Sunday, November 30, 2014

Coming Clean

This morning I woke up to gray skies and little waterfalls of rain pouring off the roof and past my bedroom window.

I love me a good rainstorm, and California doesn't get too much of it lately with all that drought business going down. The rain feels healing, especially given the drought, like the parched earth is finally soaking up mouthfuls of water. I woke up this morning, after a weekend away in Tahoe (pics and stories coming soon!), with messy hair and fuzzy eyes, and sat on my gray sheets, wearing just my underwears and wrapped in a gray-striped down blanket, and watched the rain come down.

And then I decided that watching from the dry side of the glass wasn't doing it for me, so within a few minutes I'd pulled on a pair of stretchy pants, a semi-waterproof-seeming jacket and a baseball hat, plugged my headphones into my ears, tuned in to a favorite playlist and ran my way to the park up the street.

At the park, I took shelter under a tree and caught my breath, before deciding to climb said tree. A shoe-full of mud later, I perched on a branch and watched the rain from there. It was breathtaking. And pretty soon, I pulled off my baseball hat, walked to the middle of the field, and just let that icy rain soak through my hair and splash all over my eyelids and down my cheeks. I think I may have concerned one lady who was out walking her dog, with my standing-soaking-in-the-middle-of-the-cold-wet-park activity. But, eh, it's northern California -- too many hippies here to feel even remotely out of place by doing any weird outdoorsy connect-with-nature shenanigans :)

I had a conversation this weekend with a friend about mindfulness, which from what I've gathered, is the art of learning to be present in every moment with your thoughts/feelings/etc. instead of being caught up in the past or the future or whatever. So, I stood in that field and thought about....just being there. I paid particular attention to one raindrop at a time, as they hit my head and ran through my hair, leaving icy little trails down behind my ear and into the collar of my soaked-through jacket.

I think I threw some of you off with my last blog post, when I was all angsty and vague and "stuff is hard and I can't talk about it." I think this, because the comments/texts/emails I received after publishing it pretty much told me so :) Blogging about things that hurt is uncomfortable because it opens me up to something I don't like being open to: pity. Like most people, I much prefer it when everyone thinks I have my shiz together. I realized this weekend that, when I've blogged about harder stuff in the past, it's either been topics that are easy to be public about (e.g. unemployment), or it was after-the-fact kind of blogging, when I could say "and here's how it all tidied up and I got through it and yay!" But blogging the raw stuff, the really insecure stuff, right in the moment when it's not all tidy, is a whole different ballgame. And in this particular case, it's stuff I wish I could be more transparent about, but I can't -- because some of it has to do with dating, and since that involves other people's lives, that's a line I don't cross unless I'm being general/vague (but here's one honest insight: it's so great to wake up to an ex-boyfriend's wedding photos on social media wait no it's not it's terrible almost every time). But yeah, very few dating specifics around here -- personal blog rule. And the rest of my current troubles fall more in the realm of religion and faith, and.....the Internets is no place for kindness/understanding in that department, let's be real. So though I wish I could spill more of my thoughts about all of the above, it just feels best not to go there. But I do hope that clarifies things, at least a little bit. And I do so much prefer not being an angsty, woe-is-me blogger....because vulnerability, yikes!....but I guess that comes with the territory when you're trying to be real and reality is not always sunshine and Beach Boys songs.

But back to the park and the rain.

When I was thoroughly soaked and done "being present," I ran my way home. The fiery red leaves (because fall is still hanging on around these parts) stuck to parked cars and floated down the street around me like little rain-made lava rivers. At my front door, I pulled off my soaked shoes and walked directly to the bathroom, where I peeled off layer after layer, discovering mud smudges and grassy stowaways along the way. I turned on the little wall heater (which is the best thing a bathroom in a cold little apartment can have, btdubs) and plopped down on the bathroom floor, amid my pile of wet clothes with my bare back pressed against the wall. My tangled, dripping hair plastered itself to my face and took up residence on my shoulders, all heavy and wet.

