Archives: December 2015

2015 Year in Review

Though I haven’t been writing here much I have still been tracking things that happen, by month, in my journal. As ever some of the things I write down are terribly important, some are silly, but all are things I want to document and remember.

Month by Month

January
– Started working at Slack
– Our heat stopped working and we woke up to a 55 degree house
– Finished “The Bond Project” (meaning B and I watched every single James Bond movie ever made up to that point)
– Finished knitting a scarf for B
– Got a very nice “you’re doing great” message from my new boss  that gave me a confidence boost I needed
– Got to meet Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg when she came to Louisville. Her book, Surprised By God, was very influential to me years ago so meeting her was a true joy. She’s a very lovely person.

February
– Met with a friend to discuss serious concerns about another friend’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.
– Visited California for the first time when I went to San Francisco for work. I got to work out of the Slack offices for a few days and attend the company’s first anniversary party. It was very festive.

March
– Bought a new MBP
– Significant (significant for Louisville any way) snow storm
– Felt a little out of touch with my colleagues. Partly due to being remote, partly due to my generally being introverted
– Decided to buy a new car after being a one car family for nearly a year.

April 
– Various health and age related issues caused some serious thinking (and maybe a little freakout?) about mortality and aging.
– Seder at The Z’s
– N briefly hospitalized
– Grace turned 14
– Bought a new car

May
– Started writing a Charitable Giving Plan to be more thoughtful and deliberate about charitable donations
– Made plans to go to DC for my birthday
– Grace’s health started declining
– Decided I wasn’t completely happy with Rdio and started comparing streaming services in earnest

June
– We discovered froyo. It was the summer of froyo and toppings.
– Got TSA Precheck. Amazing decision.
– Friend we were concerned about in February confirmed she’s suicidal
– Named a Slack Windows release
– My marriage became legal in all 50 states

July
– Celebrated my birthday in town at an arcade and playing miniature golf with friends
– DC trip which included seeing some of my favorite people, lots of good food and great museum trips
– Confirmed my love of 17th century Dutch landscapes and seascapes
– Led the memorial service for a very lovely person who died much too young
– Found out our house needed a new roof
– Decided to switch to Spotify for music streaming
– Started feeling much more connected to some of my colleagues. They’re my friends now and it’s wonderful.

August
August was awful. I’m crying now as I write about it.
– My grandfather died after a brief illness
– Led the funeral/memorial service for my grandfather
– My beloved dog Grace died

September
– B got a commendation at work
– Holiday celebrations at various friends’ houses
– Adopted a new dog, Scout

October
– Received a very beautiful ring as a 20th anniversary gift from B
– B and I started a new Sunday ritual of bagels, coffee and the New York times and it’s really really lovely

November
– Started taking Scout to doggie daycare sometimes because he needs an outlet to get his energy out while I’m working
– Got new chairs for The Listening Room and they are amazing. It’s now a perfect room to sit in while reading and listening to records
– Emergency dental visit which confirmed I need to have oral surgery
– Met with oral surgeon who lived up to every stereotype you’ve ever heard about surgeons. I found another surgeon to perform my procedure
– Went to the Slack mothership in San Francisco. It was really lovely to be in the office for a few days but it also made me appreciate my remote home-office situation.

December
– Received an internal award at work and it was extremely gratifying and came with an epic illustration of me holding a no beets sign and Scout wearing a Slack coat
– Scheduled my oral surgery
– Fourth night of Hanukkah at the nursing home again

Music Consumption

Since I switched from Rdio to Spotfy halfway through the year and Rdio closed shop at the end of the year my listening statistics aren’t as accurate as they’d been in years past.

However Spotify’s year end wrap up had a mostly accurate overview of my listening habits.

Top Artists
1. Nina Simone
2. Hozier
3. Johann Johannsson
4. Sam Hunt
5. Coldplay

Top Albums
1. Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
2. Hozier by Hozier
3. Montevello by Sam Hunt
4. Coming by Leon Bridges
5. Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes

Along with several of my friends I became (and am still) obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack. It’s amazing and I can’t wait for the day I can see the play in person.

Top Tracks
1. Earned It by The Weekend
2. Show Me Love by Sam Feldt
3. A Sky full of Stars by Coldplay
4. Believe by Mumford and Sons
5. Single for the Summer by Sam Hunt

The track data is a bit skewed because during July and August I drove back and forth to my hometown quite a bit and was in such a funk I just had one driving playlist on repeat each time I went. The tracks that Spotify lists as my “Top Tracks” were all on that playlist.

So with that in mind here are top tracks not based on Spotify data but what songs I remember listening to and remember being important to me:

1. From Eden by Hozier
2. When We Were Young by Adele
3. Both Sides Now (Both Sides Now album version) – Joni Mitchell
4. A Song for You*
5. Here Comes the Sun – Nina Simone

* I have a playlist that consists of nothing but different versions of “A Song for You” and I play it often. Donny Hathaway, Ray Charles, Amy Winehouse and Willie Nelson are all on it.

