on going quiet and silences

// Wednesday, April 20, 2016

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, let alone written anything here. That isn’t the right way to start this post, probably, but I’m not sure there is a right way to write any of this. I had planned to write a post about resolutions for 2016: about goals, about plans, about the importance of being in the moment more and appreciating conversations in whatever manner they came about.

Fair warning: this is not that post. This is not particularly edited (other than for typos and even then I’m sure I’ve missed some), or even well-thought out; it is a post because I have wanted and needed to write words here, but I haven’t yet.

I’ve written three thank you cards since February 6th, four if I count the one I wrote to my grandma. I should have written at least a dozen; I still am planning to write them. But writing – of all varieties – has been difficult lately.

I could come up with reasons for why I didn’t write more in early January (work, work travel), but that isn’t it, either. The truth of the thing is that I was trying to reconcile my heart of hearts with my everyday heart, trying to figure out what I knew versus knew versus thought I knew, because for me, in my life, those have always been very different things, or at the very least not a given that they are identical things. Because going home to Massachusetts for Christmas made me worry, but I couldn’t tell if it was the normal level of worrying or something else.

I remember when the above picture was taken. iPhoto tells me that it was taken at 3:01pm on October 25, 2014 using my DSLR, but it can’t tell me that I was standing next to my mom on Corporation Beach in Dennis on the Cape, on our first trip down since my grandma moved to Florida. That we were stealing some time alone while my grandma took a nap in the motel/inn/whatever we were staying in and Tommy took a nap in his car in the Corporation Beach parking lot, and my mom and I walked the full length of the beach, this taken on our walk out while we talked about missing the cape, and work, and how nice it was to take a mini-vacation, and how there were all sorts of future possibilities, and how great T was (is), and how Corporation Beach was still the same beach. And we found a few shells and walked back and walked up around the snack shack and the swings, and it was wonderful and cozy.

By October 2015, the next time my grandma came up for a visit from Florida, I was in California. My mom took a week off work and they went up to Bar Harbor together, and stayed in Jasper’s Restaurant and Motel (linked here only because it just took me like half an hour to think of the name), and had a bunch of their meals there and drove all around and went into the park and like. Apparently it was a lovely trip, minus a gravel road adventure that involved a ditch and local Maine dudes in pickup trucks finding them and literally pulling the car out of the ditch (adventure courtesy of the fact that my grandma got directions from Mapquest). I honest to God thought I’d be going with them on the next trip, so even though I thought about flying back for it, the fact that I didn’t have a job at the time seemed like the more pressing issue.

If you’re keeping track, I’ve written 601 words as of the end of that paragraph without saying the thing I’m trying to say. It’s a poem about oranges, right? That’s how this works? (I will forever reference “Why I Am Not A Painter” by Frank O’Hara, which I seem to have more or less imprinted on when I read it in high school(?).) So. Yes. The thing I am trying to say.

My mom died at the end of January. She was 63. There’s more to it than that (isn’t there always?), but what it comes down to is that I am devastated, but I am functioning: I’m just not back to being a full person yet. Or I am a full, real person, but in a way that is very different from the way I was before. People have been wonderful. I flew home immediately, and I did more things on no sleep in the 36 hours immediately following than I would have thought possible. And then over the course of a week, I planned a church service and wrote a eulogy. And wrote and placed a death notice in the Boston Globe, and then people who’d known her from the Cape fifty years ago came to the service, which was so unexpected and so nice.

I’ve been back in California since February 14th, minus a trip to Philadelphia for a friend’s wedding and a work trip. I’ve been handling logistics and waiting for the things to finalize that are outside of my control. I’ve got a pile of pictures and a memory book from the service that I haven’t been able to look at yet. I’ve got credit card companies to deal with and the logistics of trying to handle Massachusetts legalities from across the country. But I’ve also got weekly-ish phone calls from my dad, and letters from my grandma, and text check-ins from lovely people. It’s Real Life, but a different type than the one I’m used to living. I still have condolence emails to respond to – emails sitting read but marked unread at the top of my inbox since February.

