Thursday, January 31, 2013

New York

Last night over dinner, CodeMonkey and I assessed our move to New York City. We've been living here for six months now. For him, New York was synonymous with America, and he spent a couple years coaxing me into moving here. CodeMonkey feels his life has improved in almost every way since me got her. He loves the city, loves not having to drive, loves living near our friends, loves our neighborhood, etc. He remains a bit frustrated with his job and its (lack of) work-life balance, but on the whole, this move has drastically increased his net happiness.

I'm a lot more ambivalent. I enjoy not having to deal with the car; I enjoy my new job; I am taking advantage of the cultural opportunities the city affords. For me, life here is inexplicably exhausting. I don't know why, but I often feel completely wrung out by the tasks of daily life. It isn't helping anything that I've struggled to make friends, and that CodeMonkey's stress tends to become my stress. I often think I ought to be happy, but I'm not.

Life upstate was much more dull, but it was also very easy. Our income was comfortable for the area, and we would have bought a house in the next year or two. We met our savings goals and still had money left over to enjoy. I never found myself worrying about the future, which sometimes feels like my main hobby now. I'm spending a bit too much time dwelling on how much simpler things felt when we lived there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Edwin Drood, Israel, etc.

On Sunday, CodeMonkey and I went to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This is an Off-Broadway production, and the Roundabout Theater Company has a great program where people under 35 can see their shows inexpensively. This was probably the easiest experience I've ever had buying cheap theater tickets. No arriving hour early at the box office, no hoping to win lotteries, no standing room only "seats." I bought the tickets online and picked them up at will-call when we arrived at the theater 30 minutes before the show. The tickets cost $22 each, making this a bit cheaper than the Broadway shows I've rushed. The seats were in the upper mezzanine, off-center, but I've had worse seats. It was a good value.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Charles Dickens' final, unfinished novel. In this musical adaptation, the story is performed up to the point where the novel ends. Then the house lights go up and the audience gets the opportunity to vote on the ending, which is then performed according to our wishes. This made the second act lots of fun, as we picked the detective, decided on the killer, hooked up a pair of unlikely lovers, and the story ended with a flourish. Unfortunately, the play took a long time to get going, and both CodeMonkey and I found ourselves drifting off during act one. The sound wasn't great, so we had a hard time hearing the lyrics, the initial plot was confusing, and it was generally underwhelming enough that I flirted with leaving during intermission.

In other news, I kept up reasonably well with my goals, and am tabling goal setting for this week as I AM LEAVING FOR ISRAEL IN UNDER A WEEK. It's a business trip, and I'm spending most of my free time packing or preparing things at home to run smoothly while I leave. Chinese New Year will start while I am overseas, so I want to have all holiday-prep done before I leave. I'm excited and nervous and will be much more mellow once I'm on a plane overseas.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Marrying Young

CodeMonkey and I married 3 years ago. He was still in college, and I was a new graduate. It remains a decision I would make again without hesitation. I'm glad I married young, I'm happy to be his wife, and I'm grateful I have him beside me as we navigate out twenties.

That being said, I had no idea how weird marrying young would make me. Three years ago everyone just assumed I was pregnant, or that we were doing it for the green card. My coworkers have children my age and often treat me like I'm some sort of odd anthropological artifact. My age mates think the early marriage thing is either endearing or absolutely crazy. Sometimes both. While I never particularly wanted to spend my twenties single (I never thought about it one way or another) I am undeniably missing out on the "normal" experience of people my age.

