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 sailboats and sunshine (or: resetting and resolutions)

// Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I spent January 10th – 18th in the British Virgin Islands with my boyfriend and his family, alternating between sailing, wandering islands, snorkeling, and eating good food/drinking cheap but delightful Caribbean beer. It was a week with no cell service (fyi, Verizon, which I have, has no service in the US sense; AT&T can and will frequently pick up a US signal from St. Thomas): I couldn’t call people; I more often not couldn’t receive texts; I had no data coverage. There was extremely, extremely limited WiFi at a few of the restaurants/bars. I checked email about three times? Instagram twice? I don’t think I checked Facebook.

It was wonderful.

I hadn’t realized how much I needed a digital detox, of sorts, but god, did I. It was so refreshing to just be: to sit in the sunshine, on the boat, while we sailed between various islands; to sit at dinner and bring my phone only to use as a camera, to document the restaurant or the meal or the hilariously pink drink, and then put it immediately away; to not feel like I needed to have said phone on me at all times to be reachable, to not feel like I needed to check all of the things just in case someone posted something that was ~life altering~ such that I needed to, you know, read it on social media in real time.

It was a good, welcome, relaxing step back. Does it mean I’m swearing off Facebook or Tumblr or Instagram anytime soon? Nope. But it does mean I’m more aware of my usage (excluding Facebook, which I check for about two minutes once a day anyways now and haven’t used regularly for a long time), more aware of what I’m not missing online and am missing in person. I wrote, a long time ago – before it was in vogue, per se, but I definitely absolutely wasn’t the first person to write it or think it – that I felt as if I were starting to think in 140 character thoughts. That’s not who I want to be. So I’m working at it, by writing more, by talking about writing more, by changing my routine. January hasn’t been as good for writing as I’d hoped it would be, but I’ve been taking pictures and writing words on scraps of paper and in drafts of emails, and. And that is definitely not nothing, and for now, it’s enough. It’s something I’m continually working on.

That’s what I want 2015 to be. It’s less about the big overarching goals that are damn near impossible to achieve in a tangible sense, and more about the small things that add up to a large intangible delightful mess of things. So my resolutions border on the cliche this year, but they’re important:

1. Make time to write. My eventual goal is to develop a routine, where I’m writing a set number of pages a day, or writing at a specific time every day, or something else along those lines. And while I’ve done well so far at making the time, I haven’t done so well at making it a routine, and that’s something I’m going to work on more. Because, forward.

I also bought a Q&A a Day: 5-Year-Journal (discovered and purchased via this post on C’est Christine), and that’s something I want to keep up with this year. Last year, I (unofficially?) made a resolution to note what I did every day, and I kept up with that for the first time, I think, ever: I had the 2013-2014 seventeen month version of the Moleskine Weekly Pocket Planner, and it was completely full between July 2013 and December 2014. I am so incredibly proud of that (I realize how ridiculous this sounds, because I document a lot of things, but with that sort of thing, in the past I have just sort of…faded). For 2015, I’m using the one I linked to above: it’s slightly smaller, depth-wise, which I like. It’s still soft cover and the same size (3.5″ x 5″), meaning it fits into any purse I carry, which is awesome and also necessary if I’m going to keep up with it.

And, also: I’ll be writing here more.

2. Read more books. Largely related to #1, because more reading means more thinking about words and ideas and having phrases stick in my head and become their own stories. That, and I just miss reading for fun. Last week, I tore through The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer in essentially one sitting, which really should and probably will eventually be its own post because I loved it and it gave me all of the emotions. (Sidenote: In general, for books, I highly recommend Porter Square Books: they’re local, independent, super nice, and super helpful. Second sidenote, should you want one, they still have autographed copies of The Art of Asking in store.)

3. Be better about getting enough sleep and having a regular weeknight sleep schedule. The boat reset my sleep schedule so well. We were going to bed somewhere between 10 and 11 every night, usually closer to 10, and getting up sometime between 7 and 8 each morning. I forgot – it’s so easy to forget – how much nicer it feels to be rested, to have gotten a full night’s sleep. To not feel like I need (versus want) coffee to function at anything resembling a reasonable level. I used to be better about getting up a solid 45 minutes before I had to leave for work – time to make coffee, do my makeup/morning routine, etc., and somehow over the past year I let that slide to get an extra 10-30 minutes of sleep (see also: overtired, thanks to an increasingly wonky sleep schedule).

