Nostalgia

photo of middle school notes

real middle school notes. this is not a drill.

Like most people who grew up in the ’80s/’90s, I have a memory box or two squirreled away in random corners of the apartment. I’m leaving the most recent generation out of that generalization because, honestly, I have no idea what kids do to preserve memories anymore. I would say SnapChat, but “saving” is literally the opposite of the purpose of SnapChat.

Actually, I take that back. Every generation hoards something. The ’90s babies and *shudder* people born in a year where the fourth number is a zero are probably stockpiling caches of ticket stubs and magazine articles too.

The one thing that I doubt they have nearly so many of, though? Notes.

And, yes, I did notice that one of those notes has the word “boob” on it. THISISMIDDLESCHOOLPEOPLE.

Even I was surprised at how many notes and letters I found in my memory box. I mean, it makes sense — this was before texting. (I KNOW I’M OLD OKAY.) If something happened in first period homeroom that you just could not wait to tell your BFF on the bus ride home, you would discretely pass a note through the clarinet section during band practice. Or something. Hypothetically.

After unfolding, re-reading, and then carefully refolding the notes (we were origami champs, y’all), I felt a wave of nostalgia that made me a little sad for kids today. And a little sad for myself for using the phrase “kids today.” Today’s tweens aren’t going to scroll through pages of old texts. And even if they did, it would be 60% emoji anyway. And while I love an emoji myself, a pair of dancing twins is never going to compare with a handscrawled note from your bestie telling you her life would just END without you.

The next generation of twenty-somethings won’t be able to sift through handwritten letters and (at times even more novel) printed photographs. In my memory box I found all of the following — and more:

1. Two love letters (rated whatever comes before G…this was middle school in the ’90s, after all)
2. Pictures of my first serious crush
3. A ticket stub for when I saw The Notebook in theaters (the first time)
4. A purchased photo from my eighth grade graduation dance
5. Every graduation/baptism card I ever received
6. Every letter Jackie dal Broi sent to me after I moved from California (that is LOVE, guys)
7. Both of my solo contest pins from the days of playing the flute (so maybe that band practice anecdote wasn’t so hypothetical)
8. The expertly folded notes shown above (and a few not-so-expertly folded others)

You guys. MEMORIES. I actually opened the box with the intention of consolidating it into another box, so I ended up tossing a few things. Pour one out for all those grad cards that someone just stuffed a check into and signed. (I saved the real letters with real emotions. I’m not a robot.)

Do you have a memory box hidden somewhere? What would you guess is the weirdest thing in it? If you say “a ticket stub from when I saw The Notebook,” we just became best friends.

 

“Justine and I grew up down the street from one another in Johnston (where the grass is always greener) and we were in choir and show choir together at school. After attending Drake University, she went on to wow Martha Stewart (among tons of others) with her writing, editing and all-around-awesome life skills. She lives in NYC and is someone you want to have on your side in any battle against a messy apartment, poor grammar, lacking money management skills, and unruly hair. Seriously, though. She has truly funny posts about everyday life events that you never knew you cared about until she wrote about them! She highlights little nuances in funny and endearing ways that can only be rivaled by Tina Fey. Maybe it’s just me, but I could not stop thinking about Justine when I read Bossypants. And her hair is famous. Take note! “

^^^Literally the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me, said by one of the nicest, funniest people I know. (And who I am sad will no longer be blogging her life. Thank goodness we’re real-life friends, right?)

Today is the fifth anniversary of my move to New York.

First NY apartment

First NY apartment

When I used to talk about moving here, I would always add that the official plan was to move here for ten years, and then probably head west to California.

Now that I’ve made it halfway through that timeline, I’m less confident in my ability to stick it out the full ten years (it’s hard living here, yo), but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

My sister and I on one of my first trips to the city.

New York is the city where I met, dated, and married my husband. It’s the first place I lived entirely separate from my family. It’s where I’ve made some of my dearest friendships. It’s where I had my first (and second, third, fourth, and fifth) real, grown-up jobs. It’s where we started our life with the Boges.

ahhh the dating days

ahhh the dating days

New York City is a city like no other in the world. Where “only in New York!” moments happen literally every day. I mean, yesterday during work, there were Broadway show previews happening in the alley behind my building. Just because they can.

