The 40 by 40

I rang in the last year of my thirties yesterday in EPIC fashion, with the aforementioned morning yoga double-header, followed by an afternoon adventure at Pier 39 that turned into a raucous evening seeing Patti Smith at The Fillmore and then dancing at the Boom Boom Room. San Francisco and all my amazing friends, you know how to treat a girl right on her birthday.

With the hangover (hopefully) subsiding, and the clock ticking toward 40, it’s time to get to work tackling my next set of goals. Of course, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that these have been percolating for a couple of months, well before I wrapped up my 38 by 39. You may also notice that I’ve snuck in one extra goal this year. It’s the end of a decade, and I thought it warranted a little switch up. Plus, as you’ll see, the symmetry makes sense.

My approach changed a lot in mapping out my new edition. I feel like the last few years it’s been “what do I want to do more of?” or “what do I want to try?”. Looking back though, I realize that some of the favorite aspects of my current life are due to developing habits out of this project. Analyzing a decade of data points and spotting clear patterns in successes and failures certainly shed a new light on things (NERD ALERT).

So this year, I started with the question: “What do I want my forties to look like?” and worked back from there. I thought about current factors within my control that are blocking me from achieving those visions, as well as habits that I want to further cultivate. In doing this exercise, I came up with four “pillar” goals and then nine subgoals to support each of those.

Without further rambling, here is my 40 BY 40.

Pillar 1: Pay off my debt.

I’m Gen X on the cusp of Millennial, so yeah, this is a thing. I can own it. I’ve been in some form of debt since I was 18 and fell into all the typical patterns. In 2015 I’d made significant progress in getting things to a manageable number, but major life shit happened and things snowballed again. I finally feel like I’m a place where I can devote energy back into this. I also feel like I’m emotionally ready to handle the necessary FOMO that it will take to achieve this one. Let’s do it.

1.1 Pay off Chase Visa

I’m breaking each of these debts down as individual goals, as in the past it’s always made me feel better to have zeroed out a source of stress. I know that there are “other” ways to approach this. Please don’t at me. Starting with this one, as it’s the highest APR and needs to be gone out of my life stat.

1.2 Pay off USAA Visa

Ah, good ol’ USAA. This was my first credit card and it’ll be nice to see the balance go away (don’t worry, those 1998 debts were paid off at another point in my life).

1.3 Pay off Patelco CC

Remember when I was contracting and had to cover my own health insurance for almost two years and also had some medical emergencies during that time? It all went on this low-interest credit card!

1.4 Pay off Patelco Loan

I played the balance transfer game here during that 2015-2017 “hanging on by a thin thread” phase and it’s time to get all of it cleared.

1.5 Make 40 cups of coffee at home

Because I realize that habit-changing is what’s going to help me actually break this cycle. I got a MokaPot for the holidays and using it and the accompanying coffee has already made an impact on my bank account. For my birthday, my rad dad got me a coffee subscription to help with this goal. And my morning cup at home is already becoming a nice little ritual.

1.6 Eat 40 dinners at home

This is a goal that I know will have both fiscal and physical benefits. I also truly enjoy cooking with my Eatwell CSA and want to continue that practice throughout the year. Who wants to come over for dinner?

1.7 Bring 40 lunches to work

Cooking for one produces a lot of leftovers. An unintentional byproduct of our new work cafeteria being delayed in opening is that I’ve already started forming this habit. Just need to make sure I dedicate the time to continue it.

1.8 Put $40/week in Savings

I know that life can throw curveballs at any given moment, so I want to be prepared. Last year I made the super adulting move of consolidating my retirement accounts into my current active one. But my rainy day personal savings? It’s been stagnant. I also want to make sure I get it to the healthy “three months of rent” state before I hit my next decade.

1.9 Visit each SF Museum where I’m a member four times

Yes, I definitely started stressing when I was making this list and thinking about the other things in life I’ll need to cut back on for awhile, especially in the culture and entertainment realm. But my recent museum binge reminded me that there is plenty available to me that I’ve already paid for (or been gifted) that’s perfectly entertaining and stimulating. And many of these allow me to bring a plus one. Friend date to SFMOMA, Conservatory of Flowers, California Academy of Sciences, the DeYoung, or Legion of Honor, anyone?

Pillar 2: Visit Australia for three weeks

You may recall that when I visited my 50th state (Alaska) I did it UP. As Australia will mark my last inhabited continent (I don’t think Antarctic tourism is environmentally prudent (yes, I know, any tourism anywhere is pretty shitty for the planet)), I want to be as thoughtful as I was when I hit that last milestone. My current plan is to travel there for three weeks, over my holiday shutdown and into the new year. Ideally I want to turn 40 *in* Australia, then get on a plane and turn 40 again in San Francisco (with a Return from Oz: Over the Rainbow party waiting for me)!

I realize this goal runs counter to goal #1, so I want to do as much prep as possible so I can travel more wisely. I managed to do Alaska without breaking the bank because I was incredibly prepared in advance. Go, go Capricorn, go!

2.1 Read four novels set in Australia

Something I’ve fallen out of the habit of doing is reading books about the places I’ll be visiting. I think part of this is not having taken an intentionally planned trip in so long. Would love recommendations for Aussie literature, particularly by women and/or aboriginal folks!

2.2 Read four non-fiction books about Australia

In beginning to plan this trip, I also realized that I’m woefully uneducated about Australia in general. I know it has a very tumultuous history, and like the United States, many current problems there are rooted in that really fucked up colonialist past. I feel like I need to be prepared to be a conscientious visitor. I’d also maybe like to read a book about cool rocks or something too :).

2.3 See four Australian feature films

Implicit here should be *that I’ve never seen before*. I’m hoping to catch some Australian cinema at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, in addition to perhaps rewatching some classics I’ve missed. And y’know, also rewatching the 90s triumvirate of Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Strictly Ballroom.

2.4 Watch four documentaries about Australia

Another area where I’d love some recommendations to start. I also really enjoyed seeing docs in the theater again last year, so maybe I can keep my eyes peeled if any from Down Under come through up here.

