Tag: New Year

Friday Links (Kicking Off 2014 Edition)

“There will be always something old in the New Year!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Was it a holiday but two days ago? Did I really take the majority of last week off? Judging by my work To Do List…yes. It’s back to the grindstone, kittens. Jeff has homestudy and I have a scary amount of projects. After which we need to do some food shopping because our leftovers have officially run out, clean the house for the first time since Christmas, etc. It’s time to be civilized again, alas! Here are your weekly links, first of the New Year, and tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend.

2013-12-31 19.28.04
A preview of some of our holiday adventures…

Elizabeth Taylor (an actress whom I really like, every time her name is said I get a craving for the Taylor/Burton Taming of the Shrew), and a letter she once wrote to her cat.

Beautiful nature photos.

It’s pretty well documented that pregnancy, childbirth, etc. terrifies the heck out of me and I’d be happy to avoid it all by adopting a herd of orphans, but even I found Mary Helen Bowers’ pregnancy/ballet balance pretty awesome. I remember being flexible once…

Although, once she has that thing, good luck to her because it’s a minefield!

I have no trouble admitted that I am but a freelancing child and have largely only seen the good side of the industry. So much darkness to look forward to.

I know I would not be able to do what this guy did after losing his vision.

I’m not sure Rodgers is a profession. Does Woodland imply we’re going to live remotely in the forest, because I can tell you that we are NOT.

I have to admit I love the xoVain beauty site, but I think this “Smaug” inspired beauty post is a particularly nerdy favorite. I mean, Smaug is clearly the greatest character in The Hobbit – to quote Lois Long, “I will fight anyone who says differently,” – but the combination of fun makeup artistry with the story of the author’s exceptionally cool dad is a winner. My parents read The Hobbit to me as well, a vitally important childhood memory.

A great glimpse of 1970s kitchens, for the design minded amongst you.

Interesting parenting experiment, opening this one up to the minion commentary because I’m curious as to the thoughts of the parents in the readership. We always had plenty of toys growing up, but our habit of moving frequently meant that we routinely donated and reorganized the surplus and never really accumulated too much. At one point, my parents even significantly downsized Christmas (which I happened to like and plan on replicating with any hypothetical children) and while we are attached to our treasures, we’re not very attached to “stuff.” It’s what allowed me to go to university, and eventually move to London, with just two suitcases to my name each time.

Tumblr find of the week, theses boiled down to one sentence.

2013 In Review

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The lesson of this year has been: just go for it. You’ll be amazed at what happens. (via)

I’ve been taking the holidays off of writing and even some time off work, but I’m looking forward to diving straight back into work next year – AKA tomorrow. I’ve got some great adventure tales coming your way! In the meantime I’m goofing off with Jeff during his vacation days, reveling in the unseasonably bright and clear weather, and eating the massive amounts of leftovers from our Christmas cooking.

2013 was a big year. First and foremost, we made it to London after years of work and planning finally paid off, Jeff started his job in the City, and I’m working for myself as a writer – the dream literally since I was a child. Frankly I have no idea what 2014 will hold, I’m not sure how the past couple of years can possibly be topped…but if I know the sneaky universe, they will. In spectacular style. So, here’s 2013 in review.

Early this year, we were thrown a massive wrench when we were told Jeff’s start date was not going to be in April…but in September. We rallied, but it did shake up the first quarter!

Even though I was really looking forward to moving onto the next thing, the last few months of my unintentional first career in law enforcement support afforded me a few opportunities to speak bluntly about some issues that need better and less sensationalized coverage than they often get.

Our annual Oscar Gown Review brought out the usual minion debate – which I adore! Not sure how it’s going to work this year, but it’s going to happen.

I got a chance to participate in a storytelling event!

I dove into freelancing, and got a chance to look back as I looked forward.

We packed up and moved out of the flat we lived in since we got married on the first leg of our long awaited move to London.

I went to Virginia to mind the house while my mother did a course in ancient Greek, and spent summer with my family in the East Coast Countryside. I got to introduce the minions to my clan a bit more, and did we frolic!

I contributed to a story for the New York Times, and got my first major byline in the Grey Lady herself!

