personal

new apartment, new dog, new chapter.

I went a little radio silent last week.

I had a few blog posts planned, but I had a sneaking suspicion the whole time that they might never actually get written or posted. As I’ve been teasing to for weeks, my husband and I moved to a new apartment last Monday, and since we were on a tight timeline to get everything set and organized (more on why in a second!), there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for me to write. Add in a nasty sinus sickness and a buttload of unexpected work, and you’ve got a blog slacker on your hands.

ANYWAY, putting last week’s chaos behind me, here’s a recap of the three major milestones that went down since I last visited this special little space…

1. NEW APARTMENT. That’s right, people. It finally happened. We’re out of our old place! Honestly, saying goodbye to that little apartment proved way more emotional than I expected (part of the reason why I didn’t post last week was because I was planning to recap some of my favorite memories from that home, and I just didn’t feel ready to do it). As exciting as new chapters are, I think it’s OK to feel sad about the closing of old chapters. Our last place was meaningful for me in so many ways. It was the starting point for Matt and my life together, yes, but it was also where I really found myself professionally and personally. I spent so many hours in that apartment alone, figuring out how to move forward as a freelancer and working away at new ideas and projects. When I walked around its empty rooms last week, I couldn’t help but be a little defensive at the thought of new people moving in on what had felt for so long like my personal clubhouse.

The new apartment is, however, great. It took a lot of work for us to get everything set up — why does moving always have to be such a pain? — but now that it is, it finally feels like home. Matt started his mandatory two-week leave from work (this is something he needs to do annually) on the day we moved, so he was a picture-hanging machine in those first few days! I’m planning to do a full post about the new apartment in the next few weeks, so be on the lookout for that!

2. NEW DOG. Yes! In perhaps even more exciting news (if you’re a dog lover like me, at least!), Matt and I picked up our golden retriever puppy on Saturday, just five days after we moved into the new apartment. His name is Irving — mostly we call him Irv — and he is exactly everything I ever hoped for in a dog!

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Having a puppy is a lot of work, but he’s picking up on a lot of things very quickly and he’s almost suspiciously comfortable in the city. On Saturday morning, we were pulling him out of a literal barn stall, and by Saturday night, he was happily peeing on grates and waddling in and out of the elevator of our building like he was born to it!

I’ve been feeling all kinds of anxiety about whether or not I’m doing everything “right” as a dog owner. So many people have opinions, and it’s easy to feel like you’re messing things up. But, Irv is a crazy happy pup (his tail barely ever stops wagging) and we left the vet this morning with an almost perfect bill of health (he has a tiny baby ear infection, probably leftover from before we picked him up!), so I’m trying to just trust my instincts and do what seems best. To all the mamas of human babies out there, I feel like I’m getting a taste of the mom shaming I’ve heard so much about!

(And, yes, Irv’s impending arrival was the reason that we had to hustle so hard to get everything in the apartment finished within a few days. We didn’t want things sitting around in boxes with a new puppy around! At the time, it felt like we were being a little crazy about the whole thing, but in hindsight, it was totally the right call.)

3. NEW CHAPTER. We picked Irv up on September 15, and I was so busy planning for that that I almost forgot that it also marked two years since my last day at my corporate job. The one-year anniversary felt like such a huge milestone, and as excited as I was to bring our puppy home, I was kind of kicking myself for allowing the date to pass me by this year. It’s hard to believe that I’m now onto year three of this whole freelance life, but I’m excited to continue to evolve and change as a writer and a person.

I’m sure I’ll have lots more to say about all of these changes when I do a bit more reflecting later this week for my birthday (!!!) — but in the meantime, I just had to share all the news!

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a season of change.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a complicated relationship with change.

The prevailing philosophy about change, I think, is that it’s tough to deal with. “I’m bad with change.” You hear that a lot. I, for one, am guilty of using it to explain away my not-so-great behavior during periods of transition.

There are people who love change. They thrive on the opportunity to start fresh over and over again, to reinvent who they are based on unusual circumstances that force them out of their comfort zone. Life seems like it would be easier for people who can embrace change this way. I do think, though, that things get tricky for this group when a change proves disappointing, or when one change doesn’t follow another quickly enough. If you thrive on new situations, the more predictable flow of day-to-day life isn’t going to consistently make you happy… and that’s where the relationship with change gets complicated.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. If you’ve been following the blog for any period of time, you already know how much I dig a good routine. I’ve already copped to defaulting to that “I’m bad with change” excuse. And all that’s true. Still, I’m pretty adaptable. I learned as a kid to adjust to new scenarios, so I’m confident in my ability to do that. Change is hard for me to process upfront — but my routines! and my schedule! and my usual routes! — but once I’ve worked through that, I don’t usually find myself getting too sentimental about actually executing the transitions ahead of me. More recently, I’ve even found myself craving change after long periods of predictability! A few years ago, I don’t think I would have guessed that would ever be the case. Let’s all treat ourselves to ice cream sundaes for personal growth, okay?

