nesting * geeking * critiquing

{nesting}

#My5Days A Tale of 2 Beaches

A new Star Wars movie came out yesterday!!!! So you probably think you know what I’m blogging about today, right?! Amazingly, Rogue One isn’t the topic. I did see it last night and really loved about 80% of it (the other 20% is up for debate), and I’m going again tonight so we’ll see if that number fluctuates before I post about it exclusively.

Instead, I’m sitting in front of a space heater, watching it sleet outside and reflecting on days spent at the beach. For many people, a day at the beach means hot temperatures, warm water and roasting oneself in sunshine. I prefer something a bit more rustic: rocky shorelines, pine-crested bluffs and the fewer people, the better. Foggy and overcast is A-okay by me, and I’m perfectly content not venturing too far into the waters of the Pacific (COLD!). So it should come as no surprise to anyone here that Washington and Oregon are my go-to happy places.

Back in September, I spent a week on the Oregon Coast with my momma; naturally, we had a fantastic time! Temperatures topped out in the mid-60s, and each day boasted a beautiful mix of sun and clouds. One very special afternoon was dedicated to visiting what is perhaps my favorite place on earth, Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. Just north of the bustling Cannon Beach tourist destination, Ecola is a divine mix of old-growth forest and pristine shoreline. Though hikers and surfers and casual revelers like ourselves typically flock to Ecola, this day was blissfully quiet. Our own perfect little slice of heaven, shared with only 4 or 5 other people and their canine companions. As the golden hour fell before sunset, the tide quieted and mirror-smooth water lapped against the shore, create exquisite reflections of the soaring landscape. I wanted desperately to capture the beauty through the lens of my camera, but I found it difficult to concentrate on that task…instead, I let the serenity of my surroundings wash away my self-imposed anxiety over capturing a perfect image, took in as many mental images as possible and left the rest up to my trusty iPhone.

It’s hard for me to overcome the feeling that every moment needs to be documented. Heaven knows I have enough photographs of even the most trivial bits of life stored on my phone, computer and external hard drives. But when you stand in the midst of natural splendor like Indian Beach, sometimes the strongest desire is to simply soak it all in sans camera. I hope you’ll enjoy the reflections I did capture, imagine the salty brine of crisp ocean air and unplug from the bustle of the season for a moment and do some reflecting of your own.

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In stark contrast to the peace and calm of Oregon, my husband and I found ourselves in Los Angeles at the beginning of December. In addition to christening our new Universal Studios Hollywood annual passes—Wizarding World of Harry Potter with waaaaaaayyy shorter lines than Orlando!!!—I thought it would be great fun to photograph architecture and Hollywood landmarks and all of the things that make Southern California so different from my beloved Pacific Northwest. And then I got sick. Really sick: a 104 fever yielded a diagnosis of flu and pneumonia from the minute clinic in Burbank, CA. So the first 2 days of our trip included quarantine in the hotel room and even without having cable at home, it wasn’t awesome. The nurse practitioner had instructed me to wear a mask if I went in public, which seemed like a miserable option. Instead, we found a loophole: avoid people. As you may know, this is no small task in southern California. With a little help from Google, we drove an hour and a half north of Los Angeles to a quiet beach in Oxnard and were shocked to discover we were the only people there! A couple of fishermen showed up later, but the majority of the day was spent simply walking the shore and breathing in the healing power of the ocean.

Unlike the ragged cliff faces and thick vegetation that leads to Indian Beach, Ormond Beach is surrounded by flatlands that feature a U.S. Navy base to the south and an abandoned (I think?) power plant on the northeast side. Instead of the fairy-tale forest walk to the shore, it felt more like navigating a postapocalyptic wasteland, complete with signs for rattlesnakes. My illness kept my quest for adventure at bay, so I mostly just sat on a little sandy ridge as we waited for sunset over the beautiful, blustery Pacific. I would have preferred to be healthy for our little trip, but the limitations made me slow down and be deliberate about taking care of myself. If that’s not a worthwhile way to spend a “free” day from work, I’m not sure what is.