Finally – FINALLY – we moved to London. After a year of waiting and so many hiccups, we were finally here. We wasted no time in enjoying the city together before Jeff started his job.

We celebrated our 4th anniversary.

We kept exploring the city and I loved introducing some of the best finds to you guys.

And finally, settled down a bit, both working and finally in London, we enjoyed our first proper holiday season on our own.

It’s been a whirlwind, crazy up and down, roller coaster of a year. Thanks, kittens, for sticking around through it. 2014 beckons, tell me what you’ve accomplished this past year, and what 2014 will hold for you!

Come At Me, 2013!

“People need revelation, and then they need resolution.”
-Damian Lewis

I like resolutions, I just don’t always like New Year’s resolutions; anything with a culturally built in expectation of failure sort of annoys me.  But every year I make them – in more recent years I’ve kept them extremely well.  #humblebrag

A format I came across for resolutions that I really liked was by Carly at College Prep: she divided her coming year up by monthly goals and aspirations to work on one at a time.  Much nicer than listing all the things you want to work on, tackling them all at once, and collapsing in a heap in early February (likely stuffing yourself with chocolate cake, skipping that class you signed up for, and whipping yourself.  Literally or metaphorically, depending on your resolutions – no judgement here).  Since 2013 is going to be a bit touch and go, months aren’t quite feasible but quarters definitely are, so here’s what I’m thinking:

Q1: Work
As weird as it is to think about, I’ve got about two months left here at good old Nowhereford, Noneofyourbusinessshire University police.  I’ve learned a lot and am grateful for my what I’ve done here, but I am excited for new challenges and opportunities – one in particular that I’ll talk about soon!  My goal is to finish up my job well, leave it in a better state than I found it, and throw myself into new jobs with enthusiasm and and energy.

Q2: Document
We’re moving in Spring, which will require a lot of organization, creativity, and good humor.  I’ve jumped continents before and believe you me, it’s fun but it’s work!  But I still want to make an effort to be better about taking pictures, writing things down, blogging, and keeping in touch with people in the midst of the chaos.  Apart from anything else, it should provide you minions with a lot of amusement watching us scramble.  We live to serve.

Q3: Writing
Once we’ve settled, I’m jumping into writing again.  We’re still unsure of what my work status will be in Britain, I may only be allowed to be the National Gallery’s latest unpaid (but eager!) volunteer, but so be it.  I’m going to relearn how to pitch myself as a writer to US publications, print and online, work hard on this mysterious opportunity I’ve alluded to, and bloody find other chances.  They are out there and for the first time in a long time, I can stalk them.  Aggressively.

Q4: Travel
Travel makes me happy; seeing new places or even revisiting old ones, hearing new words, trying new foods, just getting up and going somewhere is like a cool breeze for the soul.  My soul could use some airing out.  Yes, yes, I know.  “Selfish, C., you were just in London this past summer!”  Fine.  I’m greedy.  Gluttonous, even.  Sue me.

Looking ahead to 2013, I have so much in store I’m almost dizzy thinking about it – and if I’m honest, a bit nervous to see if everything will work out, as my optimism has been rather strained over the last year.  But I believe in tenacity and how far it can get you if you grit your teeth and keep pushing for what you want, as long as you keep grinning.  I can’t wait to see where we get!


Year in Review

Years are such big things, aren’t they?  I know for me at least, they seem to go by quicker and quicker, but when I really think back over what happened this past year, I’m a bit boggled!

We had some struggles this year.  I was personally spared a great deal, but many of those I love had some rough times.  Friends got divorced, health problems continued to dog others, and my brother-in-law lost his parents.

There were other, better times.  I got a tiny little addiction (and found out many of you were already strung out), and enjoyed it entering the cultural zeitgeist.

Friends got married, a few had babies, and there were parties.

J. was gone for half the year (which is weird, because it doesn’t seem like we were ever apart), and we missed each other.  And apparently baffled not a few people who prophesied all sorts of cheery things for us (including infidelity) – so thanks for all you guys who didn’t take that train of thought and instead provided support, distraction, and encouragement.

Margot lived with me for a while before she got married and J. came back.  Hilarity ensued.

I committed to getting healthy this year and had a lot of fun doing so.  Of course, a year of working out at least one hour a day did wonders for me – but it took a bout of food poisoning to drop that last ten pounds.