And I felt clean.

Even before climbing into the hot shower, even with the mud smudges on my ankles and the grass stuck to my right arm and the rainwater mingling with post-running sweat in my hair, all wrapped around my head, neck and shoulders, I felt clean. Like that cold, morning communion with a gray, waterfall sky had washed off a little weight, a little angst, a little ache. Because I'm starting to feel more and more lately that cleanliness isn't necessarily the absence of this or that sin, or this or that stress, but more like maybe cleanliness is just honesty. And there is something fresh, open and clean about knowing where you're at, and where you're not at, if that makes sense.

And now I am warm and cozy, wrapped up back in my bed with almost-dry hair and my space heater doing its thing and a quiet, gray-skied afternoon stretched out ahead of me.

I hope your Sunday (rainy or otherwise) can feel cleansing and honest, in whatever way and to whatever degree. (And I also hope I don't get pneumonia from my spontaneous little mindfulness-with-a-rainstorm activity :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The $30 Therapy Session

"Write hard and clear about what hurts."

....Ernest Hemingway.

In 9th-grade English, we had to memorize a long list of famous authors and their most well known works. My friends and I came up with fun/weird tricks to keep it all straight. For Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, we told ourselves that Hemingway sounded like hemorrhoids, and hemorrhoids make your arms fall off. There may be some sliiiiight scientific/medical inaccuracy to our methods, but.....looks like I still remember that book title, 14 years later. I win, science. I freakin' win.

This blog post is totally not about Ernest Hemingway, anatomy, disease or memorization techniques. It's about that first quote up there....the one about things that hurt.

I'm never quite sure how to write about stuff that hurts, in a public setting like a blog. I can get real honest in my personal journal, and in emails to close friends, but when it's a public setting I'm suddenly tap-dancing all over that line between "relatable and honest" and "TMI this is getting awkward" or "you're being so vague I actually don't know what you're talking about or specifically going through."

Two nights ago, when I was alllllmost asleep, I burst into tears for no apparent reason. (How's that for specific?)

We're talking, full on woke myself up crying and took a few minutes to calm down. And when something like that "randomly" happens, I think it's pretty safe to say mayyyybe there's some unresolved troubles floating around in your head/heart/soul/cells.

You know that particular way that your whole body can physically hurt when you've gone through something emotionally traumatic? It usually happens to me after bad breakups. Why do I feel heartache in my arms? No idea. It has no business being there, the tactless little jerk.

Anyway, after this onslaught of bedtime tears the other night, I laid there and felt that ol' throb in my chest and arms. And then I had one of those "being single is the ultimate worst" moments, because how nice would it have been to not be totally alone in my room/bed at that moment? Real talk: being single has its perks. I know I get to have many adventures and run around all fancy free and be the envy of all my friends who can't live that kind of spontaneous whimsy. But then there are nights when your eyes are leaking and your arms are hurting and there is not a single soul around to make it better, so, don't get too jealous of my freedom too fast. I'm not a really touchy person in terms of casual physical affection with people I'm not dating, so, it was definitely an anomaly in that moment when I was curled up all small in my bed and thought, "I just want someone to touch me." Which I don't know how to word in any way that doesn't sound creepy or molest-like, but, you know what I mean. I needed the reassurance of some solid physical human contact, not in a weird way, and I had nada on hand. And since I'm not into cheap thrills, my options boiled down to........

Booking a massage.

There's this fab little $30 full-body Asian massage place ($30 for an hour!) up the street from me (I love you, California) that I go to from time to time. And after my little midnight bout with my lonely demons the other night, I knew I needed this. And so I went. I totally didn't have time to go, but I went. It meant working late, which is kind of my M.O. lately anyway (you could argue that this is why my body is stressin', but I like my job and I need the $$$ so the long days/nights just are what they are right now because times and seasons of life, yo, and that's what I want/need to be doing right now), but I still went. Because it was either that or real therapy, and I can't afford real therapy. Well, I could afford it if I didn't spend money on travel or books or eating out or movies or french fries or all the things I like to do, but, then my life would be sad and I'd need even *more* therapy. Maybe that's how they hook you, come to think of it.

