Mary Oliver died yesterday. I’m not sure that I have anything particularly grand to say about her that hasn’talreadybeensaid.
I’m not sure if he did this, but I asked Chad to pack Dream Work in our hospital bag. Sometimes when I’m particularly miserable he reads me poetry and I thought it might be something that’d help during labor. I’m not sure if he actually packed the book or not, because the whole thing went kind of off the rails in ways we couldn’t have predicted, and during the worst parts I didn’t want him to leave, even just long enough to cross the room to grab a book.
The last few weeks have been wild, and I have been nothing if not married to amazement. May it ever be so.
I’ve often thought of the line I quoted in this post since I wrote it. Sometimes, all that is left to do is to say, like the sea, “Excuse me, I have work to do.”
I’m not sure I was really present for this year, and I am still stunned by it. Last year, I was in too much of a difficult spot to stick to my usual year-in-review format, so I copied Austin Kleon’s 100 things that made my year strategy. I’m not sure I’m ready to really write about this year (it has been a time), either, so I’m gonna stick with the listicle again. I like reading back on what I wrote then, and remembering the flashes of joy and small habits that helped me survive.
So here’s this year’s. 100 things that made my 2018:
Brunch at Cafe Lift and a cat cafe visit for my birthday.
A day in Harrisburg, working at Little Amps and Midtown Scholar. The milkshakes at the Farm Show.
The Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day, like we used to in college. Only this time it was in a tiny room in a huge bar. I missed this tradition.
Dipping my toes back into interviewing for full time jobs rather than contracting.
Asheville. Walking miles and miles that day. Taking a conference call outside of a Sheetz off the highway between Carrboro and Asheville because there was an outlet there and my phone and computer were dying.
Registering for my first in-person creative writing class since college. Finding out that had I not registered, they wouldn’t have met the quota to run it. Having it not be as terrifying as I’d feared. Surprising myself by being able to churn out things I didn’t totally despise when given an assignment and a deadline.
Julien Baker. Seeing her by myself at the Chameleon.
Cheese hour. Shortlived, though it was. Perhaps we’ll be able to revive it this year.
Finding a nonalcoholic drink when I needed one on the menu at Shot and Bottle. They’ve since sadly taken it off the menu.
Getting the balcony fixed. Living on the balcony all summer. Working on the balcony, even when it was too hot. Enjoying the cats enjoying the balcony. Writing on the balcony. I miss it now that it’s cold.
A wedding parade through Center City Philadelphia, complete with Mummers, a police escort, and out of control boob sweat.
My beloved tradition of Terrain brunch on the fourth of July, because no one else goes there that day.
Exhaustion in the Frankfurt airport. Pretzels. Nearly missing our flight to Florence.
Uttering the “p word” only twice. Once when a tourist in PHL asked me why I was refusing the x-ray machine at the airport (it probably would have been perfectly fine, I know), and again when I was trying to figure out if I could eat carbonara in Rome. It’s hard to be anxiously cagey and intentionally vague when talking to people in their second language.
Teaching with Girl Develop It, both in Philadelphia and in a women’s prison in Delaware. Seeing people realize they can do something they maybe thought they couldn’t is one of my favorite things.
Burger night work night at Molly’s. A stressful schedule. An overcommitted partner.
Gestation that feels like it’s taken forever and only just started, all at once.
Boundaries. Enforcing them.
Giving myself space to want to have a home on the internet to come back to. Not forcing it. Procrastinating long enough to figure out if I actually want it. (I think I do. I actually think I do. I miss it. More on this later, maybe.)
The decaf frozen latte at Mean Cup. I’ve ordered it when it’s below freezing outside. I can’t let go of it for some reason. It’s become a weird anchor that I look forward to, especially after going to the gym.
Letting go of freelance/contracting life for now, and embracing being in-house somewhere again. It feels good to get paid regularly, work with a consistent group of people, have clear expectations, and well-outlined projects again.
Finding out that Chad has a paid paternity leave.
Maintaining a regular gym schedule, even after not freelancing full time anymore.
An (temporary?) end to the medical-related financial strain of the last couple years.
An end to the unpredictable trips to Philadelphia.
Brunch at Goldie’s for a bunch of weekends in a row after it opened.
Another Yoder reunion in Belleville at the creek with my maternal grandfather’s family and the hundreds of relatives I have because of his parents. Hymns in four parts with almost the whole range of Amish-Mennonite types represented. Moon pies. Endless soft serve.
A beautiful roofdeck in Old City with friends.
Maternal Fetal Medicine and a very encouraging perinatologist.
Going to MilkBar and The Strand at every opportunity while staying near Union Square. The first onesie we bought at The Strand.
Spending time with friends at their lake house in the Poconos. Spotting a snake. Floating in the lake for hours, stupidly letting my growing belly get sunburned in a weird pattern. Discovering the joy of grilled cheese with hotdogs in it. Trust me on that one. #campfood
Seeing The National for the fourth? Fifth? time at The Mann. Wondering if it’d be the last show I’d get to see for awhile.
Seeing Of Montreal at The Chameleon in Lancaster. Wondering if it’d be the last show I’d get to see for awhile.
The Call Your Girlfriend live show in Philly. Wondering if it’d be the last show I’d get to see for awhile.
Brunch with new friends on their beautiful deck.
