drawing a blank

i am taking a beat – pausing on this quiet saturday morning before getting to the heavy lifting of the day.

today is the day i move! i’ve had a thrill of a time these past few weeks imagining how my life will be in this new space, with its wraparound porch and ridiculously narrow driveway, the original molding that skims the perimeter of every ceiling, the airy upstairs bedroom i will settle into as my own, the overgrown backyard that holds so much dreamy potential…

it is exciting, for sure.

i’ve been waiting for this chance again, to take a house and make it my home. i am beyond giddy for the little kitchen and all the cozy meals i can churn out of it, the hot trays of cookies i can slide out of the oven (i’ve already bookmarked these!). and best of all – calling over all my favorite people to sit with me at the dining table… or on our mismatched armchairs, or on pillows on the living room floor, or whatever the case may be. …it’s a work in progress.

but i shouldn’t forget where i’ve been, and i’ll try my best not to. ever since i first left, the suburbs have always been too quiet – and going back, too stifling – for the restlessly self-possessed person i thought i’d become. but it is where i find my family: the parents who know that sometimes an almost-27-year-old still needs someone to bring her lime jello when she’s sick in bed, the brother whose silence can somehow still feel like camaraderie.

i am learning that growing older may be linear, but growing up isn’t – not always. i think it was right for me to take the last year-and-a-half to move backwards, and now i’m all the more ready to joyfully tumble on forward.


please excuse the apple-peeling/bleeding in the video; i just like the song.

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on and on

it’s important to run into yourself every once in a while. i remember reading something like that in a book i never finished (one of several – my attention span these days has been less than stellar).

i haven’t been around these parts in what feels like a long time. 

life has been good – life has been big – these past couple months, and i guess i’ve been busy going at it.

but a lot has changed, and sometimes you need to do yourself a little favor and have a spin and a good look around.

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it is strange to say i feel more grounded than ever. despite hopping on a plane to thailand, chasing a job up to san francisco, spending 18 hours in a little prius with a couple of my favorite people trying to find our way up to portland (oregon: you’re two for two), i feel even more rooted in this messy, ugly-pretty city i call home. i’m kind of figuring out who i am here, and not in that sit-in-the-shadows-and-think-about-it kind of way that i was so good at before. the real way. the living it out kind of way.

i read somewhere else that happiness is “someone to love, something to hope for, and worthwhile work to enjoy.” think about that for a bit. do you have all three? and if so, can your brain really handle it? …i’m being honestly curious here, because these days i wonder at it – and it’s a dizzying thought.

but i like it. and i think that’s what i love about where i am now. i’m still marked up with all sorts of imperfections, but i am happy. i am happy, and astounded that there could be even more in store somewhere up ahead.

unreconciled

it’s been hard.

the days are long, but still the sunshine never lasts long enough. i am thankful for the windows, which i can throw open and watch the light shift from where i stand at the head of the classroom. but that is never the same as bringing a cool drink out to a gentle spot in the evening air, knowing your best work is done, the hard work behind you.

in a sense, this song is for a moment like that.



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now most days i can’t wrap myself around a song this gentle or sweet. my musical tastes have veered off course as the cynicism has set in like cement.

but if i can get myself to sit still for long enough – sometimes that means in the driver’s seat of my car as it speeds down one very long road home – i can remember what it was like to hear this song for the first time. i had just ended a relationship, and the cd arrived at my doorstep in that precious window of time that sometimes occurs after a breakup – when there is a quiet peace about what you have finished. the wreckage hasn’t come to show itself yet; the new silence is benign – just another part of some bigger, more poetic story.

i am trying to remember that part of me – the one that twisted every reality into a more elegant version. for the past year, it has been difficult. i have put in hours and hours but come out feeling neither proud nor particularly like myself. i have bowed to the pressures and in the process lost the parts of myself most worth keeping. perhaps not lost them completely, but i have certainly set them down and walked away. i’m afraid it will be a long road back.

long roads call for sad songs. and so tonight, this one’s also kind of nice.

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moved

i didn’t know it then, but this is how i felt, closing it all up.

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i didn’t look over too many old things. i didn’t shuffle through many memories, or even think too many thoughts.

no, all that came later – comes now.

what i did was sit in my spot on the stairs and lean my head on the railing.
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as with so many endings, you can say to yourself this is not how it was supposed to be – but just the same you know it is time to go.