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Matt and I are currently smack in the middle of a season of massive transition, and it’s putting all of my complicated feelings about change to the test. I’ve been talking about this for a few weeks (because it’s very exciting!), but we’re moving to a new apartment in Brooklyn in a few weeks and (this just in!) we are officially getting a puppy just five days after that. We put a deposit on our pup last week and I. am. so. excited. I’ve been debating whether or not to share a photo of him in advance, but as hard as it is, I think I’m going to keep him to myself for now! Trust me when I say that he’s really cute and that I’ll be positively overloading you with pics in a few weeks. Anticipating all of these changes, I’ve been working 12- and 13-hour days recently. I know that having a puppy is going to require me to make some adjustments to my own routine so that he can be well-loved and well-trained in those early weeks. And since I only took one full day off this whole summer (for our Mexico trip!), I’m also just feeling really ready to give myself a little time and space in September. At this point, I’m not sure which or how many days I’ll be taking “off.” I just know that your girl’s going to have to cut herself some slack.

Really, what I’m trying to say is that I’m gearing up for two big changes — the move and the pup — in September, while also trying to mentally prepare myself for a longer period of the unknown. In the meantime, half of our apartment is packed into boxes that are slowly beginning to take over our already small space, and we’re traveling every weekend for weddings and other exciting events. That girl that used to say she was “bad at change” would not have thrived very well in this moment.

I don’t have anything especially profound to say about all of this, or any advice that I think will be particularly helpful to you if you’re in a similar season of change. Mostly, I’ve been surprising myself with how calm I’ve been through all of this… except for those Sunday nights when we’ve arrived home from a weekend of travel and I’ve realized just how much needs to get done between now and our move and how little time we have to accomplish it. And those moments when I realize how weird it’s going to be to live anywhere other than the little home where we got engaged, where I became a writer, where we really started our lives. Oh, and maybe those moments when I’ve been so burned out from those 12-hour days that I’m not as nice as I maybe should be to my husband. Sorry, Matt.

I guess I’m really grateful that I’m at this point in my life where I get to tackle these transitions. There are days when I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t other grown-ups that are bound to step in and deal with some of this stuff for me, but when I get past that, it’s exciting to realize how many decisions are now within my control and how many possibilities there really are. When we finally find our way out of this weird holding pattern we’ve been living in for the last few weeks — in 12 days, but who’s counting? — I just know that it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to share that with you when it happens, but in the meantime… here I am. Excited and so, so ready to get all these changes going.

How do you feel about change? Tell me more in the comments below!

And…

Don’t forget to enter the August giveaway! This month, I’m giving a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble to one lucky winner. All you have to do to enter is comment on this post. I’ll be drawing the winner and announcing the results tomorrow, Thursday 8/30. Good luck!

 

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in honor of wedding season, some marriage lessons.

Matt and I were the first of our friends to get married.

Prior to our wedding in June of 2016, we’d celebrated one or two other marriages, but for most of our friends — and definitely for our friend groups as a whole — we were entering unchartered territory. I was 25 and Matt was 26, and while that’s definitely on the younger side, we had already been together for seven years by the time we said “I do.” It felt like it had been a long time coming! We threw a great party and felt so much love, and because I didn’t have other weddings to compare ours to throughout the planning process, I basically just did exactly what I wanted to do. This freedom to plan the wedding that Matt and I wanted (because I generally had no idea what I was doing) was the cherry on top of an already special time for us.

Two years later, it feels like we are finally smack in the middle of the ongoing wedding season that I’ve heard so much about from others. So many of our closest friends have celebrated engagements over the last year or two, and now we get to dance at their weddings! It’s a crazy time, but a fun and emotional one, too. This past weekend, we traveled to Chicago to kick-off the festivities! Both the bride and groom went to college with Matt, and since Matt and I were together throughout that time, these two are very close to my heart. We’ve already made so many memories with them, and I know there are so many more to come. After a few years of being the only married people in any friend group, Matt and I love welcoming other pals into the club!

