Closing The Holiday Season

It was another extremely productive week. Still, many people at work were on vacation, and although many questions and issues required my intervention, I had long periods when I could focus on my big projects or debus something complex. 

Also, I kept a list of my tiny “do-to” things that must be done at some point – everyone has such a list! I managed to cut it dramatically during the first week of the New Year. I dare to say I did everything I planned:).

I keep thinking about how fortunate I am with my job, where my knowledge and skills are so much needed, and people treat me with respect and appreciate my community work as well. It feels good every day, and I am counting my blessings.

My list for this weekend was modest because the workweek was productive, but I had three huge items on my agenda: to take off all Christmas decorations, take off all tree ornaments, pack everything, and put it back into storage. And it took pretty much the whole day (except for talking to Boris and visiting mom). It sounds right because decorating took many hours as well:). When I decorate house my house for Christmas, it is one of the most joyful things because it makes my place magical. And when I take the decorations down, it feels like: Ok, the holidays are over, and it’s time to dive into life, into the new year, into all new things I want to do. 

And once again, looking back at 2022, it was just an outstanding year for my professional development, although war dominates all aspects of life. And once again, I am not depressed because of the war. I am angry but also very active and productive.

The last glance at my holiday cards before I pack them, sign the year, and put away – Thirty-four this year!

Into The New Year

The last (long) weekend appeared to be remarkably productive, more than I could imagine. I had a to-do list so gigantic that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to complete more than two-thirds of it, and I ended up being done with almost everything. In fact, I have a good chance to cross off the remaining items before Friday :).

Most importantly, I talked to lots of people. Having several days in a row when I had time to talk, to email, and meet people, I seized this opportunity. And it feels amazingly good.

I remember how I was going to prioritize interactions with people last New Year, and then how all my plans were ruined together with so many other things and became so irrelevant that I didn’t want to recall them. I am not making any grand plans for 2023, and I am not putting together a list of New Year’s resolutions. There were things that I wanted to complete during the last weekend, and I did. Some of them could be considered New Year resolutions, but overall I’d say: I know what the right things to do are now, next month, and next year, and always, And I am trying to do as much as I can, every day and every week, and I keep to-do lists and roll them over.

I feel good about the new year. I feel angry and productive – that’s my new thing, my new state of mind and soul, which I acquired in 2022: angry and productive. And it really helps:)

New Year

Like last year (and actually a year before and a year before that), Igor and mom came to my place to celebrate the New Year “at Saint Petersburg time. All the previous years it was not a big deal, and actually, this year it was not a big deal either, but having the situation at the front, I could not make myself display any cheer.

Mom got upset (although she didn’t complain), but everything was civil. I made dinner – nothing fancy, but things both mom and Igor like – borsch, meatloaf, roasted and mashed potatoes. I also baked pumpkin muffins and made tiramisu.

Mom kept saying she always had to celebrate the “Russian” new year alone, which is not true. Last year, we had to get together a little later because I was working, but that was an exception, and we still got together. We watched “The mask ball night;” this time, mom could hear everything, and hopefully, she will remember that we watched it. Then Igor took her home and later came back so that we could go see the New Year fireworks.

There were no Grant Park fireworks this year, so we went to Oak Street beach to watch the Navy Pier fireworks. The weather was perfect, and forecasted rain never materialized, and the air was clear.

The fireworks themselves were much more fun than last year, so I guess the only thing I want now is to have the same quality public fireworks :).

Another good thing was that the train back came right away, so it was nothing like last year, although the number of smokers in the cars was above average. And another interesting thing is that there were a lot of people at each stop, exiting and entering the train, and I kept wondering where they were going ๐Ÿ™‚

Just A Day Left…

One day left of 2022… I had an extremely productive day today. Realized that I have almost nothing to do at work (sure, the work is never done, but there was nothing that had to be completed in 2022), and at the same time, a lot of community work and my personal stuff actually had to be completed in 2022, I took a half day off and focused on my todo list. I am pretty proud of the progress I made; at least, I do not feel horribly behind. I published a blog for community discussion which I promised back in October, submitted two talk proposals for spring conferences (need to sum=bmit two more), and replied to several emails.

