Monday, January 23, 2017

Women's March on Montpelier

I wasn't able to attend the Women's March on Washington, but I was so glad to discover the morning of the march that Montpelier was hosting a sister march, just in time to get there. I ended up being quite close to the front of the march, and it was inspiring to be surrounded by so many passionate people. The Women's Movement hasn't been without its problems, of course, but I believe we're moving slowly toward a more intersectional and inclusive feminism.

With the inauguration of Donald Trump, we have our work cut out for us, but after Saturday's march, more than ever, I'm fired up, ready to go.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Presidential Inauguration, 2008

2008 was a hard year, for me and more so for a lot of other people. I graduated college, moved to Brooklyn, and wasn't particularly grateful for the job I would later come to love. The economy was in shambles, and this Onion article felt scarily true in some ways, but it was such a joy to feel the change in the air, scary as things were. On Election Day, we had a half day, and after voting, I went with my roommate, whose firm had been working on the campaign, to her work party. All season long, she had been told not to tell anyone but her spouse what she was working on, and she told me and our second roommate, "You guys are my spouse" and it felt like we were all part of something bigger than ourselves. At the party, everyone knew he was going to win, and the air was electric. When it was called, pretty early, I think, we all cried.

I vaguely wanted to go to the Inauguration, but didn't, and I'm not sure why. Probably money, which I didn't have a ton of back then. My office set up a TV so that we could all watch it, and we all cried again. A perhaps little-remembered fact is that Obama was sworn in on the Lincoln Bible, a Bible published (like many of the best Bibles) by Oxford University Press. I felt so connected on that day, and so proud of where I was working and what I was doing, even though I couldn't be there in person. Of all the things making me sick about today's Inauguration, the fact that Trump will use that same Bible—instead of, say, a family Bible encased in gold—is making me feel the worst.

But then, I had no idea how I'd be feeling or where I'd be today. Everything in those first years after college felt momentous and heady and so, so possible. Since then, things are feeling less and less possible as I slowly close doors in my life and move forward on one path. On Election Day this year, I felt that same electric air as my coworkers left the building to go vote and we all said, "Let's go make history!" And of course, we didn't at all, and that possibility felt, if not impossible again, then at least pushed back a while.

But seeing everything that President Obama could accomplish these past eight years, seeing everything I and my friends and my family and my country could accomplish and grow in that same time, I know that possibility isn't over or closed off. It's just a little harder to see, and that just means I need to work even harder to see it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ice Skating Weekend

More ice skating this weekend, this time with Shelby, who was visiting from Albany! I continue to be terrible at it, but I'm very slowly starting to feel a little more confident. I just wish it were brighter out when I got home from work, so that I could practice a bit during the week.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bare Branches

I'm a bit anxious lately, what with all the change in my life all at once, but this week, I've stilled my mind with an intense exercise class three times a week, and going out with friends the other two nights. What a delight to be busy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Walt Disney World Marathon, 2015

Can you believe I ran a marathon?! Sometimes I hardly can. It was exciting and horrible and wonderful. I have a lot of emotions about running, clearly.

Two years ago just about this time, I was just about finishing my first (and let's be real, probably only) marathon. I can't believe I didn't write about it back then, but Shelby did a nice recap on her blog. Her's is still the way, way better recap, but I thought that a few years on, I'd put some thoughts down here.

Before the race, I had been so excited, but also pretty undertrained, and so the race was, by far, the worst one I'd ever run. Even within the first three miles, I knew something was off, starting much slower than I was used to, and having to take a bathroom break almost immediately.

Although I had Courtney offering me encouragement the whole way and some amazing crowds to pull me through, it took almost a full hour longer than I was hoping for, and a half hour longer than I expected it would, and I finished at 06:32:06. I am proud to have finished it, though and even though it's something I'm pretty sure I will never do again, I'm glad to have tried it once and do wish I had done a little better by the training. I do think this taught me to really respect running. It's nothing something to take lightly, and because it had worked pretty well for me without a ton of effort before the race, I think I wasn't as respectful of the sport as I should have been.

And doing a Disney race was a lot of fun! Most of it was on the roadway, which was kind of brutal for such a long race, but Disney tried to make it better with fun pop up stations and characters along the route. I think on a better day, I would have really enjoyed it, but because the race was already going so poorly, I didn't find it as adorable as I should have. My sister (pictured above!) is starting to get into running, and it's her goal to do a half marathon by the end of 2018. I'm so proud of her and can't wait to run in the Food and Wine Half Marathon with her in 2018!

