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!

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)

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!

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

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

The Definites, The Maybes & the What-Ifs

Today's dose of weirdly earnest reflection brought to you by the city of San Francisco

Today’s dose of weirdly earnest reflection brought to you by the city of San Francisco

Up until the age of 21 there was a plan. My parents reassured me I could veer, swerve, wiggle or jump ship at any time, but I felt confident in the plan. Go to school, find a passion, do well, make friends, form a next plan. All part & parcel of the plan. It was definite, and solid.

The last couple of weeks I’ve felt on edge, with a hint of nausea lurking behind everything I do. The familiar flutter in my stomach, the elevated heart rate, the deep breaths that trip in my throat & fight their way down. Anxiety has come back to town.

As of right now, there’s no plan.

 

In my head I’ve got my contingency plans:

How to Book a Flight When Everything Falls to Shit

How to Live in a Small Cabin in the Woods of Maine

How to Pack Everything in One Suitcase and Move to a Foreign Land Where No One Knows My Name

 

 

For the past two months I have been dismantling & reconstructing the things that were comfortable and solid in my life. The people and routines changed entirely, from the cup my toothbrush sits in to the arms I run to when anxiety roosts.

I take it for granted that there’s some larger vague outline—move around, explore the world, find a job and life that mean something, succeed—but I’m terrified that that’s not the plan at all. The Boy I Love didn’t think our futures fit together, so what does it mean if I was wrong all along about what that future was? What if it’s supposed to be stay put, settle down, grow old in San Francisco? What if, as it so likely will be, the next thing is something I haven’t even dreamed up yet, and to kill time I’m playing roulette? My plans suddenly look so much more like maybes.

 

So now I’m afloat in a lonely city with no plan.

 

The current definites? Keep up at work. Keep forcing myself to the gym. Keep my room clean. Keep writing, keep cooking, keep drawing. Keep on with the things that keep the anxiety from stalking through my guts, and keep close to the people who understand what that means. Keep myself sane.

Because sooner or later, my definites will turn to maybes, and my plans will turn to what ifs. And then what’s the plan?

Bay Area Tourist Pt. II: Exploring Berkeley

When my museum plans were derailed yesterday, I decided I was still going to find something fun to do with my day. I did a little poking around online, put together a list of a few places in Berkeley I could check out and headed to the East Bay.

Berkeley was great (more on that to come), but what stuck out to me most about the day was how strange it can be to explore a city by yourself. I had all of Berkeley as my playground and to be honest it was a little bit overwhelming. Should I go shopping? Should I go to parks? Should I wander around the UC Berkeley campus and pretend to be a student doing surveys for a class? All very tempting options, and no one with me to help me decide.

I know there are lots of people who like to travel by themselves. Just do a quick Google search you’ll find endless blogs recounting fantastic adventures of those who are alone but not lonely, tips on solo travel and what to bring (a door stop) and ways to meet up with other people traveling alone. One of my favorite bloggers even said she and her husband agree to always spend a day alone when traveling. It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to, but yesterday got me thinking about whether I’d actually enjoy traveling alone. (Note: I’m not delusional to think the 20 minute drive to Berkeley constitutes “traveling” alone. Exploring? Yes. But certainly not traveling.)

I found that the parts of my dad that I enjoyed the most were when I was doing something: walking through the Berkeley campus, strolling through Cesar Chavez Park at sunset, reading in a Starbucks.* Eating, shopping, trying to make decisions–all of that was less fun by myself. In general I’d say I enjoyed my day, and I loved getting a feel for the city, but there were times I wished I had someone to share it with. Particularly when I was getting glared at by the waiter in the Indian restaurant I ate at. Apparently they don’t get too many solo diners.

My best tips for exploring a new city alone?

