More of reality is setting in.

Today two big things happened:

We turned in our keys. After living in an awesome and practically brand-new apartment building near downtown Seattle for the last (almost) two years, we moved our final few things out today and said goodbye. The final few minutes were all a bit of a blur: grabbing the last couple boxes, closing the door without much ceremony, catching the elevator downstairs. We squished everything in the car and handed the keys to our concierge, and then walked out of the building for the last time. It was over so quickly I couldn’t quite process it. But as we drove away and back over the water to Davis’ family’s house, it hit me that we can’t say we live here anymore.

My car is gone. Saying goodbye to my car was a bit more emotional. Which honestly was a bit unexpected, as I loved my car but never felt that attached to it. I was a bit on-edge all day waiting for the carrier to come pick it up, but when he finally got here, the whole ordeal was over in less than five minutes. One second it was parked in front of the house, the next it was going away on the back of a truck – without me. I know it’s still going to be in the family and that it’s going to a good home, but it choked me up all the same.

We are without a car and without a permanent place to stay here. In the last 24 hours we have morphed back into the visitors we were during college.

Reality has set in bit by bit over time, and today, two of the big pieces, the moments of, “Oh… I guess we’re really doing this” have taken place. To say that my keyring feels lighter seems like a gross understatement; it’s only keychains now. I don’t belong anywhere at the moment, have nothing to call my own. The future, which I know is so exciting, is also terrifying me a little. We’ve taken the leap; now we’re in the air before we land on the other side.

We’re Moving!

WordPress informed me that it’s been almost three months since my last post. Jeez, I’m so bad at keeping at this! I love it though, especially going back and reading what I’ve written through the years. And so much has happened since my last post! I think the gist of it can be summed up in five words:

We’re moving to New York.

Yes, that’s right! We are leaving Seattle and moving across the country to a new city. And not just any new city: the biggest one in the US, and arguably the coolest! Davis got an opportunity within his company and will be working out of the NYC office, so we’re headed to the Big Apple. And when I say “we’re moving”, I don’t mean it’s going to happen in a few weeks. I mean we’re moving right now.

See, this whole thing has been brewing for a couple months, and after thinking about it and planning and packing as best we can, we’ve pulled the trigger. While I’m writing this, movers are in our apartment packing us up. I’m seated on the couch, trying not to get in the way but here if they need me. I feel so lucky that Davis’ company is helping us with this – I don’t know how we’d do a cross-country move otherwise.

I told my company about the move and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work remotely, which I’m grateful for. Davis had to go to NYC for work a few weeks ago and found us an apartment while he was back there (in East Village! It’s gonna be awesome!). I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get ready. We’ve packed the clothes and things we’re going to need for the next two weeks in a couple suitcases so that we have stuff to live with while most of our belongings are making their way across the country. I’m shipping my car to my brother this weekend (because who wants a car in NYC?). We’re well into saying our goodbyes here too, and that’s been tough. I think the hardest will be Davis’ family, who we’re staying with for the next couple days while we wrap things up here.

I just, I can’t believe we’re actually doing this! It’s starting to hit me as our living room is drained of our belongings and fills up with boxes. In a few hours, the place that was home for two years will be empty.

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(And my goodness, the movers are so efficient! They’ve been here for an hour and packed what would have taken me a whole weekend to do!)

So needless to say, I feel like I will have a great amount of source material and things to write about going forward! I hope to make my blog what it was when I was in Italy a few summers ago, so stay tuned!

Lulu Miller is awesome.

This past weekend I sent an email to Lulu Miller of Radiolab and Invisibilia fame, and this morning, she wrote me back.

What. I just. Ohmygosh. I feel like, as Davis so jokingly puts it, I have lost my ability to even.

Here’s the thing too: It wasn’t a courtesy email, a “thanks for writing, keep in touch” flimsy note-thing. It was a solid letter, full of detail and thought and love. It was the kind of letter that you write to a good friend that takes at least 20 minutes to artfully construct. She gave me tips on how to learn about podcasting and work in radio. She talked excitedly about New York. She invited me to coffee if I’m ever in the area that she works in. Just like. WHAT.

She is SO NICE. She writes the way I do. She seems so excitable and just in love with life. In reading her email, I felt like we could be best friends.

I realize it’s only Monday, but she has made my week. I don’t think anything could bring me down.

