You Do You 101

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I’ve had this thing for voicemails, lately. They feel sincere, spontaneous, old-fashioned — like a personal message in a bottle of sorts. To me, they’re like the original gangsta of Snapchat or the progressive form of a postcard. Both comparisons that are probably quite wrong, but feel so right to me.

So this is me, leaving you a voicemail. Just to, you know, say hi.

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It’s September. One year since I (officially) moved to San Francisco. September, which marks summer’s close and always feels strangely like the start of a new year. We’re only nine months late…casual.

The world is a topsy turvy place these days. And I’ve woken up eight out of seven days this week, trying to understand the long & short of it. Ya feel me?

In actuality, I figured out none of it. Ate a biscuit sandwich the size of my face. And decided to spend Sunday writing. So then, here we are.

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Yesterday, someone asked me about the best things I’ve learned in the past year of life. I considered telling them how to find the best taco place in San Francisco (Tacorgasmico). Or how to cure the hiccups (no joke!). Or how to ask someone on a date via napkin (real story).

Instead, I simply said that the most important thing I’ve learned in the past year has been the golden rule all along — You do you.

Truth is, I think we only know a few things to be true and many more to be false. That’s a nice way of saying that we know, well…jack shit!

But we find an occasional bit of verity when reading between the lines of fact & fiction.

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I feel crazy writing this, but hear me out. I’ve had this funny thought at top of the brain lately–this thought that all we are is who we’ve always been.

Simply put, what we do changes throughout life. When, where, and how we do it changes.  But who we are never actually changes. And really, we’ve known that all along.

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Think about it. You are the same person today that you were when you were a kid. Maybe now, you know more things about things. . . You’ve read. Changed your hair once, twice, thrice.

Found a vibe; found a tribe. Listened to a song a thousand times, then forgotten about it. Only to revel in its rediscovery. You’ve had experiences. Fallen in love with someone or something. And then fallen out of it.

But whether 18 or 80, you will always be you. The same quirks. Same dimpled smile. Same head & heart. The same person. We don’t really think about this; we just do it.

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So me? In the last year, I’ve learned I’m a maker and an old soul. Bold, ballsy, & gutsy to fault. I like boots made for walking and dresses made for doing. Preferably altogether. I like people who dream BIG and dance like they mean it. Because otherwise, why bother (really!)

I know I’m forever hungry and forever foolish, trying to find the intersection of passion x purpose. Somewhere between food, urban innovation, health, and technology. Whatever it is, I care deeply that it matters in the world. And that it’s all about the people.

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This all sounds like common sense, until you realize that distilling “what makes you, you” into a few sentences is a lot easier from an outsider’s perspective. It’s funny, of course, that our friends/family probably guessed who we are. Even before we guessed it ourselves.

They’ve guessed what you like, what you don’t like. They’ve known that you prefer cheese to pepperoni or pepperoni to cheese. That you’re an extrovert or introvert or something like that. That you’re a hugger or not a hugger or somewhere in between.

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It’s taken time to begin understanding that we are who we are. That this is me. That for better or for worse, this is who we’ve been all along.

Turns out though, vulnerability is no joke. For me, it’s taken one year of audacious highlights and unwieldy lowlights and 27 revisions of writing to tell you all of this. Sloooooow and steady wins the dang race, don’t we know it.

Who you are is a whole different shabang than who I am. Because that’s life in its curious mix of science and inscrutable magic.

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Whatever this year has been to you though, I hope you did it big. That you celebrated the small victories; faced the failures with grace; and shared a bigass pan of brownies with friends to weather both.

I hope you took a trip somewhere that knocked your socks off and that you listened to some of what your parents said…but maybe not all of it. And I hope you spent it with people who are the best of the best.

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But whether you did all of it or none of it, I hope there was only one golden rule:

You do you.

 

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What a Time to Be Alive!

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Remember that one time I ghosted on writing for months and proceeded to eat burritos like a full-contact sport instead? Cool, yeah…me too.

What a time to be alive!! Drake wasn’t kidding. A time when you’re living the dream or dying trying. A time when the universe is universally obsessed with the Internet of things, equality, and Justin Bieber. With global warming, emojis, and (hopefully? maybe?) world peace. In no particular order.

