Posts Tagged ‘details’

hyacinth flower daffodils leaves plants

Right now, in mid-April 2019, I am:

Watching the flowers pop up all around town – hyacinth, daffodils, late-but-gorgeous forsythia, early tulips. And keeping an eye on the budding magnolia trees. Also: this weekend I will be watching the Masters.

Proofreading just about everything you can think of, at work: event posters and programs, the alumni magazine, so many email announcements and newsletters, and various webpages.

Eating alllllll the clementines and berries, lots of granola and yogurt, Trader Joe’s tomato soup, sharp cheddar, avocado toast and whatever else I can whip up.

Drinking so much Earl Grey, chai when I can get it, and lots of water.

phoenix dog puppy

Dog-sitting for a friend in East Boston, and loving the snuggles and walks with Phoenix. Isn’t he adorable?

Running the Harborwalk there (sometimes with Phoenix) and the East Boston Greenway, when I can. I miss my river trail, but it’s really fun to explore a new neighborhood.

Reading some great fiction: Marjan Kamali’s gorgeous new novel (out in June), a fun novel about West Texas high school football, a family saga set in 1980s NYC. And Reshma Saujani’s nonfiction book Brave, Not Perfect – which is as fierce as its lipstick-red cover.

Seeing the Boston Marathon prep come to life: scaffolding, bleachers, signs and adverts, so much blue and yellow around this area of town. (I work down the street from the marathon finish line.)

Sneaking over to Mem Church for prayers a couple of mornings a week.

Listening to back episodes of All the Backlist! (and All the Books! when I have time). I’m a hopelessly irregular podcast listener, but I like catching up with Liberty and her cohosts.

Walking around Eastie with Phoenix, through the West End on some mornings, around Back Bay in the afternoons.

Wearing my winter uniform (still) of striped dresses, a scarf and black fleece-lined tights. Switching it out for jeans and a sweater on the milder, drier days. Pulling on my favorite running/yoga gear, whenever possible.

Scribbling in my latest Obvious State journal all. the. time.

Needing some new running shoes.

Getting as much sleep as I can. It’s been an exhausting stretch – a lingering cold, work craziness, general craziness – and my body is tired.

Enjoying fresh flowers on my desk, my newish Everlane backpack, the light in the apartment where I’m staying, texts from friends checking in.

Inspired by Ali Edwards’ “Currently” post earlier this week.

What does life look like for you right now?


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july sunset

I wrote a post on margin recently, and as it often does, the universe laughed. The first half of July has been fast and furious and full. Hot days, crowded calendars, so many things jockeying for space in my brain. It has not been particularly restful. But there’s still lots of good stuff happening, and I want to note the details of how life looks right now.

Right now, in the thick of a hot, busy summer, I am:

  • waking up to the buzz of the window a/c unit and the piano music from Pride and Prejudice.
  • drinking my two favorite summer teas in my favorite mug: blackberry sage and ginger peach.

lady cop breakfast

  • making scones when I can stand to turn on the oven, and eating granola and Greek yogurt for breakfast when I can’t.
  • wearing skirts, sandals and all the work-appropriate short-sleeved tops I own.
  • living in shorts and bare feet at night and on the weekends.
  • lugging a box of veggies home every Wednesday (we’re doing a CSA share) and then trying to figure out how to use them all. green veggies
  • getting excited for the Rio Olympics.
  • eating tamales from the farmers’ market on Tuesdays.
  • tending basil and geraniums on my front porch.
  • dropping by Darwin’s a couple of times a day: for tea in the morning, a sandwich and chitchat at lunchtime, and sometimes lemonade and a cookie (and more chitchat) mid-afternoon.

darwins chai cookie bench

  • reading allllll the books (as usual). Recent favorites include Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, The Atomic Weight of Love and Jane Steele.
  • aching over the news reports from so many places riddled with tragedy.
  • treading water at work as I adjust to new routines and responsibilities.
  • relishing the familiar faces and witty banter of my colleagues.
  • snapping photos for the #FlowerReport when I’m out and about. This bed of lavender is growing outside our town library.

lavender library

  • texting my sister and a couple of friends about the madness and the fun of daily life.
  • listening to Hamilton on repeat, learning all the words, and priding myself on being able to rap (almost) as fast as Lafayette.
  • hunting for a new apartment (we have to move next month for reasons beyond our control).
  • savoring the last few weeks in the apartment we have lived in and loved for six years.

dining room dusk twinkle lights

  • sipping a lot of lemonade and the occasional glass of rosé.
  • flipping back through Julia Cameron’s The Sound of Paper: such wise words on writing and life.
  • sneaking in a beach day here and there.
  • trying (always trying) to pay attention to my life and the people I love.

crane beach jer

What does life look like for you right now?

