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.

film-4-oob-swings

film-5-oob-rollercoaster

film-6-oob-pier

film-7-oob-lifeguard

film-8-oob-pier-beach

film-9-oob-landview-sunset

film-10-oob-ocean

film-11-oob-ferris-wheel

film-12-oob-carousel

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.

Travel Thursday: Minnesota via Instagram

// Thursday, April 9, 2015

Every Thursday, I’ll be posting about travel. More often than not, it will be a look back at recent trips I’ve taken, such as the British Virgin Islands, which I wrote about two weeks ago, but sometimes it will be a place I’m itching to go to, or a place a friend has visited and I can’t stop thinking about. This is a new series, and one that’s likely to evolve over time.

Last week, when I talked about the roadtrip to Minnesota I took with my boyfriend, I was really just writing the first half of the story: because once the roadtrip ended, I spent four days both playing tourist and hanging out with my boyfriend’s family (and their adorable puppy – this picture is from July, but how cute is she??). It was a wonderful, wonderful trip, so here’s a look back at playing tourist in Minnesota via Instagram.

tt2-09-nacho-mamasWe wandered around Stillwater on Friday, Nacho Mama’s in Stillwater for lunch – super cute interior, but neither one of us were particularly impressed with the food. He’s been there before and really enjoyed it, but this time around not so much.I had the El Cabo Wabo Sandwich, and everything was drowning in ranch sauce, and in spite of the assurances I received beforehand, there was so way to avoid the excessive jalapeños both on and in the bread.

tt2-10-book-teaHOWEVER: after lunch, we went into a few of the local used/rare bookstores in the downtown, and things picked up considerably. I know this sort of display isn’t unique to Stillwater, MN, but it made me smile all the same.

tt2-11-nancy-drewAND THEN THERE WAS THIS. My one regret from this trip is that I didn’t purchase this book. I couldn’t quite justify the cost at the time (wasn’t terrible, definitely – very reasonable, considering, but more than I was willing to pay for a book at that moment), but this was a first edition of the original 1930 version of The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene. I was obsessed with Nancy Drew growing up: on one trip to Florida, I brought five books with me and read more than one complete book on the plane ride there from Boston. And I still have all of the (modern) versions of the (original) series: needless to say, I probably maybe almost definitely should have bought it? But oh well. If it’s there the next time I’m in MN, I might.

tt2-12-babar-portrait BABAR. (See also: used/rare books bookstores are the best. Also, so much childhood nostalgia – though the one thing I ended up buying was a used Kurt Vonnegut hardcover, which I’ve yet to actually crack open. I showed some restraint, at least, re: wanting all of the childhood things. At least in terms of purchasing them, anyways. I liked this poster (piece of art?) a lot.)

tt2-13-stone-tap-portraitWe met T’s cousin for dinner and drinks at the Stone Tap Brewery in Hudson, WI. I was super impressed with the beer flight I had. I learned I liked saisons! I loved three of the four of them! I do not remember what all of them were/all of their names. Beer names and types: not something that sticks in my brain. That said: the Left Bridge Farm Girl was my favorite.

tt2-14-five-wattFive Watt Coffee. This is their menu: enough said. We both had the orange blossom special, and yum does not even come close to describing it.

tt2-16-mall-of-americaGratuitous picture of the roller coaster in the center of the Mall of America, because I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this a thing that exists. Also, I knew going in that the mall was gigantic, but I definitely didn’t have a good grasp of what that actually meant. There are duplicates of stores. And a roller coaster. And a ferris wheel. America is a very strange place, sometimes.

tt2-19-indeedSaturday night at Indeed Brewing Company It’s a wonderful spot – great beer, great atmosphere, great food trucks according to others (we didn’t have dinner there), great gift shop. (I may or may not have a shirt or two and some pint glasses. Like I said: great place.)

tt2-21-chimborazoAfter we had post-family-Chistmas-party beer at Indeed, we headed over to Chimborazo in Minneapolis, a delightfully wonderful Ecuadorian restaurant. Everything we had was absolutely phenomenal. If you ever find yourself in Minneapolis, I seriously cannot recommend them highly enough. Great space, great staff and service, great food.

I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be back in Minnesota is, but it’s nice to know that I’ve got a ready list of places to which I want to return when we’re back in the area. Also, I’ve started following on Instagram both Five Watt Coffee (link) and Indeed Brewing (link) on Instagram, and it makes me want all of the things. Mostly coffee. And sometimes good beer.

Have you ever been to Minnesota? Any recommendations for the next time I’m there?