I've had a weird relationship with running since this race. Although I ran a couple more races since then (Freihofers for the win! Trail running camp was awesome! Dropping out of a half marathon in Philadelphia!), I have really struggled to get back into it, even as I lost 20 pounds through circuit training and was in probably the best shape of my life (and then re-gained it once I hurt my back again, got a stressful job, and moved). I'm going to run the Covered Bridges Half Marathon this June, and I hope it gets me back into things a little more. And, until training starts in March, I'm taking a fitness class three times a week that really kicked my butt yesterday, so I'm hoping to start on really strong footing.

And in the meantime, I'm so grateful to my incredible family and friends who supported me through this crazy process a couple years ago. Roger never complained when I would spend hours every Sunday morning running in the cold and then come home pretty useless for the rest of the day. Shelby texted me after each of her long runs and kept me stoked leading up to the race. Courtney ran the entire race with me, even though I know she could have done it much, much faster, and sang Beyoncé to me to keep my spirits up. My parents and Liz flew down to Florida and put us up in their fancy hotel rooms. And Jill led us through Disney and bought me the cutest ornament ever to commemorate my run. Although the marathon really killed me, it also showed me how restorative the people around me can be, and taught me to never give up on any dream, even if it doesn't turn out how you planned.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

VW Dealership in Oxford, Ten Years On

It's been ten years since I was studying abroad in Oxford, a time span that seems unbelievable and insurmountable to me now. I keep wanting to recap things about my time there, and I haven't yet. I'm not sure why, other than that this has been a busy year, with perhaps less intellectual effort involved than my year at Wadham, but certainly also fewer free hours and the same amount of emotional energy required. Maybe this will be the first of my recaps. About this time a decade ago, I was just starting Trinity Term. I was planning my "grand tour" of sorts, to commence once the term ended. I was switching out of a course on Psychoanalysis and Literature for one on Literature and Political Thought in Early Modern England, and had already written my first paper for British Women's Fiction. I was sitting on the Wadham Student Union. I was certain I'd have my PhD by now.

Of course, tempus fugit and things change. We lived above the VW dealership pictured above, except when we lived there, it was really still a VW dealership, and it wasn't yet owned by Wadham, nor occupied by activists and homeless people. It was cozy, really, and a little prototype of what I've wanted since: an apartment complex where all of my closest friends lived. It was the first time I had a bedroom upstairs from the living area, something I'd always desperately wanted, growing up on one floor like I did. For that reason, it felt so—authentic. It was a two and a half mile walk from campus, or a short bus ride on the Rose Hill line. The other main road that it split off of had a costume store called Bead Games. I read so much that year. Now, Bead Games is closed, and I've only read one book since moving three months ago. Living in that building seems like yesterday and also a lifetime ago.

I can still remember the exact color and texture of our couch there, the double faucets on the sink.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ice Skating Weekend

It was freezing this weekend! New York got a bunch of snow, and even Florida was 55° out. Up here, it was between -5° and a balmy 15°. The cold got a bit of the better of us on Saturday, when we visited a potential wedding venue, went to the farmers market, and otherwise spent the rest of the day inside doing work and cooking.

On Sunday, though, we were a little better about getting out of the house. After church, we headed out for a delicious brunch, and chatted with the owner of the restaurant for a good 20 minutes, which was wonderful. (Going out to eat wasn't exactly the best for our Uber Frugal Month, but we're not doing terribly otherwise, and it was gratifying to get to meet a new neighbor.) Once we came home, we hit the ice outside our apartment!

We live right outside a lake, and this week, the resort on the lake "opened" it up for ice skating. Once the trails are all plowed, it's the longest outdoor ice skating track in the country. Some of the trails were opened up, and Roger explored a few of them, while I stuck mostly to the ice right outside the resort. Turns out, I am not any better at ice skating than I have ever been, and it's possible I am even worse than I was in the past. Roger kept saying it was really cold, but the sheer terror of A. falling and breaking a bone and B. falling through the ice and drowning kept me nice and cosy! I couldn't feel a thing over all my anxiety!

I do plan to keep at it, though. It seems like great exercise and even though I was terrible, I really enjoyed being outside and having a fun, free thing to do just outside my door. Hopefully by the end of the winter, I'll be able to at least glide a bit. And if any of you have any tips for how to get started, I'd love to hear them in the comments.

A video posted by Kristin Maffei (@ktin520) on

Friday, January 6, 2017

Second Day Hike at the Palisades

Just a few photos from our second day hike behind our apartment. I forgot how steep this trail is, and really should have worn my new Stabilicers! But, for the distance and difficulty, it's still got one of the best payoffs I can think of. Can't wait to try some trail running on it this summer!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

First Day Hike at the Fells

After enjoying the requisite collards and black-eyed peas on New Year's morning, Roger, Dave, Emily, James, and I headed to the Middlesex Fells Reservation for a first day hike. We were all a little hungover (me worst of all, maybe), so we took it nice and easy, and just wandered around the park a bit, making our way up the tower there for some great views.

