Bittersweet Memories

I’m terrible at taking pictures when I’m with people. This weekend I went driving with a friend, no pictures. My parents were visiting for the weekend and I have no proof that they were here. I talked with my sister on the phone and got ready for dinner and discussed the merits of air conditioning in Southern California. We went to eat at a restaurant and I didn’t even take a picture of the dessert. I’m a terrible instagramer. Breakfast, church, and a softball game and the only pictures I posed for live in other people’s phones.

The world of technology and social media demands photographic evidence. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest (which I’m not even on), and Facebook all want me to upload pictures of my day, my night, my weekend for my friends to see and provide commentary on.

Honestly, I just forget.

I leave my phone at home or forget that my DSLR is in my bag. My battery dies. I’m just plain bad at taking pictures.

And I don’t care.

Instead of pictures I have memories. This weekend I combed through a box of things to see what I wanted and what to send back to San Francisco with my mom. I remember reading the New York Times while my dad made his way through the Wall Street Journal. I remember a delicious dinner and a beautiful breakfast. Introducing my parents to the world that I live in now and some of the people in it.

It’s so strange to me to be emotional about seeing them. They live a short 6 hours away. I spent 2 and a half years going back and forth to Chicago and almost never feeling homesick. I guess now it’s real. I live here now. My job is here, my church is here, my everything is here. And I wont be going back.

Talk about bittersweet.

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Family of Hope

It has just occurred to me recently that as I plan on living here in Los Angeles for the long term, this is probably the place where I will settle down and start a family. At this point I don’t even know if that’s in the cards for me, but I certainly hope so. It’s amazing to me that this city that I am still getting familiar with could eventually be a place that I call home.

I have a million little hopes and dreams for settling down. Things like the kind of house I want to live in and the hope that immediate and extended families will get along. That we will be happy, that we will be safe. That we fight fair and that we are spontaneous and whimsical.

I hope that whoever I marry will be whimsical and adventure-some with me. I hope they will be able to treat everyone with respect even if they disagree. I hope they will be independent, because I can’t imagine putting my dreams on hold for someone else and I would never ask anyone to do the same for me. I hope he is a good man.

I know that even with the best of intentions that people are human. I know that I’ll mess up. People annoy each other and it’s only a matter of time before I’ll complicate things in my head and I’ll make some snap decision that should have been discussed before and everything will be a mess for a little while. I hope that whoever I wind up with will find a way to forgive me. I hope I will find a way to forgive him when he screws up too.

And so, a little prayer for my future spouse, my future family:

Dear Lord,
I am so excited to meet my future. I don’t know what it looks like yet, but you have everything planned out perfectly. Help me to find them. Help us to lean on each other when things are hard. Guide us though our lives so that when we meet we will be ready for each other. Help us build each other up and make each other better. To make each other more like you. Amen.

Good-Bye My San Francisco

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I have a “Book of Lists” dating from probably the beginning of high school in which the first list is places I want to go. When I wrote it I was living in New Jersey, watching too much TV, and not really enjoying school. The list is full of domestic and international cities on every continent, and the first place on the list is my San Francisco.

When writing this list I had no way of knowing that that far-away place would become my home. I am so glad and grateful for my family’s cross-country move, for all the people I have met though church, school, and happenstance. And as I move to LA (again), I am saddened to think that an era may be coming to an end. Soon I will be not only moving myself and some of my belongings to a new city, but within the year I will also be changing my official address with the state to say that I live in Los Angeles. This is a bitter-sweet moment.

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I remember very clearly my first time coming to San Francisco. It was November 2008. Our six hour flight got in very late, and we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. I remember looking out the window as we flew down an empty Market Street and thinking to myself, “Soon this will be home.” The next day I went to a Waldorf Open House where I met Allason, still one of my best friends.

In January I packed two suitcases, got on a plane, and came home. San Francisco was home almost immediately. My sister and I shared a bedroom in a temporary apartment we called the IKEA showroom. The place had no decent knives and everything was either white or black. It was an awkward layout and we never invited anyone over. But all the same I was home in this new city like I had never quite felt at home in suburban New Jersey.

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I took a bus and a rail-line to get to school, quickly deciding that my MUNI pass was my ticket to freedom. I could go anywhere in the city. The electric buzz of the bus lines took me to my first In and Out. The bell of the California cable car took me to the Farmers Market. I could ride the bus for hours at a time, I didn’t even care where it took me.