Travel Thursday: Roadtrip to Minnesota via Instragram

// Thursday, April 2, 2015

So! In putting together this post and going through pictures, it occurred to me that I never actually got around to writing the post I meant to write about roadtripping out to Minneosta in December to visit my boyfriend’s family for pre-Christmas Christmas: I want to talk about the drive out there, about time spent playing tourist, about the coffee. And I plan to do that one of these days – or, at the very least, write a review/cheer/love letter to Five Watt Coffee in Minneapolis, which was amazing. I’m hoping to do that soon (god am I behind in things I want to write about, while also trying to write actual words in a way that is not just documenting, but. There is time, and I will make more.)

But anyways: for now, I’ve decided to structure Travel Thursdays in such a way that I’m working my way backwards. Last week was the BVI, from January; the next couple of weeks will be about Minneosta, from December; and so on. I was originally going to make the roadtrip to Minnesota and time spent in Minnesota one post, but after going through only iPhone pictures (admittedly we didn’t take many DSLR pictures on this trip but there are still more than a handful), I only managed to narrow it down to twenty-two pictures. Which seems like kind of a lot, and more than a little overwhelming to read/view in one post. This week is the roadtrip; next week likely will be the rest.

Without further ado: a roadtrip to Minneosta via Instagram (and some regular iPhone pictures). Also, an adorable puppy that I very much wanted to transport back with us to Massachusetts.

tt2-01-dieselPre-roadtrip coffee and breakfast at Diesel Cafe in Davis Square. They’re wonderful, and we spend a significant amount of time there on weekends and some mornings before work, though trying to get better about making weekday coffee at home, because fresh roasted beans from Tonx Blue Bottle are great). Diesel, therefore, was a given on the Tuesday morning we left for our roadtrip. Excellent coffee + delightful food = happy passenger and happy driver.

tt2-02-i80-paThis was my obligatory, “I just took a nap at a rest stop?????” bathroom mirror shot. Because, why not. Also, I was tired. This picture came out far better than it probably should have, I think.

tt2-03-indianaSnow in Indiana. Also, my first time in Indiana. There were so many trucks.

tt2-04-chicagoChicago! From the interstate, but whatever. This marks the first time I’ve driven through Chicago and only the second time I’ve “been” there. (Though the first time, I did actually spend time in the city, but not enough that I’ve formed an opinion of it yet.) In spite of what I’ve been told, we didn’t hit any traffic at all. I was pleased.

tt2-05-wisconsinObligatory roadtrip progress / we’re kind of sort of almost there picture. Wisconsin!

tt2-07-accurateArrived in Minnesota! This is the next morning, and a very accurate representation of a lot of things. Hi, can you tell I like turquoise? Also coffee and notebooks and maybe my phone?

tt2-08-puppyPupppppppy. Cutest dog in the world. I very much wanted to bring her back to Massachusetts with us. Also this picture was taken about two minutes after the prior one, and I love that a lot. So many happy things.

Minneosta was absolutely wonderful – and not even that cold! I know it changed later in the winter, but it was definitely warmer than Boston at the time, which was funny. I love catching up on posts like this, but I’m very glad it’s officially spring in the present.

What’s your favorite photo?

Travel Thursday: BVI via iPhone

// Thursday, March 26, 2015

I’ve been trying to think of a good way to incorporate all the travel I’ve done and all the pictures I have from said travel into some sort of series. I decided the best way to do that was a take on #tbt (Thowback Thursday): from now on, more or less every Thursday, I’ll be posting about a recent or semi-recent travel experience I’ve had, ranging from international (like this one) to weekend trips to local travel and everything in between.

Without further ado: select highlights from the British Virgin Islands, via iPhone. All of these were taken during the sailing trip I took in January.

bvi_1-hook-line This is the only photo of the group not from the BVI, though it is from the trip: we flew down from Boston early Saturday morning and spent Saturday on St. Thomas so that we could catch the ferry over to Tortola early on Sunday. We’d gone to Hook Line & Sinker when we visited St. Thomas back in March last year, and we enthusiastically recommended it as the place we should eat while on St. Thomas. We weren’t disappointed – highly recommend them as a restaurant. (although: do not believe the menu when it says you will get, essentially, crab cakes, because you will instead get many, many very large crab legs, which were very tasty but very difficult to eat. I, unfortunately, do not have a picture of the plate. Fortunately, there isn’t a picture of me struggling to eat them.)

the bitter end!

the beach in anegada, bvi

foxy's, jost van dyke, bviNot pictured: the rest of the t-shirts, stickers, license plates, and miscellaneous items of clothing that were hanging from every possible rafter. Foxy’s is the best: so much character (and excellent food).

wandering around jost van dyke

still more wandering around jost van dyke

dinner at foxy'sWe ended up – by chance! – at Foxy’s on a friday night, and on the weekends they have a bbq buffet: you get two plates, which you need to fill completely the first time around, as you can only stand in line once, for a flat price. While it might not be apparent from this picture, those ribs were the best ribs I have ever had in my life. SO GOOD.

sunset!

