Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

How to choose a great New Year's resolution - and make it stick

Source: my friend shared this with me on Facebook. Does that count?

"Experts" say that it only takes 21 days to build a habit. But I spent all of November flossing my teeth every night as a personal challenge to myself (and as a tribute to my wonderful dentist), and I still only do it sporadically now (TMI?). So I guess if a habit is mind-numbingly boring and kind of gross, it won't necessarily stick.

New Year's resolutions are a lot like flossing. Most people make nice-sounding pledges to themselves, then abandon them in mid-March, after a series of fits and starts, for a couch and a bowl of buttered popcorn (and honestly, that sounds like a pretty good trade to me). In the words of Mary Poppins, a New Year's resolution is a "pie crust promise" to yourself: easily made, easily broken.

And yet, a New Year's resolution is a fun tradition, if nothing else. Every year, I have a little debate with myself about what kind of New Year's resolution to make. One year I went the predictable route and outlawed sugar; you can guess how long that lasted. A couple of years ago, I eschewed resolutions for myself and instead handed resolutions out to other people. That was a lot more fun, and a much easier commitment. Last year I struck a balance between silly and serious with my resolutions, which were:

  • Buy better underwear
  • Loan $25 on Kiva each month
  • Less drama (especially in public) (especially when wine is involved)

Did I succeed? Yes, for the most part. My resolutions were mostly tangible and bite-sized, though they could have been better articulated - more details to show what "better underwear" looks like, for example, or an explanation of what I considered to be "drama."

For underwear, I joined True & Co (and boycotted Victoria's Secret), and now my lingerie drawer has a collection of nice bras that fit me pretty well.
I successfully donated at least $25 to entrepreneurs on Kiva each month, usually women. This was probably my most satisfying resolution!
To curb wine-related drama, I instituted a "three drink rule" for myself, since after three glasses I tend to get uppity. (Sometimes I slipped, as when I drank an entire bottle of wine on my own at Bumbershoot, which resulted in me yelling about cultural appropriation and sobbing in a beer garden... but mostly I did better.) For drama in general, I practiced communicating better with those close to me, managing my expectations of others, and taking deep breaths instead of saying bitchy things.

I haven't chosen my New Year's resolution(s) for 2014 yet. I already have so much on my plate for 2014 that whatever I choose will have to be something small and manageable.

..maybe flossing.

What about you? Do you take New Year's resolutions seriously? 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sex Ed Sunday

  • "Taking the Cake" is an illustrated primer on asexuality, and it's great!
  • The concept of "cyborg sperm" is probably a good one, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies. Yay, science? (Sploid)
  • "The real shame with strippers isn't that they take their clothes off for money. It's that they take their clothes off for money that is then unfairly garnished by their employers." (Slate)
  • "My Abortion." Twenty-six women share their abortion stories. "I had no idea that the average abortion patient is all of us." (New York Magazine)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Old Seattle

So cool!


Taken by Eadweard Muybridge, who may have spelled his name a little oddly, but who was a pioneer of photography!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Favorite

No links today, just the news that my boyfriend surprised me with something so amazingly wonderful* today that I had to sing a little song.

*Nope, not an engagement.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 was AWESOME!

Today marks the second anniversary of my first post on this blog! To celebrate, I'm looking back at some of the highlights of the year.

I raised my blog from the dead this June after a six month hiatus! August and December saw the most activity, with 25 posts apiece at this time. And I committed to weekly installments, Friday Favorites and Sex Ed Sundays.

I turned 25 and got a tattoo - my first ever - on my birthday! I can't believe I still haven't written about that.

Tyler and I went to Iceland! It was an amazing trip. Our adventure is chronicled here.

Seatown Sound, the choir so near and dear to my heart, started to really take off this year. We had quite a few opportunities to perform and we celebrated our one year anniversary! I hope we get even more chances to sing for the public in 2014.

I was a bodypaint model for the Seattle Erotic Art Festival. Great experience, but not one to be repeated - getting the paint off afterward was a grueling endeavor. Plus I had to scrub the bathtub.

I joined the 101 in 1001 challenge and failed to complete a juice cleanse.

My father got re-married!

I found out what it's like to be laced into a real, old-timey corset. (You can't inhale too deeply or you'll feel like something inside you popped..)

My sister and I spent Halloween dressed as a bit of 90s nostalgia. (I miss Nickolodeon's golden years!)

And I learned how to make finger waves.

Plus I am still dating this very nice boy.

2013 was an amazing year! I hope next year I have even more adventures, and that I grow as a person and a blogger.

What does the way you speak say about where you're from?

