Life Lately

I suppose I’m not the only twenty-something who feels like this. Stuck. Complacent. Content. Unsure; a mix of words and feelings that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. No longer a Recent College Graduate, but still very much navigating PGL (Post-Grad Life, is what the kids are calling it these days). No longer “new” to Boston, but still very much discovering, exploring and growing comfortable in my new home. Independent in the sense that I’m fully capable of lifting my own air conditioner unit and securing it safely (I think) in my bedroom window. Not very independent at all in the sense that I am fully dependent on trains, planes and (my brothers) automobile to move me from Point A to Point B. My job is no longer as glamorous as it once seemed and that New Car Scent-effect that my neighborhood once deceivingly emitted has been replaced by an overpowering stench of garbage, because in Brighton, as it turns out, every day is trash pick-up day.

On weekends I hang out with my parents because they were smart enough to know that a beach house would keep their children close. Although, I’m not so sure how much they welcome the dinner-seeking, laundry-toting visits from yours truly, as of late. When people ask me what I do in my free time, I have no idea what to tell them. I’d like to say something interesting like hike, travel or throw pottery, even running sounds interesting enough. Truthfully, with the under five hours (on a good day) that I’m allotted between leaving the office and crawling into bed at a reasonable hour, I’m nursing my indoor cycling addiction (in a tireless attempt to drop my “college beer weight”), painting my nails in Essie’s newest hue, catching up on The Bachelor, washing an always present pile of dirty dishes or waiting in an obscenely long line of fellow twenty-something’s at Trader Joe’s. None of this exciting, none of it interesting and the Bachelor bit, quite embarrassing to admit. I’m busy, sure but busy doing what, I’m not exactly sure.

Life lately is a balancing act, but isn’t it always? An attempt to nail down a solid “routine”, one that involves doing something productive with the early hours of each day and checking off items on a never ending to-do list by night; pay electricity bill, wash bed sheets, send wedding rsvp; #adulting.

I guess this can only be described in one way; my Twenties. And I guess that means I’m not the only one feeling this funk. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I should note, this feeling includes the fun stuff, too. The unpredictable nights with new friends and the predictable nights with old friends, the work perks, the beach days, the freedom of living on my own, the decline of catty girl-drama and boyfriends, tests, exams and papers. It’s all clumped together, in this very weird, very wonderful way. The world at our fingertips. Each moment, each new experience, mixed together to make up this very ambiguous thing that we call our Twenties. A time in which we, at least I’m assuming we and hoping we, keep plugging along, taking each thing as it comes, never really knowing what happens next, never really knowing just how to react, what to do now, what to say when.

But the thing is we do keep plugging along. We do get by; sometimes tragically and most times triumphantly. We surprise ourselves. We install our own air conditioner units and we learn the importance of a 401k and the daunting task that is “doing taxes”. We grow, we adjust, we change. We move quickly, so quickly, without even realizing it. There is so much to accomplish, so much to become. Sometimes I feel like I’m running from something, running towards something, and all the while standing very, completely still. We keep going. We figure it out. Our Twenties, it seems, while weird and wonderful, are the most integral part in getting us to wherever we’re going. And maybe that explains why they’re so very weird and so very wonderful all at once.

So make them count.

Marathon Day 

It’s Marathon Day! And tradition brings me to Tatte Bakery, this time on the Brookline/Boston border, just a few miles from the finish line. Tradition because on this Monday last year, my first Marathon day as a Boston resident, I headed inbound early to stroll the sleepy city before the runners hit the pavement and ended up at Tatte Beacon Hill for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun in the rain. Last year was cold and rainy and I think the marathon was probably sandwiched between snow storms number 3 and 4 but that’s not really what I remember when I think about that particular Monday morning in Boston.

Instead it’s the bright yellow daffodils in their electric blue pots that lined every sidewalk, sat on every stoop and took up space in every shop window and on every café patio, standing tall despite April showers of sleet and snow. I remember not the grey skies but instead, the feeling of comfort and protection that fell over Boston like a blanket, by way of police officers, medical staff and security personnel. I remember the people. So proud of their runners and of this city, their city. In Boston, on Boylston Street, by way of  Cambridge and Hopkinton and all around the world. I remember the tiny handwritten notes sprinkled across every neighborhood, tied up and twisted to fence posts and light poles, “No more hurting people. Peace.” and the pipe cleaner peace signs that freckled every path in yellow and blue reminders of love and strength and resilience. I remember feeling humbled and impressed and so very proud to call this place home, to be among these people, to stand with them and root for them.