2.5 Reach out to four Aussie friends for tips

Much like anyone who has traveled for 15+ years, I’ve met many, many Australians. I used to actually wonder if anyone actually lived there, since the European hostel population seemed to be comprised of Australian nationals. I’ve been lucky enough to stay (or get back) in touch with some of these folks, or met Australian immigrants here in San Francisco. I’d love to set up some coffee, beer, or FaceTime dates with folks this year to pick their brains and learn about favorite spots to visit. Like any good traveler, I know the best recommendations always come from the locals, so let’s chat!

2.6 Book four tours for the trip

I don’t want to overbook myself, as nothing is better than being spontaneous and open when you’re on the road. That said, it’s also exciting to have some cool experiences to look forward to. From nature to art to food, I’m excited to do some research and agonizingly narrow them down.

2.7 Write four updates about trip planning

I feel like making my writing goals more bite-sized and specific, they’ll be easier to achieve. Maybe? I’m hoping this is low-hanging fruit, and hey, maybe you’d be interested in hearing from me on a quarterly basis about how this trip is shaping up.

2.8 Learn & list 40 facts about Australia

See above regarding my lack of knowledge about this place I’ve focusing so much energy into visiting. Who doesn’t love some good trivia?

2.9 Book venue for Return from Oz: Over the Rainbow on January 11, 2020

Yes, I realize this is peak Capricorn to already be planning a party a year in advance. But you only turn 40 once, or twice. After a successful 39 at Pier 39 that had been in the works for five years, I’m down to get some major pieces of my Wizard of Oz-themed birthday extravaganza squared away well in advance.

Pillar 3: Get into (and hold) an unassisted headstand

This year marks 10 years of me having some semblance of a yoga practice. It’s definitely something that has grown through this very project of birthday goal setting. As I prepare to enter my next decade, I think about where I want my practice to be by the end of the next one. Inversions are my white whale, and as such have proved elusive and scary for a long time. I’ve only been upside down with assistance and not quite confident about it. This year I want to build up the strength and courage to get there. Also, my mom got me a B Mat for my birthday and I’m stoked to break it in.

3.1 Attend four general yoga workshops/retreats

Luckily Yoga Garden offers several workshops, I just need to take the time to plan ahead. I do already have Karen Macklin‘s Coming Home retreat at Green Gulch Zen Center on my calendar for next month, which I attended three years ago and thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t think a weeklong retreat in an exotic location is in the cards for me this year, but open to local things!

3.2 Attend four inversion workshops

This terrifies me, but I also know that practice does make perfect. Keeping my eyes out for opportunities, and hoping teachers are patient, kind, and have a sense of humor about me falling over, a lot.

3.3 Run 500 Miles

My running and yoga practices compliment each other like peanut butter and chocolate. I didn’t want to set any race goals in order to focus on the headstand thing, but I do want to keep out on the pavement to build strength and burn off frustration of not getting into headstand repeatedly. I ran 500 last year, which was a challenge, but a manageable one. I’d like to do it again.

3.4 Attend 40 gym classes at work

We had a new gym open just before the holiday break and I am in love with it. It’s truly a wonderful benefit that I’m happy to take advantage of. I’ve been doing a great circuit class, but looking forward to mixing it up when the new group fitness program launches this week. I am so productive after taking an hour of my day to go workout. And I know that building strength in these classes will help me get into that headstand!

3.5 Practice at yoga studios in four cities other than San Francisco

I absolutely adore dropping in at other studios when I travel. When it’s work travel it’s also grounding. Every venue has it’s own unique flare and it’s good to get out of my regular routine.

3.6 Watch four talks by yoga teachers

One of the best things to happen to me in the past year was joining a book club that my delightful yoga teacher, Meredith Holt, started to further nourish her community of practitioners. I’ve also been watching from afar the incredible network that my friend Libby Nicholau is building with Setu. These women inspire me in so many ways and remind me that practicing yoga isn’t just about strengthening the body, but also the mind and soul. I want to watch more talks on this aspect of the practice and remind myself that getting upside down isn’t the ultimate goal, just one for the next 360-odd days.

3.7 Read four articles about yoga

For something I practice almost every single day, I’m also woefully ignorant about so much of yoga. I’m not sure if I have the energy for multiple full books on the subject (although , but I think a few longform articles would be good for me to visit this year.

3.8 Do my “yoga homework” 40 times

Some of my favorite teachers have been total hardasses. The kind that push you to the breaking point, but do it with such love and compassion that you remember them for the rest of your life. And they’re also usually really really funny. And they always assign LOTS of homework. My yoga teacher Dustin McCallister falls into this camp. And I’ve been real bad about doing the assignments. But I realize that to achieve something as daunting as a headstand, I need to do it. So I will. After all, I don’t want to be “clomping around like an Eastern European model on her first day on the runway” (a recent Dustinism – it’s really hard to hold a pose when your gut is splitting in half from laughing).

3.9 Write four updates about my progress

Another bite-size writing assignment for me to tackle. If I illustrate the posts maybe I’ll even get some outtake photos for my pal at Mediocre Yoga.

Pillar 4: Submit one piece of writing to a literary publication

“So, are you a writer?” I get it a lot. And I never have a good answer, other than “like all failed writers I work in marketing.” I’m usually the woman alone at the bar with a small notebook and a novel, so I can see how folks could probably get this impression. And I do have a shit ton of notebooks, filled with observations and even some complete paragraphs. Of course I want to do something with them, but cultivating that practice is far scarier than an unassisted headstand. I’ve spent my thirties reading an increasing amount of bad writing and developing angst over never following that path. However, I feel I have far more to say now and a more developed voice, so maybe it’s time to join some good company and give an affirmative answer when I get that inevitable question in my forties. I know publication is a whole thing, so I’m setting my bar low. Just get something written and in the mail. And prepare for rejection.

4.1 Fill four complete notebooks

First step in writing? Write. I need to get better about putting my phone away and keeping my notebook out. I loved being back to my “old self” in Tulum, noting observations on the people around me and small details and facts about the area of Mexico I was traveling through. Again, this is a habit that needs consistency to work, so hopefully this is a modest enough ambition to be attainable.

