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I am dreading this recap this year, for some reason. Yet I am still doing it because TRADITION. I think I may start liberally tossing questions out the window. So BE PREPARED FOR THAT.

(This yearly recap originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

Oh! And if YOU do this yearly recap, always or for the first time this year, send me a link in the comments won’t you? I love reading these.

  • What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

I quit my job to write a novel. (Which I have not yet completed, BLARGH.) (Prediction: I sense that the topic of the previous parenthetical may reappear below.)

  • Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, I said:

This year, I want to prioritize my husband, quality time with my kid, balance in my life… and I also want to really work on personal fulfillment. That sounds… vague and a little frou-frou and a lot privileged, but I think it will honestly help with the first three priorities. At least, I hope so. And I’m going to try.

I do think I have made solid steps on all fronts, and I attribute all progress to leaving my job at the end of March. I feel very fortunate that I have this little pocket of time during which I can be part-time novelist/part-time stay-at-home-mom. The reduction in stress has helped me be more present with my husband and daughter, and helped me really focus on contributing to my family in new ways. It has not been easy, for me, to give up on being a financial contributor. That has altered the identity I always felt I had, and it has been a challenge to adapt. But I do think I’m contributing in new and different ways, or at least contributing more in areas where I wasn’t before.

This year, I am going to finish the novel. That’s my primary goal. It’s taking so much longer than I anticipated just to eke out a first draft. I need to find some way to speed up the process. Because the first draft is only the beginning.

  • Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Did anyone close to you die?
  • What countries did you visit?

Same as last year: Not really a big year for travel. I visited three states besides my own: Illinois, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

I can’t really imagine the answers changing in a big way anytime soon.

  • What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

Better ability to prioritize my time. A fully drafted novel. Making my time with Carla richer, somehow, rather than making a bunch of slipshod and ultimately frustrating attempts at “activities.”

  • What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 31, which was my last day of working in the office.

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking a leap of faith and quitting my office job. (OMG, broken record much?)

  • What was your biggest failure?

Not getting enough words on the page each day! I can trot out a 7,000-word blog post of a morning, but I seem to spend hours and hours coming up with a measly 200 for my manuscript! What gives? If I can do it elsewhere, why can’t I blather and drivel my way through a first draft?

  • Did you suffer illness or injury?

I am currently enjoying a bout of asthmatic bronchitis, which is super fun. Other than that, nothing too crazy.

  • What was the best thing you bought?

Scrivener!!! It is a tool for writers and I loooooooove it.

  • Whose behavior merited celebration?

This goes 100% to my husband. He is a rockstar. I can’t even express all the ways he’s shown up this year without drowning my keyboard in tears, so let’s move on.

  • Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I mean do you really have to ask, non-sentient Survey created years ago with no knowledge of our current times? I think I’m going to cross this one out because it makes me sad and bewildered and fearful and shaky.

  • Where did most of your money go?

This question sucks. I really want to say something fun like “a new ski lodge in Aspen!” or “a twelve-week trek around Europe!” I guess I could say my potential earnings went toward financing my lifelong dream but that makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach so MOVING ON.

  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Last year I said: The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that.

As with last year, I didn’t even KNOW what excited was! She has been super over the moon about everything. And she gets stuff now. Like, she understood the little countdown-to-Christmas calendar I put in her room, and the last couple of days she switched the numbers all by herself before I even got to her room. She has been really gung-ho about Hanukkah, and has helped her dad light the menorah and say the prayers. She loved decorating the tree and every night for a week she would pick up a present that she knew was for her and squeeze it and hop up and down and say, “It’s so HARD to WAIT until Christmas to open my present!” I mean, a tree full of presents and she didn’t realize most of them were for her, and yet she got So Worked Up about this one tiny thing. She loved all the holiday books I pull out each year, and expressed interest in Santa and Baby Jesus and the Maccabees alike. She loved the stockings, and asked questions about how Santa could do such and such. She loved painting ornaments for her grandparents. She loved collecting the Amazon boxes from the front stoop and putting them in the guest room to await her grandmother’s arrival. She loved singing Christmas carols. Everything this year was just SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope we have at least a couple more years of this pure, unadulterated joy in the season. It’s a mood lifter for sure, and helps make all those I-want-them-to-be-fun-and-meaningful-but-are-really-kind-of-tedious projects seem worthwhile and enjoyable.

  • What song(s) will always remind you of 2016?

I have to say the Frozen soundtrack. Carla hadn’t seen a movie in her entire life until Christmas 2015, and once we started we couldn’t stop. As toddlers are wont to do, she fell in love with Frozen and we have watched it eleventy billion times. PLUS we bought the Frozen soundtrack (we call it “Carly Songs”) on CD (yes, I still use CDs in my car) and we have listened to THAT at least seventy gazillion times. Also: Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” and “Let Me Love You” by DJ Snake featuring The Beibs. “Waves” by Miguel (the Kacey Musgraves version). “One Dance” by Drake. Carla does a mean dance move to Drake, and sings along very sweetly to “Let Me Love You” and “Waves.” Also also, on the classical front, I have grown very attached to Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2. I have some fantasy that I will learn to play it. (HA.)

  • Compared to this time last year, are you:
  1. a) happier or sadder? Happier but more fearful about the future, I think?
  2. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. Which kind of sucks because I lost 12 pounds after I left my job. I have since gained it back. But I kind of hate this question because I just do. I am scowling at it.
  3. c) richer or poorer? I am skipping this question because math.

This is a question I don’t care to answer anymore, I think. Are these really the benchmarks by which I want to measure the year? No, no I don’t think so. MORE SCOWLING.

  • What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. (Always.) Submitting my work for publication. Figuring out a better time management system.

  • What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. Yelling. Procrastinating. Writing poor-quality apocalyptic poetry. Wasting time on my phone. Feeling too hot or too cold; that’s really annoying when the house maintains a stable temperature.

