Friday, January 31, 2014

The Country MegaTicket 2014

I frequently think that I need to see more country concerts. Get in touch with my roots. Etcetera and so on. I go to a lot of concerts, and the list of ones I've seen is loooong and growing, but it hasn't included nearly as much country as it should. I like all kinds of music, and I'm SUPER into live shows, but I've been neglecting the country arena, apparently.

It all began last night with George Strait and Martina McBride...

And then today, the Country MegaTicket happened to my life.

So between May and October of this year, I will be seeing Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton....and all the amazing people who open for them! I'm not really into those weekend-festival-type-concerts with a bunch of artists at once...not my thing...but all of these shows spread out over the summer months?? I'm basically excited out of my skull. And stoked about the fun friends I wrangled together (see my legit lingo?) for this summer of magic, magic dreams. I mean, the people watching alone at country concerts is pure gold.

Be still my Texas two-steppin' little heart! BRING ON 2014. #yolo

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tree, Bridge & Sloth

Went on an adventure up to the city (again) on Saturday.

I just can't stay away. It's obvious why people write songs about leaving their heart in this place, you know?? And there was this tree, so I climbed it. And I have thusly named this photo "Adventure Sloth." I also think slothing could be the next big thing, like planking. So, watch out for that trend on my Insta, is all I'm saying. #slothing

Oh look, there's more...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A&A: Uranus & I-can't-put-any-word-after-that-without-it-becoming-immediately-inappropriate

▲ The chillow. I probably hate few things more than the idea of a perma-cold pillow. Give me warm jersey sheets or give me death. #dramatic
▲ I recently saw a license plate frame that said, "Next Stop: Uranus."
▲ I bought a $2 planner at Walgreens with a kitten on the front because it made me laugh. Sometimes I have to use it in public and then, well, I'm that person.
▲ I burned my finger on a pot of cider and I still don't have feeling in a whole patch of skin. Did I mention it happened at Thanksgiving? this gonna be forever?
▲ Yesterday a woman pulled me aside in the children's department of Macy's and asked if I've ever had a psychic reading because "you have striking energy and I already have so much to talk to you about" and gave me her card.
▲ This yoga pose that promises to relieve stress because SERIOUSLY THAT HAS TO BE A LIE.
▲ I discovered a disturbing trend on Pinterest of referring to a post-pregnancy tummy as a "PP Pooch." *crickets* Any 9-yr-old boy worth his salt could tell you this is a poor choice. I have to leave now. #useyourwords #notwordslikeuranus

Debatable gray area...
▲ Last night I snacked on a cheese wheel alone and later spent like 5 whole minutes obsessively cleaning my retainers. I mean, I didn't choose the thug life.
▲ I originally taped the following magazine clip to the mirror at a strategic height just to make my roommate laugh, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the confidence boost every morning. (And yes, I got a heck-ton of teasing/grief from people in real life about this Instagram. Sorry NOT SORRY.)

▲ Two summers ago, when I took violin lessons to resurrect my adolescent talent, my primary goal was to learn Meditation by Massenet. The other night in the BART (subway) station, after a long day of work, there was a street violinist playing that exact song. It was captivating.
▲ The movie Slumdog Millionaire. I mean, wow. I know I'm a few years late to that game, but, ask if you want more info/thoughts.
▲ These reverse engagement shots.
▲ One of my favorite things in life is when I struggle with doing something, learn how to do it properly, and then have the chance to help people struggling with the same thing. I'm like, "Empathy! I got this!" I've had a few opportunities to do that recently, including the scanner at the FedEx up the road and the ticket machine at the BART station (so terribly not intuitive, f'reals).
▲ This guy who used a groupon to have a photo shoot with his kitten.
▲ I have so many hilarious/terrifying encounters with mannequins at work (like yesterday when I had to basically embrace one to lift it and then the arm popped off and I guess that makes it technically a side hug) that I couldn't help but appreciate this man who turned his wife's shopping trips into an amazing game.
▲ This study that's totally legit and totally based on science has irrefutably proved that women named Katie make the best wives. I mean, there you have it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I get my groceries delivered & there's no shame in that.

