January, 2016

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An ode to female friendship

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Last weekend, I sat with my friend Becca in a restaurant in the suburbs 30 minutes south of the city. We both had the steak & Gorgonzola salad, and we talked about friendship.

As someone who has lived in four cities in the past eight years, I have met so many people — many of whom I adore with everything in me. For being a severe introvert, I am rich in relationships. It’s probably the best thing about my life. It’s also one of the hardest.

Because for all of the incredible people, apparently we only have room for 150 stable relationships at a time (this is a real thing — it’s called Dunbar’s number); that includes our family, co-workers, friends, everyone. And in a globally-linked world with no shortage of opportunities to “connect,” it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Our Facebook feeds are full of people we don’t really know — and yet we have a window to learning all of their kids’ names and where they vacationed last summer, even if we might try to avoid them given a run-in at the hometown Walmart. We can fall down an Instagram rabbit hole and fill our brains with the lives of strangers, their Whole30 meals, their beautiful homes, and their succulent plants. We spy on our favorite celebrities. And pretty soon, our brains are full, like an iceberg with too many penguins. At some point, penguins are going to start falling off. To be eaten by arctic seals.

So despite all of the wonderful people there are to know, Becca and I agreed: There is value in having fewer friendships, but giving those relationships deeper roots.

A few years ago, I broke up with the majority of my guy friends. Some required a conversation, some I just stopped reaching out to and — go figure — they never contacted me again. Today there are a few exceptions (and thank God for these men) — but it turns out a lot of my friendships with guys had been surface-level at best, emotionally manipulative at worst (don’t cry for me, Argentina — I was a willing participant), and the healthiest decision for me was to let them go.

But my girlfriends? I would be sunk without them. In the wise words of Lena Dunham, “I love loving men, but I love knowing women.”

Some I have known nearly forever; I met Sheryl when I wasn’t yet two-years old, and she remains one of the dearest people in my life. I still have a postcard she sent me from Disneyland when we were six. She knew me when I wore a crewneck sweatshirt featuring Beethoven and all of his puppies beneath the Universal Studios logo, and loved me anyway. We were roommates our freshman year in college — the first time we’d lived in the same city since we were in first grade. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. She came to my grandmother’s funeral.

Some are brand new. Maia and I both moved to Minneapolis last summer and started working together on July 5th; she has been a mainstay for me ever since. She came to Kansas City with me to hang out with my mom. She had Thanksgiving at my house and met my dad. In one game, I transformed her into a Broncos fan; the other day she said, “Twelve more sleeps until the Super Bowl!” I delight in her Australian accent to an annoying degree.

Remember when it felt so special to get a letter in the mail instead of an email? Now it feels special to get an email instead of a Facebook like. Email is the inside scoop. Email is the stuff no one wants to post as a status update. Some of my favorite relationships exist almost solely via email, because real deal friendship isn’t bound by geography. I met Val, Juliette, and Dani years ago on the internet, and while we’ve been in the same room a handful of times, our friendship has flourished via a four-way Gmail chain that I hope never ends; we are currently discussing the specifics of our deep, deep shared love of Hamilton.

Nearly all of my closest friends now have babies. I delight in watching them grow into motherhood, even though I secretly despise their happiness that is probably mostly made up in my head. SARCASM FONT. (But seriously, give me your baby.) I adore their kids and relish every chance I get to visit them. Becca, the one with whom I was eating that steak & Gorgonzola salad, recently invited me over and said, “The kids are sick and I’m not cleaning up the house. That’s because you’re a friend, not a guest.” A few weeks later when I was in Nashville, Mel said the same thing. I love that.

I can’t remember where, but sometime in the last week or so I read something like, “My old friends remind me who I was. My new friends remind me who I’m becoming.”

Two weeks ago, my three bests from Denver flew to Minneapolis. They braved a sub-zero weekend (no, seriously, the high was negative 8) just to see my life. We lounged around the house drinking coffee and talking about our feelings every morning (I only cried once), shared a bottle of champagne every afternoon, and ate our way through the city every night. It was a dream. We are all currently in a similar stage of life: not married, hustling in our jobs, budgeting, trying to be healthy (whoops, champagne), and asking the big questions. Kristen, Lacey, and Kayla are the most fun people I know, and they make me feel good about being me, like I’m worth being friends with, or maybe even worth loving.

