Rule to Live By / 02

I've always loved this quote by Ira Glass, so when I came across it today, so beautifully written, I had to share it.

It especially resonates with me this year.

... you will close the gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions ...


Also. Handwriting envy.

Thanks for posting, Bri.

Biscuits & Simple Happiness

We get stuck in food ruts. For some reason I don't quickly tire of the foods I like, so I have no problem making and eating the same few things over and over again.

Maybe deriving happiness from this simplicity is a gift from the universe. That's how I'll choose to see it.

I've been making these fluffy, flaky, delicious biscuits nearly every weekend. And I recently learned that I can make superior buttermilk by adding lemon juice or vinegar to plain milk. 

This weekend's batch were the best yet.

I serve them with whatever's in the kitchen already: butter, jams, za'atar, proscuitto, cheese. 

Add these to your rut. You'll smile.

Additionally. Beth Kirby's photography blows me away.

In My Brain / 06

Oliver Sacks On Learning He Has Terminal Cancer: We read The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat in AP Psychology, and Mr. Donahue took us all to meet Oliver Sacks. He's a personal hero of mine. (Amazing re-released book cover series by Cardon Webb)

Speaking of personal heroes: I might need to make a quick NYC trip to catch this Joan Didion exhibition.

It's only a matter of time before I get this shirt and start wearing it every day.

My friends and I are going to Escape The Room! I have done zero things to prepare, and I'm excited anyway.

We've been reading about and discussing The Oscars in our film studies class. We'll be live tweeting during the show tomorrow night. Join us: #Oscars2015 #gikreel

Weekend movie matinee for one

I confessed to the students in my film studies class that I love going to the movies by myself.

(The expressions on their faces didn't fully reflect the awesomeness I was projecting.)

It's true. Going to the movies might be my favorite solo activity. I would like to recommend it to everyone in the universe.

I would like to further recommend a contraband coffee and bagel for a weekend matinee.

Saturday morning I rode my bike down to Old City to see Still Alice, which is excellent and crushingly sad. In a room full of senior citizens I sobbed into my coffee, admired Julianne Moore's glowing excellence, and totally verified that going to the movies is not a friend-thing.

Oh hey!
I also did this other thing I used to do all the time, which I had almost entirely abandoned since moving: I carried my camera.

Here are some photos I snapped on my walk by the waterfront and around Old City.

OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_3.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_4.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_9.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_11.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_15.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_14.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_18.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_20.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_23.jpg OldCity_20150208_Lifestyle_24.jpg

Have I mentioned that I really, really love Philly? Because I really, really do.

January: The Epic Fakeout

I'm sad to admit that January is a fakeout for me. It's a false start. 

According to science, the calendar is on the upswing. The days are officially getting longer.
Simultaneously, though, it still looks pretty dang dark all the time and today, for example, it is negative zero thousand degrees in Philadelphia. And sunny! 

I can't express the extent of the bummer I feel when sunny becomes irrelevant.

In high school world, at least for me, January is a month of paradoxical discomfort.

See, the school calendar and the universe calendar reach an unpleasant discord around this time of year. 

The universe is saying things like: Holidays! Happy new year! Resolutions! Freshness! Rejuvenation!

And the school calendar is all: Siiiiiiiiike.

The Fall semester does not officially end until January 20-something. This means that for students, teachers, and all of the humans that have to deal with us, the holiday break is filled with catching up on past work and keeping up with current work. It means that when we come back to a new year, we're coming back to the same stuff, the leftovers and the loose ends. Instead of feeling rejuvenated by fresh starts and crisp ideas, we're feeling restless and oh-so-ready-to-be-done.

I'm lucky to be in a high school world where this feeling is minimized by the tremendous attitudes of everyone around me. There's a general understanding that we're all in this, powering through this part, and isn't it nice to be kind and smile as much as possible?

This isn't something that just helps. It is the thing.

I was telling my 12th graders that these January blues get solved for them next time. A year from now, they'll experience the hustle that is college finals in December, followed by a long break that feels like exactly that. When they return, it will be to something new, which will align with the universe very pleasantly.

I'm looking forward to the freshness part, which is only a few weeks away. I'm excited to experience EduCon from the other side this time. (Why haven't you signed up yet?) It's been fun to hammer out the details of the spring semester. I've been making lots of lists for things that are on hold.

Did you listen to this episode about buttons? (Do it.)
I'm currently dreaming of the reset button.

Image: Saul Steinberg's Last Self-Portrait

The last twelve months

Twelve months ago today, I met my boyfriend for our annual look-at-the-lights date. The one I always insist upon. Because New York in December is filled with darkness and cold, and I enjoy the reminder that it's also filled with sparkles and artists.

We met at Columbus Center. Made the stops I always request along Fifth Avenue.

Bergdorf. The most stunning windows, every time.
FAO Schwartz. Evaluate the props and discuss what our Muppet selves would be like.
Rockefeller tree selfie.

All the while, unbeknownst to me, he was attempting to execute a delicate plan. It crumbled that night, some of the details didn't come through, a sweat might have been broken. But before the night was over, it had worked out.

It was kind of too exciting to document, but here, grainy phone pictures:

I said yes, and we celebrated all over midtown.

It's bizarre to think that only a year ago we were not even engaged.
That we were living in two separate boroughs (an actual long-distance relationship) and meeting up once in a while at a halfway point.

Sometimes it feels like an age ago.
In the best way.

I had no idea what twelve months later would look like.

- - - - - - - -

One evening in late July, Kristin and I did a recap of the Year's Events In The Life Of Amal, Past and Forthcoming.

Get engaged.
Leave first big-kid apartment.
Leave Harlem.
Move in with future-husband.
Plan wedding.
Get married.
Leave job.
Start new job.
Pack up life in New York.
Say goodbye to all that.
Move to new city.

This list leaves out the details.
The hundred small steps in between each of the big ones. Involving storage units and late-night conversations, big government offices and lots of craft supplies.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this cram session of life events into any single year for people who enjoy sanity.
But, somehow:

It's been a whirlwind of good.
Really, really good.

- - - - - - - -

One of my favorite parts of wedding planning was choosing the ceremony readings. Two English teachers. Literature always wins.

We each chose one.

I knew it had to be Vonnegut. Cheri read this that day:

Because. Even in the chaos of this year,
which might be the hardest of my life so far,

I still feel that way.

- - - - - - - -

In the last twelve months
I've learned important things.

To leap.
To say yes to scary big stuff.
To take risks.

That important work is really hard.

That I'm getting better at things I'm bad at.

I'm learning.

To depend on others. To ask for help
more than is comfortable.
To say thank you.

That I'm strong. And pretty dang resilient.
(And my breakdowns have been minimal, and justified, and mostly non-psychotic.)

That all of this. All of the things on the list, and not on the list,
for the past twelve months,

are stupidly fortunate.

I'm grateful to have the thought, out loud sometimes: "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

Which is not to say, not in the slightest, that I know what's what.
That it's all breezy.

It's just me thinking. Accepting.
Forgiving. Reflecting.
Reliving. Listing. Questioning.
Processing, sort of.

All that can happen in a year.