4. Put more effort into consciously taking care of myself. I don’t not take care of myself now; this resolution is more related to #3 above: I want to make time every day to get ready for the day, whether that’s just putting on basic makeup or painting my nails or having a more consistent approach to skincare (see also: winter makes my skin SO SAD, and I need to work on making it less sad, constantly, and I want to maintain that habit throughout the year). Yoga and climbing also fall under the general consciously-take-care-of-myself umbrella: I want to get back into the habit of going to yoga at least once a week, and I want to get more comfortable with climbing because I enjoy it a lot even if it freaks me out sometimes. Yoga definitely isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and I am maybe the least flexible person on the planet, but that’s what I love about it. It’s work and it’s a challenge and it’s nice to clear my mind of everything to focus on a pose (and not destroying my body while attempting said pose).

Related, but not a separate resolution: pare down my closet/dresser, because I have an increasing number of clothes that I don’t like to wear because they don’t fit right, or I feel like they don’t fit, or I think they don’t flatter and then when I end up wearing them, I feel gross. So I want to purge and donate (or toss, if necessary) anything that falls in those categories, and start fresh. I’ve recently been feeling something akin to overwhelmed by my clothes, and it’s not like I have that much. So I want to work on that, both in the physical and emotional sense of taking care of myself.

5. Create something tangible. I’ve been attempting to learn how to knit/crochet for a while now, and I’ve already set aside my yet-unfinished scarf as an increasingly belated Christmas present for my mom. Knitting/crocheting/etc. is not something that comes easily for me: I do not have a spatial memory/mind, and I can’t visualize things well from patterns and/or watching someone do it in front of me. So it’s a struggle, but I like the challenge of it, and I think it’s a good way to “stretch” that part of my brain. So I want to create something basic (see: the scarf that is nothing but knit/purl/knit/purl, etc.) and something a little more complicated (see: following a pattern and also learning how to read a pattern).

This site, in and of itself, is something tangible, in that weird way that the Internet is. I’m going to focus on learning more about coding (helped in part by my continuing work on the company website for my employer), and I’ve been debating the merits of attempting to create a WordPress theme from scratch just for fun, to see if I can. Should be interesting.

2015 is going to be a good year.

on appreciating the quiet, and a milestone

// Friday, October 24, 2014

This weekend, I’m headed down to the Cape with my boyfriend, my mom, and my grandmother, and as odd of a combination as that sounds like, I think it will be wonderful. My grandma sold her house on the Cape last year, and she hasn’t been back since (nor have I). The house she moved out of was one she’d built with my grandfather over fifty years ago, and I grew up spending weeks every summer in Dennis. I learned how to swim on the steps of her pool; I took tennis and swimming lessons at the same places my mom had taken them as a teenager. Cape Cod is an extension of home for me, even though I had only gone once or twice a year since graduating high school. T has never been to Cape Cod, and I’m excited to show him around an area that feels like home, especially in the fall. Late October and early November at a quiet, non-touristy beachside community feels poetic and peaceful; the quiet seeps into my bones in a way it can’t in the city. My thoughts are clearer and language flows into me in a way that’s hard to put into words properly. I’m looking forward to walking the beach and taking pictures and drinking coffee in the quiet. (I’m excited to post about the trip when I get back. Published posts don’t show it yet, but purchasing a domain has been good for me. I have a lot of things I’m in the midst of writing. Writing again is wonderful.)

