Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"I am such a bad ass"

Dear 29,
You've outdone yourself, 29. We have barely had the chance to get acquainted (I mean it has just now been a week) and already you've thrilled me. At the risk of sounding overly sappy, I am surrounded by the most incredible people. They are brilliant and creative and thoughtful and truly kind. If these first 7 days of 29 are any indication of how the other 358 will go-- I'm in for one of the best years yet.
You must try this cake. Cache Birthday Cake @ Americana. So. Good.
The list has been published, posted on Facebook (which obviously makes it legit), printed on a tshirt (thanks Sara) and clearly studied by those around me. My sweet friend Jami proved that on Friday night when she arranged for me to RIDE A MOTORCYCLE. (Note the use of all-caps. That nearly never happens on this blog so it must have been pretty bigtime.)
While on the back of a very rumbly motorcycle I managed to ask a lot of questions (gears are in fact shifted using your foot), scream like a child and shout "I am such a bad ass" with my voice quivering. (Thank you to Jami's kind and good looking friends for putting up with all that and making #21 happen) I found myself glancing over at other motorcyclists throughout the rest of my weekend, from the safe confines of my trusty Honda, and nodding as though I'm one of them now. Apparently a 15 block ride on a bike has made me think I am part of the secret league of bad asses.
I would have settled with just one night of awesome, but instead, my seven day birthday weekend was filled with special events: grilled pizzas, garlic scapes, a pretty serious Bobby Brown dance party at a bbq fest, lots of confetti, a brutal UFC fight (that I just watched, despite what Pete taught me), at least 4 naps, several compliments on a dress Janer nearly gave to goodwill... and that was just on Saturday.
Oh and a butterfly landed on my head.

After a day of pool sitting on Sunday (ok two hours of pool sitting, where I managed to land my first awkward sunburn of the season), I spent an evening on a farm eating ribs, learning about vegetable farming and sneaking many bites of the most delicious macaroni casserole. There were hayrack rides and the coolest man I know with a ponytail. Larry sang Johnny Cash and opened up his home to Des Moines' fancy food folk and we regular people. I can't wait to go back.
(photo credit to Adrienne. this is one of the many awesome shots she took that evening- hire her)
(Thanks for letting me give you the full and overly detailed play-by-play of my first week of a new year. I'm sure this is exciting to read.)
But while the weekend had many, the biggest highlight was celebrating my 2-9 on the Stoop with my sister Kate and a whole bunch of fun DSM friends. There was a root beer float bar, a vodka lemonade stand and so many rainbows. (and the motorcycle ride, Mr. Lidgett, lots of new bourbon varietals, sparklers, Mrs. Chase and a super tasty cake, oh and a Robert Palmer record)

29, you really have outdone yourself. And all you brilliant and creative and thoughtful and truly kind people- you have too. Thanks for an spectacular kick off of year 29.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear 28.

Dear 28,
I'll only be writing you this one last time. Tomorrow I start dedicating my letters and my new list to a new year: 29. This practice, the list making, has pushed me to learn all kinds of new things. Back when I made my list for year 23 (the first birthday I celebrated here in Des Moines), I had far different goals.
There are many things on this list I've since accomplished ("Learn the streets of downtown Des Moines" makes me laugh) and there are things on this list I wouldn't dream of doing these days (Tonic? Really 23-year-old LP? Tonic?) In year 28 I might not have scratched off each number on the list, but I sure enjoyed these last twelve months. Like in year 27, this blog (and all of you) pushed me to do some things I didn't think I could, to celebrate some things that might have gone unnoticed and to ask so many questions about everything. I learned a lot-- more about myself than anything else.
I made pasta with a real Italian chef and snuck wine into the Meredith test gardens. I went to prom again. I performed in a band (and then spoke of my tambourine prowess for many months after). I worked out with MMA fighters. I had all three of my beautiful sisters in Des Moines. I moved to a new and improved home where I can use a dishwasher, run central air and stoop. I met Ron, the Red Velvet girls and shared fried chicken with my dear friend. I learned a truly invaluable skill: the Lidgett pose.
I slow danced in a townie bar. I joined a cover band that has since performed thrice-ish. I learned the definition of magic from a bartender. I slept on a riverboat after being rocked by the Head and the Heart. Good golly I got a new car. I fell in love with September and cursed March. I had an art show. I wore a crown more than once. I met four artists who showed their work at the Des Moines Art Center. I rewrote an Adele song while wearing a pizza beret. I made Coq Au Vin. I saw Chicago from the Hancock Building.
I went on a hike. I watched Nebraska beat my Hawks. I ran two races without being chased. I drew naked people. I was on the front page of the Des Moines Register. I met a bunch of new and incredible people. I danced. I danced a lot. I cooked my first turkey (that I won in my first euchre tournament). I was introduced to the Bertha Butt Boogie. I took a lot of B12. I sold over 650 postcards.
This list would have shocked my 23-year-old self... or exhausted me. But today it makes me proud.
Thanks for being part of what turned out to be a pretty spectacular year. 28 was really great.

