Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: friends

Denver Trip, November 2014

In November, I visited Chelsea, one of my longest standing and bestest friends, at her home in Denver, CO. It was a spontaneous trip, whose incarnation went like this.

Me: H and I would love to visit Denver in the spring.

Chels: Well, what if you planned to come with H in the spring, but first booked a trip in the next few weeks…by yourself?

Me: Um. Actually, sure. I could totally do that.

That simple. Being 30, with a steady job and few responsibilities has its perks. Spontaneous travel to see one’s best friend is one of them.

Over the 4 days, we hung out at her apartment, sampled a bunch of beer, visited the famous Fancy Tiger craft store and made our own crafts at Upstairs Circus (a bar with crafts? crafts with a bar? whaatttt??), ate VooDoo Doughnuts (my first one) and tacos and fancy pancakes, had an amazing dinner with probably too much wine, visited the Dushanbe Tea House, talked about and browsed books, and spent some serious quality time together.

Chels’ apartment is all of these separate rooms laid out in an L-shape, with wood floors, very tall windows and a cozy, old-building feel (nothing like we have in LA). The VSCO app filters on the photos remind me of the cold outside and the warm, heated air inside. It makes me miss fresh air, brick buildings, snow… and Chels.

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Piqued

Had a super productive week both at work and home because I am traveling a bunch in the next 2 weeks. By the time you read this, I’ll be in Denver visiting my friend Chelsea, where apparently it’s going to be a low of 14*. I’ve packed 3 sweaters and my puffy down “sleeping-bag” coat to keep me warm while we bike, eat, drink tea, and spend mucho quality time together.

Ah, the dark, dark nostalgia. Hey Arnold! characters all grown up.

This tweet.

And also my Twitter conversation with Yvette Nicole Brown where we chatted about the Serial podcast. She is my favorite guest on the Talking Dead (she has pages of notes about each episode).

OMG the Serial podcast. Hoping to write a longer post on this eventually, but I am loving the narrative form, the voices, the music. I don’t care so much about the who-done-it as much as the storytelling process in the series. The Slate Serial Spoiler Special is the podcast-about-the-podcast and a critical discussion about both the unfolding of the reporting and the way it’s being reported. So meta.

New moon in Sagittarius today – the questing sign.

I share Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook statuses (stati?) a few times a week. I love her updates, her words, her take on life.

We saw Interstellar last weekend (I liked it, was glad we saw it in the theater too) so of course I am drawn to stories about people’s experiences in space – An Astronaut Reveals What Life In Space Is Really Like.

On the last two nights of my final flight, I slept on the flight deck, my sleeping bag strapped beneath the overhead windows. The position of the shuttle put Earth in those windows, so when I woke up the whole world was out there in front of me—in that moment, just for me alone.

And cuz I’m not one to miss a list: The Top 10 Mistakes in Behaviour Change (and How to Avoid Them). My favorite is mistake #4 “Trying to Stop Old Behaviors Instead of Creating New Ones”. This def works for me. I like how he included further reading links.

And on that note – Can Absence Make The Mind Grow Fonder. I’ve found when I stop consuming something (purchasing clothes, drinking alcohol, eating Oreos, posting on Twitter etc) I don’t miss it. Yes, there’s the initial moment of going for the thing and realizing it’s not there (or I made a choice to avoid it) but then after even a few short days, it’s like, whatever. I do agree on the substitution part, which supports what I liked about mistake #4 in the above paragraph.

Have a great weekend xo

Piqued

From last weekend’s cuddle-sesh

It was a short, 3-day work week and I loved every minute of it. One of the rewards of travel is that my normally aloof mutt becomes very interested in snuggling (see above).

Now on to the links:

Happy Writer Mama wrote up An Introvert’s Guide To Retreats (With People) but I’d say it’s a great list to keep handy for any situation where you have to meet a lot of new people, especially people you want to be hanging out with.

