before i even opened the box and removed my maze), i'm proud enough of it to post it.  can't you just feel his desperation?

the fam.

the food (note the lox and bagels).

the patio working it's delicious summertime magic.

gingerdead men part 1.

gingerdead men part 2.***

all in all, the holidays were such a success.  i am eternally grateful for my incredible extended family.  always.

*hilariously, luke, his mom and my dad were the only people at the christmas brunch who never celebrated hanukkah as kids.

**in addition to ramping up the positivity in this here blog, i am trying to amp up the photos.  hopefully it will inspire me to take more.

***these cookies were really adorable, but so, so difficult to execute (haha!).  they're the product of a stamp/cookie cutter luke found online, and the idea is to imprint the dough with the bone shapes, bake the them and then flood the bones with royal icing.  and it worked...with these four.  i'll need to practice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

i spent some time this past weekend re-reading some previous entries on this blog, as you do, and i was struck by how funny i used to be (and so modest, too).  this was once an outlet for all the ridiculous nonsense i witness with abject horror/gratefulness on a daily basis, and this year, i've turned it into a spinning vortex of pity and sadness.  i am now vowing to reverse this trend.  it's time to refocus this lens on the positive in life, and if that means making fun of people i see on the freeway, then so be it.  i can work on being a better person tomorrow.

in other news, having just come off of the worst quarter of grad school thus far*, i am delighting in the days when i can literally do nothing.  in my life, "doing nothing" still amounts to cutting hundreds of little foot bone shapes out of white felt to construct skeleton christmas stockings to benefit our poor, asbestos-ridden anthropology lab while watching "i survived" and working on christmas gifts, but STILL.  i am quasi-relaxed and for the two more weeks i have nowhere to be and nothing of any real importance to do, i am planning on taking full advantage.**

*this is the truth and therefore, despite it being negative, i will let it stay.  this grad school thing has thrown me for a major loop.  there's nothing like being a stable, independent adult and going from steady, paid employment to student loan hell to really make a girl reevaluate her priorities.  turns out mine are getting out of school and back into the workforce as. soon. as. possible.

**and by this i mean: eating tons of candy and wearing my pajamas all day long.