Archive for the ‘EXTRAORDINARY EVERYDAY’ Category

  • January 5, 2014

    things i did on the last night of 2013

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    2014 came quietly. with the baking of the red velvet cake and the watching of man on wire in the last glow of the christmas tree. with bon iver on the record player and a coffee mug of sparking rosé and a silent “happy new year” to myself. it felt odd to be ringing in the new year alone and without much pomp and circumstance but for some reason, just right.

    the red velvet tradition is in its third year. my amazing friend andrea (who maybe I talk about to annoying levels because why wouldn’t I talk about someone as cool as her all the time?) sent me the recipe in 2011 right around the time it was almost 2012. and so on january 1, when I had the day off from work and not much going on, I decided to bake it. and that first year was kind of a disaster. not enough red food coloring and too much batter mixing and no patience for frosting cooling left me with a pink lumpy cake nearly as flat as a pancake. not my finest hour to be sure.

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    every year, the red velvet almost doesn’t happen. because it’s arduous and time consuming and I inevitably find far flung frosting in random spots of my kitchen for days afterwards. but every year I do make it. because it’s tradition. and in some small way, it connects me to parts of myself that I don’t really let surface too often.

    the baking of the red velvet was the first tradition of my own creation. the first tradition I made for myself as an adult. I didn’t grow up with a lot of traditions and although I always wished I had, for a long time, I thought I couldn’t create them until I got married and had kids of my own to force them on. but with the red velvet decision I realized that traditions are really just about rhythm and ritual – and I can create those anytime I want. and all the mistakes and messes made are part of what make it great. the lumpy frosting and flat cake are lessons learned for next year’s baking. the recipe card almost ineligible from spilled milk and my own addendums (“do NOT overbeat the cake batter!!”)  are memories of a new year begun in flour and sugar and at least two bottles of red food coloring. it’s all part of building a ritual that I will appreciate most for the time it took to create.

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    and in the way that traditions recall people and places we love, the baking of the red velvet cake connects me to friends I don’t see nearly enough of. andrea is my favorite blogging friend. the one I went from admiring from afar to spending time with occasionally to sharing life with across time zones. she encourages me with her simple act of existing online as much as she does with her sweet emails about how to explore paris and love my parents better. and so when I make the red velvet cake I am, in small ways, connected to her own tradition of baking it on her birthday. I am, in small ways, connected to portland and her little house that I used to babysit her kids in. and I am, in the tiniest of ways, connected to her mom, who passed the recipe to her and who I think must have been the most amazing lady.

    even more than that, the baking of the red velvet connects me to parts of my own self that I don’t see nearly enough of. I spend most of my days being a social introvert, which seems contradictory but is who I am. I am there in the running of one thing to the next. in the everyday busyness that I thrive in. but I am also there in the baking of the red velvet. I am there in the self-control it takes to not overbeat the batter. I am there in the patience it takes to let the frosting base cool completely. I am there in the quiet excitement of cakes rising and smooth rhythms of slowly spreading white frosting over bright red cake. I am not always full of self-control or patience or quiet excitement, but it’s always in me. just waiting for the red velvet tradition.

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  • December 5, 2013

    plastic molds

    a lot of days (most days), I measure myself against standards I have allowed to become standards. I worry about how tall I am and how much I weigh and if my clothes are cool enough. I don’t often compare myself to magazines…I’ve learned enough to know how totally airbrushed those things are. but I do compare myself to roommates who are lovely and tall and beautiful or friends who exude poise and class or even to random strangers who I think are prettier than me because their cuticle beds (or something equally insignificant) are better than mine. I buy clothes and I reinvent my “look” and I do what I do…all because I long to be seen as beautiful.

    and then of course, I watch videos like this and the people featured are just SO beautiful. their smiles fill up the screen and I am absolutely flabbergasted that mannequins defined as “flawless” are preferable to the extraordinary bodies before me. it blows my mind that in a world full of so much real physical beauty, we seek to create plastic molds that are not like any of us. and then we seek to emulate them.

