Hot tea.

hey hey hey hey    it's so fun!

Today Gabe is wearing a blue sweatshirt, a white t-shirt, red shorts, one green sock, one brown sock, and black shoes.

Earlier today I knew exactly what I wanted this blog post to be about. Of course, now that I am writing it, I have no idea what that was.

Never fear, though, I’ve got a topic on my mind and it’s a good one: fear.

It started last night because I couldn’t fall asleep. I don’t know why, but when Gabe dozed off around 10, I was up for 2 more hours listening to podcasts and staring at the ceiling.

One of the podcasts, a new one that I’ve been listening to a lot, is a comedy podcast in a freeform chit chat style. A comedian comes on, the host chats with them, and things generally trend in a funny direction.

On the one I happened to listen to around 11pm last night, though, in the dark, while unable to sleep, the host and her guest started talking about fear. They talked about fear of dying in a plane crash. They talked about fear of dying alone in your apartment and not being found until your neighbor noticed a smell. They talked about fear in a way that touched a nerve. The nerve that made me shoot up in bed, panting a little bit, less asleep than ever before.

It’s interesting to feel that kind of fear, since it happens so rarely, and it really surprised me.

It used to happen to me a lot more in my early twenties, but doesn’t happen that much anymore. I wasn’t even in a particularly morbid or fearful mood — I turned on the podcast because I was in the mood to laugh, in fact.

So it kind of shocked me to find myself wondering if I should wake Gabe up so I could talk to him about it around midnight.

Eventually, I managed to talk myself down and the podcast switched over to a slightly less intense topic of conversation, so all was right. But it was weird, how fear can just sort of kick in the door and make itself at home, even when you’re not expecting it or even feeling like it could be nearby…

And now on a completely different note, please accept this picture of me with a teacup chihuahua from Gabe’s grandmother’s 93rd birthday party last weekend.

spent basically the whole party trying to catch this pup and look i caught it

While we’re talking about fear, though, another one that’s been on my mind lately — since I started doing some of the interviews with entrepreneurs and leaders and other smart people for the Popforms blog (this one isn’t me, but it is super interesting!) — is the fear of burping into the microphone in the middle of a recording session.

I’ve also been recording audio for our upcoming subscription product (which is launching this week! omg.), so I have had a lot of opportunities to burp into the microphone and so far, we are burp-free.

But let me tell you — we have not been far off. It has *almost* happened, like, 3 times.

And the trouble is, I am not an audio engineer, nor do I have any desire to learn how to use any tool more sophisticated than the dumb Skype call recorder I currently use.

Which means that if I burped in the middle of a recording session, I couldn’t just, say, edit it out after the interview. It would either stay in the interview and then be streamed thousands of times by people coming to our website for professional advice, or I would have to send the audio to my cofounder with a little note that says, “Hi I burped in the middle of this recording, and could you please edit it out since you know how to use the editing software?”.

This is my fear.

Gabe says if I stopped drinking bubbly water during recording it would probably seriously reduce the risk, but if not drinking bubbly water 8 hours a day while I work is the only cure, then I’d rather burp in the middle of every recording I do for the rest of my life.

I work from home, and my capricious preferences are the only spice my days get (unless that cat comes howling by the door, which, now that the sun is back out after weeks of rain, it has been. Oh joy.).

So that’s me. Living in fear, sometimes of dying alone and being eaten by my upstairs neighbor’s cat, and sometimes of burping into a microphone at work. I am a very complicated person, you see.

Baby book.

i just love vacation soooo much!   is that a crime?

Today Gabe is wearing a teal jacket, purple shorts, and flip flops. In other words GABE IS ON VACATION Y’ALL.

Or, Gabe was on vacation when this photo was taken. Which, technically, was Thursday. Which means, technically, today we are back from vacation.

Don’t feel bad for me though — I’m working from bed today, which is basically like being on vacation.

Previously on this blog:

dressed in our saturday afternoon bestI was talking about going to a wedding in Phoenix. Which I did! And I cried as expected during the ceremony, danced a little as expected at the reception, and then left early once I realized that basically every single person at this wedding was already or on-their-way-to-being completely loaded, which was a little bit more than one teetotaler on her own could keep up with.