Also, reviewed my finances, closed the month and the year, and drafted the next year’s budget – hopefully closer to reality than my last year’s was. At least, I budgeted for war-related expenses, although I hold my hope that I won’t need it for the whole of 2023.

My todo list for this long weekend is bigger than ever, and mostly it is not about the New Year celebration, but about analyzing and planning of everything: work, finances, volunteering, health, and people’s connections. I am going to look back at my last year’s plans and see whether there is anything that went as expected:)

“No plans can survive the collision with reality.” (c)

Chicago The Musical

Yesterday after the conference, I went with my former French co-worker to see “Chicago” – she wanted to see a “real Broadway musical” and asked me to choose, which I happily did. We also had an amazing deal “two tickets for the price of one.

I was a little worried that it might not turn out as good as it could, remembering my disappointment with “Jesus Christ.” But it was brilliant! Probably the best “Chicago” I ever saw!

January 3

At first, I was unhappy that my company gave the US employees day off for January 1 on January 3, not December 31. Most of the US companies did the opposite. Since it was an entire workday on a client assignment, I had very little time to make a holiday dinner and all other preparations for the celebration. But boy, how happy I was on January 3!

I had an actual day off, not cooking or cleaning, but a day off just for myself! It felt incredibly good!

I went skating to Millennium Park, and despite the cold weather, I skated for almost an hour. It was sunny; very few people were on the skating rink at 9-30 AM on a workday; it was perfect!
Then I walked to the Art Institute, still before the general public, on my Member hours. I stopped at the front desk, where they finally fixed my app (I could not make it right after my recent membership upgrade plus address change). And then, I went to see a new photography exhibit and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the Modern Wing with almost nobody around.

And then I still had time at home to talk to Boris, make quiche, and assemble a standing mirror delivered from IKEA.

And I sat by my Christmas tree: it is still perfect, but I will put it down this weekend. The holidays are over.

New Year Celebration

For some reason, my company has January 3 off for January 1, not December 31, as in most companies. On the one hand, I am grateful I have one more day off tomorrow. On the other hand, it was challenging to get everything ready for a New Year celebration when you work on this day and are still new at the job, so things take time.ย 

I decided that I made enough salads in Milwaukee, and since only three of us are celebrating, I just made a nice three-course dinner. I had a lot of farmer’s vegetables, so I made borshch entirely from this fresh organic produce. I also had a chicken from my other CSA, and I roasted it (frantically searching on the web and combining three different recipes in one :)).

Borshch looks so festive in these plates, I should use them more often!

And I made an apple tart and a pumpkin pie as I had wanted for a long time. (For the record, the purpose of this post is to showcase these two pies :))

Cookies from friends from all over the world!

Usually, I am neutral about the New Year, but it was good that we celebrated (Igor and I went to the fireworks right after). 2021 was a very eventful year, more than I wanted, so it was a good idea to mark its ending with something a little bit more special than I usually do. 

Happy New Year!

I always wanted to see the city’s New Year fireworks, but it was challenging when I lived in Palatine, even when they had a couple of late-night trains. Going all that way for just fireworks is not worth the time. But now that I live in the city, I thought I had to ring the New Year in the very heart of it!
The fireworks were fired from the Riverwalk, all the way, in multiple places, which made them very convenient to watch.

The only problem was going back. If I only knew there wouldn’t be any trains for 45 minutes, I would suggest Igor walk half the way. But the Ventra app kept showing the next train coming in 14, 10, 8 minutes – and then flipping! Waiting indoors in the crowd of people when not all of them wore masks was not fun. Next year, I will know better!

New Year’s Motivations

This year might be not exactly a year to have a resolution about going to the gym, because… well, everybody knows why. Still, trying to keep my tradition of motivating people to exercise, I am posting the pictures I took in my home gym with minimal equipment On December 31 and January 1. I am not saying, you can do it no matter what, but I am saying, you can definitely do something :).

Now I am back to maintaining this balance on both left and right side for 40 sec
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