Playing with Pals

Whew, y’all. The late January and early February times have brought an abundance of visitors to the SoCal area, and I can’t help but feel thrilled about it. My best friend, Annie, from college had the chance to come out for a few days, and it was the most perfect timing because her sister is living almost down the street from me and we already hang out all the time! I wish we could permanently add Annie to the neighborhood, but we’ll take a weekend if that’s what we can get.

Last Bookstore record player

It was one of the first opportunities I had to explore LA for visitors and find the fun things to do. We painted pots, strolled the best bookstore, rode swan boats, and celebrated the bulldogs racing in a derby. There was a lot more celebrating than there was actual racing, but what else are sporting events about?

Santa Anita Bulldog Derby
Glaze Fire pottery

One morning, we walked through the Downtown Los Angeles Flower Market, and if you are buying plants, especially succulents, anywhere else, you should really rethink your habits. We showed up towards the end of the morning when a lot of the stalls were already shutting down, but even still, I’ve rarely seen so many beautiful blooms in one place.

Los Angeles Flower Market

The most fun and unbelievable part of all was that Annie is about 5 months pregnant, so we got to see her in her maternity state, and by the next time we’re together again, there will be a little one to welcome into the world! It’s so exciting and surreal to delight in a ten-plus year friendship and to watch a loved one enter a new stage of life. Blessings all around!

Echo Park Lake swan boats

High Thrills & Hot Dogs

For someone who spent the first 18 years of their life living within 90 minutes of New York City, there are many traditional New York activities that, until recently, I had never done. I'd never (still have never) been to the Empire State Building, I waited until I was 25 to visit the MoMA, and, before last weekend, I hadn't made the trek out to Coney Island.

Coney Island beach

Well, well. Times have changed, and I'm glad they did because my friend Liz and I spent a whole day riding wild roller coasters, strolling the boardwalk, and eating our first Nathan's Famous dogs. We even ran into some friends at the end of the day, which if you ask me, is a sure sign of belonging in a place. I'm so grateful to loved ones who are always up for sharing their spaces and showing me a new side of this city.

Nice to see you again, NYC!

Nathan's famous hot dog

Love New York

It's a rainy day at the beach, so I can finally tell you about all the bagels, ballgames, and ballpark-sized hot dogs I've been indulging in around the New York area. Since I'm partial to a life of leisure, I got to come home for an extended stay to visit my sister in her new Queens-Long Island apartment, my dad in Poughkeepsie, my mom in New Jersey, and many gracious friends along the way.

Fort Totten Park

The first half of the trip started and ended in NYC and was supported by a few train rides along the Hudson plus dad's financial contributions to us attending the Yankee game. 

Yankee stadium

And there was an epic quest for ice cream that, thankfully, ended with this:

Grand Slam Shake

I miss sweet cacti and air that doesn't feel so much like a sticky swamp, but nowhere else smells like summer to me quite like it does around here. I hope you're making time in this sunny season for your favorite people and places.

Missed Connections

While all the con's of this social media stuff have been put on blast recently, I'm here today to say that it's not so bad. Sometimes. Maybe. I'm not exactly sure. But, in spite of being highly addicting, stupidly distracting, and unrelenting in its ability to show that just about everyone can find someone to marry them and have babies with them besides me, it has some redeeming qualities.

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For instance, here in LA I've gotten to have some lunches or dinners or other fun activities with long-lost friends from my home in Poughkeepsie, NY, my college home in Delaware, and I already told you about IBM. The internet has introduced me to friends of friends and led me deeper into connections with acquaintances. It certainly has a way of making the earth feel smaller and the places you move more manageable, for better or for worse.

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It's been cool to catch up with close friends from the past, to find out what has changed and what's remained the same. Somehow being with them here makes me feel more rooted and proud of the supportive community where I come from.

So, I guess it's all ok, as long as we remember to use it for connection instead of comparison, and to turn it off, look up, and be in the light of day.

And, of course, not to act like we didn't already know when we find out that our souls are being sold to the technology capitalist overlords.

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Life in Laguna

Once regret that I will never leave behind (mostly because my dad and uncle will never let me live it down), is that when I was some-age-around-middle-school, my sister and I had the chance to visit Australia and we didn't want to go. I remember being at a party or a picnic where we met some of my dad's IBM colleagues who were living in Australia, and they invited us to come for a visit. Just like a few years earlier when I'd cried about being stuck visiting my uncle in Bermuda and missing the first day of our 5th grade sleep-away field trip, I was not having it. I didn't want to miss school or any chance to be cool around my cool friends, and so I was not about to hop on a 24-hour plane ride to hang out with kangaroos and my dad's work associates. No thank you.

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I am proud to say that my priorities have changed drastically since then. My dad's work associates have given me numerous tips on what to do while traveling the world, and they've taken us skiing or joined us on other adventures. Since I'm a nepotistic girl living in a nepotistic world, I was eventually able to make some global IBM colleagues of my own and visit them in cool places, too. April took me to Laguna Beach to visit my friend Steph, who I met while working in Austin and who was wonderfully hospitable to welcome me into her beautiful beach life.

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We enjoyed some much needed seaside walking and happy hour time as I got to explore another part of this new state. I'm glad I've become much more of a travel "Yes" woman, and I'm grateful for kind coworkers and friendly faces everywhere that have a way of making the whole world feel like home.

