On Sadness + Anxiety

May 16, 2018

I just finished the book Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I read all of it in one day on Sunday, between coffee on the couch and sitting by the pool in my new apartment complex and reading before bed. It’s about a 16 year old named Aza who tries to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a childhood friend’s dad with her best friend Daisy.

But it’s not really about the mystery. It’s more about her mental illness: her constant fears that she’s getting sick, that bacteria is invading her body, that she’s going to wake up one day deathly ill. There’s a constant loop in her head: you’re getting sick NO I’M NOT you are you are you are SHUT UP you’re sick sick sick BE QUIET what if you’re dying what if this is the end. 

That’s a paraphrase since I don’t have the book with me, but it’s a pretty realistic depiction of her thoughts. And let me tell you: they stressed me out because they were meant to, and because I identify with them.

I’ve had depression before, and back then it manifested as wanting to cry every day, feeling like I needed to sleep all the time, and walking around with the overwhelming sense that nothing I was doing had any real purpose. I was finished with college, living with my parents, and I didn’t have any real goals. It felt like there were weighted bricks around my ankles, keeping me stuck where I was, and I couldn’t figure out how to move. I saw a therapist who diagnosed me with anxiety and mild depression, and it was a relief to hear those words, like someone was saying there’s a name for this. You are not alone. With my therapist’s guidance, I started to feel better: there was value in things again, I moved to LA, I made a new life for myself.

And lately I’ve started to feel like the depression might be coming back.

At first I didn’t. It didn’t feel like before. On one hand, everything in my life is fine: I’m healthy, going to work every day, and I have people in my life to talk to. I recently moved in with two close friends, I ran a marathon, I’m fairly accomplished in ways I couldn’t identify two years ago when things felt really bad.

This time it’s different. I’ve been feeling down lately, the kind where I just want to go home every afternoon, curl up into a ball under some warm blankets, and take a nap. I want to be hugged, but I don’t really want anyone to touch me. I feel like I go to work every day and it’s like… pointless, almost. I’m not working out as much as I was before, which I know is a factor, but it’s a weird kind of spiral: I know exercising would make me feel better, but I don’t want to do it. I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual, checking doors a handful of times even though I know I’ve locked them, feeling a need to make sure I have things in order, the list goes on. I’d just been thinking of things as a weird sort of dissatisfaction.

I didn’t really catalogue any of this as depression until my friend asked me if it was “the weird sad unsettled dissatisfaction when you have clinical depression but aren’t having an #episode” and it hit me like a slap in the face, like Oh. So maybe that’s what that is. Obviously friends can’t diagnose you with anything, but we talked about my feelings further and I started to think, yeah, maybe. So I don’t know what’s really happening, and I don’t know if this post has a point, but I just wanted to say that it’s okay not to be okay, even if the not-being-okay is something I really struggle with.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for a couple months and I haven’t talked about this with any of her, in part because I think I’m really, really good at pretending things are fine when they’re not. In my head, of course things are fine, because why wouldn’t they be?

I’m not sure if this post has a point, really, other than to say: things feel hard sometimes, I’m going to keep going to therapy and moving my body and eating better foods and journaling. I wish that there was more openness in the world about mental health and going to therapy, and I’m here to say that doing that before genuinely changed my life, so there’s no reason it can’t again.

Further reading:

I started going back to therapy in the first place because of Rachel Dawson’s posts about it.

I know Hannah Brencher has written a lot on this topic, and everything she’s written is incredible.

I just read this piece by Vivian Nunez, who has written a bunch of posts since on the topic; everything I’ve written by her inspires me to love people more deeply and to be a better writer + human.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this post was honestly pretty scary to write and will likely be 10x scarier to share, but I think it’s really, really important to talk about it. Please reach out to someone if you need help; it’s okay not to be okay. 

22 Questions for Bookworms

May 14, 2018

My Book of the Month picks for May!


I’m borrowing this idea from Rachel, who is one of the only people I follow online who’s a bigger bookworm than me; feel free to join in if you want!

HARDBACK OR TRADE PAPERBACK OR MASS MARKET PAPERBACK?

I love hardback best of all! My second choice is trade paperback. However, just having moved apartments, I can say that hardcovers are heavy and books are a pain to move and I probably should start using the library more.

AMAZON OR BRICK AND MORTAR?

I think I’m about 50/50 on shopping at each. There’s something so nice about placing an order for a few books on Amazon, but there’s also something special about walking out of the store with books in your hand.

LOCALLY OWNED BOOKSHOP OR BIG NAME CHAIN STORE?

