2013 by the numbers

Four numbers about the 365 days of twenty-thirteen:

ONE: The miles I ran
500, right on the nose. I said I’d do it, and got ‘em in just under the wire. Second year in a row. I think it’s time to up my game. Only reason I cut it close was I basically took off all of December in favor of holiday sequins.

TWO: The books I read
14, 6 of which were by women. That’s a much improved ratio from last year, but still not as even as I’d like it. Do I just dig books by men? Do publishers pick women authors for genres I’m not into? Do I have a bias I don’t know about?

A few favorites:

  • The Circle, by Dave Eggers. Made me think more than any book I read this year, mostly now every time I log in to another app/network. Given the source of the book’s dystopia — the unflagging certainty of the do-gooder tech vibe at the fake Goog-book company at its center — I’m surprised that (wonderful) smarm essay uses Dave Eggers as its jumping off point.
  • Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. Imagine “Say Anything” was actually a book written for 13-year-olds born this century.
  • Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld. The end just slays you.
  • Others: Grace Coddington’s memoir (like candy you can’t stop eating), Lean In (self help for career ladies), The Great Gatsby (even better the zillionth time), The Art Forger (forgettable but fun), Crazy Rich Asians (perfect for the beach), Drown (I hear you catch the humor the second time through), A Very Recent History (all journalism should be written this way), The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (my first of what will be many George Smiley books), Nightfilm (fuuuuucked up, but a helluva page-turner), Hatching Twitter (like a personalized version of People Magazine)

THREE: The trips I took
20 by my count. 7 to NY (only 7?). None out of the country. Ten for me, 10 for work.

The standouts are New Mexico (breathtakingly photogenic, super awesome outdoor adventures, delicious food), Houston (the art! so great! who knew? everything else, for the record, is terrible), Chattanooga (modern southern charm in a tiny nearby city), New York (the day it snowed big floaty snowflakes that delayed my flight home and gave me extra time for white Christmas shopping).

FOUR: Some things I’ll remember

  • My family got smaller and bigger this year. We lost my dear grandmother Arduth and Brennan’s sweet sister Ashley. And in between came Abby’s lil stunner Rae, the new star of everyone’s photo roll.
  • Babies everywhere. Rae most of all, but also everyone else. The annual Snake Nation cabin trip included FOUR AND A HALF people under 4 this time around.
  • We did a triathlon! Bon vivant, style, which is the best possible way. It includes all the elements from a traditional sprint-distance triathlon, but with meals and movies in between.
  • Lots of local exploring. I spent a lot of Saturdays this year finding new trails to run around Atlanta. Turns out Arabia Mountain is amazing, as is Kennessaw Mountain and the Sawnee Nature Preserve up in Cumming.
  • I cooked a Burmese feast. The pickled ginger salad was particularly good. It was for a dinner party to celebrate the premiere of the new Anthony Bourdain show on CNN, which is also particularly good.
  • And I made an animated gif photo booth, no kidding. With a great deal of help from Ken Uzquiano, but still, I felt pretty awesome about making it work. Auto-posted the photos to Tumblr and everything.

Bye now 2013. You were alright, but my money’s on 2014.

A few things I’ll remember about 2012

The end of a year the start of a new one means it’s time for the annual blog post. Here are a few things I’ll remember about the year that was:

Yesssss. 500 miles run in 2012. I think I'll celebrate with new shoes, perhaps not the kind with rubber soles.

Resolutions, check. This was the year I managed to keep my resolutions. The main one especially, which was to take better care of myself — you know, get regular sleep and fresh air and eat like a grownup. The main part of it was to run 500 miles, which I totally did. 544 actually! All in all, it’s not really all that many miles (a little more than 9 a week), but it does require consistency. If you take a week off the next one kind of sucks. So you keep going. I did, and it worked, and honestly I think I’m in the best shape of my life. I also kept another resolution, and read far more than my aimed-for 12 books. A few that stand out:

  • Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. I started this out of a sense of obligation but finished it because it fascinated/disgusted me.
  • The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. While I was reading this it carried me along like a great American novel, like A Prayer for Owen Meany. A few months on that feeling is fading, but it’s a perfect vacation read nonetheless.
  • Then Again, by Diane Keaton. A totally delightful and surprisingly deep memoir of the movie actress and her mother.
  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Gah, this book gave me nightmares.
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. Perfect in every way, even more because my very own pre-publication copy arrived (signed!) by post the day before my birthday. Hooray for very excellent friends.
  • A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers. A very fine and funny story about a very odd place.
  • Honorable mentions: Magic Hours by Tom Bissell, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

Bicycle adventure day 2: Middelfart to Odense. The last part was straight out of a fairy tale -- all lush forest and dandelion path.