  • How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, with my husband and Carla, and my husband’s parents. It was lovely and fun. Also lovely and fun was adding my sister and niece the day after Christmas, but that amped up the freneticism by several degrees. How does adding ONE additional child to the mix make things exponentially more crazy?

  • Did you fall in love in 2016?

Ugh. Every year this one makes me gag a little, but I definitely fell more in love with my husband. He has been supportive of me and my dreams in a way that shatters me. I hope I make him feel even half as loved and understood and… seen as he makes me feel.

And, as we allow the tears to dry a bit, I fall newly in love with Carla with each new stage in her life. Three has been challenging, but it has also been utterly delightful as she becomes more independent and imaginative and curious and affectionate and funny and fun and inquisitive. I just adore her.

  • What was your favorite (new) TV program?

What a year for TV! Standouts from the year include the OJ Simpson mini-series, The Night Of, Westward, and the Gilmore Girls revival (even though I hated GG as much as I loved it – many flaws, no?). I also loved the latest seasons of The Americans, The Great British Baking Competition, Shark Tank, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Middle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. What can I say? I like feel-good shows to balance out the gritty stuff slash real life. Oh! And two series my husband and I watched and loved that were new to us this year were Master of None and Catastrophe. God, I love TV.

  • Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t even. This question has got to go.

  • What was the best book you read?

I READ SO MANY BOOKS THIS YEAR! Contenders for best book include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin. There have been others, but those are the standouts. For me, all had great stories with interesting, well-rounded characters, and truly beautiful language that enriched the story without getting in the way. Then sometime in November I fell into a Sue Grafton wormhole and have been reading my way through her Kinsey Millhone series (again) because it’s fun.

  • What did you want and get?

A chance to write a book. More time with my daughter. More time to exercise. More time in general, I guess. Less stress. And also this gorgeous green coat from Boden that unfortunately didn’t fit so BOO to that. My hips are not British enough, it seems. Oh! And I got the sheet music for Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, and have been painstakingly picking out the right hand notes. That’s really all I’ve managed.

  • What did you want and not get?

A finished first draft of my manuscript because I am SLOW.

  • What was your favorite film of this year?

Let’s see. My husband and I took a break from watching TV to watch all of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. That was fun, but I wasn’t as… enamored of the most recent (last?) film as I was of the earlier ones. (To be fair, Daniel Craig seemed less enamored of it as well.) Did I watch anything else? Of the (many) kids’ movies I’ve seen this year, Brave is my favorite, followed by Wall-E and then probably a tie between Tangled and Frozen. I did not care for Zootopia, and Robin Hood – a childhood favorite – sadly did not live up to my memory version. (Robin Hood himself is still by far the foxiest cartoon I’ve ever encountered, though. No pun intended.)

EDITED TO ADD: My husband and I watched Sicario just last night, right under the 2016 wire, and it was really well done. Dark and disturbing but a heart-thumping, thought provoking film.

  • What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 this year, and I can’t really remember what I did. Which is a pattern at least a few years running, so I am getting rid of this question.

  • What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Same as every year (don’t I ever PROGRESS as a person?!?!):

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  • How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Same as last year: I have full-on embraced the leggings-as-pants “style” that I used to disdain. COMFORT IS KEY. In your face, Past Me!

Also, this year I started doing Fabletics (I joined Fabletics? I am not sure of the proper verbiage here. It’s just a subscription service in the vein of Stitch Fix. Sort of. Third cousins.), and so have added some very cute workout ensembles to my wardrobe, which means that sometimes I switch up my leggings with legging-like yoga pants. You can spot the difference because I wear tennis shoes with the yoga pants version.

  • What kept you sane?

My husband. Exercise. Being able to write every day most days.

  • Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I adore Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan of Catastrophe. The characters they play are adorable and funny and in-your-face in a way I find charming. Sterling K. Brown. Constance Wu (her and her character as Jessica Huang on Fresh Off the Boat) because she seems fearless and take-no-prisoners and also is hilarious and beautiful and talented. Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore. Okay, so maybe these are primarily TV CHARACTERS and not necessarily the actors themselves but whatever.

  • What political issue stirred you the most?

Nope. NOPE. Not even going to. CUT.

  • Who did you miss?

Same as last year, although – shocker – blogging more frequently myself has helped a teeny bit: I guess I most missed the bloggers I used to interact with regularly, back when I blogged frequently and they blogged frequently. I suppose I should figure out a way to do Twitter (which makes me uncomfortable for some reason).

  • Who was the best new person you met?

As last year, I don’t know that I met many new people this year. AM A HERMIT. Oh wait, that’s not true. I have made a couple of (tentative strides toward making) mom friends through Carla’s new school.

  • Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Write it down, don’t write it right, for the love of all that is holey.

  • Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

(I don’t know if the following makes sense as a lyric or as the answer to this question, but it’s in my head, so I’m going with it.)

Don’t you give up, nah nah nah / Never give up, nah nah nah / Let me love you.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope 2017 goes a hell of a lot better than we fear!

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Perhaps you are looking for some last-minute Christmas gifts? Or maybe you just like reading about what other people enjoy. In either case, here are some things that I am loving lately (and just to be clear, I am not getting ANYTHING in return for recommending any of these; I either bought them myself or received them as gifts):

Chef’n ZipStrip Herb Zipper

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Photo from surlatable.com

Okay, I didn’t realize this had such a ridiculous name. But it’s awesome. I got a bunch for people as stocking stuffers last year – including myself – and I use it ALL the time. It’s on sale for $6.36 at Sur La Table, if you have any people who like to cook on your Christmas list. 