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With all of these weddings coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned about marriage so far. We celebrated our second wedding anniversary in June, and I know I still have so. much. to figure out. Still, I like to think there’s value in every small step. I’ll probably have wildly different wisdom to share about marriage five years, ten years, twenty years — even just one year! — from now, but in the meantime, it’s fun to capture what I’m realizing along the way.

Don’t try to have big conversations (AKA attempt to resolve an argument) in bed. I am entirely guilty of this. Matt’s much more likely to agree to set a problem aside even if we haven’t discussed it from every possible angle. Me? Not so much. I like to squeeze all of my apologies in and attempt every potential analysis of the issue, even if we’ve technically called a truce… and sometimes that lasts until the final minutes before bedtime. A few months ago, Matt and I agreed to stop having these kinds of conversations in bed. If either of us feels unsatisfied with a discussion after we’re under the covers, we ask the other to get up and get back into it somewhere else in the apartment. Especially given my sleep issues, we need to keep our bedroom as calm and relaxed as possible — and we don’t need to create space for conflict late at night.

The way you communicate with your partner changes over time. Just when Matt and I think that we have each other totally figured out, one or both of us realizes that we can do even better in the way we interact with each other. We’ve learned to be really open with each other about our relationship, and we work together to strategize our marriage the way either one of us would strategize individually about our work. If it feels like one or both of us needs to adjust our approach to each other or to the relationship, we talk it out!

Collective goals can be a moving target. Six months ago, if you’d asked me where I thought I would be at the end of August, I would tell you that Matt and I may have made a bigger move to a different city by now. I would tell you that a move like this would have taken some pressure off of both of us with our work, totally changing up that oh-so-hard-to-perfect balance between career and life. Earlier this year, that was our plan, and Matt and I are both so stubborn that we each mentally dug into it. Instead of having really honest conversations about what actually made the most sense for us, we each gritted our teeth and powered forward. Today, we couldn’t be happier about our collective decision to stay in New York and start kind of fresh with a new apartment. In order to get there, we both had to let go of the expectation that we see a somewhat arbitrary plan through to the end and to stop worrying about what other people might think about that decision.

Laughter can get you through almost anything. Cracking each other up has always been a major piece of Matt and my relationship, but I’ve learned recently just how important that humor is. We had a lot to figure out this year — see my last point! — and if I’m being totally honest, there were moments when things weren’t totally comfortable between us. No matter what, though, we found ways to make each other laugh, which helped us move forward on the days when we both felt frustrated.

Marriage makes everything feel more intense. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and everything in between is a lot more fun than it was before.

What relationship advice do you have to share? 

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why i love bad tv.

I’ve never been especially shy about my obsession with what most people would probably categorize as “bad” TV.

I give a shoutout to embarrassing television in the vast majority of my professional bios (including the one on this very blog). I’ve been known to sit through an entire Emmy Awards ceremony having never actually watched any of the nominated shows because they’re too, well, good. When my friends start talking excitedly about the groundbreaking, deeply complicated scripted shows that they’ve been getting into recently, I generally just fiddle with my phone because I have nothing to contribute. I used to get flustered in moments like that, especially when people would politely ask me (in the way of a normal conversationalist) if I’d been watching, too. I also used to feel awkward any time someone asked me about my favorite TV show. Shouldn’t I have something more impressive to say than “any city of the Real Housewives is just fine, thank you!”?

In the last year or so, though, I’ve really leaned in to my thing for bad TV. I no longer see any reason to spend valuable brainpower trying to come up with the name of a highly-touted drama when asked about my media consumption, nor do I have any patience for people who judge me when I can’t do this successfully. After all, I’m a well-read, well-educated, hard-workin’ lady. Why shouldn’t I take pride in watching (and then re-watching on Hulu) every single episode of the Housewives?

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If, like me, you’re a fan of reality TV, you already know that this was a big week for the genre, with the finale of The Bachelorette airing on Monday night. I’m not ready to talk about the results yet, because it makes me too sad to think about Blake and his broken heart, but I did think it was the perfect time to share more thoughts about why I’m now totally owning my bad TV fandom. Plus, it’s Friday… so why not?