I’m working on getting back into writing. My voice feels so far from my brain right now, because by and large I’ve got to do lists and white noise floating around in there, but I’m working on it. Gradually. I’ve started running again, finally: my runs are pathetic by any normal running standards right now – 12 minute one mile runs – but it gets me out of my head and into a place where I need to focus on breathing, and I think that’s a good thing.

I don’t know how to end this, really, but thanks for sticking around. I hope to fill this space with words and maybe even photographs on a more regular basis. I’ve been jotting out a better tagging system on scraps of agenda paper, which is my new equivalent to the backs of receipts. So there’s that. Moving towards moving forward.

Tell people you love that you love them.


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.

thinking in futures

// Friday, June 12, 2015

I was doing so well for a little while: I was writing regularly, thinking about writing regularly, consuming content in an intentional way where – barring the occasional endless link spiral – the blogs/news/articles I was taking the time to read were being read with a purpose. And then suddenly I wasn’t writing or reading much, because free time was spent outdoors with T, or day-dreaming and thinking in futures about summer plans and new adventures, or grabbing lunch or dinner with friends, or building up our sun-porch herb garden (so much mint and basil!! I am the heart-eyed emoji at our plants). I’ve been wonderfully social recently, but that means I’ve been falling behind in other things, because there is only so much time in the day, and when the choice comes down to being fun!productive (see: this space; organizing my desk) or regular!productive (see: laundry? oops) versus hanging out on the couch catching up on tv with my boyfriend, sometimes – lately more often than not – it’s the latter option that wins out. And I’m not saying it shouldn’t: not by a long shot. But the reason that choice is happening, lately, is because I’ll have nights where I get home from work and suddenly I’ve wasted three hours on the Internet, with nothing to show for it other than being caught up on reading other people’s words, seeing other people’s pictures. When I mentioned in my last post about ideas for posts, I somehow did the thing where I went from wanting to write about all of the things to feeling like nothing I wanted to write about would be, you know, perfect.

And that’s, for lack of a better word, silly: I am not perfect. I don’t want to be, though I definitely have a perfectionist streak. But what I like about writing, what I like about my writing and what I like about me, is that there are moments where the how-I-think-and-slightly-polished words become something else: when the moment where my fingers are moving faster than my conscious brain produces a typo, a slip, an incorrect word that is perfect and fitting and where I wanted the words to lead even though I didn’t know it until those words were on the page in front of me. And if I over-analyze to the point of paralysis, that magic can’t happen, won’t happen.

In college, back when I was writing creatively regularly (thank you, creative writing fiction and poetry classes), during a time of…typical college-age-twenty-something-emotional-turmoil, I wrote a thing – a poem – that based on the way I’m introducing it should be terrible, but it wasn’t. And it’s not something I’m going to reproduce here (because, college? because there are parts of it I love but I don’t want to rework it to post it here? because posting creative writing – in the real, I wrote this story/poem/prose poem, way – is a kind of terrifying I’m not ready for yet?), but what the whole five part thing stemmed from was the idea that thinking in futures is – was – a thing that I Did Not Do. And it’s funny, to me, how much a person can change in four, five years while still being the same person, only older and wiser and hopefully improved.

I know I haven’t been posting much, but one of my goals this summer and definitely over the next few weeks is to work on that more, consistently. I have a lot I want to talk about, to think about, to think through words and write about, and some wonderful coffee shops (see: local and slightly less local) I want to review. And at some point – maybe? I think? – I want to dive in a little to what is bound to be a very interesting election season. I have some lofty goals.

I’ve become a person who spends time thinking in futures: not all the time, and I’m still pretty consistently grounded in whatever my current reality is, but I’ve also reached a point where thinking in futures is feasible, and exciting, and wonderful, and only a little bit terrifying.

And that’s kind of great.

on anniversaries and the moral bucket list

// Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Last week was a weird week for me, full of anniversaries and birthdays and histories. My boyfriend’s birthday was earlier in the week, which was lovely and wonderful and we spent Sunday up in Portland in celebration, wandering around in the sunshine (and finally seasonally appropriate warm weather!) and heading to Duckfat for the first time (might make a post about it soon: I know it’s not a ~new thing~ but man, it was good).

