Currently going through yet another existential crisis and productivity always makes me feel better, so here’s a selection of some of the 35mm film I shot in Cartagena in March 2020, before the world ended.
It was cold. It was rainy. It was 10:30pm. I still had 3 more long work days ahead of me. On any other night, I would have been more than content with a shower, a snack, and snuggling into bed with Netflix.
But tonight was different.
Tonight we had plans.
Plans we’d talked about all week.
But they had changed.
As I was walking into work, I received a text saying that I could take the night off – something we’d hoped would happen all week.
My old self would have frantically texted or called you to see if we could make it work. I would have taken the night off with the hopes of seeing you. If you had decided you wanted to stick to our plan, our change of plans, that is, I would have been devastated and created a narrative in my mind of reasons you’re mad at me, or things I did wrong. I might have cried (#cringe). I would have spiraled out of control, emotionally. By the time I heard from you again I’d have a bad attitude out of (seemingly) nowhere. I might have seemed a little crazy. I might have been a little crazy.
But instead, I knew that there was likely a miscommunication at work. I knew one of my coworkers desperately wanted the night off so she could go to her friends birthday, so I offered to work for her. I saw that rush of adrenaline in her expression when she heard those most holy words “you’re cut.”
And so I worked outside on the patio all night, in the rain, in 50 degree weather. I didn’t make great money. But it was just another night, and despite feeling off, I chose to just move through the feelings and stay quiet.
I was texting with a friend and she said “you should treat yourself tonight .” And I thought yes actually, I should. So I’m writing this from the car, about to shower and put on cozy clothes and eat burrata in bed. My ideal night, really.
So it’s just another night. And I feel like that’s growth.
Travis Tucker. A name straight out of a country song. We dated for a brief couple of months about 3 years ago. We met a few weeks after I broke up with my first and only serious boyfriend. I had been the one to end things, so I was excited to be single again and back on the dating scene, especially in MENver, Colorado.
There were sparks from the moment we first exchanged messages on a dating app. Our first date is still one of the best I’ve ever had. I fell for him so hard and so fast that it scared me. He was everything I had ever wanted and exactly who I felt I didn’t deserve. Tall. Athletic. Smart. Compassionate. Adventurous. Sincere. And oh my god so funny. He made me laugh so much, and I was delighted any time I got a laugh out of him in return.
I admired Travis, and I respected him. Being around him made me want to be better. But I wasn’t ready to be better yet, and I think he knew that long before I did. But looking back on who I was then, and some of the conversations we had, I think he would be proud of who I’ve become.
I’ve taken risks. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried new things. I’ve figured out what I like and what I don’t. What I’ll tolerate and what I won’t. I’ve worked hard, and it hasn’t always worked out. I’ve given myself time. I’ve given myself permission to not try so hard. I’ve grown more confident, and a little less apologetic.
I remember when we broke up it was nearing his 30th birthday and I remember his frantic feelings of not having enough to show for himself, not measuring up to his Ivy League peers, of simply not being enough. I couldn’t understand how someone so perfect in my eyes could feel this way, but as I get closer to 30 myself, I have a better understanding of those feelings of anxiousness, and the dread of falling short of the status quo.
I remember how crystal clear his vision was for the future, regardless of what anyone else thought. He didn’t have it all figured out, but he knew what would make him happy. I remember the frustration he felt while overcoming one obstacle after another, especially when no one seemed to understand where he was headed, including myself.
I was devastated after we broke up, even though it had only been a fleeting few months together. I felt as though I had lost something special, and it was because I was the one who didn’t measure up. Looking back, I still agree with both of those statements. I look back and see how I was a little too much, how I needed too much, and even as he tried to create space for both of us to breathe, I clung to him tighter. Once things ended all of the grief and sadness and anxiety of two monumental breakups sent me into a spiral, and ultimately that chaos led me to India, and everything changed.
