January 1, 2017

today i believe...


... that something about sitting by a fire seems to heighten every feeling.

... that you can read The New York Times on Sundays and watch The Bachelor on Mondays and feel great about both habits. Think of it as being well-rounded.

... that "stress relief tea" is total BS but sometimes you have to drink it and pretend it's working.

... that snail mail from a friend can keep you afloat on a particularly tough day.

... that everyone should attempt the POPSUGAR reading challenge :) 

... that it's perfectly okay if you can't bring yourself to toss those terrible, low-waisted flare jeans from 2007 because too many of your favorite memories happened while you were wearing them.

... that short story collections are the best cure for writer's block.

... and that there's really nothing better than a fizzy drink in a cozy bar with old friends as you toast to the new year and all that lies ahead.

December 31, 2016

reclaiming (and reshaping) a voice.


After years of neglect, I finally gave my journal some attention in 2016. It had been mostly tossed aside in favor of this blog for quite a while, but over the last several months, whenever I sat down to blog, I just... couldn't. Everything I wanted to write felt too personal, too sacred, to share here. And so I returned to my journal. Pen and paper. Writing privately, just for me — not for this little blog, or for work — I'd almost forgotten how good that felt. It was freeing.

If I'm being totally honest, I think I also stepped back from this blog out of fear. The internet is a different, far more intimidating place than it was when all this began. Back in 2009, I started a blog because Sam had one, and because it felt like I was writing to her, my best friend. (And I mostly was, since she was one of, you know, five-ish friends following my posts.) The blogging world felt small because it was fairly small, and that sense of intimacy, real or imagined, allowed for open, fearless, altogether imperfect writing.

Things, of course, have changed. With writing, all of it — on blogs, on sites, on social media — there's a level of scrutiny that didn't seem to exist before. Or, if it did, I was naive enough to ignore it. 

I'm grateful for the scrutiny. It keeps us honest, and it encourages thoughtful, diligent writing, both in journalism and in tiny corners of the web like this one. For me, though, that scrutiny comes with the sense that I need to be a bit more cautious. Careful with my language and my ideas. That's good for me, I know. It's a necessary and ultimately rewarding challenge, but it's also forced me to rethink my writing, and who I am as a writer. For better and for worse, I question myself more than ever before, and I'm doing my best to reclaim (and reshape) my voice.

More than once I've considered deleting this blog, or making it private, or erasing entire sections. It's not that I've ever written anything really wild or controversial — let's be real, this is basically a collection of sappy, melodramatic musings on the people I love and the places I come from. Still, I find myself feeling a bit embarrassed about some of what I wrote in my early twenties. The blogging landscape has changed so much that some of those earlier posts feel out of place and slightly unrecognizable. Isn't that how it always feels when you go back and read your old diary entries?

For now, anyway, I've decided that it should stay. That there's something sweet and sort of powerful about the raw, wide-eyed innocence and optimism of a young person saying whatever they want to say, even if it's cheesy or slightly self-centered or imperfect. Especially if it's imperfect.

We need those bold, unabashed voices more than ever now, don't you think?

December 30, 2016

on being there.

In elementary school, my mom would put two packs of Gushers into my lunchbox each day — one for me, and one to share with my friends. If you know my mom at all, that is the least surprising thing in the world. She's thoughtful and giving in a way that's so extreme, it seems like the exaggerated quality of a sitcom character. For years she kept an entire kitchen cabinet stocked with my best friends' favorite foods. A corner of the fridge, too.

It all started out well, the whole extra-pack-of-Gushers situation. Day after day, I'd pass the second pack around the table, each of my close friends grabbing a few. As weeks turned into months, though, that friend group grew a bit larger, and I still had just two packs of Gushers. There weren't enough in that second pack to go around, so one day, I decided to share my pack, too. 

It's obvious where this is going, right? Because eventually, of course, I was passing out both packs of Gushers each day. They were my favorite little treat in the lunchbox, but at some point, I decided it wasn't worth hurting anyone's feelings. I just wanted everyone to feel included.

Things clearly could've been handled by, you know, not bringing Gushers anymore. Or not passing them out at all. Or realizing that, duh, hello, nobody cared nearly as much as I thought they did. But I was nine, or maybe ten, and extra sensitive, and everything felt like a big deal.