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Showing Up for Love

I'm just beginning to work my way out of the choco-coma leftover from last week's festivities. Being a solo participant in the holiday is actually not that bad because your friends and family tend to take pity on you and send extra sweets and other good things. Whether as a single person or part of a couple, I've never been someone who hates Valentine's Day. Unless you're in elementary school with a mandated one-card-or-candy-per-classmate policy, you're really never forced to buy anything (get creative! make a craft! go on a picnic!), and it's just a day to tell the special people in your life that you love them. I've been calling it Pal-entine's Day for a long long while now.

This one was not my best February 14th because, when I showed up to the yoga studio to teach my nighttime class, I found that there was a huge pug-themed and pug-filled Valentine's basket waiting on the front desk. If you know me, you probably know that the axis of my life is spinning around those furry, wrinkly balls of joy, but, sadly, the basket included a card addressed to "Mummy" and, thus, was not for me. I was disheartened, but glad it was there to make someone else happy, and I could go on to do some yoga (and eat a lot of chocolate) with my own class.

Romantic valentine or none, I was still showing up in pink clothes with my heart earrings on, and I was still showing up for love-- love for my friends and family who take good care of me, love for life, and just the general idea of love as an energy that exists and propels us toward connecting with each other and being our best selves.

Here's a video if you ever need a little extra:

On Retreat

Lainie's getting married, so we dropped everything and flew over to Denver. After the initial cold and snowy shock to my system, the weekend was otherwise magical. We celebrated a beautiful being and looked pretty good doing so.

Enjoying an adventurous getaway with such fun, positive, lovely women had me wondering why we only rarely find the time to come together like this. What makes us wait until once-in-a-lifetime events happen to gather wonderful groups of ladies (or gentlemen) together?

Let's do it more often.

Saying Yes

Planning my visit to Asheville had me thinking back to this time last year. Lainie and I had just moved into a new house together in Austin without any solid expectations of what the upcoming twelve months would bring. Our two original plans, of living in a rat-free home and buying a functioning washer/dryer, had already fallen through, so all we really had was a signed lease and the hope that things could only go up from there.

Since then, after exchanging appliances and putting up with many visits from the pest control man, we buckled in and sat back while life did its thing. We had a lot of fun in our house. Lainie got engaged and started planning a wedding. We moved a bunch of furniture. She changed cities while I changed neighborhoods, and, for the most part, we both spend our days in wildly different ways than in early 2016.

I'll always admire Lainie since, when the world presented her with a completely new and exciting plan, she said "Sure, ok, I'll try it" instead of fearfully retreating back to her comfort zone. And now she lives in a cool house in a cool new city with a cool dude. I'm glad I have a lovely new place for visiting and the steady reminder that however good our known surroundings might be, there's always the fun chance that the unknown might be even better.

Thanks for having me, Asheville!

Phone home

While I was home in New York over Christmas break, I had the rare opportunity to grab brunch with two of my girlfriends whom I've known since elementary school. As the years go by, the number of times the three of us are in the same place at the same time grows smaller. It had been about 18 months since the last time we'd found ourselves seated around the same table.

Of course, we'd "kept in touch" via social media, receiving glimpses into each other's lives through vacation photos and status updates. We knew the picture-perfect, edited-down versions well. Over eggs and toast, however, the hidden realness started to come out. As we shared more, it turned out that all of our lives had been pretty life-like during the time we hadn't seen each other. In our separate corners of the country, we had each experienced our fair share of career questioning, relationship struggles, and general growing up anxieties. One friend joked that, before coming to lunch, she had made a bet with her mom about which of us would end up engaged first, a bet which ended up being comically far from the truth. But for some reason, even when we had been crawling through the same muddy challenges, we hesitated to pick up the phone since we assumed that the others had been doing everything right, floating through the world with ease.

This year, I've heard more and more of my friends vowing to stay off social media, or to only check one app one time per day, resolving to get more in touch with the real world. While I haven't imposed strict limits on myself for 2017, I have made a pledge to text, call, or invite my friends to have actual conversations more frequently. As we get older and our sense of home becomes a bit blurred, our connections to the people we love become that much more important. A couple of cups of coffee, even when shared in silence, can often say a lot more than 140 characters.

Thankful

I'm about to head out to West Texas to visit Marfa and Big Bend for the rest of the week, so of course I'm thankful for that. And to have the week off of work which allowed me to sleep until 10:00 the past two days. Praise be.

But this past month for me has been sad! The world is in a strange place, my roommate and dear friend is en route to move to the East Coast, and the person I love more than anything told me he's leaving, too. No one wants to read blog posts about missing friends or hurting hearts. How whiny! How boring! How trite!

And so I think when people ask, "How are you doing?", they expect the standard, "I'm well. How about you?" Or we feel pressured to say, "I'm doing okay", or, "I feel sad, but things will get better". But sometimes we're just plain old sad. And we know things will get better, but then they'll probably be sad again someday, and get better again, and the cycle will continue on and on forever because that's how life goes.

We learn grasp for the good. Like when Eastside Yoga let me rent out a room to give Lainie a proper send off with her closest Austin friends. Or an unexpected adventure to another National Park. Or the fact that friends and strangers will even ask how you're doing at all.

So I hope you find that it's ok to say when you're sad, and then stop there. And instead of wishing it away so quickly, discover that it can be interesting to sit with a feeling, to find out how you respond to it, and what it has to teach you. That way, probably not today or next week or even by 2017, but whenever you're really ready, you might start to see the goodness glittering around its edges.