fun

My Weekend Without Context

I went to visit one of my best friends in San Diego last weekend. It was relaxing, fun, cozy, and very much needed, but when I sat down to write about it, I was having trouble figuring out how.

Our days were full, maybe not from going this way and that, but from talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other’s company, so while I couldn’t write one of my usual *travel* type blogs about it, I still felt like it was one I wanted to document. One I felt like you could relate to, or benefit from, even if you weren’t there.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t need to give you specific details, or even context, in order for you to understand or experience it. Because when I thought about the weekend, I saw it in a string of moments that we might all know. Moments that make you sigh wistfully, nod enthusiastically, and say, “YES” understandingly.

So I hope that as I walk you through my weekend in a rather unconventional way, your senses can be awakened, and a few ideas might come to mind, making you think, man, I should do that.

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When the ETA on your GPS goes down by an HOUR.

The full body stretch after you arrive at your destination.

A shy smile from a little kid.

A hug from a friend you missed.

A comfy couch.

The perfect sandwich.

Easy conversation that can start anywhere.

Detailed daydreaming about future vacations.

Having lots of time to sit down and relax.

Looking at a friend and saying, “I do that TOO!”

The smell of a barbeque.

The feeling of a smile pulling across your lips.

A satisfied sigh at the dinner table.

Turning off all the lights to watch a movie.

Fresh popcorn out of the microwave.

Licking salt off your fingertips.

Cuddling up with a blanket.

Falling asleep hard and fast.

Waking up to the sun rather than an alarm.

Fresh fruit on a slow morning.

A deep belly baby laugh

A breeze on a hot day.

Cold beer.

Finding a seat in the shade.

Hot French fries.

Comfortable quiet.

A long relaxing breath.

Binge watching a tv show that makes you smile.

A sunset hike on the beach.

Pasta.

A fluffy pillow.

An easy Sunday morning.

A bright blue sky.

Inside jokes.

Cozy hugs.

Promises of “see you soon!”

Good music.

An easy drive.

Home.

10 Things You Might Hear While Fishing With Us

I grew up fishing.

There are so many Saturday’s and Sunday’s I can remember waking up early at my family’s mountain cabin, anxious to get out on the lake. We would stop at 7-eleven and buy mini donuts, we’d rent one of the bright orange boats at the dock, and then we’d start our loop around the lake, knowing where and when the best bites should hit.

These days, while the Saturday’s and Sunday’s spent fishing are much fewer and farther between, we still try to get out as much as we can. And when we’re lucky, we fish with some friends in some of the most beautiful places.

But no matter where we are or who we’re with, there are some things you’re bound to hear if you happened to walk by. We have our own kind of language when we fish, one that I had to actively pull myself out of in order to write this post. I had to imagine myself out on the lake, or in my seat on the shore, listening to the people around me say things that might not make sense to someone that’s never fished before—or maybe just someone that’s never fished with us.

Here are some of those things:

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1) Fish On!

No, this isn’t a chant for the downtrodden, encouraging all those who have been shut out to keep going, to FISH. ON! This is a victory cry that announces you, quite literally, have a fish on your line. Usually we’ll pick up our pole and wait until we’ve successfully set the hook, and then yell “fish on!” It’s fun to watch our group cheer as surrounding groups slump in jealousy.

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2) How did this even happen?

I can think of a number of different circumstances in which I’ve said this exact thing in a non-fishing context. Like when I followed the instructions of a recipe and ended up with something scary. Or when I tripped and fell in grand fashion for no discernable reason. Sometimes things just become a disaster and we have no idea why. In fishing, this usually involves your line becoming a rat’s nest in the blink of an eye. Or perhaps the time I hooked a fish by the tail. Or when I reeled in my pole to rebait, only to mysteriously hook my shoe in the process.

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3) I’ve lost everything.

This is perhaps the saddest thing you can hear while fishing. Sure, you’ll lose the occasional fish. You’ll lose your bait, hook, swivel, jig, lure, or bobber. But sometimes, whether it be during a fight with a fish, or by reeling your line through a patch of seaweed, over a rock or under a log, you will, in fact, lose everything. In an instant your pole will go slack, and you know that when you reel in the rest of the line, there will be absolutely nothing there. Sometimes even the pole breaks too. *sigh*

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4) Bitch stole my bait.

Our most common moniker for fish is *ahem* bitch. And if you ever fished, you know why. Fish can be slimy, shady little…well, bitches. They can tangle up your line, they can swim under a rock or log and make you lose everything, they can get your hopes up only to send them crashing down. Sometimes fish can be clever. They figure out that the shiny, sparkly Powerbait (or worm or mosquito or salmon egg) is a trap, and will nibble them off the hook without a trace. So when you reel in your line, curious why you haven’t gotten a bite, you find nothing but a hook, licked clean like a plate on Thanksgiving. And so, the only natural thing to say is, that bitch stole my bait.  

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5) *Zelda noises*

When my siblings and I were little, we got Zelda: Ocarina of Time for our Nintendo 64. To this day, it is probably our favorite game of all time, and thus, the sights, sounds, bosses, challenges, etc. are firmly engrained in all of our memories. One of which is the unforgettable sound Link makes while swinging his sword, which is a high pitched “HaaaAAAA” noise. In time, it has become one of the most hilarious noises in the world. ESPECIALLY, when we’ve been fishing for hours, haven’t caught much, and have slipped into a delirium that encourages us to use these sword fighting sounds to help us cast.

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6) Do you have tinkage?

While trolling (fishing on a slow-moving boat) my family and I often use lures—mainly Thomas Bouyants and Super Dupers. These lures will “swim” around in the water, swaying back and forth, to attract the attention of the fish and ideally get them to bite. As a result, the swaying motion causes the tip of our fishing poles to twitch, or, as we like to call it, “tink.” If your pole is “tinking” it means the lure is swimming right. Thus, do you have tinkage? means “everything look good over there?” And responses to this range, from: “yup” to “oh, MAJOR tinkage.”

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7) We need the Koehn death grip over here.

Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at removing hooks from fish we’ve caught. To do this however, I need to keep the fish still. And so, I’ve figured out the kind of hand strength I need to make that happen. In our circle of friends, this has become known as “the Koehn death grip.” Koehn (pronounced “cane”) being my last name.  Fish have been known to gurgle while I hold them in my hand, and once I squeezed a bigger fish so hard that a salmon egg (which we were not fishing with) popped out of the fish’s mouth. Oops.

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8) I need STANK.

One of my sister’s biggest superstitions while shore fishing is to add a Powerbait attractant to her bait. It adds scent and flavor to your bait so that fish will find it and bite. While making this list, I had to actively search for what this stuff is actually called because for decades we have only ever called it “stank” or “stinky stuff.” At any given time while fishing, my sister will say, “I need STANK,” and as I write this I am giggling, knowing how completely unfazed we are by this request. We just toss her the bottle and move on.

