Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stanford & the Cantor Arts Center

Today I simply needed to get out of the house.

The job applications and solitude and computer screen were starting to addle my brains and poke at my tear ducts, so an outing became necessary. I laced up my favorite old pair of sneakers, hopped on my trusty bicycle (Have you seen Jean Louise Scout Finch lately? She is looking so fly.) and headed north. I mean west. I mean northwest. Also, why don't the streets point normal directions in California?

And #scoutcycle and I, we found such a delightful place.

If Stanford ever introduces a master's or doctoral program that interests me, I'm all over this. (Please note that I do not condone the whole "framing Hedwig" thing that is pictured below. I'm now certain there is dark magic afoot. Accio freedom, Hedwig. Accio freedom.)

"Rodin is the sculptor of hands, furious, clenched, rearing, damned hands... The hands of the great sculptor are present and living... These hands are sad, furious and weary, full of energy or collapsing with fatigue ...hands of heroism or hands of vice ...He has investigated with passion the expressions of the human hand." Gustave Kahn

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A&A: Big Daddy John & Shower Windows

Oh yes, we need a little of this up in here! I've been compiling all my awkward & awesome life moments as per usual during my California life transition and the list was growing quite long's the best of the last month or so! Now I want to say something dramatic like BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND...

▲ I drove by a construction site last week with a spray-painted sign that said "BUTTS ONLY." What?
▲ While hanging out at a Starbucks a couple weeks ago, I overheard what appeared to be an entire life coaching session from one bro to another. Bro #1 was having some lady troubles, and oh-so-wise Bro #2 instructed him, "You gotta buy her nice things. You know she likes nice things. Show her what she's got in Big Daddy John." (Variations of this statement were repeated for a good half hour.)
▲ Amongst my list of things to include in this post, I have one note that simply says "sport shats." I don't even know what that means or why I wrote it down, but I couldn't just leave it out.
▲ Some devil bird wakes me up at 4:30am EVERY MORNING with its hellish baby elephant noises. Myke informed me that the elephant bird is a real thing. A real, extinct thing. Except I know the truth, because there's one living in my neighborhood. I've named him Kevin, and we are sworn enemies.

Irrelevant Neil Diamond Break...
▲ Neil Diamond is always relevant.
▲ This map of trees makes me oh-so-happy. I oh-so-love trees, and I oh-so-love NASA.
Bertie's vintage shop & soda bar in Phoenix. I am sad that I only discovered this right before leaving AZ, because...DREAMS DO COME TRUE. If you're into vintage clothing or treasures, and if you're into an old-fashioned ice cream and soda bar...well...GO.
▲ The captions in this hilarious post about falling in love with Henry Cavill. THEY KILL ME.
▲ This amazing photo encompasses how I feel about yoga. Forgive the profanity, but I laughed for about a solid week every time I thought about it.
▲ Do you like Lord of the Rings? You'll like this.
▲ There is a window in the shower of my bathroom in my new apartment. It faces in such a way that I can leave it open while I shower without fear of being perversely spied on. Taking a hot shower with fresh air blowing through makes me feel like I'm fulfilling a life dream of showering in one of those outdoor wooden showers at a lake house. I'm probably inappropriately excited about the existence of a shower window, but there you have it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Easy (I REPEAT, EASY) Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

I don't know how to emphasize strongly enough how ridiculously easy these tacos are. And, they are delicious. If they weren't delicious, I wouldn't have eaten them for about five meals in the last three days. Hey, when you're a single gal on a budget, leftovers are king of the hill. And tacos. Tacos are always king of my hill. I don't even know what that means but my heart tells me it's right.

I modified the original recipe a bit from this book. These babies can swing gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, guilt free...all the best free things. ('merica.)

Here's how it goes down:

1. Put defrosted chicken in the crock pot. I used 5-6 boneless chicken tenders. It would probably feed 3-4 people for one meal, depending on how ravenous you and your guests are.

2. Cover the chicken in salsa. I went with two of these little green cans of jalapeno salsa, but it was a bit soupy for my taste. In the future I think I'll go with a chunkier salsa. Keeps things interesting.

3. Turn the crock pot on low for about 4 hours. Stir occasionally, or whenever you get bored, or between episodes of Friday Night Lights. Whatevs.

4. Shred the chicken. Fish it out of the salsa, shred it with a couple forks, put it back in the salsa and stir it all up.

