Big hair, do care

Left to its own devices, my hair is wavy and frizzy. I learned decades ago not to mess with Mother Nature, but to work with that crazy bitch. So I generally let my hair air dry with a cocktail of hair controlling products. The result is usually beach-y waves that still get big and frizzy in the rain. When that happens, I introduce elastics and bobby pins or hats to hold it down. Let’s just say my hair is not its best in the Seattle mist.

The other day I got the best salon blow-out of my life. I want my hair to look like that more often. Tori managed to make my hair sleek and silky. Professionally blown out and unwashed (or freshened with dry shampoo), it’s frizz-free for a good week. I decided learning to reach that level of perfection is my new year’s resolution. Coincidentally, I recently bought a blow-out hair dryer. Today was attempt No. 1. Admittedly, I’ll need more practice. A third arm would also be helpful. 362 more days to practice.

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It’s starting to feel like home

The simple things that make a place feel like home. When I move, I generally first make the bed because it’s just nice to know it’s there and waiting when I’m ready.

I was so pleased to pick up some boxes from Chris and Betsy’s basement and find some coasters my niece and sister made for me, a superhero cape I made one Halloween, my grandmother’s wine glasses and photo albums.

Yesterday, Pam and Cluff helped me pick up the coffee table and wine cabinet I left in Chad and Lora’s house. My apartment has been nearly empty for seven weeks now! While I enjoyed practicing my headstands and cartwheels (oh, yes I did) in the empty space, it already feels cozy and less cavernous. The sofa arrives a week from today, and I cannot wait to cuddle up on it.

You can all come visit now.

The dining chair is filling in for the turquoise chair, which is standing in for the sofa.
I don’t love the TV in front of the windows, but things like baseboard heaters and outlets make it a tricky space to work around.


Goodbye, Papa

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Tuesday morning when checking my email from the hotel in Bozeman, Mt., I saw an email in my inbox: Official notice that I’ve been laid off.

A couple hours later I stopped to get lunch and checked my email. I didn’t get a job I applied for.

Then I arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house. I’m super grateful to have their basement bedroom for a few days with my cat, but at the same time, I was feeling down. I have no job. I have no apartment. I have no job prospects. Why did I come back to Seattle with a cat and no where to live?

Then my ex-boyfriend called to tell me our Papa had died. All I could do was sigh. Why now? Why today? Can’t I live in a world with my “supposed-to-be” grandfather for one more day?

I was sad, but on a lack of sleep in a different time zone with no job and no home, it was difficult to grasp the enormity of losing Papa. My last week in New York, Papa and I emailed a lot (it was my preferred way of communicating. I often had difficulty understanding him on the phone). I sent him the photos that Quyn had taken of me in the city. He replied that he printed them all and was going to the store for frames for them. All of them? I asked. All of them, he answered.

I told him I was honored to be added to the grandchild shrine. He told me I was already in it. Papa is my ex’s grandfather. We liked to say we “kept each other” after the breakup.

I visited him in Texas in the summer of 2012. Papa had told all the nurses at the care facility that his “New York lawyer granddaughter was visiting.” (I was taking a law class in New York at the time.) I think the nurses were so confused as to who this city girl was visiting Papa, but he was happy, so they didn’t much care. As I was leaving, one of the nurses asked Papa how many grandchildren he has. “One, a grandson,” Papa answered. The nurse eyed me funny. I smiled, but said nothing. Papa explained to a couple of the nurses that I was his “supposed-to-be granddaughter.” That worked for me. He’s my supposed-to-be grandfather, too.

While I was driving West this past week, I snapped some pictures that I planned to send to Papa when I got settled and could go through them.

I was too slow, but I wanted to share them with you anyway.

A soothing chai

Standing in my aunt’s kitchen this afternoon, watching the Keurig (shut up, James) work on a cup of pumpkin-spice coffee, I suddenly thought of Quyn and my first day in New York City.

I was sleepy from the red-eye flight I took in from Seattle. Luckily the cab driver knew how to get me to my new home because I didn’t. I chatted with one of my new roommates as he gave me a quick tour of the place, then I pulled out my sheets out of my suitcase for a long nap before venturing out for some groceries and toiletries. While I was out, my co-worker/friend from IM called asking where I was.

She just lived up 9th Avenue from me and needed groceries herself, so we met on the street corner and she showed me which butcher and baker are better than the rest. (Seriously. This isn’t the beginning of a nursery rhyme.)

We walked back to her apartment to put her groceries away. I had that anxious feeling in my gut. What was I going to do with the next few days in an uncomfortable apartment? What if I don’t like my other roommate? Then Quyn made me a cup of chai tea in her Keurig.

I sat with her in the armchairs in her living room and felt at peace. It was calm and relaxing to gab with a girlfriend. It was like she was an old friend, not someone I’d just met in real life.

That was the best cup of chai I’ve ever had. And as I savored this afternoon’s pumpkin-spiced coffee, I knew this is not a cuppa I’ll forget soon.

What’s Minneapolis like?

I’m occasionally asked, “What’s XX like in Minnesota?” I have to admit, I often don’t know how to answer. Sure, I grew up here, but I moved away 15 years ago. I visit a couple times a year, but I usually come for a long weekend, often in the winter, stay at my parents’ place in the suburbs and then am on my way. I don’t generally take a survey or study Minnesota residents.

Since I had some extra time this trip, I’ve spent time seeing the city, taking yoga classes and otherwise acting like a local (with out-of-state license plates).

Here’s what caught me by surprise.

  • IMG_7606.JPGMinnesotans are quite active. The Twin Cities were named the fittest city in the US for the third year in a row (yeah, two cities count as one) and it is gorgeous season here, but I’ve seen so many people out riding bikes or running. The playgrounds I’ve gone to with my nephew have been packed with families on the move.
  • Minnesotans are so darn generous. I found a yoga studio not far from my parents’ place. They offer a week free to new students. I figured I could take one class free, then pay for the next one since I have no intention of staying after the first week since I don’t live here (must be my Minnesota side coming out). The studio actually refused my money.
  • Everyone must’ve been outside running when I went to yoga because there were only two of us in class. In New York, we’d pay extra and call that a private class.
  • Minnesotans talk funny. I hear it when I watch the news especially, but every once in a while I’ll catch a word – particularly “Minnesota” with it’s nasaly Ns and long oooohh!
  • IMG_7669.JPG
  • There’s corn. Everywhere.
  • I see Minnesota Twins or Minnesota Vikings shirts everywhere I go. Not one person (outside of my family) commented when I wore Seahawks gear on Thursday.
  • I think it’s impossible not to go to Target at least every other day. I think there’s a magnet pulling my car there.
  • It’s so quiet here. Last night I heard crickets. This afternoon, I heard a strange noise and went to investigate. It was a ceiling fan. In New York, I’d never hear my fans over the firetrucks, people screaming, basketballs dribbling, my neighbor’s music and cars blasting music. I’m not sure there are crickets in Manhattan at all. I commented to my parents that it sounded like we were camping.

Appealing to the judges

Quyn came over yesterday to help me decide what goes to Seattle and what stays. She said I could take this cute dress only if I could fit it in a peanut butter jar.


It’s a little too big, but you all think I should keep it anyway, right?


The end of my New York story

Oh, hey, Green Lake, I've been thinking about you.
Oh, hey, Green Lake, I’ve been thinking about you.

Dear fans and people who ended up here by mistake,

I’m leaving New York.

You probably expect me to follow that with a sentence telling you where I’m going, but I’m not entirely sure.

I’ve known for a while that New York wasn’t working for me. I love this city to pieces. I never took for granted how accessible everything is in New York. I could high-five Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon or stop by a Broadway lottery after work to score cheap tickets. I could eat dinner next to Bobby Flay and take any class I wanted.

But it’s time for me to go. I’ve been longing for some place less crowded. I’ve literally been dreaming about living among the mountains again.

Finally, I decided to follow the signs. My job here is wrapping up anyway. Plus, a friend offered me a place to live. My sister and brother-in-law gave me a car. I picked up some freelance work. My body is reacting to stress and telling me it doesn’t want to be here anymore.

But mostly it’s in my heart. I’ve twice now woken up, thinking, “I’m so glad I’m not in New York,” only to realize I AM in New York. I will be forever grateful for the time I spent here. I made wonderful friends I will love for always. In the uncomfortable, I learned to be myself and follow my own instincts.

But it’s time for me to see what’s next. I need to trust myself and follow my passions. For now, at least, I want to surround myself with people I love. I’m looking forward to spending a week with my family, just in time for the Minnesota State Fair AKA the best time to be in the Twin Cities. I want to play Auntie Candace to my littlest niece and nephew.

Then I’m going to Seattle for a few months to reconnect with friends, feel the light rain on my face while I run, sit with friends on the beach at sundown and write a book or two.

New York will forever be a part of my story. I’ll count it among my homes, even long after it forgets about me.

Stuff and things

I’ve lived in seven apartments since college graduation. Each time I move, I take loads of things to Goodwill. It’s the obvious time to clear out the clutter and lighten my load.

Despite giving away tons of stuff when I moved to New York, I still have more now than I want to ship. I moved here with two big suitcases and decent-sized carry-on. I shipped about five boxes here. Now I’m getting ready to move for an eighth time. I already shipped four boxes and two suitcases of stuff. I have a fifth box ready to go. My mom is planning to fly out to help me carry  more suitcases out. Still, I’m not sure if that’ll accommodate everything.

How did I end up with so much stuff?

I already took four bags to Goodwill and put two boxes of stuff in the free area of my building. Yet, I asked my friend Quyn to come over tomorrow and help me get brutal about what’s worth keeping and what is not. She promises she’s a tight packer.

I already gave away the things I moved here and never used (my high school tennis racquet) and tossed any stained, ripped or unflattering clothes, but I still need to get it down to four suitcases worth.

I’m not even taking any furniture or much housewares with me. I’m already at my weight limit for carry-on by way of my cat and personal and work computers.

I’m never moving across the country again.

Well, maybe I will.

To bag or not to bag …

New Yorkers are madder than usual – this time over a proposed fee on plastic bags.

The New York Times explains:

The New York City Council has a bill to limit the use of plastic bags. It would charge people a dime for them at retail and grocery stores. The money would go directly to retailers, who would use it to stock paper and reusable bags. The idea is to get New Yorkers to cut back on the 5.2 billion plastic bags they go through each year.

Seattle instituted a similar policy in 2012. There, plastic bags are banned and retailers are required to charge 5 cents for each paper bag they give out.

Love the urban luggage bag with 2 sizes of handles. The roll-up bags fold small, so I can always have them with me.

I wish there wasn’t a need for laws like this. I wish we could all be responsible citizens of the Earth and bring our bags most of the time. That way, we could get a pass the times we buy more than fits in our bags or we find ourselves bagless.

I also don’t agree with the argument that we reuse the plastic bags we get and would therefore just buy bags and the problem wouldn’t go away. I bring my own bags most of the time, but I still have more than enough plastic bags under my sink for my disposable bag needs.

I always bought kitchen garbage bags because few store bags are big enough, but if you do use your store bags as your main garbage bag, this will affect your habits. My need to buy bags hasn’t gone up. If you really want to know my habits, I dump the bathroom trash into the kitchen trash bag when I take it out, so I don’t have to change the bathroom bag every time. I scoop the litter box into the kitchen bag as well.

I don’t have a dog, but most of my friends with dogs buy the biodigradable blue bags on a neat roll anyway. I rarely see a dog walker with a pocketful of Safeway bags on walks.

I took a poll of Seattle friends who have been living with this ban for two years now. One reports that he has plenty of plastic bags for cleaning his own cat’s litter box from things like the bag the newspaper comes in to keep it dry and the bags he puts his apples in at the supermarket.

Some friends reported feeling guilty when they forget their bags, often accepting the fee as a way to remind themselves to bring bags. Many say the law is inconvenient, but they respect the intent. One says he refuses to bring his own bag and pays the fee every time on principle.

Finally, I prefer to bring my own sturdy bags because it’s easier to carry bags home on my shoulders than a bunch of flimsy plastic bags or paper bags with short handles. I often carry groceries home 10+ blocks. When I plan ahead, I bring my best bags that don’t pack small. When I’m stopping on my way home, I use one of the three bags that roll up tight that I keep in my purse and gym bag.

My Seattle friend Tara recommends these.