Also previously on this blog, I wrote about visiting the lovely Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles and discovered after a few days away from Twitter that they tweeted about my blog post!

This got me thinking about my blog brand (if I can get one garden to tweet about me, how many more could I get if this was some kind of amazing garden blog?) and how kind of aimless this blog has been recently. I have been so busy blogging it up at Popforms that I hardly have anything smart or interesting left to say here by the time I get to my weekly update (though I try to say one funny thing per post, emphasis on try and let’s also put “funny” in quotes).

One of my favorite blogs is a site called Oh Dear Drea, which I return to again and again despite the fact that the author is a hip, gardening, vegan-cooking mom from South Florida — and I am none of those things. It’s been really interesting to read, though, and I think the thing that keeps me (and her many thousands of readers) coming back to it is that it is basically 100% “real talk”, especially in her older posts, which are about being single and pregnant, breakups, getting married, and more — and are so candid and stream-of-consciousness-y.

Same goes for my Popforms cofounder’s blog katemats.com — it is ridiculously popular (and I say ridiculously because she hasn’t updated it in months and it still gets tens of thousands of visits every month) and I think it’s because it is so full of “real talk” about career stuff. It is just super helpful and super honest.

So based on my sample size of two (though I am a very discerning blog reader in the sense that I read almost no blogs because almost no blogs seem worth reading most of the time), I think if this blog is going to grow, it needs to get infused with some real talk. But real talk about what? That’s what I don’t know yet.

Anyways, this post was supposed to be about vacation so let’s talk about vacation!

Here are some things we saw, as we made our way from Phoenix to LA to Santa Barbara to Los Padres National Forest to Big Sur to Point Reyes to the Sonoma Coast to Humboldt County (home sweet home):

this is where i saw a dog that i thought was a bobcat in our campsite but it was just a dog   call me ansel adams

whatchu dune tonight?   just peachy i mean just beachy

After Phoenix, we drove up Highway 1, starting in Los Angeles and going all the way up the coast (twisting and turning) as far as we could go, which turned out to be Leggett — just an hour or so outside of our destination in Arcata. We camped the whole way, which was super fun and slightly out of my comfort zone, though I like to think that thanks to this trip my comfort zone has expanded slightly to allow for 3 consecutive days of camping in 3 different sites.

On the first day of our road trip post-wedding, we finished my audiobook on LA history (A Bright And Guilty Place – highly recommend it!) just as we rolled through Santa Monica to meet up with Highway 1. We pulled over to the side of the road in Malibu, changed into our swimming suits, and jumped into the ocean. The sun was hot and the water was cold, and Gabe showed me how to duck under the big waves and body surf back to shore.

We hopped back in the car and drove until we reached Los Padres National Forest, northeast of Santa Barbara. It was beautiful, warm, and had probably the most charming, kooky campground host on the face of the earth. He showed me where I could see Venus in the early morning sky.

The next day, we packed up camp and ate waffles in Solvang, before hitting the steep, sharp curves on Highway 1 outside Big Sur. Sweating and carsick, I contemplated the desperation of being stuck on a coastal highway with no way to get back to the main roads except to keep plowing forward, while feeling simultaneously thankful to have found a travel partner who gets me to do things like jump in the ocean and take the scenic route because “it’s fun”.

In Big Sur State Park, we camped for the night and I overheard a fellow camper righteously puking in the bathroom on my way to brush my teeth. I set up the tent all by myself for the first time ever, and took it down myself in the morning.

On Wednesday, we stopped by Point Reyes to visit a friend who is working at a nature preserve tracking birds and their nests. We hiked down to the beach and Gabe collected a few shells. We heard about our friend’s coworker, who named himself Hummingbird, which is about what you’d expect, I guess. Then we drove on up the Sonoma Coast, where we camped for the night at a park right on the beach. Everything got very sandy, the air was misty and chilly, and yet somehow it was still one of the most fun nights of the trip.

