on going quiet and silences

// Wednesday, April 20, 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, let alone written anything here. That isn’t the right way to start this post, probably, but I’m not sure there is a right way to write any of this. I had planned to write a post about resolutions for 2016: about goals, about plans, about the importance of being in the moment more and appreciating conversations in whatever manner they came about.

Fair warning: this is not that post. This is not particularly edited (other than for typos and even then I’m sure I’ve missed some), or even well-thought out; it is a post because I have wanted and needed to write words here, but I haven’t yet.

I’ve written three thank you cards since February 6th, four if I count the one I wrote to my grandma. I should have written at least a dozen; I still am planning to write them. But writing – of all varieties – has been difficult lately.

I could come up with reasons for why I didn’t write more in early January (work, work travel), but that isn’t it, either. The truth of the thing is that I was trying to reconcile my heart of hearts with my everyday heart, trying to figure out what I knew versus knew versus thought I knew, because for me, in my life, those have always been very different things, or at the very least not a given that they are identical things. Because going home to Massachusetts for Christmas made me worry, but I couldn’t tell if it was the normal level of worrying or something else.

I remember when the above picture was taken. iPhoto tells me that it was taken at 3:01pm on October 25, 2014 using my DSLR, but it can’t tell me that I was standing next to my mom on Corporation Beach in Dennis on the Cape, on our first trip down since my grandma moved to Florida. That we were stealing some time alone while my grandma took a nap in the motel/inn/whatever we were staying in and Tommy took a nap in his car in the Corporation Beach parking lot, and my mom and I walked the full length of the beach, this taken on our walk out while we talked about missing the cape, and work, and how nice it was to take a mini-vacation, and how there were all sorts of future possibilities, and how great T was (is), and how Corporation Beach was still the same beach. And we found a few shells and walked back and walked up around the snack shack and the swings, and it was wonderful and cozy.

By October 2015, the next time my grandma came up for a visit from Florida, I was in California. My mom took a week off work and they went up to Bar Harbor together, and stayed in Jasper’s Restaurant and Motel (linked here only because it just took me like half an hour to think of the name), and had a bunch of their meals there and drove all around and went into the park and like. Apparently it was a lovely trip, minus a gravel road adventure that involved a ditch and local Maine dudes in pickup trucks finding them and literally pulling the car out of the ditch (adventure courtesy of the fact that my grandma got directions from Mapquest). I honest to God thought I’d be going with them on the next trip, so even though I thought about flying back for it, the fact that I didn’t have a job at the time seemed like the more pressing issue.

If you’re keeping track, I’ve written 601 words as of the end of that paragraph without saying the thing I’m trying to say. It’s a poem about oranges, right? That’s how this works? (I will forever reference “Why I Am Not A Painter” by Frank O’Hara, which I seem to have more or less imprinted on when I read it in high school(?).) So. Yes. The thing I am trying to say.

My mom died at the end of January. She was 63. There’s more to it than that (isn’t there always?), but what it comes down to is that I am devastated, but I am functioning: I’m just not back to being a full person yet. Or I am a full, real person, but in a way that is very different from the way I was before. People have been wonderful. I flew home immediately, and I did more things on no sleep in the 36 hours immediately following than I would have thought possible. And then over the course of a week, I planned a church service and wrote a eulogy. And wrote and placed a death notice in the Boston Globe, and then people who’d known her from the Cape fifty years ago came to the service, which was so unexpected and so nice.

I’ve been back in California since February 14th, minus a trip to Philadelphia for a friend’s wedding and a work trip. I’ve been handling logistics and waiting for the things to finalize that are outside of my control. I’ve got a pile of pictures and a memory book from the service that I haven’t been able to look at yet. I’ve got credit card companies to deal with and the logistics of trying to handle Massachusetts legalities from across the country. But I’ve also got weekly-ish phone calls from my dad, and letters from my grandma, and text check-ins from lovely people. It’s Real Life, but a different type than the one I’m used to living. I still have condolence emails to respond to – emails sitting read but marked unread at the top of my inbox since February.

I’m working on getting back into writing. My voice feels so far from my brain right now, because by and large I’ve got to do lists and white noise floating around in there, but I’m working on it. Gradually. I’ve started running again, finally: my runs are pathetic by any normal running standards right now – 12 minute one mile runs – but it gets me out of my head and into a place where I need to focus on breathing, and I think that’s a good thing.

I don’t know how to end this, really, but thanks for sticking around. I hope to fill this space with words and maybe even photographs on a more regular basis. I’ve been jotting out a better tagging system on scraps of agenda paper, which is my new equivalent to the backs of receipts. So there’s that. Moving towards moving forward.

Tell people you love that you love them.

cape-me-mom

2015: in review

// Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 was a lot of things: it was an absolutely wonderful year, but it was also the year of all of the change. I moved from the East Coast, from the state where I’d lived in a 25-mile radius my entire life, to California, to the place where I peripherally knew three people and two other people I’d gone to college with. I went from living in a wonderful, wonderful apartment with a friend just outside of Boston to living with my boyfriend in a rented room in a lovely house and then a one-bedroom apartment, which is finally starting to come into its own in the best of ways. (We still need dining room chairs, but other than that we’re pretty much set, other than hanging up the artwork that is currently under our bed.)