The universe dropped a happiness bomb on us!

I was Best Man in a wedding.

Half the country caught fire over the summer.  Other, less destructive things happened too.

J. graduated, and we spent a week in London to celebrate and reported on our adventures.  I can’t want to go back.

I turned 26 and J. 27.

The election, a production the better part of a decade in the making happened.  I was annoyed with the more wailing and gnashing of teeth reactions, but then the Mayans predicted the end of the world so maybe November signalled the end…

…Oh.  Wait.

J. and I ran off to Virginia for Thanksgiving and gave you an insight into the Small Dog clan, and we stayed put for Christmas.

And all throughout, work wastypical.

2012 wasn’t a stellar writing year, but I think was one of the best pieces I’ve done in the last twelve months.

And that was the past year here at Small Dog HQ.  The world at large did not end (to some people’s annoyance), but Gangam Style, the terrible Liz and Dick TV movie, and Rush Limbaugh made a few of us wonder if it might.  Things are politically tricksy in this country, and even more so elsewhere, but there were a great many small ways the human race showed that it’s going to get through it – small boys held signs reminding the world that the act of a few radicals did not and would not be allowed to speak for him, and neighbors shared power after cities went dark from storms.  Sure things, got a bit snarky and grim from time to time, but there were always bright sparks of humor, real good will, and happiness – and if that doesn’t sum up what we’re trying to do here, nothing does.

And 2013 is already looking so breathlessly hopeful I can barely stand it.

Happy New Year, kittens!  I hope it brings good things for all of you!


2010, We Hardly Knew Ye

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”
– Oprah Winfrey

A decade, dears.  There have been revolutions, wars, natural disasters.  There have been cures for diseases, leaps in technology, triumphs of humanity.  The iPod is approaching its 10th anniversary.  I’m 10 years on since starting high school…where does time go, exactly?

A big decade for me, all things considered.  Lots of good stuff happened, some bad as well but surprisingly little in comparison I find (which belies all my complaining, shhh).  My small galaxy of people had a pretty stellar year too.  Jane had to move three times in one year as she and her husband struggled with the economy, jobs, and life, but now they seem pretty settled (and much closer to me than California!).  Janssen had a lovely little girl.  Wise is about to follow Jannsen’s maternal lead any second now and her husband got a clerkship post that they are thrilled about.  Hennessy got married and bought a house.  Sav is graduating and her husband got into the grad school of his choice – hurray!  Venice moved (which I’m still not over) but it was the right choice for her and Val and they have a bright future ahead.  Peregrine also moved back to DC, has a fabulous job and a very special – but sadly top secret – project she’s working on.  Scarlett is in grad school in New York, dealing with personal demons (aren’t we all?) but doing so with her usual clear-eyed honesty and personal flair.  Angel got a great new job.  Margot is having some truly heinous battles in the teaching craft, but I’ve never seen her more awesome, (which, if you knew her, you would realize is a statement of gargantuan proportions).  Dad retired, Mum got a job teaching at university and they moved to the US to enjoy retirement (by which I mean, Dad flung himself into manual labor to turn a patch of East Coast backwoods into an estate).  Gio graduated high school and is on to uni himself.  Buddy and Snickers started at a new school in a new country and are doing swimmingly.

Next year will find J. graduated and off to grad school, goodness knows where.  Most likely we’ll be moving as all but one of the schools he’s applied to are in different states and/or countries.  2011 will be a year of adventures and I’m thrilled.  It’s been too long since I’ve had one.

Obligatory Goals:
Shop less.
Eat better.
Save more.
Exercise longer.
Love harder.
Complain less.
Anticipate more.

Hope the New Year brings you all the adventures you desire, kittens.  See you on the other side.

This England!

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
– Shakespeare

So!  Flew in to Heathrow on the morning of Christmas Eve, met at airport by Dad and Snickers, drove home to Suffolk.  Day spent hugging, talking, and trying to stay awake.  Christmas Eve feast was superb.  Went to bed.  Woke up Christmas morning (siblings showed infinite patience and let us sleep in longer than I’d ever imagine they’d be able to) and tore into both presents and breakfast.  Rest of day spent in rest and relaxation.

