Wednesday, January 28, 2009

55 percent fun.

This week I have wished profoundly that I was a little less who I am. A little quieter, calmer, more thoughtful, less caffienated. I go to bed wishing I had more hours in the day and more control over my feelings. My effusiveness is out of control. I am a bit too madly in love with being alive right now, and after my summer, the feeling is terrifying.

So I dropped my fun percentage so I could be sure to track this stuff again. It was good to have that continuity.

1. Hornets vs. Nuggets was triumphant for Hornets, but I felt the fanfare was a bit lackluster, and the playing was all-around sloppy.

2. Los Campesinos! was cut short by my love for napping, propensity to talk to James for much too long, and inability to get from one place to another with any kind of expediacy.

3. But James is a really talented musician. The Internet needs to know.

4. And there were good moments with: Kim (she's coming!) and Ari (also coming!) and Alex and Leah and almost definitely others. Jessica.

5. BFF weekend was the BWE.

5. My Behavior Improvement Plans are getting publishable for their awesomeness.

6. I wrote "5" twice.

7. Rabouin Falcons beat the Jefferson Whatevers 108 to 32 on Tuesday. BLOWOUT! Fuck their high GEE scores!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

the funnest people in new orleans

It's been since September that I gave an installment of the "The Most Important People In My Life." That's a LONG TIME. Eons. (Crosswords LOVE the "eons" clue. They LOVE it. I've noticed that since I started doing the crossword, I have also started speaking more frequently with words with a 90-percent-or-higher vowel composition. I digress).

And guess what? Ben Stevens, my best friend from home, IS VISITING! We are having a 100 percent FUN time. Except that I'm inexcusably sick. Why does sickness happen? It's such an inconvenience to everyone. The Common Cold should realize that it's not really all that powerful; it's not going to do much to help thin the human species; it's known far and wide (probably even among OTHER viruses) as a major annoyance; and it should just give up. Alas, alack.

Anyway, Ben is visiting (highlights so far: swamp walk, Bourbon Street, beignets, hipster coffee, hipster burritos, The Pixies on shuffle, relationship ranting, grocery adventure at Winn Dixie, Indian food, tourist hot spots, jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz, college parties, beer, more jazz, more beer, oldies singalongs, etcccccc.), and he said to me last night, "Wow Sophie, you really have a LOT of interesting and attractive friends in this here Greater New Orleans area." And I said, "You know Ben Stevens, I really do." And he said, "I think I shall move in with you and attempt to bone 8 out of 10 of your besties." And I said, "Okay Ben." (That whole transgression is true except for the last part).

So obviously: Important People in my New Orleans, Volume x+1:

The incomparable (clockwise from left) Nick, Jazzy, Avery, Lily, and Caitlin in the middle. These are the gentlemen and ladies whose numbers I obtained while drunk and at Penn. When I talk about the greatest people I have met in New Orleans, it doesn't seem like enough of a superlative for this group. They are more like the greatest people I have met in my LIFE. Avo is a freelance illustrator for a limited edition of "The Odyssey" to be released in the next year. Jazzy has some high-end government job and used to be Vince Levy's boss at that Penn paper. Nick works for the NOLA Green Project (which is about the most badass thing you could do here). Lily is right out of a comic book -- she knows everyone and everything and smokes her cigarettes from long ancient cigarette holders. And Caitlin... holy shit. Well, Caitlin works at Bennachin's, Caitlin works at the NOMA, Caitlin is thinking of opening a coffee shop. Caitlin got invited to go to The Eagles concert last night by the guitarist from The Eagles. Caitlin got offered 10 or 15 EVEN AWESOMER jobs while backstage at The Eagles concert. And for these reasons, among other reasons, I asked Caitlin to sign my boobs last night. And she did.