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9) Should we do a fish call?

I HESITATE to tell you this because it feels like a trade secret. But then, I don’t know if there’s a single person we’ve taken fishing that we haven’t told this to, so, perhaps it’s not a secret at all. At the start of any fishing trip (morning, afternoon, or evening) we like to do a “fish call.” This makes us feel like the fishing has started and, we like to believe, summons the fish toward us. To do a fish call*, you simply make a fist, count to three, and then blow into your fist the way you might if your hands were cold. But you elongate that exhale, that way the call can reach even the biggest fish at the deepest depths. Then, you open your hand and push the call into the open.

*Shout out to everyone who just did a fish call at their desk, in their bedroom, on their couch or wherever else you might be reading this.

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10) Seems like it’s time for a beer.

And finally, this one. Do I need to explain this one? I feel like I don’t. When you’re fishing, it’s almost always time for a beer.

I Played Hooky!

When my alarm went off on Friday it felt like any other weekday. I hit snooze once—okay twice—and then I got up and went through my morning routine.

But it wasn’t a normal weekday. It wasn’t even a work day. Because I was playing hooky!

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from one of my favorite places to volunteer, Food Forward, offering the opportunity to pick blueberries.

“Bummer,” I said, reading through the details. “It’s on a Friday morning.”

As a long time Monday-Friday officer worker, 8:00am – 4:00pm are always work hours. They are accounted for. They are booked. So I almost deleted the email right then and there.

But then…I let it churn a bit.

I am not one for taking spontaneous days off. I like to plan vacations and there’s the occasional weekend trip I’ll extend one way or the other, but other than that, I go to work. I’m clocking in and clocking out and wondering a) why it isn’t Friday yet, or b) how can it already be Friday?

And I’ll admit, sometimes work weeks can get monotonous. They can blend together, making time slip by at the speed of light. Which is why, when I really let myself think about it, I decided, why not?

Why not take a spontaneous Friday off?

Why not?

So, on Friday morning I got in the car, and rather than head into work I drove out to a farm in Camarillo, feeling smug as I cruised past all the rush hour traffic going the opposite direction.

When I pulled into the gravel parking lot, I met my group of fellow volunteers, who all seemed as happy to be there as I was. It was 73 degrees, it was Friday, none of us were at work. Life was good.

We walked by an orchard of avocado trees to a large tent that had almost twenty rows of blueberry bushes and a few rows of strawberry bushes right alongside them. We were each given a small bucket and told to choose an aisle.

For the next couple hours, I filled my bucket and then emptied it, dying my hands blue in the process. I’ll admit, there may have been a good handful or so of blueberries that missed my bucket and ended up in my mouth—with the permission of the farmers, of course.

At 11:00 a.m., we wrapped up our pick and calculated that we harvested around 90 pounds of blueberries. Which, when you consider that the average blueberry weighs about 1/128th of an ounce, this would suggest that we picked about 184,320 blueberries. Which would fill about 240 six-ounce containers of blueberries.

*pauses for applause*

(for the blueberry picking, yes, but also for the math I just did)

Our blueberries were donated to a food shelter, and we all left with smiles on our faces, grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand, and to spend the morning on a farm.

When I’d first made plans for my day off, I knew I’d be picking blueberries in the morning and wedding dress shopping with my sister in the afternoon. That left me a handful of hours in between to do with what I wished. So, as I got ready in the morning, I packed a bag with a few pairs of shoes, a change of clothes, and a beach towel.

After I left the farm, I headed north to a sandwich shop called Peebee & Jays. I ordered the Chicken & Greens sandwich on sourdough and filled my Hydroflask, then drove to the beach. I changed out of my blueberry stained t-shirt and into a comfortable crewneck and flip flops, then I carried my beach towel and sandwich bag out to the sand and took a seat.

The beach was nearly empty, with only a few people in sight in either direction. All I could hear was the water. I sat crisscross applesauce and watched the waves as I ate my sandwich, occasionally pausing to close my eyes and feel the breeze hit my face, my hair, my toes.  The ocean was loud but my mind was quiet.

I felt like I had time to think, to plan, to exist, to relax. A lot has happened this year, and there is a lot more year left to live. There will be a lot of work days ahead. A lot of busy weeks and full calendars. There will be a lot of change—some good, some hard, some both—and a lot of new.  But today there was just this. There was just the sound of the ocean, the sand between my toes, and this peaceful feeling that I’d grabbed onto with both hands.

I could have been at work, I could have let that email pass me by, I could have let this Friday blend in with the Wednesday and Thursday before it. But I decided to make it different. I decided to make it special. I decided to play hooky. And I was grateful I did.

If you’re looking for a sign to play hooky, this is it!

March & April Favorites

Spring is in full bloom here at home, which means that all of the birds are happily chirping, the plants are happily glowing a vibrant green, and the flowers are happily blooming in every color you can think of.

Seems like the perfect time to talk about some favorites.

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Podcasts

I have been absolutely binging Terrible, Thanks for Asking. This might be a little bit strange to hear if you a) know the podcast or b) look it up on this recommendation, because many of the episodes are emotional and, at times, devastating. But I am so drawn to the stories and emotions that this podcast inspires, and I just can’t get enough of it. I am addicted to the feelings it draws out of me, if that makes sense. They are creative feelings, they are empathetic feelings, they are feelings that say, hey, you’re alive, and I just love it.

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Books

I have a few recommendations based on what you might be looking for here

If you are looking for a romantic comedy, I’d say The Hating Game. This book was cute, strange (in a good way), funny and easy to read. It starts with: “I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them” and then follows two characters who toe this line—and cross it.

If you are looking for something you cannot put down, I’d say Verity. I’d heard a lot of rumblings about this book and wanted to read it for myself. After starting, it took about five minutes for me to a) need to know everything that was going to happen, and b) need to have someone to discuss every second of the book with—a task I quickly gave to my mom, who said, “omg let me know what happens,” and allowed me to update her on the drama/horror/shock as I went along. The basic plot is that a woman is hired to finish writing a series of books since the author (named Verity) has been in an accident and is unable to continue writing. The woman then moves into Verity’s house (alongside Verity’s husband and son) so that she can immerse herself in Verity’s notes, outlines, etc. and she finds FAR more than she anticipated.

If you are looking for an inspirational read to change your perspective, I’d say The Gift of Forgiveness. This is a collection of stories that highlight forgiveness and the sometimes unbelievable/unbearable circumstances where people have found themselves in need of forgiving. At the beginning of every chapter I said, “no way,” in regards to the possibility/necessity of forgiveness and was continuously blown away by the human capacity to do so.