In this place, I’ve almost been hit by a car, encountered traumatizing wildlife, and survived a hurricane. I’ve eaten amazing food and celebrated anniversaries and gotten to do things I couldn’t done have pretty much anywhere else.

In short, as much as I rag on the NYC, this city has been pretty good to me.

And whether I’m here for another five years or not, it’s safe to say a part of me will always heart New York.

Similar to my annual sum-uppance, I also like to share a round-up of the top ten most-read posts of the year every December. (Last year’s winners here.) It’s usually fairly amusing — I mean, without this list, we would never have known how much people like reading about narwhals, right?

Let’s do this.

10. How to: Baby Gender Reveal Party
I loved writing this post almost as much as I loved planning my friend Megan’s baby gender reveal party, and apparently my readers have enjoyed it as well. You’ll also be happy to know that Bill and Megan had a healthy, adorable little boy that we all adore.

9. How to: Throw a Mad Men Party
So apparently I need to plan more parties? Our houseapartment-warming party was one of th most successful party I’ve ever thrown. I themed it (because I’m me), and the results were pretty fab. This post shared what I cooked, what we wore, and how I decorated.

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8. Get Your StitchFixMy post from the first time I used the service. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote a follow-up about my other experiences with the company here. I actually did find something in the subsequent fix that I liked, which I have completely forgotten to blog about. But they made things up to me.

7. What Guys Should Wear for Pictures
Listen, dudes. I’m looking out for you. This will hopefully be helpful for any newly engaged folks out there.

6. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate
Another repeat from last year. You just can’t argue with Nutella.

5. How to: Plan a Bachelorette Party in Chicago
I still think this is one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever written — and one of the best parties I’ve ever planned. I stand behind all of my recommendations, and people who attended have told me that people forward them this blog post when they come across it while Google-searching bachelorette party ideas. That’s some good SEO right there.

4. How to: Create “Disney Princess” Curls
I often joke now that my target audience is little girls between the ages of one and seven because of my cartoonishly large eyes and long blonde hair. But turns out that little joke was a great way to drum up some blog traffic. Go forth and learn how to curl your hair.

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3. So…this happened.
So…this one is weird. I mean, the post is funny. It was a funny thing that happened to me. But this post NEVER got any serious traffic until November 28th, when suddenly it exploded in popularity, getting about 5,000 page views in two days. (A sizeable amount for my little blog.) I know the traffic came from Facebook, but I have no idea why or where in the social network. If anyone knows why, I would love to have this phenomenon explained.

2. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet
The tale of how my father-in-law and I took a rusted out file cabinet and restored it like new. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll buy spray primer. Everyone wins.

1. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for Six DaysIt’s like the little post that could. Thanks to a hefty dose of Pinterest traffic, this post has risen from the fourth most-read post last year to the most-read post of the year. Round of applause (and dry shampoo) for everyone!

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Thanks for another great year! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.

Hey-o! It’s time for my fifth annual end-of-the-year sum-uppance. For those of you just tuning in, every year at the end of the year, I answer roughly the same questions. It’s a fun way to look back on where I’ve been. You can read last year’s post here for reference, but you get the idea.

Let’s go!

Age: 26, but can pass for a high school student if I don’t wear makeup. (Or at least that’s what my tailor tells me.)

Location: New York City

Occupation: Senior Manager of Engagement Marketing. (GASPS FOR AIR BECAUSE THAT TAKES FOREVER TO SAY.)

New favorite food: I’m changing this one a bit because I always say roughly the same foods. Instead, let’s focus on something new I discovered I like: Manchego cheese. Seriously. It’s the only kind Joey and I buy anymore. It’s delicious.

Music I like right now: This hasn’t really changed from last year. Folksy-pop? Is that a thing?

TV shows I watch: Similar to last year. Joey and I also recently got into Arrow, which is working for me.