Just five miles north of Boston, this is a great spot for some outdoor time not too far from the city. There were plenty of people there (we had to park on a side street off from the park because the lot was full), but it never felt crowded, and there are plenty of different trails to explore.

It was a great way to start 2017, which I'm hoping will bring us lots more hiking with friends!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Year in Review - 2016

Happy belated New Year, everyone!  For me, New Year in a time to reflect on the past and make plans for the future, and this one was no exception. I've been answering this survey for more than a decade now (here's last year'shere's 2014's, and here's 2013's) and I hope you enjoy reading it. If you decide to answer these same questions, leave me a link in the comments!

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Got engaged to a partner who makes me want to be a better person every day. Went to Asia! Lived alone! Became an Episcopalian! Went to the US Open! Went to the America's Cup! Bought a new car! Helped plan a baby shower! Went on vacation with babies! Moved to New England and hiked a whole bunch!

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
In 2016, I wanted to live a little harder. I said, "I want to love harder and work harder. I want to be more conscious of myself and my surroundings. I want to buy only things I'm proud to own. I want to apply to grad school (again) and get more freelance work. I want to take better advantage of living in New York City, and I want to spend more time with my friends and family. I want to set big goals for myself, even if I don't reach them. I also want to buy myself a signet ring." Well, moving is hard and I didn't get quite where I wanted to be. But, I did really well at spending more time with friends, made more ethical purchases (though I wasn't perfect by any means), did get some extra freelance work, and maybe I'll get myself a signet ring for my 31st birthday. It's not a total wash.

2016 was so exhausting in some ways that I'm hesitant to really make any resolutions for 2017 beyond surviving wedding planning and adjusting to life in Vermont. There are other things that it would be nice to do (more writing, more photography, more focus on my health), but I feel okay setting the bar low.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Shelby had the sweetest baby girl in March and I was so honored to spend some time with her the week after she was born. And, in May, Alana and Mered had twins! I could just gobble them up.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Roger's grandmother passed away the week that we moved to Vermont. I didn't know her well, but Roger's mother was, of course, heartbroken, and seeing her in such pain was difficult.

5. What countries did you visit?
India! What a delight it was to travel to Delhi, Chandigarh, and Jodhpur for Tej and Caitlin's wedding. I can't imagine a better way to turn 30! We also visited my parents' new house in Florida, spent a week camping in the Adirondacks and Vermont for James and Emily's wedding, and then spent quite a lot of time traveling by car around New England and the Mid-Atlantic after we bought our new Subaru in October.

In 2017, the travel should continue. We're planning to go to Latvia in the summer, and then on our honeymoon (not sure where yet) over Christmas. It's been ages and ages and ages since I was in Europe, and I'm so thrilled to be heading there in July.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A little stability. Between moving to Vermont, living alone during the week, and my parents moving out of my hometown, 2016 left me feeling a little rootless and sad. I love Vermont, but it still doesn't feel like home, and I'm hoping that changes over the next year.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?
I know, of course, that I should say the day we got engaged, and I'll never forget that, of course. But honestly, my favorite day of the year was when I played hooky from work and went to the US Open. It was one of those perfect New York City days that never seem to happen often enough. I felt more free and happy that day in Queens than I had in ages.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Moving to Vermont. Leaving New York has been so much harder and sadder than I expected, and I don't think I quite understood how much courage it was going to take. But every day, I find that courage and start over, doing my best to stay undaunted. Also, I finally saved up enough to have a fully-funded emergency fund!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Perhaps because of job and (eventually) moving stress, 2016 was not the healthiest of years. I'm already signed up for two exercise classes in January-March, and I have to start training for a half marathon right after that, so hopefully I can fix that in 2017!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Luckily I was pretty healthy for most of 2016.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I got myself a Barbour jacket for Christmas. I've wanted one since I was working at OUP, and once I moved here, I saw that they're extremely popular on campus, and had to have one. I did a crap job of budgeting the last few months of the year, and this was sort of the icing on the cake, but now I have an incredible jacket that will last a lifetime—and a resolution to stay better on track financially this year.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Honestly, Roger and I exhibited some pretty excellent work ethic this year. For the first few months of the year, I was freelancing full time on top of working full time, and Roger spent the whole year freelancing, and at the end, commuting between Vermont on the weekends and New York during the week to make it happen. We have lots of big dreams (travel and a house and financial security, oh my!), and I'm really proud of both of us for working incredibly hard to make them happen.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump and everyone who voted for him. I don't think I've ever been so devastated by a political outcome before. We get the leaders we deserve, I guess.

