Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why I Write.

I'm planning on making a YouTube video on this topic, so I thought I'd collect my thoughts here.

This is such a complicated, multi-layered subject. Something you may or may not know about me is that I played tennis for most of my life up until five years ago. My relationship with tennis is tangled and weird and confusing. My relationship with writing is the same, but if tennis is shroud in shadow, writing is cast in light. Although, similar to a yin-yang symbol, neither one is absolute.

There's a picture of me in one of many childhood photo albums where I'm holding up a piece of paper, either the same size as my body or larger, and I've written out my name. I look really pleased with myself. I don't remember how old I am in the photo, but by that point, I was definitely a fan of paper, pens, pencils, crayons, and markers. I was also a little reader. My mom and dad read to me every night--Little House on the Prairie with Mom, and the classic Berenstain Bears books with Dad (we probably read those well past the intended age bracket). Mom liked good stories, usually historical fiction, and Dad liked morals.

I have stacks and stacks of journals (rarely is one completed), containing half-formed poems, songs, and, well, rants. I have a memory of carving several pages worth of my favorite swear word at the time after a row with my dad. I'm aware the narration of these diaries is of very low caliber, and I cringe to think of the spelling and grammatical errors that run rampant. However, these journals are some of the first places I began to organize my thoughts, dreams, ideas, and stories.

I guess you could say I was drawn to writing even before I understood what the craft entailed. I wrote with free abandon, letting the words come out of me. I did nothing to organize these nebulous lines; my poetry was horrible. My reading was of similar low station (although there are exceptions)--I gulped down shitty young adult fiction, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the more literary texts we read in school. I simply did not consider that I could read classics on my own. I did not know what contemporary fiction was. And I certainly didn't read poetry on my own. Although I loitered the poetry section of my local bookstore, whenever I leafed through Whitman or Plath, the obscurity of their words shut me out. I desperately wanted to "get" it, but I did not.

I joined a writing group in high school, and this experience shaped me irrevocably. I tend to hyperbolize, but this is not an occasion of that. Here I learned to give shape to my words--not well, but the idea was laid down. I rubbed shoulders with wonderful, intelligent, and kind people, and created lasting memories of good conversation over warm cups of coffee after the café had closed. It was a safe space for me to go when so many other things in my life were uncertain.

I knew I was an English major before I even knew what majors were. Right before I formally submitted the paperwork, I flirted with being a Philosophy major. But that only lasted for a moment, and so I embarked on my English-majoring journey. Additionally, I went into college with a Creative Writing concentration and thoroughly enjoyed my introductory course despite the abundance of nursing majors who where there to fulfill their humanities requirement. Studying creative writing in college and taking workshop-based classes helped me sharpen my style and voice and taught me to read widely. I did a directed study in which I observed my advisor write a non-fiction book-length piece, and the thesis statement of that reflective essay essentially reads, "in order to do the thing, you must do the thing." A writer writes.

Am I writing? Yeah! Not as rigorously as some, but consistently enough. I could always write more. We all could. Yet I have my goals and my projects and I chip away. And that is good.

But why do I do the thing? It's like this--because I want to. Because despite the blood, sweat, and tears, it mostly brings me joy. Because if I don't do it, I get cranky. Because it's an outlet. A call. A religion. (Haha, maybe. I don't know). (But it is definitely those other things).

Why do we do anything? I think we are responsible for creating the meaning that is the lining in the fabric of our lives, and so because I attribute worth to writing, that is why I find it worth doing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Curry, Broad City, and Rebel of the Sands

I can't believe that basically a month ago I turned 24. March happened in a blink of an eye. I know we still have a week of it left, but it doesn't feel that way. Spring always does this to me. It works on super speed. The end of summer and beginning of fall fuse and meld into winter like melting chocolate on a double broiler. It takes FOREVER. And then all of a sudden it's spring and I get really busy, like I'm making up for being a slow, lumbering hermit for four months, and before I know it it's the summer and I'm laughing and living and sweating but the sweating feels good--like I've worked hard for it and everything has been building up to this moment.