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I’ve worked for Hallmark Cards 8 years now in various editorial roles, currently as a writer for the e-commerce team. This year, the Creative division decided to start at its core by giving each employee 5 days to use (apart from regular PTO) for finding inspiration and tapping into creative outlets that may not be leveraged in our everyday positions. A couple of days exploring the West Coast were just what I needed to refuel! #My5Days

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An Open Letter to Cubs Fans

Dear Cubbies Fans,

So that was pretty exciting, huh?! Congratulations on seeing a century of loyalty and enthusiasm finally pay off. This was a really fun team to watch, and you all should be very proud of them, your season and your fans!

Before last year, I was a Kansas City girl who was just a toddler the last time the Royals took the World Series championship in 1985. The unthinkable happened in 2014 when we seemingly fluked our way through the playoffs and into the Fall Classic. We found ourselves inexplicably evenly matched with the Giants and our young team fought hard through game 7.

Do you remember how you felt last night in the bottom of the 5th when Hendricks was pulled out in favor of Lester and things got a little scary? Or worse, when Lester was pulled in favor of Chapman and the game tied and things got a lot scary? That gut-wrenching feeling of having victory so very close only to have it snatched away… that’s how Royals fans felt when we lost game 7 in 2014.

I’m so glad that feeling was fleeting for you. By forcing extra innings (and apparently having a “come to Jesus” moment of pulling themselves back together during the rain delay), your boys got the job done! The thrill of that moment simply can’t be matched.

The Royals came back in 2015 to settle unfinished business and hammered the final nail into the Mets’ coffin in game 5 of the series. Your own Ben Zobrist was our own Ben Zobrist then; it’s like the guy is good luck or something. Now I know 30 years is a far cry from 108, but the overwhelming elation we felt was like yours. So having been there fairly recently, I have a little advice for you…

• Accept that bleary eyes and pinch marks are part of your existence for the next week or so. Whether from physical and mental exhaustion or sheer bliss, you’ll probably have shed some tears and lost some sleep. That beautiful, delusional state will make you wonder if this is real life. It is!

• Realize that the crash is inevitable and it will burn a little. Adequate rest is essential to the next 24-48 hours of celebration. Power naps will help tame the cranky little bear inside of you. And for Pete’s sake, eat a Snickers or something.

• Learn to be okay with wearing the same thing as everyone else. You’re all rocking virtually identical WS gear right now, own it. Odds are you’ll be standing in line at the supermarket behind someone sporting the exact same shirt at least a dozen times over the next year.

• Finally, enjoy every single moment of this. Take pictures of parades and parties, but get out from behind the screen or viewfinder and capture mental images too. The sense of community and pride amongst your fellow fans is intoxicating; drink it in.

The Cubs might roar next season for back-to-back appearances (maybe even against the Royals), or they might decide to hibernate a little sometime next summer and blame it on a shortened off-season. You never know when you’ll see your boys in the World Series again, so savor it!

Congrats, Cubbies! Thanks for letting us celebrate history with you. Oh, and somebody hug Bob Newhart for me if you see him around town!


Shaken Not Stirred

I’ve heard it said that time moves in one direction and memory in the other. I would argue there should be an asterisk following that phrase, an asterisk which leads to a very large disclaimer stating both accelerate exponentially with age.

Most days pass without my feeling much like a full-fledged adult. I’m at the teetering point between early-30s and mid-30s, married with a mortgage, car payment, full-time job and 3 little mouths to feed (ok, so they belong to dogs and a cat)…but it seems all that does not an adult make.

What does make me feel very adult-ish is the shift in how I perceive the workings of the world. The statement above about time and memories moving rapidly in opposite directions—that’s new for me. I used to scoff at those who claimed life seemed to speed by after a certain point; now I believe them. Not only do I believe them, I can personally attest to feeling that way.