OH AND THEN I also bought tickets to see Ira Glass in town this weekend. Even all of these capital letters cannot express all the excitement I’m feeling about life right now.

(For those of you who don’t know, Lulu is a wonderful storyteller and reporter. Everything she makes (that I’ve heard) is beautiful. Listen to any of the episodes of Invisibilia and prepared to be amazed: http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/. And Ira Glass is the master of radio storytelling from This American Life. Listen to any of his stories here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/.)

Nay-Sayers

I go about my life just fine, sunny skies, mountains never too high to climb, then in a second, they appear. They surround me, engulf my thoughts, stop me dead in my tracks.

What do you think you’re doing? they say. You can’t; you won’t. Who do you think you are for wanting something like that?

I’m me, I respond. Me with my dreams, smart, talented, enthusiastic. I can do anything I set my mind to!

Their murmurs drown me out and make my voice quieter. You think you can do what? You want to go where? 

I grow smaller and smaller as they stand in my way, darkening my sun.

No, I gasp. No you’re wrong. I can do this. I can –

The terror grips me, paralyzing and tangible. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I can’t. Maybe I’m destined to be like this forever, to become one of them someday and give up chasing dreams of my own.

That’s right, they say. Stop trying. You don’t need to struggle. You’d hate it anyway. It isn’t worth the effort.

They aren’t right. They never are. I know that now, as I sit here typing, when they’re not trying to pull me under. But sometimes they feel so real.

Sometimes I can’t resist them on my own. So my back-up comes, to whisper in my ear that yes, I can, that it all will be okay. That I shouldn’t give up – that I can never give up. It helps me pick my head up and trudge on, through their sticky black sludge, away from them and toward the light of my dreams.

This is the story of me fighting back, screaming at the top of my lungs, I can, I can I can. Though my voice may be feeble, like a small flame on a windy night that threatens to go out, it’s still there.

They haven’t won yet. I don’t plan on letting them. I know I’m not alone in this struggle, that they bother everyone at one point or another. But they feel so isolating and sad and dark.

So I count today as a victory. Another day and the nay-sayers haven’t succeeded. Each day won is another day stronger. I will achieve my dreams. I will never let them stop me.

Another Happy Post

(Just a note: I wrote this a couple days ago, and have been delayed in posting it. Today in Seattle it’s rather wet, not as sunny and bright as mentioned here, so don’t cross-check this and think I’m lying…)

Today has been one of those days where I just can’t get over how wonderful life is.

Let me paint the picture for you: I’m sitting on our rooftop patio, 18 floors up overlooking downtown Seattle. The sun is on its way toward setting, it’s in the 60s in March, and I’m sitting next to my best friend (and husband!) at a tall metal table. We’re both typing away on our laptops – Davis on work, me on this – and sipping delicious red wine recommended to us by our beautiful friend Jena (Five Branches Pinot – less than ten bucks, and it’s fantastic, as is typical when she recommends things). I just returned from physical therapy, which I love, then a run around Green Lake, one of my favorite places in the city.

Life. is. so good.

I feel incredibly lucky that I can do these things, that I have opportunities to live in a cool city and run when I want to and drink wine on top of a roof. But every little thing this afternoon really made me smile. I opened a new chapstick – it was an exciting moment. I’m wearing a relatively new Team In Training headband (Sweatybands – they really don’t slip!). I’m sitting outside in a tank top. And they played Call Me Maybe on the radio while I was driving home. Sure, I could have been annoyed that I was stuck in traffic, that I could have probably walked home in the same time it took me to drive, but instead I got to spend time singing along to Carly Rae Jepsen at the top of my lungs. Must I say it again? Life. is. so good.

This is why I started this blog: to just talk about the little moments, the tiny things that make me happy. The times I can’t help but throw my hands up and shout to the universe and thank God that it’s so so good to be alive. Life makes me smile more often than it makes me sad (though that does happen too), and for that I am so grateful. I truly hope that you can find some happiness in your day today, whether it comes in the form of a hug from a friend, a bite of something delicious, a smile from a stranger, or a moment alone after the family goes to sleep. Happy Thursday, everyone!

My Hate-Hate Relationship with Makeup and Hairstyling

I am so bad at being a girly-girl.

