Saturday, November 30, 2013

writing: it's in the details

what it really comes down to
is that, you are foreign territory
the way your hand rested briefly on my shoulder blade
felt totally and completely familiar.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

And now I work for Ralph Lauren!

Sister: You're Rachel from Friends!
Me: What?
Sister: Rachel worked at Ralph Lauren.
Me: She did?
Sister: Yes, she moved to a new city to make her own way and ended up working at Ralph Lauren.
Me: I am Rachel from Friends.

I didn't start out 2013 planning on a retail career path, but...

When you're scraping up freelance writing gigs and working a part-time Anthropologie job (love it though you might) and a friend (thanks Scott!) puts you in touch with someone looking to fill a 6-month maternity leave (possibly longer) working as a Brand Manager (I'll explain that in a minute) for Ralph Lauren (should I probably buy a polo shirt or two?) and the hours are full-time and the pay is mucho enthusiastically say yes, is what you do!

This will be my last week at Anthro (ah, short-lived magical seasonal adventure! must stock up on candles!) and I'm starting the new gig next Monday.

So what is a Brand Manager?

Basically, I visit different Ralph Lauren stores in the Bay Area (and once a month in Seattle, holla!) and check to make sure their displays, etc., are brand compliant. So every day I'll be at a different store, checking things out! I'm excited about the impending variety, all the new stuff to learn, the fact that brand management is similar to marketing and that's a comfort zone for me, the chance to listen to audio books during all that driving around the bay (recommendations come at me)....and I'm also more than a little stoked to have a full-time income again! The timing could not be more crucial, I'll tell you that much. Plus, I looked up the story of how Ralph Lauren started and it's all because a young fella (Ralph himself) started making ties and selling them on the side...and now they are a worldwide brand and make the USA Olympic uniforms. I love a good success story! And, Seattle trips, BOY HOWDY. (Tell me all the good places to eat, ready go!)

So yeah, my life is totally random.

I've long been interested in clothing (hence the whole vintage shop on the side thing), but never really considered it as a career post-college. I already feel like I'll need to introduce myself as "My name's Katie, I work in retail BUT I'M ALSO A WRITER." It's funny how much of your identity can get tied up in your job title, you know? But even as much as I love writing, I do feel lucky to be able to explore a totally different field just for kicks. Who knows? Maybe it'll be my destiny.

So here we go! Because, you know, I'm standing at the beginning and "Life is a road and I wanna keep going, love is a river I wanna keep flowing, I'm the Grand Duchess of Russia get out the way." - Anastasia*

*loose quote

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

music: dusk & summer

"Katie, this album is so 2006."

Yes, I know. BUT, I was recently challenged to blog about rediscovering old favorite music. I tend to just hang on to music long-term, so I didn't think there was much to rediscover. But then, on a whim, I listened to Dashboard Confessional's Dusk & Summer start to finish.

This album came out the same year I got my first iPod, which was during college. (Love you forever, little red square nano.) (Why did you run away?) (And seriously, WHERE did you run away to. There's still so much closure I need. Come home I still love you kthxbye.)

I digress. Back to Dusk & Summer.

This album was on repeat (along with some angsty "Teenage Dirtbag") (yeah that one still happens) (#nevergrowoutofthe90s) for a good portion of a particularly up and down couple semesters. Love, not love, almost-love, almost-not-love, heart swell and squish and bruise and break, etc. All the works. I listened to it in its entirety the other day and I immediately felt several years younger. And small. That year made me feel small.

I was mostly struck by the way I could still pick out the exact lyrics that moved me then and just nailed it all down. If I was into scrapbooking and crap, I'd just copy and paste like a champ, add some glitter and say, "This about sums that time period up, children."

So if it interests you...
Don't Wait
The sky glows
I see it shining when my eyes close
I hear your warnings but we both know
I'm gonna look at it again
Don't wait, Don't wait
To lay your armor down

Reason to Believe
I have reason to believe that I have victories to taste
I can feel them on my teeth, upon my lips and in my chest
I can roll them on my tongue, they are more supple than defeat
...My heart is sturdy, but it needs you

The Secret's In the Telling
The signal is subtle
We pass just close enough to touch
No questions, no answers
We know by now to say enough
With only simple words
With only subtle turns
The things we feel alone for one another

We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away

Rooftops and Invitations
Where every move and each impulse brings clarity
To stay like this is everything you'll ever need

So Long, So Long
I was certain that the season could be held between my arms

And if this is ever meant to end, then I hope it ends where it began
So hot with love, we burned our hands

Heaven Here
We are tangled and brave
We are leaking and saved
When heaven's not waiting, it's spilling its secrets
It's right here between us, and we've no other choice but believe
We've no other choice but believe you have lyrics like this? Words that just sum everything up from a particular era of your life? Do tell. I have like eleventy such albums and songs...probably a new one every week. I have a driving compulsion to find songs that say things for me before I'm ready to write them down my own way. I love lyrics that just really gut me and put all my insides out for display. That sounded really grotesque. Uh, goodnight.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A&A: Deer Antlers & My Heart Will Go On

It's high time for one of these posts! Enjoyyyy.


