January 2019 Goals : How Did it Go?

crossfit, goals, pregnancy, running, swimming, year of 1% better

We’ve reached the end of the first month of the year! I’ll admit, it felt like a long month. Not a bad month, but it just sort of felt like it was January forever. I have a suspicion though that February will fly by — not because it is short, but because it is my dissertation defense month.

Inspired by James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. Though I did have some big goals like running one thousand miles, mainly I just wanted to work on little things, little habits. Part of this is because so much of 2019 is up in the air with a baby coming late May/early June and not even knowing where we will live, work, etc. (I’m not stressed, I’m not stressed, I’m not stressed) next year. I did not want to make a grand goal, get attached, and have something out of my hands happen. The other reason is that I am still convinced by Clear’s arguments. Do small things and eventually they will make a big difference.

So how did January’s 1% better goals go? Quick review: I wanted to submit my dissertation, run ninety-one miles, practice double-unders 3x a week, do not go out to eat (unless, of course, someone invites us out), swim 1x a week, read a book on Catholicism, and poach an egg.

I’ll begin with the most important. I submitted my dissertation last week Friday. And yes, I feel as weird about being done as I expected. This was the most important thing I had to get done this month. All else could slide (and as you’ll see did slide), but this was my baby, so to speak. A project I began working on in the spring 2017 is beginning to be over, although I suspect I’ll be stuck with Jean-Jacques Rousseau for awhile. I’m committed, ha!

The goals to run/walk 91 miles and to practice double-unders 3x a week did not happen. I am not one to offer excuses, but this was a little bit out of my control. I’ll offer the excuse of pregnancy. A couple weeks ago I had excruciating pelvic pain. I sat down on the couch and just could not get up. It is significantly better now, although definitely still there. It does seem, though, that running aggravates it. I have a pre-natal appointment today and I plan on talking about it, but it was a real bummer. To add injury to injury, I messed up my left ankle while attempting to do double-unders the other week. Granted, it also is doing much better. It was black and blue and swollen. Now, two weeks later, it is just swollen. Still, I’m calling the double-unders a win. Even with the little bit of extra work I did put into them before ankle-gate, I could tell I was improving. They were not beautiful, but my double-under attempts in work-outs actually began to include actual double-under successes. I feel confident that when things start to get better and I work on them again, I will begin to improve in no time. I cannot do double-unders, but I definitely became 1% better.

I only swam twice this month. I’ll admit, I love swimming, but it is really hard to get motivated. Also, currently, my swimsuit does not fit and when I put it on, I can actually hear, “I am the egg man. Whooo. They are the egg man. Whooo. I am the walrus…” I ordered a new one, a bikini even (giving that belly some room!). And it did not fit. Ok, these are excuses. Still, that is two times more than December and I love being able to swim with a watch.

We only went out to eat by ourselves once this entire month. Our reason was to celebrate me finishing and submitting my dissertation which it seemed required a little more fanfare and getting out of the house. With other people, I think we went out to eat twice. We used to go out to eat about three times a week, whether that was picking up sandwiches or whatever. I am calling this a huge success and I’m hoping to keep it up. As I said, it is not like the food around here is spectacular. It is just sheer laziness that led us to eat out as much as we did. Plus, not eating out has had led to other good habits such as finally starting to meal plan and prep. Successfully.

I’m doing the Carrots for Michaelmas CathoLIT2019 reading challenge, as a sort of over-all goal for the year. I finished my first Catholic read for the year with True Devotion to Mary. I usually read in the mornings, so this has actually been a pretty easy habit to incorporate.

Did I poach an egg? You should know better than to even ask. Those eggs have only been boiled (eaten with some delicious Maldon salt, oh my goodness the best discovery of 2019 so far) or fried over-medium in January. Maybe next month?

How have your 2019 goals been going? Did you have specific January goals?

 

 

 

 

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Best Books for Productivity in 2019

books, reading

A confession: I’m a junkie for time-management books. I love knowing how to order and schedule my day and how other people schedule their days. I think I knew I was going to marry Bruno when he described to me how he plans his daily schedule and to-do lists.* Yeah, we’re the most romantic people you know. One of my favorite parts of Rousseau’s Confessions is when he describes his own day and then the day of the Spanish Altuna who is an 18th century strict-schedule keeper extraordinaire. I admire that guy.

