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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Category: Lists

Day 739: The Year of Using Your Brain

Last year, I wrote a checklist in lieu of a list of resolutions. I figured checking stuff off everyday would be easier than resolving, failing, resolving again, etc.

I’m happy to say I did a pretty good job getting through the list each day. (“Pretty good” may be a generous assessment, but I took some liberties with number 10.)

The act of writing the checklist in January helped me remember that it even existed partway through the year, which seemed useful in and of itself. So this year, I’m doing the same thing – but this time, my daily checklist only has one item on it:

  1. Learn something new.

Learning something new about just one topic seems claustrophobic and way too logical, but since I don’t want to make a totally bogus checklist, I picked some interest areas to focus on:

  • Food access and agriculture
  • Neuroplasticity and aging
  • Creativity and mental health

(Imagining the three areas was a fun exercise – if you decide to make your own one-item checklist, I’d recommend taking a minute to think about what you’re actually interested in knowing.)

Since there’s no time like the present (and I already read more Game of  Thrones than I can handle over the holidays), I dove right in with food access and agriculture by watching five episodes of Food Forward by PBS yesterday. There are some cheesy moments, but the series is generally interesting, smart, accessible and surprising. I didn’t know, for example, that seed libraries are actually a thing. You can borrow seeds at the beginning of a season, and then donate new seeds back once you harvest your garden or farm. It’s a great way to preserve local agricultural biodiversity.

Seed library information online seems a little paltry after a brief search, but there are still plenty of folks out there trying to show you where to participate, if you’re interested. (If you’re already familiar with this system and have some better resources, please leave them in the comments.)

seed library

Photo of a seed library by Mike Teegarden and borrowed from this article

In the name of New Year aspirations, I like the idea of feeding the planet (or at least myself) off my patio, so the show + my checklist also inspired me to sign up for a local gardening class that will teach me how to grow edible stuff in pots. The class doesn’t meet until March, so I have a couple of months to learn more new things first (and a check-point in case I start lagging). Here’s hoping the thirst for knowledge never dries up.

Happy New Year to you, and happy checklist-making!

Day 523: Advice to the Tinderers

In an attempt to be a social butterfly (instead of one of those irritating moths that gets trapped flying around in the lampshade when the light’s been on too long), I recently re-downloaded Tinder.

For those of you in-the-know, Tinder has been around since 2012 as an alternate to other cold sweat and anxiety-inducing online dating platforms like OkCupid. It’s much simpler and less work to manage. It hooks into your Facebook profile and let’s you choose one main photo, five extra photos and add a short “about me” paragraph. In addition to the photos and paragraph, other users see your age, how many miles away you’re located, any Facebook friends you have in common, and any mutual interests you identified on Facebook (although, I haven’t bothered to add any new Facebook interests since approximately 2007—has anyone?).

Aside from one super creepy message from someone who is apparently known for sending creepy messages (Dude. You know who you are. Stop being a creep.), it’s been fun to see who’s around. It’s really, really, really (really) easy to tell which Tinderers are looking for—erm—”short-term experiences,” and which ones are actually interested in meeting interesting people. And the ability to cross reference potential matches with mutual Facebook friends is a huge benefit.

Since Tinder users have to make most of their initial assumptions about each other based on six photos and not much text, the photography becomes extremely important. And telling. In keeping with my habit of offering unsolicited online dating feedback, I have some advice for folks (specifically guys) about how to make the most of Tinder photos.

The Advice

1. You can only use six photos, so don’t use the same one twice. Or worse, three times. This app is super easy to figure out, so it’s not a good expression of your intelligence if you don’t get how to use it.

2. Understandably, most of your Facebook photos are probably of you out and about with your friends, because that’s when people take pictures. But you with a beer in each hand and a bro on each side in every photo suggests you don’t have many outside interests. Add one of you with your dog, or your favorite board game or your roller blades. (The ladies are pretty good at sussing out staged photos, so you might as well be honest about what you like to do.)

3. Pick at least one photo in which you’re identifiable as the subject. You’re virtually invisible when all of your photos are of groups of people. Which guy are you? Trying to figure it out is like a weird Where’s Waldo game, only everyone is Waldo and they all wear sports jerseys.

4. Keep the close-up mustache shots and fishing photos to a minimum. For more information, see Day 115: Advice for Dudes.

5. Be yourself, and represent yourself as such. Per the number 2 parenthetical, don’t bother trying to trick people into liking you. This applies to more than just your images. There are so many different types of people in the world, all looking for different types of relationships. Be honest about what you’re looking for—odds are, someone else out there is looking for the same thing.

Day 403: Keeping Going

This is technically the 403rd day of this blog, which – according to my mindset when I started blogging 403 days ago – means that yesterday should have been the last day.

But, like David Bowie once said, time may change me, but I can’t trace time (that’s not exactly the point I’m trying to make here, but… you get it). I started this with the intention of blogging every day until December 31, 2013. I made it until March 29, 2013. Then I slowed down and it was a good choice.

