Tag Archives: birthday

Hot Man Reading Things

It’s Sir Sean Connery’s 85th Birthday today!

As I speed toward library school starting in a hot second (next week), I think these images of the man, the myth, the legend–in various stances and states of undress and usage of reading materials–is just the right way to celebrate.

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The 29 List has Landed!

Cripes! It’s over one month since my birthday, and I’m just officially getting this list announced. I updated it multiple times, but I failed to save it. But with all pomp, here it is! This is my last of the yearly lists, and I’m ready to own it like I’m going to tackle moving, Canada, and grad school round two. It’s time to see how I fit in this wide world, after all.

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The 27 List: Final Results

All right, folks, it happened. I turned 28. It wasn’t painful or sad or anything. It was delightful. Delightful because I hosted brunch  and had book club that night.

But also because 27 was so damn good to me. I managed to accomplish 20/27 to-dos I set for myself, and I really loved every minute of it. This year, especially in the last six months, I really put fun (for lack of a better word) first. Not exactly loving my job helped me to spend more time reading, socializing, making friends, and adventuring. All my friends getting married sort of helped that along, too. And most important, all those things helped me inadvertently take Dickens’ quote to heart: I’m not dwelling on lost relationships, grad school failures, and other past hangups. This is my life, here and now, and by not looking back I’ve noticed far more present blessings.

Read the whats, hows, and how-nots, below. (And stay tuned for the 28 list later this week.) From the original 27 List page.


“Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

– Charles Dickens

I’m in my late twenties. Officially the slippery slope to 30. My life’s not perfect but I have a lot. I am lucky. And while last year was a year of rebuilding and me, me, me, this should be a time to be thankful for who and what I have in my life, not focusing on what’s missing.

True to form, this will remain fluid and open to new goals. I’ll track my progress, in an unfashionably slow manner, here.

The 27 List

  1. Travel three places I have never been 

    The most beautiful place in the world.

    The most beautiful place in the world.

    Again, I set this goal and I get to exceed expectations beyond my wildest imagination. Last year was England, this year was Spain and Italy! A work trip sent me to Barcelona and Almeria, Spain, and I took the opportunity to vacation for a week beforehand. I boarded the Norwegian Epic cruise ship–all by myself–and went from Barcelona, to the top of Mount Vesuvius and the lost city of Pompeii, to the insanity and history of Rome and Vatican City, to the extreme serenity of the Cinque Terre, to the coast of France, and finally, to the island city of Palma de Mallorca and a day of swimming in the ocean. It was one of the most amazing things I will probably ever be able to do with my life, and I am so grateful it happened. My absolute favorite stop was the Cinque Terre. I bet you can see why.

