Monday, March 3, 2014

Trying Something New - March

My quest to try something new every day this year continues! Here are my "new things" for the month of March:
  1. Finish watching all the Oscar nominees for Best Picture. One more to go (Her, which I'll see tomorrow) - have seen all the others: American HustleCaptain PhillipsDallas Buyers ClubGravityNebraskaPhilomena12 Years a Slave, and Wolf of Wall Street. So far, I can't say I'm really pulling for one movie over the others - they all have something to recommend them.
  2. Watch the entire Academy Awards broadcast. I've watched bits and pieces of the Academy Awards through the years but never the whole show. And now I remember why: it's long, most of the acceptance speeches aren't all that interesting (one exception: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez who won for best original song and wrote a little poem that they obviously practiced so that they would be both fun and coherent), the musical numbers and comedy bits meant to break up the endless enveloping opening aren't always all that great (I love Ellen DeGeneres but thought she was a tad too casual and low key; and although Pink was wonderful, the "Wizard of Oz" montage seemed a little unnecessary since we've all seen those clips thousands of times). I'm glad I can now say I've seen the whole thing - but the Grammys still win in a face-off.
  3. Replace picture frames. We have lots of family pictures displayed in our apartment--acquired mostly one-by-one with a special moment on a vacation, say, captured so perfectly that I wanted to keep it around and so got a frame. But when a ton of frames were destroyed in last week's flood (most of our photos are digital and so I will just reprint them), for the first time, I had to buy frames in bulk. It was kind of a weird experience, because I didn't want all the frames to be matchy-matchy, but I didn't want to spend forever searching for them, either. So I cruised around the Pottery Barn site and chose a bunch of different styles. I think it will work.
  4. Clean "office" cabinet. Almost four years ago, I moved out of my home office so that B could use it as a bedroom (and thus each child would have his own room). When I emptied my big desk (I now work at the dining room table), I stored a bunch of stuff in the built-in cabinet in our dining room (which had held board games and toys). And there it sat for years. I finally cleaned it out today, organizing all the supplies we all use on a regular basis (e.g. printer paper, envelopes) and throwing out the rest (magazine clippings, a collection of the boys' stickers, 4-year-old receipts, an almost decade-old financial plan). Feels good!
  5. Go to church service on Ash Wednesday. Did a double "new thing" today: went to an Ash Wednesday service AND did it online at the Washington Cathedral. I thought it might be a different liturgy than the regular Sunday service, but other than the imposition of ashes, it wasn't.
  6. Wear something old in a new way. I typically either use scarves to add a pop of color or pattern to an outfit or to coordinate with the other colors I'm already wearing. And I'm usually in favor of matching the tone of the scarf to the tone of the outfit (some scarves I think of as formal or business wear; others are strictly casual). I tried to shake it up a bit and wore a formal pleated scarf with beaded trim with a casual corduroy-and-sweater combo. And you know what? It didn't look half bad!
  7. Solve my own tech problems. One of the proudest moments of my life was installing a new video card into a PC many years ago. But although I physically made the repair, the solution to my computer problem was suggested by an tech guy over the phone and he walked me through the process in pain-staking detail. Today I resolved to go one better. My laptop battery hasn't taken a charge well for some time. I figured it was a battery issue--and since the laptop is three years old, I can't say I was terribly surprised. But I was extremely disheartened when even the adapter stopped working today, leaving my laptop totally without power. My first instinct was to call for help. But then I decided to take matters into my own hands. I marched down with Best Buy, searched out a new adapter, tried it out and voila! my laptop works again. Yay me! (A sad coda: turns out the adapter I bought is only 90 watts and this particular laptops needs 130 watts. Oops! But I find one online that meets the specs.)
  8. Buy jewelry organizer. Over the years I've amassed a fair amount of jewelry. Most of it is costume (I've lost several fine jewelry pieces--many received as gifts--that broke my heart, so I've gotten in the habit of just buying fun pieces instead). Right now it is scattered in a number of places, but I'd like to have everything all in one spot so I can see what I have quickly and easily. I don't really have the space for separate piece of furniture (although many of the ones I've seen look very nice) and I have too many items to fit into one top-of-the-bureau box. So today I hunted down an over-the-door jewelry organizer that should do the trick.