I have always been an odd duck, but I feel like each choice I'm making as an adult is taking me further away from being normal, leaving me more isolated. Being sick left me without a college social life. Then I married young. If I have children before my peer group, I think it may be the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. I don't know what to do about any of this, because aside from the loneliness, I am very content.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekly Goals, 1/21

Weekly Goals
1. Finish 2 books.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
I bought this because the Kindle version was $2.99, and I wasn't expecting much. It was fascinating. The authors discuss how much conventional wisdom about child rearing is wrong. For instance: children who go to racially diverse schools hold more stereotyped views and have fewer trans-racial friendships than children who go to less diverse schools. Children who are told they are clever take fewer intellectual risks and don't try as hard as children who are praised for hard work. Teenagers who lie to and argue with their parents respect them more than those who don't. The book was one fascinating revelation after another.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
This was another Kindle book picked up on the cheap. The author resolves to spend a year trying to improve her happiness, rotating her resolutions on a monthly basis. I'm fond of these "stunt journalism" type books, but they're only enjoyable if I like the writer's voice. In this case, I found the author charming and entertaining. I was inspired by some of the things she did as a part of her project: she read more, started a children's literature book club (so want to join one of these). I particularly liked the author's "Secrets of Adulthood," personal rules she chooses to live by. The book inspired me to think about my goals more broadly, and I'll probably revisit it later this year.

2. Finish current skein on sweater.
The sweater is crawling along, but that's what I get for doing sweaters out of fingering weight yarn. I'm knitting the waist right now.

3. Finish skein on CodeMonkey's sock.
Still not done. The sock glares at me from my bedroom windowsill. I'm a terrible wife. I need to just put my big girl panties on, rip back the gusset, and redo it.

4. Go to bed by 11 5 nights this week.
Done! And I feel so much better for it. This is a pattern that needs to continue.

5. Cook dinner 5 nights this week.
Again, success! I'm very pleased by this, because it's hard for me to cook at the end of the work day. I am perhaps relying a bit too heavily on homemade chicken soup and frozen foods, but I'm still pleased.

6. Call my in-laws on Sunday.
FAIL! I managed a gchat with my father-in-law, but nothing more. I'm ashamed of this; my in-laws deserve better.

Weekly Goals, 1/21
1. Read 2 books.
2. Finish current skein on sweater.
3. Finish skein on CodeMonkey's sock, for real this time.
4. Go to bed by 11 5 nights this week.
5. Cook dinner 5 nights this week; pack my lunch three times.
6. Call my in-laws Sunday.
7. Clean the top of the bedroom dressers.
8. Get rid of 20 things.
9. Try one new recipe.
10. Fast intermittently 5 days this week.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winning the Wicked Lottery

CodeMonkey and I have been trying to get out and do more things, instead of being lazy homebodies. So last weekend, we went to see Wicked.

The musical is very sentimental for me, and I saw it in high school when it still had the original Broadway cast, and as a newlywed with CodeMonkey. Tickets are expensive, so we decided to enter the lottery.

The premise is pretty simple: you show up two and a half hours before show time and fill out a slip with your name and the number of tickets you want (1 or 2). Two hours before show time, they will draw names for the 26 front row seats. If you're selected, you pay $30 per ticket in cash on the spot, after showing ID. And they give you an "I won the Wicked lottery" button. Make sure you bring enough cash, though, as you have to pay for the tickets on the spot. CodeMonkey ended up loaning $20 to a rather frantic Korean girl who came up short.

While getting rush tickets to Spiderman and Mary Poppins was painless, Wicked is harder. We first went to the drawing on Saturday night, and there were 200 people, maybe 300. We didn't win, but on Sunday night, there were less than half as many people, and I won! If  you're willing to try multiple times to win the lottery, I think this is really worth doing.

The seats we got were fantastic. I was so close I could see hot the actors' wigs attached to their heads; I could see where Elphaba's green bodysuit met her painted skin; I could see the embroidery on Morrible's gowns. The level of detail in the sets and costuming was breathtaking, and CodeMonkey was tickled that you could see right into the pit. Ali Maussey, the current Glinda was an absolute ham, and I think I liked her better than Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role. This time around, I was struck by how teenage-like Elphaba's and Glinda are; they interact like teenaged girls, particularly in the first act. I don't know if I missed that when I saw it the first time because I was a teenager myself, but it brought me back to being a high schooler myself.

Having gotten rush or raffle tickets three times now, I can't recommend it enough. keeps a list of all Broadway shows and their rush policies and it is worth referencing. We are hoping to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood this weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Terrorists, Polygamists and Spies, Oh My!