But then midweek, last week, was April 15th. On a personal note, that date is the anniversary of a personal matter that I haven’t figured out how to write about in this space yet: I probably will, eventually, but now is not that time. But it’s a day for me that has a huge spectrum of emotions, and it puts me in sort of a odd headspace. And on a much larger, much more emotionally complicated anniversary scale, April 15th is the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Boston is my home, in the broad sense. I’ve grown up (and spent my whole life so far) in Massachusetts, and I work in downtown Boston. And I was at work in downtown Boston two years ago – I work about a mile away from the finish line, and it’s a Day, for Boston and for Massachusetts and for the country. I’m lucky: I’ve only peripherally felt the effects, in that I know people who know people, but nothing happened to anyone in my immediate circle of family and friends. It still has impacted me, absolutely, but I’m lucky. At least, as of last Wednesday, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all counts in the Marathon Bombings. So that’s something. But regardless, April 15th is a Day.

And because of all that last week was, I’ve been out of sorts. I haven’t felt like writing, haven’t wanted to write, other than when I accidentally filled three journal pages writing about something that happened a million years ago, and even then, it was Facts versus Writing, just because I wanted to see if I could. I haven’t been writing the way I want to write, lately. I’ve been overthinking and overanalyzing, and even just on here, I’ve got a half dozen drafts in various states. None are where I want them to be: I can’t find the right words, can’t get the feeling right, can’t translate what I’m thinking in my head to words on a computer screen.

But the reason this post is coming out of drafts and into the world is this: I really want to write about the “The Moral Bucket List” by David Brooks, an excellent piece from last week’s Sunday Review section of the New York Times, which has been circling the internet some already, but I want it in this space, too. and it was exactly, precisely, what I needed to read. It’s long, but it’s worth it. If it weren’t bad form and a crappy internet thing to do, I’m pretty sure I’d just paste the entire article here. But it is bad form to do so, so as such, here are a couple parts of the article that really resonated with me:

But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.


Commencement speakers are always telling young people to follow their passions. Be true to yourself. This is a vision of life that begins with self and ends with self. But people on the road to inner light do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me? How can I match my intrinsic talent with one of the world’s deep needs?

Their lives often follow a pattern of defeat, recognition, redemption. They have moments of pain and suffering. But they turn those moments into occasions of radical self-understanding — by keeping a journal or making art. As Paul Tillich put it, suffering introduces you to yourself and reminds you that you are not the person you thought you were.

The people on this road see the moments of suffering as pieces of a larger narrative. They are not really living for happiness, as it is conventionally defined. They see life as a moral drama and feel fulfilled only when they are enmeshed in a struggle on behalf of some ideal.


External ambitions are never satisfied because there’s always something more to achieve. But the stumblers occasionally experience moments of joy. There’s joy in freely chosen obedience to organizations, ideas and people. There’s joy in mutual stumbling. There’s an aesthetic joy we feel when we see morally good action, when we run across someone who is quiet and humble and good, when we see that however old we are, there’s lots to do ahead.

There’s lots to do ahead. And so many people fit into the “stumblers” category; we’re all just figuring out what works and what doesn’t and trying to find those moments of great joy, whether collective or personal. That’s what I want to focus on. That’s what I am focusing on. Because anniversaries and the memories and histories that go with them are easy to get lost in; but the fact of the matter is that the past is something to remember, not live in. And there are wonderful things in the future, even if a lot of the future, right now, is unknown and not fixed – but that, in and of itself, almost makes it more joyful, because the possibilities are endless, even the if the unknown is and can be frightening in the best of ways. This last week might have been difficult, yes, but, as above, those pieces of time are part of something bigger, a story that is and always will be unfolding, because there’s always another page to read, to live, to experience. And that’s the important thing.

Today, I’m drinking coffee out of a mug covered in hearts, literally, and that’s about where I’m at. Here’s to forward and futures.

running forward: literally and figuratively

// Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

on gratitude.

// Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 wednesday week in review posts (or: sometimes weeks are months)

// Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This has been sitting as a draft for a while, because sometimes I am the worst at figuring out what I want to say. Therefore, this particular Wednesday has become a month in review post instead of a week in review post, but my goal is to start actual week in review posts next week.