I’ve learned a lot this year. I left my first post-college job, and I moved across the country and found a new job. I learned I have an extensive support network – and that it’s okay to lean on them when I need to do so (and I’ve also grown to tangibly appreciate just how wonderful all of the people in my life are, and for that I am incredibly grateful). I’ve struggled with distance but not with homesickness, knock-on-wood, and that both surprised and impressed me. I’ve realized that I have more strength than I sometimes give myself credit for. I haven’t been as good at keeping in touch with people as I’d like to be, but I’m working on it: adjusting to the time difference has been a little harder than I would have thought, especially combined with having a driving commute instead of a subway commute. The length of the commute is about the same, but being productive doesn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with driving a car…

I’d love to do a numbers breakdown of this year, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin, and while I did an excellent job of taking a ridiculous amount of photographs on the roadtrip out here and before I left Massachusetts, I’m not exactly on top of my game re: having everything organized. Time is a funny thing, and the month and a half I spent hardcore looking for jobs was more a job than I’d bargained for, I think? And then moving and settling into our apartment has been a time-consuming process (though I’ve loved it and it’s really satisfying to see everything come together: still a time-suck).


A (very) brief monthly breakdown, for posterity:

January


I went to the British Virgin Islands with my boyfriend and his family; sailing for a week: not something I was sure if I’d be able to do, but I enjoyed it immensely. Also, snorkeling. And sunsets. And having forced lack of screen/connectivity time. It was excellent.

February

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All of the snow: so much snow, in fact, that Theresa and I went snowshoeing to a local coffee shop. The month of all of the snow and a 2.5 hour commute home, part of it walking through a blizzard. Boston got buried by snow, and the MBTA sucked, and people developed a sense of humor about it. Valentine’s Day was great. T and Kathleen and I went to the Chili Fest in Boston, which was great and also I had venison for the first time (yum).

March

2015-march-writing
The month I started thinking about all of the words, about writing and the purpose of writing and what I want and wanted to write. March was my most active posting month here, by far, and I’m a little sad at myself that I lost the momentum. Theresa visited grad schools and I bunny-sat Eloise a whole bunch, and it was wonderful. <3 that bun. I went running. I went to Forge a lot. I drank a lot of coffee and wrote.

April

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April was a low key month. We went on a double-date to the aquarium and watched the penguins forever. Because, penguins. T came up to my dad’s for Easter, which was nice and also very low-key. And in hilarious, wonderful, ridiculous things, a group of friends and I saw Kesha at Tufts Spring Fling.

May

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I saw Of Monsters and Men at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. HEARTS IN MY EYES. But seriously: this was one of those shows where I barely took any pictures and most/all of the pictures I took are terrible, but being there was incredible. I made a lot of smoothies. I bought a whole bunch of succulents (sidenote: the big green rose-looking one – that survived the move to California, and the roadtrip, couldn’t handle us being gone for four days over Christmas, and was composted & replaced this morning, and it makes me the saddest). I finally visited Elizabeth, after meaning to visit for literal years – and we got excellent coffee and spent a whole bunch of time in Central Park and it was lovely and wonderful.

June

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2015-june-reading-and-eloise
Theresa’s birthday and low-key celebrations mixed in with watching The Bachelorette (I miss our house quote-unquote viewing parties, as ridiculous as the show is/is not. I may or may not be planning to watch the upcoming season without having the house bonding time as an excuse.) I saw the new Jumbo at Tufts. T and I started an herb garden, which grew wonderfully though we had to leave it behind in August because of California’s plant-import rules (the plants lived both inside and outside. We didn’t plan ahead well.) We took a day trip up to Portsmouth, NH. I watched Caitlin play roller derby. Same-sex marriage became legal, across the board (!!!!). I began the daunting task of sorting through childhood nostalgia, which my dad has been asking me to do for years.

July

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2015-july-oob-swings
I visited a friend from college in Philadelphia over July 4th weekend, which was a blast. It’s fun to both play tourist and decidedly not play tourist in a city that’s vitally important to that date. I spent more time sorting through childhood stuff and ate all of the blueberries. T and I went to see Minions. T passed his defense – which was super awesome and exciting not only because, you know, PhD, but also because that meant that the wheels of everything else were getting set in motion, also known as moving to California. July was the month I stressed and stressed about giving notice at work and my family and packing, and then confirmed the moving thing and gave notice and started figuring out what the future was going to maybe look like. I went to Old Orchard Beach with my dad, which has been a thing for as long as I can remember, and it was perfect and quintessentially summer in New England.

August

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I saw more friends in a two week period than I would have thought possible, which got easier when it turned into a three week period that also included needing to pack up my entire life from my apartment and a decent amount of my life from my parents’ places. I went to yoga. I went to Forge and Diesel way more than I should have for the sake of my wallet, but the part of me that loves good coffee (and the current!me that misses them tremendously) has no regrets about that at all. Colin visited Boston and I got to see him for the first time in over a year. I played tourist on my lunch hour. I worked my last day at the place I worked in Boston and wrote all of the thank you notes and had all of the feelings. I said goodbye to our apartment and goodbye to Eloise in what I thought was a see-you-later but turned out to be more final and that breaks my heart. I left Massachusetts and went on a two-week road trip with T. I haven’t done a good job of putting pictures on here, but my instagram is a good place to get a general pictorial overview. New states this go-round: South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. We visited (in order, if not grammatically great) the Badlands and Mount Rushmore and I went camping for the first time and missed Old Faithful but had an awesome time exploring Yellowstone. We saw Jackson Lake and spent time in Jackson Hole, WY (and had awesome coffee).