  • Take advantage of being alone to do what you really want to do. If you’re a museum person like me you might jump at the opportunity to wander through a museum without being hurried along by that friend who’s really only there to say that she went. If you’re a runner go for a run through the city you’re in to get to know it (being extra careful for sketchy people who abduct runners..). Just take advantage of being unhindered by anyone else to do what seems most fun to you instead of what you “should” do.
  • Get lost. This really works better if you have a smart phone or a map, because otherwise getting un-lost can be hard. But sometimes just picking a direction and walking for a while can be a good way to stumble across new places, shops, etc. You’ll also get a better feel for how the city is laid out when you un-lose yourself.
  • Forget plans. You aren’t accountable to anyone else, so if you don’t feel like planning your day out then don’t. A loose plan is good, but since you’re totally alone you can go where the day takes you.
  • …but also plan a little. Like I said, I looked up a few things to do in Berkeley just to have a good idea of a starting point.
    You don’t want to have to rely on strangers to tell you what’s worth seeing in the city.
  • People watch to your heart’s content! I took advantage of my brief Starbucks break to people watch and I think it’s such a good way to get to know what the vibe of a place is. And let me tell you, Berkeley did not want for good people watching subjects. There were some definite characters.
  • Ask shop owners/workers for suggestions of places to eat. I asked a woman in one of the stores I was in where a good place to eat was and she directed me to the aforementioned Indian food. It tends to be easier than asking someone on the street, since the person on the street inevitably gets frazzled or caught off guard and sends you somewhere really weird. Or abducts you. Jokes I don’t really think I’m going to get abducted in Berkeley.
  • Don’t be afraid to look stupid. This is really just general life advice, but sometimes you’re gonna look stupid when you’re somewhere new and have no idea what you should do with your day. I walked back and forth down the same street about 5 times because I forgot something, and then decided I wanted to see that area, and then changed my mind. The whole time I was thinking “If anyone were watching me right now I’d look really dumb.” Except no one was watching me. Because who in Berkeley cares about the movement of a plain looking twenty-something?

As for my actual day in Berkeley? A pictorial overview. There are no pictures of most of my wandering because I didn’t want to be the weirdo taking pictures.

4th Street Shops

Because I can’t just not go in a book store when it’s there. That would be rude.

Okay I know it’s just trees but look how many trees are on the UC Berkeley campus!!

And I didn’t even spill it on my white pants

The bay from Cesar Chavez Park

There was this great older couple in matching wide-brimmed hats with matching puppies and they were too cute. Hence the awkward picture of two people walking.

OmG awk selfie! Just to prove I was really there and didn’t jack these pics from the interwebs

And the beautiful flowers I came home to from Patrick

*You can yell at me all you want for going to a Starbucks instead of a local coffee shop but I really had to pee and then thought “Eh, why not have some coffee and read.” Could happen to anyone.

Bay Area Tourist

This weekend I had an awesome opportunity to do something new in California that I hadn’t done before: oyster shucking. I’m from Rhode Island and yet I will shamefully admit that before this weekend I had never attempted to shuck an oyster . But a few of my friends were in town and a group of people were going to shuck oysters so I put on my shucking clothes and shuck I did.

Oysters in need of a good shuck

We went to Tomales Bay to the Tomales Bay Oyster Company picnicking area. Definitely worth the trip if you’re in the area (although it does get super crowded so it’s worth getting there early to get a picnic table and grill). It was a gorgeous day out and it wound up being  so much fun. I may not be a master of oysters yet, but I shucked a fair few and had a ton of fun doing it. All in all it was a great day of eating, drinking and spending time outside.

Patrick wanted this whole post to be about him. He gets one picture instead.

A small glimpse of the food

In the spirit of doing new things in California (I also spent time wandering Hayes Valley with friends and hung out in Dolores Park), I woke up today determined to cross something off my tourist list: a visit to the Legion of Honor and/or the De Young. Both museums have been on my list for a while and I just haven’t made it to either. In fact with as much time as I’ve spent in San Francisco now it’s embarrassing how little I’ve done in the city. I’m a little hesitant to give myself over to being a tourist, especially since being a tourist alone can be awkward and tiring. Or I suppose it might be the people in fanny packs who are tiring.

But today I was committed. Today I was going to do it. Today I had to wake up at 6:30 AM so I may or may not have been operating solely on an extended caffeine buzz. I made breakfast, sent emails, applied to 4 more jobs and finally I was going to get my art nerd on. You could call me the unstoppable Otto!

…except it’s Monday and both museums are closed. Biggest bummer ever. I may wind up walking around the mission or doing something else San Francisco-y, but I’m a little bummed I forgot the first rule of touristing: check when it’s open.

Also on my list waiting to be checked off? Alcatraz, go to a Giants game, go on a Bay cruise, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, walking tour (preferably a history-laden one so I can be a really huge loser), the SF Zoo. A bit farther away? I’m hoping to go to Carmel/Monterey, if only for the aquarium.

Anyone have any other good suggestions of a way to fill a few hours while in the city? Must-visit neighborhoods, good restaurants or hidden gems?