Stories and Process.

So it’s been a really long time since I have shared in this space.

Last year was really amazing, and really bonkers. Like, I grew in ways that were so layered that it took my heart a while to catch up. That’s not even completely why I’m here to share today.

Why am I here? I had told myself I quit blogging. I had told friends I had quit blogging. Because I felt over it. Because I felt weirdly betrayed by it. Because I felt like I didn’t have a lot to offer anymore.

And then yesterday happened.

It’s funny how you wake up the same way a lot of mornings. I hear our youngest waking with sighs, or I feel the cat snuggling closer because winters in the Midwest are colder than winters in San Diego. Or I feel my darling dude shift in the bed we share without ever letting our bodies disconnect. You wake up, and you just don’t know what your day is going to be like. In my case, I know there will be cold brewed coffee and I know there will be surprises.

So yesterday happened.

The day itself didn’t feel that different. I drank cold brew. I wiped bums. I communicated. I loved. And then I cried. I ended the day in a restful place by the side of my dude after he dried my tears with his words.

Last year, there was a Magic Lessons episode with Brene Brown. And I listened to it a couple times because I loved it so much. It touched on things I knew, things I always need to hear, and it touched on how we’re all creatives which I deeply believe.

So today.

I’ve been meditating today on how we talk TO each other. And I keep coming back to how I don’t share in the public space the way I used to and how that leaves me feeling creatively suppressed and frankly, quite unhealthy.

And today I realized why.

Back to Brene and Elizabeth’s podcast conversation above, I remembered something while emailing with a friend earlier. I remembered the most powerful thing I took away from my multiple listens of that episode. And that is this: Only share stories that you’ve processed. Because if someone’s response is going to fuck up your process of healing, it’s not worth it.

Read that again (and it’s me paraphrasing the brilliant Brene Brown): Only share stories that you’ve processed. Because if someone’s response is going to fuck up your process of healing, it’s not worth it. 

That’s what took me away from this space. That’s what will bring me back here.

So. So hello again.

 

His Heart and Mine

I remember walking into the restaurant bar that night. It was artificially cold, and I was unnecessarily nervous. He stepped out of the oversized booth, signaling me over, engulfing me in a hug as soon as I got close enough. We sat down, he ordered me a beer, I snacked on the pretzel he was forced to order while waiting for me. I remember sweating more than my deodorant could handle. He would lean in to say something, anything to put me at ease. I sipped my beer, slowly and with caution. I didn’t want to say something I’d grow neurotic over; I didn’t want to kiss him first.

He didn’t look like his picture. That is to say, he didn’t look like his most recent picture online. A tiny 100 x100 avatar showing a pleasant angle and his looking at a computer screen. Fitting, of course. I didn’t like the shirt he was wearing, to a distracting point. The Colts were playing a pre-season game on the overhead tv, a year after they had beat my team in the playoffs. He was a Colts fan, of course. I adored his perfect nose.

Our booth was the shape of U, a very obese U. I didn’t know if I should sit across from him to watch his facial expressions. The expressions I’d imagined over the phone. Or if I wanted to sit next him, testing out the chemistry between us. I settled somewhere in between. A safe distance from him, because it made me nervous in my bones when he looked at me. When it came time to leave—you can only sit in a restaurant bar booth for so long—we walked out together. We walked out together like we’d been walking together forever. The trepidation drifted away for a bit until he turned to me, and said he was going to kiss me and then he did just that. I remember the way he looked at me, because he still looks at me that way before a kiss almost seven years later.

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We celebrated our year six wedding anniversary two Sundays ago. We, now four, traveled up to Chicago for stellar tacos—a nod to our San Diego roots—at Big Star in Wicker Park, and then went to Navy Pier because if you don’t look too closely, Lake Michigan seems like an ocean. Either way, we were on a shore, like the day we got hitched. There isn’t the salty air of our beloved Pacific Ocean, but there were sociable seagulls to give us a smile. We walked along the pier with our precocious Little Dude and wee Lady Babe just as we walked together that first night. Speaking in smiles, nods, half sentences and kisses.