Today it’s cold and rainy, and I’m missing the sunshine and warmth. Spring is technically here, but it doesn’t quite feel like it. I can’t wait until it does. Fingers crossed it’s soon.

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 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.

happy (mid) november! *

// Friday, November 21, 2014

October ended quietly: my roommate and I spent Halloween in, eating delicious pumpkin oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies and watching America’s Next Top Model with our downstairs neighbors. The last week of October was a whirlwind of activity (helping my boyfriend move, hosting dinner for my mom and grandma – I made lamb chops with pears and balsamic sauce and they were delightful (which was a pleasant surprise because I’d never cooked lamb chops before), seeing Rodrigo y Gabriela in Boston at the Orpheum Theatre, failed dinner plans that turned into an errand night), so it was nice to have a low key night in with good people.

On that note, a few words about the last week of October, which was filled with family and more good people. It marked the first half-month of being 25 (that’s a thing people count, right?) and it couldn’t have been better spent. I hadn’t seen my grandma since last October when she sold her house up in MA and moved completely down to Florida (she’d been dividing time between the two for some time), and I was able to show her my apartment for the first time. The kitchen alone (we’ve since unfolded that table and the space looks even bigger) demonstrates everything I love about the apartment I share with my roommate, and also is precisely why my grandma loved it. It reminds me a lot of her old house at the Cape, actually, so I loved the symmetry of being able to show it to her for the first time on the same visit she was going back to the Cape** for the first time in over a year. It’s funny how things work out. The night my grandma flew back to Florida was the night T and I went to see Rodrigo y Gabriela, which also happened to be the (sold-out) last night of their tour. It was wonderful, and I’ve been lucky enough to go to more opening/closing nights of tours than seems statistically feasible given that I don’t plan it that way, and the energy is always elevated in a way that’s hard to tangibly describe. It’s phenomenal how talented they both are.

Cape Cod in October is the best.

Calamari + Pizza (though I’d never had the two combined before…) + Rodrigo y Gabriela = happy!Melissa

 

November got off to a strange start: the first weekend was rainy(/snowy on Sunday) and cold, but it was somehow also cozy and very November-in-New-England-y. It poured all day Saturday – with crazy wind – so it was a good day for errands and coffee out and sprinting between the car and store entrances trying to keep dry, and it was also a perfect night for hot chocolate curled up on the couch watching Parks and Rec. That first November weekend was also the weekend T and I went to the aquarium (library passes: the best), which was super super fun. (these guys – little blue penguins – are my favorites).

seriously, though, how cute are these guys?

Stepping back in time slightly, on Halloween, I decided – in earnest – that I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo this year; I’ve tried twice before but never with much success. It’s been slow going so far because I forgot that I needed to account for falling back into the writing headspace, but at least I’m writing. And now it’s three weeks later and I’m still writing, though this post has been unfinished for a week and a half and words have stagnated. It’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll hit my word goal (or anything even close to it) nine days from now, but if nothing else, nano got me writing again after a long time away from it, and that has been wonderful. I’ve missed words. I need to work on making writing more of a routine again, because I wrote best when it was habit and necessity and comfort, and I’m trying to get back to that place without the negative connotations it had, off and on, for a while.

This past weekend was a much needed break from everything: from work, from struggle!writing, from stress in general. It was time spent equally between old friends and baking and new friends. Sunday marked the first Friendsgiving I’ve been to, but I just had to think about that for a moment because I was peripherally involved in a few in college. It was lovely and filled with good food and an embarrassingly wonderful amount of discussions about America’s Next Top Model. (Sidenote: I stopped watching YEARS ago, but my roommate watches regularly and this season – cycle – we’ve been watching together, and I still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that there are guys, too, now, and all the drama that entails, and I’m sad the guy with the beard weave (!) is gone, because seriously what even, and I miss Nigel, and it’s fun and terrible and great all at once.)

