April 15, 2014

but seriously, this view.

Again and again I've complimented San Francisco on being oh-so photogenic, and when you're standing at Coit Tower on a sunny day, beneath a cloudless sky, it sort of takes your breath away. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge, colorless against the hazy horizon. You can see the gorgeous green foothills of Marin County, the bluest of bays dotted with stark-white sailboats, and the rolling, sweeping hills of the city, its roller-coaster streets lined with pastel homes and the palest of skyscrapers.

Around and around, a 360-degree view, and your breath, it just slips away.

April 14, 2014

today i believe...

... that opening a book first thing in the morning is the best kind of weekend treat.

... that lemonade tastes better when you're sitting in the sun.

... that it's perfectly okay to reference Friends episodes like they're your actual life experience.

... that Spring really, really has its charms.

... that when you truly, deep-in-your-bones care about a person, their flaws become familiar, and it's the intimacy of knowing that makes you adore them even more.

... that some days call for sunshine, bikinis, and margaritas.

... and that there's something so special about friends who share a long, complicated history.

April 8, 2014

a year later.

Last week marked exactly one year since we moved into our house, and I've found myself sort of marveling at all that's changed in just twelve months. The thing is, life shifts all the time, but it's rare that you get to see progress in any sort of real, physical way, and there's just something so strange and satisfying about change manifesting itself in all the little corners of our space.

For months we moved between empty rooms with blank walls, random pieces of furniture dotting the floorplan as we hesitated to make any real sort of commitments to the space. We ate dinner on rickety lawn chairs in our living room, invited friends over for a picnic on our dining-room carpet, spent night after night slipping out of bed to turn off the lamps that sat on the floor where nightstands should have been. For months we lingered in the in between, and I loved it

Everything felt so new, a clean slate, and the silly chaos of being new homeowners reminded me that we're still just twenty-six. We don't know. A lot of times, we just don't know, and that's hilarious and perfect and just as it should be. So much of these past few years has been about taking steps and moving forward — leaving Chicago, finding jobs, getting married — and I can't help but relish in all the mixed-up, haphazard moments that remind me how young we are. I savor the times when we're lost. When we have only eight forks for a party of twelve, so I guess we'll share. And oh, yes, there's a cake, yes, of course, so I guess we'll just have to wash those eight forks and share them for dessert, too, right? (The best.)

Twelve months later, the lawn chairs are sitting in the grass, a sofa in their place at the center of the living room. There's a stain on the carpet from a late-night dance party, a trail of tiny dots that leads from one wall to the other. Upstairs is our dining-room table, the picnics long gone, and in our bedroom, a pair of wooden nightstands holds our lamps, our wedding photo, my giant stack of books, his crosswords. Framed art lines (most of) the walls, our friends and families and memories on display, and sometimes, in the early afternoon, the sunlight hits the golden clock my mom gave us just so, and it's enough to sort of knock the wind out of me, in all the best ways.

Everything and nothing has changed. More steps, more moving forward. In our kitchen, though, piled inside the smallest drawer — twenty forks. Young, yes. But growing up, you know?

March 31, 2014

on clarity.

Some days are tinged with a sort of hazy, melancholy doubt. You wake up with the strange, sinking sense that if only you could shift things — just so — they would align. You're sure, wildly sure, that if only you could make that slight rearrangement, the most subtle of moves, then moment after moment would fall into place. Like a puzzle, a perfect puzzle. But for that gap. It's that tiny, nagging little gap between where things are and where they should be that leaves you breathless, waiting. Because you don't know how to fill that space. You aren't sure which piece to move, which play to make. You aren't sure, or maybe you aren't ready, or maybe you aren't supposed to make any moves at all. Doubt.

But then, another day. There's another day and then another, and then suddenly the wind's knocked out of you again, this time because conviction presses like a weight against your chest. Without any sort of warning, you just know. One day slides slowly into the next, doubt slipping between the cracks until you're left with the gift of rock-solid certainty. Clarity — it's always such a welcome surprise, isn't it?

March 26, 2014

all '90s, all the time.

It's no secret that I love all things nostalgia, and lately I've been writing a whole lot of '90s-related posts on everything from Now and Then to 10 Things I Hate About You to, well, just about every memorable Justin Timberlake moment from the last 15 years. In case you're interested...
 And a non-nostalgia post just because I love Mindy Kaling (who doesn't?)...

March 24, 2014

a free pass.