Oh, the kissing. I hope this man never stops kissing me, ever. His friendship, his kisses, his unwavering ability to make me feel hope.

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Oh this man, his heart and mine.

Brain Dump: lady babe edition

Our lady babe arrived six Saturdays ago already. She’s calm, easy, and oh so adored by the three of us.

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I kept sitting down to write a blog post about her arrival, but I just… didn’t want to. That sounds crappy, but it wasn’t. My darling husband works for the kind of company that allows for four weeks off (or more if he wanted/needed to). So he was home with us ALL IN for those first four weeks. It’s wasn’t the bliss bubble of the weeks after Little Dude was born, because that was just unreal. The four weeks after Lady Babe arrived were laced with crazy times, healing, an ER visit, a hospital stay, and wow – some really good bonding as a family unit of four. I’m deeply thankful he was able to be here to do all the heavy lifting both literally and emotionally. We were meant to be four; this just fits for us.

A few things really stuck out for me these first six weeks as a mama of TWO. So, please, if you’ll allow me to brain dump here.

Nurses, yo. NURSES. We had some of the best nurses from the moment I was in active labor, to the nurse that advocated for me while my uterus was becoming dangerously thin during delivery, to the recovery nurses that offered support/advice/laughs, to the ER nurses that had to take blood out of a three week old lady babe, to the nurses that held my hand while I cried at the hospital alone while my husband was home with our older babe, to the nurse, Sara, that discharged with the kind of love that made us want to STAY at the hospital longer. What even?!? NURSES. Nurses make life oh so manageable when you just don’t know how to do life – in a hospital. That isn’t to say that the doctors weren’t mentionable, they are. They were tops. They were stellar. They slayed fear. I hope anyone reading this never has to rely on nurses in the first few weeks of your babe’s life, but if you do – lean on those nurses, they’re a rare breed of human beings. They share their hearts with a brave kindness I’ve never seen.

Coffee. I slowed back into coffee because I was breastfeeding and I didn’t want to have my milk laced with all the coffee. (And yes, that was past-tense regarding breast feeding, but that’s all I’m going to say about that here.) Nowadays, I drink all the coffee. When the breast-feeding stopped, I jumped immediately back into as many glasses of cold brew a day that my heart desired. To say I missed the ritual, comfort, and taste of strong cold brew would be an UNDERSTATEMENT. Coffee is a real friend to me.

Over these last few months, the end of lady babe’s pregnancy and into the first month plus of her life, I realized I don’t storytell much in this space. I tell our story mostly on instagram, attached to pictures from our daily life. The capture of a moment inspires me and the community there is so good. It’s changed how I blog, and it’s made me a more confident writer.

Being a mama of two isn’t harder. Nope. It’s actually quite easier. More love, less time. In the days of crazy hormones following her birth, I got really emotional about how I couldn’t give them both what they needed at that exact moment. Between my body not allowing for it, and Time not feeling like a friend, I got a little emotional. As the hormones subsided, I realized there was a very natural flow occurring in our dynamic and I embraced it. Does Little Dude like being told he’ll have to wait? Not always. But being five years older helps him understand the priority. And when he doesn’t HAVE to wait, I make her wait. Fair is fair. Though at this age, most of what she needs is immediate. So I ask for a lot of help. Because having two kids means asking for and accepting help. Mostly though, two kids equals more love, more laughter, more kindness. It feels easier. I don’t sweat the small stuff with Little Dude. He wants to wear his sweats inside out Kris Kross style? Okay! He wants to eat slower than ever because it gives us more time having conversation? I get it. He wants to watch me change every. single. dirty. diaper? Well, I guess I’ll have an audience for that. I’m happy they are both here, that they are both ours. I’m deeply happy we are now – four.

