a few announcements (and a confession)

Hello, my loves!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Over a month, in fact. I’ve read that in order to be a successful blogger, you should post on a regular basis.

Welp. I have broken that rule many times.  But the blogging gods are obligated to forgive my absence, because I have some pretty damn good excuses.

giphy

First, an important life update: Drew and I bought a house! We were hoping to buy a home sometime this year.We moved at the beginning of June, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect…it’s just that moving requires a lot of cleaning and packing and unpacking. It’s been an exciting–yet exhausting–few weeks; while we love our home, there are some maintenance issues that need to be fixed. Like, ASAP. And then I can finally put my design knowledge from all those episodes of Trading Spaces to good use.

Then–because when it rains, it pours–the real trouble began. About a week or two after moving, my car’s transmission died. After a few Google searches, we realized that a new transmission–and a few other related repairs–would cost more than my car was actually worth. (A 2006 Mazda 3 with a dead transmission? Not a hot spot for lots of cash money, folks.). I made plans to donate or sell it, and Drew and I came to terms with using one car between the two of us.

For a couple of weeks, carpooling worked extremely well. I pass Drew’s office on the way to work, so I’d drop Drew off in the morning and pick him up on my way home.

Then, one fateful day, when I was FIVE MINUTES AWAY FROM DREW’S OFFICE, I got into a car accident.

ugcfwbv

Fortunately, everyone involved was safe. It just meant that Drew was stranded at work for a couple of hours, and that we were officially without a car. Currently, we’re using a rental car (yay, insurance!), but the insurance claim has finally been settled and I successfully sold my car. Our house still needs some work, but we’re in a much better place–mentally and financially– to handle it.

We also visited my family in Missouri over the Fourth of July holiday! We celebrated our family’s July birthdays, too. I did start writing this entry over the weekend…but I didn’t get very far. Basically, I was partying too hard to blog.

In other news…

I’m excited to announce that I am now a prose reader for The Cerurove! It’s a lovely literary journal that you can read online; the editors were kind enough to publish my flash fiction piece for their second issue, and so this community has a special place in my heart. We’re currently accepting submissions–we’d love to read your work!

These days, much of my writing time is dedicated to poetry. One day I read the news and did what any sensitive artist type does: I wrote about it. The result? I’m working on my first chapbook manuscript. It’s a critique and love letter to America, and it is both very difficult and very easy to write. I have no idea if or when or how it will be published–but I promise that it’s actively in progress. At the very least, I will one day share my work here.

Needless to say, blogging hasn’t been on my list of priorities.

But I also find myself frustrated with the blogging world. Everything–from the writing to the photos to social media–has to be perfect. You need to know your audience. You need to build your brand and use it to your advantage.

The problem is, I don’t know what my brand is. Am I a book blogger? An author and poet? A wannabe travel writer? A social justice advocate? An occasional theologian? In my mind, these things are intertwined; reading and travel feed my empathy, which affects my politics, which affects my faith, and on and on it goes.

This line of thinking does not fare well in hashtags or algorithms.

I don’t have the time or energy to build a better website; nor do I want my content to be perfectly curated.

I want to write.

I want to be me.

When I first started this blog, I wrote about whatever I wanted. I liked knowing that people read my posts, but at the end of the day, it was all for me. It isn’t the way to build a successful blog, but I find myself longing for this carefree freedom. Perhaps this inherent brandlessness was my brand all along.

I do have another post planned for my Read and Resist series, and I’ll definitely write about our trip to Iceland. In the meantime, I just want to discover everyday, ordinary magic. ❤

Advertisements

i heart new york

tom-ritson-388066-unsplash

Photo by Tom Ritson on Unsplash

No other place has quite pulled at my heart like New York. My love for the sprawling, impossible city started with a key chain. 

Dad had just returned from a business trip; it was lucky, really, because I was still at that age where I selfishly expected gifts from my parents when they traveled without us. When we arrived at the airport, Dad handed me a keychain shaped like the Manhattan skyline. It was just for me, and I proudly clipped the tiny golden city to my backpack. Like so many other dreamers, I made myself a promise: one day, I would see New York City.