Anthurium Plant

 

2-anthurium

Photo from homedepot.com

This summer, I was looking for a red lamp to add to my new office and I could not for the life of me find one I liked. But I DID find a really pretty plant with red leaf-like flowers (in a red ceramic pot) at my local Home Depot. I know, a plant does not have the same functionality as a lamp. But if you think of the lamp as more of an accessory, you will see how the plant fit the bill. ANYWAY. It is an anthurium plant, which seems to be a type of orchid. And it’s super easy to care for: I just put a few ice cubes in it each Monday and it remains lovely and shiny all week long. If you have someone in your life who isn’t great at caring for plants but who loves them AND has easy access to ice cubes, this could be the perfect gift. Okay, I am giving the Home Depot site the side-eye because I did NOT pay $32.99 for my anthurium. I can’t imagine paying any more than $15 for it. Maybe $20. I kind of want to dig through my old receipts just to prove it. Perhaps it is seasonally more expensive. If so, it would make an excellent Christmas in July gift.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

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Photo from kvintners.com

Riesling is my favorite type of white wine. My mantra used to be, the sweeter, the better. But my palate might be changing or maturing or something (unlikely) and I have gravitated to drier wines of late. Kung Fu Girl is my current go-to. It’s probably what I would call semi-dry, so there is a hint of sweetness there. But it’s crisp and clean and also, bonus, I can usually find it for $10.99 at my local grocery store. I’ve also seen it at World Market, if you have one near you.

Lands’ End Shimmer Down Long Coat

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Photo from landsend.com

We live in an area of the country whose winters include snow and cold temperatures. And I happen to possess the variety of child who loves snow more than anything in life. So last year, my husband bought me a down coat from Lands’ End.  It was longer than I wanted it to be – it came all the way down to the tops of my boots (also from Lands’ End). And I felt like a marshmallow. BUT. It is AMAZING. I can be wearing a t-shirt-weight shirt and jeans, and as long as I have that coat on, I feel NOTHING. I can play in the snow with Carla for hours (or until her face is red and I have to drag her inside). I can even lie down in the snow and make snow angels and feel NOTHING. It’s truly the best. And Lands’ End has really good sales on a regular basis. It’s a bit pricy at $199, but if you get a code for 40% off, you’re looking at a much more reasonable $119 for a really great, really warm coat. Oh. I just now “got” why it’s called “Shimmer Down.” I say “got” because you CAN make a pun on “simmer down” just because the coat is made of down doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

UGG Tasman Genuine Shearling Gloves

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Photo from amazon.com

Speaking of warm, these gloves are the softest, fuzziest, warmest gloves ever. Obviously, you can’t text with them on or anything. But I find they are perfect for driving before your car’s heater has kicked in. Or for, you know, being outside in general. They are pricey, at $140, but I looooooove mine so I think they might be worth it.

Bedford Cottage Eskimo Throw

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Photo from bedfordcottage.com

Perhaps you can tell that it is only 15 degrees here, based on these last three items. Well, I am in love with this faux fur throw, which is currently draped over my legs. It’s super soft and warm, but I also love it because it looks like it belongs on a chaise longue in some fancy catalog and makes me feel like the type of person you might refer to as “stylish” and “put together” and less like the type of person whose living room has seventy five Amazon boxes stacked in one corner and a bright blue toddler-height table with red, green, and yellow chairs in another corner and a giant bear from Costco behind the couch and the detritus of a Doc McStuffins vet station scattered across the hearth and pieces of a menorah puzzle strewn like tiny land mines about the carpet. You can buy it via the link above for $149, which I did not; I got it as a gift. But it’s possibly that you could find it elsewhere for less.

Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle

 

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Photo from amazon.com

I drink tea every day, and this water boiler has made it very very very simple. Just fill and press a button. And there are all sorts of temperature variations, so you can set it to the proper temperature for green tea… or black tea… or oolong… or whatever.  My husband – a coffee drinker – uses it too; on weekend for pour-over coffee. I really like that it maintains a specific temperature, too – just in case a toddler suddenly urgently needs you to come help her find proper socks. It cost $73?!?! Sheesh. That seems… excessive. Although it DOES do a nice job. And I really have no concept for how much these things do/should cost. 

Carole Hochman Ladies’ 3 Pair Ribbed Lounge Sock

 

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Photo from costco.com

I grabbed a three-pack of these socks at Costco the last time we were there (what’s a trip to Costco without grabbing something that you simultaneously NEED URGENTLY and also had no idea you needed/didn’t need at all?) and they are sooooo soft and warm and cozy. They don’t look like much from the picture, but they are cushy and plush and I love them. Also: $5.99.

Laura Mercier Hand Crème Sampler

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Photo from amazon.com

Well, crud. I see this is either $51 through Amazon or not available. My husband got it for me last Christmas, and it was a PERFECT stocking stuffer. I wash my hands a bajillion times a day, so they get very dry. And there’s nothing less appealing than that powdery feeling of dry skin – well, I suppose cracked and bleeding finger webs are less appealing. I think it was, at one point, around $30 at Nordstrom. (And, keeping in mind that each of us is comfortable paying certain amounts for certain things and not for others, I find that $30 seems just on the high side of reasonable while $51 has me shaking my head emphatically NO.) I have just in the past month squeezed the very last glob of lotion from the very last sample and I would enjoy getting this again and again each year. Also, if you don’t want to gift someone ALL of the little lotions, you could certainly open up the box and give one sample to multiple people. Including, perhaps, yourself. Of course, all this is MOOT because it No Longer Exists. But I’m sure there are many other good hand lotion sets in the world.

Scrivener

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Photo from literatureandlatte.com

This may be a bit of a niche idea, but as a (would-be/trying-to-be/hopes-to-be) writer, I use this every single day. I never thought that I would like a writing platform more than I do plain old Microsoft Word. But I LOVE Scrivener. It’s very intuitive and user friendly AND it has a very simple tutorial on how to use it, just in case. It makes putting together your novel (or screenplay, I imagine) very simple. No more scrolling down in a long document, or opening multiple documents. You just create a new chapter or chapter-part inside an outline, and then you can move parts and pieces around with the flick of your mouse, OR read your entire manuscript in one flowing document. Plus, it allows you to assign (and customize) keywords to each bit of text, from which characters show up to things you need to research to plot points and dates – which you can then use to help you organize the manuscript in different ways, like, you can see at one glance every chapter featuring your villain. It’s fabulous and it’s only $45 and I love it so. If only it could do the writing for me…

Matymats Grippy Yoga Socks and Stargoods Yoga Gloves 

Photos from amazon.com

I have newly taken on yoga as part of my at-home exercise routine. Which means I have newly discovered that my feet and palms sweat when I do yoga. What can I say. The body is a mysterious wonderland. These socks and gloves help A LOT. No more sliding around while I’m trying to do downward facing dog or a triangle pose or other horrific contortion of limbs that my body is clearly not meant to perform. Both are about $15, but both come with multiple pairs of socks/gloves, which means I can match them to my sports bra. (No.)

