5.17.2018

IN WHICH I LIVE BEHIND THE TARGET

The other day I bought myself a skateboard. Probably because I'm having a midlife crisis. It has a skull on its belly and it cost me just a penny under fifteen bucks. It's still in its plastic wrapping at the time of reporting; it has declined to comment. It is currently residing in a large butter churner by my front door.

This is all a true story.

***

Now, contrary to what you might be thinking, I did not buy this skateboard at the Target! Even though I do live behind a Target. (I know, right?)

I actually got it at the Walmart. The Walmart!! Look at me already subverting expectations!

I definitely didn't go to the Walmart intending to get a skateboard. In fact, I didn't go there for any real reason at all, now that I think about it. I hadn't even been inside a Walmart since I left Moscow in February, and it is a matter well established that no one goes ten miles out of their way to get to a Walmart when one has a Target happening practically in their front yard. I mean, Chip and Joanna over the Pioneer Woman, I think this one speaks for itself. Maybe I was feeling homesick? But I digress.

The Walmart in question turns out to have the exact footprint and layout as the Walmart in Pullman, which was a rather weird experience. Kind of like the time I bumped into my ex at the Walmart when we were both there to buy milk for our kid. We reached into the dairy fridge at the exact same time, looked up, had an awkward moment, and then went about our way. I was getting 2% for my house, he was getting Whole. This must happen a lot, but it was quite the sensory flashback.

Just before landing in the toy section and momentarily getting caught up in the ridiculousness of a mode of transportation I just know I do not have the sense of balance for, I wandered about the place feeling quite like a Dolores or a Bernard, looking at the asparagus, casually questioning the the nature of my reality, wondering where I was... and when... truly, it could have been at any time! Diet Coke architectural displays are timeless! It made it so that every time I crossed the Subway in the front (which was a lot--I like for my Walmart trips to be as spiritually aimless as possible; the more times you can inefficiently criss-cross the joint on your way to get mundane things, the better), not only would I smell that overwhelmingly magical yeast-y Subway smell, but I swear I could also catch the faintest whiff of wheat fields wafting in from the automatic doors. Not to mention the vague aroma of knowing you've got nothing interesting around you to do for miiiiiiiles.

***

You know those scenes in Sci-Fi movies when some poor dummy gets sucked out into space and experiences that sudden frozen floatingness of dread? This is related, I promise. These scenes are all quite the same, aren't they. Something happens by accident or someone pushes a release button, and out they go! And then for the next thirty seconds or so you get to watch this one scene that all science fiction movies seem to have, that 'floating out to nowhere in space in slow motion' scene. These poor saps just ... floating there, one arm outstretched, their face a frozen mask of terror mixed with a weird kind of dawning acceptance. You know the one:

 

Like that. I like to call it the Slow Motion Oh Shit. (It's catchy.)

Anyway, I was thinking about this as I was contemplating skateboards, that weird sandpaper-y finish on the top, and whether or not I'd have to buy myself a pair of skater shoes now to go along with it, and what are the physics behind skater shoes anyway? And did you know that I am single and I live in Portland now? 

It's quite the tactile expression, I think. (We're back to space suckage now.) Almost immediately in those sequences I start to feel like *I* could be the one out there with nothing to hold onto, everything deafeningly silent, my pulse drumming in my ears, my mind a complete blank. It'd probably be pretty peaceful, actually, if you could wrap your head around it . . . all those stars and galaxies surrounding you, the relief of finally succumbing your own mortality, nobody nagging you for another bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch . . .  I mean, maybe. And it makes one wonder (shut up, yes it does) if that must actually BE the face you'd make if YOU got sucked out into space, too. Is there a science to this? Has there been a study? Probably every single person who's ever been sucked out into space has made this exact face so far... except how many people do you suppose have actually been sucked out into space before??? Is this just a collective unconsciousness deal, wherein we've all somehow silently conceded that this is how it would be like, if?  

And you know how sometimes the Universe keeps trying to tell you to do a thing, and you know what it is but you're willfully pretending like it doesn't make any sense because there's GOT to be a better way around it? And so you sit on your thumbs and do absolutely nothing about it instead???

***

Once upon a time I was married.

(This is how I was going to start this blog post, like, five iterations ago.)

Once upon a time I had a blog, and I was married. I lived in a city that I loved, I had a husband who loved me (enough... ish), I had a child who was spectacular (still is spectacular), and I had a blog that I wrote in whenever crazy creative juices were flowing, or else whenever we were strapped for cash.

I truly, naively believed it would always be that way, for better or for worse, even when it was the worst, and even when I knew it was unreasonable and it was killing me, and even when I knew that parts of it had become entirely untenable.

Until one day, April Fools Day, actually (how fun is that), all of that ended, and I got dumped.

Well, scratch that. Most of it had ended looong before that. My city was just a depressing memory by that point, and my marriage a complete shambles. The blog had become a kind of self-flagellating prison. By then all that was left was this overly tight grip we all had, a kind of desperate holding on to a thing that seemed to want nothing to do with us. White-knuckling a past future, I guess. Clinging to the final vestiges of expired dreams like a five-year-old clings to your leg at kindergarten drop off.