The keychain is long gone, but I kept my promise. I visited New York for the first time when I was fifteen, and have been fortunate enough to see it again. In 2017, I was in New York twice for work; last week, though, I took a trip just for fun.

Our good friend R.T. invited Drew and I to come to New York with him and his wife, Holly. Drew had never been to New York, and I’m never going to turn down a travel opportunity–so we accepted the invite and booked our flights a few weeks later.

tenor

We stayed in an Airbnb in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is famous for its community of artists. On every corner, we saw beautiful and delightfully quirky street art.

We made ourselves at home in Brooklyn, but our first order of business was Broadway.

We all attended the matinee showing of Mean Girls–and it was a dream come true. As a die-hard fan of the film (I mean, who isn’t?), I had extremely high expectations. The musical captured the original story’s hilarity as well as its heart, and the audience cheered during some of the most iconic lines.

Drew also ordered us cocktails: “Burn Book” and “Is Butter A Carb?” We even got to keep the cups!

And yes, we wore pink. I mean, come on. It was a Wednesday, and we had to look fetch.

After dinner (and, let’s be honest, a few beers), it was time for our second musical: Avenue Q! The show is off-Broadway now, but that shouldn’t stop you. It’s freakin’ hilarious and probably one of the best commentaries on adulthood that I have ever seen. Don’t bring your kids, though. It will be really, really awkward. Trust me.

The next day, we had one goal: food. R.T. was determined to get some Joe’s Pizza.

While we were eating, a local New Yorker overheard us discussing pizza. You know. Like you do in New York. He recommended several places, including one down the street, and as soon as we finished Joe’s, we headed down Bleecker St. to Fiore’s. This was my favorite of the pizzas, but Drew and R.T. remain loyal to Joe’s.

But it was all delicious. So much pizza. So much happiness.

anigif_sub-buzz-2459-1486678128-6

Then, something truly magical happened. “Don’t freak out,” R.T. said, “But there’s a cookie dough place across the street.”

Well, we freaked out, and had to grab some cookie dough soon as we finished our pizza. World’s Best Cookie Dough offers freshly baked cookies, raw cookie dough, and milkshakes. We became BFFs with one of the employees and Drew discovered his new favorite cookie. The only downside is now every kind of cookie dough is slightly disappointing. And I’ll never have a milkshake that good ever again.

Even though we decided to skip a few classic tourist spots, like the Empire State Building, we had fun exploring Times Square (The Disney Store is top-notch!) and Central Park. We also made a day trip to see Statue of Liberty! I had never seen it up close, and the trip was definitely worth it. If you decide to visit Liberty Island, beware of scammers–there is only one official ticket vendor.

statueofliberty

Later that night, we decided to have dinner at Lips. This was by far one of my favorite parts of the whole trip: drag queens put on a show while you eat and enjoy cocktails. We probably enjoyed too many cocktails–if there is such a thing at a drag show.

rings

Our bank accounts say there is such a thing. WHATEVER, BANKS. We got these cool rings with our drinks. So who’s laughing now?!

We were there for diva night, which meant the queens performed as Cher, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Joan Rivers, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. They were all incredible. If you’re jealous, don’t worry–there are several locations throughout the US. Just don’t forget to make reservations, and bring cash so you can give the queens tips. Performing is still work!

lady gaga

On our last day, we headed for Coney Island. Holly and I had both been dying to go, and we weren’t disappointed. It’s so delightfully weird, with just enough circus creepiness to make the whole park an adventure.

IMG_1088.JPG

IMG_1091

IMG_1103

The subway ride to Coney Island is no joke, so we were starving by the time we arrived. Drew and I ate more pizza, and then we stood in line at the famous Nathan’s Hot Dogs. As the sole vegetarian of the group, I skipped the hot dog and got a beer instead. I know. Poor me (#sarcasm). We also rode the legendary Wheel of Wonder and their roller coaster, the Cyclone. If you love theme park rides, they’re both worth the cost ($8 and $10, respectively). Drew and Holly weren’t fans of the Wheel of Wonder, but we all agreed the Cyclone was a blast.

