On Monday, Kelly and I were talking about how crazy it feels that we’ll be turning 23 this year. As she shared with me her “life plan” for the next 7 years of her twenties, I felt this bubble of panic rise in my chest. Before I turned 20 I was so excited for adulthood. I imagined where I’d be living, what work I’d be doing, what kind of fun things I’d get up to. Suddenly I’d be wise and successful. Everything I touched would turn to gold. And while many of my teenage dreams have been realized (college degree, boyfriend, Berkeley living), I don’t feel that balance or togetherness that I also imagined would accompany twentydom. In some ways, I feel much more confused now than I ever did when I was 17. Because now I’m not naive enough to think that by 26 I’ll have it figured out. Or that when I reach my 30s I’ll achieve that zen-like balance that I thought was part-and-parcel of growing up. Blerg-pants.
Today, my good friend Meghan shared this beautiful quote on her blog and the sentiment really resonated with me.
Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and listening to music that for some reason is really getting to your heart. You’re just standing there thinking about going to work and picking up your dry cleaning. And also more exciting things like books you’re reading and trips you plan on taking and relationships that are springing into existence. Or fading from your memory, which is far less exciting. And suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. There used to be the comfort of a number in your phone and ears that listened everyday and arms that were never for anyone else. But just to calm you down when you started feeling trapped in a five-minute period where nostalgia is too much and thoughts of this person you are feel foreign. When you realize that you’ll never be this young again but this is the first time you’ve ever been this old. When you can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done. You’re going to breathe in and out. You’re going to be fine in about five minutes.
As Ingrid says, all we can do is keep breathing. In fact, let’s listen to her and cry/breathe a while together.
Top image via Claire Cottrell
Like many students, every winter throughout college I migrated back home to stay with my family for the holidays. The break would last about a month, wherein I would get horribly sick (let’s face it, I’d probably had a total of 5 hours of sleep during finals), lounge around the house in sweatpants, drink tea with my high school besties, and de-compress/de-stress from my grueling college semester.
I’ve now been out of college for over a year and am happy to report that, while I no longer get horribly sick when I return home (thank the heavens), for the second winter in a row I have had the luxury of spending 2-3 weeks with my family in their home on the Central Coast.
Now, if you’re still in college, you might not realize how envious some of my working friends are of my vacation situation. For most of us when we enter the working world, “winter break” becomes a phrase of the past. Instead of a month-long chill-sesh in December and January, one must continue with one’s job, hopefully getting the chance to spend a couple paid (and heavily rationed) vacation days with family and friends at one point or another during the holidays. This is the life of the working college grad. This should be my life, but for some very lucky reasons it has, blessedly, not been just yet. Here’s why:
My first year out of college I was lucky enough to have a boss who understood the necessity of being away from the freezing-ass cold of West Philadelphia in December and let me take a very generous break to be with my family in California (for the record, I did get some work done…some). Technically, I was on a paid vacation and, technically, I should have only been home for a week or less (thanks, VISTA), but, happily, I was able to have a “winter break” like the college kid I still felt I was. And it was lovely! When I returned back to work in January I was ready to tackle whatever grant proposal came my way! I had had my flu, I had relaxed deeply, and I had visited with the high school buddies that keep me going. It was great!
After my service year ended, I was lucky enough to have a “summer break” (read: lived off/spent all of my meager savings) before beginning work as a consultant in August. And then, due to the contractual nature of my new job, I received this wonderful little break in December, which meant, and means until next week, that once again I am on “winter break” when really I should be slogging away at an office somewhere wishing that my weekends were two days longer.
So, while I do not know how long this job will last and while I have yet to figure out my professional goals in life, I take comfort in the knowledge that while I am in this tele-commuting ”free-lance consultant” unstable/confusing/and bizarre point in my career, I get to spend my days wherever the fuck I want (ahem, can afford). And this holiday season, I am spending them curled up on the couch in my parents’ family room, trying to make out the words on my computer screen over the intense glare that is coming from the window behind me. It’s a rough life.
Yes, there’s a part of me that wishes I had a career with a steady income, but there’s also another part of me, and, let’s face it, in this moment a much bigger part of me, that’s so dang pleased that I get to spend this long stint of time back home. Maybe I’ll have normal adult vacations in this new year. But right now, I’ll bask in the glory that is free-lance employment and enjoy the last few days of my break. Suck it, bitchez.
Image via b$/ram
I have been on a This American Life listening binge over the last few days (chock it up to a new discovery, a cold, and how gosh darn amazing this show is!). Engaging and quirky ethnographies on the radio? Be still my Soc/Anthro-major heart. I JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH! If you are like me and love TAL to pieces (IRAAAAAA) or, like me two days ago, have heard great things about the show but have never listened to it AND would be willing to give it a try, I’ve compiled some of my favorite episodes for your listening pleasure. The goodies:
Oh, and the one I’m listening to right now 246: My Pen Pal. Enjoy!