An adventure across northern Europe. B & I turned a lucky work trip to Copenhagen — for a cozy little conference of community and social media folks, where I was honored to give the closing keynote — into a sprawling adventure across northern Europe. From Copenhagen, we rented bikes and took a train the other side of Denmark, where we hopped off and rode home through giant fields of flowers and tiny charming towns, stopping finally at an empty and perfectly sunny Danish beach.

Why hello, Russia. You are weirdly wonderful, and not just because your churches look like candy.

Then! We flew to St. Petersburg for a taste of Russia, which is every bit as weird and wonderful as I had hoped it might be. The days were incredibly long — the sun would set at about midnight and come back up by 3 a.m. — and the city blocks were too. We stayed in the center of town, but it was still a mile to the nearest metro station. And that was oh, say, 5 blocks or so. Three things I will remember from this trip: the bread and butter and champagne lunch on our first day in Copenhagen, the curious Edward Scissorhands cemetery in some coastal Danish town, and all the fiery trashcans on the streets of St. Petersburg (set off by the stubs of burning cigs).

A new gig. I took on a boatload of new responsibilities this summer — social media for CNN! — and have spent the last few months feeling my way in, building out a team of co-conspirators and setting up a rhythm. Feels good. Refreshingly unfamiliar, but good. 2013 is going to be a good work year.

Home sweet new home

A new home. B & I picked up and moved to Grant Park in September, to a lovely spot on a hill across from the park. I still can’t quite believe this is where I live.

Bonsoir, Paris!

Bonne année à Paris! And another from the I-can’t-believe-this-is-real-life department: we rang in the new year in Paris with our wonderful friends Katie and Jeff. We did it up right: rented an apartment in the Marais, started every day with almond-chocolate-butter pastries, ended every night with red wine, and spent the days strolling around the world’s most romantic parks and monuments, and stopping in chic little boutiques. I came home with perfume, lingerie and black leather boots — souvenir trifecta.

Audieu, 2012!

2011, a year in lists

10 things I’ll remember

  1. Atlanta had real snow. For a week! And it made the whole city stand beautifully, silently, dumbfoundedly still.
  2. Our wild girl. Sweet little D. went to coyote heaven after 17 years in charge of everything. I think of her every time I walk in the back door and probably always will.
  3. Lila-as-Vanna. I did a product demo on stage at Google, which is pretty much a rite of passage for people in my line of work. I have no memory of my time in the spotlight other than a faint sensation that my eyes were OPEN VERY WIDE. Not unlike a deer in headlights, you might say.
  4. Bike commute sunsets. I bought a very adorable commuter bike and rode it back and forth to work quite a lot, and when summer evenings got very warm, fantasized about getting a pool and diving straight in at the end of a ride, bike and all.
  5. Unicorns and rainbows. B. took me with him on a work trip to Ireland, and we spent most of the time tooling around the spectacularly lovely countryside. One day I woke up to a magical rainbow atop some cliffs outside my hotel window. Another day we spotted white horses roaming free in a national park. It’s hard to make out in the photograph, but there’s totally a horn on that one in the front.
  6. iReport turned 5. And I wrote a story about it on CNN.com. And launched a totally new version that Stephen Colbert decided needed to be lampooned. My baby’s all grown up and I’m mighty proud of it.
  7. Thirty five. I turned 35 and also lost as many pounds. I’d made a resolution in January (the same one as each of the oh, say, five years previous) that I’d take better care of myself. Get some exercise and sleep and eat like a grownup. And this year I actually did, perhaps egged on by the mental crisis surrounding my advancing age. (I am officially halfway to seventy!) Whatever. I’m 35 and hott with two t’s, yo.
  8. Munich-Paris-London-Berlin. It was an epic work trip (really, how lucky am I?) with a great deal of adventure worked in on the sides, including lots of opportunities to dust off my severely out-of-practice German. The only thing the trip was missing was sleep, but I’m happy to save that for a rainy day.
  9. Brennan vs. the SUV. Some asshole in a black SUV hit Brennan while he was biking home from work in November, knocking him out cold and breaking four of his bones, and then drove off. After three stays in the hospital and a round of new bed linens and pillows, B. is finally getting back to being himself again. We’re lucky, really, and ever so thankful for helmets and the sweetest friends and family.
  10. Christmas at the White House. I couldn’t help but be giddy about receiving an invitation to a holiday reception at the White House. We got to sit on the furniture and even had our photo taken with the Obamas, who are both exceedingly tall and beautiful.