  • Humans are fascinating in their natural(-ish) state. I’ve always loved people watching. Airports, malls, basically anywhere in New York City — you name it, and it’s an incredible place to observe people just living their lives. I’m convinced that my fascination with people watching contributed to my love of writing! Reality TV taps into this fascination, and while some of these shows are more heavily produced than others, if you allow yourself to buy into the illusion, it’s an amazing window into human behavior.
  • Real life is serious enough. I read the news. I’m (largely) educated on all of the truly important things that are happening in our world these days. And since I do stay informed, I feel like it’s almost necessary for me to maintain a little mental balance by indulging in some pop culture that’s purely entertaining.
  • It helps put my own drama in perspective. Trust me… I’m not interested in any of the craziness that happens on these shows happening in my own life, and I’m under no illusion that average people actually experiences these things IRL. That being said, it can be refreshing to realize — after a particularly vicious screaming match on the Housewives, for example — that I really have my you-know-what together a lot more than I give myself credit for.
  • There’s such amazing conversation to be had around it. I’ve been loyally watching reality TV since the first time my mom turned on The Bachelor when I was in middle school, but the whole category has only gotten better since social media hit the scene. Add in the bevy of think pieces you can find all over the Internet after pretty much any episode of any show and the recap podcasts, and you’ve got yourself a fascinating subculture.
  • It’s a social experience! If there’s Thai food and wine and my close girl friends, I’m there.

Do you love bad TV… or love to hate it? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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july giveaway.

Happy Monday, friends!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend! We had so much fun celebrating the engagements of two sets of friends and then fell head over heels in love with a new apartment here in Brooklyn. Please, please keep your fingers crossed that we get approved for it : ) And, yes — this means that we’re staying in New York for at least another year (you can read a little more about all of that drama here)… and I’m pretty excited about it.

So, yeah, we had a pretty great weekend over here.

Isn’t it funny that a nearly perfect weekend somehow makes it harder to get back into the grind of the work week? Shouldn’t it be the break you needed to kick things off with a better attitude? Not so much, I guess.

Hopefully, this month’s GIVEAWAY DAY will brighten up your Monday. It definitely helps mine to share it with you!

In celebration of the upcoming last month of summer (bummer, I know) and all the great outfits you need to accessorize, this month’s prize will be a $25 gift card to BaubleBar!

Here are a few pieces for sale there now that I’m loving:

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Iva Hoop Earrings
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Evangelia Resin Drop Earrings
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Taina Cocktail Ring
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Elizabeth Cuff Bracelet
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Dana Collar

 

This gift card will help make a serious dent in all of these items… or any other bauble from the site that you’re into!

All you have to do to enter is comment on this post! It wouldn’t hurt to share the link with a friend or two or to post it to your social media so a few of your loved ones have a chance to check it out. Remember: these giveaways come around once a month, so you might as well spread the love!

I’ll (randomly) draw and announce the winner one week from today, Monday 7/30. Good luck!

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second anniversary trip to Mexico.

I can’t decide if it feels like way longer or way shorter than two weeks since Matt and I took our second wedding anniversary trip to Cancun… but it definitely feels like one of the two extremes. I hit the ground running work-wise as soon as we landed back in New York so I could prepare to launch the podcast without dropping the ball on any of my other gigs, then Matt was away last weekend for a bachelor party while I had a friend in town, and this whole time we have been sweating bullets with crazy summer weather here in Brooklyn. With everything we’ve had going on, it’s hard to believe we even went on a trip!

But we did! We did go on a trip, and it was great.

I know the all-inclusive model isn’t for everyone, but we’re huge fans of it, and I was really excited to find a great last-minute deal on Expedia for a resort called the Excellence Riviera Cancun (only in my dreams is this a sponsorship… I just want to share the love!). You never quite know what you’re going to get when you book a trip like this, but I’m happy to report that the place beat all of our expectations and we can’t wait to go back. As much as we loved being at a honeymoon hot spot for our actual honeymoon in 2016 — we went to Sandals Antigua — I’m always anxious about being the only non-honeymooners at one of these resorts, and that wasn’t the case on this trip. It’s probably silly, but I think I would feel a little bummed if every. other. couple around us was just coming off of their wedding… even though it’s obviously magical in its own right to be celebrating an anniversary.

Since life has been such a whirlwind lately and I haven’t had the chance to share any of the details of our time away, I thought I’d wrap up this week with a belated recap of our anniversary getaway! Let’s start with the good, the bad, and the ugly (AKA the best, worst, and most hilarious parts of the trip) and then finish with some photos.

The Good: There was a moment when we were sitting in lounge chairs on the beach one afternoon, drinks and books in hand… and then an acoustic cover band started playing live right at the spot where the resort met the sand. It couldn’t have been a more perfect moment!

The Bad: (This is about to be one of those situations where I take something good and spin it so it’s something bad. Ready?) We needed more time! I know it feels like vacation is never long enough, but I genuinely think that we could have used an extra day or two this time around. Matt and I haven’t been on a beach-y, totally relaxing and luxurious vacation alone since our honeymoon, and while I’m grateful we were able to steal away at all during this very busy period of our lives, I very much regretted that we didn’t figure out a way to extend it just a liiiiiiiitle bit. One more night would have done the trick.