Last Saturday morning, the start of Labor Day weekend, should have been one for the memory banks. Just after 7am, I awoke from a sound sleep to the sensation of the house shaking. I didn’t think our washing machine was on a spin cycle and the dogs weren’t scratching up against the bed, so my mind jumped to “earthquake.” When the shaking lasted for the better part of a minute, I slid out of bed and peeked into the tall foyer to find the pendant light swaying. The evidence stacked up, but an earthquake in Kansas City?! Tornados are prevalent, flooding and droughts alternate with relative frequency and we get an ice storm that devastates the region every 20 years or so. There’s a reason midwesterners are considered hardy stock!
Earthquakes, though, are something of a head-scratcher even with our proximity to the New Madrid fault (which has been eerily quiet for as long as anyone I know has been alive). But an earthquake it was—5.8 centered in north-central Oklahoma.

The quake was all anyone on local news outlets and social media could talk about… For a couple of hours at least. Without any damage to remind us, the morning’s confusion and subsequent excitement faded. By day’s end it was nothing more than a brief topic of conversation at family gatherings, a cursory impression.

We are a people of short memory. It’s an element of the human condition that is both perpetuated and intensified by the digital age in which we live. Fads explode across our tethered screens and then fizzle like a fleeting shock of static-electricity. I can’t fathom what warp speed time will be when I finally feel like an established adult some day, and I can only hope my aging mind keeps up with the amount of energy it will take to maintain any sort of lasting memories.

 


Blind Date #My5Days

As I approached the unassuming entrance to the restaurant, I couldn’t deny the overwhelming rush of anxiety that pulsed through my veins.

It’s a scary thing, meeting someone for the first time; far scarier than plunking out an email and hoping it’s well received. MA and I had exchanged a few photos over the years, but the vast majority of our interaction revolved around the written word. Never had I heard the timbre of her voice—outside of how I imagined it in my head—or seen the mannerisms that accompanied the smooth cadence of her communication.

Did I look okay? Was my eyeliner drawn on too thickly, causing me to look like a tramp? What if I chose the wrong kind of flowers and they triggered allergies or suddenly dropped their petals? What if I didn’t live up to the expectations she had accumulated over our last 3 years of correspondence?

Miraculously, my feet managed courage beyond what my nerve-wracked mind could spare and we ended up at the hostess’ station to announce our arrival for the already-seated party. “I don’t know how people go on blind dates,” I squeaked to my mom. (What, you don’t drag your mother along for an engagement some 350 miles from home?!)

And so, we followed the nice young lady around the corner to our fateful meeting…

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I first learned of Edmond Sun newspaper columnist Marjorie Anderson in June 2013 when one of her articles caught the attention of our corporate intranet’s “Buzz About HaIMG_0663llmark” feature. More often than not, the “Buzz” was little more than a mommy blogger’s review of a product we had sent her for free; those posts didn’t get the satisfaction of my click traffic. This particular post, though, caught my attention and held it for many hours as I read through entry after entry of Ms. Anderson’s “As I See It” column.

With tired eyes, a fresh jolt of inspiration and an overwhelming desire to express my appreciation for this dear woman’s writing, I emailed the newspaper editor. “If there’s not already a published collection of these columns,” I urged, “there needs to be one! Marjorie Anderson is a national treasure, and these entries deserve recognition and preservation!” (In truth, this is but the essence of what I penned—the actual message is long since lost to the tragedy of 60-day automatic mail purge.)

Within hours, I was reading a response from the editor with Marjorie Anderson herself copied. Armed with her personal email address, I embarked on what has become one of the most fulfilling campaigns of my life: a budding friendship and digital pen pal connection with a writer whom I greatly admire.

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There she sat, in the flesh, before my very eyes. Even with a handful of photos lodged in my memory, I hadn’t been entirely sure what to expect of my octogenarian friend. What I found was a saucy and sweet, bright-eyed lady with rosy pink lips and cherry red fingernails. A woman as tiny as a little bird but not the least bit frail looking, quite possibly even better coordinated physically than yours truly, who happens to be some 50 years her junior.

I set the vase of flowers on the edge of the table and reached out to join hands with MA. She looked full on my face and asked in astonishment, “Is it… is it really you?!” And I’ve never felt so honored and astounded to have someone ask me the words that were mirrored in my own mind.