On the final day of a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation course, a day before starting my journey home, I felt compelled to reach out to him. I wanted to share with him the tremendous growth that I had just experienced, in the hopes that maybe the timing just hadn’t been right for us. But it didn’t take long to find out that he had followed his dream, and succeeded. And he found someone to follow that dream with him. Selfishly, I was sad for a moment. But mostly I felt proud and hopeful. I smiled, and put the phone down. Seventeen months later and life has more questions than ever, but I’m finally I’m starting to feel proud of me too.
Thinking of you, Travis Tucker
I want that “i can’t wait to see you” | “me either” kind of love.
I want the kind of love you never get tired of.
I want the kind of love that doesn’t tremble.
I want the kind of love that you never question.
I want the kind of love that makes everything else a little easier.
I want the simple kind of love.
I want the “oh, you’re different than the others” kind of love.
I want the stealing-glances-across-the-grocery-store kind of love.
I want the squeeze-my-knee-under-the-table kind of love.
I want the kind of love where a simple expression is enough.
I want the kind of love that delights.
I want the kind of love where nothing else matters.
I can’t wait to meet you soon, love.
I loved this teeny tiny highly functional apartment that happened to be the first spaced I shared with a boyfriend. I was always impressed with our ability to collectively build and live in such a tiny space without it ever really feeling too small. Located in the West Highlands neighborhood in Denver, CO, circa 2013.
I took these photos for a submission to Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool contest, but never submitted an entry. Thanks for not letting these photos go to waste, most treasured and loved readers.
Here’s to manifesting another perfectly petite space all my own ; )
I have been trying so hard.
- Trying to accept my circumstances.
- Trying to be grateful.
- Trying to stay positive.
- Trying to imagine a new life that excites me.
- Trying to let go of the life that was ripped away from me.
- Trying to do the right thing.
- Trying to stay informed.
- Trying to amplify the voices of others.
- Trying to be a socially responsible citizen.
- Trying to stay busy.
- Trying to be responsible.
- Trying to act my age.
- Trying to do things differently.
- Trying to get my life on track.
- Trying to worry less about the opinions of others.
- Trying to be less emotional.
- Trying to be happy.
All that trying, and nothing seems to be working.
- I’ve cooked more.
- I’ve picked up old hobbies like sewing, and new ones like painting.
- I’ve gotten outside with the dogs more.
- I’ve spent more time with family.
- I’ve been working & saving.
- I’ve pursued buying property.
- I’ve looked into moving to LA.
- I’ve tried to start a business.
- I’ve joined a pyramid scheme.
- I’ve been broken up with.
- I’ve gained weight.
- I’ve lost weight.
- I’ve felt moments of pure excitement.
- I’ve experienced deep let downs.
- I’ve done a lot, and yet here I am.
- Right where I started.
- Feeling lonely and defeated.
I think part of why I stopped writing is because I’ve been waiting to have it all together, to figure it all out. To have some big announcement. To have something to show for myself. But during the global insanity that has ensued over the past 5 months, all I’ve been able to figure out is how little I know, and how much more growth is in store.
I have no aha moment to share. I have no routine for quarantine success. I have no at-home workouts. No yoga flows. I have nothing to show for myself, despite trying so hard.
So here I am. Raw, uncertain, alone, but also fully aware of my privilege and the freedom it gives me. From today on, I’m going to do less. Say less. (Try to) think less.
I’m going to focus on what’s in front of me. I’m going to do my best to stay in the moment, while keeping my eyes wide open to the possibility of what’s to come. Because that’s all I have the bandwidth for. Every last bit of effort, drive, creativity, and perseverance has been depleted. Not forever, but for now, I’ve done what I can do.
Even if I don’t have much to show for myself (yet), I know that my efforts have not been wasted. I trust that God has a perfect plan for me, and it’s time to try a little less and listen a whole lot more.
EDIT: It’s been a few weeks since I wrote this piece, and I’ve really tried to apply this approach to all facets of life. Doing less. Lowering expectations. Embracing the now. Enjoying the journey on the way to an unknown destination. And I have good news for you. It’s working. Maybe I had my aha moment after all. Good luck friends : )
I’m generally a lover of potatoes, but who isn’t? Baked, mashed, fried, roasted. All delicious, but many methods require a lot of oil or added fats to make them delicious. After a lot of tweaking and perfecting, I’ve figured out a method that always results in potatoes that are hot and fluffy in the middle, crispy crunchy on the outside, and the perfect amount of salty and garlicky. They’re completely vegan, and you can tweak the spices to your liking. It also works on all potatoes, not just sweet potatoes (especially those little baby potatoes at Trader Joe’s – follow the same steps but just keep them whole!).