Leaving the 18th century (dissertation on my mind), there are plenty of productivity books I love for today. Some I still go back to for when I need jolt to get things done and quit messing around the Internet. I know people say that you cannot rely on motivation, but sometimes you need that external source. If coffee is liquid ambition, then books on productivity are ambition’s written form.

Here they are the books that usually lead me to close out of facebook, pull up Microsoft Word and get going.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. Just listing this book makes me want to go back and re-read it. It is also one of the biggest reasons I get mildly irritated when people say “I don’t have time to do x.” You do. It just is not a priority. I like her practical suggestions like keeping a time-diary, but the best part of the book I think are the inspiring and motivating life examples. People are able to do so much more than they think they can.

Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.  If you get any book to improve your productivity (and general life happiness), it should be this one. We (I) waste so much time messing around on the internet. Still. This book is a swift kick in the you know where. I especially like the idea that deep work is a muscle to be developed. You cannot just sit down and work for a focused eight hours a day. You have to practice, start small.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear. Speaking of starting small, I loved this book on habit building. It gives very specific advice on how to develop small habits that eventually develop into a better life. I’ve written about this book already on my Year of 1% Goals, but I still cannot help but recommend it.

Air & Light & Time & Space : How Successful Academics Write by Helen Sword.  This book helped me out when I was in a dissertation writing rut. Chapter one was fine, chapter two was fine, and then I just sort of felt overwhelmed by the whole process. I like seeing how creatives do their work, but it also did not really apply to me. This was research and writing. I recommend this book to anyone starting a dissertation.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan Peterson. If your life is not in order, you cannot get work done. Fact. I think one of the more troubling things presented to any sort of life is ideal of the suffering, starving, drunken, debauched artist. It simply is not always true. Hell, even Ernest Hemingway once wrote a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald telling him to knock it off with his nonsense so he could write. It is like that wonderful Gustav Flaubert quote, “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

What are your favorite books that help you to get things done? What are you reading now?

*I’m kidding. Sort of. Life compatibility, you know?

Favorite Reads of 2018

books, reading

We are heading South to Ohio today and will be gone for the next two weeks. Translation? I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get the house ready to be empty — cleaning out the fridge, doing some last minute laundry, packing, and cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. It seems to never end.

I did plenty of reading this year, although I always wish I read more. I like a wide variety of things from nonfiction to history to memoir. Some of my books on my favorite list this year are shared by a lot of people this year, like Jordan Peterson, but others are new discoveries for myself. For example, I never read Patti Smith before.

Anyway, here are the new favorites that I look forward to re-reading again and again in the coming years. Written in the order I read them this year.

This is a Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. This collection of essays is near-perfection. I already have a few (the one on writing in particular) I have returned to again and again this year.

The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London. Two for one! Never in my life would I ever expected to love books written from the point of view of dogs, but I love the question of civilization and nature of these books. I love the character of Alaska and its brutal and killing cold.

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. This was my favorite memoir of the year. Liptrot’s tale of recover in the Orkneys is so vivid in description. I wanted to go and live there in isolation too, bake bread, take cold swims in the sea, and write. I read this book twice and I’m sure next year I will read it again.

M Train by Patti Smith. I loved this ode to a life and love of art and beauty. It is a quiet book, good over a cup of coffee. I think Smith captures well the way certain artists, writers, and musicians touch our lives in such a way that we feel we know them. I think she captures the devotion to art that so many try to live.

How Bad Do You Want It by Matt Fitzgerald. I am not a competitive runner at all. But I think the mental strength and endurance required for competing is similar to that required for graduate school and getting your Ph.D. When I read this book, there was so much I took for just writing my dissertation and handling failure in that realm that I think it is appealing for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book is a slap on the face reminder that you probably waste more time on shallow, superficial tasks like messing around on the internet than committing yourself to the deep work necessary to be successful. I’ve changed the way I’ve worked thanks to this book, working my “deep work muscle” when working on my dissertation without distractions for increasing lengths of time. It works. It helps.

Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron. Would I be in CrossFit if I did not post this book? This book is great for the same reason Fitzgerald’s is. It seems like it is just for athletes, but you can apply it to so much more.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson. My controversial pick! I loved this book. I took it out from the library, but will buy my own copy soon. Finally, remember the lobster.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided Over Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. I recommend this book to anyone who talks about politics, who posts on facebook about politics, who thinks about politics — basically everyone, because we are all political animals, right? But seriously, I strongly believe in humility when it comes to political thought. Haidt makes a strong case for it.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. We started in Alaska and ended there too. I loved the exploration of why people are drawn to the wild. I loved the stories of explorers and adventurers. Like London’s novels, Alaska is also a merciless character. I will not be taking a walk into the Alaskan wilderness anytime soon, if at all.

What books were your favorites this year?

xo, Ali

What I’m Loving Lately IV

books, daily life, food, music, reading

Tomorrow we begin our annual holiday tour. We leave Michigan for Ohio and then will leave Ohio for Connecticut on Sunday. So today I’m finishing up grading, packing, cleaning — all that fun stuff, because after tomorrow it will probably be two weeks before we are home again. I dislike being gone for so long, but it is the best way to get seeing everyone in.

So it is a bit of a full day, but I figured I would share something I’m loving lately.

Watching: It is an old show, but we’ve been watching a lot of Pushing Daisies lately. I like the whimsical fairy tale-mystery-crime of the week vibe. Plus, the lines are so good. We’ve mainly been sticking to comedy shows, because I have not been able to tolerate anything too serious — just stress, you know? Anyway, tis the season for Christmas movies and I had a few firsts. One — I finally watched It’s a Wonderful Life and cried my eyes out at the end. I was so afraid it would not be as good as everyone said it was and it really is that great. Two — I watched Die Hard. Not as good at IAWL, but good in its own way. I’m not usually one for action films, but I liked this one. And finally, we watched the Christmas Chronicles on Netflix and thought it was hilarious. Kurt Russell should always play Santa Claus.

Listening: When I was not running in September and October, I kind of took a break from podcasts. Now, I’m back to them, catching up on Ultrarunner Podcast, Work, Play, Love, and Rich Roll‘s podcast. It feels good to have these voices back in my ears while going for runs. I find that I miss everyone when it has been awhile. I’m kind of in a music rut. I want something new that does not sound new — if that makes any sense. Like, I want to discover an old album or song that I have not listened to in years.

Reading: I’m reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year I re-read the whole series. It has been pretty slow-going this year, but I’m sure it will pick up once we get to Connecticut. I tell you what, I still have the same reactions to those books as I did when I was a teen. I cannot put them down. I will sit on the couch all day to get through one of those tomes. I’m still trying to finish the Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and reading Atomic Habits by James Cleary.

Eating: Well, you can see some of what I’ve been eating lately here. I’ve been trying to add more snacks to my daily routine (frankly, it is not working. I’m still hungry). I’ve forgotten how good something simple like hard boiled eggs sprinkled with salt can taste, like amazingly good. Another frequent staple is Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce (I’m addicted). I made this crockpot baked ziti on Sunday and it is so good and easy and has so much potential (like I would add a ton of veggies to it).

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

Cookbooks on my Christmas List

books

Between September and early November I avoided the kitchen. Cooking smelled horrible to me. The smells would send me running to the trash can, so I did not cook. I also ate terribly, but I digress. I missed cooking. I would never claim to be a good cook. I still struggle chopping things with a knife. I have never had the patience for precision in measuring (although I think bread making has forced me to get better), but I swear there is nothing like a long Sunday afternoon with the tunes on and making something for the upcoming week.

My big “ask” for Christmas this year is a dutch oven. I’ve been making sour dough bread almost every week for the last year (see above about September through November), but I would like to up my bread game, plus all the other wonderful things you can use a dutch oven for. They were on sale during Black Friday, so I’m hoping, just hoping maybe I’ll find one under the tree.

