Friday, July 18, 2014

The Freelance Life: Month Two

I can't believe it's already time for the next monthly update! Despite the lack of posts on The New Me (or maybe because of it...) freelancing is still going relatively well, though that first flush of good luck I had seems to have waned just slightly. This hasn't affected my optimism, though. Just my wallet. 

Life's a Pitch

In my first month of freelancing, I was lucky enough to score two regular gigs, which have kept me afloat during my transition from student to (somewhat) functioning member of society. Then my ghost-writing gig went on hiatus for a month. While losing half my income for 30 days wasn't exactly ideal, it did give me time to focus on finding supplemental work. I used the extra hours to read a million articles about how to write a pitch, researched magazines that paid contributors, and started sending out article ideas. 

The nice thing about a pitch is that, while you have to come up with ideas, you don't have to write them until the pitch is accepted. And, if the magazine or website you pitched to rejects your idea, you can send it somewhere else. Right now, I'm waiting to hear about three pitches. One of my ideas was accepted (huzzah!) and I will be sure to post the link when it's out. My fingers are crossed for the others. My goal was to send out one pitch a week, and I've mostly stuck to that. (I'll get back on schedule once this move is over - it's hard to focus when your life is spread between two houses.) While I don't expect every pitch I submit to get accepted, the more I have out there, the better my odds will be. 

Letters of Introduction 

Another method I just started using to find new work is sending letters of introduction. This is basically the email equivalent of cold calling a business, and it's fairly terrifying. Again, I googled the hell out of what an LOI is and what it should include. (This article and this article were both helpful in learning the ins and outs.) Once I had a decent LOI, I researched local businesses for which I felt I could reasonably write, edited the letter so it specifically addressed that business and what I could offer them, and sent it out. 

I started with a local winery, a Wilmington-based coffee shop chain, and a new yoga studio (hitting my ares of expertise, obviously). The winery wasn't in the market for writers, but the coffee shop and the yoga studio both wrote back and asked for more information about my services and rates. I sent them info (I'll write more that that process later, because setting rates is really strange and confusing and way harder than hustling. How do you know what you're worth? How can you keep from underselling your services? Why am I suddenly questioning my self-worth as a human being?) Now I'm playing the waiting game, but I'm pretty excited that I've already gotten to second base with two businesses. 

Income in June  

It seems a bit disingenuous to write a series about how I'm making a living as a freelance writer without being open about my actual income. So, for the sake of transparency, here's a breakdown of what I made in the month of June, with actual numbers. 

Tech startup: $1000
Ghost writing gig: $400
Online women's magazine: $300

Total gross income: $1700
Minus 30% for taxes: $510
Minus 10% for savings: $170
Take home: $1020

Considering I made $1400 a month as a TA (after taxes) this... could be better. In my defense, this is only my second month trying to make a go of this line of work, and I already feel like I've learned so much in the last few weeks. Also, I've heard that summer is notoriously slow for freelancers (editors and publishers go on vacation, too) so I hope I'll find more work in the fall - especially since that's when my student loan payments kick in. Oy. 

(I think it's also important to note here that I am married to someone who has a job he loves, with a decent salary, through whom we both receive health insurance. I'm very grateful to Nathan for holding down the fort financially while I find my footing in this strange new career. Thanks, darling!)

Month Three Goals 

Keep sending out pitches, keep sending out LOIs, and break the $2000 mark. Wish me luck! 

Find more of The Freelance Life here: 
Month One

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Moving Day(s)

Surprise! Thanks to a sweet friend, a flexible landlady, and the wonder that is the universe, we've started moving in to our new place two weeks early. Cue frenzied packing, cleaning, and painting! Oh, and gratuitous before photos. Can't forget those. 

(Our new living room! There's a mini-wall [not the technical term] that sort of indicates a dining room-esque area, which is where we'll put our kitchen table. The fireplace doesn't work, but it sure looks pretty. And the red accent wall isn't really our style, which is why we're painting this room before we start moving in furniture.) 