Anyway, happy spring to you.

Last week I got paid (I get paid every week) (but as I'm saving money, this pay period was specifically for grocery shopping) and I went grocery shopping, and I spent $20 AND GOT ALL OF THE VEGETABLES, because Quality Food Center has this amazing discount shelf where they bag up really ripe stuff in .99 cent pouches, and they also mark down anything that's on its way out, AND they have a section in the back where you can get dented canned food for like .43 cents. So, I took my loot home (strapped to my back as I biked) (yes, I'm trying to make this sound more epic than it actually, probably was) and made curry for the first time.

I'd gotten a Whole Foods voucher for my birthday, so in my pantry tomato paste, curry powder, and canned coconut milk were already waiting for me. What I really enjoyed was taking the time to cook a hearty, amazing-smelling meal. Chopping vegetables. Simmering the onions with the tomato paste. Cooking down the squash and parsnips. Etc. (I don't know if there is a "real" way of making curry, so I'll omit a step-by-step rendition to avoid offending anyone). By the time it had finished cooking, I was excited to eat my late lunch (it tasted delicious) AND at that point I had two weeks of food to get through. I put half of it in the freezer and I have been slowly making my way through it.

Last weekend was crazy. I did ALL THE THINGS, it seemed like. I got a stout with Emma and Aaron a day late to celebrate St. Patty's day. Then I slept over, got coffee with Dane, then we met up and got lunch with Emma before going to the Aviation Distillery gin tour and tasting, then Emma and I had another cocktail, then we went back to her apartment to have grilled cheese and watch Futurama, then Aaron and I took my bike to the bike shop, then Aaron and I met Laura and Tyler at Apex and had drinks and nachos, and then I went to Laura and Tyler's to try Laura's red velvet pancakes, then I slept over, then I hung out with Laura, Penny, and Stella while Laura made zucchini bread, then I ate her zucchini bread, then I biked home and made a YouTube video, then I relaxed and read before this crazy week started.

This week I've had extra hours at work since the kids are on spring break. After work, I have had no energy for anything besides eating and curling up into a ball to watch TV or read. I have been watching the third season of Broad City and if you haven't checked it out I say you should. It's a semi-sketch sitcom of two best friends living in New York City, and it's sort of the more realistic middle-class, aware of its privilege, funny version of GIRLS, but totally its own thing. It's produced by Amy Poehler and really great fun.

I've also been reading Rebel of the Sands and oh my God, I just finished it earlier this evening (you can read my review here), and I loved it. It's everything I want out of YA and more. A girl from the desert is desperate to get to the city her dead mother always used to talk about, but when the opportunity arises and she finally escapes her small town, she is swept up into the legends of her people and the war of her time. Boom.

READ IT. Do it. Doooooo ittttt.

That's what I've been up to, people. These next couple of weeks I am going to lay low, copy-edit, and chill until Tom comes to visit. TOM IS COMING TO VISIT IN BASICALLY A WEEK AND A HALF. I'm super excited! We're going to take over Portland by storm.

More soon. Xx.

Two weeks ago I went to a beer and doughnut festival if you can believe it!

David visited me in Portland and we drank wine and ate abandoned peanut brittle. This may or may not have been on a bus. We also did lots of other fun Portland-y things!

Emma and Dane at the gin tasting!


Friday, March 4, 2016

Slow TF down.

This morning I woke up with the worst head cold and sore throat I've had in many a year. I don't think I have a fever, but I am currently experiencing what could be politely called a heat flash. I have been drinking orange juice all day, sleeping, and I chewed through an entire bag of Ricola lemon-mint cough drops (the best part of being sick). I also re-watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and I get it now. It's a good movie. Visually, story-telling-wise, sound track. Just, Ferris is a dick. Has anyone noticed that? He takes advantage of and manipulates the people in his life to have a good time. Yes, they usually experience something awesome that they otherwise wouldn't have, but still. Using your friends is dumb. He sort of redeems himself at the end when he apologizes to Cameron for getting them in trouble with the car. But do the ends justify the means??!!?!??!!?! Answer me that, blog-reader friend.