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Movies

I didn’t hear a lot about Everything, Everywhere, All At Once before it hit theaters, but after it did, all I heard was that it was fantastic. And I agree. It is nearly impossible for me to explain to you what happens. But I can honestly say that you’ve never seen anything like it, and that you will experience seemingly every emotion while watching it. Just watch it. It’s incredible.

Also, Father Stu. If you want a reason why you should look up this movie, here is the opening line on the Wikipedia page dedicated to the subject of this true story: “Stuart Long was an American boxer and Catholic priest.” This was an incredible story, that had humor and heart, and took turns I definitely didn’t anticipate. What an inspiring man and a truly meaningful life.  

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TV Shows

Pam & Tommy follows the beginning (and initial end) of the relationship between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, and the theft and release of their sex tape. It is honestly devastating to watch, both because of the invasion of privacy, and the way in which Pamela Anderson was treated afterwards by the media and the lawyers that were supposed to be helping her. Both Lily James and Sebastian Stan put on incredible performances and the makeup team should win an award. (find it on Hulu)

The Girl from Plainville is based on the true story from a few years back where a girl was taken to trial for allegedly encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. It is a heavy subject and is hard to watch at times. But I feel like it addresses an important subject and, at least for me, is a reminder of how precious life is— how precious each individual is—and how much is lost, both for a family and for the world, when someone takes their own life. (find it on Hulu)

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Music

Humble Quest by Maren Morris

Raised by Hailey Whitters

Where We Started by Thomas Rhett

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Two Dots

I’m not really one for playing games on my phone, but Two Dots has sucked me in. I couldn’t tell you how/when I found it, but it is such a simple concept and has been an easy thing to play while I’m decompressing after a long day at work. Plus, it’s free, so we love that. (find it here)

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Alabaster Co Meditations

I have wanted to get into a consistent meditation routine for a while now but have had trouble finding meditations that draw me in and keep me focused. So I was very excited to find these guided Christian meditations on YouTube that are all brief and easy to follow. I like to do them after I finish doing yoga or when I just need to refresh my mind after work. (find them here)


Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

A Golden Birthday in Nashville (Part 2)

Monday March 21st, 2022

On Monday, the birthday-day!, our first stop was the Country Music Hall of Fame. We walked up and down aisles of country music history, recognizing some faces, and learning about others. My mom has always been a fan of country music, so it was fun to hear songs that she’d played for me throughout my childhood, and to see her face light up in recognition of those that reminded her of hers.

Music history is special. It weaves its way into all of our lives, defining moments we will remember forever. As we walked among the crowds, I liked to imagine all of the shoulders being tapped, and hushed stories being shared, saying things like, “this reminds me of ____” or “I first heard this when ___.”

Even though we might not notice, we all have soundtracks that define our lives and unlock memories that we might not even remember we still have. I know for me (in the country music world at least) I have fond memories of Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Amy Grant, and Crystal Bernard, and hearing them helps me connect with that little girl that heard them for the first time—be it in my mom’s car on the way to school or on the cd player in the living room—twenty years ago.

On our way out, my mom and I designed this country music *star*, designing her persona from her shoes to her hair. Personally, I think she looks like the love child of Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, which sounds like an absolute dream of an artist.

From the Country Music Hall of Fame, we made our way to Yee Haw Brewing Co. for a drink and some lunch. I ordered a watermelon margarita and some tacos, and while I remember them being good, they were supremely overshadowed by the pretzel that we ordered. It was gigantic, it was delicious, and I will probably think about it for the rest of my life. That being said, it was so good that it was about 75% gone before I even considered taking a picture. So you will just have to go to Nashville to try one for yourself.

In the same building as Yee Haw Brewing is Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, so after lunch a big group walked over to do a moonshine tasting. I sat it out, but happily leaned on the bar to watch everyone’s mouths pucker and eyes water—especially after tasting the 128 proof moonshine known as Blue Flame. Among the other offerings—some of which we brought home with us—were moonshine pickles, moonshine cherries, and Mountain Java moonshine, which I heard tastes a *little* like chocolate milk, and makes an excellent addition to your morning coffee if you need an extra strong start to your day.

Around 6:00p.m that evening, we walked from our building to Bakersfield, a Mexican restaurant hosting Tanner’s birthday dinner. I should also note that earlier in the day, we were all given matching hats that said “TS 3/21”. The TS being Tanner’s initials and the date obviously being his birthday. With our group, that was essentially the size of a baseball team, we turned quite a few heads in our matching gear. The red, white and blue coloring of the hats made us look like we might be campaigning for an upcoming election, though I think a few people looked at us fearfully as if we might be recruiting for a cult. Either way, we loved them, and we rocked them for the remainder of the night.

After dinner, we headed to Luke Bryan’s bar (Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge), which had a very mellow vibe. A pair of gentlemen stood on stage singing classic country songs we all knew, and we happily sang along, occasionally dancing, and constantly pointing at Tanner in the hope that they might sing happy birthday.

We then walked over to Kid Rock’s bar (Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk and Steakhouse). It was nice out, so we headed up to the rooftop and sat, sipping on our drinks, taking the occasional shot, and singing along to the band playing 80’s music.

After a little while, we decided it was time to move on, but then they played “Time of My Life”from Dirty Dancing, and so we all took off towards the stage and danced our Patrick Swayze hearts out. I then realized that—because I am the mom of the friend group—I’d packed snacks in my purse earlier in the day. So I pulled out a pack of fruit snacks which, at 11:00pm, with alcohol sponsored energy, felt like the greatest thing to ever happen. There is a video from that night of me dancing with my hands over my head. One fist is tightly closed because I am keeping my remaining fruit snacks intact for continued snacking. #snackdedication

When we finally did walk downstairs, we only got as far as the second floor (there are five total). Because on the second floor, you can look out over the first floor, which had people dancing on top of the bar, a live band singing while a bartender poured a beer on someone, and people cheering, singing and raising their glasses all over the room.

At first, I think we all stopped just to watch. They were playing good music, but it was also perhaps some of the best people watching around. But then, the music got us. We started dancing and then we kept dancing. The bar started to empty and we just kept on dancing. We jumped and we sang and we tipped our Tanner themed hats. We put our arms around each other and belted out notes into our empty cups. We stomped our boots and clapped our hands. It felt like a celebration for Tanner and a celebration of music. We twirled and laughed and took pictures that would forever bring us back to those moments. The world felt normal—or at least this new kind of normal. I felt appreciative of this night, as I knew how far we’d come to be able to have it.

We walked home, talking a mile a minute, already reminiscing about this night, about the night before, and everything in between. My FitBit buzzed, letting me know I hit 10,000 steps—two hours into the day—and my feet—this time in tennis shoes—kept dancing while I brushed my teeth, not stopping until I again collapsed into bed.