Books I read

  • The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories (Frank Rose)
  • Bossypants (Tina Fey)
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)
  • Rogue Island (Bruce DeSilva)
  • Juliet, Naked (Nick Hornby)
  • Let the Great World Spin (Colum McCann)
  • The Paris Wife (Paula McClain)
  • Just Kids (Patti Smith)
  • Stone Arabia (Dana Spiotta)
  • Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures (Robert K. Wittmann)
  • The Adults (Alison Espach)
  • The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (Jeffrey Toobin)
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Daniel H. Pink)
  • The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel (Dan Sinker)
  • 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)

Total: 16

Fiction:Nonfiction :: 9:7

Men:Women authors :: 10:6

Trips I took

  • January: New York
  • February: San Francisco, New York
  • March: Austin, Texas; Ellijay, Georgia
  • April: San Francisco, Washington, DC
  • June: New York, Ireland
  • July: Portland, Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons
  • July: New York
  • August: Reynolds Plantation
  • September: Boston
  • October: Munich, Paris, London, Berlin
  • November: New York, Reynolds Plantation
  • December: Washington, DC; San Francisco; Red Top Mountain State Park

Total: 20

Work:Pleasure :: 14:6

Top cities: New York (5x), San Francisco (3x), Washington DC (2x)

Music I listened to most (really?!)

  1. Aloha
  2. The Dodos
  3. Animal Collective
  4. Fruit Bats
  5. Grizzly Bear
  6. Phosphorescent
  7. The Black Keys
  8. Band of Horses
  9. Beach House
  10. Paul Simon

Our wild girl

Daisy at the beach

Daisy Dee Collins was the very definition of a firecracker. Bright, crackling, lovely, and more than a little dangerous.

She died Tuesday, we pray peacefully, after seventeen legendary years. Her spark will be dearly missed.

Daisy, 1993-2011

Project #1

Karyn and I promised one another that we’d put one little thing into the world each month in 2011. What constitutes a “thing” is up to us, not yet defined, and most likely to include elements of participatory art, gooey sweetness, and digital experimentation. This month we struck out with super low-tech stickers and sharpies.

It's OK. You can tell me ...

Behold the January edition: thought bubble graffiti! I smacked this one up on the window of a defunct bank teller drive-through near my house, where some skater kids spend most evenings. Here’s hoping one of them decides to fill in the blank bubble. I walk past it on the way to Marta, so will keep an eye out. I also stuck a few others around town today. Crossing my fingers there’ll be something to find when I go back.

The year in listicles

Ten things I will remember about 2010

1. I started off the year calling it 20-zen. That – and my daily yoga regimen – lasted until the first major news story hit, on January 12. The long weeks that followed I’ll never forget. An earthquake hit Haiti, and suddenly all the many thousands of people who knew people in Haiti needed to get in touch, but couldn’t. So instead they started posting messages on places like CNN iReport: My mother is missing. She is 74. Last seen near Rue St-Honore. Help. Please. Together with a ramshackle group of 100 or so unstoppably kind colleagues, friends and family, we turned all those pleas for help into a database. We shared it with Google and the Red Cross, put it on TV, and reconnected some families and helped give others peace. That is why we go to work every day.

2. Snowshoe-ing with Brennan to peer into the glacial void at Mt. Rainier, then cozying up with his sweet parents and cocoa at the still-original 1916 lodge. Sidenote: I wish my government were still interested in building such beautiful places.

3. Dude, I was totally on a panel with Pete Cashmore. My Twitter friends recognize why this is awesome. My Facebook friends mostly do not.