The Ugly: Unless we have a reason to be otherwise, Matt and I are generally pretty casual travelers, and it didn’t occur to us that the resort might have a dress code since that’s not something we’ve run into on previous trips. We pretty much assume that as long as you’ve changed out of your bathing suit, put on some real shoes, and made yourself more or less presentable, you’ll be allowed to eat anywhere you want! Welp, not so much at this resort. There were a few select restaurants where long pants (even jeans!) were apparently required for men, and we were asked very politely to leave one place when Matt showed up dressed in chino shorts, a button down shirt, and loafers. All I could do was laugh and make a mental note to insist that he pack pants next time!

And now for some photos! I never take as many pictures as I want to when we travel because I am focusing so much on disconnecting from my phone, but here are some highlights…

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Sooooo…. can you tell I’m already counting down until when we can go back?

Do you have any summer trips planned? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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married (almost) two years.

Hi, friends!

I feel like I’ve been a little absent from this special place lately and I want to say a big “I’M SORRY!” for that. Between some unexpected travel over the last few weeks and lots of preparation for next week’s podcast launch (on top of my standard workload), I’ve had to let certain things fall off of my always growing to-do list… and sadly, new blog posts have often been the things to fall. I’m savoring the opportunity to touch base with all of you whenever I have it : )

The big news in our house right now is that Matt and my second wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend.

Two years? I really can’t believe it.

This second year somehow went even faster than the first (which itself went by in the blink of an eye, to use a crazy cliché), and with just a few days to go before we celebrate our anniversary, I couldn’t miss the chance to do a little reflecting on what I’ve learned about marriage over the last 365 days. We’re marking the occasion with a long weekend trip to Mexico (!!!!), which is another reason why I’m coming to you early.

View More: http://bricibene.pass.us/kosik

Before we were married, a lot of people told Matt and me that the first year of marriage was bound to be the most difficult. As of our wedding day, we’d already been together for seven years and had been living together for a few months, so I was admittedly skeptical of this advice. (Also, I’m not a big fan of marriage advice that’s basically just a warning. Can we stop handing out “wisdom” like this at bridal showers, please?) I was happy to find that I was right. Relationship-wise, Year One didn’t prove a major challenge. I was going through tons of personal change — most significantly, a serious career shift and transition to working from home and for myself — and investing tons of work in being successful there, and Matt and I kind of chugged along in our new chapter, still loving the newlywed phase and doing things mostly the same way we always had.

Matt and I agree that Year Two has been a little harder.

We’ve both stepped up in terms of our professional ambitions, and we’ve had to learn to better reconcile our individual goals with doing what’s best for the home team.

We’re continuing to grow together, but we’re also getting more set in our ways in certain aspects… and since the Kosik household is a stubborn one to begin with (fully admitting to it!), we’ve had to continue to figure out how to best communicate with each other.

We’ve had to confront the realities that come with time passing, which has set tough conversations — the kind of tough conversations that seem to need attention every day for months at a time — in motion. Enter more lessons in communication.

As hard as some of these growing pains have been, I see now that they’ve made us so much stronger as a couple, and that they’ve helped me grow into a better version of myself, too. People say that marriage will do that to you, and I guess I’ll happily accept — and agree with — that advice. I am so genuinely excited to celebrate all of the learning experiences and amazing times of the last year in Mexico this weekend. If I do say so myself, we deserve it, and I know we’re going to have the best time. (P.S. if you want to read the recap of our first anniversary weekend, you can check it out here!)

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My engaged friends have asked me on more than one occasion if it really feels different to be married than it does to be in a serious, long-term relationship, and while it’s hard for me to put that difference in words sometimes, I usually say a little something like this:

“When things are easy, it feels the same. You mostly feel different when there’s conflict or when you’re facing something challenging together.”

I was pretty much in it for the long haul with Matt within less than a year of our first date (even though I was a sophomore in college and had no idea what I was doing), and I rarely approached fights or conflict with a mindset of “I could get out of this,” but marriage has taught me even more about how to come to the other side of a tough conversation or situation with someone. As hard as it is sometimes to get up every day and try to work through a fundamental difference, you do work through it! And you realize that it’s not impossible if you can show up consistently to figure out where you and your partner can find common ground. In my opinion, that common ground is what helps you fall even more love. (Cheesy, I know — but it is my anniversary week, so cut me some slack!)