There's something so wonderfully forgiving about the start of spring. After months of shorter, darker days, you can't help but feel like you have a free pass to fill those longer, lighter spring hours with whatever you want. The way the birch-tree branches brush across our roof and deck make it feel a bit like a tree house, so I've been using all these extra daylight hours as an excuse to linger outside for as long as I can. Entire mornings spent playing cards on the deck? Not a problem. Full, coffee-filled afternoons spilling into late, hilarious nights with the music on and candles lit? Yes, yes, and yes. Suddenly it's spring and it's light and it doesn't really matter. Longer days. Free pass.

March 10, 2014

hello, spring.

My favorite thing about this time of year is the slow, gradual stretching out of days, the way the light starts to linger just a little bit later, and then later still. It's been nearly a year since we moved into our new home (is it even "new" anymore?) and one of the parts I've loved most has been learning the way the neighborhood shifts with the seasons. That, to me, is what makes a place feel most like home — knowing what colors the trees will turn come September plus when, exactly, the leaves will fall. Knowing how February rain differs from August rain, knowing when daffodils will pop up, when jasmine will start to bloom. Recognizing that special shade of golden light that returns, welcomed, come spring.

Already I'm looking forward to sunny morning drives, weekend drinks by the water, and the long, warm late nights with friends out on the deck — those loud, hilarious spring and summer nights that defined the first few months in our new home. See, I'm hardest on myself at the start of fall, a habit leftover from the years when fall meant the beginning of the school year, a time for blank notebooks and new goals. I feel pressure, too, in January, when there's so much talk of resolutions and have-to and should-do. March, though, will always carry that spring-break sentiment, the feeling that you can ease up and let go and live a little. It's that time of light — late-night light, golden light, lightening up. Hello, (almost) spring.

March 5, 2014

on my bookshelf: ten things i've learnt about love

With my new year's resolution to do more, I've basically turned it into a read-more situation. Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler is the sixth novel I've read this year (!) and it's completely blown me away. If I'm being entirely honest, I bought the book for its cover, but the writing is poetic and surprising, each line more poignant and insightful than the last. It's obvious that Sarah has a unique, artistic way of looking at the world, which comes through in the way she describes letters as colors and in the way she uses sharp, clever lists to open each chapter. I'm absolutely smitten with her work (and don't even get my started on its Britishness.) I'm altogether charmed.

I could go into the plot and all the smart nuances of the story, but for me, it's far more about the artistry of her writing and the feelings she evokes. One look at just about any of my blog posts and it's obvious that I'm attached to the idea of place, to the way we build and create our own versions of "home" in the spaces and people we care about. Sarah echoed the same sort of idea in her thoughtful description of her book, calling it "an investigation of how and where we are at home; a way of asking whether we can feel at home without a physical house and vice versa; and a consideration of the role of family and relationships in making (or not making) a home."  Beautiful, right?

Anyway. You know how sometimes you feel like there's a line in a song or a book or a movie that's written just for you? And that if you were able to meet that writer or that musician for a cup of coffee, surely you'd become the best of friends and talk about all the wonders and truths of the world? Well, there were about ten of those lines for me in this book, and one truly took me aback, so much so that I picked up the phone to call my mom and two friends who I knew would understand. See, I have a strange, quirky connection to finding patterns in letters and colors, and I've always been obsessed with everything gold. (In a particularly dramatic moment, I once told my best friend that I thought maybe souls were made out of golden sunlight. Don't ask.) In any case, here's the line...

Each letter has a color. I'm not sure if it's the same for you. I'm not sure if you will understand, but I don't think on that too much. Here, by the flood warning sign — a pale-blue sweet wrapper still sticky with sugar. The letter A is the color of glacier water. Here, by the windowless wooden building with its whirling top, a single gold hoop earring. L is gold.

March 4, 2014

today i believe...

... that it's perfectly okay to dedicate an entire day to pinning, planning, and decorating your home, because there's something to be said for feeling like your space is your own.

... that Amy and Tina should just host every award show, every year.

... that there's no such thing as too much love.

... that if you feel unsettled about something — a relationship, a job, whatever — you should think, really think, about everything you can do to make that better, because life is too short.

... that "The Moon Song" in the film Her is the perfect rainy-day soundtrack.

... that it's important to have the conversations that scare you.

... that Sunday-morning coffee and robes and crosswords are what life is all about.

... that nothing beats the feeling after a good, long run.

... and that you should always strive to live each day the way that kids do, with all the hope and curiosity and welcoming, determined excitement it deserves.

Find more Today I Believe posts on Twitter at @everydaybeliefs

March 1, 2014

weekend wish list: black + white.

In my ever-growing tendency toward neutrals, I've been looking out for some black and white accents to add to our (mostly) white and wooden rooms. Above, some of my favorite finds from shops like LEIF, Furbish Studio, and Lulu and Georgia — a few of my go-to online retailers.