Y'all | Another kind of story.

Here's one strange thing I do: I read birthing stories. They're everywhere, you must've seen them, too. The thing is, I tend to navigate toward blogs that read like journals. As a fan of Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Lorrie Moore, I am drawn to the inner lives of strangers. That's what I find so frustrating and liberating and terrifying about the Internet: we can know the mundane details of the life of a complete stranger. But, then, does that make them not a stranger anymore?

Cyndi and I joked about running into Nat the Fat Rat in New York last weekend, but what would I have done if I had seen her? Would I have whispered shyly, "I love your blog"? Would I have said hello, or—more likely—just smiled widely at her? Not to speak for the rest of the blogging world, but I think this whole experiment of ours is a way, sure, to catalog the places we're going and the people we know and the life we're creating as we go along, but it's also a way to reach out to other people who are just stumbling along. It's a way of knowing, and of saying, that there are others out there who don't have it all figured out, who bake way too many cookies for an apartment of two people, who wish they knew what to do with their life while simultaneously being glad there will always be something else to learn or know or do.

This is all meandering back to what I brought up in the first place, I promise. I don't remember the first birthing story I read, but I remember being unable to look away. It's like the hushed questions I ask my sister while she nurses my nephew about how much it hurts, how impossible it feels compared to how impossible it actually is, what's it like. All the questions without answers. There is something so incredible about being a woman, the things we're capable of, the things our bodies will take over and just do when we're still fighting our minds. These are the raw bits of us that can sometimes get lost in the worlds we create onscreen, so I'm always pleasantly surprised when I find stories of it there—here—too. If you're feeling brave, I encourage you to read some of these, my favorite birthing stories (that is a weird category of favorites to have): The Capener Caboodle, "Finn's Birth Story"; Documenting Delight, "Welcoming Theodore" (a video, actually); and Erstwhile dear, "the birthing of Joan Bea" (this one happened in my neighborhood!).


Went | New York for the weekend.

On Friday, Nabi and I met up with Cyndi at the Museum of Natural History. Museums aren't always at the top of my list of things to do, but this one is the exception. This place is a mixture of history and art. The installations are thoughtful and interesting. Cyndi's old roommate Ellie took us on a tour of the Mammalogy department where she works, and I had the genius idea to create a Museum Museum. So much goes into the care and creation of every detail, it's a wonder how it ever came to be.

This week has been a quiet one so far. Mike is still on the baseball trip with his dad, and so it's just me at home each evening. I'm enjoying this chance for alone time; taking over the living room to piece together printed t-shirt patterns, spontaneous trips to Target and Trader Joe's (I am fully stocked on wine and beer and toppings for crackers). Usually when he is gone, I make hodge podge meals that aren't very healthy, but this time I've enjoyed singing to Pandora while I cook. Last night I had roasted chicken, mashed cauliflower, and asparagus, and tonight I did a little throwback to NYC with a bagel and lox and salad. I'm impatiently waiting an order of fabric so I can get started on some summer dresses. Each time I make a dress I can feel I'm getting closer to making something I'll feel comfortable wearing in public.

The past two nights, I've had meandering phone calls with a good friend (one of whom I was visiting in New York this weekend). I miss Mike, but I want to take full advantage of the quiet freedom of solitude.


New York kills me dead.

I find New York exhausting in the best possible way. My bus rolled in a typical hour late, and Mike was waiting for me as I stepped off. Mike and his dad are on a weeklong baseball trip, and their first game happened to coincide with my decision to skip town to New York for the weekend. He finally got to meet Nabila over a slice of plasticky New York pizza. It was perfect.

He dropped us off at the train and we rode a good hour out to Queens. My first time in Queens was ushered in by a good ol' meat on a stick. There's a magical Cinderella stand that appears after the sun goes down and it's only a block from Nabila's building. I was disappointed this morning when it was gone. We headed into the city for the Museum of Natural History, which is the most majestic of any museum I've been to. Cyndi's old roommate Ellie works there (coolest job ever) so we got a behind the scenes tour. We petted cheetah and skunk and fox and otter skins! We saw a real, live dumb waiter! We ate at Shake Shack!

That museum can suck a whole day out of you, and by the end my back was killing me, but we persevered. On to Brooklyn and Prospect Park and the free bluegrass concert! We found some familiar faces (everyone lives in Brooklyn apparently) and enjoyed Trampled by Turtles (we debated over the name) until it was time to trek back to Queens. Something about being in New York, where everything is farther away from one another, all of my usual habits go out the window. It's 2:16 AM and I'm writing a blog post. Who am I? We made it back to Queens just in time for tacos then trudged our food coma butts home. I'm sorry to say that two carne asada tacos and half a carnitas taco can deter me from the meat on a stick truck. Tomorrow: Brooklyn Round 2. (Must find Momofuku Milk Bar!)