This weekend might bring a day trip to Portsmouth and a low key diner with T’s downstairs neighbors, but mostly it’s going to be a weekend of low key, cozy productivity, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

*This post was originally titled endings and beginnings because it very early November when I started drafting it. And then life happened, and time got away from me, so. Now it’s just a happy November post and all that entails. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving.

**I still am planning on a Cape Cod picture post, but, well, I am all sorts of behind with regards to pictures (all of the pictures in this post are largely unedited cell phone pictures, though those two Cape Cod ones were run through Afterlight). But it hasn’t been a month yet! So it’s fine. Probably maybe kind of sort of. I’m going to try and sort through pictures this weekend, so hopefully I’ll have a (wonderfully picturesque?) Cape Cod post for you guys soon. Life, though. How does time move so fast? I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.

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)

consuming versus creating

// Friday, September 19, 2014

This summer has been the summer of travel for me. As I’ve mentioned (in this terribly organized post), I went to Minnesota/Bayfield, WI; Washington, D.C.; Old Orchard Beach, ME; and Quebec City, Canada. When I travel, I try to limit my cell phone use – I want to be in the moment, experiencing, laughing, photographing, enjoying the company of the person or people with whom I’m traveling. Limiting my phone use has an odd way of simultaneously making me realize (a) how little I need my smartphone most of the time and (b) how much I use my smartphone almost all of the time, something I especially noticed this summer. I noticed it the most in D.C., when there was downtime at a coffee shop or in a restaurant, and I found myself absentmindedly taking out my phone and opening up Facebook/Twitter/etc. even though I had no desire or intention to read through any sort of newsfeed. It was a weird realization. Was there really anything I needed to know about anyone’s day or life highlights right then? Nope. Not even a little. So: why?

It was after I noticed my unconscious Facebook skimming that I realized how much I’m primed to consume on my phone. As I increased my efforts to go off the grid social-media wise, I noticed that I spent more time browsing blogs, the New York Times website, and miscellaneous other online news sites. I realized that within the the context of ‘normal life’ (because though DC was a vacation, it felt a lot like home and it was just…hanging out with an old friend, versus like “Here is an itinerary of places to see on vacation and other Things To Do”), I don’t let myself have much downtime anymore. My time frequently is spent reading or working or watching tv while also catching up on online news. And that’s not the way I want to be. It was a good reality check, and one I didn’t get with my other, more “vacation-y” vacations. In MN/WI, I didn’t get much cell service, nor did I want to (sailing!). In Quebec, I couldn’t use my phone, because Verizon is Verizon and I didn’t want to pay for data or fees for texting or calling. So given that it essentially wasn’t available, I just put it out of my mind, which was a very welcome and relaxing break, but didn’t make me rethink my daily habits in the way that I needed.

After said realizations, I sent out, in small ways, to make this summer the summer I spent outdoors (last summer I wasn’t so great at that), and while I’ve been good at that, somehow that has also translated to consuming much more online than I am creating. I would spend weekend days outside, walking around, and nights either with friends or on the internet, reading about everything I didn’t read during the day. In part because of all of the above, I’ve been lax about posting on here, which I’m working to fix, because god help me, I love this blog even though it isn’t much yet. In true-to-me form, I’ve gotten caught up in the idea of perfecting this site (fixing categories and tags, of which I have far too many; purchasing a domain and switching to self-hosted WordPress; developing a logo; etc.) that I’ve somehow rationalized neglecting it until it can be Right.

That’s not how life works, though, and it’s easy for me to lose sight of that. I need to remember to focus forward more, constantly striving towards something. Life is more, I think, about the forward: You work and you fix as you go, and if you’re lucky, you end up with something that’s as close to almost perfect as it’ll ever be, and you continually improve and maintain. That’s my goal for the fall: maintain and continually improve, both in the personal sense and in the sense of this blog. The plus of all the content-consuming I’ve been doing this summer is that I’ve discovered some wonderful, well-written, inspiring, beautiful blogs (dear former English teachers and professors: sorry for all those adjectives). I now regularly read (and check almost daily) numerous blogs (my two favorites at the moment are C’est Christine, which has a little bit of everything and offers me a wonderful perspective on life (and also makes me want to live in NYC), and where my heart resides, which I love because it’s so different from where I’m at life-stage-wise, but the writing is gorgeous and somehow very relatable).

September is always more like the New Year for me than January is, so here’s to channeling content consuming into content creating and adhering to goals and personal growth. On that note, expect to soon see a post about attending my first and second ever yoga classes. Here’s to improvement and moving forward.