Guuyyyyyssss, I love post-apocalyptic stories + Walking Dead zombies and Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors, so it’s only natural that I share her short how to survive a zombie apocalypse appearance on BuzzFeed.

Tom Hanks is obsessed with typewriters. The cooler thing? I’ve gotten to see some of them because of my cool music industry-related job. Now if only he’d been working the day I was at his office… This NPR Book News link also covers Ann Patchett’s comma correction and Lena Dunham’s rage spiral. Obvi.

20 Animals with Majestic Hair. My sister texted me this link and I actually laughed out loud, multiple times. I feel like at least half of these animals’ internal dialogue is just “FML”.

For a happy Justine, sleep is the 2nd priority, coming in right below food, so it’s no surprise to me that sleep-deprived bees are not able to give their little waggle directions as accurately as their well-rested counterparts. (I wish this article was longer. I love bees.)

My friend T sent me this link about how introverts interact differently with the world, including an ah-ha moment for WHY I SIT NEAR EXITS. “When surrounded by people, they (introverts) locate themselves close to an exit…Whether it be by an exit, at the back of a concert hall, or an aisle row on an airplane, they avoid being surrounded by people on all sides”.

New motto for life: avoid people on all sides.

And random share here, but @danlongo ‘s tweets are hilarious. We’re like, almost real internet friends b/c he’s friends with my actual internet friend Ciara.

And that’s that. Happy weekending xo

Day Alone – Last Bookstore

Since yesterday was Veterans Day (and work was closed) I took Monday off as well, creating a 4-day weekend (after 4 days of travel for work). It was the perfect way to get grounded.

I did a HITT exercise, gave the dog a bath and then ran 2m with him. I met a friend pretty early for breakfast at Paper or Plastik Cafe (where the “no laptop” pic was taken above – Hi Julie!) and then picked up a weaving Jessica O’Brien made and gave away for free via Twitter (heart the Internet).

Some time that morning I thought about The Last Bookstore in downtown LA – I’d never been. Having the entire day to myself seemed like a good enough reason to go.

The drive downtown was pretty easy with the help of GPS and I found a metered spot across the street. #bonus

Inside it is all sorts of used-bookstore-goodness. There are shelves and shelves of books, grouped in the usual categories, but the endcaps had random assortments of new and used volumes. The tables in the middle held art or coffee table books – the themes not entirely obvious at first glance. There were a bunch of very worn, very old chairs strewn around, some with people lounging and reading. And there were PA speakers set up, with a random playlist going, though I caught some Conor Oberst, which made me super happy.

I walked around for over an hour, collecting a few books that I thought were worth owning. And by worth owning, I mean, books whose pages I may want to write in the margins of. I love reading but I don’t buy books often anymore. In the interest of more open space in our apartment, I gave away most of my books in the past few years – getting our living room down to one bookcase and the bookcase upstairs holding other things besides just books.

But that dry, paper smell of stacks of books? That never gets old.

I drove from the bookstore to a Starbucks. I tried writing some, but my brain felt so overwhelmed with ideas, it seemed blank. After an hour of scratching around, I left to pick up groceries.

At home I unpacked the groceries, biked the dog around the neighborhood, cooked Mexican food for dinner, and pulled the 9 of Cups from the tarot deck: It is a sign to enjoy the abundance of life and to feel each of your emotions as if you had never felt any of them before. See the perfection all around you.

Yes, another day alone. Just like my day in Pasadena last month, it was a much needed luxury of spending time with myself, and creating space to just be.

Perfection.

Busy, Simple Boston Trip

Another trip to Boston for work is in the books.

This trip was quick and dirty – flew in on Monday after the weekend in Joshua Tree and seeing Jimmy Eat World again – worked all the hours Tuesday through Thursday, and flew home Thursday night.

Glad I went to sit in on a few important meetings, connect with colleagues and bounce ideas around. It was gray, dark and chilly – it poured the last day.

Highlight was getting to meet Lindsey of A Design So Vast in person – yay for meeting people from the Internet. She was just as engaging, kind and thoughtful as her writing portrays her to be. So thankful she made the time for me.