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Fitbit. Yup, I’ve started wearing a Fitbit. Let’s not talk about how far as I was only just given the ‘okay’ to go forward in all the normal physical things in my life post birth-surgery. I’m talking like four days ago. Well, I’ve been wearing the little tracker for two weeks. I wanted to watch myself gain more steps, more power, more strength as I finished up healing. I’m not ready to hop on my electric orange bike yet, but I am walking more every day until one day I start to jog again. One day very soon if I have my way. About halfway through recovery, I took to the track at the park while the boys did the playground. I pushed Lady Babe around very slowly and felt every single pain throb. I’m a dope like that. I waited another week before another stroller walk, and that walk felt 100 times better. Healing and downtime are not my favorite. Not at all. So happy to be on the upswing of all that shit.

So yeah, she’s here and we adore her tiny ways. She’s tiny, affectionate, playful. She has kind and serious eyes. When I look at her, I’m filled with hope. Hope for the future, hope for good days, hope for a healthy mother-daughter dynamic. She’s the sun and wind to me. She’s my lady babe and I love her a million times more than I knew possible. Parenthood, guys. Parenthood is a fiercely gorgeous adventure.

The State of More

In the last month of this pregnancy, I find myself way more fed up with winter than with being pregnant. Midwest winters feel LONG. With both pregnancies, I’ve felt really good while being pregnant. I’m so fortunate that way. I really like being pregnant. I just dig the feeling of how my body changes as a life forms inside of my womb. All that being said, I’m really excited to meet our Lady Babe. I want to see her face, kiss her cheeks, whisper I love you in her ear, and introduce her to my two favorite dudes. Because those dudes are her dudes too, you know?

A few things to come to terms with as I wrap up this pregnancy: I have no idea how to parent two kids. I barely feel like I have a handle on just the one after five years! Of course, after five years, I feel less anxious about it. At least for now anyway. Another thing I can’t stop thinking about is the time I have alone with our oldest right now. I have this frantic feeling right now that I’ll never have that again. Because, really, I won’t. Once she’s born, she’s born and we’re a family of four. I’m a mother of two. That never changes. There is no going back. It will never be just the three of us, even if she’s not physically with us. She’s part of us after this. Forever. That’s heavy.

Just the two of us

Of course, a million little frivolous details pour through me on any given day. I’ve started to pack the hospital bag, full of junk mostly. Gummy bears, facial wipes, lip balms, trail mix, magazines, nursing bras, iPad, one of my favorite pictures of our little dude (because I’ve never been away from him for more than a couple days), and I recently picked up these bars with which I’m immediately becoming obsessed. I feel a lot more equipped this time around. I know what I’m going in for, I know it might not go at all how we plan, and I try to tell myself that’s okay. We’ll be together, my husb and I. We got through it last time, and we’ll get through it again. Even if the organized planners in us both hope it just goes ordinary this time around. Because we’d really like ordinary this time. Please, Universe. PLEASE.

We have the crucial immediate items in our possession. We have a car seat, a bedside bassinet to bring her home to, a few cute newborn outfits, diapers, and swaddle blankets that make mama smile. In the next couple weeks, her crib and dresser will arrive. I’ll start to put together her side of the kids’ bedroom. A dear and talented friend has been commissioned to paint a canvas to hang over her crib, and I’ve ordered the most obnoxiously glorious hot pinks and gold garland for her side of the room. Little details fall into place. Every day, more and more comes together. We gather more and more things that make her pending arrival so very real. There is so little you really need those first couple days at home. You kind of just need yourselves. It’s like being in a cocoon. It’s like being in a fog. Maybe you think to take pictures. Maybe you have a chance to write down your thoughts. Mostly it’s not about things you remembered to buy for the baby, it’s about survival. In the deepest sense, it’s about figuring out how to be together. The baby comes from us, our love and our DNA, but we’re all still total strangers. It’s a glorious adventure of becoming a family. All while trying to stay awake, alert, fed, and just surviving in some hours.

So as the pregnancy ends, as winter ends, I look forward to longer days and more of us. We will become four.