I know Friday is often the day people choose for week in review posts, but I’ve decided to be more realistic about when I’m most likely to want to sit and think back on the previous seven days. On Fridays, I’m tired. I’ve had a full work week, typically with many (non-work) evening activities, and when I get out of work I don’t want to sit down in front of a computer again. I’m ready for a screen break. I’ve noticed over the past several months that Friday nights and Saturdays tend to be my digital detox days – for the most part, I tend to stay off the computer, tablet, and phone (save making plans). Wednesdays, though, are just a typical day/night, and for me, they tend to be relatively low-key, so it makes sense for me to do something that’s not only productive but also in keeping with the low-key theme. (tl;dr – Wednesday are now going to be week in review days.)

Anyways, for the most part, this has been a relatively low-key month. I’ve done a bunch of new things, though, and I’ve been pretty close to fully successful at completing my buy nothing month plan. Overall, I’d say it’s been a pretty good month for me, and I’m hoping to continue that into May. There’s been some chaos in limited aspects of my personal life, but I’ve largely gotten better at focusing on the positive and allowing the negatives to be experiences from which I learn instead of experiences that drag me down more than I want them to. I have never been one of those people who advocates the whole “You Choose To Be Happy Regardless of How Terrible Things Are or Seem” thing, but I do think that I can have some control over my degree of unhappiness, which is to say, really, control over how much I let one area of unhappiness affect the happiness in/with other areas of my life, if that makes sense. I’ve been working on that more, and it’s going relatively well.

To continue with focusing on the good, some of the fun and/or new things I’ve done this month:

  • Dinner at the Russell House Tavern (I’d never been), which I very much enjoyed. The group was fun – six people including me, two of whom I’d never met and one with whom I’d only spent limited time, varying in age from 24 to ~late thirties. But it worked well, and even though I was exhausted, conversation flowed wonderfully. Food wise,  I got the char, which I’d never had but is very much like salmon (see also: yum!).
  • Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. First time I’d seen them and first time they’d performed “on the road”, so to speak, because we saw them at Berwick Academy in Maine, which is decidedly not Portsmouth, NH. It was an all Mozart program, and it was absolutely lovely.
  • My first ever Red Sox game. I’d acquired tickets through work, and I really enjoyed myself, even though I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a baseball fan. I was also rather entertained that they were playing the Orioles, as the one and only baseball cap I’ve ever owned was an Orioles cap (it’s a long story, but it mostly boils down to six-year-old me really liking the colors black and orange.) We lost, but whatever. It was a good night with good people and free food/beer. And getting home on public transportation wasn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it would be.
  • Spending the day up in Portsmouth, which consisted of lunch at  Lexie’s Joint (fun fact: their cucumber mint lemonade is the actual very best thing. and their burgers and milkshakes ain’t half bad, either) and then walking around downtown for about four hours. We lucked out, because the weather was gorgeous.
  • Easter. Easter’s never been that big of a deal in my family. (Sidenote: I’m Unitarian Universalist, so while I often “celebrate” the major religious holidays, it’s definitely more of a secular thing in my family, meaning that it’s more of an excuse to have a nice dinner with the good china than anything else.) That said, there was a 10 lb ham for dinner with yams and asparagus, and there’s something nice about going home (/bringing T) and having a meal + wine with family. And there’s also the added bonus that I now have (well, had) a lot of leftovers to bring to work with me for lunches. There’s still a part of me that wishes I received an Easter basket, though, so I don’t really know what that says about me. But I did get to share an Easter basket/bag given to someone else, so I’m counting that as a win (Reese’s eggs! Lindt bunnies! plastic grass! Also, yes, I am six years old.)
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra thanks to their $20 under 40 special offer. We saw “Charles Dutoit conducts Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky featuring pianist Behzod Abduraimov” and it was a wonderful night. The pianist was AMAZING. Caps are seriously not even remotely enough to covey how good he was. Also, he’s only a year younger than I am, and I am now seriously questioning my accomplishments in life…). Also, had dinner at Helmand in Cambridge, and I highly recommend the Qabelee.

Like I said, overall it’s been a very good month. Here’s to hoping May is equally as good and fun and filled with good people/events.

*This post was also going to contain an update/reflection on my Buy Nothing month, but it’s gotten fairly long as is, so look for that post tomorrow.

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.