Somewhere along the way, summer became SUMMER!; This tour de force of sweating, park picnicking, mediocre (but FREE!) outdoor film festivals, new friends, artisanal ice cream and unpredictable adventures. I never know what to expect until it’s actually happening (last minute tickets to Amsterdam, etc.) and can’t even begin to comprehend how it all comes together until we’re far off into autumn. If “every summer has a story (and I do believe it does),” I’m reading one page at a time right up until the very end. This SUMMER! already feels different though, even as we’re just getting underway this weekend. Like instead of discovering my story, I’ll be writing it instead. :)
Both the May travel bug and from living in a city that was just ranked the 3rd worst in the country for mosquitos this summer.
A few recent photos from the Dupont Farmer’s Market, my Sunday stop before morning coffee and this fun, unofficial gathering of friends at the gym. I’ve been focusing on shifting my “auto-pilot” perspective within the frame when my big kid camera finally comes out these days. Hello, life metaphor, if I’ve ever heard one.
Some days second life is so hectic. I never have enough arms metaphorically and otherwise. Some days like yesterday, I’m pit-stopping at the corner bodega with my gym bag and backpack already in tow since the only thing in my fridge is clean tupperware I need to return to workout wife and I hadn’t eaten since 11am. I end up wearing day old socks to the gym (and running the 10 blocks to a class that was starting in 6 minutes!) because WHEN DID I EVEN DO LAUNDRY LAST? But the store is on the way from where I finally found parking, watermelon is in peak season, and afterward I had plans to meet Paris Import where we would celebrate our weather enviable Friday eve. I remember that on Monday morning I was taking the photo above in my jean shorts, open back tank-top and FANNY PACK because I’ve been able to finagle Mondays as my Sundays (a lifesaver for city introverts), and split my time between iced coffee, the gym and doing a little email for Wednesday’s work event before taking an almost shamefully, self-indulgent AFTERNOON NAP. I let out a little laugh as I drop my eggs in the entry way trying to stealthily swipe our mail without getting my finger slammed in the door and realize, I guess I really wouldn’t want it any other way. Except clean socks because seriously sometimes I HATE MYSELF.
[when my mom held the cookies up by her waist and i could barely get the shot while standing on my tiptoes, and i had to be like, MA …]
When I first left my office job, I whimsically applied for an apprenticeship under an accomplished baker and seasoned restauranteur. There were 5 spots available and everyone who applied was over the age of 40, a business owner of sorts and had extensive experience in the food industry. I submitted my extremely non sequitur, clearly under-qualified CV and a cover letter at the literally 11th hour. I said I realized it was a long shot to even be considered for interviews. That I didn’t have any official pastry training. That they probably had a hundred plus better suited “on paper” applicants. And then I told them this: That my earliest memories are baking with my mother in the kitchen. Watching the way cookies expand either up or out depending on what you put in them. Casseroles for family dinner. The smell of apple pie. That over the years we’ve spent countless hours sifting, stirring, rolling and waiting patiently for the buzzer to ding; my hands pressed up against the little oven window, eagerly awaiting quick breads and bake sale brownies. That even now I can hear her saying, “No jumping around while the oven is on!” when I start to bake in my own, adult apartment. To my genuine surprise, I was asked to come interview and one week later the woman called. She said I was their 6th pick, and not because they didn’t want me but because I didn’t have any interest in becoming a small business owner, which was the secondary goal of their apprentice operation. She said if I wanted to come work at the bakery when it opened in a year to give her a call. They would be happy to have me. :)
I’ve always believed I am above average at a lot of things, but not extraordinary at anything. And having now conducted my entire professional life surrounded by preeminent experts in their respective fields, in a city that has this lovely, little habit of shouting you down if you don’t have 10 years of professional experience plus an often superfluous law degree … Some days it’s easy to feel like I’m not good at ANYTHING anymore. And how hard that was to counterbalance over the last 3 years as I built a brand new life. But I am very good at this one thing. And because of that, while I have no intentions of contacting the now brick and mortar bread company; I will always know I CAN.
Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom. Whose baking lessons as a kid have carried me through some of the roughest days as an adult. <3
[a throwback photo of our favorite season together]
I certainly don’t look forward to doing another #springsummer without you but this is a *birthday* blog post and not one about how awful life is when we’re apart LIKE ALL THE OTHERS. Happy birthday, kid. Thank you for showing me how to love this city before you left.
ps. I took down the color concentration so you can’t tell we are both actually really red and sweaty, cause that’s just the kind friend I am. ;)
intern: hahaha just livin the dream
aka listening to blink 182.
me: that’s not the dream FYI but congrats anyway! ;)
intern: oh man i just made a salad with THREE KINDS OF PEAS
intern: i gotta go write mediocre code in a basement because those are the life choices i made
intern: otherwise i’d be in an applied math masters in switzerland right now and that would’ve been really awkward
cause i’d never shower
and i’d be learning a lot of math that i don’t actually need
I decided to take my social side out for a spring spin which means I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks getting tan, sipping tequila and trying to figure out if I am suffering from the stomach flu or an extremely extended hangover. And while it’s been fun catching up with friends I look forward to Sunday when I can go back to my regularly scheduled programming of anti-socialism and high level liver function. Until then, cin cin.
Monday morning certainly wasn’t warm, but the sky was clear and bright and spring blue and the coffee at the corner Starbucks was just brewed. I walked there with ex-boyroommate to co-caffeinate/catch up a bit before meeting up with workout wife, whose been out of commission for the last month or so. On the way home I remembered to move my car for 11 am street sweeping and even snagged a new spot right outside the apartment I’m house sitting (read: free laundrying) until the end of May.
JVA and I squeezed in family reunion later that afternoon and how surreal it was to meander down memory lane as we maneuver this thing called OUR THIRTYS, something we thought we would be doing together but are doing so much better than we ever could—apart. It’s astonishing and rewarding in a way I don’t think we could ever adequately describe to anyone but each other. He’s about to add another major milestone to the ever-evolving story of us and while we both know it will change everything—I couldn’t be more proud or excited.
In an ode to irony’s timing, Tuesday night I went out on a date. I repeat I (1) WENT OUT. (And 2) ON A DATE. With someone who I’d initially filed away under “great guy for another girl,” but who turned to be a great guy for this girl, if only for the 48 hours he was stateside. We shared a bottle of red wine and toasted to a spring evening so gorgeous I nearly felt euphoric.
On Wednesday I managed to track down an important piece of mail (the day before it was due!), since despite finally updating my mailing address after 3 years it still sent to two-apartments ago. Looking for this particular piece of paper last year made for a disastrous day for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the competency of the US Postal Service and everything to do with the company I was keeping. I like to think of this as the universe saying, yes, you moved (literally) in the right direction.
Thursday evening I plus one’d for my friend and former baking boss at an event thrown by a local “farm-to-table” delivery company. This is the text she sent me, “I will grab you from the kitchen around 4, we may run a little late depending on traffic and it’s right next to UMD so a drive by may happen afterwards.” I replied, “Are we going to use this as an excuse to wear dress clothes?” She responded, “I realize that was a lot of information in one text but yes, let’s wear dresses.” Which is exactly why we’re still friends even if we no longer work together—because even with our impossible schedules, we communicate efficiently and know how to use our time wisely. ;)
Today is one of my very oldest friend’s 32nd (happy birthday, dear!) and also my done-at-noon workday. Perhaps I am a woman of TOO simple pleasures, but I feel pretty damn pleased with THE ENTIRE WORLD after this week. I will be celebrating by preparing for house company in a couple days and hopefully going grocery shopping. :)
** “Grocery shopping” became last minute happy hour margaritas with le paris import and dinner turned out to be some black bean pasta workout wife gave me months ago because the only other edible in my fridge is VANILLA EXTRACT. I sent her a text saying so to which she responded, “I FUCKING LOVE YOU.” ;)
When I was in middle school my parents thought seriously about moving to Wisconsin for a potential job offer. I remember having a tremendously difficult time conceptualizing the reality of moving to the midwest (WAIT IT’S NOT EVEN THE SAME TIME THERE??) and away from “all my friends” (which, of course is so ridiculous in retrospect, since I only have one friend from childhood and later made an artform out of having lukewarm feelings for everyone else except my freshman English teacher who I imagine is still cooler than anyone my own age). Mostly though, I just couldn’t imagine having another home, despite my mom’s most savvy efforts to get me on board, “But they have the BEST CHEESE!” We ended up staying and 31 years later I am one of the lucky few to have ever had one home address. One phone number. The same driveway light left on for me when I came home during college. All of my Christmas mornings under one roof.