 

Good luck with any last-minute shopping you are doing!

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  • I recently had an epiphany: While I really enjoy being active – walking, even on a treadmill – I really dislike exercising. I’m fine if the exercise is inherent in the activity, but I don’t like to purposefully encourage sweating and ragged breathing. Eh. Know thyself, right?
  • Carla is starting to lose the last remaining baby vernacular. She can now say “computer” correctly, rather than calling it a “com-POO-tuh” like a tiny Austrian. I am holding on very tightly to “lellow” instead of “yellow” and “collection” instead of “reflection.”
  • My in-laws donated a Crate and Barrel outdoor loveseat to us. It’s teak and sturdy and fits neatly on our back porch. But there’s no cushion and I cannot for the life of me find a cushion for it. The sizing is weird – leave it to Crate and Barrel to have custom sizes, right? – so none of the standard bench or loveseat cushions at Home Depot or Target or Bed Bath & Beyond will fit. Then I looked at Crate and Barrel for a replacement – they were having a sale – and the appropriate cushion would cost $500. On sale. I know we all have different categories of things we are willing to spend serious money on, and it turns out that an outdoor loveseat cushion is not one of mine.
  • I have made a career change, and I am LOVING it. I feel like I should acknowledge it here, but I don’t want to go into detail right now. So. That’s all.
  • My niece’s first birthday is next month, and I have no idea what to get her. Her parents always get Carla fun educational toys, so I suspect they might enjoy getting one of those… but they also live in a tiny apartment and I don’t want to send them anything that requires too much space. Clothes are out: not only does my niece get ALL of Carla’s hand-me-downs, but she also has the same grandmother that Carla does, which means she gets her own beautiful collection of clothing.
  • I just finished the third (and so far final) Cormoran Strike book by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). I found all of them thoroughly enjoyable, but now I’m looking for the Next Great Mystery Series to start. I like Sue Grafton and Tana French and Kate Atkinson and Sophie Hannah. But I haven’t really found any other series that have the kind of writing and characters and types of crimes that I like.
  • So in the meantime, I have finally begun A Little Life, because I’ve heard it’s a life-changing work of fiction. But I’m very apprehensive about it, because I’ve heard that it’s devastating.
  • We have lived in this house for nearly five years, and we are FINALLY getting to finish the office. We’ve re-organized the furniture and gotten rid of a bunch of junk and now just need to clean out the closet (old computers and cellphones dating back to COLLEGE and assorted other tangentially-office-related detritus) and put up artwork. We’re keeping an eye out for coupons at Michael’s, so we can finally frame my husband’s degrees, and we’ll hang those as well (my mom framed my college degree; I don’t think I ever got a physical diploma from my grad school, seeing as I absconded to Europe instead of attending my graduation ceremony).
  • Speaking of junk: we had inherited three mattresses and two bedframes from my in-laws that we finally got rid of. Alongside a massive, defunct television set, a DVD player, and some other piece of stereo equipment that is no longer compatible with modern TVs. I felt TERRIBLE sending these things off to the junk guy, but our local Goodwill had no interest and I am not holding a garage sale.
  • Carla and I planted a bunch of seeds last week. We used one of those big seed starter kits and I let her pick out a bunch of vegetable seeds. We had fun poking holes in the seed starter stuff and dropping in a seed at a time. (I was stunned when I asked her what she wanted to plant next and she said “cilantro” because I don’t recall teaching her what cilantro is.) Most of the veggies are already sprouting (which seems a little creepy to me – it’s been A WEEK) and Carla is So Excited. The first sprouts that appeared were the green beans we planted, and so she is CONVINCED that we are growing a beanstalk to rival Jack’s. I keep trying to manage her expectations but…
  • This seems worth remarking on: I had been saving, on my DVR, the final episode of House since it aired in 2012. I never watched it, because I don’t like things ending. (We still have the Parks & Rec finale, unwatched, on the DVR as well.) But we were running out of space on the DVR (wonder why?) so I finally deleted it. If I haven’t watched it in four years, it is unlikely I ever will.

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I did not make resolutions this year. This is not because I object to resolutions; I simply have difficulty KEEPING resolutions. So I’ve found that the solution to that perplexing problem is to refrain from making resolutions in the first place. Genius, I know.

But! I am not opposed to bogarting other people’s resolutions.

When my best friend from back home told me she was giving up sugar for January, I jumped right on board.

My logic: If I don’t make it through January, I only have HER to blame, for picking such an unreasonable resolution. Right? RIGHT?

Anyway, I need to take more initiative when it comes to my health, and abstaining from sugar for a month seemed like a good idea. I don’t expect to give up sugar forever. But I do think this will help re-calibrate my sugar-desire mechanism. Or whatever it is that one re-calibrates.

(And by sugar I mean sweets. I am still eating fruit and drinking juice [in moderation] and using products that may have sugar or a sugar derivative in them, like ketchup.)

(I’m not even TRYING to aim for perfection here, Internet.)

Since I will only be traveling once this month (woo!), I thought it would be a good idea to get into exercising. After all, my in-laws gave us an elliptical and a treadmill. So it’s rather stupid NOT to use them. Especially because they are set up very nicely in front of the basement TV.

So far this week, I’ve exercised every day AND I’ve steered clear of sugar.