Leah Hope Fishbein. I will know Leah for the rest of my life. Here is how I met her: when I first got to New Orleans all those many moons ago, Teach for America gave us Teach for America LookBook pages with everyone's names and favorite this-and-thats, and Leah's favorite listed book was "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World." And that is how I knew that Leah would be my friend. We officially met in an elevator in Phoenix. I thought she was probably too cool for me. Then Leah started taking me to every cool vegan restaurant in Tempe in her Hybrid electric car. After that it was a downward spiral into utter infatuation. Leah organizes the Crunkical Mass; she has pages from children's books tattooed on her calves (actually, last Friday night some drunk guy cursed her out for having them, and called her a "fancy tattoo haver." That was funny. Drunk people are funny). What makes Leah the best is that for all her adventurousness and whimsy, she will ALSO stay at home with you and eat take-out and watch "Clueless." She is the only person in New Orleans who is currently in my speed dial. That's love. Also her cat is named Sal and is orange and is actually still a kitten (i.e. FREAKISHLY CUTE).

Hannahhhhhh. I have known and loved a lot of Hannahs. But never in my life have I been more completely in awe of a Hannah as I am of this Hannah. Hannah is the kind of person who is so unrealistically genuine and nice and kind-spirited that you are taken completely aback when you figure out that she's actually FUCKING EDGY AS FUCK. Like... if I were going to have an orgy, I would probably invite Hannah, and Hannah would probably say yes. If I were going to bike 100 miles in one day, I would probably invite Hannah, and Hannah would probably say yes. Hannah dreams about living in a real life tree house. She worked on a sustainable farm in Vermont for an enormous chunk of her life. This Christmas, she bought dozens and dozens of local Meyer lemons and invited us over to spend the entire afternoon canning jars upon jars upon jars of lemon curd. Hannah is what I would call the ideal Pocket Person: The kind of person who makes you so consistently happy -- indeed, the kind of person who MAKES YOU A BETTER VERSION OF YOURSELF -- that you wish you could pocket-size-ify her and carry her around in your purse so you would never ever ever have to be without her. In this picture she is eating her birthday brunch. That's because she's the kind of person who has a handful of wonderful friends who want nothing in the world but to bring incredible homemade foods over to her house to celebrate her birthday, brunchily.

Oh, Karaline. I think Karaline would make a very good wife. She is a wonderful cook and picks out the most beautiful foods when she goes food shopping; she wears really sexy around-the-house clothes; she has this amazing cooing voice for when you are miserable or surly. But Karaline would be wasted if she were only a wife. Beyond all these things, she's also up for any adventure, good at dancing late at night in sparkling outfits, and absolutely won Bananagrams today. I felt I was pretty close to winning. But Karaline won, fair and square. She is from Massachusetts, and she instantly makes everyone around her feel like they are her lifelong best friend. For this reason, she is possibly too popular for her own good. but I guess that's not really a problem. I should think of an ACTUAL Karaline problem. Hmm. Too good in bed?

James Hamilton (left). Obviously needs both names to identify him, right? It's just one of those names. We went out for dinner a couple of weeks ago and he told me that my name ("Sophie Johnson") was a strong name. I have never received a compliment on my name before -- at least, not the whole name -- and I didn't quite know what to do with it. But once the dust had settled, I recognized what was BEHIND that compliment: the fact that "James Hamilton" is FAR AND AWAY the strongest, most regal name that has ever been bestowed on any human being. This tells you nothing about James, except that he eats food and gives compliments. He does both those things (and the former he does as a vegetarian, which is a BFD here in New Orleans). James plays bookoo instruments. He can do that thing where you're talking to him and he's talking to you and AT THE SAME TIME he's making beautiful sounds come out of a ukelele. James is also a cat whisperer and can thus get cats to do tricks. It's becoming clear to me as I write this entry that a fondness for cats is listed as very important in my particular rating book. Last night James went with us to see "The Wrestler," then he drove us back to our car, and called to tell us interesting things we could do with our days tomorrow. He's CLASSY. That's the bottom line there. Also has GREAT taste in music. AND BASKETBALL!!! Well, I mean, his team in the Nuggets. But at least he HAS a team, and he loves them, and they are a really really good team. And we can have educated arguments about Western Conference. Blissful.