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It’s April — Spring-ish, Monday, and sunny. And really, who knows where the last few months went.

Some days, we’re singing along with Drake. And other days: “Work work work work work,” along with Rihanna. That’s life on the real. We’re caught somewhere between feeling like we’re too young to know what the heck we’re doing. But too old to not know what we’re doing. Ya feel?

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The good news is that I’m fairly certain ice cream was created with this conundrum in mind. Mint chip and cookie dough hold all of life’s answers!!! Mom/Dad would fully endorse this judgment call. And if we’ve learned anything from them, it’s that “because I said so” is always enough of a reason.

Let’s shoot the breeze and Monday like it’s a verb. I’m not sure what that verb looks like, but I’m hoping you do. That feels like friendship. So tell me what’s what in your life, and I’ll tell you who’s who in mine.

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I’ve spent the last 4 months living the only way I know how — splitting my time simultaneously trying to hangout with aaaaall of humanity and running away from it at the same time.

The truth is…Making friends feels like kindergarten all over. Nobody told us that meeting new people is surprisingly hard as a “grown up.” But when you realize many of your friendships are now cross-country, you find yourself asking, “How do I meet new people?” Ok, so kindergarten with more ambiguity and less nap time.

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Meanwhile, San Francisco has alternated between raining cats/dogs/whatever else El Niño can find and sporting sunshine enough to necessitate a cold beer ASAP.

In other news, I spent February visiting (and being visited by) all the homies in NYC. These are the people who ate an unholy number of bagels with me. The people who walked the entire dang city, Brooklyn Bridge and back. The people who were up for talking about the big things and the little things and all the minor/major existential crises in between.

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Can we all admit that we spent March doing who knows what? Awesome.

We spent March with those in good humor, laughing at all the fools who thought they fooled us. There was lots of music and no %*$^! given. And an Easter feast for the books.

Now April, here we go! I’m singing in the shower, hoping the neighbors don’t hear but totally at peace that it’ll be a viral video on Buzzfeed if they do. I’m playing sports, learning guitar from someone other than YouTube, and desperately trying to keep my plants alive like the adult that I’m not.

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What a time to be alive! We’re living the dream…or dying trying all the ice cream flavors while we figure it out. And if anyone asks why, the answer is easy —

Because I said so.

 

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All the Stories I Meant to Tell You

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So here’s the thing: I’m still staring squarely at October & November, saying, “Hello, it’s me…no, no this isn’t Adele.” Surely, I can’t be the only one. Can we agree that the last two months flew by faster than the friend who woke up and ran a record-breaking marathon before you even made it to the cereal box? I’m going to propose that’s why the world made a cereal called Life.

Much has happened in 72 days. I intended to tell you about it — really I did. I intended to give a holla and a hello stranger. To say what’s up and hear what’s going down. To share my stories with you.

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The reason I didn’t is, well…not a reason at all. It’s like when we forget to call our for sibling(s) for three weeks in a row, and the reason is a mixture of “oops, life did it again” and “my non-existent dog ate my non-existent homework.” There you have it!

Forgive me, and we’ll make up for lost time. Let’s chill and eat cereal straight from the box, convincing ourselves that Life really is a complete part of breakfast (and lunch and dinner and every other meal we’re eating today).

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I’d love to hear how you’re doing f’real, f’real. And in turn, here’s a few stories I meant to tell you:

  • I meant to tell you about the random dude who proposed we try “Reverse Tinder,” and how as such, I promptly ran 10 miles in reverse. Fast forward to the laughter.
  • On my walk home from work, I stumbled upon the most wondrous spectacle of San Francisco humanity. I meant to tell you that each Thursday without fail, 12 burly, gay men gather for “Knitting Club,” an evening ritual that includes a JOLLY amount of gossip and needlework. You can envision that in your head, and get back to me.

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  • I saw James Bay live for the second time. And I meant to tell you he is truly inconceivable with a guitar. It’s no surprise that he was my #2 on Spotify Year of Music (which is awesome, by the by).
  • I meant to tell you that YA WORTH IT. I’m not kidding, Patrick.
  • There is this peaceful man who sits on his porch on a street in the Mission, just watching the world go by every Sunday afternoon. It makes me smile every time.

