Lately I'm Loving

Love letters to life

The last 36 hours have been a complete circus, friends - I feel like I've screwed up more than I've succeeded at, and I'm so scattered I hardly know which way the sun is shining from...maybe because it's one of those rare Norcal rainy days, which is just adding to my general sense of glumness. 

That said, the whole point of these love letters to life is to find the little things that make life so good, and there have been many little bright spots in this week of general discombobulation, such as...

- starting yoga back up for spring quarter and a: my wrist is totally rehabbed after a few weeks off, and b: I held a standing pigeon pose on BOTH sides for a full 30 seconds each! Small victories!

- kitchen victories: these coconut curry chicken meatballs, which Dave and I devoured on Tuesday night. So good. 

- this precious little piece of Minnesota, my birthday gift from Kelsie, which I have barely taken off since she came to visit!

- new music c/o Dave, who has excellent taste: Streelight Manifesto, a ska-punk band (I know, who even AM I these days?!)...their album "The Hands That Thieve" has been on heavy rotation for the last 24 hours. 

- minor-league hockey on Wednesday in San Jose - Dave and Laura have decided to be hardcore Barracudas fans and I am happy to come along for the ride just for the sheer hilarity of it all. 

- best of all, last-minute buzzer beater victories for Notre Dame women's basketball (Arike Ogunbowale is my HERO!) and, last night, hockey against Michigan (boo! hiss!)...so glad to see my alma mater pulling these wins off in the most exciting and heart-stopping way possible. 

Happy Friday, campers - here's to the weekend! 

 

A literary Lately I'm Loving

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Hiiiiiiiiii guys! So I'm noodling with the idea of trying to write a daily post in February - I've been so writers' blocked lately (can "writers' block" be verbified? Is "verbified" acceptable for use?) and I feel like that, coupled with laziness, has made me think it's okay to just...not write, which it isn't. SO here we go - with the spirit of doing some kind of writing daily, whether it's good, bad, or indifferent, here's me thinking a bunch about books, because I read SO MUCH last month, and because I'm so excited about both the book I'm currently reading and a few I have on deck. 

- First off, a hot take of sorts. I know a lot of people are deeply devoted to *their* medium of book delivery - whether it be physical books, audiobooks, or e-readers. I'm an omnivore when it comes to books - at any given time, I usually have at least one hardcopy book going, along with an audiobook for those lovely California commutes and usually at least a book apiece in Scribd, Kindle, and iBooks. It drove my mom crazy when I was little that I would be reading a dozen books at once (and that the corresponding stack HAD to sit on my nightstand no matter what) - I like the flexibility the modern options for reading grant me. 

Along those lines, this article on The Millions fascinated me. The gist? Ownership of physical books has been shown to be correlated with increased wealth. The article decries this as completely the wrong reason to appreciate, collect, and cherish physical books - citing a plethora of better, more soulful reasons than aesthetics and advancement. I'm inclined to agree with the writer - I have an impossibly hard time letting go of books, and love to re-read favorites - but I guess that, in my mind, anything that gets a person reading is worth it (even if it means audiobooks or eBooks all the way). 

- I am a longtime Twitter user, and over the nine years I've had an account the rabidity with which I use the medium has vacillated wildly. I'm currently in an "on" phase (hit me up at @MissSchweg), and one of my favorite accounts I've followed in the last several months is Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster). Yes, I follow a dictionary on Twitter. This is in no way related to the phase I went through as a child where I tried to read my dad's stunning old college dictionary, cover-to-cover. 

The account is worthy of a follow for a variety of reasons - it elaborates on common word choice errors, illustrates the evolution of words and colloquialisms, and expounds on words relevant to holidays, social events, et cetera. Most significantly, however, the account subtweets - radically - at our esteemed leader, calling him on his BS, explaining some of his more interesting word choices ("bigly" comes to mind, as does "braggadocious") and offering veiled commentary on the latest occurrences in the political world. I found this article on a day in the life of the account's manager to be so fun, interesting and eye-opening.  

- One of the points I always (try to) hammer home with people when they react incredulously to the amount of reading I do is that the act of reading is universal. From the fourth millennium BC, reading has been part of civilization, and today it has been estimated that 83% of the world's population is literate. I loved this peek at photographer Steve McCurry's book, "On Reading," which showcases the mind-boggling variety of the world's readers...it made me appreciate the sheer banality of my reading spot of choice (curled up in my ancient gray overstuffed armchair, usually swaddled in a ridiculously plush blanket, with a beverage of some kind close at hand). 

