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 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.

running forward: literally and figuratively

// Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A point of (blog) maintenance: I cannot for the life of me figure out if there is a way around the fact that featured images do not show up in the subscriber emails (or, apparently, in the wordpress.com reader). I’ve tried a couple of things, but to my knowledge they haven’t worked. It’s a known Jetpack issue, but it’s still frustrating. SO: dear readers, if you’re not seeing the header image with the posts (should appear under the title, before the text), and you’d like to, please click through to the original post. Because I do put a decent amount of thought into the images I choose for posts, so. Yes. I’d love to share them with you if you’re interested. And if you’re not, no problem at all, but I wanted you all to know they existed.

On Monday, I went for my first run in over three months. The last time I went running was also the first time I ever not only ran in a 5K but also completed said 5k (or, realistically: had ever run 3.1 miles), which strikes me as sort of funny. Firsts and lasts, and such. (PS: I linked both pictures because I like the first one better, but the second one has my finisher medal, which is an important detail.) I’d planned to run more this winter, but Boston being Boston, and this winter being this winter (it was close, but we’ve officially broken the snowfall record), it just didn’t happen. It was too dark, or too snowy, or too icy, or too cold – or a delightful combination of all of those. And somehow, before I knew it, three months and change had gone by, and I hadn’t gone for a run. And I’m not a runner by nature: so those three months off meant that the mile and a half I ran Monday hurts. Not too bad, but more than it should, and more than I’d like it to hurt. (That said: I also ran faster than I thought I would, so I kind of accidentally screwed myself. And it was super cold: note, in the image above, the super fashionable SmartWool outdoor/not running socks I’m wearing.)

It’s the good kind of hurt, though: the one where tired, achey muscles the next day (or, erm, days, because I’m feeling it today still) mean that I’m moving forward, working my body in ways that I hadn’t done for too long. It’s the healthy kind of soreness: just enough to know that I’ve put in work, that I’m getting stronger, that I will get stronger still. And in the near future I’ll go climbing again, and the cycle will continue. For now, though, I’m running forward, even if the only area in which I’m running is the literal one. If the weather is decent tomorrow, I’ll be running again. Because moving forward is important, even if it’s only, hey, I did a thing with my muscles that I didn’t do the day before.

In a different kind of running forward: time goes really fast. And I know it’s cliché to say this, but I feel like each year legitimately does move faster than the last. Today marks two years since my first day at my current job: I don’t know where the time has gone, but it’s sort of nice to know that I’m established right now in what I’m doing, even if I don’t yet know when or where my next step will be (and for now, I’m quite content to be where I’m at: I’m developing quite the varied set of skills, and the people I work with are by and large great). It was still a Realization this week to realize that today would be my two year work anniversary. I’ve come a long way – moved forward a lot, as an employee and as a person – over the course of these two years, and it’s nice to (a) be able to personally see that and (b) have others tangibly appreciate that.

This week, really, has reminded me how much everyone, and everything, is running, in their own ways and on their own terms. At face value, the title of this post is misleading: I don’t have grand plans or concrete ideas of what the future holds. But here’s the thing, and this is what I’ve been thinking about all day: you can be running forward without sprinting. Maybe it’s just because we moved the clocks ahead recently, but I’ve been hyper-aware of moving forward (because of the clocks “springing” forward, maybe? (forgive me…)). And I can improve myself by running to meet whatever comes head on. And it might be because I’m not a natural (or graceful, or excellent) runner, but I’m cautious when I run. I cover ground more quickly than when I’m walking, but I’m more focused on the world around me, taking in both the good things and the potential hazards. And that’s how I want my life to be as well: not overly cautious, constantly moving forward, conscientious of whatever risks, and bringing it together with a semblance of balance.

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 New Year’s Eve and reflections

// Thursday, January 1, 2015

I’ll be doing a real 2014 in review post tomorrow, because I want to do one but I let time yet away from me; but: 2014 has been a good year. It’s been a complicated year, with family health scares and worries, with wonderful vacations and wonderful people, with small new beginnings like this blog. I went to Maine and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Quebec and Minnesota and Washington, D.C. I ran my first 5K. I spent quality time with family, and with friends. I devoured Parks and Rec. I learned watching reality tv with my roommate is really fun, and also I gained a new appreciation for how ridiculous reality tv is. I read more than I’ve read in a long time, and it was great and reminded me why I love reading and writing and learning. I started to write again, in the quote unquote real sense of the word. I hiked and I went climbing and I bought hiking boots.

So tonight I am thinking back on this year and forward towards 2015, and I have a lot of thoughts, some more coherent than others. I’m happy, by and large, with how this year has gone. I’m stronger than I was a year ago. I’m ~growing~ as a person or whatever. I’m fundamentally happy, which is lovely. And I get to spend New Year’s Eve with T, and we’re going to a party later hosted by good friends of mine.

