2015 in review

See 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014‘s answers here!

1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28, and spent it jetlagged but in Utah. We went to Sam Weller’s (my favorite book store in Utah), I made a lemon layer cake, and thoroughly enjoyed being home again.

2. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?
Maybe picking out my wedding dress? I thought the whole “you’ll know when you find THE dress” thing was a myth, but it is not. (At least it wasn’t for me.) I thought I was going to end up with a short, simple, pretty but also practical dress, but I did not. Sure, I tried on short dresses first, but none of them made me feel especially pretty or bridal (even though I don’t know what feeling bridal actually means). But then the wonderful, wonderful saleslady had me try on a long dress, and that felt pretty good. And then she brought me a dress that I didn’t think I’d like, but I’m non-confrontational so I tried it on anyway, and when it slid over my head, I knew. L. hasn’t seen it yet so I’m keeping it under wraps, but two words: French lace.

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At Assepoester in Arnhem, which, despite its name, is about the least Cinderella-esque you can get when you’re in the market for a big white dress.

3. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Get engaged. Oh wait, that’s not true. Um, get engaged and not regret the experience.

When my ex asked me to marry him, I knew it was coming and I kept thinking, no, please don’t do this. But he did and I said yes, because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when someone wants to marry you? (For the record? No, no it’s not. If only my 15-20 year old knew what I know now, about healthy relationships and boundaries and how love doesn’t require you bending over backwards to accommodate the other and erasing yourself, bad readings of Proverbs 31 and patriarchal theology be damned.)

This time, I knew what was coming and it was perfect. Low key, in the rain in an ikea parking lot (where we had our first kiss in February 2014), and I wanted this with all my heart. I want to marry L. because I can’t see a future without him, because being with him makes me grow as a person, because we complement each other in our joys and our challenges, and because waking up next to him every morning makes me feel so happy to be alive. And because I love Josie and the two are a package deal.

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shout out to Jonathan Coulton’s “Ikea” song!

4. What did you want and get?

Job prospects! I sent out about fifteen cover letters+resume sets, and have two job interviews next week. I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch, but even this amount of interest from potential employers helps. I was having a mini existential crisis every other week, fearful no one would want to hire me if I stepped off the tenure track path.  (Kudos to L., for not only listening to five million conversations that all basically boiled down to the same thing, but actively participating in them.)

Slight tether in the line now!

No longer feeling like I’m hurtling into space untethered!

5. What surprised you the most about yourself this year?

How much I mourned when we knew we would leave Utah. I always knew Utah wouldn’t be my forever home, but I don’t think I realized how attached I was to the state and the people I’ve met here until we decided to leave.

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?
A defense date. My advisor is dealing with some health challenges, so we’ve pushed back the idea of me defending for a while. Other thing I’d like to have is a job. And, if we’re being frivolous, I’d like an architecture Lego set because they look like fun. (Santa L. got me this for Christmas! I’ll be building the White House in little Lego bricks in January.)

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My sister and I at Dinosaur National Monument.

7. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did! I kept losing weight, started Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution program (it’s dorky but it works!), and tried to put down roots in Utah.

Next year’s resolutions: more writing (both of the personal essay and fiction kind–it’s been forever since I wrote fiction!), and riding my first century. Hopefully an organized one, but a practice solo one is fine too. If I’m really brave, I’ll join a cycling club. Also, I’d like to start really cooking again, trying out new recipes and getting back into a meal-planning groove.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Surviving the upheaval that was spending 2×2 months in the Netherlands and balancing the need to see family and friends with the work I needed to do on my dissertation.

Time spent with my mom? Priceless.

Time spent with my mom? Priceless.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Um, failing to adequately prepare for the move because we were being moved and I didn’t realize how much there is left to do? Also, failing to anticipate just how much stuff L. has acquired. The amount of things I did not know the basement held was mind-boggling.

10. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?
Skype with friends. Cuddle time with Josie the Dog. The Salt Lake Public Library (oh, how I will miss that place!)

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Meet Lion, Lamb, Rhino, Gorilla, and Froggie. We are obviously super talented at thinking up names for stuffed animals.

11. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)
TV
: Gallavant! Season two premier is this Sunday! Go watch!