Local! There’s a number of independent brick and mortar bookstores here in the LA area that I adore – Book Soup and Skylight Books are two. Though I will say a few weeks ago I bought two books at Barnes and Noble.

BOOKMARK OR DOG-EAR?

I don’t tend to do either! I lean toward bookmarks though.

ALPHABETIZE BY AUTHOR OR ALPHABETIZE BY TITLE OR RANDOM?

Totally random! My bookshelf organization makes some sort of sense in my head, but there’s no real organization to speak of.

KEEP, THROW AWAY, OR SELL?

I keep most books unless I really didn’t like them and will never read them again. I just donated a few such books to Goodwill during my move. I’ll also give books away to friends.

KEEP DUST JACKET OR TOSS IT?

Keep. I hardly ever take them off.

READ WITH DUST JACKET OR REMOVE IT?

Always leave it on!

SHORT STORY OR NOVEL?

Novel. Short stories are great but I rarely read them.

COLLECTION (SHORT STORIES BY SAME AUTHOR) OR ANTHOLOGY (SHORT STORIES BY DIFFERENT AUTHORS)?

I used to be really into anthologies! These days I don’t tend to read either.

STOP READING WHEN TIRED OR AT CHAPTER BREAKS?

Chapter breaks.

“IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT” OR “ONCE UPON A TIME”?

Once upon a time.

BUY OR BORROW?

I wish my answer was borrow (and so does my wallet) but I tend to buy more often than not. I figure there are far worse things I could spend money on.

NEW OR USED?

Usually new, though I love and adore a great used bookstore.

BUYING CHOICE: BOOK REVIEWS, RECOMMENDATION OR BROWSE?

Browse, or buy it cause I saw it on Instagram and I loved the cover.

TIDY ENDING OR CLIFFHANGER?

Ooh, it depends! I like both, if they’re done well.

MORNING, AFTERNOON OR NIGHTTIME READING?

All of the above.

SINGLE VOLUME OR SERIES?

Single, though there are a few series I’ve really loved.

FAVORITE SERIES?

Is it cliche to say Harry Potter? I don’t care. Harry Potter.

FAVORITE BOOK OF WHICH NOBODY ELSE HAS HEARD?

I can’t think of one cause I get most of my recommendations from online, but Castle of Water is a book I definitely don’t hear about enough.

FAVORITE BOOKS READ LAST YEAR?

I wrote about them here! It’s weird to read that list back cause I’m not sure I would’ve put all of them on there now, but I still highly recommend them all.

FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME?

Oh god, I don’t have a list for this one. You can find my Goodreads here. Favorites from browsing that list: Dark Matter, Small Great Things, The Mothers, Station Eleven, My Sister’s Keeper.

April Books

May 4, 2018

I read precisely ONE book in April, and it was Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

April was a weird month for me – I was sick for the first week and missed a few days of work, and then I was looking for a new place to live, and I wasn’t exercising at all, save for two times I made myself go running. I felt out of my routine, and because of it my reading time fell to the wayside. I did also read half of The Hate U Give, but I haven’t finished it yet. In short, April was weird, and my reading suffered, but it’s okay.


When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.


I bought this for myself for my birthday after hearing there was a movie coming out, and I liked it a lot! It took a little bit to get into, and there’s about nine million characters so it can be hard to keep track of them all, but it was a fun comedy. Honestly, there was a lot of info-dumping and name-dropping of brands (which I think is the point) but once I got into it I was easily flipping pages.

I liked reading about Rachel discovering just how wealthy Nick’s family is and trying to adapt to that situation; she was really thrown off the deep end and it was fun to watch her deal with it. I look forward to the movie! I’ve already bought the second one and I started it yesterday.


In total this month:

Total number of books: one
Number of fiction books: one
Number of nonfiction books: zero
Books by people who are not white dudes: one
Total number of books this year: twenty eight

Currently || May 2018

May 3, 2018

I’m a day late linking up with Anne of In Residence, due to forgetting yesterday was the first Wednesday of the month! I took off work on Monday so it’s set me back a few days.

celebrating | 13 months in LA (tomorrow – and at what point do I stop counting those like I’m the mom of a toddler?) and moving in with my friends last weekend! i moved to a different area of town (one that I already know well thanks to spending so much time with them already) and I’m really happy about it. I’m also celebrating a year at my job next week.

creating | a new routine and new habits to come with it, as well as Project Life layouts for March.

wearing | a sweatshirt or jacket in the office every day – it’s so cold in there. also this New Balance hoodie – it’s so soft and cozy! it’s sized really big, so i had to return it for a smaller size. now that it’s finally here i might wear it every day.

sharing | a bedroom! i moved in with two of my closest friends into a two-bedroom, so i’m sharing a room for the next couple months! it’s a little like college but more fun because we were close friends already.

going | hopefully nowhere this weekend! the past couple of weeks have been really busy, so i’m ready to lay low and get some rest.