September

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The roadtrip continued via a two-day detour in Portland, where we drank good beer and good coffee and were overwhelmed – in the best of ways – by books.
We arrived in California! Round one of car stuff survived the move. We unpacked; we made our staying-with-friends housing feel like home, and I made friends with their cats. I applied to a whole lot of jobs and drank a ton of coffee. We explored Las Trampas.

October

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2015-october-redwoods
I continued applying to all of the jobs. We flew out to MN to pick up my car & marathon drive it back over Columbus Day weekend (which was a very, very pretty drive). I visited/drove through more new states: Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah. I finally got to see (and take a terrible picture of) a Welcome to California sign. I got a job (and started said job)! We went to Muir Woods. I turned 26. T took me to the San Francisco Symphony for my birthday.

November

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2015-nov-thanksgiving
We started the month by exploring Del Valle in gorgeous weather. And then we moved into our apartment in mid-November! I’d never realized before this how long it can take a place to come together when all parties involved not only work full time but are also adjusting to new jobs. But the apartment is coming together wonderfully, though November was largely a month of thinking about moving and furniture shopping and unpacking and organizing. In other notable events, I got my CA driver’s license. A friend came out to California on vacation/to visit family, and we went to Napa for the day. I had my first Thanksgiving outside of New England ever, which was weird but also lovely. Around Thanksgiving was the first time I was tangibly aware of not living near the homes I’d always known and I may or may not have had a disproportionately emotional reaction to breaking down a TV box. But! We cooked a successful Thanksgiving dinner together, just the two of us, in our California apartment, and used placemats on the coffee table and sat on the floor, and it was absolutely wonderful. And we only set off the smoke detector a few times (I blame the duck, not us…).

December

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I worked and we organized the apartment and built IKEA furniture and continued unpacking. We bought a bunch of succulents. And a Rosemary bush in honor of Christmas (?????). I visited Berkeley for the first time with a friend from college, and I learned that parts of Berkeley are wonderful and remind me of Cambridge. Also, brunch is great. That same college friend and I went into the city the weekend before Christmas, and we won: we somehow skipped a crazy long wait at Brenda’s French Soul Food (website) because we were willing to sit at the counter, and we just kind of happened onto it without knowing it was a thing, and YUM. We also managed see a Christmas concert for free by wandering up some stairs after we were unable to walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. And then we saw the Gingerbread House at the Fairmont San Francisco, also without knowing anything about it but wanting to get out of the rain. I started knitting again. I flew home for the holidays, visiting both Boston and my parents/friends for the first time since moving and hanging out with the best cat in the world. I snuggled with my mom and watched the final season of White Collar on DVD, finally. I made Christmas cookies with my dad. I remembered how wonderful all of my friends are (not that I forget, or take that for granted, but sometimes I just…realize in a tangible intangible way).

I’ve written nearly 2000 words and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. This year was wonderful and also more than I possibly would’ve imagined – in all possible ways – at the onset of 2015. I’ve been thinking a lot about what direction I’d like to head towards in 2016, and I don’t have it narrowed down to something concise yet. A number of blogs I read have been focusing on not focusing, and I like that: words of the year I’ve seen have been “enough” and “simple” and the like. And the general mantra seems to be more of x, less of y, and I rather like that a lot.

I’ve (actually really and truly) got a post planned about more words on that, on 2016 and goals or not goals; on words and plans or planning to not plan. But for now, since I have crossed over the 2000 word mark, I would just like to say this: thank you for being a part of my 2015, whether that’s through reading this or through more tangible means. I am looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings.

fall in california: part one

// Monday, November 2, 2015

Firstly and most importantly: I’m writing this on November 2nd, in keeping with the many kinds of writing November is becoming known for. It is November 2nd in the time zone I’m in, which is to say Pacific Standard Time, since the time change happened this weekend. (And I think I’m right about that, but time changes and time zones never really fully click for me, for some reason.) I’m specifying this because either BlueHost or WordPress thinks that I’m writing in East Coast time, and I haven’t gotten around to figuring out what time zone setting I need to tweak to make it realize I’m in California.

Today was 52 and rainy and cold (the New Englander in me wants to make fun of me for thinking 52 is cold for November 1st, but: cold), and I guess the massive rainstorm we had in the East Bay (and/or most of California) was also snow in the mountains. Driving to work today, the guy on NPR was talking about how it’s the arrival of winter. And while I may have adjusted to California enough that 52 and raining feels cold, I haven’t adjusted enough that rain means winter. (That said: I will always associate rainy drizzly night driving with Christmas, so maybe I’m either not one to talk or have secretly belonged in California all along.)

