September 30, 2016

the magic i want to remember.

As expected, these first five weeks of motherhood have been a total whirlwind. And in the midst of this incredible, challenging phase, I find myself trying to etch some of the small, magical little moments into my brain. I know it's all going to pass by more quickly than I expect, so I'm doing everything I can to take notes, write Owen letters, and hold on to the memories. I don't want to forget a thing.

I want to remember the way Owen came into the world, so calm and curious, his eyes wide as Radley and I cried. Radley's face, I want to remember that too. I'd never seen a sparkling joy like that.

I want to remember how our little guy keeps himself curled up, how he lays on my chest with his arms folded and his head resting on them as if he's about to tell me the latest gossip.

I want to remember the albums blaring from our record player each morning because the music makes Owen happy. I want to remember the overwhelming love I feel as I watch Radley bounce around our living room, our son in his arms as he sings Tom Petty songs.

I want to remember the late, sleepless nights — how physically and emotionally exhausted I feel and how it doesn't even matter, not really, as long as he's alright.

I want to remember our trip to the emergency room just a day after we left the hospital. We were running on three hours of sleep when he started choking, and within two minutes we were out the door. As Radley drove us along the dark highway, the streetlights' orange glow flashing across Owen's sleeping face, I wondered aloud whether we were being ridiculous, whether we were paranoid parents. Radley shrugged. "We probably are," he said. "But it's just because we love him." 

I want to remember the ER doctor's kind face that night as he told us that, yes, everything was fine, and no, we weren't crazy. He saw our pale, tired faces, the red of embarrassment spreading across mine, and he flashed a thoughtful smile as he leaned back in his chair. "I can't tell you how many times my wife and I brought our baby to the doctor," he said. "Keep doing it. Whatever you need for peace of mind? Do that. The early days are really, really hard, but soak it up. Soak it all up."

I want to remember the way Owen smirks in his sleep, a tiny dimple dotting his right cheek.

I want to remember the morning I sat in bed, his little body braced in the crook of one arm as I looked at him and cried...and cried and cried. I felt so worried for him, an avalanche of anxiety hitting for no reason and, of course, for every reason. I swallowed hard, letting the tears fall silently so that I wouldn't wake him. I just want you to always be okay, I whispered. 

I want to remember the sound of his tiny breaths, the sense of calm I feel every time I hear his satisfied little sighs from across the room. 

I want to remember how he falls asleep grunting like a goat, how he wakes up groaning like an old man, and how hard Radley and I laugh every single time.

I want to remember the first time Owen smiled, really smiled at me. I was sitting in bed, the sun hot as it spilled through the window, and he'd just woken up, his yawns quiet and sing-songy. "What were you dreaming about?" I asked him. "Were you dreaming about Dad? About Mom?" His eyes got wide, locked with mine, and he broke out into a big, happy grin. My heart exploded.

I want to remember how fun this is, and how terrifyingly hard, and how right it feels. I want to remember the first time someone called Owen my son and how the word filled me right up.

I want to remember all these little things, and I hope I remember the profound realization that came one night at 3 a.m. as I stood and rocked him back and forth in the nursery. There was a pop in my elbow, a sharp pain. I gasped and winced, afraid I might be seriously hurt, but I didn't dare move or stop rocking because his sweet little face looked so content, so peaceful. This is the selflessness they talk about, I thought. This is the mother's sacrifice. Owen was just a week old at the time and that's when I knew it was inevitable: I will always, always put him first.

September 6, 2016

meet baby owen!

It's a BOY!! Two weeks ago we welcomed this sweet little guy into the world, and my heart's never been so full. Owen Radley Meyers was born on August 23 (his due date!) at 4:26pm, weighing in at a tiny six pounds and nine ounces. These past two weeks have been a thrilling, exhausting blur, and yet I know that every surreal, magical little moment will be etched in my memory forever.

Love you so much, little Owen!
P.S. Our first family selfie and a peek at Owen's nursery :)

June 1, 2016

the ghost ship.

For years I told anyone who'd listen all the reasons I planned to move to New York someday. I wanted to act, or maybe write, and I wanted to do it while living in a cozy brownstone somewhere in New York City. That's what I said, what I illustrated for an eighth grade art project, and what I wrote about again and again here on the blog. In more recent years, I'd explain that New York was the "ghost ship" that didn't carry me — a reference to this, my favorite of Cheryl Strayed's Dear Sugar columns, one that was written (serendipitously, I liked to think) on my birthday.
"I'll never know and neither will you of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore."
And so I saluted New York from the shore. From the opposite shore, the one in California, the one where I actually landed. When we lived in our bright and airy San Francisco apartment, I'd sometimes sit in the nook of the bay windows and wonder if it was the right place to be. The chilly bay breeze would sweep in through the screens, hot sun landing in slants along the light wooden floors, and always I'd think yes, this is it. In my heart, I'd know: I chose the right life.