The heat wave that April happened to coincide with our performance of Once Upon A Mattress. Of course, the week that we spend in tights and long dresses under hot lights rehearsing and performing for hours, is the hottest week of the year.

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At the end of the school year my dad and I schlepped stuff from the IKEA showroom to a new rental apartment on Fillmore. My parents were very specific about what they wanted in a house, and we didn’t want to rely on the temporary apartment anymore. When I first saw the room sister!Emma and I would share I cried. The apartment was the same size as the IKEA showroom, but with more of our own furniture. With our pots and pans and table and chairs we invited friends to our home in the hood… Yeah, we had accidentally moved into the Western Addition without quite realizing what that meant.

For a year we spotted drug deals while waiting for the bus, and don’t forget my mom’s interesting interaction with a pimp while on the way home from the grocery store. I fell even more in love with the city and the fog, layering sweaters, jackets, and scarves. My senior year in high school included two plays and cast parties on the bus, Teatro Zinzanni, a trip to Joshua Tree which ended with me sitting next to my backpack on the 31 bus, and a re-introduction to rock climbing.

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On my last week as a senior we bought a house that is walking distance from my school. Yes, really. And so I spent a summer in my beautiful San Francisco and then left for Chicago. I love Chicago too, but it’s a completely different kind of love. In the past three years I have had the privilege of calling my San Francisco home. San Francisco is the smallest of the large cities, a place where you can run into your high school drama teacher at the Farmers Market. It’s a city of hills and fog, of bonfires so windy it forces us to retreat. Of free knit cap night at the ballpark in mid-June.

San Francisco is a city that will forever stay in my bones. A city that I never want to move away from, but can’t help but leave. Because as wonderful as it is, it isn’t the city that holds my dreams. Somehow, inexplicably, my dreams seem to be held in Los Angeles. Despite the traffic and the sun, I am drawn to the studios and sprawl. My place is in a writers room I have never been to, next to writers, producers, camera people, and talent, most of whom I have yet to meet. And so I say a sad good-bye to my San Francisco to cautiously enter a new world. Good-bye San Francisco, we will meet again, this much I know, I can only hope and pray that it is on good terms.

The One With the Mid-Month Update

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I leave for Seattle in less than an hour and I’m not even dressed yet.  I suppose you could call this weekend a celebration of the end of the semester.  As of today I am officially a senior in college.

As I mentioned on Monday, this semester has been a bit wonky.  Between living at home, Semester in LA, apartment hunting, and moving back home, I’m glad to be officially and solidly DONE with this semester.  While I’ve been unofficially done with classes since early April, this week marks the end of the semester in Chicago and Saturday will be my school’s arts festival.  Not that I’m going to be there.

Along with that goes a huge congratulations to my friends who are graduating.  I know a handful of people really well in the class of 2013 and I adore them all.  Congrats to Sarah, Veronica, Ray, Lauren, Ryan, Liz, Jeff, Courtney, and many others who are gleefully done with classes for the foreseeable future.  It’s been wonderful to know you for years or even just months, and I can’t wait to join you.

On a semi-related note, my mom is leaving the country on my sister’s birthday.  My baby sister turns 19 this weekend!  Whut?  She’s taking summer classes in Boston, so I wont get to see her this year, and we just keep missing each other.  She comes home the day I start summer school in LA.

What are you guys doing this weekend?

Happy Mother’s Day!

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One of the really awesome parts of being home this month is that I get to hang out with my mom on Mother’s Day.  We are going up to Muir Woods in the morning for a hike and then my dad and I are making dinner and desert.  I also helped get her a few gifts which is better than I’ve done in the past two years of being in Chicago.  Whoops.

My mom is pretty rad.  She done good with my sister and me, and while I didn’t always agree with her, I’m glad she’s mine.  She taught me about life, faith, and myself in ways that I didn’t even notice until after the fact, and for that I am grateful.

With all the moving my family did while I was growing up it couldn’t have been easy, by my mom always was able to figure it out.  Chalk drawings in front of our high rise?  Sounds good.  Destination toy store?  Okay.  Scouring the city for every Oz book we could find?  Yes.

To all the mothers and moms-to-be out there, and especially to mine: Happy Mother’s Day.

