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One Project At A Time

19 Dec

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Today in TJ Maxx in between trying on Hawaiian print heels and convincing myself I don’t need a neon rainbow light, I maintained a conversation with a friend. I told her how I’ve become very crafty lately. I’m making pom poms and illustrating my words and putting photo albums together.

I mentioned the next projects I have in mind.

I’m about to become a BeJeweler!

Flower patches will adorn my jeans!

“I’ve told myself I will complete one project a month,” I said just as she spoke,

“Just remember, one project at a time.”

It was a subtle difference but it struck me hard.

I give myself Goals! and Deadlines! even for things that are supposed to be fun. Things like being creative.

It never occurs to me to let things happen naturally. To work on one project until it is complete and then move to the next. To breathe without deadlines. To do it as my life, as my pace allows.

There must be a structure! A plan!

Having fun was never so much fun!

We continued our conversation and our walk through TJ Maxx. I also dodged a 7 lipstick multipack purchase (but so cheap!) and white go-go boots (but so needed!). I did buy a pair of sunglasses because that is how I invest in myself and my future for the low, low price of $8.

The whole time, though, I kept thinking about my goals and my plans for next year. How I manage somehow to regulate every aspect of my life, every bit of pleasure and spontaneity. Every last inch of my creativity.

How I can ease up a little.

How I can go along with the natural pace of my life.

And so, in case you need these words today too:

Just remember, one project at a time

My Word For 2017

16 Dec

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On our wedding night, lightning struck our inn.

As we jumped over puddles in our formalwear, the inn’s manager told us just how intense the rain had been. He was sitting on a chair wearing galoshes and a waterproof coat. He recounted how the power had gone. How lightning had struck. Not just nearby. Not in the area.

Lightning struck our inn.

The next day as we looked in the newspaper and read the articles about it we laughed.

What did it mean?

If rain on your wedding day was good luck, what were flash floods and lightning bolts?

Well, we’re either the greatest relationship of all time or we’re going up in flames.

This year I got married. It makes sense that the word for the year was committed. I got engaged. I pledged to love someone in sickness and in health. We karaoked in front of our loved ones in torrential downpour. I put on birthstone wedding rings. There’s no going back now.

And yet, I committed to more than just Rob this year.

I committed to my work in libraries. In taking a job that I love, one where I can grow as a librarian and as a person. One I’m committed to.

This is no in-between phase, this is it, baby.

I bought the first couch of my life. A yellow thing that’s surprisingly easy to lift and surprisingly comfortable to sit on for being in the clearance warehouse at Living Spaces, La Mirada.

I committed to a kitchen table. That round one everyone has from Ikea?

To a new therapist. A new city. A new health insurance plan through an employer.

Because I have a single job right now! A job I love!

(Did I mention?)

(Did you know last year at this time I was working four different part-time jobs?)

Mainly I committed to a life.

I didn’t think it would take so long and then on the other hand I think, wow, OK I’m here. Am I here already?

I’m reaping the benefits from the long hard in-between phase. From the jobs I hated and the bad relationships I loved and the places I didn’t want to live and the versions of myself I didn’t want to keep.

I fought for this life. Therapy session by therapy session. I cried and I struggled and I sacrificed and I gained a bunch of weight because, listen, I don’t always cope in super healthy ways like meditation, and here I am.

In a life I’m committed to. A life I love.

I’m all in, baby.

Bring on the lightning.

 

PS: What was your word this year?

My words in 201620152014, and 2012.

We’re Getting A Cat And Other Updates

12 Nov

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Oh well.

Hi there.

Clears throat

Sorry, I’m just feeling a little self-conscious.

It’s been a while since I’ve stretched my blogging fingers. I’ve almost forgotten why I did it.

Do it?

I keep thinking that maybe I’ll have some great idea that I’ll need to write about and that will snap me back into it like a sugar snap pea!

And yet.

I’m sitting here on a Friday night at 7:33 PM. My laptop is at 10 percent so I’m writing at a weird angle so I can charge this baby.

Rob is watching the Celtics and cooking pasta in the other room and I’m reading three books at once. One is too emotionally draining and has to do with, oh I can’t even speak of it. Another is scary and so I keep taking breaks for the emotionally draining one. And one is due at the library. That one is the most neglected.

Is that me sticking it to the man? Neglecting the library book I actually should read?

Not playing by the RULES.

I turned 30. Remember that?

I actually spent the month before I turned 30 writing poetry about all I had learned in 30 years of life.

Excuse me while I find some of it.

OK I’m back.

You ready for this?

