2015: A year of personal growth


January 5, 2015

The above photo was taken on January 5 of this year, in the gym locker room of the now demolished Star Tribune building. It’s really remarkable how much has changed since I took it… The first thing that changed was my perception of how I used alcohol. It’s still a substance I would abuse with delight over the course of the year (and how!), but starting 2015 dry made me realize I could do it, and that it wasn’t actually that bad. My overall mood had improved, and I was productive in ways I wasn’t before.

Career-wise, in February I would start a part time job at General Mills, which was a dream. In March, we left the Star Tribune building for good and moved to Downtown proper. In May, Vita.mn shut down and I started working at City Pages. In October, I went full time at General Mills. It was around that time they knocked down the old ST building for good. Whereas in 2014 hardly anything changed, everything changed in 2015. I couldn’t have known when I took that photo up there all what was going to happen.

I got some tattoos (and found out I really like getting tattoos). I got a new camera (and a few lenses) and started being super serious about photography. I shot some shows and festivals. I started to let my hair grow out and took some trips by myself.

This probably sounds cheesy, but I learned about who I am this year. SELFPORTRAIT-10I got rid of a lot of clothes and rediscovered the cleansing power of such an act. After making a pledge in January, I lost ~20 pounds in the autumn months, and fulfilled a goal of running a 5k on Thanksgiving.

I even bought myself an Xbox One and like to game now. I did an impulse buy of a BB-8 remote control toy. I took some sword fighting classes. The year I was the most grown up I’ve been is also the year I acted most like a kid.

I also blogged a lot, which I love, but which I’m still figuring out.

I guess, what I learned about myself is that when you’re in control of your life is when you’re most successful. Clearly, alcohol controls me. It makes me sluggish and sad. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE drinking, and with friends? Why, that combination can’t be beat! And the dichotomy of my year is that I was having the most fun drinking with my friends — but I felt my best when I was abstaining and exercising a lot. You can feel a lot of things in life, and sometimes the things that make you happy are incompatible with each other, and that’s OK.

Being in control and making choices – not just about drinking, but about ALL things – is how I succeed.

For 2016, I want to take all the good things I did in 2015 and expand those. Maybe it’s a myth that the new year actually changes anything, but I’ve always seen it as a hard reset button on your hobbies or your habits. It’s what you want it to be. If January 1 is a good time to start making yourself better, then more power to you (but, please know that any day is a good day to start making yourself better). I think it has powers, and by the power of grayskull, I will harness it for good!!


December 9, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Hendo-Royces

XMASWEEK-12I’ve been largely inconsistent with sending out Christmas cards since I moved out of my parents’ house. It’s been a mixture of buckling down and designing, printing and sending them out. Other years I’m like “whatever” and just put a thing on Facebook. My mom has had a long, long, long tradition of making a new card every year from scratch and since she’s from the old days, most times she did them all by hand, for like a million people. I tried doing a version of that, but found that to actually get in the way of doing cards at all. There’s enough to do during the holidays  already, ya know?

So, this year, since I have a great camera & a little more money than usual, I decided to let someone else do most the work for me. Luckily there’s just so many great companies these days who have excellent designs and print capabilities. I decided to go through Artifact Uprising. They have really cool minimal (almost anti-holiday) designs and the turnaround time was super quick. PLUS they send you envelopes too, which saved me a trip to Paper Source. Hooray! XMASWEEK-11I took the photo of us while we were at Lutsen two weekends ago. While it was pretty slushy up there, we did get lucky one morning when there was a dusting of snow. The snow was literally melting while we were taking our picture. I wanted to do devil horns, but we settled for black and white punk rock t-shirts (although mine is more like, a t-shirt about berserkers, to go with my tattoo.) BTW the t-shirt Alan has on in the softest t-shirt there ever was. He always has the softest t-shirts. LUTSEN2K15-1

Obviously it’s too late for this year, but next time you’re in the market to get some nice cards made, Artifact Uprising is a great choice if you like clean and minimal designs. Minted & Tiny Prints are some other options with a seemingly never-ending variety of designs.  Paperless Post  feature designs from real designers!

Merry Christmas, wherever you are, whoever you are.

Christmas Wrapping

WRAPPING-2I am the (or a) middle child in my family (of 4 siblings). My older sister, who is in the middle with me, is quite traditional in many ways. But I have made it my life’s mission to stand out as much as possible in my family. Not out of spite, probably, but just like, because I want everyone to think I’m weird.

This is especially true at Christmas. Long ago I stopped buying regular Christmas wrapping paper in favor for making my own (like one year I made a lino cut and stamped kraft paper). Other years I’ve done plain white, or black with white crosses. This year I have ALL these Stendig calendar pages. They’ve been sitting in my closet, some for a whole year, waiting to be used. What better way to leave my mark on this Christmas by crowding the tree with a display of black and white typography? WRAPPING-3I also hate wrapping presents, it should be noted. The least amount of effort I can put in is preferable. Of course a festive red bow would be very complementary but ehhhh, too lazy. WRAPPING-4My office scissors are from IKEA, of all places. WRAPPING-1The problem with these pages is that it’s much thicker than regular wrapping paper, and I don’t like using regular tape; I use washi duct tape. Anyway, the presents don’t like to stay super wrapped.