Still a fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, SHIELD, Bones, Castle, iZombie (although it’s getting very drama-y and I really want them to resolve the story arc with Major in a way that he doesn’t end up dead, in jail, or something even more dire. And Bones seems to be jumping the shark a little bit. And Castle is doing weird things with the Castle-Beckett relationship. But at least Brooklyn Nine-Nine is pretty much consistently funny!). And NCIS, NCIS LA are consistent favorites, with Criminal Minds and Hawaii Five-O a good back-up.

Books: Andy Weir’s The Martian, Brandon Sanderson’s Legion, Shadows of Self, Warbreaker, Rithmatist, and especially his Steelheart series, Rachel Held Evan’s Searching for Sunday, Jeanne Ray’s Calling Invisible Women, Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars,  Terry Tempest William’s When Women Were Birds, pretty much all cozy mysteries written by Elizabeth Peters ever, and SP Bailey’s Millstone City. See my Goodreads Year in Books here.

MoviesThe MartianInside Out (Bing Bong! Sob), Paddington, I guess Star Wars: The Force Awakens if only for the resulting cultural conversation, Going Clear, and The Good Dinosaurs for the incredible artwork, even if the settings didn’t always make sense (self-domesticating dinosaurs?). We also saw a lot of bad movies.

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having dinner out with my mom right before I left to go back home to Utah.

12. What music will remind you of this year?

We saw Pentatonix in concert. The venue wasn’t the best (an arena with terrible acoustics), but it was a fun night nonetheless.

At Lagoon (an amusement park) the day after I got home. Jet lag and roller coasters mix just fine, apparently.

At Lagoon (an amusement park) the day after I got home. Jet lag and roller coasters mix just fine, apparently.

13.  What was your most enjoyable purchase?

The annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Amazon had a 30% off deal on black friday/cyber monday and I splurged on the book.

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with E. and C. at a Mets game in New York.

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At the Natural History Museum, true highlight of the trip.

14. What did you wear in 2015?
Pants bought at Costco! Seriously, I have one pair of jeans from the Gap that I hardly ever wear because all the pants I found at Costco are so super comfy. Also a lot of work out capris because let’s face it, I work from home and the dog doesn’t care what I wear.

At Schiphol Airport, right before I got on a plane and flew away from all these people I love so much.

With A. at Schiphol Airport, right before I got on a plane and flew away from all these people I love so much.

15. Did you travel? If so, where?
Two trips to the Netherlands, a couple crossings over to Germany (including a fun trip to Berlin!), several unrelated flights to California to present at a conference, see my dad, and to check out where we wanted to live. Idaho, to see L.’s family. Road trip with E. to Dinosaur, CO. Wanted to make it over to DC to see my sister but didn’t (resolution for next year!). Did make it to New York to see her. A trip to Escalante National Monument with my dad, and a trip to Cedar City’s Shakespeare festival that included a nearby hike at Kanarra Creek–highly recommended!

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slot canyons galore!

 

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Road biking, probably.

visiting my grandmother on my dad's side.

visiting my grandmother on my dad’s side.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Can I say dissertation writing? It was brutal.

18. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?
Planning to join the smug marrieds in May, a notion both wonderful and terrifying. (Not the marrying part, but the host of societal expectations that come with marriage.)

19. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?

I still laugh way too hard at puns. The more terrible, the better.

20. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

It’s an ongoing internalization of the lesson my old therapist told me years ago: be kind to yourself. Once you’ve got that down, I think, the rest falls into place.

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.)

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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.

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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.

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In Nauvoo, Illinois.

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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.

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Muiden, again.

T.

On Friday, I picked up T. from the airport. She and I go way back: we met in sixth grade, went to the same high school, and stayed in touch through college. And despite the fact that our moms live within ten minutes driving distance of each other, we never meet at home, but rather at airports, in Houston, San Francisco, and now here in Salt Lake.

Anyway, I mentioned that I was thinking of getting a bike, and what do you know, twenty-four hours later, I had one. Apparently I’m going to be biking to work now.

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on our way back from testing and buying the bike.