For nine years, I’ve known that there’s no one I’d rather laugh with or watch movies with or go to dinner with or even fight with than Matt. But this year has taught me that there’s no one else I would choose to figure out basically all the things with, either. He continues to be my favorite person and I love him infinitely more even than the day we got married two years ago. That was a hard thing to imagine back in June 2016, but it’s proven absolutely true.

Matt, you are the very, very best. Can’t wait to see what Year Three brings! 

 

 

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my early writing memories.

A lot of my free time recently has been dedicated to reading books from my childhood. (If you’re not sure why, you can read more over on the newly-launched SSR Podcast page!). While I’ve definitely experienced these stories differently the second time around, the simple act of cracking the binding has given me my fair share of flashbacks, too.

Reading one book brought back intense memories of sitting in a navy blue lounge chair near the pool at my grandmother’s old house while I was visiting her for summer vacation. I’m pretty sure we were snacking on cantaloupe.

Another book reminded me of a plane ride to Orlando.

Still another took me back to sitting on the front porch of our rented beach house at the Jersey shore. Back then, it felt like the biggest treat to be able to stay up as late as I wanted, alone with my book and the sound of other beachgoers walking back to their houses as the sky got darker. (For the record, the mark of a good beach trip for me these days is a 10 PM bedtime. Getting older is weird.)

And, yes, I obviously have the clearest memories of vacation reading. 

But how cool is that? The fact that a single chapter or passage in a book I’ve barely thought of over the past 15 years can make me so clearly sense what it was like to read that book the first time — where I was, what I was smelling, how the air felt — is pretty darn cool.

All of these reading throwbacks have gotten my wheels turning on a few writing memories, too.

Writing was a “thing” for me by the time I was eight years old, largely because I was lucky enough to wind up in an elementary school chock full of teachers who embraced more than just a required reading list. They wanted us to learn to tell our own stories, as well, and it quite literally shaped and changed my life. I didn’t know back then exactly what kind of writer I would be when I grew up, but I did understand that the practice of writing would play a major role in whatever happened to me in the future.

Here are some of my earliest writing memories…

… for years, I only took baths — never showers. I used to rest my notebooks on the edge of the tub so I could work on my stories while sitting in the cooling water.

… my first grade teacher had this spiral-bound reference book that was part baby name book, part thesaurus, part dictionary. The idea was to use it to make your writing more creative and to shake up the kinds of nouns and verbs you were using in your work. I pored over this thing so much that my parents ended up asking my teacher where we could order one of our own, and I carried it with me everywhere.

… my classmates and I were introduced to SSR (Silent Sustained Reading — the inspiration for my podcast!) in first grade, but in second grade we learned about SSW — Silent Sustained Writing. A few times a week, we got to sit at our desks and write whatever we wanted. It was the best.

… another staple of my elementary school experience was the “Read In,” a day near the end of the school year when we all got to wear pajamas to school and build makeshift campsites in the classroom where we got to sit and read all day. At some point, we got to have a “Write In.” I’m pretty sure I brought three empty notebooks to school that day, convinced I would be able to fill them with that time.

… my fourth grade teacher had a filing cabinet where we all got to keep our creative writing projects, and instead of working on a bunch of short stories, I asked if I would be allowed to try to write a book. She said yes. My first attempt at a book — which spent that year getting increasingly crammed into my folder in that cabinet — was called Carrie’s Ride Home, and it was about a girl who figured out how to teach her blind little sister how to ride horses. (I was super into horses at the time, too.)

… I always traveled with plenty of blank paper. I remember sitting on the deck of my grandfather’s house in Florida with a princess hat on, fervently scratching away at one of my beloved notebooks. I refused any notebooks that weren’t five-subject, with skinny lines.

… one of my favorite things was to read my work out loud to my mom, which is weird, since I now pretty much refuse to share any of my creative writing with anyone. It was always a “stop everything!” kind of moment, where I required her full attention.

… as a third grader, I decided that I wanted to start a class newspaper. I tried assigning out stories to my classmates and set up a little desk in the back of the classroom (with my teacher’s permission). I remember getting really frustrated because the other kids weren’t as excited about it as I was.

… luckily for me, most of my friends were as interested in writing as I was, and we experimented with lots of writing projects together — plays we would perform in my basement, “books” in alternating viewpoints, and stories we would simply work on together painstakingly, line-by-line.

Ah, these were so fun to revisit!

What are some of your favorite, most random childhood memories? 

 

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a weekend down the shore.