  2. Consider my career (part 2)
    Well, the last year has produced some of the worst moments and first grey hairs of my career. I really, truly need to think about who and what I want to be. Plus, my GRE scores run out soon (now?) and I’ll have to retake the test if I want to seriously consider the library/archiving route. So, I QUIT THE BARN. If that’s not a step in the right direction (for both surviving my day job and considering the future) then there is no right step or direction.
  3. Say yes
    I said yes to a new job. To going out. To drinking. To friends. To more book clubs. More old books. More adventures. More sleeping. It was great. It took a few months, but once I finally gave in, I said yes to the social life and fun that I’d deprived myself of and that had eluded me for a long time.
  4. Say no
    I could have done this earlier, but hitting late 27, I’ve said a lot of “No.” No to some extra sorority work. No to working late. No to working the second job. No to men who suck.
  5. Dry clean
    I either only buy clothes that can be washed, or I buy sweaters that can be dry-cleaned and I instead wash them. It’s fine–a great way for me to limit what I buy–but there are some things that just need to be dry cleaned. So, I’ve had three lovely dresses go to the cleaners and come back ready for another formal occasion in 2014.
  6. Go to an Iowa Cubs game
    Done! We lost. But it was a beautiful night and a lot of fun.
  7. Go to a Twins game
    I’m learning, in my second year of this, that I shouldn’t make so many things destination based. It’s hard with people’s schedules!
  8. See a 3D movie
    I did! That movie was not Gravity, which is supposedly, like, the reason 3D movies were even invented. But that movie was THOR: Dark World and it was amazeballs. Plus an almost-touchable Chris Hemsworth is not something to turn down.
  9. Iowa Wild and Des Moines Buccaneers
    We lost both. Who cares. #hockey #beer #friends
  10. Go to the Iowa State Fair
    HUZZAH! I did! I lived in this fertile land for 27 years without once setting foot on the fabled event, which is grounds for expulsion in this state. So, mom, pop, and I took an early morning, pre-heat and pre-crowd trip to check it out. And by “check out” I mean eat all the fried food I could in 15 minutes. Left: mini cider donuts, fried Oreos, fried Twinkie. Right: double bacon corndog with syrup, fried Snickers.
    Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.41.21 AM
  11. Bake something new
    I’m calling this a win, even though it was really that I made these super sweet cookies with almond and my first-ever experience with Royal Icing. Royal Icing is the GREATEST.
  12. Scrapbook
    Ain’t nobody got time for that. I had too many wedding-related craft projects.
  13. Read another Austen
    Huzzah! I did this one on accident. I listened to Lady Susan on audiobook. Not so terribly exciting, but I’m glad I experienced it.
  14. Read another Bronte
    What? I started one, but that was a last-ditch effort. I had far too many reading goals.
  15. Read another Collins
    Ditto to the above.
  16. Brush up on  history
    I didn’t quite tackle a history book, as I might have thought when I wrote this, but I have read a few books with a heavy focus on history, and I definitely heard a lot of history on my tours of Pompeii and Vesuvius.
  17. Catch up on my magazine subscriptions
    Every Day with Rachael Ray, check. More, check. Vogue, check. Vanity Fair, check. Esquire, check.
  18. Refresh French
    I tried some French-Word-A-Day email. It wasn’t daily. I’ve since found another. Fingers crossed. … I surrender, this one just isn’t happening. The new daily thing was just verbs, it seemed. I need to start more basic than learning how to say and use “to emboss.”
  19. Read two nonfiction books
    Another accidental win! Two of my book clubs picked nonfiction reads: The Psychopath Test and My Year With Eleanor and Running Away to Home. I also listened to An Education and read a book I had been gifted a couple years ago, Summer at Tiffany. I really don’t often opt for nonfiction, so I’m kind of glad to see this was an effortless task on the list.
  20. Read Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels
     It feels so good to say I did this. I read all but the first one this year.
  21. Blog the Bond (finally)
    Come to find out, deciphering notes you took on Bond movies in 2012 is not as easily remembered as you thought it would.
  22. Closet connection
    I’ve got a clothes fetish, particularly from Target. And I also hoard clothes, even if I don’t need them. Enter this year’s slow purge of clothes I never wear. It’s been really, really nice.
  23. Cook vegetables
    Brussels sprouts! Green beans! Broccoli! Sweet potatoes! A vegetarian chili!
  24. Drink more water
    Thank you, Lent! I gave up pop (like every year) but this year I’m actually hoping to kick it for good. Water it is! Although it’s lots of water + Crystal Light or Propel or Mio or something. Baby steps. … No I haven’t kicked pop, but I’m drinking a lot less! And definitely craving it less.
  25. Send more mail
    In an effort to read the magazine subscription, I sorted the 100+ food magazines I have. The ones I didn’t want anymore? Mailed it!
  26. Lose 5 lbs
    More like gain 10. Fuck. Ah, well, present blessings and all.
  27. Look at school qualifications 
    I didn’t just look, I met with reference professors, chatted up librarians, and I’ve started applying. BOOM.

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My last 24 hours at 26 years

Started like this:


Bumping and grinding to the likes of Space Jam with my library loan on Ian Fleming while my friends judged and took photos.

That’s all me, ladies and gents. Perhaps the most accurate capture yet.

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The 26 List: Final Results

Well, I turned 27 last weekend, officially finding myself into the throes of my late-twenties.

At the same time, the window for the 26 List closed. How’d things turn out? 17/26. There were 9 things I couldn’t (or simply didn’t) make happen. I never planned on nailing them all, so for my first ever bucket-list-of-sorts, I’m feeling pretty good. Especially because I didn’t quite realize the scope of a few of these things. And that I didn’t really start until three months after my birthday.

Read the whats, hows, and how-nots, below. (And stay tuned for the 27 list later this week.) From the original 26 List page.


“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.”
– D.H. Lawrence 

Twenty-six started hungover from the letdowns and heartbreaks of twenty-five. But regrets aren’t what-ifs (at least), and all you can do is face your mistakes and improve. So, three days after my birthday,  I started a list that I’ve been working on ever since. The 26 List: 26 things to challenge myself to heal the wounds, become a better adult/woman/professional/whatever, and bring some new life into this side of my twenties.

Fluid and open to new goals. I’ll track my progress, in an unfashionably slow manner, here.