I often think about the hows and whys and wheres of speech. I took only one linguistics course in college, but I would have liked to take more - and not only because it taught me to finally understand how to interpret those weird-looking dictionary pronunciation guides. I just love language.

I found this dialect quiz, based on a Harvard linguistics project begun in 2002, particularly delightful. Though it missed the mark for me by a few thousand miles, it makes sense - my mother grew up in NorCal, so some of her California-isms must have rubbed off on me. (The "most distinctive answer" I gave that puts me in Santa Rosa, Fremont, or San Jose is "firefly." I've never even seen a firefly. Go figure.)

My father grew up in Montana, so that state's dialect is a nice warm red-orange for me. Greater Seattle is the dark ruby red I would expect. Apparently I would also feel at home, linguistically-speaking, in much of New York, but that could make sense because New York holds such sway over the rest of the country - we hear New Yorkers more often than we hear people from Arkansas.

Where do your words come from?

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's ALMOST Christmas!

Why not staple a giant bow to a headband and wear it on your head?, ask Katy and Katie.

Bonus! Lindy West takes "Love Actually" to task. One of those movies that I enjoy despite knowing the whole time that it is, in fact, terrible.

Chatroulette does Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Hairpin on Poppins

The Hairpin saw "Saving Mr. Banks," as I did, but they knew a bit more about P.L. Travers and Mary Poppins and so have much more interesting things to say.

Christmas chitty chat

The very sweet Julee of Jingle Bell Jackson quizzed me about my Christmas traditions!

What's your favorite thing about Christmas?
I love feeling like the whole city has suddenly been transported back to the 1940s – Bing Crosby and Judy Garland are on all the airwaves! I love vintage things, especially music.

See Julee's post for more!

Sex Ed Sunday

  • France is planning to pass legislation to criminalize the clients of sex workers. Their model is based on the laws already present in Sweden. Melissa Gira Grant argues that laws that treat sex workers as victims don't actually help sex workers. (Slate)
  • "Virgin" births more common among girls and women whose parents indicated that they "didn't have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters." (Stranger SLOG via The Independent)
  • "Free" birth control isn't free (RH Reality Check), and the cases brought against the Affordable Care Act's mandate that birth control be covered by women's insurance isn't about religion - it's about misogyny (The Nation).
  • Many conservative claims regarding abortion - such as the theory of "legitimate rape" - are informed by unethical (and inaccurate) scientific research carried out by Nazis. (Slate)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Favorites: Christmas Edition

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat! Please to put a blog post in the old man's hat... that would actually not be a very nice thing to put in someone's hat when they were content to get only a penny, or even a ha'penny.

Bonus! "Misandrist Christmas Carols." People who like/hate Christmas carols and understand satire may enjoy these. And people who like Christmas carols and love Billy Eichner and/or Amy Poehler will enjoy watching them sprint through New York, trying to engage strangers in song.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"I accidentally listened to Leonard Cohen."

This mock form, titled "Why I Am Not Coming In to Work Today," is perfection (as per usual for The Toast).

This one! "For the first time I genuinely comprehend that there is not enough time to have all the lives I wanted."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Saving Mr. Hanks - er, Banks

I saw a free sneak preview of "Saving Mr. Banks" the other day. It's about the collaboration between Walt Disney and P. L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books, to bring Mary Poppins to the silver screen.

I enjoyed the movie, although not as much as the movie wanted me to enjoy it. A few reasons: I don't trust the Disney brand to truthfully depict its founder (and I'm sure anyone else who tried to do a realistic biopic would be promptly sued). As I expected, they cast Tom Hanks because he's so very good in his well-worn role of tirelessly whimsical and empathetic, soft-eyed gentleman. I'm not easily charmed by things like giant, stuffed Mickey Mouses and gentle speeches meant to cut right to the heart. Neither am I especially touched by the superficially sweet relationships that develop between professional drivers and people who sit in the back seat.

"Saving Mr. Banks" is one of those movies that wants to tug at your heartstrings, but it's too lazy to do it right; it takes shortcuts. The feelings it tries to elicit are shallow ones. They don't last.

Emma Thompson, however, was perfection. She does the classic, uptight British thing so well. And although the flashbacks to her childhood seemed forced and clumsy - and I refuse to believe that anyone's memories could be quite so cliche as all that - I appreciated the parallels drawn between familiar and beloved characters from "Mary Poppins" and characters from P. L. Travers's own past.

I won't spoil anything exactly. I will say that the movie almost made me cry when it showed this clip:


Oh, Mr. Banks. He's such an almost-tragic figure, and the older I get, the more I understand him and the more he breaks my heart. 
Mary Poppins would not approve, I'm sure.