But while it may not be winter, it is definitely fall, and I’m finding myself missing fall in New England. And then there are moments like the picture above, which I took on an 80 degree day as I was walking back from lunch after Google Maps led me from my office through a (planned and maintained) hole in a fence through a different office park to my lunch destination. (That is a story I should explain one of these days.) And there were a bunch of oak-ish trees, and it sounded and felt like fall: lots of crunchy brown leaves in patches of sunlight and shade. There was a barely noticeable leaf smell. Nevermind that I was wearing jeans and too warm, or that if I turned 180 degrees I probably could have taken a picture of a palm tree framing a ten lane freeway (calling highways freeways: harder than I would have expected). The point was that in that moment, it was really and truly fall.

It was a good reminder. I may not have bright red and orange trees, in spite of our mix of determined and half-hearted efforts to find them, but I’ve got leaves that crackle and rainy cold days where all I want is hot chocolate and tea and a good book and cloudy November skies. I just have to be open to it, and see all of what’s in front of me. Not just the sunshine and the palm trees (hi, East Coast friends!), but the clouds and the leaves and the small moments of “this place could be the place that I know, not just the place that is new.” Because there are a number of those moments, and it’s wonderful, but it’s easy to lose them in the chaos of the day.

In the spirit of writing more, I’m trying to observe more, document more, find the parallels more. Because I love new adventures and new things, but sometimes – almost always – what makes the new and exciting adventures so wonderful is finding the similarities, regardless of how small. Not comparing, but identifying common ground, common leaves, common textures and feelings and spaces. It’s about the little things, and how those little things can be made into new, different, equally wonderful (maybe even more wonderful) things.

I really love the fall. I’m missing the fall I know – the stereotypical, gorgeous New England fall, but California fall is quite pretty in its own right, and sunset still makes golden grass more golden and brings out colors that you wouldn’t know the trees had in bright sunshine. And for when that doesn’t quite cut it, I’ve got a multitude of friends who can Snapchat me pictures of the trees outside their office windows.

(Really, it’s about the little things.)

california: las trampas on film

// Sunday, November 1, 2015

I’m gradually starting to settle into a new daily routine. I’m getting used to the logistics involved with commuting by car (versus by walking + taking the mbta + walking), and I’m brainstorming ways to make up for the 40 minutes of walking a day I’m no longer doing. (I hadn’t realized how healthy my commute in Boston was? I worked in so much walking without even thinking about it.) I went to a yoga class yesterday – for the first time since July! – and I am acutely aware today of how much sitting I’ve been doing. I am sore. I’m hoping to make yoga – and more walking – a regular thing again.

I’ve also got some ambitious non-athletic goals for November. I’m torn over whether or not I want to attempt NaNoWriMo again, or if I want to do the “easier” route and commit to NaBloPoMo (WordPress.com encouragement here), which honestly is kind of a ridiculous acronym, but whatever. I’m still deciding: my plan is to write something, at least, today, so I can either build on that momentum or not, and if I don’t, I can commit to spamming filling your feeds and inboxes with delightful posts for the next thirty days. Because in spite of my best intentions, I haven’t been great about blogging.

So far, November 1st weekend is off to a good start: yesterday, I went to my first yoga class in three months (even though it was 10/31, I’m counting it here), and this morning T and I went for a walk in Del Valle Regional Park, which was pretty and kind of wonderful (there will be film pictures once we get them developed, hopefully this week!).

Earlier in October, though, we went to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, which was also great (but I’m pretty sure I like Del Valle better? To be determined by future visits…). And since I already have some film developed from there, I figured I’d share. A thing to note: if you’re like me and from New England-ish and think of hiking as “tree covered dirt paths with tree roots”, Las Trampas is very much more of a “walk up a long hot gravel and sand road for a while, and then get to some tree-root filled trails” type of place. A lot of the trees also have the cool-looking but kind of concerning moss-bark stuff that is kind of visible in the third picture. And also: coming down the trails at Las Trampas is terrifying, because you’re basically walking on microsand that looks like dirt. #Slippery.

All of that said: Las Trampas was nice, and quite scenic, and there’s a ton of it that I haven’t seen or explored, so I’m looking forward to doing that in the future.

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travel: summer 2015 on film

// Friday, October 16, 2015

First things first: I got a job! I may or may not elaborate on here (probably won’t), but suffice to say I’m thrilled, and it’s the job I really wanted to get and hoped I would get, and I’ll be back to working full-time, Monday-through-Friday, come next Monday, and I couldn’t be happier. We still need to get our living situation fully sorted out, but we’re definitely settling into California nicely.

I’m still trying to narrow down the road trip pictures from the 842 I took on my camera + a similar amount that my boyfriend took on his camera + the several hundred pictures I took on my phone. This week, however, I finally got my film developed: inspired partly by my roommate, and partly by this year+ long film project (in concept, not content: it reminded me how much I like the look of film, and how nice it would be to have some intentional, delayed-gratification pictures), I bought a Canon EOS Rebel K2 body used from Amazon for $25 and some Kodak 400 film, because I was originally intending this to be a “take pictures indoors of alllll of the places you live because nostalgia-proofing” project, and while that didn’t really happen, I can honestly say that that was the best thirty-some-odd dollars I’ve spent in a long time. I didn’t do as good of a job taking the number of pictures I’d planned – it took me until California to get through one 24exp. roll, but I’m very pleased with the quality. One or two of these might have been shot with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens, but the large large majority of these were with the Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM lens, which is my boyfriend’s technically but basically lives on my camera(s). Film used was Kodak Ultra Max 400. Also, I can’t tell if these look slightly blurry because of the computer I’m using or because I resized them to not be giant, so if they appear blurry (not grainy, but legitimately blurry) on your screen, I’m sorry and let me know so I can figure out a way to fix it for next time I post film.