4.2 Listen to four podcasts about writing

I always find my ears perking up during author interviews on some of my go-to podcasts (Call Your Girlfriend, Design Matters), but I know that there are programs out there that really dig deep on the actual process of writing. If I’m going to become a writer, I should probably start listening to them more.

4.3 Attend four author lectures (non-festival, non-bookstore)

One of my favorite things about San Francisco are our public lecture programs. It’s great to hear authors talk about their approaches to craft and challenges in publishing at sold out events. City Arts & Lectures is truly a favorite activity, the JCCSF occasionally brings in some incredible writers, and I’ve appreciated the addition of the CIIS Series to the scene. I’m already going to Rebecca Traister in a couple of weeks and Lindy West & Samin Nostrat in April, so I guess I’m ahead of the game.

4.4 Complete Reading Bingo

In 2018 I found participating in an online reading challenge moderated by my friend Caroline with a small international group of ambitious bibliophiles was an excellent way to expand my reading selections and shake up my bookshelf. I came so close to completing my board (24/25), with personal finance thwarting me (sorry, but I can’t read any book on money where the author never acknowledges their inherent privilege. If there’s a book on personal finance written by someone who has a killer chili recipe with ingredients costing under $5 because that’s all they could afford to eat in their early twenties, please let me know). This year that board is mine!

4.5 Attend four writing workshops

This completely and totally terrifies me, which means I should probably do it. And it’s just four, so there will be an end to it. But I know that this is a thing I should do to get to the main goal. I need to know how to navigate “the system” and also I need to get feedback on my writing. Eek. I know there’s The Grotto and Litquake offers stuff, but if you have any recommendations please let me know.

4.6 Complete four essays/short stories

Obviously to submit a piece of writing, it’s generally advised to actually create said writing. I’m really good at starting things, but better at abandoning them. I should probably work on that.

4.7 Attend four bookstore author talks

San Francisco has such wonderful independent bookstore gems, many of which host intimate author talks that are generally free of cost. I’d say that this would help goal #1, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than five minutes in a bookstore without buying something.

4.8 Attend four Litquake events

Last year I was out of town for all but one day of Litquake, which made me quit sad. I find it so wonderful that San Francisco has a LITERARY festival. I mean, really, that’s amazing. Hopefully by October I’ll be able to attend having actually completed some pieces myself. Or if I haven’t, maybe this will light a fire under my ass.

4.9 Journal for 40 days in a row

My lovely friend Brandi gave me a beautiful new journal for my birthday and I can’t wait to start filling it up. Nightly journaling is always great for me to brain dump all the stuff that doesn’t need to go in my little observation notebooks, or further workout some of the notes that end up in the marginalia of those.

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So there ya have it folks, the #40by40. I’d love your feedback and recommendations in the comments! And if anyone wants to adventure with me, let me know.

In Review: The 38 by 39

Here we are. The last year of my thirties. I tackled a yoga double-header this morning and am getting ready to go celebrate the long-awaited 39 at Pier 39.

But first, GOALS ASSESSMENT!

After throwing my 37 by 38 in the bin, I recommitted last year to being more intentional about my goals. Part of this was shifting my approach, realizing that partial completion of each goal was just as valuable as completely ALL of a quarter of them. This of course caused me to go back and evaluate (with a spreadsheet formula, of course), the other years of my thirties and see how I really fared in the past. I realized that 33 was my most successful year, with 81.53% of my goals achieved. This wasn’t surprising – it was my Year of Never and I was dating someone who was super into helping me check arbitrary activities off my list. Once I discovered this, I had my eyes on the prize to squeak past that statistic and do these on my own (with a little help from my friends), especially after part of my year threw me far off course and I needed structure to ground me again. I’m happy to report that by binge watching talks online last night, I did it! I wrapped the year with 82.57% of my goals achieved and TWENTY-THREE individual goals completed.

Fuck yeah, me.

Completing two goals

1. Champion 8 women candidates in midterm elections. [COMPLETED]
Have you seen the 116th Congress?! Nothing gave me more hope than to support and watch so many incredible women candidates. Excited to watch the careers of new congresswomen Katie Hill (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), and Sharice Davids (D-KS).

I was biting my nails for Gina Ortiz Jones to pull through in Texas, but it was not to be this time. Hopefully she gives it another go in two years. Though the prospects were grim, I did make small donations to both Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill for believing women and opposing Kavanaugh.

2. Volunteer with 8 different organizations. [COMPLETED]
I continued my commitments with mentoring for Marquette, serving on the board of Walk San Francisco this year, and volunteering for the SF Bike Coalition‘s Bike to Work Day and Winterfest. I also did some one-off volunteering at GLIDE (with the Marquette Alumni Club) and SF Marin Food Bank (with a group from Adobe). For the midterms I answered the call of the ACLU and wrote 50 postcards to get out the vote!

Being my fifth (!) year at Burning Man, I wanted to give back a little more. I stepped up my role with my camp Decadent Oasis (and even paired up with the Airpusher crew to volunteer with the Burning Man Org’s Artumnal event). I did my first on-playa shift this year, spending a VERY dusty afternoon greeting passengers arriving on the Burner Express.

3. Attend 8 performance arts events [COMPLETED]
Unsurprisingly I blew this out of the water, but the first eight I made it to set a good habit for the year: In Event of Moon Disaster, Book of Mormon, a Flamenco show on my trip to Seville, A Streetcar Named Desire, Head Over Heels (SO MUCH FUN!), Mysteries of Love & Sex, and saw my first (not the greatest) musical on Broadway, Come from Away.

4. Attend events/openings at 8 different art galleries. [COMPLETED]
Another I continued far beyond the first eight: Sanctuary Salon (For-Site Foundation, Fort Mason Chapel) Untitled Art Fair; Fog Art & Design; Verdantly Still (Rare Device); Redefining Impossibilities: Immersive Art Gallery; SOMAarts: Diasporic AlchemyTypeCon The Afterparty @ Outlet; TypeCon Closing Night @ Tillamook Station; and Type@CooperWest Reception @ Dependable Letterpress.

