2.17.2014

Monday morning reminder.

We have limited years on this planet. Every minute counts. If you are living the wrong life, there is only one way forward... and it is scary and dark, it may cost a lot of money and undoubtedly it will be uncomfortable.

Lately I've been noticing how many people in my life should probably be diagnosed with depression. I have no other word for it. I feel compelled this morning to say that momentum is no excuse for laying down and letting life happen to you. The most alive I've ever felt were times when I looked the impossible in the face and said "HERE WE GO."

Here's a line from one of my favorite meditations:

“Every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. I let go of grievances and choose miracles.”

Choose miracles, friends.

Choose. Miracles.

2.07.2014

How to get used to a new idea.

When Chris called me about San Francisco, I couldn't stop thinking about this pail and shovel set my sister bought for Noah for Christmas. She'd asked me what he needed; I told her we didn't have any fun outdoor yard toys and that we were really looking forward to getting him a little sandbox for our backyard in Portland. So suddenly when Portland was looking like San Francisco, I thought a lot about that pail and what could have been.

Parenting is difficult for me because sometimes I feel like I'm trying to replicate the best parts of my youth for my son in an entirely different environment. Maybe you feel the same way. When you raise children differently than you were raised, it really is like speaking a foreign language. It's clunky and stressful and the nostalgic moments are few and far between. We didn't have space in this Brooklyn apartment for a Christmas tree the past two years and while we made do with paper decorations, it felt like bullshit Christmas. Real Christmas is like how things are at my parents' house, with a tree and cookies and a big table for family to gather for a meal.

So for the first few days that I was processing this move, I was mad and sad and bad. I don't feel bad admitting that here because I'm in a different head space today, and I think it's important to say it. In those early days I was desperate to read blogs and experiences in which people were raising children in small spaces, so I spent a ton of time Street Viewing SF from afar and digging around in archives.

Then two things happened to change my perspective.

The first is that my friend Kelley offered to babysit Noah on my birthday for a few hours so I could go to the Tenement Museum (which I'd been dying to investigate!). I took the first tour they had, which focused on the shops that existed in the first floor of the tenements. We started in what used to be a German pub and I listened to the stories of the family who ran the pub, as well as those who came on Sundays for dinner and drinks.

"Back then, the apartments were so small that people didn't have living rooms or salons," the tour guide explained. "So they would meet up in these pubs and use them as their living rooms. German expats would play board games and participate in societies and read the newspaper together."

Something clicked for me when she said this. I'd always felt slightly guilty for heading out to the local cafe when I wanted to read or blog or whatnot (cheaper to brew coffee at home and all that...), but now I realize that Chris and I have been using public spaces to compliment our small living space. Noah and I practically lived at the park last summer, a fine substitute for a back yard. And our frequent visits to the bookstores down the street are solid alternate versions to a library or study or office at home.

I felt a little better.

Then, during our long flight to California last Friday night, I watched about 6 billion episodes of House Hunters. They told stories of a bunch of Americans who were transferred abroad for jobs: to Portugal, to Berlin, to the south of France. I watched Texans encounter tiny German fridges and Californians consider dishwasherless kitchens. I knew what that felt like; I've been an expat many times. And when I realized that, I remembered that I took on my French apartments with a very different set of expectations. Rather than compare them to my living spaces back home, I was always excited and intrigued by the newness and ready to embrace the way they did things locally.

So! What if I thought of our sejour in San Francisco as if I were an expat? Instead of expecting to recognize myself on the streets of Berkeley or Oakland, what if I approached it as a foreign place, prepared to find the best aspects of the area. I imagined myself as an old woman saying things like "when we lived in San Francisco those few years, we didn't have the money for a yard but we did visit the Exploratorium every week!"

This made me feel a lot better.

So now that's my approach. It's possible that we'll get out there and never want to leave, but it's also possible that we will touch down for a few years and then find another place to call home. What I find increasingly true about unexpected change is that I need to allow myself time to process it and time to bounce back. Visiting the city last week sure helped, but time has helped too.

2.04.2014

Go west, pre-middle-aged woman.*

We were moving to Portland, Oregon. Having told ourselves for the past several years that NYC was too busy, too expensive, too stressful, too far from nature, we finally made the call last summer. Portland in 2014; it was happening.

We told our families in the fall and contacted movers for estimates. I quit my NY-based job and could take Plucky anywhere; Chris had a few options to entertain in terms of working remotely. I wrote the news in almost every Christmas card I sent. We had done our homework. That's what I'm getting at.

And then, sometimes when you least expect it, a curveball hits.

Three weeks ago Chris was flown out to San Francisco to interview for his dream job. Neither of us put too much stock in the scenario because it was so competitive and also I have really been working on not worrying about THINGS THAT ARE NOT YET REAL (personal growth shout-out!). So when he called me after the interview and told me he had an offer to work onsite in SF, I really was in shock. San Francisco? CALIFORNIA? Everything, from less financial stress to having a yard with a sandbox disintegrated during the few days before my birthday and I found myself facing 33 years old in a very uncertain place.



Reddit flew us out this past weekend so that we could take a look at the area. I'd been to SF before and could not imagine foggy, chilly days in July. I barely remembered any nature and hated the idea of living in a shoebox apartment with our growing toddler. But something in me has been softening, so much so that we arrived in Oakland on Friday night prepared to look for the best during our weekend adventure.



And I have to report back that we don't feel like we're going to be "making do" in the Bay area. We fell in love with Berkeley, watched the Super Bowl at a high school friend's house with his toddler and drove through stunning nature. Yesterday our flight home was canceled and we were rebooked on the red eye, so we took off for the beach, walking and driving along the coast, memories of our honeymoon road trip at every turn. It was a wonderful weekend and we have decided to say yes to a new adventure, so... we're moving to San Francisco!



Yesterday as my Instagram feed was filled with snowy photos back home, I sat in the sun while Chris had meetings. I read my travel guidebook, got excited about learning about the history of the city, and really let the sun warm me up. It felt good. It felt totally unexpected, but like a twist in the plot you never knew you wanted.



It's truly taken me a few weeks to feel good about this change, but now I really do. I've so longed to write about making this decision, but for obvious reasons relating to Chris' job (and future job), it wasn't possible. Now I can't wait to ask all of you what YOU think of San Francisco!? Do you know someone who has a place to rent in Berkeley? What books should I be reading?

And where should we go exploring with the littlest member of the family? Other than clown school, because, hello:



Thanks for your support and wise words during this time. We'll be moving mid-April and will be soaking up NYC until then! xox

(*Title inspired by SBJ's blog post a few years ago about moving to the west coast for a while. That post has been a huge inspiration to me since I read it, particularly the part about slowing down time by trying new living environments...)