Back pack.

bring me that horizon   right?

Today Gabe is wearing a tan fleece, khaki pants, and brown boots.

This year Gabe and  I opened Christmas presents early since we’re not going to be together on the actual holiday and, as predicted, Gabe knocked it out of the park.

You see, for years — and I mean, for like 12 years, since high school — I have been carrying around this bright red backpack that is pure garbage. It was old, it was beaten up, and it was so stretched out that even when it wasn’t completely full, it stuck out behind me by a good 2 feet. It was basically perfectly round.

It was covered in paint from my art major days. It had a lock attached to it that I can’t remove because I forgot the combination after locking it there 5 years ago when I used to take it to the gym with me in San Francisco.

I could barely stuff it under the seat in front of me on airplanes. I had to be careful when turning around with it on because I basically couldn’t avoid knocking heavily into people, pets, and fragile items.

It was just awful. And yet, for some reason, I couldn’t summon the energy or interest to buy a new one.

I knew I needed one, and I knew I could afford a new one. It’s not like a needed to buy a new car, or that backpacks weren’t readily available at stores, both online and in person, that I visit frequently.

And yet, the years wore on, and this fat red backpack followed me everywhere I went.

Until this week, when I received from Gabe, the world’s best gift-giver, a beautiful, sleek, balanced, strong, streamlined black backpack.

This is exactly what I was talking about last week! Gabe solved a problem that he knew was a problem that, when solved, would drastically improve my quality of life. A problem I couldn’t solve myself. And he solved it in a better way than I could have done myself.

So it was with great joy that I packed my beautiful, slim, not-paint-stained backpack to travel back home for the holidays.

Luckily I seem to have gotten over my sky fear that I got last time I flew home. I think the bag of Halloween sized Snickers bars that I packed for myself helped. And downloading Season 5 of The Walking Dead to watch the whole way there. So engaging. So bleak.

This weekend, with my holiday free time, I think I’m going to go to a coffee shop and start working on my copy of the spontaneously-purchased-so-now-I-guess-I-should-do-something-with-this Desire Map that I wrote about a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if I’m legally obligated to fill out my Desire Map at a fancy coffee shop, but judging by the trillions of women Instagramming pictures of their filled out Desire Maps next to beautiful, perfect lattes, I think I am supposed to do it that way if I want to achieve best results and a perfect future.

Tiny dancer.

america's next top model   i won???

Today Gabe is wearing a brown sweatshirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes.

“I know what I’m getting you for Christmas. And I don’t think you’re going to like it.’

And so begins another Christmas season with Gabe.

“Well,” I said. “If you don’t think I’ll like it, then why is it my present?”

“It’s not that you won’t like it. You just won’t like it at first…”. He paused. “But I think in time you’ll come to appreciate how much you needed it.”

“Is it something for my kitchen?”

“No.”

“Is it a tool? Something for my car?”

“No.”

“…It’s not, like, a free session with a therapist, is it?”

Luckily, he said no.

Gabe is a really amazing gift-giver, but unfortunately his streak of incredible gifts over the last 8 years has led him down a path of thinking every gift he gets me is going to be the one that finally misses the mark and will reveal him as the terrible gift-giver that he thinks he is. So every year, he undersells his gift.

And then every time, he does better than I ever could have expected.

For one birthday, he got me a copy of my favorite book at the time (after I loaned my original copy to a friend in college who then dropped out and moved to New York without giving it back), which had in the intervening years gone out of print. He hunted it down from a rare books guy on eBay and got me a copy!

Another year he got me a pillow for Christmas. A pillow! Which sounds weird, right? Only it was right after I moved to Humboldt and made the mistake of low-balling my pillow purchases. And he knows how much I like to have chill time in bed in the evenings, and how much my bad pillows were bumming me out. So he splurged on a big, soft, perfect faux-down pillow. It is heavenly.

The list goes on. A perfect pair of corduroy pants, a hookup for my iPod to listen to podcasts in the car, an old school film camera.

The guy gives great gifts. What can I say?

He has that magic ability to lock down tidbits of information throughout the year. Whereas I shop for gifts by standing in a store, trying to think of *who* this person is that I’m shopping for, and imagining what kinds of gifts would be most meaningful to them, Gabe operates off of pure data that he has surreptitiously collected over the last 12 months.

Although he can’t remember where he put his wallet down 15 minutes ago, he will hold onto the one time you wistfully said, “I really miss taking photos with a film camera” in passing during a conversation 2 years ago, and he will present you with the very same model of camera you as used during Photography 115 in college.