Our dear friend Jen has lived in this house for the last three years, and we've always thought it was adorable. When she got a job in Seattle after graduation, we jumped at the chance to move in right behind her. She ended up signing a lease earlier than she planned and left mid-July instead of the end of the month, handing us the keys before she fled West. Then our new landlady said we might as well start moving in now, as there was no reason to wait. It was an offer she did not have to make twice. 

(New kitchen! Small, galley style space. Plenty of cabinets and a dishwasher! I'm not crazy about having the washer and dryer next to the refrigerator, but the dryer does provide some extra counter space, so I'm not complaining.) 

Even though we have the go-ahead to move in immediately, we still have to do some things - like paint and, I don't know, PACK. While we don't have a ton of stuff (we've done a good job of culling our possessions for the most part - minimalism FTW) there are a few items that will be a headache to move across town. Such as the garden beds and the chicken coop. I'm not looking forward to that project. 

(Teeny tiny bathroom! The yellow room will be my office, and the blue room will be Nathan's laboratory and the guest room. We're planning to get a futon, as our guest bed would pretty much fill the space. I'm really excited to have an office with a door!) 

Monday night, we sat in the empty house with the dogs and drank a bottle of wine while daydreaming about where we would put things. Yesterday, we got our paint choice approved, purchased two gallons, and got to work. Even though taping took a million hours, we managed to get the first coat of paint on. I was worried about that red wall, but even with just one coat it looked really good. We're going to do a second, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. (We chose Valspar Green Tea Leaves, which I described as "mossy green" and Nathan said, "Mossy?! Are you crazy? It looks way more like lichen." Whatever.)  

(Master bedroom. Or, as they say on HGTV, MASTER SUITE. It is gray. It is rectangular. It will be a good place to sleep. Is it just me, or are bedrooms the least interesting room of the house?) 

Goals for the week: pack, pack, pack. Get another coat of paint on the walls. Start moving furniture over. My dearest hope is that we'll be completely moved in by Saturday night, but between our work schedules and that damn chicken coop, I may be pushing it. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday High Five

Every other now and then on Friday, I post a short list of five things currently making me smile. This is the latest installment. For past High Fives, click here.

1. Round Up of Damn Good Writing 
Thanks to my MFA, I know a lot of really wonderful writers. I've been bookmarking these pieces and I'm finally sharing them with y'all, so grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and prepare to have your heart broken and your world changed.

"Cold Planet," by Joe Worthen (I first heard this story at an MFA reading, and it's just as sad and weird and beautiful as I remember) 
"My Mother, My Writing Student," by Robert Anthony Siegel (I studied with this professor more than any other while at UNCW - he's a brilliant teacher, as this NYT piece shows!) 
"Our Love In Space," by Kathleen Jones (THIS POEM THIS POEM THIS POEM) 
"The Limits Our Culture Puts On Love," an interview with Sally J. Johnson (Wise words from a dear friend - this should be required reading for all humans) 
"Waiting for Supermoon," by Eric Tran (Voted Most Likely to Break Your Heart) 
This Interview with Ben Hoffman (He's winning everything lately, and I couldn't be happier for him. One of my favorite writers to come out of the program, and a great person, too!) 

2. Draft #7: Done.
Earlier this week I finished my seventh and final (for now) draft of my novel. WHEW. I gave a copy to Erica for a read through, just to make sure I didn't do anything obviously stupid, and then I'm going to start querying agents in a few weeks. I'm working on my letter right now! It's very exciting and I'm feeling good, though I'm sure this optimism will ebb and flow. Luckily I've got #binders full of encouragement from friends, family, and fellow writers. ;) Having a community - especially at this stage - is so important, and I'm grateful for the one I've got. 