Sanne at booksandquills on YouTube recently made a video about Helmiku--this series of videos she does every February. The video is a vlog in which she and Marion go to Brick Lane AND GET RAINBOW BAGELS. I have always been attracted to colorful foods, despite the fact that food coloring does not enhance taste or texture in any meaningful way. But let me live out my rainbow food fantasies in peace, please. In my half-awake, half-delirious state, I have googled "rainbow bagels portland." This is what I found:

Portland Bagel Company makes a rainbow bagel. It's not the same as the one on Brick Lane, but the shop's cream cheese flavors are promising and--

Oh my God. I was going to talk about how I never go to NW Portland and it would be good to have a reason go adventuring up there. But I just realized this place is in North Bend, OR. It's not even in Portland. It takes three hours to drive there by car.

Wow. Now half of this blog post is irrelevant.

You know what? I don't even care. Basically, I wanted to tell everyone that it's important to listen to your body and relax. Because if you don't slow down, your body will. And then you'll be bed-ridden, writing shitty blog posts about rainbow bagels you cannot even get to realistically. Although, if Ferris has taught me anything today, it's that I should live a little. Anyone up for a road trip? After I've recovered, of course.

Sending out my love!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February update.

I feel like the second half of January and the first half of February happened so fast. 

What is time?

What have I been up to?

I took a little break from Writer's Forum.

I've been reading quite a lot (as the library in Portland is phenomenal).

I started a second babysitting job.

I cat-sat some more.

I've consumed a lot of coffee.

I've been writing.

I've been making YouTube videos.

I went to St. Honoré on Division with Emily and we had a delicious French feast for lunch.

I've been missing Europe.

I've been hanging out with friends.

We've had some good life/philosophic/travel-related chats.

I've been Instagraming.

I've been hanging out with Sunny, Emily's dog.

We have gone on several walks.

I used the dog-treat bowl at my bank.

And that pretty much brings us up to date.

Oh, and I've been copy-editing as well.

I'm turning 24 in 9 days.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Year of Listening: Audiobooks I Consumed in 2015

I drafted an outline on this topic for a YouTube video, but when I finished writing it, I realized I had too much to say for one video. I decided to write a blog post instead.

Early last year, many YouTubers made videos sponsored by Audible in which they discussed using a free trial and what their experience listening to audiobooks was like. (Amy Poehler's Yes Please had just come out, so many people reviewed that book; I haven't listened to the audiobook, but it's read by Amy and I hear it's great).

This exposure to Audible and some other various factors persuaded me to get an account. And thus, I started my audiobook journey.

I first downloaded Rooms by Lauren Oliver. This is the story about two ghosts who watch as a family cleans out its late father/ex-husband's house. Gretchen at ChicNerdReads had recommended it in book form, but for some reason I decided to listen to it. I think I thought it wasn't the type of book I'd normally read myself, but I'd be willing to have someone read it to me. Whatever my thinking, it doesn't matter: this audiobook is fantastic. The vocalists' performances make the book come alive. Rooms has multiple points of view, and each point of view has its own vocalist. The drama of the story is based on who knows what information and each speaker does a wonderful impression of the other characters--it's not corny at all. I would take long walks home from work just to listen to Rooms, and it really left me with a positive impression of audiobooks.

After Rooms, I tried picking up Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper, but I really didn't like the performer's style, nor was I partial to, to be frank, the sound of his voice. I think I'd enjoy the story--a woman, who has never before seen the ocean, decides to go see it and just packs a gun and some chocolate and starts walking--but in text. I took a lengthy hiatus from audiobooks after this mishap.