If you’re worrying about the grammatical correct-ness of the title of this post, don’t. “Down the shore” is Pennsylvania/New Jersey/(probably some other places, too)-speak for basically any part of the Jersey shore. You don’t go “to the shore.” You go “down the shore.” Don’t ask me why. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, most of the kids I knew spent some time at the beach every summer. Most people went somewhere in New Jersey, though there was a small group that frequented Delaware. There are tons of beach towns to choose from, and every family seemed to have their allegiance to one. For us, it was Ocean City, NJ, a place I’ve been visiting (literally) every summer since I was born.

There are few places that stick with me the way Ocean City does. I know my way around there better than I do here in Broolyn, and maybe even better than in my hometown. I can navigate by car, on foot, or by bike. It’s probably the only place in the world where I can point you north, south, east, and west without thinking about it for too long. As I’ve grown up, Ocean City only feels more and more important to me.

My family does our big trip there every August, and one of the bummers of getting older is that I’m no longer able to stay with them for the full two-week duration of the vacation. (Responsibilities, ugh.) We try to get down for shorter visits as often as we can at other times of the year, and Matt and I managed to sneak a quick trip down this past weekend. We’ve both been working our booties off the last few weeks (you can read more about my recent case of overwhelm here), and even though we have a big anniversary weekend trip planned at the end of the month, it seemed absolutely necessary that we escape for a little down time ASAP.

I don’t have that much to say about it except that I’m really glad we went.

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I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the weather forecast, so (naturally) I discovered just two days before we planned to go that it was probably going to rain all weekend. By that time, Matt and I were both so committed to the idea of the trip that we probably would have gone even if they were predicting an early June snowstorm. As my dad always says, “A rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home.” So true, Dad, so true.

We ended up with better weather than expected — so much that we actually spent most of Saturday on the beach reading. It was a little too chilly for full-on sunbathing, so we left our bathing suits behind and wore t-shirts and sweats instead. Somehow, even while bundled up, we still managed to get sunburned! Go figure. I was just so grateful to be outside with my book and my husband and the smell of the water that I didn’t even consider that there could be so much sun coming through all the hazy clouds.

We weren’t quite as lucky with the weather on Sunday, but we kept the relaxation going with more reading (duh), marathons of The Office, and visits to some new (to us) restaurants in the area. Start to finish, our whole trip was only about 17 waking hours or so, but it felt way longer than that, which I’ll take as a sign that we really needed the down time… and totally got it, too.

What are your most relaxing places? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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why i’m joining the wing.

In order to fill in the blanks in the title of this post, we need go back a few months — and we (well, just me, I guess) need to get pretty honest

I’ve never been that excited about leaving New York City. There, I said it.

I had moments when I first moved here right out of college when the city felt pretty miserable. I hated the subway and the crowds in midtown. I hated when people plowed me down, umbrella-first as they rushed along the sidewalk in the rain. I hated that it sometimes took me 30 minutes to travel less than a mile in a taxi late at night, a taxi that I knew I was only having to pay for because I had chosen to live in a place that I’d been made to believe was perpetually unsafe after 8 PM. I hated all of that.

When we moved to Brooklyn, I found my groove again. As a kid, I’d always dreamed of moving to New York, and finding our little niche here in Cobble Hill finally made me feel like I was the kind of city girl that I’d always wanted to be. Almost immediately, I felt more like myself, and even though I understood that there were realities of living in this city that would make it challenging to do it forever, I pretty much forgot about them.

Matt’s experience was the opposite of mine. He hadn’t grown up with aspirations of moving to a big city (he grew up in a neighborhood with woods and a stream and spent the vast majority of his free time on the soccer field or fly fishing), but when his job led him here, he embraced it pretty quickly. While I was sobbing over subway claustrophobia and stressing about my rent, he was living for New York. He loved the restaurants and the ability to walk everywhere, and since most of his friends moved here after graduation, he had a busy social life immediately. It’s only been in the last year that he’s expressed interest in leaving, and only in the last few months that it’s become a more serious conversation.

The idea of moving away started to get real back in October, when we spent two weeks traveling around northern California. Picking up and moving our lives across the country never seemed like a real option for us since so much of our community is here on the east coast, but our vacation definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities that could await us in other places. I could feel the difference in terms of quality life between New York and the Bay Area, and I found myself growing more receptive to Matt’s comments about life beyond Brooklyn.

Matt didn’t want to start seriously thinking about the move until March, so we kind of sat in that maybe-we-will-maybe-we-won’t mindset for a few months. I’m not great at being in limbo, so this was hard for me… but life basically resumed as normal. Fast forward to March of this year, when things became more challenging.

