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7 days, 11 states, 1 new year || east coast new year

We had stopped to get coffee.

But then there was the issue of bagels.

And we really needed to get one of those auxiliary audio cords so we could connect our tunes to the car radio.

And what about snacks?

We had only been driving for 1 1/2 of what we calculated would take 12 hours to get from the southern end of Florida all the way up to North Carolina. Then the following day, Sunday, we would be driving another 12 hours to get from there to central New Jersey. (The “pretty part of New Jersey” as all New Jersians described it to me. Subbing that phrase in for where a cardinal direction might normally take residence.) And then, the day after that, was New Year’s Eve. And we had the very ridiculous idea that we should take a train into New York City to celebrate. And go to a concert in Brooklyn. And take another train back to New Jersey after the concert, which would almost certainly be in the wee painful hours of the morning.

But first, before all of that, we had to cover 768 miles of ground. Between the coffee, bagels, audio cords and snacks, I expected we’d arrive by Tuesday.

Have an adventurous weekend, all!

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a close encounter || east coast new year

After the excitement of the past few days, I’m going to kick us back on schedule and publish a few of the posts I had planned before Dan got all crafty and romantic and popped the big question. So without further ado…..

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I spent the last bits of December and the first week of January gallivanting from Florida to North Carolina to New Jersey and New York City and everywhere in between. I have fancy phone photos to share from much of the journey, but first, I have to relate to you this tale of fears overcome and (near) terror realized.

Stage one of the journey brought us to Florida. I am number one a Colorado girl. Number two I’m a northern California girl. A number of my relatives live in California, primarily in or quite near to the Bay Area. As such, I’ve spent many a day near the northern California coastline. If you’ve ever visited that area, specifically the coast itself, you’re well aware that the water is frigid. Bone-smashing cold. The ocean in that part of the world takes no survivors. I’ve touched the water, gotten somewhat into the water (up to my knees only), and generally enjoyed the water, but I’ve never been fully submerged in ocean water. Ever. (That I remember. I may be blocking the memory, Jason Bourne-style.)

Mostly, I’ve been OK with this status quo. I have a renegade dream to become a full-time surfer, but that misplaced aspiration aside, I really don’t enjoy water. Water and I do not mix. We are not best friends. I’m terrified of the ocean is what I’m saying. (I’d make an awesome surfer, don’t you think?) It’s not that I’m scared of drowning, because that’s really not where the concern stems, it’s more that while in deep water, there’s this great expanse below you that you cannot see. There are hundreds of things (sharks), lurking below the surface (sharks), ready to grab you and you take you to its underwater sea lair (really devious sharks). It gives me the willies, those great depths. (Also, sharks.)

So, this inability to really enjoy the ocean water during my visits to San Francisco never bothered me. I could visit the beach, touch the water at a safe distance, and get all the benefits of beach time without having to worry about actually submerging myself in the water. (I feel I should note that while I severely fear sharks, I love Shark Week. My family doesn’t understand me either.)

But — and there’s always a but — in southern Florida, there are ample opportunities to go all in when it comes to the ocean. It’s warm and pleasant and beloved by all. While visiting Dan’s family there, we spent Friday afternoon at the beach. And sans a good excuse (hypothermia) to avoid getting into the ocean, I feared my time had come. Shark Week was about to get real, I could feel it.

Dan went first. Ever so brave, I wandered a smidge in, up to my thighs. It was a bit chilly, but once you acclimated to it, it was like visiting the neighborhood pool. Comfortable. In temperature anyway.

He went in to just beyond where the water was breaking. “It’s great,” he said, up to his chest in shark haven. He told me it was clear, you could see everything, come on out, the water is fine.

Anybody who has ever seen a horror movie, knows that it is not fine.

But, we had but one afternoon in this paradise. This was my chance for bravery. I got in a little further, and told Dan I didn’t want to fully dive in. I was good. Keeping my head above water seemed like a good priority number one.

“Just run right over to me,” he said, still about 15 feet away and at a depth that was dangerously close to fully submerged. “It’ll be fine, come on.”

“I don’t like this,” I told him. But, I couldn’t very well chicken out. Right? I mean, the odds of seeing a shark or a giant squid or Moby Dick were slim. Dan had spent many a day of his youth at this very beach, in this water, swimming to and fro. So, I reiterated that I didn’t want to dive all the way in, took a deep breath (checked once more for any signs of sharky wildlife) and lunged toward him.