 

Buy the great big underwear

granny panties

waistless

size up

buy the great big underwear and start living the great big life

 

Hey that one was pretty good!

What about this:

 

Wash your face before you get tired

Wash your face before you get tired

Wash your face bef

 

And finally:

 

A poem about bangs

Don’t do it

 

DON’T TELL SYLVIA HER REPUTATION IS BEING THREATENED.

 

OK, ok, what else?

 

I’ve been really happy lately.

Let me rephrase that.

I’ve been content lately.

It’s different than happiness, or at least how I see it. Happiness is an inherently temporary condition, one I’ve been chasing for most of my life, refusing to recognize it as an impossible standard. Contentment, on the other hand, is more a feeling of enjoying the right now. It’s not flashy or even that exciting. But oh my Oprah, what a relief!

What a rare treat.

Let’s see.

Let’s see.

We’re going to get a cat.

That’s happening after Christmas.

A cat was part of the great, ongoing pre-marriage discussion of What We Want in Life and Can We Give it To Each Other.

Rob is just about the biggest animal person the world has ever produced and I have had a lot of bad experiences with animals and so a cat.

A cat is where we landed.

Listen, I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with men and I still got married so I do have some level of faith and belief and hope.

I have faith and I believe and I hope that I will learn to love a cat.

And now here we are.

I recently bought a fluffy cat makeup bag at Forever 21 that looks like what I imagine our fluffy cat (non makeup bag) will one day look like.

I then converted said bag into a purse because nothing can be easy, and then. And then! I realized I’ve become the mother who buys matching clothing for her and her kids without even being pregnant. I’m that cat mother! Heaven help us all.

Other things.

Otter things.

Do Unto Otters, have you read that children’s book?

Political turmoil. Women getting angry and making a difference.

Hey! We’re here, we’ve always been humans and we are powerful and we are FED UP HEAR US ROAR.

It’s a hard time. I want to record it. And I also want to live. I want to feel content and not always hurt and riled up and angry and confused.

I want to live.

I’m going to Hamilton this Tuesday.

That seems as good a place as any to end this thing.

I’m going to Hamilton this Tuesday and life is good and I want to live it.

I’m living it.

Life As Advertised

10 Oct

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This morning we walked to the library and then the farmers market. I was getting hungry so I told Rob to go on without me.

Save yourself!

Soon, I was in a movie theater getting their large popcorn/large drink combo. Rob discovered me, some time later, on a bench, smiling boldly. “Someone’s happy,” he said, before asking if he still needed to bring popcorn back from his showing of Blade Runner later in the day.

“No, but I still want pancakes.”

“Well, I knew that one.”

We got back home and made brunch together. I’m in charge of any and all baking tasks. This time: banana pancakes. He’s in charge of eggs and bacon and choosing out the good basil.

He put on Madonna Borderline because we had just watched Will and Grace and Borderline was a whole plotline.

I attempted to dance like Jack and settled for Will.

The pancakes were delicious. (Add pecans and chocolate chips. Top with fresh bananas.)

After, as we cleared the dishes, I read Helter Skelter out loud, our October book of choice.

We discovered that the person currently residing on the property where the Manson murders took place is none other than the creator of FULL HOUSE.

You didn’t see that coming, did you?

It was a beautiful morning, the sort where is life as advertised.

I don’t want my money back, thank you.

I’m perfectly satisfied.

And All Is Well

9 Oct

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Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages. I have a bathtub! It’s really small! I have a really small bathtub I used while listening to Joni and burning a churro candle!

Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages after going on a very long walk.

What a relief that was. To find a safe place I can walk at night. To lace up my shoes and burn through some podcasts. To start the mindfulness it takes to walk in circles without checking my phone, without texting or tweeting. Just being. Just walking. Just being grateful I’m walking.

Yesterday I took a bath for the first time in ages after going on a long walk and scheduling my next therapy appointment.

I have a therapist here now. That’s exciting.

It took some time, as these tasks do. A failed appointment or two. Online research. Health insurance hubaloo trubaloo.

But I have a therapist and I have a walking route and I have a bathtub

And all is well.

Life Is Just A Day At A Time

18 Sep

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Our first morning back in LA we woke up early, still on Bermuda time.

There was some reading, some watching of Bachelor in Paradise (for me).

Eventually we made it to our local bagel place for hash browns and bacon and eggs. Strawberry cream cheese and more Tapatio please.

Next was the library where we picked up our waiting books and then some. We stumbled on to a farmer’s market! On accident! We were not prepared!

Lemon basil, cherry tomatoes, squash, garlic.

Hands too full on the walk home.

There was more Bachelor in Paradise. A nap. Four dozen bran muffins to freeze.