I broke out the puffy coat for the cold, did HIIT exercises in my hotel room, tramped around in my new maroon boots, and made sure I ate a bagel with lox. I consumed many chai lattes, didn’t drink too much this time and ate seared Ahi tuna steaks at more than one meal. I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for a glazed donut and hot tea, sipped french onion soup and spoke to 5 student groups. I had dinner with one of my best friends and heard about her wedding plans and hung out with her puppy for a few minutes. I got to hug my two favorite colleagues. I had deep conversations with people I consider mentors and friends.

My flights felt long, but were as easy as flying across the country can get.

I stayed up too late and didn’t get enough sleep.

Once student event had a small number of people show up and my presentation wasn’t working – so I decided to improvise. The the fire alarm went off, forcing us to change locations. Somehow, we all reconvened and the students who stuck around said they really enjoyed the entire event. Proud of myself for going with the flow.

And lastly, when I tried to catch a cab in the rain to the airport, there were no cabs to be found. A women, my age or younger, was also waiting. She said she was going to call an Uber and that I could tag along with her. I didn’t get her name or info but I’d like to send her a thank you for that ride – which was quick, warm and got me to the airport with plenty of time.

Life is so simple and easy at times, just going with the flow.

Move-A-Body Friend

I’ve been waiting patiently for months for today.

The day where I wish my friend Chelsea a happy birthday, and explain to you what a move-a-body friend is.

This is not my term. Brene Brown coined it:

When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, is able to bend and, most of all, embraces us for our strengths and struggles. We need to honor our struggle by sharing it with someone who has earned the right to hear it. When we’re looking for compassion, it’s about connecting with the right person at the right time about the right issue.

We need a move-a-body friend.

(She continues to tell a story about a friend needing help moving her passed out alcoholic mother off the sofa before the kids get home from school)

“I’d call you because you would come right away, give me a hug, never look judgmental or disapproving or disgusted. And then you’d say, ‘Let’s do this.’

And that’s what I’ve decided Chelsea is for me. Someone who embraces my strengths and struggles and continually shows up for me as a friend.

I feel utterly responsible for so many people. People naturally trust me and share their honest and weighty experiences with me (many times without my prompting). This is part of my superpower, part of the service I bring to the world, but damn, if it doesn’t get tiring.

I was just talking to Chelsea the other day and said that it seems I don’t have a need for physically close friendships. Maybe because I’m an introvert, or spent so many years without best friends, or am close with my siblings, or have Henry, or because talking is my love language…

I have many female friends. Loving, deep, important, close, supportive – these are all words that come to mind for the friendships I keep.

But, while I need and love my female friendships, I don’t need them to be in my physical presence. I go to work and call one of them. While I’m driving I call another. We Skype, we text, we write emails and letters and Gchat all day long… but I don’t see many of them in person often.

And I haven’t seen Chelsea in years. So it’s only fitting that, at the strongest our friendship has ever been (at least, I think), I booked a plane ticket to see her this month. To visit her in the city she’s made a life for herself, meet her boyfriend and cat (though you could argue order of importance there haha #joking), and spend quality time with her.

Y’know, make her laugh in person. It’s gonna be awesome.

We met working retail in Boston. It was my first and only retail job. Our boss was a fucking nutcase, one rude comment away from full on sexual harassment. Chels and I bonded instantly with sarcasm, high levels of work and ridiculous chocolate chip cookies from the mall food court.

She quit. Then I quit. She left Boston. I left Boston. Maybe I left first…? And we stayed in touch.

I moved to LA. She moved to Denver. We stayed in touch but somehow had a fight, then a falling out.

And then, after some long cooling off period, we got back together. She is one of two friends ever that I’ve had more than one fight with and yet we continue to stay friends.

Lately, we talk multiple times per week for hours at a time, text every day, rely and depend on each other the way only close friends do. I can be my full, real, honest self with her. She shows up for me. And I hope I do for her.

