Currently | July 2018

July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day! I’m linking up with Anne at In Residence for her monthly Currently link up. I missed last month, but I’m back! I’ll have to do a more complete post at some point, but a lot has changed in recent weeks, mostly for the better. There’s also been a lot of stress and I’ve found that sticking to a regular schedule kind of sucks sometimes, but it does make me feel so much mentally clearer and better overall.

I’ve learned that I really need to commit to a 3x a week workout schedule at the least, as well as taking time offline and reading for a bit every day. Yesterday I ran 2 miles and did some reading, and it felt good to do both of those things for myself. Sometimes the things that are helpful for us are things we don’t want to do, but it’s for the best.


celebrating the fact that it’s the second half of the year! Today marks 15 months since I’ve moved to LA, which is bananas. I still love it here so much.

visiting Santa Barbara! I took a trip up there over the weekend to visit an old friend who’s in school. We had so much fun and I want to write a post all about it. It was just a one-night visit, but I had a great time. I’ll be going home to Boston in a few weeks and visiting Philadelphia on the way, and hoping to get to Martha’s Vineyard as well.

baking nothing! I’ve been trying to get back into cooking regularly after finding myself far too reliant on microwave meals, and it takes up more time, but it will be worth it. I made a big batch of muffins last month and froze some of them; I think I have just one left so I may make some more in the next week or so. I’d love to start baking more but I feel like so often 1) the ingredients are expensive and 2) the foods I want to bake are delicious but not the best healthy choice. Avoiding baking removes the temptation, for the most part. But I do find baking really fun.

wearing real clothes to work for the longest period in a while. My work is pretty casual, and in April or so I realized that I was wearing leggings and sweatshirts every day. I’m happy to say I’ve broken out of that cycle since then and I’ve been wearing “real clothes” all the time to work now!

loving summer weather, the fact that my Harry Styles concerts are just 10 days away, and that I’m going back to the East Coast at the end of the month!

What are you up to this month?

June 2018 Books

July 3, 2018

I read 5 books in July. I’ve fallen out of my reading routine a little bit, but I’m leaning into it. Goodreads says I’m only two books behind my goal, so I’m not as behind as I thought. Also: reading is supposed to be fun!

Because June is Pride month, I intentionally read books that had LGBTQ representation. this month. The representation might be small in some of these books, but it’s definitely there. I’ve avoided pointing this out in the books where applicable because of spoilers!


THE FEMALE PERSUASION by Meg Wolitzer
★★★★

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer–madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place–feels her inner world light up. Then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.


Main thoughts on this: a good story but about 100 pages too long. I flew through the first half and it took so long to get through the second half. I liked the characters (or at least found something redeeming about each of them) and found this a decently interesting story. But I sort of felt like it was missing something. Maybe it was a bit too long. I read Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS a few years ago and didn’t enjoy it as much as this one, which was more relevant to my life and interests. I loved the different depictions of womanhood and making your way in the world.


THE BOOK OF ESSIE by Meghan MacLean Weir
★★★★


Esther Ann Hicks–Essie–is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage–and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media–through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell–Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?


This book is a cross between 19 Kids and Counting (which I will shamelessly admit I used to be obsessed with) and Teen Mom, with a pinch of a wedding episode of The Bachelor. I loved Essie’s gumption in going after what she wants, and I loved that it read like a reality show. I found it hard to keep track of all the family members and wish that had been clearer from the beginning. I both loved and hated that it felt like there were a bunch of loose threads hanging at the end: it kept me reading for sure, but it annoyed me when I got to the end and couldn’t figure out what those things were supposed to mean. Sometimes I wonder if I take things too literally and don’t pick up on the subtext in books, you know? Overall though, this was a great read. Some of the themes are heavy (sexual assault, murder, cults) but I didn’t think of it as a dark book.


