Saturday, August 22, 2015

This is 33

I turned 33 on August 9th, and it must be a sign of maturity that I'm only getting around to reflecting on the occasion now. That's okay - age, after all, is relative. Ever since I turned 31, I've been doing a yearly time capsule to capture the moment and the year as they are in this moment. You can read 31 here32 here, and 33 below.

This is 33.

Thirty-three is a new career, again. It's going to an office five days a week and hoping all the studies that claim that sitting in a chair all day will kill me are wrong. Thirty-three is using my skills as a writer and a digital native to help other businesses grow. It's wondering sometimes if this particular career is enough, if any job is enough, if jobs are supposed to be enough, if enough even exists. 

Thirty-three is a literary career - the one that I care about most, the one that would most certainly be enough - teetering on the edge. It's eleven revisions and an agent and the maddeningly slow game of waiting for something to happen. Thirty-three is letting go of expectations and control and throwing myself into a new project, the first draft of another novel, because it doesn't matter what happens with the first one. The only thing that matters is that I keep writing. 

Thirty-three is Wilmington, for real this time. Not as a student, not as a visitor, but as someone who lives here and really, truly likes it. Thirty-three is less social, but the days and nights out are always worth it, always needed, always enjoyed. Thirty-three is missing more people than ever before, but realizing this is an ongoing trend - it just means I'm always finding new people to love. Thirty-three is breweries, book clubs, beaches, and backyard parties. Thirty-three is peaceful. 

Thirty-three is thirteen years and counting with Nathan, a relationship that has outlasted nearly everything else in my life and continues to evolve. It's comfort and safety and strength, and the knowledge that no matter what, we'll figure it out and be okay. It's dreaming about the future in our spare time, making plans but waiting to see what will happen next. Thirty-three is ongoing relief that the biological clock has yet to tick, that the plan to remain child-free still feels right.

Thirty-three is gentler on my body - less marathons, more yoga. Thirty-three is feeling stiff in the mornings and sleeping hard at night. Thirty-three is eggs from my chickens, honey from my bees, basil from my garden. Thirty-three is watching Seamus get older - eleven this year! - with wonder and fear about how much longer we will share our life with him. Thirty-three is gratitude for Calvin, only five, who is still fat and sweet and just beginning to go gray. Thirty-three is wine and beer on the back deck, too much and too often and not apologizing for it. 

Thirty-three is reading books like I did when I was thirteen - widely and enthusiastically, but not guilelessly. It's understanding the power of books in a new way, and making a conscious effort to read books by people who do not look or live like me. It's becoming an active member of the wider literary world, and supporting the work of other writers I admire. Thirty-three is watching as my friends and colleagues begin to find success, wondering who will be next, hoping it will be me. Thirty-three is envy and joy, twin emotions in equal measure. 

Thirty-three is hope, and happiness, and health, and heart. It's good to be thirty-three. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Birthday Weekend in Asheville

Last Sunday was my birthday (I have many thoughts about turning 33 - more about that soon) and to celebrate, Nathan and I decided to spend the weekend in Asheville, NC. Asheville is about six hours west of us, in the mountains, and it's a beautiful, peaceful, strange little town, full of vegetarian food, breweries, and various vagabonds. Suffice to say we fit right in. 

Where We Stayed 

We used Airbnb for the first time ever (we don't get out much) and spent two nights in a truly unique and beautiful place. It's called Franny's Farm, located just 20 minutes from downtown Asheville. Franny and her husband Jeff bought the place three years ago, and in that time they've started growing organic food, raising sheep and poultry, and building an eco-cabin project, which was the main reason we chose to stay there. At the top of a very steep hill on their property, they've built a camping area that has a really nice, fully stocked kitchen, bathroom, and showers, complete with electricity and running water. 

The camping area also includes two eco-cabins, which are tiny dwellings with no power. The cabin we stayed in was 12 x 12 with a loft bed. It was very well made, comfortable, and - most important - super cute. We loved staying at the farm, talking to Franny and Jeff, visiting the animals, and drinking coffee each morning while enjoying this amazing view. 