▲ Stubbed my toe on the heating grate in my kitchen the other day and the heat came on. I literally kickstarted my heater. I don't think that's supposed to happen.
▲ Spam blog comment planted a link to "deer antler velvet reviews bodybuilding." I'm not gonna click but WHAT is that business...
▲ Is it possible to get an emotional stress fracture? A couple weeks ago I felt certain my lower left leg was expressing my dating life. #emotionalshinsplints
▲ Went to Sports Authority the other day and witnessed a couple having a fight in the parking lot. Literally, the women screaming with the man on his knees in front of her, begging and crying. It was in another language so I can't even say what the root of this issue was, but I can say it was like something out of a movie. I felt weird. And curious.
▲ The other day I noticed an ad in my Instagram feed. Whhha?
▲ Went to get hot chocolate the other night and a man sat down at the next table...with a quiver of purple arrows. I imagined up many amazing scenarios about how/why this came to be.

▲ One word: Dinovember.
▲ Four words: Anthropologie's Aloha Orchid candle. mmmMMM.
▲ This article about ghosting out of parties because THIS IS ME.
▲ The talented Jessica is creating a HOGWARTS GINGERBREAD HOUSE to donate to a children's hospital. You can follow her progress on Instagram: @gingerbreadjoyproject. We're talking stained glass windows and a blowtorch, you guys.
▲ This post about an overdue goodbye....I could have written those words. Nailed it, Hillary. "And though the timing isn't ideal, the timing is right."
▲ Last week, the Asian kid upstairs had friends over. Naturally, a group rendition of "I Will Always Love You" mashed up with "My Heart Will Go On" was in order. I lost it about when my fav lead vocalist stopped singing at the chorus to verbally and emphatically state, "I KNOW that my heart will go on." From there the party naturally progressed to yodeling and mild beatboxing. #onaschoolnight #thuglife
▲ This article about Pope Francis and his approach to religion and personal agency, because it strongly reflects my own views of religious involvement in politics. I mean, BOOM.
▲ This woman who had a dance party with hospital staff before her double masectomy. Amazing.
▲ Everything about this Boy Meets World cast reunion.
▲ Everything about this post on Saved By the Bell fashion.
▲ And the crowning gem....this Julie Andrews situation:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Stitches for the soul.

Sometimes my life is buzzing with so much potential, I feel like my heart might explode.

I rode my bicycle to the park yesterday, and listened to this Sigur Ros song while I pedaled down the street in my overalls and moccasins. (Go ahead and listen to it while you keep reading.) I laid in the sun and read a couple chapters from a book I just started, about people who live in severe poverty in Mumbai. My own problems suddenly seemed pale, and I felt urgently compelled to exhale gratitude with every breath that left my body. Happiness and compassion seeped into every crevice of my soul and I felt so alive that I thought my bicycle might just lift off and take me straight to the moon. (Which made me wish I had packed snacks.) I felt legit...Katie feelings. The ones where I lose myself and want to pick up the whole world and make it better. The ones that put stars in my eyes and compassion in my belly. Me feelings. THESE feelings.

I've concluded that hope is like stitches for broken hearts and souls.

Last week I felt a little broken, but tried to remain positive and hopeful. This week I feel completely whole again. I don't have anything new figured out about the logistics of my life, but that doesn't seem to matter to the fire in my chest these last few days. It just burns on and on and doesn't let up. To quote, uh, myself from this post: "Hope keeps going. Skinned knees and all, it keeps going."

I've had some really, REALLY good insights into some poor thought patterns I've had for, and I'll write more about that soon. These last few days, I find myself laughing and befriending and speaking up and being comfortable in my own skin and just...being ME again. I've loved this whole crazy California adventure, but for the first time in all of it, I finally feel like all of me again. It's like the pieces of me have all caught up.

I'm all here now. And it feels like blessed, warm fireworks in my chest after a very long, impatient June.

"Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot." Aristotle

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For the love of strangers.

