Things I Would Like to Do in 2019

It’s not a new year unless I use my blog to shame myself into accomplishing things this year, right?

GET MORE FIT.

Last year I said I wanted to run 1,000 miles and then, less than three weeks after setting that goal, I hurt myself. And that was it. I knew almost immediately there was no way I’d be able to hit 1,000 miles and I was right. Last year was a real shitty year for running and while I don’t even know how many miles I ran last year, I do know it’s much less than 1,000.

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The Things I Did & Didn’t Do When It Snowed 10 Inches

I’m the person who says, ok, I have friends coming to visit in two months, lets undertake a room renovation in the midst of a super stressful job situation while taking a demanding online class, raising three pets, training for a winter race, getting really into trivia at my favorite brewery on Thursday nights while also trying to feed myself real dinners, brush my teeth and wash my face before bed and keep my house from descending into absolute chaos. 

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The Grumpiest Grinch Explains Her Holiday Hate

“Especially this time of year,” is the tag I add to the end to my December sentences about the shit I don’t need. The stress, the bullshit, the drama. I don’t need it. Especially this time of year. 

I listen to people complain about the families they’re going home to, about all the eccentricities inherent to their family dynamic and I smile, nod, apologize for things beyond my control, say, “Ugh, that sucks,” or, “Ugh, that must be tough.” But what I want to say is, “Must be nice. At least you have a place to go.”

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My Ever-Evolving Relationship with (That Bitch) Sugar

I gave up sugar. Kind of.

Mostly, I gave up dessert that’s not a square of dark as fuck chocolate. I stopped with the cake and the cookies and, most especially, the chocolate candy, to include my most beloved addiction, the peanut butter cup. 

It’s vanity-based, this dessert desertion. I’m not on any sort of SUGAR IS THE DEVIL bandwagon or trying a new diet or even trying to lose weight. It’s not about any of that. It’s about the zits. 

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Five Friday Favorites: Puzzles, Witches & Dog Joy

What the hell happened to 2018, y’all? I’m feeling woefully unprepared for the colder temperatures, the holiday season and the end of another year, but here’s a few delights that have helped downgrade my grump level.

BARRY THE BLOWFISH

I know I’m living in the future because I don’t have to go looking for neat shit to buy on the internet anymore, it just presents itself to me on my Instagram feed

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What I Read: The Best Books of 2018’s 3rd Quarter

My reading definitely slowed down in the third quarter, probably because work keeps me very, very busy in the summer months. Then there was summer travel and by the time August ended, I realized I’d been reading the same book for multiple weeks, which almost never happens. 

Still, I’m averaging around five books a month and I managed to read 15 books throughout July, August & September. Fingers crossed I can maintain or exceed that pace in the next few months and hit my goal to read 70 books.

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Friday Favorites: Philadelphia, eating all the BLTs & diverse reads

I feel like I’ve been having a lot of fun lately. The later summer and fall is also packed full of things to look forward to. Work trips, a few West Coast adventures with all of my favorite lady friends, and, hopefully, a half marathon or two now that I’m mostly back to my running self. Here are a few of this week’s most favorite things.

1. PHILADELPHIA.

I spent the weekend in Philadelphia visiting my friend, Tara, and a grand total of FOUR national park sites. I’d visited her before, always with a group of friends, and Philly is always, always a great time, but after perusing the National Park Service map of park units and talking to Tara the last time we were together, I realized I needed to get myself on a Philly-centric National Park Adventure. It was exactly the sort of escape I needed, Tara is an A+, top-notch tour guide and I never get tired of the two of us introducing ourselves together.

2. MERRELL SOLSTICE T STRAP SANDAL.

I bought these sandals at the end of summer last year because I wanted a stylish sandal that still had some support and OMG, I love these shoes so much. They’re sold out, they are so good. I wore them all day on Saturday, walking actual miles with Tara around Philly and my feet didn’t complain once. Fingers crossed they’re not gone forever.