Taken back in San Diego, well before we even thought seriously much about adding to our family of three, by our lifer photog Deann B.

Taken back in San Diego, well before we even thought seriously much about adding to our family of three, by our lifer photog Deann B.

FIVE

FIVE

Our little dude turned FIVE this month. FIVE YEARS OLD. I could hardly believe it, and then just like a switch it felt very real. He’s always been quite verbose, making him seem more mature to outsiders. He’s tall for his age, and that made a lot of strangers scratch their heads when he was three and four. He was talking like a five or six year old they would say. I’d shrug and feel humbled, because I’ve never felt very responsible for his personality. That’s just how kids are. They’re who they are and they move at their own pace. He was reading most any picture book before he was totally done potty training. Because he didn’t want to potty train as early as he wanted to read. The first word he read spontaneously while we were out and about? “Books.” He was just two years old. The first word he said after “dad” was “coffee”. My heart swoons at the combination of books and coffee here in this tiny detail of his little life.

So yeah, now he’s FIVE. It’s in all caps because that’s how I say it, you guys. FIVE is a big deal. He’s gone from me holding him in the babe-world to being a CHILD. He’s a kid now. I can’t ignore it. We’ve always had amazing conversations. We’re both talkers. We can talk each other’s ears off, but this is different. Now he says things about death, love, marriage, science, and dives deeply into his pretend world with reckless abandon. He is witty, fiercely independent about all things, and quite sweet when he’s a good mood. He’s also moody, aggressive, and sometimes a little mean. Just being real, because he’d want it no other way. He’s unapologetic about himself. Will it end up being a problem? I hope not. I intend to work on this with him for the next couple decades. And really, as long as I take breath probably. I love him deeply, in all of this. He is my moon and my stars. He is a living, breathing representation of the love I feel for my darling husband.

This FIVE year old is our everything, and pretty soon he’s gonna be a big brother. Something the three of us are excited about because it means MORE. More love, more challenge, more everything. That little sister better be ready for adventures with a big brother like this. He is so excited and ready to make a countdown chart (we’re about 28 days out).

I don’t remember many details of the first twenty-four hours of his life (our birth story isn’t romantic), but I do remember so many splendid memories from these last five years, my best five years.

To you, little dude, may you fly to moon and collect all the stars – all the days of your life.

FIVE STRIP

More. More in 2015.

Boom! It’s 2015. It happens quickly. One minute it’s 2014, the next minute it’s 2015. It’s swift, it’s exciting, it’s inspiring beyond that minute sometimes. So, here we are in 2015.  A year that sounded SO FAR AWAY when I was a teenager some twenty (gulp!) years ago. When I started to jot down notes in my journal for 2015, a word kept popping up: MORE. More this, more that, more him, more her, more good f’ing sh*t.

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So, I’ve decided to take the hint from my subconscious and make MORE my manifesto of sorts for 2015.

What kinds of words did I jot down with MORE? Well, I’m going to share a few (quite a few) here.

More kindness. For others, and for myself.

More writing, publicly.

More outside. Outside, like the outdoors and outside my comfort bubble.

More love.

More challenges. Specifically, physically within fitness challenges.

More bravery.

More reading books (less reading online).

More follow-through.

More bold dreaming.

More podcasting (yup, we’ll be continuing over at The Tangent Podcast!)

More energy. Specifically the good energy, the kind that fuels and the kind that sustains.

More travel adventures.

More gratitude.

More sleep.

More humility.

More yoga.

I just want to DO and BE more. I don’t want to BE less and don’t want to DO less. MORE. Unapologetically more.

I’m going to take on a couple of these “mores” in this post, and then I’ve also started a few additional posts to follow throughout January. Here’s to hoping I can “follow through”. That was supposed to make you chuckle. It made me chuckle.