I had purchased The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling the previous year for when my mother and I cleaned and painted our house in Vermont. We put it on in the background, but we were always in different rooms and could never really commit to the story. I am so glad I gave it another go because it is incredibly heart-breaking and important. The writing is an example of Rowling's range as an author. Just because she's known for a heart-warming fantastical children's series doesn't mean she can't point out and look directly at so many messed up things in the very real world. Tom Hollande is a wonderful vocalist--each character sounds distinct and is recognizable without sounding artificial. Also, this story made me cry to the lyrics of "Umbrella" by Rihanna. The detail and complexity in this book is remarkable. However, it is not for the faint of heart. A listener must be in the right mindset.

Next, I dipped an ear into The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey. It is a fresh look at the zombie apocalypse. I'd heard about this book through Jen Campbell on BookTube and was determined to give it a listen. Sadly, it took me forever to get through it. Partly because I was busy, and partly because I went back and forth between listening to music and listening to the audiobook while I was in transit, which is where I get most of my listening done. I do think, however, that the story itself is somewhat slow. While it is beautiful and sad in an eye-opening way, the tension takes a while to build. There is steady psychological and mental conflict, but the action is sparse. This does not necessarily make it a bad book, but maybe this style of book isn't conducive to a positive audiobook experience. By the time I got to the conclusion, I felt let down. It makes sense, but it didn't touch me in any lasting way. I wonder if I would have felt differently if I had read it, and in a shorter span of time.

I took a couple-month break before diving into The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. This is a sort-of-psychological crime thriller, and I don't want to say too much more because it is best to go in knowing very little. I adored this audiobook. And, I'd go so far as to recommend you listen to it in lieu of reading it. There are three female vocalists and they all do an amazing job. So amazing that they got in my head and made me question my own sanity.

Next, I listened to Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. This book is great fun--Mindy reads it herself, and as a professional comedian, she delivers. Her advice and experiences are intriguing: this book is a solid choice for anyone interested in Mindy's work, the entertainment industry, and how to be a successful person. Mindy's writing has such a distinct voice that if I had read the book, I would have been able to hear her on the page. Her actual reading of it adds a nice touch to the whole experience.

Finally, I have listened to The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer three times now. This audiobook is changing my life. You should listen to it. Everyone should. I talk discuss The Art of Asking in more detail here: Feel free to check it out.

So, what have I learned about audiobooks from my year of listening?

There is not necessarily a particular genre of book that is more or less compatible with the audiobook format; however, slower-paced books, such as The Girl With All The Gifts, might be more enjoyable in book form.

A vocalist's performance can make or break an audiobook. Rooms by Lauren Oliver isn't a book I would have normally picked up, but the vocalists kept me interested in the story they were telling.

I want to listen to more psychological thrillers, because, during The Girl On The Train, I enjoyed feeling connected to the characters--like I was gaining access to the inside of their minds--through an audible voice.

Listening to an author read her own non-fiction piece can have its perks--Mindy Kaling makes one or two side-notes that aren't in the book-version of Why Not Me?, plus some of her friends read parts of the book where appropriate, including B.J. Novak. In The Art of Asking audiobook, some of Amanda's songs are played in-between sections. And yet another bonus? You get to hear her Neil Gaiman impression.

It's difficult to say which books should be listened to instead of read. Of course, as a reader-listener, you have your own taste--you have to experiment to see which things work for you. Some people really like listening to memoir or other non-fiction books, but I'm not sure I'd be able to pay attention for that long. Some wonderful books have terrible vocalists; often you can sample a piece of the audiobook before purchasing it. I'd recommend listening to these clips--it's pretty easy to tell how you like someone's voice right off the bat.

I'm going to continue listening to audiobooks to see where they take me. If you're an avid audiobook listener, what sorts of things do you prefer to listen to? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know. Either way, happy listening!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

On Being Homeless.