A friend worried about getting engaged once asked me about commitment, knowing that I pore over decisions, that none come easily to me. She wanted to know how I felt being engaged.

Life is just a day at a time now as it was before, I said.

I’ve been obsessive about getting our apartment together.

I’ll be walking down the street listing off the things that need to get done. A mirror in the hallway, maybe? Four frames on that wall. No five!

It’s a weird turn of events, wanting my apartment to look perfect.

For over a decade, since leaving for college, I’ve lived in a variety of apartments, some that didn’t reflect me in any way. I never cared until now.

I think it goes back to an idea I have about the person I’m supposed to be in my future. In my future I keep my (quaint) (completely unique) (beach bungalow) home spotless. That quaint, completely unique beach bungalow I keep spotless (easily, flawlessly, while doing other things)? That home reflects me in every way. That home is beautiful, fun to be in, full of light and color and vintage lamps!

I am in my future now.

There’s no denying it. I’m turning 30 next month. I have real health insurance. I’ve made legal commitments to another human. I’m on the career path I’d like to keep climbing.

I’ve always been in my future, but it’s hitting me particularly hard right now.

And so I obsess.

The ironic thing about all of this, of course, is that the person I’m supposed to be in my future doesn’t obsess over unimportant things.

I keep trying to write. To get back into the game.

It’s so hard.

I don’t write about writing all that much, but I talk about it with friends all that much.

How writing is like running. How you have to keep lacing up those Asics and getting out the door even when you end up shuffling down the street with sweat pouring down your face, sure you’ll never improve.

You have to keep writing those sentences even when they’re stilted and blehing and why am I doing this.

You keep lacing up those sneakers.

You keep typing those awkward words.

 

Life is just a day at a time, now as it was before.

Leave Good Reviews

9 Jun

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Rob and I took our engagement pictures in a dive bar after eating mac and cheese, buffalo wings, a burger and garlic fries. I list it all out there because it’s one of the reasons I love Rob the most. We go to a restaurant and implicitly agree, yes, all of it.

Yes, all of it, is a good approach to life, I say. Or at least it’s the approach I’ve attempted.

It works sometimes, I say.

In order to reproduce our photobooth strip, I tried out the local copy shop. The man at the counter looked at me like I was insane and then told me he could “make a copy on paper.”

No, good sir. I want these to be photos?

He had no suggestions for how I should proceed and told me I probably shouldn’t.

It was a pretty discouraging conversation, honestly. I left thinking we were dumb for taking $4 engagement photos and also that that man deserved to live in Arizona during the summer!

(Only sort of.)

(Only briefly sort of.)

Next I tried CVS.

Yes, that CVS.

A worker instantly came to my aid. He experimented with different sizes. He printed off a bunch of attempts. “We’ll get there,” he said, over and over.

He gave me a nice discount because of the number of prints we ordered and because we weren’t using a full sheet. An experience that could have been very expensive and disheartening was positive and easy.

I decided to leave a review on Google. The first that this CVS had ever received.

Five stars. “Very helpful and patient with an unusual photo order.”

I’ve never left a Google review before.

I still have inside my soul a scathing takedown of a dentist in Calabasas who felt the need to argue his frightening political beliefs before fixing my tooth, but this man is old  and clearly unhappy and do I really want to end his career?

So no, I’ve never left a Google review.

Anne Lamott says in her brilliant Ted Talk: “Food–try to do a little better. You know what I mean.”

This was greeted with thunderous laughter by the crowd. Because it’s a truth. Because we seem to think we can do more than a little better? I know I do.

I think, oh no problem, this week I’ll revolutionize my food life. My writing life. My everything life.

When the reality is, life is in small steps. We try to do a little better.

We lurch forward, as Anne would say.

Leave good reviews.

That’s my lurch this week.

Leave good reviews because we live in an age where we check Yelp before we leave the house, where new businesses and CVS businesses and all businesses benefit from kind public words.

Leave good reviews because it’s free and it’s simple and because you can brighten someone else’s day and put kind words into the universe, so why shouldn’t you?

Leave good reviews.

You know what I mean.

The Lauren Graham Kitchen Timer Writing Method

25 May

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This is taken directly from Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can. My schedule has changed and I’m BACK, baby. I’m back working on my big writing projects. I need this as a reminder and a guide, always. Perhaps you do too.

The Kitchen Timer Writing Method

The principle of Kitchen Timer is that every writer deserves a definite and doable way of being and feeling successful every day.