It probably had something to do with being back in the familiar climate of northern California. There is something comforting in feeling close to home, even if you prefer the hot sunny days of southern California and maybe looked up how much it would cost to buy some land outside of Solvang because maybe it seemed like a great place to live one day.

But being in the salty, misty air of the north coast feels familiar and comforting. And spending three days with someone you like a lot, stuck in the car, asking hypothetical questions like what you’d do if you owed the mob a million dollars but had only collected $100,000, just to keep the conversation going, is pretty fun too.

(In case you were curious, I said I’d take the money and buy a next-day plane ticket to southeast Asia, then take a bus to a train to a boat to Australia, where I would spend the rest of the money on wigs and transportation to some mid-sized city where I wouldn’t stand out to locals and cause a stir, but where the mob also wouldn’t be likely to be traveling in the next year on vacation or something and happen to see me at the grocery store.)

(What would you do?)

And finally, we made it home. I slept in my own bed, I took a shower, and I put on clothes that didn’t smell like a campfire. I reconnected to the internet after 4 days away. It was grand, both being away and coming back.

And now it’s back to real life. Which feels pretty good too.

Sunny spot.

tree as big as me!   favorite t-shirt favorite me-shirt

Today Gabe is wearing a white t-shirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes.

This week, Gabe and I are not where you would normally expect. We are on the road!

Gabe actually left Humboldt over a week ago to go on a camping trip in Big Sur with some friends. I stayed behind to work, since I knew that taking our upcoming road trip would mean significant time without internet access, which means significant time where I would be totally unable to work. And that’s no good. (For my sanity or for my work productivity.)

So Gabe went to Big Sur last week, and I drove down this Tuesday to meet him in San Francisco. We got rained on all day — Gabe and his friend Bruce surfed in the rain, while I worked from a very hip coffee shop and watched the rain splatter on the big glass windows while I typed.

We walked to eat burritos in the rain; we packed up the car in the morning in the rain.

But no worries — we were off to sunny Los Angeles. Where, upon arriving, the sunny skies turned ominously grey and we ducked into a coffee shop as fat, heavy raindrops started to plop down around us. By the time I had my latte, it was not just a downpour, but a hail storm.

During a break in the storm, we put our hoods up and walked back to the car where it was parked at our friends Mark and Pinky’s house in Highland Park. We hopped over rushing rivers of gutter water as we crossed the street, and changed clothes in the car while we waited for Mark to get home from work.

We worried that this trip might be cursed. But it turns out the rain gave us a great idea.

After a night of tacos and talk, we woke up in the morning ready to spend a few hours hanging in a sunnier, warmer LA before we took off for Phoenix where we were headed for a wedding. When we were thinking of places to go, we realized the rain probably made for some luscious plant life — and so we headed off to Descanso Gardens in La Canada.

paradisoIt turns out we were totally right.

The smell when we walked into the gardens was amazing. We veered off towards the Japanese tea garden, where we investigated the map and plotted out a route. For whatever reason, Gabe decided that he would be the one to hold onto the map and that I would navigate us around the park, I guess using our telepathic powers to communicate which way was correct.

We only left the beaten path a few times; once to look in a lake that had huge turtles and oversized koi in it, and another time when we thought we were about to come across an amphitheater but instead walked into some kind of oak tree grove.

It was a nice thing to go do too, because we were about to spend the rest of the day driving into the desert, leaving lush plant life behind for good.

I’m writing now from Phoenix where it’s sunny and hot, and the only greenery I see is the golf course outside our hotel room (which I don’t think grows naturally in this climate). But luckily, I took photos back in LA:

captain maptain   fat palms

treetops keep falling on my head   meta

Today, I am trying desperately to get all of my work done before the wedding we came here to see starts at 5pm. I think I can do it? I have been working most of the time since we got here, but want to make sure to get some pool time, game time, fun time in too.

There’s an added sense of urgency since next week Gabe and are taking the long way back to Humboldt and going camping for 4-or-so days, where I’ll be totally off the grid and unable to work or help the people I work with. It’s not just like “oh I’m on vacation so I’ll be slow to get to emails and won’t be doing anything big” — it’s like, “I am out of contact so best wishes and hopefully nothing terrible happens that I am best suited to handle.”