WHEN KATIE MET CASSIDY by Camille Perri
★★★★

Katie Daniels is a perfection-seeking 28-year-old lawyer living the New York dream. She’s engaged to charming art curator Paul Michael, has successfully made her way up the ladder at a multinational law firm and has a hold on apartments in Soho and the West Village. Suffice it to say, she has come a long way from her Kentucky upbringing. But the rug is swept from under Katie when she is suddenly dumped by her fiance, Paul Michael, leaving her devastated and completely lost. On a whim, she agrees to have a drink with Cassidy Price-a self-assured, sexually promiscuous woman she meets at work. The two form a newfound friendship, which soon brings into question everything Katie thought she knew about sex—and love.


This is a well-written romcom on a topic that doesn’t get enough literary attention: what happens when you might not be as straight as you thought? This is one way it could go. I would have liked more info on the character’s backstories and motivations, if I had my way. I liked this more than The Assistants, Perri’s first novel, and its easy reading makes it a great beach read. I definitely don’t think it’ll win any literary awards, and I have some issues with the plot, but beyond that I would recommend it. It was fun.


THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Reid Jenkins
★★★★★

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.


I bought the audiobook of this one last summer, listened to 30% of it, and then decided I needed it in hard copy so I could read it again and lend it to friends. I loved it so much. Evelyn’s story is so intriguing, full of that Old Hollywood glamor that I’m so intrigued by. I loved it for Evelyn’s story of her life as an actress and falling in love with the most unexpected person and learning from your mistakes. It’s a book set in LA that doesn’t feel like the cheesy kind of LA book – since moving here I’ve somehow read far too many of those. I loved it.


THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS by Taylor Jenkins Reid
★★★

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.


I’d heard so much about it before I finally got around to reading it. While it absolutely had an impact and I’m glad I read it, I didn’t love this book as much as I wanted to! It’s emotionally gut wrenching in so many ways, both good and bad, all about family and identity and what it means to help your kids grow into themselves. I felt like it dragged on a little too long and the metaphors were too drawn out, but beyond that I’d still recommend it for sure.


In total this month:

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

May 2018 Books

June 4, 2018

I have no clue how I did it, but I managed to read FIFTEEN books this month. It’s crazy. This month is also the one I decided that I was going to start reading Kindle books from the library again. Honestly, a big part of why I didn’t is because I loved the image of my book stack at the end of the month. But after examining my finances and moving a million books into my new apartment at the end of last month, I decided not spending money on more books I’ll have to move again is more important than a complete book stack. I’ll still be buying books when they’re important to me, but I want to focus less on the aesthetic and more on saving money. Buckle up, because this is a long post!

THE ANSWERS by Catherine Lacey
★★★


We are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the “Girlfriend Experiment,” the brainchild of an eccentric actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship—even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles. Mary is hired as the “Emotional Girlfriend”—certainly better than the “Anger Girlfriend” or the “Maternal Girlfriend”—and is pulled into Kurt’s ego-driven and messy attempt at human connection.


I bought this book on my birthday on the recommendation of the bookseller at the indie book store near my new apartment, Book Soup. I was a little bit hesitant but I decided I would trust her. I wouldn’t say that she was wrong in her description, but rather that the book just probably wasn’t for me.

CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND by Kevin Kwan
★★★


It’s the eve of Rachel Chu’s wedding, and she should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond, a wedding dress she loves, and a fiancé willing to thwart his meddling relatives and give up one of the biggest fortunes in Asia in order to marry her. Still, Rachel mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Then a chance accident reveals his identity. Suddenly, Rachel is drawn into a dizzying world of Shanghai splendor, a world where people attend church in a penthouse, where exotic cars race down the boulevard, and where people aren’t just crazy rich … they’re China rich.


This is the sequel to CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which I read last month. I bought it on a bit of a whim when I was finishing up the first one (we needed to get our parking ticket validated and I oh-so-bravely volunteered to make a purchase at Barnes and Noble to do so, such a sacrifice!) and I liked it! I can’t decide which one I liked more.

SHRILL by Lindy West
★★★★

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.


I met Lindy West at the Festival of Books last year, where she signed this book that I promptly put on the shelf and didn’t pick up for a year. My roommate Bri read my copy before I did, and then I figured I should probably get to it. Lindy has been dealing with trolls for basically as long as the internet has been around, and she struggled with them at first, and then decided she wasn’t going to put up with them anymore. She was going to keep doing her thing, no matter who didn’t like it.