He will hear you bemoan the dearth of good jeans that fit you, and 6 months later he will walk into a Nordstrom (a place he’s never been before and will never be again), have an in-depth session with a sales lady (using phrases like, “Oh, she’s about your size but maybe shorter”), and he will hand you a box with pants that fit you so perfectly that you will wear them for years until they are so thin and worn that you have to, tearfully, admit that the one great love of your pants life is now behind you.

It’s inspired me to step up my gift-giving game, though I know at this point in our relationship, that I am doomed to forever come in second place.

So even though I know my gifts to him are PERFECT, and despite his ominous warning that my gifts are something I need but don’t want, something tells me it is going to be a pretty great Christmas and that I am going to come out ahead in the gift-receiving department again.

Even more exciting — we aren’t actually spending Christmas together (okay, so that’s not that exciting) but as a consolation, we are opening presents early. Hooray!

Christmas is coming, and I am really looking forward to it.

Air bubble.

who's that handsome devil?   who meeeeeee?

Today Gabe is wearing a tan fleece, blue jeans, and brown boots.

I don’t think I’ve missed a week of writing this blog in, like, over a year. But last Friday came and went without a post, and I barely noticed.

And to be honest, I wasn’t sure when I would find the time (or the enthusiasm) to write this blog post either.

Such is life, when you are doing a Kickstarter.

You guys, I remember way back when (back before we launched and life as I knew it changed forever) a friend of my cofounder, Kate, saying that your Kickstarter project will become your full time job. And I remember thinking, “Yeah, that is probably true.”

But I guess I didn’t realize that by “full time” he actually meant that the project would consume the fullness of time, which is to say, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week since we launched at 6:06 am on Thursday November 20th up until 6:06 am on December 20th when the project closes.

The other day, Gabe and I were eating lunch at a Mexican restaurant (where I later went on to order and then stress-eat an enormous wet burrito). We sat down at the table and, after a long, extended silence, I said, “Sorry. I’m just trying to think of something to talk about that isn’t the Kickstarter.”

And then I talked about the Kickstarter for 10 or 15 minutes.

What’s taking so much time? Honestly, as I’m sitting here trying to quantify it, I don’t really know. Lots of outreach to people who blog about notebooks (yes, this is a thing), tweeting at people, sending out free previews of the notebook, emailing with backers…and I guess just a lot of time thinking. Thinking about ways I could be doing all of this better, more efficiently, and more effectively.

We met our funding goal on Day One, which neither one of us expected, so we’re kind of making it up as we go along. It’s amazing to be where we are already, but it’s also weird and scary. This project could end up making us some serious money for our business and could be an amazing opportunity — so I feel like there is a ton of pressure not to blow it.

And yet, “blowing it” is not even defined. So we’re working desperately trying to avoid an outcome that neither one of us can identify. And working to achieve a different outcome, which we also cannot identify.

Business!

But somewhere in there, amongst all the tweets and the late-night conversations about backer updates and funding goals — for one glorious day last week — it was Thanksgiving. And yeah, I worked on the Kickstarter for most of the day, but still, I did also manage to cook some stuffing and eat a LOT of food.

Gabe cooked a turkey using the undignified “spatchcock” method, and I made stuffing that could stop your heart. (The recipe called for an entire stick of butter, and who am I to say no?) Gabe’s parents made mashed potatoes and gravy and French bread and (out of a sense of duty) a salad. We ate five different desserts, including a pecan pie and a cheesecake, and then we all sat around digesting and playing dominos.

All day long, Gabe reminded us of the five pillars of Thanksgiving:

  • turkey
  • mashed potatoes
  • gravy
  • stuffing
  • tradition

It was a great day. I took a lot of photos of Gabe and Romeo. Of course.

you're doing it wrong  you're doing it right!

domino effect  turkey drunk

do you want to hold the baby  THE PERFECT MOMENT: welcome to the holidays

Spark notes.

what do you really want from life, romeo?   he said kibble!

Today Gabe is wearing a brown sweatshirt, khaki pants, grey socks, and black shoes.

(Romeo is wearing white fur. And nothing else.) (Typical.)

You guys, this week I did something I really never thought I would do.

This week, I grabbed a credit card and went online, and I ordered The Desire Map, which is a book made by Danielle LaPorte and which is a place to think about your goals (or, you might say, your desires) and make plans to go get those things you want. Once you know what they are.

And that’s not something I ever thought I would be spending my money on.

But in the last few weeks, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what my goals are and where I actually want to go in my life. It occurred to me that instead of just thinking about these things while I go on walks, and then put those thoughts on hold until the next day’s walk, that it might actually be useful to write these things down.

And not just in a notebook, because I learned a long time ago that my attempts to journal “big ideas” usually result in the first 1-2 pages of a brand new notebook being somewhat-filled with tentative half-thoughts, and then abandoned. And later burned. Because seriously, how embarrassing.