We spent the rest of her time here visiting with her friends (T. spent a year or so here, years ago), eating Cheerios and Halloween candy, and walking all over downtown Salt Lake City. We also talked a lot about the joys and heartbreaks of being so uprooted all the time, and how nice it is going to be to hopefully one day live somewhere for more than a year, and how neither of us had any idea of what we were getting into when we decided to go get that PhD. (Or MD/PhD, in her case, definitely not in mine. Plain old PhD for me.)

tThis is us on our way to the Trax on Tuesday morning, where we discussed the possibility of us perhaps both actually living in the Netherlands next year. Exciting stuff. (Please excuse my tiny eyes, it was a bit bright out.) Anyway, great fun was had by all and I loved having her come visit. Who wants to be next?

What I did on my summer vacation

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

santa cruzMy second day in the States, we drove down to Santa Cruz to see Shakespeare in the glen. It’s a great outdoor theater and they let you bring a picnic. This year, we saw The Taming of the Shrew, and it was great. (We sat right in front of the guy holding the “no pictures” sign, so I didn’t dare sneak a picture of the theater itself.)

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I’ve visited my dad during my winter breaks, so I haven’t been to a Giants game in two or three years. Giants fedoras and oversized t-shirts aren’t really my look, but being in a baseball stadium again was glorious. Plus, we won.

mammothMammoth Lake, one of our stops on the way to Utah.

archesArches and Canyonland, Utah. (I’ll spare you the picture of me overheated and exhausted after the climb to the Delicate Arch, pictured left.)

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ashley2Ashley National Forest. Above you see the Flaming Gorge reservoir, below the Green River and the view from our campsite.

DSCN1061The view from Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City.

Not pictured: Camelot at the San Francisco Playhouse, King John at Cedar City’s Shakespeare Festival, countless bookstores and coffee places, and a lot of small town America I’d never really seen before. (Seriously, I have never felt as much like a city girl until I saw all these tiny places we drove through.)

my week in photos (and a little text)

On Thursday, my mom and my friend M. accompanied me to the award ceremony of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the foundation that awarded me my latest scholarship. (Which means I can finish my PhD without money worries, something I’m still getting used to but that feels pretty great!)

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On Friday, E. joined us in Leiden and we went out for coffee.

The sun, a crossword, and a dinosaur.

The sun, a crossword, and a dinosaur. It was a good afternoon.

Then we met A. and her boyfriend, F., for dinner at an Indonesian restaurant and a walk through Leiden afterward.

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Us playing pilgrims.

Us identifying with the pilgrims.

The next morning, I helped E. pack (but not really).

Dino's ready to go, too.

Dino’s ready to go, too.

Then we went to the airport to see E. off on her grand adventure to Maryland (by way of Hawaii, where she will be doing her field work. There are worse places to work). I cried when she went through security, and can’t wait until Thanksgiving, when I’ll see her again. But I’m really proud of her taking this step (and I’ve promised to consider finding employment on the East Coast when I’m done here in Germany).

I then took my mom home and spent the night with her in Haren, before going on to see my friend J. in Deventer on my way back to Dortmund. And then I decided to stay home for three weeks. (Mostly because I’m moving in three weeks and should start thinking about packing.)

Father’s Day

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Because even winning the Spinoza Prize doesn’t mean you have to take yourself seriously.

I am fortunate enough to have a pretty great dad. (See picture above.) He taught me to love books and coffee, cheesecake and crossword puzzles, to laugh rather than cry when something goes wrong (though I do plenty of both), to always keep your passport on you because you never know when you’ll need it, and that there’s no reason I wouldn’t be able to do anything I want (except when it comes to anything math related. We both know that’s a lost cause).

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I love you.

Mother’s Day (I know, I know, so last week)

This year, for Mother’s Day, we all came to Haren for a family dinner. Including my dad. Fellow kids of divorced/separated/it’s complicated parents will understand how odd it was to Skype with my dad on Sunday morning and have them both talk back to me–not only talk back to me, but make jokes at my expense, together.

Before dinner, we took some photos in the yard, to commemorate this rare occasion of us all being in the same house at the same time. Dad served the very important role of Family Photographer here.

A., E., and I

A., E., and I

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and add one mother to the mix

All that’s missing here is the family cat. Oh no, wait, here she is.

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Although she seems a little less happy than all of us about this picture taking. I wonder why.