Plan A vs. Plan A

My plan A:
Come to Los Angeles in late February for school.  After school, register for a summer course here, and online classes in the fall, get cleared to do this instantly, find a permanent apartment here in LA, and move in.  Volunteer until I start my summer program in July.  Build a community.  Buy things from IKEA.

At the end of summer take a road trip.  Either with a friend in her car, or with a crazy Uncle to get my stuff to LA.  Set up a full apartment.  Have a bit of a housewarming party now that I can cook things properly in a full kitchen.

In the fall, take online classes while interning, all the while building up my portfolio to apply for writing fellowships in the spring.  Apply and get into writing fellowships.  Get paid from said fellowships.  Finish school in December.  Graduate and walk in May 2014, right back to LA to start working.  Become financially independent.

Mom’s plan:
Go to LA in late February for school.  Come back to San Francisco afterwards.  In May go to Chicago to take a summer history class.  Return to LA in June to find a place to live.  Summer program in July.

God’s plan A:
LA for condensed spring semester.  Back home to SF for an unknown amount of time.  Volunteer?  Intern?  Class in Chicago?  Probably stay til mid-June before coming back to LA to prepare for Summer program.

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I wish I knew what the future held.  But apparently God’s plan is only revealed on a need-to-know basis.  I guess I don’t need to know yet.  God’s plan is better than any plan I could ever have for myself.  Whatever God has for me will be so much better than my plan A.

Right now, God’s plan A looks a lot like my plan C or D or E.  Parts of it look terrifyingly like plan Z.  But I have to trust Him.  I have to obey.  Because right now I’m miserable.  And that’s never part of the plan.

It’s Not the Money I’m After

My relationship with money is complicated.  My dad makes good money and growing up I never really felt like I was major league missing out on anything in particular.  At least not that I can think of looking back.  God knows I may have felt differently at the time.

I got an allowance.  It started in 5th grade.  I remember sitting in the back seat of the car while my parents discussed what my sisters and my’s allowance should be. It was determined that I would get 5 dollars and my sister would get 3.  Coincidentally I was in 5th grade and my sister was in 3rd.  Once we realized this, we proceeded to get a raise in allowance as we moved up the grades.  Once I got to high school they decided that we would max out at $10 a week.

There were plenty of ways to circumvent the system.  My dad is the man you want to pick up the phone if you’re a telemarketer.  With a little convincing I could get him to buy me things.  Mom said it was because he was the one earning the money, so he felt freer to spend it.  I have no idea how accurate that is.  I just know that one weekend my dad stood up and declared “I haven’t spent enough money yet this weekend, let’s go to the mall,” and I will still sometimes remind him of that moment.

When I turned 15–the age that they bank would allow me to have my own bank account–we signed me up.  For my first bank account my mom had to be there to sign for anything.  It didn’t feel like a real account.  A few years later I got a proper account with a checking account and a savings account linked together and online banking and a debit card.

After we moved cross-country allowances kind of fell apart.  A lot of things stopped after that move.  Saturday morning breakfasts with dad.  Family trips to the mall.  It’s not that they were scorned, simply that they had run their course and were replaced.  We went to the farmers market on Saturday mornings.  My sister and I made grocery store runs where she would drive and I would rant about the inadequacies of 2-way stop signs.

When I started school in Chicago a few years later, I was given a monthly allowance.  It covered groceries, sundries, clothes when needed, and–after I moved out of the dorms–rent.  This changed by the month, but I was never in need of money.  If I ran a little too close to the edge in a month I would call mom and she would transfer more money into my account.

Now as I’m starting to do my own taxes and look for my own apartment, I’m starting to think of the day-to-day realities of being financially independent.  A huge part of me is scared of money.  What is there to spend money on anyway?  A place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear.  Yoga classes, eating out, travel, camping/climbing equipment?  It seems that the best things in life cannot be bought.  But how do we find them?

I want to have friends to hang out with.  I want to have some way of being busy every day, a routine to get into.  I want to make things.  Physical things with yarn and string, and more ambiguous things with words on a page.  In my life it is the relationships and the accomplishments that I hope to be proud of.  Not the state of my bank account.

Halfway Mark

I never really cared much about my half birthday until a few years ago when my friend and I decided that we were internally 7 and 5 respectively and we turned the next age on our half birthdays.  That said, I am “turning” 8 this year, specifically  last Wednesday was my half birthday.