7.5 hours left.

Dear 28,
I started my seven-day-birthday-weekend with 9 list items still left uncrossed. (Left uncrossed? Is that right?) But with only 7.5 hours left in 28 I've made the most of today. I did not read 7 additional books, but I did hit the Bell Center with Emily to shoot 4 free throws. (Pause for baby Jack)
(Seriously. So cute.)

I've always been a mediocre free throw shooter. Once though, at a summer basketball camp back in 1990something I did win the free throw shooting competition. Jeff Tank asked the other girls (as they watched me sink shot after shot--this is how I remember it. And I was undoubtedly wearing tall socks) "what do you notice about Laura's form?" Kate White (I hope you read this Kate- I still laugh about this day and the fact that of all the things I could remember about 5 years of playing basketball, this stands out) responded "she sticks out her tongue a lot."
I watched "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" to finally cross off #3. There will be no camping, at least not this year, unless I sleep outside Hoyt Sherman tonight. There won't be a skating party unless Anthony loans me his rollerblades and six other people meet me somewhere that has a rink (7 people constitutes a party). But there might still be time to Slip n Slide...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making my case.

Dear 28,
As we close in on 29, I am being realistic about what can and will be done about the list. 10 items are left unfinished (Which means I've currently completed 64% of the list. Sometimes I do math.)
In the next 6 days I'll be able to cross off a few more, but let me first make my case.
12. Build something
When I made this list I left a couple items just vague enough for interpretation. You may have noticed "conquer a fear" has been crossed out and yet I haven't written about it, but trust me, I've been conquering. But with "Build Something" I feel like I need to fully explain myself. No I didn't saw off a branch from a fallen tree in Sherman Hill after the big storm in April and piece together a glider for the stoop with this reclaimed wood. No I didn't refinish my cabinet doors (seriously people-who-I-rent-from, I didn't) and make them all cool with chalkboard paint so I can display the menu at cafeteria themed dinner parties (recently I bought old lunchroom trays so a cafeteria themed dinner party is in my near future). I might not have physically built anything (not even the drawer pictured below) but what I have built-- a business.
Initially I was reluctant to call it this word: business. I mean, I make postcards, have an etsy site, all that crafty stuff, but this year I nearly went #allin. I now have cards at 3 retail locations in the Metro (Cache Bake Shoppe, Francy Pants and Ephemera-- all businesses owned by terrific women. Go shop at all of them.)
I've done about ten custom jobs, held a holiday card party, and sold at the East Village Bazaar, twice. I even had a postcard art show in January. I'm in the process of trying to "diversify my product" which is business talk for "make some other stuff." That's nearly #allin. I'd say all this constitutes a business. So would my accountant. So I'm crossing it off. This year I built something. 

22. Visit a monument
When I googled "Monuments in Iowa," lots of places that create tombstones popped up but also lists of landmarks in Iowa. According to my google search, a monument and a landmark are basically the same thing. I declare that I have visited a monument this year. Google knows everything. (Congratulations on the big graduation Kate! Not only am I so proud of you, but I was also able to cross off a list item while visiting you in our city for the weekend. Thanks for the bonus.)
Now I'm up to 71% complete. 
(If these percentages are totally wrong, I blame the Theory and Practice of Argument- the college class I took to get out of a math class. Terrible mistake.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Let's get serious about this now.

Dear 28,
Days away from 29 and I'm doing the usual pre-birthday-overly-reflective bit that simultaneously depresses and excites me. So I'm not going to get an email from Rob Sheffield (if you are reading this Mr. Rob Sheffield, please know I totally want you to send me a note. You're the best of writers. I'm even reading your book again. The one you signed for me. Thanks again for that.), I did do a whole lot of awesome things this year. Sure there were disappointments and some bummers, but I survived, hell I succeeded in this 28th year. 
Around this time last year I asked some weirdly personal questions on this blog. When I started to write this post I figured it would be another sappy one-- you know, too personal, too "my life is so average" and too many embarrassing photos of myself. Now that I've scoured the photo archives (and my facebook timeline, obviously) I realize this year hasn't been average at all and that all those questions from last year have answers. And there are far less ridiculous photos of me...well maybe a few less.
With about a week left in 28 I have some work to do. So Mr. Rob Sheffield now is the time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The hydrologic system right here in a plastic bottle.

Dear 28,
Tony Feher is full of wisdom. In the class he "taught" last night (it was more of a conversation about art that ended with Tony sticking tiny sword picks into the top of a Starbucks cup and giving me this piece of art) I learned all kinds of things including: Art making takes a whole lot of hard work and that Tony Feher kept a note I wrote to him (sigh).
Thanks Des Moines Art Center for giving me yet another opportunity to meet and mingle with an incredible artist.

1- Yes that is a "gods eye" made of easter basket grass tied together and straws. And yes I did make it for Tony Feher.
2- Yes that is a gin and tonic that Tony Feher mixed up for me. 
3- Why yes, that is a photo taken with my new iphone and yes you can expect photos to be better now that I own it. You are welcome.