Here are some cookbooks I’m hoping to find along with that dutch oven:

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou. Part cookbook, part information book, it looks like a good one to read before Baby C arrives. Although I’ll admit that I could do a better job with feeding myself during this pregnancy (full disclosure, I have eaten McDonalds more times in the last three months than I probably have in the last five years — but when nothing sounds good….), I would like to try to do better both now and in the future. Plus, I want to feel better as soon as I can post-giving birth. I know part of that is out of my control, but what I would like to do what I can control.

Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman. Who doesn’t want this book? I am probably late to the game. I want 2019 to be the year I make “the cookies” and “the stew.” Plus, the cookbook and the recipes look beautiful. Also, the reviews mention the recipes are “uncomplicated” and I can go for that. I really can.

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. Yes, yes, this made an appearance on last week’s running book list, but even I never ran a mile in my life I would want this cookbook. The recipes from the original book would please the non-athlete. The food is damn good regardless of whether you are planning on a long run the next day or not. I am sure this cookbook will be the same.

Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish. See above about wanting to improve my bread game.

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines and Marah Stets. I do not watch the fixer-upper show. I have never been to Waco. So I would not consider myself a fan or even a super fan of Joanna Gaines. That said, I keep hearing good things about this cookbook. From my grandma to friends on my facebook raving about the recipes, I really want to give it a try and maybe, just maybe, I will become a Gaines super fan.

Le Creuset Cookbook: A Collection of Recipes from Our French Table. If you give an Ali a Le Creuset dutch oven, she’s going to want a a Le Creuset cookbook to go with it. Does this cookbook not look beautiful? I already envision myself making a delicious French stew listening to some Edith Piaf. This cookbook can make it happen. I just know it.

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish: Simple French Feasts at Home by Stephane Reynaud. Less mess is best. This is another cookbook for the dutch oven. The reviews repeat the beautiful magic word: simple. And yes, I want to make good, simple food throughout the week that does not look like I just threw something together (ok, ok, I know that will still happen but still!).

What cookbooks are on your Christmas list this year?

xo, Ali

 

 

 

Books to Give to the Runner in your Life

books, running, triathlon

Eighty percent of my Christmas wish list is made up of books. Almost every year my parents ask for what I want for Christmas and I just send them my Amazon wish list, which is approximately a million pages long. I actually try to go through it and get rid of books occasionally.

Anyway – there are a lot of great new running books out this year and I want to read them all. One thing I have noticed about athletic books is that though they seem niche, the advice really is applicable to anything. I found Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It? It was not only helpful for running, but for writing and finishing my dissertation. Running advice equals life advice.

So here are the running books I would give to a fellow runner (or to be honest, the books I would like to receive this year).

The Happy Runner : Love the Process, Get Faster, Run Longer by David and Megan Roche. Read an excerpt here.

Strong: A Runner’s Guide to Boosting Self-Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You by Kara Goucher. File this one under a book that will be helpful not only for running, but for life.

The Trail Runner’s Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5ks to Ultras by Sarah Lavender Smith. I have not seen many (if any at all) trail running books for those running shorter distances — eventually I would like to run an ultra, but I think it will be another year (hello, baby C!) for that. I want something for trail running for where I’m at now.

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott and Jenny Jurek. I know. I have not read this yet. It is basically a travesty.

Run Fast. Cook Fast. East Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. I love the original cook book and probably make something out of it at least once a week. That said, it takes a long time to make the recipes. I’m looking forward to cooking out of this one for hopefully some less time-consuming goodness.

Fast-Track Triathlete: Balancing a Big Life with Big Performance on Long Course Triathlon by Matt Dixon. I loved my first triathlon. It will probably be a long time before I’m able to do a long one (would like to do a few more sprints, before moving onto Olympic, then maybe half-Iron–life is long, right?), but in the meantime I’d like to flip through this book and plan.

What running books are on your Christmas list this year?

xo, Ali

Books on my To-Read List

books, reading, Uncategorized

There are a lot of them. I have been pretty good at not buying new lately. We barely have the space for our currently amount of books and most of them are going into storage. I cannot “Marie Kondo” my books. The best I can do is try to avoid buying anymore, at least, not until we have a bigger place and more shelf storage.

Here are the recent additions to the “when I’m done with my dissertation, I will read these books” list.