Adventure Fund

April 14, 2018

When I was home, I spent some time cleaning things from the attic. My parents’ attic is furnished and has, over time, served as a guest room, a storage area, (very briefly) my sister’s bedroom, and now it’s back to being a bit of a catchall area. I moved without really organizing any of my things, so I took a couple hours to go through them and consolidate a bit, mostly because my mom gave me a few not-so-subtle hints that she wants the space back. When I was cleaning, I found the above jar in a box of things from senior year of college.

I remember writing the words ‘adventure fund’ in pink Sharpie in my single dorm senior year, sticking the label carefully onto the jar from IKEA. I’m sure I thought it was going to go to pay for great things: plane tickets abroad or a hotel on the beach, maybe drinks at a busy pub in Europe. As I picked through the coins, searching for quarters to take back to Los Angeles so that I could do my laundry, I thought about how 21 year old me might have found that fact a little bit sad.

And then I stopped myself. Those quarters from three years ago are funding the adventure I’m living now, even if it’s not in the way I expected. They paid for my laundry when I got back home, which made it possible for me to wear clothes to work. It seems an overly dramatic way to talk about a little jar of coins, but it really did get me thinking about how life doesn’t always work out the way we expect, but sometimes it’s still really, really good.

The Good Side || March 2018

April 8, 2018

My intention was to do these posts at the end of the month, but March was super busy for me and it fell to the wayside. Over the last week though, I’ve compiled a bunch of links I love, and I didn’t want to wait three weeks to share them. Most of these links are from April, but I’m just gonna call this the March guide anyway cause I do what I want. So maybe there will be another post at the end of the month, maybe there won’t. Maybe these will become “every six weeks” posts. Who knows.


The Good Side is my attempt to share the good things over the last month: good reads, good songs, and good things that have happened. It’s my attempt to share some positivity and spread some knowledge. Hopefully there’s something for you in here. Find last month’s guide here.


Good pop culture.

Sandra Oh’s Been Waiting 30 Years for a Show Like Killing Eve.
I loved Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, and I enjoyed reading this Vanity Fair piece about her struggle as an Asian actress searching for the right role. I saw a billboard for Killing Eve, her new show, yesterday, and this article has convinced me to check it out. Also, that picture of her parents with the billboard is so sweet.

“What about the Breakfast Club?”: Revisiting the movies of my youth in the age of #MeToo.
I really enjoyed reading Molly Ringwald’s reflection of the John Hughes films she did as a teenager in light of the more widespread acknowledgement of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace and certainly in Hollywood. I found it very thoughtful and definitely worth a read. Her main takeaway: “It’s hard for me to understand how John was able to write with so much sensitivity, and also have such a glaring blind spot.” Well said.

Good heart reads.

One year of weekly counseling: the battles, victories, and lessons learned.
I know from experience that the decision to go to counseling can be a scary one, but twice now I’ve seen its immense value in my life. I don’t think I would have moved to Los Angeles if I hadn’t seen a counselor back home, and I recently started seeing one here just to have someone to talk to. But taking that step is still scary every time I go. I really loved how thorough Rachel’s post about her journey so far is. She answers a lot of questions people might have, and her one year counseling anniversary is the same day as my moving anniversary, which I thought was fun.

Reading lately: kick-ass women.
I’m a little bit ashamed to say I haven’t read a single one of the books on Anne’s list of books by kick-ass women to read. I do have a copy of Shrill because I saw Lindy West speak at last year’s LA Times Festival of Books, and I’m sure I could find the others at the library. I loved the diversity of books here.

The writing folder.
As someone who is in theory working on a novel but hasn’t touched it in over a year, I loved Rachel’s post about revisiting her old writing. I too have a folder of (seemingly random) snippets of writing, and lots of them aren’t good, but like she found, there may also be a diamond in the rough. It’s likely worth giving them a second look.

Good career tips.

You can’t change careers when you’re sitting behind a desk; here’s why.
Looking for a new job is probably one of the most dreaded tasks I can ever imagine. ‘Task’ isn’t even really the right word for it; it’s more like climbing Mount Everest. Figuring out what you want to do with your life seems so difficult. I really like that this article suggests putting yourself out there and meeting people (‘finding people, not jobs’ is their phrase) and even advocates for admitting your uncertainty in that process. “Opt for vulnerability over trying to be someone more certain or more expert than you really are.”