So I really want to get everything done that I have planned. But of course, things always come up. There is the unexpected nightmare of trying to do tech support with Hootsuite. There are the unexpected edits to do on writing work that came in. There are newsletters and blog posts and tweets that need to happen next week, and must be scheduled in advance.

And then — there is the real work too.

Most of it is done. Just a little remains. Then we are off to a wedding where I will surely cry (my favorite part, followed closely by dancing), then to a day of sun and brunch, and then four days of camping where I will do my very best to be rugged, learn how to set up my tent once and for all, and take lots of pictures of weird desert wildlife. I can’t wait.

Ice cold.

my mustache is now longer than my mouth!   hallelujah!

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

Just before we dive into this week’s post, I’d like to take the opportunity to use this blog post to publicly shame someone in my life. I won’t name names, but let’s just say it’s a man and he’s wearing a teal jacket today.

So anyways, this unidentified man came into the kitchen the other night, made himself 1-2 cocktails, and then put the ice cube tray back in the freezer – empty.

Or so I thought.

And so, I was preparing for an “of course you did/men are impossible/I’m always right” sigh as I eyed the empty ice tray from afar. That is, until I attempted to pick up the ice cube tray and noticed that in fact it was not empty but it had been placed back into the freezer with ONE ice cube in it.

I don’t think it needs to be said how much worse this is than just putting an empty ice tray back in the freezer. So I’ll just leave it at that. Public shaming complete.

This week I started training for an 8K that I am going to be running in May. For most people, this doesn’t sound that daunting — an 8K is about 5 miles, which I think most people feel like they could do without any training at all, or at least very little training beforehand.

I, on the other hand, discovered during my first training run that doing a mile and a half felt like I was at the brink of death. So sweaty. So red-cheeked. So wobbly.

Or I should say, re-discovered.

Here is the twist — two years ago, in May, I ran a half-marathon. I did the Vancouver half and it was awesome. I remember running it and having this mindset like, “Just keep running! You’re doing great! Look at how far you’ve gone already! You can totally do this! Maybe I’ll do a marathon next year!”. I got my medal, ate some snacks, and took a leisurely walk around downtown Vancouver from the finish line to my hotel.

Then I got back to my hotel and took my shoes off. And then I saw my left foot big toenail — purple, wavy, on the edge of falling off. Turns out my second toe had been crossed over it for the nearly 3 hours I had been running, and had basically destroyed it.

I didn’t run for 6 months after that while I waiting to 1. stop feeling grossed out and 2. let the toenail heal and grow out healthily.

And I lost all of the momentum I had gained.

And it was hard-earned momentum at that. I am a bad runner. I don’t like it; I find it challenging to keep going; I don’t ever achieve that zen-like state that real runners get where they are just at peace with their thoughts and bodies.

I am forever challenged by running, and taking this long break after training myself to not only keep moving forward for 13.1 miles but to even feel happy while doing it, has ruined me.

Well, not ruined. But I’ve lost just about everything I built up during the 4-or-so months of training I gave to the half marathon. The only glimmer of hope I have to cling to is that yes, at some point in my life I was capable of running 13.1 miles continuously and feeling not desperately unhappy about it.

I run purely because it’s an exercise I can measure and complete. I like running because there are races, and that gives me the sense that my running has a purpose, which is the only way I can get myself to keep doing it. Plus, it’s free and makes me super fit.

But getting back into the groove has been hard. I am remembering early 2012, when I would head out to run around Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and every run ended sooner than I had expected and with me limping, heaving, holding an aching side cramp. I am there again now; holding my aching side cramp, only this time slightly sweatier because now it’s in California.

The memory of crossing the finish line in Vancouver is fuzzier. It is harder to remember what that felt like, from here, where running is still just something that feels like a punishment. I’m chasing that feeling, though. Hopefully by May I will have caught up to it, or at least will be a puttering along a few paces behind it huffing, wheezing, and sweating.

Droopy eye.

look up in the sky!   it's a bird! it's a gabe!

