6.18.2018

A PORTRAIT OF MY LIVING ROOM AS IT EXISTS RIGHT NOW


As part of an all-out effort to avoid the paralysis of perfectionism over here at the Lovin -Holbrook household, Behold! Barrold the Great wishes to say hi. 

This is a blog post! It is going to be all over the place. 


There is an extension cord that is snaking all over the place in this photo, and I'm not even going to care. Hi, Barry from Barryville! Hi hey. 

Barry's been upgraded to the living room these days. At our old place in Idaho he was relegated to the south wall of my bedroom, where he had no one to talk to but his own glassy-eyed reflection in the mirror. Poor puppy. Here he is constantly getting screeched at by a pair of asshole parakeets. I'm not sure if he'd consider it an upgrade or not. 

You'll notice to the left there's an old Nugo wrapper left behind by Huck that I can't seem to want to throw away for the life of me because it reminds me that he lives here, even when he is with his dad for most of the summer, and because I am a ninny. 


Today is my first full day as Not-Momming Natalie. She's the part of me that doesn't have to find a sitter in order to do things and can afford to forget to pack a lunch before bed because there is nobody really to pack a lunch for. She is a funny lady, and continues to refer to herself in the third person.

But here's what I've been up to lately, I've been carding and spinning! It's messy work but incredibly meditative. You can see my earlier attempts up top on the left, my most recent attempt in the second ceramic pot (I've gotten so much better), as well as what a professional gig looks like, there in the spools of warping below. Underneath that, I've been using those old metal slide holders to hold embroidery floss. They're the perfect shape and layout for thread cards and needlepointing on-the-go, and I feel like I spot them at antique and thrift stores here constantly. I'm thinking of opening up a shop one of these days and putting some of them in there? But not on Etsy, it turns out. They're being dumb I've been told. 

Wow, this is a real stream-of-consciousness bit going on in here.


Hoo boy, did I mention my goal towards non-perfectionism? I said to myself this morning as I was making my coffee, Hey, my living room looks relatively tidy and well-edited today! Let's make this a blog post! 

But I'd forgotten how once you take a picture of a thing you get to realize how very wrong you were about mostly everything your eyes were telling you, because this living room actually is clutt-ERED, the lighting is terrible . . .  this will never do for a blog post. Also, it is grainy as hell, and I'd forgotten about that Pikachu hat that Huck put on the parakeet's cage about a month ago, even though I see it on there every day. But I'm posting it anyway.

Other things you will notice: there's a bag of llama hair to the right of the bird cage that needs to be carded and spun, and that pile of fabric behind the sofa there is the remaining t-shirt pile I have left to embroider. Guys I'm so close to being finished! Should be shipping next week! Probably I should have been Shipping Them As I Finished Them, but this seemed right to me somehow, at the time. 

On the TV you'll note the paused end credits of the most recent episode of Westworld. OMGthemostrecentepisodeofWestworld!


Oh, blogging. 

My favorite hobby right now is going to my mom's house and telling her all my more bizarre and involved theories about blogging and writing and the state of the Internet and what it all means and how I should do it, and whether I should have to know how to do it before I do it or not . . .  She is very good and patient with me although I am ridiculous and we all know it. But she issued the most fantastic almost-compliment-but-not the other day and it has been rolling around in my head ever since. "Natalie," she said, "if I had your following, your talent, and I looked like you, I'd be making so much money right now."

So.

And now a portion of our program that I like to call

THE POWER OF THE SECRET COMPELS YOU!

or, if you prefer

ECONOMIC ANXIETY AND CROWDSOURCING MOTIVATION FOR STUFF

wherein I put out into the world some of the wishes I hold that I'm perfectly capable of doing, I guess . . . once I wrap my head around them (none of these things needs head wrapping around though, I realize this), either in here or in somewhere else (hint hint literary agents call me winky wink), in order to make a living off of . . . whatever this is. Again. (Meanwhile I am still hunting down full-time jobs.) (Should I be though?) Maybe you guys can help me do this stuff somehow. This is what I am thinking, anyway.

Ok. The new Anne with an E. I got some feelings about PTSD and how an outsize persona or imagination can work to minimize trauma. Also, why Anne Shirley is NOT Mary Poppins. She's the antithesis, but also they're sort of the same? I started to write this thing the other day but I did it with that rule where you're not allowed to erase anything, you just plow on through? So now I'm a little bit terrified of going back in there.