Alan isn’t anal about how his presents are wrapped, so, bless him, he has to buy his own paper at the store, which I think is really sweet and adorable (since he didn’t really grow up celebrating Christmas. He does this all for me. Awwwww).

BTW, if you’re looking for one of these calendars, they are way sold out. I tried to warn you. Better luck next year.

Christmas Shindig

XMASWEEK-1On Saturday we did a new thing: throw a grown up holiday party! We cooked food and made a display, and had a few special drinks. Of course it ended like a normal party at our house though, with a few stragglers falling asleep on the couch and/or guest bed. It’s just nice to have the house full of lights, smells and the sounds of friends you love dearly. The part was in the Swedish tradition of solstice, with a emphasis on Hygge. We even had glögg! While it didn’t snow, it was cold, which was good enough. We’d been having some sort of December monsoon (having it right now as a matter of fact). With a fire going in the back yard all night though, you couldn’t tell the difference. It was enough to make the season merry and bright. I took a few “before” photos. My friend Jen said it felt like Christmas Eve. #missionaccomplished.



Suffice to say, I had an epic hangover the next day, and I swear I am not drinking ever again, for real. Glögg is good, though! XMASWEEK-6XMASWEEK-9XMASWEEK-7I had Christmas hymns from hundreds of years ago playing, and every candle in the house lit. It was truly my love letter to December and I had a lot of help putting it together. Even though the party and theme was my idea, Alan really dove in and brought some great ideas to the table (he took it upon himself to infuse some vodka we used for punch. It was *sick*) and he put up lights in the back yard! My bff Jen and her boyfriend Andy also came over to help prep. It was a real adult soiree! Until, you know, we all got super tips. Skål!

This is The Day


Two Suns on Tatooine – © Caroline Royce

12 years ago to the day, I was a Sophomore in High School and absolutely dying with anticipation. After months of count-down, my best friend Madeleine and I were finally going to see Return of the King. My dad picked us up after school and drove us to the AMC Southdale in Edina for the 3:45 showing. I remember so crisply racing down the hall to the theater. When we got our seats, I went to use the bathroom and passed the 3 o clock showing and caught a whiff of Howard Shore’s magical score and I was buzzing. Just beside myself with excitement.

Lord of the Rings was kind of my Star Wars, even though Star Wars is my Star Wars.

I was exactly the right age when the original Star Wars trilogy was re-released in theaters for the 20 year anniversary (holy shit. 20 years? And now it’s nearly 40 years old). I was the same age that a lot of Gen-Xers were when they first saw it in 1977. Star Wars was probably my first favorite movie. I barely remember how I watched it, or what it was like, but I got the video box set for Christmas (and my copy of Empire Strikes Back was damaged, but we were unable to make an exchange because Lucasfilm had already obliterated the original cuts from history and the Special Edition VHS were now all that was available. I wouldn’t see the movie again until 2005!). One thing that separates me from the Gen-Xers though is probably my lack of real disdain for The Phantom Menace. It came out when I was 11! Prime demo for the silliness and nonsense and garbage CGI. I didn’t know better. Even now, I watched it again a few weeks ago, and I still have the tiniest soft spot in my heart for it. I didn’t see Attack of the Clones until it was well out of theaters. I was 16, and I really hated it.

I wonder what makes us hold on so dearly to Star Wars as adults. I also wonder if you saw Star Wars for the first time as an adult, would it be as great? I’m saying no. One of the things I discovered about myself recently is that I find it hard to hang onto cozy or special moments while they’re happening, but I always miss them when they’re gone. Why don’t things feel as tangible and special to me anymore? Because I’m not a kid anymore, and I can never get that back. 10-15 years ago, I would be counting down the seconds to Christmas, instead of caught off guard by how quickly it’s approaching (I still have so many gifts to buy! I have to send out cards!).

It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “Walking Distance,” in which a man finds himself going back in time and seeing his younger self play and revel in the summer time. It’s the most profound Twilight Zone episode I’ve ever watched, and I find it difficult to think about, because of how close it hits to home.

Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives – trying to go home again. And also like all men perhaps there’ll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he’ll look up from what he’s doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past.

Interesting piece of trivia: This episode happens to also be a favorite of JJ Abrams. And that brings us to The Force Awakens, which I’m seeing tonight, and I’ve done an alright job of sitting back and letting it take its time in coming. I mean, I never asked for another Star Wars. However I think the hype and anticipation is more exciting than the movie will be. It feels like being a kid again. Knowing that something is coming that I haven’t experienced yet. That’s a feeling I so rarely get to feel anymore. However good the movie ends up being, I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling a little more empty, knowing that that anticipation is now gone.

I wish I could go back in time sometimes, and just be more present in my body, and look around and remember everything I can. That’s why I’m grateful for the medium of film, that I’ll always have this little thing that’s stuck in time and will always be the same (except for Star Wars which we’ll probably never see in its original form again — I can barely remember it). We might have a slightly unhealthy obsession with nostalgia, but it’s how we connect with our younger selves… Back when we were more optimistic, more raw, more impressionable. Every December 17 I take a minute to remember that afternoon, which is the least I can do for my younger self, to keep a memory alive of when I was so emotionally present and seeing my favorite movie franchise come to a close.

Tonight I look forward to a new beginning.

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