3. Orange is the New Black 
Nathan and I watch this show with Erica, but she was in France for five weeks, starting right around when season two aired. And so we waited... and waited... and waited... and finally spent the last week and a half binge watching. And it was so good! I'm glad that this season spent more time with the other inmates and less time with Piper. Also, Piper Kerman is coming to UNCW this March. I'm trying to decide if I should read the book before then, but it's a tough call. This might be the first time in my life that I don't want the book to spoil the television show! 

4. New Kitchen Chairs 
A year ago, we got this giant kitchen table for a steal from an MFA grad who was moving to Colorado. I love it because both sides fold down, so it can also be a tiny table. This is especially great since our new place (THREE WEEKS TO GO) doesn't have a dining room, so we'll be keeping the table tiny until we have dinner guests. The table came with wicker chairs that had been painted different colors which was cute, but not our style. I've been on the hunt for new chairs, but we had pretty specific desires. Something classy and sort of mid-century, if possible. Dark brown wood, to match the rest of our house. Foldable, since we'd only use two of them on a regular basis. And as inexpensive as possible, because we are eternally broke. When I came across these folding chairs from World Market, I knew we had a winner. We scored six of them for $11 each and they're perfect. 

5. Thunderstorms 
It's July in Wilmington, and that means we've been getting daily thunderstorms. They're brief and intense and loud, and once they leave it's soaking wet and just slightly cooler than before. Yesterday it rained all morning while I was writing, and then stormed at night while I was lying in bed, drifting off to sleep. Any day bookended by thunderstorms is a good one.

I hope you had a good week as well, and are looking forward to fun, relaxing, productive weekend. See you on the other side! 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Life Lately: Travel, Summer, Sports

Hello! Sorry for disappearing like that. I had every intention of blogging on a schedule, but it remained just that - an intention. So here's a quick catch up on what's new in my world. 

Spencer, North Carolina 

Last summer one of my best friends from high school and her boyfriend moved to the tiny yet charming town of Spencer, NC. Even though they were only four hours from Wilmington, we didn't get a chance to visit them until last week. It was worth the wait - we visited the North Carolina Transportation Museum, split a bottle of wine at a vineyard, toured their new house, and watched the dogs play in the backyard - including their new puppy, Speck, a brindle pit bull who was all legs and stole my heart. A short and sweet trip, and now that we've done it once, we'll probably do it again soon. Now if only the rest of my loved ones would move to North Carolina. 

Summer Loving

There are two reasons I haven't been blogging much lately. The first is the fact that it's summer, and it's hard to do anything productive when it's 96 degrees out and the beach is just a few miles away. I realized we weren't taking advantage of our beach town status, so last Tuesday I finished up my work early, then took a mid-day break to sit on the sand and swim in the waves. It was glorious, and very much needed. And last night, even though I've been sick this week with a stupid summer cold, we walked downtown and climbed a parking garage for a great view of fireworks over the Cape Fear River. I also bought my first watermelon of the season last week and have been living on it for days now. It finally feels like summer. 

Watching Sports! 

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I recently had three great sports-watching experiences. The first is that I've been going to the weekly volleyball games that Nathan plays to cheer my friends on, and I am actually watching the game (instead of simply drinking the beer). The second is that K, D, and I caught a local roller derby bout at the last minute. The Cape Fear Roller Girls are awesome, and for a solid three days I was seriously considered going to try outs. And the last is the World Cup. I watched the USA vs. Belgium game at a local bar that was packed to capacity, and the energy of the crowd + the beauty of the USA team was amazing. Also: TIM HOWARD CAN SAVE ME ANYTIME. 

Coming Soon

Things I want to write about very soon: book reviews for Flight Behavior, Ready Player One, and An Invisible Sign of My Own. A very sad beekeeping update. The Freelance Life: Month Two. Adventures in Debt Part 3928473032. And whatever other things I feel moved to ramble about on a more regular basis. I always miss this space when I neglect it for too long. It's good to be back. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Writing Process

I've seen this survey going around the Internet over the last few weeks. I think someone is supposed to ask you to answer the questions, but nobody tagged me so I decided to tag myself. As if I could pass up an opportunity to talk about myself and my writing. As. If.