It’s honestly never been a strong suit of mine. I’ve always been too busy reading or playing sports or out there living life to take much notice of it. Sure, I wore skirts in high school, but that’s because they were a mandatory part of my uniform. And in general, I like wearing dresses from time to time – they make me feel pretty. But I seem to have missed the classes (er, years) that were supposed to teach me how to braid my hair and apply eyeliner. I went to an all-girls’ high school, where many of my friends came to class sans makeup and with sponge curlers in their hair if something special was happening that night. So I was under the impression that for the most part, they didn’t care much either back then.

Facebook and real life have chronicled that pretty much all of these people – the same ones that came to school in “illegal” sweatpants under their plaid skirts – seem to know how to look pretty now, how to put mascara on without stabbing themselves in the eye or how to properly wield a curling iron. But not me. I’ve given it many a good shot, buying the hair goop and having friends explain to me – again – the four (four?) steps to applying eye shadow. But it never seems to stick.

I have a couple hypotheses as to why not. One is simply that I’m pretty blind – and I say that with little exaggeration. Without my glasses, I have to get less than an inch away from a mirror to see anything – so even trying to put on eyeliner is very difficult and rather scary, since an eye poke is pretty much inevitable. It takes me a long time to do it too, with many mistakes and frustrated “Oh please don’t cry and ruin this whole thing” moments, some of which I know would go away with practice. Another reason is that I really don’t think I need it. I get really self-conscious if I’m wearing any makeup at all, even if it’s just lipstick. I truly like the way I look without it better. A third (and admittedly lazy) reason is that I value sleep and other morning activities wayyyy too much. If I don’t have to spend half an hour wrestling my hair into a 24-step ‘do, I can spend that time reading or eating breakfast or waking up in the shower. And finally, I don’t feel like I have to. Maybe it’s a little anti-feminist, but I’ve already wowed the people that are important to me. The love of my life (who I’m married to) loves me without makeup. My siblings don’t care, and neither do my friends. They do occasionally razz me about it, then proceed to apply the makeup for me and help me style my hair – which I’m totally fine with. Sure, I want to occasionally impress strangers, employers, my husband, heck even myself sometimes – but most of the time, the battle with the makeup bag and hair dryer just isn’t worth it. Besides, if you’re going to judge me before you know me for my lack of wearing makeup, I’m not sure I want to be your friend anyway.

I felt inspired this week to try doing something new with my hair. Almost every day for the past (eesh) eight months or so, I’ve pulled my wet hair into a tight bun soon after getting out of the shower in the morning. It works, but even I know it’s the epitome of lazy. So onto Pinterest I went, searching for easy hairstyles (I mean, if it involved braiding or excessive amounts of bobby pins, it was out). I saw hundreds of them and tried a handful out – and none of them seemed to look any good at all. It goes back to the embarrassment aspect – I just don’t like trying to dress myself up by doing something new to my appearance. I’m at a bit of a loss at what to do for work tomorrow. I think I might just blow dry it (I do know how to do that… kind of) and pull it into a side ponytail. That’d be different.

But even in trying, I felt all of this anxiety. I felt the angst and the nervousness and the resignation of pulling it up in a bun again and calling it a day. I don’t think I want to be a girly-girl, but I do wish I knew a little bit more about this stuff.

So there it is. My hate-hate relationship with makeup and hairstyling. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but every once in a while, it creeps up and makes me frustrated. We’ll see what happens with my hair tomorrow. Honestly, anything out of the norm will be a victory for me.

The Awesomeness of Podcasts

I have become completely and overwhelmingly obsessed with podcasts.

(As a side note, how on earth is the word “podcasts” not in the Google Chrome dictionary? This technology has been around for a while, people! What’s with that?!)

I can’t honestly recall how it started. I remember years ago trying to listen to a podcast that promised to help me learn to speak Italian. This was in the time before smartphones – or, at least, before I had one – so I’d download it on iTunes and load it onto my oh-so-cool iPod Nano, use the scroll wheel to fly down the list of everything else I had on there, then listen to it intently. There was no 15-second rewind button. No efficient way to subscribe. And for all of its good intentions, I barely listened to it, so it didn’t really teach me Italian at all (mostly, I think, because of the tedious process of staying up-to-date with the lessons. The audio quality wasn’t that great either.).

