Italy by Number

I have so many thoughts to share stemming from my two and a half weeks in Europe. My route was
Flight to Zurich→
Train to Innsbruck→
Car share to Bressanone→
On foot across the Dolomites to Cortina d’Ampezzo→
Bus to Venice→
Rental car to Padua→Verona→Bergamo→Milan→
Train and kayak to Bellagio→
Car share to Zurich
with a lot of little stops in between. Everything I saw was stimulating and new, and I took dozens and dozens of pages of notes. Since most of that time was spent in northern Italy, let’s kick off the onslaught of upcoming blog posts with a lighthearted comparison of Italy and Boulder. Continue reading →

Check in Time: The Year of Austerity

Remember my New Year’s Resolution to stop buying things? Well, since I started my resolution on November 26, I’ve reached the halfway point. Hurray! Let’s see how I’ve done.

Here are the forbidden purchases (in no particular order). The original assessment is in italics and the update is in red. Continue reading →

The Year of Austerity

It’s the delusional time of year when we all make promises to ourselves that we have no intention of keeping even through the end of January. Mine is to stop buying things. I buy too much stuff. Even though I don’t buy knick-knacks or holiday decorations or home goods or anything that really is just clutter, and even though I only set foot in a Target or Cost Plus World Market or Bed, Bath, & Beyond about twice a year, I still buy too much stuff I don’t need. I’m a sucker for a good deal and tend to amass certain items without using up what I already have first.

When I was 18 and got my first credit cards, I bought all the things because credit cards were “free money.” Woo-hoo! I was living on my own but never sat down and did the basic calculations of income versus expenses, and I got into financial trouble pretty quickly. After defaulting on all four cards and tanking my credit score, I decided I needed to get it together. I started writing down every single item I bought in a journal. Even purchases as a small as a $1.59 cup of coffee at a gas station. Spending those few moments thinking about where your money went and then having a visual record of everything you spend is a great way to see how much you waste on crap and a good motivator to stop. After I got my finances back together, I spent six years living overseas: a few semesters abroad in undergrad and then working abroad after I finished my BA. This is a great plan for anyone who is trying to be less materialistic. When you are bouncing around from country to country, living out of two suitcases, and the baggage limit on an airplane is 20kg, you really have no interest in buying anything at all. Continue reading →

Yoga Makes Your Nightmares Come True

I am not a person who does yoga. But I firmly believe in the saying, “When in Rome…” and since I live in Boulder, Colorado, I find myself going to yoga now and again. Given my workaholic, overly pragmatic, and strictly rational personality, a little mindful relaxation is probably good for me. So I tag along with my girlfriends from time to time. Besides, doesn’t every yoga class need that one awkward person in the back of the room who can’t come within six inches of touching her toes?

There are other reasons to go to yoga as well, like getting my butt away from the computer and out of the office midday. Last Wednesday, for example, I went to lunchtime yoga hosted by a local beer garden and run by a delightfully upbeat instructor who provides much needed reminders throughout her sessions to “Relax your face.” Each time she says that, she is most certainly looking at the unattractive grimace and wrinkles of frustration that cloud my face each time I attempt garudasana or gomukhasana or some other pose that is as equally unpronounceable as undoable. Continue reading →

Jeans

Somewhere around the third to fifth grades, I went through a phase of refusing to wear jeans. It started with some adorable purple and pink sweat suits I had with fluffy animal decals on the shirts and complementary piping down the legs of the pants. Yes, it’s OK to wear sweatpants in public when you are 8 years old. When you are 28, not so much. Then I moved on to some coral and beige elastic waistband cargo pants given to me by my impossibly cool older cousin Amy’s parents when she outgrew them. Twice a year a large box arrived in the mail for me full of was-cool-three-years-ago hand-me-downs. The cargo pants, Summer Camp 1986 off-the-shoulder t-shirts and mint green jump suits with large brass buttons that may have looked glamorous on a model in Seventeen magazine, but not so much on a kid with bat ears, rabbit teeth, and big blue glasses. Not that I had any clue how ridiculous I looked.

My affinity for those coral cargo pants coincided with the rise of “giving shorties” as the thing to do among fifth graders at Alden Elementary and I hadn’t quite mastered the Sunday School lesson of do unto others, blah, blah, blah. I knew I was a target, but I couldn’t stop wearing the pants. They were just so cool. They had come from Minneapolis after all. My friends and I watched each others’ backs as we walked around blind corners to and from art class and on the playground where a kid in the middle of a game of tag might just short you as he went streaking to the other side. But if I really ever thought I was going to make it safely to the sixth grade, I was kidding myself. I got mine one day as my class stood single-file in the hallway on the way to library, waiting for another elementary school chain gang to come through the doors in the opposite direction. Without my scrunchie mafia around me, a boy from another fifth grade class saw the opportunity and in a flash, the coral pants were around my knees and my day-of-week pink cotton underwear was out there for world to see. Continue reading →

Girly Things

I spent my most impressionable years in a world of flannel, Doc Martens, carpenter jeans, and Skechers before they became soccer mom shoes. I never would have suspected that one day I would be addicted to Ann Taylor and Banana Republic and New York & Company. The only cosmetic I wore was the heavy black eyeliner required for qualification as an American teenager in the 1990s. I had lots of choke collar necklaces and leather band bracelets, and plenty of body jewelry including a tongue ring and plugs that I eventually stretched out to zero gauge (and no, they don’t ever shrink back all the way. Mostly, but not all the way.). I did wear normal nail polish from time to time, not that I would have ever gone to a professional salon to have it applied, not even had I gone to prom. Continue reading →