To do this, we learn to judge ourselves on behavior rather than content. We set up a goal for ourselves as writers that is easy, measurable, free of anxiety, and above all, fall-proof, because everyone can sit, and an hour will always pass.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

1. Buy a kitchen timer, one that goes to 60 minutes. Or use a timer app. Or tell Siri to start a timer for 60 minutes.

2. We decide on Monday how many hours of writing we will do Tuesday. When in doubt or under pressure or self-attack, we choose fewer hours rather than more. A good, strong beginning is one hour a day, but a half hour is also good, or twenty minutes. Some of us make appointments in our calendar for these hours, as if they are lunch meetings or business calls.

3. The Kitchen Timer hour:

No phones. No texts. We silence ringers; we turn our phones facedown. It is our life; we are entitled to one hour without interruption, particularly from loved ones. We ask for their support. “I was on an hour” is something they learn to understand. But they won’t respect it unless we do first.

No music with words, unless it’s a language we don’t understand. Headphones with a white noise app can be helpful.

No internet, absolutely. We turn off our computer’s Wi-Fi.

No reading.

No pencil sharpening, desk tidying, organizing.

4. Immediately upon beginning the hour, we open two documents: our journal, and the project we are working on. If we don’t have a project we’re actively working on, we just open our journal.

5. An hour consists of TIME SPENT KEEPING OUR WRITING APPOINTMENT. That’s it. We don’t have to write at all, if we are happy to stare at the screen or the page. Nor do we have to write a single word on our current project; we may spend the entire hour writing in our journal. Anything we write in our journal is fine; ideas for future projects, complaints about loved ones, what we ate for dinner, even “i hate writing” typed four hundred times.

When we wish or if we wish, we pop over to the current project document and write for as long as we like. When we get tired or want a break, we pop back to the journal.

The point is, when disgust or fatigue with the current project arises, we don’t take a break by getting up from our desk. We take a break by returning to the comforting arms of our journal, until that in turn bores us. Then we are ready to write on our project again, and so on. We use our boredom in this way.

IT IS ALWAYS OKAY TO WRITE EXCLUSIVELY IN OUR JOURNAL. In practice it may rarely happen that we spend the full hour in our journal, but it’s fine, good, and right if it does. It is just as good a writing day as one spent entirely on our current project.

6. It is infinitely better to write fewer hours every day than many hours one day and none the next. If we have a crowded weekend, we choose a half or quarter hour as our time, put in that time, and go on with our day. We are always trying to minimize our resistance, and beginning an hour on Monday after two days off is a challenge.

7. When the hour is up, we stop, even if we’re in the middle of a sentence. If we have scheduled another hour, we give ourselves a break before beginning again–to read, eat, go on errands. We are not trying to create a cocoon we must stay in between hours (the old “i’sorry, I can’t see anyone or leave my hours–I’m on a deadline method). Rather, inside the hour is the inviolate time.

8. If we fail to make our hours for the day, we have scheduled too many. Four hours a day is an enormous amount of time spent in this manner, for example. If on Wednesday we planned to write two hours and didn’t make it, we schedule a shorter appointment for the next day. We don’t add an our to “make up” or “catch up.” we let the past go and move on.

9. When we have fulfilled our commitment, we make sure we credit ourselves for doings. We have satisfied our obligation to ourselves, and the rest of the day is ours to do with as we wish.

10. A word about content: This may seem to be all about form, but the knowledge that we have satisfied our commitment to ourselves, the freedom from anxiety and resistance, the stilling of that hectoring voice inside us that used to yell at us that we weren’t writing enough–all this opens us up creatively.

The Good Things Post 5/15/17

15 May

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At the end of last year I did the thing on Twitter where for every like a Tweet received I shared something good about my 2016.

It was one of the brief respites from the whole nightmare of that time and it helped me. It helped to articulate the good.

I thought with everything still so often dark and nightmarish I would start Mondays off with some good things. The Good Things Post.

May it help you. May it help me.

May we all help each other.

Good Things 5/15/17

1. A couple I do not know, have never met, and likely will never meet got engaged!

Ashley and Kelly are one of my favorite couples despite all of the above. Ashley is a writer who has beautifully put to words  her feelings on Kelly many, many times in the past and I love seeing relationships unfold that are healthy, respectful and empowering. You should be following their love story too.

2. Anne Lamott strikes again!

“Mothering has been the richest experience of my life, but I am still opposed to Mother’s Day. It perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents. (Meanwhile, we know the worst, skeeviest, most evil people in the world are CEOs and politicians who are proud parents.)”

Goes along with Mari Andrew’s beautiful Mother’s Day drawing

3. Everyone’s Instagram Mother’s Day posts!

I imagine many of us hold both #2 and #3 as truths inside of us. That Mother’s Day can be quite difficult and is a complicated holiday and should it be celebrated? And also we are incredibly grateful for the humans who have nurtured and loved us in our lives, mothers are not.