5. See films at 8 different theaters. [COMPLETED]
Of course this another I easily completed and then some. But variety is key!

  • Phantom Thread @ Alamo Drafthouse
  • Conflict and Jealousy @ Castro
  • Let The Sunshine In @ Wattis Theater
  • The Post @ Kabuki
  • Isle of Dogs @ Roxie
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor @ Victoria Theatre
  • Half the Picture @ Creativity Theater
  • Purge This Land @ YBCA Screening Room

6. Support 8 Burning Man art projects. [COMPLETED]
This is always one of my favorite goals to execute. I didn’t do a great job of visiting all these installations, but was thrilled to spot the ones I did come across.

7. Attend concerts at 8 different venues [COMPLETED]
Nailed it. Duh. The first eight:

  • St. Vincent (w/ Tuck & Patti) @ Bill Graham Auditorium
  • Built to Spill (w/ Sam Coomes) @ Fillmore
  • Superchunk (w/ Bat Fangs) @ Great American Music Hall
  • Waxahatchee (w/ Josiah Johnson & Mary Lattimore) @ Swedish American Musical Hall
  • Busty & The Bass @ The Independent;
  • Kyle Craft @ Cafe du Nord
  • Annie Bacon @ Mission Pie
  • Loma w/ Jess Williamson @ Bottom of the Hill

8. Take type photo walks in 8 San Francisco neighborhoods. [3/8]
This was definitely one I crammed in last minute with half-assed intentional walks in Sutro Heights, Lower Haight, and The Design District.

9. Publish 8 Medium articles. [0/8]
I couldn’t get it together to come up with a strategy for this. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to engage with a platform I wasn’t 100% sure of. Okay with this fail.

10. Create 8 fashion pieces. [7/8]
Made some fun things and got to know my way around Mendel’s. More this year, I hope!

11. Create a project in 8 different Adobe applications. [5/8]
Obviously one of my favorite perks of my job is using our products. Definitely need to learn more, but I had fun creating projects in Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Adobe Spark Post, and Adobe Spark Page.

12. Follow a recipe from 8 different cookbooks. [4/8]
Realized I don’t have that many useful cookbooks! And I’m okay with that. I love them, but I don’t have a lot of room. Plus, the internet and my CSA give me some great recipes. I did make an incredible Creamed Spinach from Mastering the Art of French Cooking though. That Julia, man.

13. Attend events/shows at 8 different Bay Area festivals [COMPLETED]
Fun to take advantage of what this amazing city has to offer! Attended Sketchfest, Noir City, Modern Cinema, NoisePop, San Francisco International Film Festival, SF Silent Film Fest, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass , and Litquake!

14. Go to 8 comedy events. [6/8]
Was so close to getting closer to completing this with my friend Molly in Boston, but the event was sold out when we arrived! Still not bad to catch the Buddy Cole Monologues, Living Impaired, a Lady Dynamite panel, Blue Woman Group, JP Sears, and a conversation with Sam Bee in NYC (moderated by Irin Carmon).

15. Watch 8 documentaries. [COMPLETED]
A combo of shorts and features, streaming and theater, I was happy to watch more of these this year. The first eight:

16. Visit 8 different Bay Area museums. [6/8]
Another I recently binged, though I did join some of these so more visits this year! Visited SFMOMA, Asian Art Museum, the DeYoung, Conservatory of Flowers, Academy of Sciences, and the Legion of Honor.

17. Complete 8 modules in Duolingo. [COMPLETED]
Did over a month of Spanish. Was great to freshen up!

18. Complete 8 technological tutorials. [2/8]
Did a tutorial for software I ended up not using, but more importantly I succeeded in a tutorial to use my amazing new MokaPot.

19. Watch 8 talks online. [COMPLETED]
Totally binged on the last couple, but here’s the random stuff I watched:

20. Complete 8 online courses. [0/8]
A thing I need to figure out how to start doing.

21. Attend 8 in-person classes or workshops. [COMPLETED]
This was super fun and I am grateful to have received a Workshop SF giftcard for the holidays, so I can do more in 2019 as well. I attended a variety of classes in my travels to, from Stargazing in Sedona to a street art workshop in Berlin to a sexuality workshop at Burning Man. Here in SF I took a Floral Design workshop and a couple of Tibetan Meditation workshops with my amazing friend Deana. Additionally, I took two non-profit board service workshops through work!

22. Do 8 SF Stairway Walks [0/8]
Finding/scheduling time to do this slipped by this year.

23. Listen to 8 weekly podcasts. [COMPLETED]
It was nice to add to my regular podcasts! In addition to listening to my usual suspects: Call Your Girlfriend, All Songs Considered, Music That Matters, and 2 Dope Queens, I added in some binging of Design Matters, Racist Sandwich, Bay Curious, and No Man’s Land.

24. Read 8 autobiography/memoirs/biographies about (and by) women. [COMPLETED]
YES!

  • Alice Paul (Christine Lunardini)
  • Consuelo & Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter & Mother in the Guilded Age (Amanda Mackenzie Stuart)
  • The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age (Myra MacPherson)
  • Shrill (Lindy West)
  • Eloquent Rage (Brittany Cooper)
  • This Will Be My Undoing (Morgan Jerkins)
  • Make Trouble (Cecile Richard)
  • No One Tells You This (Glynnis Macnicol)

25. Read 8 novels by women. [COMPLETED]
Another I checked off quickly.

  • How Should a Person Be? (Sheila Heti)
  • Who Fears Death (Nnedi Okorafor)
  • A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel (Madeline L’Engle/Hope Larson)
  • The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)
  • The Cosmopolitans (Sarah Schulman)
  • The Door (Magda Szabó)
  • The Power (Naomi Alderman)
  • Convenience Store Woman (Sayaka Murata) <– favorite!