What are you working on right now? 

As anyone who regularly reads this blog is well aware, I'm working on a novel titled Hive Body. It was my MFA thesis; now it has graduated to being, simply, My Book. I'm currently on draft #7, which I am hoping will be the final draft - at least until I send it out. 

But something you might not know is that I'm also working on a collection of short stories. They're sort-of linked, in that they all take place in the same town in the suburbs of Long Island, which is basically a thinly veiled version of the town in which I grew up. I've got five stories in it so far. I'd like to have nine or ten, so I'm half way there. (Some of the stories that are included in it have been published - like this one.) 

How does your work differ from others in its genre? 

I tend to write pretty traditional narratives - I love stories about relationships in turmoil, women in emotional peril, families falling apart, that sort of thing. I don't write happy stories, as a general rule, despite being a happy person. That said, I do think my work is different, or at least not cliche, because it's very rooted in the natural world. In my novel, it's the world of honeybees. In my short stories, it's the world of suburbia, which lacks nature in a real and alarming way. 

Why do you write what you do? 

I just realized I identified my work as being about relationships and nature, so I guess the answer to this question is: what else is there? 

My real answer is that I am fascinated by humans, by love, by tragedy, by change. I'm afraid of losing the people I care about, and I'm afraid of losing the world as I know it, which I hold dear. Some people write what they know; I write what I fear, so that I can know it and fear it less. That sounds very depressing, but it actually makes me happier than anything else. 

How does your writing process work? 

Wake up early, by 6:30AM at the latest. Pour a cup of coffee, which was set to brew at six. Stir in a generous drop of almond milk. Sit at desk and pull up latest project. Write or revise for the next one to two hours, until the rest of the house starts waking up or other responsibilities demand my time. Repeat every day for the rest of my life. 

Or: sleep late because I drank too much wine the night before. Or: turn off the alarm because I'm lazy. Or: go for a run, because it will be 100 degrees later and if I don't go now it won't happen. Or: wake up early but read blogs and Twitter until it's too late to get any writing done. Or: wake up early wanting to write, but work on freelance articles instead, because deadlines are looming. 

But mostly I try to wake up early, drink the coffee, and write. It's not very glamorous or interesting, but that's sort of the point. 

And because I've indulged myself so thoroughly, I'll tag a few people whose writing processes I'd like to read about: Erica, Rose-Anne, Allyson, and Jaclyn. Hop to it, ladies! ;)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hello, New House!

Over the weekend, we officially signed the lease on a new place, and it could not have come at a better time. I've complained about our current home in the past, and since then it has not gotten any better. While we made a lot of good memories over the last three years (I wrote a book! Nathan became a paramedic! We got married!) we're more than ready to move on. 

The new place is literally a mile away, so the move shouldn't be too hard. We'll be on a quiet street in a tucked away neighborhood, instead of a busy road. The landlady is awesome, friendly and attentive and responsible. (Our friend has lived there for the last three years and raved about her, which is reassuring.) And the house is in great shape - it has a new roof, new windows, and things are fixed as soon as - and sometimes even before! - they break. That will be a nice change. 


One of the most exciting things about the new place is that it's smaller than our current home. Yes, that's right. I said smaller. I know the tiny house movement is huge right now (see what I did there?) and maybe I'm just a trendy hipster, but I love tiny houses. I love the idea of keeping only the essential, of everything having a nook to call home, of having a small footprint that's easier and cheaper to maintain. While our new house isn't exactly tiny (it's 973 square feet, with a back deck and a big yard) it's one step closer. 


I'll do an official tour once we move in so for now words will have to suffice. The house has a small galley style kitchen and a living room with space for kitchen table. No dining room, which I prefer. I don't need a whole room dedicated to a table - especially if it means I get an office, which I do! It has a door and looks out over the backyard, and I cannot wait to have my own space where I can keep my projects organized, my writing focused, and my freelance business running. Plus the office walls are a buttery, sunshine yellow, which is really the icing on the cake. 