Jumping right in with “more kindness”. I don’t struggle with this as much as I once did. I’ve written a little about this before. (My Brave Kindness post from a couple years ago is an example). Last year was all about transition for me – transition in relationships, transition to Midwest living, transition into being a mama bear of two (our lady babe is still in the womb, you didn’t miss anything). Kindness was a thick, pulsing piece of these transitions. I had rocky relational moments that needed kindness. Friendships are usually easy for me, and kindness is often mindless in my friendships. So when it’s not, I pause for a moment (or thousand) to figure out what the f is wrong – why isn’t the kindness easy? Sometimes it’s that I’m not being kind to myself, and other times it’s that I start to stifle my kindness to others. Not all others, but particular others. And without digging too deeply into personal relationships (recognizing this is a public facing blog that anyone could read, say the people I’m speaking about) when the kindness becomes hard, I become reflective and apparently – as I did last year – I’m able to say goodbye. Maybe goodbye for now, or maybe goodbye forever. I’m just not sure, and I found it more kind to not worry about LATER. So, leaning into 2015, I want more kindness. I want to be kindness. Not just in words I type, mostly just in all my everything always. It’s not vague, it’s just that simple. I want the kindness to just BE.

If I’d whispered into the ears of me ten years ago that I’d be asking for “challenges” as a part of this new year, there would have been maniacal laughter. This would not have gone over very well. The reality is, ten years ago, I was all about excuses for NOT being challenged. Challenges were scary and hard. Challenges were something I watched on MTV. Challenges were not my bag at all. So, I grinned and giggled that MORE challenges were something I wrote down during the brain dump in my journal last week. I want more challenges. I want more struggle. I want more of that surge of amazing feelings that comes from challenging myself.

I want to get back into jogging on the reg. I want to ride my neon orange bike for miles all over Indy and I want to breastfeed this lady babe. Being pregnant has done some weird shit to my brainspace. I’ve been just healthy enough, but not wildly healthy. I’ve craved spicy (in the first trimester) and now all I ever want is sweet (just rolled into the third trimester). I was so nauseous those first few months of pregnancy that I never really kept up with my fitness, then the weather hit, and then I started to feel like the me of ten years ago who had a bunch of (legit or not) excuses. I’m not waiting until I birth the lady babe before I start to make better choices and challenge myself, but I’m realistic that I can’t just challenge myself at the end of the pregnancy. At least, not at full speed.

Because I want more. More fitness challenges, more opportunities for growth. It’s not just about fitness, but fitness is a big fraction of the equation for me. I’m also challenging myself to make a friend. One single friend here in Indy. That could be a whole other post, though. I have a bunch of other weird things I want to challenge myself with, like taking up Italian and figuring out what the hell an “air plant” really is, but I *AM* having another babe in a couple months. SO.

In general, I didn’t want to be a poser about all this “new years” stuff. I love the aesthetic of less, but I want more. I don’t want to be ashamed about it either, because I’m okay with what I want more of. It’s not like when I was twenty-five and wanted more sex and shoes. Not that I’ll ever turn down sex or shoes. You get what I’m saying though…I hope.

So let’s do this 2015 thing, and let’s do it without apology. If you want to write up 100 resolutions, do that. If you want to call 2015 “The Year of Noodles”, f’ing do that. Let’s just do this thing.

Like I said, I’ll come back with more detail about more of my mores. That’s a sentence that doesn’t make real sense. I’ll be back, and I’d love to hear from you about what the heck your 2015 might end up looking like. Hit me up with a comment or a tweet. Or like, carrier pigeon. I love actual mail. Even if I do quite admittedly leave it on the counter for a few days before I open it driving my husb slowly mad. Poor dude, he’s a good dude.

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In braveness and kindess for all the shit we can’t anticipate and all the dreams we’re made of.

Serial, not just for breakfasts anymore.