So I thought: maybe in this case, a system would help.

Maybe someone else giving me some guidelines and questions to answer and tips and inspiring/a-little-bit-eyeroll-worthy-but-still ideas might be useful for turning those embarrassing half-thoughts into some real, actual ideas.

And so I got one.

I’m excited. And a little weirded out – I mean, buying journals about “feelings” and “goals” is really not my style most of the time. But this week, it felt like the right move.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

And as long as we’re talking about notebooks that just might change your life…

I want to share something with you. It’s a Kickstarter we launched yesterday at Popforms, and as of right now (like, right this very second!) you can pledge and support a pretty cool project and get a sweet notebook of your very own.

kickstarter video jpg

The Spark Notebook is something that’s been months in the making, and I can’t believe it’s actually out there and people can finally actually see the video, and the pages, and actually donate to get a real-life notebook of their own. You guys!

16ee2eb2e6b98ffce917b6501efe9c13_large   1a7329fcdc046b775e27df832aba9b35_large

4c55558f5dc4c50607af6f30fa8501d2_large   af57f28b22fdee1cccc45235940428c1_large

I’d love for you to check it out! Amazingly, we met 100% of our funding goal yesterday (like, 14 hours after the project went live!) which was insane, but really exciting and validating. I couldn’t believe it — I was basically glued to the computer all day, starting at 6am and going on until…I don’t even remember when I went to bed.

We’re really excited to see what we can do if we can keep this amazing momentum going. Adding some new goals, some new designs — we have lots of ideas.

If you like the notebook and want to pledge, honestly it would mean so much to me! Or even if you just share it on social media (you get free stuff, if you do!). If you leave a comment on this post letting me know you pledged or shared the project, I’ll send you a hand-written thank you note.

For reals. Because it means a lot, and also because I love a good hand-written thank you note.

And that concludes the notebook section of this post.

Quick poll: has anyone else noticed that yoga class sometimes seems like a competition for who can breathe the loudest? Asking for a friend. Who is a lady I don’t know. Who was sighing ridiculously loudly on the yoga mat next to me last night.

Just wondering.

Candy heart.

just happy to be here   SERIOUSLY happy to be here

Today Gabe is wearing a green t-shirt, khaki pants, and brown flip flops.

This week my post is late because I transitioned back from Central Time to Pacific Time, and I guess that laid back West Coast spirit took over and caused me not to realize how quickly Friday morning would come.

Or maybe it’s just because at some point in the last few days it became fall, and my fingers are so chilly I simply can’t bring myself to type.

Or maybe I just lost track of this week.

Either way, I’m back in California after narrowly escaping the first snowfall in Illinois this week. I flew out Wednesday and got a photo from my dad on Thursday showing me the snow on the ground in their backyard. I’m going back in December to visit for Christmas, so I guess I should prepare myself for the fact that I may actually be interacting with snow for the first time in like 3 years.

Do I even remember how to make a good snowball?

Last week, while I was in Illinois, I had a week off — an actual vacation, where I didn’t work (that much) and I spent lots of time going on walks, watching crime TV shows, and making soup — and now I am back in the real world. And the real world is cold.

Even as I type, I am huddled next to a wood stove at Gabe’s parents’ house. It’s raining. Gabe is lecturing me on the virtues of patience and the art of building a good fire. I am thinking quietly, “Yes, but warm fingers are a nice thing too.”

But I take his point.

While I was at home visiting my parents, the following things happened:

don't say i never did anything for you   dad + apache watching law + order

To put these photos into words: I ate all (and I mean ALL) of the leftover Halloween candy, and I watched Law And Order with my dad and his faithful sidekick, Apache the cat.

It was very nice. Although the full day of three flights getting there and back is long and not that great, I’m looking forward to going back in December too.

Do you want to hear a joke? You’ll probably have to read it out loud for it to be funny, but here goes:

What do you call a deer with no eyes?

…..

No eye-deer.

Central time.

"oh hello yes how are you doing?"   what do you mean there's no one standing next to me?

Today Gabe is wearing a blue sweatshirt, khaki pants, brown boots, and green sunglasses.

“I don’t want to be here anymore.” I shook my head to try to shake this thought out of my mind, since, at the time I was thinking it, I was in an airplane 30,000 feet above Iowa.

I wasn’t always a nervous flyer, but once I started having to do the 3-flight trek between a small town in Washington to a small town in Illinois every holiday season when I was in college, I got the fear. Oooh yes I got the fear.

I started seeing signs in the days before my flight that I was convinced were warning that my plane was going to go down. Once on board, I’d jump at every little noise and bounce, even while the plane was still on the ground. I was really not a good flyer.