And anyway, I wasn't dumped so much as let loose on the world without any prior consent or preparation on any of our parts, and let me tell you, it has been TERRIBLY GRACEFUL.

***

You know, there's a certain kind of comfort in clinging, I suspect. It's a thing one can do when there's not much else to be done. It has a road map already, it's got a final destination, whether or not that destination is actually attainable or even preferable is another thing altogether, but all Wilson Phillips aside, I think I'll assert here that excessive holding on, for one more day or for any amount of time, really, isn't terribly good for anybody.

And so I was let loose, to, eerily, silently, yet oddly-gracefully (hah!) float off to nowhere, one hand outstretched, my face a reflection of my doom... Not to put too dramatic a point on it or anything!

Actually, at first it was liberating. All stars and orbits. My stomachaches went away. The sun seemed brighter. Rehashing in my mind old things that had been said that once hurt me . . . now they didn't anymore. They felt ok. I felt settled and final.

But then the dread sets in. Suddenly every planet you've known is out of your reach and disappearing quickly. Your surroundings are beautiful still, but your future feels grim and your face feels paralyzed and your limbs go numb. Your destination seems at once wholly up to you and entirely out of your control.

Obviously, the first thing I did was end my blog.

No no no. The first thing I did was move all my furniture and my kid into a tiny cowboy shanty on the edge of town that was built in 1890, had been moved around Moscow four or fives times since, and was currently perched on a foundation made of cinder blocks. How's that for a metaphor! I made that move all by myself, in the rain, over a day and a half. Fierce determination in the face of absolute confusion. That felt pretty good.

And then, I cried. I cried a lot, for a long time. Not for the loss of a person or a relationship, and not even for the loss of the future we'd white-knuckled for so long. I was grateful for that release valve, I was grateful to be floating. I think what I was grieving was that sensation of sudden unmooring; the overwhelming freedom of the destinationless.

That's when I ended my blog.

***

What happened next?? Well, here's what you missed. I threw myself into my kid and my chickens. I decorated the ever loving daylights out of my tiny house. I got a turkey, two ducks, and a very opinionated rabbit. I bought a gym membership and took barre classes, gained all these new muscles, not to mention a whole host of old lady gym friends. I read books and I went to counseling and I downloaded Tinder. I watched EVERYTHING on Netflix. I got odd jobs where I could and went thrifting with Kara. I did a lot of crying, made a lot of questionable choices, and did a lot of cracking-open. Really breaking the ribs and opening out, letting the oxygen hit me. Very slowly I started the process of getting to know myself after marriage.

I was able to muscle my way into a job here in Portland with a start up and, with Brandon's blessing, moved Huck and myself out west to start a new life! . . . Which then promptly tanked because start ups are assholes.

This was when shit all got real, and there I was again. Floating. This time it felt interminable, and frightening. It felt like a life sentence. I got back on my horse just the same and I applied to all the jobs. To ALL of the jobs. You know, health insurance and 401ks and reliable paychecks. Even the jobs that sounded horrific, I applied to them all with gusto. And over and over again, something just doesn't want that for me, something that's even more stubborn than I am and hellishly determined that I not take the sensible way out. I must have applied to thousands of those jobs. Millions of them!! Aren't you happy to see that my skills in exaggeration are still in fine form!!??! All the while I really, really struggled. It became oddly difficult to even take care of myself in the most basic ways, it seemed like everything was gone at that point, and I think that was when the finality of not having a family anymore, of not going to be having any more children, of not getting a clean start, of not being taken care of, finally set in. I really had to grieve it. The things I had cracked open before, I now needed to smash all to pieces before they could finally start to knit themselves back together, and it was hard, and it was lonely. I tried on futures. So many futures. I tried on futures, and I discarded them. I tried on other futures. They discarded me. Me and my future, man, we've been naught but goopy noodles of spaghetti getting flung against the wall. over. and over. and over.  

I suppose it is time that I just listen to that damn old Universe already and do what it's telling me. After all, nothing else is sticking. 

(Am I too al dente is that the problem???)

(Pasta metaphors!)

***

You know, being without the constant scrutiny and opinions of outsiders these last few years while also being finally outside the realm of critique that came with my marriage made it hard for me to know which source was the culprit of everything I'd gone through all those years ago, until suddenly, my mind was the culprit. Whooshing in, over and over, criticisms, insults, doubt, tearing myself down, reminding myself of failures and shortcomings, chiding myself over mistakes, my head becoming a hell of my own making. I guess you can outrun your captors, but that doesn't mean you've escaped your captivity. Maybe it wasn't always a hell of my own making, that old part of my life online and in marriage that was so toxic and hurtful to me, but by now any part of it remaining I had to own and accept as my own responsibility, a creation of mine and mine alone. Only I could produce that crippling self-doubt for myself, and so only I could destroy it. So, one by one, one false core belief at a time, I did. It took a lot of work to take them all down, and it was rough. I had to really claw my way through it, but I'm proud of myself for getting here, and still working to forgive myself for how long it took and for all the dumb choices I might have made in the meantime.

But back to to the skateboard for a minute. It's a pretty good idea, you know; learning new things, time spent outdoors with my kid, you know, brain wrinkles and things; unless it is a DISASTROUS idea. Remember, I once broke both my heels jumping over the last two steps on a staircase. But I've got band aids, a good stash of arnica cream, and a fair amount of bad judgment. I think I can do it. 