There is also a good sized bedroom for me and Nathan, as well as a small guest room which will double as Nathan's office. We're going to put a futon in there instead of a guest bed, to save on space. And only one bathroom, but we're used to that and have gotten pretty good at timing. (TMI? Oh, well.) 

We're not moving until the end of July (COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS) so until then, I'll just be dreaming about tiny houses, paint colors, garden beds, and my own little office. We like all the colors in the house except for the living room, which is half yellow and half red - not our style at all. I'm thinking a light gray would be nice - kind of like this: 

Gimme those gray walls.

The one thing I keep forgetting in all my daydreaming and scheming is that we have to actually, you know, move. Pack things up, dismantle and re-mantle the chicken coop, have a come-to-Jesus with our worldly belongings. That sort of thing. This will only be our third move in nine years, so I'm nervous and excited - the novelty hasn't worn off yet. I also hope that this will be our last rental, and that when we move on in a few years it will be because we've finally saved up enough to buy our own tiny-ish house. For now, a better home, in a better neighborhood, with a better landlady, is a step in the right direction. 

Do you own, or rent? If you own, when did you buy your first home? We're in our early 30s but I feel like we do everything (grown up careers, marriage, etc) at a slower pace than most. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Goodbye, Alice

This morning when I woke up, I fed the dogs and then let them out. From the back door I could see the coop, and I noticed one of the chickens, Alice, was lying near the door. I watched for a few minutes, during which time she didn't move at all. I knew right away that something was wrong. I went outside, approached the coop, and confirmed my worst fear. Alice was dead. 

There was no sign of injury or struggle. She hadn't been acting strange or sick these past few days. And yet it seemed that at some point during the night she hopped off the roost, left the coop where her sisters were sleeping, made her way to the far end of the run, laid down, and died. I spent all morning reading about chickens dropping dead, which is apparently more common than you'd think. She may have been egg bound. She may have had a heart attack. There's no way to know. On the bright side, the rest of the ladies seem fine - they're roaming through the yard right now, eating bugs and pecking at the grass. I'm going to keep a close eye on them for the next few days, fingers crossed that Alice was a one time tragedy. 

Alice Munro, who was my favorite.

I knew we'd lose a chicken at some point, either to predators or disease or old age. Death is the risk you take with any living creature, human beings included. It's the one thing we all have in common. When we started keeping chickens two years ago, I wondered how I'd react when the inevitable happened. Would I cry? Would I be distraught? Would I be able to deal with a dead body? 

As it turns out, I did not cry. This was surprising, as I cry easily - a commercial can bring me to tears in less than 30 seconds, and just yesterday I had to take a break to compose myself while telling Nathan about a friend's dog that passed away. I was a bit distraught - and still am, as this all happened less than three hours ago. I feel numb and strange, partly because a dead pet is a weird way to start the day, and partly because we have no idea why she died. I was not able to deal with the body. Luckily, my husband is a paramedic and is trained to handle this kind of thing. He took care of Alice while I lead the rest of the chickens away from the coop, though the yard. I didn't want them to see their friend carried away. 

There is no moral to this story, no neat way to tie things up, no lesson to share. Alice was one of my very first chickens. She hatched from an egg in my kitchen, grew under a lamp in my guest room, roamed the screened-in porch while we finished building the coop. She was the sweetest one in the group, content to sit in my lap and let me pet her golden feathers. She was the first to befriend the new girls when we added to the flock. She made a huge mess every time she ate, throwing food all over the run. She liked watermelon and oatmeal and spiders and dust baths. She was a good little chicken, and I'll miss her. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday High Five

Every other Friday, I post a short list of five things currently making me smile. This is the latest installment. For past High Fives, click here.