Ms. Ward and Ms. McGough. Jayda and Kristen are amazing, colorful people, and they have completely saved my life. They are some of the greatest teachers in the entire city, and they have really single-handedly transformed the entire Special Ed department at my school. Seriously, fellows: I don't know what I would do without them. I don't. I would probably have gouged out my eyes by now. With forks. Kristen has the BEST LAUGH OF ALL TIME. Whenever something is REALLY shitty at school, Kristen laughs at it and it all seems a little bit better. She's always pissed off at exactly the right times, and when I'm going through something, she's the one who drives all the way to my house to make sure I'm okay. Jayda, who is pregnant with twins, is sarcastic and funny in one of those ways you thought was plausible only in well-written Hollywood comedies. She also is AMAZING with her students, and somehow whips all the Sped. paperwork into place. These women are the main reason I wake up every morning and feel okay about what I'm doing.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Ok, blog. I have to say: I am feeling uninspired. Not in a large, overarching sense. I mean, I DID watch the Inaugural Address today (AND solved the Inaugural New York Times crossword), so in that sense I am deeply inspired. I agree, the poet was kind of bad, and it was kind of really funny when Yo Yo Ma was playing at the moment that Barack Obama constitutionally became president (!??!!). But I shed a tear. I admit this fact now to the internet in a moment of true openness.

The weekend was unbelievably long, and for the first time in my New Orleanian history of long weekends, I did not leave town. I had a brilliant time riding my bike in the sublimely seventy-degree weather; cooking extravagent meals and eating them with glasses of expensive wine; lesson planning the long way (not the "holy-shit-I-have-class-in-four-hours-I'd-better-get-the-fuck-on-this" way I'm so used to); going to sleep laaaaate after DANCING or BAKING or just TALKING with people worth talking to. All in all, a perfect weekend.

We took the kids hiking again, which was a winning scenario. Except that I accidentally stepped in a huge fire-ant nest (and when I say "accidentally," I mean I looked at the huge fire-ant nest and said, "That's way too big to be an anthill. Let me step in it and see if it is indeed an anthill." And then it was indeed an anthill and my pants filled up with fire-ants). But other than that, I got a lot of good bonding in with some really superior students. I have to give them credit: when I was in high school, no one would have done this on a weekend. Kids were way too busy playing with their Sega Dreamcasts to do school-related activities on weekends. But a lot of the Rabouin kids seem genuinely into the camping stuff, which never ceases to amaze and impress me.

Lots of time with James. Lots of time with Leah. Lots of time with Hannah. Lots of time with Karaline. These are among my favorite people I have ever met, so this was all time well-spent. On Hannah's birthday (!!!) we tried to go dancing, but because it was Sunday every club was terribly dull. So instead we went to Mother-In-Law's and we had the whole back lot all to ourselves. Picture this: A place with a huge wax statue of Ernie K-Doe, decorated with perennial Christmas flair, owned by a little old woman (who used to be married to Ernie and knows OPRAH and SPIKE LEE and had her bar personally rebuilt by USHER after the storm) who will open the door for you and welcome you in wearing pajamas, before plopping down on the sofa to watch "Friends" reruns on her jumbo-screen projector. And in the back, past the weird alters and church memorabilia, is a door to a back patio with a Tiki lounge and bathtubs full of flowers and bright pink and orange and purple chairs chained to tables and a jukebox that plays Kenny G and a big archway made of flowers. Honestly, that description doesn't do it justice. It's one of those places you have to see to believe.

And Hannah's birthday brunch was truly spectacular; I can only describe it as being indescribably warm (and not in terms of temperature -- in terms of, like... attitudes). Last night James made dinner for me and I racked my brain but couldn't think of another time anyone had ever truly made dinner JUST FOR ME and it was AWESOME. I am going to let that happen MORE. On Saturday night Leah and I stayed up until 1 in the morning making cupcakes. And on Sunday afternoon I got a squirrel at the feeder. Which you would think was a bad thing but I think squirrels are adorable, so I'm thrilled.