Then, a couple of years ago, I got it together. I learned about the trick where you just stare at the flight attendants, and watch how completely bored they are by every aspect of the flight. I started showing up at the airport imagining (seriously) that I was a serious business traveler who just couldn’t be bothered to care about “just another flight”.

Did my palms still sweat during turbulence? Sometimes. But I just forced the fear down, and it went away.

Well, it went away until earlier this week when I had the feeling that people who have *serious* fear of flying describe: the feeling like you absolutely have to get off the plane right now, this second. It was really the worst. I tried to tamp it down, but of course with this kind of thought, once you think it you can’t un-think it.

I was on my second flight of the day, and still had one more to go before I was at my final destination of my Illinois hometown. I was starting to feel like I wouldn’t make it.

So we circled above Chicago and I felt my palms start to sweat. I tried to remember my yoga. “Unclench your shoulders. Breathe a deep sigh. Close your eyes.”

My eyes popped open and my shoulders met my ears as we bumped down through the clouds.

I worried that I wouldn’t be able to do my third and final flight. After 8 hours of travel, I worried I might just cry for the whole 30 minutes of the third flight I had left. I worried I might never be able to leave once I actually made it there, since I have another 3 flights to do in order to get back home to Humboldt.

But on the third flight, I told myself to get it together. I closed my eyes, and turned on a podcast. I held a book in my lap, gripping it lightly with both hands. I focused on every single word the host of the podcast was saying. And if I ever got distracted and felt tempted to peek out the window or think about how amplified turbulence is in a tiny plane (which it happened to be that night) I took a huge, sighing breath and listened harder to the podcast.

And by the time we landed, 30 minutes later, I was over it. I was on the other side.

My mom fed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and vegan cookies, and my dad let me rattle on about this new podcast Serial I had been listening to all day. It was good to be home.

A few photos of things enjoyed pre-flight:

let's go surfing now   i was an art major so just business as usual here

bring me that horizon   swaddle that baby

Arm bind.

can you spot the difference?   (it's the horse's head)

Today Gabe is wearing a blue sweatshirt, khaki pants, and brown boots.

The other day we visited a friend who has 30 chickens, 1 duck, 2 dogs, and 1 horse (pictured). I wanted very badly to touch one of the chickens, but every time I approached a docile-looking one, it would flap its wings, creating a cloud of dust, and run away just out of reach.

“Simone!” I called out to the duck, taking one cautious step towards it, and then another. Simone scream-quacked and waddled away.

I don’t have good luck approaching barnyard animals. With one notable exception, aka the greatest day of my life when I touched a cow’s nose. I love animals, and I *get* cats and dogs. They like me and I like them.

But these barnyard animals…well, I guess I just don’t have the right confidence to just grab a chicken by the gut and hoist it into my arms. And so they run away from me. And I chase them. And they run some more.

Not giving up, I walked directly into the chicken coop hoping to corner one of the dumber ones and try to touch its feathers. It was only after I’d crossed the entire length of the chicken-feed-and-droppings-covered floor of the coop that I realized I was wearing my favorite loafers.

…And now I just don’t know what to do!

I was so blinded by my love for animals that I ruined one of my other great loves – really good loafers.

They didn’t get irreparably dirty, but the bottoms were gross. I rinsed them off, and I scrubbed them on the grass and then again on my rough, scratchy doormat. But still, I can’t forget the gross place that they walked through.

Is it possible to forgive (myself) and forget what these loafers have been through? Or do I need to admit that I might never feel comfortable putting these on my carpet again, and just do the humane thing and throw them away for good?

When I finally got to the other side of the coop, all the chickens wised up and crossed back to the entrance of the coop I had just come through. On my way back across the muck, dejected, I noticed something funny:

ain't nobody here but us chickensDid you know chickens perch?

I had no idea. But as it turns out, they do, and these chickens were perched right up around eye level, looking at me.

Whether they realized in that moment that they were trapped or not, I don’t know. But I do know that I stepped over to them, stuck out my hand, and petted each of them, feeling their weird soft, slippery feathers.

They bobbed and waddled, but they allowed it.

And it almost made up for my shoes continuing to sink down into the worst place they have ever been.

This week, I’ve been listening to audiobooks: I finished Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders and am getting close to finishing Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People.

I got an Audible subscription so that I could listen to business books, but it has been really nice to have things that aren’t work-related to listen to since I do most of my audio-listening at times where I am actively trying to avoid work-related thinking (like on an afternoon walk).

Unfortunately, I don’t have any good ideas for what to listen to next. Any suggestions? What are you reading right now?

I, and my tainted loafers (who used to accompany me on many-a long afternoon walk, and may still – or may never again), thank you in advance.