Today Gabe is wearing a white t-shirt, green sunglasses, and blue shorts.
This post might not be a very good one; I’m writing it late at night, unable to sleep, after a day of flying across the country to visit my parents in Illinois. It’s such a long day of travel that always leaves me simultaneously buzzing and completely exhausted. I am not a good flier.
I was coming from Seattle, where Gabe and I were for a few days visiting friends. It was crazy to be in the city again after becoming such country bumpkins over the last year. Okay, Gabe was never really a city person to begin with, but it has been a big change for me, though a surprisingly easy one. It turns out I am a country person; I just never lived in the country before.
But as we drove into Seattle, I felt a sense of anxiety start to build, just looking at all the cars and buildings. I usually feel a little thrill when I get to the city, but not this time.
(Though I was still pretty jazzed to have not one, not two, but three grocery stores within walking distance of the apartment where we were staying [as opposed to having one tiny one that is a 15 minute drive down the highway away]. And I got to visit a fancy coffee shop and get served a great latte by a hipster instead of the hippies that I am used to.)
But my day of travel left my tired as always, even though I was actually able to work on the plane and not just spend the whole time trying to remind myself that thousands of flights happen every day and the pilot is very good at his or her job, etc etc.
It was pretty therapeutic to spend the time writing and planning instead of worrying.
These last few weeks have been really busy and crazy, and I am looking forward to some downtime while I’m with my parents. Here are a couple of things that have gotten me through these busy weeks:
Romeo is my constant. On a particularly stressful day last week, he found our front door and let himself inside. Then he hopped into my bed and made like a rolly-polly.
Can you believe this place is real? Gabe and I stopped on our way to Seattle to visit friends who live on a farm outside Salem, OR. This is in their back yard. It is a lake with a dock with a picnic table on it. It was…perfect.
Oh yes, it’s on. The star of my blog and I are getting full-on married next year. So that is a pretty great thing that has happened in the last few weeks too. 🙂
Today Gabe is wearing a white t-shirt, red shorts, and brown flip flops.
You guys! As this post goes live, I am on the road to Seattle to give a talk at WordCamp Seattle this weekend. Yay!
Since I moved to California, I’ve had to go up to Seattle a couple of times for work and talks and stuff, and when I tell most people that I’m driving 10 hours from Northern California to Seattle, most people cringe.
“10 hours? Geez. What are you going to do?”
But to me, this drive is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I don’t really know why — maybe it’s the undivided alone time, or the so-boring-you-can’t-help-but-contemplate-life scenery of basically all of Oregon, or just the chance to listen to podcasts and audiobooks at full volume for hours on end.
Now that I’ve done it a few times, I know the roads. There are highlights that I look for; places I like to stop for coffee; landmarks that remind me of things I was thinking about the last time I was driving through.
For some reason, it’s really fun. I love having a professional excuse to take a day off and go for a long drive.
Of course, a few chunks of time on this particular drive are going to be dedicated to reciting my talk out loud to no one, which will probably be a low point. However, I put *a lot* of energy into memorizing and perfecting this thing, so despite having to listen to myself recite the same now-boring-to-me stories and lessons, it gives me a little twinge of satisfaction every time I run through it completely without mistakes.
We’ll see if I do that well on Saturday at the conference.
Then I’m going home to Illinois! For a spontaneous trip. It looks to be about a million degrees, 100% humidity, and thunderstorm-y, which is just what I was hoping for. (No seriously. I’m sick of this mild west coast weather.)
And for this week’s big finale, here’s an update from the world of cat news:
This week, I came across a tiny black and white cat sleep in the planter outside my door. It was the greatest.
That is all.
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.
I 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):
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.
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.
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:
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.
Today Gabe is wearing a grey sweatshirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes.
Just when you thought you could pin us down, you couldn’t — Gabe and I are hitting the road today and heading to a not-to-surprising place: Seattle, WA.
The reason is that I am giving my first-ever talk at a real-live conference. And yes, I am a little bit terrified.
I wrote the talk a few weeks ago, but work has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to get down to memorizing it until this week. (OOPS.) Luckily, the memorization is coming along pretty well and pretty quickly, but I was just thinking about the actual moment of delivering this talk in front of a room full of people and realized: “What if when I get up there I just completely forget every single word of this thing?”
I mean, that probably won’t happen. I don’t think. Right? Nah, it probably won’t. (But it might.)
I never used to have a problem speaking in front of crowds; in fact, I used to really like being on stage and giving presentations in school. But somewhere after college that skill…just sort of left. Now I get nervous just presenting in a small meeting with a bunch of people that I know, so — this talk will be an exciting moment where I either conquer my fears for good or have to quit my job and move to Mongolia in shame forever where no one will ever find me.
Hopefully, I just memorize it to a level where I can shut off my brain and the words will still come out.
I don’t know.
I went to a yoga class yesterday in an attempt to de-stress and unclench my shoulder muscles for once, and discovered this new teacher encourages LOTS of moaning in class. Apparently, the vibrations of moaning and sighing and groaning while you gently stretch your limbs shakes up your cells and makes them…happier? I’m not sure.
Anyways, obviously I couldn’t bring myself to even breathe deeply in this class, let alone groan, and so there I was surrounded by 6 people who were doing their best to out-moan each other for 75 minutes and needless to say I will NOT be attending that particular yoga class again. Uuuuunngggghhhhhh.
Time for me to get back to work memorizing. Wish me luck. And if I do end up having to move to Mongolia, it has been great blogging with you here and I am sorry that I will have had to disappear into shame witness protection. We had a good run.
(Just kidding. It will be great! Right? Right.)
Today Gabe is wearing a blue sweatshirt, red shorts, and brown flip flops.
My stomach is rumbling this morning. I woke up to an email from a friend asking if I’d like to get lunch with him today, then listing five or six delicious possibilities, and that pretty much sealed my fate for feeling hungry all morning.
Gabe has been in Portland for the last couple of days, so I’ve been waking up late, sprawled across the middle of the bed, and starting my day by leisurely checking emails from bed and planning my day with my eyes closed, blankets pulled up all around my head.
I know from experience that working from bed is an all-around bad idea, but on mornings where I wake up with the bed to myself, it’s hard to be convinced to get up at any point before 10am. It’s just too good.
So here’s some news: Gabe and I are moving to California!
Where, we don’t know yet. Which is kind of fun! This whole decision-making process about what comes next after Seattle has been a good practice for me in being patient. I like to make fast decisions, but Gabe likes to let ideas stew and come together over a period of months or years.
Which used to drive me crazy, but now I am learning to be patient. And I’m learning that when I’m patient, things work out better for both of us. Did you know relationships are about compromise?
So that’s how Gabe came up with our brilliant new plan for Kate & Gabe 2014. Later this year, it’s been decided, we are going to take a road trip down the California coast and decide where we are going next. Then in January or so, we’ll move there! Fun!
We lived in San Francisco before, and while we have lots of friends there, I’m not sure either one of us can afford to live there anymore (at least, without being crammed into a 4 bedroom flat with 9 people like we were before). So maybe Santa Cruz? Or Los Angeles? Or maybe there will be a surprise winner like Santa Barbara or La Jolla. It’s going to be fun. It’s fun not knowing yet.
So this morning as I am unsuccessfully willing myself to get out of bed, my thoughts are drifting to California and road trips and camping and driving food.
Is it any closer to lunchtime? My stomach is rumbling.