  • Brazil: A Biography by Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling. Frankly, I probably would never have paid much attention to Brazil if I did not end up marrying a former Brazilian. Many of the dinner table conversations when visiting my in-laws are discussions of political corruption and life in Brazil. This biography seems like an interesting primer on the country.
  • The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered by Laura Auricchio. I love reading about the French Revolution. Previously my reading has mainly featured the more extreme components, but I would be interested in reading more about Lafayette. My favorite story about this French Americanophile: He was buried with soil from the United States so that he could say he was buried in a free land.
  • Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock by Steven Hyden. I came to classic rock early in my life, but already well-past rock’s hey-day. I love music, but aside for love of certain bands and albums, I do not actually know too much about it. I do not ever expect to become a music expert, but it would be nice to know more about these bands and music I always have playing in my earbuds.
  • The North Water by Ian McGuire. Strangely, I have never read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but my favorite books explore loss of humanity while exploring nature. In this case, it is the arctic. Not to mention, one of my favorite books is Moby Dick and I love anything nautical and involving whaling.
  • The New Paris by Lindsey Tramuta. It has been a year since I have been in Paris and I miss it. We were only there for five days on our honeymoon and it is the first city that I’ve never lived in, but still feel a sort of homesickness for. Given that I’ve only had a taste of the moveable feast that is Paris, I want to see more, do more, eat more, and drink more. Before I go, I will be sure to read this book.

Happy reading!

xo, Ali

What I’m Loving Lately II

books, daily life, food, music

After what felt like a long hiatus, this week I have been hitting the dissertation hard. I have been waking up at four in the morning, so that I can start writing close to five to try to get anywhere between one and half hours (if I run in the morning) to three hours (if I don’t) of writing in before I get ready to go to work in the archives for the day. Evenings are spent reading and taking notes. I’m hoping to turn chapter four in by Monday, which also happens to be the day after my one year anniversary. We’ll see.

It has not been all work, excuse me, I mean leisure. Aside for Rousseau, there are a few things that have piqued my interest.

Watching : I haven’t really watched much tv lately, but Sunday night Bruno and I watched the first two episodes of A Very English Scandal on Amazon prime. We haven’t yet been able to watch the third and final episode, but it is well done.

Listening : My current writing music is Pixies DoolittleGouge Away might be the perfect editing song. While at work, I’ve been listening to Bad Blood : Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Start-Up by John Carreyrou on audible. Holy shit. I am obsessed. I am trying to avoid going down an Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos google rabbit hole. I am only a couple hours into it, but I’m already sure it will be a five star book. Also, it is the reason why this song (not Taylor Swift!) has been in my head all day.

Reading : I’m still making may way through the Odyssey. I’m almost done. I started reading Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. As Bruno bluntly put it when he opened the book and started read a few pages, “Sarah Perry can write.” I have two history books I am working through. The first is Daniel Walker Howe’s tome What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 and the second, Jon Meacham’s American Lion : Andrew Jackson in the White House. I’m loving the first a little more than the second. For whatever reason, I find Meacham biography kind of tedious, although it is interesting to compare Meacham and Howe on Jackson. I was hoping for more on his political thought, particularly on nullification, and less on scandals involving “wanton” women. I’m half-way through Howe’s book and I love every page, even during the long discussions of internal improvements and the bank.

Eating : Chocolate Vega powder and cherry smoothies. I do not like fruit. I do not like cherries. But for whatever reason, when they are mixed with some protein powder, almond milk, and some ice, magic happens. Also, I restarted my sour dough bread starter this week (is it weird to name your sour dough starter? mine is named Sebastian), so definitely looking forward to eating some of that.

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

 

 

Thoughts on “The Process”

books, crossfit, dissertation, goals, graduate school, reading

At the moment my “guru” is Ben Bergeron. I love Chasing Excellence (I re-read it after finishing). I love his podcast. I love his Instagram account. His advice is commonsensical and yeah, a lot of it I have read or heard before, but I like his presentation. I always come away not feeling just inspired, but I actually try applying his suggestions and recommendations — not something I always follow through on. And while his book is about CrossFit athletes, I think all of it is applicable to graduate school.