Prospect.1 died, and I participated in its jazz funeral. I put a light on my bike so I started to ride it at night, which is an unprecedented experience, and I strongly recommend it. I cooked a LOT of vegetables and decorated the guest room because GUESS WHAT: Ben is coming on Thursday. I KNOW, RIGHT!?????

My friends at Whitman are starting up again, and this time I am not there (last semester I was, for hurrication reasons). I'm okay with it. Time to move on. Seems very healthy.

My cat is cheating on me regularly with my Mario plush doll. But it's fine. I forgive him. I'm not around as much as I used to be.

So I guess I'm uninspired because I think all of that is a little boring to report on. My only advice to the wandering soul is this: Bike everywhere, talk to everyone you meet, and learn something new every day. And if you do that, I think you'll always feel accomplished no matter what, and go to bed wonderfully exhausted and happy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


This morning the perfect metaphor for my life happened. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. because there were birds at my window.

Let me back up. I bought a bird feeder at the beginning of my time here in New Orleans. I filled it up and hung it from my roof outside my window, hoping that I'd get some company that would help make me feel a little more at home. Of course, the birds never came. And that was six months ago. They never came and never came and never came and I figured the bird seed was going to start to rot pretty soon, but I wasn't about to do anything about it. I just let my bird feeder sit out there, and wished the birds would come.

And then this morning, for no reason at all, they came. Dozens, if not hundreds. Just like that, for no reason at all, except that time had passed.

That's exactly what life has been like lately. For some reason, everything seems to be falling into place, and I'm happier than I've been... for a long time.

So I've been very neglectful of my fun blog. Blogging about being happy and thinking life is great and enjoying one's job is kind of boring. No surprise element. No selling point. Just boring old sanity.

In the last week, some updates: CRUNKICAL MASS bike ride around Prospect.1 last Sunday, with some of the greatest people currently living in New Orleans, was beautiful, exhausting, cold and moving; someone is putting my a cappella cover of "Whatever You Like" in a film; we won a major battle for our students with disabilities at my school. I'm teaching my own class now, with a 25-page unit plan that follows the whole P.1, P.2, P.3 formula; we have a new student, Tracy (as always, not her real name), who I have gotten to know very well and who Avery's consistently tries to get to marry him; Avery has grown four years in reading in one semester, which is kind of unheard of in the world of teaching; I am co-heading Adventure Krew (you know... camping club, hiking club, whatever you want to call it) -- actually, we're going on an MLK hike in less than an hour -- and I feel like once I'm done with this I'm going to have to lead a Girl Scout troup. I'm proud of New Orleans, and I feel like I watch it change every day. I can now do the Wednesday New York Times crossword all by myself. I shampooed my cat (without using a toilet). I'm painting like crazy, my room smells like vanilla, I have read more wonderful books in the last six months than in the rest of my entire life. I keep meeting people I want to know forever, and the learning curve on relationships here is fast.

This is an Avery video. I don't know where he heard the term "I'm strippin'," but he pulled it out during his resource period yesterday and it was ABOUT the funniest thing I'd ever seen. And of course he decided that him being naked was a good reason for girls to marry him. WIN.

The only thing is that now I am going to have to start buying birdseed. Oh well. There are worse things in the world.

Friday, January 9, 2009

96 percent fun!

Every day I fall a little more in love with New Orleans. It's probably obvious by now. You're probably getting a little tired of my infatuation with the Big Easy. Perhaps this is natural, to fall so in love with a place. I generally am happy in all environments. I am about the easiest human being to please. I love final exams. I enjoy all-nighters. I find doctors' waiting rooms fascinating and beautiful.