Tuesday March 22nd, 2022

Tuesday morning was a bit of an earlier wake up call. Especially when you consider that we’d been out dancing only a matter of hours beforehand. Our group walked over to meet everyone at their AirBnb just up the street, as a bus was picking us up to drive us to Lynchburg.

If you are a country music fan, the town of Lynchburg might sound familiar, even if you’ve never been to Tennessee. This is because it is the home (the one and ONLY home) to Jack Daniels whiskey.

Being a loyal Jameson family (sorry) and having toured the Jameson distillery in Ireland, we were curious to learn about this American whiskey that, while not our number one, is still a staple in our houses—especially the Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey.

In the end, we learned a lot about the making of whiskey, a lot about the man himself, Jack Daniels—who casually started working in a distillery at the age of eight—and a lot about the variety of whiskeys the distillery makes. I bought a Tennessee Honey baseball hat to support our trusted pal, but left with my loyalty to Jameson unshaken. (Sorry, again.)

By the time we got home that evening, our group was entirely too exhausted to even consider going out again. We’d been running on an average of 4-5 hours of sleep, and were set to fly home the next day. So, we robed up—embracing our last night as *penthouse people*—and ordered in some pizza. A rainstorm blew in and drenched the city, sending many people on the streets below running for cover. Wind whistled through the buildings and cars moved slow. We all went to bed early that night, and our bodies thanked us for it.

Wednesday March 23rd, 2022

On our last morning in Nashville, we ate a marvelous carb loaded breakfast at Another Broken Egg Café. I ordered the Bourbon Street Pancakes, which I felt was a good send off—not to mention delicious.

By 12:30pm we were out of our suite and in an Uber on the way to the airport, sad the trip was over, and even sadder that we had to go to work the next morning.

After the plane took off, I sat, looking out the window, hoping that the trip had been all that Tanner hoped it would be. For me, it was even more. The weeks prior to leaving had been chaotic and I was a little nervous I wouldn’t be able to unwind enough to truly enjoy the trip. But I’d had so much fun dancing and singing and jumping around like I didn’t have a care in the world. I’d loved wearing my hat (emblazoned with Tanner’s initials) backwards in a honky tonk, like a fraternity brother on spring break. I’d loved the city of Nashville and its quirky architecture and lively energy. I’d loved this break from reality, from everything that had been weighing me down at home.

Even though I was exhausted, and so excited to be reunited with my pillow—and my normal bedtime—I was going to miss this trip, and the people I took it with.

I was already dreaming up our next one, excited that someday, that dream would be a reality.

A Golden Birthday in Nashville (Part 1)

About three years ago my cousin Tanner told me and my family that he wanted to celebrate his twenty first birthday in Nashville, Tennessee.  

Funnily enough, we were in Paris at the time, waiting for the clock to strike ten so that the Eiffel Tower—which we took to calling “Eif”—would light up. Our group of nine cheers-ed to the idea, both wishing it was closer, and praying that the trip we were already on would find a way to last a little longer.

Like everyone else, we didn’t know what was to come. And we had no idea that we’d spend much of the “countdown to Nashville” locked inside. But, when things started opening back up, and flights to Nashville went on sale, we booked, we prayed and then we waited.

On Saturday, March 19th, that waiting ended.

Saturday March 19th, 2022

As we made our way down 2nd Avenue, sitting in bumper to bumper Saturday night traffic in downtown Nashville, music played from seemingly every direction. A tractor drove by towing a trailer full of people dancing and drinking, pedestrians walked down the street in dresses, boots and cow print pants. Meanwhile, our Uber driver yelled, “I DON’T SEE MY DESTINATION!” at his navigation system, so we politely asked to get out, suggesting that we were close enough and could walk the rest of the way.

“This is us,” my dad said, pointing to a building.

As far as lodging went, I had no real expectations going in. I’m a bargain hunter by trade, and had done my part by finding us a great deal on flights, so I assumed my dad had found a hotel that he simply liked the look of.  But when the doors opened to the fourth (and top) floor of our building, and a key code let us into the Penthouse apartment that my dad had found a good deal on, we all walked in, absolutely speechless.

It was a fun space, with both eclectic and nostalgic design schemes. There was a piano, a pool table, an arcade machine, a lava lamp, coasters that looked both like floppy discs and records, a picture of a young Queen Elizabeth edited to give her piercings and neck tattoos, and lots of books ranging from Nashville themed cookbooks to Marvel based dictionaries.

There were 4 bedrooms (each of which had at least one cloth robe emblazoned with the building’s name hanging in the closet), four bathrooms, a living room with a couch and four comfortable chairs, a kitchen, and a wet bar. And did I mention we were only a block from Broadway Street?

My family has never been wealthy, or flashy, or really ever been one that regularly “splurges”, but like most people (perhaps more than some and less than others) we had been put through the ringer in the last two years, and so walking up and down the length of the suite, marveling that it was “all for us!!”, felt like a true testament to all that we’d made it though, and all that we’d come to celebrate.

After we unpacked, we walked over to Gray & Dudley, as we wanted to eat, drink, and meet up with the guest of honor.  Tanner was turning 21 on the 21st of March, making it his golden birthday, and it almost felt surreal to actually be in Nashville, primed to celebrate it. Our trip to Europe felt like 10 years ago, but now that we were here, in Nashville, taking this trip that had once only been an idea, made it feel like just yesterday we were sitting in that Parisian café, dreaming it up. 

With our group of seven, we made the group total 17. Tanner’s family, friends and cousins had also made the trip, and we all gathered around a corner of the bar, hugging, smiling and chatting.

Even though most of us knew each other already, it still felt like a bit of an ice breaker. We were all still in our plane attire, with our eyes a little heavy from the 5ish hours of travel and the anticipation of the trip to come. We would be each other’s community for the trip. The people you would look for if you got separated in a bar or a restaurant, the faces and voices you would recognize up ahead on the street or coming around the corner behind you. Tanner had brought us all together and now we’d all be a part of each other’s memories, writing stories on this weekend of our shared histories, and taking pictures that would eventually make us say, “remember when?”

We’d made it to Nashville and now it was time to enjoy it.

Sunday March 20th, 2022

At about 12:00pm on Sunday, we all made our way over to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon, which is a 90-year-old replica of the Greek structure originally built in 447 BC. (That’s 2500 years ago, y’all)

It is an imposing, beautiful structure that I can hardly believe just exists in the middle Nashville, Tennessee.

Immediately upon getting out of the car, I was taking pictures from every angle, knowing that none of them would ever really do it justice. It’s the kind of structure that makes you feel small, and when I asked my sister (who graciously obliged) to take off running down one of the cement pathways, I was reminded just how small we are.

Cute, but small.