That morning I ended up spending more time than I had originally planned in the heart of the city, in typical ‘me’ fashion, strolling the streets solo with no particular route to follow or destination in mind. It was raining and I was cold but eventually I found myself standing in a crowd on Hereford Street sharing an umbrella with a neighbor, watching the runners just before their final left on Boylston. When they say nobody runs like Boston, this must be what they mean. Drenched in sweat and smiles, rain was the very least of anyone’s worries. There was laughter and high fives, big hugs and loud cheers for friends and daughters, dads and strangers. The energy was powerful, exuding from the sidewalk and from the road, despite April showers of sleet and snow.

And so I’ve been here, at Tatte Brookline, waiting for this sleepy city to wake up, watching voulunteers arrive and cheer stations become alive. Lord Huron in my earbuds and sunshine peeking out from behind St. Mary’s Street, just one single ray, just enough to hit my face, the only sunny spot on the patio for now. This years Marathon Day temps are predicted to hit 70, a magical thing in Boston, when winters’ chill is finally thwarted and outdoor seating becomes more sought after than space to stand on the T. It’s a rebirth of sorts, something I imagine the whole city waits for, when winter scarves have lost their cozy appeal and flip flops are begging to replace clunky boots and wool socks. It feels fitting that this magical time happens to arrive on  Marathon Day, providing an added bonus on this so very important day, an extra dosage of good vibes and vitamin D.

There’s something about today that gets me up and out of bed pretty quickly, rain or shine. It’s a mixture of curiosity and excitement and fear of missing out. It feels like part of my duty, as a girl who now calls Boston home, to be here, rain or shine, along the route with so many others in proud of support of everyone running today’s race, in proud support of Boston.

So enjoy today, friends! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, be kind, be happy, be thankful. Get outside, cheer someone on, be a friend to a stranger. Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. We’re almost at the finish line.

Little Anne’s Big Adventure

Remember that time in January when I was like “HEY! 2016 is gonna be my year! I’m gonna travel more and go to sleep earlier and blah blah blah”?? Well…one of those things can be checked off the list and it’s not go to sleep earlier. 

I’m back in the office today after an incredible trip to Hawaii, feeling anything less than sad to be back in Boston. Perhaps the post-vacay feels just haven’t quite caught up with me yet and despite 671 unread emails, plus the torrential downpours that welcomed me home, I’m feeling so glad to be back and so grateful for the experience.

My time in Hawaii, at the risk of sounding cliche, was a life changing one. I hesitate to use “once in a life time” because I’m not so sure I’m finished over there. I also hesitate to write this post, unsure that I’ll be able to find the right words to describe my 5 days in paradise, unsure that I’ll be able to do the sights I saw and the food I ate and the people I met, any justice at all. Which is, for me, a new feeling of uncertainty, when experiences can’t be translated into words, no matter how many times you pick-up your lap top and begin to punch the key board. But here’s my best attempt…

Day 1, I arrived on Big Island having successfully survived the flight that everyone said would be unbearable. To all of those people, everyone who immediately launched into horror stories of painful and endless flights to Hawaii, complete with delays, obnoxious in-flight neighbors and bad food, (and let me tell you, it was a lot of people), did any of you happen to like, open your eyes when you stepped off the plane?? I mean really, the endless blue sky, the 50 degree temperature jump, the PALM TREES, the friendly people?! Did none of those things eliminate every negative thought that might have snuck into your mind during your journey to paradise??? What I’m saying is, the flight didn’t phase me one bit and my arrival on Big Island began with an immediate swap from sneakers to flip flops, a quick application of sun screen and lots of pictures snapped of palm trees.