You can't ever really know, though, so this would become a cycle — a series of thoughts that would slip in and out of my mind every few months or so, usually as the seasons changed or as I'd take a step in some different direction. I'd wonder, and then I'd reassure myself, and then, weeks later, some song or moment would bring me back to New York and I'd start wondering all over again.

The wondering came to a full and final stop this past November. I was back home in Chicago for Thanksgiving and for my ten-year high school reunion, the kind of thing I know you're supposed to dread but I'd actually been really excited about. I couldn't wait to see the familiar faces, to remember people I'd forgotten, to get a glimpse back into my past. And what I really couldn't wait for was the chance to read my letter.

During our senior year of high school, my sociology teacher assigned each of us to write a letter to our future selves, one he'd make sure we received a decade later at our high school reunion. He asked us to write about our families, our friends, and our relationships. He told us to share what we really cared about and where we thought we might end up — who we imagined we'd be in ten years.

In a hilarious and totally predictable moment, as soon as I walked into the downtown bar for our reunion, the class president handed me a thick white envelope, saying, "Of course your letter would be the longest." Radley laughed as I looked around at other people opening their notes, most of them typed and one page long. Mine, on the other hand, was a solid twelve pages, front and back, handwritten. I decided to save it for the next morning.

It was surreal. I sat cross-legged in my freezing cold childhood bedroom, the blankets curled up around me, a steaming cup of coffee cradled in one hand, my letter in the other. Within minutes of reading it, I was laughing. The letter was just so high school. One entire page listed my date to every dance from each year of school... plus the dress I'd worn, where we went, and what it was like. Another full page was dedicated to a list of sixty friends I loved with a special section highlighting all the people I should "definitely check out" at the reunion. So ridiculous, and so perfect.

And then I got to the end of the letter, the predictions. My chest sort of tightened. This is the space where I expected to see New York splashed across the page beside dramatic descriptions of all my acting and city dreams. That's not what I found, though. Instead there was an eerily accurate, down-to-the-details account of exactly how I'd spent the last decade. Every single thing came true.

I wrote that I'd probably end up at a school in California, then fall for a guy from California and end up marrying him — "around 25, I bet." (Good bet.) I wrote that I'd become a writer for some kind of magazine or publisher (check) and that I'd welcome my first child at 29 (check). This went on and on for a page and a half, my eighteen-year-old self knowing, so confidently, the details of my life.

At first I found myself cracking up in disbelief, shaking my head as I heard the voice of my teenage self telling the story of who I'd become. Eventually, of course, I was crying. It was something like relief, I think, because for all those years there had never been any doubt. Not really.

New York may be the ghost ship, but that's it — it's just the ghost ship. And I'm standing on the shore, grounded, right where I was always meant to land. Right where I knew, deep down, I'd end up. 

It's a lot easier to wave to that ship now, to salute it goodbye and watch it pass. But that's always how it goes, isn't it? You can't quite let go until the dust has settled and you're sure, if only a little bit, that you're doing the right thing. That in your heart, you know: You chose the right life.

May 14, 2016

strange and magical.

It feels like I only just found out I was expecting a baby... and now I'm nearly seven months pregnant. Time has maybe never moved so quickly, and it's been surreal to watch the days, weeks, and months tick by as my bump grows and Radley's office slowly but surely transforms into a nursery.

Strange and magical, that's how these last few months have felt. It's the sort of chapter you can never quite prepare yourself for, and although I'm not exactly the type to love getting out of my comfort zone, it's actually been really powerful and energizing to step into something so new. The big questions keep coming to mind: Who am I bringing into this world? Who will I be as a mother? What do I want for this life, and for this family we're creating? How the hell am I going to pull this off?

It's been a while since I knew I was on the edge of something with a big, brand-new chapter right around the corner. That's the feeling you get when you're about to graduate from college, when you're preparing to move to a new city, when you're planning a wedding: You know that you're at a tipping point of sorts, and that soon life will be sorted into befores and afters. You're fully, thrillingly, sometimes frighteningly aware that a giant shift is on the horizon, and all you can do is prepare to move through it. All you can do is envision the other side — and know that it may not look at all like whatever you have in mind.

