The wandering cowgirl’s grand adventure

Day 11 of #100DaysofPhotoshop

Three years ago I set out for California with a single suitcase and a one-way ticket. Or so the story goes.

I’ve told it a hundred times, pausing in all the right places to mention my lack of job or apartment and answer the typical questions:”Why California?” (Oh well it was this or NY and..) “Did you know anyone out here?” (There was a boy, but that was about it..) “Were you scared?” (Like crazy, but I knew if I didn’t do it then..). With time I’d work in the fact that I flew out on 9/11 because it turns out that’s a very cheap day to fly. Invariably the responses are peppered with words like “adventuresome” and “chutzpah.” Sometimes I’m even “brave.”

The problem is I don’t even know if it’s true at this point. It’s become part of my personal myth, the story that lets me explain myself in shorthand. With one story I can account for my presence on the west coast, dispel any misconceptions about my own capabilities (I’m still here, aren’t I?), and paint myself as the wandering cowgirl I’ve always wanted to be.

Yes, I did come to California from a tiny state thousands of miles away, one that remains home to my family. There was a single suitcase, and a one-way ticket, and no job, and no apartment. Those parts are all true.

On the other hand, there was a boy. A bed to sleep in until I got my feet. A bank account that would keep me afloat for a month or two. And parents who would gladly welcome me back if my grand adventures should fail. Every one of these omissions makes me feel like a fraud.

The problem with feeling like a fraud is it creeps into the cracks of everyday life and spreads without you knowing it. It’s the black mold of my life. On a particularly bad day in San Francisco I’ll convince myself I was never meant to be here in the first place, that the city is rejecting me on the basis of a false origin story. I swear sometimes a screeching streetcar will hiss “leasssst coasssst” at me. The city is taunting me to admit defeat, pack up my adventure boots, and head home. And I deserve it because I’m a fraud anyway.

Recently my mom was in town, and we talked about that story that’s come to be such an integral part of my personal mythology. I asked her if I was misremembering—it must have been less scary, more planned than I remember. Her reply: “That’s exactly what you did, and I was crazy to encourage you!” And slowly I started to remember the anxiety of sitting in the bed with the boy, terrified I wouldn’t find a job here. The exhilaration of my first few weeks exploring a city as foreign to me as any I’d been to. The roller-coaster gut drop I’d experience every time I remembered that this was my big leap into life, and there was no trampoline to break the fall.

Turns out the myth is real. Even if it weren’t it’s become so important in shaping how I approach my life. And so, instead of feeling like a fraud, I’m going to invest a bit more time into living a life worthy of the 21-year-old who filled a bag with her things and hopped on a plane to start a new life. I figure that way at least I’ll have a hell of a story when I go.

(Image is from Day 11 of my #100DaysofPhotoshop project; quote from Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck)

Reading Roundup

2015-04-13 16.28.11

Hello computer, my old friend. After a weekend of no computer and just music and dust everywhere I have to admit just opening my computer has left me a blue. The emails have piled up and tomorrow will be a typically crazy Tuesday at work.  But I’m trying to ride that great-music-no-worries high through the short week until I can collapse in utter exhaustion next weekend.

In the meantime, driven by my dread at the thought of actually having to write/make/do today, here’s a roundup of some of the articles, books and bits that caught my eye over the last week or so.

(Doesn’t that framed woman look like she could use a good reading recommendation? Picture from my trip to the Legion of Honor with my mom a few weekends back.)

The feminism behind Flawless, a great read from literary critic Parul Sehgal.

Don’t spoil it for me–I missed the GoT premier for Coachella! But I loved this roundup of all the on-screen deaths from the last 4 seasons.

“Tell Me Again How You Don’t See Color,” an ever-important response to calls for color-blindness from the amazing Marshall Gillson.

All the things you never realized were wrong with Goodnight Moon.

In Indio I finished The Power of Habit–maybe not a nonfiction masterpiece, but got me thinking about my own unproductive habits (as I stuffed my face with pizza and roast beef and noodles and..).

Up next? I’m dying to read The New Jim Crow and I’ve got Devil in the Grove queued up on audible. Y’know, light, fluffy reading.

Coachella Bound

Packing for Coachella

For the second year I’ve got my bags packed and I’m ready to run around the desert for three days sweating out of every inch of my skin in order to soak in as much music as possible. You guessed it: Coachella.

I’ve got a plane to catch in a couple of hours for which I can’t check in, my chargers are still strewn across my room, and because I love myself I just spilled a full cup of coffee all over my comforter and jeans. But by this time tomorrow I’ll be pitching a tent and drinking a beer with one of my best friends of 12 years. So it’s hard to get too worked up about anything.

The current issue at hand is making sure I’ve packed everything I think I’ll need. As you can see my suitcase is ready to go with nary a flower crown or crop top in sight, but of course I have the sinking suspicion I’ve left something out. But Molly, you’re thinking, if there are no flower crowns what on earth could you be packing?