I think I'm hardwired to get deeply attached to a wide circle of close friends.

Whenever I hear that there are only two types of people -- those who have just a few close friends, and those who have a wide circle of acquaintances -- I never know where I fit in that spectrum. I prefer to take as many people as I can under my wing, and I want them all to be REAL friendships. I don't like being half-baked about a human connection. Sure, it makes for a lot of people to keep up with (and a lot of weddings to attend every year), but I wouldn't have it any other way.

It's an ongoing goal of mine to funnel that natural tendency toward strangers. Frequently, I get shy/quiet around new groups of people, strangers in public, etc. It takes me a bit to warm up to new crowds (e.g. new coworkers), but then I'm all fiercely attached when I work up to it. When it comes down to it, I have the same widespread generic compassion for strangers as I do anyone else, but I want to be better at showing it sooner and more often.

So, I adore this heartwarming storyAnd then it inspired someone to make a video that totally makes me smile, and causes me to think about how I'd react in that situation. I love it so much.

Sleeping on Strangers on the Subway

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On taking your time.

Sometimes I put unfair deadlines on my life.

I don't think I'm alone in this. I can think of so many friends who have confided in me about feeling "behind" in life. About not having a degree by the age they thought they would, about working a menial job at an older age than seems right, about not being married by 30, about not having kids within a couple years of marriage, about not owning a home sometime in that same region, etc.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet self or culturally imposed deadlines. And we should stop.

I'm saying this to myself as much as I'm saying it to anyone else: we need to stop. I need to stop. The thing is, goals are good. Aspirations are great. Milestones are awesome. But, time is infinite. I suppose that depends on your religious views of the matter, but according to my belief system, time is infinite and eternal. I already wrote about this once, in this post about the (non)rush to get married at a certain age, and the importance of not feeling discouraged about however old we are when we take that step. Age, birthdays, psssh. I say, when it's right, it's right. That applies to all major decisions in life.

When something is big and hard to decide, I think the last thing anyone needs is a heaping dose of guilt that you're taking too long to decide it. I say, tell THAT voice not to let the door hit it in the tush on the way out.

I wrote these words to a dear friend recently as she was struggling with the beginnings of a new relationship, and it's what inspired this post:
Girl. GIRL. That part that you said about being afraid of crushing him ....I GET THAT. It is REALLY hard for me to let someone else be vulnerable in my hands. And, I get all the other feelings. There is nothing wrong with giving it a solid go. Sometimes it helps me to set goals like... "I am committed for a month." And then I see how the month goes. And then if things are going well, I tell myself another month. It is easier to decide on a month than to decide on eternity. And then if I have a weird week I don't feel compelled to make a decision based on that...because the month isn't up yet. You have all the time in the universe. I always feel like I need to decide quickly and not waste anyone's time or miss out on other opps myself. This is false. Time is eternal! Other opportunities will always be there. Giving a month or three or six or twelve to one relationship, even if it doesn't end in what? There is infinite time. I have to remind myself of this often. There are no deadlines in life. I can take all the time I need. Culture tells you there are deadlines...not Heavenly Father.
...and that about sums up my thoughts. Voicing them to my friend made me realize how much I needed to hear them myself. I'm kind of against setting expectations for myself that I "should" know anything for sure after a specific amount of time, especially when it comes to dating. One month? Three months? Six months? Whatever. You'll move forward when you want to -- so focus on building a solid relationship and just take the timing issue off the table. I kind of guarantee your stress level will minimize.

So, slow down. Stop rushing yourself. Keep a good end goal in mind, and then...bask in the journey. Be patient with yourself and others. If you're going to feel in a hurry to do anything, be in a hurry to forgive, love and serve. Everything else can take its sweet time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Light yourself on fire with passion...

"Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn." John Wesley

Saturday, November 9, 2013

All of me, no shortcuts.

I know the whole "this job hunt is wearing me down" motif on my blog might be waxing old and gray.

Trust me, I'd rather move on to the next phase more than anyone :) But yes, #brokenrecord, I had a tough week on the job hunt front. Felt like I got a particularly sour kick in the face after I didn't get good news when I really wanted/needed/pleaded/prayed/begged for good news. I thought, about a month ago, that I wasn't sure I could get any more humbled about my career. Ha, and then I was wrong. It's really just too easy to sometimes start asking God why He can't just cut me a break and throw me a bone. A few days ago, a friend told me that God is probably not forgetting me...He is probably being extra careful and purposeful with me. I do believe that. I don't always feel it, but I believe it. It's good to hear it from someone else now and again.