There have been moments when this feeling has scared me (going to college) and others when I just plain relished in it (getting married), and this time I'm definitely leaning toward the latter. I can't wait to be a mom, and to see Radley as a dad, and to build a bigger life for us. It's the best, most terrifying thing I've ever done, and although I can't exactly be ready for it, I can walk toward it with open arms. I can choose to welcome it in. And isn't that sometimes the hardest part?

April 29, 2016


I turned 29 on a quiet, rainy day last week, and it was perfect. My mom, birthday queen extraordinaire, came to San Francisco to celebrate, and I took the day off so that we could spend it however we pleased. That turned out to be lounging in our robes until something like two in the afternoon, sitting on the deck and chatting and soaking in the day. There was a small dinner that night, some special little gifts, and I was curled up in bed, the baby kicking up a storm, by ten.

Oh, how things change... And to think that I'd just celebrated my 22nd birthday when I first started this blog! At the time I found myself writing about the end of college, the anxiety about what was to come, the long trail of unknowns ahead of me. Now, of course, I know how the dust settled — not quite the way I'd expected it to, but maybe not so unpredictable, either. It's been a wild seven years.

And now, more than ever, I'm ushering in a year that promises to be far different than the rest. In less than four months I'll be a mom, and my world is going to tilt and shift focus, just so. I'm welcoming it in, this life-altering year, as ready (see: not at all ready) for its thrills and challenges as I can be.

Here's to the unknowable next chapter and yet another year of firsts. Another big beginning.

April 9, 2016

around the web: burnout and books.

. . . And a more personal take on the subject from Laura Jane Williams.

The New Yorker's interesting piece on Bridget Jones and the millennial workplace.

Older actors dishing on the parts they took for the cash.

All the buzz about The Nest, the debut novel by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

a letter to our baby: what i promise you.

I usually reserve the more personal content for this space, but last week, I went out on a limb and wrote about motherhood and our baby on POPSUGAR. For the past few months I've been writing letters to the baby in a little journal that sits on my nightstand. There's a little bit of everything: a letter about my parents, how Radley and I met, my favorite places in Chicago and California. I sort of write things as they come to me, and I'm hoping to give it to him or her when they're a bit older. 

Here's an excerpt from the letter I shared on POPSUGAR, and stay tuned for some others here on the blog! Oh, and disclaimer for the PS story— no, that's definitely not my baby bump in the photo :)

When you try new things, I promise not to show you that I'm a tiny bit (or, more likely, very) scared. Deep down I might be worried or anxious or slightly terrified of what might happen if it doesn't work out for you, but I won't let my fears slow you down. I'll tell you to take chances, to go for it, to trust yourself. I promise to trust you.

I promise to make your birthday a big damn deal. Whether you're turning 1 or 35, I promise balloons and streamers and surprise parties and the cakes of your choice. Some years you might love that, and other years it might feel sort of cheesy, but when you look back on birthdays past, I promise you'll know that you were celebrated by the people who cared about you most.

If you mess up in a small way, I promise to acknowledge it, help you, then let it go. And whenever you mess up in a big way, I promise to feel the weight of it and push you to do the same. I promise to let you make those tough mistakes, to address them when I need to, and to keep on loving you all the same.

I promise to build you one hell of a library . . . or, at least, to bring you to one. I'll help you learn to read and then I'll share with you all the stories, true and imagined, that have made me who I am. I promise to stand by, thrilled, as you discover the Harry Potter world for yourself, and to give you all the Roald Dahl books that swept me away when I was small, and to offer you my collection of heavily underlined novels just as soon as you're able to love them too. I promise you a life filled with words and books and imagination and the space to be as creative as you want to be.

I promise to be active — to set that example and inspire you to keep moving. There will be after-dinner walks and Sunday morning runs and sunny hikes along the beach. Oh, I promise you sports, too. Plenty of them. Your dad will teach you how to throw a football, how to nail free throws, and I'll show you the ins and outs of soccer. Swimming, too. All of it or none of it, I promise that can be up to you. Golf, basketball, volleyball, dance — I promise to let you try whatever grabs you and to let you quit when you don't love it anymore.