That being said, halfway is a great place to check in with my goals for 21, the things I thought of when I turned 21 that I wanted to do during the year.  From this post, my goals were:

  • being intentional about my choices
  • establishing a habit of devotionals
  • scheduling time to get things done
  • routines for… health, beauty, photography, and blogging

How’s that for vague and ambiguous?  I’ll start with the things that I’ve done.  I’ve done very well with establishing a habit of devotions.  While I don’t know I would claim to have a routine for blogging, I have been keeping up with it quite well.  Meanwhile, photography has majorly stalled.  There has been no movement on beauty routines and any movement made on health over winter break has come to a screeching halt upon moving to Los Angeles.  I will claim to have been pretty good at scheduling over the fall semester, but that took a nose dive over the break.

As to “intentional choices”, the most ambiguous of them all, I’m really not sure how to respond to it.  I made the choice to come out to LA to do this program, something I didn’t foresee last September at all.  I spent a lot of time praying about it, and especially praying about where my life will go after moving.  Will I stay here or go back to Chicago?  As I’ve said multiple times through this transition, I have a lot of options and none of them suck (at least from my perspective).

But does praying over a decision make it “intentional”?  I’m not sure.  What about other choices I’ve made?  Since September I’ve gone to industry events in Chicago and LA.  I’ve made many knitted things and spent time with friends and family near and far.  I’ve gone home for Thanksgiving, and then spent two and a half months living at home.  I’ve started and finished many a television series.  I’ve planned and plotted a few of my own TV shows (both in reality and in the hypothetical).  What makes any of these things intentional?

The think that seems to be missing from this intention equation is what the intention should be leading toward.  It’s hard to have intent without a goal set in that intention.  So what was my goal in setting this intention last September?  Honestly, I’m not sure there was one, and I’m not sure what I would add to it now.  In intend to make the most out of the opportunities that have been given me, but that’s still not measurable.

Perhaps the best way to go about it is to say that instead of making my choices with “intention” whatever that means, I want to consult God when making be decisions.  That is measurable and solid.  With changing to that as a goal, I can say that I have done that so far this year, and I hope to continue doing it.

I don’t know what opportunities will be available to me in these next six months, but I know that whatever choices I make I want them to reflect God’s plan for me.  He has a perfect plan for my life and He will tell me what to do next.  I don’t know where it will lead, but I know He’s got this.

And who am I to mess with God’s plans?  Nobody, that’s who.

This Has Been: December Edition

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December has been a month of endings, as it usually is.  The end of the year, but also the end of the semester, the end of my time in the Uptown apartment, and the end of my time in Chicago, at least for a little while.

The month started with Renegade, the moved through the last weeks of the semester and a full scale photo shoot.  Along with the end of school can saying goodbye to good friends, classmates, and co-workers.  Some of these people I’ll see in LA in a few months, but others were hugs to last for a long time away.  I will miss them all terribly.  Yes, the internet helps, but chance meetings are rather infrequent on facebook (we should all switch to Twitter and Google+).

Meanwhile, I packed up my apartment to the tune of Annie and cleaned the place like I don’t think it’s ever been cleaned before — with mom’s help of course.  A whilrwind of family and boxes has followed me to San Francisco where I am uncertain of where to settle in to.  My time here so far has been saturated with good friends, lots of tea lattes, and a healthy dose of rain.

Christmas was tons of fun and has left me now working on projects and watching lots of TV (and not all that I’m in control of either).  I’m now wrestling between trying to come up with a schedule for myself for the new year and wanting to leave my time more open.  So many decisions, so little time.

Tradition

Today I will get up early despite how late I was up flying in to San Francisco.  It is my first full day home and, for the past three years this has involved me going to see the Shepard’s Play, a nativity play that my high school puts on every year.

I was convinced that this year I would miss the play because my timing is different, but somehow, so is theirs.  I am ecstatic to get to see old friends and participate in a tradition that has been going on for longer than I’ve been alive and will continue on for years to come.

Traditions come from all sorts of places and usually have entertaining origin stories.  My family does Chinese food on Christmas Eve ever since the year we were in the midst of a renovation over Christmas.  After a performance we go for ice cream.  The first weekend after I come home we go to the farmers market for breakfast.

Whatever your traditions are, I wish you the best of all seasons in the coming week and we prepare for the last of the years holidays and gear up for a new year.  I’ll be back next week with the obligatory Christmas post, and a few more before the new year, but allow me to be one of the first to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.