Friday Favorites || terragoes.com

3. MyFitnessPal

Years ago, back when I first started giving a shit about my personal fitness, I used MyFitnessPal to track calories and drop a few extra pounds. I eventually stopped tracking my food and stopped weighing myself and started focusing on how I felt instead of what the scale said, but every so often it’s helpful for me to do a check-in and track my food for a week or a month, just to make sure I’m still making smart choices. So I’m doing that and I really do love MyFitnessPal. It’s easy to use and I get a little obsessive about plotting and tracking all my calories.

Friday Favorites || terragoes.com

4. TOMATOES.

Hanover tomatoes are a thing around Richmond. They are so good and so perfect and there’s even a festival dedicated to them and while I didn’t get to go this year, some friends still got me a giant pile of tomatoes and for a while, I was on a tomato-eating rampage. I’ll probably finish out my tomato stash in the next day or two with one more BLT, but damn if I don’t love this time of year and those tomatoes.

5. READING WOMEN.

I’d read 10 books in 2018 before I realized they were all by women and then I was like, ok, maybe I’ll do this for a quarter, but now it’s July, I’ve read 42 books and each and every one of them was written by a woman. Stephany inspired me to diversify my reading portfolio, so I’ve made a conscious effort to read books not just by women of color, but also by women from backgrounds that are different from my own. So far, it’s been great. I’ve read some truly incredible books this year, most recently The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya, about the violence in Rawanda and Wamariya’s attempts to escape it, attempts that eventually led her to the United States. It’s a heartbreaking read, of course, put important and powerful.

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What I Read: The Best Books of 2018’s 2nd Quarter

Y’all, I’m still on a reading rampage. I lost a little steam when I got super busy with work in May, but I still read 17 books in the second quarter, down just a bit from the 20 I read in the first quarter. I’ve made a conscious effort this year to stop staring mindlessly at my phone before bed and use the time reading instead. Plus, my new obsession with the library has left me with a steady supply of books I’m real, real excited to read.

Q2 Reading Report {2018} || terragoes.com

GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shobha Rao – ★★★★★

This book starts in India and ends in Seattle, Washington. It’s one of the most important books I’ve read this year, incredibly heartbreaking and absolutely devastating. It’s the story of friendship, the kind of friendship and love you’ll do absolutely anything for, no matter the cost, because, “What is love, if not a hunger?” This book broke my fucking heart, cracked it open and then stomped on it. It’s a hard read, difficult and painful in a way that’s similar to Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. It is abusive, violent and triggering, but important and poignant.

Q2 Reading Report {2018} || terragoes.com

CIRCE by Madeline Miller – ★★★★★

As a kid, I was obsessed with Greek mythology. Give me your stories of Zeus and Hera, Artemis and Apollo, tell me again how Orion was put into the sky. Circe took me back to that love, telling the story of Circe, a badass heroine, nymph, goddess and witch. Miller weaves the story well, starting from Circe’s childhood sitting at the feet of her father, Helios, to her encounters with Odysseus and, later, his widow and son. It’s a delightful slip into a very different world.

Q2 Reading Report {2018} || terragoes.comSTATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel – ★★★★★

I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic read and this book is that, but also so much more. The story takes place 15-20 years after a plague called the Georgia Flu. There’s a traveling theatre troupe, a comic book, a self-proclaimed prophet and an airport sanctuary. It’s beautifully written and beautifully told and the characters are easy to love and understand. It’s emotional too, and dives into what it means to survive, what it takes to survive and the connections formed by our collective humanity.

Q2 Reading Report {2018} || terragoes.comTHEN SHE WAS GONE by Lisa Jewell – ★★★★★

I’ve been real disappointed by thrillers this year. I keep trying though, keep hoping there will be a character I don’t hate, a plot twist that doesn’t seem forced or a storyline so complex and meandering it makes me curse. And then I read Then She Was Gone and I stopped being so cranky about it all because this book is good without trying too hard, with a main character you can actually root for and story that’s easy to follow while still maintaining my interest and pushing me to figure what happened. There’s no brain matter mushed into the floor with this one, no blood-splattered descriptions of what happened, just good writing and a real good story.