I don’t think I have ever felt so fiercely about a friendship.

So, here’s to you Chelsea. Happy Birthday! Can’t wait to celebrate it with you in person in a few weeks xoxo

Piqued

Twas a good week, finally. Yay.

Steph was back in town – we walked the neighborhood, watched Elizabeth Gilbert on Super Soul Sunday (highly recommend) and took selfies with Carter Cash.

Balance to the Universe restored.

I booked a flight, pretty much on a whim, to visit my friend Chelsea in Denver. Hi Chels!

We still have absolutely ZERO plans for Halloween. Maybe b/c we have to be up at 6am the day after.

And I’m getting some quality home alone time while H is at a math conference with his best friend.

Here are a few links for you this weekend:

7 Strange Questions That Help Your Find Your Life Purpose. While I’m so over the self-help culture and how it’s exploded into a black hole of lists to make you feel bad about how you’re living your life, these questions are funny and thought-provoking. Enjoy.

Found Shoestring Adventures (total weekend warrior porn) because they interviewed on of my fav bloggers ever Jillian Lukiski. She’s a metalsmith, blogger and photographer who lives and breathes nature, takes amazing photos and writes like a banshee.

“I make what I make because I live in the interior West and this space has carved my spirit and my life. This is the land I know by heart. These are the mountains I hike and run and ski. These are the trees I know by name. These are the wild animals I watch and cherish and hunt and fish and witness and take into my own life cycle on a daily basis.”

My college roommate and I knew this, but coloring is soooooo relaxing. I can just smell the crayons now.

Some straight office/productivity advice: don’t answer emails that lack questions.

And a little combo of hippy and good advice – do it anyway.

“At one point, she (Cheryl Strayed) was talking about uncertainty, about how to keep going when you don’t know how, when you aren’t sure of the outcome, about how to take that step when the deck is stacked against you: she said that you have to say a prayer to the god of doing it anyway.  You have to take a deep breath and go for it even though you have no idea how it will all turn out.  You have to find that teeny bit of faith so that you can take the very next step.”

I usually don’t link to funny videos, but H and I couldn’t stop laughing at this kid:

 

#30daysofdresses – day 12

Where in I get to spend an entire day with one of my best friends from college…

(Technically, this is day 13 but I have yet to get a photo from the work event for day 12’s dress, so yeah.)

Saturday morning we were up and out fairly early to pick up Jo & L. Jo and I have been friends since freshman year at college in Boston. (Also, she sang at my wedding, so she’s kind of a big deal.) They were visiting LA this weekend and had all day Saturday to hang with me.

We took them up to a short 3m hike in Malibu to see the ocean view through the haze, back to our house to drop off the dog, and out to Plan Check Kitchen for lunch (one of my fav burgers ever). Jo thanked me for “not killing” her on the hike and we reminisced about living together and tried to catch up on all the people we know collectively from that time. We ate burgers and drank Mexican Cokes out of glass bottles. We talked about music and our parents. We filled each other in on work, school and daily lives. We shared our dreams of relocating, living near friends, getting out of the cities we’ve been in.

We took the afternoon off – H gave Carter another bath and I vacuumed and finally put down some diatomaceous earth on the throw rug to combat the fleas (note: now 3 days later, this seems to have worked #boom). We showered and napped.

Back on the road, we picked up Jo and L and took them to Wurstkuche for beer and brats. When we walked into the back a dj was spinning, the lights were low and the room noise was loud, full of people talking and eating. “Welcome to the quintessential LA restaurant,” I said to Jo. She ended up being too full from lunch to finish her brat. L ate two brats and drank two beers. He was a fan. We spotted the cool chick who cuts our hair and waved to her from our table. H came back from getting a glass of water smiling – and pulled his wedding band out of his shirt pocket – where it has been “lost” for at least 6 months.