I should warn that this book has crude language and discusses some heavy topics (the summary gives a bit of an idea of that) but if you can handle those things, this is a memoir that I think is worth reading. I really identified with Lindy’s struggles of body image, to the point where I said out loud “I don’t like this book” and wanted to stop reading – that’s how real it felt to me. I’m glad I pressed on, though, because this book is funny. It made me want to be a bit more courageous in the way I deal with struggle.

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN by JK Rowling
★★★★

For twelve long years, the dreaded fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts… he’s at Hogwarts.” Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may be a traitor in their midst.


Every year I’ve intended to re-read the Harry Potter books, and I never manage to get past the first two or three. I’m hopeful that this is the year I’m finally going to complete that reread. It’s weird because I love these books so much, and they always hold a certain kind of magic, but there’s a weird sort of dread that comes from rereading them. It’s almost like I’ve read the firs one so man times that it seems like a chore to cmplete the reread, which is probably why I’ve gotten stuck so many times. I’ve read the later ones in the series far less times, and those are some of my favorites, so I’m hopeful about my ability to continue this challenge going forward. (Just keeping it real here today, I guess!)

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater
★★★★

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


This one is a reread too; it’s a series of four books, and I own the first three but have only read this first one. It’s a YA fantasy book that conjures up thoughts of old journals and dark forests and magic and cars that might break down at any moment – if this seems like some sort of aesthetic mood board, that’s because this book makes me think of all those things. I usually stay away from paranormal, but I’m excited to continue with the rest of this series for the first time.

TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN by John Green
★★★★

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.


Oh god, this book. I read it all in one day, on Mother’s Day, because when your mom lives far away and everyone else is busy, there’s not much happening. So I picked it up and read it with coffee on the couch, and then later I sat by the pool and read in the sunshine, and then I finished it that night in bed.

It is entirely fair to say that this book really stressed me out, but I loved it. It’s not plot-heavy (I actually have some issues with the plot, but I’m willing to let them go) but instead it focuses on Aza’s mental health and how she deals with it.

I’m noticing now as I’m writing this that the cover is a perfect depiction of the book. I wrote a little bit more about how this book affected me earlier this month, but I really just recommend you pick it up yourself.

SOURDOUGH by Robin Sloan
★★★★

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread. Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive. Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show. When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?


The description on the back of the book is a little misleading – all of that stuff happens in the first fifty pages or so, and the rest of the book is about what happens next. (Maybe that’s what the back descriptions are for, actually, but I tend to want to know a bit more about the plot ahead of time.) This book is about the convergence of technology and baking, with some magical realism thrown in for good measure. It’s an entertaining read that I really enjoyed, but I find it hard to describe after the fact. It all makes sense while you’re reading, though, which is most important.

OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by Abbi Waxman
★★


As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors’ private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton’s wife is mysteriously missing, and now this… After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that’s a notion easier said than done when Anne’s husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families–and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.


This one is probably best described as chick lit – it’s a family drama about neighborhood relationships and how they intertwine. I liked it ok but didn’t love it. There were parts that grated on me and parts that I found heartwarming. I appreciated it for its diversity of families and that it showed no matter how families look on the outside, nothing is perfect. It was told from the view of two women and one man, the primary caretakers for their kids, but there were a few instances when the kids’ perspectives were brought in. I wanted more OR less from the kids – either commit to the viewpoint or don’t, but with the way it was done I felt like so many loose ends were left hanging. I bought this from BOTM and it actually made me reconsider the types of books I buy in the future. This would be a good one to get from the library.

BACHELOR NATION by Amy Kaufman
★★★★

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise–ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She has interviewed dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show’s inner workings: what it’s like to be trapped in the mansion “bubble”; dark, juicy tales of producer manipulation; and revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery that occurs long before the fantasy suite.