CodeMonkey is not American, so we need to submit lots of paperwork to USCIS so he can stay in the country. This happens every few years. These forms, while deeply aggravating in the way only modern bureaucratic paperwork can be, provide endless entertainment.

In addition to requiring him to list every "business, group or organization" he has been affiliated with since the age of sixteen, he also has to answer "yes" or "no" to a bunch of questions. These are kind of hilarious.

Do you plan to practice polygamy in the United States?

Do you intend to engage in the United States in espionage?

Have you ever engaged in, conspired to engage in, or do you intend to engage in, or have you ever solicited membership or funds for, or have you through any means ever assisted or provided any type of material support to any organization or person that have ever engaged or conspired to engage in sabotage, kidnapping, political assassination, hijacking, or any other form of terrorist activity?

Now, I don't blame the government for wanting to keep would-be polygamists, spies and terrorists out of the country, but I would assume that miscreants would have the good sense to lie on the forms.

But maybe I am wrong. After all there was a job candidate who told the FBI about his child porn stash. On the job application. Actually, that isn't the shocking part. The shocking part is that he then asked if "this was going to slow down the application process."

I suppose we should all be thankful for stupid, clueless criminals.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekly Goals 1/14

I'm sure my dear readers all two of them have been waiting with baited breath for updates on my weekly goals. Not. Anyway.

Weekly Goals

1. Finish 3 books.
FAIL. I spent the week slogging through Little Men. I have this crazy idea that, once I start a book, I'm obligated to finish it. Little Men lacks most of the charm of the first book in the series, and I plodded through what is a relatively short book. And I still have 20% of it left. I've resolved to go no further with it. Life is too short for bad books.

2. Knit 50 grams on sweater.
FAIL. I think I managed 10 grams, but my left wrist is becoming steadily less messed=up, so hopefully I can ramp this up this week.

3. Finish skein on CodeMonkey's sock.
FAIL. I'm avoiding the sock because I need to rip back a ton and redo the heel. It's not helping that CodeMonkey isn't around much, so I don't have his feet handy for fittings.

4. Make packing list for upcoming business trip.
WIN! I actually did this! Go me! (Low standards: I have them.)

5. Go to bed by 11 each night.
FAIL. Not even close. Some nights CodeMonkey didn't get home until past them and I wanted to stay up and see him. Some nights I just couldn't be arsed to go to bed on time. Fail, fail, fail.

Weekly Goals
1. Finish 2 books.
2. Finish current skein on sweater.
3. Finish skein on CodeMonkey's sock.
4. Go to bed by 11 5 nights this week.
5. Cook dinner 5 nights this week.
6. Call my in-laws on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Husband, Supreme Leader

CodeMonkey has always born a passing resemblance to the Kim family, the ruling dictators of North Korea.  He's got the wire-rimmed spectacles, a vaguely jowly look, and the same face shape.

He used to always look like a Kim until we moved to NYC and he could get haircuts from barbers with experience cutting Asian hair. There's a fantastic barber shop where, for 10 dollars, a pink-smocked lady will give him the best haircut of his life. Last week, for some completely he decided to get a cut from some random barber and he left looking like a young Kim Jong-Il.

He's finding it tiring that I keep getting him as "Comrade" but it's going to be a while before that stops being hilarious.

My husband is a total party pooper and won't let me share a picture. But he pretty much looks like the dour chap in the glasses.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekly Goals, 1/6/13

This has not been a good week around here. It's that time of winter where I become completely mopey, and the only saving grace is that the days get a little bit longer since the solstice has passed. My chronic pain issues, which have been largely dormant for years, have flared back up, and I'm struggling to do much of anything with my left hand and arm.

On the goal front, things have been...subpar.

1. I failed cold sleeping inadvertently three days into the year. The Loopy Ewe gave me a merchandise credit and I purchased some project bags with it. (Note: NOT YARN. My intentions were honorable!) Since this was my sixth order, I got a welcome gift of a cute calendar, a pattern, tootsie rolls and...