Serial Podcast

I’ve been obsessed with the Serial podcast like the rest of everyone everywhere. OBSESSED. It releases new episodes on Thursdays, and it’s all we talk about around here for the next three or more days. Because it’s just like that. It’s an investigative reporting kind of serial (true!) storytelling project from the folks who bring us This American Life. (Confession: I’m SO behind on TAL since Serial hit the podcast waves.) It’s really, really good if you’ve not dived in yet. And if you haven’t, you really should. It’s killing me not to spoil those of you who might not have started listening yet. Because I have ALL THE THOUGHTS on this. SO MANY thoughts. But they’re boiling down to this: I strongly think that our system of SOLVING murders is FLAWED and that in the case of this “story”, an innocent man was very likely (in my never humble opinion) wrongly convicted.

I’ll stop there. Or maybe I should back up there. See, this season’s Serial is an in-depth investigation about the murder of a Baltimore teen who was strangled to death in 1999. It’s also a lot about the dude who is currently behind bars after being convicted of her murder. It is captivating and so smart. I just want to sit in a living room with a pot of coffee with Sarah Koenig (the host) for HOURS. Hell, maybe even days. I want to be her friend. For real.

When I say I’m obsessed, I mean it. I’m blogging about it because I think you – all of you – should be listening, too. I’m blogging about it because I can’t stop thinking about every detail. I’m blogging about it because I think my husb is tired of hearing about it. I’m blogging about it because it reminds me of all the things that have slowly nagged at me about our criminal justice system for years. Or the way the word “justice” just sits so nicely next to the word “criminal.” And even how we are a system built on PRESUMED innocence, but that doesn’t mean we give that to everyone. That part just picks at me like when your lips are chapped and you can not leave them alone. That’s how I feel about criminal justice. I never would have been cut out for law. Other than the unlimited coffee that seems to be needed to survive that profession, I’m a wimp. I’d want to prove everyone innocent, even those who might be guilty. I’m blogging about it because this kid, now adult, maybe went to prison for LIFE for nothing. I hate how nasty humans are. We do some gnarly shit, you know? Criminals, lawyers, cops, juries, all of us.

Driveway moments.

I’ve spent many a moments sitting in my driveway after an early Thursday morning coffee runs over the last 9 or so weeks.

 

I’m rambling, I know. Mostly because I don’t want to spoil anyone reading this. It’s hard for me not to just spill out all the thinks and feels I have about this whole story. The thing is, as a stay at home mom (can we rename what I do, because stay at home mom is so vanilla?), the internet is my water cooler. Sorry, guys, that’s you.

If you’re heading over to start listening to Serial now, start at the beginning. It’s a serial story. You need to start there and be prepared for the very real possibility that you’re gonna want to binge on this like nobody’s business. Grab a pot of coffee, for real. I’ll warn you about this: Husb has gone back and forth on what he thinks about the murder case, wherein I’ve only faltered for about half an episode. And for those of you who have been listening, I totally want to find a way to work with the Innocence Project because—well—I’ve clearly got a passion for INNOCENCE.

The funny thing about obsessions, they feel so real. I don’t know these people. A real girl was murdered, a real dude was put in prison for life, real parents lost their kids – forever. These are real people I don’t know. I can’t help it, though. I obsess, I worry, I overthink about all of these real people I don’t know. I obsess about parenting children in a world that has a great system that still makes mistakes. That teaching children about the company they keep is maybe the difference between them ending up in prison or not. I worry about our unborn daughter being a seemingly “normal” high school student and how dangerous it is to let them out in the world. The victim in the Serial case was murdered in a very brief time after school one January day. Being a parent, for me anyways, comes in waves of things to obsess over. Things that we really have zero control over. So yeah, like lots of things in life, I listen as a parent. I freak out over the crazy details of this story and I’ve never even been into “true crime” stuff.

I want to believe that the State of Maryland put the correct human behind bars for the strangling of this high school girl. I want to believe in a criminal justice system that means to do right. I want to believe that I’ll raise up my children to make good choices—the best choices really—and I want to believe this could never happen to them. The thing is, I have zero control over any of it.

In the meantime, I’ll keep obsessing and listening to Serial. And you should, too.

Hope Slays Fear

I’ve shared a bit about brave kindness before. I’ve shared a little bit about my anxiety. I’ve reflected on how my own childhood helped to form who I am in the adventures of parenthood. And finally, I’ve even shared how sometime last year I got hit with the baby fever.