Coney Island is definitely one of my new favorite places, and I hope that one day I get to go for the Mermaid Parade!

drewfaceny

He was helping me with the picture. Apparently. 

As always, New York was absolutely wonderful. No trip is ever the same, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again. There are still a lot of pizza places and cookie dough flavors to try. ❤️

ring in the new year

tessa-rampersad-346634 (1)

Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

We made it.

We actually made it through 2017.

I don’t need to remind you that 2017 was an exhausting year, right?

Even on a personal level, a lot happened–I mean, I got married, which is a pretty big deal.

But in the wake of extreme political turmoil and anxiety, the Internet has decided that 2018 is about LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. Or, as my friend Chris put it, “SPICY BUSINESS, 2018.”

Take that as you will, but for me, spicy business is all about living your best and most adventurous life.  I’ve already gotten a new tattoo; yesterday, my friend and I took a yoga class at a local cat shelter. If that’s not spicy business, I don’t know what is.

 

4r6v9qjsq6501

Usually, I’m extremely skeptical about New Year’s resolutions. The reasons vary: I hate how we act as though we can only set goals on the first of the year; I resent the fact that most resolutions fizzle out by the end of the month; and I tend to think that New Year’s Eve is an overrated holiday.

But there was something about 2017 that made me reflect on the past, as well as the wonderful things to come. Here’s what’s on the horizon for 2018:

A new home.

Drew and I are planning to stay in Atlanta, but we have been toying with the idea of our future home for a while now. While I do love our current house–it is full of so many memories and so much laughter–Drew owned it before we even started dating. This year, we hope to move into a home that we choose together.

And maybe I’ll get my Beauty and the Beast-esque library.

Adventures with people I love.

Drew and I had an adventure-themed wedding because we think our marriage is an adventure…but we also want to see the world together. We’ve been talking about visiting Iceland for AGES, and today, we booked a flight for August.

We’re also planning to join our friends in New York, so Drew will finally be able to experience one of my favorite cities!

Later this year, my mom and I are planning to spend a weekend in Asheville, and I still need to visit Xan in Chicago. It’s turning out to be a busy year, but how could it not be?! There are so many places to see! (#SPICYBUSINESS!)

A regular yoga practice.

Exercise and I have never had the best relationship. I hate running and most forms of cardio; gyms make me self-conscious at best and anxious at worst; and, to be perfectly honest, there are just other things I would rather do. Binge watching Netflix is just more fun, okay? LET ME LIVE.

Enter yoga. My first introduction to yoga was during a high school P.E. class, and since then, it’s been a constant in my life. An irregular constant, but a constant nonetheless–whether it was on our Wii Fit or a YouTube video, yoga has always appealed to me.

Because of this irregularity, I know that my body functions much, much better when I take time to move and stretch. When I start complaining about back and neck pain, Drew suggests that I start doing yoga again. And he’s always right.

But yoga is a spiritual practice–it rejects the idea that the body is inferior to the spirit. I often need to remind myself of the connection between my physical body and my spirituality; after all, I believe that God created our bodies and wants us to take care of them (not to mention that bodies are especially significant to Christian theology). Where better to practice this than on the mat?

Writing.

There are times when writing feels as natural as breathing: I get inspired and knock out a poem or a blog post in record time.

But lately, writing has been more like swimming. I’m racing against the clock, pushing through the deepest waters, and my lungs are screaming for a chance to exhale.

I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid of sounding less eloquent and poetic than I’d like and I’m afraid whatever novel I pursue will die with the five thousand other stories that are rotting in the graveyard of my hard drive.

So, I make things easier on myself.

I leave everything undone.

I know that this is not a good reaction to fear. It isn’t good for anything, except making myself feel worse as the year goes by.

This year, I want to remind myself that writing is not only my passion, but it’s also a process. It’s often a slow process. But that’s okay, because I never want stories to end, anyway.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

-Shannon Hale

What else?

Less burnout. More tattoos. More magic. More books. More light. More love.

IMG_0320-1

Happy New Year, sweet friends. I hope and pray that it’s one of the best. ❤