Leaving 2011 up to Free Will Astrology, and some goal-setting

January 10, 2011

This was my horoscope for the week of Dec. 30, 2010 from Free Will Astrology:

Decades ago, the U.S. built a network of sleek expressways to make it fast and easy for cars to travel between cities. But like many of America’s impressive engineering feats, this one took little account of what the human soul might enjoy. Ugly buildings or empty spaces surround many of those roads. Visually, the difference between I-95 in Georgia and I-74 in Illinois is negligible. “The Interstate highway system has made it possible,” said Charles Kuralt, “to go from sea to shining sea without seeing anything.” You cannot afford to let this be your operative metaphor in 2011, Cancerian. Your potential for rapid, extensive progress is sizable, but it would be a mistake to barrel along with your eyes fixed on the prize in the distance as you neglect what’s happening along the way. Be both global and local; romance the details as you revel in the big picture.

This actually does speak to me because I’m working on a few major endeavors that have the chance of making me so goal-oriented that I get blinded by the prize and miss the journey and exit ramps that lead to important and exciting adventures – namely my quest for a master’s degree and career in community development, and my quest for a husband (yes, I said it).

So I shall resolve to keep an open mind and explore my options.  I will revel in my journey and the big picture of what all this means – that I’m living my life in the here and now.

And what may come in 2011?  I’ll set some goals, of course, but let’s first take a look at 2010 goals to see how that generally pans out:

  • Move back to MN – CHECK!
  • Start grad school – CHECK!
  • Take an epic trip to either Sweden & Norway for a mother-land roots journey, or India to involve a service project of some sort – NOPE!  SAVE FOR A FUTURE DAY
  • More yoga! – CHECK! (although not enough)
  • More Minneapple in the Big Apple and MN Culture Club; then something else related when I move to MN – CHECK on NYC, but still not figured out in MN
  • Foster my senses of home, community and friendship – this is sort of “out there” but I mean it! – CHECK, I think…
  • Music in some way, including ukulele and singing – inspiration needed here – CHECK, at least with Grace and our uke jams but I need more music in my life in MN

Goals for this year:

  • Explore and build my life in MN
  • Travel to NYC, Seattle and Spain, at the least
  • Get a paid summer internship in the field of Community & Economic Development
  • Get involved in the community in some or multiple ways
  • Make time for things not school-related, including friends, dating, yoga, crafting, music, cooking
  • Do well in school
  • Maintain my friendships with the folks who live far away
  • Foster new and long-standing relationships here in MN

That’s the generic list for now.  I like the reminder of that horoscope for the first week of 2011 – keeping an open mind and heart even though my path could be straight and narrow.

Happy New Year 2011

January 4, 2011

2010 was fairly monumental, given that I quit my job, moved away from NYC, started grad school, and relocated to my home-town after 10 years away.  I had an inkling and made strong efforts to move back here for over a year of my life in NYC, and it came together slowly but surely.  The job search failed, and so I applied to grad school.  But I didn’t get any aid, so I thought my plan was ruined.

But the ever-spiritual Hopi, my work-wife, was instrumental in pushing me to just take the plunge before I knew I would have a graduate assistantship with tuition benefits, making this all possible.  She supported me to take the risk even though it seemed financially imprudent.  And a familiar voice was her tool of persuasion – Free Will Astrology.  I can’t even guess as to what week this was from, but it summed it up:

First the negatives: Don’t be a martyr to what you’ve won.  Don’t let your success oppress you.  Don’t become a slave to the useful role you’ve earned.  Now let’s try a more positive way to frame the challenges ahead of you: Keep questioning whether the fruits of your victories are still enjoyable and fulfilling to you.  Make sure the triumphs of the past don’t get in the way of the potential triumphs over the future.  Find out how your success may need to evolve.  Push beyond what’s good and head in the direction of what’s great.

And that, my friends, is how I make major life decisions!  I just leave it to Rob Brezsny and Hopi.  And here I am, hoping that I’m heading in the direction of what’s great.

