(The perks of pregnancy end there, very abruptly. Everything else is the worst.)
So with that in mind, I'm off the hook for not updating my blog ever, right? The important thing is that I'm still checking things off my list--more slowly than I would be if I could still see my feet, probably--but checking them off nonetheless. Here's 2014 in review:
#2. run a 5K
Most people (read: sane people) prepare for a 5K by doing logical things like actual running. I prepared for my 5K by saying "Hey! A 5K! I should do that!" and paying the registration fee for my free t-shirt. I'm almost positive I put this goal on my list initially to make myself run more regularly, which means I completed this goal while also laughing in the face of my past self. Sounds like me.
The proceeds for the 5K went to pay for summer camps for at-risk youth, which is totally worth running for. It was sponsored by the local police department and was preceded by a community fair where I held a snake!
My friend Lauren, who runs on her college cross country team, agreed to run at a glacial pace with me. Best Lauren ever.
The run itself wasn't the worst thing ever, but there was this guy who kept poking me every time I would slow down like I was going to power walk. He did it to be encouraging, but at the time I just wanted to deck him. Running makes people violent, I think.
Lauren and I finished around the 44 minute mark, which I'd say is pretty good for someone who trained for the 5K by eating less popsicles than usual. I was sore for an entire week after.
#4. only buy thrifted/made in USA clothing for one year
Out of all the goals I accomplished this year, I think I'm proudest of this one. I made my new 99 list just after the Savar building collapse, considered the deadliest garment-factory collapse in history, and this goal was almost entirely inspired by how tragic the collapse was and how horrifying the aftermath was. A lot of the companies whose clothing was made in the building refused to compensate the families of the workers who died, despite those companies making billions of dollars in revenue (looking at you, Walmart, you big jerk). A lot of them also refused to support better workplace conditions for overseas workers. The whole thing was an absolute mess, and my righteous indignation led to me putting this goal on my list.
And holy cow, am I glad I did! Before, I always prided myself on being able to find the best deal on anything. I was amazing at shopping. I loved shopping. But once I decided I wasn't going to support unfair garment manufacturing practices, all that came to a screeching halt. For the first time in my life, I was checking the "Made in..." label before looking at anything else--even the price--because that was now my dealbreaker. I walked away from a lot of cute things. I paid a little more for things made in the US, and I did a lot more shopping at secondhand stores, and I didn't make one impulse buy the entire year...because I couldn't. (Don't even get me started on how much money I saved!)
Instead of just seeing how cute the outfits in mall displays were, I started wondering about where they were made and who made them. I started learning which clothing companies had ethical manufacturing policies and which didn't. That line of thinking trickled into my shoes, my accessories, and eventually into most of my purchases for the year, even after I started getting rounder and had to trade in my zippered jeans for some secondhand skinnys with a big elastic belly panel.
Now that the year-long goal is over, I don't think I can go back to how I was before. I've officially become one of those people who won't buy baby clothes from box stores and who knows what "fair trade" means. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy handmade things on etsy, and what could be better than that?
#8. complete my Animorphs collection
I was so excited to check this one off my list, largely due to the efforts of one Ricky Jensen and his tireless efforts to appease his '90s-loving wife. I've been hunting down my missing Animorphs books at a glacial pace--library sales, used bookstores, etc.--and Ricky comes along and in one fell swoop finishes off the whole collection at Christmas. He said it didn't even take him that long to round them up, and he didn't even have to go online. He individually wrapped each one and put them all in a huge box, presumably to give me the most joy as I got to unwrap them all and exclaim over my favorites.
(If you don't appreciate the significance of receiving 20+ Animorphs books for Christmas, who even are you? Were you even alive in 1997? K.A. Applegate was a god among women, my friends. A god.)
#10. snorkel a reef with Ricky
This goal started out as "go on an open water dive," and I had such high hopes! I finally signed Ricky up for a dive certification class, which he finished...and literally the week after he became dive certified, I found out I was pregnant. Go figure. So diving was out, but I was determined to adapt this to make it work. You know what you can do while you're pregnant? Float on top of the ocean and look at stuff. So as we were planning our upcoming trip to the Florida Keys, I found a reef I wanted to snorkel and signed us up, because adventure, right?