I turned twenty-five last Sunday: the weekend was low-key and wonderful, filled with loved ones and friends, almost in spite of my lack of planning anything. It was lovely and exactly what I needed. 24 was a wonderful, strange year, filled with all of the things. I grew a lot as a person; I started speaking up more; I learned I can deal with a helluva lot more than I thought I could, which is saying something (eventually, maybe, that will be a post; or a memoir; or a novel; but not right now). I am excited, in the deep-seated real way, to see what this next year brings. I survived my ~quarter life crisis~ without experiencing any sort of a crisis, so I think I’m doing well. I have many, many things for which I am grateful. Added bonus of being twenty-five: I can rent a car, should I need to, without ridiculous surcharges. (On that note, my car is part of the recall brought on by airbags that can spontaneously explode and shoot metal (also informative is this earlier New York Times article), so that’s something fun I need to get fixed ASAP.) Yay, adulthood?

Here’s to continually growing and moving forward; here’s to another twenty-five good years and starting the second “quarter” of my life. (Also, on the subject of growing and goals: I think, but am not 100% certain, that I am going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I tried once before, but this year, I am determined to – at the very least – make a solid effort and dent into 50,000 words.) Life is good.


Birthday churros are the best churros.
(photo credit: Caitlin)

springtime! (see also: how is it already april?)

// Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The small, small part of me that’s still an inner child* wants to make some April Fools’ joke, but I’ve never been particularly good at them. (That said, I’ve been very well fooled a few times, usually by my dad, the most notable of which was when he convinced me on a Saturday that the school district had arbitrarily decided to hold classes because of snow days, so I got up and got dressed and was literally about to walk out the door to wait for the bus, and he was all “lolol no, got you!” Mind you, I was about 7. So there’s that.)  Instead of an April Fools’ joke, however, I want to wish you all a “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” so as to bring good luck. For those who aren’t familiar, saying “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first of the month is a thing. Even though it has British origins (according to Wikipedia, but I wasn’t able to find much else, honestly), it’s also definitely somewhat New England specific (maybe because it’s British?? because, New England and all of our ~history?), because as I’ve grown up and the areas from which I know people have widened substantially, I’ve gotten some very odd looks when I’ve said that first thing in the morning – or, alternatively (and much more often the case), loudly proclaimed, “Oh, shit. Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!!!” at about 10 o’clock at night on the first of the month. I’m not superstitious, per se, but it’s enough of a tradition in my family that I feel bad when I forget.

This winter has been a long one. I  realize it’s been spring officially for a little over a week now, but somehow the transition to April feels more like spring. I (along with my roommate) did a bunch of spring cleaning this weekend, and when I woke up this morning to our wonderfully sunlit kitchen (at some point I’ll post a picture but I don’t have a good one readily available), it felt like spring, in spite of the fact that it was still in the upper thirties (but it’s gotten pleasantly warm out today! Northface Apex softshell and no scarf at lunchtime, though admittedly I was wearing a hat).

It gives me hope, though, that we’ve moved to longer days and I can wake up to a sun-filled kitchen and the knowledge that I don’t (hopefully maybe probably) need to wear my winter boots anymore. I can’t wait until I can comfortably wear dresses and cute boots, or even just jeans and Sperrys (which I’ve only just recently converted to wearing, see also: excellent vacation walking shoes). Mostly I just want to not be cold all of the time. On that note, this weekend – as a part of the spring cleaning – I also spring-ified my room, changing over my duvet cover to this floral one from IKEA, largely because there is no way in hell I can justify $150+ on a duvet cover and shams, and this one comes with a duvet cover and two shams for $40. It’s definitely not the highest quality, but it’s definitely not bad for what it is. Oddly slippery, though.

Anyways, the point of all this is simply to say happy April. I’m looking forward to a month of sunshine and going to the symphony twice (!) and drinking good coffee. I’m officially starting my ‘Buy Nothing Month’ now, which for the sake of my sanity is limited to material things** (that is, some entertainment, like $20 BSO tickets, is allowed) and coffee purchasing is to be significantly reduced but not eliminated. I’m excited. Tangible positive steps forward are wonderful. And this is two-fold, because not only do I want to reduce frivolous spending, but I want to save up for a nice camera and camera bag, which are both things I’ve had my eye on for quite some time.


*I am pretty sure my inner child has been somewhere between 45 and 90 since I was about five, but whatever.

**excluding one necessary thing, which is a birthday present for which I have not yet purchased the materials, and since said birthday is in April, that is something I need/want to do.