2016 Summer Bucket List

We returned from our honeymoon on Monday. Reader, it was glorious. We had so much time to just relax, and hike, and talk, and read, and people-watch, and eat that I think everyone should go on a honeymoon at least once a year, whether you’re married or not. (I think other people might call these vacations, but like a true grad student, I don’t really know how to take time off. A honeymoon seemed like a good enough excuse, though.)

While driving back on Monday (so much driving!), I started thinking about what I wanted to do this summer. So here it is, my summer 2016 bucket list, in random order:

  • take L. to camp at Sequoia and/or King’s Canyon National Parks (this was a favorite family destination when we were growing up so obviously L. needs to go, too)
  • visit Santa Cruz
  • go to a baseball game (Go Giants!)
  • visit Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • experiment with spelt bread recipes
  • make my own yogurt
  • run a 5k (I’m on week 5 of couch to 5k now, which is like three weeks further than I’ve ever made it, so I’m hopeful)
  • ride another century
  • visit friends and family in the Netherlands this summer
  • write and submit an article to an academic journal
  • not get sunburned (which is harder than it looks, at least if you’re me. I went on a bike ride a couple of weeks ago, and cavilierly applied sunscreen, thinking I’d only be out for 90 minutes or so. Thanks to my abysmal sense of direction, 90 mins turned into 3,5 hours and my arms and legs got very red indeed. I’m going to aim at not repeating that experience). Also included in this goal is to avoid heat exhaustion/sunstroke
  • go to Yoga in the Park, put on by a local yoga studio here
  • go see a movie on Courthouse Square in Redwood City (the city puts on free movies on a big square in the summer–it’s a good mix of older and newer movies, and there should be at least a couple I’m interested in)
  • volunteer with CASA San Mateo (Court Appointed Special Advocates–I’ve talked with them and they’re amiable to me helping out. I get some hopefully relevant work experience, they get an extra pair of hands)
  • check out Cal Academy of Science’s new show, “Incoming!”, narrated by George Takei
  • attend at least one meet-up event
  • find a new book club
  • watch Love Between the Covers, a feature length documentary on romance novels, readers, and writers
  • keep writing cover letters until someone finally hires me

My reading goals are separate. The biggest one is to make a dent in the unread books on my shelves, but specifically:

  • Ron Chernow’s Hamilton 
  • Greg Prince’s Leonard Arrington and the Making of Mormon History 
  • Annie Clark Tanner’s A Mormon Mother
  • Kate Bowler’s Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel
  • Heather Hansen’s Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bisons and Bears: 100 Years of the National Park Service 
  • Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. 
  • Robert Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
  • Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You
  • Annie Barrow’s The Truth According to Us
  • Frederick Backman’s My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
  • Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian
  • Marilynn Robinson’s Lila
  • Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life

although I also reserve the right to reread the Harry Potter series for the fifth hundred time, and anything I might find on my no doubt frequent trips to the library. Hashtag spontaneity.


2014 in review

Click on the links for 2011, 2012, and 2013‘s answers to these questions.

1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 27, and spent it with L., who I had just started dating. It was low-key and filled with coffee and books, just the way I like it. (This also answers the “did you fall in love this year” question, because: yes. So much yes.)


At my local Beans and Brews, the day after my birthday.

2. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?
The moment I realized I wasn’t lonely anymore, that I had finally built up enough of an existence in Utah.

3. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Visit the Idaho State Fair–or Idaho itself for that matter. It sounds like a flippant answer, but L. and I come from vastly different families, and going to (and enjoying) the Idaho State Fair is part of that.

4. What did you want and get?
Access to a car. As much as I am a pedestrian at heart, having a car makes everything so much easier.

5. What surprised you the most about yourself this year?
I have become a dog person. (Or at least a Josie person. I’m not convinced my love for Josie has spread to all dogs yet.)

Josie the Dog

Josie the Dog

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?
A Ph.D (or, if I’m being really bold, a job offer). I am ready to start a new phase in my life.

7. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did! I discovered the joys of yoga, bought a road bike, and managed to lose twenty pounds through a combination of more exercise and less food.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Probably finally losing a significant amount of weight, and doing it in a fairly relaxed manner.

IMG_08079. What was your biggest failure?
I’m lactose intolerant, and yet I can’t seem to just stop eating cheese.

L. is also lactose intolerant, so you'd think between the two of us, there would be no dairy in the house. But you'd be wrong. (Picture taken in Muiden, the Netherlands.)

L. is also lactose intolerant, so you’d think between the two of us, there would be no dairy in the house. But you’d be wrong. (Picture taken in Muiden, the Netherlands.)

10. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?
A combination of dog walking, venting to others, and mindless Facebook browsing.

11. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)
This was the year of Pentatonix, Jonathon Coulton, and a couple new-to-me tv shows like SHIELD, Brooklyn 9-9, and Eureka (loved that show so much!). Book-wise, this was the year of cozy mysteries, with Rhys Bowen’s Evan Evans and Her Royal Spyness series a clear winner. (I also read a lot of baaad cozy mysteries. I need to learn discernment when it comes to this genre, clearly.) This was also the year of Mario, as I played countless hours of Mario Kart and developed a strong love for Yoshi.

Yoshi riding Yoshi here!

Yoshi riding Yoshi here!

12. What song will remind you of this year?
Ikea, from Jonathon Coulton. L. and I have a thing for Ikea and like to belt out this song in the car.