26. Read 8 non-fiction books by women. [COMPLETED]
Not a problem 🙂

  • Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All (Jaclyn Friedman)
  • The Sisters Are Alright (Tamara Winfrey Harris)
  • Women & Power (Mary Beard)
  • The Body is Not An Apology (Sonya Renee Taylor)
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (Michelle McNamara)
  • Brotopia by Emily Chang
  • Local Girl Makes History by Dana Frank
  • Root Shock by Mindy Fullilove Thompson

27. Attend 8 author talks. [COMPLETED]
Happy to have been specific on this one this year.

  • Cecile Richards
  • Jessica Hische
  • Lindy West with Jes Baker
  • Litquake Immigration & Community
  • Abbi Jacobson
  • Beastie Boys Book Tour
  • Heart of the Goddess
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates

28. Send mail to 8 different countries. [COMPLETED]

Thanks to friends who requested cards when I realized I was falling short. I sent mail this year to the UK, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Mexico, The Netherlands, Kenya, and Vietnam!

29. Entertain 8 different people at my apartment. [COMPLETED]
Was so happy to have more friends over this year!

30. Travel to 8 countries. [7/8]
My passport is almost full (please reopen soon, government). Revisited several countries this year, and was really okay with that! I also added my 5th inhabited continent with a quick day trip to Tangier. Snuck into Tulum for some R&R over Thanksgiving weekend, my first time “secretly” traveling abroad. Was nice to not be bombarded with recommendations and truly relax. Thanks for your hospitality and stamps, United Kingdom, Spain, Morocco, Belgium, Germany, France, and Mexico!

31. Visit 8 states. [COMPLETED]
With my parents unexpected move to the East Coast, this was an easy one, though I had it checked off before the holidays, thanks to a couple of Southwestern spring visits. First eight states this year were Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

32. Bike in 8 different cities. [COMPLETED]
Of course! And again, ended up far more than the first eight Oakland, London, Seville, Durango, New York, Brussels, Ghent, Berlin, and Paris.

33. Camp at 8 different campsites. [2/8]
Disappointed this didn’t happen. I camped at Burning Man and tried one failed night at Red Rock Canyon State Park.

34. Visit 8 state or national parks. [COMPLETED]
My heart is broken over the current abuses in our National Parks during this unnecessary and racist shutdown. Visited wonders in Slide Rock State Park (Arizona), Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon National Park, Tulum National Park, Bluff Point State Park (Connecticut), and Middlesex Fells Reservation (Massachusetts).

35. Practice yoga at 8 different studios. [COMPLETED]
Loved finding more spots to practice while I traveled this year and even mixing it up in SF. The first eight: The Center SF, Yoga Place (London), Aumbase Sedona, Thrive Santa Fe, East Yoga (Manhattan), And Yoga (Brooklyn), Stacked Yoga (Brooklyn), Yellow Yoga (Berlin).

36. Attend 8 different kinds of fitness classes (not including yoga). [COMPLETED]
It was really important for me to get back on track with gym fitness this year. So grateful for the incredible variety of group classes at work. I also did a month of trial membership at an intense neighborhood studio.

37. Go on 8 new hikes. [COMPLETED]
Glad to get back out there this year, though there could be more of this. Hiked Point Isabel (East Bay), Airport Loop Trail (Sedona), Bell Trail (Sedona), on the property at Redwood Ranch (Three Rivers, CA), Congress Trail (Sequoia National Park), Buena Vista Peak (King’s Canyon National Park), General Grant Loop (King’s Canyon National Park), Middlesex Fells Reservation Crystal Springs trail (Massachusetts).

38. Get 8 massages. [COMPLETED]
Always happy to complete this one 🙂

Have to rush to my birthday celebrations. Watch for the FORTY by 40 coming tomorrow!

38 Things I (Re)Learned at 38

38. Ask to go to his house.

37. You can love your job, but not be defined by it.

36. Dating is a team sport.

35. You can travel outside of the spotlight, and it’s freeing.

34. Eliminate/reduce time sucks.

33. You know you’re feeling better when you can fill a notebook with random observations about the external world.

32. You don’t have to define yourself.

31. Friendship is a two-way street.

30. Stop providing free therapy for men who are perfectly capable of paying a professional for it.

29. FOMO is freeing (working on making it JOMO is effort).

28. Say “yes” to friend dates.

27. You’re a grown ass woman, so treat yourself when you travel.

26. Spend more time alone.

25. Look for the incremental changes.

24. Move beyond examining white privilege and toward examining white fragility.

23. Read more than the year before.

22. It’s okay to be sad – like really, really, really sad.

21. The universe will send you dogs when you’re sad.

20. You can break the cycle of diet culture.

19. You are still madly in love with San Francisco, despite the haters.

18. New York is not for you beyond just a visit.

17. Experience art alongside the artists.

16. Run for the sake of running.

15. Don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations.

14. Develop a skincare routine.

13. Cook more, again.

12. You suck at knots.

11. Habits are malleable .

10. You can quit reading a book.

9. You can leave during a concert (or a play!)

8. A good night’s sleep is pretty fucking great.

7. It’s okay to get off course.

6. Make sure to find light in the darkness.

5. The darkness does go away.

4. Making individual coffee is easier than you thought.

3. Nobody actually has their shit together.

2. Own your choice not to have a biological kid (it’s never too late to start planning your empire instead).

1. The “you” that you really, really like? The one who has shaken up her life and achieved past dreams?

She’s still fucking here.

The 38 by 39

Yesterday I admitted giving up my goals. Today I set new ones.

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Mural by Hugo Gyrl

That’s the great thing about a birthday. You get to redefine yourself and if you’re lucky you can do that within the framework of communities that help you find that “best self”.

I’m grateful this morning for two birthday surprises from those communities: a post-yoga serenade at the end of Meredith‘s class at Yoga Garden this morning and a cake, candle and “Happy Birthday” from the In/Visible Talks crew at the pre-conference dinner last night. I’m grateful for the texts and posts that greeted me when I woke up pre-dawn to cram in a full day. I’m grateful for looking at my new hummingbird tattoo during a twist in yoga and knowing in my heart that my grandma is still with me on my birthday.

Today I get to attend an inaugural design conference in an industry where I’ve found a welcome home for the bulk of the last seven years, then go to an art fair to celebrate it. A pretty damn special way to kick off 38. A year of resetting. A year of doing something the same, but with a different lens.