Nathan and I have a (very) long term dream of building something similar - a farm, filled with tiny houses, where we can host writing workshops and yoga retreats, sort of like what I attended in Aspen. Staying on Franny's Farm was incredibly relaxing but also incredibly inspiring. They're pretty much living our dream, and doing it well. We're excited to continue visiting them, staying on their farm, and watching as their operation grows and evolves. If you're ever in Asheville, I highly recommend booking a night in one of their cabins

What We Ate 

I love to eat more than just about anything, and Asheville didn't disappoint in the culinary category. Somehow, I failed to take photos of most of the delicious things I consumed, possibly because the task would have been too overwhelming. (The above photo, of a delicious vegan eggplant parmesan, was my only foray into food photography on this trip. Worth it.) 

We arrived in Asheville at around 4PM on Friday and headed straight to the farm to check in. That night, we had dinner at Laughing Seed Cafe, where I took my one and only photo (see above). We walked around Asheville for a bit after that, then bought a bunch of wine and snacks and spent the night hanging out in our cabin and enjoying the peace and quiet. 

The next morning we woke early, made coffee and drank it on our tiny porch, ate some granola, then hiked to an abandoned moonshine still on Franny's property. We did not find any moonshine, nor Moonshine Mary, who is rumored to haunt the still. 

Once our obligatory amount of exercise had been obtained, we headed back to Asheville. It was Saturday morning and all the brunch spots were pretty packed, but we ended up at Mayfel's, which was fine with me. Giant mimosas, eggs on top of vegan black bean patties, and vegetarian sausage - just what I always wanted. Once we had food in our bellies, we began our self-guided tour of Asheville's breweries (see below). We ended the night at Rosetta's Kitchen for their famous family favorite - peanut butter baked tofu, sautéed kale, and smashed potatoes with vegan gravy. Our final stop on our culinary tour of Asheville was on our way out of town the next day - brunch at West Asheville's Sunny Point Cafe. We had to wait an hour for a table, but it was worth it for the tofu bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwiches we devoured. Plus we spent that hour drinking coffee and wandering through the restaurant's extensive organic garden, from which they source most of their menu, and for which I will love them always. Asheville is the best! 

Where We Drank 

Asheville is widely known as "Beer City, USA" and is currently home to 21 craft breweries. While we knew we wouldn't be able to visit them all on our brief trip, we gave it a good shot. On Saturday, we started early and crawled through a good number of these fine establishments, tasting and touring as we went. 

We started at Hi-Wire Brewing and enjoyed a tasting flight of delicious beers. Then it was around the block to Asheville Brewery, where we had more delicious beers AND met up with Eric, a friend from my MFA program who recently moved to Asheville. We held on to Eric for the rest of the day as we sampled beers from Wicked Weed Brewing and Thirsty Monk, where I sent some free postcards to a few friends (whether anyone at the United States Postal Service will be able to read the addresses I scrawled on the postcards has yet to be seen). From what I can remember, the beers were amazing, the conversation was brilliant, and every single person we saw was utterly beatific. In other words, a pretty great day and weekend for this birthday girl. 

I Love Asheville 

This was my first time spending more than a handful of hours in Asheville, and even though we were there for a full weekend, there was so much we didn't have time to do. I'd love to hike to the top of an actual mountain, watch the leaves change along the Blue Ridge Parkway, drink more delicious beers, float the river, and go back to Sunny Pointe Cafe, because honestly, that was the best brunch ever. Luckily six hours isn't very far, and we have a great little cabin waiting to welcome us back. Until next time, Asheville. I'm already looking forward to it. 

Monday, August 03, 2015

On This Day

Two weekends ago, our landlady stopped by so we could renew our lease. Renewing wasn't a question - we love almost everything about this house and might even buy it one day, if we ever have enough money. While our landlady was here we chatted about life, real estate, and the particulars of the house. "It's perfect," we said. "Everything works great and we haven't had any problems at all." We signed on the dotted line and agreed to another year of bliss. 

And then all hell promptly broke loose. 