Let’s get into it, shall we?
- 6-8 Sweet Potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt*
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Cookie Sheet
- Parchment Paper***
- 1. Preheat oven to 425 F. No really, go preheat the oven. You want it really good and hot for the best outcome and I know you’re gonna forget until step 5.
- 2. Oven set? Okay. Now give your potatoes a good scrub under the faucet and remove any potato hairs (is there a name for those) and any gross spots. It can be a very rough job – try not to trim anything you don’t need to! Also make sure to pat all potatoes dry with a towel. This step is more important than you think.
- 3. Cut up your potatoes. I find that potatoes about the size of a quarter and a half inch thick consistently turn out to be the most delicious. Really the most important thing is that the cubes are similar in size so they cook evenly.
- 4. Toss the chopped potatoes into a bowl. I know, I hate unnecessarily dirtying an extra dish (especially if you don’t have a dishwasher I FEEL your pain), but this really is a critical step. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper and then toss the bowl several times to incorporate everything into an even coating on all the potatoes. Don’t add the garlic powder yet – we’ll get to that later. I like my potatoes to have an even glaze of oil and a visible amount of salt and pepper.
- 5. Once your potatoes are seasoned, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. What’s important here is that every potato is in contact with the pan and not layered on top of each other. This allows your potatoes to roast in a hot oven which will crisp up the outsides first, and then cook the insides into pillowy starchy deliciousness. If your oven isn’t hot enough, or if you cram too many potatoes onto a pan, they’ll end up steaming and you’ll miss out on the crunchy texture that makes these irresistible. Use two pans if needed.
- 7. Bake for about 15 minutes, and then pull one potato off the tray and check to see if the side that was touching the pan is sufficiently golden and crispy. If it is, flip all the potatoes individually so that the top side of each potato is now touching the pan. This step takes longer than you think it should, but your perseverance will be rewarded in a mere 10-15 minutes.
- 8. Roast the potatoes on the other side for another 10-15 minutes, again checking the pan side to make sure they’re not getting too dark.
- 9. Once the potatoes are fork tender and golden on both sides, add another quick drizzle of olive oil over the potatoes, a pinch more salt, and a pretty generous sprinkle of garlic powder. Use a spatula or an advanced pan-shimmy technique to evenly distribute the oil and seasonings. Try one for taste. Careful – they’ll be haugh-haw-hawow-oww-hawwwttt and you’ll do that open mouth cool down thing. Adjust seasoning to taste. Throw back in the oven for one more minute to allow the garlic to roast and become sweeter and more aromatic, or simply enjoy as is.
One thing I love about these potatoes is that they reheat fabulously, and are even delicious cold in a salad. If you can avoid eating all of them right out of the oven, you can reheat them by tossing in a pan with a little oil and sautéing until hot and crispy.
& if I haven’t already completely over-explained myself, here are some additional notes:
* I’d recommend making a big batch of potatoes whether you’re cooking for one or an entire family. They’re super easy to incorporate into meals throughout the week, if you can avoid eating them all right out of the oven Trust me, they’re that good.
** Any kind of salt will work, but the flaky crunchiness of Kosher salt really takes these tots to the next level, along with anything else you use it on.
*** Parchment paper is optional, but it helps prevent burning and you can use less oil. I didn’t have any on hand which is why some of my potatoes got a little darker than I like.
Happy cooking 🙂
At the time of writing this, I’ve just woken up on my first morning back home after 17 days in Colombia. As I went upstairs and made my coffee, looking out at the cold, gray backyard, I felt sorry for myself for the first time.