From there, we made our way to the Belmont Mansion.

Located on the Belmont University campus, the Belmont Mansion is listed as the largest house built in Tennessee prior to the Civil War. Moving from room to room (and trying desperately to abide by the “no touching” rules) we learned about Adelicia Acklen and her crazy life, which included three husbands, ten children (six of which died young), and of course, this expansive property which, at the time of completion, included lavish gardens, and a zoo.

Next, we headed to the historic Ryman auditorium. After checking in for our tour, we were led into a side room to watch what I assumed would be a standard informative film about the building. Instead, it was a fun, creative performance that not only taught us about the history of the Ryman, but made me both excited and invested in its (hopefully) bright and prosperous future.

At approximately 4:00pm, we were more or less starving. It had been a slow onset of travel hanger that I think, if left unchecked for much longer, could have escalated into violence. Thankfully, we found the Assembly Food Hall that had (among other things) chicken, pizza, edible no bake cookie dough, and alcohol just in time.

While we ate, we made a game plan for the night ahead. Tanner’s birthday was the next day and we wanted to be out celebrating on Broadway by midnight. So, we decided that everyone would meet at our place, where we would pregame and play a few rounds of beer pong and pool before heading out on the town.

We walked out of our building at about 11:55pm, so right as we reached Broadway, we stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to sing happy birthday loud and proud.

We then headed to Jason Aldean’s bar, with Tanner leading the way. He walked up to the bouncer, who checked his ID once, then twice, then said, “hey, happy birthday man” before letting him through, officially starting his career as a legal bar hopper.

Once inside, we were a little bummed to find that the second floor (the country music floor) was closed for the night, so we climbed the stairs all the way to the top floor, which was blasting hip hop music and was more reminiscent of a downtown LA club than I think any of us were hoping. We walked out onto the rooftop and cheers-ed our drinks, knowing that the night was young and there were plenty more bars to choose from.

Similar to Vegas, Broadway comes alive at night. The dark sky gives the neon a chance to really glow, asking you to “come in!” “try this place!” “check this out!” We did a slow spin on our heels, taking in all of our options, each of us willing to go wherever the birthday boy had in mind. He pointed at a bar across the street, but then decided to peek in Tin Roof first, as there was a live band playing and the lead singer had an incredible voice.

We walked in, ordered some drinks and then started dancing. Our big group made the once scant bar look like it was hosting a small wedding reception. We were high energy and already comfortable with one another. We took turns walking up to make requests until eventually the lead singer asked what had brought us all in.

“TANNER!” we all shouted back at her.

She squinted her eyes, looking for Tanner in the crowd, and then nodded, “you look like a Tanner. You look like every boy that broke my heart in high school.”

Seeing as most of us are related to Tanner, we all shook our heads defensively. “NO! Tanner is great! This is a NICE Tanner!!”

We continued to dance, our group bantering back and forth with the band. Then my aunt, Tanner’s mom, bought the band a round of shots, which prompted them to sing, “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne, except they changed the lyrics to say, “Tanner’s mom, has got it going on!” which we all sang at the absolute top of our lungs.

At 2:30am, the band signed off and the bar started to close. We walked outside to find Broadway much quieter than we’d last seen it. We had danced for almost two hours, and I was limping like a baby giraffe in my heeled booties that had seemed like such a good/cute idea when we left the house.

A couple people stopped to get late night gyros, both to soak up some alcohol and to account for the hunger that we’d worked up dancing the night away. Then we all collapsed into bed. Ears ringing, (at least my) feet throbbing, and curiosity building for what adventures awaited us the next day—or rather, the same day, in a matter of hours.

A Weekend of Happy Moments

I had a good weekend.

I wanted to write about it from start to finish, but the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to highlight the moments that made it especially good. Because sometimes it’s not always the big moments, the obvious moments, the moments everyone can see from the outside. Sometimes it’s the smallest moments, the ones you may not even notice until they’re over. Lucky for me, I had a combination of both this weekend—big moments and small—and I want to share some of them.

Friday 4:30 p.m.

My mom and I, dressed in robes, walked into a quiet room where a few day beds faced a waterfall display. There was no music playing, no surrounding conversations, just the sound of water quietly running. We each had a cup of lemon water that we set on the end tables next to our respective day beds, and we took out our Kindles to read for a little while. Our bodies were fully relaxed, having just been treated to 90-minute massages, and we seemed to melt into those day beds, our robes tied loosely around our waists and our minds able to escape into our books. A half hour slipped by, then an hour, and we lay there, content and relaxed.

Friday 9:00 p.m.

I was curled under a blanket in my parents’ living room, watching West Side Story with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my grandpa. My grandpa and I have always bonded over our love of musicals, and so we’d wanted to watch the new adaptation of West Side Story together. The moment Tony and Maria first see each other at the dance, my 92-year-old grandpa said, wistfully, “this is called love at first sight.

Saturday 9:30 a.m.

It was 75 degrees outside and perfectly clear in Camarillo, and I was picking lemons on an expansive property that looked out over the city. I was part of a group of volunteers picking fruit for Food Forward, and I was filling a bucket with lemons and carrying it up the hill in order to fill the boxes we’d be donating to food shelters. The sun was out, and the lemon trees were blossoming, making the air the perfect blend of floral and citrus. I was sweating, and, at times, panting, as I carried that bucket (20 pounds when full) up the hill over and over, but I knew I was doing good work, and I was happy to be meeting new people.

Saturday 11:30 a.m.

I stopped at Jamba Juice—my tradition after completing a volunteer shift—and got small smoothie and an apple cinnamon pretzel. One of my favorite country songs (“Raised on it” by Sam Hunt) came on the radio, and I took a sip of my smoothie, said, “this is DELICIOUS” out loud, then blasted the song and sang every word.

Saturday 2:50 p.m.

I was standing on the shore of my favorite lake, having driven up to spend the weekend at my family’s cabin. My dad was on the phone with my sister, asking if she could see him, me and my mom from the boat she was fishing on with her boyfriend, Will. They were a good way away from us, and I was waving my arms and dancing, hoping to both get her attention and make her laugh. We were letting her know that we had arrived at the lake, so that they could make their way over to “pick us up.” Little did she know, a small group of friends and family were standing behind a tree, waiting for the signal to come down and watch as Will got down on one knee in the boat and asked her to marry him.

Saturday 3:00 p.m.

She said yes!

Saturday 4:00 p.m.

I was sitting on the boat (named “Tiny Guy”)—which my sister received as present from Will last year—for the very first time. Will was driving, Natalee was sitting beside me, and Will’s mom was sitting behind me. We were making our way from the shore where we’d all gathered after the proposal to the dock, and we couldn’t help but comment on the perfection of the day. The sun was bright and warm, and the sky was perfectly clear—not a cloud in sight. I’d been on that lake so many times growing up, always with my sister right beside me, fishing and singing and creating inside jokes that we still quote to this day, and now there I was, seeing her future unfold in the brightest way, surrounded by new family, with new memories awaiting us in the days ahead.

