An Ode to Spreadsheets and Scribbles

20150711_161756

I have a spreadsheet that organizes my spreadsheets. If that doesn’t horrify you, you’re my kind of person. My lists have lists. Nothing makes me happier than taking organized notes that get placed into organized spreadsheets that get organized on my computer. I am a freak. 

This is a real thing I use

This is a real thing I use

Recently, a few weekends went by where I felt like I had wasted my time, and though I got some much-needed sleep, I felt unrested and unsettled. Those were the weekends without To Do lists. In the past couple of weeks I have come to embrace the fact that my life just runs more smoothly with lists. I can go with the flow, change my plans, and like to think I’m not an insane control freak (maybe..). But I just work better when I can write something down on paper and then run a ball point pen right through it. 

And yet, I also have a sketchbook with me full of wildly unorganized, sprawling thoughts. If you picked it up and read through it you’d probably recoil at my illegible handwriting, slightly terrifying doodles, and garishly colored highlighter reminders. Not to mention the organized chaos that is my room: endless stacks of papers and books and crumpled old mail that would horrify any sane person.

Lists

It’s taken me 24 years to realize that the reason I need lists and spreadsheets is the same reason I need a messy room and a sketchbook of unorganized thoughts—I cause chaos just to reign it in. Throw every idea at the wall and then carefully sweep up all the ones that don’t stick, placing them into their proper excel cell. Let yourself sink into a messy room for the joy of finally organizing a pile of important papers and alphebatizing old books. Make a mess of a life… and then find the pieces worth cleaning up and keeping. 

And so it’s with joy, and spreadsheets, and sketchbooks that I sit at a coffee shop today enjoying my organized mess of a life. 

And in case you’re wondering, my go to’s for organizing chaos:

  • Wunderlist: a basic but wildly helpful to do list app. You can make recurring to do’s (my Thursday spreadsheet update for work), set reminders (shit, it’s Sunday I’ve got an email to send), and satisfyingly check off your done tasks to watch your list get shorter. 
  • Google Drive: I’m a pen and paper kind of person, but I’ve learned to embrace the power of Drive. When my recipes are all logged in a perfectly organized Google Sheet, I can access them from my phone at the grocery store and quickly see what ingredients I need. Oh, and I guess it helps with real work too. 
  • Sketchbook: Contrary to how it may seem, a blank page is my best friend. Leave your lined pages and gridded sheets for a more strictly organized person. I need expansive blank space to scrawl, scribble and doodle every thought out of my head before I loose it, something that a computer won’t let me do. 

A Brief Thought on Self-Worth

rihanna-denim-overalls-jeans-album-2

Baggage seems like such a hackneyed metaphor, until you’re busy lugging your own around. Some days I feel charged by the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure that is my life. Today, I woke up weighed down by the disappointment and flaws and anxieties that have broken every relationship I’ve had up to now. Today, I had baggage.

I once believed a man when he told me I wasn’t making enough of my life. I spend the last year, to some extent, believing that I was the sum of my flaws.

But tonight, I’m reminding myself how reckless that is. Having a bit of a WWRD (“What would Rihanna do?”) moment of trying to reframe the narrative. I’m not trying to go all Eleanor Roosevelt “no one can make you feel inferior” here. It’s just one of those days when I needed a little reminder that giving anyone else a say in my self-worth will be a lifelong exercise in futility.

I’m excited about the world has to offer. I’m excited about the possibilities I’m exploring in my own life. I’m excited to be in the driver’s seat.

I’m ready. Bring it on, world.

Happy Mother’s Day

mom

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.

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.

Day23_SevenThoughts

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)

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.