Five months.

It's been 5 months since the week I left my old job, turned in my condo key, packed up my comfortable, established Arizona life and got on a plane to NorCal, just "because I need to figure this feeling out." I refer to that week of my life as my Summer 2013 Soul-Searching Pilgrimage. It seriously feels like a lifetime ago. I was exhausted, excited, terrified...and hopeful. I guess my soul found what it wanted, because I really stepped off the ledge by up and moving to California for reals a month later. And then I immediately lost the contract job that made me brave enough to move here. And gosh, you know the rest. Short-term contracts, freelance writing, a part-time retail job, etc. Hanging on by the skin of my teeth and all that jazz. (And gross, skin on teeth? What is that?)

I'm exhausted, excited, terrified...and hopeful. Still, always, hopeful.

I had the most marvelous thought tonight when I was eating my feelings via french fries and Dr. Pepper (are we surprised?) in a parking lot after my Saturday night shift at Anthro that wore the snot out of me. I was mulling over how tough and humbling this week was, and feeling a little homesick, and of course my mind drifted back over the last few I-turned-my-life-entirely-on-its-head-who-am-I-what-am-I-doing months as a whole, and then...and then I thought, clear as day,

"I wouldn't change a single thing."

I thought those exact words, and was surprised by how 100% certain I was about them. If there is one thing I'm seriously good at in life, it's that whole "live with no regrets" thing. That way I want to live a life that scares me breathless? I do that. And, I can honestly say that I live the majority of my life in a way that, if any given day was my last, I'd be perfectly content letting it go. And not because my life is perfect...because man I let things get MESSY more often than not...but because I put my whole self into all of it. Every messy, unpredictable, lovable, hate-able, exhausting, exciting, terrifying, hopeful bit of it. My life gets all of me, no shortcuts.

And I am so overcome with gratitude.

For a heart that knows how to love and forgive in a way that leaves little room for hate or regret. For a courage that burns at a level I'd trust my life with. For a faith that fills my life with a particularly fierce kind of determined peace, hope and joy. For a life filled with people who make up all the most important little parts and pieces of me. My people who call me on the phone, send me encouraging e-mails and texts, pick me up when I struggle, mend my feelings when my heart hurts, and fill in the gaps in my own bravery and faith.

I wouldn't trade a single minute, and I wouldn't change even one piece. All of me, no shortcuts.

Friday, November 8, 2013

movie review: The Book Thief

"I am haunted by humans..."

SO, I actually saw this film a week before it came out.
Can I get an amen for prescreenings? And a friend who offers you a free ticket to said prescreening and you're like "h to the -ella yeah, I'm so there"? ....amen.

My thoughts:
When a book is in your top 5 favorite books e.v.e.r. and you've been waiting eagerly, it's really hard not to be overly critical of the movie version. And trust me, the naysaying, nitpicking voice was going in my head the whole time. But not enough so that I didn't still really like the movie. Let's break it down in list format...

All the Yes

  • Rudy. Bless your heart, little yellow-haired, kind-eyed Rudy.
  • The aging of Leisel. I love that she sincerely looked like she aged a few years over the course of the terms of both looks and confidence. (And hair length, whaaaat.) That was extremely well reflected from the book to the screen.
  • OK, the casting in general. I honestly think every character was spot on. Leisel, Rudy, Hans, Rosa, Max. Totally winning the day on that front.
  • The relationships were particularly well portrayed. Leisel and Rudy, Leisel and Max, Leisel and Hans, Hans and Rosa. (The last is one of my favorites. So gruffly tender.)
  • The cinematography. I loved the panning shots of trains, Germany, the little town, etc. The entire film had an overall quaint charm to it that I found absolutely delicious. The book enthralls me in the same charming, haunting way.

All the No

  • The British narrator. He sounded almost...cheery? YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEATH INCARNATE, NARRATOR VOICE. I would have preferred we put Britain aside (the movie takes place in Germany, guys) and gone with something more like Death's voice from Meet Joe Black. (Speaking of favorite films, hot hooverdam that's a good movie.)
  • On the topic of narrator, if you're going to put SOME of the narrations in there, please do not skip my favorite line ever about Rudy. Please, not do that. That absence broke my heart more than a little. #oversight #dubthatinplease
  • Making up an epilogue about the rest of Leisel's life. Must you do that? MUST YOU DO THAT. The scenario I imagined in my head involved a little more Max and a little less of whatever other fairytale you chose. Psssh. Turn that off and let my imagination take this one, por favor. other major criticisms, actually. There were some minor plot variations here and there, but not enough that it bothered me. (Minus the one about Hans Hubermann not sitting up by Leisel's bed every night when she had nightmares. That was one of my most favorite details from the book.)