I’ve scaled back the math this year and made the 38 things I hope to accomplish this year much more, well, accompish-able. So, without further ado, here’s my 38 by 39:

1. Champion 8 women candidates in midterm elections.
Duh. Duh. Duh.

2. Volunteer with 8 different organizations.
I love that my company offers volunteer grants for doing this sort of thing. It’s time to revisit some of the orgs I worked with when I landed in the city seven years ago.

3. Attend 8 performance arts events
This was one of the goals I made headway on last year, discovering a few smaller theater groups. I already have tickets to a few things coming up and eight is a manageable number for the new year.

4. Attend events/openings at 8 different art galleries.
This shouldn’t be that difficult and an important and feasible thing I can do this year.

5. See films at 8 different theaters.
Through my brief stint in dating last year I got back into going to see films at the cinema. More please. SF (and the spots I travel) have so many excellent, classic theaters. Why not support them?

6. Support 8 Burning Man art projects.
I did a bit of this last year, but am looking forward to supporting with this intention in mind. The art is truly one of the highlights of going back to the desert every year. It’s so awesome to have destinations in mind once you’re out wandering the Playa as well. Want to do more of this!

7. Attend concerts at 8 different venues
I completely met this last year and can do this same in 2018, but this goal keeps me honest.

8. Take type photo walks in 8 San Francisco neighborhoods.
I’m still figuring out my Instagram, but I like to take photos with a purpose.

9. Publish 8 Medium articles.
This is a quasi-professional goal. I’m looking to establish a voice of expertise online. Maybe this is the platform?

10. Create 8 fashion pieces.
I had a blast creating things for Burning Man 2017 and New Years. Maybe it’s time to do more?

11. Create a project in 8 different Adobe applications.
This is a work goal that I get to have a blast doing. I think it’s important that I know our products better and it may be fun to document my journey as I learn.

12. Follow a recipe from 8 different cookbooks.
Renewing my CSA was one of the best calls of 37. Retraining myself to cook from recipes may be a better one of 38.

13. Attend events/shows at 8 different Bay Area festivals
A manageable version of a goal I’ve yet to accomplish, but that always has been within reach. I need to fall deeply in love with SF’s uniqueness again and this should help me get there.

14. Go to 8 comedy events.
A version of some goals I had last year. With Sketchfest kicking off this weekend, one I feel I’m going to quickly achieve.

15. Watch 8 documentaries.
I have so many on my list and I need to carve out time.

16. Visit 8 different Bay Area museums.
I need to get out of the habit of saying “oh, I should go to that” to going to that.

17. Complete 8 modules in Duolingo.
I was so excited when they launched a subscription version last year. Now I need to take advantage.

18. Complete 8 technological tutorials.
I can’t remember the last time I learned a basic tech skill. CSS has been on my list forever. May this be the year it happens.

19. Watch 8 talks online.
The kids these days are all over it. I can be too.

20. Complete 8 online courses.
I was having the conversation yesterday about how I am feeling like I’m ready to learn again with my life a bit more stable. I’ve missed this.

21. Attend 8 in-person classes or workshops.
I am ready to learn the old-fashioned way again too.

22. Do 8 SF Stairway Walks
I put the book away last year and it’s time to revisit.

23. Listen to 8 weekly podcasts.
There’s about four on my regular rotation…let’s double that.

24. Read 8 autobiography/memoirs/biographies about (and by) women.
Many on my list. Let’s commit.

25. Read 8 novels by women.
My bookshelf already has several on the “to reads.”

26. Read 8 non-fiction books by women.
I could probably write a 38 item list of reading goals, but that’s why I’m in two other reading challenges :).

27. Attend 8 author talks.
Litquake is in October, but I can start working on this long before with City Arts & Lectures and SF’s remaining indie bookstores. Another unique thing about my city that I love and need to take advantage of.

28. Send mail to 8 different countries.

I failed at my penpal goals last year, but still have the addresses. Let’s go.

29. Entertain 8 different people at my apartment.
Artwork is up. Furniture is arranged. Let’s have fun.

30. Travel to 8 countries.
Three are on deck for February. I have unclaimed breaks in July and December. My passport is feeling lonely. Let’s do it.

31. Visit 8 states.
With all 50 down in 2015, it’s time to start revisiting (and finding a way to meet goals with work travel).

32. Bike in 8 different cities.
The best way to explore anywhere (and often to get from point A to B).

33. Camp at 8 different campsites.
More weekends in nature are needed this year.

34. Visit 8 state or national parks.
A goal from a few years back that should be recycled. Protect our parks (and visit them)!

35. Practice yoga at 8 different studios.
I loved mixing in yoga studios to my travels last year. Want to continue.

36. Attend 8 different kinds of fitness classes (not including yoga).
I’m so happy I’ve started to go to the gym on the regular again. I want to make sure I keep it fresh.

37. Go on 8 new hikes.
Something else I put on hold that I need to reintegrate into my life.

38. Get 8 massages.
Treat yo self (also, supplement all that physical activity).

As always I’d love your recommendations, tips, and tricks to approach these goals. Also, what are you looking to achieve this year?

A Note on those Goals (and 37 Rad Things About 37)

It’s my birthday eve. Normally I take today to reflect on the goals I set the year prior, but as you’ve probably guessed, those went out the window this year.

Ruby Beach
A decent spot to make major life decisions.

That decision came to me as I walked down a nearly empty Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park last July, reflecting on the tumultuous first half of my 37th year and reveling in the stability that I appeared to be enjoying at that moment.  I realized that I’d done some pretty crappy math last January, it turns out 3 x 7 x 37 = a shit ton of things to accomplish in just 365 days. It’s also a lot of money, and although I didn’t talk about things too in-depth, I was living in contractland until May of this year. Planning ahead wasn’t a huge part of my Megenda for awhile (a real bummer for a Capricorn) and once things settled down for me, I needed to start righting the ship I’d been creatively keeping afloat since August 2015.