Right. Also, you know what happens in the Florida Keys in late autumn? Jellyfish happen. Like, Finding Nemo, Dory-let's-play-a-game levels of jellyfish. And I knew, in my rational brain-parts, that the presence of jellyfish might make snorkeling less adventurey and more just terrifying, but my Xena, Warrior Princess brain-parts told me to stop being such a wuss and expose my unborn child to whatever comes with jellyfish stings, because she could take it.
|Hey, remember disposal cameras? Let this be a reminder of how craptastic they were.|
1. Swim two or three feet while looking straight down
2. See nothing
3. Continue seeing nothing
4. See jellyfish tentacles in periphery
5. Violently jerk upright
6. Thrash around ineffectually to get away from jellyfish
7. Realize dry snorkel has closed; suffocate
8. Clear snorkel
9. Defog mask from panicked, jellyfish-induced nose breathing
10. Repeat for 30 minutes
Speaking as someone who is a certified diver, snorkeling with jellyfish sucks. When you're diving, you just go underneath the jellyfish, because they mostly blob along on the surface. But when you're snorkeling, you're also blobbing along on the surface, which means not only can you not avoid running into the blasted things, but that they also appear out of nowhere because you can't see them until they're basically floating into your face. Between the jellyfish and the poor visibility, our first site was basically a wash. But our second site--luckily!--made up for it, with beautiful tropical fish and coral close enough to touch (which we wouldn't, because we're not heartless morons). I didn't even run into any jellyfish until I was trying to get back to the boat, at which point they formed a 15-foot barricade like jerks and made me swim around them all. I've always thought jellyfish were really beautiful and amazing, but I'd like them not in my face, thanks. The moral of the story here is that snorkeling is a poor, poor substitute for diving, and that one day I'll go back to Looe Key Reef and show those jellyfish who's boss.
|Ricky: "I caught one in the act!"|
|The best, most hilarious decision we made on this trip was buying an underwater disposable camera. The best of the 1970s captured in 2014.|
I fudged on this one a bit, because back in October I was hired as a staff singer at a local Episcopalian church, which meant I was basically required to go to more than five services. And I love it! Episcopalian services are lovely and I'm grateful to sing in them. (Even if no one told me, the pregnant Mormon girl, that Episcopalians use real wine for communion, leaving me with a mouthful of it on my first Sunday. I hope the wine y'all drink is better than communion wine, because that stuff is GROSS.)
#12. buy at least five new board/card games
I don't remember how Ricky and I got into board games, but it probably started in Virginia when we would play Settlers of Catan with Jake and Amanda (and Jake would cheat, because the game was in German so he had to translate all of our cards for us). But if you have to collect something, let it be board games, because they're a blast.
Pandemic: This one is collaborative, which means everyone plays together against the game. It's one of our game night favorites, and we just got an expansion pack for it. This game is great when you're playing with people who get too aggressive or not aggressive enough, or when you're playing with a couple who get uncomfortably angry with each other if one of them is winning.
Ticket to Ride: An easy, popular game that pairs great with watching a movie or good conversation. Another one that gets pulled out of our closet frequently, but it's a pretty static game, so we have to give it a break sometimes.
Habari: This card game is HILARIOUS if you play it just the right way, which is to cheat a little but not too much. Ricky hates it because he hates cheaters, and because the game is practically unbeatable without someone cheating sometime. I love it, though, because it's almost guaranteed to make you laugh.
Story Cubes: I keep hearing great things about this one (which is why I bought it), but no one ever wants to play it! One day...
7 Wonders: Nearly the perfect game. Short, varied gameplay, just the right combination of luck and strategy, and can be adapted for two players! It's our current favorite.
#19. take an adult education class
I enjoyed my first ASL class so much that I decided to take intermediate ASL, too! Such a cool language. I need to pick it back up again before I forget more than I have already.