The adventures begin on December 26th, also known as Boxing Day.  It’s part of the Christmas holiday in England and most people keep holiday hours on it, but this was the day chosen to go to London to show J. the sights.  We checked online and it appeared some things would be open, so off we went.

Mum, left in red. Me, middle in red. Gio, right of me in red. Dad, right of Gio in red. Buddy...in black. Snickers, hidden. J., behind camera.

Never trust the internet.  The Tower, which really is the historical base of the city (thanks, William the Bastard/Conquerer) was closed.  Luckily Westminster Abbey was open.  Some of you may recall my raptures at visiting it two years ago?  Well, it was nothing compared to this time.  I was so obnoxiously happy to be back in England that I had a hyper litany of sheer enthusiasm trilling through my head as I forced myself to walk somberly through its hallowed naves.  The Shakespeare alone was particularly thrilling, I may or may not have muttered the St. Crispin’s Day speech as I meandered past Henry V.  Anne of Cleves got a nod and a, “Well done.  Better off without him.  Much,” Congreve got a cheeky grin, Elizabeth I another critical glance over (still not as pretty as she thought she was).

After Westminster we tried for the Tower but that as you know was a fruitless effort.  So we traipsed across the city!  I didn’t make it over to Kensington where I lived but I did stare longingly at the High Street Kensington and Gloucester Road stops on the Tube for a while.  We walked through Trafalgar Square (scene of many a late night revel with Marie, Elizabeth, and AbFab so long ago), made our way to Leicester Square where, completely out of other ideas, we massacred three hours by watching Avatar.  An observation: don’t see this movie in 3D from the second row of the theatre.  Your inner ear thanks me.  After that we saw Stomp and made our way home at a ridiculous hour of the evening.

Sunday we tried to recuperate a bit and celebrated Buddy’s birthday with a quiet family evening at home.  The next day we celebrated it by scampering around the misty wet fields with nearly fifty people, shooting each other with paintballs.  I had only been paintballing once before and been shot in the mouth, so I didn’t have a high opinion of the activity (this time I was shot at point-blank range while guarding a little girl, but it was during our mad dash for glory in a game of capture the flag and we were welcomed to the splotched sidelines like heroes).  The boys loved it.

No, it's not the camera angle, the house really looks like that.

Tuesday we went to Lavenham, which is without question the most charming country village outside of the Lakes District.  I’ve written about it before, but allow me to gush a little bit more!  It’s just delightful, the crooked Tudor houses always make me grin like an idiot.  I rummaged through my favorite antique store (trying on an Edwardian hat, drooling over Victorian jewelry, and rifling through letter boxes and cupboards) and we ate lunch at The Swan.

Wednesday J. and I basely ditched the family and hopped on the train from Cambridge back down to London so he could actually see things.  The train was a necessity because, according to the news, a truck of pigs had gotten into a wreck on the M11 and, far from turning the passengers into bacon, a dozen or so had escaped and were wandering across the highway, grazing on things, and generally causing a bad time of it for the drivers who were backed up for hours waiting for the porcine perils to be rounded up.

We hit the Tower and the British Museum.  Going through it was like visiting an old friend.  J. seemed to especially love the awful imperialism it represented.  “I mean, these guys just showed up and said, ‘I like that wall.  I think I’ll take it!'” he said going through the Parthenon exhibit.  During the evening we walked from Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Circus so I could get in some much needed shopping before we made our way back to Liverpool St. and hopped back on the train to Cambridge.  Then, the next day, back to the States.

I’m going to be honest and admit that as we were driving back from J.’s parents house and I was looking across the valley and snow-covered mountains…I burst into homesick tears.  When we got home I was absolutely howling with misery (or lack of sleep, one of the two).  “I want to live two hours outside of London!” I sobbed, “I want to live where it’s green even in the winter!  I hate the desert!  I don’t want to go back to work on Monday!  I don’t want to live here for two and a half more years while you finish school!  I want my dog!”

J. just hugged me and promised to get me back there someday if he could, and he meant it.  I calmed down, went to bed, and woke up feeling alright about leaving England behind for a while.  In the meantime, I’ll just be here.  Missing it.