Edit: This is what I really wanted to say about the movie, but Harlan Ellison says it better. Manipulative! That's the perfect word for it. I love the movie "Mary Poppins," but for some reason it gives me more satisfaction to know that P.L. Travers never really gave in.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sex Ed Sunday

Museum of Flight, old sport?

Last weekend was Tyler's office holiday party, which was not held at his office but at the Museum of Flight.

The party was Great Gatsby-themed, which delighted and disappointed me in equal measure - delighted because I love a vintage aesthetic, disappointed because of all the eras they could have chosen, they chose the one that least suits my body type. Flappers are wispy, glittery things, and I, well - I have boobs.

But there's something about the opulence of the 1920s that lends itself so well to holiday fetes, so I allowed myself to enjoy the theme. I donned furs and fussed over my look, even attempting false eyelashes and finger waves. (The false eyelashes didn't take, but I was pretty proud of my hair sculpting. I used this tutorial.)

Tyler's office sponsored an open bar, appetizers, and a dinner and dessert buffet. After dinner, we were free to wander the museum (and surreptitiously make out in the less trafficked exhibits), dance to the live band music, and take picture upon picture in the self-operated photo booth.

Friday Favorites - belated!

Whoops! Forgot to get my Friday Favorites scheduled this week. It can still be enjoyed two days later. :)

  • A mouse decorates a Christmas tree! So cute!
  • I love this elegant little essay on heartbreak. (Privilege)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What's YOUR personality?

I spend a lot of time worrying about how people perceive me. I'm afraid that they read my calm, quiet exterior as aloofness, rather than what it really is - plain old garden-variety shyness and fear of being totally awkward. Friends and coworkers like to tell me that they thought I was kind of an ice queen before they got to know me, so it's not like my worries are unfounded. Sigh. The trials of an introvert.*

So I love personality quizzes, because they basically represent someone - even if that someone is a bunch of coding - "getting" me right off the bat, someone who knows and loves my strengths and foibles alike, and reflects back the images of the me that I am and the me that I could be. It feels nice to be known.

Also, as somewhat of a narcissist, I puff up like a happy pigeon around mirrors of any sort.


I've taken the Myers-Briggs personality test dozens of times, and every time I come out an INFP (well, once I was an INFJ. Maybe I was feeling rebellious that day.). Today I discovered a new personality test, called the iPersonic. Not sure if it's as robust a test as the Myers-Briggs - it's a lot simpler and shorter - but it certainly was nifty. Turns out, I'm the "Dreamy Idealist":
Dreamy Idealists are very cautious and therefore often appear shy and reserved to others. They share their rich emotional life and their passionate convictions with very few people. But one would be very much mistaken to judge them to be cool and reserved. They have a pronounced inner system of values and clear, honourable principles for which they are willing to sacrifice a great deal.
(Tyler is the Analytical Thinker. Big surprise there, Mr. Actuary.)

Even if this or similar tests don't exactly nail your personality, they are useful for a few reasons. They remind us that we all engage with the world in different ways, and that what works well for one person - the way they learn, for example, or how they prefer to receive feedback - may not be as effective for someone else. They help you understand what makes your heart sing, and what really stresses you out, and why.


Personality tests also may give useful relationship or career guidance. When I read the profile of an INFP, I learned that many INFPs are well-suited to counseling positions, and I felt happy that I have embarked on that path.

I definitely recommend personality tests. If nothing else, they're fun and interesting!

*INFP Problems, amirite?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tis the Season for Seatown!

My singing group, Seatown Sound, performed at the Madison Park Starbucks this past Sunday. Here's a video of our "Auld Lang Syne" soloist, Evan, absolutely rocking it.

Post by Seatown Sound.

We have two more concerts coming up this week, Thursday the 12th and Sunday the 15th.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A perpetual tonic

Thinking of this quote as I work on graduate school applications:
"If you do not feel yourself growing in your work and your life broadening and deepening, if your task is not a perpetual tonic to you, you have not found your place."
~ Orison Swett Marden
I want to get some of that tonic, for real.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sex Ed Sunday

Since I am an aspiring sex therapist and educator, I'm adding another weekly link list to the blog. Sex Ed Sundays will provide a smattering of various sex-related items of intrigue. Here we go!