ANYWAYS: all of this is a long winded way of saying I took a bunch of pictures this summer before I left New England, and I want to share them. There are some other pictures from this roll that I’ll share later – some old apartment pictures, some very recent pictures of Las Trampas, but for now, I want to share Portsmouth, NH and Old Orchard Beach, ME on film. Because film is great, and also having tangible matte (!!!) prints is all sorts of wonderful. I even found a magnetic photo album, so I am (a) 90 years old and/or an accidental hipster and (b) all of the happy. These all were taken in August 2015 and are unretouched digital scans of the film. Without further ado: summer 2015 on film.

film-1-nh-flowersPortsmouth, NH.

film-2-nh-boatsPortsmouth, NH.

film-3-oob-shell-shockOld Orchard Beach, ME.

I love it here: we’ve been coming up at least once a summer, sometimes just for a weekend, sometimes for a week, since I was about three. It’s changed a lot over the last twenty-odd years, and the crowd varies a lot year to year. The motel we always used to stay in burned down; the train tracks are still forbidden to cross down away from town but everyone does anyway; breakfasts at Venetia’s are great. Rick’s Fried Clams will always have my heart (seriously: the best fried clams!), though I don’t have a film picture of them. The rest of the pictures are all from Old Orchard Beach. If you’re in Maine, it’s worth a stop: it’s touristy, but the beach is nice and the pier is small but kind of great and terrible all at once, and there are gorgeous sunsets. There’s an outdoor amusement park of sorts, and an indoor/outdoor arcade, and Dolce Crema Cafe has good coffee and sandwiches and gelato (their pastries look great but I’ve never tried them). Bonus: they’re on the stretch of street that I think of as an extension of the pier, so you can get your coffee and then walk down to the beach in about a minute, or walk along the pier and people watch from above. I should’ve taken a picture of them, too, in hindsight. But, hey: goals for next time I’m there.

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life updates: california edition

// Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hi. I’ve been radio silent for a while – I’ve alluded, briefly, to the fact that there were big changes on the horizon, that I was thinking in futures, but I never actually got around to writing that post when I wanted to write it. I didn’t have an appreciation for just how much goes into moving, for how little time there is to do all the things and see all the people and pack up an entire life. The image above is my bedroom from my apartment, after everything was all emptied out. It was my first real post-college apartment: a wonderful space shared with a wonderful human, with a kitchen that I will likely always kind of miss (because as far as I can figure, kitchens like that do not exist in California; neither do pine floors), and the best light (kitchen in morning, living room in afternoon). I’ll write more about that space when I’m in a place where writing about the apartment and (formerly) local things seems like an exercise in good nostalgia and not just writing about last month. Or I’ll write about it next week, if I manage to properly sort through my pictures and/or get some film (!) developed.

In keeping with my recent trend of burying the lead, all of this is to say that I now living in California in the East Bay. My boyfriend finished his PhD (!), got a job offer out here, and accepted said job offer – and we decided we would move out here together. So! That’s what we did: my last day at my job in Massachusetts was August 20th, the movers came on August 21st, and we started driving west on August 22nd. (It made sense, for a variety of reasons, for me to do it that way, but in an ideal situation I absolutely would’ve tried to have at least a few days off in between work and moving to allow for…less frenzied last minute details and packing and seeing more people. Because I was as prepared as I could be, and super organized, but there was only so much that could be tangibly, physically done until the last few days.)

leaving-massachusettsEn route to leave Massachusetts on August 22nd, possibly the last time my car will be driven on 93?? That’s weird to realize. I’m definitely going to be visiting family and such, but I feel like the chances of me driving across the country to do that (versus flying) are slim.

ca-leaving-oregonLeaving Oregon/entering California! For some reason, California is the only state we entered that didn’t have any sort of “California welcomes you!” sign, so this is the best I’ve got. But still! This was on Friday, September 4th: who doesn’t plan to end a road trip with a ten hour day of driving on the Friday of Labor Day Weekend??? (We got lucky and didn’t hit much traffic at all, but whooooops.)

I’m currently sitting in a local coffee shop, bouncing between reading things to apply to and drafting a cover letter and this, but the overhead play is Matchbox 20, and that is much more writing music than it is professional cover letter writing music. And it’s ‘Real World’, so I mean, if the lyric of the song is I wish the real world would just stop hassling me… So, you know. Blogging. (Also: I kid. I don’t mind the real world at all; I am very much looking forward to having a job again and a routine that involves coworkers. I’ve been hitting the job search hard; I’m just trying to get better about fitting in the personal things that are important to make time for.)

