on spoons and peanut butter and blueberries

// Friday, July 17, 2015

Recently I was walking home from work, feeling sort of gross, and it took me the entire walk home to realize it was because of the spoonful of peanut butter I had at 5:07, before I left work at 5:30, before I took the train and some escalators and got home. And I had this aha moment, this realization that the afternoon pause for spoons and peanut butter, this tiny little insignificant snack, was more than the sum of its parts. Spoons and peanut butter go together, you know? It’s such a handy I’m-slightly-hungry snack that’s healthy enough that I don’t feel bad about said snacking. And I love (the idea of?) peanut butter, so somehow the fact that that it’s been making me feel bad with increasing frequency hasn’t translated to action.

The problem is that I’ve been so focused on the larger consequence that I’m losing sight of the smaller, gradual steps. I’ve gotten better at the whole big-pictures-causing-blind-spots thing, but I’m far from perfect and luckily reminders of progress over perfection still sneak in. And I can think on something and see the steps, sometimes: Reese’s, which I use to consume with some regularity, are now something I have maaaaaybe once a month or so (see also: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, because they are excellent). I buy a jar of peanut butter maybe 4x a year? If that? So I’ve scaled back, somewhat subconsciously and somewhat consciously, finding a way to make moderation work for me, except now I maybe have to scale back again, scale back more, to smaller spoonfuls, or no spoonfuls.

The universe, it seems, has been reminding me of the fact that small steps (and teeny tiny fixes) are important things to keep sight of, because incremental changes (whether specifically steps forward or not) are, for me, more often than not the way progress is made. Lately I’ve been reading archives and miscellaneous posts on enJOY it by Elise Blaha (is that the proper way to refer to that? titles: not a thing I am good at), because somehow I missed the (many years’ long) internet memo and only discovered her last week. I am so in love with all of the things, but, for the sake of brevity, what really stuck was her post about a 365 day calendar/goal tracker/motivator. Because, this:

I really believe that progress is better than perfection because progress is something we can strive for. Progress is motivating. Perfection is paralyzing. This calendar’s goal is to encourage you to pick ONE THING for the year. Something you can attempt to do everyday. And then this calendar will help you track it and hopefully remind you that there is a much larger picture to see here.

It’s just: that’s what I needed to read. A reminder that progress is the goal. That you have to take a bunch of small steps to make a big step. (Sidenote: I’m bummed I’m so late to the game and missed out on getting the letterpress cards, but I will be purchasing the digital file once I figure out how I’m handling my recently closed PayPal account (because I thought their updated Terms of Service & Privacy Policy was stupid, because now I’m regretting closing it because PayPal is so handy).)

Given that I’ve been able to relatively painlessly wean myself off of peanut butter because it makes me feel odd and sort of nauseous (yay, weird genes? my dad’s the same way and it also hit him in his twenties?), why can’t I also, at the same time and on the same timeline, get myself back in decent shape? figure out a blog schedule that I’ll actually stick to? fall back into reading? I’ve been saying, emphatically, that I need to write more, need to run more (or at all), need to read more. But I’ve also been doing the thing where it’s all big goals, all “well, shit, I didn’t read at all last weekend and I wanted to finish that book and I haven’t even started, so maybe I’ll just watch Modern Family instead?” And that’s the part where that 365 day calendar comes back in.

So that’s what I’m doing: I’m scaling back and I’m moving forward all at once. While I still have half a jar of peanut butter in my desk at work, I’m less about the spoons and peanut butter and more about the blueberries I picked the last time I went up to my dad’s. (Because they don’t ripen all at once. Because they require patience, and care, and maybe some a lot of netting and fencing, and even then: results aren’t guaranteed, but you’ll end up with something that has grown and probably nourished you.) Over the last week, I’ve gone for two runs and read from my kindle on my commute home from work each day. Neither is particularly impressive numbers-wise: both runs were under a mile and a half, and there’s only so much reading one can do after jostling for a seat and fighting for space on a packed commuter train. But I’ve been running an amount that is healthy for me (in that I need to ease back into it, very slowly) and reading a little bit each day, and I’m happy with that. Progress, and perspective – and blueberries, because summer is wonderful.

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.

The Importance of Positive Spin

// Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I struggle – maybe more than I should – with where the line is between focusing on the good and/or being cautiously optimistic and feeling like I’m avoiding reality with regards to the thing that isn’t the silver lining. That’s not to say that there are Terrible Things in my life: just that I’m human, and like everyone else I have my moments of doubt, of feeling like others are doing something better/worse/smarter/dumber than I am and not knowing where the actual reality line stands. But by and large, I’d classify myself as fully aware of reality with a healthy focus on the importance of positive spin, on finding the good, of realizing that low moments can bring out the best in those around me. (The above image is from a note this summer, courtesy of my wonderful roommate and friend, when some personal things were all sorts of terrible, and I came home to find a vase of flowers and that note on my bookcase. Because sad, stressful things can lead to realizing just how cared for you are: people around me have so much love and strength.)