  • A "highly scientific study" has ranked all 50 states (minus Georgia..what could it mean??) according to penis size. Apparently those of us interested in penis size should visit the Dakotas, although, as Time notes, "the data is based on what size condoms people are purchasing, the states at the top of the list may just have an impressive lack of self-awareness." (Time)
  • Abstinence-only sex education programs are rubbish. Teens are going to think about and experiment with sex, and it's far better that they get good and thorough information so they know how to stay safe, set boundaries, and enjoy themselves, and also grow into good, giving, and game (GGG) partners. Girly Juice has rounded up some good links and tips for teens. And BTW, "sex" doesn't only mean p-in-v intercourse!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Favorites

  • I want to make Christmas cookies! Here's a huge list of delicious ideas to get you baking. (Brit + Co)
  • Written so well and so earnestly, "Class Navigation: On Being Poor" robs me of anything to say that might sound important or useful. So just go read it. (The Toast is a really good site and they are posting amazing gems over there.)
  • The whole Internet can just stop now, because I have found The Best Thing, and it is this: Katy & Katie make "swants." Swants are sweater-pants, and they are terrible and wonderful to behold.
  • Tom Scocca, on smarm: "Smarm is a kind of performance -- an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance. Smarm is concerned with appropriateness and with tone. Smarm disapproves. ... Why, smarm asks, can't everyone just be nicer?" (Gawker)

Christmas Ship!

Last night, I joined a small group of women from the Seattle Ladies Choir and sang on the Argosy Christmas Ship. After only four rehearsals, I didn't have very high expectations - in fact, I was sort of dreading it, and I even told my family members not to try to attend - but everything turned out much better than expected. There were definitely a few vocal hiccups, but overall I think we did well.

It was a freezing cold night, but whenever we were done singing a set, a bunch of us raced outside to watch the parade of boats behind us, bedecked with twinkle lights, and dance to the holiday music blared through the loudspeakers. And it felt a little magical.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy Repeal Day!


On December 5th, 1933, Prohibition was repealed. Eighty years later, there is still much rejoicing! See below for (mostly Capitol Hill-centric) special events happening tonight.

  • look at how Seattle drank during the Prohibition. (Quirksee)
  • Bar Cotto is hosting a Repeal Day bash from 10 pm to 2 am.
  • Smith will offer Prohibition-era drinks from 8 pm to 1 am.
  • Liberty is having a holiday punch contest from 6 pm to 9 pm.
  • Canon is pouring shots of a 1930 Haig scotch for $99 - they would usually be $325!
  • Knee High Stocking Co. will have special punch available until 9 pm, and happy hour will be extended until closing.
  • Tavern Law will have drink specials. Good luck getting into Needle & Thread, their upstairs "speakeasy," tonight!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

And..back to AIDS

Because I just read this article.
The loss of more than 630,000 U.S. citizens to HIV/AIDS since the onset of the crisis has left a generational gap that no amount of moviesplays, or commemorative days can fill.
So sad. And Reagan was a really crummy president.

Edit: Slate argues that we need new strategies, rather than outdated fear tactics, to curb the spread of HIV.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tis the season to be jolly and joyous!

I especially like this time of year because it feels as though everything is magically transformed into an Irving Berlin musical - the glittering lights; the scarves tucked snugly around our throats; the piping hot toddies; and the feeling of being transported, through music, back to a vintage era.


 Not every song in my "Merry" playlist is old timey, but a lot of it is. I hope it brightens the season for you!

AIDS is still a thing

This Thanksgiving, I chose to sit at the kids' table with my cousins, as I usually have for the past twentyish years or so. Though they are all between six and twelve years younger than I, my cousins are like my sisters and I love to spend time with them. They are smart and interesting and funny and wonderful (and - if I'm being honest - a lot easier to impress than grown-ups, which is a pleasant ego boost).

One of them is in high school right now. She knows that I'm interested in sex ed, so she told me about ASPEN, a program for high school students that raises HIV/AIDS awareness, et cetera. Evidently her school had just devoted a week to engaging students in safer sex education games in advance of World AIDS Day, which was December 1st. My cousin played a game and won a mint-flavored condom. Telling me that made her giggle, which is the appropriate reaction for a 15-year-old, and really for anyone who is given a mint-flavored condom. Hopefully it wasn't spearmint, because spearmint is terrible.

Also terrible: AIDS still devastates other parts of the world, and there are 50,000 new cases of HIV every year in America. And unprotected sex, especially dangerous among young gay men, is on the rise.
What twenty-year-old man, enjoying his first moments of sexual adventure, is going to be scared because, ten years before he was born, people like me saw gay men writhe and vomit and die on the streets where he now stands?
People my age don't remember the AIDS epidemic of the 80s. We don't know anyone (we think) with HIV; unlike Michael Specter of the New Yorker, we haven't watched friends die by the dozens.

We may feel invincible, but we are not. It's so important to remain vigilant; to champion medically accurate, comprehensive, inclusive sex education; to fund free HIV tests; and to hand condoms out to high school and college students, even if they blush and laugh about it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas shoes

(I really can't stand that song.)

I'm sure I can think of a few more things in the coming weeks, but right now, all I want for Christmas is these in a size 6.
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