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder. and if we see the beholder as the world we currently inhabit, videos like this will always be needed to remind us of the truth. the truth that the beholder is not a cultural standard or another person. it is not even our own selves. the beholder is the one who created us. in his image. broken and beautiful.

    {two more extremely impacting spots from pro infirmis here and here.}

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  • October 6, 2013

    a few from the weekend

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    when you start and end your saturday with delicious food, it really can’t be bad. but when its brunch at marché and homemade pizza with cherry tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden, it just doesn’t get much better. and when all that good bookends house-cleaning dance parties and picking pumpkins with the most fun of roommates and the most cute of emelines – well that – that’s just the best.

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  • July 1, 2013

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    last week was a rough one. (hence the quietness around here.) it was full of those little (and big) disappointments that come in realizing that life is different than you planned. that it is not, as it turns out, exactly how your sophomore self imagined it while sitting in her dorm room, eating twizzlers and talking with her roommates about the great possibilities of the future. dream jobs are not always the dream. the world’s timing very rarely falls into sync with your own. pay checks are less than you thought. (thanks, government.) bills are more. people are fallible and your heroes will disappoint you. life, you know, is just different.

    I wrote a post so many months ago about leaving dc. it was one I felt like I had written a dozen times before. about a fear that flashes in my mind like neon everytime I leave a place I’ve come to love with people that have become my family. because with every move, it seems more unlikely that I will find friends as good as the friends I am leaving. I worry that, somehow, I have met my quota of good people. but again. and as always. God is ridiculously faithful. and when I doubt he can do it, he just proves me wrong. again and again.

    so last week was bad, but you know what? it wasn’t. because it proved to me – again – that they are still there. roommates who let me vent while making me homemade ginger ale (with a generous helping of whiskey). friends who listen and let me cry and then turn on some justin for an impromptu dance party. because they know that justin makes all of life bearable. little notes hidden in little places. words of encouragement and affirmation and proof that I am exactly where I need to be even when it sometimes doesn’t feel that way. even when it feels like I uprooted my life only to end up being disappointed. but the disappointment is not the main thing. it’s not even anything. the world is daunting and overwhelming. but their presence is more overwhelming still. and for that I just don’t even know how to be thankful enough.

    {photos from christina’s surprise party. fried chicken. mac’n’cheese. watermelon. tennessee honey in mason jars with paper straws. southern comfort at its best.}

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  • June 14, 2013

    a few from the weekend

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    it’s almost this weekend. but I’m still processing last weekend. so much good packed into a little bit of chaos:

    saturday morning brunch at cafe fundamental with lovely shanna (photo credit on that first one). quiche and coffee and a pear and almond pastry that is not to be messed with.

    bubbles blowing in the playhouse and berries picking in the yard. grow faster, little berries! you are delicious!

    quick runs to 8th avenue antiques and barista parlor and even a bit of reading thrown in.

    celebrating almost one year at blood:water mission (are you kidding me?!) with an arrested development-themed event. buster bluth is my favorite renaissance man. archeologistjuice lover. motherboy. sometimes coma patient. tony hale is even better. hilarious and kind. blood:water advocate. not at all given to crippling panic attacks. a genuinely wonderful and authentic human being.

    the young international kicking things off. wishing I could have heard more instead of making a quick change and running off to…

    wedding celebrating! my first nashville friend and the boy she used to come visit in dc. marveling at how life just comes together in such a perfect circle sometimes.

    brunch number 2 (this time at marché) because dear friends were in town and because I became a honest-to-goodness member of a church (for the first time since, well, ever). and also because you can never have brunch too many times.

    shovels and rope. at the ryman. after a wait that felt like forever, but was totally worth it. fun and wonderful and life giving. and this song. be still my heart.

    and a little band called dawes. I was a bit skeptical at first. but oh, what a talented bunch they are. from california, no less! lately, all I hear are songs about tennessee and mississippi the mason dixon line. but they sang about san francisco and the western skyline. and all that west coast pride came flooding back. along with the smallest measure of homesickness for mountains and evergreens and dry heat (god, this humidity might be the death of me). and it sure made me glad that in just a few weeks time that’s exactly where I’ll be.