I am still grateful I did the exercise of setting those goals, and they definitely set a tone for the year at the start, but I was honestly okay abandoning them and stopping keeping track. It’s probably no coincidence that I didn’t train for any runs this year either. I didn’t stop running, but it was nice to be free for a year while I focused on meeting some basic needs in other areas of my life.

It was also awesome to see the spirit of the goals live on in others. There’s a handful of folks who’ve reached out to let me know they make their own birthday lists now, and it warms my heart more than writing 21 blog articles about travel ever could. To those of you who are currently working through a list – rock on! You’ve got this!

All this said, after my year off, I’m really looking forward to my 38 by 39 list that I’ll be publishing tomorrow. I feel like it’s much more manageable and I’m back to listing out things I both need to do and that i think I’m going to have fun doing. I can’t wait to share!

Speaking of sharing, since I don’t have a goal-based wrap up for you, I don’t want to close 37 without a little recap of the year. Especially considering, as I mentioned yesterday, a chunk of my digital existence got wiped out with my iPhone upgrade. So, here’s 37 things that were super rad about my 37th rotation around the sun.

  1. Getting hired at Adobe.
  2. Attending all 24 hours of Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.
  3. Getting back on track with my general health and fitness regimen.
  4. Rejoining my Eatwell Farm CSA.
  5. Taking a five-day solo camping/road trip around the Olympic Peninsula.
  6. Seeing Radiohead at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley.
  7. Traveling to Sayulita, Mexico for a week with many of my friends to see two of the most amazing humans on earth tie the knot.
  8. Adding yoga studios into the mix when I travel.
  9. Completing my first holiday Runstreak since December 2014.
  10. Emerging from Burning Man without injury and with greater clarity around a couple of situations I needed to sort out.
  11. Reviving my Advent Activism project.
  12. “Sneaking into” both Portland and Milwaukee without stressing out about trying to see everyone. (I’ll catch ya next time, folks)
  13. Girls trips to Sonoma, Philadelphia and Hollywood.
  14. Deepening my practice at Yoga Garden and finding a regular cadence with the morning schedule.
  15. Experimenting with fashion crafting a bit more with some personal projects for Burning Man and New Years.
  16. Going back to therapy.
  17. Traveling to Seattle, New York, and Boston for work and getting to see friends in all those places.
  18. Making the most of a work trip to Las Vegas by thrifting rad vintage finds, reconnecting with design friends at the Neon Museum, and ground scoring a flamingo and dancing my way up to the front of the stage for a Mark Ronson set.
  19. Learning to hula hoop from Cari Lee and being gifted my first hoop.
  20. Goat Yoga with Lindsay.
  21. Finally going to Austin.
  22. Actually dating someone for awhile (it didn’t work out, but it was nice to know I can still make space for this sort of thing in my life).
  23. Experiencing the RESIST: An Action in Drag Rage Against the Machine tribute with Lorelei.
  24. Seeing my name in the credits for Graphic Means (thanks Briar!).
  25. Framing and hanging a solid selection of artwork in my apartment.
  26. Getting a new tattoo at Diving Swallow in honor of my grandma (still working on finishing it).
  27. Seeing the amazing Roxane Gay on tour in both San Francisco and New York.
  28. Having beers (and meeting up at Hardly Strictly) with my friend Alex from college who I hadn’t seen in 15 years.
  29. Continuing to mentor students through Marquette’s mentorship program.
  30. Discovering that I secretly love the basic pampering of Dry Bar.
  31. Art directing Desert Shadows, a film noir-themed fundraiser, for my Burning Man camp.
  32. Reupping my commitment to continue to serve on the board of Walk San Francisco for two more years.
  33. Seeing Hamilton.
  34. Hosting my dear friend Ben in SF at long last, on a perfect Memorial Day weekend complete with a redwoods dance party and seeing whales from the Golden Gate Bridge!
  35. Handing out Countertype posters in the pouring rain at the Women’s March.
  36. Living in the same city as a blood relative for the first time since 1998 (and we both have the foodie gene).
  37. Getting to explore more of the wonders of California, from Tahoe to Wine Country to Gold Country. I love my adopted state.

There’s soooo, soooo much more that I couldn’t fit on this list. 37 has always been a lucky number for me, and well, I guess, despite everything, this year was a-okay for me.

Let’s do it, 38.

2017 Music in Review

Cough, Cough…is this thing on?

Oof, yes, it’s been awhile.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll blog beyond this week. But if I’ve learned nothing from losing three months of photos and three plus years of voicemails with my latest iPhone upgrade, it’s to document shit elsewhere on the internet so you can find it later.

So without further ado, here is a write-up-less roundup of my musical tastes from 2017.

Top 10 Albums

1. Hurray For the Riff Raff / The Navigator
2. St Vincent / Masseduction
3. Sylvan Esso / What Now
4. Waxahatchee/ Out in the Storm
5. LCD Soundsytem/ American Dream
6. Spoon / Hot Thoughts
7. Vagabon / Infinite Worlds
8. Molly Burch / Please Be Mine
9. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings/ Soul of a Woman
10. Susto/ & I’m Fine Today

Spotify playlist

Honorable Mentions

Japandroids / Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Black Angels / Death Song
Laura Marling / Semper Feminina
Slowdive / Slowdive
Kurt Vile & Courtney Barnett / Lotta Sea Lice

I won’t break my rule for reissues cracking my lists, but damn how I appreciated revisiting R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People via the 25th anniversary release.

Top 10 Shows

1. Radiohead @ The Greek in Berkeley in April. (Easily in my top 5 shows of all time.)
2. Hurray for the Riff Raff at The Fillmore in June
3. Laura Marling at The Fillmore in April
4. LCD Soundsystem at Bill Graham Civic Center Auditorium in November
5. Angel Olsen at The Fillmore in February
6. U2 (Joshua Tree 20th Tour) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in June (much better than nightmare at Levi’s Stadium)
7. Belle & Sebastian and Spoon at The Hollywood Bowl in August
8. Grandaddy at Bimbo’s 360 Club in February
9. Bash & Pop at Swedish American Hall in March
10. Sigur Ros at The Greek in April
Honorable mentions:
Japandroids with Craig Finn at The Fillmore
Susto with Esme Patterson at The Independent
!!! at The Chapel
Chastity Belt with Lisa Prank at Rickshaw Stop
Fat Boy Slim at Pier 70
Best show I was physically at, but a hot drunk mess and had to watch the recording to fully appreciate (aka The Radiohead 2003 Award): Sturgill Simpson at HSB

Top 20 Songs

In no particular order this year, but here’s a playlist.

