Life Lately

Friday, August 16, 2019


Life has been full, draining, and seemingly never-ending lately. The end of summer happened mid-July for us and everything picked up pace...as Claire Foy has said about the Queen's attitude to life, there was nothing to do but "get on with it." Sometimes life to-dos and busy seasons sweep you up and you just have to keep going.

The first of September looms ahead with the promise of an exhale---life right now is simply surviving the madness of August. I just need to make it to September and then things fall into a slower, deeper routine.

One I am so very ready for. Routines we're all ready for, I'm sure. Life is a whirling, crazy, bustling mess for everyone right now as we all prepare for a shift in life, the seasons, traffic, and day-to-day moments...even those of not in school any more.

As for myself, I am unabashedly counting the days until the pumpkin spice latte returns.

Because it's looking forward to and anticipating the small things that make the mundane daily tasks of work, coming home, taking our shoes off, thinking about dinner, and cleaning up a little clearer and meaningful. 

The balmy, shaded evenings once the sun is down but everything is still light. The Downton Abby film, the return of the Royal Family after their brief August break, glorious September days where the heat lifts for a moment and cooler breezes swirl. Iced pumpkin lattes. Season 3 of the Crown. Fresh notebooks, blank pages, crisp black ink. The return of tweed, thinking about fall reading lists, Greta Gerwig's new trailer for Little Women. The emboldening inspiration of autumn, the comforting feeling of filling a room with beauty, warmth, and coziness.

Happy August, friends...here's to the next few weeks and the promise of September.

August

Sunday, August 4, 2019

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.” 
― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting


“I was surrounded by friends, my work was immense, and pleasures were abundant. Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil. Overall, I was happiest to be alone; for it was then I was most aware of what I possessed. Free to look out over the rooftops of the city. Happy to be alone in the company of friends, the company of lovers and strangers. Everything, I decided, in this life, was pure pleasure.” 
― Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy


“It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer. Everything fades: the shimmer of gold over White Cove; the laughter in the night air; the lavender early morning light on the faces of skyscrapers, which had suddenly become so heroically tall. Every dawn seemed to promise fresh miracles, among other joys that are in short supply these days. And so I will try to tell you, while I still remember, how it was then, before everything changed-that final season of the era that roared.” 
― Anna Godbersen, Bright Young Things


“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams


“Even so, there were times I saw freshness and beauty. I could smell the air, and I really loved rock 'n' roll. Tears were warm, and girls were beautiful, like dreams. I liked movie theaters, the darkness and intimacy, and I liked the deep, sad summer nights.” 
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance


“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. summer just opens the door and lets you out.” 
― Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

A list of small victories

Friday, July 26, 2019

 

A quiet, lamp-lit office in the early morning.

Soft grey shirts.

Friday, the final exhale of a long week.

Writing a to-do list, three items at a time.

Creating quiet and stillness.

Smooth gold rings.

Leftovers of an iced latte, still good.

Cold pasta salad, tangy and salty.

Chill, ambient music.

Illustrations of a cat, lazily sprawled on a windowsill.

Using a cardigan as a blanket.

That Friday feeling.

Making a list of small victories.

Love on the Weekend

 
It's Friday--an apt day to share a post I wrote but never published in October, 2017.
I'd moved down to the same town as Ryan just three weeks before. Still finding my footing;
making a space for my own in my new, empty apartment; learning my way at a new job.
Drinking in the warmth of love on the weekend
and the promise of that same love
 on a Monday.
 
__________________________________________________
 
 

It's a Friday morning, John's Mayer's "Love on the Weekend" plays in the car--the anthem of this past year, and my hands tap against the steering wheel. 

Everything's foggy and grey, growing lighter and more golden, much like each rare weekend morning of the past year when I had the day off and found myself on Highway 6 driving to see Ryan. Always a Sunday, sometimes if I was lucky, a Saturday. But never Friday...

That was our life, for over a year. Living to the weekend, trying to make it, working and waiting, day after day, until finally that single day of freedom for both of us - I've become an expert at picking in under 5 minutes. Things in a bag, pour food for the cat, grab the laptop, fling the bag in the car, turn the keys, pull out onto the street--and then, on my way to him. To love on the weekend. 

"It's so hard waking up in the morning and going to my job and finding worth in it. I feel like I'm living in the margins of life," I told my priest during Confession some months ago. 

He chuckled softly, and nodded with understanding. "Just remember that you work to live - not that you live to work. Just because a job is menial doesn't mean you can't have a full life. But this season might mean you have to work to live. And that's okay. Just don't make it your life."

It's not now. 

And the relief of that is both enormous and incredibly light, like the aftermath of a sudden outburst of tears. I can breathe--and stay breathing--for the first time in a long time. 