     

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  • May 31, 2013

    photo friday :: 2

    above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes. – henri cartier-bresson

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    vivian maier. there are a million and one I could choose from in her prolific collection of street photography. I had to break my one-photo rule. and yet. they still don’t do justice to the depth of my love for her.

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    she snuck up on life and captured it. for better or worse. she didn’t change it. didn’t frame it or light it or position it. she just snapped a shot of life in motion. and in her photos, she revealed the extraordinariness of the ordinary world.

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    on my good days, I almost feel as though I could do it too. photograph everyday life. if I paid more attention. if I looked harder and with clearer eyes and were not always only thinking about my to do list. if I were brave enough to walk up to strangers and capture a little piece of their world that is at once different and the same from my own.

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    maybe that’s really the crux of it. courage. I just need to be a bit braver. like vivian.

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    *all photos courtesy of vivianmaier.com (you know I am DYING to see that documentary.)

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  • May 27, 2013

    nashville necessities GIVEAWAY winner!

    friends! I am overwhelmed by the number of people that connected with me through this little corner last week! especially those of you who I’ve not talked with in a little while…it’s exactly what I hoped the blog would accomplish. you all are the absolute BEST.

    I counted up all the people who signed up to receive updates and who left comments on the GIVEAWAY post, and the winner is….JENA! yay for you, friend! I’ll email to get your (new!) address and send it along this week. I must say, this fits perfectly into my scheming to get all my portland peeps out here! I do wish I could send all of you a little something though. I suppose I’ll just have to do a few more GIVEAWAYS in the near future…

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    In other news, today I have the day off for memorial day. it feels a bit weird to not be celebrating and remembering the great people who have served our country with a visit to arlington national (my secret little tradition the past three years), but I am no less thankful for them. and I am also thankful for an extra day off. oh, how I am thankful for that.

    this weekend was full of all things quintessentially nashville. the undeniably talented (and fun!) daniel ellsworth and the great lakes at the high watt. mini-succulent potting party for a wonderful friend’s wedding next week. a long walk and much-needed time with my favorite twin.  a little hootenanny. lunch with amazing new friends and digging through the stacks at mckay’s (I can’t decide if I love that place…or if it just really makes me miss powell’s. a little bit of both, I suppose.) homemade pizza. and finally, a bottle of wine and gluten-free snacks snuck into a late showing of gatsby. in retrospect, I may have over-exerted myself in the social department just a bit, but what a wonderful, life-giving weekend it was.

    knowing that the weekend would be overwhelmingly full, I planned ahead and reserved today for a date with my introverted self. that’s right, I make plans to be introverted. I am nothing if not prepared. so after an amazing lunch at merchant’s with out-of-town friends, I said no to everything else I needed to say no to. the funny thing is, I am the sort of introvert who actually loves to be by myself in public. there’s just something about being able to sit quietly and watch life move around you in all it’s organized chaos. (plus, I know that if I were stay at home today I would just end up watching all 15 episodes of the new arrested development.)

    if there’s one thing I miss about dc, it’s the days that I took to the city on my own, walking through neighborhoods and museums and various groups of people participating in various acts of life. of course, nashville is quite different from dc, so I’m still learning to adapt. dc totally spoiled me with all it’s free art, so one of the first things I did when I got to nashville was to buy a membership and memorize the exhibition calendar at the frist center for the visual arts. I didn’t quite love the exhibit today (sorry, ancient art), so after a quick walk-through, I planted myself outside of the cafe where I’ve been for the last hour or so. today it’s sunny and warm. there’s a good chance I would be more comfortable inside with air conditioning, but I’m determined to stay outside as much as possible before the stifling summer humidity hits. plus, there’s a great breeze blowing, which makes the hairs on my arms stand up and rustles the trees in a pleasant, springy sort of way.

    have I mentioned that I am absolutely in love the frist? it’s a bit small, but the exhibits change often enough that if I come every couple of months, I’m always bound to see something new. more than that though, I just love the feel of it. the clean lines. the minimalistic black and white. the muted voices and quiet steps. space to think and look and be inspired. it sort of reminds me of that perfect guggenheim gallery in venice. and anything that reminds me of venice. well, I’m kind of in love with that.

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  • October 8, 2012

    this weekend

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    some things that happened:

    records and re-reading and recovering from so many trips and so many “new girl in town” extroverted attempts.

    friends in town give me a reason to play host. and clean my apartment.

    flea market finds include the best of reader’s digest, sunflower yellow chairs for le dining room, and (steal of all steal) a hand-embroidered $3 (three dollars!!) throw pillow perfect for that orange arm chair bought a few weeks ago.

    carrie mae weems at the frist. oh, and I bought myself a membership, finally succumbing to the fact that art museums (well, the one art museum there is in nashville) are not free anymore.

    reading in the sun with fall breeze finally making an appearance.

    finding this years’ perfect fall blazer.

    breakfast with old friends and new friends and friends still to make.

    used books at mckay’s. six for $30 makes it almost as good as powell’s (but not totally). woolf and wiesel anthologies. eggers. chabon. coetzee. throw in a little $1.50 cleave to round out the mix.

    coffee with even more friends in town. catching up and dreaming up.

    church and groceries and even a little movie watching thrown in.

    the first weekend (in so many weekends) that this place actually feels like home.

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  • June 6, 2012

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    at brunch, we were full of laughter and a touch of silliness and anticipation of vastly different summer adventures on the way.

    at the market, we found playful perennials and perfect peaches and some of the best apples I’ve ever tasted.

    at the flea, I wanted to buy every pretty vintage bookshelf and chest of drawers. I tried to rationalize this by stating that I needed furniture for my new house. plus, they were recycled – a totally sensible buy, of course. the roommates knew better and managed to get me out of there without buying anything I couldn’t carry on the metro. (but oh, those sandals. I’m kind of in love with them.)

    at the bookstore, my search for CSL’s Space Trilogy was finally complete. and I stumbled upon the perfect intro anthology for a lady I’ve been meaning to read for so long. and when I say stumbled, I literally mean stumbled. in this beautiful chaos of a bookstore we leapt over piles of books like ballet dancers. we scaled bookshelves like mountain climbers – reaching to the tips of our fingers for dostoevsky and tolstoy.

    and best of all, at every step of the way, we loved being together. we celebrated the end the same way we celebrated the beginning. autumn called it symmetrical. I called if full circle. either way, it had a satisfying way of completeness to it. but without the circle feeling totally closed. because it’s never really closed when you know the friendship will keep moving forward albeit under different roofs in cities far apart.

    by the way, I feel like these two photos perfectly encapsulate my roommates. autumn, with her always moving, always joyful (even when she’s not) smile. maria, with her quiet confidence and peaceful presence. these two balance me out in more ways than I can count. what the heck am I going to do without them?

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  • May 30, 2012

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    evening picnics with the favorites are all the more special when I know they are ending soon. it’s hard to imagine enjoying life this much without them.

    somehow we always end up back at our hill. the one in front of the netherlands carillon. we sit close with knees touching and pull out berries and bread and cheese. we wash our fruit with water from our bottles and eat slowly. after too many months apart, we are not surprised to find that we still fall into the same patterns of conversation and easy laughter. what a comfort to know that we will always fit.

    the evening sun sets us in soft shadows and we shake off our dinner to enjoy the end of the day. we lay close together, talking about the silly things we believed when we were little and the silly things we still believe now. we imagine stories – entire lives – for the people around us. the sky darkens and the monuments illuminate in the distance. lincoln and washington‘s white marble shine bright in the twilight.

    so many times during my day, I wonder why I’m choosing to leave nights like this. friends like these. but so far, God has been nothing but faithful. providing best friends on two different coasts. hopefully there are also a few to be found in the south.

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