#30. create a graphic design from scratch
I dabble in graphic design at work, but it's usually more layouts, etc. using elements that other people have already created. But I finally made something from scratch! One of my friends is getting married in May and asked me to make bridesmaids invitations for her, so I did. It was incredibly rewarding, even if I'm not going to open an etsy shop tomorrow or anything. It was nice to prove to myself that I could do it. Take that, Illustrator!
#42. play the piano for church at least 30 times
When you're the Young Women's President and no one else in the room plays the piano, you get to play the piano...a lot. This goal was less about helping me play the piano better and more just to get me past the terror of playing while other people sing along. And I did! And by that, I mean I mostly just stopped caring and banged through all the passages I couldn't play well. Everyone just had to deal with it.
#56. perform long-term volunteer work for at least one year
This goal originally started out with me doing braille transcription services for the Massachusetts Institute for the Blind (it's amazing what a google search for "online volunteer work" will bring up), where they would assign me a children's book title to type up and submit into their braille software for it to be printed for blind elementary school kids. SO COOL, RIGHT? I loved it. But then I got asked to be the Young Women's President at my church (basically heading the girl half of the youth group, kind of like a youth pastor), which meant a pretty hefty time commitment, and I decided that was going to be my "long-term volunteer work" instead. And let me tell you: working with teenage girls is, without any sarcasm, the most awesome thing in the world.
#57. take one photo a day at least six days a week for one year
I've tried to do this one so many times and have always failed miserably, so I'm mega-impressed with myself that I finally pulled this off. Thanks, instagram! (@thegreatkatsbie)
#59. find one complete album that I like and buy it
Does anyone else struggle with liking an entire album? I'll like maybe one or two songs and then feel pretty "meh" about the rest. But you know what I never, ever feel "meh" about? The Backstreet Boys. Ricky and I went to their "In A World Like This" concert and bought their album and I unapologetically love it and I will love them forever. I promise I like trendy indie music, too, like Fleet Foxes and Carbon Leaf and stuff. I have legitimate opinions!
#70. buy an external hard drive for Ricky's computer
Both Ricky and I have computers that are 5+ years old. In computer years, that's like a thousand. Especially since Ricky has an HP! It's a miracle that thing hasn't exploded yet. We felt like getting an external backup for his computer was like a race against the clock, so we bit the bullet on Cyber Monday and picked up a slim 1TB number for $50. Thanks, internet.
#76. donate blood
As Robin can attest, I am the world's biggest weenie about donating blood. (Thanks for holding my foot that one time, Robin. You're the man.) Why did I put this on my list? I don't know. Something about it being an easy way to save lives, blah blah blah. (Although I heard a really great NPR story about what happens to donated blood! Did you know blood banks sell it back to hospitals at a premium? So even though we don't get paid for our blood, there's still a blood market. Crazy stuff.)
So one day Ricky and I found ourselves outside of a Portuguese/Brazilian grocery store in Jupiter, FL, and facing down a mobile blood bus. There was a nurse standing outside the bus chattering away in Spanish (presumably to recruit willing pincushions) and Ricky, in the infinite wisdom that comes from knowing your wife loves you too much to kill you, volunteered the both of us. Then he cheerfully turned to me and said, "It's on your 99 list, so now you can mark it off!" He's a lucky man, that one.
In retrospect, I think the surprise approach is the best way to get me in a blood van. Otherwise I have too much time to talk myself out of it. But when I've just finished buying delicious Portuguese pastries and have my guard lowered, that's probably the best time for needle-sticking that you're ever going to get.
(Aw. I miss those pants. Three more months, pants!)
They kept telling me to lie back/relax, and I was like "Nah, I'm ok in this awkward half-fetal-position sitting arrangement. Don't mind me." But I didn't wimp out and run screaming from the van, and a cool hipster kid even complimented my SVU Beethoven-in-headphones shirt. High fives all around.
#93. take an ASL class
Taking beginning ASL was SO FUN. I love the adult education classes--so cheap, and so easy! I didn't even have to buy the textbook. I checked it out from the library and took a bunch of pictures of it on my iPad before I had to return it. The wonders of technology!
Whew. Okay. I think that gets us caught up. Only 50-something goals to go!