How I found freedom in throwing out my 5-year plan.
I am the very definition of a planner. I like to have everything in my life planned out and organized, and I like everything to go according to that plan. The problem is that life doesn’t work that way, and things go haywire when the plan inevitably doesn’t line up as I expect. I loved Sarah’s article on relaxing your life timeline a bit and giving yourself more freedom to be open to how life unfolds. “I found that if I was willing to slowly let go of my expectations, I was able to enjoy what life was giving me at the moment. Instead of worrying about the next step or falling behind in my eyes, I was free to live day-by-day.”

Good songs.

I’ve been on a huge kick of making my own playlists lately, all of them with really specific themes (playlists are linked, as are YouTube videos for each specific song). Here’s three songs that gave me feelings lately:

‘the great escape.’ playlist:
Million Bucks – Smallpools.
I used to be a skeptic non-believer
But now it’s changed, you’re worth your weight in gold
The richest love ain’t growing on the trees out here
But confidently, I can say I’m sold

‘unrequited love.’ playlist:
My Thoughts on You – The Band CAMINO.
Give me ’til twenty-three, I need another year for this
Trying to teach my common sense to not waver with my confidence
Traded my soul to free my mind, carmex to help me pass the time
Can I go back to being blind, asked myself why one too many times

‘cheerful spring.’ playlist:
Ring the Bells – Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors.
I got faith to move a mountain, and to watch that mountain move
It’s time for words to fall like thunder, sound of justice breaking through
If all is fair in love and war, then what the hell is loving even for?
The world laughs and the martyrs sing, but love breaks through the cavalry

Good productivity.

Mapping my weeks: my current favorite productivity hack.
There are few things I love to read about more than people’s productivity hacks + systems. Therefore it’s no surprise that I loved Hannah’s post about mapping out her weeks. I love the idea of keeping the list to two pages and not ranking tasks in order of size – basically, if it’s important to make the list, it’s important enough to get done.

A little life saving: starting the day over.
I can’t remember how I found Hannah Van Dyk, but she’s one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. She doesn’t know this, but she’s one of those people who I think I would be great IRL friends with if we lived in the same place! Anyway, she just started a series about things that are saving her life, and the one about starting the day over is really good. I really like the idea of saying “okay, I get 10 minutes to wallow in this and then I’m starting over.”

Good life events.

The coolest thing that happened since my last edition of this post is that Carly Heitlinger mentioned me on her blog! She and I have been Facebook friends for a long time (I would imagine at least since I met her at the Smart Girls Group Summit four years ago) and the link to my one year anniversary post appeared on her feed at some point. I got more traffic than I’ve ever seen, and a whole bunch of people texted me to tell me they’d seen it on her blog. It was super cool. It was also validating because I’d been so nervous to share that post. The fact that someone else thought it was worth sharing meant a lot to me.

I started Project Life again, which I’ve been wanting to do for months. Project Life is a pocket scrapbooking system for memory keeping, and I spent a LOT of time before my move scrapbooking years of my life. I went through all my supplies while I was sick this week, and I have SO MANY arts & crafts supplies. I’ve documented through March, and once my pages are finished I’m going to photograph them and share them here!

Last night I made a meal plan for the week after going through the contents of my fridge and freezer. I made a grocery list, and challenged myself to spend less than $30 on new items. I told myself that I could get ice cream if I spent less than that (including the ice cream). I used my phone calculator while shopping, made some good choices, and I was thrilled to get to the register and find out that my total was $24.75 including the ice cream! Just call me a budgeting queen.


If you find any good links or resources I should include in the next edition of this guide, leave a comment or send me a message! I love finding new resources.

Los Angeles Marathon 2018 Recap

April 7, 2018

On March 18, I became a marathoner.

It’s been three weeks, and the marathon still feels like something that didn’t quite happen. It feels like a bit of a dream; six months of training boiled down to one day of my life, and then it was over. It’s a little bit like when I did theater in middle school. We’d rehearse for months, perform the show three times, and then we’d all be at the cast party, wondering if that had all been a mass hallucination.

And yet it did happen. If you had told me five years ago that I was going to run a marathon, I likely would never have believed you. I was completely inactive, stressed out, and it was never diagnosed, but I believe I had untreated depression. Running even 2 miles seemed like way too much.

I started running my last year of college, mostly because I was trying to forget about things. I ran my first half marathon in October of 2015. I wish I still had access to the blog where I chronicled my training journey, because I would probably read it back and laugh.