I didn't tell my mom about it, because she probably would've started putting three packs in there and all hell would've broken loose. My brother was the one I turned to, and after I explained the situation, he looked at me with such a blank expression that I started to repeat myself.

"No, no, I get it," he said.

"And?"

"And there's an obvious solution."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Don't have as many friends."

Oh, to be a boy, right? I've mulled over (and laughed about) his quick reply several times over the years. That conversation took place nearly two decades ago, but it still feels relevant. In third grade you hand out Gushers, and at twenty-something, it's phone calls, dinner dates, your time.

The thing is, it's incredibly hard to be there for all the ones you love in exactly the way you really want to be there. That's a conversation I seem to be having with so many people lately, all of us feeling stretched just a bit too thin. Sometimes you have to settle for sending a text instead of making a phone call, or mailing a gift instead of making the trip, and all the while you feel sort of terrible about it. In different phases of your life, there just isn't enough of you to go around — and unfortunately, that may be when you're needed the most.

People I love are marking milestones, and so am I, and I've come to realize that it can be hard to keep up. There just aren't enough Gushers for everybody, you know? And that's okay! Even if it feels like it isn't. You just have to do your best and be honest with yourself, because it's impossible to be there, all out, for all the people you care about most. Especially when you don't quite have things figured out for yourself just yet.

This is a small reminder, for myself mostly, that by all means, you should be there whenever you can. Show up, show your love, and make it count. And when you can't? Skip the phone call and send the text. I promise — it still means something. 

December 21, 2016

2016, a year of growth.

I started sharing annual lookbacks in 2012, which I called my favorite year yet. Then came 2013, a year of firsts; 2014, a year of opposites; and 2015, a year of learning. This past year, of course, has been a year of growth. It wasn't just physical growth, although there was plenty of that — hello, baby bump! There was also a whole lot of new, uncharted emotional territory. I found out that I was pregnant in the final weeks of last year, so 2016 started with that electric thrill of knowing you're on the edge of something big. And big it's been.

Embracing motherhood has been both terrifying and enlightening. These early months have handed me some of the greatest fears and purest joys I've ever known. Our sweet little Owen is just four months old, but already he's taught me more about who I am and how to love than I ever could have imagined. He's becoming more of a person (and more fun!) all the time, and it's true what people say: One of the best things about becoming a parent is seeing the world through fresh eyes again.

Here's to 2016, my most magical, miracle-filled year.

January: The thrill of keeping the most special of secrets. All-day morning sickness and a whole lot of Netflix in bed with my BFFs. POPSUGAR's ten-year anniversary party. Going out, grabbing drinks, and pretending sparkling water is a gin and tonic.

February: Sausalito date nights with cotton-candy sunsets. The Super Bowl aka BEYONCE. More nausea, and more plain pasta than anyone should ever eat, ever. Our pregnancy announcement!


March: A special trip to Disneyland — and the beginnings of a baby bump.

April: A best friend's Chicago bachelorette party and our first LA baby shower. A quiet celebration to kick off the big 2-9. Santa Barbara sun and lots of long, lazy days by the pool.

May: Late-night dancing for a Texas bachelorette party. My best friend's beautiful mountain wedding.


June: Baby showers with my Chicago and San Francisco favorites. A real baby bump.

July: A lot of rest, a lot of anticipation. Nursery prep, and nesting like a crazy person. 

August: The Adele concert at nine months pregnant — as in, lots and lots of tears. A perfect POPSUGAR maternity leave send-off. The waiting game... and sweet baby Owen's arrival.

September: Long, sleepless nights. Owen's first smile. A joy so big my heart couldn't contain it.

October: Cozy days with friends and family. Long walks around the neighborhood with my little buddy and a warm coffee. A very Harry Potter Halloween. Owen's hilarious personality shining through, just as wild as expected.

November: A trip to Chicago, where Owen could see the people and places that made me who I am. His first giggle fit. His big, curious blue eyes taking it all in. The feeling that maybe, just maybe, I'm getting better at the whole motherhood thing.

December: A festive date night, a very merry holiday season, and a big, bottomless love that just keeps growing.

What a year... Cheers to (almost) 2017!

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

29.


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.