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.

write what inspires you

// Sunday, March 15, 2015

I recently read an excellent post (discovered via where my heart resides‘s Facebook page) about seeing the beauty in what you have, about finding inspiration from others instead of discontent from the comparison between their lives/moments versus yours, and it reminded me of back when I used to write creatively, back when words were pretty things to paint with, to make art with and hope that someone would read it the same way, hear it in the voice I meant to convey, so that the commas were pauses and stops and hidden thoughts, so that the repetition was something more, something magic.

I want to write like that again.  I want others to feel, and I want to feel, rereading my writing (in that limited way that you can, when it’s your writing and not something you’d never thought to phrase that way), the way I just felt reading about apple slices and comparisons and forgetting the here for the there. Because there are so many things expressed in that post that I have thought in far less eloquent terms; if I could write something half as pretty as that post, I would be happy. Things like this secondary opening, with the emphasized line about moving out of the way, which subtly becomes a refrain:

The second happens, for me, in another manner entirely. It’s hopping on my phone to Google a recipe in the grocery store and I find myself habitually opening Instagram – oh, I’m sorry, I’m totally in your way, let me move over here by the oranges – and gracious, that stir fry photo she just posted looks way better than the sauteed kale I’d planned for, and yes, I have snap peas at home, maybe I should pick up some water chestnuts and sesame oil?

Except that, most times, it’s not about stir fry at all.

It makes me think of that poem about oranges, that isn’t about oranges at all except that it is. But (after a decent amount of Googling, because “I titled it ORANGES” was not exclusively a line in that poem…), what I am really referring to is the poem Why I Am Not A Painter by Frank O’Hara, and not actually a real poem about oranges, and I didn’t remember that, instead I remembered the lines that resonated with me from the poem:

Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call

There’s something to be said for the fact that I until just now I had no conscious recollection of what that poem was called, or who wrote it, but I talked about painting with words. That’s what I want to get back to: the place where everything blends and blurs together and fiction as reality just as much as reality is fiction.

I wrote a lot of words about how a dinner party inspired me, but what I forgot about is just how much words inspire me and how much the written words of others can serve as a catalyst to ignite thoughts you didn’t even know you had. I forgot how much a gorgeous standalone piece of writing doesn’t need the context of the author: I’m not familiar with Design for Mankind at all, other than reading that one post. And I’d forgotten how that can come to be, how a piece of writing can just click. So this is my way of encouraging you, of asking you, to write what inspires you. Because wonderful pieces of writing can grow up and out from that place.

This weekend has been all about spring cleaning, about organizing and starting fresh so that things – and ideas – don’t get buried in clutter or winter dust but instead come back into the daylight. I’ve dusted every nook and cranny of my room and swapped out my warm and cozy plaid flannel duvet cover for my less warm but more cheerful ivory floral spring/summer one. The weather app on my phone might say that we’re getting snow squalls this afternoon (?!!), but I’m ready to welcome spring with open arms. Today is for writing (and a few errands and the last bits of cleaning I have left), for appreciating that spring is only five days away.

introspection and dinner parties (or: apparently dinner parties inspire me to write a lot of words)

// Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A disclaimer: the impetus for this post came from a dinner party that I went to a few weeks ago, where I was reminded of the importance of living in the moment, of how certain experiences cannot be had without spontaneity, of how the real human connection that comes from being in the physical presence of others cannot ever be replaced completely by moments happening through and amongst the internet. And it prompted me to think a lot, and to therefore write a lot of words.

A not-at-all-shocking confession: I spend too much time in front of screens. Some of it is necessary; some of it is for fun, personal growth things (hi, blog! also learning to code more); some of it is just wasting time; and some of it is connection masquerading as wasting time (see: maybe 1/3 of time spent the internet; if I were pressed, I’d say 1/3 learning/growing/reading, 1/3 connection-maintaining, 1/3 idly spending time). The more I’m trying to prioritize what I’m interested in and the more I’m trying to connect and disconnect and write, the more I’m realizing that finding a balance isn’t a simple, one-step process. There’s a lot of trial and error, as well as a surprising amount of anxiety around self-applied pressure to figure it out correctly the first time, to suddenly be able to do All Of The Things while also having free time (and also trying to find time to Visit All Of The Friends without all of the failing; haven’t had success with that yet).