I also want to write about my prison spoons. 

I want to keep making t-shirts and tote bags and embroideries and weavings! So . . . imma keep on doing that. I do need to figure out how to streamline this operation and keep everyone in the know in a more organized fashion. 

"I've got a project that requires . . . tweaking" with my best friend Kara, Moon and Pine. Girl Scouts for grown ass ladies! We've been dreaming and planning this sucker for two years now, we had a sort of soft launch just before Christmas, but we're finally honing in on what it really wants to be, and I have my fingers crossed that it will take off once it's out there! Aaaaaaand that we can get it out there!

I want to write a bit of a thing on Losing My Religion. (Not the R.E.M. song.) I also feel like I have a beachy chick-lit type of deal in me, maybe memoir? Some kind of behind-the-scenes in blogging and influencer culture in NYC. I also feel like I have a twist on an Anne of Green Gables type of series in me somewhere, involving my chickens a lot, probably. (Oh I miss my chickens!) These feel huge to talk about and daunting to consider. Who wants to help me??

I wanna bring back The Great Beauty Experiment - any of you old-timey readers out there still in it with me? Representin' yo??? Does that belong in here??? It probably does. Probably one of the first things I should do is see if I can find that old mascara chestnut and drag it out of antiquity. Does Babble still exist?? I've always enjoyed blogging about style and beauty, it can be a good source of income, so I hope to continue doing that in here, along with occasional essays. Life / Style / Beauty instead of Babies / Nesting / Style? I need to update my categories. It's on my to-do list. Is it weird going all meta like this or what?

I've been sitting with the idea of social media 'influencing' and have decided not to blindly go with the swirling tornado of "No" that sometimes happens when I consider that stuff. Probably because that seems rash, and also probably because it could be done really well? 

There. I am going to call this blog post an accomplishment even though it is everywhere and rambling. Guys, life after divorce and job loss and moving too many times is weird and messy and sometimes it feels hectic and everywhere and nowhere at once. And I suppose I'm maybe here to do all that with you. We're . . . a thing. Some kind of thing, all of us. So thanks for coming along. This is a fun kind of experiment, isn't it? :) 

54 comments :

  1. I love your embroidered tee shirts! One day when I'm not broke, I'm going to buy one.

    Ps. You totally have a chick-lit type deal in you! Do it girl.

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  2. Amen to all of it. Yes to all of it. So many follow-up questions for every paragraph, so please keep telling us about life now and how you and Huck and Barry got through it all! Slash are getting through it all. I still pull your book off my shelf when I’m in a life/beauty/inspiration rut. The internet is weird, but less so when Annes and Kathleens and Hey Natalie Jeans are around. So keep the posts coming!! ��

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  3. Hey Natalie Jean—I’d read all those things you have living in you. I recently heard the author Luis Alberto Urre talking about the time Jim Harrison told him something along the lines of, when life gifts you a story like that, you’d better write it.

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  4. Hi-I’m honestly just glad you are back posting. Keep it coming, many of us enjoy your voice! Not looking for perfection, and don’t really believe in it anyway. By the way, I realized some time ago (before your blog went offline but after you moved back to Idaho) that I live around the other from your old place in Brooklyn! 19th between 5th and 6th! I �� Roots and Bagel World :) Hi from your old hood!

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  5. Do all of the things! We will read it all! Old time reader here, I LOVED the great beauty experiment :) Do it do it do it.

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  6. You have my vote for the inside look into blogging/influencing/chick lit/mémoir!

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  7. I think all the content is way relatable to all of us who have lost our religion, our immature identities, spouses, careers, hobbies etc. a lot of us find ourselves in our 30-40s with new problems and feelings and emotions and it all might be a mid life crisis but it also might be a beautiful transformation. So I say - do it all and if you are truthful and relatable, you will succeed enormously. Best wishes and I’ll be reading.

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    1. I second this! I think you should tell your own, true, real, gritty story. I'm getting some real Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, brutal honesty vibes.