"You're happier more often," Ryan told me over dinner last night with a smile. "You realize it, right? You stay happier for longer now."

I do. 

Because he's not just a rarity now. For that, I am deeply grateful. He's not a weekend love anymore.

There are many things about our relationship I was not prepared for--but one of the hardest, I think, was the overwhelming guilt about work-life balance. Something, it turns out, that is not exclusive to motherhood. Making room for someone in your life can be difficult enough; it was for us, and we learned with many growing pains. But it's the carving time and space for a person out of the time and space set aside for other things that keeps you up at night.

A full-time job often from 7-5 for me, a PhD program in advanced mathematics and TA duties for him. Schedules that were always off--nights mean time to study for him, weekends are for grading. Nights were my only free time and Sunday was my weekend.

And now I'm here. Just down the road from him. It feels like a miracle and a gift (and make no mistake, it is -- one I will forever be grateful for) and unbelievable all at once. A little terrifying too. Everything is difficult in a different way now: whose place to have dinner at, how to fill the huge gaps of free time I have while he's in class or working, deciding whether to have breakfast and lose sleep or not see each other until dinner at 11pm, whether we see each other today or is it too inefficient to drive here and then drive there with two cars?

Turns out it's just as hard to transition out of a long distance relationship as it is to go into one. 

But I wouldn't go back. 

It's been a year and a half of endless driving, of feeling like I couldn't breathe every time I had to go back, of hating saying goodbye, of parking permits and probably thousands of dollars spent on gas. A year and a half of living in the margins, of always been on the other side of a screen -- of love on the weekend. 

It's Friday morning. And already, I've kissed him and wished him good luck as I dropped him off. 
 

The start of a weekend. The start of a new chapter. 

A summer funk

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


I was talking to a friend the other day about the internet and creating online--how I'd had so many ideas and outlines for summer blog posts. But when it came time to flesh them out and actually write said posts, my motivation fizzled. 'Is any of this interesting? Am I producing good writing? Or am I just contributing to the noise online?'

And the oh-so-original, all-important 'what if no one cares?'

 I think frequently about how difficult it is to find good blog posts that are either a) interesting or b) useful in a practical or applicable way...for instance, I'm not a parent or a doctor, but I find pregnancy posts or daily routines of a third year medical student equally fascinating. Plant posts, essential oils, and DIYs? Not so much. For someone else, that might speak to them. That's okay...I just know it's not aimed at me and move on. A bonus is reading one that also speaks to me and where I am in life right now: life organization, jobs, mental health, books and podcast recommendations, interiors, and such.

Another part of my writing paralysis is that I'm most inspired by fall and winter. Someone on Instagram mentioned that it feels quieter online right now--people are on vacation, kids are home from school, summer household projects are in full swing.  It's just a different rhythm than it is during the school year. Even though most of the working world operates on a calendar year (ah, to have summers off again!), so much of our lives are tied to the seasonal periods of fall and spring. School, restaurant hours, clubs and organizations, extra-curricular activities, sports, etc. etc. etc. All of these begin again during the academic year

I truly believe we're made for seasonal rhythms, and summer has a rhythm of its own. Slow and hazy, it can either be a whirlwind of travel that most of us can't squeeze in during the rest of the year or it can feel like a drawn-out exhale (if you live in a college town, that is). Or, depending on your job or position (retail, camps, vacation bible school), it's a crazy bedlam that leaves little time to for anything besides cold showers and collapsing into bed before getting up to do it all over again.


For me, it was a relief to acknowledge that it's ok for summer to be a quieter time, writing and creating-wise. I can give myself permission to not feel as inspired or pressured to post. Instead, I'm working on my ideas for fall and looking forward.

All that to say, I think summer can be a funny time. Things are quieter in real life and online; friends and family are traveling; and something about these hot, humid days lends itself well to just being in a funk. Feeling stuck and left behind. Unsure and hesitant.

I try to remind myself that nothing will make my writing more worthwhile than it already is. Not a book, not a magazine column, not a multitude of comments.

Inevitably, though, I slip into thinking, "oh, well, this is what I would write about if I had a larger audience or if I was writing a piece for a magazine..." But that's not the point or the reason why I write. I try to remind myself of what Anne Lamott said:

"...try to bust yourself gently
of the fantasy that publication will heal you,
that it will fill the Swiss-cheesy holes inside of you.
It won't. But writing can."

I fail, most times. But isn't that the joy and wonder of the internet? That any of us, with no book deal, no acceptance letter from a journal or magazine or online publication, can create something to be shared?

Art, writing, photographs, illustrations, calligraphy, cards, clothes, jewelry, prints, anything really. And those of us who don't feel the urge to create or share our creations can be a consumer, a supporter, a cheerleader and encourager of makers and business owners on the internet.

What a time to be alive.