The high of crossing that first half marathon finish line never quite left me, and soon I had run a second, and then a third. I was researching half marathons in the Los Angeles area last summer, and I stumbled upon a running challenge where you would run a specific 5k or 10k, a specific half marathon, and the LA marathon. If you did all three, they would give you a special medal. If there is anything to know about me going into this, it’s that I really love challenges. But did I really want to run a marathon?

I always said that I would consider doing one, but I wanted it to be Boston (for which you need to be really, really fast, or join a charity team) or Dublin. LA had never been on my list. But what if I did it? There’s a couple of cheesy reasons that I felt like it was a little bit fated. The race date was exactly 2 weeks after my 25th birthday and 2 weeks before my one year anniversary of living here. The race finished at the same beach where I went to watch that first sunset.

I thought about it for a few days, I talked to some friends, and then I decided that I would never feel more ready. I signed up, and figured I’d figure it out on the way.

The lead up to the race.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I was checking the weather constantly. We were told not to, because we couldn’t do anything to change it, but I couldn’t help it. I spent a lot of time looking at the course map and visualizing what the race would be like. I was fortunate to be familiar with much of it, which is an advantage of doing a race where you live.

Because I don’t do things halfway, it was a super busy time in general. Immediately after my 18 miler, I had to go to my late-night work auction. The 20 miler was the day before my 25th birthday. The two days immediately before the race I was on my feet all day at a work conference. These were things I couldn’t control, so I had to work to accept them.

One thing I remember our pace leaders telling us is that we might be angry or irritable in the two weeks leading up to the race, as our running decreased and stress increased. I expected that I would be immune to this, and then of course I was not.

I trained with the LA Road Runners, and I only have good things to say about them. If/when I decide to run the LA Marathon again, I will absolutely train with them. I actually have lots to say about the training process, but this post is already shaping up to be really long and I haven’t written one word about the actual running.

Getting to the start.

The LA Marathon starts at Dodger Stadium and finishes in Santa Monica. I live pretty close to Dodger Stadium, but opted to park my car in Santa Monica and take a shuttle to Dodger Stadium. This way, my car would be waiting for me at the end. I also didn’t want to be concerned about road closures and finding the right gate at Dodger Stadium; I knew I’d be stressed enough as it was.

I hopped out of bed around 2:45 am, put on the clothes I’d laid out, and ate a toasted everything bagel with peanut butter and a banana. I prepped a second bagel to eat at Dodger Stadium, put on my sneakers, and was out the door.

It didn’t take long to drive to Santa Monica, and before I knew it I’d parked and was on the shuttle. I remember that the shuttle was SO QUIET. No one said a word, probably because it was 4:15 am. Before long, we were at Dodger Stadium.

One of the biggest perks of doing LA Road Runners is that we got to be inside the stadium before the race started. This meant warmth, not being outside in the dark, and clean BATHROOMS. I met up with my running group, and chatted a little bit. I honestly wasn’t particularly nervous; it still felt like a thing that wasn’t quite happening. I ate my bagel and banana, drank some water, and hung out.

I brought my bag to a UPS truck that served as gear check, we posed for photos as a pace group, and our coach gave us a last minute inspirational message. Then we headed off to the start.

Miles 0-5: Dodger Stadium to Downtown LA.

At the start line, I shed my cheap hoodie and (super comfy) sweatpants I’d bought at Goodwill to keep warm. Someone sang the National Anthem, and I started to get teary; I was about to run a marathon. All those months of training were going to pay off.

This emotion stuck wth me for the first few miles; I would get emotional looking at signs from spectators, or when we ran over a freeway overpass and cars started beeping at us, or when volunteers at the water stations cheered us on. I was really aware that this wasn’t something I could do alone, but rather with the help of a lot of people.

At one point, running over a different freeway overpass, my pace leader Julie pointed to the freeway and said, “Look, there’s your gear bags!” I looked to the left and there was a convoy of UPS trucks escorted by police cars. It was this tiny moment, but it was a reminder that I was part of something so big.

There was a really big hill after mile 4, and drummers were lined all the way up the hill. (Here’s a video from 2014.) I expected to listen to music the whole race, but at this point I was so overwhelmed by the crowds I just wanted to focus on that and commit as much as I could to memory, so I didn’t listen to music at all.

Miles 6-10: Echo Park to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I lost some endurance when I took a few weeks off running, so I ended up switching to a pace group that did 3 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. I felt pretty good at this point; it seemed like the group was going a little faster than I wanted to, but I felt like I was doing okay mentally. We ran by my house during this stage, and it was cool to see be running in a familiar area. I remember thinking that the next time I went home, it’d be as a marathoner.