Things ch-ch-change. Instead of closing up shop, I’ve decided that 402 will persevere until the end of time (or until I no longer have an internet connection or a computer or any lists to write or interesting people to learn about).

So in honor of keeping going, I made a list. It’s not a list of 2014 resolutions or pledges. It’s not lofty or necessarily aspirational—it’s just a checklist. Of small things that are do-able every day, like “brush your teeth” or “put on pants.” These are easy.

To Do (Each Day)

  1. Smile when you wake up (even if it doesn’t come naturally and you’re just moving your face around).
  2. Be kind.
  3. Breathe first. Then react.
  4. Walk around with bare feet.
  5. Take a breath of outside air halfway through the day (no matter how cold, rainy, hot or dry it is out there).
  6. Admit that you don’t know something.
  7. Make an effort.
  8. Slow down.
  9. Put your phone away at night.
  10. If you didn’t get to it today, let it go. Then do it tomorrow.

Day 394: Things I Learned from My Fish

Brian Boitano passed away yesterday (the fish, not the human). I have yet to confirm his passing with my own eyes, but after responding affirmatively to my are-you-sure-he-isn’t-just-playing-dead questions, his trusted fish sitter has convinced me he is gone.

I feel sad about this. It’s easy for humans to feel attached to warm, furry things that remind us of cute little babies – but we do develop love and affection for the slimier species as well. Brian was a good fish and I miss him.

In his honor, here’s a list of four things I learned from the sometimes aggressive, sometimes lethargic, but always-graceful Brian Boitano.

Everybody feels better around plants. I couldn’t put real plants in Brian’s water (mold and the like – you know how it is), but when I moved his bowl to sit right next to my ivy plant, he recognized the green leaves and snuggled right up to them. Nature soothes, and is an important and often absent element to city life (or giant pickle-jar life, in Brian’s case).

Never underestimate the power of clean water. It probably sounds trite for me to say that watching my fish enjoy his monthly clean-water exchange gave me a higher sense of purpose when it comes to global water issues, but it’s true. Clean water is a precious resource and an absolute necessity that one in nine people do not currently have access to. For information on seven organizations committed to clean water access, water education and/or sustainable water use, check out this list from goodnet.org.

Lying around all the time is never a good thing. If you find yourself too tired to exercise, explore your world or eat, you’re in trouble. Mix it up and adjust your life before it’s too late.

Pink can be pretty and strong at the same time. Brian’s wavy fins would make beautiful sweeps and flourishes around the bowl (before he started lying around all the time), but he could probably bite your finger off if he really tried. He moved his marbles around, no problem. So the next time your little kid wants to wear a pink dress and climb a tree, just think of Brian. It’s totally cool.

YoungBrian(That’s Brian.)

Day 331: Advice About Being However Old You Are (especially if you’re in your 20s)

I keep seeing Facebook posts from my 20-something friends about 20-something stuff – everything from how to make the most of your 20s while you’re still young and free, to how to get through your 20s without having a complete meltdown.

At the ripe old age of 30, I feel I have to share my own wisdom on this topic. In fact, I’ve kind of shared it before. Here are some more helpful tidbits:

1. Things get better as you get older. You can argue this if you want, but it’s really all about state of mind. I know some pretty happy and awesome 80-somethings who aren’t worried about what’s going to happen to their youthful 80-year-old skin when they turn 90. They’re mostly just trying to see the world and soak it all in.

2. No one cares whether you’re 26 or 34. Once you’re no longer able to stay out until 3 a.m. and go for a spritely jog at 7 a.m. the next morning, those ages are pretty much all the same (although I continue to profess that 30 is, like, the best year ever).

3. You don’t need to accomplish [insert random measure of job or domestic success here] by the time you’re 30. My own opinion on the matter is that you should aim for having a healthy sense of self, a few really good books, some kind of experience in the online dating world (it’s just so cool and weird), and a credit card with a bunch of plane ticket purchases on it. Also, you should have a really good plan for paying off that card.

4. Habits are habits are habits. You can always make or break them – and you should, no matter how old you are. If you wasted your twenties doing what you always do and not learning how to build your own computer or light a one-match fire, have no fear. There’s still time to get going.

5. Look out and up. Make sure you’re good in your own mind and body, and then turn your focus away from yourself. You can be a force for positive change in the world no matter how old you are, but if you spend too much time reading about yourself on buzzfeed, you’ll have a hard time ever being happy. That said, this buzzfeed list shows a bunch of pugs wearing Halloween costumes. So, that’s cool.

6. You know. I mean, you just know. Your intuition has been lurking around in your gut for years, but once your metabolism slows down, you’ll finally start to notice it. Say hello to it. Nurture it. Listen to it. It’ll be your best friend, especially when its alternately advising you to stay home, turn off your phone, and get some sleep, or to get your butt out of your sweatpants and go to a dance party.