And on this: I'm certainly not going to get it right this time around, either, and I'm not at all sure what it's going to look like yet, or what my monetization strategy will be, or how often I'm going to write, or even WHAT in the damn hell tarnation I am even going to write about for bob's sake?! But I don't suppose that's ever stopped me before now has it? :) I get the sense that this is where I need to be, that it's time to let go of whatever's been holding me back, and just jump out there with the stars and galaxies. Slow motion "oh shit" face and everything. It's time to loosen my grip. I've got a finger on a release button.

It starts with p and it rhymes with "rublish."

Here's to the floating, kids.

5.17.2016

IN WHICH I LOVE THE TARGET, PART TWO


I love the Target.

In fact, let's be honest here; I'd live at the Target if they sold beds like at the Macy's.

Truthfully, I can't make it out of the Target without spending at least $100 on wonderfully useless things. It is always surprising to me how quickly these cheap little things can become so very expensive, and today's Target day was a day just like that. 

Today's Target day was the same as always and yet so, so different, and discombobulating (a fantastic word), and disorienting, and so now, here is the story of today's Target Day,

-aka- 
Going Out The Way We Came In

-or-
Closure Is Important To Human Emotions

-but if you'd rather-
Let's Make A Target Sandwich

***

So, the other day I needed to go to the Target. 

Well . . . I didn't really need to go to the Target, but I did want some alone time. 

I also wanted to see this brass lamp that I keep on seeing all over Instagram. It is everywhere! It looks so classy!

You probably have one too, right?? Yeah, you do.

Whenever I see this lamp I always catch myself thinking it can never truly be possible that it actually came from the Target. Because it looks way too slick. It's probably not as great in person.

This was a theory I was willing to invest time into.

Mostly, however, the real reason I wanted to go to the Target that day was so that I could end this flipping blog already.

***

I have been ready to be done with this blog for something like ten years at this point.

And always, when I thought about it, I had this idea in the back of my mind that, this, someday, was how I was going to go out.

Which is to say, by going out the way I came in.

By which I mean, by writing about shopping.

Plus, I'd been having hella writer's block for a couple of months and I thought that maybe the long drive might crack something open.

(Well, it didn't.)
(Try picturing a Prius-shaped thought bubble hurtling towards the ever loving embrace of the closest Target, 90 minutes north of here, and you about got it.)

All the drive long I wondered and wondered.
What would I want to say in this, my very last blog post?
What are my messages? What are my themes?? Do I have any of those things??? What has all this been, anyway????
What does a reader even look for in a decent flounce post these days?

I definitely wanted it to be, like, MEANINGFUL.
An essay! You know, one of the good ones.
Make it mean something! On a treadmill! With Dave Chappelle!!

"I was eloquent! Shit!!"

But the more I thought about it, the more I knew. I am just way too over it at this point for something like that. I am just actually that ready.

***

So, this is it. 

Without pomp or circumstance or anything terribly exciting to go along with it, here it is. 

After ten years of blogging, I am closing up shop.

***



(This part is the part at the end where I say, "Hey, guys, thank you.")

Dearest People Of My Blog,

Hey guys. Thank you.

Thank you for always being incredibly fantastic and intelligent and fascinating and kind whenever we've been able to meet in person.

Thank you for your beautifully thoughtful comments and emails.

Thank you for your prayers! I've felt the them, I swear it. Every last one.

Thank you for your sisterhood, for sharing your experiences with faith, infertility, hope, and the hard things, and for letting me feel at times like I was your big sister. This has and will continue to give my life an insanely wonderful added purpose and meaning. It makes me want to cry anytime I think about it.

I'm so grateful for you, you weird little knuckleheads, for supporting me and coming along with me and for liking the same dumb things as me, and for asking me things like where I get my white t-shirts and clogs, and for buying my book, and f or showing up when I've held  events, and for always being so much stinking cooler than me.

Thank you.

Thank your, ladies and gentlemen!


And now for my parting words. My legacy! Get excited!

That lamp at the Target is EVERY BIT as rad in real life as it seems online.
Wouldn't it be nice if everything was like that?

4.20.2016

GET ME DRESSED / FT. ESBY APPAREL

romper: esby apparel / jesus sandals: amazon (they're actually called that?)

Last month in Austin I got to meet Stephanie Beard, owner and designer of esby apparel. It was such a treat. I got to see and feel her gorgeous pieces, try them ALL on, and bring a few home to show off to my readers. I even made a friend out of the deal! 

I'd been hoping to show off her amazing stuff for weeks, ever since since I got back from South By, but then we moved house, life got REALLY weird, family came into town, and my Internet went bust. But! I'm here! Here I am! Better late than early! And here is that post finally, featuring two  of my favorite looks from the current line at esby apparel


this bag is an old one from madewell and it is amazing

First is this ROMPERRRRR. 

Hold up -- after culling my wardrobe again (KonMari Take Two! THIS TIME IT WILL WORK!), and now that the entirety of my wardrobe fills only half a standard closet, don't you find it FULLY FASCINATING that I somehow managed to keep onto FOUR WHOLE ROMPERS?? 

All of which sport WIDE-LEGGED SILHOUETTES!