Wait wait wait – this started even before the Italian podcast. How could I forget my first-ever podcast experience, MuggleCast? This one I’d listen to every week in high school, then discuss with a friend. I remember enjoying it but fell off the bandwagon somewhere along the way. Then it was the Italian podcast. Then another hiatus, until I happened upon Freakonomics Radio.

This I distinctly don’t remember. Maybe someone in school mentioned it. Maybe I saw it on iTunes and decided to give it a go. Maybe I wanted to reestablish faith in podcasting and it led me to explore the options available to me and I picked that one. In any case, I do know that sometime around my last year of college I became interested in podcasts again. Davis listened to one too (EconTalk, I think it was). I remember long drives together, listening to Steven Dubner and Steven Levitt explain how economics works in the real world. One of our favorites was the interview they did with Tyler Cowen about the economics of food.

I remember having quite a backlog of Freakonomics podcasts to listen to, and that made me really excited. They helped me survive the many road trips I took that year, up north to visit Davis or back home to see my family and plan our wedding. They kept me alert and made time whiz by. So when I caught up completely, I felt really sad and kind of out of luck. How would I ever find another show that I loved so much?

If only I had known that was just the beginning.

After we moved to Seattle, I mentioned (offhandedly, I think) that I had caught up with Freakonomics Radio to Davis’ friend Nathan, who, upon hearing that I enjoyed consuming audio media, proceeded to spew out a long list of the podcasts he listened to. Luckily for me, he has great taste, and I quickly became hooked on This American Life and RadioLab. From there it’s just spiraled to this crazy point of obsession. I also love the spin-off shows that have begun, like Serial, Invisibilia, and TLDR. But I feel like my craze for podcasts increased even more when I started listening to StartUp and Reply All from Gimlet Media.

Gimlet Media is, as its podcast’s name suggests, a start up that a former producer of This American Life and Planet Money began. The podcast walks its listeners through the process of starting a business – but not in a “Step 1 + Step 2 = Profit” sort of way. Sure, it talks about the pieces and everything it takes, but it shows the emotions and the real people bits that other media doesn’t seem to cover. The listeners hear the anxiety in the host’s voice when the company can’t decide on a name and the thrill when it gets funded faster than anyone thought possible through crowdfunding. Everyone who helps to create this show (and Reply All, Gimlet’s other production) has so much enthusiasm and drive and love for podcasting – it makes me love it so much.

Which leads me to my kind of crazy idea. It’s caused me to start thinking about what it would be like to help with a production like this. I have that drive – the desire to create something so beautiful that it brings joy to people’s day, something that listeners anxiously look forward to each week, something that can cause the audience to think and to pause and to wonder at the world. I want to help with this so bad. I want to interview people, to create stories and write scripts and string thoughts together to produce a magical piece of art. I want to give others the excitement I feel when I realize it’s Thursday and there’s a new episode of Serial waiting to be listened to. I am willing to do whatever I can to help with this – even the seemingly mundane things. I can transcribe the interviews. I can take copious notes during brainstorming sessions. I can even go get everyone else coffee.

I think one reason this appeals to me so much is that it combines two things that I love – outside of listening to podcasts directly, that is. One of these things is talking to people. I can’t really put into words how much I love people. There’s a part in a course that Alex Blumberg (Mr. Gimlet/StartUp/former This American Life) teaches where he talks about getting to the true, authentic person underneath the “walls” we all have. He describes these embarrassed chuckles he’s gotten in interviews, these hesitations that show the audience that the interviewee is human, just like them. And I love things like that. I love having that kind of connection with people, of getting past the “hi, how are you” to the deep, interesting stuff. The other thing that I love is the story. I love writing things, especially just about thoughts of somewhat small moments. The way the sun hit the leaves on my walk home today, for instance. Or something I overhear in passing that makes me laugh. Usually moments like this put a smile on my face and make me think about the world a little differently, and I love bringing that to other people. I feel like podcasting is a way for me to combine these two passions, sort of.

Maybe it’s irrational. Maybe I’ll get over this aspect of my obsession in the next few weeks. Or maybe this is something that will stick with me, something that I suddenly feel called to do. Only the future holds the answer. But for now, I’ll keep listening, keep enjoying, and keep learning as much as I can about podcasting. I’m so grateful for the smiles, tears, and hours of listening entertainment that it’s given me so far and I’m excited to see what’s next.