Jo and I traded stories of ruining things because we’re clumsy. She spilled a bottle of carrot juice and also dumped a cup of coffee into their bed. I said, “Pen. Everything I own is covered in pen.” H nodded in agreement.

Our last stop was to an improv show – can’t beat $10 for an hour of laughter. That’s where we took the photo above. It was awesome to be with someone who’s known me for so long.

When we said goodbye, we hugged tightly and whispered good things to each other. I’m so proud of where she’s going and what she’s doing – and happy she’s happy. Lindsey said it best in her post I linked to this weekend on friendship:

“I’m always amazed by how swiftly we slip back into comfortable patterns and by how easy it is to be around each other, because so much of our history is known and doesn’t need to be explained.”

It’s been two years since we saw each other and it felt just like it used to when she’d walk into my bedroom (which was the living room of our 1-bed split) and sit at the table, eating breakfast and talking my ear off about how she couldn’t find her shoes… or keys… or homework.

I didn’t know it then, but the friendships I made in college truly shaped who I am today.
Love you Jo
xoxo

Piqued

Well gee, all the good energy I wrote about last week seemed to fizzle and evaporate this week. It was a rough one. Not sleeping well, anxiety, crying – and no real explanation for it. I could’ve written about it, but with two work events and the general feeling like crap, I just didn’t.

I can tell you what helped though, after the fact: seeing my therapist (objective, yet supportive, sounding board), spending an afternoon with Billye and her dog in the pool, having helping hands at my work event, having one gal tell me she was floored by my abilities in my work, taking a full day off, and getting 10 hrs of sleep.

Top that all off with climbing Point Dume again last night, the hardest I think I’ve ever climbed outdoors (!!!), and a belly full of pizza and Mexican Coke, and I’m finally feeling normal again.

Here are a few links that made me happy this week:

I’m a fan of the Japanese, and if there’s one thing they do well, it’s spotlighting adorable animals… like this Shiba Inu WHO WORKS AT A STORE. Carter knows how to close a cabinet door, so the next likely step is to have him open a slider and poke his head out like this kid. Canine help you? I die.

My friend Stephanie (you may remember when we said our goodbyes) is kicking ass and taking names at her accelerated program at John Hopkins University  (b/c she’s a smarrrrrrteeee) and she’s blogging for them. Read why she decided to leave LA and become a nurse, with all the humor that makes me love her to death.

Another adorable dog story (I can never get enough) that turns out is maybe a hoax, but I don’t care b/c LOOK AT THIS BEAGLE. Who cares if he doesn’t actually work for the airline / return lost items?? The last 10 seconds? My heart bursts.

But in real news, Leo has a FULL BEARD. While he makes a wonderful speech about climate change, I could not stop staring at his facial hair and man-bun. He is my absolute favorite since I was about 13, so I’m rolling with this new look. True love, I know. Other people think his beard must be stopped. I can’t believe he hasn’t made it on this Tumblr yet: Fuck Yeah, Men With Buns.

And for something more on the serious side – or at least not dog or man obsessed – I liked Paul Jarvis’ post Do What You Love which opens with this quote by Mika Tokumsitu: “If we believe that personal fulfillment is really the ultimate purpose of labour, then who do we expect to do all the other jobs that are not so existentially fulfilling?”

Jarvis goes on to write:

Find a job that you don’t have to worry about when you’re not doing it. Or a job that doesn’t make you miserable every single day. And you’ll be far better off than a lot of folks.  As I enjoy telling my wife, work is called “work” and not “super happy fun time” because often it’s just tasks that need to be done. It doesn’t mean your life is less meaningful just because your job lacks existential value.  You aren’t your job. It doesn’t have to define you unless you let it. Plus, you can always do what you love in your spare time. I do.

Last but not least, I found Retta via Instagram where she shared the story of a few monarch butterflies in her garden. It’s inspiring to see these small projects she’s documenting. I’m also enjoying her blog Will & Wanting.

Have a good weekend xo

See all Piqued posts.