Q2 Reading Report {2018} || terragoes.comFATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff – ★★★★★

This book was a big deal a few years ago, but I didn’t get around to reading it until this year. This book was tough, like all of Groff’s novels. I really enjoyed Arcadia, but Fates and Furies was a slow start for me. In simple terms, it’s the story of a marriage, but it’s far more complicated than that. I didn’t get the hype until halfway through the book, when we got to Furies, and that, for me, was what made this book. Groff’s writing is beautiful and difficult and her stories leave me conflicted in a way that’s unique. Sometimes I can’t tell if I love or hate what I’m reading when it comes to Groff’s work.

WHAT ELSE I READ THIS QUARTER 
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – ★★★★ – a beautiful historical fiction piece.
  • Half Broke Horses – ★★★★ – reminded me of my grandmother’s stories.
  • White Houses by Amy Bloom – ★★★★ – about Eleanor Roosevelt and her “First Friend.”
  • Educated by Tara Westover – ★★★★ – uncomfortably relatable & often infuriating.
  • The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – ★★★★ – complex characters & also a fortune-teller.
  • The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer – ★★★★ – thought-provoking and feminist.
  • The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg- ★★★★ – fun & weird.
  • Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell – ★★★★ – a punch in the feels.
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnint – ★★★ – a book club read.
  • Girls in White Dress by Jennifer Close – ★★★ – perfectly fine chick lit.
  • Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple – ★★★ – all over the place.
  • Florida by Lauren Groff – ★★ – two great stories & then a bunch of shit I didn’t care about.
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    Why I’m on a Quest to see all of America’s National Parks

    I was in San Francisco to run a 200-mile relay with a handful of friends. I arrived in the city a few days early, to acclimate and explore, and went with my friend Tara to visit Alcatraz Island. It was my second visit to America’s most infamous prison and her first.

    In the gift shop, I bought a National Parks Passport, a small booklet with information on America’s National Parks with room for commemorative collector stamps and cancellations, which are just stamps with the site name and date. I got my first cancellation at Alcatraz and that’s probably where it started.

    “I think I want to try and visit all 59 National Parks,” I said to Tara as I made my way to the cash register, National Parks Passport in hand.

    A National Park Quest || terragoes.com

    For a few years, that goal, to see America’s 59 National Parks seemed sufficient. Until it didn’t.

    Now, there 60 national parks administered by the National Park Service that are called “National Parks.” There are 417 national parks in total that are administered by the National Park Service, but they go by a lot of different names. They’re called “National Monuments” and “National Battlefields” and “National Seashores” and “National Historic Sites” and there’s even one “National Park for the Performing Arts.” They’re called a lot of different things, but they’re all part of America’s Best Idea, all part of the National Park Service.

    A National Park Quest || terragoes.com

    At some point I decided that just seeing the sites designated as a “National Park” wasn’t enough. I wanted to see them all, all 417 glorious, varied and scattered sites.

    I’m still at the beginning of my quest, still just 68 parks into this adventure, but it’s created a fire in me. When I travel, I want to see these sites. I want to go to these places that America picked to protect and save and commemorate, for whatever reason, whether it’s a battlefield, a stunning and unique landscape or the home of one of America’s most famous figures.

    A National Park Quest || terragoes.com

    Sometimes people ask me why I’m doing such a thing, why I want to visit these 417 sites, and it’s a thing I couldn’t really articulate in the beginning.

    “Because why not?” I’d exclaim. “Because it sounds like a great adventure!”

    It makes more sense now, now that I’m in the thick of the thing.

    I’m doing it because I love this country. It’s not always perfect, this land of ours. We’ve made mistakes in our short history and we’re still figuring ourselves out, still forging our own identify, but I love it, flaws and all. It’s why I raised my right hand and swore allegiance to protect and defend it more than 15 years ago and it’s a big part of why I want to see all these parks, to spend more time with America, the land that I love.

    A National Park Quest || terragoes.com

    I’m doing it because I love learning. This quest has taken me to the place where George Washington was born, to the site of hundreds-year-old ruins in New Mexico and Arizona and to a spot in Washington, D.C. that served as a headquarters for the fight for women’s suffrage. There’s the battlefields, too, and, of course, places like the 

    Grand Canyon

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