But I do have Things to Report. (Yes! Already!)

Thing 1: I didn’t realize how much I was depending on sweet things. I never really cared about sweets – well, not THAT much – until I met my husband. But he has a MASSIVE sweet tooth, and he converted me to sweettoothism as well (although I’m nowhere near as devout as he is). But I always thought that I was so much more of a chips and cheese gal that sweets weren’t really a big part of my life.

Nonetheless, it turns out that I really MISS sweets. I guess they had become a bigger part of my life than I realized? (Although, thinking back, I do seem to remember lots of Reese’s eating going on this year.) I find myself prowling around the house, hungry, trying to figure out how to satisfy the gnawing sweet-hunger I’ve developed. Usually I stave it off with chips or alcohol.

Thing 2: But! Now I am giving up alcohol for January as well, just because my friend is. And because I am clearly a masochist. Now I will have to really load up on the chips to compensate!

Thing 3: I tried to use my computer on the treadmill the other day. I do a lot of reading (for work) and I figured I could walk and read at the same time. Of course, my treadmill doesn’t have a laptop holder. So I thought I would just hold the laptop in my arms. It would be a good workout for my arms, to hold it for 30 minutes whilst climbing an imaginary hill.

Then one of my clients IMed me. So I IMed her back.

And fell off the treadmill.

Don’t worry! I didn’t drop my computer!

Thing 4: Last night, I made a “milkshake” with orange juice, crushed ice, Greek yogurt, a dash of vanilla, and a little drizzle of honey.

I do not recommend it.

It was gritty and tasteless. But I made a LOT of it, so I drank three glasses.

Thing 5: My husband and I tried a new recipe – broiled salmon with Thai sweet chili glaze from Once Upon a Chef. It was delicious and SUPER EASY. We paired it with steamed broccoli.

I felt SO HEALTHY after eating it, too.

Thing 6: It feels very virtuous to say “I’ve exercised and abstained from sugar ALL YEAR LONG.”

It feels less virtuous to be reminded that the year, so far, is only 5 days old.

Thing 7: I have an urgent and inexplicable craving for Brie. Wrapped in phyllo dough and crisped in the oven until the Brie oozes out the sides.

My friend better not say she’s ALSO giving up cheese.

 

 

How are your resolutions – or non-resolutions – coming so far, Internet?

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Hello there, Internet. Are you ready for some randomosity? No? Well, tough.

– Things that are going on this week: My husband takes a day-long board review exam. My in-laws arrive for a week. We close on our house. (!!!!!)

–  I went for a three-mile walk yesterday (in shorts and a t-shirt – it was 78 degrees! It’s October!) and my virtue was rewarded with huge, weeping blisters on both of my heels. That’s because I forgot to take Blister Precautions. The only way I’ve found to prevent blisters – and I’ve tried everything, from different socks to different shoes to pre-emptive blister pads to moleskin to bandaids – is to slather my feet in copious amounts of deodorant/antiperspirant.  It’s gross, Internet. Firstly, because I’m slathering Secret all over my feet. Secondly, because it proves that my blisters are the result of overly sweaty feet. There are some things you just don’t want to know about yourself.

–  There’s absolutely no reason I need to tell you this. But I want to be honest with you, Internet. So I am going to be straight up. I have STILL not packed a single thing. You all had such great advice the other day. But I think I have been lulled into a false sense of non-urgency regarding the packing, considering that we technically have the apartment through December. You know, if we feel cool with paying rent AND a mortgage.

–  I KNOW. “Stop with the justifications and procrastination and PACK for the love of all that is holy!”

–  Allow me to distract you from your admittedly justifiable eye rolling with these:

 

My husband and I made these for my friend’s birthday. I was supposed to see her at book club. But she didn’t show up. So I had to donate her cupcakes to my husband’s medical team.

Look! A peanut butter surprise in the center!

Perhaps one of these days I will get it together enough to post the entire recipe post. In the meantime, you can find the ACTUAL recipe here.

–  I find it adorable that my husband now has a reputation as The Baking Doctor. I am not particularly pleased, however, that female nurses and residents now bat their eyes at him and ask him to bake them things.

–  So far, I haven’t been super impressed with the fall lineup. I feel mildly okay about three shoes – Free Agents, Up All Night, and The New Girl.  (My husband informs me – and Wikipedia confirms – that Free Agents has already been cancelled.) But I only really like one new show: Prime Suspect. I am a sucker for a truly amazing female detective. (See: The Closer) Jane Timoney (played by Maria Bello) is the anti-Brenda Lee Johnson. Well, except that she is also a badass. She’s just a poorly-dressed, uncouth, foul-tempered badass. But Maria Bello is a hell of an actress, and her castmates are all excellent actors as well. Plus, the plot lines are fresh (well, as fresh as realistic cop show plots can be) and the cinematography is raw in a very pleasing, on-the-scene way. I hope the show does not get cancelled.

–  Speaking of TV, I really enjoy watching The Rachel Zoe Project or whatever that show is called. It makes me feel… amused, I guess to see so much frenzy over fashion. Yes, I get that fashion is a super successful industry and, yes, I know that Rachel Zoe is providing a service and hence needs to do it well, and, yes, I understand how critical it is to have The Right Outfit (and I don’t even appear on TV shows or the Academy Awards), but can we all agree that there are more important things in life than making sure an actress has the perfect bazillion-dollar gown? And yet, Rachel Zoe and the gang get So Riled Up about EVERYTHING. Hmm. This sounds like I am belittling the Rachel Zoe work ethic. Which I really am not. I guess what I’m saying is, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that we can all get caught up in the stresses of our jobs and lives (hello, ME INCLUDED, see every post I’ve ever written), but that we really don’t have to take ourselves all THAT seriously.

I don’t honestly know how or why I get this from The Rachel Zoe Project (or even whether I am making any sort of sense whatsoever), and yet, I do. Take it where you can get it, Internet.