- Can reading make you happier? I was immediately sucked in by this (admittedly clickbait-y) title on The New Yorker - with the amount I read, I thought, I must be happy if it can! The actual point of the article, that books are therapeutic and that there is an entire genre of therapy that has evolved around that premise, intrigued me (and still does). Their elucidation of why books are effectively making people "happier" was more what I was expecting - an increased capacity for empathy, stronger social perception, and more refined ability to interact? All worth picking up a book if you ask me, and definitely all things that would make me happier. 

- And in that vein, I fell madly for this article on the world's required reading lists. Although my personal list of "books to read," housed in my "Life Lists" Excel workbook (NERD ALERT), just crested 525, I couldn't help but add a few, reminiscing on some of my favorite high school required reading as we went. Fun story: in 10th grade Honors English, I had already read the entire curriculum at the beginning of the year, so my fantastic teacher (hi, Mathison!) designed a bunch of mini-units for me to do instead of/alongside the regular curriculum. In one of those units, she introduced me to Willa Cather; in another, CS Lewis - both of whom have become longstanding loves of mine, and for that I will be eternally grateful to her. 

 

Lately I'm Loving

Things making me smile/on my mind/causing distraction lately:

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- I've been doing a lot of thinking about books lately. Namely, the fact that my reading list has burgeoned to nearly 150 titles, all added in the last couple of months, and that I've done a shamefully lax job checking them off. While I attribute that in large part to the fact that my days are, in general, much fuller here, I've also been a total social media fiend lately (stories forthcoming). This piece, about a guy who read 400 books in the last two years, was thought-provoking in its direct call-out of people like me who waste a ton of time on apps. While I still polish off around 10-12 books a month, it's crazy to think about how much more I could be doing. 

(Related: this Atlantic piece about how smartphones are destroying today's teens was a lengthy but compelling read.)

- As far as reading goes, I started extremely young - I read the entirety of the "Little House on the Prairie" series in kindergarten, and graduated (rapidly and prematurely) to "Pride and Prejudice" and "Watership Down" in second grade and "War and Peace" in third. (For the record, do not recommend that course of action.) What I do recommend? Reading early and often with kids. Some of my happiest and earliest childhood memories are of reading in bed with my parents almost every night. With that in mind, I've decided my new go-to baby gift is membership in The Picture Book Club, which is, as far as I can tell, basically the Jelly of the Month club but for books. Sign me (and my hypothetical future progeny) up for the "Women Who Changed The World" subscription, please. 

- I think the reason I read so much from a very early age is that I was a very well-socialized but equally introverted child. It's a topic that I've seen addressed a lot lately, most recently in this way-too-relatable post a friend shared on Facebook about characteristics of the type. I can't even begin to express how strongly I identified with most, if not all, of the outlined traits...to the point that, even as I write this, I'm re-reading the list and aggressively nodding along in my cube. 

- In addition to reading literature that was targeted well above my age range, I also spent much of my childhood attending theatrical events and being exposed to classical music. I attribute my adult love of the arts entirely to my parents' focus on ensuring we were well-versed in that world from an early age - and that we knew how to behave there. This New York Times thought piece about children and their participation in the adult world of the arts could basically be a manifesto for how I intend to (someday, maybe) parent...just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting behind a family of five at the opera and listening to the youngest, who couldn't have been more than seven, discuss the very mature themes of Thaïs with her mom during intermission. SIGN ME UP. 

 

Lately I'm Loving: California Edition

Team, I am officially SO Californian. I drink lots of Russian River red wines, I eat avocados, and I'm in three different yoga classes. I discuss traffic on "the 101" and bemoan the plastic bag tax. I went on a date last night with a guy whose brother has a tech startup (because everyone's brother has a tech startup these days). And in honor of my full-throttle leap into all things NorCal, here are a few things making me laugh/on my mind/causing distraction these days:

- One of my favorite Stanford discoveries lately came to me via my mama bear, who sent me the 2017 Stanford Summer Reading List right after I started. Every summer, Stanford picks three books they deem important, and recommends them to the Stanford community at large...everyone from incoming students to faculty and staff. I'm surprised by the number of people I've encountered who are reading them...and am planning to pick up my copies over the weekend. 