4. For at least a few months (the warm but not hot months), I rode my bike back and forth to work.

5. My beautiful and badass sister got married to an equally badass (if not quite as beautiful because, hey, she’s my sister) fella, and all the people who love them danced by the sea all night long.

6. I survived a very heated public debate on the value of user-generated content in the news. IN FRENCH.

7. Thanksgiving in London, where they love Christmas lights even more than Americans do.

8. I made a photo booth in my house (for the annual holiday party) and the pictures sparkled, if I do say so myself.

9. My little brother’s house burned down. Mercifully he’s OK, and his dog Peach, too.

10. More than anything, I’ll remember tiny, wonderful moments with friends all year long. Smoky eyes, art scheming, crowded front-porch suppers, and on and on and on.

The books I read

1 – Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger

2 – And Then There’s This, by Bill Wasik

3 – The Manual of Detection, by Jedidiah Berry

4 – The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte

5 – Citrus County, by John Brandon (read this! now! Flannery O’Connor mixed with Judy Blume.)

6 – Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

7 – Where Good Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson

8 – The Big Short, by Michael Lewis

9 – The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman

10 – [UPDATE!] All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, by Lan Samantha Chang

10 – [UPDATE!] Cognitive Surplus, by Clay Shirky (not worth it, dear friends)

There were many others I started but did not finish, including the newish Jonathan Lethem book, Chronic City, whose characters are just awful. I also tried a little Tao Lin (too too clever) and enjoyed quite a few of the stories in Doug Dorst’s The Surf Guru, even though short stories tend not to fill me up.

P.S. Where are the women writers?!? Note to self: Fix this in 2011.

What I listened to

The lovely thing about Last.fm is it tallies up all the music I listen to deliberately (that is, the stuff I queue up on my own, on my own computer or iPod) and gives it back to me in tidy little charts. Soooo … my most-listened artists of 2010 were:

1 – Paul Simon. When Vampire Weekend’s second album disappointed, I went back to the source and found what I wanted.

2 – Local Natives. Ah-maze-ing live show.

3 – Fruit Bats. Really? I hardly remember listening to this band this year. Must’ve been the old favorites (and maybe the memory spurred by ‘Youth in Revolt’?) and not the new record, which is entirely forgettable.

4 -  Big Star. RIP Alex Chilton.

5 – Coconut Records. For the first cup of coffee.

Homemade dinners I remember liking the best

Brussel sprouts, walnuts, homemade pasta Linguine and meatballs Carrot & endive soup, parmesan rolls Smoked trout and apple salad

Smoked trout and apple salad Grilled chicken and radish slaw Chicken beets salad Potato salad and salami

Tomato basil toast BBQ pork shoulder! Mac-n-cheese! Succotash! Pork tenderloin in mustard-wine sauce Pesto pasta

2010, you were a good one.


Feed archives are back online!

Feed archives are back online!:

Hooray! This magazine was my first online love. Now, if only Open Letters would make a reappearance. Oh how I adored those printable PDFs with their sweet little New Yorker-like illustrations at the tops of the pages. Always thought I’d do my own printable mag someday, but iPad makes the idea seem a little antiquated. Maybe will save for the day when paper goes retro chic. (Or perhaps it already has?)

Books and lists

I promised myself at the beginning of this year I’d pick back up on my book reading. God knows I read a TON most every day of the year, but lately it’s more short-form than long, more utilitarian than adventurous. (Note to self: this would be a good point to mention that Nicholas Carr book. You know, the one about short and longform reading, attention and intellect. The one you keep reading, um, tweets about.)

ANYway, I just finished a book today and feel like making a list. So. Books read in 2010 (so far):

1. Catcher in the Rye. (A re-read, on the occasion of Salinger’s passing.)

2. And Then There’s This, by Bill Wasik.

3. The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry

4. The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte

5. Citrus County, by John Brandon (Rumpus book club selection!)

Quite a few others are on the not-yet-and-possibly-never-finished list. Such as the new Jonathan Lethem, which I want badly to love but can’t really. And Jonah Lehrer’s “How We Decide,” which I might finish, but also kinda think the first 100 pages are enough, you know?

Next up: whatever comes in the mail from Rumpus, and First Stop in the New World, a history of Mexico City.

… is part of the scientific name of a very lovely lacecap hydrangea. It's also some kind of sea slug. And, third thing's the charm, it's a site for Lila King.