I first started exploring the world of blogs sometime in the fall of 2004. I was turned on to them through an article in the New York Times by blogger Heather L. Hunter (yes, I went back to look for the exact story). I checked out her blog, which led me to other blogs, some of which I read from very beginning to end (along the way, I ended up creating the original version of this blog, over on blogger, in February 2005). Some of the blogs I discovered in that heady, beginning discovery time I still read to this day. Having followed people over the course of multiple years, I know their stories, the players in their lives and the challenges they’ve met and overcame.
One blog I stumbled across way back then was Beth. I was pulled in by her writing and the way in which she shared of her life. I soon started leaving comments on some of her posts and we became online friends, after a fashion. Her blogging community had several other members that intrigued me and soon I was following Craige (her site seems to be down) and Jen.
These days we all follow each other, and I’ve joined them on a fantastic online discussion group (with a bunch of other folks) where everyone offers up tidbits about their lives, their unique interior quirks and other queries and quandries. And tonight, I met all three of them.
You see, I’m in New York for the next couple of days for the AWP conference, and when I knew I was coming to town, I asked them if they wanted to get together. We met up in the West Village and after our first restaurant appeared too busy, we found a place that would offer a table, food and two bottles of wine. It was so much fun to meet them, especially since in many so ways I felt like I already knew them. We talked for more than four hours, about life, relationships, blogging, community and the many challenges that life can throw at you. I knew before heading out to meet them tonight that I’d enjoy their company, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of fun I’d have or the connection I’d feel.
Last Friday afternoon, I got a call from the Library at St. Joe’s. They were calling to say that the bound copies of my thesis were in. This afternoon I drove over to pick them up. It was strange to be back on campus, mostly because I didn’t feel much in the way of missing the place, despite having spent the last year and a half there. It served its purpose and I appreciate having had the opportunity to go to school, but I’m also grateful to be done and free from classes.
I haven’t looked at the thesis since I finished it a month ago and as I flipped through it, I was struck by the memory of how much time and effort I had put into string those words and sentences together. It was also lovely to see my writing between two covers, it was a first for me. May this not be the last time.
I’ve always felt particularly fortunate to have grown up in a house in which there was always music. Many Saturday mornings my dad would make pancakes and then pull out his guitar so that my sister and I could dance and sing. Occasionally, I can still convince him to recreate those childhood mornings, although these days I have to promise to clean the kitchen when we’re finished eating in order to gain any traction in the negotiations.
Since I live so far away these days, I don’t often get a chance to hear him play live. However, on occasion, I’ll open my email to discover that he’s sent me a bit of mp3 from one or another recent performance. Yesterday he sent me a rendition of Swimming in the Stream that he and his singing group (Mo Mack and the Peace Makers) performed at a recent concert. It blew me away. For those of you who like a little folk-y music, take a listen.
After that last blog post, promising more good stuff, I’ve totally dropped the blogging ball and have ignored Apartment 2024 for the last couple of day. Apparently, I’m something of a blog-tease.
Some of my LA cousins have been in town this week (they are so glamorous!) and so I’ve spent a bit of time hanging out with them. We gathered for dinner at my cousin Dan’s house on Tuesday night. There was some talking, but really, the gathering was just an excuse to stand around and stare at Derek, who is nearly a year old. A cuter kid is hard to find. For the rest of the pictures of him (probably of interest only to my family) go here.
Somehow, I’ve managed to seriously neglect this space over the last week. And sadly, it’s not going to improve right at this very moment. Consider this post as something akin to a blog “lick and promise.” However, as a taste of things to come, here are some of the things I want to write about in the very near future…
The fact that as of January 18th, I’ve now lived in Philadelphia for 6 years. Considering I initially planned on being here for just 3 years, this is something of a milestone. My life is so very different now than it was back then that I struggle a little even articulating all the ways in which I’ve grown and changed.
I am ridiculously in love with Scott McNulty. Neither of us has written much about the fact that we are silly for each other on our blogs, in large part because it felt too special to expose to the harsh glare of the internet, but I am happy to announce that I adore him.
My parents recently ran into an old friend/coworker at a concert. This man used to tell me stories about what it was like to grow up in a small town in rural Oregon and I would hang on to his every word. It was delightful to hear an update as to how he is doing and know that his life has been unexpectedly interesting and wonderful, despite (in some ways, because of) multiple heart attacks in recent years.
The joy that is living in my apartment without a roommate. I feel comfortable in my home in a way that I haven’t felt for years and didn’t really even know I was missing until it arrived.
My continuing attempts at keeping myself in a place of balance, that is free of undue quantities of harsh self-judgment.
Those are the highlights (or something approximating highlights). I’ll be back soon with more.
Slowly but surely, my apartment is starting to come together. Since my roommate moved out, I’ve shifted books from living room to bedroom to den. I’ve vacuumed, cleaned closets, dusted and organized. I’ve wiped down shelves, drilled new holes for cables and taken apart my little office space in the corner of my dining room. It’s been a really satisfying process, to have the opportunity to settle into my space in a whole new way.