I'm going to sound like an infomercial for massage therapy for a second, but I really do believe there's restorative power in physical touch. Five minutes into my massage, my head was still buzzing with all sorts of buzzy things. But twenty minutes in, I'm pretty sure I briefly fell asleep. Or, at least entered some kind of zen, dreamlike state. Which, was everything I needed right then in that moment. It was a delicious 60 minutes, let me tell you.

Buzz kill: I don't feel all better -- I wish I could say I did.

My head and heart are at so much war right now. Not with each other, just with.....things. (Ah, vagueness again. I am failing Ernest Hemingway so hard right now.) My head and heart aren't at war with each other, which is what most people seem to mean when they say that. They're actually in league together, and at war against a whole tumult of outside circumstances. So at least we're all on the same team inside my bod, if I'm focusing on the positive :) (Another positive: since I felt better during my massage, maybe I just need one of those daily. Is that in my budget? Shhh) (Twice a day? YEAH GO TEAM!)

I haven't even gone back to read this ramble and I'm already fairly confident that it might not make a lot of sense. And it certainly isn't as clear as Mr. Hemingway urged me to be. So maybe I'll never end up on a list of authors that some kid has to memorize someday (at which time they hopefully associate me with an uncomfortable medical situation, because, karma). But maybe I just wanted to write hard and clear about the fact that something DOES hurt, even though I don't feel like I'm quite at the point to open up about what/why.

So there you go. Hard and clear. Emphasis on the hard. Emphasis on the $30 massage therapy. Emphasis on the it's time to wrap up now or this ramble will only get worse's Thanksgiving Eve, you guys. I'm headed out of town for the weekend with a couple friends because I saved my trip home to AZ for Christmas, and, every single lady and fella knows that the last thing you should do on a holiday weekend is sit around your own apartment by yourself. That's like the first rule in the handbook, and I'm no fool.

Also I got a Christmas tree and she is beautiful and you will get to see and hear everything about her at the end of the month because I have to make sure I have all the good stories lined up and visitors photographed and gosh if she isn't having her own party next week and you know I have to save her blog feature until after that. Stay tuned for tales of the tree, and.......


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Weekend in Maryland

Things I do emotionally: eat, run, change my hair, and travel.

My brain started to feel a little fuzzed lately. Got some shtuff on my brains that kind of gets to me now and again. So about a month ago, I took a look at my Southwest points and thought, "I could go somewhere. I should go somewhere."

And so I picked a somewhere, and I went! The somewhere I chose was, as you probably know, Washington D.C.! I went there once before -- right after graduating from college 5 years ago. It's the first big place I've done a "repeat trip" to since I started traveling as an adult. My old roommate Rebecca (who I once wrote about here), who was my roommate after graduating from college (and who I moved in with about a week after that first D.C. trip, funny enough!) lives in Maryland these days. So with airplane points to burn and a free place to stay and a Rebecca-friend I really missed and hadn't seen in like 3 years, the trip was booked....and a few short weeks later, away I went!

Reasons I love Rebecca/Reebs, as told by the quotes I wrote down that came from her mouth this weekend:

"I woke up with chocolate on my legs."
"I choose housing options by their proximity to specific restaurants."
"Someone taught me a trick for putting a duvet cover on...but I don't know it anymore."
"The blanket is kind of damp. Eh, it'll dry on our bodies."
"I did! I went clubbing! My cardigan saw some good times."
"That business model doesn't sound sustainable. I'll get hooked on it and then it'll be gone, because they hired too many cheese tasters." (On why she can't shop at Wegmans)
"I can probably trace any issue back to why we need the Common Core standards."