I’ve been thinking about that recently, about Reality versus Negative versus Positive, and then today at lunch, I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about the importance of positive spin on personal stories with regards to staying healthy. I don’t read the WSJ all that often (I’m not a fan of the writing style, or the direction they’re more inclined to lean than other papers I read), but my joint office suite has a full subscription, so every day there’s a current paper that floats around the office kitchen. It makes for good lunchtime reading, especially now that I’m trying to focus on not using my phone as an idle-I’m-sort-of-bored-while-eating-this-sandwich activity. But anyways: the full title of the article* is, “It’s Healthy to Put a Good Spin on Your Life: How we construct personal narratives has a major impact on our mental well-being”; while that is not a novel concept, and parts of the article are sort of a stretch, the tagline is worth remembering, worth internalizing. (A sidenote: I’m so used to reading about various new exercise crazes that when I first saw the print headline and associated athletic picture, I honestly thought the article was going to have something to do with taking a spin class. I’m glad I was incorrect.)

Today, two days after Easter, the above article was what I needed to read. Holidays – no matter which ones – almost always highlight certain aspects of family dynamics more than other regular days, and I like to maintain a healthy perspective. I had a wonderful (secular) Easter, but still: holidays. And given that most of the office talk on Monday revolved around the general mostly-secularly-meant, “How was your Easter?”, it seems even more appropriate to think about the ways in which people present narratives and the broader (personal) implications of such presentations. The article touches on two studies published last month (which I haven’t had time to read yet) the fact that good spin is more than just always finding the positive: you need to acknowledge the negative, but focus on the positive – the silver lining, so to speak. (The article also includes a list of steps/guidelines on the best ways to foster framing narratives in positive, good-for-your-mental health ways. Again, nothing groundbreaking, but the sidebar on personal accounting is worth looking over.) What positive spin comes down to is this:

“You can’t impact every event of your life,” says Jonathan Adler, lead researcher on the study and an assistant professor of psychology at Olin. “But you have a choice in how the narrative plays out. You tell the story and the story really matters.”

The story is what lasts: you have to accept all facets of the story, but you get to decide the story that lasts, to an extent. Because what you tell yourself and what you tell others is what sticks, what forms itself into solid memory and feeling of memory. It’s not about the fact that you can’t run a triathalon, though that is a fact of the story; instead, it is about the fact that you have more time with your family, with yourself, with others. It’s like the sayings about college: you don’t remember sitting for every exam, though you did (or will, or whatever), but you remember the times with your friends, with your classes. Time has a funny way of sanding down the stories we tell into what matters. And that, at the heart, is what makes positive spin, positive presentation without negating the bad, is so important. Because it’s all about how you frame it, and how you frame it is how you see it for years to come.

On a much less serious note (or more serious, depending on your degree of religiousness): if you celebrate Easter, or Passover, or any other holiday around this time that I am forgetting: I hope it was/is/will be wonderful.

Do you think that the putting a positive spin on personal narratives is important?

*The Wall Street Journal‘s paywall is ridiculous, and I’m not actually sure how long this link will link to the full text of the article, but at least this way if you’re inclined to read it and you’re late to the game, you have a shot at finding it.

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.

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 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.

find your path, give back, make good choices

// Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The title of this post is not mine; it’s a refrain from a poem and a phrase on a t-shirt, both of which were written/created to memorialize the sudden death of Peter Arthur, a man who I was lucky enough to have as a teacher my freshman year of high school.

February 4th marked the eighth anniversary of his death. This is the first year I haven’t had some sort of Facebook status with the above phrase, lacking this year in part because I rarely use Facebook now and in part because there are very few people with whom I am Facebook friends with now that would understand. It’s odd to me, I guess, that I didn’t have someone to do the whole, “wait, how was that eight years ago?” thing with, but at the same time, it’s also strange that not posting on social media feels strange, that it almost feels like I’ve forgotten to remember because I didn’t remember publicly on the day of the anniversary.

I moved to the town containing said high school the August before senior year of high school; there are stark differences between the town and my hometown – socially, economically, politically. Mr. Arthur, in many ways, was crucial to me finding my footing. (Sidenote, I now realize why I’m sort of a pack rat, because I have no idea if I’m misremembering his class was my first class of the day or not, and I could check that the next time I go home home, maybe, possibly, if I can find the right box.) My locker was right outside his classroom, and due to the wonky school bus schedule, I would get to school at 7:05 even though classes didn’t start until 7:45. He almost always came in at 7:15, and we’d say hi and chat and that gave me such a wonderful sense of having some sort of anchor, someone at that school to whom I mattered. I’ve come a long way since then. We talked the Friday afternoon before he died and made plans to catch up the following week (because we were busy, because there would be time).

And this post is off-topic, in a sense, if only because this posts exists only to say that I miss him, that I remember, that time is a very strange thing, that putting things off can have unforeseen consequences.

February is a time to tell those you care about that you care about them. Too many terrible things have happened in February throughout the years.

Regular posts to return soon.