Fire Crags & Tri-Tip

During the wedding weekend, we had all Saturday free. H thought it would be cool to meet his colleague B for a climb in Santa Barbara. B suggested Fire Crags on Painted Cave road off Highway 154. We looked it up online and gave a thumbs up via text. Our plans were set.

We arrived around 9:30am with the sun was already blazing, flies buzzing around our ears. We parked the two cars in a pull off on Painted Cave road and got out to look for the trail. We couldn’t find it at first and thought maybe it was further back down the road. Back into the car, and rolling slowing down the steep road, we looked for a possible “hairpin turn with a pull-out on the left”.

We saw another dirt spot and parked again. H and B headed down what looked like a trail going west to see if they could find the actual rock wall.

After about 5 min of hiking, they came to a crag with a view, and bolts in the face. This was the spot we were hoping for. I could see them off in the distance from where I waited near the road (in the shade, shaking my hair to deter the flies). They came back out, we parked both cars, and started unpacking the gear to carry back down the trail.

The trail was pretty clear, if narrow, and we made it back to the crag in good time. The trail leads to the top of the routes and then you hike down a bit more to drop your stuff and climb. You can set some of the routes from the top, no lead climbing needed.

B set the ropes, explaining his plans to H. Recently, H bought us a rope, so we’re starting to learn how to set up our own top-rope climbs. But this is nothing to mess around with – it’ll take time and practice to learn and stay safe.

Luckily, the rock face blocked the sun. We climbed for over 2 hrs before the shade disappeared. It was a gorgeous, hot day to be out in the woods climbing rock.

The climbs were challenging, especially for me. The sandstone wasn’t as sticky as other rock I’ve climbed. The height of the route wasn’t too bad – all of them are pretty short (maybe 50 feet or less). But the view out towards the ocean was disorienting. It made me feel like I was up much higher than I actually was.

The heat + lack of sleep + poor nutrition (aka not enough food / water and drinking the night before) pretty much ruined my endurance. It took me a long while to get up the first route, which was the easiest to climb for the day. At the top I was shaking so badly, either from exhaustion or adrenaline (from the perceived height) that I couldn’t walk backwards off the ledge to come back down. It took me a few minutes to be calm myself enough to be lowered.

H had a better time of the routes, though he also felt pretty exhausted. With more experience B was able to climb the routes with minimal struggle.

I did pull a cool move on one route, trying to get up and out of a “cave”. I ended up working this problem for a bit, trying different combinations of hand-holds and foot positions. This was super fun, and the most I’ve worked a route in an outdoor setting.

Climbing is a physical sport, but I love the mental challenge of it – being on a route and not knowing where your next move is going to be. In the gym I tend to climb routes I understand before I’m even on them, but when you’re outside, you don’t know until you’re up there.

Two days before, we climbed Point Dume, and we were pretty spoiled to climb outside 2x in one week.

Being out in the woods, working my body and sweating in the sun, is such an amazing break from the day-to-day drama of work and household crap. Even though we were exhausted afterwards, it was so worth going.

We topped the afternoon off with trip-tip sandwiches at the iconic Cold Spring Tavern, just down the road from Fire Crags. Talk about a time warp. Established in 1865 during the stagecoach era, the property has a few buildings, all of which look like they’ve never been renovated. There was no a/c in the bar, where we ordered from a few of the beers on tap, and received a ticket for the trip-tip, which we then took to a BBQ outside. It’s popular in the central coast to have salsa on your tri-tip – this is the Santa Maria-style BBQ.

We ate our sandwiches in the shade, at a picnic table, with cold beer in plastic cups, and a blues band of 50-something year old men playing out front. Motorcycles lined the dirt parking area and kids ran around parents eating at their own tables.

It felt like a mini-vacation and the perfect way to break up the more social, busy parts of the wedding weekend. H drove us back down Hwy 154, and we switched drivers at the 101 north on-ramp. He slept while I drove us back up to Santa Margarita, listening to the college radio station play The Weepies and Joan Baez.