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i cannot say why my little place meant so much to me. not because i don’t know why. i know exactly why. i just cannot pin the meaning onto words.

but here i go trying.

the past six and a half years, and the life that has spilled beyond on both ends, have both wrung me out and sent me skipping.

and whether i was mourning the loss of nothing in particular, listening to songs in the half-dark light, sitting at the top of the stairs and casting my heart out the highest window…

or caught up in the thrum of laughter, of richest joy, over paper plates of hot food, of so many friends together at home…

that’s what my place had been.

for that lonely stretch of time – of hubris – when i believed the house i grew up in offered me nothing that i wanted – this little place was home.

so much of me happened there,
and i always thought the story would end differently.


i’m not sure what ending i had in my mind, really, but i was always standing on vague dreams of something different.  but if there comes a time when you realize your dreams have died under you, then someone has to call it.

i know that sounds dark: words too gaping for a time like this, when – really – i still have another home to go to. one that is warm, where the bed is soft, where the food is ready when i get there.

but still.
so much of me happened in that place,
and i always thought things would end differently.

so l.a.

urth caffe never fails me.


honey vanilla latte – ordered strong, because that’s how this little machine runs these days.

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chicken curry sandwich – pleasantly sweet in between crusty halves of that fantastic bread.


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berry tart – tastiest little red and blue baubles i’ve ever eaten in the month of december.

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i carried quite a belly around with me the rest of the day – but that’s okay because driving all over los angeles and laughing loudly count as exercise, right?

the swell season

happy monday, guys. (sob.)

i don’t know about you, but i think conan o’brien is tops in all sorts of ways. i caught my dad (who is usually full of puns and cheesy humor) laughing aloud while watching him on tv one night, and it was like all my world had come together and been made right.

anyway, despite all that, i’ve felt like his new l.a. set has produced a lot of awkward musical segments, which is especially sad when it’s an artist i know has the live performance thing down tight. i don’t know what happens; i just find myself thinking pretty often after watching a performance, “well, that was a weird one.”

perhaps things have improved since i watched more regularly – or maybe it’s been my imagination all along – but i caught a performance recently that really did it right.

the swell season playing “low rising.”


their song really rose to fill the space.

first rain

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talks me down

sings me to sleep

dusty’s bistro

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dusty’s bistro is on a weird corner in silver lake – really quite toeing the line between hipsterland and the streetz – and you might find yourself having to park on a ridiculously steep and winding side street wedged between some trash cans, wheels turned to the curb and everything… and once you get inside you might find that it smells kind of musty (at which point you decide to take a seat outside)… but it’s okay. just go once, if you’re ever in the area. order yourself a croque madame. (i suppose a croque monsieur could be magical too, but why deprive yourself of a fried egg.) and this is what will arrive at your table.

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looks pretty good, right? if you’re into that whole broil-my-cheese-topped-sandwich-until-it’s-beautiful thing. okay, just wait.


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still good. getting deliciouser.

now, look:

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there’s MORE broiling. those overachievers…

and if the layers of texture aren’t enough (crispy-crunchy-chewy-soft-crispy-again), they go and use the most phenomenal swiss cheese ever. i don’t even like swiss cheese, really. it usually has this bitter tang that goes blehh all over my tongue, and i don’t appreciate it. but this one – i don’t know. i had half a mind to flag down our waitress and ask her where the restaurant gets their cheese, but i was too busy chewing and expressing my pleasure in snorfles and borderline inappropriate noises. next time. there will be a next time.

p.s. and i haven’t even mentioned their quaint little bread basket…

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i forgot what kind of bread we decided that was, but look at the little spread selection: orange marmalade and fig jam. who does that. i mean, really.

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obviously we were fans.

bacon, eggs, and dreams

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mornings. remember those? because i had kind of forgotten their appeal. i’m back to being a night owl these days, because it’s just so darn easy to slip later and later, deeper and farther into that cave of pointless internet surfing and all that magnificent tv streaming online… but early this morning i pulled myself out of bed and out the door to have breakfast with an old friend. that’s as good a reason as any to break a bad habit.

as i’ve mused of before, i have dreams of moving out of the city… my little blue box of an apartment has its charm, of course; otherwise, i wouldn’t have set my bags down and stayed here so long. but i tire of coming home so late these days to a neighborhood where a girl in heels parking her car in the dark and then click-clacking her way to the front door – well, it’s not exactly safe.

i have a dream home in a dream city: one with a porch in front and trees all around, a fireplace inside and great big windows that let in the light, and beautiful hardwood floors throughout. pretty recently, though, i had decided to push the dream a little farther ahead of me. despite the job upgrade i’m still not making enough to get there on my own. but this morning, i’m suddenly feeling just a tad closer to that dream.


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in catching up with my friend over some bacon and eggs and cups of strong coffee this morning, i discovered we both wanted – anxiously – to move to the same area. to drop the parts of our lives we didn’t quite like, keep the parts we did, and move on. because as undecided twentysomethings, that is our luxury.

that’s the nice thing about seeing an old friend again: sometimes, despite losing touch, you find your lives have been pulsing to similar rhythms. the lessons you’ve learned mirror each other’s; your farthest-reaching dreams somehow coincide.

so, folks, the dream lives on. despite being young, independent, carefree (“carefree”), etc. etc., sometimes the hardest thing for me to remember is that forever hasn’t happened yet. life is full of surprises and sudden little tips and twists. and some of them are bound to be the good kind.

short intermission

this song. i’ve got it on repeat, in my heart.

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