We settled into the booth with my mom sitting across from Brett Barney, MA’s son, and I across from my mythical-turned-even-better-in-real-life confidant. The anxiety I’d carried quickly faded in favor of warmth and familiarity as our conversation flowed effortlessly from topic to topic. We touched on the journey from Kansas City, MO, to Edmond, OK; the similarities and vast differences between MA’s teaching and my mom’s career in school administration; and how we had all arrived at this very place. I’ll admit I found it hard to concentrate at times with the ridiculously delicious honey-pepper bacon burger on the plate in front of me. If you find yourself poking around the Sooner State, it’s worth your time to seek out an Interurban restaurant.

After lunch, we followed Brett and MA to meet with the writers’ group, and Su-the-weenie-dog(!), at MA’s house. IMG_0666While the group usually meets on Thursday afternoons, a special exception was made for my attendance. A tremendously talented author named Paul Gaines joined us and shared some of his short stories and character studies. Like our mutual friend MA, Mr. Gaines is utterly charming and endearing; I’m honored and delighted to have met him!

There can’t be many better ways to spend an afternoon than sitting around MA’s kitchen table, nibbling on cookies and hearing pieces penned by the group members read aloud. The group shares feedback and suggestions, and I wish I had prepared something to take along. Perhaps one day before too long I will repeat the trip with the express purpose of gaining some criticism on one of my works…and getting some more “kisses” from little Su.

As the sun did its best to scorch the earth in high-afternoon Oklahoma fashion, we decided it might be time to go on our way. I’ll fondly remember this beautiful experience and hope I can one day make such an impression as Ms. Marjorie Anderson. It’s wholly fitting that she signs off on her correspondence with “smiles, ma” because smiles are precisely what she brings to this world!

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Me, Su & MA (8.19.2016)

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I’m approaching my 8th anniversary working for Hallmark Cards. When I was brought on board as an on-call proofreader, I never imagined I would transition to working as a technical editor and eventually a bona fide writer (though not one who writes the card sentiments). I’ve been blessed with editorial opportunities I’m not sure I could have experienced anywhere else in this amount of time.
Hallmark is not exempt from the marketplace changes and various challenges that face corporations today, but the Creative division is committed to ensuring we stay the heart of Hallmark and find new ways to help facilitate emotional connections for our consumers. This year Creative decided to start at its core by giving each employee 5 days to use (apart from regular PTO) for finding inspiration and tapping into creative outlets that may not be leveraged in our everyday positions. A day for a trip to Oklahoma to meet MA was at the top of my wish list, and it did not disappoint. #My5Days

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A Short Tale

Some days you feel really good about yourself. Other days you try on clothes at a store.

We’re about to embark on a big family vacation, during which time we’ll have a photographer take pictures of all 14 of us together. Family photos=coordinating clothing. Coordinating clothing=a color I don’t currently own in a size that fits, much less flatters. Needing clothes=checked everywhere for said color to no avail, so one last-ditch effort visit to Old Navy on my way home from work yesterday.

I found a shirt that fits the bill (AND ME!), more or less. And with that accomplishment, I felt something akin to relief and happiness.

Then I started thinking about the fact that we’ll be in Florida and it will be stupid hot and my shiny white legs probably will wither up and fall off if I attempt to wear jeans and capris the entire week. This thinking led me down a dangerous path…right to the shorts section.

I’ll pull a page from the Stephenie Meyer School of Writing here and spare you the action sequence.

I ended up in the checkout line with a couple of shirts and no shorts. Also in the checkout line, a woman with a couple of kids—one of whom could be heard throughout the store as he wailed woefully. At the tender age of 3-maybe-4 years old, this tot was decidedly unhappy with his mother, repeatedly saying he didn’t like her anymore.

For the entirety of our 15 minutes in the checkout line, he moaned and repeatedly told this poor woman that he didn’t like her anymore.

So, to the woman at Old Navy who was probably having a rough day… I just tried on a bunch of shorts so I, too, am familiar with that fresh wave of humiliation and disappointment… It’s nothing a nap can’t fix.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.