I needed this trip so, so much.

It really was the perfect weekend. I played, I relaxed, I explored, I got to ride public transit (I love trains and people watching), I took a tour of the Capitol, I got to set foot in the Library of Congress again (which I'm convinced is one of the most beautiful buildings in existence), I had many heart-to-heart chats with Rebecca (as well as a rendezvous with another friend, Savannah, who just spoke to my soul in so many ways), watched a crappy Hallmark Christmas movie and laughed heartily....and, oh man, I can't even tell you how much FOOD I ate this weekend, I got to see the Theory of Everything (a movie I'd been much anticipating for many moons, and, it did not disappoint), met up with another friend at the greatest coffee shop with magical mismatched couches....the whole thing really was heaven for me. And while I was flying back home and pondering life again (while listening to calming Christmas tunes in my headphones, o'course), my head just felt.....clear. And I felt good and brave and settled. I just wish I could relive this exact weekend over and over every now and again, because it really was perfect. (But don't worry -- no plans to move out there. Too freezing and I'm too emotionally attached to California.)

And now you get pictures. Enjoy!

p.s. The trip ended on a real high note when a man at the airport curb asked me, "Are you Jason?" I mean, I thought my hair and outfit looked decent that day but....guess I'm glad we're being open-minded :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

8 (More) Glories of SkyMall

Oh hey there.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know (i.e. couldn't escape the fact if you tried, sorry not sorry) that I spent this weekend on the East Coast! Pictures and tales and rambling to come soon, but for now......YOU GET SKYMALL!!!

You might remember this summer when I shared the 10 Glories of SkyMall and it was....well, glorious.

So, here's 8 more! Enjoy.

1. Towering Inflatable Christmas Tree
Problem: Anything that resembles a fruit rollup should never be towering, unless I can actually eat said towering fruit rollup. Which would be a great party theme, actually. Also, inflatable lawn decorations are pretty much my sworn enemy. (And are those giant m&m's as embellishments? Can it be true?)

2. Holiday Yeti Ornament
My beef with this one is that, as I suspected, the regular yeti is still being offered just a few pages later. I feel like *someone* over at SkyMall is repurposing unsold merchandise. I admire your thriftiness and ingenuity but I'm so on to you.

3. Psychedelic Cat Lounge
Am I required to also fork over money for cat drugs so they can properly enjoy the acid-trip ambience? I mean, what exactly is expected of me if I start with this? Am I signing up for a life of servitude and crime? Is the cat in charge, then? Am I in charge? Are the drugs in charge? Do I even have a cat? Who am I?

4. Adult Plush Balls
Because those three words should never go together.....ever. And secondly, because the description promises that you can "race friends and family" if you own one of these, and, full disclosure, this feels more like a replacement for real friends than a way of actually attracting them. (Unless you pick the unicorn.....then, maybe.)

5. World's Best Travel Blanket
Because please note the "privacy hood."

6. Sleeper Scarf
Suddenly entirely embarrassed that my own scarf doesn't inflate. My accessories are so last year. And what if I ever fall in a river while wearing an un-inflatable scarf? It might just be my ultimate demise. Is there a fanny pack version?

7. Enchilada Baby Wrap
Who doesn't want their baby to look like Mexican food? (Does it come with free sauce and what kind and how spicy?)

8. StarBelt
Will it beam me to outer space. WILL IT BEAM ME TO OUTER SPACE.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

In the balance.

My Sunday started with an early-morning coastal drive through fog and farmland.

It's like I'm in a Jane Austen novel, right? with cars. Idk. After said early-morning drive, my day consisted of work, resisting a nap, finally watching Good Will Hunting (thanks for coming through, Netflix!), more work, takeout for dinner (because when your job feeds you on weekdays, you often fail at having food in your cupboards on the weekends), then wrapping up the rest of work so my Monday morning can look less chaotic.

