Overdue renewal

Can I be real? I’ve been putting of posting, but not because I have writers block. Not because I’ve been busy at work, although I have. It’s not like nothing has been happening in my life worth writing about. No, I don’t have a reason nearly that legit.

The reason for a mental break from this? My domain was about to expire and I was too lazy to pull out my card and renew it.

But now that that arduous task has been taken care of, I’m ready to post a few life updates and word vomit out some of the thoughts in my head. Not quite yet though. Because, let’s be honest with ourselves: the Tuesday after a long weekend is simply not the time.

So, in lieu of words, here are some pictures from my weekend getaway. The dude and I took a much needed trip out of the city, and found ourselves in Healdsburg, Willits and Little River, only to wind our way back down the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. We ate and relaxed a whole lot, which are basically my only hobbies when you get right down to it.

I’m heading into the week feeling refreshed, although clearly not too refreshed since I spent a full five minutes trying to figure out how to spell “hire” (higher? hier? hiar?). Here’s hoping your transition back to the real world with real words was smoother than mine!

Happy Mother’s Day

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Wishing a happy mother’s day to all the amazing moms in my life, of which there have been many. I feel lucky to have been surrounded by such amazing women my whole life, and even luckier to be able to honestly say that my mom is someone I admire and look up to.

I’m also thinking a lot about all the people for whom this is a hard day, and not a celebratory one. If you’re thinking of being anything less than kind to someone today, stop and think about it, and then maybe just don’t.

I hope everyone’s day is filled with love and generosity and self-care, and hopefully some embarrassing pictures of your mom’s worst haircuts. Don’t worry mom, I don’t have any perm pics with me in San Francisco.

The baking conundrum & being bad

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It is 9:45 pm, and I am in my underwear surrounded by freshly baked cookies and seven layer bars. I just licked batter off a spoon, and, listening to the familiar lilt of Carrie Bradshaw’s musings, muttered under my breath, “Skinny bitch.”

I am a bad feminist.*

On nights like tonight when I lounge around and embrace my inner domestic goddess, baking and watching trash TV, I let myself be such a bad feminist. But, to let you in on my little secret, more than anything I feel like a bad 24-year-old.

Who else my age opted to stay in tonight to bake and watch a TV show that aired over 15 years ago? Youth is wasted on the young.

Staying in, and in particular staying in to bake, triggers a weird anxiety within me.

There’s a part of me that still feels like I was last dumped because somewhere in the last year the part of my brain that used to think “Friday night, let’s party!” switched over to “Friday night, let’s eat sushi and watch old movies over a nice glass of wine!” (Don’t even get me started on the parallel “I was dumped because my room was messy” track.) As my ex would remind me, if only I could have turned the go out, don’t stop part of my brain back on I might have been making more friends and living the life I claimed I wanted.

Beyond that though, I’m out here trying to make the most of my life. I want adventure and I want to change some tiny portion of the world and I want to fight for silenced voices to be heard and I want to do it all while dancing in a great pair of heels. A lot of the time, I’m pushing myself to do those things. But that gets exhausting. And some nights I just want to bake.

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I have no idea why, but that simple desire makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. Like every minute I spend in the kitchen is feeding into some outdated female stereotype that, to be quite honest, I’m not even sure is a stereotype anymore.

Somewhere I got this absolutely stupid idea that domesticity and badassery were mutually exclusive, because I’m a bad, bad feminist.

So tonight I decided, a couple of glasses of pinot grigio in, that I’m not going to let myself feel like a bad 24-year-old or a bad feminist or a bad world-changer. Instead, when I slip on my twee housewife apron, I’m going to channel some of the most badass women I know: my grandmother Bibby who whipped a farm house and all the people in it into shape like no one’s business, my aunt Mary who I swear to God could solve the world’s problems with her cobbler but instead spent her career teaching science in Auburn, my friend Amanda who is about to graduate Penn law school and could have you crying with her catfish and fried pickles.

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When I hang up my apron I’ll let myself feel badass about my perfect royal icing and the gooey center of my chocolate butter cookies and the perfect layer of toasted coconut on my bars. Because there’s always tomorrow to change the world, and I’ll feel that much better about it with a cookie in my stomach.

[The term “bad feminist,” for those who have been seriously out of the loop, was popularized by Roxane Gay’s 2014 book which details her own experiences grappling with issues of race, gender, sexuality and feminism, often as they appear in pop culture and her own life. It refers to our inabilities to live up to the standards set up by “good feminists” to always be on when it comes to feminism.]

Seven thoughts

Today has been a day. This week has been a week. Fully-formed ideas are just not happening for me. So here are seven thoughts too small to broadcast and too big to quell. Consider this a peek straight into the parts of my brain that have been overactive since the day I uttered my first word, and that have been working on overdrive recently.

I’m cheating and calling this my #100DaysofPhotoshop as well, and saying that today I worked on organizing my layers and rediscovering the tedium of text. Layouts are not my thing, so design-minded individuals please forgive me.

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#100DaysofPhotoshop: Falling Flat

I have to confess something that fills me with deep, deep shame: I failed. Yesterday, I completely skipped a day of my #100DaysofPhotoshop for the first time. I wondered how long it would be before I cracked under the pressure, and it turns out it only took 15 days.

The positive in this is that I’m not yet ready to give up. So I failed. It’s not a first for me, and certainly won’t be the last. I’m giving myself a free pass to say, “Ok, next time I’ll do better.”

The best thing this project has done so far is to teach me that some days, it’s enough to show up. I think I might have just confirmed everyone’s worst fears about millennials, but I’m not asking for a participation trophy. It feels reasonable to say that on top of the demands of work and friendships and a relationship and various projects on the side, some days it’s simply enough to show up and put in some work.

With that in mind, I’m learning to embrace the work in progress. Some of the things I’ve made so far in photoshop have actually been more fun as a snippet or a work in progress than a finished piece. And for someone who beats herself up to finish things I didn’t even want to do in the first place, it’s a breath of fresh air.

I’m hoping that the next 15 days bring more finished projects and fewer failures. But I’m glad to be showing up either way. In the meantime, here are a few of the snippets of half-finished pieces (most of which I did wind up finishing) from my #100DaysofPhotoshop so far, as well as some doodles and drawings that have distracted me from the task at hand–oops!

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The painted layer from a colored half-tone image I made of Coachella artists–can you guess who each is?

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The sweet in sweet tooth.

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Playing with brushes and layering painting over images.

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And the drawing distractions. Sometimes I have to step away from a screen and just doodle, write, etc until I can see straight again.

Sunday Reset

Day14_BlogQuoteLayout Homesick Sunday has struck again. It’s one of those days when I feel so far from everyone I love, and am worried this city will never cut it for me. Some days I can love being here, but today Nora nailed it: it’s just where I live.

I’m homesick, not just for Rhode Island, but for New York, and London, and cities I’ve never even called home.

So I’ve taken this weekend to do the things that make me feel whole and good—a reset, if you will. I drew cards and wrote letters. I binge-watched TV and folded laundry. I baked a cake, never mind that it was a failure. And I’m letting myself take today to tune out Twitter and Facebook and texts and emails to do more of the same.

Now I’m off to soak in a bath, bake another cake, do some work reading, and kick back for another Orphan Black binge. Enjoy your Sunday, hitting the reset button as needed.

(Image quotes pulled from Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck)

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)