The 26 List

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously
    Done and done. First, I took a cardboard Yoda cutout on a walk to Starbucks with me, and photographed the whole thing. (You can find it on my Facebook page). Then, I tattooed 007 to my hand (see#12). If that’s not taking myself (and my body) less seriously, then I don’t know what else to do.
  2. Visit at least 3 places you’ve never been
    This list could have been a bunch of small town rest stops between Des Moines and SUX. But it’s not, because I have stellar friends and family.
    #1 Indianapolis, Indiana: Delta Gamma Convention

    #2 Kansas City, MO: The infamous Plaza and Shakespeare Festival

    #3Washington, DC: Museums. Bars. Life.

    #4 Dover, Delaware: Firefly Music Festival

    #5 England: Vacation of a Lifetime
  3. Try new foods
    Indian vegetable something or other (street food in Des Moines) and Meat Pie (Lacock, England, GB). AND I TRIED GRAPE NUTS! My whole life I’ve been fascinated by that cereal, and my mom always said I’d hate it and she wasn’t going to waste money. So when I was wandering Target I snagged a box. As expected: there’s no taste, but the texture is grand.
  4. Go to a concert
    Try 5. I was lucky enough to see The Killers, Lupe Fiasco, The Knocks, Cake and Modest Mouse at the Firefly Music Festival in July 2012. Also, my third viewing of Matchbox Twenty in February 2013. Life is good.
  5. Watch the Dr. Who series
    This is a big challenge. See, I want to watch from the beginning, with the first Doctor, William Hartnell. Unfortunately the early years are all messed up on Netflix, and they aren’t even all there. So, I’m through most of what I can get with the first Doctor. But this is a lot bigger task than what I anticipated. One doctor seems legit to me.
  6. Go to an Iowa Cubs game
    Damn you, June 20! There was a doubleheader that I fully anticipated attending for an in-the-clutch-last-minute-list-maker but too-drunk-on-June-2o happened, and I couldn’t stomach the idea of beer and heat on Friday night. IT WILL HAPPEN IN 27.  
  7. Go to a Twins game
    One of the dynamic duo who live right by the stadium is off-site for a few months of summer, meaning I didn’t make this one happen, but I feel confident it will be a future, achievable goal. 
  8. Read a new Jane Austen novel
    With the impending England trip, I opted for Persuasion, which was largely set in Bath. Although I didn’t spend much time there, it was a lot of fun to have in the back of my mind as we walked around. Also, I discovered it was possible to like something more than Elizabeth and Darcy. And that was Captain Wentworth’s letter. swoon
  9. Read a new Charles Dickens novel
    Bleak House was in-progress, but mad-bookclubbing, and more significantly #26, got in the way. I did read the start to a collection of short stories by Mr. Dickens, which was monumental in its own right (see the 27 List).
  10. Learn to cook something new
    IMG_1910That I did! Avocado, pepper jack, and provolone grilled cheese. You think I’m lying, but I have never made grilled cheese before. And I’ve actually only made it once since. But whatever.
  11. Decorate for Christmas
    My fabulous Aunt Betsy always gave such wonderful Christmas gifts to me, including a shamrock Santa last year (her last Christmas with us). For some reason she always makes me think of Christmas decorations, so this year I decided to decorate in her memory. I actually never got to bring the Santa back to Des Moines, but I got other little goodies that I think she’d approve.
  12. Get a tattoo
    On the first-ever (only ever?) Global James Bond Day, Oct 5, 2012, I made the ultimate commitment to my nerd side–and dedication to not taking myself so damn seriously–by getting a 007 on my finger.
    Photo on 2012-12-18 at 11.29 #4
  13. Make pretty things
    I did! Sort of. I made this cute little coffee, tea, book themed canvas, and I’ve actually created an insanely expensive book nook upstairs in my bedroom. It’s not completed, but it still counts, because I have all the pieces just can’t hang the shelves on my own.
  14. Give back
    I’m working on it. I’ve already given a lot of my time and talent to DG, so my treasures are going elsewhere (if you went to Catholic school, I think you probably get the time, talent, treasure thing). I’ve donated money here and there, and while it’s not to an animal shelter as I’d planned, there’s still time to make a difference somewhere. <<update>> Still just donating money. Still pretty okay with it.
  15. Read more American literature
    Well, by default, I guess I have. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Stephen King’s 11/22/63, George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and I’m currently into Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue. While, when I wrote this I was thinking more about Little Women or A Farewell to Arms, I think I’m still allowed to safely check this one off the list. My other blog is a very slowly updated tale of literary adventure.
  16. Brush up on  history
    Fail. Not a chance. 
  17. Write at least one sentence every day that’s not for work
    HAH. Failed again. 
  18. Refresh French
    But I did give my mom a French lesson for 30 minutes and she wanted to kill me. 
  19. Find results in physical fitness
    Yeah, no. Not at all. Probably should be reconsidering… not for 27 but for the sake of my fall-time physical, yet again. 
  20. Read Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels
    Well, I haven’t read them all, but two is more than I was at 25!
  21. Consider your career
    This I have done. Over and over again. I have kept active tabs on a couple markets of interest. I also updated my resume, created an online portfolio, and applied (and interviewed!) for a job. I don’t have an answer to that shitty interview question–What are your long- and short-term career goals–but I’m working on it.
  22. Get made
    I bought mascara. So, there’s that. But what I actually did was make wearing lipstick a new year’s resolution, and that stuck for the most part. Not to mention I freaking LOVE it.
  23. Forgive yourself
    In the spirit of Daniel Craig’s Bond in response to Skyfall: “Done.”
  24. Play World of Warcraft
    I PLAYED! It’s fabulous. I’m terrible at it, but my goal didn’t hinge on my successes.
  25. Figure out Twitter
    Done, done, and done. Not only can you find me and my bloggish wit gracing the Twitterverse , I have a profession handle, too, where I have had success navigating my k+b world as well. I love sharing things on Twitter. And following people on Twitter. And catching breaking news on Twitter. But, honestly, it seems like one big circle jerk on the professional side.
  26. Get my Game of Thrones on
    Previously listed as “[open]”: I wanted #26 to present itself to me, and I think what’s stood out most this year is my slight infatuation with reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series. All the cool kids can spit mad game about the books and show, Game of Thrones, and we know I don’t like to be left out of geekery. I’ve read four of the five published books, so I’m finally at a point where I can pirate the TV show. The fifth book just couldn’t happen, because I have two pressing novels (here’s one) to read with more significant deadlines than my bday.