I distinctly remember seeing three girls SCREAMING their friend’s name and running along side her for a minute or two, a massive sign in hand; it was one of those moments that produced a really big swell of emotion. Watching people support their friends in their crazy goals is one of my favorite things.

Miles 11-16: Chinese Theatre to Doheny Drive.

After 10 miles, I started to get pretty tired. I remember it coming in waves. One minute I’d feel fine and be convinced I could keep going, but then only a few minutes later I’d feel awful. I never wanted to stop, I just kind of didn’t want to still be running. I felt a little weak but not in a way that felt like a huge issue; my pace leader offered me some pretzel sticks and I ate those. I remember at one point someone from my pace group offered me a banana, which I took and ran with for like 5 miles before eventually tossing it to the side of the road.

I saw Liz, Bri, and Bert, some of my best LA friends, at exactly the halfway point, and I stopped to talk to them for a minute, getting hugs and a much needed water bottle. The weather had turned out to be about as good as you could ask for if you’re going to run a marathon, 60 degrees and sunny, but I still felt dehydrated. Looking back I should have been drinking more water in the days leading up to the race. I’d done my best, but I think I needed more.

I certainly had plenty of water on the morning itself though, because at the halfway point I really needed to use the bathroom. I spent two miles looking for a porta potty and when I finally found one, I had to wait about 10 minutes in a line for one. This is where things started to go downhill; I’d separated from my pace group to say hi to my friends, and after waiting in line for the bathroom, I never caught up with them again.

I put on my playlist and did my best to keep up with the 3 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking plan we’d been doing as a group.

Miles 17 to 22: Rodeo Drive to San Vincente & Bundy.

This was the hardest part of the race for me. I was alone, everything hurt, and I felt like it was so hot. My friend Julie gave me an ice pop just before mile 20 that was the best thing I’d had all morning (along with her hug). Someone gave me a plastic bag of ice chips, a few of which I chewed on, and the rest I rubbed on the back of my neck. I texted my mom and said “I knew this was going to be hard but this is REALLY HARD.”

It was at this point that my 3/1 running/walking fell out the window. I remember walking long chunks of this, trying to motivate myself to start running again. I knew that I wasn’t going to hit my estimated time of 5:45, but I still thought I could maybe get under six hours.

I saw someone else from my pace group and we ran together for a bit before she went ahead. I saw another person a few miles later and ended up getting ahead of her. I was basically just trying to hang on until the mile 22 water stop, when I knew I would see my friends from November Project.

Miles 23 to 26: San Vicente & 26th to Santa Monica.

It turns out the mile 22 water stop was really a lot closer to mile 23. But I made it there, and the wave of people I recognized from November Project, all of them yelling my name, was incredible. I I’d texted Molly and Rachel, who were in charge of the water station, and said that I’d lost my pace group and would love if someone could run with me for a mile or two.

They absolutely delivered. Melanie, Jeff, Kait, John, and Stassja (who got me to sign up for this thing in the first place) ran with me for nearly 4 miles. They encouraged me, got me water, and kept me going. I stopped to go to the bathroom again and they waited with me. They walked when I needed to walk, and pushed me to keep going. I remember Melanie saying “in two miles you’re going to be a marathoner!” I remember acknowledging that every step I took now was taking me further than I’d ever run before, and how f***ing cool that was. I am so thankful that those friends showed up for me like that; I genuinely couldn’t have made it without their support at the end.

The finish line.

I honestly felt like I was going to die at the end. That’s what I told Liz, Bri, and Bert when I saw them, with less than a quarter mile to go. “I think I might die.”

It seems silly looking back, but I was just so exhausted and so tired that I felt like I needed to walk so close to the end. So I did for a minute, and then I picked it back up again and crossed that goddamn finish line. It took me 6 hours and 12 minutes, and I did it.

I didn’t cry like I’d been expecting to; it was more like this massive sense of relief. I’d actually done it.

After that, there was a medal (actually two, the whole reason I’d signed up for this in the first place, and I found that I didn’t care much about the challenge one, too in awe that I’d just earned a marathon medal), and photographs, and a very, very long walk to meet my friends. When I picked up my bag from the gear check, I nearly cried thanking the volunteers. There was a bagel and a massage and tacos and a beer and a call from my mom and texts from friends.

And there was a medal, and the sense of accomplishment that hopefully will never go away.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Well, I did it.

One Year.

April 4, 2018

A year ago today, I slipped off my shoes at security, placed my laptop in a tray, and walked through the metal detector. I waved goodbye to my dad and my sister, tried to keep it together until I could get my things back in order, and rounded the corner to the gate, trying not to cry.