Which is why I think my growing love (it's definitely love -- not just infatuation) for New Orleans is so special to me. At first, I didn't love it. At first, I was miserable. I thought I had picked the wrong city; that I had chosen to live with people who didn't give a shit about politics (why else would their political system be so broken?) but who lived to get drunk and party. And certainly, those people live here. And they're probably very happy, because New Orleans accommodates that lifestyle.

But I went to an "Anti-Racism Working Group" potluck this week. My fear was that the potluck would look a lot like Whitman College Race Symposiums: 90 percent white, and for many people, 100 percent of the social "activism" they participate in for the entire year. It's great to talk about race, but what does it DO? Kind of masturbatory, I guess.

At first, the potluck looked very similar to a Whitman event. Yes, it was 100 percent white. And yes, there was organic food on the table (a lot of freaking organic food, I might add. Maybe New Orleans' entire supply of organic food). But when we went around the circle to tell who we were and what we do, I recognized the significant difference: every single person there was actively involved in the community in one way or another, stretching for change. They were law-fighters, picket-crossers, UU church workers, volunteers, homeless shelter starters, or workers, or renovators. They built houses, grew food, canvassed. Almost all of them were community organizers. None of them seemed to have day jobs -- they were activists, and that was all.

At dinner, we actually talked about race in a very real way. We talked about FBI informants and gentrification and the racial divide in the activist movement. I learned a lot. It was a difficult, uncomfortable, challenging, wonderful conversation. I left feeling larger.

I walked home with Leah in the dark along the potholes in the pavement, listening to kids playing basketball in the street and families chatting on their porches and drinking tea just like they do in the movies. It was warm at 10 p.m.; we didn't have to wear sweaters. I fell asleep listening to bullfrogs and feeling at home.

So this is all very poetic and good. You are reading this thinking, "Yes. That sounds very nice. I think New Orleans sounds lovely and activisty." And you are right. Except for one thing: THERE WAS NO VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT. Not one. There is an African restaurant called Bennichan's which has vegetarian food (Caitlin works there now, which means I can potentially bribe her for fried plantains). Sometimes if you are lucky there are such things are French Fried Po' Boys, which are like real Po' Boys, except with French fries and not meat. The only problem here is that they are gross and disgusting. It was just not a good city to be a vegetarian.

Did you note the "was?"

Past tense. As in, used to be.

Because YESTERDAY a man named Aji (I know his name because I met him after giving intense and creative compliments to the chef via my waitress -- but I'm getting ahead now) opened Bamboo Gardens. It's a totally vegetarian restaurant with fake chicken and fake ham and REAL FLAVORS (yeah, I said it). The chef (this is Aji, who as I said, I met) learned how to make his vegan chicken from the folks in New York who make vegan chicken (for New York is where he went to culinary school and met all the vegan bigwigs there, like the owner of Red Bamboo, with whom Aji is allegedly "tight"). THIS IS THE CHICKEN I CRAVE MORE THAN ANY OTHER FOOD IN THE WORLD. Guys, I have seriously considered buying a plane ticket to New York SOLELY to eat this chicken. That is how much I love this chicken. It's an unreal concoction. I would sell several body parts for the recipe.

Leah and Hannah and Karaline and I sat there for three hours and bought a $150 meal (plus wine), talking and eating and drinking and I was SO HAPPY. Completely.

So anyway, this is a very long way of saying to family and friends who are on the other coast, I'm sorry, but I think I am going to live in New Orleans forever.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

another top 10

I just spent like five hours going through stacks of books I read this year and making a year-end list of the Best Books of 2008. It's the first time I have made a books list. It makes me feel very post-collegiate.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

a different kind of fun

New Orleans and Portland feel like they are at opposite ends of the universe, that's how different they are. I feel like a kid going back and forth between parents -- one quiet, reserved, sweet, subdued if not a bit sad, patient, calculating, lonely and poetic, reading Mary Oliver poems and making coriander-spiced tempeh after blogging about endangered birds and hybrid cars; the other eccentric, loud, unkempt and ravaged, salty, impolite, wearing no bra or underwear, not giving a flying fuck what anybody thinks, eating drippy meat things without napkins and making freeform, cheerful music. It kind of makes you wonder why they even got married in the first place. Then you realize that Portland and New Orleans never DID get married. I just call both of them "home."