Sunday 2:30 p.m.

I was sitting on a recliner in the living room, trying to throw a bottle cap into a glass vase. After spending the morning and early afternoon lounging around, I proposed the game to my sister’s now fiancé Will. “How much would you give me if I made a bottle cap in that vase?” To be fair, the vase, set atop the fireplace mantle, already had about ten bottle caps in it, and I was wondering how impressed he would be if I could add to the collection from my chair. What unfolded was nearly 30 minutes of the three of us trying to make the bottle cap in the vase, and cheering as if we’d just won the World Series whenever one of us did.

Sunday 3:50 p.m.

I was sitting on a bench eating a sandwich, looking out at the lake. We’d picked up the sandwiches from the local market, and then parked our car in a shady spot on the highway before walking down the small hill to get to the lake. It was a little breezy, but the sun was still out and a few boats were making laps around the lake. We sat, sometimes talking, sometimes just taking bite after bite, soaking in the mountain air and the easy happiness that the weekend seemed to be made of.

Sunday 6:45 p.m.

I was in my car, singing my heart out on my drive home. The sun was only just starting to set since daylight saving time had given us back our evenings, and it was turning the sky pink. Every part of the weekend had gone right, from start to finish, and I was both ecstatic and exhausted. But the sunset seemed to promise only more good things, only more good moments. So I kept driving, kept singing, and made sure to take a few pictures once I pulled into the driveway at home.

It was the prettiest farewell to the happiest of weekends.

January & February Favorites

Ahhh, I love a first favorites post of the year.

Come January, I am always in a hurry to find new favorite things. To dive into new books, new music, new movies, and new podcasts. I’m always anxious to find things that expand my mind, make my life a little better and brighter, and, maybe, just the slightest bit easier.

And to be honest, I have been on a roll.

Let’s get right into it.


Podcasts

I got COVID at the beginning of the year and spent a solid week feeling like moving from room to room was the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. So, I spent a lot of time trying not to move, and I was always on the hunt for things that helped make the time go by. Podcast but Outside was one of my favorite finds. It is a podcast that has both a video and audio version—but honestly you are MISSING OUT if you listen to the audio version—and it made me genuinely laugh out loud. The concept is simple: the two hosts set up on the street and interview whoever might walk by, and the results are consistently interesting and often hilarious. (find it on YouTube or your preferred podcast app)

A little while back I recommended the Tangle newsletter, because it gives you an unbiased look at the news. And while I still stand by the newsletter, I am someone who tends to fall behind on newsletters, so I was very excited to learn that they made a podcast version of it. Each episode is a nice, clean read of the newsletter, and is usually about 20 minutes long. It’s an easy listen and I look forward to every episode. (find it on your preferred podcast app)


Books

I fell in love with both Beach Read and its author, Emily Henry, almost immediately. Beach Read is a refreshing, fun book that made me laugh out loud, and made me feel seen, as its main characters are both writers, and the writing process (and its occasional corresponding misery) is described in detail. I knew I wanted to read People We Meet on Vacation before I was even done with Beach Read and I anxiously await the arrival of her newest book, Book Lovers, in May. Consider this “favorite” both the books and Emily Henry herself.  

The Night the Lights Went Out is WILD. Not only is it a great read—eye opening, shocking, charming and even funny—but it makes you realize how much you have to be grateful for in the day to day. Even on your worst days. I for one have taken advantage (for about 30 years) of how lucky I am to taste things, smell things, to be independent and healthy. Life can throw you a lot of curveballs and the human spirit is resilient enough to (eventually) find wonder in many of them, but this book made me take a deep breath and focus on all that I have, all that I’m able to do, and remember that at any moment that can change.


Movies

First and foremost, you’ve got to watch The Alpinist. This one is in the same vein as Free Solo and The Dawn Wall. I watched it twice in the span of a week, once by myself and once with my mom, because I needed to have someone to talk about it with. I’ll admit, you feel pretty much every emotion, big and small, happy and sad, but you leave feeling so…content. It reminded me that we are all here to live different lives with different purposes, and it’s important that we all find our own and pursue it, even if it might not make sense to everyone else.  (find it on Netflix)

Next up, The Tender Bar. This movie is adapted from the memoir of the same name and it is one of those that makes you think: I want to write a memoir. I want to find all the moments that made my life my life, in all its ups and downs. It had a familiar quality in that it was a reminder that we are all trying our best—trying to figure out what on earth we’re doing. I found myself rooting for the main character in the same way I’d hope other people are rooting for me. (find it on Amazon Prime)

I Want You Back is a romantic comedy that, if I’m honest, I initially watched because it has my girl Gina Rodriguez in it, but it quickly became more than that. It is different and fun, and it made me laugh and smile and aww. It’s a good old fashioned rom-com that I feel like we don’t have nearly enough of anymore. Definitely recommend! (find it on Amazon Prime)


TV Shows

I had been recommended The Man in High Castle a few different times over the years, so when I was in between shows at the end of last year, I decided to finally give it a watch. The premise is that Germany won World War 2, and the United States becomes more or less extinct in the face of the German and Japanese empires. It is pretty much terrifying, but it is a captivating, and surprisingly patriotic watch, as a resistance of Americans fight to get their country back. Strap in though, it’s a wild ride! (find it on Amazon Prime)

One thing that I love about my Netflix algorithm right now is that it is consistently recommending me international shows that I might not have otherwise known about. I recently watched a movie in Spanish, then I saved a Polish movie to My List, and then I watched the Italian born series Baby. I watched it subtitled and really enjoyed it. The show is based on the true story of two Italian high school girls that got involved in the country’s prostitution ring. It was a dramatic and interesting watch! (find it on Netflix)


Music

the debut farewell album by avenue beat

Sidelines by Wild Rivers

Circles by LEON


Cauliflower Tacos

If you are looking for a new dinner recipe to spice up your life, and you want to make something that gives you that feeling of, damn, I am a mf-ing chef, try this Cauliflower Taco recipe. I actively called my friends into the dining room to show off what I made, and I was SO proud of myself. Plus, it was absolutely delicious. (find it here)

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The Art of Noticing Newsletter

And finally, I am a sucker for a good newsletter. I love the weekly pick me ups and the variety that exist if you keep your eye out. I have no idea where I found The Art of Noticing newsletter, but it is one I never miss. It always opens my eyes to something I can notice in the world around me, and it has a fun ongoing series called “Missing Words”, where people point out words that don’t exist but should. For example: “that feeling in the half second between when you’ve stubbed your toe and the pain arrives.” Check it out here, there is both a free version and a paid version. I am currently subscribed to the free version, but I have no doubt it would be worth the subscription!


Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

The Day My Washer Betrayed Me

So, there I was. It was Saturday night. I’d just finished my takeout. I was watching a movie. I was sitting at the dining room table, painting. I was doing laundry. I was thinking about making hot chocolate. I was feeling at peace.

Then the dryer buzzed.

Our dryer is a little on the older side, and the timer can only be set for 30 minutes, so you have to run it through one cycle, listen for the buzz, and then start it again. Two cycles usually does the trick. I’d already done two loads of laundry and I only had one left.

So, the dryer buzzed, and I decided to finish painting one final flower before getting up. I was painting daisies on an old window that my mom’s friend had found at a garage sale. There was green on my hands from the stems and a chunk of yellow under my thumbnail from the pollen in the center of the petals. I was sitting with my legs crossed under me, in big fluffy socks because my toes had been cold since I woke up. My legs were stiff, my shoulders were slouched, but I was in the zone. The hours were flying off the clock in that happy way they do when you’re immersed in something you love. But then I remembered: the dryer buzzed, and if I didn’t get up now, I’d never remember to start it again.

I stretched my arms out, rolled my head along my shoulders, and then stepped onto the wood floor to stand up. Instantly, my foot was wet. I jumped and instinctively took my sock off, wondering what spilled. Then I took a few more steps and realized the whole floor was wet. I walked to the kitchen, and when I crossed the threshold of the wood floor in the dining room onto the linoleum in the kitchen, my foot splashed into a near two inches of water.

I gasped, whispering, “no no no no no no,” as I sloshed through the kitchen. When I opened the door to the laundry room, the small shag rug was floating like a raft in front of the washer and dryer. I pulled the knob to turn off the washer, then kicked my way through the water to find towels.

I laid the towels down and they withered, like a piece of paper in a puddle. They absorbed what they could but then just lay there, pointless, and within seconds, I had no more dry towels. Standing in the near ankle-deep water in the kitchen, I grabbed a plastic cup out of the cupboard and began shoveling the water in the sink, as if I was trying to keep a boat afloat. I threw in cupful after cupful—and then I called my dad.

As I waited for him to arrive, I started to use one of the towels like a mop, laying it in the water and then wringing it out, laying it in the water and then wringing it out. Then I noticed that the water had moved into the entry way by the front door, and through the doorway of my sister’s bedroom. So, I wrung out the towel for a final time and took off running, my feet splashing across the floor, and turned on her bathroom and bedroom light.

“No no no no no,” I said again as I moved into her room, horrified by how the water had slithered down her hallway to the base of her bed and underneath her desk. I began to use the towel to push the water back down the hallway, careful not to direct it into her closet, and out into the entryway where the water was already pooled. From there, I would take the towel and wring it out in her sink, then start again.

By the time my dad got there, I was wet from the neck down, openly panting. Shortly after, the neighbor from down the hall knocked on the door, kind but concerned.

“Do you guys have a leak?” he asked.

I nodded, my feet now numb and my hair sticking out at all angles. I tried and failed to start a few sentences but ended up just apologized over and over, to him, to anyone, to everyone, to me. He graciously brought me more towels and I threw them down, using some to mop and squeeze, and others to dry the parts of the floor we’d manage to clear of standing water.

I was still making trips up and down my sister’s hallway as my dad worked diligently in the kitchen, trying to drain our makeshift lake. Then, as I wrung out my towel on one trip, I noticed that the sink was covered in drops of blood. I saw it on the towel, and then I saw it on my hand.  The ring finger on my right hand, which has been prone to random and inexplicable bouts of aggressive eczema for the last year, had split open. The sensitive, paper thin skin, had been rubbed raw from the water and the tight, persistent squeezing of the towels. I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept going.

When I took breaks, I would lean on the walls, my hands shaking and my legs getting weak beneath me, and then I’d curse, realizing that as my apartment was actively flooding, I was also getting blood all over the walls.

Once it appeared that all of the standing water was gone, I started to scoot around on the remaining dry towels donated by our neighbor, trying to dry the floor as best I could. My dad turned off the water in the laundry room and noticed that not only was the washer full to the top, but the knob I’d pushed to start the cycle had not moved.

“It never stopped filling,” he said. “The cycle never started. The washer just filled and never stopped filling.”

So, as I’d sat crisscross applesauce, peacefully painting daisies at the dining room table, the washer had slowly filled to the top, then spilled over the sides, gracefully and silently, until it snuck into the kitchen, into the living room, under the table in the dining room, into the entryway, and down the hallway into my sister’s room—never making a sound.

If I hadn’t been home, if I’d set the washer to run and went on a walk or gone to the store, or, heaven forbid, stayed the night at a friend’s house, the washer would have simply kept filling, drowning our apartment and everything in it.

At least we’re on the first floor, I thought, imagining how bad this could have been if we lived above someone and brought unexpected showers to the forecast of their Saturday night. But then I thought, wait, how did our neighbor know we had a flood? I hadn’t called anyone except my dad, and I hadn’t told or talked to anyone else since my sister wasn’t home. I stepped out into the hallway and was horrified to find rivers of water running from our apartment to the one across the hall. The floor squished and bubbled when you walked on it and I held my head in pure panic.

We knocked on the door of the apartment, but no one answered. Unlike the kind, concerned neighbor who’d brought towels, I’d never met this neighbor, and didn’t want to do so Noah’s Ark style, when we were all trying to escape two by two.  So, we got to work, dragging our towels along the carpet and then wringing them out in the sink. I called my landlord, who put in a call to Servpro, and then, when there was seemingly nothing else we could do, I sat down, wondering if I was going to fall asleep or openly sob.

Just before 11:00pm, my dad, a true hero, took all the towels home with him to wash and dry, and then I got in the shower, the water warm but borderline triggering. Standing there, I worried I was going to step out of the shower and find more water, or that the neighbor across the hall was going to get home, get angry and come banging at my door, aimed to hurt me.

I knew none of this was my fault. I knew that things were going to be okay. I knew that I’d done absolutely everything that I could. I also knew that I was exhausted, that my muscles were going to SCREAM at me in the days to come, and that what I needed most was sleep. But after my shower, I walked back out into the living room and sat in my favorite chair.

The wood floor had started to pop and crack in the places where water had gotten between the panels. By morning, it would be bubbled and warped, making our once flat, shiny floor, rough and hilly, like a miniature golf course. But that night, I sat there, eating Oreos in my sweatpants and robe. My wet hair was sticking to the sides of my face and the raw skin on my ring finger was pulsing and red, but I sat there and finished the movie I’d paused almost three hours earlier, pretending like the evening ended like it was supposed to. Hoping that, somehow, I’d lay down and then wake up to find that this was all a dream.