I was moving to Los Angeles, a place I’d only been once before, with two suitcases and a vaguely hope-shaped thing in my heart. Forget getting to LAX with a dream and a cardigan; I had an address to give a cab driver and a tiny plan of what I was doing after that, but no job and no place to live. It was this crazy idea that felt right, and I was following it.

I passed through that same metal detector last week, and waved goodbye to my dad cheerfully. There was no instagram picture of a smiling Harry Styles to stop me from breaking into tears this time, but I didn’t need one. I was going back home, leaving one home for another, and I was looking forward to it.

It’s been a year of big, big changes. The girl I was last April 4th has nothing on the girl I am this April 4th. I’ve had to learn how to show up for myself. I’ve had to become my own best friend in a very real sense. I’ve gone places alone and stretched my comfort zone. I’ve been let down by people and had my heart broken and cried myself to sleep a whole bunch of times. I’ve spent way more money than I wanted to and then developed the painful-but-necessary budgeting habits that prevent me from doing that again.

Moving somewhere where I only vaguely knew a handful of people has been forced me to be really ballsy. When my landlord was uncertain about approving me for the apartment, I had to stand up for myself. When I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, I went places alone. When potential new friends got busy and didn’t answer my texts, I learned not to take it personally and chose to reach out again. When I heard the girl in front of me at an event talking about how she lived in my neighborhood, I got brave and talked to her. In a very real sense, that act ended up changing my life here in Los Angeles: it led me to join November Project and led me to signing up for the marathon, two things that have been hugely important to me.

I’m a person who doesn’t tend to take enough credit for the things she’s accomplished, but I can say this: I moved across the country without a job or friends, and I’ve made a life for myself that I like more than the one I left behind. It’s not revolutionary and I’m not the first or last to do it, but I am really f***ing proud that I’ve done it.

Last year on this date, I borrowed my friend Kelly’s car and took a drive to the beach to watch the sunset and eat pizza. It’s a monthly tradition I’ve tried to keep up as much as I can, and this month is no exception. But this time I’m bringing friends, and I’m going to toast to year two.

March 2018 Books

April 3, 2018

I read so many books this month! I’m not quite sure how I did it. Because of this, I’m experimenting with a more freeform review format. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s most effective (do you really want plot summaries, or do you prefer to look that up yourself?) and so I’m trying something a little different.

 


The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

I didn’t expect to love this because I haven’t loved a few of Joshilyn Jackson’s older books, but I loved this one. It’s about a comic book artist who finds out she’s pregnant after a one night stand at a comic convention – but the father is black and she’s originally from the South, and doesn’t think her family, especially her sick grandmother,  will take it well. I bought this one last fall on a recommendation from Modern Mrs. Darcy, and definitely recommend it.

 


Still Me by Jojo Moyes

I ordered this from Book of the Month before I knew that it was the third in the series, not the second. So I had to read the second one (which I did last month) and I was happy to discover that I liked this one much more! I’ve heard a lot of people say the second one fell flat, and this one felt like a return to the Louisa from the first book. I definitely agree. She moves to New York to work for a rich family, and her adjustment to her new life in the US reminded me a lot of adjusting to my life here in California.

 


American Fire by Monica Hesse

This is another one from Book of the Month, I think from sometime last fall. It’s a nonfiction book about a rural town where abandoned houses suddenly started catching fire, and about the arsonist who did it. I am trying to read more nonfiction, and I loved the way this one was told. It’s one of those books I probably would get from the library if I were to do it again (ie, I don’t feel the need to have paid for it) but I did like reading it.

 


The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I bought this one at the bookstore on a whim one day after seeing it all over Instagram. That cover is beautiful. I read it SO QUICKLY (95% all in one sitting) and I couldn’t even be disappointed because I loved it so much. It’s about four siblings who visit a traveling psychic as a kid and discover the date of their deaths. They all deal with it in really different ways. Two of the siblings really affected me, but I won’t say which ones for fear of giving anything away. I really, definitely recommend this one and I can’t wait to reread it, which isn’t something I usually do. It made me think a lot about if I’d like to know the date of my death and how I’d approach my life from that moment.


Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

My dad got this for me as a gift two Christmases ago. I love Lauren Graham – she was incredible on Gilmore Girls and fantastic on what I’ve seen of Parenthood. It’s a light and fun read about Gilmore Girls, making in work in Hollywood, and not taking yourself too seriously. I recommend if you’re into any of those things – it took me just over an hour, so I’d say get it from the library if you can. I recently read that she has a new book coming out, and I’m hoping to find that one soon.