–   When I was walking the other day, I saw a woman pushing a stroller in which slept a little baby. She was also walking a Pomeranian or some other breed of small dog on a leash and carrying another Pomeranian or other such breed of small dog.  Baby in the stroller. Small dog walking. Small dog in the crook of her arm.

It was weird, is what I’m saying.

–  Someone in our household (or two someones, if I’m being 100% honest) bought some Halloween candy. A bag of “fun size” Snickers. A bag of pink and purple Nerds. And a bag of “fun size” Kit-Kats, Rolos, Almond Joys, and Skor bars. Of those things, I only dislike Almond Joys.

Since my husband just turned 31, we also have cake. Of both the chocolate and ice cream variety.

SIGH.

–   I saw a woman in a nursey uniform pushing an older woman in a wheelchair. The nurse smiled and said hello to me as I passed. Instead of thinking, “What a friendly woman doing God’s work!” I wondered if she was a sociopath. There was no REASON for me to wonder that. I just have sociopaths on the brain.

–  You know the one thing that is possibly worse than sociopaths? This:

That is a GIANT SPIDER. My sweet, kind, loves-all-living-things husband refused to kill it. He trapped it in a Tupperware and the spider kindly crawled into  the container, allowing him to tip it up and put a lid on it. Then he took the spider outside. Where he killed it. At least, that’s the ending I prefer.

–   Can we talk more about TV? I am so irritated with Parenthood right now. First of all, the parenting on that show sucks about 85% of the time. Lorelai Gilmore (not her real name) (nor the name of her character) SUCKS as a mom. Seriously! Stop making out with your kids’ teacher on school grounds! But when one parent – Dax Shepard of all people! – actually does what seems to me like some decent parenting (telling his kid that another child has trouble making friends and that sometimes you do for family because THEY ARE FAMILY and sometimes you do things you don’t want to do just because you are a good person who cares about others), everyone else jumps down his throat! How are “don’t tell one kid about the other child’s Asperger’s!” and “my kid should be able to do whatever he wants to do!” good parenting? And WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE’S HAIR? Everyone on this show has terrible hair this season. TERRIBLE.

–  Related: OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALICIA FLORRICK’S HAIR?

–  Perhaps I am so overly concerned by the head suits of TV characters because I’ve become disillusioned with my own hair. It’s the same as it’s always been: brown, straight if I straighten it, half wavy/half straight if I don’t, frizzy constantly. But even though it’s technically the same, it just seems lamer than usual. I have fantasies about cutting it short – nothing TOO drastic… say, shoulder length. But even that would be losing a good six inches. Six inches that will take DECADES, millennia even to regrow. But it’s lank and my forehead is huge and I think my current style emphasizes my facial rotundity, so I’m hankering for a change.

The big problem is that I’m TERRIFIED of doing anything drastic. I went from blond to brunette about three years ago, and that was the biggest change EVER and it nearly sent me to the loony bin.

Why? It is JUST HAIR.

So. Do you, Internet, in all your wisdom, know of any ways you can drastically change up the look of your hair (style wise, not color wise) without inducing a panic attack in someone with Severe Hair Change Fear?

 

That’s all I’ve got for ya, Internet. Do share some of your own randomosity with me, would you?

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1. Let’s say that you enjoy walking outside. And that your apartment complex has a lovely ovular walking path that is conveniently one mile long. Let’s also say that seemingly every time you go for a walk, a specific spandex-clad girl is also walking. But she is walking in the opposite direction. So you pass her twice per mile.

What do you do every time you see her? Smile? Say hello? Pretend she is invisible? Start walking in the opposite direction?

 

2. If your apartment complex offers some really great amenities… Like a gym with TVs in all the cardio machines… And free WiFi… And a pool…

Do you complain if one (or multiple) of those things stops working? Is that being greedy? Or do you figure that part of your rent is paying for those things, so it’d be best if they were in working order?

 

3. If you enjoy working out in the gym of your afore-mentioned amenity-packed apartment complex… And the gym windows are always open in the summer… And there is no way to CLOSE those windows… And the apartment complex staff members enjoy smoking outside those windows, in such a fashion that the smoke wafts into the gym and into your rapidly-filling lungs… Seemingly no matter WHAT TIME you make it to the gym…

What would you do?

 

4a. Let’s say your husband were about to (hopefully) match into a fellowship program that would determine where you would live for three years… Let’s also say that the earliest he can find out where (if) he matched is noon, via the Internet… And that you will be at home, working, at noon while he will be in the hospital, also working, at noon…

Would you require want him to wait to check his match status online until such time as he could call you simultaneously?

 

4b. What if you were going to be out of town, with work colleagues whom you do not want to cry in front of (should he match at your bottom choice or not match at all), and didn’t get done with work until 6:00?

Would you require want him to wait to check his match status online until such time as you are able to get away from your coworkers and call him on the phone?

 

5. Is there such a thing as too many pairs of nude shoes? (And by “nude” I mean “neutral-colored,” not “shoes that you where whilst naked.”)

 

6. Let’s say you got wind of a great sale at Ann Taylor Loft and saw a shirt that you liked. That was only $15. Which you feel is a Real Deal even though you likely don’t actually know what a Real Deal is. How many of the same shirt – in different colors, of course – is it reasonable for one person to own?

 

7. If you bought a cute mesh-style hooded sweater from AnnTaylor during the afore-mentioned sale, even though it wasn’t on sale, just to make sure you were able to get free shipping…  And you could recall seeing folks of the Carrie Bradshaw and Kim Kardashian variety in similar shirts, wearing only a (clearly-visible) dark bra under the mesh…

What would you wear under the mesh sweater?

 

8. If your gym did NOT have a specific no-cellphone policy, would you nonetheless be annoyed by people who not only talk on their cellphones whilst treadmilling but do it at a volume loud enough to pierce through the sounds of your own labored breathing and Judge Judy in your headphones?