So I’m cutting myself some slack. I’ve been holding myself to impossible standards, and because of that, I haven’t been able to fully appreciate what it is that I’m actually accomplishing. And I’m accomplishing a lot. I’ve made time, tangibly if only occasionally, to write (see above image, which was taken while I was spending my lunch hour writing and drinking coffee at the North End location of The Thinking Cup, which I should do a post about one of these days, because it is lovely), and I’m keeping up with my Q&A a Day: 5-Year-Journal. I’ve been (with only a few exceptions) much better about getting enough sleep, and on work nights I’m (almost, but not always) in bed by 11:30. I built a website as a gift, largely because I thought it would be a great gift but also in part to see if I could. (Realization: as much as I’m ehhhh on fully mobile responsive, mobile-first websites (I’m a dinosaur, I know), Bootstrap is great.) And I’ve been going climbing on a fairly regular basis and getting better about my nightly routine (morning is okay, working on making it better). Basically, what this translates to is that for the first time I can think of recently, maybe ever, it’s three months into the 2015 and the resolutions I made are being put into practice constantly. But it’s still hard not to lose perspective, to feel like I could constantly do more, do better. So I’m reminding myself, here, publicly, that I am Doing Things, and doing them well, even if there is – and always will be – room for improvement. Because that’s what life is: constantly, continuously, improving and growing.

I have noticed, however, that I’ve been stretching myself a little thin, so I’m working on that. Because I’m busy in general and I’m trying to form new habits and routines (writing more, creating more, etc.) and I’m also working on Doing Things More, which is good (wonderful, even!), but I’m finding it hard to let myself schedule down time: time where I can write if and only if that’s what I feel like doing, or read, or maybe just be, focusing on life out the window or thoughts via my ceiling (to be honest, whenever I think that I cannot help but feel of I’m trying to be a variation of Stephanie Plum, who frequently describes her thinking position as laying down on her bed with her eyes closed). Sidenote: if you’re ever looking for a fun beach/summer read, I highly recommended – with caveats – the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. The first twelve books (One for the Money through Twelve Sharp) are great. Beyond that, they…are less great, so I am not wholeheartedly recommending those, but they’re still fun to read (well, kind of) if you been into the series from the beginning. ALSO: one of my most entertaining book reading memories, in hindsight, is reading Hot Six in study period in middle school, and having the boy next to me loudly – and indignantly – ask what I was reading because he, ahem, misread the title, and the teacher, from whom I was sitting about a foot away, do a hilarious double-take. That was in eighth grade, so while it was super awkward at the time, now just makes me laugh. Probably shouldn’t have been reading that book in eighth grade, though, because while I was able to very convincingly say that the title was “SIX, like the NUMBER”, the play on words was not unintentional, title-wise. But I digress.

My digression, though, is also my point: I haven’t had made enough time to just let my thoughts wander and see where they go. Granted, in this case, those thoughts are tending towards beach reads and the thought of future warmth (17 days until spring!), but there’s nothing wrong with that. My lack of making time is on me, and I’m going to work on it. I just need to focus on finding a balance.

That’s where the dinner party – which happened a few weeks ago now – comes in: the mother of some friends was throwing a dinner party, and my boyfriend and I were lucky enough to receive a spur of the moment invitation. The guests came from different age groups, different life experiences, different cultures; and we all just clicked. Given how varied and diverse the group was, the night really got me thinking about the importance of finding middle, common ground; how that applies to life in general just as much as it does to relationships or opinions or politics or what have you.

The night started with conversations and drinks; conversations spilled into (absolutely delicious) dinner, accompanied by wine and candlelight. And then! And then there were performances: spontaneous piano and guitar playing by hosts and guests alike; singing opera and pop songs spanning decades; poetry reading. I hadn’t realized dinner parties like that – nights like that – existed outside of the 1950s-ish. I come from a small family with limited social circles (this generation, anyways: apparently my grandma could throw quite the dinner party, but those years were long gone by the time I entered the picture). It was a wonderful, wonderful night. At face value, it was just a night of conversation, food, wine, and music, but it all blended into something bigger than the sum of the parts. And it got me out of my head and into the bigger picture. I was inspired by so many of the people there on so many different levels.

I recently came across an old article in The New York Times about how dinner parties are “endangered”, about how they’re no longer the dinner parties of bygone eras. The article is from 2012, but it’s more relevant than ever, discussing how we’re too busy and overscheduled to possibly find the time. But what the article touches on, but doesn’t really delve into, is that what is under threat are the formal dinner parties, the ones with rules and assigned place-settings, because the social dynamics and norms are shifting. At its heart, though, the article is optimistic, implying that dinner parties – in some form, at least – will never go away, because they evolves as we evolve; because there is middle ground:

There is no leveler quite like a dinner table, said Mr. Hitz, a longtime bicoastal whose dinners at his California digs, an aerie perched high above Sunset Boulevard, tend to be populated by Hollywood types from across the demographic spectrum. “The 20-year-olds enjoy the 90-year-olds,” he said. “And I can assure you the 90-year-olds enjoy the 20-year-olds. …. “If anyone tells me, ‘I’m freaking out, I have six people coming to dinner, what do I do?’ ” Mr. Hitz said, “I say serve chicken potpie and a salad, make sure there’s plenty of wine and keep the lights low. How can it go wrong?”