Movies/TV

Our trend of not going to movie theaters continued. We watched a lot of movies at home but I didn’t keep a list other than all the Bond movies.

We watched a lot of British crime dramas this year. Like all of them I think.

Books

I read 35 books this year, far short of my goal. Of those 35 here are some that I really enjoyed:

Euphoria by Lily King
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Expats by Chris Pavone
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Technically I read 38 books this year but 3 of them were about dog training so I didn’t count them in the list.

Mourning

My grandfather and my dog died within two weeks of each other. Comparing human loss and canine loss is unfair and difficult and complicated. My grandfather was a good person and had a really wonderful, wicked sense of humor. He had a good life including a 60+ year love story with my grandmother.

I’m very sad that my grandfather died. I was briefly devastated by my dog’s death. For 14 and a half years she had been my constant companion. She’d been with me for so many changes and stages in my life. Life without that dog seemed overwhelming. I depended on her more than I even knew.

As hard as it was on me it was even harder on B. During our initial mourning period we discussed whether or not we’d ever get another dog. The sad quietness of the house led to us deciding yes we would get another dog and sooner rather than later.

Though the timeframe was quick we had gut wrenching discussions about whether we were trying to replace Grace or whether we were ready to love another being the way a companion dog requires being loved.

In the end we adopted Scout. He is as different from Grace in every way possible. Grace was very much a lady. She was a purebred poodle who hated the rain and mud and liked people far more than she liked other dogs. Scout is a boy who is ready for every adventure even if that means sprinting through mud puddles or walking two miles in a torrential downpour. He also really loves other dogs. He likes people ok but to be honest he’s suspicious of most men. After he gives them the once over he’s usually ok with them but god help you if you’re a man and you try to reach over Scout to hug myself or B. He will give you the business with a quickness. He also hates the mailman more than just about anything.

Scout being so different from Grace is a very good thing. We met two poodles who, though they were different colors and sizes, reminded me far too much of Grace. I think it would have broken my heart every day to look at one of those dogs and see so many physical similarities to Grace but not have Grace.

Scout and I have bonded now though we still have a long way to go. We adopted him from a no kill shelter. He had been moved there after a stay in another shelter after he was found roaming the wilderness in Michigan. He was house trained and even knew how to “shake hands” when we got him so clearly he lived with humans at some point. We don’t know whether he was abandoned or ran away and couldn’t get home (he likes to bolt out open doors). We do know he’s suspicious of men and at times cowers like he’s afraid of being hit. So we think he maybe didn’t have the greatest early years (he’s about 3 or 4 now). He has some habits and manners that definitely need improving so we’re working on it, together.

Work

Last year at this time my work with ThinkUp had just come to an end. In last year’s year in review I wrote “Outside of building Menu and Hours, being part of ThinkUp has been the best work experience of my life. “

In what can only be described as the greatest stroke of luck imaginable, my job at Slack has continued my streak of really excellent jobs. I love my job, my company, the product we make and the people I work with. I am truly very fortunate to work there.

Alternative Sheva Brachot from the Great American Lesbian Jewish Wedding

A friend asked if the alternative sheva brachot I created for our wedding a couple years ago were still online somewhere. Turns out, no! So here again are our blessings in all their glory. We had the traditional brachot (well as traditional as they could be for an awesome lesbian wedding) sung by our cantor and we had dear friends read these.

1. Blessed are those who find joy in all of creation

From Wendell Berry’s The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable.

Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.

2. Blessed is humanity in all its infinite variations

Human Family by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences in the human family.
Some of us are serious, some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived as true profundity,
and others claim they really live the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple, tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas and stopped in every land.
I’ve seen the wonders of the world, not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women called Jane and Mary Jane,
I’ve not seen any two who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China, we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea, and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland, are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends than we are unalike.

3. Blessed are those who see each other completely and love each other entirely.

A teaching from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

When I say, ‘I love you’ it has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re the one.

4. Blessed are they who embrace their community.

From the Divine, source of all energy, we call forth an abundance of love to envelop this couple. We highlight today joy and gladness, delight and cheer, love and harmony, peace and companionship. May we all witness the day when the dominant sounds through the world will be these sounds of peace, happiness, the voices of lovers, the sounds of feasting and singing.

5. Blessed are those who seek to real love.

Adapted From The Velveteen Rabbit

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit.

Said the Skin Horse: “It’s a thing that happens to you. When you are loved for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loved, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“It doesn’t happen all at once. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

6. Blessed are partners divinely joined.

From Sir Hugh Walpole

The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one’s relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase.

This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvellous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident, and the most wonderful of all things in life.

7. Blessed are those who find beauty and wonder in science.

From our teachers Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin: Hobbes, What’s it like to fall in love?

Hobbes: Well… say the object of your affection walks by…

Calvin: Yeah?

Hobbes: First, your heart falls into your stomach and splashes your innards. All the moisture makes you sweat profusely. This condensation shorts the circuits to your brain and you get all woozy. When your brain burns out altogether, your mouth disengages and you babble like a cretin until she leaves.

Calvin: THAT’S LOVE?!?

Hobbes: Medically speaking.