 

9. Let’s say that you open the freezer to get some ice. And you spot the box of Skinny Cow cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches sitting right next to the ice tray. And you forego any other sweet treats so that you can both eat a Skinny Cow cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwich AND still stay within that days’ self-imposed caloric boundaries. And you think about the creamy ice cream sandwiched gently between two chocolatey cookies ALL DAY. And then you go to retrieve your sandwich from the box and find that the box is empty…

What would be the appropriate response to the spouse who left the empty box in the freezer?

 

10. Let’s say you got invited to a wedding. In Dallas! In September! Let’s say the wedding is an early afternoon wedding on a Sunday… and that the reception is a “brunch” that goes until 5:30.

What would you wear? (Links welcome.)

 

All right, Internet. I would like any and all answers you have to these questions. And if you have any hypotheticals that need answering, have at it in the comments.

Work your magic!

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First of all, I’d like to thank you for being so kind to me after all that whining. I appreciate this community and your understanding and your gentle words more than you will ever know.

Anyway, here is some randomosity! Because that is apparently all I am good for these days! And also I needed something to replace yesterday’s overlong drivel!

* So remember last week when I was all “It’s nearly sixty degrees! And all the snow has melted! Spring has sprung, whatever that means!”

Yeah, then this happened:

And this (yes, that is a tree encased in ice):

Lest you brush this off as merely poor photography, let me tell you of the great pain and anguish I went through to procure these poor photographs.

I went out onto my cold balcony, in bare feet, baring my tank-top-and-workout-pants self to the poor sap who was outside chipping ice off of his windshield.

And also? I think I touched a bug of some sort when I opened the screen door. Since I couldn’t see the bug, it is likely wandering around my home now, ready to leap out at me when I have finally relaxed into thinking that it was not a bug but my jumpy imagination.

* Perhaps you read the above description of my clothing and thought, “Good for her! She’s working out!” I am nothing if not brutally honest, Internet. So I cannot allow you to operate under that delusion any longer.

I WAS wearing a tank top and workout pants, yes. I was also wearing a sports bra. But there was no working out. I mean, I had thought about working out. But lest you think that I simply got too busy to work out, well let me disabuse you of that notion as well: There was no specific plan to work out.

In fact, I had donned the workout clothes completely independent of whether I would work out or not. I do this quite often. Far more often than I actually work out.

I do it for two reasons:

Reason 1: Wearing workout clothes makes it easier to exercise. Should I suddenly decide to break into a push up or something, I won’t be hampered by floppy pajama pants.

Reason 2: Wearing workout clothes makes me feel better about opening the door if a package gets delivered. (Which, hello! Birthday coming up in mere days! I fully expect to be inundated with packages!) (Not really.) I feel very weird about opening the door if I am clad in bright pink pajamas bottoms and a white t-shirt and no bra. First of all, no one needs to see me in jammies. (Or braless, for that matter. I’m not Sue Ellen Mischke.) Second of all, I always imagine the delivery person to be silently judging me for being home and in my pajamas in the middle of the day. And delivery people don’t really take kindly to pajama-clad women shrieking at them about how they work from home and these are not pajamas but WORK CLOTHES. So I typically freeze in my tracks (ie, stop typing) when I hear a knock at the door.

But if I’m wearing workout clothes? I have no problem answering the door! Because, for all they know, I am on my way to the gym! Perhaps I am even a fitness instructor type person! Tada! Automatic legitimacy!

* The other day I went to the grocery store and broke my own rule about using the self-checkout line. In my defense, I went into the store with a very short list of Things to Purchase. In fact, I grabbed one of those super small, two-decker carts that hold two grocery baskets. And instead of putting a second basket on the bottom decker (deck?), I filled the space with three twelve packs of Diet Coke. So really, I was just noodling around with one small basket.

But somehow, by the time I was ready to check out, my basket was full.

Still though, it was just ONE basket. How much can one basket hold?

So I surveyed the impossibly long lines at all of the checker lanes and got into one of the super short self-checkout lanes.

And then it turns out I had ten thousand items. So many that they piled up at the end of the conveyor belt and the computer had to scold me to bag some of them because it was blocking everything.

Of course, there was A Dude behind me, probably with one or two items, who was clearly impatient and shifting repeatedly from one foot to the other and vividly hating me for going through the self-checkout with ten thousand things. Which made me start sweating.

I tried not to let him bother me, though, and tried to be as swift as possible. Of course, just as his impatience reached a fever pitch, I entered the Produce Portion of my basket. Which meant that I had to weigh each item and then type in the item number and BAH.

To make matters worse, I bought two bottles of wine. Which required a checker to come over and make sure I am 21 (HA.) and key in her little “it’s okay to let this boozer through” code.

My groceries were so backed up that the checker started bagging my groceries for me, which was very nice and much appreciated.

So, lesson learned: My initial belief that there should be a self-imposed item limit at the self-checkout lane was RIGHT.

* Speaking of wine (yes, we were, several paragraphs ago), I love tasting different wines. But I don’t know a huge amount ABOUT wine. I mean, I know the basic differences between the grapes… And there are a few labels that I can recognize as being Very Good or Very Average. But I don’t know much about years. And there are thousands of wines that don’t include the few I know. When it comes down to it, I really couldn’t go to a wine store and pick out a great bottle.

So instead of picking wines by knowledge, I pick wines by the label. Because if you are tasting wine, it might as well have a pretty label or a fun name, right? So I end up picking things like Red Guitar… Little Black Dress… And Goats Do Roam.

Clearly, I get this trait from my father. Remember The Princess?

* Let us all take a moment to send some sympathy and positive energy to my husband. He hasn’t had a day off in… Weeks. He’s either been working or interviewing. His schedule since last Friday looks like this:

Friday: Wake up at 6:00 am. Work until 5:00 pm. Pack. Leave for Interview Location at 6:00 pm. Arrive at hotel at 2:00 am. Fall asleep at 2:30 am.