As lovely as it is, I am beginning to think that I’m spending a little too much time in my apartment. Without the structure of classes or a full time job, I drift through the day, plagued by that particular inability to get things done that comes when you don’t actually have much that has to be done.
It’s worse right now too, because Scott is off at Macworld. In the last few weeks (since I returned to Philly from my holiday stint in Portland), we’ve fallen into a pattern of spending time together so that I get to ride along on his fairly regular schedule. Now, without his work hours to keep me on track, I’m drifting even more.
I’m really trying to focus on enjoying the time I have right now and the freedom of these days. I have a feeling that this openness won’t last forever and that soon enough I’ll be working more (at least one can hope). But it’s sort of a strange place to be.
My sister emailed me earlier tonight, asking if I had any recent pictures of her that she could potentially use for a poster she’s putting together. Her request sent me flipping through my iPhoto archives, looking for images. Here’s what I came up with (my sister is both silly and adorable, not a bad combination).
The edited version of last weekend’s Fork You Live is now available for viewing. It was a challenge for Scott to take what was a very entertaining hour of footage and bring it down to 13 minutes but I think he did a darn fine job of it. I hope you enjoy!
One of the fun things about showing up at Foster’s on Saturday was the fact that before we even walked through the doors, we were greeted by the sign you see to the left. You see, I had done most of the set-up and planning with the folks at Foster’s and so they weren’t aware that I had a co-host. So I got all the credit and Scott got, well, Scott got lots of joke ammunition (which for him is often better than credit).
In other news, today was surprisingly and subtly wonderful. I ended up having an impromptu lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. We ate outside of Houston Hall at Penn and after we were finished, I ended up going back to her office with her. I sat there, stealing some wifi, writing a blog post and chatting with her occasionally as she did a little bit of work. Eventually we walked over to Ben and Jerry’s on 40th Street with a co-worker of hers and had ice cream on what was an unseasonably gorgeous January day.
When they headed back to work I stayed on 40th Street in order to wander through the used bookstore that is a few doors down from the ice cream shop. There is a cat that lives in that store, and at one point he silently padded over and started twining through my legs, nuzzling up and scratching his head on my sneakers. I crouched down and petted him for a couple of minutes, until someone approached, needing to access the row that the cat and I were blocking. I left the store nearly an hour after I had arrived and walked home, talking to my mom on my cell phone the whole way home.
This evening I went to sit with the sangha (a Buddist meditation group) that I used to regularly attend, at least during the semesters when I didn’t have class on Wednesday night. As soon as I entered the room, I could feel the pull of deep quiet smooth out my consciousness. The sitting was beautiful, silent and seemingly endless. Afterwards I felt refreshed, as if I had gotten an extra night’s worth of sleep or perfectly relaxing massage.
And after all that, I got to have dinner and hang out with Scott. Life is good.
The picture you see above was taken by Thad and you can see the rest of the pictures that he and Angie took that day here.
The picture you see above was taken as my sister and I drove across the Freemont Bridge in Portland (the morning we got up ridiculously early to go to the REI Garage Sale). When I was in high school, we lived near this bridge and so it was one I used a lot to get home. I remember many late nights, driving across this bridge when it was so foggy that you couldn’t actually see the roadway in front of you. You just had to trust that the bridge was there and keep driving. I loved those nights, when it was dark and foggy, and the lights on the bridge would be winking through the thickness of the haze and you just had to trust.
These days I feel like my life is an awful lot like those nights driving across the Freemont Bridge, only there’s a bit more difficulty and slightly less trust. I’ve been struggling lately to figure out exactly where I am. I don’t mean in the physical sense, that much I know (right at this very minute I’m at my desk in the corner of the dining room. As soon as I get a new desk, I’ll be hanging out in the newly emptied den). I’ve never before found myself in such open and unstructured space before and while I like it, it’s also a little unsettling (mostly because I’m not earning enough money quite yet. I think I could live quite happily in the openness if there was a slightly more steady stream of income).
These days I spend my time blogging for Slashfood, trying to do some writing for Green Daily, answering email, dreaming up things to cook on Fork You (seriously, this takes up a HUGE amount of my mental space) and hanging out with Scott. And that’s about it (I really need to start adding ‘going to the gym’ into that equation).
I find myself thinking back to the days when I had to unhappily report to an office every day. I remember those hours of staring miserably into a computer, mechanically responding to inquiry emails or filling out spreadsheets of names and addresses and I wonder how it is that I didn’t leap off a building. The change in my level of personal joy is so marked that I will never regret the choices I’ve made.
But now, being done with school (it’s so weird to have the graduate student label removed from my identity list) and set adrift in the world of adult responsibility once more, I’m not exactly sure what to do next. I’m not super worried (there are some possibilities and I have friends who are looking out for me and keeping me in mind for stuff). More than anything, I’m just really curious to see what my life will look like six months from now. From where I’m standing, it’s fairly murky and unclear. However, I keep reminding myself of the nights on the bridge and I feel more okay.