Of course, who can forget all I left behind by leaving my exciting and fulfilling life in NYC.  This video somehow captures my nostalgia about NYC for me during this period of reflecting on the past year and looking to the future:

*Side note about the video: It is made up of 35,000 tilt shift photos.  I came across it on weburbanist.com while looking at a post about models of cities, including the wonderful Queens Museum model of NYC.

Hot Toddy!

December 21, 2010

My traditional winter drink is a hot toddy.  Time to pick up a bottle of Maker’s, or maybe I’ll try Hudson or some other fancy brand this year.  Maybe I’ll even be able to discover a local whiskey if I go to a fancy liquor store.

Hot Toddy!


  • 1 ounce whiskey, brandy or rum
  • 1 ounce honey
  • 1/2 lemon slice and squeeze of lemon juice
  • Hot water or tea
  • Cinnamon stick, whole cloves, star anise (new idea to me, inspired by photo)
Combine the whiskey, honey, and lemon slice in a mug or punch cup, and add hot water, heated with spices, to fill. Add cinnamon stick, star anise and/or whole cloves, if desired.
  • Use a spicy tea for the hot liquid, like cinnamon, cardamom, or lemon-ginger
  • Use whole spices in hot water, as suggested above
  • Add grated or sliced ginger to hot water

Winter break plans – dating edition

December 20, 2010

I’m not sure if it’s my own increase in energy surrounding my upcoming free time (i.e. winter break!), or all the crazy snowstorms that have been keeping everyone stuck inside, but my okcupid profile is finally getting some traffic and I’ve been getting promising messages from some potential cuties. In fact, I may have 3 dates lined up for this week – 3 nights in a row, no less!

One huge help is that my last final is tomorrow morning (hence the motivation to post here – read: procrastination).  So I’ve been scouring the blogs and weeklies I read, as well as checking my facebook events, for some happening events to make up for lost free time from the last 4 months of school.  And it just so happens that several old friends have shows this week.  When it rains it pours, and it makes for good entertainment to roll with musicians.  A few of these events are perfect things to invite new prospects to, so we’ll see if all goes as planned.

I’m really optimistic about 3 dates 3 nights in a row.  I think it’ll help me compare and contrast, if you will (not to sound crass).  It’s just that it can be difficult to assess chemistry with a total stranger.  Maybe this way I can just decide that I click more with some than others, or even that it’s just nice to have some decent and interesting guys to go to things with who may or may not turn into romantic partners.  I make this slow pace of romance very clear on the first date, which I’m sure makes me oh-so-attractive to them.  It goes something like this:

me: I find internet dating so interesting – meeting up with a total stranger with whom you have no context (like a mutual friend or common experience)

him: Yeah, it is pretty odd

me: Totally, and it’s just so difficult to know how you feel about someone from the first meeting.

him: sure, I suppose that’s true

me: That’s why I like to take it slow and just get to know the person for awhile, kinda like making a new friend

him: oh.  sure, I guess that makes sense.  Good to know.

I figure if he’s really interested, he’ll go along for the ride for a bit at least.  Seeing as I only went on more than one date with exactly one guy in NYC, I don’t think this strategy worked well there.  But in MN, guys are gentlemen (for the most part), and so I think I’ll give it a shot.  It can’t hurt to be honest, right?

So we’ll see how these dates go.  One is a second date, and the other two are firsts.  Wish me luck!

NE Mpls’ cutest block

October 23, 2010

Last weekend, I didn’t have time for a full-blown neighborhood exploration, but I did get to explore one street in particular, inspired by my friend’s apartment location.  I reconnected with Shane, a guy I hung out with about 11 years ago (whoa!) and who moved to Seattle around the same time I did.  We lost touch when he moved back to Mpls about a year later, but we were both eager to see each other and catch up on old times last Saturday.  I picked him up and brought him to a housewarming party of one of my fellow Minneapple in the Big Apple returners.