The waves were choppy and doused a good portion of my still not fully wet self with salty goodness. But, I felt exhilarated and bold and after a little while of settling in I thought, I need to do this. Really commit. Dive in, get the full experience, go for gold. So I told Dan: Let’s do this.

We were waiting for a good wave, I turned toward Dan, anticipating his signal, when a look I did not like took over his face.

“What?” I asked.

“Get out of the water,” he said, looking at something just beyond my shoulder.

“You have got to be kidding,” I thought as I spun around to see what had startled him and saw what looked like a gray fin.

Believe you me, I have never been more motivated in my life. Cars that can go zero to 60 in six seconds have nothing on a woman fleeing Jaws.

We stumbled back on the beach and scanned the horizon. There were no signs of any threatening life laying in wait between waves. Dan decided to go ask the guards on duty at the lifeguard station not far away from where we left our things. Upon returning he said the lifeguards expect our finny friend may have been a stingray.

A stingray, guys. A shark. (OK, well at least a relative of a shark.) All my fears, founded. Though not typically aggressive toward humans, these creatures have stingy barbs. And those stingy barbs are, well, stingy.

In other words, we barely escaped with our lives. In all future re-tellings of this tale, there will be a huge posse of rays encircling us with switchblades clamped in their little mouths, while a riff from West Side Story hums over the waves.

Two words: Dramatic license.

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dance parties with pancakes || studio life

Some mornings, you roll out of bed 10 minutes late, scramble to reassert yourself in the land of conscious brain function, and ultimately end up getting out the door with barely enough time to plunk in both of your contact lenses, never mind scarfing breakfast before fleeing.

Then, there are the mornings where you wake up on time — extra time really — but instead of hopping to and getting things rolling, you lay in bed for 25 extra minutes contemplating the likelihood that work would just be canceled that day in favor of kite flying and coffee brewing.  You spend so much time in this state of repose that you inadvertently initiate scenario number one [see above].

Finally we come to the third scenario. It involves pancakes. And dance parties in the kitchen. It requires long mornings and few schedule inhibitions. It invites you to a day of quietude in front of movies and with fine literature in hand.

Such was my Sunday. Simple, easy, jazzy, just as a Sunday should be.

How was your weekend? 

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scuffle and sparkle || a love letter

Dearest friends,

There’s always been a certain sparkle factor that I associate with this season of holiday-ness. There’s a promise of magic and happy tidings, coziness, hot cocoa, parties, bubbly beverages, decorating with twinkle lights and greenery, yuletide coffee (OK, that’s not a thing…or maybe it could be, who’s with me?).

And yet, I know there can also exist a struggle at this time of the year. School semesters are coming to an end which means papers and tests and final exams, finances can be tight, changes are in the air, there’s uncertainty at a new year’s approach, loved ones can sometimes only be reached through the tentative touch of  emails and text messages.

I see this turmoil in the tales of some of my loved ones. I see it in half-hearted, thinly veiled postings on Twitter, Facebook and beloved blogs.

To anyone who is feeling more scuffle than sparkle right now, there’s one thing I know bears true for each of you: You got this. You all have this remarkable capacity for accomplishing bold wonders. Dismay and anxiety, they will grip you at times. And that’s OK. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and freaked out. The trick is to also know that you can and will bust out of those emotions and get to lighter times.

And secondly, be assured that you are not a lone warrior in these moments. You have friends and family who have your back. And I promise, I too have your back. Should you ever need a hand or a heart to give you a boost, I’m your gal.

So let’s grab those coffee mugs and sit down to hash it out. Let’s go on an adventure. Let’s buff out the grime and renew that sparkle. And let’s make a pact to implement a new holiday tradition: yuletide coffee.

Love and yule to you,

-a.e.

p.s. But really, what is “yule”?

 (Modeling courtesy of one fine sister, Elise. She has a love/hate relationship with posture.)

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orange || Happy Halloween

A very happy and safe Halloween to you all.

If you’re on the east coast, I hope you are hanging in there and that the worst of the storm has passed you. If you need anything, please let me know! I may not be able to do much, but I’ll do what I can. Stay safe and be well, friends.

(And eat lots of “fun size” Halloween candy. Even though there’s nothing fun about a miniature candy bar.)

(Except perhaps if you’re pretending that you are Alice and have become a giant-sized human in a regular-sized Wonderland.)

(OK, that’s enough sugar for me.)