Grocery shopping is my least favorite errand.

Look, I know it's pretty #firstworldproblem of me to complain about visiting stores with piles and piles of food to choose from. I get that. But, I also get that it's not my favorite way to spend my time. And because one of my 2014 goals is to simplify, I'm always open to minimizing my task list and maximizing my flexible time. So when a friend posted about Instacart recently on Facebook (not sure if it's available outside the Bay Area yet), I needed to try it. And let me tell

I'm not here to write a full review on the service, but I'll just say that there is a lot of joy in my heart associated with choosing my groceries on an app or computer and having them show up on my porch a couple hours later. And the delivery fee is minimal, so...if I don't drive to get the groceries, then...the gas money and time I get where I'm going with this. (I'm also a big believer in Google Express for things like "I just need toothpaste or Nyquil, must I really run an entire errand to the store." I've used it for awhile but probably now prefer Instacart for more general grocery shopping, produce, etc.)

What I mostly want to post about is the shame we sometimes associate with giving ourselves a break, and about the pride associated with being able to do it all ourselves.

I had a brief moment, when I was about to submit my first online grocery order, where I paused and thought, "Is this lazy? Oh my gosh. Am I spoiled? Other people go out and get their own groceries. Maybe I should just suck it up." It reminds me of an article I once read about an American mother, living in Dubai, who loved the culture in that country of nannies and household help. She commented on how she was reluctant to go back to the U.S., where that help was a) less affordable, and b) has a stigma associated with it. Because one unfortunate aspect of our culture is an admiration for the "do everything and do it yourself" attitude.

To me, it's a form of extremity: this idea that we could/should do everything ourselves. We think we need to be raise-8-children-on-your-own-with-only-Pinterest-there-to-help super moms, work-60-hours-a-week-and-still-run-your-own-dang-errands super career women, study-til-5-in-the-morning-and-still-train-for-a-marathon-and-never-watch-TV-ever super students.

What we're getting as a result isn't perfect people who actually CAN do it all -- we're getting people who are emotionally/mentally/physically crumbling because they think they should be able to and are afraid to admit to their neighbors/friends/family that they can't or don't want to.

Well let me go first: I can't (and don't want to) do it all myself.

I've thought about this topic for awhile, and I say it's time to end the shame associated with making life a little easier, with not doing everything yourself, with letting yourself slow down. In my dream world, someday I'll be able to afford a nanny and household help. Would that make me less of a mom? Less capable and involved? Actually...I actually think it would make me a better mother. Because I'd be more sane, and can admit where I have weakness. And I have weakness in entertaining small children for hours, cleaning the house, and making meals every day. There, I said it. And the idea of having someone to share that load in whichever area I can't handle that day, sounds amazing. And makes me feel like I'd do a better job with whatever level I can handle on a given day. Again, it'll depend on money. But I just think it's not something to be ashamed of or that makes you less of a mom, etc. Besides, therapy's also expensive so maybe the nanny bills will even out if my sanity is intact, in the end.

For now, it starts with having my groceries delivered. Because the service is available and affordable, and it makes my life just a little easier and happier. And I don't think we should be ashamed of that kind of thing.

And hot dog, it's the best thing to happen to me since roasted red pepper hummus. (Which will be showing up on my porch in about 45 minutes. mmmmboy #getinmybelly)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My perfect birthday party.

So, I've got a birthday coming up.

Something I've always struggled with, when it comes to birthdays, is this conflict of desires about how to celebrate. I have this serious inner conflict because of two things:

1. An aversion to a very large gathering at which I am the center of attention and must be on my A-game and engage all people in the room and make sure they are having a good time and accept a lot of hugs from a lot of people.