I saw Amy speak at last month’s LA Times Festival of Books, and even though I don’t watch The Bachelor, I knew I wanted to read this. I actually don’t follow the show super closely so I’m not sure how much of this was already known, but to an outsider it was mind blowing. Obviously so much of The Bachelor is staged, but this brought to light a lot about how things work behind the scenes. There’s stories of contestants being encouraged to get drunk and stay up all night because the things they say when sleep deprived make for good stories. This is one I’d recommend getting from the library if you can; it’s a quick read that you probably won’t reread. Glad I read it!

THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo
★★★★


Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.


This book is written like a letter from Lucy to Gabe, so there’s lots of casual writing and use of the word “you”. If that’s not your thing, stay away from this one. I loved that it was told in different vignettes of different lengths; it felt more casual and informal. which would be true to the story. This is essentially the tale of two star-crossed lovers who never quite managed to get it together. I liked it!

THE ASSISTANTS by Camille Perri
★★★

Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she’d never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she’s bored, broke, and just a bit over it all. When a technical error with Robert’s travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer…


This was a fun story – who hasn’t dreamed about having all their debt wiped away in one fell swoop? It felt like it all wrapped up too neatly, but I was willing to ignore that for the sake of the story that came before it. Another good library book, and one that would make a great movie!

STRONGER by Jeff Bauman
★★★★

Jeff Bauman woke up on Tuesday, April 16th 2013 and he had no legs. Just thirty hours prior, Jeff was surrounded by revelry at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The first bomb went off at his feet as he awaited his girlfriend’s finish. When Jeff awoke days later from hours of surgery, rather than take stock of his now completely altered life, Jeff ripped out his breathing tube and tried to speak. He couldn’t. Jeff asked for a pad and paper and he wrote down seven words, “Saw the guy. Looked right at me,” setting off one of the biggest manhunts in the country’s history and beginning his own brave road to recovery.


Jeff got both his legs blown off at the 2013 Boston Marathon (you’ve definitely seen the photo) and this is his story. It’s been 5 years since the bombing, and I no longer think about that day all the time anymore. I don’t think I could’ve read this book when it came out four years ago, but I was ready for it now. What I liked the most is that it was real and didn’t shy away from the hard stuff. Also the Red Sox feature heavily, which is right up my alley. I doubt this would ever happen but I would love to read a follow up.

THE QUEEN OF HEARTS by Kimmery Martin
★★

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.


I’d been wanting to read this for weeks, after seeing it all over bookstagram. That cover is gorgeous! Unfortunately that was basically the best part. It’s a bit like Grey’s Anatomy: medical and family drama galore, which is up my alley. I thought it was well told. What I didn’t like: there was too much medical jargon for me, and I found it hard to keep the two character voices distinct in my head. Once I found out what the secret was I pretty much stopped caring. This one is sadly pretty forgettable. I’m disappointed because I really wanted to love this.

HOW TO WALK AWAY by Katherine Center
★★★

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment. In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. 


In reading this book, I learned that I don’t love stories that involve someone trying to overcome some sort of life-changing injury that’s meant to be inspirational. This book was in the style of ME BEFORE YOU, and I just do not think those are for me in most cases. This was a fun read, but a little too cheesy for my taste. It falls into that beach read/chick lit category, which I do not at all feel guilty about loving. This was just one that didn’t work for me. I enjoyed the experience of reading it, but looking back it felt cheesy and predictable.

THE CIRCLE by Dave Eggers
★★★★

When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.


I saw the movie that stemmed from this book last May, just before my first day of work. I didn’t like the movie that much, but I’m happy to say I liked the book a bit better. I loved how this deals with technology taking over our lives I have a running with, which tracks my steps, mileage, heart rate, the hours I sleep, and much more. I have an app that tracks how much I read a day. I use a program that tracks how much I spend. Just between those three programs, I’m collecting an awful lot of data on myself. In lots of cases this data collection is useful – but what happens when it takes over our lives? That’s what this book is about. There’s a few awkward + uncomfortable sex scenes, and the characters sometimes feel a bit like caricatures, but beyond that I liked it!


In total this month:

Total number of books: fifteen
Number of fiction books: twelve
Number of nonfiction books: three
Books by people who are not white dudes: eleven
Total number of books this year: forty three

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.