And when we feel like we’re loved, it’s a lot easier to love.

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I wish that Dunbar’s Number could be higher, and that we could all invest heavily in every single amazing person who crosses our path. But fewer and deeper is my goal, because less really is more.

Negative degrees equals negative feelings

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

It’s Tuesday afternoon. I am in the Kansas City airport at one of those Southwest standing desks charging my computer and sighing huffily because my flight from Minneapolis to New York had engine trouble, so I was re-routed through Kansas City, and now this flight is delayed, so it means less time in New York, and that feels sad. I love New York (however, I do not heart New York, so don’t worry about getting me the T-shirt). But I have to get there as soon as possible because going to be 30 degrees there, and I am going to bask in the heat like a cat on a warm brick sidewalk.

Listen, I don’t want to be one of Those People who complains about the cold. Complaining about the cold is always in vain — nothing I say or do can change the forecast, because no one messes with meteorology except that dome world in The Truman Show. But I do need to say this out loud, because I am nothing if not an emoter: The weather in Minneapolis has been colder than Elsa’s ice castle of solitude, and it’s frozen me straight through to what was once my beating heart. It’s affected me on a deep soul level, because I love to be outside, and when it’s below zero, I start to want to do crazy things that people do before they freeze to death, like think I’m warmer than I am and that it would be a good idea to take off my pants (see here). So when there are prolonged stretches of days that barely reach the positive digits, I want to take a swan dive into despair. Most likely sans pants.

I am committed to being outside anytime it’s above five degrees, and on those days I’m also committed to expressing an outrageous amount of gratitude. Anguish is all relative, as is the temperature. This will be the last time you hear me complain about the winter.*

*Not a promise.

My winter wardrobe

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

You know your heart is shifting in a hearty direction when you say “It’s only 10 degrees” and then go walk your dog because “It’s only 10 degrees” means “not that cold.”

But honestly, my first Minnesota winter has not been bad. November and December were almost warm, most days in the 30s and 40s; it snowed once or twice, but then melted (an anomaly, so I hear). Some lifelong Minnesotans have said that it’s been the warmest winter they can remember.

But it is only January 5.

I had a hunch that when I came back after the holidays, winter would really start — and I was right. We’re staring down a high of 1 degree (one singular degree) on Sunday, and in preparation, I’ve been doing some online shopping. I got almost everything on sale, because is pays to shop post-holidays.

So without further ado, I present to thee: Annie’s Winter Wardrobe (most of which has yet to arrive and thus be tried on, so there’s a chance I might not keep something).

parka

I am over-the-moon excited to receive this Patagonia parka. It looks to be crazy warm, and the wind/waterproof layer is going to save my hide. Plus, how cute is the grey/green combo?

boots

I purchased Sorels two years ago, and last winter the rubber split open, rendering them a tiny bit useless in the snow. Given that I had just passed the 12-month warranty mark (13 months, to be exact), they wouldn’t replace them (cool, Sorel). I’ve been limping through with an extra pair of wool socks, but it’s time for new boots. I like this North Face pair because they are basic and have zero fur. No boots with the fur for me.

gloves

I have CHAT (Cold Hands All the Time, copyright me), so I got these. They also come in neon green and I thought maybe I should get those so I would always be able to find my hands, but then I thought… they’re my hands. (SO DUMB PLEASE FORGET I EVER SAID THAT.)

hat

I got this pom-pom hat last week and basically haven’t taken it off since. I’m wearing it right now. I will be wearing it tomorrow. I never want to be without it. Ashley knitted me an cream-colored infinity scarf a few years ago, and I’m living in that, as well.

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And since one can never have too many pom-pom hats, this one is on the way. The little metal plate will be removed immediately because it is dumb.

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And I’ve decided to wear more fuchsia, so here you go.

Bonus items: I got a down blanket for Christmas (my heart’s desire), and also a microwaveable rice bag from Aveda from a gift exchange. If you come over, chances are I will be wrapped in one or both. I’m also traveling with a down sleeping bag in the trunk of my car. I’m also hanging tough — as is Foxy.

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