Book I’m reading: Ready Player One, a recommendation from my brother. HIGHLY recommend if you’ve got a nerd streak.

What’s my hair doing right now: Sort of a joke, but also sort of serious since I talk about it often enough on this blog. It actually looks about the same as last year. Quelle surprise.

How I did on my goals from last year: Just to remind you, these were last year’s goals, along with how I did:

1. More travel (here’s a hint: AFRICA. Okay, so that’s not a hint. That’s me telling you. But it’s happening.)
Welp, this didn’t happen. But we did travel a bit within the states (okay, within the Midwest) and we’re going to PARIS in April, so there’s that.

2. Moving to Brooklyn
Change that to Queens and I nailed it.

3. Paying off the last of my credit card debt
DONE.

4. ACTUALLY GETTING A DOG
In the works…

5. Running a full marathon
See above response re PARIS. Checking this bad boy off in April as well. And I did run a Tough Mudder and my first half marathon after almost a year of being injured, so that’s pretty neat too.

6. Staying happy.
Pretty good? I think my biggest sign of growth in the last year has been my ability to separate things that matter from things that don’t. I don’t let stuff mess me up like I used to.

Goals for next year: I’m reusing travel/marathon/dog. I’d also like to pick up at least 20 freelance assignments in 2014, and hopefully get closer to figuring out where we want to settle.

Overall opinion of my life: I should probably just erase this question because I’m not sure I would be honest even if things were not going well, but I can honestly say that I’m happy. And what more do you need, right?

Check back tomorrow for the top most-read posts of 2014. Should be a doozy.

Is there anything better than going home for a visit? Not if you’re me.

Joey and I spent a long weekend over Thanksgiving with my parents, and it was exactly what I needed. I’ve loved living in New York these last (almost) five years, but sometimes a girl just needs to get out of the city.

Besides, going home means so much more than a change of scenery. If you’re me, it means your mom cooking you breakfast every morning and making your favorite dinners most evening. And if she’s not cooking, your dad is taking you to your favorite local restaurants, as well as a few new spots. So now, I’m sharing the wonder with you.

Here’s a quick guide on what to do (and, let’s be real, what to eat) should you ever been lucky enough to spend a weekend in DSM.

First, a few things you can’t eat unless my mother is also your mother:

Our first night home, my mom made my favorite soup IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, Italian Wedding Soup. But trust me, it’s so much better when my mom makes it.

The next night, we had a family dinner. FEAST YOUR EYES (since you can’t feast your belly):

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Dinner featured a few of my favorites, like my mom’s sweet potato casserole, butternut squash casserole, and corn bread. (My name is Justine, and I like carbs.)

The next day, I hit the gym with my dad (to work off the aforementioned carbs), shopped with my mom, had ANOTHER delicious dinner by my momma, and then hit up downtown Des Moines with a few of my oldest friends. If you’re in town, I recommend El Bait Shop if you like beer, The Lift if you like hipsters and creepy art, and Fong’s Pizza if you’ve gone to the other two places and need something to soak up all the incredibly inexpensive drinks you ordered.

Because, guys? I didn’t pay more than $6 for a single drink all weekend. And the $6 one was fancy.

The next evening, my mom had a party for some of our family friends, so we got dressed up and ate fancy apps for a few hours.

Aren’t my parents cute?

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The next night, we had another family dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Des Moines, Centro.

Do yourself a favor and order the Lemon Sage Martini.

The next day, my sister took some picture for my for my blogger style swap, but not before a quick lunch at La Mie.

I got the Avocado Tartine, and I wasn’t disappointed.

And that night, Joey, my parents, and I stormed downtown Des Moines, grabbing dinner and drinks at The Continental (so many cheap cocktails and apps…) and playing a few rounds at the arcade bar Up-Down (I own at skeeball).

Our last day, we had lunch at Zombie Burger (the one place Joey requested) with my family and a few friends we hadn’t had time to see yet. If you go, I highly recommend getting one of the milkshakes. (Spiked, of course.)

Sadly, then it was time to pack up. And while it is nice being back at our home, I’m already looking forward to our next trip back to Des Moines.