Well, I do. #easilyimpressedwithmyself

Okay but wait -- how do you feel about wide-legged silhouettes? Now that I have you here?


Personally, having grown up the daughter of Julie Lovin, I knew off the bat that this wide-legged deal was going to be my Def Jam. I remember my mom wearing so much of this silhouette when I was a kid that for sentimental reasons alone I knew I would have to love this trend a very stupid amount. 

And, it turns out, I do!

What I don't love at the moment are my current white wall prospects. So disappointing. Grass! Shadows! Ugh! 

Anyway. I tried.

Alexandra took these next wide-legged photos for me just the other day. Thanks, Alex!

clogs: nina z / pants: esby apparel / top: fruit of the loom 

Here is the thing: My poor waist has played second fiddle in fashion to every other body part that I've owned for years. I used to watch period films featuring cinched waists and tight bodices and just feel so sorry for my midsection for being born in THE wrong decade. Until now! There she is! Hi, waist! I hadn't forgotten about you! 

Stephanie makes these high-waisted wide-legged trousers in just about every neutral color a neutral-phile could ever desire and I'm not going to lie to you, they make me feel leggy and waist-y and a little bit like an extra from Out of Africa


See also: GRANDPA PANTS! 

Well anyway, my white wall-ing needs some work. Don't I look awkward? But don't I also look like I'm enjoying it? ;)

4.05.2016

AROUND HERE LATELY


Fulfillment. The name of the game here is fulfillment. 

Idaho is just about to end its long, slow slog into spring. 

Idaho does this every year. It waits and waits and waits and waits until sometime in May when it suddenly decides to get its act together and make us some buds. And then, POW!

Idaho in spring is absolutely heart-stopping, I can't wait. We're not quite there yet. It's shifting closer. It's so, so close. 

(I wrote a post on this once!)



But back to me, okay?

Change, Completion, Fulfillment.

Change, change, change.

(Anyway, could I GET any more obtuse?)
(Probably. You wanna find out?)

Um, here's a bit of excitement for you:

hey huck!

The Appaloosa Horse Museum! Not to get too excited about it or anything, it's just that, as much as I love lentils . . . 

("It's just that . . .", "Well . . . ", "Actually . . . ", and, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but . . . ", are apparently my favorite ways to start sentences, according to Huck and his newest ways of starting sentences.) 

Well. I am sorry to tell you this, but the Appaloosa Museum is super tiny. 

It did smell good inside though.


Did you know Huck's favorite food these days is octopus? 

Yes, that's it. Octopus. Shrimp will do, too, if the octopus is all out. He's very brave, ins't he?

Personally I haven't dared eat any seafood since we left the city, because I value my life. 
No no no, I'm sure it's not that bad, although someday when Huck is old enough to know what this means, I'd like to ask him whether eating seafood in a landlocked state should be concerning unto him. 

But then, what am I even talking about!? This restaurant up there is in Pullman! Which, while only 8 miles from where I sit at this moment in this very landlocked state called Idaho, happens to be in Washington, which, as we all know from the fifth grade, is a coastal state.

Doesn't that sort of make you want to question, like, everything?!? 



The End.

3.25.2016

GET ME DRESSED / AND GET HER TO COLLEGE

jeans: kut, shirt: levi's, flats: sseko designs, tote: sseko designsbracelet: austin (similar here),
awesome attitude: yo mama

So lemme tell you a thing about a thing. 

I've been going through my closet lately. ('Show me a woman who blah blah blah . . . ' you've read my book already, right?? ;) While I was in there the other day I noticed my denim jumpsuits. Like errant children, those denim jumpsuits. I own two; they're awfully sweet. Lately they've shared an equal amount of their mother's neglect. The poor dears.

So I said, 'I'm sorry jumpers!' (Do you ever feel the need to apologize to your clothes?) And then made the appropriate decisions.

The problem with the first is that it looks so similar to a combination of denim + jeans that I already wear all of the time. And the second of the two, well, I love her madly, but she is OUT THERE. Best suited for places where it's normal to see other people walking around in frumpy bubbles made of clothing while still feeling fabulous, maybe. 

And so they were rendered redundant. Such a sad story!

the first went out to consignment, the second to our storage unit, in case you needed to know. 
(i'm holding out hope for you, bubble romper! good luck in our storage unit, it's chilly!) 
(these are the shirt and jeans in question, should you wish to cast scorn.) 



But what I REALLY came here to tell you is, did you know epiphanic is an actual word? When you have an epiphany, that means your situation was epiphanic.

Epiphanous: Not a word. And why not?

3.23.2016

ON NEW YORK NATALIE, MOSCOW NATALIE, AND THE TROUBLE WITH TIME + PLACE

this post is a pep talk to myself. it can also be a pep talk for you, if you'd like.

A million years ago I wrote a post about a version of myself I called New York Natalie.

The idea was that I was living in Idaho, feeling sad and frustrated, waylaid and lost, super sorry for myself, and I had remembered realizing one day that I never felt that way very often (if ever?) when I lived in New York.

I was tougher there. Or something. I felt more grown up. Less flailing.

New York Natalie had a whole different schtick going on. She liked being mature and making adult decisions, she liked saving money and planning for vacations, she liked taking on responsibility and, like, she even liked doing the dishes. (Or, at least she did them more reliably.) New York Natalie was pretty rad. I liked her! She was going somewhere.

At least, she thought she was going somewhere.

(Turned out, she was actually going to Moscow, so...)

***

Now that I've done this enough times to know by scientific reasoning, I can stick this feather in my cap: I'm pretty good at adapting to drastic changes in my environment. I think I do it without even realizing it. Someone called it "chameleoning" the other day, and maybe that's it.

Maybe it's just a lack of any overriding sense of willpower over whatever it is I'm encountering at the time? A white flag?

It's also a little bit like being a sponge. I'm sensitive to my surroundings, usually all it takes is a couple seconds til it soaks right in. Welcome to me, anything and everything!

I also love to try new things. I am sometimes overly open-minded. I can throw myself into just about anything and really get a kick out of it. I have a healthy sense of adventure.

Whatever it is, it's a pretty good quality to have if you don't mind my horn-tooting.
Or at least it is until it involves chameleoning/acquiescing/soaking/adventuring backwards, into a former, lesser version of myself, instead of progressing forward, as maybe all human beings should.

You know. 

***

So, Moscow Natalie. 

Ughhhhhhhhh.

Moscow Natalie was never anybody I wanted to be long-term. Even at the time I was being her, I was aware that Moscow Natalie was merely a survival mode. Just Get Through It Natalie.

Moscow Natalie was stuck in Idaho -- maybe against her will, certainly beyond her control -- and it really funked around with her sense of ownership of the thing. And as a result I'm afraid she was a little bit of a pain in the ass. Obviously it is rather unhealthy for one to compartmentalize oneself in this manner! Do not ye do it! Take it from me!

Still, having now been Moscow Natalie twice, for better or worse, I can tell you. It's a thing. It is definitely a thing.

Being Moscow Natalie es no bueno. Fer nobody. I know this for sure-sure, having now in the process of returning to Idaho also reverted right back into that Moscow Natalie person, relinquishing again any responsibility or control over my own life in exchange for moping around like a petulant child stuck somewhere she doesn't want to be, living each day just to get through it, all-in survival mode, washing her hands of the thing, just, BLAH and SHIT and BLAH and PASS ME ALL THE CHICKENS, and surprise of all surprises, it hasn't been working! I am highly dissatisfied!! I want my money back!!

(Except for my chickens. Chickens for all and to all a good night!) 

So, uh, don't be Moscow Natalie anymore, dorko.

This should be simple, I catch myself thinking a lot. Just embody all the things I liked about myself better while I was living somewhere else, without having to actually *be* somewhere else, be some kind of rad Moscow/New York Natalie hybrid, duh I can do that! I adapt! I've done it! And anyway, I mean, we all can! We can all be that version of ourselves we like best to be, whether or not we have the cheat of a rad city (or whatever else is tickling your pickling) to get us there. Am I right??!?

Okay, yes! 

Challenge, accepted! 

Thrifting hasn't gotten me there. Weirdly enough!?! And neither have granny squares or needlepoint or paint-by-numbers either, come to think of it. It's like this world has gone upside down!! ;)

(The chickens do help, but they're mostly a distraction.)
(MAYBE I NEED A CAT INSTEAD?)

And like I said already, I mean, thinking about yourself like this is a really bad idea. One definitely should not do it.

One cannot solve immaturity by engaging farther into self-centered, immature thought patterns! 

But anyway like I was saying . . .  about myself . . .

***

I'm afraid that maybe the entire Palouse in general just makes me miserable.

Is it the lentils?

I used to think it was the job at SEL that made me miserable. (Well, it was.)

Or my infertility and subsequent feelings of lack of any purpose at all. (Well, yeah, it was that too.)

Maybe the fact that we were poor grad students in a very bad economy with exams stressing the husband to death and back every semester and Peter Pan was always sick and required fancy dog food that even the Maharaja couldn't afford plus the fact that the sun doesn't shine out here for fully half of the year!?!?!! 

Cause obviously... yes. All those things are gonna mess with a person, that's just how that works, and that's all right.
That's just character building mumbo jumbo, or whatever.

But now that I am here again, mis-er-able, with none of those ingredients in my kitchen, and yet I am STILL baking that miserable cake!? AND YET!???!!

Sure, I'm still infertile (or rather, re-infertile after a brief period of non-infertile), but this time I have a kid. I'm a mom!
There's some purpose right there, slap you on the face with it.
We can easily afford the groceries.
None of my pets are unhealthy or even slightly high maintenance in the least!
(Chickens. Pass me all of the chickens!)

And yet!?!?

Just kidding it's still fully dark here fully half of the year.
That suuuuuuuucks. 

(Never underestimate the Seasonal Affective Disorder and that funny in-betweenness funk one always finds oneself in whenever the weather tries to change up it's seasons on you. That there a tip from me to you.) 

Maybe it's not the ingredients that's the problem, maybe it's the cake itself?
One layer of perceived lack of control, followed by a layer willingness to roll over and give whatever away in order to merely exist, followed by a layer of bad decisions, topped off with a nice chocolate ganache.

OR MAYBE THIS IS A MIDLIFE CRISIS!
That's an exciting thought. Maybe I need a sports car instead of a cat?
(Are cats the female equivalent of a sports car?)
(Oh gosh, wouldn't that be sad kind of?)

Maybe it's just the sheer lack of control over any of my life circumstances right now.

But here's a jolt of truth that helps to burn off any excess misery calories: I am here for my husband. I am here because I like to be wherever my husband is. I like that guy! I like this family! And I am willing to bet we are all where we are because of something we love that outweighs the rest of the shit that we don't love. Brandon is the primary breadwinner of this here shindig, and Brandon's professional needs do take precedence over a lot of other things. And while that can be hard, and while we're definitely allowed to grant ourselves that truth, we shouldn't get caught up in it.

Because getting caught up in it, that's selfishness. 

Pouting about a choice I made because of a choice I made because of a choice I made (Idaho Brandon / Breadwinner Brandon / Marrying Brandon) is hideous. I made that choice. The truth is, the control has been mine all along, and it continues to be mine even now.

The real truth is that it has never been about control at all.

***

I think the realities of selfishness are much more complex than we like for them to be. In fables, it's easy to differentiate the evil, selfish hag from the pure, thoughtful princess. That's the lesson. Nobody wants to be selfish, even the worst of us human beings on this planet want to believe that we are acting out of something higher than selfishness. But it's humbling when you realize just how often selfishness can disguise itself as other things. It's humbling when you realize the struggle you're in is a struggle you happily took on and would happily take on again and again.

I think to say that control is what will save us is to say that we are better and smarter than we actually are, or that somehow we could do better with this life than what the spark of creation has been doing all this time.  

It turns out, it is selfishness that's making me miserable. And that I can work with. 

So, I had myself a talk with Moscow Natalie.
(It definitely looked alarming from a mental health point of view.)

Moscow Natalie is going to try and bugger off for a while. She's not terribly helpful, and I don't very much enjoy her, and I have better ways to attend to this deal, and 25 wasn't a good time in ANYBODY'S life, thank you and you're welcome I am in no hurry to repeat that part of my life yikes.

I've also decided that since New York Natalie may take me some time, and since she probably wasn't even all that great to begin with (I probably have overly fond memories of her that are making her seem way cooler than she actually was), maybe it's time to come up with a different Natalie. 

A better Natalie.

I think I'm going to call her Kick Ass Natalie. 

This one won't be location-specific.

3.22.2016

THINGS I WISH I'D DONE MORE OF IN NYC



This is a post about past lives and reincarnation! And hopes and dreams and next-times!!

I really enjoy explaining these things up front in the loosest terms possible so you know what you're in for without actually knowing anything about what you're in for.

Today, in partnership with Chime, an app by the creators of Sittercity, I've compiled a short list of things that, were I lucky enough to get to do a do-over, I would have do differently while living in NYC. You know. Regrets. Since I'm not there anymore and it is heart breaking and I think about it often. Quite often. Truly.

So let's hit it!


ONE / REALLY AND TRULY, LET'S TREASURE THE TIMES WE HAD TO WALK OUR BUTTS OFF

Okay so this one I didn't not do, but if I could go back in time, I would do it even more. This is what I tell people who are leaving the city any time I get the chance: WALK NOW WHILE YOU HAVE THE PLACES TO GET TO ON FOOT. I miss all the walking every bit as much as I expected to. And it is heartbreaking! The suburbs make me lazy! Where have all the sidewalks gone?! My bottom has been more than happy to conform to the shape of the driver's seat of my car, it must be noted, but that shouldn't mean it needs to happen . . .

Enjoy especially those subway stairs while you have them. Oh hell. I once hefted a sleeping kid, his scooter, three bags of groceries plus a package I had to pick up from the post office, from the Prospect R stop all the way home. We made it off the train, up the stairs, to our building, up two more flights of stairs . . . and then he woke up the minute we opened the door.

These days I'd be hard pressed to get halfway across the street with that much. If I could even manage to lift it! Boo. The accidental muscles one gets just from existing in NYC! It's wonderful, they're wonderful! I loved my accidental muscles. Accidental muscles are the very best kind of muscles. Actually, they are, this is a serious point that needs to be made, so I'm going to run with it: Purposeful muscles get too much attention. They tend to be little prima donna glory hogs. Right? At least in my experience. Accidental muscles don't even know they're there. They're like that One Direction song. That's what makes them beautiful.


TWO / GO ON MORE DATES 

Yeah, with my husband.

This is a big one. Come on, Natalie. I so wish I had gotten out more with my husband. Grown up fun. I'm putting this one in italics, you guys. That's how you know it is serious.

I mean it wasn't all bad.

me and the beebs at a yankees game, 2013

me and beebs at peter luger eating our faces off

See, we did stuff!

Plus he's handsome. 

Still makes my heart go boom boom, that Beebledeebles.


But next time. (Next time?) Next time there shall be more date nights.

Ooh! We saw Garrison Keillor at the Lincoln Center once on my birthday!

us holbrooks utilizing our primary mode of transport, the foot



THREE / CHECK THE KID, SLEEP SOMEWHERE FANCY 

New York has some of the most killer places to stay in all the world. Like the Pierre hotel! Where Joe goes to stay after he buys all his luggage.

You know what I mean here.


yours truly in the standard hotel

Here is how I know. During a Bugaboo event I once got to stay a night with some girlfriends at The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. That place is a late-night haven, guys, wth immensely entertaining, beautiful people-watching. And while Sydney made an excellent roommate, don't get me wrong, I do think we missed out on the point of the thing by not being there with our husbands. You know. The rooms at The Standard seem to be designed for over-the-top sexy things. Bathtubs in the middle of the rooms, see-through glass in the shower door, floor-to-ceiling windows for spying on people walking the High Line. (And the other way around . . . ;) You know, if there are ever situations that call for being naked in front of some crystal-clear windows . . . it involves your husband.


FOUR / I WISH WE'D HAD A STEADY SITTER

We had many babysitters while we were living in the city. A lot of them were wives of the summer interns at church, or the high schooler who lived upstairs (we miss you Alexandra!), or else close friends willing to pitch in. But it was never very pleasant finding a sitter. It was mostly like pulling teeth. Sadly. So here we are. Let me put this one out for you. Trustworthy childcare shouldn't be a luxury.

In the absence of something seamless to help you navigate the case-by-case bookings, I'd recommend hiring a sitter for a month at a time, with the same hours + days every week--even if it's just 5 hours a week, even if you're not sure you're going to need it that week. Sometimes it pushes you out the door for something spontaneous and I've noticed that's usually where all the magic happens.


FIVE / LOG MORE ME-TIME INSIDE THE BARNEY'S CO-OP

I'm talking about me-time in general but actually regarding the Barney's Co-Op . . . I really think that place might be a little bit of personalized Natalie heaven.

Actually I like to think about this one a lot. The Barney's Co-Op and how much I miss it. Especially the one in SoHo. Does this make me shallow?

Huck was a great errand buddy and I credit the times we spent together getting shizz done for his amazing ability to utilize patience like a master. I think that's my parenting advice to end all parenting advice: expose your kid to boring things from day 1. However. I do wish I'd taken more me-time to myself to explore the city on my own, in whatever form that took. Groceries, dry cleaning, though not necessarily errands. Maybe logging work hours at a cafe, or getting important wondering-time in Downtown, or solo museum time to recharge the old creative battery. . . or shopping . . . whatever! I'm sorry I love to shop I won't even apologize for it! ;)

I've noticed more and more that I really thrive on those just-me-and-my-thoughts kinds of outings. I don't even realize half my brain's missing when I'm not getting enough of it, I just get grouchy. It's like scurvy. Stuff just . . . shrivels. 


SIX / BUY MORE CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEERIOS FROM THE TRADER JOE'S

Don't pass up this opportunity, New Yorkers! Words cannot even express how much I miss being within walking distance of a Trader Joe's. Oh those blessed chocolate covered cheerios.

The End.

3.16.2016

IN AUSTIN . . .

frown smile in full effect, go me!

OKAY SO CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT AUSTIN FOR A MINUTE!?

Once upon a time when I was just a wee babe, Sir Brandon the Texan was studying accounting at UT Austin and watching a lot of James Bond movies with his roommates at 3AM.

I wasn't really a baby but I may have only been a freshman in high school. 

He probably also ate his body weight in queso. This seems like an easy assumption to make.

Now, having never been to Austin myself, nor in any part of Texas, really, I used to hear tales of his Austin and feel happily indifferent to the deal and never think anything more of it.

UNTIL. 


I flew to Austin for SXSW for a super hot minute to speak on a panel, Furniture Is The New Fashion, with Jenny Morrill, co-founder and CMO of Move Loot. (You can see the project we did that sparked our panel here! Oh gosh, that was maybe the most fun I've ever had on a collaboration. Ever.)

First of all, furniture IS the new fashion. In case you were wondering. Increasingly I feel in my life that I get more satisfaction from experimenting with the look in my home than I do with my clothing. I know how I want to dress my body by now--I mean, I'll only have this one body for the rest of my life and I've mostly figured out its coloring and proportions and there's not going to be too much changing between now and the grave, but with a house! A house is always changing. And its base tones are super easy to switch up, unlike skin tones. Especially considering how often we've moved, and how easy it is to work within that basic square shape we all get to live in. Our homes are definitely these perfect canvases and our furniture is easily the new fashion. Easily. 

Second of all, when I say I flew to Austin what I really mean is that I actually flew to Seattle, and then I flew to San Francisco, and then I flew to Austin. 

Thank you, airline industry.

But if you follow the trends within both industries (back to furniture / fashion) it's easy to spot how eerily they seem to echo the other. Fast fashion / inexpensive furniture / freedom of experimentation giving way to more sustainable shopping / quality-over-quantity / researched decisions -- consumers consume furniture now in the same ways we've lately been consuming fashion. Our options are limitless! The possibility for self-expression endless! We're showing off our homes to our friends and followers on social media now more than ever! Come on in, I'm proud of my kitchen!

Anyway. 

The highlight of SXSW, if you don't count our panel, were the puppies.

Brace yourselves.


WUT.

The one on the left is named Edward Cullen. No I know. Don't you want to squoosh him.


Woogle woogle woogle.