If you’ve kept up with my writing, you’ll know that I had just embarked on my second big backpacking trip through South America, and I was planning to be on the road for upwards of a year. Due to coronavirus, and the rapidly changing global situation, I made the decision to return home. I was able to book a cheap flight home, I never encountered any issues as I was making my way out of the country, and I’m lucky that as of right now I don’t know anyone that has been personally affected by the virus (other than financially, which is virtually everyone).
In the midst of the stress and uncertainty while abroad, I forced myself to stay positive. As I shared the news that I was coming home, friends and family apologized for my trip ending so early. I brushed it off saying that it could be far worse, which it could. People have lost jobs. People are facing extreme financial uncertainty. People have had to postpone weddings. People are helpless to assist their loved ones. People are dying by the thousands across the globe. How could I spend a single second feeling bad about my own situation? Cancelling a trip that the vast majority of people wouldn’t have ever been able to take in the first place? I still feel all of these things, and I know that I’ve been one of the lucky ones in this situation, but it still just sucks. And today I finally let myself wallow in that and grieve the loss of a trip I’ve worked so hard for.
But that’s one of the many things that traveling teaches you. How to react when things don’t go according to plan. How to remain resilient and optimistic. How to keep your head high and pull through it, knowing that one day it’s going to make a great story. It’s the bus rides from hell, the horrible hostels, the narrowly avoided injuries, the language barriers, and the difficult obstacles that make traveling different than a vacation or holiday. When someone embarks on a backpacking trip, especially solo, they know before they ever step foot on a plane that things are going to go awry. It’s unavoidable. Things are going to test your patience, and your grit. You’re going to need to be creative, and patient, and humble, and resourceful in order to get through the trip, and more importantly, to enjoy it.
It’s all of these things that make traveling so addicting and so life changing. And if you’re lucky, traveling will teach you how to respond in life when things don’t go according to plan.
So during this time at home, I’m committing to the following things to ward off the same post-trip depression I fell into last time:
- Movement. Walking the dogs, getting back on the yoga mat, making use of the dumbbell set I walk past every day. Just move my damn body.
- Writing. I’m committing to sharing some form of content every week. I always do better when I have a project in mind and something to keep me accountable.
- Nourishment: With this newfound free time, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my passion for cooking. Having worked in restaurants the past year, I haven’t really cooked for myself or given much thought to nutrition since I left Denver almost 15 months ago. I’m excited to share that with my family as well.
- Connection: I don’t want to just suffer through this period of self quarantine. I don’t want to stay glued to my phone or computer. I want to reconnect with my family. Play games, have real conversations, share meals, and be of service wherever possible.
So with that, good luck to everyone out there.
Stay safe, and keep others safe.
Stay sane. Stay positive. Stay grateful.
I’ve always cringed during “goal setting” exercises at work, and I’ve dreaded the classic interview question “what’s your 5 year plan?” Throughout my 20s, goal setting has made me incredibly anxious, because after college, I didn’t know what my goals were.
But it wasn’t always that way.
When I was around 10 years old I took up the French horn in the hopes of getting a college scholarship down the road. In high school, I took honors and AP classes so I would have an advantage when applying to universities. Once I got into college, I filled my schedule to the brim with advanced classes, extra-curricular activities, and internships to build my resume and make connections that would help me land my “dream job.” I graduated early with a great GPA and dove headfirst into a 9-5 job with a salary, 401K and benefits.
Once I settled into my new life, my “forever life,” I got stuck. And I was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e.
I hated my job and was stressed from the moment I woke up to the moment I collapsed onto the couch each night. This life I had worked so hard for left me feeling completely defeated and depleted. It terrified me to think that this would be my life for the next 40+ years, but what terrified me even more was starting over.
After several years of suffering through the Sunday Scaries and counting down the minutes until the weekend, I was in a full blown quarter life crisis. I didn’t have any career goals other than to not be in the same shitty job a year later. I didn’t know what I wanted, or maybe I did, but I was scared that it was unrealistic and out of reach. I was scared I’d wasted so much time, and so much money, in pursuit of something I didn’t even really want.
I lived in that turmoil for a long time, before I finally realized it had been long enough, and that soul crushing misery pushed me to identify what it was that I wanted. More about that here.