Final opinion?
You really honestly cannot beat the book both in terms of story and delivery. So, the movie is never going to live up to that standard because you can't have the same narrative style as the book does. Still, I'd say it's a movie definitely worth seeing. The more days that pass since I saw it last week, the more I want to see it again. So, that's saying something! And if you haven't read the book, be prepared to have your heart stepped on a little.

And finally, because I can: "He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry."

Did you see it? Thoughts? Opinions? Haikus?

p.s. I must apologize for my lack of Ender's Game review. I saw it opening night, and then I slacked on writing the review, and now I feel the time has passed. I'll just say: from one avid lover of the book, it's worth seeing at least once. Fun film. Stays pretty true to the book.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What the Ocean Taught Me About Imperfection

OK, so I'm always sharing music round these parts. 

Many moons ago, I shared a kick-A harp song by Anna Cate, who I happened to know in real life in Arizona. WELL, our paths have crossed again as we now live 5 minutes from each other in northern California. What are the odds? Last night we went to a local pizza place to listen to old people play bluegrass music together on their fiddles, banjos and dulcimers. Can't argue with that.

WELL, the aforementioned Anna Cate just released a new music video, which I love for several reasons, not the least of which is that it's filmed at sunset on a lovely NorCal beach, a setting my heart has grown fiercely attached to since moving here this summer. Le sigh. Anna wrote up her own thoughts about the music video, and I'm so super stoked to share them with you. When she's famous someday we can all say we knew her when, amiright? Give it a read and then be sure to watch/listen to her new video below!

What the Ocean Taught Me About Imperfection
by Anna Cate

I knew immediately that I wanted my video filmed by the ocean. It was for a last-minute music contest entry, and I was determined to record it at the beach. What is it about the beach that is universally soothing to everyone? The rhythm of the waves, the light on the water, the breadth of the landscape? A sense of awe and wonder never evades me when I visit the ocean.

But even with my love for the ocean, I couldn't have planned on one remarkable thing that happened as I was capturing the film -- something I wasn’t even aware of until I was playing it back.

A lot of little things went wrong during filming: equipment had been misplaced, batteries ran out, my favorite hat I wanted to wear was nowhere to be found. We only had a small amount of time to film before the sunlight was gone. We'd done a few takes, but decided to give it one final go as the day’s final rays from the sun faded on the water. The videographer had me move to a different position for lighting purposes, and I became more aware of the sound of the ocean. This is when the magic happened: without even noticing, my tempo caught up with the rhythm of the waves. As I looked out over the beach, the phrases of the song quietly tucked into the timing of the sea. I found myself breathing better and easier between the lines of my lyrics. The ocean was more than a pretty setting right then -- it was my metronome and my muse.

In the past I’ve felt the need to “comp” all of my songs, using hundreds of little pieces strung together to meet my expectations of what a good recording should be. With this video, I hit a milestone: I sang a recording that was 100% organic -- no syncing together. The audio is raw, not composited, and right next to the ocean. About as natural and real as you can get.

Of course there are little imperfections, but they are actually what I love most about the recording. The quiver in my voice when I sing the word “heart.” The part when I sing the end of the bridge and wander off pitch but then back on again. The details I once thought needed to be edited out, I now see as the parts that share my most authentic emotions.

The environment inspired a performance that was authentic and present, different than the glossed-over content that our tech-savvy society frequently delivers and consumes. I finally *get it*, that thing music teachers and sound engineers have always tried to explain to me: I understand now what it means to perform a song with genuine emotion, not unrealistic perfection.

Maybe heading back to nature will help more of us in our quest for beauty and art that’s real, not flawless. Present, not perfect. Connected by the rhythm of the ocean, not the beat of a click-track.

Aaaand now watch her awesome video:

p.s. If you like it, share it! If her video gets a significant amount of views, she can win all kinds of awesome equipment, as well as recording and performance opportunities. And let's be real, she deserves it, right? Right.

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Every summer of my adult life."

Got talked into going to an Oct. 32nd Halloween dance party tonight. Threw together this last-minute costume, because....Sandlot, hooverdam straight I did. Also, I'm wearing these jeans that are dangerously close to splitting in the crotch seam. Just gonna dance it out if that happens, because #YOLO and #gottagetdownonFriday and stuff.

"Michael 'Squints' Palledorous walked a little taller that day."

Did you dress up this year? Do tell.