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one day hh 2015 graphic

Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside, the Christmas tinsel in the showcase, the Jewish writer in the orange booth across from her blond friend who has black children.

We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing.”

—Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

On Tuesday, Laura hosted her annual #OneDayHH challenge– a simple call to document the details of our everyday lives. I participated last year, and enjoyed playing along again this year. I thought I’d share my photos, because I like having a record of it here on the blog.

quilt morning light

My morning began with the snooze button, and the muted grey light coming through the window. I always make the bed. Since the nights have gotten chilly, we are sleeping under this quilt my husband’s grandmother made him, years ago.

yoga mat leggings

I’m still starting a lot of my mornings with the yoga app. Often that means I go straight to the mat, in my pajamas.

dish rack kitchen

After a hot shower, I put the kettle on and tackled a pile of dishes from Monday night. (We had burritos, hence the rice cooker, cheese grater and guacamole bowl.)

anne of the island scone mug

Breakfast was a scone (one of Molly’s) and tea, with a few pages of Anne of the Island. I love Anne and her college adventures so much.

laptop kitchen table

The hubs had a mid-morning break and came home to drop off some groceries. We sat at the kitchen table, talking, for an hour. So rare these days, and so good. Then I spent a while longer at the table, writing and editing and answering emails. (With more tea.)

weird sisters novel flowers

I’m participating in #NaNoReadMo this month, so I took a break to share my glowing recommendation of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters.

soup crackers notepad book

Lunch was leftover butternut squash soup, with cheese and crackers and The Art of Travel.

train platform book

I headed into Cambridge after lunch, waiting for the T in a chilly wind (with Alain de Botton for company).

leaves boots bricks

The leaves are falling in great piles, and I couldn’t resist snapping a photo on the way to Darwin’s.

laptop darwins chai

I spent the afternoon here: chai, emails, writing, more emails. A little noveling.

rainy beacon st boston

I put my phone away for the evening, which included an overdue catch-up with a friend. We took a long walk, ate our favorite pizza, talked for hours. Later, I walked through the rain to catch the subway home.

jer apple cider

The hubs got home from rehearsal right after I did, and we drank apple cider at the kitchen table and debriefed on the day. (And then we collapsed into bed.)

I love Goldberg’s words about saying “a holy yes” to the details of our lives. And I love this project – capturing my own details and seeing those of others.

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hgse banners harvard

Earlier this month, we had (as I may have mentioned once or twice) a huge, complicated work event, which took up nearly all my time, energy and mental capacity for the first half of September.

We’d been prepping for months, but the days leading up to the event were packed with last-minute details. I worked late four evenings in a row (something I rarely do) and by the time the event was over, my colleagues and I were all so tired we could barely move.

Everything went off wonderfully – we had more than 1000 alumni, students and friends on campus for a day of speeches, panel discussions and fun events, including a performance by Yo-Yo Ma and a block party that took up the whole street.

We are all congratulating each other on a job well done. And while I am so pleased that the big pieces of the day fell into place so smoothly, I want to remember the stuff around the edges.

From before the event:

  • I want to remember the laughter as we spent two days sorting tickets and rearranging name badges, checking names off half a dozen lists and blasting Pandora Radio (first ’80s hair bands, then NSYNC, then Norah Jones) in the background.
  • I want to remember the pizza we ordered one night, mouthwateringly hot and cheesy, eaten standing up in the office, with mini candy bars and tired smiles.
  • I want to remember the joy a box of Insomnia Cookies caused when I carried them into the office on Wednesday.
  • I want to remember the craziness of five Staples runs in two days, carrying (more) nametags and Scotch tape and other last-minute necessities through Harvard Square.
  • I want to remember (cheesy though it sounds) the camaraderie and teamwork, the deep and broad sense that we were all in this together.