I never want to come across as someone who complains about working long hours, for a few reasons: I'm grateful to have a job, I need/don't mind the overtime money, I enjoy my work, I feel valuable to my team (and that is a HUGE motivator to me), and I still get to do plenty of fun/relaxing things. Plus, my hours are nowhere near what I'm pretty sure some of my fellow Silicon Valley dwellers are pulling -- and let's not even talk about Manhattan. I hear those people don't even sleep. I am definitely busy, but it's definitely manageable. And my workplace is a huge champion of work-life balance, I just need to make sure I'm deliberate about taking advantage of that -- scheduling off-time on my calendar for concerts and dinner out with friends, etc. Boundaries, you know! I'm working on finding a good zen/flow/whatever you want to call it.

Here's the things I did this week that didn't involve work: watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine with some friends for our weekly Monday TV night (oh, I'm already over Grey's Anatomy, by the way -- decided 11 seasons was too much to bite off when I'm pretty sure everyone dies off at some point anyway #aintnobodygottimeforthat), went to dinner with a new friend (and ran into another friend who ended up joining us, and that was a fabulous bonus) (and discovered the new friend is a basketball fan so NBA GAMES HERE WE COME), went to the Penny & Sparrow concert (have no words for how much I love their music -- and I got to meet them! And I got a shirt! And it is a soft shirt! May have worn it twice already since then),  spied on the Suns games scores on my phone all week (I probably need to subscribe to some way of watching the games online so I can actually WATCH them this season instead of just refreshing the score on my phone), saw Interstellar (I love outer space so much!! I desperately want to go to there!! You should all see it, and fair warning, it's more sci-fi and less Armageddon-action-type, just so you know what to expect going in)........I think those are the highlights.

On Friday at 5pm, I signed off.

There was still work to do (hence the cleanup today), but I shut 'er down for a good 36 hours. Turned off my work email/chat on my phone, closed my laptop, and got the H out of dodge. No really, I packed a bag and ran away to the northern California coast to stay in an oceanside cottage with 3 friends, 2 rambunctious dogs, plenty o' food, zero Internet/cell service, and mucho deep conversation that feeds the soul. It was everything I needed, and wrapped up nicely this morning with that foggy farmland drive. Mmmmyes

I feel good and ready to start my Monday. And now you all feel good and ready to look at all my pictures from the weekend....enjoy! (And tell me what fun things you did this week/weekend too.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like....

....November! And that means....almost Christmas! Christmas month eve! The holidays! Go time!

Yes, I realize my last post was about Halloween so it might feel like things escalated a bit quickly. I can't help it and....I don't care. CHRISTMAS! I let my mind wander at work for a bit today and -- other than the usual daydreams about bearded men and getting a puppy -- my thoughts turned to trees, tinsel and something-else-alliterative-and-festive-that-starts-with-a-T. (Tiny Tim? Umm tequila? No?)

I know haters gonna hate (hate hate hate hate - T. Swift), but I like my Christmas season to be good and long. It's such a delicious time of year -- why try and confine it? Gotta let that happy shiz spread its wings and fly.

Calendars fill up fast for Christmas season.

Mine included. I'm already planning several excellent things, including a tree probably like this one, all sparse-branched and elegant and packed with tinsel. (Remember Bruce Spruceteen from last year? and Doug Funny before that?) I'm already planning and looking forward to decorating the tree with sparkly things, reading A Christmas Carol for book club, wearing scarves and gloves as often as California weather permits, heading to Union Square in the city for some ice skating, attending The Nutcracker at the San Francisco Ballet (did you know the SF Ballet hosted the U.S. premiere of The Nutcracker in 1944? It's historic!), listening to Christmas music non-stop and....taking sugar cookies to my neighbors who I mostly haven't met? But what bonds people like sugar cookies and Christmas, right?? Yeah!