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  • I meant to tell you…I went to Georgetown’s Homecoming Weekend, and it was a whirlwind and a half with small amounts of sleep and large amounts of beer. It was wild, wonderful, and truth be told…a little weird for me.
  • Amazon Prime is chief in my heart when it comes to Christmas shopping. But I meant to tell you that I sheepishly love strolling through shopping malls at this time of year, when stores are alight with holiday decorations, fake Santas, and and an endless loop of Christmas music.
  • I often hesitate to talk about my job with anyone/everyone for a sundry of reasons. But I meant to tell you…I like my work. Truly. I’m forthright in that this isn’t precisely my dream job. I still don’t know “what I want to be when I grow up,” but I’d be more worried if I did. For now, what I do know is that I’m surrounded by brilliant folks of different strokes. The data nerds, the analytical enthusiasts, the creative cats, the movie buffs, and the New Girl aficionados. It’s major.

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  • With the above notes about work aside, I meant to tell youI miss impact. I miss directly doing BIG things that touch people. Plain and simple.
  • Most every day, I sprint a few blocks at a nearly Olympian pace in order to catch a bus for my morning commute. Takeaways: Dresses are not made for running; there are no gold medals for jaywalking; no matter how long your legs, you cannot outrun the bus.
  • I meant to tell you that I’m unabashedly addicted to Tartine‘s croissants. They know what’s UP with butter.

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  • I’ve learned that holiday parties comprise mainly of +1 delights or disasters. Complemented by a glass (or 5) of champagne and dance moves out the wazoo. Kudos to my date for killin’ it.
  • It is a joy to have roommates who are HOMIES. Homies who are a hot mess and a half…but in the best way possible. Homies who “get it” without any explanation by virtue of being on the same page of life. Homies who will sing, dance, talk, laugh…and eat cheeseburgers on a rainy day with you.

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  • It’s been hard learning that people we call dear friends can become virtually strangers. Those with whom you lived, those with whom you’ve shared a bed and countless spontaneous facetimes, those with whom you had endless talks only a year ago. If I may speak frankly, it is a hard thing to watch friendship unravel.
  •  I promised the man at the Christmas tree lot a hug and a box of homemade chocolate chip cookies, if he’d be so kind as to let me take a few armfuls of extra pine branches. Because cookie + hug bribery is no joke. (My roommate claims I’m the only one crazy enough to do something like this. She’s probably right.)

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It’s funny how when we grow up, we update friends and family with big, splashy news. And all the anecdotes du jour? Well, we seem to forget all the little things we meant to tell people.

So these are my stories, authentically unsexy and decidedly not for publication beyond the couch. To me though, there’s something charming about the quotidien, nonetheless. They’re simply stories of life, and they’re full of life themselves.

You have these stories too. They’re not all action-packed adventure tales or Oscar winners or girl-meets-boy sagas. (Though we may, or may not, have those too.) But we’ll save that for another day and another box of cereal.

Life, of course, is preferable.

 

 

 

 

 

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This Crazy Thing Called Home

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I’m trying to think of a way to describe the past month as something other than ABSOLUTELY NUTS. But there’s value in calling it like we see it, so let’s do just that. It’s our party; we do what we want.

It’s October 4, 2015. A Sunday; my favorite day to write. I’m sitting in our neighborhood park, splashed with late afternoon sunshine of the Mission District. Solo but far from alone.

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I’m surrounded by the crazy people of this city — this man who coaxes the most beautiful sounds from a guitar, this golden retriever with a goofy lopsided grin, this five year old girl who toddles along with a bow in her hair, this woman who sits beside me just taking it all in.

In these 31 1/2 days of living in San Francisco, we’ve learned a lot of things. We’re realized that super burritos are basically an essential food group. We’ve discovered that the rent is definitely too damn high. And we’ve learned that Dolores Park’s colorful vendors (i.e. coconut machete man) are Silicon Valley’s most aspiring small business owners. For real, yo.

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In the past month, we’ve housewarmed to the best of our abilities. We’ve filled our humble abode with friends and family and good times a’plenty. With music and midnight conversations, impromptu guitar and Justin Bieber’s new song probably a few too many times. Really, all the things that make a house, a home.

Can we cheers to that? Yes, let’s.