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    2. I would love to read something real. The internet provides so many false advertisements for people's "real lives". Wholesome to read truth sometimes

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  8. I would love to see the chick lit of influencer culture!!! I totally get the job/writing paralysis... I lost my lucrative part time for so I’m trying to go it alone as a marketing copywriter in Portland... I really am not a fan of social media but it’s hard to avoid. I’m a mom of 2, give me a holler if you need a mom/writing buddy in Portland!

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  9. Well, I for one loved this post.

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  10. YES to the Losing My Religion, behind the scenes, memoir, etc. plan. You're such a great writer and I think a lot of your audience would be particularly interested in all that. Have you read "Educated" by Tara Westover? Holy shit...

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  12. Do it all and thank your mom for us! So glad you’re back.

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  13. Love your writing, so glad you are back! I would love to see you style and select thrift store clothing. I would love to read a memoir most of all... but would of course read a novel written by you! come on!

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  14. oh Natalie, I would read about whatever it is you wrote! I always especially loved your essays. You made me feel like you understood. Suggestions on blog posts, though I would again read whatever you wrote:
    - Natalie takes on current trends
    - Natalie talks reality TV (Bachelor Nation is faithful)
    - Book recommendations
    - Advice column

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  15. DO IT ALL! Sidenote on the social media influencing conundrum: I still think the American Express-sponsored post you wrote a few years ago about not-so-well-off families is one of the best sponsored posts I've ever read.

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  16. I lived for your Great Beauty Experiments! So happy to see your blogging again.

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  17. I implore you to write — write a bloody book because it will reach eyes and lives that you cannot even fathom; you’ve got the talent, the empirical voice, and the brilliant wit to tell a story that can make others feel less lonely, like their stories aren’t so unique that they’re irrelevant.

    You’s got a gift, lady — please use it.

    I know I personally will benefit, so this is a completely selfish plea!

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  18. Girl. I have some THOUGHTS on losing the religion. Keep that going.

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  19. All your ideas sound fantastic. I love reading your work and am sure others will to. Go for it x

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  20. Yes! Girl write it all and take sponsors/ads. Own it!

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  21. The internet needs more real and less perfect right now- forge ahead into this uncharted territory!

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  22. The Great Beauty Experiment! PS We’re all totally a thing.

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  23. I think you should do all of the things that make you happy and make all of the money, just keep writing! You have such a great voice (rambling absolutely included), and also I miss bloggers who actually, you know, write. So do all of the sponsored posts, arts and crafts, etc, just keep writing pretty please?

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  24. "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good!"

    And yes, your mama is totally right!! Listen to her! :-)

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  25. Write it all or just some of it, just write. I'm dying to read the memoir-ish stuff (esp re: religion) but I'll read and dig the beauty stuff and the sponsored stuff too. This post is a step in the right direction and has inspired me to let go of some of my own perfectionism and fears and put pen to paper. Also, your mom. Your mom inspired me. Ha! Oh: and if you can, it would be awesome if you could write more about this experiences this summer, which sounds like it has the potential to be incredibly challenging but also rewarding and, frankly, fun. (I say as a mom of one who wants but hasn't been able to have more kids and whose identity is very wrapped up in being a mom and who struggles with having to spend extended time away from my kid due to work but also when I'm with my kid I just really want to get away, y'know? I think you know.)

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  26. i support all these endeavors.

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  27. yes to the Great Beauty Experiment! it's the reason I own (and love) a Mason Pearson.

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  28. Yes to ALL OF IT!! Love it and looooove these kinds of rambling posts. Its nice to read about your life and thoughts and doubts etc. It is much more relatable and fun to read. Still heartbroken about missing out on an embroidered t-shirt (NZ is great, but you have to sell your first born to pay for shipping anything here). Keep on being awesome x

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  29. Yes to everything! We've all missed your truly unique and vulnerable voice. I especially want to read about losing religion (same here) and alllll the style: beauty experiment, fashion, home.

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  30. Yes to it all! I’m a fellow divorced mom with a lovely daughter. Your writing is wonderful, refreshing and such a pleasure to read.
    PS - did you see the Felicity mini reunion with the whole cast from earlier today? If not google immediately!

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  31. I'm with you: right here in sweltering Alabama, with the ceiling fan humming softly and the summer night falling outside. We're all in this together, reading and writing and sharing tough times and beautiful imperfect lives. Ugly-crying at the hard stuff and snort-laughing at the humor and jotting down the lines and phrases we want to keep forever. We love the Natalie you've let us know, and we're longing to know her better. Messy and everything. We want to read it all, and help any way we can.