5. Add sliced avocado.

6. Eat. Enjoy. Love. I put mine on corn tortillas but you can do what you'd like. Eat it over a bed of lettuce if you don't eat grains. Add cheese or lettuce or hard taco shells if that's more your speed. Whip up a side of refried beans or Mexican rice. Hire a mariachi band, string up a pinata and get festive. Don't you just love options? I love options. And Mexican rice. I love Mexican rice.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

a thursday adventure to santa cruz

My new roommate is nearing the end of her funemployment days because of that whole "start working at Google" thing next Monday. So on Thursday she said, "Let's go on an adventure!"

The day included a drive to the coast, climbing over a small fence, traipsing through a historic ranch, observing sea cliffs and sea lions, lounging in a secluded beach cove, eating tacos that rocked my world (you know I don't say that lightly), finding Pineapple Dole Whip on a magical boardwalk, and riding an old wooden rollercoaster on said boardwalk. Conclusion: my roommate knows how to adventure.

The coast is breathtaking. The icy wind, the salt in the air and the lush growth along the cliffs. The boardwalk and kites and the smell of corn dogs and kettle corn. The farmland and forest and seashore all in the same breath. While my heart is probably still in Arizona, I think my soul has always known it needs the ocean.

Throwback to my last coastal adventure, when I was a wild child.

Friday, July 19, 2013

music: aron wright

So, this guy's album came out back in 2008 so I'm a liiiitttle behind the times, but you know, oh well and stuff. I kind of fell in love with his whole album. Lilting guitars, pretty harmonies, just enough falsetto to ignite some Bon Iver feelings inside of It's the kind of music for naps and slow bicycle rides and lazy, overcast afternoons on hammocks.

And the beard + plaid is not hurting the situation:

Here's one of my favorites from the album. I just think the intro vocals are so arresting:

I'm also a fan of Wildfire, Song for the Waiting, and And Still, the Darkness Comes (which is a single separate from the full album). And a few others. Look Aron Wright up on Spotify if you want to explore! And now I want a hammock, pleaseandthankyou.

Any recent delicious musical finds you want to recommend to me? Yes?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On Being Brave Enough to Fall (Not Fail)

"You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be." Ray Bradbury

I discovered this quote a couple years ago, and it kind of soaked into my skin and stayed with me. I remember it now and again, usually right when I'm about to let fear make a decision for me. "Don't."

Fear and I have a stubborn relationship.

When I feel it, I want to defy it. I hate when fear wins. I hate when I shrink because it's the safe or comfortable thing to do. There's big things, like moving to California or jumping out of a plane at age 18 because my friend Mariah and I made a pact three years earlier that we would do it. And there's small things, like last weekend when I was invited to go on a river trip with a few people I'd just met. Right before falling asleep the night before, I suddenly thought, "This is going to be awkward. I don't even have anyone's number, just a meeting spot at 7am. What if they leave me? What if no one talks to me? What if it's four awful hours trapped on a river with people who don't like me?"

I had those thoughts because I am human. And then I told them to leave-me-the-*ell-alone because I am me, and because of Ray Bradbury and "Don't be." And that river trip, just like every other time I've gone to a social activity as "the new girl" and thought about backing out at the last second, is something I'm glad I was brave enough to do.

I'm not afraid of mistakes. I'm not afraid of them because I make them all. the. freak. time.

I say dumb things. I write dumb things. I drop things and break them. I don't go running when I should. I don't relax when I should. I like the wrong boys. I let the right boys get away. Or I just like them at the wrong time. Or something. I spill my dinner on myself. I forget to call people when I say I will. I wear outfits that a week later I'm like, "What was that....?" And so on.

I listened to an audio speech this morning about mistakes and failure. My favorite part was when he told a story about his daughters taking ice skating lessons, and how they could barely stay upright even when holding on to the wall. When they officially started their lessons, they were surprised when the instructor said no more hanging on to anything. If they could barely keep their feet under them even while holding on, how would they possibly manage it without holding on at all?

The reason, he said, is that they needed to learn how to fall. Just let go, and let yourself fall down.

My life is ice skating. (And while I'm actually pretty good at real life ice skating, we're speaking metaphorically right now.) And life is about learning how to fall. I quit my job in the last couple months, left my family and friends and my everything behind, secured a new temporary job that turned out to be muuuuch more temporary than it was supposed to be, applied to a bazillion jobs and haven't had much of a response to all those careful cover letters yet. Fall, fall, fall.

Falling, but not failing.