 


Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

This is another book I bought on Amazon after seeing it at the San Francisco airport last fall (I think I had more disposable income to spend on books back then, aka I wasn’t being financially responsible!). It’s about a British family of Pakistani origin living in England. The father they barely knew did some terrible things that hurt a lot of people, and all three siblings (all young adults, all orphaned) struggle to deal with this in different ways. It was a fast and heartbreaking read that I couldn’t put down, on a lot of racial and cultural themes that as a white person I am privileged to not have to think about.


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I got this one as a BOTM extra in February after seeing widespread praise for it online. It’s a little painful to read, but necessary. Early into the marriage of Celestial and Roy, a young black couple excited for their life together, Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. She struggles to be a long distance wife who really doesn’t know her husband all that well, while Roy struggles with life in prison and all that that entails. It’s told from a few different perspectives, and I found it a really valuable read.


The Crown by Robert Lacey

I bought this one on a whim at Target after finishing the second season of The Crown, which I adore.  I expected this book to be about the making of the TV series and the challenges of historical fiction (especially when the characters are still living) but I as wrong. It turned out mostly to be a episode by episode breakdown of the historical events in those episodes, with only a few references to the show. I learned a lot of very specific things about British history as a result, and though it was different than I was expecting I really liked it.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I came home from seeing Love, Simon (which I have now seen twice) and picked up this book immediately. I read it super quickly (so I think it’s a good library-or-borrow pick) and found it really cute. The movie had more of an impact for me (I cried a number of times) but I think books like this one are so important. I suspect that I didn’t like this one as much because it’s told from a first-person perspective of a YA character, and while I love that in movies, I frequently can’t get into it for books these days. I absolutely agree that that’s how the story needed to be told, but it didn’t work for me, unfortunately. It’s rare for me to like a movie more than the book, but this time I did.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Another one from BOTM last month. This book was incredible. It’s about a girl in the 1970s whose dad decides to uproot their family to Alaska to explore the new frontier – but he’s a Vietnam vet with a lot of anger issues made worse by isolation, and they know absolutely nothing about living in the wilderness. I read it so quickly, and like The Immortalists, I can’t wait to read it again. I have really big feelings about this one, and all of them are good. It’s so visual and the plot really sucks you in.


The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

This was my March pick from BOTM, and I liked it! It’s set in Los Angeles that’s centered around a family quest. The grandfather/patriarch of the family, Isaac Severy, dies, leaving a puzzle behind him. Hazel, his adopted granddaughter, starts looking to piece clues together, but she soon discovers that she’s not the only one doing so. There’s a dangerous organization also on the hunt for Isaac’s life’s work. It can be a little hard to keep all the characters straight in your head, but I enjoyed reading it. This is another one I might get from the library if I could do it again, rather than buying it.


The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

I picked this up on a whim at the airport because the cover is gorgeous. I didn’t love it as much as I love the cover, but it was still a good story of a boy’s life growing up in Italy with his Mom and painter father, who then abandons him for a new family. It’s about his struggle living in shadow of his legacy and how he deals with it. It’s a bit like The Goldfinch, which I admittedly didn’t like, but they’re both centered a lot around art and a boy’s relationship to their fathers. All the reviews I saw on Goodreads for this one were so good, but I found it a bit slow. I can admit that it’s beautifully told; I just don’t think it was right for me at this time.


In total this month:

Total number of books: twelve
Number of fiction books: ten
Number of nonfiction books: two
Books by people who are not white dudes: ten
Total number of books this year: twenty seven

Currently || April 2018

Anne from the blog In Residence does a monthly link up on the first Wednesday of every month where people share what they’re up to. I’m sharing mine a day early because I have an important post scheduled for tomorrow.

showering | myself n appreciation, which is something i don’t do enough. it’s been a full year tomorrow since i moved to los angeles. i did a really hard thing and i’m making it work.

cultivating | a spirit of rest and self-care. last month, i turned 25, worked a multi-day work conference, ran a marathon, went to boston and worked a film festival. it was a LOT, and i’m excited to cill at home for the most part this month.

expecting | good things to happen this month. not ready to say more at the moment, but i’m hopeful that some things will work out.

buying | hopefully very little! after last month, when i went a little crazy with spending, i’m working on sticking to my budget. i use a (lifesaving) program called You Need A Budget, where you put all your $ into categories. after a few months of heavy credit card spending after my move, i started using this program and it’s been great. i don’t spend money i don’t have anymore. but i tapped into the emergency fund last month for a couple things that were definitely not emergencies, and i would like to stick to the budget this month. willpower is hard.

cooking | real food for myself after a few months of crazy eating. i made all my lunches (a kale and farro salad that i really like) on sunday, which made me feel good about the week ahead.