I have a lot I want to write about: a review/recommendation/love letter to Forge Baking Company (and in double checking that that link was correct, I just realized they have online ordering. Guys, seriously, once I’m employed again: mail order business to California?); my final summer 2015 weeks in and around Boston; our road trip out here; how I’m adjusting and liking California so far (spoiler alert, I like it a lot); and all the other things that I’ve been meaning to write and can’t think of right now. But right now, really, I just wanted to check in: to say I’m still here, just three thousand miles away from where here was the last time I wrote; to say that things are good, even if there’s still a lot I’m trying to get done; to start getting back into blogging again, because I’m not thrilled with myself that it’s been over two months since my last post, but it also makes sense, because there was so much more to do than I think I’d realized with regards to moving.

I obviously will be posting a lot more pictures, and a lot more about the trip out west. We viewed it as a true vacation road trip: highlights include the Badlands, SD; Mount Rushmore; Shoshone National Forest; Yellowstone; Jackson Hole, WY; and Portland, OR. But for now, here’s a few pictures from California thus far (and apologies if you follow me on instagram and some of these are repeats):

ca-nightstandA partial glimpse at where we’re currently staying. We’re lucky to be able to stay with (and rent from) friends while we look for a place of our own. Apartment hunting from here is difficult-ish; I can’t imagine how hard this would’ve been to do from Massachusetts. I also am quite amused by the fact that the accent wall is very much my color scheme. (File under: things that make me happy, things that make it feel like home, even if a temporary one.) ALSO: all my plants survived the road trip!! The spider plant is living inside a tiny bit worse for wear after breaking a few leaves in the car (but it’s growing again!), and my succulents are all outside. One of the succulents is a little sad because I didn’t appropriately increase the water for 105 degree direct sun from how I was watering it when it lived inside on my nightstand in Massachusetts, but the other two are flourishing. At least for now, i’m counting that as a win.

ca-coffee-morningsA typical morning for me now. I’ll be happier when this includes a desk of some kind, but for now I’m loving being able to sit outside and drink coffee out of my Diesel Cafe mug and look at a whole bunch of succulents and cacti in the backyard.

ca-palm-tree-sunset:). Sunsets and palm trees are great.

ca-las-trampasLas Trampas Regional Wildness. I’ve only seen a tiny portion of it so far – there are “5,342 acres of wilderness” with a whole bunch of trails. It’s pretty great, but it’s also going to take me a while to get used to the fact that sometimes “hiking” means “walking up a gravel path hill with no trees” – but that said, one you walk up the gravel path road with no trees, you get to a place with trees and roots that feels more like hiking in New England, only you’re walking on weird slippery sand-like dirt. But it was super pretty once we got up to the top of the trail we were walking on.

More posts to come soon. As I’ve mentioned, I have a lot I want to write about. It’s good to be writing here again.

on spoons and peanut butter and blueberries

// Friday, July 17, 2015

Recently I was walking home from work, feeling sort of gross, and it took me the entire walk home to realize it was because of the spoonful of peanut butter I had at 5:07, before I left work at 5:30, before I took the train and some escalators and got home. And I had this aha moment, this realization that the afternoon pause for spoons and peanut butter, this tiny little insignificant snack, was more than the sum of its parts. Spoons and peanut butter go together, you know? It’s such a handy I’m-slightly-hungry snack that’s healthy enough that I don’t feel bad about said snacking. And I love (the idea of?) peanut butter, so somehow the fact that that it’s been making me feel bad with increasing frequency hasn’t translated to action.

The problem is that I’ve been so focused on the larger consequence that I’m losing sight of the smaller, gradual steps. I’ve gotten better at the whole big-pictures-causing-blind-spots thing, but I’m far from perfect and luckily reminders of progress over perfection still sneak in. And I can think on something and see the steps, sometimes: Reese’s, which I use to consume with some regularity, are now something I have maaaaaybe once a month or so (see also: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, because they are excellent). I buy a jar of peanut butter maybe 4x a year? If that? So I’ve scaled back, somewhat subconsciously and somewhat consciously, finding a way to make moderation work for me, except now I maybe have to scale back again, scale back more, to smaller spoonfuls, or no spoonfuls.

The universe, it seems, has been reminding me of the fact that small steps (and teeny tiny fixes) are important things to keep sight of, because incremental changes (whether specifically steps forward or not) are, for me, more often than not the way progress is made. Lately I’ve been reading archives and miscellaneous posts on enJOY it by Elise Blaha (is that the proper way to refer to that? titles: not a thing I am good at), because somehow I missed the (many years’ long) internet memo and only discovered her last week. I am so in love with all of the things, but, for the sake of brevity, what really stuck was her post about a 365 day calendar/goal tracker/motivator. Because, this:

I really believe that progress is better than perfection because progress is something we can strive for. Progress is motivating. Perfection is paralyzing. This calendar’s goal is to encourage you to pick ONE THING for the year. Something you can attempt to do everyday. And then this calendar will help you track it and hopefully remind you that there is a much larger picture to see here.

It’s just: that’s what I needed to read. A reminder that progress is the goal. That you have to take a bunch of small steps to make a big step. (Sidenote: I’m bummed I’m so late to the game and missed out on getting the letterpress cards, but I will be purchasing the digital file once I figure out how I’m handling my recently closed PayPal account (because I thought their updated Terms of Service & Privacy Policy was stupid, because now I’m regretting closing it because PayPal is so handy).)