And that’s precisely what I’ve experienced: dinner was simple, yet excellent, and we enjoyed spending time in each other’s company, holding conversations that sparked other conversations, and, later, a long train of thought that led to this post.

dinner party wine & candlelight

So this is my reminder – to myself, to anyone who reads this – to find inspiration from those close to you, from the events you happen to attend at the last minute (upcoming post, by the way: the performance of Cassie & Maggie we attended last weekend at Club Passim because those same friends had two extra tickets), from what you’ve accomplished so far. Because there are so many things by which to be inspired, and mostly it comes down to letting yourself appreciate what’s in front of you.

Have you been to a dinner party, in whatever form? What has recently inspired you?


// Saturday, February 7, 2015

I have a complicated relationship with winter. I love it, but I hate the cold and it doesn’t take me long until I am just 120% ready to be wearing shorts and sandals and dresses again. This winter has brought that out in me even more than other years, because it was stupid cold with no snow for a really long time, so it wasn’t even pretty, and now we’re buried in snow for the foreseeable future. Because currently my state and my city is buried under over three feet of snow. I’m over winter boots and wanting to wear tights under pants so I can stay warm on the way to work and keeping a spare pair of pants in my desk in case I fall in a snow bank or slip on ice.

Thing is, normally I love this season. When the first snow of the winter happens, I become, very much, Lorelai in Gilmore Girls (apologies for the terrible link; youtube is failing me re: the scene I’m thinking about – but in short: the first snow makes me nothing short of giddy). The snow quiets and blankets and soothes, and the world seems both new and inexplicably old. I love that; I really do.

In the last week, though, we’ve gotten over three feet of snow in the city I live in, in the cities around the city I live in, in practically the whole state. There’s more forecasted for this weekend, and our subway system can’t even handle what we have, and people (like me!) are still going to (or trying to go to) work as usual. It’s a mess, and I’m just as frustrated with winter as everyone else. Commuting in and out of Boston over the last week has been nothing short of both nightmarish and cartoonish. And, from the sound of it, we can’t even expect it to improve anytime soon, as the MBTA is still warning people about future delays.

But here’s the (other) thing, the one that’s more important: on Monday, in the midst of a snow storm (Linus, as it hit the Boston area) and 2.5 hour commute (that normally takes half an hour), I walked through some of the neighborhoods and side streets around Harvard Square. And I was cold and tired and cranky and ready to be home, but I stopped. I looked around, and I took in the silence. I watched an elementary schooler help his dad shovel out their car. And I remembered: this is what winter is supposed to be. Sure, sometimes there are hell commutes and streets that are nearly impossible to drive on – or even walk on. But there’s something about the snowfall itself that’s magic. I don’t want to forget that.

Because it can be terrible, but it can also be beautiful, and wonderful, and look like this:
snowy street (b&w)

So tonight night, when it’s flurrying, and Sunday night, when it’s snowing again in the real sense, that’s what I’ll focus on. I’m not going to focus on the fact that we’re essentially having a four-day snow storm. I’ll curl up with excellent hot chocolate and a good book (a friend lent me The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, which I haven’t started yet but am excited to read), and I’ll sit and watch the snow. Maybe work on taxes, if I’m feeling the need to be Responsible!Productive, and maybe work on a puzzle with my boyfriend, if I’m feeling Fun!Productive (because: brain exercise).

It’s all about perspective. I hope, if your weekends are snow-filled, that they are nothing short of magical.

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.

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

// Tuesday, April 1, 2014

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

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

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

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


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

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

personal versus blog!personal

// Tuesday, March 4, 2014

As much as I’ve been on the internet for forever, relatively speaking, in the past I haven’t been the most successful at actually maintaining a Public Persona Writing Blog, which is kind of how I think of it. The tone is different, and it’s not about publishing every single thought that comes into my head; it’s about thinking and planning and typing and editing, until there’s a final product that’s worth posting. I like the idea of being able to use that part of my brain on a regular basis, because it’s a type of writing that I miss (which is something I’ve touched on enough thus far that I won’t repeat myself). I am still figuring out the overall direction this blog is going to take, and I’m realizing that it is something I won’t know for sure until I post more, until I see what it is that I want to post more. I am, however, accumulating a number of drafts, of potential posts that I know I need to flesh out more before they’re something.