2015 will be a good year. I have resolutions in my head that I plan to adhere to, and. 2015 is going to be good. Because it’s about moving forward and learning and improving. And writing, and photographing, and documenting more. I’ve done well in 2014 and it’s becoming more of a habit. Because: forward. And thinking through words.

I hope your New Year’s Eves are wonderful, and I hope 2015 brings only good things. This isn’t a real post; simply just: this has been an excellent year in so many ways, and I am very excited to see what 2015 will bring.

on writing on planes, or something

// Monday, December 22, 2014

One of my upcoming resolutions is to actually blog more (see: my January 2014 resolution that led to the creation of this blog, only, you know, better, because first steps are good but so too are the second and third and fourth and running), so in the spirit of that, I’m going to be posting a decent amount this week, encouraged by the fact that I have a whole bunch of things I’m in the process of writing about: running my first 5k and latching onto a group of people playing and singing Christmas carols (clearly my I’m-barely-functioning running speed was their this-is-comfy-and-nice running speed); successfully planning my company’s annual holiday party (which is less of a blog post event and more a thing that happened of which I am proud); newly discovered coffee shops and the ~coffee scene~ that I explored (slightly) while out visiting my boyfriend’s family in Minnesota before Christmas; playing tourist in Minnesota/Wisconsin; and the weeks before Christmas and ideas for easy, cheap, festive holiday gifts and decorations.

For now, though, what I’ve got is this, as I’m on my way back from Minnesota: writing on planes is strange, and quiet in an almost paradoxical way (I’m sitting more or less next to an engine), and kind of hypnotic. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve used my computer on an airplane, because I don’t often take long flights and since graduating college it’s honestly rare that I bring my computer with me when I travel. Most of the airplane travel I’ve done has been either visiting family or vacation or both, and all of the trips I can think of recently were trips where I was consciously focused on taking a step back from the internet and screens, to be wherever I was going to be and enjoy it as it was, with the exception of checking email on my phone several times and instagram’ing anything that seemed particularly memorable and/or worth, you know, sharing instantly. The last time I used my computer in flight was when I was finishing a paper senior year of college, I think, assuming my mental timeline is right and I went down to my grandma’s in Florida over spring break. Basically: it’s been a while. But I brought my computer on this trip because T had work he needed to do and I figured I’d either do website stuff on my computer or write holiday cards, and I wasn’t sure which one I would want to work on – or just how much work he’d need to do. It fit in the bag I was bringing, and I have a 13” MBP, so why not? (Answer: after trekking through the airport today with my backpack that had both my camera and my laptop, and my duffel, the answer is weight, darling. WEIGHT. How I used to carry so much with me all the time, I do not know. I hope to have this computer for at least a few more years, but assuming I can swing it financially whenever I end up replacing it, god can I not wait to get either a 13” MBP Retina or an Air, because a pound to two pounds lighter would make a huge difference.)

BUT ANYWAYS: my computer is a thing I brought with me, and I didn’t really use it this trip and I would feel silly if I brought it with me and didn’t use it at all, so. I had a relatively long layover in Milwaukee, and I am quite tired, because traveling and airports make me tired, but also it is nearly impossible for me to sleep on planes, and writing seemed like a good a way as any to pass the next few hours. It’s funny, though, because my connecting flight from Milwaukee to Boston, on a normal sized plane (can’t you tell I travel often?), is only at 44 people, so most of us have rows to ourselves, and it’s wonderful, but also it makes the flight even quieter than usual for a night flight. It’s amusing in hindsight to think that I was worried about today being sold out, etc., given that it’s the week before Christmas (that said, if I had to hazard a guess, Boston -> Midwest is much busier than Midwest -> Boston…).

I want to get home and I’m hoping to time it such that I can take a shower without waking up my roommate, but part of me almost wishes the flight were longer. This is the kind of quiet that it’s easy to feel in my bones, where the white noise of the plane seeps into my fingers and they move of their own accord. I want to write short stories about toast and how the red light on the wing of the plane reminds me of a lighthouse, because it does. There’s coughing and fidgeting and hushed whispers of flight crew members, and the click of my keys sounds much louder to my ears than it probably is. It’s clear out the window and right now we’re over darkness, but minutes ago we were hovering on the edges of light, just outside the outer bounds of the limits of a city where all of the lights somehow look like street lamps when you’re this high up. Have you ever noticed that? It’s something I often think when flying over cities; how even though I know rationally that the lights are lights on buildings and homes and also street lamps, everything looks like the lights on that bridge in Tampa, or that isolated highway in Maine, or the sleepy busy truck route street that I grew up on.