I have one quibble though. And it is not just Ben who says it. I see it all over. The process. The process, not the outcome is what should be focused on. We can only focus on today. We can only focus on what we are doing right now, in this moment. The outcome does not matter. Just today. Only today. Ben Bergeron and two-times CrossFit games winner Katrin Davidsdottir never discuss winning the CrossFit games. He writes they never even talk about it. They only focus on the process.

I am very lucky. What I most want in life, I already have. On a good day, I wake up. I write. I work-out. I eat. I write some more. I eat again. I read. I study French. I read some more. I might work out again. I eat for the last time. I read even more. Bed. If you would ask me what I want to be doing twenty years from now, I hope I do what I do right now, but writing something different, reading different books, maybe studying a different language, and hopefully teaching. Sure, I’d like a different location and a different income. But the core of my life is exactly what I want. I wanted a life of learning and I am living that life right now. I just want this life to be able to continue.

In this way, for me, the process is the goal. The process is the positive outcome I want to continue. Yes, I want to write a good dissertation. Yes, I want to get my Ph.D. Yes, I want to publish. Yes, I want an academic job. Doing what I do every day, the process, should ideally lead to those outcomes. But I only want those things so I can continue doing what I do right now. I’ve already “made it,” so to speak.

So, back to not caring about outcomes and focusing solely on the process. How can I not care about writing a good dissertation or getting an academic job, not as the ultimate goal, but because without these outcomes, the ultimate goal the daily life of learning, is threatened? Because without these goals, in a way, my living in the process is threatened. Without achieving certain outcomes, I can probably say good-bye to all that. And as my dissertation comes closer to being finished, as I come closer to going on the academic job market, as Bruno as I talk more about this probably being our last year in Michigan, I know strongly I do not want to say good-bye to all that. Outcomes become more important. It doesn’t mean I do not care about the process, but outcomes also ensure that the process continues.

All that is to say, why not care about outcomes? Why not discuss them, want them, hope for them, long for them? I understand that people become way too focused on hitting a certain goal rather than living a certain life, but I do not think that means that wanting things to go a certain way, having specific goals and outcomes is always a bad thing. I do not think it is a bad thing especially when those outcomes are not merely stopping points, but help you continue with the bigger goal, the process.

 

 

 

 

Morbid Conversations

daily life, death, dissertation

Our “office” has been the sunroom in my parents’ home today. I worked on editing an article for a professor and did some reading. We walked up to the local pizza place at noon to meet up with some of my mom’s family who were gathering because a relative’s in-laws from Taiwan were in town. It has not been the most productive day, but I think being away from campus has been good for my anxiety.

Anyway, you know the rules in conversation: avoid politics, money, sex. You know you are close with someone when all those taboo topics are discussed. You know you are really close with someone when you discuss the topic that is not even on that list: death.

You know you are comfortable with someone when, as if discussing the purchasing of curtains you can say, “If it happens sooner, I would want to be buried here, but if later and we have a family, a home, an established foundation somewhere, then I would want to be buried there.” And then, the person, in this case, my husband, responds back that he would like a mausoleum because that way none of our kids have to worry about where they’ll be buried (dream big, honey). Then we went back to our work. I went back to editing. Bruno back to writing his dissertation.

Maybe we are unusual, but brief conversations like this happen. I mean not all the time. I can be macabre (once, for a twelve hour drive to Connecticut we only listened to Lore — did not sleep so well that night!), but Bruno not so much. Yet, I think it is normal and probably one of the more healthier tendencies I have: knowing this can’t go on forever.

I think about it when I am wasting time (and I mean wasting time, not just relaxing, not doing something productive). Do I really want to be eighty and have devoted most of my life to Mark Zuckerberg-created methods of socialization? Do I really want to talk about that chick I barely know just because of some picture she posted on facebook? Do I really want to waste the last few years of my twenties spending Saturday mornings catching up on sleep (being hungover) or creating something, being someone, giving to someone?

I do not have a memento mori and while I do think the avoidance of death is unhealthy, being fixated on it is equally so. But I think these occasional morbid conversations, if they are even really all that morbid, help me maintain quality in life, even if quantity (in the grand scheme of history) is short.

xo, Ali