Megventures: Alright, Alright, Austin – Part I

Believe it or not, until earlier this month I’d never stepped foot in Austin, Texas. Since my routine is a little more clear these days and my 50 State Quest is long under my belt, when a Virgin America fare deal came up last fall, I decided to finally book a flight for a long overdue visit to see my friend Nathan and a few other folks who’ve relocated to muggier climes.

Like anywhere, especially anywhere hip, people had loads of recommendations, and contrary to all of my work/family/wedding-oriented 2016 travel, I had a whole four days to follow them and will hopefully complete a blog post from each day of journal entries before the end of the month.

Never fear, y’all know I cram enough into one day of vacation that it’s enough to spread out over a long weekend if you’re following in my steps.

Part I: Friday

Despite arriving late on Thursday, I made a conscious effort to be up-and-at-em on Friday morning. I also never want to burden my hosts, so planning to be up when Nathan had to leave for work was part of my agenda. Finding a yoga studio within a few minutes of his house was part of that plan. Thanks to internet research I came across the wonderful little Dharma Yoga in the pocket of far East Austin where I was staying. After a lovely “Gratitude Practice” All Levels class (which thankfully improved after an opening killer core workout), the locals directed me to the nearby Cherrywood Coffeehouse so I could plan out my day over coffee and a ginormous breakfast taco.

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The Terra – avocado and fried tofu

While my countermate at Cherrywood rose from his seat and declared, to no one in particular, “well, it’s time to go get this body inked up”, I quietly left and drove across town to spend a warm afternoon at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Bequeathed to the city by the estate of UT Art Professor, Charles Umlauf, the garden is a pleasant spot to stroll on a cloudy afternoon. There’s also a small gallery of Umlauf Prize winners, showcasing modern sculpture and multimedia art. As for Umlauf’s work, I definitely appreciated seeing the evolution of the artist’s style and found the juxtaposition of Catholic imagery and erotic scenes pretty interesting.

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Umlauf’s rare interpretation of La Pieta with Mary Magdalene added in.

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I mean, seriously, look at this sculpture of a cock! (But for real, the Lovers series and The Kiss were fascinating studies in erotic sculpture)

After my walk, I needed to take a drive to recharge my phone. Unfortunately I discovered that my rental car didn’t charge phones very well, which meant I had to conserve battery by putting it in airplane mode. Not very helpful if you’re trying to navigate an unfamiliar city! After getting super lost in a ritzy, hilly area of West Austin along the river, I pulled over to take a walk on what I thought was the main recreational trail. Turns out Redbud Isle is more of a dog park, and I was pretty suspicious without a pup, but I still enjoyed my little stroll.

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Getting lost isn’t always the worst thing.

I finally found more of the famed Greenbelt trails I was looking for when I happened upon Pease Park and hit the Shoal Creek Trail for a couple of miles to get in my steps. The taco finally wore off here and I decided to try to find lunch on an Austin B-Cycle, but just got lost at a dead end trail before hitting Friday rush hour traffic. I rode back to the car.

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Beware of high pedestrians in Austin.

Silly Yankee should’ve realized that all the BBQ joints would be out of meat by 4 p.m. and I hangrily stopped at a food truck park in East Austin. This was a great decision because I got vegan joffa rice with fried plantains from Wasota African Cuisine, which was a fantastic flavor explosion and didn’t fill me up too much before dinner.

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This picture does not do justice to the flavor.

I looped back with Nathan and we headed downtown to the Alamo Drafthouse, which was definitely on my list. I was much more impressed with the huge selection of menu items (hummus & veggie plate! quinoa veggie bowl!) compared to SF (so many more healthy and vegetarian/vegan options, seriously in Texas over California), than Arrival (I figured it out halfway through and then was just bored), but enjoyed the experience overall.

Apparently it was a relatively quiet night on Sixth Street, but I still concluded that my time to enjoy any college strip has long passed. RIP, my youth. We popped into Swan Dive on a side street and finished our Fire Eagle beers before the band finished their soundcheck.

Back to the Eastside, we checked on some gallery set ups for Saturday (more in next post) and got a tip on a party at a new place called Cherry Cola Dog. I wish we’d been in more of a partying mood, because this place was incredible and the event was planned to run until 4 a.m. As it was, we enjoyed some good tunes while perusing local art (I especially liked the work by @erthink, Helen Martin, and Gent). We also hung out by both the firepit and in one of several fluff piles set up in storage containers in the huge backlot.

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Art by ERThink & Helen Martin at Cherry Cola Dog

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Art & Chill, Austin Style

Cramming in one last “Austin” thing for the night, Nathan took me to the White Horse and I’m so glad he did. It was one of the most uniquely entertaining bars I’ve ever been to, perhaps second only to the Fairview Inn in Talkeetna, Alaska. Cowboys and hipsters co-existed and we watched the pick up games going on in the back patio area.

A late-40s, genteel businessman, “Steve”, sidled down next to us for a minute — long enough to pour out some “apple pie from Georgia” into Nathan’s empty popcorn cup. Tossing the kernels to the floor, he discreetly produced a shot of brown liquid from a flask procured from the inner pocket of his ill-tailored suit.

(No Mom, we didn’t get roofied)

Instead we decided to call it a night and walked back through the now-crowded bar.

“NO WAY AM I LEAVING NOW!” I yelled.

The band, who’d been setting up when we arrived was in full-swing and so was the dance floor. I’d arrived in another country — Texas. I insisted on getting another beer and once it was done, forced Nathan to briefly clumsily dance with me. Still, so much fun and an A+ first night in Austin.