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

Have you ever had a day where you didn’t sleep enough? The whole day feels so long. Decisions are so hard. Tiny things swing you hugely in one way or another. A cup of coffee? You’re on the moon — for five minutes. Twenty minutes later you’re debating whether or not it’s socially acceptable to put your head down on the table in a coffee shop where technically you did pay for the privilege to sit a table with a cup of coffee, but does “sitting” also include putting your face on the table if you’re very quiet and not bothering anyone?

And then upon deciding it’s probably not  acceptable, you just stare blankly at a barista cheerfully wiping down an espresso machine and wonder, “Have I ever been that happy?”.

Or maybe you think nothing at all.

But the best part about days like that — where the hours drag on and yet go by without notice — is knowing that at some point it will be bedtime. It might feel impossibly far away, but it’s coming.

That was me yesterday.

I waited patiently all day for bedtime. I stared out windows, closed my eyes riding in the car, and gaped at my computer screen while trying to look like I was working.

I did my best to play, with a few friends, a board game described to me as “like Risk, only a lot longer”.

And then finally, it was bedtime.

Hooray! Oh, bedtime. It’s so nice to see you.

And then…

And then it was 4am. And then I was awake. And then it was today. Only today was yesterday. A tired, sleepy stretch of hours; a bleak countdown to bedtime.

At least today I know what I’m in for.

I’m writing this missive during a brief “up” period, which I can already tell is starting to cave in around me. My thoughts are starting to unfocus; the barista keeps looking up to find my glassy, vacant eyes watching her hands deftly fly between the stainless steel tools at her workstation.

It is time to get in the car and go home. It is time to sleep. Or at least think about sleeping.

Countdown to bedtime: 10 hours…9:59:59…9:59:58…

Crazy eight.

i am a woodsman?   i am a woodsman!

Today Gabe is wearing a grey sweatshirt, filthy blue jeans, and brown boots.

There’s  a spider in my apartment.

It’s one of those fast ones too. It’s small, but speedy, and has the kind of totally black body with short weird legs that just screams, “Try to catch me, and I will drop into your hair.”

For the last day, it’s been hanging out on the line where the wall meets the ceiling in various rooms. Yesterday, it was in the kitchen. Today it was over by the dining room table.

When I was in high school, while becoming the vegetarian-maybe-vegan that I would one day grow into, I stopped squishing spiders and started taking them outside using the classic cup-and-a-sheet-of-paper method. In recent years, though, out of apathy, I usually let spiders that are inconveniently located just hang out.

If you’re on the floor of my shower, you’re getting removed. If you’re on the line where the wall meets the ceiling, and where I’d have to get on a chair to get to you, it’s your lucky day. We are now roommates.

To be honest, it is such a relief to be back in my house after not being here for 9 days that I basically can’t be bothered about anything. Spiders can stay if they don’t make a mess (or fall into my hair).

My trip to Seattle was great, but long, and then I stopped off at Gabe’s parents’ house on my way back into town and so am only just now getting my first night’s sleep back in my own room and bed tonight. And it will be glorious.

While in Seattle, I had a slightly less terrifying public speaking experience and today I realized it was the deadline for another conference I wanted to pitch, so I had to spend all afternoon getting my ideas together and writing up a proposal. It is a big one, too. I mean, I probably won’t get it because it’s so big (even though I think my idea is really good!) but it is kind of crazy that I keep doing this to myself and hoping I get the opportunity to do something that basically terrifies me.

It is a good thing to do; this I know. But it is also so scary, and while I know I will keep getting incrementally better at it, the increments are still really small at this stage.

But maybe this is all a lesson — spiders used to be a source of extreme fear. I used to see one in my bedroom and get flooded with terror; I’d back out of the room, eye always on the spider, until I could bring in my dad to eliminate it. And look at me now! Growing some kind of spider factory on the seam where my ceiling meets my wall. What growth!

As a child, my parents hammered into my head the phrase, “Spiders are our friends!” and at some point, it stuck. I can’t see a spider without that thought running through my mind, which is ultimately why I couldn’t squish them anymore. It seems so wrong to squish a friend in a paper towel.