  1. Tickets. I cannot stress this one enough, and really I shouldn’t have to, but I checked about fourteen times to make sure i had the most important thing packed safely: the tickets.. Despite the fact that I’ve never lost tickets to any major event, I’m constantly double and triple checking because I’m so certain I’m going to leave these at home. Seeing as I have both tickets and the car camping pass, I would be in deep shit if I didn’t double check.
  2. Layers. Things I didn’t know before going last year include the fact that the sun will scorch your bare shoulders if you dare to taunt it with bare flesh, and yet by midnight in the desert if you don’t have a jacket you’ll be colder than a white walker freezing into a million shattered pieces. Nas brought out Lauryn Hill at the end of his set which was amazing, but just minutes prior to that I had been contemplating heading back to the tent due to insufficient coverage. I would have never lived it down if I had wound up giving in and missing the end of that set.
  3. Body suits & bathing suits. Ok, so I’m not lame enough for a flower crown, but I do have to get into the spirit somewhat. How am I gonna scream along with Drake in my regular everyday outfit? I’m a big fan of a body suit or one-piece under some shorts.
  4. Snacks, snacks, snacks. At music festivals I’m basically the mom who constantly has snacks in her bag, because you never know when hunger will strike. You’re surrounded by food, but you don’t want to have to drop $10 on a slice of pizza every time you’re feeling a little worse for the wear. So of course I tucked some granola bars and mini boxes of cereal in my bag. Last year I carried around cheesy crackers and granola bars all weekend, and convinced The Boy that we would want mini bagels and salami in the morning. I will forever consider it my greatest victory that he admitted I was right about needing food and snacks around.
  5. Willpower and an extra battery. The willpower is for when you want to send everyone snaps of how great Coachella is but you know your battery is gonna die if you do. The extra battery is for when your willpower gives out and your phone dies.

My bonus this year? I got a sun shower that I’m nerdily excited about because it means I can somewhat shower without having to wait in the insane lines for camping showers.

And of course, there are the things you can leave at home.

  1. Last year’s Coachella tee
  2. Wedges and heels (I want to weep when I see women in heels—you’re on a grassy field walking around for 12 hours!)
  3. Tanning oil (just a burn baby burn situation waiting to happen)
  4. Debbie downers
  5. Your offensive American Indian inspired headdress

See you on the other side, probably burned and slightly worse for the wear but happy as can be!

#100DaysofPhotoshop

100DaysIntro

A is for Accountability. And boy do I need it.

Recently I rediscovered a creative itch that needs scratching. The problem is that with the demands of work, friendships and relationships, I’ve been dragging my feet on getting started on anything substantial.

For April, a few friends and I set some goals, and the plan is to hold each other accountable. They range in ambition, but by writing them down we’re all saying “I need you to punch me in the face if I don’t do this.”*

Today I also started in on the 100 Days Project—a way to force a bit of routine into the creative process, and another attempt at accountability. Led by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent, and inspired by Michael Beirut’s Yale class, the 100 Days Project has a simple premise: commit to doing the same creative act every day for 100 days. People take on various creative endeavors (a friend is doing font pairings!), but there are also projects involving cooking, keeping in touch with people, and being kind to other people.

I committed to 100 days of Photoshop, during which I’m going to do small projects, create silly things that make me laugh, and hopefully learn some new tools and tricks that apply to photo editing. As you can see from the images above, my Photoshop skills have primarily been deployed in creating pictures for Twitter. Ideally by the end of this I’d like to be able to better create things in Photoshop that feel like my style, and to develop some actual photo-editing and manipulation skills. I know a few other people participating, but it’s comforting knowing there is a whole community of people committing to filling these same 100 days with creativity.

I’ll be posting on Instagram with #100DaysofPhotoshop, but I’ll try to share here from time to time as well. I’ll include some updates on my other goals as well, which include some small amounts of coding, writing and Accountability, bruh. It’s a good thing.

*I do not condone violence. Do not punch your friends in the face.

California Thirst

Dekanimal Illustration

I don’t know if you heard, but California’s in the middle of a little drought. In the words of Tinashe: “We’ve been praying for the raining, it’s been months now since it came here to Califoooooornia.” And it’s officially serious.

Well, we woke up this morning to a tiny bit of Easter rain. The sound on my window was like soul food after a diet. I don’t get homesick as much as I used to, but that tiny, inadequate taste of rain left me aching for the heavy spring rains that melt the snow back east. And the cool you off, heat lighting summer storms. And the house-shaking hurricane warning storms that actually force you inside.

What can I say? I’m a weather lover.

I found myself browsing various illustrations that capture different aspects of the rain. With these illustrations as inspiration, I’m spending the latter part of my afternoon doodling, sketching and painting the weather I so dearly miss.

Do those of you on the east coast want to kill me when you see me lusting after cold, wet weather? Tough cookies, you too could live in a drought-riddled state.