It wasn't anything too catastrophic. First, our stove stopped working. The light would come on, the digital clock kept ticking, but it would not get hot - not the burners, not the oven. Our landlady is prompt and responsible and it was fixed within two days, and in the meantime we treated ourselves to Chipotle for dinner and made our morning eggs via a camping stove on the deck. After the stove was fixed, however, the AC stopped working. Luckily our heat wave had finally broken, so it was only 95 degrees instead of 106, but still - three days without AC in North Carolina in July can feel like a very long time indeed. A repairman came and fixed our unit, and then the stove stopped working again. Turns out the breaker needed to be repaired, and that took another day. All in all, it was a strange series of events which seemed prompted entirely by the renewal of the lease. It was as if the universe was saying, "Are you sure? Do you really want to stay here? Isn't there somewhere better you could go?" 

To which we said, "Yes, we're sure. Yes, we want to stay. 'Better' is relative, don't you think?" 

I haven't been using Facebook as much as I used to - Twitter and Instagram are my online homes these days - but there is one thing Facebook does keeps me hooked. It's the "On This Day" feature and it pops up every so often when I log in, to remind me of what I was doing last year, three years ago, six years ago, at any given moment. 

Lately, it's been reminding me of my life four years ago. I'd just left my job and friends and community in Texas and moved to Wilmington. I was nervous and sad and excited to start my MFA. I wondered if I'd make friends, if the house we'd rented was really as bad as it seemed, if I would finally be able to consider myself a real writer. 

It's funny now to watch those moments pop up, to remember how I felt then along with what I know now. Our last house was terrible for all three years we lived in it, but we were happy anyway. Getting an MFA was absolutely the right decision. I call myself a writer, even though some days are better than others. And I am shocked, completely and wonderfully, every time Facebook tells me I became friends with someone four years ago. Only four years of friendship? It feels like a lifetime. 

This last year has been a strange one. I have new friends, a new job, a new book-in-progress. Our house no longer feels new - now it just feels like home. I suppose I could say the same thing for Wilmington. When I graduated, I felt as if I'd just arrived all over again - that was how much my life changed after the MFA. On this day four years ago, we had just signed a lease but weren't sure what we were signing up for. Today, I remember those feelings of uncertainty while smiling. Despite everything, it's all working out fine. And when it doesn't, well, we have a perfectly good camping stove just in case. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Volleyball Chronicles

Two years ago, my friends formed a team and joined the beach volleyball league, which plays each week on courts attached to a local bar. Each week I went to their games and cheered (or read a book, depending on how I felt that day). The team was not very good and rarely won (I say this with love, of course) but they almost always had a great time, and not just because we ordered many buckets of PBR during the course of their games. 

Despite all the fun they seemed to be having, I did not join the team. With the exception of roller derby, I'm not a fan of team sports and harbored a special aversion to volleyball. All that sand! All the diving and jumping! That ball, hurtling towards your face at the most inopportune moments! No, thank you. I'll be over here, in the shade, with a book and a beer. 

This year, however, something changed. I decided to play, even though my friends had given up on asking me. I'm definitely the worst person on our team, the combination of heat and sand and humidity is painful, and the moments when I swing my arms wildly and complete miss the ball are just as mortifying as I'd feared. We play every Sunday and some weeks I feel as if I've improved and am actually doing an okay job; other times, I wish I was still on the sidelines. But I am improving, and my team is lovely and supportive (probably because they're all my friends, and my friends are the best) and despite the moments of fear and shame, I'm having a lot of fun. 

It occurred to me that I'm at a point in my life where I don't often get to try something completely new. When I was in my 20s, new experiences were easy - every moment was a revelation, every thought an epiphany. But now, I'm well into my 30s. I've already done a lot of the big things that people do - go to college, get married, move across the country a few times, run a marathon, go to college again, write a novel, etc. These days, life is fairly predictable and the opportunities for Brand New Experiences, Big Scary Things, and Life Changing Events are becoming more and more rare. As much as I like my life, part of me is upset by this reality. I don't want to be the kind of person who becomes stagnant. I want to keep growing and changing and experiencing and feeling. I'm only in my 30s and I've barely scratched the surface of anything. Now is not the time to settle down. 