Yesterday, I slept in my bed for the first time in a week, then promptly re-packed my bags and headed out again (after a load of laundry, a stop at the bank, a cup of coffee). Point is, I've been moving from house to house for dog-sitting, and now that I've done it for several days, I have a system down:

1. Always pack extra socks.
2. Take the bus when you're transporting your laptop and soluble instant coffee from house to house. (I don't know if anybody's ever told you, but it rains Portland. A lot.)
3. Do not pack food. That shit is heavy, and there are several grocery stores in walking distance from where you are staying. 

Bonus from dog-sitting (besides cash dolla dolla bills bills)? I've learned that I love dogs. I'm still more on the cat-person side of the pet-owner-identity spectrum, but let's say I'm a Part-Time's my job.

When I moved to Sellwood at the beginning of December, I was delighted to have a room of my own again. My own bed. My own space to think in. A place to display my books (read: NOT stuffed in my suitcase). However, I quickly recognized some drawbacks to living in Sellwood: it's sort of far away from everything. And the buses are expensive and run irregularly. And even with the Springwater Corridor bike path, which cuts travel time in half, it often (surprise!) rains here, which I'm not about to bike in.

So, if I want to go out, I either have to leave early enough to catch a bus, get a ride, or sleepover at a friend's house. Sleepovers can be fun, but there's that moment the next morning when all you want is your bathrobe, or a clean pair of socks (which you forgot to pack), or your own bed to laze around in.

Before Sellwood, I'd been crashing on friends' couches for extended periods of time, and I am grateful. I would not be where I am now without their abundant hospitality and aid. I've enjoyed living in their living rooms, on their futon and couch, curled up with their furry friends. Seeing them every day--getting a chance to chat about whatever--has brought us closer, and it has also helped me process my headspace as I barrel onward in my life-journey. (Thanks again, guys. You know who you are).

Before that, I'd stayed at my parents' house for several weeks. Before that I'd moved from Daphne's flat in Nice, to another Niçoise flat--taking residence in a friend's room to split rental costs. I had my own bed, and lived there for several months, but it still felt temporary. In Scotland, I stayed in a hotel, a hostel, Natalie's parents' house, and one night, after a jaunt in Glasgow, on her friend's couch. In London, I stayed with Tom. I have not really not lived out of a suitcase since residing at 5 rue delille.

College was a longer-term temporary situation. I knew I'd be there for a while, but I was also aware of an end date. Hartwick is where I perfected my moving skills. That first semester, I co-inhabited a dorm room with my randomly-assigned roommate, Danielle (we're now nerd-compatriots), yet I quickly realized I needed to join the environmental campus, Pine Lake, after my tennis teammate took me there for a day trip one weekend and we made pumpkin soup with Ashley and Casey in Outback 1 (or was it Outback 2? I can't remember). After finals, Emily's mom helped Emily and me shuttle our belongings to our double in the Lodge. Summers, I boxed up my stuff and either packed it in the trunk of my mom's Toyota Highlander, or moved it, one or two parcels at a time, to my room in the Farmhouse (the Pine Lake summer staff house). Each semester I schlepped my books, bedding, random array of collected furniture (a rocking chair, a beat up arm chair, a rug) from Lodge room to Redwood 1, back to the Lodge. I went to Paris and packed minimally, taking on the French mentality of employing several basic, essential items of clothing, and accenting these with the orange and green scarf Shannon brought me from India, and my Salvation Army trench coat, and my sturdy black clogs (which served me well, carrying me across miles of Parisian cobblestone). 

I came home to the Cozy house in Oneonta with my one suitcase, stuffed with the books I'd acquired from patroning Shakespeare & Company. That was a great summer of barista-ing, beer, and trampolining. Then, one late-August morning, Shannon lent me her car so I could bring my many (sarcasm) possessions to townhouse A5 for senior year. I made a home with three hooligans: Olivia, Ben, and Aaron, and enjoyed providing refuge for stranded Pine Lakers whenever they needed a place to chill on campus. I stayed in townhouse A5 all year, and that was the longest residence I'd kept since moving to Litchfield, Connecticut with my family in 2009. 