Lights are strange like that. They’re all the same in very important ways, but there are so many varieties. It’s late and I’m tired, and this is bordering on the philosophical, but. But there’s something calming and wondering about writing on a machine where my keyboard is barely backlit and the screen is at its lowest setting and still seems too bright, and outside is nothing but darkness and the reflection of my laptop and the wing light, until suddenly there’s a city below that looks just like the city before it. This kind of setting is the same as the drizzly day with nothing but the heat of the radiator that makes me want to write a novel. (It’s funny, the moments that stick. I still remember sitting in my freshman dorm, typing out the words that would become part of a much broader post on a long ago site, about how “I think I decided to write a novel today”; because that’s what this is, only years later. And everything is cyclical, but in the best way, where I’m happier and a better person and so pleased with where I am and who I’ve become.)

Because this time of year, December, the week before Christmas, a week and a half before New Years: this time of year is the time to remember, the time to understand, the time to move forward, to bring the best parts with you and understand that the present and past and future all are a part of everything. Everything is words and time, math and numbers, science and math.

I have wonderful people in my life, and I had a wonderful vacation, and I will be writing more, because I had forgotten, as I am prone to do, just how much I have missed it, and just how much writing can help quiet my thoughts.

I hope you are all having wonderful nights and weekends.

on gratitude.

// Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving was nearly two weeks ago. I meant to write a post then, but instead I focused on time with family and friends and friends that are family. I was able to see so many people in such a short period of time; it was the most lovely. Two wonderful, wonderful friends were up visiting family for the weekend, and my time over the quote unquote holiday break was filled with good coffee and even better company, with laughter and wandering and some aimless leisurely shopping.

Work has been crazy busy lately, so I appreciated the four day weekend – and luckily, since my family is local, it wasn’t a problem for me that I was working regular hours on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (And truthfully, I didn’t even really notice, because even in college when I worked at the library, I almost always worked the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, because the library was open even though no classes were held.)

This year, I’m grateful for so many things: my boyfriend, my friends, my family, the relative health of my family. The fact that I have a job that enables me to do many of the things I’d like to do – to travel and go on vacation within reason, to rent an apartment that I love, to save money while still going out occasionally. I have so many wonderful people in my life that I love, and this holiday – this season, really, between Thanksgiving and [UU, so more or less non-denominational, for me] Christmas – makes me more aware of that than anything. Not everything in my life is great, but even with all of the not so great things, and the complicated, worrisome things that sometimes keep me up at night, I’m okay. I’m more than okay; more than just surviving: by and large, I am wonderfully happy. And even on bad days, I try not to lose sight of the fact that I have an amazing support system, something for which I am incredibly grateful.

(If you are wondering, this post: all of the adverbs. I can’t avoid them, because, well, filled with gratitude. I’m like that emoji with heart eyes. But I think there are worse things to be, so I’m just going with it for now.)

I’ve been thinking lately – both independently and inspired by articles like this one in The Boston Globe about forgetting to say thank you – about how so much time is spent wishing for something better, or wanting, or just not seeing what’s in front of you and appreciating all of the good things. And I have a skewed perspective compared to some: since sixth grade, I’ve lost two close (adult) family friends – one suddenly and unexpectedly and one after months’ long battle with cancer, a high school teacher (who was only 32), and both of my paternal grandparents, both of whom had relatively long and emotionally trying battles. My dad had a brief but terrifying cancer scare and complications, which involved a decent amount of hospital time. My mom has/has had a number of health issues. Some people very close to me have/make barely enough money to survive. My point in listing this is not to wallow or present a ~woe is me~ picture; instead, I view it the opposite way: I have so much for which to be grateful. I learned early on the downsides of too many things, and gratitude is important. Appreciation for life is important, for the simple things such as laughing with friends over coffee and wasting time until you can have delightful cupcakes at 11 AM on Black Friday. For baking pie with T and attempting a new recipe on the night before Thanksgiving at 11 PM. For a cat that is family, a confidant and peer and child, who is getting on in age with a few issues but still happy, even though all of us – him included – know that eventually, we have to start thinking about what happens next.

This season – maybe more than I have in past years – the good is what I’m focused on: the happiness I have that stems from the wonderful people around me. The fact that I am able to and do get out of bed every day and almost always leave my apartment at least once. Because, perspective. Because so much is fleeting and complicated, but so much too is permanent in its own way and easy and simple, and not only simple but beautiful in its simplicity.

This season is hard for me. It always is. But this year I’m focusing on the good. I’m seeing Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker tonight with my oldest best friend, for a hilarious reason I’ll document later, but I’m seeing it tonight for the first time in at least fifteen years I think, and I am the most excited to be seeing it with her and to be seeing it again in general. So, yeah. Focusing on the good.

Just. I am grateful for so many things. Happy (first official post of the) holiday season.

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.

25th-birthday

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