1. Basil, Blooms, and Berries
Since we're moving at the end of July, we didn't bother planting a full scale summer garden. I did, however, manage to plant some basil in large containers, so I can take them with us and still reap the benefits of homemade pesto (the best part of summer, IMHO.) We also had two pleasant surprises. The first is that the blackberry cutting Nathan's mom brought us two years ago (the same time she delivered our chickens-to-be) is still thriving. It's currently covered in tart, magenta berries right now, and I'm counting down the days until they're ripe. The other surprise? The bee balm seeds we planted last summer have actually sprouted and bloomed. Utterly unexpected, completely delightful. I <3 Summer.

2. Emoji Analysis 
My friend Sally sent me a link to this blog, wherein the author analyzes your recently used emojis, then tells you what's wrong with your life. As an emoji aficionado, I sent mine in immediately (they're pictured above) and I am eager to see myself unveiled.  Also, I use some weird emojis. 

3. These Dogs. 
Right now North Carolina is very hot and humid. Seamus is approaching his tenth year on this planet (just look at all that white on his snout!). Calvin is just sort of lazy. The culmination of these facts is that often, mid-walk, they will find a fluffy patch of shrubs or some especially thick grass, and lie down in it, panting and grinning and sometimes rolling around on their backs. I indulge them, because look at those faces. Best dogs ever. 

4. Will Work for Wine. 
Remember the alcohol app I'm working for? Well, last week I got to tour the lab where the DNA of drinks is decoded by a team of chemists. When we got to the cellar, we were allowed to take all the wine we wanted, for free. The bottles had been opened and a tiny amount extracted for samples, but they were resealed with nitrogen (which mostly keeps it from going bad). I took many bottles, and so far all of them have tasted fine. Also, I can't seem to get rid of this hangover. I wonder why. 

5. This Postcard. ^
Erica has this postcard on her refrigerator, and every time I see it I feel either inspired, or ashamed. I'm working on feeling inspired all the time. It's an uphill battle. (For sale here, though currently out of stock.) 

Hope you had a great week, full of finished projects and productive days. On to the weekend! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Freelance Life: Month One

One month ago I graduated college (again). One month ago I decided that I would not apply for traditional jobs, with salaries and schedules, benefits and retirement plans, bosses and offices. One month ago, I decided to work for myself, choose my own projects, and write my way to a living. Here's how the first month went. 

Starting Slowly 

I actually started freelancing at the beginning of 2014, while I was still in school. One day, while thinking obsessing over post-graduation plans, I emailed an acquaintance out of the blue to ask about tutoring jobs. She put me in touch with a woman who did marketing for local businesses, we hit it off, and I started writing one or two articles a week for her. Eventually I started working in her office for an afternoon here and there, helping with administrative stuff and taking on more and more writing assignments. I really like working with her, and she's been a great business and marketing mentor. 

Eggs & Baskets 

While I enjoyed the marketing work I was doing, I knew I needed more than just one gig. Not only because I needed more money, but because I wanted more security - if one job dried up, I needed others to fall back on. Plus freelance work ebbs and flows. Not everyone is busy all the time, but the bills are not so forgiving. 

The Start Up

Just as I was starting to look for more work (I was still in school & teaching at this point, so I wasn't in a huge rush) an opportunity came through the MFA listserv. A local start up was looking for writers for its "integrated content marketing strategy" which, I quickly figured out, was a fancy word for blog. I applied, interviewed twice, and got the job. I wish I could share a link, as I've been writing a ton for this blog (all of it about alcohol, which I'm enjoying, for obvious reasons), but it's not live yet. Neither is the app the company is working on - both should launch sometime in mid-July. You can get a preview here, but basically it's an amazing and awesome app that will change the way wine and beer is experienced. I've seen a demo, and I can't wait for it to take the world by storm. I'll write more about this later, but suffice to say I'm super excited and grateful to watch this idea become reality from the inside. 