Given that I’ve been able to relatively painlessly wean myself off of peanut butter because it makes me feel odd and sort of nauseous (yay, weird genes? my dad’s the same way and it also hit him in his twenties?), why can’t I also, at the same time and on the same timeline, get myself back in decent shape? figure out a blog schedule that I’ll actually stick to? fall back into reading? I’ve been saying, emphatically, that I need to write more, need to run more (or at all), need to read more. But I’ve also been doing the thing where it’s all big goals, all “well, shit, I didn’t read at all last weekend and I wanted to finish that book and I haven’t even started, so maybe I’ll just watch Modern Family instead?” And that’s the part where that 365 day calendar comes back in.

So that’s what I’m doing: I’m scaling back and I’m moving forward all at once. While I still have half a jar of peanut butter in my desk at work, I’m less about the spoons and peanut butter and more about the blueberries I picked the last time I went up to my dad’s. (Because they don’t ripen all at once. Because they require patience, and care, and maybe some a lot of netting and fencing, and even then: results aren’t guaranteed, but you’ll end up with something that has grown and probably nourished you.) Over the last week, I’ve gone for two runs and read from my kindle on my commute home from work each day. Neither is particularly impressive numbers-wise: both runs were under a mile and a half, and there’s only so much reading one can do after jostling for a seat and fighting for space on a packed commuter train. But I’ve been running an amount that is healthy for me (in that I need to ease back into it, very slowly) and reading a little bit each day, and I’m happy with that. Progress, and perspective – and blueberries, because summer is wonderful.

thinking in futures

// Friday, June 12, 2015

I was doing so well for a little while: I was writing regularly, thinking about writing regularly, consuming content in an intentional way where – barring the occasional endless link spiral – the blogs/news/articles I was taking the time to read were being read with a purpose. And then suddenly I wasn’t writing or reading much, because free time was spent outdoors with T, or day-dreaming and thinking in futures about summer plans and new adventures, or grabbing lunch or dinner with friends, or building up our sun-porch herb garden (so much mint and basil!! I am the heart-eyed emoji at our plants). I’ve been wonderfully social recently, but that means I’ve been falling behind in other things, because there is only so much time in the day, and when the choice comes down to being fun!productive (see: this space; organizing my desk) or regular!productive (see: laundry? oops) versus hanging out on the couch catching up on tv with my boyfriend, sometimes – lately more often than not – it’s the latter option that wins out. And I’m not saying it shouldn’t: not by a long shot. But the reason that choice is happening, lately, is because I’ll have nights where I get home from work and suddenly I’ve wasted three hours on the Internet, with nothing to show for it other than being caught up on reading other people’s words, seeing other people’s pictures. When I mentioned in my last post about ideas for posts, I somehow did the thing where I went from wanting to write about all of the things to feeling like nothing I wanted to write about would be, you know, perfect.

And that’s, for lack of a better word, silly: I am not perfect. I don’t want to be, though I definitely have a perfectionist streak. But what I like about writing, what I like about my writing and what I like about me, is that there are moments where the how-I-think-and-slightly-polished words become something else: when the moment where my fingers are moving faster than my conscious brain produces a typo, a slip, an incorrect word that is perfect and fitting and where I wanted the words to lead even though I didn’t know it until those words were on the page in front of me. And if I over-analyze to the point of paralysis, that magic can’t happen, won’t happen.

In college, back when I was writing creatively regularly (thank you, creative writing fiction and poetry classes), during a time of…typical college-age-twenty-something-emotional-turmoil, I wrote a thing – a poem – that based on the way I’m introducing it should be terrible, but it wasn’t. And it’s not something I’m going to reproduce here (because, college? because there are parts of it I love but I don’t want to rework it to post it here? because posting creative writing – in the real, I wrote this story/poem/prose poem, way – is a kind of terrifying I’m not ready for yet?), but what the whole five part thing stemmed from was the idea that thinking in futures is – was – a thing that I Did Not Do. And it’s funny, to me, how much a person can change in four, five years while still being the same person, only older and wiser and hopefully improved.

I know I haven’t been posting much, but one of my goals this summer and definitely over the next few weeks is to work on that more, consistently. I have a lot I want to talk about, to think about, to think through words and write about, and some wonderful coffee shops (see: local and slightly less local) I want to review. And at some point – maybe? I think? – I want to dive in a little to what is bound to be a very interesting election season. I have some lofty goals.

I’ve become a person who spends time thinking in futures: not all the time, and I’m still pretty consistently grounded in whatever my current reality is, but I’ve also reached a point where thinking in futures is feasible, and exciting, and wonderful, and only a little bit terrifying.

And that’s kind of great.

on accidental springtime hiatuses

// Friday, May 22, 2015

It’s been a month, nearly, since I’ve been on here. And I realize that that’s not that long in the grand scheme of things, or even in the how-often-I-usually-post scheme of things, but it feels longer, if only because I’ve been pretty absent from the internet overall.

I’m overdue for a Travel Thursday post: I haven’t forgotten, but I’ve been so focused on spring, on the spring fever that seems to have overtaken me without raising any alarms. I’ve spent the last several weekends making trips to and from Mahoney’s Garden Center (I swear to you: no exaggeration, I would live there if I could and if my allergies somehow disappeared.)