Saturday: Wake up at 6:30 am. Go to interview at 7:00 am. Interview from 7:15 am to 1:30 pm. Drive around Interview City until 4:30 pm. Drive home. Arrive home at 12:30 am. Prepare various and sundry things for work the next day. Fall asleep around 1:30 am.

Sunday: Wake up at 6:00 am. Work until 10:30 pm. Do Assorted Random Things until midnight. Fall asleep at 12:30 am.

Monday: Wake up at 6:00 am. Work until 5:30 pm. Go out to dinner with med school colleagues. Pack for two interviews. Fall asleep at 1:30 am.

Tuesday: Wake up at 6:00 am. Get ride (from loving wife) to airport. Depart for Interview Location.

This is just a small snapshot. It has been like this for weeks now. And the day he returns home from this next interview? I will pick him up from the airport and we will drive directly to the next Interview Location.

Poor guy. He is working so very hard.

* Perhaps this goes without saying, but driving 16 hours in the span of 30ish hours is NOT ADVISABLE.

* On the way home from the last Interview Location, I woke up my husband about two hours before we reached our house because I had Had It. I was tired. The road was starting to look less like a road than a winding chain of lights. I was beginning to have trouble judging distances. I had waited as long as possible, to give him a good two hours of sleep, but I was worried that my driving was about to enter the realm of danger reserved for People Who Text and That Weird Guy Driving the Red Pickup Who Seemed to Be WATCHING A MOVIE.

So I woke him up and demanded that he talk to me to keep me alert. And we started talking about babies. Because – as anyone who is kept awake at night by worries already knows – there is nothing better for alertness than Fretful Topics. So I started listing all the things that terrify me about pregnancy and motherhood. (To some of which, by the way, my husband replied, “That is so ridiculous I am not even going to dignify it with a response.”)

Honestly, he’s probably right. But if you can’t share your Crazy with your co-potential-future-parent, then who can you share it with?

Also, it seems pretty important to let your co-potential-future-parent know the exact level of Crazy you are, just in case he wants to bow out.

I think we have both decided that we are about 51% on the Pro Side of Having Babies. (For ourselves, obviously. I am pretty much 100% on the Pro Side for Other People Having Babies. Except in a few cases that I will not mention because I feel too mean.) By the way, 51% is an average. Some days, I am 75% Pro. Other days I am -10% Pro. So it evens out to about 51%. Ish. Sometimes.

My husband feels that Having Babies is the next logical step in our marriage. Which I guess I sort of agree with? Although his reasoning that “everyone expects married people to have kids” seems oddly similar to the “everyone has their ears pierced” argument I used back in elementary school. To which I feel the urge to reply, “If everybody expected you to jump off a bridge, would you?”

By the way, I STILL don’t have my ears pierced. So. Yeah.

Certainly our parents seem to feel that Having Babies is the next logical step. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that they are pressuring us to procreate. In fact, three of them are fully in the We Will Not Bring It Up Unless You Do camp. One of them, however, likes to reference grandbabies all the time. But less in a pressuring way than a hopeful I-just-want-you-to-know-I-would-be-over-the-moon-if-it-happened way. (Actually, the other three parents would also be over the moon. But they are carefully keeping their distance from the topic.)

Of course, this weekend I mentioned how my face has been breaking out terribly lately – like, full on acne-style rather than the regular occasional crater-y zit – to one of these parents (spoiler alert: Not my father-in-law) and that parent asked very casually if it might be the result of going off birth control? And I had to say, “Nope, not so much,” and, in the process, perhaps dashing the visions of imminent grandparenting from this parent’s mind.

* I doubt that you come here to read about the status of my birth control. But I’m guessing that as I settle into my fourth decade, babies will be more and more on my mind. So if you are uninterested in Talk of Babies, BE WARNED.

* Hmm. We seem to have detoured down some sort of baby-related wormhole. Let us change the subject now.

* My book club meets tomorrow night. We read Water for Elephants this month which I felt mainly “meh” about. However, the deeper I got into the book, the more I felt compelled to keep reading to see what happened. So I suppose I eventually upgraded from “meh” to “like.”

* Each month, our book club meets at a different person’s house. And the host makes a full dinner. I happen to know that this month, our hostess is making lasagna. Which is making me very nervous. Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a lasagna that did not include tomatoes. And I hate tomatoes. Haaaaaaaaate. They are right up there with organ meats and straight-up gristle in terms of how much I loathe them. And since I’m much more likely to encounter a tomato than, say, a heart… Well, they are probably at the top of my list of Most Hated Foods.

Yes, I know you are just supposed to be polite and eat things, even if you don’t like them… But tomatoes make me gag. And I think gagging during a meal slash book discussion is probably not what most people would call “polite.”

So I am fretting over this meal, and trying to determine if there’s a way to surreptitiously de-tomato-ize the lasagna.

* Speaking of food, my husband and I went to a little “Mexican” restaurant on Saturday after his interview. The atmosphere was very College Dive – beaten-up wooden floors… crumb-speckled, faded-wood booths… food spattered plastic menus. The wait staff were dressed in Bedroom Floor Chic – mainly grubby t-shirts and jeans. And the best thing I can say about the food was that it was edible.

But the service was fantastic. Our waitress was new, so a seasoned waitress hung in the background to make sure the newbie was doing everything right. When I asked for hot sauce, they brought me two tiny dishes of different hot sauces. I asked for no tomatoes, and they not only remembered that (you’d be surprised at how many waiters simply ignore that request), they brought me the tomato and cucumber salsa on the side just in case. They were attentive without being overbearing. Friendly. Helpful. And when I asked if they had wi-fi, the senior waitress said they don’t normally allow patrons to use it, but she would get me the password right away.

It reminded me of just how critical good service is when it comes to a dining experience. It can turn a crappy atmosphere and mediocre fare into an above-average meal. Likewise, poor service can make delicious food in the hippest, hottest restaurant seem unappetizing.

* It is snowing again, with renewed vigor.

Well, Internet, that’s all the news that’s fit to print.

Hope you are doing well on this lovely Tuesday!

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