Maybe I need some kind of public speaking mantra, which, after repeating it to myself for — oh, let’s say 15 years? that’s about how long the spider thing took — I will be a completely casual, couldn’t-be-bothered public speaker.

Let’s see, so where to begin:

“You won’t forget everything you memorized.”

“Your mouth isn’t bone dry; that’s just fear.”

“No one else can tell how much you’re sweating.”

“You absolutely will not be exposed as a fraud.”

Hm, this will take some workshopping. This incremental growth is exhausting! I’m going to go check on that spider instead.

Totally lame.

a little bit louder now   a little bit softer now

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

Hi my name is Kate and I can’t stop talking.

The last few weeks have been completely bonkers, and tonight as I buzzed and babbled during an hourlong phone call with my parents, I realized just how non-stop my last few weeks have been and how twisty bouncy my brain has become.

I am not someone who normally gets too busy or stressed out in a problematic way — at least in the sense that I don’t ever get so busy for long periods of time that I’ll, for example, stop taking care of things. Like, when I get super busy I don’t forget to clean my house or call my parents or pick up the mail or whatever. But the last few weeks, I have been doing all of those things.

Or rather, forgetting to do those things.

But the crazy thing is, I have not been unhappy or feeling particularly overwhelmed in these last few weeks. I have been busy, but — and maybe it’s because there was just so much going on with travel and work and taxes and everything that there was no other option — I have just greeted each day by bounding out of bed and go-go-going until bedtime.

Even my breaks have been all about getting things done. I am someone who takes lots of breaks and doesn’t feel guilty about it, but recently my motivation was different than normal. I usually take breaks to treat myself; for example, I love going on walks, so I take a walk because it sounds great.

In the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been taking walks because I know they will recharge me and I will come back to my work more effective and smart.

Anyways, yesterday I spent the entire day driving 10+ hours up to Seattle to attend a mentor event this morning, and in the last 48 hours I have simply not been able to stop talking. I’ll talk to anyone, about anything, for as long as possible. I feel like I’m doing that kind of too-tired crazy talking — where you lose track of yourself mid-sentence, go on long meandering tangents, and can’t quite predict what’s going to come out before you say it.

But then here’s the other thing — in the last few weeks, where this momentum and energy has been building and building, I have also been making so many big connections in my mind too. About my life and my career and the people around me, and I can’t help but think that part of this crazy buzzy feeling is just all these things colliding in my brain.

So here is what I wonder:

I wonder if all these connections are coming because I am using my brain so much in my work, in my relationship, in my off-time listening to podcasts about things like motherhood (as opposed to comedy, which is fairly passive to listen to, but motherhood podcasts are this whole huge world of completely new, funny-but-honest information) in such a way that it is always on, always firing and seeing things coming together in new ways, more than it normally does.

Or maybe all these new connections and ideas are happening organically, but their coming together is what is causing me to feel extra fired up, which is causing all the extra productivity and engagement with things like work and extracurriculars.

Like, I wonder if the new connections are causing the crazy energy and engagement, or if the energy and engagement cause the connections.

…This blog post isn’t very funny, but it is very cathartic.

Anyways, the reason I am writing all of this is that I can feel all this crazy energy and momentum starting to near the wall. I have the feeling that tonight I will sleep very soundly, and that tomorrow I might wake up my normal self. Or at least I am hoping that’s what will happen.

This trip to Seattle — when it ends in a few days — will be the last piece of a super-busy, super-all-over-the-place several weeks. Like 4 crazy busy, crazy energy weeks.

And honestly, I kind of can’t wait. All these great connections and inspiring moments have been amazing and super motivating, but I would love a good night’s sleep, a quiet wake-up time, and a return to the Kate who takes things a little more slowly and quietly.

(PS. If you are curious about the stuff that has been on my mind [career-related-wise anyways] I have been writing on the Popforms blog a lot:

So you can read some of it there, if you are interested.)

Anyways, that’s what’s up and hopefully next week will be a return to cat stories (even though my friend Richard recently gave me the note “more Gabe, less cats”) and reflections on my failure/triumph as a yoga student.

a return to normalcy