**Insert movie-style fast forward music here…**

Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that Matt isn’t asking me to do anything I don’t want to do with this move. Ultimately, if I was fully committed to staying, we wouldn’t be leaving. I have a lot of mixed feelings about moving on from this amazing chapter of our lives, but I also understand that long-term, it’s going to be nearly impossible for us to live the kind of life we want to live here in New York City. It’s a hard reality to accept, but it’s reality. Honestly, I would rather choose to leave now, on our own terms, then a few years down the line when we realize too late that we’ve become uncomfortable in our own lives.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Because Matt’s job is more place-bound than mine, it’s naturally fallen to him to set the pace of this move, so there were days early on when it felt to me like he had all of the control and I had none. Honestly, there are days when I still feel like this, but I’ve learned that all of this is a lot easier to swallow when I realize that my husband is almost as powerless. The mindset needs to be that it’s us against the world — not Alli against Matt. I can express that clearly now, but it was pretty much an emotional roller coaster getting there. Just ask my girlfriends.

I’ve said since October that I was going to continue to live my life in New York as normally as possible, and that I wasn’t going to get too mentally tied up on when we’d pick up and move. For the most part, I think I did this successfully. I planned for the holidays and saw friends and continued to clean my apartment within an inch of its life. It felt like business as usual.

Where I struggled most to keep on keeping on was in my work. While I will be able to continue with most of my existing freelance work in a new city, there are some changes I’ve been wanting to make to my workload that I’m not comfortable making until we move. I’m excited about the chance to do a little professional pivoting and explore new opportunities, but I’m hesitant to do that now. I’d rather make all the transitions at one time. I started to feel really uncomfortable with my lack of control in a situation that was really affecting my work, and there were days that it made me resentful. Sometimes, it felt like I was just kind of standing still, like the only thing that was actually changing for me was that I was burying myself under more and more work.

One of my best friends started working for The Wing a few months ago, and from the beginning, I was fascinated by it. To quote the Web site, The Wing is a “co-working and community designed for women.” It now has three locations here in New York City and is already growing to other cities. Girl power, people. I went to a few events with friends there, but never really considered becoming a member myself, because I was so aware that my time in NYC was ticking. I borrowed some photos of the Brooklyn location from this article in Artnet News so you can see how lovely and inspiring it is.

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When I got back from the Ignite Your Soul Summit a few weeks ago, I was feeling ready to invest back into myself and my work, and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I’ve always had a bit of a scarcity mentality around money, and I’ve been nervous to spend since I started freelancing, even though I’m now earning as much (sometimes more) as I was in my corporate job. Chris Harder, who spoke at the Summit, really inspired me to think about money in a different way, and to allow myself to celebrate my work by putting the resources I’ve earned back into the “system” so it can ultimately come back to me and empower me to do great things.

I happened to be meeting my friend for breakfast at The Wing the morning after I got back from the Summit, and as I was walking to the Brooklyn location, it hit me:

This is the thing I need to do.

It hit me again when I was sitting in the beautiful waterfront workspace, surrounded by brilliant, independent women doing interesting work and moving forward with their passion projects. It hit me again when the woman at the next table came over and asked me about my planner (you know how I feel about my planner). It hit me again when I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I returned to my home office later that day.

I talked it over with Matt and submitted my membership application the next morning. A few hours later, I learned that I’d been accepted. When we want to, we can work really fast over here.

To be totally fair, I wouldn’t have made the financial commitment to The Wing if they weren’t expanding, and if I didn’t think there might be a chance that I could transition my membership to another location when we do leave New York City. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a consideration. I’m happy to be investing in myself, but I’ve hardly thrown all caution to the wind.

In the meantime, I have a sneaky suspicion that making this decision for myself is going to be one of the best things I’ve done in the last year or so. Realizing that this kind of community is available for me — down the street, essentially — was a big wake-up call in a time when I’ve felt largely out of control. It’s empowered me to reengage with parts of my life that I’ve kept at arm’s length ever since we started talking about moving away. It’s reminded me that I have a lot to accomplish and create in this transition period, and that I have every right to accomplish it outside of the confines of the home office that I’m now realizing I outgrew a few months ago.

My first day as an official member is Tuesday, and I am literally counting the days until I can spend my time in the beautiful work space in the company of so many incredible women. Making this choice has totally changed my perspective on things, and I can’t wait to see how it serves me as I continue navigating big changes in work and life.

Basically, Wing, I’m really happy you exist. 

Happy weekend-ing, friends. More Wing cheerleading to come, I’m sure.

How do you cope when you’re feeling like you’re in a rut? Tell me in the comments below!

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