Throughout this whole California shenanigan, I've repeatedly been asked a lot of "what if" questions. "What if you don't find a job?" "What if you run out of money?" "What if you get homesick?" What if, what if, what if. I'm not naturally the "what if" type, so my response to those questions is usually, "Then I'll figure it out." Life goes on. I gave it a go, and life goes on. I don't believe in playing small because of an ominous, lurking, nasty "what if."

I'm fine with missed shots and almost-theres and you'll-get-it-next-times. I'm fine with bruised knees and scraped palms and frustration and delayed success. I'm learning how to fall, so I can learn how to skate. Falling, but not failing. Just being brave, letting go, and letting myself fall down a little. And you know, I think I recommend it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So there's this thing called Extreme Ironing...

Look, I only iron like once or twice a year. But if I was going to get into it...

My new roommate Megan shared this phenomenon with me last night after I expressed my admiration that she was ironing her bed skirt. I own neither a bed skirt nor an iron. I didn't know Megan at all before we became roommates, but I've decided she is excellent because she owns a Karate Kid shirt (as do I, of course), left the house the other day to go on a walk "to find tacos," and shares things like this with me...

Behold, Extreme Ironing.

You can read more about it here, including gems like "the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt." And you can enjoy these pictures I found all over the Internets (the horse is my personal favorite):

source 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Empowering Decision to Not Filter Myself (and that one time I made a list of my socially unacceptable traits to prove it)

I'm pretty comfortable with myself, but that's an acquired trait.

I've gradually learned, during the last few years, to not give a rat's apple about what other people think about me or my life choices. And not in the "I don't care what people think so I can be blunt and rude and speak my mind and step on people" way. (I'm much too tender and non-red-personality for that.) I'm more of the "if I want to wear overalls or a Goodwill skirt with cats printed on it and take really long afternoon naps and be a Mormon girl who's not vehemently opposed to gay marriage then I will do what I want and thank you for your opinion of my life but I probably don't care" way. I'm comfortable in my own skin.

As a whole, I think we're too bent on appearing a certain way.

We modify ourselves to fit a mold. We hide our flaws and filter ourselves like fruit cocktail through a sieve. We share the parts of ourselves that seem socially or culturally acceptable and tuck away the parts that don't. But why? WHY do we do that? Especially in the relationships scene, it makes zero sense -- why would I want to impress someone with a MODIFIED version of myself? Because if they like that version and we end up I going to keep pretending forever so they'll keep liking me forever? Gross. Double gross.

And so I've chosen to ditch the filter.

I started compiling a list of my "flaws" as I brainstormed this blog post. The things I'm tempted to hide from people, at least at first. You would think it'd be a depressing list to have on hand, but I actually feel fiercely attached to it in a funny way. I loved seeing it all on paper. I like knowing that I'm unique, individual, different....I'm ME. I'm an original. We're all one-of-a-kind, and why pretend that away?

The list would be much longer if I brainstormed for more than a few days, but here's what we've got so far:
- I hate mornings. I feel like impressive, ambitious people are usually morning people and I am not one of them.
- My car is always messy.
- I almost never make my bed.
- Sometimes I febreze shirts instead of washing them. Or just hang them back up.
- I'm a messy eater.
- I wipe my fingers on my jeans while I eat.
- I'm a cat person.
- I don't like children I'm not related to, with very few exceptions. I don't think they're fun, pleasant, endearing or entertaining. I think they're overwhelming, high maintenance and impossible to reason with. And sticky. I avoid babysitting like some people avoid trips to the dentist.
- I can cook, but I don't do it often. When I do, it's usually healthy and semi-bland.
- I'm a healthy eater, but I have a serious (and often indulged) weakness for french fries, Dr. Pepper and sour jelly beans.
- I always overtip at restaurants, and silently cringe/judge when my dates or friends leave a small tip or criticize the server.
- I automatically like almost all people but have a really hard time biting my tongue around people who are rude or close-minded.
- I'm hypocritical because I'm easily disgusted with people who hate people.
- I space out often and have to be summoned back into conversations.
- I have a pretty healthy body image but I'm self-conscious about my bony feet, knees, hips, ribs and spine. I've been told I have nice legs and it weirds me out because I think they are an uninteresting twin pair of twigs.
- I'm more sensitive to skinny-bashing and "real women have curves" comments than I should be and will vocally/forcefully make that opinion known because I don't believe that being rude about any body type should be culturally acceptable.
- I suspect my armpits are sweatier than other people's.
- I'm impulsive.
- I'm impatient.
- My attention span is dismally short and it's obvious when it's gone because I'll tap my fingers on things, fidget in my chair and/or Instagram my way through the last 10 minutes of church.
- I spend too much time on my iPhone.
- Anxiety is an ongoing part of my life, and I had a short stint with therapy in college for it. I experience it much less now than I used to, and I'm 110% better at knowing when my thoughts are not rational and taking a quiet time-out or nap until I've calmed myself back into a good place.
- I am queen of unfinished projects and short-lived (yet passionate) hobbies.
- Slow walkers and drivers irritate me deeply.
- I hate being told what to do.
- I love getting my nails done and spend too much frivolous money on it. (When I'm employed, that is.)
- I enjoy Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars because I am a 13-year-old girl inside.
- I wear glitter eyeliner every day, because...13-year-old girl.
- I can easily spell most hard words but can't pronounce them nearly as well, meaning I often sound like an idiot around smart people who know the difference.
- I throw tupperware away if I find it in the back of my fridge and don't want to bother opening it and scrubbing it out.
- I eat in my bed. Frequently.
- I'm an embarrassingly bad basketball player, as much as I love watching the sport.