I promise to surround you with art of all kinds. To share my love for pop culture, for movies and music and Broadway and Hollywood. I'll show you the good stuff and the cheesy stuff, the Oscar winners and the terrible comedies, the Beatles and the '90s pop that makes most people cringe. (You'll notice, of course, that I won't cringe. And you'll quickly learn that when it comes down to it, our family is Team *NSYNC, not Backstreet Boys.) Over the years I promise to bring you to museums and concerts and plays, and I'll totally get it when you transform into an all-out crazy fan of something, or someone. If you swear you won't make fun of me, I might even show you my homemade Justin Timberlake poster from 2001. Like I said: Team *NSYNC, OK?

When you have a bad day, I promise to listen. Or give you room to breathe, whatever seems best at the time. And when you get upset or angry or really, in-your-bones mad at me, I promise that I'll try to understand. I'll practice patience; I'll try, anyway.

Year after year, I promise to carve out all kinds of special time for just you and your dad. From day one I'll do everything I can to support that relationship and to let it be as special as the one I share with my dad. Together you two will take camping trips, go to football games, road trip along the California coast. He'll introduce you to his reggae favorites and way, way more 49ers trivia than you'll ever care to know. On weekends, he'll bring you along for Sunday drives, and over the Summer, he'll let you tag along to watch Giants games from the bleacher seats. Hockey games, though — you'll save those for me.

You can see the rest on POPSUGAR!

March 29, 2016

a not-so-small kindness.

I met a woman who shows me a small kindness five days a week. Well, to her it's a small kindness, but to me it's a big gesture. It's the sweetest, most day-making of gestures. 

A few months ago I stepped on to the bus to find her sitting in the front row, the window seat. Her bag was on the seat beside her, so I quietly whispered to see if I could sit there instead. It's not like I really needed to explain myself, but I did anyway. "Sorry," I told her. "I'm nine weeks pregnant and feel really sick unless I sit in the front row." At that her eyes softened and she smiled. She told me about feeling sick with her first child but not with her second. "Be hopeful," she said.

The next day I found a man sitting in the window seat, the familiar woman beside him. As soon as I stepped on to the bus, she got up and moved to the second row. "I saved this for you," she said.

That same woman has saved the front row seat for me, in one way or another, every single day since that first time we met. Sometimes she's placed her bag beside her, other days she's told people it's "for a friend," and when necessary, she takes the seat herself so that she can give it up when I arrive.

It's honestly one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. 

 I know that it's just a seat, but as anyone who's ever dealt with motion sickness or morning sickness (or, lucky me, both!) understands, that small kindness can be a game changer. It brings that simple kind of relief that makes you breathe a bit easier, and I couldn't be more grateful to her — this thoughtful, one-of-a-kind stranger. My thank yous have gotten repetitive at this point, so I plan to bring her a little gift one of these days. A book, I think, because she reads a new one each week.

I'm sharing this because it's a good reminder to look out for other people. Do the small things, and not just for the ones you love, either, but for those who seem like they could use that little bit of hope.

March 21, 2016

the special quality in my mom I hope to pass down.

I've been thinking a lot about my parents lately — who they are, who they've made me. In the past I've written about what I've learned from my mom and what I've learned from my dad, and this week, I wrote a short essay on my mom's most special quality, the one I hope to pass down. (I also called her out for her cheesy jokes, which really are on a level all their own.) Here's the essay:

People talk a lot about the mistakes their parents made, all the cycles they hope to break. And my parents aren't perfect, of course, but what I'm really holding on to these days is everything they did right. They set the bar in so many ways, and I can only hope to love like them.

March 7, 2016

a saturday ritual.

By Fridays, I'm typically exhausted, and on Saturday morning, I sometimes need a little something to jumpstart my day. (Especially since I've had to give up my morning coffee!) For the past few months, I've been turning to the same ritual, which gets me going and puts me in a great mood: I catch up on one of my favorite podcasts while tidying up and checking a few to-do items off my list.

I know, I know — it doesn't sound all that thrilling or revolutionary. But honestly, the mix of doing something I really want to do but rarely make time for (listening to podcasts) while doing something I absolutely do not want to do but really need to do (99% of my to-do list) turns out to be a total win-win. Between the fun of the podcast and the simple satisfaction of being productive, I get double the joy. And I actually look forward to cleaning! Go figure, right?

Some of my favorite podcasts: Serial (of course), Dear Sugar, StoryCorps, This American Life, Happier With Gretchen Rubin, Modern Love, and Mystery Show. (And if none of those work, I listen to Adele's new album for the billionth time, because of course.)

Do you have any weekend rituals you swear by?