And from the day itself:

  • I want to remember walking up to Appian Way at 8 a.m., an hour before I usually get to work, to find the registration table already buzzing and my colleagues dressed up and raring to go.
  • I want to remember the kind helpfulness of every single person who worked the event, no matter their office or role.
  • I want to remember my colleagues all wearing walkie-talkies, looking so Secret Service with their discreet earpieces.
  • I want to remember the eight-day-old baby who was our youngest attendee, snug in a sling against his mama’s chest (she’s one of our doctoral students). I want to remember the joy of her fellow students as they met her son for the first time.
  • I want to remember the riotous applause, not only for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust, but for the local kids who introduced them both.
  • I want to remember the intro for President Faust, given by Mayara, age 11: “If Harvard were a band, she would be its rock star. She’s cool like jazz and classy like classical.” Best intro ever.
  • I want to remember the crowds flooding into the morning breakout sessions, so that we needed to grab extra chairs and squeeze people in at the back (standing room only!).
  • I want to remember Monica from the dean’s office making me a welcome cup of Earl Grey, as I collapsed on a bench in the hallway during a rare lull in the day’s activities.
  • I want to remember the smiles on the faces of our doctoral students as they got to meet the donors who are making it possible for them to be here.
  • I want to remember Yo-Yo Ma and his fellow musicians, bringing down the house in a truly inspired jam session.
  • I want to remember the enthusiasm of every student I spoke to, all of them so thrilled that this day happened while they were on campus, elated to be a part of it.
  • I want to remember the convivial crowds at the block party, munching on fish tacos and fruit cobbler and sipping cold drinks, shivering in our jackets but so glad to be here, together, celebrating a place we all love and a mission we all believe in.

I didn’t take many photos that day – I was too busy running around like a crazy person, directing traffic and helping out wherever I was needed. But these are the details I wanted to capture. I want to remember this day.

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If you’ve ever moved to a new city, state or country, you know that moving requires a tremendous amount of paperwork. Since I’ve lived in West Texas most of my life, except for my times in Oxford, I’d never done the out-of-state thing before. Some bits of paperwork, like the USPS change of address form, are quick and fairly simple; some, like getting new car or health insurance, or registering a vehicle, seem expressly designed to frustrate and confuse. I’ve been dealing with some of that this week, as well as the ever-increasing angst and worry of not having a job. Nobody told me how quickly the job search starts to wear on your patience, confidence and feelings of self-worth.

I’ve wished at least a dozen times this week that someone would just swoop in and take care of this for me. That someone else would pay the parking ticket I got because I don’t have a resident sticker, which I don’t have because I haven’t registered my car in Mass, which I haven’t done because I’ve been trying to work out how to switch our car insurance (apparently our State Farm policy doesn’t transfer up here). I’ve wished so much that I could get out of this house-that-Jack-built absurdity, and let someone else – a grown-up – take care of it all. (As well as finding a new doctor, a new hairdresser, temporary health insurance and – oh yeah – finding a job.)

But I’m realizing, over and over again, that I am the grown-up now. I’m the one who finally called the auto insurance company yesterday to set up a new policy. I’m the one who’ll have to deal with the resultant pile of paperwork that will eventually culminate in me being an official Mass resident. I’m the one who, even if I do have a meltdown over all this bureaucracy, has to pick myself up and keep going.

I don’t always like being a grown-up. It sure isn’t quite as much fun as it seemed when I was a kid. But I know it’ll all work out in the end – yes, even the job thing. So I’m trying to be gentle with myself, drink another cup of tea, take a few deep breaths and then keep going. Because that’s what grown-ups do. Even when life is messy and frustrating and full of pitfalls, they keep going. They don’t hide behind other people; they do it themselves; they face whatever minor irritations or big problems come their way.

(Although, in my opinion, grown-ups also take breaks, allow themselves time to slow down and read good books and hang out with friends. All of which are definitely on the agenda for this weekend.)

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