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The Man I Followed to Texas


Today, February 7th, 2012, is his 200th birthday. London is ablaze with celebrations: Charles and Camilla are visiting the Dickens Museum, Professor Klimaszewski is at his Westminster grave, The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company is performing Dickens in the streets, there’s a world-wide 24-hour read-a-thon of his works, and Cityread London will use Oliver Twist to continue the party into the Spring. And it’s no small feat that Dickens Journals Online released a digitized version of his publications [I helped! All The Year Round Vol. II, New Series No. 50] for the special day.

What do you know about the man behind the face of Victorian literature?

That many of his works were published serially?
He wrote under the pseudonym Boz?
He was pals with someone known as Phiz?
His wife had 10 kids?
He ran off with an actress?
He had an extra hole in his butt?
The Wire named an episode after him
(“The Dickensian Aspect”) and Ludacris is his bro
(“I only hang with chicks that got more twist than Oliver”)?

There’s nothing (well, almost nothing) that I can tell you that you can’t find on any of the thousands of websites spouting Dickens knowledge in honor of this blessed Bicentennial. But besides being an interesting man (how can you write the phrase “gong donkey” and not be interesting), you just have to read his works. That’s really what this hullabaloo is all about: his literature.

Reading Dickens is an experience. Not the lame one you had reading Tale of Two Cities or Great Expectations in high school. It’s astounding what you learn, and how intelligent you feel, if you take the time to understand the social and political climates of Victorian England. Dickens, like Austen if you appreciate her works, wrote remarkable social commentary that reached the masses. His publication history  (periodicals, novels) is a study itself. So use this 200th birthday year as motivation to take the time to read a book–I don’t care if it’s A Christmas Carol (that’s the shortest)–and encounter Dickens and the worlds he simultaneously lived in and created.

To mark this splendid occasion, I will leave you with three things: My favorite Dickens (no, I have not read them all), a totally awesome quiz, and a very simple yet powerful observation.

My top three favorite books by Charles Dickens are Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and Our Mutual Friend. I highly suggest reading them all, but I will admit that Great Expectations can be very dull without the guidance of a classroom and higher education. Our Mutual Friend is fucking brilliant: Dickens at his best–engulfing, crazy characters, and biting social commentary. Oliver Twist is what prompted me to go to grad school–I wrote a paper about it and it’s reincarnation in the neo-Victorian Fingersmith. Now, let’s be real here folks, there’s only one man who could have gotten me to move to Lubbock: I chose Raider Rash over Boston, all for one Charles J. H. Dickens.

Which Dickens Character Are You? Find out here!
(I’m Sidney Carton. How depressingly accurate!)

“…the most interesting and pardonable of human weaknesses— love.”

-From the Pickwick Papers

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At age 24, Charles Dickens

married a 17-year old and published Sketches by Boz and, the work that made him famous, The Pickwick Papers.

All I did at 24 was drop out of grad school. I’m feeling very subpar.

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