What I am currently struggling with – and I realize this is not unique to me – is where the line is between personal and blogme!personal: for example, I’ve had an instagram account since March 2012, and I’ve been fairly active there. There is a lot of overlap between the type of content I’ll be posting here (read: pictures of political books; of traveling; of  many, many cups of coffee), but there are also things that are separate from that, things that are still perfectly acceptable but outside of the realm of this blog. Do I link it? Do I create a separate instagram and re-post some of the pictures, acknowledging that they are reposts? Do I have a post, here, where I detail some of the places in said pictures and use said pictures, but start the new instagram from now, from pictures only taken after January 1, 2014? Am I overthinking this? (Hint: yes, yes I am.)

What it comes down to, really, is that throughout most of college, I had this phrase that I kept coming back to that related to being a lover of blurred lines (no relation to the Robin Thicke song, I assure you), referring to a number of things, but for example, how sometimes relationships aren’t always delineated the way one would expect, a sort of ‘modern romance’ problem, as it were. But as I’ve grown up and accumulated more life experiences, I don’t think that’s the best way to live, at least not in the broad sense. There are many, many areas of life where grey is good and acceptable and necessary, but so too are there many areas where  dividing things into at least reasonably rigid categories is the better option (Facebook is not for coworkers, per se; etc. etc. etc.). So given that, where does this blog fall? How much of my online identity is inherently tied to my private personal identity, versus my more standard public identity, or even my public professional identity? Where is that line, and to what extent does it matter?

I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but I’m working on it. If anyone has thoughts, feel free to share. I’ve been ruminating on this for quite a while and haven’t gotten any closer to figuring it out.

on notebooks and pens (but mostly notebooks)

// Monday, January 20, 2014

In keeping with my 2014 resolutions, I’ve started documenting my life more, keeping what amounts to a belated daily journal (inspired by a friend’s notion of daily logging – her version is more detailed and dedicated than I can see myself truly able to maintain, but it’s more or less what I aspire to do). I purchased an extra large Moleskine notebook (the yellow-orange color of this one, but in the 7.5×10 hardcover version) for it; it’s lovely and really kind of oddly calming to write in a large notebook, because usually I end up using the 5×8 Moleskines and then end up feeling like I’ve written a lot when really I haven’t written any words at all, relatively speaking. When I’m away from my room, though, I write in a grey 5×8 volant journal because it’s easy to carry in my purse, write, and then transfer said writing to the larger one. It’s a process, and I haven’t gotten fully into the habit yet, but I’m working on it. I’m only a couple days behind at the moment.

Anyways, so now that I’ve taken to writing in this nice, pretty, well-crafted journal with nice pens (through work, I’ve rekindled my love affair with Vision Elite microball pens? The ones I really want to find that my roommate has, I can’t, which is a bummer. I know they exist? They’re the cloudy micropoint uniball ones, and they’re perfect. But the ones I have will do, so whatever), I started thinking about how different paper/pens really can make a difference in how I perceive the quality of what I’m writing and also in whether or not I’m motivated to write (which is why I splurged on the Moleskine in the first place). That thought process, in turn, made me remember one of the quotes I latched onto in the novel One Day by David Nicholls, and how fitting it is:

“She drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it’s going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationary. The true writer, the born writer, will scribble words on scraps of litter, the back of bus tickets, on the wall of a cell …. But other times she finds herself writing happily for hours, as if the words had been there all along, content and alone in her one-bedroom flat…” (114)

Because for me, both of those are true. When I worked at Borders (I miss Borders more than I should, maybe) before and during college (likely would’ve been after, too, if they hadn’t gone under before I graduated), I wrote on the backs of receipts and blank receipt paper all of the time. But now that I don’t have prolonged periods of idle, wandering thoughts while standing at a cash register, I find that if I’m not writing on the computer, I’ll only really write if I’m writing in a good quality notebook or on good quality paper. Sometimes that worries me. That’s something I’m going to work on getting better about as well. Writing more is writing more is writing more, regardless of what kind of paper is used. But regardless, more writing: a thing I am going to do.

In keeping with that mentality, this past weekend (of the 10th, not this most recent one), the goal was to be productive at least part of the time, so T. and I went to D2 Java in Exeter, NH for coffee, followed by lunch at Me & Ollie’s Bakery and Cafe, which then turned into a writing and working afternoon, and it was the most wonderful. D2 Java, by the way, is one of my absolute favorite places for coffee; a post about afternoons in Exeter is forthcoming very soon, because it merits more than a few sentences. For now, though, I’ll leave you with a picture from Saturday. Coziest of cozy.

coffee and productivity, january 2014

coffee and productivity, january 2014