Thus: volleyball. In the grand scheme of the world, it's just a sand court at a bar that plays 90s alternative rock and serves ice cold buckets of PBR. In my own little universe, however, it's a chance to try something new and make myself uncomfortable. To swing my arms and grit my teeth and maybe, just maybe, send that ball over the net. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

How Is It Already July and Other Rhetorical Questions

I don't really have any other rhetorical questions, but I am surprised that to see that July is almost half over. There's no reason this should shock me - I was here for the whole thing, after all, but there's something about the passing of time that still seems unfair. At any rate, here's how I've been spending my summer. 

At the beach. No surprise there, since we live on the coast. I am happy to report that we haven't been attacked by any sharks, despite that the fact that they've been snacking nearby. We did, however, kayak out to our favorite island and spend the night there. In the morning we had the whole beach to ourselves and were treated to a playful pod of dolphins just out of reach. We walked about a half mile down the shore and followed them, and they were leaping out of the water and playing and having what looked like a great a time. It was pretty magical. 

In a book. I still haven't recapped my June reading list here (shocker) but I have been reading steadily this summer, and all of 2015. In fact, I'm in the middle of book number 25 and since we're in the 29th week of the year, I'm pretty damn impressed with myself. The only thing longer than the list of books I've read is the list of books I want to read. So many good ones are coming out right now and it feels like an exciting time to be a reader and a writer and a human. Books! Nothing is better. 

At the office. I've been at my job now for almost four months, which flew by. (This probably explains why I looked up and it was suddenly mid-July.) There's not much to say about my job, except that it is pleasant, I like my co-workers, and I appear to be good at what I do.  Would I rather spend 40 hours a week reading a book on the beach? Wouldn't we all? But if you have to have a job (and I do) then I feel lucky and grateful to have this one. 

In the middle of Mad Men. Despite being a Mad Men devotee, I have yet to see the final season of the show. We watch it on Netflix and season 7 hasn't shown up yet, so instead Nathan and I decided to rewatch the whole thing from the beginning, to build anticipation and remember all the things that happened. This has made me believe 1. that I actually am Peggy Olson, especially now that I'm a copy writer at an ad agency, and 2. that Mad Men is the greatest television show that ever existed. I will write a think piece about this when we're done, because if the world needs anything, it's a think piece about Mad Men. 

On Twitter. I may not blog as much as I used to, but I'm still on the Internet all day long. I just spend most of that time on Twitter, which continues to be my favorite social media platform of all time. It's where I find out about everything, from news to writing to nerdy jokes to important culture movements like #BlackLivesMatter. I'm in a place, in life and on the Internet, where listening is more important than speaking, and Twitter is perfect for that. You can find me here, if you're interested, and we can listen to each other. 

You're turn - what are you reading / watching / tweeting? Tell me everything and I will listen closely. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Aspen Summer Words 2015

Remember way back in February, when I won a fellowship to Aspen Summer Words, a literary festival in Colorado that takes place each June? I spent all of last week there, soaking in the brilliance of wonderful writers, the kindness of new friends, and the beauty of the mountains. Now I am back home at sea level and ready to tell you all about it. 

Getting to Aspen was a bit of a struggle. I had to fly out of Charlotte, which is four hours away. My 11 year old car's alternator died the day before I left town, so I had to rent a vehicle. US Airways lost my luggage, so I wore the same black t-shirt and pair of jeans Sunday through Tuesday, until the bag was miraculously returned to me. My flight home was delayed and I missed my connection, which meant I got to spend the night in a terrible hotel off the freeway in Dallas. But none of that really mattered, because the time I spent in Aspen was idyllic, inspiring, and worth every headache.

The festival took place at The Gant, an adorable little hotel in the heart of Aspen. I had my own bedroom and bathroom, but shared a living room and kitchen with two of the other fellows, which was actually really nice. I liked having a built-in friend, and before our workshop, one of my roommates and I read that day's manuscripts at the kitchen table and had coffee each morning. Workshops took place from 9AM to 12PM, and my teacher was the kind, generous, and prolific Ann Hood. I learned so much from her in the short week we had, and am so grateful for the opportunity to study with her. Lunch followed workshop, and then the afternoons were filled with lectures and readings from all the faculty. This included Richard Russo, Akhil Sharma (who might find a second career as a stand up comic - I loved his dry humor!), Hannah Tinti, Dani Shapiro, and a handful of editors and agents. In other words, a pretty stellar line up. 