Well, even in all the crazy fears that inhabit my head most of the time, I went and finally got knocked up again. Because, guys, it turns out hope slays fear. Husb and I talked a lot of talk before we got busy with the babe making. So, right at this moment, I sit here almost 22 weeks pregnant. Even better news, our wild child got his wish of a sister. Yup, I’ve got a lady babe inside of me! She’s got some spunk, too. I also think she’s already a crazy cat lady (babe) because she just seems to love when I spoon Julien with his purrs vibrating all through the womb. For sure, it’s perfection.

So, there. I said it. Hope slays another fear. I put said pregnancy in print. Letting the fear melt away, letting the hope of this lady babe shine like sunshine after a storm. (“Storm” meaning fear in this case.)

Once we started to talk about adding to our family of three, it wasn’t long before the hope made its way in. The questions that could be answered were answered and we decided that waiting any longer just didn’t make sense for us. We’re not getting younger, and we were pretty sure our wild child was ready to be a sibling. (Is he ever! It’s all he ever talks about.) After getting settled in here in our new home, we decided to give it a go and then the baby magic happened. (Bow-chicka-bow-wow!)

This halloween, I dressed up like Julien.

This halloween, I dressed up like Julien.

And then, after weeks and weeks of morning sickness, fatigue, and general moodiness (so many tears! all of us!), we got the hope that just squashed all the fear: “It’s a girl!” said the genetic counselor. I cried real tears. I didn’t even really realize how much I wanted to give our little dude his wish of a baby sister. There was all this hope flooding me. I wouldn’t have to wonder what it would be like to have a daughter, it was a lady babe! Neon pink everything forever and ever.

Mostly, though, the way my dudes love us is what really fills my everything with deepest hope. They love her so much already. Every day, little dude wildly gets close to my belly button and uses it as a megaphone to talk with her. He calls her by name. It makes it all the more real. When I lean into my husband these days, the bump awkwardly between us, he sweetly says, “Hey, ladies.” I’m crying while I type this. Because, guys, the hope is real.

So, I sit here. Thankful and hopeful that we’ll be given another life to form and love and share. She’ll be amazing. We’ll be amazing. It will be hard. Real talk: it will probably be even harder than it was the first time around. But, there’s this hope that keeps telling me it’s okay. So, I’m going to let it be okay.

Did you hear that? I’m going to let it be okay. Hope will slay the fears. I’m going to let it be okay.

The Voyager (and my awkward love letter to Jenny Lewis.)

What’s going on in your ears? No, no. Nothing gross like that. What are you listening to this summer? What can’t you turn off? Do you have a totally unnatural ability to listen to the same album so many times in a row that it seeps into every conversation and every dream you dream at night? And then you can’t help but blog a very awkward love letter to your favorite lady artist? Well, I do.

“The Voyager is an album to spend time with.” Aren’t all the good albums? I’m quoting Ken Tucker as he reviews, quite fondly, Jenny Lewis’s newest solo release. I’ve been listening to “The Voyager” since it dropped (do we still say that in 2014?) last Tuesday. Jenny Lewis is absolutely my favorite lyricist and singer from our current era. I’ve been listening to her since around 2000 and I totes remember her from her child acting days in the 80’s because yes, I’m that old. Jenny is why I finally tried the full, heavy bangs look two years ago. She’s why I started to tinker with the guitar, and she’s inspired me to write down words that might someday be lyrics. In general, though, she’s been the soundtrack of my life for the last fourteen years. Her deeply soulful music has seen me through some of my most depressing, anxious, sad times. And listening to music from those times really  reminds me how much better I am today. We all need that kind of reminder from time to time. Jenny’s music is that mile marker for me. It’s therapy, and it’s honest. For the longest time, every online bio I had simply read, “I’m just a girl that wishes she had words like Jenny Lewis to write this bio.”