2. An inability to leave people off the invite list. Like, I really struggle planning anything for a group of 5 without it turning into a group of 50. A friend once complimented me in high school and said that I was always good at making sure everyone got invited to things. I think it's a blessing and a curse.

So then I had this hilarious realization about my perfect birthday scenario.

It would be a party where everyone I know could be invited, no one is left out, and everyone feels welcome....but I'm allowed to hang out by the food table or in a corner and just watch other people mingle and have a good time. In other words, I think I'd get perfect, genuine enjoyment out of being a wallflower at my own birthday party. Ha. So basically we've established that I'm a little weird about parties.

...anyone feel me? What's your perfect birthday scenario? 

(Truthfully I usually try and travel on my birthday but it wasn't in the cards this year!)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thoughts from...the train station

This latest installment of my new Thoughts from... series, in which I ramble via pen and paper whilst out and about and then later bring them here, to you. Welcome back to the inside of my brain.

The scene: a Thursday morning on a bench at a train platform in Palo Alto...

[page 1]
I missed my train by like 3 min so now I get to hang out at the station for a little while. That's ok, it's nice to just sit. I was thinking about a dream I had last night. You know what's super frustrating about bad dreams? You have no control over them. And then it's like you wake up in a funk & have all these negative feelings you didn't have much choice about. I always have stress dreams about things I'm planning (like vacations or events) going terribly wrong. So then I guess it's nice to wake up & realize I didn't actually fail at life. But I'd rather skip the dream in the first place. Or in real life I'm like, "I won't think about (insert boy name(s))", and sometimes I do a good job of it, but then Dream Brain is like "Well how about you live whole wonderful lifetimes with him every night while you're asleep?" It's such a sucker punch. Dream

[page 2]
Brain is a class-act a-hole. Elise just texted me. I really like Elise. Lately I've been thinking about some ways I can improve my social skills. For starters, I want to put my phone down/away when I'm around other people. They deserve my full attention. Second, I want to talk about myself less. When ppl tell me stories & I relate, sometimes I want to tell my own story too. I think that's good sometimes because it can validate ppl to know you've experienced the same thing as them, but just in general, I want to ask more questions & focus on getting the other person to talk. And I really want to listen. I also what to deepen all the casual-acquaintance relationships in my life. Because of church, blogging, etc., I have a LOT of casual acquaintances. I want to deepen those. I want to spend one-on-one time w/ people I normally only see in group

[page 3]
settings. I want to go to dinner w/ an almost-stranger, grab fro-yo w/ someone I only usually make small talk with, etc. I know people tend to fall into two camps: those who need just a small group of close friends, & those who want to meet tons of people, even just briefly. Well, I want both. I want to know a lot of people, but I want to know them well. Obviously it's unavoidable that I'll click more easily with certain ppl & build stronger friendships w/ some ppl & not others, but I also believe there is something to love & connect w/ in every human being. I want to make a more concerted effort to find that in people.

[my train arrived]

Related: Thoughts from...the Apple Store.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Half Marathon Bound! (Again!)

It's been three years (good grief) since I ran my first half marathon. High time for a sequel!

I've actually attempted to plan for a couple other halfs (and one time set my sights on a full) since 2011, but they always fell through by reason of injury, bridesmaiding at weddings, etc. I did run a couple Ragnar Relays in the interim, and some 10Ks and 5Ks here and there.

I've been in a running slump since the Napa Valley Ragnar, and I needed something to get me in gear. So, I'm officially registered for the Western Pacific Half Marathon in early May! Following which, I will work on my trail running for the Ragnar Trail Tahoe in July.

I'm currently still in the "my lungs and calves want to die when I run a couple miles" phase, but I love knowing that I've been here before and that, yes, 13.1 miles is completely possible, I just need to focus on one day at a time and what I need to accomplish here and now. I am also daily reminded that increasing my running means I am a hungry beast and must eat multiple meals a day to balance the output. Today I made a roast, potatoes and carrots in the crock pot. It will feed me for about a week. #singlebenefits

Game on, new gray running kicks!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

An Ode to Bruce Spruceteen

Bruce Spruceteen first came into my life on a gray, frigid December afternoon.