I’m no expert, but what I’ve realized is that once you finally figure out what you really truly want, if you want it bad enough, the steps to get there are clear. Be careful not to confuse clear with easy or simple. In fact, those steps are probably pretty challenging, and more than likely will require some type of sacrifice. But once you have your eye on the prize, it becomes much easier to stay on course in relentless pursuit of that dream.
For years I would torture myself over not being disciplined enough, or for not sticking to a goal I had set. But what I’ve realized is that it was my lack of focus that made it impossible to stay on track.
Once I felt that flutter of excitement in my heart again, once I knew that my heart yearned to see more of the world, all those sacrifices became smaller, and much easier to bear.
So in 2020, I challenge you to identify what it is that you want. Your goal can be big or small, critical or unnecessary. Any goal will do so long as you know what you want and you can’t stop until you have it.
Do you want to start waking up earlier? Do you want to drink more water? Do you want to eat differently? Do you want to learn how to do TikTok dances? Do you want to travel? Do you want to start a business? Do you want to spend your money differently? Do you want to devote more time to family?
In 2020, be brutally honest with yourself, and open your mind to what your spirit really yearns for, no matter how silly or unrealistic or outside of the status quo it may be. Give yourself the space to toy with that idea, free of judgment. Let it simmer in the back of your mind for a couple of weeks, and see if you’re still interested once the initial excitement wears off. Decide if it’s something worth working for. How hard would you work for it? What would you give up for it? Can you live without it?
In 2020, find that thing. In 2021, take care of the rest.
I’m not talking about leaving for a vacation. Or leaving for college. Not leaving for a work trip, or even an extended deployment. Not maternity leave either. All of those things have one thing in common: they eventually come to an end. There is a start and a finish.
The kind of leaving I’m talking about is when you drop everything. When you bring your “normal life” to a screaming halt, and leave with no timeline, no agenda, and no obligations. A start and a question mark. That’s a whole different kind of leaving.
I’m about to embark on my next solo backpacking trip – this time to South America. More on my first trip here. This time, I really have nothing holding me back. My finances are in order (more on that later). I have given leave notice to my employers. My ticket is booked. And most importantly, I’ve told everyone I know that I’m leaving so there’s no backing out now.
But here’s the thing. While that seems outrageous, it really just gives me the freedom to fully follow the signs placed in front of me. Those signs might lead me right back home to a new job in a new place. Those signs might lead me to a new country, a new career, and maybe a new home. I’m not sure if I’ll be back in a month or a year, or maybe not at all. And I’m really open to whatever way it goes (but tbh I really hope it’s not back here because #brr). I don’t have a timeline or any expectations of where this journey will take me, but I know I’m looking forward to experiencing it slowly and really savoring whatever each day offers to me, however hippy dippy yoga that may sound.
10 9 days left in the country, I’m feeling:
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately (& let’s not even get started on my dreams the past few weeks). I really think there’s something different about the second time you leave.
The second time you leave e v e r y t h i n g.
For starters, you know a helluva lot more. Questions like “are hostels safe?” and “will I have a working phone?” and “how will I meet people?” are not at the forefront of your mind. You have a better idea of what to pack. You know your travel preferences and you’ve (hopefully) got a rough budget in mind. You know enough to know that you’ll figure it all out.
But you also know about some of the hardships that you’ll face. Homesickness, and loneliness. Travel fatigue. Moments that make your stomach drop. Painful goodbyes. But you know that all of those things are worthwhile, and in fact make it that much better.
The second time you leave, there’s a distinct BEFORE and AFTER. Before you traveled, and after you got back. You’re acutely aware of what you’ve accomplished in the after, or maybe what you haven’t. But regardless, you know exactly what it took to get you where you are now, on the cusp of another trip. You know how many hours you worked to save that money. You know how much you sacrificed for to get back to this beautiful freedom. You know who was there to help you through the after, which makes it even harder to say goodbye.
But it’s the push and pull of all of these things that makes the second time you leave even better.
At least I think so, but we’ll find out together. Until Cartagena…