I’ve started a plant table in my room: my cactus is dying (and I think it’s beyond fixing; I tried, but I realized what was wrong too late), but the succulents are thriving so far. I hadn’t realized how much I like having plants around, how calming and peaceful they look on a rehabbed old white table from goodwill that I snagged from my grandparents when they moved out of New England. 

I hope to be around here more soon: my spring fever is settling a little (/I think it is physically impossible, space-wise, to purchase more plants, which means more free time), and I’ve got a number of ideas in various stages of development.  The next few weeks should be a good mix of fun and low-key: camping hopefully, helping sort/organize/purge the basement at my dad’s, having barbecues with fancy homemade cocktails and mocktails, and writing in sunshine filled rooms and outside spaces. 

This weekend, I’m visiting a friend in New York City (hi e!) in a whirlwind twenty-four hour trip, and I am the most excited. (Loosely, I’ve been meaning to visit for two years, it’s fine. Sometimes I am the worst. But! Visiting now! And, well, :)!) For the rest of the weekend, I’ve got low-key plans to fix up our window boxes, bunny sit, and go to a barbecue. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend indeed, and an excellent start to the unofficial beginning of summer. 

on anniversaries and the moral bucket list

// Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Last week was a weird week for me, full of anniversaries and birthdays and histories. My boyfriend’s birthday was earlier in the week, which was lovely and wonderful and we spent Sunday up in Portland in celebration, wandering around in the sunshine (and finally seasonally appropriate warm weather!) and heading to Duckfat for the first time (might make a post about it soon: I know it’s not a ~new thing~ but man, it was good).

But then midweek, last week, was April 15th. On a personal note, that date is the anniversary of a personal matter that I haven’t figured out how to write about in this space yet: I probably will, eventually, but now is not that time. But it’s a day for me that has a huge spectrum of emotions, and it puts me in sort of a odd headspace. And on a much larger, much more emotionally complicated anniversary scale, April 15th is the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Boston is my home, in the broad sense. I’ve grown up (and spent my whole life so far) in Massachusetts, and I work in downtown Boston. And I was at work in downtown Boston two years ago – I work about a mile away from the finish line, and it’s a Day, for Boston and for Massachusetts and for the country. I’m lucky: I’ve only peripherally felt the effects, in that I know people who know people, but nothing happened to anyone in my immediate circle of family and friends. It still has impacted me, absolutely, but I’m lucky. At least, as of last Wednesday, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all counts in the Marathon Bombings. So that’s something. But regardless, April 15th is a Day.

And because of all that last week was, I’ve been out of sorts. I haven’t felt like writing, haven’t wanted to write, other than when I accidentally filled three journal pages writing about something that happened a million years ago, and even then, it was Facts versus Writing, just because I wanted to see if I could. I haven’t been writing the way I want to write, lately. I’ve been overthinking and overanalyzing, and even just on here, I’ve got a half dozen drafts in various states. None are where I want them to be: I can’t find the right words, can’t get the feeling right, can’t translate what I’m thinking in my head to words on a computer screen.

But the reason this post is coming out of drafts and into the world is this: I really want to write about the “The Moral Bucket List” by David Brooks, an excellent piece from last week’s Sunday Review section of the New York Times, which has been circling the internet some already, but I want it in this space, too. and it was exactly, precisely, what I needed to read. It’s long, but it’s worth it. If it weren’t bad form and a crappy internet thing to do, I’m pretty sure I’d just paste the entire article here. But it is bad form to do so, so as such, here are a couple parts of the article that really resonated with me:

But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.

and

Commencement speakers are always telling young people to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. This is a vision of life that begins with self and ends with self. But people on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?

Their lives often follow a pattern of defeat, recognition, redemption. They have moments of pain and suffering. But they turn those moments into occasions of radical self-understanding — by keeping a journal or making art. As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.

The people on this road see the moments of suffering as pieces of a larger narrative. They are not really living for happiness, as it is conventionally defined. They see life as a moral drama and feel fulfilled only when they are enmeshed in a struggle on behalf of some ideal.

and

External ambitions are never satisfied because there’s always something more to achieve. But the stumblers occasionally experience moments of joy. There’s joy in freely chosen obedience to organizations, ideas and people. There’s joy in mutual stumbling. There’s an aesthetic joy we feel when we see morally good action, when we run across someone who is quiet and humble and good, when we see that however old we are, there’s lots to do ahead.

There’s lots to do ahead. And so many people fit into the “stumblers” category; we’re all just figuring out what works and what doesn’t and trying to find those moments of great joy, whether collective or personal. That’s what I want to focus on. That’s what I am focusing on. Because anniversaries and the memories and histories that go with them are easy to get lost in; but the fact of the matter is that the past is something to remember, not live in. And there are wonderful things in the future, even if a lot of the future, right now, is unknown and not fixed – but that, in and of itself, almost makes it more joyful, because the possibilities are endless, even the if the unknown is and can be frightening in the best of ways. This last week might have been difficult, yes, but, as above, those pieces of time are part of something bigger, a story that is and always will be unfolding, because there’s always another page to read, to live, to experience. And that’s the important thing.

Today, I’m drinking coffee out of a mug covered in hearts, literally, and that’s about where I’m at. Here’s to forward and futures.