Ryo Tekamasa Illustration

John Kenn Illustration

Corey Egbert Illustration

 

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Blue Plaid Pants Happy

In 7th grade I had the perfect pair of blue plaid pants. They looked more than a little like pajama pants and were most frequently worn with a bright orange sweater. The fact that they’re not listed in some online repository of “Ugliest Abercrombie Clothing” is a wonder to me. But wearing those bell bottoms (oh I didn’t mention that?) was worth putting up with the inevitable mocking I’d get from boys in school. They just made me happy.

Those pants were the first of many things that I embraced in spite of them being ugly, or tacky, or silly to other people. And I’ve made it a habit ever since to surround myself with things that make me feel as unstoppable and happy as the blue plaid pants did. Neon sneakers? Yes please. A shirt with zebras on it? I’ll take two. Bad photoshop and stupid flan puns? Keep ’em coming, I’m on top of the world.

It’s just worth keeping those types of things around, because who am I appeasing by denying myself tiny, concentrated bursts of happiness.

And what’s making me plaid pants happy at this particular stage in my life?

The Sock Collection

My mother gives me socks on a fairly regular basis, but there are a few pairs that are so on point I just can’t have a bad day when I’m wearing them. They’re my version of Calvin’s lucky rocketship underwear.

"Carpe the fuck out of this diem"

“Carpe the fuck out of this diem”

"Hellraiser"

“Hellraiser”

Not pictured: “You’re not the boss of me” socks, sushi socks

You can imagine my elation when I went on a first date a few months ago and my date was wearing socks with bears on them. Needless to say, we’re still dating.

The Twitter Mug

"im just super neurotically committed to seeming Chill As Hell"

“im just super neurotically committed to seeming Chill As Hell”

The inspiration for the first Twitter mug, a gift to my brother, was the cackle of laughter he let loose when remembering a particularly funny series of tweets from a friend (as seen here). Will and I both find silly internet things supremely funny, so I put the tweets on mugs for him.

Just having given the mugs as gifts made me incomparably happy, so I decided I needed a tweet mug of my very own. Preferring one that spoke to my very essence as a human being, I got a @wutangcher original put on a mug: “im just super neurotically committed to seeming Chill As Hell.”

Filled with coffee and paired with my deep-seated anxiety, it really completes my morning look.

The Clock

In a bit of sibling serendipity, my brother’s gift to me the same year was the most internet clock that’s ever existed. It’s actually a really awesome piece by Nate James (@artbynatejames), featuring none other than Superbowl Comeback Queen Missy Elliott standing alongside Aaliyah, with a crying Allen Iverson, and Jesus for good measure. This is one stellar religious-imagery-meets-pop-culture confection.

Missy Elliott & Aaliyah Clock

I realize it may not be the clock for everyone’s bedroom, but it makes me so happy to hang on my wall. And that’s the point of these types of joy-inducing objects: they don’t have to mean shit to anyone else.

I’m not asking you to wear the plaid pants, but I’m not asking your permission either.

So go forth, surround yourself with inexplicable things that make you grin-bustingly happy.

Plans, Not Resolutions

Another year gone by and I still sometimes update this repository of information about myself. Still feels self-indulgent, still feels good to update.

While the new year may not mean much for some people, and is in general a silly construct, I for one am thrilled to be saying goodbye to 2014. It was full of firsts, but had more than its fair share of bad news and heartache. Not to mention the fact that I have a journal entry that just reads: “This garbage world is on fire.”

In lieu of resolutions and goals, I made a (non-comprehensive) list of some big things from the last year, and bigger things still to come.

Last Year

2014 was the year I:

  • Traveled with family to Hawaii & Bryce Canyon
  • Went to Coachella and saw Outkast
  • Jumped out of a plane with my fearless mother
  • Was reunited with one of my best friends in the world after 2 years
  • Saw Beyonce and Jay-Z in concert
  • Took my first trip to San Diego and several trips to LA
  • Had a Long Island reunion with my college roommates
  • Survived a minor heartbreak
  • Made 5 trips back to the East Coast to be with many of my favorite people
  • Read 30 books (5 shy of my goal)
  • Began trying new things via my “Asks”

This Year

I already have some tentative plans for 2015 including:

  • My second trip to Coachella, this year with Michael
  • Small trips to Carmel and beyond
  • Germany for Oktoberfest and my 25th birthday
  • Making the most of a new relationship
  • Reading 38 books (I’m going meet my goal this year!)
  • Make a dent in my Asks, which include learning to make croissants, painting more, and watching a slew of new shows

I have some loose goals, but most of them have to do with making the most of the friendships I’m lucky enough to have, the city I live in, and the freedom that comes with being an unattached 24-year-old. And maybe to stop being so sappy on here, and go back to being sarcastic and annoying.

Most of my goals can be summed up with the clichéd but ever apt Mary Oliver quote from “When Death Comes” (yes I’m a simp):

 When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

It, in this case, being 2015.