Litchfield sucked. I managed to get a part-time barista position at Common Grounds Café, which allowed me to save my own money--(most of which would go to a J-term trip in New York City the following year), but I was still battling my parents for independence; I underwent non-stop identity crisis (there was never a dull moment); and it took me the entire year to find people I could be myself around. I still resent Litchfield to this day. I'm trying not to be so bitter about it, and in many ways the struggles I endured have helped shape me--for the better. What I struggle to understand is why so many of the people I met in Litchfield were assholes. Maybe my judgement has been clouded by retrospective, residual angst, but I feel like my peers could've been more inviting. Sure, there was the brief let's all meet the new girl phase, but no one really cared to get to know me. Not for a while, anyway. I just wanted to be seen, and very few people took the bait. (That being said, here's a huge shout out to Katie, Bridget, and Chris for encouraging me to air my freak flag in their presence. Thank you, guys, for making me feel not so alone).

Vermont, although it's going on six years since I've had an 802 area code, has the closest semblance to home. This is where I grew up. Where I fell in love with bookshops. Where I became a vehement devotee of cheese, maple syrup, poetry, mochas, skiing, New England weather in all four of its glorious seasons, sustainability, and community (although I wouldn't be able to articulate my appreciation for some of these things for some time). It's where I met my best friends, started second families, and built pockets of support systems. Vermont is where I first planted the seeds of wanting to become an artist.

Syracuse, the city in which I was born, feels as foreign to me as Mars. I have a mild interest in it, but no burning desire to visit any time soon.

This pattern of migration didn't start with me: I come from a family of nomads. My grandfather on my father's side was the son of a marine officer, and they moved from place to place all his life, until Granddad started a family with my grandmother in Ithaca, NY. My grandmother moved from Decatur, Georgia to Miami, Ohio, to Ithaca--this is where she raised her children and began her role as a grandmother--before moving to Sarasota, FL. And, of course, my mother, youngest of eight siblings, saved her money to leave Brazil and move to America...where she met my dad. My parents began their relationship in Washington D.C., went to Cincinnati for a bit, and then lived in Syracuse, which, if you've been following the story, you'll correctly guess is where me and my sister came along.

You can probably see why I have a difficult time answering the question, "So, where are you from?" When I'm living abroad, I have the opportunity to respond simply: Je suis américaine. But if people inquire further, things get messy. "Oh, I grew up in Vermont, but I've been living in ______," or "I grew up in Vermont, but my parents moved to Connecticut when I was a senior in high school," or "I went to college in upstate New York before teaching English in France last year and then for a couple of months I lived in a small town nearby where I went to college before moving to Portland. Cooperstown? It's where you'll find the Baseball Hall of Fame." I've always struggled with this question, never able to give a one-word answer.

Where am I from? If I'm being honest, I think the truest answer is that I'm not from anywhere. I'm homeless. Or, hometown-less.

I was talking to Tom about my hometown-less-ness, and he mentioned that the nomadic thing is an American thing. He has a point. The draw to discovery and adventure--to the west! To fortune! To fame! is an American quality. Plus, America has a wonky workforce narrative. People follow jobs, and jobs crop up depending on opportunity--across miles and miles of country.

For a long time, I'd been sort of sad about not having a hometown. But I've realized that many people aren't necessarily proud of their hometowns. In fact, a lot of American short stories, novels, poems, and plays all depict youngsters desperate to leave wasted-away, one-stoplight townships in search of something bigger. I need not cite fictional stories; my aunt Robin left small, college-town Ithaca for the Big Apple. I actually wanted to leave Vermont while I was living there. Everything is SO FAR AWAY. NOTHING happens here. I'm so BORED. Of course, promptly after leaving I realized Vermont is a beautiful, liberal utopia.

