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.

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.

on (mostly) buying nothing for a month

// Thursday, May 1, 2014

My buy nothing month (inspired by this post, among others,  over at Our Little Apartment) has gone quite well for me. I made two non-food related purchases, excluding the plane tickets I had to buy recently for a summer trip (the costs kept going up, and it didn’t make sense to wait; I’m stupidly excited for July): pens at the very beginning of the month when I hadn’t really accepted I was going to succeed yet and the iTunes version of the MTV Presents Unplugged 2012: Florence + the Machine album. I shouldn’t have done the iTunes purchase, probably, but (1) one slip up won’t kill me and (2) it (I’m rationalizing, I know) made sense because I had a deal through my AmEx card that if I spent $5 on iTunes I would get a $5 statement credit, so I bought the entire album for essentially $5, and I’ve been wanting it for a while. A fifty percent savings seemed too good to pass up, rightly or wrongly. But overall, I’m quite pleased with how well I did, though I think I might have spent more on food than normal? But I’m okay with that right now.

It also made notice some things about my other spending habits. I’m going to keep along a similar vein for May, but instead of Buy Nothing, it’s going to be a “Buy Only Necessary Things and Don’t Buy Non-Social Coffee” (I need a new pair of sneakers, a lightweight jacket I can run in, and maybe but not definitely a new pair of sandals). I’m also going to do my damnedest to limit myself to purchasing coffee only as a social thing (when I’ve made a coffee date, etc.) – that is, no treats because I know it will be a long work day, or because I’m extra tired, or because I don’t feel well. I have perfectly delicious coffee at home (truth: Tonx is the best), and spending $4 a cup for no particular reason is both absurd and a habit I need to break. I’m also going to cut down on how much I eat out. I by no means eat out excessively or expensively, but it is definitely something on which I need to work.

I’m not sure whether there’s a correlation between buying less and doing more enriching things, but this past month I’ve liked myself more. I’ve spent more time outside; I’ve started running again; I’ve finished one book and started two more; I’ve made progress on knitting (did I mention I’m learning to knit?! I’m learning to knit. I’m making a scarf, currently, which I realize is the most seasonally appropriate thing I could make, I know, but it’s helping me get used to the motions of knitting); I’ve been better about writing posts, even if I haven’t been better about posting them. I think the last month has just made me more aware of how I spend my time; when wandering around the target or the mall isn’t something I want to do, I have to tangibly come up with things, versus passively fall back on shopping for lack of anything better to do. I think it’s been healthy for me. I didn’t shop often anyways, but it definitely became a habit; I’d be bored and not want to clean or sort paperwork, so I’d go to Target instead. I feel like I’m much less inclined to do that now, and I’m pleased. So, yes. Continuing the spirit of Buy Nothing Month for May, though I’m definitely tweaking it a little this month. I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, honestly. It’s nice.

Anyone else want to do a Buy Nothing month with me in the future? Alternatively, if you’ve done one in the past, did you have trouble? What, if anything, was your biggest problem area?

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.

on things i’ve been thinking about recently, or: a post before vacation*

// Friday, March 28, 2014

I leave for vacation in less than twelve hours*; I’m going to the Caribbean for six days and I’m very much looking forward to it. I’ve been ‘attempting to pack’ for the last four days or so, because I come from a family of compulsive overpackers (one time, when I was 11 or 12 and my mom and I went to Florida for a little less than a week, we brought – in addition to presumably more clothes than we could possibly need – my two American Girl dolls, our Razor Wheelie Scooters (the basic ones with the wheelie bar on the back, and we justified bringing them because they ~collapsed~), and somewhere between 8 and 10 Nancy Drew books for the trip (I read 3 on the way down, I think; somehow we both overlooked the fact that I should be reading more difficult books, clearly).) Nowadays, I can be on either end of the spectrum: I’ve used a Rothko Messenger Bag [in khaki], which I love, for weekend trips to NYC/weekend trips in general for the last two years, but I’ve also been known to pack a full duffle (this, in pink and black, which is also what I’ve used for my last three trips; I’m able to pack a LOT into it) for a weekend. Incidentally, that’s the duffle I’m packing for this upcoming week. (Sidenote, I’m also bringing this backpack from LLBean, which I just got in blue and with which I am kind of in love.)

But my point is this: in thinking about packing and making lists and winnowing down lists (Do I really need eleven shirts for six days? No, no I do not), it’s occurred to me just how easy it is to accumulate far too many things.

I recently happened on to the blog Our Little Apartment because I wanted to clarify a cold brew iced coffee recipe, and somehow I ended up reading ~four years of her life. Her blog (which is fantastic, and I now highly recommend it) has such a focus on being frugal without being obsessive about it. I came across a couple of different posts that really resonated with me, from discussing Target as a guilty pleasure and way to kill boredom, to how she allocates her family’s budget, to how she’ll be the bag lady sipping a latte. I’m inspired by her ‘Buy Nothing Month’ posts; that’s definitely something I should do once in a while.

Anyways, my point is this: now that I’m going on vacation for a little less than a week and then will be back and feeling like I shouldn’t spend money, I’m going to say that April will be a ‘buy nothing’ month for me. What that means, essentially, is that I am limited to spending money on only necessary items (food, bills, house items like paper towels, etc.). I’ll definitely do a few posts in April detailing how that’s going. I think, overall, I do pretty good re: purchasing, but there are things on which I should work. I’m also going to limit myself to purchasing at most one coffee per week; the k cups at work won’t kill me if I run out of time to make coffee at home before work.

*I left for vacation March 14th. It’s now March 28th. This post was 99% finished and I forgot to add the links and post it. Yes, I am the worst. Yes, I am going to backdate it in about a week but I’m still going to leave these asterisks here. So there’s that.

ps: a vacation post will be up soon. vacation was the most wonderful.