Side Note: If you are a decent human being and share a laundry room with your apartment complex, one thing you must never ever do is hang a wet suit up to dry in said laundry room, especially when it is dimly lit in the evening hours, because that wet suit might look like a person lurking in the corner and scare the bajeebies out of your Katie-neighbor. (I mean, do you want sugar cookies or not??) End side note.

The point is, Christmas is officially under my skin. I've been bitten.

("I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!") Last year I wrote a post about wanting a simple Christmas. I reread it today and it still just feels like a lot of truth to me: "Mostly, I just hope I never need an article in a magazine to teach me how to 'stay sane' and 'survive' such a precious, simple, sacred season." Yes. Because even with all the stuff I listed above, I still want my season to be happy, calm and chaos-free. Just simple. Service, love, good food and my people. (And plenty of Mariah Carey, you know!)

Three weeks until tree-getting time! Until then it'll just be me and my tinsel daydreams over here, planning and scheming and...gleaming and......comet and cupid and donner and blitzen!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Halloweekend Recap

Hey boys and ghouls! Happy Halloweekend! (I just made that word a thing.) (This will be my moneymaker.)

Real question: Can something be your moneymaker if you can't shake it? Ummm here, look -- I dressed up! (Did you?)

This weekend was REAL good. Other than the fact that the Suns just lost to the Jazz a few minutes ago after starting the season 2-0 over the Lakers and the Spurs, which, way to make me fall in love again and then really kick me to the curb, you know? (It's OK Suns, I still love you xoxoxo) (But the JAZZ??) (I'll go now)

Things I did in the last 24 hours: Enjoyed the (FINALLY) rainy weather, ate pizza with friends, went to a dance party (at which I danced briefly and then was done with that) (took about 15-20 min?), attempted to have a good experience by going to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show (You guys what WAS that? We ended up walking out -- I've never done that in a movie theatre before. Just...never. Neverrrrr go see that movie.) ....back to my list: went to the rainy park this morning to play football but that turned into just going to eat brunch (which turned into awkwardly crawling into my friend Michelle's BMW which turned into this picture), vacuumed my car out, cleaned stuff at home and did laundry, attended a dance-ation exercise class and shook my tail feather (and my moneymaker?), started watching Grey's Anatomy (what's a girl to do with no more Parks & Rec for now???? trying out something new), ate some curly fries that my tummy now regrets, talked to my Papanwa on the phone for a good long while......yeah, it's been a real good weekend! Now I'm chillin' in sweatpants with freshly painted nails (finally!), and the night is young and includes many important options like reading, writing in my journal, eating snacks, watching more Grey's, or potentially painting my toenails also. My apartment is my oyster. (Shhh just go with it)

I feel very much like myself lately.

Rather than hit you with awkward vagueness, I'll just say there's some medicines (see: birth control) in my system now that's doing REAL good things for my body and hormones....and it just feels good to have that ironed out. I have spent the last few weeks feeling really alert, awake, friendly, sociable, hyper....I mean, a lot of things I used to be a lot more of back in college, that I haven't been so much in awhile (mostly for awhile I have just perpetually wanted naps) (I do still love naps). I think I was attributing it to getting older and adult-onset introversion, but....hormones are a b*tch, is maybe the real answer. (Does it count as a censor if I only * one letter? Is * a verb? Shrug.) Anyway, the point is, I feel like I've come out of a fog I didn't quite know I was in for awhile.....and these are a lot of intimate details of my life (my fingernails are purple, by the way, just so we've put EVERYTHING out there), but I just want to share that I am feeling good, and very clear-headed, and very much like myself. Rock on, medical science! (insert high five emoji) (and a middle-finger emoji for those crazy-A hormones)

So....yeah! The weather is still rainy and delicious over here in the bay. So I'm gonna get back to my chill Saturday evening. I hope you're all doing something excellent as well. Feel free to tell me what you did this weekend and what you dressed up as for Halloween and what color your fingernails are and how much you love the Suns too. xoxox

Also, look what I can do:

(hashtag hardcore parkour)