It looks like I promoted our family to luxury camping status a wee bit prematurely. While we do camp quite comfortably we do not bring along an RV camper with Direct TV.
Is RV camping really camping? There are no tents involved, you don’t get cold at night, you can do the dishes inside, and you have a private bathroom.
Although freezing my bum off at night (dependent on camping location), washing dishes at the watering hole (usually a shared spigot), and peeing in the woods (which can actually be a rather freeing activity), are not my favorite aspects of the camping experience, they are a part of the experience. And I would not give them up for the world! (That last sentence should be read with a weepy British accent.)
Our campsite was located at the far end of the campground and was completely shaded by trees. While it would have been great for 75+ degree days, the incredible shade proved to be a little too chilly for our stay. Every morning and afternoon we followed the sun with our chairs, chasing dapples of light and trying not to freeze in the dark.
Despite the sun hustle we did do some major relaxing. I’m currently reading the Tom Robbin’s book Skinny Legs and All and was able to give it some quality attention during our trip (more on that book later). Additionally, I did some old man chair snoozing by the river. Lovely.
In my book, the best part about comfort camping with my family is the food we eat. Dad usually BBQs skirt steak and baby back ribs, delicacies we normally don’t have at home. This year (mostly thanks to Mom) in addition to the meaty goodness (grass fed and hormone free) we made some mean mashed potatoes and yummy salads. Every night was a feast.
Though we generally get our relaxation on by sitting for prolonged periods of time, my family also enjoys walking and mild physical sport. After reading books and soaking our feet in the river for most of the first day we decided to shake a leg and head out to Pfeiffer beach. Dad, Jay, and I threw around the Frisbee and scared Mom and sitting strangers by often sending it their way. “Heads!” was shouted repeatedly. Thanks to the wind, Jay and I were forced to conduct several Frisbee rescue missions up in the cliff walls which turned out to be a lot of fun.
To celebrate Mom’s July 1st birthday we ate a delicious breakfast (sausage, eggs, and toast) and left the river for the coast. Our main stop was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park where we hiked the short but fricken sweet McWay waterfall trail.
The Big Sur coastline boasts one spectacular view after another. From the Park we departed for Nepenthe Restaurant where we ate a delicious birthday lunch from this vantage point.
All in all the trip was grand. Never mind the freezing bums, peeing outdoors, and cool shade. We relaxed, we had fun, and we ate well. We saw turquoise water and we celebrated Mom. And we liked the campground so much that I’m sure we’ll be back next year! However, next time we’ll check the weather before we book our site. We don’t want to have to chase the sun!
We’re off to Big Sur this morning! Our plan was to head out on Tuesday but the rains came to the central coast and we decided to spend the day and evening indoors rather than in tents.
Our family is fond of what we call “comfort camping.” Comfort camping requires a van packed to the brim with items and a great deal of maneuvering. Jay and I maneuvered this morning.
I won’t say anything cruel because I too enjoy the comforts of camping with all the amenities. In addition to the essentials we have, well, a lot of other things.
This year I believe we outdid ourselves and so I will now promote us to “luxury camping” status. We have raised the roof, so to speak.
While I’d love to write more about this long awaited camping trip, and the strength required to prepare for it, this post is actually dedicated to praising Ip Man. Ip Man is a Chinese martial arts film that Jay and Papa introduced Mom and I to last night. And it was incredible. Actually Ip Man was great and Ip Man 2 was incredible. Yeah, that’s right, we watched both last night. And I highly recommend them.
Jay wants me to note that in order to fully understand and appreciate Ip Man 2 (which is the incredible one), one must watch Ip Man first. You will cry, you will cheer, and you will shout Ip Man’s name from your seat on the couch. Ip Man, Ip Man, Ip Man!
P.S. Rated R for cringe-worthy violence.
Summer Travel Adventure Stop Numero Uno: Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Eric and I arrived in Albuquerque Tuesday evening (last week) after three non-adventurous flights from Philadelphia (non-adventurous meaning no crash landings and minimal turbulence. Woohoo!). After we successfully spotted our backpacks at the baggage claim, my Aunt and Uncle picked us up and took us out to dinner at Farina, a wonderful pizzeria downtown. Sharing family style, we split two insalatas and a mozzarella, goat cheese, leek, scallion, and pancetta pizza. So yummy!
The fires in Arizona have brought considerable smoke to New Mexico. On our drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe we saw a blood red sun disappear behind the mountains, the color distorted and magical.