But it wasn’t.  

The Tuesdays of 2021 (List-cember #8)

At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to take a picture on every Tuesday of 2021.

Now, I will admit right off the bat that I didn’t remember to take a photo every Tuesday, but of the 52, I only missed six. So I’d say that’s pretty good.

Looking back at them now, they give a funny documentation of the year. Tuesdays are consistently a work day for me, and as such, I often treat them as merely the day after Monday. So it was interesting to see how all of my “day after Monday’s” treated me.

I’m not going to include all 52 here, but I did pick a favorite (or two) from each month.

Here were my Tuesdays of 2021.

Note: Just so you don’t think that I’ve gone mad, each number corresponds to the number Tuesday of the year (i.e. 1-52) not the chronological order of the list.


1) January 5, 2021

I have to start with the first Tuesday of the year!

I bought this journal as part of my ~new year~ spending—the kind you do while you are determined to make this year the best. The funny thing is, after I took this picture, I opened the journal and found I was in the completely wrong headspace to start it. I audibly huffed when I found the introduction to be too long, thus making me wait TOO LONG to write out all the wonderful, inspiring things that were supposed to put me at ease. Needless to say, I did not start using this journal on this Tuesday.

2) January 12, 2021

One of my best friends and I took up pickleball last year and we made it a priority to keep meeting once a week (or so) in order to get better. Coincidentally, my mom’s best friend has a pickleball court in her backyard, so the four of us became a pickleball club and our meetings became one of the highlights of my week.

3) January 19, 2021

The third Tuesday of the year was my sister’s birthday, and what better way to start the celebrations than to stand in line and get a COVID test?! The rest of the day involved carne asada tacos and donuts, and we both received negative results from our tests, so it was a win, win, win.

6) February 9, 2021

This photo was taken on the side of the road as I figured out what to do. The morning started innocent enough. I made my lunch, buttered and (blueberry) jammed a toasted English muffin, and then set off to work. But on the way there, I took a sharp turn with my English muffin in hand and a blueberry rolled off the muffin, down my hand, under my sleeve, and up my forearm, leaving a trail of jelly in its wake. Having zero napkins, I then had to dunk my jelly-stained paper towel into my hydro flask full of water, so I could wipe down my arm and continue my drive. It was a hilarious story to share after the fact, but a disastrous thing to experience 7:30 a.m.

12) March 23, 2021

We can go out to dinner again! My sister and I met our old roommate and good friend Rachel at Granville.  We sat in their open-roofed back room, which was extra magical because it hid us from the wind and let us look up at the (albeit minimal) Southern California stars. We also ordered the “banana brulee’d brownie” which was bougie and delicious.

16) April 20, 2021

This was taken at our (now old) condo and would prove to be the last picture I took there. I drove by one day after work to take the barrels out and check the mail for a final time. Then I did a little walk around to say thank you for the five years we got to live there, and wish it well for the next tenants who were going to move in.

19) May 11, 2021

This Tuesday was unfortunately a smoggy day for me. It was one of those when I just felt sad and lonely and down. I was so desperate for it to be over, especially because we had tickets to the Dodger game the next day—the first time since October 2019—and I was borderline emotional about it.

Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.

26) June 29, 2021 (no picture)

It’s never not going to be wonderful to hang out on my best friend’s couch, eat food and vent, so I’m glad this day fell on a Tuesday so I could write it down and remember it. On today’s menu, we had Trader Joe’s butternut squash ravioli & air fried cauliflower. Plus, we watched Tell Me Who I Am on Netflix which is an incredible (and heavy) documentary that should definitely be watched with a friend.

29) July 20, 2021

“I feel vacation hungover”

This message from my sister was the most accurate description of this Tuesday, as we’d just spent five days in beautiful Utah, and then used our Monday to make the 11 hour drive home. So my big plans after work this Tuesday was to sit down, pout about being home, and then go to bed early. With that being said, please enjoy this photo I took two days earlier, as I looked at it fondly, trying to rewind myself back into that moment rather than do work.

30) July 27, 2021

As you may or may not know, my family LOVES the Olympics. And every Olympic year (both summer and winter) I make a spreadsheet to track the events and the medal count. Yes, this is nerdy, and yes, it is wonderful. I will hear no other opinions at this time. Quickly after the start of the Tokyo Olympics, I realized the time difference would provide an extra degree of difficulty. Thus, while I watched events that took place on Tuesday in Tokyo they were already competing in events on Wednesday in Tokyo. It was tough, it was confusing, but it was worth absolutely every second.

31) August 3, 2021

The mask mandate is back in California. After spending most of 2020 avoiding the gym (even after it reopened, because doing cardio in a mask seemed impossible) I arrived to find those familiar signs posted back in the window. I tried to power through and did 20 minutes on the Stairmaster in a mask. It was awful.

37) September 14, 2021

The first week of September marked the first week of the Proverbs 31 bible study I signed up for. I was very hopeful that I would stay on task and complete it, as I have a tendency to go full boar into things and then fall behind. However, I was very excited to find myself here on week 2, caught up with the reading, and genuinely excited about the live group study that happens on Zoom at 5:00pm.

43) October 26, 2021

Tennessee was the third stop on our trip and we were staying at the DreamMore Dollywood Resort. Needless to say, it was a dream. On this Tuesday, we had massages in the morning, then went on a jeep tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the afternoon. It was easily one of, if not the, best Tuesday of the year.

48) November 30, 2021

Every year, my mom, sister and I (and sometimes my dad and brother) watch The Family Stone. It is our favorite Christmas movie and easily one of our favorite movies of all time. We can quote the entire thing, and often talk through most of it, laughing and crying at the same parts every year. It is one of our most cherished Christmas traditions, which is why we made a family calendar event to ensure we stuck to it. We also ordered California Chicken Café for dinner and it was amazing.

51) December 21, 2021

I donated blood today! After a pretty average day at work, I drove to the Red Cross donation center in Woodland Hills and donated blood with no problem. I even got a free t-shirt! Also, a nice man thanked me for donating, saying, “thank you for doing this. It is a very special thing to do.” Then I came home and Natalee and I watched Love Actually.

52) December 28, 2021

And now here we are! The final Tuesday of 2021. I am currently sitting on the couch, cozied up under a blanket, with the week off of work and no plans for the day. Our Christmas decorations are still up, our counter is stocked with delicious desserts, and I am feeling so incredibly blessed by the gracious gifts I received from friends and family, and the wonderful time I got to spend with those I love over the weekend. I have an optimistic spirit about the year to come and I hope it brings many more memorable Tuesdays both to me and you!


Only one list-cember post to go! See you on Thursday!

Check out more List-cember posts here.