There were seven of us fellows in all, and we were each nominated for the honor by an editor or agent. Getting to know the other fellows was probably the best part of the whole week. We were all considered "emerging writers," though some of us were far more emerged than others. (I, of course, was one of the least emerged. Also, all this talk of emerging is making me think of insects.) In fact, as we chatted over dinner or drinks, in between lectures and on walks through downtown Aspen, I felt quite humbled by everyone's accomplishments. From forthcoming books to major publications to prestigious prizes, it was clear that they were each very talented. And nice, too! I hope we continue to keep in touch and share our work with one another, as we emerge and after. 

This was my first time going to a literary festival or conference of this particular scale. While I've been to AWP twice, that conference felt more like a literary jungle where each writer is out for blood and free books. Aspen, on the other hand, reminded me of a miniature version of my MFA program - an intimate setting, an insular experience, and focused on inspiration and learning above all else. And since we all know how much I loved my MFA program, I was really, really, really happy to be back in that kind of environment.

While hanging out in Aspen and meeting other writers is awesome no matter what, this particular trip came at the perfect time. Last week, while I was in Colorado, I hit the three month mark at my new job. While I've still been writing and revising these last few months, I haven't been working as much or as hard. I told myself I was adjusting to my new schedule, trying to regain the balance of work-life-art that had been thrown immeasurably off. Now, after three months at the new job and one week in Aspen, I feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to dive back in. It's a very good feeling.

(Here we are, after the closing reception, during which each of the fellows gave a short reading - which was obviously my favorite part. Can you spot me?) 

A thousand thanks to Aspen Words, Ann Hood, my fellow fellows, my new workshop friends, and all the other writers and readers who made this past week so magical. Here's to many more words. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Published in Bodega!

Here is how busy I've been / how much I've been neglecting this space: a whole month ago one of my stories was published in Bodega, a great little literary magazine on the Internet, and I am only getting around to sharing it with you now. (I have, of course, already shared it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it doesn't seem real until it claims a space on the blog.) 

The story is called "Southold," and it's part of my collection-in-progress. All the stories in the collection take place in the same small town on Long Island, which is a fictionalized version of the place where I grew up and which I'm calling Bellhaven. (You can read more Bellhaven stories on my website - a few others have also been published.) 

This particular story was the last one I workshopped in my MFA, which means it was written over a year ago. I'd been revising it on and off ever since, but was never quite happy with it. I think I must have switched the POV and the tense about seven or eight times. It feels sort of sacrilegious to admit that even though this story is published, I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I really love it, and sometimes I am mortified that it exists. I think this conflict is common among writers, and if it is not common, then feel free to lie to me. 

And any rate, I'm grateful to Bodega for loving my story enough to publish it - they're a lovely magazine, publishing just a few stories and poems on the first of each month. I highly recommend reading every issue and sending them your own work, too. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

April & May Reads

Like most intentions when it comes to this blog, I've fallen behind on my goal to chronicle what I read each month. (Though I'm mostly keeping up with Goodreads - I'm almost caught up there.) Before things get too crazy, here are the books I read in April and May. Not included: the second draft of Erica's book, which was better than all of these books combined. 

This book is a post- and also pre-apocalyptic story about a flu that wipes out 99% of human life. What's interesting about this book (as opposed to the other 19294746 apocalyptic stories out there) is that it takes place in the time before the flu and 20 years after it hits, when the worst is over and people are beginning to rebuild their lives. The twenty years in between are hinted at, and the reader knows it was a Very Bad Time, but we don't waste too much space dwelling on those days, and neither do the characters. I thought this choice, for the author, was particularly brilliant. It allows the characters to deal with conflict rather than catastrophe. Instead of seeing them react to the flu, the mayhem, the pain and confusion of those first years, when the goal of each person left is most certainly survival, we see instead the choices they're now (mostly) free to make, the ways in which they rebuild, how they create new families and new homes. I really liked this book - beautiful language, compelling story, creepy post-apocalyptic landscape, and so many thoughtful passages about what it means to be an artist and a survivor.