14. Where did most of your money go?
I finally started spending only half my income on rent, groceries, and utilities! This was a major accomplishment, due to an increased salary and not, unfortunately, a decreased cost of living, even after the move to Vermont. After that, the majority went to a car down payment, travel ($5,000), and shopping and gifts ($3,000 - a record high for me, and something I'm really going to work on in 2017). I did manage to get my health and fitness budget down by about 50% from last year, and I think my food budget was lower than normal, although I'm not totally sure of that.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Babies! I loved spending so much time with all of my friends' children.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
"Gallan Goodiyaan"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you
i. happier or sadder? A bit sadder, but I'm working on it!
ii. thinner or fatter? Oh goodness, fatter, too. Working on that, as well!
iii. richer or poorer? Much richer - my net worth went up about 41%.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing. I thought coming to Vermont and the quiet would mean more poetry, and so far, I just haven't made the effort I should have.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I spent a lot of time being anxious about work and my career, and I wish I had taken a minute to relax about that. I feel like I went very quickly through my job at NYU, and while I know I made the right decision to take the position I have no, I do wish I had been able to spend more time there before leaving.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Oh, it was a bit sad. We had Christmas Eve at Liz's house with the whole gang, because my parents' house is empty and ready to be sold, and then had a brunch at Roger's parents' house before he and I left to go back to Vermont. No one had a tree because it's too much of a hassle. I cried, saying goodbye to my parents, and so did Liz, and then I cried more in the car on the way to Vermont. I know that whatever becomes our new normal will be a delight eventually, but I'm honestly tearing up a bit just writing this.

We spent Christmas week driving around Vermont looking at wedding venues and houses. I know that should be exciting, but it felt exhausting and sad, too.

22. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Yes! I'm so thrilled to be marrying the person I have loved with my whole heart for almost half my life in 2017. Living apart for the last few months has made me appreciate him even more and although I never feel sure about anything, I feel sure that being married is exactly the right thing for us.

(Also, I think it's pretty funny to read last year's answer to this question: Every day, including the month-long period where I stopped pestering Roger about getting married, so that he would take care of his retirement accounts. I was shocked at how quickly that worked. I'd still like to get married, though, if you're reading this, Roger.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Oh my god, The Crown. I watched a lot of television this year, especially once I moved to Vermont, and The Crown was the best thing I saw, 100%. I also still love Last Week Tonight and The Walking Dead. But for me, it's all about The Crown.

24. What was the best book you read?
I didn't read as much as I wanted in 2016 (I wanted to read 40 and I read 26), but I did read quite a few good books. The Meeting House by Marilyn Nelson, Summer Doorways by W.S. Merwin, and We Mammals in Hospitable Times by Jynne Dilling Martin were highlights. I also read J. Courtney Sullivan's entire oeuvre. Will I make more time for reading in 2017? I sure hope so, especially now that I don't have Late Night Library to keep me honest!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Spotify. Now I want to make our own wedding playlist!

26. What did you want and get?
To move to New England.

27. What did you want and not get?
Oh my gosh, after many years of complaining that I did not get one, I finally got a Barbour coat! I feel like I can't complain about missing out on anything now! (Although I was secretly hoping someone might get me a Marc Jacobs lipstick.)

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
It wasn't made this year, but Nothing Left Unsaid was so intimate and touching. I also watched Grey Gardens so I guess this was my year for watching things about rich people.

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?
I turned 30 and ate dal so delicious I almost cried. We toured around Delhi a bit and then made our way to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The hotel there had a birthday cake waiting for me in the room and I almost cried again. Honestly, I can't imagine a more perfect way to enter this new decade of adventures. But no, I didn't get myself the signet ring I had wanted to.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Oh, it was pretty satisfying. I suppose a little more light through this first winter of living alone could have gone a long way, though. But, now we're back on that side of things and it will be light out again when I'm home before we know it.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I'm still working toward a preppy traditional style, and moving to New England has definitely helped me get a hold of it a bit. I even found a pair of khakis I like. (And probably should have bought two or three more while I was at it.)

32. What kept you sane?
I did a lot of kind of heavy budgeting and it was nice to feel in control of something. In 2017, I just need to get some final investment accounts in order and I think I'll feel really good about where we are.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Oh, Kate Middleton, of course. Will I ever love another?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The presidential race. What a tremendous disappointment. Also, Brexit, inexplicably.

35. Who did you miss?
My dream of everyone I love living in one apartment building continues to elude me, and so, I missed nearly everyone at some point this year.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Oh my goodness, my friend Karen is such a delight! She has been the absolute sweetest person on earth about including me in her Upper Valley life, introducing me to her favorite yoga studio, and inviting me into her home.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Side hustles, while a lot of work, can also be immensely satisfying and fun.

38. Quote a lyric that sums up your year.
"But if you close your eyes, / Does it almost feel like / Nothing changed at all?"

39. What are your plans for 2017?
Get married. Buy a house. Put down some roots. Write some poems.