- San Franciscans have the most delightful sense of humor about most things - especially their weather. It fills me with inimitable joy that they have personified the omnipresent Bay Area fog - his name is Karl, and he is possibly one of my favorite things about San Francisco so far. Thusly named in 2010, his nomenclature inspired hot debate, which just makes me happier. For deliciously ironic laughs, check out his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - I follow it all. 

- While I do miss Minnesota a little bit every day, I'm starting to feel a lot more settled out here. That said, this video of Californians trying to pronounce the names of Minnesota cities filled me with ALL THE NOSTALGIA. 

- Despite Karl, I was pleased to see that my new ZIP scores highly on this totally arbitrary metric of what locations in the US have the most "pleasant" days per year. While I personally agree with the author's assessment of what constitutes "pleasant weather," not gonna lie, some days you just need to be on a boat scorching in 90-degree heat to feel alive. 

- In honor of my 153 days of pleasant weather per year, I'll be making this rosemary rosé spritzer - and ice-blending it to recreate the frozen rosemary rosé that Laura and I pounded for hours on the Godfrey roof last September. 

Cheers and happy Friday, campers! 

 

 

 

A Holiday Lately I'm Loving

I have a SERIOUSLY severe case of the Monday blues this morning after a totally weird weekend...Highs? Seeing the Minnesota Orchestra take on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on Saturday, Minnesota getting its first big dumping of snow all day yesterday, and a spontaneous Café Latté stop with Matt to end the weekend! Lows? Being sick as a dog with what I am convinced is a 21st-century version of the plague (aka the common cold and an accompanying fever, bleh). 

Minnesota's unseasonably warm temperatures and a busier-than-usual schedule have left me feeling a bit Grinchy this holiday season. I can't believe we're less than two weeks out! I have yet to get one single present actually ordered, let alone wrapped and under the tree (which Hal and I have yet to set up...EEK). That said, here's how I'm planning to get things feeling a bit more festive around here: 

-I just peeked through this gallery of New York City's holiday windows as I finished this morning's coffee - so pretty! Gotta say, Tiffany's are my favorites. So classic! 

-In lieu of sending traditional holiday cards (because, duh, no spouse/children/significant other/pets, hahaha), I went a little crazy in Emily McDowell's deliciously irreverent holiday shop online. Friends, expect some slightly off-color greetings from yours truly this year...and stay tuned for the Schwegfam Christmas card reveal, it's similarly irreverent and, I think, delightful. 

-The current soundtrack of the season is Leslie Odom's fantastic holiday album...I'm convinced he can do no wrong. Take a listen to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," then add the whole album to your holiday Spotify playlist - you won't regret it. If Christmas carols just aren't your jam, 1. BOO YOU SCROOGE! and 2. Take a listen to DJ Earworm's 2016 United States of Pop. Jury's still out for me, personally...

-As soon as I have a few free days/evenings, I'm hitting up Twin Cities holiday classics with everything I have in me. With Loring Park's Holidazzle right outside my front door, I have no excuse not to take a wander through the Christmas market...but I'll be making a special trip to the Como Conservatory on the nastiest day I can find to soak up the warmth and bask in the loveliness of the holiday sunken garden

-Kitchen-wise, I need to NOT go my usual route of "Bake all the Christmas cookies!!!!!" in the name of fitting into a gown on New Year's Eve...yikes. That said, there are a few festive events on my social calendar that require an offering, and I'm feeling shortbread this year for some reason. These pistachio butter cookies and these rosemary shortbread cookies both sound just different enough to be worth a try...stay tuned, and here's to hoping the great 2013 Christmas Oreo Balls Disaster isn't repeated. 

-Finally, tis the season, after all, to pay it forward. In a totally inspiring turn of affairs, my board's high schoolers decided to go to Feed My Starving Children this holiday season and spend some time giving back...I'll be joining them tomorrow for a morning of packing food and getting back to the reason for the season. So proud of them! Other worthy programs and initiatives I'm hoping to be able to share some time or money with this season: Wreaths Across America, which recognizes fallen veterans each holiday season...the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota's annual Centro Christmas party, which provides holiday cheer for over 1,000 attendees annually...and my office's Toys for Tots drive, which is looking a little sparse so far.