I'm not a huge fan of self help books but I love thinking and reading about routines and habits, and I'm always searching for ways to improve my own. So when I saw this book by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to give it a try. While I enjoyed the book, I don't think it was anything especially groundbreaking. I kept describing it as "pop psychology." While it's well researched and thoughtful, and I enjoyed the way she wove personal experiences into the narrative, I also felt as if she was building a sort of house of cards, what with all the tendencies, distinctions, and strategies. That said, while reading this book, I had probably the best week of my life, habit-wise. I woke up early, I worked out, I wrote, I ate healthy meals, I even called my mom. Clearly, this book had a good influence on me. And for those struggling with habits, it does have some great tips for improving your quality of life and being "better than before." Overall I enjoyed it, and I will definitely think about whenever I'm trying to form good habits and steer myself away from bad ones. 

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum

Richard had an affair - 7 months long, passionate, and ended not because he came to his senses and remembered he was married, but because his mistress got engaged to someone else. Then Richard's wife finds out and he must spend the rest of the book trying to win her back. It would be an understatement to say that Richard is unlikeable, especially in the first 3/4 of the book. Despite the fact that I like unlikeable characters, I felt very little pity for him and there were many moments when I hoped his wife would realize she was better off without him and move on. But, as the book progressed, Richard started to win me over. His voice remained sort of annoying and whiny, but he did mature. He accepted responsibility for his actions. He tried very hard, in many misguided ways, to make things right. And he had a sense of humor, which I appreciated. I was actually rooting for him by the end, which tells you something about how well this book was written. Besides my complicated feelings about the narrator, I really enjoyed the way this book complicates the idea and realities of marriage. By the end, it felt like a very honest, very nuanced look at love and - as Richard asks in the beginning - "how to make love last." I've seen a number of other reviewers say the ending of this book was predictable, but I disagree. It surprised me very much - not just how it ended, but how much I liked the book by the time I reached the last page.

How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, by Lydia Netzer

I loved the premise of this book. Two women have babies at the same time (on the same day!) and then raise those babies apart, so they can fall in love with one another when they're grown. The mothers try to ensure that the children - a boy, George, and a girl, Irene - share as many of the same rare books, music, and experiences as possible, so they'll feel like soul mates when they finally meet again. While the idea of taking such a scientific approach to true love is intriguing, the realities are not quite so cut and dry. When George and Irene meet, they do feel a connection, but it's not as simple as their mothers once hoped. The same goes for the book itself - while the premise is great, it falters in moments. That said, I also enjoyed huge parts of this book. Like the fact that Toledo, in this world, is the center of space exploration and study. The prose, which was sweeping and exaggerated in a really satisfying, epic way. The sex scenes, which were tender and funny and strange, all at once. This is an ambitious book filled with big ideas, and at times it felt like it was brimming over. I respected and appreciated the risks the author took, even if a few of them didn't pan out.

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters 

This was my first time reading a Sarah Waters book, and it wasn't at all what I expected - in a good way! This book takes place in 1922, in England, and is about a woman, Frances, who falls in love with her (married) lodger, Lillian. Obviously a queer romance in 1920s England is probably not going to be al rainbows and sunshine, and very bad things happen as a result of their illicit love affair. Things I liked: From dialogue to setting to descriptions, the prose especially seemed so very real and rooted in the 20s and of England in a perfectly immersive way. There were some very great sex scenes in this book which were awesome, especially compared to how buttoned up the characters and the prose were the rest of the time. Apparently, Waters is known for some crazy plot twists. I had no idea, and so there were moments when my mouth was hanging open in horror and shock at what had just happened. It didn't feel exploitative though, because the book builds in a really natural way, so the horror feels inevitable, which is a different kind of terror. Some sections dragged a bit, but overall I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more from Waters. 

Whew! Thanks for making it to the end of this very long book report. Now it's your turn - what are you currently reading? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

10 Years Later

Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of this blog. I meant to commemorate the occasion in some big, splashy way. A retrospective, or a giveaway, or at least a photograph of some cupcakes. Instead, I'm a day late and kind of tired, so this will be short. 