Wednesday morning was spent relaxing at my Aunt and Uncle’s beautiful adobe-style home just outside of Santa Fe proper. Their front yard has a magnificent view of some of the mountain ranges that surround the city. We had our granola and yogurt breakfast outside in order to further enjoy the view and we’ve done this several mornings throughout the week, clear air permitting.
Now that it’s basically over, I can officially say that the first Summer Travel Adventure Stop has been so much fun! My Aunt and Uncle have been incredibly generous with their time, taking me to all the coolest places. Sadly I don’t have the patience, sorry Ma, to go into everything we did in detail but I’ll gloss (maybe more than gloss in some places) over the highlights.
(a note about the photos: they are all from Santa Fe and are in no particular order)
On Wednesday, we…
- Explored downtown Santa Fe and visited some of the old adobe buildings and historic churches.
- Sent Eric on his merry way to Earthship Biotecture in Taos.
- Had a beautiful dinner at La Fonda’s La Plazuela where I received some awesome graduation presents including The Passion Test, which I’ve been meaning to read/actualize in my life.
On Thursday, we…
- Celebrated my uncle’s birthday by travelling to Ojo Caliente, a mineral hot springs north of Santa Fe. The springs have flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years and each pool has various combinations of four different types of mineral waters: lithia, iron, soda, and arsenic. On the wall by each pool is a placard that suggests the restorative properties of the springs. For example, the arsenic spring is said to relieve arthritis and heal a variety of skin conditions. Woot woot!
To be honest I can’t remember Friday so I’m skipping it.
On Saturday, we…
- Went to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market, which was incredible! Santa Fe boasts one of the most widely recognized farmers markets in the US and I’m not at all surprised. (Side note: as I was typing just now a huge raven took off from its perch outside my window and no more than a few seconds later two small white pigeons took its place. Such a difference in size and coloring. This perch is a great flocking zone!) So many vendors so little time! In addition to the outdoor market, which has tall metal awnings to protect sellers and buyers from the sun, there is an indoor market and eating area.
- Walked around the Railyard Park which is located right next to the market. Actually, the park and the market are all a part of The Railyard, which is a 13 acre protected space. The park is absolutely gorgeous and full of boulders, trees, xeriscape plants, and modern outdoor architecture.
- Went thrifting all over town, starting at Double Take and ending at Barkin’ Boutique, a non-profit that gives its sale proceeds to the Española Valley Humane Society.
On Sunday, we…
- Did a mad search for the Santa Fe Quaker House only to not find it. Hopes in no way dashed, we took off for the Santa Fe Friends Meeting on Canyon Road, which was easier to find. What a beautiful Meetinghouse!
On Monday, we…
- Went to Taos! Unlike Santa Fe, which is surrounded by desert land with mountains on the horizon, Taos is situated at the base of a mountain range—the Taos Mountains. We spent the afternoon visiting the Taos Pueblo, which is a living Native American community whose multi-level adobe buildings have been inhabited for the last 1000 years. When we arrived at the Pueblo some of the community members were taking part in the San Antonio Feast Corn Dance (though I didn’t learn of the dance’s name until just now). After the dance had moved to another part of the Pueblo, we walked around the buildings. Because they are constructed out of adobe they require constant upkeep, meaning that the walls must be regularly replastered with a mixture of clay and straw. And the structures are still standing! It was truly remarkable to be in the presence of such ancient and beautiful homes. Although tourists can explore parts of the village, most of it is off limits. Additionally, tourists are restricted from bringing cameras and cell phones into the area. I overhead several tourists complain about the limited view, which I found wholly ridiculous. With foreigners taking over almost all of the land it seems fair, fair being a non-optimal word here, that there is a space that non-native peoples cannot enter. The Pueblo is not just an attraction; it’s a home. And we should unquestionably respect that.
- Traveled over the Rio Grande Gorge to visit Eric at the Earthship World Headquarters! After a week constructing, hiking, and playing in the dust, Eric was super sunburned and super happy. It was so great to see where he’s been working and to visit the hive, a crazy Earthship where all the interns live. I’ll post more about this trip later.
Tuesday (today) has been very lazy. My Uncle and I went on a walking tour of Santa Fe this morning (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and I’ve been vegging out reading Skinny Legs and All and writing/editing this post since we got home around noon. Very very chill.
Tomorrow I leave for Santa Cruz, California—the next stop on the Summer Travel Adventure. Though I will miss the desert grasses, sagebrush, and beautiful mountains, I am looking forward to going home.
Oh! And in case you’re wondering, the “Tumbleweeds, Prairie Dogs” title comes from the “Santa Fe” Rent lyrics that have been playing in my head all day:
Do you know the way to Santa Fe/
You know, tumbleweeds, prairie dogs/