Side Fun Fact: Hubs surprised me a few weeks into dating with tickets to a small live show of hers in San Diego. I hopped off the train, he presented me with the tickets, we went to a show being quite possibly the oldest people there, sea of beer on the floor, and quite possibly one of my favorite live music nights ever. Oh, and I finally told him I loved him after that. Because there he was making dreams come true without me even mentioning it.

“The Voyager” is good. It is damn good. It hasn’t pushed to the top and replaced my favorite of her other solo efforts. Rabbit Fur Coat (with The Watson Twins) probably holds that spot. I have a hard time narrowing it down. All of her music is so good and suits just about any mood I might be in on any given day. I can’t say that about any other music in my collection. The Voyager straddles the line between playful and melancholy like so much of her music. She’s a storyteller in the most seductive of tones.  It’s dripping with her expressive voice and bits of sunny pop that don’t annoy. It’s easy to listen to even if you have to listen a little harder to lyrics than with previous projects. She touches on some sad stuff, but it’s got a tone of hopefulness that is necessary with sad stuff. Yeah, “The Voyager” is worth the wait of six years between now and her last solo release.

When music becomes part of your therapy, it becomes part of you. And though I don’t think I’m the type of girl Jenny Lewis is friends with, I’m the kind of girl she’s writing about, and there is a certain peace to that.

With Arms Outstretched

Adventuring: Chicago! (part two)

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Things I just adored about Chicago in no particular order: walking everywhere, the river running through it, the smells of a variety of ethnic cuisines (though, primarily pizza), the gorgeous old buildings – the art in the middle of a sidewalk/attached to buildings – stunning architecture, the Wicker Park neighborhood, sail boats on Lake Michigan, larger than I’ve ever seen ferris wheel on Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Bean (aka Cloud Gate), grubby streets, graffiti under the L, brick everywhere, friendly Midwest folks on the streets, how happy a slice of sausage Chicago style pizza made my hubs, eating baked goods and drinking coffee in a quiet spot by ourselves, the glittery views of skyline at night.

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We walked everywhere after parking our car, which we never retrieved until leaving the city. The river was charming and captivating as the sun lowered in the sky that night; I probably took over 50 pictures of the light on the water, shadows from the sky rises, people on boats living the life. The smells of so many foods just kind of assaulting my nose in the most marvelous of ways. The city is just stunning visually at every single turn, even the L has this way about its structure that is beautiful to me. I could see us shaking life up someday and buying an old brownstone in Wicker Park (in my day dreams anyways). Lake Michigan looks like an ocean when you’re standing on Navy Pier (I’ll take it!) Someday I’ll be brave and ride that ferris wheel with my boys. Millennium Park and the Bean were the perfect place to sip coffee, walk around, seeing the city as a backdrop. I’m weird, but I like the dirty, lived on streets in a real city. There was some really neat graffiti art all about. Brick buildings – period – swoon. It’s like being in LA or NYC, but the people are Midwest (and if you’ve spent time here, you’ll understand that). Hubs might leave me for that pizza someday – and I found it to be an amazing buttery crust – but a LAYER of sausage just isn’t my thing at all. We stopped at an Intelligentsia Coffee shop mostly because it was en route from the hotel to the Cloud Gate. Drinking good cold brew, eating a few bites of a really decadent almond croissant, while walking to find a spot under a tree outside Millennium Park. Standing in our hotel room, as the sun went down, and all the lights glittered up the city reminded me what I love about a lively city getaway.

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We’ll be returning to Chicago. Probably a lot. Because – as my hubs said – it’s one of the only cities in the US that we can make OURS. We both have no ties to it, no memories there with other people. We’re going to get to adventure it together and make it our own. I’m really looking forward to it.

PS. I can’t believe I didn’t mention the tacos we had at Big Star in Wicker Park. They totally rivaled those in San Diego. In fact, the al Pastor might have been BETTER than that of San Diego’s. We sat outside on the patio, the weather was perfectly warm, and the smells were insanely aromatic. Worth many returns.