Ten years is a long time. I think the only other things I have done for ten years or longer, consistently, are my relationship with Nathan and wanting to be a writer. Everything else - my job, the state in which I live, the people I see every day, my hobbies, my habits - has changed. And yet this blog soldiers on. 

I'm proud of having a blog this old. I mean, it's practically ancient in Internet years and it narrates almost a third of my life, for better and for worse. I used to go back and read old entries pretty often; now, I hardly ever think about them. I used to blog almost every day; now, I'm lucky if I show up once a week. I used to write openly about my feelings, how I spent my day, what I was afraid of; now, there's a lot I hold back. 

Sometimes I think about this blog and wonder why I still feel the need to come here. I spend far more time on Twitter and Instagram, and interact with people on those platforms way more than I do here. Most of the blogs I used to love have shut down or post as sporadically as I do - it seems we're all growing up and moving on, too busy to dissect our lives online, for everyone to see. But there's something about blogging that I still love and can't quite replace. I like the space I have to ramble and spread out. There's no character limit, no hashtags, no filters. I never thought blogging, of all things, would feel retro or old-fashioned, and maybe now that's part of the charm. In a world where everything is made to be created and consumed instantly, blogging takes more time. It's thoughtful, intentional. And even if I only post a few times a month, I like knowing this space is here when I need it.

Here's to the last ten years. Here's to ten more, in some form. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Very Successful Three Day Weekend

Now that I work full time, I have rediscovered the magic of three day weekends. I will admit: at first I was nervous about taking advantage of the long weekend, afraid I might be out of practice, that I would squander the gift of these days by sitting around or, worse, cleaning my house. Friends, I am happy to report that by Monday evening my heart was full, my body tired, and my hangover surprisingly slight. Here's how I managed to have the best Memorial Day weekend ever. 

Step One: Birthday Shenanigans 

Friday night was my friend Kat's birthday, so after work we headed out - and stayed out. We started at the Husk, a downtown bar with a great outdoor area, and drank beers and tequila shots until it got dark and when we got hungry. Then we headed upstairs to Yosake, a very good restaurant (where Nathan and I decided to get married, as it so happens) and stuffed ourselves silly. We ended the evening by dancing the night away at Lula's, despite the fact that Lula's is less a dance club and more a dive bar. The other patrons might have found us insufferable; I have no idea. See tequila shots. At any rate, it was a great time and the fact that I stayed up until 2AM made the weekend seem wonderfully long. 

Step Two: Pick-Your-Own Berries  

I skipped hot yoga on Saturday (see tequila shots) but did manage to rally the troops for an outing to Lewis farms for some berry picking. Our group split up as soon as we hit the fields - half of us wanted to pick strawberries, while the rest wanted blue. Luckily Nathan and I were on different teams, so we ended up with a bucket of each. So far I've been eating a ton of berries every day, but I have grand plans to make blueberry pie and a vegan strawberry shortcake with coconut whipped cream. Will I accomplish these lofty goals before the berries go bad and/or I eat them all by the handful? Only time will tell. 

 Step Three: Breakfast Taco Party 

Finally, the moment I'd been looking forward to for weeks: BREAKFAST TACO PARTY. This party is an annual tradition that my friends K and D host, and it is exactly what it sounds like - a party, celebrating the art of the breakfast taco. There was so much food that I showed up for breakfast and stayed for dinner, because you can never have too many tacos. There was also cornhole and weird fortunes and coffee spiked with bourbon. The weather was glorious and the porch was full of people I love. The best part, however, were the buckets. Buckets are a delicious mixed drink served in (clean) paint cans. The drink contains bourbon, mint, sugar, and fresh squeezed citrus. It is then adorned with many straws and passed around family style for everyone to sip. Is it sanitary? No. Does it contain enough bourbon to kill anything that might be passed on? Probably. Did anyone care? Not when buckets are at stake. 

As you can see, it was a wonderful weekend that left me feeling pretty damn grateful for my life here in Wilmington. If the last few days are any indication, it's going to be an excellent summer.