    So do it! Make that money like your momma says! Write those rambling thoughts. Post some things without editing. Explore the changes you've seen in yourself and others. Talk about make-up and faith and religion and boys and men and fiber arts and stuffed deer heads and the grit it takes to live in pursuit of real honesty.

    Thanks for doing this with us. Thanks for this post.

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  32. Yes, honesty, the internet is starving for it. P.S. Your place looks like mine... that is the exact lighting of my life. It's so beautiful.

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  33. From one blended-family mama to another, brace your heart: you might not recognize him right at first when he comes back. But that's okay. It does not make you a bad mama. I repeat: IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MAMA.

    The best post-divorce shared-custody blah blah advice I ever got when I was feeling like I had done The Most Selfish Thing by getting divorced from a passionless marriage was: by choosing myself, I was choosing to show my kids real love, instead of raising them with only a model for lackluster, obligatory love. Oof. All we can do is our best, that's the most anyone ever has done, even the people in your life that hung (hanged? hing?) your moon. Best is all we got, and you're doing it! Good job, fellow human.

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  34. Hi Natalie! Are you really looking for someone to help you get a beachy chick lit memoir written? I volunteer as tribute! I'm a social media content manager with degrees in Literature and Film Studies, and someone who loves blogs, pop culture, and proofreading (also knitting and stuff). I copy edit for a number of small publications and would love to take on a larger project! I've been reading your work for a few years now, and if you want to know more about me, check out katexmachina.com <3

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  35. Gosh. I just love that you're back. My life was missing rambling all-over-the-place ditties like this. I hope you do it all!! Accomplish ALL THE THINGS! I promise to read everything you write, from chick-lit to essays to meandering blog posts. You go girl.

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  36. Also, can I just say, that I am particularly interested in what you would have to say about Losing Your Religion. In 2007 I went through a divorce myself (I was young - married at 19, divorced at 20) and around that time (maybe before, maybe after? Not terribly sure on the timeline) I too, found myself losing my religion (southern baptist born and raised). It was a wonderfully transformative time of my life and one that got me to the here and now, so I'm eager to read about it if you were to be open enough to share.

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  37. Carding is extremely therapeutic! I got into it last summer when I was felting covers for a book arts course! I love everything about this post. Reading your writing again is like having coffee with an old friend who just gets you and makes you feel loved and at peace with everything messy that happens in life. P.S. Is there anyway I can order a Kathleen Kelly tote- I don’t have Instagram...

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    1. girl email!! heynataliejean at gmail!

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  38. I support you and enjoy reading that you write as I always have. Esp. support now you're non-Mormon. I think you're too smart!

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  39. I'm so embarrassed by how much I missed your blog. So glad you're back!

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  40. Yes to all of this! I am so delighted you're thinking of coming back, however tentative it may be for you. Lots of love from Ireland x

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  41. I'm so keen to hear about the Loss of the Religion. I misplaced mine at 18 or 19, and am completely fascinated by others' experiences of same.

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  42. Okay started reading your blog way back when I was in high school (ha) and it seemed like I had it figured out and so did you, and now here I am reading your blog again and it feels really good to see that we're both still figuring it out! Please keep writing! I love reading!

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  43. YES YES YES to it all! Loved the Great Beauty Experiment!

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  44. I think writing is what you are made for! So forget the full time job, take some sponsorships or whatever will help pay your bills in the short term and get those books out there.

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  45. Love that you're back. BUT a very important thing needs to be said. THERE IS AN AFTER CREDITS SCENE, SEASON FINALE OF WESTWORLD. I didn't know and I deleted the episode. Do not make my mistake.

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  46. Just be you girl. That's what we're all here for. Layers are relatable.

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  47. I always suspected I really liked you, Natalie. I'm glad your voice is here!

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  48. Yay! So glad you're back. I would love to read another book authored by you. Your voice is distinct and your loyalists LOYAL! We'll all buy your book. Your ideas here for a creative future for yourself are justified and possible. Your mother is so right--you are the package. Once you find focus you are going to kill it. Sounds like right now you are ruminating on all the possibilities before hitting "play."

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