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I should tell you that after these 31 1/2 days I’ve lived in San Francisco, life finally feels “right.” After years in constant motion, I’m relishing this newfound sense of grounding and (semi)permanence. And I’ve been intentional about cultivating a home here, both with people and place.

(Side note: I’ve been less intentional about watering my plants. And let me tell you…that does not cultivate a whole lot.)

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For the first time in roughly a zillion years, I created a room that truly feels like my own. If you know me, you know I’m a secret (or not-so-secret) design geek. If you know me, you probably aren’t surprised that I spent August handcrafting my own furniture.

And you can probably imagine how adamant I was about creating a room that would reflect my personality distilled in a design. Minimalist, green, and verdant. Vaguely reminiscent of the borderline between Earth and ocean. Like the outdoors…but indoors.

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If September was a time warp, October feels like we’re finding our bearings. Real life is starting to become, well…real.

It’s great, but WEIRD, but mostly great to realize this isn’t a summer stint or six month gig. It’s crazy to realize that this place, this city, these people, this job — it’s your life now. Ridiculous and messy and imperfect but life nonetheless.

I’m trying to describe what it feels like to be in the throes of a real life newbie. But really the only way I can think to describe it is, you know —

absolutely n-u-t-s.

 

 

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September, if You Please

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Can we call, “TIMEOUT” on life for a minute? We need a water break and a quick huddle.  You know, to figure out what’s what and what’s good.

According to the world…It’s September, but summer is still lingering on the brain. We’re still dreaming of indian summer picnics and ice cold everything. It’s September, and the world says it’s now unacceptable to wear white for the next nine months.

We’re going to call bull$*#! because that’s our prerogative. It’s September, and the back-to-school aisle both beckons and inspires a desire to run in the opposite direction. A complicated beast, indeed.

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It’s September, and this one is a bit different from last. You too? We’re the kids raising both hands in the air right now.

This September feels like the crossroads between big kid and adult. Think caterpillar to butterfly, except with less of nature’s beauty and more of nature’s hot mess.

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I’ve traded number two pencils for pencil skirts and night owl studying for early bird commutes. And I’m oddly okay with it. I’ve traded assembling farmers’ markets for Ikea furniture. And “group project meeting” is a bit of an understatement at this point.

We’ll call all this my the attempt to find some semblance of adulthood. Until then, fake it ’till you make it will have to do.

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So then, what has post-grad life been like really? It’s been rad!!! Seriously. No homework? Yes please. It’s been weird. Is this real life, or is this just fantasy? It’s been expensive. “The rent is too damn high!”

It’s been a lot, of a lot. Which is how I tend to describe most things these days.

Truth be told, I have far more to say than what’s been said. The thing is, I haven’t figured out how to say it. I’m reconciling what it means to be all grown up, when janky has been the M.O. of times past. When it, frankly, still is.

I think this general weirdness is welcome, if not altogether obligatory.

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So here we are now: September, if you please. I can tell you that I’m in a good place & headspace with nothing but great company. That we can live now and figure out the words to explain what’s complicated later.

And that if all else fails, we’ll call timeout and exercise our prerogative to call bull$*#!.

 

 

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This Summer Intentionally Left Blank

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I’m tempted to write, “This page summer intentionally left blank.” Because that’s what life looks like right now.

The ocean has become my second skin. Watermelon has become a food group. And pajamas have become not a choice, but a lifestyle. Actually, I’m relatively sure the neighbors are convinced that I’m a mysterious recluse planning some major heist, all while wearing pajamas.

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In truth, I’ve had no intention to do anything in particular and every intention to dabble in the art of doing nothing this summer. I’ve spent plenty of time with Mom and Dad — happily received after four years of haphazard nomad life.

I’ve watched the entirety of New Girl and laughed out loud through some of, much of…okay, all of it. Perhaps mostly though, I’ve relearned how to be alone, to come back to solo familiarity.

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Such has been the tune of summer. Sipping iced tea, reading all the beach reads, eating too many fajitas with two great friends, and definitely maybe living in a bathing suit. I’m catching up on the news. You know, for all of 2015 that I’ve missed.

I’m doing a lot of yoga to tune in. And playing a lot of guitar to tune out. Self-spring cleaning of sorts! But you know, summer.