14.  What was your most enjoyable purchase?
I think my road bike. It was a big purchase, but I love how I feel when I use it.


Salt Lake City

15. Did you travel? If so, where?
A conference in Texas, a conference in Denver, a couple trips to see my dad in California, a weekend in Disneyland with L.’s family, and an epic LDS immersion tour from New York to Nauvoo, in which I honed both my ideas for my dissertation and my passing-as-a-Mormon skills.

Right after the Giants became the national league champions. Certainly a night to remember.

Right after the Giants became the national league champions. Certainly a night to remember.

At a Cardinal's game in St. Louis.

At a Cardinal’s game in St. Louis–the first non-Mormonism related thing we’d done in a week.


In Nauvoo, Illinois.


The Kirtland temple, the highlight of my research trip. Mostly because I was a little done with the missionary narratives being presented at the other historic sites (you know, since I’m not actually a Mormon) and I loved this tour, given by an actual historian, so much.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Blogging, honestly. It’s one of my goals for 2015.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about finding a job when I defend, even though that’s still a while off. (L. has banned me from searching job sites lest my anxiety levels surge to immangeable heights. I am trying not to mind that if I go the non-academic route, my advanced degrees are … not of much use.)

18. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?
Biggest difference? I’m a European living in the US, not an American living in Europe. Either way, I’m still foreign, so there’s that.

19. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?
I’m still an overachieving, overthinking nerd that regards my library card as my most prized possession. I suspect that won’t ever change.

20. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?
Clearly not how to pose for pictures. I can do one face, and one pose, and anything else turns out like this.


Muiden, again.

Mt. Tamalpais (California recap part two)

Though the Giants game was obviously the highlight of my fall break, this expedition takes a deserved second place: a hike at Mt. Tamalpais State Park, up near Muir Woods and Mill Valley. It was beautiful.




It was also brutal. The trail wound up and down in the hills, and I could still feel the ache in my legs three days later. Worth it, though, for the views alone.



well, that was exciting

I had two days off teaching last week (fall break!), so I took advantage of that and flew to California to visit my dad. What was on the agenda, you ask? Well, book stores, coffee houses, crosswords, a hike, and…a Giant’s game. The fifth game in the national league championship series, to be exact!

On our way to the stadium, someone heard us talking Dutch and asked where we were from. This gave my dad the perfect opportunity to use his favorite line, “I flew six thousand miles to see this game!” It’s true, too–dad always plans his trips around baseball and football. (You should have heard him complaining the one time a European colleague of his had organized a conference on Super Bowl weekend. Never again.)


Before the game

We had seats in the bleachers, as far up as you could get. The game wasn’t electrifying all the way through, there were stretches where you could tell the teams were evenly matched, at least at the moment. But at the end, oh, at the end, when Ishikawa did that all-important home run? Screaming ensued, pure chaos erupted, and the Giants were headed to the World Series.


It’s hard to do it justice: my dad recapped the game for my sisters in an email, and I’ll quote him here, “The photos that I took don’t do right to the atmosphere, anyway. If you really want to know what it was like you should look at them and at the same time put your fingers in the outlet.” Yeah, that seems about right.

Taken right after the win. I was too excited to hold my phone steady enough for a non-blurry picture.

Taken right after the win. I was too excited to hold my phone steady enough for a non-blurry picture.


record of a trip so far

–a visit to the de Young Museum in San Francisco for their The Girl With the Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis exhibition. I’ve never actually been to the Mauritshuis in the Hague, I don’t think, so it was fun to catch them here, even if it was a little odd the Vermeer was treated like the Mona Lisa (hanging alone, under glass, specially lighted and with a guard to stand over it) while the Rembrandts were just around the corner, receiving no special treatment. But it was a great exhibition with a lot of etches and sketches as well.

The Wild Bride at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. It was very spectacular and very artistic (a little too much in the first half, I caught myself wondering if this was a performance for me) but the second half made up for it. It tells the story of a girl whose father accidentally sells her to the devil, and who then finds a prince but has to see him go off to war. Will she get a happy ever after and what will it look like?

–the Superbowl (the whole reason for this trip, remember?). We went to the house of family friends to watch it, and it was looking pretty dismal until the power went out halfway through. Then the 49ers managed to come back pretty well, but unfortunately not quite good enough, as they lost by two points. But it was a pretty exciting last half, all the same. (Dad made sure not to read any newspapers on Monday in order to not prolong his pain at them losing.) I have to say, this football thing is growing on me. Who knows, next year I might even be yelling at the tv like the rest of them.

–afternoons spent working at a coffee shop (I am being really productive this trip. It’s a nice change from my usual procrastinating slothiness, which is good since I have eight deadlines to meet in the coming months).

–the Motherf**cker With the Hat at the San Francisco Playhouse. It was a very tragic play, with a lot of expletives. We had to listen to something cheerful on the way home to buoy our spirits.

Princess Ida at the Livermore Bankhead Theater. I loved it.

–Sacrament meeting, Primary, and Relief Society at a Palo Alto ward with Becca, who was nice enough to be my host for the morning.

–and of course, a bookstore every other day or so. I picked up Lazarus Is Dead yesterday. It seemed like an appropriate after-church purchase.

You will have noticed I did not post any pictures. That’s because the last time we were here, we went out to dinner, I took a picture of my plate and promptly forgot the camera. We bought a new one yesterday but I’m staying away from it for the time being, just in case.