Many people leave the place in which they grew up in search of something else. Something grand. Something that fills them up and forces them to grow. People may not know why they want to leave, exactly, but they feel a call. So they go. And by leaving, they turn to homes fabricated, nestled in-between the cracks of the road. Sometimes home is on the road, in the form of of a car, ox-drawn wagon, minibus, or motorcycle. Many of the homes I've found and co-created I mention, in some form or other, in the story above: Pine Lake is a big one. 5 rue delille. Cozy. My friends' living rooms. But more so, many of these homes haven't been in actual houses. They've been found in relationships with people. I feel part of and rely on communities when I need support, comfort, a shoulder, a pillow, a ride, a conversation, a coffee, a hug, a kiss, a memory, a dream. These connections, lasting or temporary (oftentimes dormant for months before resurging when I need them most), are my homes. My many various, montage-y, bespeckled homes.

So, I'm not really homeless at all. Not really. I'm home-a-lot.

As I continue through life, I hope to maintain my open membership of these magical places. At some point, I'd like to have a homebase--where there are shelves to store my library, an open bed for a visiting friend, a kitchen for cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, a table for hosting pot lucks, a pillow to rest my weary head, a desk for working, etc. But home, simply, will always be, as it always has been, where the heart is. Awwwww. Aren't clichés nice?

I love so many of you and I hope you find the comfort and warmth you seek from your various homes; I hope you keep making new ones; and you are always welcome at mine.

Be well, and here's to a home-filled 2016!

Bonus. Have a poem I wrote:

I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!!!

Happy Boxing Day!

I hope you are having/had a lovely time with friends and family even if you couldn't make it home (like me). There were a couple of moments where I was quite sad about being away from my family, but I'm happy with how my festivities went down.

I have made a vlog in which I take you with me out and about on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which I will link below. I'm currently dog-sitting two dogs, Indie and Sunny, and they have been wonderful company. (Professional furry cuddlers are always welcome). The house I'm staying in has a beautiful tree, and the owners let me have some friends over. I entertained! I wore a party dress! I love playing host, and I must give my mother a shout out, as she taught me most everything I know about party presentation, even though she didn't host that often when I was growing up.

Christmas Day I had tofu scramble, vegan peanut butter cookies, mimosas, and coconut milk nog with Aaron and Emma. We swapped some gifts, and Emma remembered me saying how each Christmas I get a haul of Burt's Bees in my stocking which gets me through, chapstick-wise, each year. She and Aaron got me a stick. <3

In the evening I went to the Sellwood house (where I live normally) and had Christmas dinner (ham!) with my Portland family. I was a little loopy from not getting that much sleep the night before, so when we played some games after dinner that required me to think I was a little slow, but I got into the groove and by the end of the night Steve and I (we were partners for this game, I forget its name, where you have to get your partner to guess the name of a famous person...similar to charades but it's its own thing) dominated.

Then I came back to let the dogs out and had a wonderful sleep.


I've been listening to Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking, and the experience has pretty much gone like this:

1. Amanda tells a story about her life.
2. She explains how this is related to her philosophy on love and community.
3. I cry, smile, laugh, nod, mutter "Hmm" or shout "YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
4. I am left with a warm feeling in my heart and a huge love for this crazy, intelligent, kind, thoughtful, encouraging person I've never met.
5. I am filled with inspiration to create, create, create, for and with others; share, share, share; which is to say love, love, love.

If you're looking for a good New Year's Resolution, I'd say you should listen to The Art of Asking on audiobook. It's wonderful to hear Amanda read it herself, plus there are bonus clips of songs she's written in-between chapters.

Friendly reminder, if you love someone, just tell them. If you're scared, that's okay. It makes it more real.

Be patient and kind with loved ones. I know family and friends can get on one's nerves, especially when politics is thrown into the conversation. But life is way too short to let that stuff get in the way of our happiness.

I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Christmassy Vlog: