Every November, Laura Tremaine hosts a linkup called One Day, in which everyone posts the minutiae of their day, the stuff that normally goes undocumented. I’ve learned that these are the kinds of things you look back on and see how much in your life has changed (or not). While One Day is meant to happen on Instagram throughout the day, I prefer to post it all here as a photoessay!
Thursday, November 9, 2017
6:15 am: My radio alarm goes off (for the second time) as Kesha’s “Praying” is starting. I love that song, so I let it run, then turn the light on and commence my morning phone check. After about a week of gloom, today is supposed to be sunny! Rufus leaves the laundry basket he’s been sleeping in and joins me for cuddles. I suddenly remember today is One Day and snap some pics before getting out of bed.
6:45 am: I start the coffee and am happy to see the sunlight for myself! (But not happy to keep seeing these piles of landscaping rocks that I excavated from my patio beds. I have nowhere to take them and have listed them for free in several online groups, but no one is willing to pick them up on nights or weekends. ?)
7:20 am: Hurriedly putting my face on. This is the Makeup Revolution Salted Caramel palette. I like it a lot. Oh and here are my current everyday hair products. A fellow curlyheaded friend recently asked about my routine, and after I told her (over multiple texts), her response was, “Oh wow.” LOL.
7:40 am: My breakfast on weekdays is a pack of BelVita breakfast biscuits eaten in the car. I’m NOT a morning person and am always struggling to get out the door. I think about how when I was a kid, I instinctively got up earlier than necessary to allow for a slow ease into the day. I need to figure out how to do that as an adult. Having a real breakfast would be nice.
8:05 am: In the office, plugged up and ready to go. I looooooove my widescreen monitor. Most of my co-workers have two monitors, but that confuses me. On this one I can see two pages side-by-side and that’s good enough for me.
9:35 am: Current lock screen.
10:00 am: Switch from coffee to Crystal Light. This Java Sok is one of the most useful things I’ve ever bought. I was tired of my cups “sweating” everywhere and found a cozy large enough for a standard drink cup. Also, I bring my old-man pill sorter to work when I’m running too late to take them at home. Current dailies: women’s multivitamin, fish oil, evening primrose oil, St. John’s Wort, and Allegra. Plus a probiotic that has to be refrigerated (ladies, I highly recommend it).
11:35 am: Since I can’t take pictures of my actual work, here’s the other side of my cubicle. My morning has consisted of problematic e-mail issues, transaction research, and explaining the same things to the same clients multiple times. In other words… Thursday.
12:25 pm: Outfit of the day: Uniqlo long-sleeved tee, Delia’s Morgan skinny jeans, favorite over-the-knee suede boots, Hilton Hollis silk scarf that I won in a raffle a few months ago. Pose by emoji.
12:40 pm: I’ve been doing twice-a-week lunchtime workouts at my company’s fitness room (or, as I call it, the exercise closet) for over ten years. I prefer the AMT machine (most efficient calorie burn) and I always watch How I Met Your Mother reruns, unless it’s an episode I’ve seen too often.
1:20 pm: THE SAGA (of my lunch) BEGINS. I go back to my building and eagerly heat up my Healthy Choice meal, only to drop it on the floor when the steam scalds me. The plastic seal inexplicably flies off and my lunch is ruined. Luckily for me, we’re having Food Truck Thursday today…
1:30 pm: After cleaning up the mess, I rush out to the food trucks and attempt to order tacos, but am told they don’t take cards. Just as I’m on the verge of hangry tears, she says the Merge Memphis Eats & Treats truck takes cards and still has food. I get a Turkey Bacon Ranch grilled cheese, inhale it in five minutes, and all is well again.
The sandwich was supposed to be more in the picture, but I was afraid I’d drop it too.
2:05 pm: One of our high-ranking lawyers is in town and has brought Muddy’s cupcakes! I get a Tomboy (chocolate with peanut butter frosting). I also go next door for my favorite drink from our free magical Coke machine.
2:30 pm: Another view of my cubicle. Meanwhile, my friend Ashley notifies our group text that she just closed on her first house! She’ll be living only a few blocks away. I’m very excited!! ♥
3:00 pm: Annual one-on-one meeting with our visiting attorney.
4:30 pm: News breaks that over SEVEN YEARS after his murder, police have found the gun that killed former Tiger and Grizzly Lorenzen Wright. For various reasons I have unusually strong feelings around his case, so to me this is huge. Hoping for answers and justice for his family.
5:05 pm: I’ve left work via these scary stairs for sixteen years and haven’t fallen down them yet. Knock on wood.
5:10 pm: My low tire pressure light is on AGAIN. One of the tires gets low almost weekly. I had to buy an air compressor. My dad, my boyfriend Taylor, and I have all inspected the tire and don’t see anything wrong. Yes I’m listening to Moana on the way home. This is pretty much my 2017 anthem.
5:25 pm: Taylor calls to talk about our days. I often go to trivia on Thursday nights, and sometimes he comes with me, but tonight I have to run and he has more work to do.
6:15 pm: Three weeks left until the St. Jude half-marathon. I already did my long-short run on Tuesday, so I only have to do four miles tonight. Running in the dark in Midtown without falling OR getting hit by a car requires a lot of gear. (I still trip and almost fall twice on this run.) Instead of my main running playlist that has almost 400 songs, I indulge in my Essential Running playlist with only my favorites on it, and am rewarded.
6:30 pm: I vary my routes as much as possible, but I love running past the House of Mews! Usually the cats are all in baskets in the window, but tonight they’re further inside, so I go to the door to snap a quick pic.
7:05 pm: I have run the first sub-11-minute mile of my life, and almost made it to two!!! On my last downhill I also saw that I was briefly sub-10. I FEEL AMAZING.
7:40 pm: After my shower, I hear Rufus meowing but can’t find him. I remember I put my hat away in the coat closet and check there. He flies out. Cats. Go fig.
7:45 pm: This flyer was on my front door essentially notifying me that my electric bill is going to go up. Whatever, time to cook! I decide to throw together a hash of sorts. I cook some ground venison (provided by my dad and brother), throw in some spinach and frozen roasted potatoes, and add chopped parsley and some Parmesan cheese. There, I gave you a recipe in under a thousand words, proving that I’m not meant to be a food blogger.
8:00 pm: I know it’s So Bad For You to eat dinner this late, but when I’m training, there’s not much I can do about it. As I chow down I read this week’s EW, seen on my nightstand earlier. CANNOT WAIT for I, Tonya. I was at the perfect age to be transfixed when the Tonya/Nancy feud happened. There were lots of leftover cupcakes at work, so of course I brought one home. It’s an excellent, clove-heavy carrot cake.
9:00 pm: Putting away some laundry while watching this week’s Mindy Project. This has been my favorite current show for years, supplanted only recently by This Is Us. Next week is the finale and I am NOT READY. I’m also enjoying some Honey Clementine votives. Taylor used to work for Yankee Candle and is very generous with his supply.
9:30 pm: I’ve completely redone my guest room/office since last year’s One Day, so here’s a pic of my IKEA Hemnes bookcases, and the corner of my desk. This is only a fraction of my library, mostly my childhood and teenage books.
9:45 pm: Feeling much less amazing now. Compression socks on, feet up, purr therapy applied.
10:15 pm: Channel 3 with the truly breaking and up-to-the-minute news. I’m pretty loyal to Channel 5, but they’re showing Thursday Night Football right now. Time for the evening beauty routine. I put the Mederma on acne scars and any other scars that are currently bugging me. It really works.
10:35 pm: My Jimmy Fallon love is well-documented and I still watch him sometimes, but these days I’m turning to Colbert to recap WTH happened today and help me laugh about it.
10:45 pm: I can no longer keep my eyes open. Good night!
It’s an exciting time to be a Memphis sports fan! Tiger football is 7-1 and on track to play in (and possibly host!) the conference championship and then a good bowl. The “rebuilding year” Grizzlies are currently 5-2 and first in the Western Conference. Taylor’s family has season tickets and I’m really enjoying tagging along. Memphis Vs. Errrbody.
St. Jude training continues (if you’re not already running or supporting another runner, please consider donating!). For my other two half-marathons, I counted back from race day and added a mile per week to my long run. This time I’m trying a Runkeeper plan that jumps around in mileage and allows for shorter short runs, usually four or five miles (I used to do six-plus). Even on a good day, I’m still slower than I was last year and have more aches and pains, so I’ve given up on a PR and just want to finish well. Maybe I’ll get my fire back some other time. Anyway, I also did a 5K for Operation Broken Silence, a local organization I support that helps Sudanese refugees.
I attended our paralegal association’s annual fall seminar and got a full day of CLE hours. The presentations were really interesting, and I loved working downtown for the day.
Oh and I’m Brenda S. Pumpkins today. ANY QUESTIONS?!?
My sister’s BFF hired me to edit her 270-page manuscript! I told myself I couldn’t read anything substantial until I finished the job, so the only book I read in October was this short collection of Ask Polly columns by Heather Havrilesky. I love her.
After months of uncertainty about whether I could handle it, I finally started The Handmaid’s Tale and am taking it a couple of episodes at a time. It deserves all the awards it’s won, and I always turn it off with renewed gratitude to be a free woman who can take care of herself. I’m also looking forward to starting season 2 of Stranger Things ASAP!
I hadn’t been to a Wiseacre tasting tour in a while, but most of our old gang reconvened for a Witches’ Brew event with an exclusive candy apple beer that I went CRAZY over. Dangerous. We learned how all the accoutrements historically attributed to witches were actually used to make and sell beer, because until the 1500s, brewers were women. Currently there are only four female craft brewer CEOs in America. Let’s get on it, ladies.
We had church at Levitt Shell last week, followed by a chili cookoff and pie cookoff. I contributed black bottom oatmeal pie, chosen at random from my Pinterest desserts board. It turned out okay, but pie isn’t my area of expertise.
It took me at least a month to figure out and execute this plant wall in my dining room, but it came together piece by piece. These are 75-cent plastic pots from IKEA, painted with metallic craft paint via sponge brush, filled with plants a woman was selling out of her yard near the Liberty Bowl, hung on hooks drilled into the wall. Originally I planned to hang the pots on a metal grid like so, but when the grid arrived, the squares were too small and I decided I didn’t like the look anyway. The plants get a couple of hours of direct sun in this spot, so fingers crossed that they do okay. Otherwise I’ll have to patch a lot of holes.
I also bought some cheap shelf units from IKEA and started working on the closets in my guest room/office, which have been a jumbled mess since I moved in over two years ago. I’m not finished but can already find things more easily.
This fall tree scene is my favorite painting I’ve ever done at one of those painting-and-wine places. We also played a game where you painted a house on a paper plate on top of your head, and I was pretty impressed with myself.
Before this month, I think the fanciest purse I’d ever purchased was my last one, from Kohl’s. I loved it and wore it out for a year and a half. But, realizing it and all my secondhand purses were falling apart, I splurged on a brand new Fossil Emma Satchel and Fossil wallet. I’m still excited about it!
I’m going through a weird body phase (please let it be a phase) and have been struggling to find jeans that fit. I was not expecting Levi’s Denizen jeans at Target to be my salvation, but I now have two pairs and might go back for another. Definitely worth a try if you’re a pear or hourglass.
A while back I ordered a Sseko Brave Bracelet, but couldn’t get the charms into the center where they belonged. A co-worker who makes jewelry took care of it for me in minutes and now I can wear it happily. These charms stand for Bravery, Generosity, and Perseverance.
My department at work had a really nice dinner at The Kitchen to celebrate my former boss’s 50th (not a typo, FIVE OH) anniversary at the company. She’s fighting liver cancer and is doing great, well enough to come to the party. We’re all thankful for her.
It was finally cool enough to get that First PSL! (On the same day, while working on my closet reorganization, with the cup still on my desk, I printed a label “Ribbons” with my label maker and suddenly felt like the most basic white girl ever.)
At work I’m the department representative on our “thrive committee.” I proposed a quiet area where people can meditate, pray, or collect themselves alone for a few minutes – it was something I wanted for myself! Surprisingly everyone liked the idea and we had it set up within a few days.
All of a sudden I’m very into hippos, particularly our zoo’s Winnie and the famous Baby Fiona. They just make me happy. Fiona photobombed a couple’s engagement this month. ♥
Your Monthly Rufus:
Rufus is mostly an indoor cat, but most days I supervise him roaming outside for a few minutes. There are three outdoor cats in my complex. Last week one of them saw Rufus on the patio and ran across the parking lot to my gate, where they stared at each other for ten minutes before a car startled the other cat away. Stay tuned for the next episode of Real Housecats of Central Gardens.
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
Lots of heavy and long pieces here, but we’re living in heavy times.
♥ Tara Bender: OK Being the Moon
♥ Rachel Monroe in the New Yorker: How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety
♥ Maureen Ryan in Variety: A TV Executive Sexually Assaulted Me: A Critic’s Personal Story
♥ Constance Grady at Vox: The YA dystopia boom is over. It’s been replaced by stories of teen suicide.
♥ Lindsey Coates: The Economy of Fear
♥ Jim Wright: The Myth of Judeo-Christian Values
♥ Michael Frost at Missio Alliance: A Christian Male Response to #MeToo: Smash the Patriarchy
♥ Avital Norman Nathman at Grok Nation: Is being childfree really the “selfish” choice many think?
♥ Alana Massey at Longreads: How to Replace a Ghost
I waited all summer for some beach time, and finally got it over Labor Day weekend when Taylor and I went to Orange Beach! We spent several days alternately staring at the ocean and enjoying great food. I bought a straw fedora and didn’t want to take it off. It was just the break we both needed.
We also went on a dolphin cruise that exceeded my expectations. After we spotted a dolphin, the captain said we were going to pull alongside another boat to create a wake for the dolphin to play in. I gave him some side-eye because I’d never seen this before and he was talking like he and the dolphin had a business agreement. But it leaped and jumped and gave us a great show, just like he said! Later we came upon THREE dolphins and they did the same thing. I was enthralled. ♥ (Full disclosure, that run ended when some hothead from a nearby jetski group decided to try to jump the wake and almost landed on one of the dolphins. As far as I could tell, they were all okay, but it was an upsetting end to an otherwise great experience.)
Mid-month, I went to Nashville for the sold-out Hanson Middle of Everywhere tour at the Wildhorse with my sister, and Bethany, who flew in from Jacksonville. I’ve been an unashamed Hanson fan for most of my life, and this was my fifth show (at least – I feel like I’m forgetting one) and second with Bethany! Somehow Debra had never seen them live, and I assured her there is nothing like being in a packed house of
women in their 30s people who love Hanson and know every word. She had a blast and is now catching up on the last 17 years of their discography.
When I saw that I would be in Nashville the same weekend as Yoga With Adriene, I bought a ticket to her morning session immediately. It was enough for me to do yoga in the same room with her, but I actually had a couple of minor breakthroughs in my practice during the class. I’m so thankful I got to go. After, Bethany and I had an excellent late brunch at Biscuit Love and did a little thrift shopping before I headed back to Memphis.
Lingering heat continues to impede my running progress, but I’m slogging along three days a week. I was excited to run one of my favorite races, the Cooper-Young 4-Miler, and felt better than I did last year. When I bought new shoes this month, I decided to switch from my usual Asics to these more supportive-feeling Sauconys. I’m glad I didn’t wait to do so, because adjusting to a new style of shoe has set me back even more. Just over two months to go. I had a goal to cut ten minutes off my St. Jude time this year, but as of now I’m like HA HA LET’S JUST MAKE IT ACROSS THE FINISH LINE.
I’ve eliminated “should” reading for the time being and am only picking up books that really engage and/or relax me. In September, that translated into a lot of cozy mystery, the latest Shadowhunters novel, and a unique love story (which is not, I discovered, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast).
Demi Lovato’s latest burn and Macklemore’s “Glorious” have been my favorite running jams this month. You can listen to my 2017 playlist so far on Spotify (I’ve been adding to it all year, but keep forgetting to link to it)!
Tiger football is back! The Tigers played their first game in the remnants of Hurricane Harvey (we had great intentions of going and toughing it out, but ultimately did not attend), then landed in Orlando to play UCF moments before the game was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. But we’ve since beaten UCLA and SIU at home, and it’s great to be back on Tiger Lane.
My mom and I were excited about our second Central Gardens Home Tour! This year there was an interesting mix of truly historic and updated homes. (I also scored a new book about neighborhood history and talked to the author!)
The Redbirds won the Pacific Coast League Championship! Taylor, Brandi, and I went to one of the playoff games. I haven’t been to the Shell much lately, but I saw Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul with my mom and Ashley, and they were fantastic.
For over a decade, I’ve stored sugar in a standard round ceramic canister, consistently spilling it everywhere when I make iced tea several times a week. Well, it finally occurred to me to purchase a container designed to store and dispense sugar. GAME CHANGED for less than $15. I’m not so much with the spatial awareness.
We just got a new Hawaiian place, Ono Poke. I had lunch there with Dianne and it was DELICIOUS. More proof that Hawaii may be my heart’s true home.
I made some almond jam bars for our Tiger breakfast tailgate, and they were ridiculously good. The pumpkin oat bars I also brought came in a distant second.
I organized this month’s Supper Club – just a casual dinner at Mardi Gras, a Cajun place I had noticed near Crosstown. We all really enjoyed it, the staff was very hospitable, and the bread pudding is legit (though I took a picture of my shrimp and oysters instead.)
In an attempt to eat well and not gain weight this training cycle, I ordered a Runner’s World cookbook. It’s categorized by when the food is best to eat (pre-run, recovery, etc). I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes.
I really went for it when placing my annual Makeup Revolution order (the prices are great, but shipping from England will kill you). I got the Salted Caramel palette I’d been eyeing forever, plus a few Freedom palettes (this is my favorite so far), a blush, and a couple of lip products. I also scored a free NYX Happy Birthday Palette from Ulta and was pleasantly surprised by the quality!
I’m thankful to go to a church that makes declarations like these. We had a seventh-birthday service at Playhouse on the Square this month (we normally meet in a school auditorium), and it was a great time. In related news, after being the coffee hospitality person at church for two and a half years, I’ve handed over the reins to the hospitality team. I’m not even trying to hide how happy I am about this. I took over the job shortly after becoming a member at Christ City, so I never got to experience much of attending as a regular person, or even NOT GOING sometimes when I needed a break. I recently joined the (very low-key) prayer team, and am looking forward to participating in that and otherwise chilling out for a while. Shoutout to my friends Stacey and Katie for being my faithful subs and pushing the issue with leadership to get me some relief.
Your Monthly Rufus:
Targeted advertising is getting a little scary.
Quote of the Month:
From an old Captain Awkward post that I found at just the right moment.
♥ Katee Forbis: Tony Allen Forever.
♥ Laura Jean Truman: Bonfire Night
♥ I’ve so appreciated Perfect Number’s posts leading up to her wedding, and this one gave me the most thoughts and feels: I Told Them We Already Live Like We’re Married
♥ Anastasia Basil at Think Progress: Ketchup sandwiches and other things stupid-poor people eat
I officially entered my late 30s this month, but lots of fun and love distracted me from that alarming fact. My parents kicked it off early by taking me to the James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt concert. I’d seen both of them before, but their long history together made for a special experience! On my actual birthday, Taylor took me to dinner at the Majestic and to our usual Wednesday-night British Bingo (I didn’t win, but we cleaned up the following week). Birthday week closed out with a party at Railgarten that included a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time!
Taylor and I went to Nashville on August 21 to witness the eclipse with my sister and her family. It was my first total solar eclipse, and totally worth what we went through to be there (let’s just say I’m never doing Airbnb again). The difference between a 99% and 100% eclipse is greater than I could have imagined – Lindsay Ferrier described the experience well. I didn’t take any pictures during the eclipse because I wanted to be fully present, but we got lots of fun pics while we waited!
I can’t resist essay memoirs by witty actresses, and Gabourey Sidibe’s is a great addition to the list. Her story is compelling, and now that she’s helpfully pointed out her name rhymes with cabaret, I will never mess it up again.
The Themis Files series (Waking Gods is #2) is like The Sparrow‘s more lighthearted, scientific cousin – aliens, adventure, existential questions, exploring the concept of family. I love these books and can’t wait for the third next year.
On a whim I went to see Ingrid Goes West by myself this week. It was weird and often uncomfortable to watch, but that’s only because the themes are so real. Also, O’Shea Jackson Jr. is adorable.
My friend Stacey married her longtime love Ben at Lichterman Nature Center, with the best weather you could ask for in Memphis in August. I’m so happy for her and happy to be a witness to their story from the beginning to the new beginning!
“Celebrating” isn’t really the right word for this, but it was a thing: I had a fairly bland tweet go viral (by my standards – over 3000 likes) and get quoted in the Washington Post!! Within about a 48-hour period, I learned a lot about the randomness of “fame” (again, compared to my usual life) and got many opportunities to think and build resilience. :P
Crosstown Concourse started its new life after sitting vacant for 25 years. As I walked around the grand opening, I got unexpectedly emotional about the scope of what’s been achieved because a few people believed it was possible. It did my heart good to see Memphians of all ages and races enjoying Crosstown together. For a minute I felt like if our city can bring this building back from the dead, together we can do anything. I’ve felt a pull toward this place since the revitalization was announced. My rare feelings of destiny are historically pretty accurate, so we’ll see what role it ends up playing in my life. ♥
These murals downtown are made of cut-up street signs. Recycling win.
Seen on the way to Nashville – we should have known then there was a T-Swift disturbance in the force.
I officially started training for my second St. Jude half-marathon on December 2. I stopped running seriously after the last St. Jude, so I’m basically starting over, but am feeling more encouraged by the day. I’ve never tried an interval or speed plan before, but am interested in something to help increase my overall pace. It’s still early enough to make some progress. If you know of an easy-to-use app with good cueing, hit me up!
I got an IKEA frame for my signed Grizzlies shirt, jazzed up the mat with a little watercolor, and hung it in a place of honor. Still miss you, ZBo.
This $3 celosia makes me happy. It looks like fuzzy, fuschia coral.
I love the pattern of my bedroom curtains, but their flimsiness was disturbing my sleep. Taylor loaned me some blackout curtains he isn’t using and hung them on a second rod for me. The difference is AMAZING.
For the first time in my life, I hired a cleaning service after a friend started working for them and showed me a list of services. I haven’t had energy for deep detail cleaning in a LONG time, so occasional help with those things will be great. They came this week, and I’m enjoying my sparkly windows and non-icky microwave!
Your Monthly Rufus:
Helping me pin-hem curtains.
Bonus: In recent months Rufus has been exhibiting crazy behavior and developing a fairly serious biting problem (only with me – thankfully?). I’m not sure why and plan to bring it up at his checkup soon, but in the meantime, I had to do something. I picked up Feliway, the world’s most expensive plug-in, and 24 hours later he was blissed out. Worth it.
Pinterest LOL of the Month:
♥ Heidi K. Isern: The Naked Truth of Getting Older
♥ Ijeoma Oluo at The Establishment: You Must Understand Why You Believe What You Believe — And How You Got There
♥ Ruby Bastille: Hours of Hell and Hope
♥ Chris McCoy’s profile of a brave local woman and a tragic story: Alyssa Moore: Survivor
♥ Big Bang Theory actress Melissa Rauch reflects on pregnancy and miscarriage in Glamour.
♥ Heather Caliri at Relevant: What If Everything You’ve Been Taught About Being ‘Successful’ Is Wrong?
♥ John Gorman at P.S. I Love You: A Letter of Resignation
July was my busiest month in recent memory. If you follow my life at all, you know that’s saying something. I had visitors or was out of town all but one weekend, and my work stress has been off the charts due to a week at an offsite conference, a suddenly extreme workload, and getting a new assistant. Lots of good times, but this introvert is currently feeling like a shadow of herself. Let’s dive in.
Even airport time couldn’t save my book total this month. I finished Tables in the Wilderness, Preston Yancey’s memoir of his college faith crisis, then moved on to books two and three in the much fluffier Magical Cats mystery series. I enjoy these books, about a small-town librarian whose two cats help her solve crimes. Don’t knock it till you try it. Though between the rising body count and secret-murderer count, I’m wondering how sustainable this plot is. It’s not a big town. (My friend Katharine told me Agatha Christie ran into this problem and had to relocate her heroine entirely.)
Taylor and I saw Dunkirk. I don’t love war movies as a rule, but this one is tastefully and powerfully done, and beautiful to look at. I haven’t been watching much else besides Fixer Upper – we get tired trying to decide what to watch and keep ending up back with Chip and Jo.
I went to Chicago with my department for a work conference, and it was pretty great! We had our meetings at big law firms, so instead of looking at a conference room wall all day, I got these amazing views. I was also excited to walk to and from work – urban pedestrian living is my lifelong dream.
We stayed downtown at the Palmer House. Their resident historian gave us a fascinating lecture and behind-the-scenes tour. I had never heard of Bertha Honore Palmer and am shocked that her story isn’t widely told. She used her privilege to support the rights of women and immigrants before it was much of a thing.
On the final night, we had a Roaring 20s party with dance lessons!
On Friday, my longtime friend Becca and her husband picked me up for the weekend! We had lunch at Eataly and visited Millennium Park and the Art Institute (it was only enough time for the highlights – you could easily spend days in that museum).
I’d never been to Wisconsin and wanted to cross it off my list, so we drove to Kenosha and ended up at a place called Mike’s Chicken & Donuts, where we had glazed chicken wings (and top-notch local beer). It was a hilarious adventure. The following day, July 15, will live forever in my history as THE DAY I FIRST SAW HAMILTON!!! ♥
It was even better than I had hoped. The Chicago cast is wonderful (I especially liked Daniel Breaker’s different take on Burr), and seeing the show in person after listening obsessively for a year was like meeting my favorite celebrity. I was so starstruck I even took a screencap of the wifi. Thankful I got to share the experience with equally-thrilled friends. We spent the rest of the evening saying in fancy theatre voices, “Well, when I saw Hamilton…”
Meanwhile, back at home, Debra and my nieces visited twice this month – for a week around the Fourth, and again toward the end of the month. We won Friends trivia at Arcade with my friend Paula and her husband, went to the zoo, and had dinner at the original Pancho’s in West Memphis!
And there’s always time for silly Snapchats.
Taylor and I intended to watch the downtown Fourth of July fireworks from the Peabody rooftop with some friends, but when they went off half an hour early, in the rain, we had to hustle up the closest parking garage. We still saw most of the show, and it was actually pretty fun and romantic.
We went to the Journey concert, which was a big deal for me as you might guess from the title of this blog. During Don’t Stop Believing, the lead singer held up a Believe Memphis growl towel, and I truly felt I was living my best life.
My SIPster/Alanna’s actual sister Katharine (mentioned previously) visited last weekend! Alanna and I took her to some of our favorite local places and just enjoyed being together. I hadn’t seen her in almost three years!
After pinning endless style blog photos of knee-length flowy skirts, I finally scored one I love at Plato’s Closet and have been wearing it a lot. I needed some black sandals with a little heel, and found these Abella wedges in the basement of a Chicago DSW. They’re so comfortable and look good with everything. I also discovered my perfect v-neck tank top at Macy’s!
Your Monthly Rufus:
Pin of the Month:
♥ Rickey Dobbs at Scary Mommy: This Shiplap Is Killing Me: 8 Things I Hate About HGTV
♥ Nomi Kane at The Nib: My Life with a Pre-Existing Condition
♥ Laura Turner at Catapult: On Anxiety, Writing, and Taking the Nature Cure
♥ Liam Stack in the NYT: Patton Oswalt Announces His Engagement — and Strikes Back at ‘Grub Worm’ Critics
♥ Laura Jean Truman: WWJD! What Could Go Wrong? [Mark 6]
♥ Troy L. Wiggins in the Flyer: Letter to My City
♥ Jen Clarke in the Flyer: Farewell, Grit ‘n Grind
June: rainbows, sunrises, sunsets, and good times!
I had some airport time in June, so it was a decent reading month. Everything was good; my two standouts were Girl at the End of the World, Elizabeth Esther’s memoir about growing up in and leaving a fundamendalist cult, and existential time-travel AU novel All Our Wrong Todays, which seemed better and better as I reflected on it later. I went back and upgraded it to five stars!
alt-J released Relaxer and I’ve been rocking out to In Cold Blood constantly (the video is classic trippy alt-J, “nature documentary meets Tarantino”). I haven’t bought the new Lorde album yet, but love what I’ve heard so far. Meanwhile, Memphis Type History (the website I write for sometimes) just launched a podcast, and I’ve subscribed to a few other new ones. Fresh Air’s interview with Roxane Gay was tough to listen to, but gave me a lot to think about.
I won free tickets to Norah Jones in a Downtown Memphis Commission raffle! My Norah-crazed SIL was unable to come to town for the show, so my boyfriend Taylor came with me, and we had a nice relaxing time. The next night we saw John Paul White at Levitt Shell, making for a very chill 24 hours.
For Father’s Day I saw Wonder Woman with my dad :), and it lived up to all the hype. As expected, I was moved and inspired. Gal Gadot is luminous and totally worth the wait to bring WW to the big screen.
I’m still working on season 3 of Kimmy Schmidt. So far it’s fallen a little flat for me, but a few plot points (like Gretchen trying to become the first female cult leader) are catching me with their brilliance on the flip side.
Taylor and I have been introducing each other to some of our favorite movies and shows. Most shows he follows are on HBO, and I haven’t had cable since 2013, so it’s more of a “here’s one representative episode” kind of thing. We also watch a lot of random documentaries. If you haven’t seen The Barkley Marathons, you should, and then I want to talk about it.
A few months ago, I attended a cat yoga class. Turns out a local filmmaker made a short film about it, and Kelsey and I are in it! I went to the screening this week – it played before Kedi, a documentary about street cats in Istanbul. (I now really want to visit Istanbul.)
My mom, sister, two nieces, and I took a girls’ trip to Miami! The weather wasn’t great (we only got one hour of beach time the whole trip), but we made the best of it. We stayed at a hotel in Brickell part of the time, enjoyed the pool and hot tub, took the girls to a new science museum, and attended my cousin’s high school graduation.
My mom and I went to our family’s favorite restaurant, Shuckers, on my last night despite the bad weather. We also went to Wynwood (my new favorite Miami neighborhood) one night while Debra and the girls went to the pool!
After repeatedly signing up only for the event to be cancelled, I finally attended a Grizzfit Yoga class on the Grizzlies’ training court! It was followed by a “beach body” class that’s taken me almost a week to recover from. I also got to go to a season ticket holders’ NBA Draft watch party with Taylor, where I won a shirt signed by the entire team and Coach Fizz!! I’m going to frame it.
Supper Club was at the Redbirds game this month (complete with a rainbow!). The 2017 Tiger basketball alumni game was Memphis vs. UT, with plenty of favorite Tigers in attendance on and off the court for me to flail over. In food news, we have a new rolled ice cream place downtown (don’t go if you’re in a hurry). Taylor took me on a surprise late-night Gibson’s run one night after I’d been craving a donut all day. He continues to know the way to a Memphis girl’s heart.
I have notoriously bad luck with vacuum cleaners. Years ago I splurged on a cordless Dyson Animal thinking that would be the end of it, but it lost suction and started breaking down regularly. When it died again this month right on schedule, I decided I couldn’t deal anymore and ordered a Shark Navigator Lift-Away. From the first use, my feet could feel the difference in floor cleanliness, and I don’t have to vacuum the downstairs daily anymore. Handling a cord again is a little annoying, but I don’t think any cordless can really hold up to my messy cat, so I’ll gladly take the tradeoff!
Between leaves, pollens, and seeds from my bird feeder, I’ve struggled to keep my patio swept. I decided to look up small leaf blowers and found this electric one for $16!! It has more power than I need, and I can take the nozzle off and store it in my hall closet. Excitement!
Attempting to keep up with my CSA has me cooking more, and grilling as much as possible. I’ve been sticking to the Smitten Kitchen newsletter almost exclusively (green beans with almond pesto, grilled peaches, etc). I’m also enjoying my Moscow mule mugs, and welcome your ginger beer recommendations!
Your Monthly Rufus:
After getting his claws clipped at the vet – I finally decided to stop trying to do it myself. Well worth the 15-minute trip!
Pin of the Month:
♥ Julia Carpenter for the WaPo: Age 30 isn’t a deadline, and other life advice from a former Seventeen editor
♥ Jason Brooks at Touchpoint: Sixteen Years After I Said, “I Do”, Here’s What I’ve Learned. And on the flip side, John Gorman at PS I Love You: I Was Young, Until I Wasn’t.
♥ I enjoyed this story of a cross-country RV road trip with six kids! Living with Kids: Laura George, at Design Mom
♥ Kelle Hampton: An Interview with My Dad on Gay Pride
♥ Lindsay Ferrier: I Will Never Be a Sweet Friend
♥ John Pavlovitz: The Church That Is Making People Homeless
♥ Laura Jean: More Harry Potter, Less Apologetics
Okay, everybody, gird your loins. May was a big month!
I’ll lead with the biggest news: on April 25, I went for drinks with a guy I knew from Twitter named Taylor. We’ve followed each other for a while, but he just moved back to Memphis recently after several years away. We’ve seen each other almost every day since we met, and decided we were Together by mid-May. He’s wonderful, and I’m really happy, if not quite comprehending how I suddenly have this awesome relationship. Life CAN come at you fast in a good way. ♥
I finished exactly one book in May, Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen. It was good, but honestly I don’t remember much about it!
To no one’s surprise, I’ve been obsessed with the new Paramore album. I bought an actual CD because I was going out of town on release day and didn’t have time to download, then burn a copy. It’s pretty much perfection. 2017 is shaping up to be a stellar music year for me – there’s a new alt-J album later this week, new HAIM still TBD, and Hanson even has a new single. Celebrate!!
Best of Friends Podcast finally came to the end of Season 10. Last I heard, they’re watching Joey next (should be interesting – I never made it past the first few episodes) and then maybe starting Friends over at Season 1.
I’m not much of a binge-watcher, but I plowed through 13 Reasons Why in a few days. While it’s excellent and raises a lot of important issues, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone (and am not sure I would have to myself). Ultimately it’s the unvarnished story of a girl who kills herself, and you know that from minute one. The last few episodes gave me an emotional hangover. On a happier note, I’m psyched about Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but have only gotten as far as Titus Lemonading (genius).
Taylor and I watched True Grit the other night – I had never seen it. My brother now lives in Fort Smith, where some of the action takes place, so it was good to watch before my next visit there!
Wes, Kelsey, Clark, and I made our second trek all together to Rocket City Brewfest in Huntsville and had a blast! We stayed in cabins at a nearby state park again, and this time, our friend Bliss hired a yoga teacher to give us a private yoga class in a Japanese garden! One of those IS THIS REAL LIFE moments.
I went away for Memorial Day weekend with Taylor and some of his family! We stayed lakeside at Lake D’Arbonne, Louisiana, and had a relaxing couple of days: sunning, eating, drinking, and bird-watching from the dock.
A Twitter friend recommended this Lavender Chocolate coffee from Fresh Market, and it’s pretty life-changing.
I mentioned offhandedly to Taylor that I really wanted some Moscow mule mugs (one of my favorite drinks), and he surprised me with a set! Now I can have fancy cocktail hour on my own patio, just in time for summer.
My Julia Child rose and my gardenia had a nice spring!
I was here for all three days of Beale Street Music Fest this year, and saw The Strumbellas, Dawes, Jill Scott (Mma Ramotswe herself – she was amazing), Jimmy Eat World, Grouplove, Snoop Dogg, Kings of Leon, X Ambassadors, Death Cab for Cutie, Ani DiFranco, Ben Harper, and Soundgarden! (Yes, I saw Soundgarden less than two weeks before Chris Cornell died. Still kind of in shock. Do we have a security detail on Eddie Vedder yet?)
As a belated Mother’s Day activity, my mom and I did the Cooper-Young Garden Walk and saw lots of beautiful gardens and yards! The day started out rainy, but the weather eventually cleared. When we were done, I took her to Urban Earth to get a banana tree she’s wanted for years. So far it’s doing well in a pot.
New murals this month: a temporary installation made of duct tape at the Brooks, and a lineup of Memphisy images in Barboro Alley downtown. I also experienced Bike Night on Beale Street for the first time. It happens every week, and it’s loud.
I registered for the four-race M-Town Series! Every summer I want to do it and don’t remember in time. Last week was the 4-miler, Zoom Through the Zoo. Most of it was actually through Overton Park, which deteriorated my mojo because I’ve run those paths many times. I don’t know what to do to get excited or motivated about running again. Between two and three miles, I just feel meh and start walking. I tried to get advice from running friends online, but a stranger popped up telling me to “OVERCOME OR QUIT.” #nothelpful
Good eye cream is quickly becoming a crucial part of my life. I ran out of the so-so Aveeno stuff I was using, searched by highest reviews on Amazon, and decided to try this OZNaturals eye cream. No exaggeration, I saw a difference the NEXT DAY. It’s natural and still cheaper than most of what’s available at CVS. Yay!
Your Monthly Rufus:
Rufus turned three this month! He’s getting into his young adult years. Where does the time go?
Quote of the Month:
(One guess whose lyric this is. Also, I want a felt letterboard)
♥ Gabriela Martins at Femsplain: FOMO Burned Me Out
♥ Addie Zierman: Sermon Notes for Cynics
♥ Bethany Suckrow: Skip the Greeting Card, Call Your Senators.
♥ Samantha Field: what Anne Shirley means to me, and surviving trauma
On April 16 I celebrated two years of living in the heart of the city I love. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Midtown that long, and I still don’t take it for granted. One of the best decisions I ever made!
My mom suggested I host her and my dad for Easter this year and invite a few friends. I enjoy cooking for a small group and don’t get to do so often, so I was on board. I made a favorite menu from an old issue of Real Simple – mustard-crusted pork tenderloin, sauteed collard greens, and Parmesan polenta, with lemon coconut cake for dessert. Church that morning was wonderful, I watched the Justin Timberlake concert movie on Netflix while I cooked, the food turned out perfectly, and we all had a happy, relaxing time. It was a great day!
April was a quality book month. Two of my books had similar conventions: Sleeping Giants, the latest take on alien robots (very entertaining and sure to be optioned if it hasn’t already), and American War, a terrifyingly believable dystopia about life during the second American Civil War. I picked up Everything That Makes You in a Kindle sale and discovered it’s set right in my neighborhood. Not many books are set in Memphis (probably, like, five if you take out John Grisham), so that was a pleasant shock! I’ve been reading Anne Lamott since college, but I think Small Victories is my new favorite of hers. I just loved it.
My favorite band has a new single and a forthcoming new album!
I’m far behind on New Girl, but when I heard the potential finale had aired, I streamed it and was very pleased with how everything ended up. I also watched the Banksy documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which had been on my watchlist for a long time. I have a lot of feelings about the artist it actually profiled instead of Banksy. Mainly confusion.
I took a spring break/mental health vacation the whole first week of April! My first stop was in Nashville to celebrate my BIL’s birthday. I also went to Murfreesboro to see my college roommate and her family – I rarely have time to go out there when I’m in the area. I flew from there to Jacksonville for a few days with Bethany, one of my best friends and travel companions, who’s made many appearances on this blog. We enjoyed her waterfront yard (complete with alligator), got massages, had Hamilton singalongs in the car with her kids, shared a beer flight in Five Points, and ate meals at Maple Street Biscuit Company and M Shack that restored me to life.
We also went to the beach two days in a row, which was the most life-restoring part of all!
After my trip I had a blessed few days off at home to relax. My only real to-do was to buy plants for the empty area in front of my fence. I spent a few happy hours wandering Urban Earth, and finally chose two camellias and some Asiatic jasmine, which I hope will spread out. Later I filled in with a few daylilies.
I’ve wanted to participate in a CSA for years, and my company just started a Bring It Food Hub delivery straight to the office. I got my first bag of veggies this week and am very excited!
There’s nothing like playoff time in Memphis – maximum excitement and civic unity, minimum productivity and sleep. I went to one of the last Grizz home games of the season, then to Games 3 and 6 against the Spurs. After losing last night, we’re now done for the season. I feel like Christmas is over and also like I just graduated.
Brandi joined me for Overton Square Crawfish Fest this year – her first encounter with mudbugs! Per tradition, Wes, Kelsey, and I went to Battle of the Birds (Cardinals vs. Redbirds) with a bunch of friends to kick off baseball season. I saw a ballet in and about Earnestine & Hazel’s, our most famous dive bar – it was really creative. My mom and I saw The Sound of Music at the Orpheum and I was reminded how I prefer some aspects of the stage version (I’m a lifelong Sound of Music fan and have seen it all a million times). Ashley and I went to another Ignite event (they’re like 5-minute TED talks), this one focused on education. I ran the second annual Grizz 5K, and did well considering I’ve hardly run since the St. Jude and signed up the night before.
Photo credit: my mom
On Friday of my break, Mums and I went to the zoo to see the new baby hippo, Winnie, on her first day out in public. We got to watch the mom teach her to swim and get in and out of the pool. It was heartwarming!!
A year ago, I had to take down the white twinkle lights on my patio after a cranky neighbor decided they were “tacky” and got my HOA to threaten a fine. He moved out this month. I waited until the moving truck pulled out with the last of his stuff, and then I re-strung lights on the inside of the fence, where no one should be able to see them. JOYFUL RESISTANCE!!! Just in time for patio season.
A lot of my co-workers have been getting standing desks. Standing all day doesn’t sound great for my feet, but I wanted to do something, so I asked for an exercise ball chair. After a few weeks, I’ve noticed a difference in my posture and back muscles. The only real drawback, other than getting tired as the day wears on, is it’s a pain to get up and sit down and realign myself, especially in a skirt or dress. Still, I’m glad to work a little toning into my day! I also started My Fitness Pal – I’m already in a healthy weight range, but I just want to lose a few pounds so my jeans will feel good again. When I felt weak and sick by the end of the first week, I realized 1200 calories a day isn’t going to cut it for me and I’m going to have to try a higher range. I’ve gotten much better at listening to my body, and I don’t know why I thought I could semi-stop feeding it and expect it to respond well. :P But it is working!
I’ve been growing my hair out for about a year, and its current length pleases me. I haven’t had longer hair in a long time.
Your Monthly Rufus:
Rufus has been jumping the patio fence for several months. Now he’s a fencewalker. He can make it all the way around to the gate.
Quote of the Month:
Bethany saw this quote tile at a craft fair and got it for me. I must be doing something right! ♥
On The Blog:
I wrote nothing of substance in April, but I’m sitting on a post about how life is hard for everyone no matter your life stage. I had a Facebook thread on this topic go to about 100 comments, so clearly it’s not something I’m processing alone.
♥ “You are not someone who half-asses anything. You are an overachiever and a perfectionist. Your letter is dynamic, crystal clear, and concise. You set your mind on losing weight, and you lost it. You set your mind on attaining multiple advanced degrees and an amazing career, and you achieved those goals… You are selling hard because in your mind, you are working with flawed goods. You’d better be convincing… If you keep asking for feedback, you will crack the code. You will satisfy your clientele. You will win the big prize of Happily Ever After.” This piece hit me right between the eyes. I’ve been thinking about it for a week. Ask Polly: What Am I Doing Wrong With Men?
♥ Lisa Nielsen at Keen IO: The Best Benefit You Can Give Your Employees is Free
♥ Elle Berry: Be Brave
♥ Emily Freeman: Unhealthy Hustle: 3 Signs You’ve Crossed the Line
♥ Kerry Smith: Reflections of an Iris Farmer
♥ Heather Strong Moore: You’re Better Off Alone
♥ Mark Titus at The Ringer: The Perpetually Overshadowed Life of Mike Conley
I caught a beautiful sunrise while leaving my morning yoga class the other day, and had to dash over to Tiger Lane to get a picture of it coming up over the Liberty Bowl. One of those happy Midtown moments!
Okay, let’s dive in!
Sorrow’s Knot (my next stop in Erin Bow’s bibliography) is YA fantasy about three friends in a mystical, matriarchal native society, and reminded me of Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue. For American Band, Kristen Laine embedded with a state-champion Indiana marching band for its longtime director’s final season. If you, like me, have band in the fiber of your being, this will take you back. The book is about fifteen years old, and when I was done I wanted to look up all the key players and find out how they’re doing – some of their stories are pretty incredible. Today Will Be Different is a quick, intriguing read. I haven’t read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but people who have say this one is similar.
Normally I don’t do horror movies, but I made an exception for Get Out for its cultural significance. If you can tolerate suspense at all, you need to see it. I didn’t fully appreciate its genius until a few hours later after I’d started to process all the layers.
Unsurprisingly, I loved the Beauty and the Beast remake. The movie is a visual feast, and the extra depth and backstory keeps it from being a frame-for-frame reboot. I especially enjoyed LeFou’s character arc, or maybe I just love Josh Gad.
In March I watched all seven-plus hours of O.J.: Made In America. I was in high school when all that happened and had forgotten how truly insane it was. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. The documentary does a great job of establishing the setting and history that led to him being acquitted.
I saw Ben Folds at Minglewood. He is a musician’s musician and a nerd’s nerd. I had heart-eyes the entire time. Tonight I’m going back to Minglewood to see Johnnyswim!
This month’s Supper Club was a beer dinner at High Cotton catered by Stanley’s Sweet Street Treats (which, despite its name, is not a dessert truck). Everything was delicious and it was one of the best-attended Supper Clubs yet. Two days later I was back at High Cotton for their annual Girl Scout cookie pairing, an event I LOVE. My favorite pairing was Baller Brown Ale with Samoas.
A few co-workers and I helped out at a free legal clinic. I need to start earning CLE hours, and this is a great way to do it. Wanting to help people is one of the reasons I got my paralegal certificate, so I was happy to put that to use, and plan to volunteer there again.
I made it to one Grizz game in March, in connection with a monthly networking event I go to sometimes. We’re getting closer to the playoffs, and Tiger basketball is over (and how :(), so I’ll be attending more games soon!
For the first time, I went to the Beale Street St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was funny and extremely Memphis.
I’m a member of the Ronald McDonald House Red Shoe Society, and the Red Shoe Gala in March is our biggest fundraiser of the year. My friend Justin went with me and we had a great time (and yes, I wore red shoes).
All the sibs (minus my BIL) and nieces gathered at my brother and SIL’s house in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Kevin moved there last summer and this was my first visit. It’s a pretty nice place. We drove over the bridge so I could cross Oklahoma off my states-visited list, and my mom and I made a quick trip to the Fort Smith art museum to see a Peanuts exhibit. (Unable to resist the siren call of their children gathering, my parents came too and camped in their RV a few miles away. But they took my nieces for one night so we could have a sibs night on the town!)
With my parents’ help, I completed a little bedroom redo this month! It started with a new accent wall the same color as my study. After that the room looked unbalanced, so I bought new curtains, repainted my bedside lamps, and hung new art that I painted myself. The next day, I remembered this large square mirror that was left in my attic by the previous owner. We detached the child-sized mirror from my dresser and hung up this one instead. It was exactly what that long wall needed, and I am THRILLED with the results!
My mom and I went to a soul food place, The Choo, for Memphis Black Restaurant Week. (I’ll be back!) I was excited to find a McDonald’s in Fort Smith with Shamrock Shakes (PS, proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House!). I gave up bread for Lent, which has been more difficult in terms of convenience than anything else. But I’m doing okay… brunching on a lot of potato hash!
In my eternal quest for makeup for real oily skin, L’oreal Infallible Matte has been a solid discovery. Primer makes it even better. I’m also always looking for strongly pigmented eyeliners that don’t clump, break off, or do anything weird, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by these Cover Girl Perfect Point eyeliners. Finally, though I object to mascara named like a bra, I’m reluctantly impressed by Revlon The Falsies Push-Up Angel.
My hair dryer died at the beginning of March. It was my third or fourth Conair Infiniti, and while I still like that model, it seemed like a good opportunity to see what else is out there. I finally settled on the Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Portofino. It was more than I’ve ever spent on a hair dryer, but it has a four-year warranty, and so far it’s totally worth it!
After a fun late snow on St. Patrick’s Day night, spring arrived for keeps, and it’s glorious! I cannot overstate how beautiful my neighborhood is in spring.
I painted another shirt for International Women’s Day!
This recycling bag has changed my life. For two years, I’ve stacked a variety of makeshift bins on the back of my washer and dryer, and getting full ones to the car and then the recycling center has looked like the Before of an infomercial. Now I hang this huge, three-compartment bag on a wreath hook inside the laundry door, and when it’s full, I just pick it up and go! SO much easier.
I had my first regular eye checkup, nine months out from PRK. I’m solid at 20/20 and still SO THANKFUL to be able to see with my own eyes.
Oh and: I BOUGHT A TICKET TO HAMILTON IN CHICAGO!!! :D I think I was in shock at first. I’m going this summer, so by the time it happens I’m going to be insanely psyched.
Your Monthly Rufus:
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
On The Blog:
I talked about my ongoing struggle with burnout.
♥ Victor Lodato in the New York Times: When Your Greatest Romance Is a Friendship
♥ “There is a certain shame associated with leaning into skepticism that keeps people of faith from openly, earnestly seeking answers, and, to be honest, I’m over it. It’s too uncomfortable to keep it all shoved inside, zipped up, on the verge of ripping at the seams. So, if you’ve ever sought permission to be like WTF, God? — with any authority I have as a person who loves Jesus, I’m here to grant it to you. Welcome to the club.” Tara B: The Search: My Fledgling Quest for Answers about Faith, God, and Theology
♥ Lavanya Ramanathan in the WaPo: We thought Gen X was a bunch of slackers. Now they’re the suits.
♥ This made me cry: Hannah Brencher: Things Fit, a note to those flying solo
♥ Addie Zierman: Yields vs. Abundance and the Slow Work of Cultivating Faith
♥ Bob Vulfov in the New Yorker: Kellyanne Conway Spins Great Works of Literature
I’ve always believed that everyone has a built-in failsafe, that people who are truly, legitimately overwhelmed by their lives will involuntarily shut down. They can’t get up, go to work, go out, smile. They’ll stay in bed, ignore their responsibilities, stop answering calls: the classic cliche of a depressed, burned-out person. Most people can understand that picture (and understanding and awareness is good!). But fewer understand someone who’s checking all her “should” boxes and appears strong and capable, yet confesses things like I can’t handle one more thing. I am barely making it through the day. I’m perpetually exhausted. I feel no hope for my future. I need help. I’ve said those things to friends and professionals at various points, and I’ve gotten responses like But you’re very high-functioning. But you seem to be doing great. I don’t know what to tell you. Those words are both encouraging and (unintentionally, I know) shame-inducing. When I hear them, I think, Nothing is really wrong and no one can help me, and I gather myself again and push harder.
I’ve already had two significant periods of burnout in my adult life, stress waves that threw me onto the shore so ruthlessly, there was no way I could miss the message. Both times, I listened and granted myself some rest and space. I thought, hoped, I’d finally “fixed it” – after all, how long or often is someone like me allowed to claim burnout? I’m a single, childless, healthy, financially secure woman. But about six weeks ago, I knew something was Wrong again. My chest felt tight, my stomach hurt, and I started waking up a lot in the night. I’d look at my dayplanner or my inbox and need to do yoga breathing. I’d receive a few aggressive e-mails and want to go have a quick cry in the bathroom. I needed brief naps after work to make it through evening social activities. I’d go to loud events where everyone was having fun and feel increasing physical anxiety. Every simple invitation and request felt like another thing I had to be “on” for. I felt incapable of handling small tasks, even as I did them anyway. I shouldn’t be talking about this exclusively in past tense, because I’m still struggling with it. But I have had a few helpful realizations:
♥ I do not have a failsafe. When God was handing out failsafes, I was in line for the people-pleasing perfectionist hyperdrive, a device that, once healthy fuel has run out, can run on guilt, ambition, and any garbage within reach. Many people have, and will, use that hyperdrive for their own benefit with no respect or care for how it affects me. I forget that easily. Most likely, I will never have the Big Collapse that makes people say whoa, maybe we took too much from her. No, I can keep right on functioning until I drop dead, figuratively and/or literally. Therefore, it’s up to me to actively draw the line, to decide when I’ve had enough. No one is going to do that for me. There is no safety net.
♥ What energizes others often depletes me, and I need to evaluate that regularly. A big burnout signal for me is when many things I usually enjoy start to feel like burdens. It’s a good time to assess whether I even want to do those things anymore. Sometimes I just need a break. Sometimes I need to walk away. Sometimes I need balance. For months, instead of the real relationships and meaningful conversations I need, my social life has been mostly noise. I definitely enjoy a lighthearted good time, but living on relational cookies alone makes me sick. Thankfully, I have steak people in my life too.
♥ Anything less than excellence feels like failure. The more I achieve, the more pressure I feel to keep it going. By my own yardstick, I veni, vidi, vici-ed the crap out of 2016. A normal person would probably feel entitled to chill out. Meanwhile, I’m panicking because I don’t have enough left in the tank to match and preferably exceed that right now, and I feel like that pace is what the world requires of me. But sometimes wholeheartedness means being a B student.
♥ Valuing myself and my health means accepting disapproval, perceived failure, and even grief. This is the hardest part. I take every opportunity I can to improve myself and work toward my goals, but ultimately, my most important goals involve other people. I cannot get what I want in a vacuum. I can’t make the right people come into my life, or make them see me. Too often I’ve knocked myself out trying to be perfect for people who are going to reject me no matter what I do. I know logically that I can’t make them see my value, but a little part of me is still hell-bent on running up to kick the football. It’s an illusion of control that’s comforting at first but actually makes the situation worse. It’s that false American belief that you can have anything you want if you work hard enough, so if you don’t have it, it’s your fault. To stop burnout, I have to get off the hamster wheel and face the fears that rise up every time I “slack off”:
You’ll never get promoted.
You’ll never have a career that brings you joy.
You’re already too old, and if you don’t hustle twice as hard you’ll never make an impact.
You’ll never meet anyone, and your friends will forget you, if you don’t go out constantly.
You’ll never be impressive, exciting, or sparkly enough for a good man to love and choose you.
Courage means looking those fears in the eye and saying, Okay. It means deciding that being wholehearted and fully alive is more important than any of my dreams, that my peace and joy are too high a price to pay. I’ve visited that place. I’d like to take up a more permanent residence there.
I’m starting to accept that burnout is not something I can fix once and be done with it. It’s the cyclical dark side of my personality, fed by the culture I live in, and it’s an ongoing battle. All I can do is try to get a little wiser and have a little more grace with myself each time.