The yarn is lovely, but I'm miffed that I couldn't even keep incoming yarn out for a week.

2. I resolved to read both two books and three books last week. Oops. I read:

One for the books by Joe Queenan
I was happy to see this in the library's new arrivals section, as the author's recent piece in the Wall Street Journal left me stifling giggles when I read it at work. As a bibliomaniac myself, it's always fun to hear someone else talk about their relationship with books. Queenan is a bit of a curmudgeon, and it was fun to hear him rail about people who recommend bad books, disingenuous book blurbs and ugly cover art. Queenan is in love with books as escape vehicles (unsurprisingly, he reads mostly fiction) and as physical objects (and so he loves bookstores and loathes kindles). The full book was entertaining, but the op-ed dragged on less and was more fun. Queenan's bookish quirks aren't e ough to sustain a piece of 200 pages, and I found myself getting bored as the book went on and became repetitive. The author's curmudgeonly posturing rings false as the pages go on. I don't regret reading it, but I would have regretted buying it.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
In an effort to spare my hands, I'm trying out the Kindle my employer gave me for Christmas last year. I was skeptical (hence why it sat largely unused for a year), but the recent bout of hand pains made me pick it up again. Since I'm cheap, I opted for this classic, a freebie. I think it's been a decade since I read the book, so it's fun to reread it from the other side of college, work and marriage. I believe it is generally accepted that Alcott wrote herself into the story as Jo March, and growing up, I identified with Jo most. This time around, I didn't, and found Meg, with whom I share a name, the little woman I most wanted to meet. Since my life is shaping up more like Meg's, this is unsurprising.

In rereading the book, I realized how doomed, DOOMED! Beth was from the start. My mother had warned me as a girl that Beth died, but I still found her demise shocking and upsetting when I was younger. Beth, who is too fragile for school, disinterested in adult life and wants nothing more than to cling to Marmee and play hymns all day is clearly not long for this world. I still found her death poignant, but all too inevitable. It was nice to return to their world, if only for the afternoon it took to read the book, and I look forward to sharing this book with my own daughters one day.

I'm currently reading Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott and Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz and listening to The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein while I do housework.

3. The hand pain issues that are making holding a book a challenge have also slowed my knitting. I knit 30 grams on my Lace Yoke Sweater instead of 50 and didn't touch the sock at all. I'm not thrilled, but I am pleased I knit nearly every day.

Weekly Goals

1. Finish 3 books.
2. Knit 50 grams on sweater.
3. Finish skein on CodeMonkey's sock.
4. Make packing list for upcoming business trip.
5. Go to bed by 11 each night.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Goals

Since it's a new year, I'd like to get back in line with setting goals. With that in mind, here's what I'm shooting for this year:

2013 Goals

1. Meet financial goal. In the interests of privacy, I'll keep the amount to myself, but we are looking to increase our net worth by a certain amount. Will check in monthly with progress

2. Go cold sheep. Like cold turkey, only for yarn. I have more than enough yarn and need to knit it up, not buy more. I can still buy patterns and supplies like needles as needed.

3. Buy no more than one article of clothing per paycheck. That would be 24 pieces in the year. I've been increasingly frustrated with the shoddy quality of most store merchandise, and would like to focus on buying better, not more items. This coming month, I'm looking to buy shoes, as well as a length of fabric to take to a dressmaker for a custom shirtdress.

January Goals

1. Finish one pair of socks for CodeMonkey. We are trying to develop a pattern for socks to fit his unusual feet (size 8 5E). It's slow and frustrating, but he's going to need a whole wardrobe of these in time.

2. Lose 3 more pounds, down to 151 lbs.

3. Meet 1/12 of net worth goal.

4. Finish lace yoke sweater.

5. Read 10 books.

This Week's Goals

1. Read 2 books.

2. Finish first skein of CodeMonkey's socks.

3. Knit one skein of lace yoke sweater.