It might be weird advice, but I kind of recommend making this list for yourself. Write out your so-called flaws and things you tend to hide from people. Own it, from the very beginning, when you meet new people. My ability to relate to people and form new friendships quickly has grown exponentially as I've learned to do this, and I think that's because people are more willing to be real around you when you're real with them first. So let's get real, kids.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On Lengthening My Rope

I totally had a "woe is me" day yesterday.

OK, admittedly, my life has had a lot of sparkles and sunshine and new adventures lately. And I'm a naturally optimistic person, so I know that comes through in my social media posts. But, I don't want to be one of those bloggers who paints such a pretty picture of my life that I become unrelatable and you think I'm living some magical, alternate reality. Because let's be real, as much as I'm really happy to finally be in northern California (aka the Garden of Eden), a lot of things about this move have been tough. In good news, I trust my gut immensely and I'm not really the second-guessing type.

Here's a few details, for the sake of keeping it real...

I don't have a job anymore. I mentioned before that I moved here for a contract position with hopes that it would turn into something more long-term...but that didn't pan out. I found out that lovely detail on pretty much the exact day I arrived in my new city. In all honesty, my journey to move here has felt like a disappearing ladder effect. For the last few months, I feel like I find one foothold just to get me to the next step but that's as far as it takes me before I need to find a whole new ladder to move on to the next part.


And I'm learning important things about faith, the hard way.

Faith isn't about relying on anything except the the fundamental truth that God makes everything OK in the end. I've had faith focused on job applications, job leads, job contracts, etc., and so many of those things fell through one at a time. And I think that's because I need to learn to have faith in God....and just God. Not job applications or leads or contracts or anything else fleeting. I realized that yesterday when I got a rejection email from a job I really wanted and my eyes leaked spontaneously in the middle of a Starbucks. My faith has been too much of "I trust you God, because ____." But it needs to be, "I trust you God, regardless."

And life is beautiful, even right now.

I'm applying my head off to jobs, every morning and afternoon and evening. I'm walking and bicycling around this amazing new city and breathing in the sights and meeting the people and eating a lot of leftovers and saving my moneys. I am seeing tender mercies left and right as people are kind to me and as more items sell from my etsy shop and give me some much needed revenue. I'm counting my blessings in terms of text messages and phone calls from friends, and that $25 bicycle I love so much, and this adorable deli/ice cream bar/market across the street from me owned by the nicest people who let me use their wifi and smile and joke with me when I come in, and $5 sunglasses I bought today that I'm in love with to replace the pair that broke yesterday (on a day when I spilled food on two separate shirts and all other kinds of "oh is that really necessary" setbacks).

I'm hushing the nasty little voices that start to ask, "Are you even any good at this writing thing after all?"Because I know I am. I know in my gut like anything I've ever known that I have what it takes to make this happen. And I'm learning to have faith in God and only God. In His hand and not any exterior circumstances. And in these words I heard this week:

"In moments when I feel like I am at the end of my rope, I somehow wake up each morning and find that God has lengthened the rope."

It's true: my rope continues to lengthen every morning, and my heart is overflowing because of it. Everything will be OK in the end, and everything is beautiful in the meantime -- even if it's a rough, hazy kind of beautiful.