His apartment is right above the storefront of a vintage store and craft shop I’d heard a lot about, so I was eager to check it out.  It’s in Northeast Minneapolis, which is an area that’s fast becoming the hippest place in town, or maybe where hipsters go to die (like Ballard!) because it’s very residential but peppered with the newest and hippest, while affordable and accessible, restaurants and shops.  Corin and I took a driving tour of it when she was in town and got a major Portland vibe.  The housing stock is older and smaller, as it was the working class neighborhood for factory and mill workers back in the 10s to 40s, when it developed.  There are blocks and blocks of houses, then little main intersections here and there where you find cafes and shops.  Shane’s block is particularly happening, and is home to the aforementioned vintage and craft shops, as well as a bustling coffee shop, pizza place, gift shop, and another restaurant that’s soon to reopen.

Since it was 9pm on a Saturday when I picked him up, I decided to return the next day to take a closer look.

Rewind Vintage is a great little shop with a good array of clothes, jewelry and accessories.  No big scores this visit, but I’ll definitely be back.

Crafty Planet is a most fabulous little craft store, and is probably the only one of its kind in town.  They have a lot of Amy Butler fabrics and patterns, as well as amazing prints on heavier fabrics, bright oilcloths, great yarns, and tons of inspiration.

There’s also a vibrant but tiny coffee shop, called The Coffee Shop, Dabble gift shop, and Amici Pizza & Bistro, which I hear is inviting and yummy.  There’s also an amazing old movie theater called The Hollywood, which has sadly been closed for over 20 years.  In my meeting with the Mpls Planning and Economic Development director yesterday, she mentioned the efforts to grow this into something amazing, and it reaffirmed my excitement about grad school and the idea of being involved in projects like that through my schooling.

I updated my map with this little bit of detail so I can track all my favorite places in the city.  Maybe I’ll stop spending all my money at Target if I can find local and much cuter and unique places to go!

A walk and a coffeeshop

October 12, 2010

I studied for hours yesterday and needed a break in the middle of the day, so I grabbed one of my books and got in the car to explore a potential neighborhood for future living.  I parked the car across from one of the hip coffeeshops in Uptown, Mpls (which is like Capital Hill in Seattle). 

First, I took a walk to clear my head and check out the vibe of the residential streets.  I crossed Lyndale and Hennepin, which are both main drags in the neighborhood.  As I walked west, I approached one of the amazing Mpls lakes, Lake of the Isles, and the large houses with big yards reflected the proximity to the water.  The main drags were the most bustling, and I found that most apartment buildings were within 2 blocks of these streets, which would make for a nice get up and go feel if I lived there. 

I circled back to the coffeeshop where I sat at a big bar and had an iced tea (it was 85 degrees out!) while reading my policy analysis book.  Music was great, I liked the art, and there was good people-watching. 

I liked this neighborhood, but found that in between the main streets, things get a little quiet and residential for my taste.  I think I’d prefer to live within 2 blocks of a main street to be close to the action.  Here’s a map of the area.
View A walk and a coffeeshop in a larger map

Next weekend, I’ll explore another place, and I can start getting a sense for the feel of the city while I’m stuck in St. Paul for a bit.  My hope is that I find ways to get away from St. Paul on the weekends while studying, keeping myself sane while I stay with the parents, and getting a feel for my top-choice neighborhood for when I can get my own place.  Fun!  I love exploring!

Track my progress here.

A week in, and gearing up for school

September 2, 2010

I’m sort of kind of starting to get settled in.  I have 1 and a half boxes left to unpack, and my list of things to get done before school starts is shrinking.  I’m getting less out-of-sorts by the day, as things become more settled.  There’s no routine yet by any means, since school starts next Tuesday, but at least I’m feeling prepared.  Books bought, car in the works (fingers crossed), faculty advisor and RA faculty member met, some networking done, many classmates introduced.  I feel like it’s the right place for me, most definitely.  We’ll see if I still think that when I have 4 papers due and 200 pages of reading every night.

I have been very low-key lately, just attending to school meetings and prep.  It’ll be fun to start getting social.  There’s plenty going on, as the local social media gossip blog, LOL/OMG, tells me.  Plus, Lady Gaga apparently likes the same places as me, as she showed up at my favorite bar last night after her show.  Wow!

As far as observations go, here are a few:

– I have not been walking AT ALL!  This is not good.  Today, I ditched the offer of free rides from my mom and got myself to campus, and it involved quite a bit of walking.  Yay for walking!