Learning to try to be ok with people showing their support and accepting their congratulations and happiness for us. Accepting their gifts and food and favors. It still makes me wildly uncomfortable, but it is so kind and the smallest acts still just blow me away.
Internalizing that I owe no one on the internet anything. Figuring out boundaries around what to post. Settling on no kid pics online, at least for now. Maybe this will change, but I’m not counting on it.
Chad singing “This Must Be the Place” over and over to see if she (who we referred to as “they”) would recognize it when they emerged. (So far, it doesn’t seem like it’s working.)
Peeking at the ultrasound when the techs told me not to look at the screen. Thinking multiple times a week about emailing Penn to find out the sex, even though Chad adamantly did not want to. I somehow didn’t cave.
Eating too much Chik-fil-a, mostly for the milkshakes.
Making time to read more, perhaps due to knowing that it’ll be harder to lounge around and read books now.
I take the end-of-the-year recap post seriously, but to be honest, I could not stomach putting one together in my usual format. 2017 has felt like a year of private horrors to me, and I’m not interested in reflecting on how little I feel like I accomplished because my energy and effort were needed elsewhere.
But then I stumbled upon Austin Kleon’s 100 Things That Made My Year post, and thought, “Huh. I wonder if I could possibly come up with that many things.” Spoiler: You’re reading this post, so you probably already know that the answer is, shockingly, yes. So here we go.
Croquetas, papas bravas, tortilla de patata, and… empanadas. We ate lots of empanadas in Barcelona. No, they are not Spanish, but there was a great empanada place in El Born. We stopped there probably once a day.
Going back to that shoe store three times to make sure Chad had the right size. And the shoes we got there. And our interactions with the shop keepers.
The Keystoner Amtrak Line.
Hearing angelic female vocals and harp music in an alley in Barcelona and being pulled into a private house show.
Our history lesson from the bartender in an empty cafe bar on the origin of the name for a ham and cheese sandwich in Barcelona.
The feeling I had walking around Les Corts when we first got to Spain.
Revisiting Needles and Pens in SF and being so thrilled that it’s still there ten years after our first visit.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks. This might be the last thing I post here before moving all these archives somewhere else that feels less…. on display. I’m not wild about having work stuff in the same space I want to be able to write in, and honestly, I think it deters me from posting sometimes. I’ve been thinking about moving stuff around for awhile, and it might be time. We’ll see what happens.
Happy 2018, y’all. I’m wishing you warmth, grit, and some magic for the new year.
It’s the weekend! To celebrate that, and my tentative (semi-regular?) return to this space, here’s good things from this week.
I’ve written before about the desire to be untethered, but also rooted deeply in a place. This appeals to the former, and brings attention to nomad women, rather than the usual tech bros in Bali or Chiang Mai.
I’ve been reading Sarah von Bargen’s blog since forever (or 2010ish?), and she’s always got good tips that actually feel accessible. These are the habits she’s cultivated that support her business and creativity.
A quick search revealed that I already linked to Joan Didion’s piece, “On Self-Respect.” But it was back in 2012, and I think we could all use a reminder of how brilliant she is. Has anyone read South and West yet? I’m hoping to get my paws on it soon.
A local photographer in Lancaster took the photo that is the prompt for this microfiction contest! Entries are due by July 21st.
I’ve mentioned Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead before. Chad and I go through it together around every New Year. She just released a companion, a mid-year check in workbook. I’ll be going through it soon, hopefully this week.
Bonus: I spent almost all of last weekend sprawled on a blanket in our yard, reading with the cats. It was glorious.
We had people over the other night. We grilled hamburgers from my parents’ farm, and melted cheese on them. Cooper sharp. It’s the best. Chad grilled some squash and made a salad. I made dessert, which we didn’t end up eating. So now my house is full of dessert, which I don’t mind at all.
Chad had been wanting to do this the whole time we’ve lived here, over a year. I’m resistant. I’m anxious about hosting for a number of reasons. Maybe I’ll share more about that sometime. Chad would often want to text a bunch of people and see who was available. I told him I needed more warning. Plan something ahead, and add it to my calendar so that I had time to mentally (and culinarily) prepare.
It was fun! The cheeseburgers were delicious. Our guests brought some tasty wine and beer. The squash was somewhat undercooked, but whatever. I hadn’t really thought about where we’d eat, but it was a nice night so we stayed outside. We have no patio furniture yet, after over a year. Patio furniture is expensive but optional and house upgrades are expensive but not optional, and also I don’t know what I want yet. So we huddled around a makeshift coffee table in various folding and kitchen table chairs. It worked out. It was fine. Nice, even. And resulted in a potential new friendship.
Today, Chad is in New York. It’s been a really beautiful day. Kind of hot, but it’s cooling off now. I’ve been enjoying the solitude. I kind of want to go to First Friday in this cute little city, but I kind of want to sit quietly in my backyard and drink wine with my cats. I said so on Twitter, and asked if anyone else would want to also sit quietly in my backyard and drink wine with my cats. But it turns out most people in Lancaster are not on Twitter and thus will not see my open invite.
I think it’d be delightful to have an unplanned Twitter cat salon, as Lauren put it. But it might not be able to be unplanned, or organized via Twitter.
So. Does anyone (please no rando internet creeps, though) want to sit quietly in my backyard and drink wine or La Croix with me and my cats at a mutually agreed upon time in the future? Conversation optional. Feel free to bring a book. Maybe there will be dessert.