They were part of a St Bernard rescue group there to promote the Mophie. It was a cute deal, wherever you were in Austin during South By if your phone battery was dying, you could tweet out a help request using a certain hashtag and then a Mophie employee with a rescue St Bernard would come and find you and charge your phone for you. While you played with the puppies. Duh.

Clearly this and the micheladas were the highlight of my weekend.

MICHELAAADAAAAAAAAS.


I also got to visit with Stephanie Beard, owner of esby apparel, and eat Vietnamese fusion and play Pretty Woman in her store for a couple of hours. I tried literally EVERYTHING on. It was the best kind of morning. 

Stephanie specializes in the kinds of clothes that makes the woman under the fabric shine through. I can't think of a better way to describe that. You know that mix of effortlessness and perfectly executed shapelessness that says "don't notice my clothes, notice ME." But don't be dorky or anything, Natalie.

Her store is beautiful and right across the street from Elizabeth St, so do as Stephanie instructs and get the almond croissant plus the vegetarian breakfast bahn mi. Sub the egg whites for regular scrambled eggs and add some avocado. She's right about that. And then mucho sriracha. Oh man I'm ready to go back right this minute.


She also introduced me to Topo Chico.

Thank you Stephanie! I want your chair!!!!!!

After that I met back up with Jenny and her friend for gelato at Dolce Neve, and then we explored South Congress for some shopping + thrifting in the perfect 85-degree weather.


We finished up at the Hotel San Jose for more micheladas in the sunny sunny sunshine (MICHELAAADAAAAAAS) and then a quick Uber back to the airport for the red eye home. 

When I landed in Idaho, there was snow on the ground.


See ya indeed.

3.09.2016

GET ME DRESSED / WHITES FOR SPRING

i look way cooler in this photo than i will ever actually be in this lifetime

Hey-oh Spring! 

Lemme ask you a question. Do you believe in seasonal wardrobes? I do. I really do. I'd even go so far as to have a testimony of them. That's what this post is. Just so you know what you're jumping into.

a few new-to-me spring pieces for 2016

When I was 10 and starting the fifth grade, my mom took me back-to-school shopping at the local Mervyn's. (Oh, Mervyn's! Do we remember Mervyn's?) I will remember until I die those pieces we picked out that day under the hot Arizona sun, and the way a Mervyn's smells inside, and the squeaky sheen of patent leather shoes, because you always get a new pair of patent leather church shoes before school starts, there is no other way. 

We came home with a pair of forest green pants, a pair of burgundy pants, a forest green turtleneck, a burgundy turtleneck -- are we sensing a theme here? -- and then a patchwork vest in . . . yes, in forest green and burgundy red. Those five pieces represented to me the coolest girl wardrobe in the fifth grade ever, and I could not wait to start wearing them.

Of course, school starts up in August in Arizona and so I didn't really have a use for those clothes until well into November. Even if it had gotten freakishly cold in September, conscience would dictate that I could not wear my deep autumn colors until it was fully well and good the deep autumn. 

And so I waited. 

And pined. 

And yearned!

And then I wore the snot out of them from late October until late February, at which point those colors no longer felt right, and I had to switch over to my springtime rotation. Pinks, blues, you know. Easter egg colors.

Living with a personal code of wardrobe ethics is exhausting sometimes! And so limiting!

(Please tell me you are into taking this topic as equally jokingly deathly non-seriously as me, otherwise it'll spoil the fun.)

 
Well, I peaked at age 10, probably. It's okay. And since then, though my beliefs are the same, I no longer like those Easter egg colors for spring. (I am a Deep Winter, pastels look like consumption on me.) Instead, every March, I just want to wear white. Beige, cream, off-white, true-white, white-white. It feels refreshing and light and like just the right match for a sometimes-iffy spring sun. 

It's terribly impractical of me and of course that only adds to the fun. The other day I got out of the car with the crumbs of an entire Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie all over the seat my pants. But you know what, I won't let that hold me back. Life is a playground for the impractical! 


Here are a few favorite springtime looks to demonstrate the versatility and sheer shiny diamond-ness that shopping secondhand and wearing only white can provide.  In whites! 

Here it comes!

LOOK ONE / 


Also wearing: vintage Levi's and tan Bensimons

LOOK TWO /


A million years ago I hosted a braiding party at Lilla P in the Meatpacking District and there was this woman who stopped in that I will never forget. She was wearing super baggy khakis, leather oxfords, a gauzy white linen top, and not a stitch of make up, and I haven't been able to forget her. She carried a leather bag that was so soft it was legitimately like touching butter. Yeah, I asked if I could touch it, and it totally weirded her out. 

Anyway she was dressed like a Jedi except it all came off so amazingly chic. HOW!? In the back of my mind I've been on the lookout for a similar pair of khakis ever since, and while I haven't nailed the saggy baggy front-pleat pegged-leg rolled ankle of it just yet, these J. Brand khakis I found on thredUP are definitely doing the trick. A white Rag & Bone button up thermal from thredUp instead of linen, hi it's not that warm here yet. 


LOOK THREE /


Playing with proportions! As a short person I'm not used to going baggy top AND bottom, but trying new things are the spice of life! Aren't I brave? ;) 

Obviously each of these outfits is screaming to be smeared with chocolate, and the minute I get the last of my winter clothes in the basement it is SO going to snow. 

Bring it on. :)