Regardless, flinging myself back and forth between them for week-long stretches is incredibly emotionally straining. It's a cyclical series of motions: holding on and letting go perpetually, never feeling completely grounded. When I got home (New Orleans home) last night, the house smelled like hurricane. It smelled muggy and swampy because the heat and air conditioning had rested for two whole weeks. And it felt empty, because we have nothing on the walls and very high ceilings. We don't even have a couch. Just wood floors and stairs and the fireplace we haven't broken in yet.

But then I saw (or rather HEARD) Satchmo, with all his charm and annoyance and unconditional forgiveness (which I don't deserve because I DID leave him in this desperately uninteresting house with very little outside contact for ten full days, which I think legitimately deserves a grudge, but he's a bigger man than I am), and I felt comfortable again. And I discovered "Instant" NetFlix, which by the way is the BEST INVENTION EVER. So things were good.

And walking around my neighborhood this morning things started to come back -- which, considering I had only been gone for two weeks, I was surprised I had forgotten in the first place. Like the way people here ALL say hello to you, no matter what. "Hey! You look so pretty in purple." "Hi there! Did you have a nice New Year?" "Well hello. Think it's gonna rain." People just aren't like that in Portland. I think it's a "The South" thing.

And the way everything -- EVERYTHING -- smells like hot pepper sauce; Cajun cooking; fish or crab or seafood of some kind; deep frying fat. Even at 9 in the morning people seem to be barbecuing.

And you don't have to wear a sweater, or socks, and you don't get carded when you buy a bottle of wine, and you can get groceries for the whole week for less than $20. Dogs waltz around as if leash laws are not only obviously a joke, but embarrassingly unfashionable. Likewise, I jaywalked across a major street and almost got hit by a police officer without even thinking twice about it. And people are drunk by about 11 a.m.

There are two things that suck:
1. When you ask the barista if they have soymilk, the response is generally, "WHATmilk?"
2. It floods. Really bad. And the thunder is really scary.

I know I'm supposed to love thunder. It's some kind of unspoken rule that deep and intelligent people find thunder unspeakably beautiful, like the lonely cry of nature or some similar bullshit. I once dated a guy who would stand outside in a thunder storm for hours taking pictures of the swollen purple sky, muttering that it was the most spectacular thing he'd ever seen. Now that's all very well and good for people like him. But has anyone else noticed that it SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE GUNFIRE? And is ACCOMPANIED BY UNPREDICTABLE AND OCCASIONALLY FATAL FLASHES OF ELECTRICAL CURRENT? THAT'S. SCARY. Especially when you're alone. And here, the thunder goes on forever. Every single thunder clap is like one of those really long, comical farts that goes on waaaay longer than a fart is supposed to go. Only scary and not funny. Luckily, Satchmo also thinks thunder is terrifying and he balls up against me wimpering like he has a flesh wound and that makes me feel like way less of a wimp.

So right now I'm a little scared on a Saturday night and my car is almost entirely underwater, so there is no going anywhere. That's probably okay because I've had a pretty eventful day.
1. I saw a jazz concert at the Historical Jazz Museum and participated in a Second Line.
2. I had beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde. Which is reason enough to want to live in New Orleans FOREVER, by the way. I am reminded of that every time I pay the (almost always Asian) waitress $2 in exchange for PURE HEAVEN.
3. I visited the VooDoo Museum in the French Quarter, which was indescribably kitschy and wonderful. I will recount only the moment when I was making a monetary sacrifice to the god of snakes (I forget his name), and as if on cue, an old fat priest came out of the back room with a live albino python wrapped around his neck. (Leah's brother apparently heard this man later tell him, "I have a 39-foot one upstairs. But it hates women.")
4. Leah let me come over to make cashew-pineapple-fried quinoa and cabbage with peanut sauce. !!!. As a sidenote, cutting ginger is one of the most immediately gratifying physical activities I can imagine. It smells so good and sounds so good and tastes so good. It's really a win-win-win. We also watched "Enchanted." Actually, at that moment, I was grateful for the rain and the thunder and the flooding because it made me feel really not-guilty for cuddling up inside where it smelled like ginger and watching a movie. Which was all I wanted to do.