As of today, my parents have finished stripping wallpaper and are currently sifting through nearly 40 years of family stuff—methodically going through their HGTV-esque check off list about how to make us market ready.
Transforming a house into a home is an ineffable process but one I’m certainly no stranger to. Turning OUR HOME into just another house, however?? That’s something I tackled for the first time over the weekend when I went home to do my part in the purge (while wearing my junior prom dress, as I imagine EVERYONE DOES).
When I heard my parents were really ready to sell after years of “maybe one day when’s …”; we were all surprised (myself included!) how graciously I handled the news, since historically speaking this conversation has NOT GONE WELL. I suppose somewhere in the last few years I learned that doors will keep closing (metaphorically and now literally) with or without my consent. That life can only be lived in one direction regardless of our desperation to walk through one deeply loved entryway, one last time. That ‘home’ isn’t a single set of walls. That losing your shit is certainly *one* way to manage an emotional obstacle, but also the most selfish and least successful.
Regardless, I’m about to embark on a stretch of homesickness and in more ways than this one. Lots of things are changing, BIG THINGS are changing. And most of them have near nothing to do with me save the fact that my life will be totally different in the aftermath. Luckily, I can see the very fine line between the two these days, making the untraversed up head bittersweet in a way I didn’t know was possible to appreciate in present time. My parents choosing to move isn’t about ME losing my home it’s about THEM finding a new one. And I’m promised there will be a bedroom with my name on it waiting when I’m ready.
MGH: what was i wearing?
Am loving How To Be Polite, particularly this passage:
People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is. Not having an opinion means not having an obligation. And not being obligated is one of the sweetest of life’s riches.
A few years ago (when I was in the eye of the early onset Eat, Pray, Love storm), MGH told me his friend had shared this exercise with him. She said, find an image that represents what you want your life to look like and look at it often. I found a few photos I thought could work pretty well; But more than a picture, I pursued a FEELING.
THIS life is that feeling: Working Saturdays so I can have Monday off; Going for coffee while everyone else is commuting in. Skipping home in the snow. Sitting french at lunch with a friend and hearing the story of how his parents met. Having a colleague who makes a point to come and find me every morning for a daily hug dose (having a job where you’re actually ALLOWED to hug a co-worker of the opposite gender). House-sitting until the end of April for a guy I met at a bar and have only seen 5 times in real life. Being the plus one and only woman at an entirely gay masquerade party where I FIT RIGHT IN. Free back rubs after work (cute boy friends in massage therapy school are officially the party SWAG of the century for single ladies, FYI). Putting together a last minute dinner party for a friend of 10 years, his friend from before that, my temp german-brazilian roommate, my old roommate and a girl who read us her most atrocious online dating exchanges (in other words, the best kind of people hodge-podge, and secretly on my birthday)… A bathroom selfie from the first hour of my 31st year in an apartment where I was the only American. Being SINGLE and staying phenomenal friends with my ex-boyfriend. Eating half a home baked apple pie and fancy cheese for dinner just because I CAN. Splitting a bottle of wine with my roommates in a restaurant so obviously out-of-our-league the bartender offered us FREE BREAD AS AN APPETIZER. Because even though between the three of we are underemployed (raises hand), unemployed and maybe getting deported in May should international job contracts not be renewed—((deep breath))—Resiliency itself, is no small something to be recognized.
Good people, everyday adventures (i.e. in-home massage session “while on Medicaid and on a TUESDAY!?”), that ‘Friday afternoon’ feeling of FREEDOM on a Monday morning, celebrating the ordinary and making it extraordinary—these seemingly insignificant moments are my photo. And how lucky I am to be actually LIVING it.