The roommate and I set out, cash in hand, determined to find a tree that "looks a little fierce and wild." On our second lot of trees, in the 5th or 6th aisle....there was Brucey. Bold, beautiful, proud and bushy. We knew he was the right one because he made us both stop in our tracks and say, "oooOOOOH." He chose us, you might say. Much like a wand chooses the wizard.

From there we proceeded into a loving but complicated relationship, involving many tree-stand setbacks, minor cosmetic surgery with a hand-saw, an ultimately awkwardly leaning stance (always ready for an awkward hug, we were told), his formal coming-out-into-society party with hot chocolate and a gathering of new friends, a batch of personalized cinnamon ornaments, a box of ornaments and ribbon borrowed from the closet at the church (shhhh), and regular cocktails of water, bleach and 7up. (Hey, it kept him alive for a whole month.)

Tonight I took Brucey in my arms and carried him on to a better place.

Maybe someday he'll triumphantly return as a nice ream of high-quality paper. Let us take comfort in knowing that he lived a rich, full life, surrounded by devoted friends, both new and old. Part of ol' Brucey remains with us still. (Literally, on my sap-encrusted palms and pine-needled hair, he is currently with me still.)

p.s. I hope he takes my well wishes to Doug Funny in tree heaven!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review: Unbroken

This post is sponsored by Grammarly. Not sure how to check plagiarism? Try Grammarly's plagiarism checker because ain't nobody got time for being a cotton-headed-copy-stealing-ninny-muggins.

"Such beauty, he thought, was too perfect to have come about by mere chance."

I decided to read Unbroken after about eleventy-five people recommended it to me. It felt right.

This book did not disappoint. Here's the premise in a nutshell: A biography of an Olympic runner's experience as a plane crash survivor and prisoner of war in Japan during WWII.

This book moved something inside of me when it comes to forgiveness, survival, resiliency and still seeing the beauty in the world when you feel like you're surrounded by a whole lot of ugly. The descriptions of his plane crash and experience as a POW seemed almost surreal -- like too crazy to be true. I read a lot of heavy literature about tough things going on in the world, but it's still hard to wrap my head around it every time.

I feel like this book really takes you into the belly of his trauma (so be warned, if you don't have the stomach for some violence and graphic descriptions) and that makes his journey, emotional struggles and grappling with the idea of forgiveness feel very personal and real. I like true stories because they have a way of being both unexpected and not picture-perfect while still being that much more amazing for the miracles and happy endings if/when they do come.

And even though this book is a biography, it reads like fiction -- meaning if you're not into typical historical novels, I think this one will still hit home with you. (Take it from someone with a really short attention span.) I'm also just frankly blown away by the detail and multiple first-person accounts for a biography -- mad, mad props to the author.

Have you read this book? Or other good ones lately?

Next up on my plate: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Big Sur & Highway 1 Dreamin'

A couple days ago, I went on a little overnight jaunt to Monterey for work.

There are worse places to go for work, let's be honest. Monterey is beautiful, coastal, Californian, quaint, and...all things good. A bit south of Monterey is a place called Big Sur, which I've heard referred to as the most beautiful/breathtaking spot in all of California. Naturally, I took myself there on a sunset drive. Breathtaking, indeed.

And because I love you all, here's a bonus of how I killed time in the hotel room all by myself. Things get awfully quiet on a solo trip when you have a bed that is 8x the size of you and a Law & Order marathon breaking the silence on the TV. I call it, Cirque de Hotel.

On the way back from the trip, I pulled off to the side of the road to take another photo. Because as undeniably amazing as Big Sur is, there's an area just to the north of Monterey that makes my heart want to explode out of my chest in bursts of warm dirt-scented sunshine. The stretch of CA-1 with the ocean on one side and sprawling farms on the other with berry and avocado stands and that one red barn with its funny California Lorax trees all in a row and a tractor hiding in the back might be one of my most favorite places on earth. Immediately to my right, there's the sand dunes and the ocean going on forever. To my left, the farmland where I could wear overalls and raise my babies in a simple little life with a bearded, flanneled husband. Heart explosions, indeed.

"Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there?" -John Steinbeck

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts from...the Apple Store

So, let's be honest: I spend a lot of time alone these days. My job requires it. I love a lot of things about the flexibility and autonomy of working independently, but sometimes I'm a little starved for human conversation, a friend to eat lunch with, someone to immediately verbalize my thoughts to, etc. And so, I've taken to writing things down when there's no one there to talk to. It's like handwritten blogging. I thought it'd be fun to start sharing these random stream-of-consciousness-thought-spills,'s the first installment! Welcome to the inside of my brain.

The scene: 2 hours in the Apple Store, following a little incident with my iPhone + the kitchen floor the other night...

[page 1]
I'm currently sitting in the Apple Store, waiting for the repair of my shattered iPhone screen. I dropped it in the kitchen. I think it's because I was going to do the dishes and fate was like, "No, don't." I also needed to do some writing for a new freelance writing gig, but I guess that can wait too. I'm a little bummed about the price of a new phone screen but such is life, and there are (MUCH) worse problems in the world than an issue with my fancy smartphone. I'm grateful this didn't happen a month or two ago when I was without employment, you know? My finances are still a wreck (insert metaphor about my shattered iPhone screen), but it's REALLY nice to know that there are solid paychecks coming. Hope! (Extend metaphor even further.) The kids next to me are fighting. I wonder if my kids will fight in public. I wonder how I'll react when they do.

[page 2]
I wonder why we're told at church to become like little children when they whine & fight & scream so much. I think that directive could use a little honing. I like watching the people in the Apple Store (& any store, train, airport, etc.) & wondering about their lives. I wonder if anyone in this room is having the best/worst day of their life? Did anyone in here fall in love today? Does anyone have cancer? Is anyone here w/ someone they wish would fall in love with them? Is anyone else named Katie? Did any of them park right next to me, a block and one left turn away? Which employee has worked here the longest? Is it anyone's first day? Does the person sitting across from me wonder what I'm writing about? Does he think I might be writing about him? He has some kind of accent. Maybe I should. My phone has to back up before they can fix the screen.

[page 3]
It had 27 minutes to go when I started this...letter, whatever it is...a couple pages ago. Now it has 28 minutes to go. So, that's promising. My forearm hurts. My handwriting might get even sloppier. I went running at 7am today. The beginning of training always sucks but it doesn't discourage me like it used to, because I know that I get through it every time. (More life metaphors, etc.) Today a girl I don't know emailed me via my blog to ask about why I moved to CA, etc. I gave her a Reader's Digest version of the last few months. She told me I'm brave & that my story gives her courage to make some similar decisions in her own life. That right there is why I blog. There are other perks, but the platform to inspire people & build new relationships is priceless to me. Blog friends are real friends. I like people. Guess what? My phone backup now has

[page 4]
33 minutes to go. I might be in a magic time warp vortex, & I can't really be mad about that. I will write a young adult fiction book & call it "A Wrinkle in Time." Oh wait...that's been done. I'm glad I had this notebook and pen with me. I put it in my purse earlier because it has my grocery list in it. Yes, I made a grocery list! I don't know, trying new things. I really, really dislike grocery shopping. I wish I could hire someone to grocery shop for me. And then cook the food. And probably do laundry. OK and clean in general. I must adopt this person into my family & they can babysit my children later, too. This is a thing in other countries, you know. A live-in nanny/maid/'s the norm, in some places. I vote yes to that. I think a guy on the street earlier told me he liked my gloves but I didn't realize it

[page 5]
...that 33 minutes magically ended so I went to talk to an employee. I think I have 20 min to wait now, & then 30 more. I wish I got to ride Space Mountain at the end of this.