– Being on campus mostly feels like a new experience, compared to my undergrad years, because I’m in a building I didn’t spend much time in, and they’ve built and renovated quite a few buildings since I was there.  However, upon seeing an unchanged stairway that I used to take regularly, I almost broke out into a panic as if I was reliving my past.

– My student ID and email address is exactly the same as it was 15 years ago.  Yes, I started college in 1995.  If I still had my student ID card, they would let me use it.  Thankfully, they let me get a new one for free since it’s more than 5 years old.  I fear what the photo looked like on that one, taken when I was a wee pup of 18 years old.

– Everything takes less time here than in NYC.  Today, I accomplished a ridiculous amount of tasks on campus in about 3 hours, and that included all 3 areas of campus – the St. Paul campus, the East Bank, and the West Bank (that’s it’s real name).  The time spent waiting in lines alone is a drastic change.

– I am a TV addict when it is readily available.  This will have to change once school starts.

– I’m going to see a 1400 lb pig on Friday at the MN State Fair.

More later.  I need to resume my “Not miss vs. Miss” theme regarding NYC soon.

Musings on first days back in MN

August 27, 2010

Well, it’s been 3 days here in MN and so far I just feel like I’m on a regular trip to visit the fam. This will be an interesting transition…

Here are some first impressions:

– every time I check in on foursquare, the place I am is the first place listed
– there are no calorie counts at Starbucks or other chains
– people are tall here
– it’s not possible to go to Target without running into someone you know
– everywhere in the Twin Cities takes 20 minutes (Clueless reference anyone?)
– reverse sticker shock is great, but hipster bars have Brooklyn prices here too ($5 beers)

More observations to come…

New York City Bucket List

August 12, 2010

Well, I’ve been crossing things off my NYC bucket list left and right, as can be seen on my various photo diaries (“My last month in NYC” and “8:36pm“).  The bucket list, formerly known as “To do before leaving,” is a list of ideas, places, events, etc, that I’ve been keeping on my iPhone, things I must check out before I move away.

I have been stupidly deleting items from the list as I do them.  I track them indirectly on the photo diaries and in my calendar, but I feel silly for not keeping a comprehensive list.  And so now I will attempt to recreate the list, and cross things off that I have done.  Check back to this post for edits of items completed.  Here goes:

Bronx Zoo
Queens Thai restaurant (SriPraPhai w/ Bryan & Chris on 8/10)
Queens Museum of Art (BeNoraMa w/ Ben & Marci on 7/31)
Cooper Hewitt Design Museum (w/ Vicky on 8/1)
Arthur Ave/Grand Concourse
Difara Pizza (w/ Ezra on 8/5)
Lots of bike rides (this will never be complete, but I have had some good rides lately)
Jamaica Nature Reserve
Carnegie Hall
Museum of the City of NY
ICP (Int’l Ctr of Photography)
Steinway Hall on West 57th St
Moto (w/ Ezra on 8/6)
The Moth
Liberty Island/Ellis Island
BK Historical Society
Dia Beacon
City Island
Night out in Greenpoint for old time’s sake (w/ Julie, Corin and Dave on 7/30)
Governor’s Island (w/ Andrea and Eric on 8/7)
Roberta’s (w/ Sarah on 6/24)
Roberta’s with Julie
SI Yankees vs. BK Cyclones at SI (w/ Marci, Ben, Corin, Dave, Julie, Alice, Vivi & friend, Cari & friend on 7/2)
Brighton Beach and Russian Food (w/ Marci, Ben, Alice & Grace on 7/5)

Most of the things I haven’t done yet are either far away or are museums, which are all basically relegated to weekend days, which have already been pretty jam-packed, often with museum trips.  Maybe I can squeeze a few more exciting adventures out of the next few weekends. I’ll be keeping you posted…

Not miss vs. Miss, part 2

July 18, 2010

Not miss – the horrors that come with the cheap/kitsch/trash factor of Coney Island, i.e. vicious girl fight on the beach, complete with one fighter carried/dragged away by alleged boyfriend with a clump of the other girl’s hair in her hand.  Yuck!

Miss – firefly sightings on a regular basis