I personally love a day online where people are giving tributes to those who helped raise them.

I love seeing 90s hair and old wedding photos and babe moms and hearing the things that you picked up from the people in your life who loved you, traditional mothers or not. It’s one of my favorite days on all of social media. A day of professing love.

4. Marco Polo

My family is using Marco Polo and I’ve been seeing my niece and nephews more and sharing more of my drama and that’s all I want in life, really.

5. Gilmore Girls Legos

Yep yep

(Vote vote)

 6. Sunscreen!

I recently realized that I wear sunscreen every day. I don’t know when that change happened, but somewhere along the line it went from a distant goal of the type of person I’d like to be to a reality. (I use this one. My dermatologist recommended it and it is not sponsored because I’ve never done an ad on here, remember?)

 7. The Hyperbalist’s Instagram account

In a world where it seems so many draw upon the same Instagram Dictionary (“this guy” “obsessed” etc) Alina is HERSELF. It’s a true talent to show your voice through captions and pictures and snippets but she has it and it’s fun to follow along.

 8. I read a whole book this morning

(This one.) Just sat in bed and read. It was the perfect antidote to a yesterday so intense I told people I was losing my mind and I meant it.

Real question: When we lose part of our mind do we ever get it back?

9. Rupi Kaur’s poetry

In case you’re not one of the 1.2 million already following along.

 10. JFK stamps

Going on our wedding invitations because when you’re doing a Cape Cod wedding this can be justified. Also a good conversation starter with your local post office worker!

 

xoxo my friends

May you find good things in your life this week

What I’ll Tell My Future Daughters About The Women’s March on January 21, 2017

22 Jan

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I woke up at 6:30 bubbling and ready to go. This never happens, you know. Well you really know if you’re my daughters.

I’m sorry about me in the mornings.

We met at my friend Shelley’s place to finalize our signs. Poster boards were sold out all through Los Angeles. “I had to buy them in packs of 10,” LJ said.

I went for a double-sided post: “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” and “Women Unite.” I carried a bit of Hillary with me today.

We drove to the Metro and were greeted by snaking crowds and bright signs. As soon as we stepped out strangers yelled, “Get back in the car!” It was 2,000 deep to even purchase a ticket.

Back in the car we got.

We parked nearby and joined the throng wandering to Pershing Square. The air was electric. I don’t know how to describe it. You could taste the hope. Smell it, feel it.

This was history.

We gathered, unable to hear the speakers or what was going on. Every once in awhile we held our signs up and cheered. We were here! We were ready!

The crowd was too big to march whatever route was planned and soon we dispersed. All through downtown, hundreds of thousands of us marched and cried and chanted Beyoncé.

There was a lot of Beyoncé.

We danced in the street to “In the Name of Love.” We hugged a stranger who said “Now hug someone else. Get to know someone else who is here.”

Every kind of human being, every kind of American imaginable was present. We had women sporting Republican signs and Communist signs. We had people in costume as the Dakota Pipeline.

Everyone had a different reason for being there. Healthcare, the environment, immigrants, women’s rights, LGBT rights, anyone marginalized. Human decency.

Love.

Above all, love.

There were babies and men. A woman with a broken leg whose husband was pulling her on a converted wagon.

There were seven of us girls who came together. Seven of us girls who are women of faith, feminists of faith. We met at church and through each other.

Feminists need women of faith.

Women of faith certainly need feminists.

We shared stories about the sexism we’ve experienced in our lives. We introduced ourselves. We sat on each other’s laps in our unexpected journey downtown in a car.

We held signs.

My mamma taught me how to march

Girls just want to have fun-damental rights

Girl Gang Forever

We all had different reasons for coming, different backgrounds and feelings. Different issues at stake.

I was slightly more hysterical than some (all), perhaps.

What else is new?

I wish you could have seen the signs, girls! The signs were such a highlight.

So many creatives, so many beautiful posters. Star Wars was everywhere. Carrie Fisher was everywhere. “A woman’s place is in the resistance.”

The resistance it was.

We gathered a crowd of millions of people worldwide, hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles alone. Women across America and the globe said no.

No, this is not ok. This is not normal.

No to hatred, no to bigotry, no to sexism and bullying. No, no, no.

No.

We will resist.

We did it peacefully. We did it happily. We were hopeful and inspired, we stood in solidarity with different viewpoints and different backgrounds.

Today we made history, girls.

I did it for you.

I did it for me.

Today we made history.