  9. Attend The Armory ShowI loved the Frieze Art Fair my boys took me to for Mothers' Day last May and was looking forward to the same sort of edgy silliness (where the real art is coming up with a story that convinces the art world that a pile of string, or a broken mirror, or a collection of random objects, or a dog made of balloons is meaningful and worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars). This show had fewer experimental sorts of pieces and more than we might actually hang on our walls (if the piece we both liked best--a representation of trees in Yellowstone with fire or sunrise/sunset in the background) didn't cost $85K.
  10. Invest in a great slipIn the old days, women always wore slips. But I didn't grow up wearing them, probably because so much of my work wardrobe when I had to wear formal office attire every day consisted of lined skirts. These days, shapewear is increasingly important to me, and when I originally set my "new thing" goal of buying the perfect slip, I thought it would be a full slip with control. But the more I looked, the less I'm convinced that this piece exists. The spanx slips don't get good reviews. The commando slip hasn't gotten any reviews. I've tried other brands and didn't like those either. And then I looked through the dresses/skirts that I actually need this for and decided that a shaping half slip would be enough. So that's what I bought.
  11. Oops! Not sure I did anything new today.
  12. Listen to an audiobook. Books-on-tape used to be something that people listened to in the car over a long commute. But with the increasing ubiquity of ipods and smartphones, it has become more common for people to listen to a book in  mp3 format much more often, including, say, during a run or while they're folding laundry. Producers are stepping up their game, hiring better-known voice talent and adding more sophisticated sound effects and other features. I wanted to get a sense of what this might sound like. Gizmo's has a list of where you can find free audiobooks online. I chose the charming June the Prune, both because I love the genre and because I knew a children's book would be relatively short. I highly recommend it!!
  13. Yikes, another day without a new thing.
  14. Book college tours for my son. I can't believe my baby is getting ready to leave the nest! But he is and I'm proud and happy for him.
  15. Learn a new word. Not surprisingly, I went online for this. And just as I found plenty of sites willing to teach me swears in other languages, there are plenty of places on the web to learn new words. I chose the first one on the list - - but already knew many of the words featured. But here's a new one: quondam, an adjective meaning "former, onetime."
  16. Walk the dog on a new route. My short walks with J generally fall into one of three routes; my longer walks with him tend to fall into predictably patterns, too. So today we went somewhere else - just headed in a different direction (northeast instead of south or west) and had the joy of running into an old friend.
  17. Don't nag. My intentions were good; not sure that I achieved my goal, though. Perhaps another day?
  18. Stand up straight. Whenever I remembered, I adjusted my position. But the rest of the time? Probably slouching as usual.
  19. Let my teenage son do the driving. And he did great: superhighways and smaller roads, over bridges and through tunnels, tolls, rain, night-driving -- he did it all for hundreds of miles!
  20. Celebrate the first day of Spring. Spent a beautiful day enjoying the sunshine with UVa students - couldn't ask for better!
  21. Visit Georgetown with B. We explored a bit on our own and then split up so he could learn about the general university experience while I heard about the biz school.
  22. Taste wines from the WSJ wine club. Every organization seems to offer one of these clubs nowadays - they must be hugely profitable. Can't say I loved our first selection, but there are plenty more to try so I'll keep an open mind!
  23. Nothing new.
  24. Nothing new.
  25. Admitted J to animal hospital.
  26. Missed J all day.
  27. Missed J even more (didn't think it was possible).
  28. Suffered broken heart when J wasn't happy to see us during visiting hours.
  29. Picked up J from animal hospital.
  30. Spoiled J as much as I could (not sure that's something new, though).
  31. Adjusted to taking J out every two hours (or more).
Want to see the list of new things I've tried throughout the year? See my lists from January and February.

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