The Hustle 

I started the first month of my freelance life with two steady gigs, but I wanted more (are you sensing a pattern yet?). More diversity, more clients, more experience, more everything. I added freelance blogs to my RSS reader and stalked job boards. I started a freelance writers Facebook group with a few other women to swap leads and share advice (interested? email me and I'll add you!). Someone told me to check the Craigslist sites for bigger cities - NYC and San Francisco, specifically - as they tend to post more freelance opportunities. I applied for everything that looked promising and payed at least $20 per article (I'd like to charge more eventually, but that seemed like a good place to start.) 

Third Job's a Charm

Most of my emails went unanswered, but then I got a response from an editor, asking me to write a sample blog post for a new online women's magazine. I did, she liked my work, and now I'm a contributing writer for Moxie Lady. It's a newer site but I really like the focus and the range of articles it publishes. My first post was about my attempt to craft a minimalist closet, which was a ton of fun to write. I have a few more articles to send them this month, one of which I hope to finish today. 

What Next? 

I'm still looking for more opportunities, which means if you're hiring, I'm available. While most of my writing at this point is online and blog-heavy, I'd like to branch out to print media. There are some local magazines that I've been studying, trying to come up with pitches to send to the editors. (And, you know, figuring out how to write a pitch...) While writing full time is a little bit scary and uncertain, I seem to be doing okay so far, so I'm hopeful that this will be a sustainable way to make a living in the long run. (I'm also very lucky that my husband has a full time job and we have health insurance through him - that makes the risk-taking aspect of freelance much easier to handle.) Oh, and I'm still plugging away at my novel. The other risk of writing for a living is that my own work will fall by the wayside, and so far I've been very conscious of staying on track with revisions. (My own blog, on the other hand, has been on the quiet side lately. Now you know why!) 

Questions? Comments? Advice? 

While this won't become a freelance-focused blog, I will post monthly updates about how things are going. If there's anything you want to know more about, let me know! And if you have any advice to share, please do. I'm brand new at this and learning as I go, and I'm open to pretty much anything. 

Here's to Month Two! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Weekend on Long Island

When Nathan and I decided it was time to leave Texas so that I could get that MFA degree I'd been dreaming of, I mostly looked at schools in North Carolina and Virginia. I wanted to be back on the East Coast, so that I could visit my family on Long Island more often. After three years of living here, we finally drove the distance for a short, weekend visit. And I must admit: while NC is closer to NY than TX, it's still a really, really, really long drive.

The above montage of photos from there & back is a large part of the our trip. We left Friday morning and got to my parents' house around 11pm that night. The return trip started at 8AM and ended in our driveway at midnight. (Google Maps, it turns out, does not take DC traffic into account when estimating the length of a trip.) On the bright side, we were able to listen to a million podcasts (This American Life, Stuff You Should Know, and How to Do Everything were my favorites) and the dogs were angels, which basically means I should quit my complaining immediately. Done and done.

As for time actually spent on Long Island, it was relaxed and low key. On Saturday, we headed to the North Fork to visit some wineries, which is a new tradition that I very much enjoy. My favorite vineyard is called Croteaux. They specialize in dry roses and the wine garden is basically the most adorable place in the world. Obviously Nathan and I are now dreaming of opening a vineyard one day. 

We also visited Marcari Vineyards, which was okay. Bigger and more commercial than the family-owned Croteaux (where were served by the owners' daughter!), but still a good time with good wine. Plus the weather was perfect - 80F and not a drop of humidity - and I was with my mom, sisters, and husband, and that made the vineyard perfect. 

On the way we stopped at a farm stand for some veggies to grill and fixings for homemade guacamole. My youngest sister had never made her own guac before and she deemed our creation "better than Chipotle." That's what I like to hear. 

We spent Sunday at the beach and I don't have any photos, because I post enough beach photos on this blog. (<--- And yes, friends, I would hate me too, if I read that sentence on someone else's blog. Life is hard, you know?) Monday we headed back, drove for a million hours, and this morning I am here, at my desk, drinking coffee, writing this blog, and ignoring all the tasks on my to-do list, at least until I finish this cup of coffee. 

I hope you had a good weekend, too. More soon.