I feel I get full fun points for today. Now I'm lying with this wonderful cat pressed against me as if his life depends on it.

I should mention that I have quite a lot of New Years' Resolutions. Here are ten:

Ten of Sophie's New Years' Resolutions:

1. Get over my fear of fish. I secretly believe that I am already over my fear of fish. Well, I believe that SOME of the time. Rationally, I understand that my fear of fish is irrational. And I understand this in ways that I don't understand that my fear of the dark is irrational, or that my fear of zombies is irrational. So I'm going to do something symbolic like go SCUBA diving. I'm not really ALL-CAPS excited about that, it's just that SCUBA is an acronym and you're supposed to capitalize it.

2. Ride my bike to work, even when it rains. In Portland, I saw people riding around with plastic bags on their bike seats. This is doable. I don't have to drive just because it's raining a little bit. I WILL sacrifice the bike, however, if it floods. Which it is doing right now.

3. Go to all the museums in New Orleans. WOW, there are a lot of museums in New Orleans. They are all over the freaking place! And I have gone to probably about half of them. Knowing New Orleans, there are probably a lot of secret museums that I don't know about. I plan to find all of those.

4. Watch one movie per week. I know this does not seem like a very ambitious goal. But I watch a surprising amount of television on DVD, a surpringly tiny number of films. I just find it a lot easier; a much smaller commitment. With movies, you have to really sit down for two hours and you can't do much else. You can do mindless tasks, but you can't, say, browse Digg. You CAN do that while you are watching television. So it's a lesson in self-control and non-multi-tasking, really. I used to love going to the movies, too, and I want to go more often.

5. Take a class. There are a lot of classes I want to take. I am willing to settle on resolving to take only one. I would like to take a writing workshop (I know there are some good ones around town); or to take dance classes. I would love to take an art class, a cooking class, a yoga class, a language class, whatever. Just something that's not learn-to-be-a-teacher-class. I'm bored of that class. I want one that brings joy to my heart once a week.

6. Cook all the recipes in my cookbook that I've marked with a Post-It but have never tried because it's too easy just to make the ones that I already know are winners. This basically means I'm going to need to make a lot less Pad Thai. Which is okay. It's time for me to expand my horizons.

7. Perfect my stand-up comedy routine. I have been secretly working on this for about a year, and I just started trying it out at open mic nights. I want to do a show and walk away from it feeling like I OWNED it. This is difficult because I have a vagina, which usually is a hindrance to people who are trying to be comedians.

8. Finish my freaking novel. This is an annoying resolution. I hate people who write novels. They're usually annoying pricks who write novels just because they want to say that they have done it. Actually, that is basically why I am doing it, and I admit it completely. And yet, I have been poring over my "work" for two years now. I have 350 pages of mess, and all I want in the world is to tie a ribbon around it and put it to rest. Find me as annoying as you would like.

9. Go to an NBA Championship game. This will only be possible if the Hornets make the finals. So Chris Paul, if you're reading this right now, know that a lot more is hinging on you being awesome this season than you might think.

10. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER EVER EVER call anyone ever again in a fit of tears and desperation and sob into the phone like a fucking moron. Except for my mom, who will love me no matter what.

Weird, reflecting on 2008, it was a pretty superlative year. I think it was the best year of my life. That is partially offset by the fact that I think it was also the worst year of my life. And in a truly uncharacteristic turn, I think I will leave it at that.

Perhaps adding that I hope 2009 is just as exhausting, full, heartbreaking and life-changing.