Going to New York.

Today I said goodbye to Mike for a full week. He's heading off on a five state/six baseball game tour with his dad and I'm heading to New York for the weekend. To be honest, New York City stresses me out. It's big, it's bustling, it's fast. I've grown so accustomed to Boston, with its residential neighborhoods and side streets and remaining hidden gems. New York just seems so exposed and claimed to me, it doesn't seem like a place I could ever make my own.

Of course these are all personal fears and insecurities that I'm projecting onto a city, but each time I make the four-hour bus ride down, I have a mix of excitement and crippling fear that I will make a wrong turn and spend the rest of my days wandering New York trying to find my way home.

I'm going to visit friends in Queens and Brooklyn, and hopefully be able to make a few stops along the way. Cyndi had serendipitously planned to be in the city this very same weekend, so we have plans to force her to visit a museum tomorrow and eat ice cream for every meal. Now ice cream for every meal, now New York is speaking my language.


Where this summer takes us.

I think I will always be in awe of people who blog everyday. Perhaps they have some writing muscle that is much more toned than the one I cover up with baggy t-shirts and stretchy pants. I used to have a toned writing muscle, but somewhere along the way my priorities shifted.

These days I love for my fingers to have the peppery smell of my tomato plants or the sweet musky scent of vanilla. I'm meandering my way through a homemade dress that barely fits my boobs (someday I'll learn the art of altering a pattern to my body), and I'm one summer closer to mastering the art of ice cream making. I'm learning a new routine and enjoying the expanse of sunshine hours while simultaneously bad-mouthing the stint of 90-degree days I thought I'd left behind in Georgia.

This past weekend we traded cell phone service for a campsite in the Adirondacks. I bought Jiffy Pop and bacon at a general store that still uses a binder to keep track of locals' tabs. I stumbled through mossy woods and scrambled down slippery rocks—thinking of ticks the whole time—to swim in the Sacandaga River. Mike whittled (I use the term loosely) a tiny canoe and sailed a stick figure man complete with leaf hat down a tiny waterfall. We ate fire-blackened veggies and meat and 'mallows as the sun set behind the trees. We brought home leftover beer and bug bites, already thinking of next year's big group camping trip.


Around here | July so far

This is more or less what my fourth of July weekend looked like. We finally tried Tatte in Kendall Square. The brownie was uh-mazing, but the Jeni's ice cream—I'm sorry—was overpriced. I'm glad I got it out of my system and have at least tried the legendary brambleberry crisp. It was all it's chocked up to be, but I won't be paying $4 for a half a scoop of it. It ain't gold. 

On the way to Tatte, we saw this very complimentary bit of asphalt. 
I sweated through my shirt baking these cookies and on the morning of Independence Day, I filled them with homemade coconut ice cream and rolled them in chocolate chips. Talk about something to celebrate!
We spent our Fourth of July on Jenna and Ron's porch, eating and sipping and laughing and sweating. Two years makes it a tradition, right? 
At first I was bummed we couldn't go anywhere for the long weekend, then I realized we had all kinds of time to do all the summer things. Like pick strawberries. 

 I spent most of the time running from bees. Mike was a natural on his first time berry-picking. He even presoaked towels in ice water to keep us cool! We scored on fresh farm eggs and homemade ice cream as well, then stopped of at the Natick Mall for some free A/C.

How's summer treating you?


A break in the silence.

It is officially summer here. We spent the Fourth of July on a friend's deck sampling saisons and homemade ice cream sandwiches. We kneeled on sticky knees in the cool grass watching fireworks from MIT. Wednesday felt like the last day of school; I squirmed in my seat and took an hour lunch break at the pool across the street. Each night our dinner and bed time got later and later, each morning we woke to the sun full in the sky. We have two baby tomatoes despite (because of?) the heat and unforgiving sun. We went strawberry picking and now have home made strawberry quick jam and strawberry graham ice cream in the fridge. We sought out air conditioned places: the movie theater for The East, the Natick mall, Target, our living room with the shades drawn and all the doors closed. I made a deal with myself that if I can make it to the gym three days a week for the next month, I can buy myself a new computer with freelance money that's coming in. Our trip to Hawaii is coming fast; the summer is always on its way out just as it arrives, so we're working on savoring.

How are you?