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Admittedly, I’ve been a bit off-the-grid, in hopes that a short leave of absence from everyday social demands might lend itself to finding some inner peace. To go from constant social activity in college to an abundance of alone time is a test of extremes.

For an admitted extrovert, it’s odd, refreshing, and maddening all at once. I think most people would call that the peace I’ve been seeking.

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This is to say that simplicity has been a joyful recess from life’s adventures. A quick breath of fresh air before “real life” begins, as I move to San Francisco and begin work in September. Unlike other transitions, I haven’t dreaded this chapter one-and-a-half. The middle ground is comforting, for once. Learning to adult is not a one day shabang, after all.

With these last few dog days of summer, I’m trying to savor free time while it’s still free. To relish the page intentionally left blank.

And to find balance in the whole dang thing..

…all while wearing pajamas.

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I’m Sending You a Postcard

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I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person that sends postcards. The globetrotting kind that sends a visual message-in-a-bottle from really rad places and with effortlessly cool handwriting.

The thing is though, I’m notoriously terrible at remembering to buy, write, or send postcards…the essentials, more or less. I also have a thing for technology. And I hate my own handwriting.

This combination does not = postcard kind of person.


So instead, I’m sending you a postcard here. If you’re taking the time to read this, I probably would have sent you a postcard (if I was that kind of person). To you in New York City who always secretly laughs at all my bad jokes.

To you in Washington D.C. who is headed to Jazz in the Garden. To you in San Francisco who never hesitates to remind me of our crazy first date. To you abroad, eating all the delicious things. To you in the world who always takes the time to say, “What’s up?”

You! I’m sending you a postcard. With too many 1 cent stamps. And probably a gelato stain. No postmark, but it’d probably be late if there was one.

I’m sending you a postcard from..

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London – Cheerio! London town was full of proper rollie pollie cabs and grey skies. And as an American, I felt like everything seems familiar but foreign. A collision of cultures, if you will. The mushy peas are wildly overrated. But those “digestive” biscuits?! Man, oh man. Lord, save the queen.

Amsterdam – If there ever was a way to make a maniac on a bike feel right at home, this is it. Life lesson: Dutch apple pie puts American apple pie to shame. The same could be said of beer. It’s wacky, but aren’t we all a little?

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Paris – Oh Paris, je t’aime indeed. I love speaking your language, be that French or butter. It’s unclear which of those is the real native tongue. One day (not today, but like…the year after tomorrow), I’ll be back to call you home. That’s a little bold. But then again, this is me we’re talking about.

Lisbon – You remind a girl that life is meant for living. Truly, Lisbon was my favorite of the trip. Laid-back but charming and filled with friends who have the same natural zest for life. Here, there was an art to doorways — to inviting people in with cordiality and sending them off with warmest wishes. We’ll go back! Oh yes we will.

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Barcelona – Naps and nightlife — was there ever a more accurate description? Barcelona was a laughable realization that it’s a small world after all. Notably in the middle of a club after far too much liquid courage. No new friends isn’t really our style anyway.

Prague – Castles with charisma and monasteries with home-brewed beer. All the way with the panache! Bohemian gems and a hint of old world charm. We also tried Czech food for the first time. And maybe the last time too…

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Berlin – You embody good vibes and great food. The main squeeze. As a bonus, your street music is the best I’ve ever heard. The kind of sounds that I wish I could capture in a bottle and save for a rainy day. You’ve got spunk, brimming with a sort of unidentifiable vitality.

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Greece – In one word: janky. The notion of sidewalks eludes you, but your sunsets more than make up for it. You’ve got the views down-pat. Not to mention the gelato, the beaches, and the kindest Greek people. The European Union (ECB) is like “B*tch better have my money,” and you’re just like, “How about a postcard?” Points for audacity.

After wandering across a continent, home is a welcome destination. I’m doing a whole lot of nothing here, and that’s the most refreshing adventure of all for a constant doer.

Currently:

Listening to – Little May – Boardwalks (remix). It sounds like summer!
Playing – Ben E King  & Kanye West on guitar. Clearly,  don’t understand what “genre” means.
Watching – Orange is the New Black & Good Will Hunting (my new favorite movie)
Reading – The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Learning – How to do: Elementary Spanish, html code, and peacock pose (pincha mayurasana) in yoga

Doing – Nothing. Well, except sending a few postcards.

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