With some time to kill before Brae’s arrival from the East side of the island, I headed into the village of Kailua-Kona, back pack strapped in and rolling suitcase trailing every step. My cab driver dropped me off at a hostel in the center of a small, tourist town. “You’re going inside right?”, I wasn’t. He looked at me quizzically, I shrugged, he smiled and wished me luck and I headed down the street, towards the water. I walked parallel to the Pacific Ocean, in somewhat of a shock that I had finally arrived, unsure exactly of what I was looking for or where I was headed. I stopped at a waist-high stone wall, separating busy sidewalk traffic from the peaceful ocean roar, swung my feet over the edge and rolled my suitcase close by. Surrounded by so many unfamiliar faces, in a brand new place so very far away from home, I found comfort watching the waves roll in, one after another, hitting the shore in the familiar way that they do, whether on Nauset Light or some sandy spot in Hawaii. Groggy from the flight, I sat and watched the surfers for about an hour, feeling a mixture of disbelief, that I had actually booked this trip and made it to Hawaii, and pure elation, that I had actually booked this trip and made it to Hawaii.

Day 1 (my first full day in Hilo) was the only kind of day I had really planned for; a beach day. Beach towel, sunscreen (evidently, not enough) and trashy mags all packed up, we headed to a black sand beach off the coast of Hilo Bay. On this day I swam with Honu, the Hawaiian word for sea turtles, caught a pretty wicked sunburn, and made a new friend. I laid beneath palm trees and didn’t care how sandy I got, which for me, is pretty much the definition of letting go. Beach day started with an acai bowl, a berry smoothie blend topped with coconut, granola, cacao nibs, bananas and berries, and was followed by my first Poke bowl (top 5 best meals I’ve ever eaten…ever). To clue you in, a poke bowl is to sushi, as a burrito bowl is to a burrito…only better. Today was a lot of sun, sand and food, which fulfilled just about all vacay criteria that I had planned this trip around.

Day 2 brought me to a parade in downtown Hilo and to a few massive waterfalls that literally took my breath away.  When I say that a beach day was the only kind of day I was prepared for, I mean that I was 100% unprepared for just about any other activity…and there were a lot of other activities. I scaled waterfalls and hiked across unstable lava rock in brand new flip flops and that one dress I packed, the one dubbed my “luau” dress, that’s still buried somewhere at the very bottom of my suitcase. My freshly manicured  hands clung to rocks and reeds as we made our way up slippery paths through rain forests and waterfalls and my toes stayed perfectly polished despite endless cuts and scrapes. Plus, it turns out, hair straighteners are VERY unnecessary while camping. On Day 4, at the top of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, it’s peak the highest point in the state of Hawaii,  at a chill 40 degrees, I layered up in borrowed hoodies and warm pants and hiked to the summit, to watch the sun disappear into a layer of clouds that separated the top of the volcano from the rest of the world beneath us. Sharing one blanket and three beers, snuggled up against jagged rocks, the three of us watched the sun go down and the stars come up, marking the beginning of the end of another perfect day.

Days 3 and 4 were my favorite, although I hesitate to use that word just thinking about the events that took place during the days before and after. Each day is completely impossible to rank, all of them blending together to make one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Days 3 and 4 were really great days, filled with so many activities and new experiences, lots of laughs and pure, simple, happiness. Days 3 and 4 felt like one endless day. We began with a roadtrip, from Hilo to Kona, driving roughly 70 miles between two massive volcanos and nothing else. We tried and came very close to taking the road less traveled to a secluded beach but ended up turning around in fear of punctured tires and lost car parts. We watched the sun go down, pitched a tent and a few hammocks and settled in for a night beneath the stars. On day 4 I woke up on the beach, started my day with a very big swig from a water bottle which I realized just after the fact, was covered with ants, and went for a swim in the impossibly blue ocean. On days 3 and 4, I felt really lucky to be alive and so very happy to experience Hawaii with such seasoned professionals and dear friends.

Day 5 was the perfect finale complete with paddle boarding in Hilo Bay and pie! We traveled to the southern most point, stopping at two coffee farms along the way, drank a beer at the southern most bar, ate some loco moco and watched the sun go down while sharing three slices of pie and a bottle of wine. Day 5 was another really great one.

On day 6, my final few hours in Hilo (brace yourselves mom and dad), I missed my first flight home because, well…Hawaii and island time and live aloha, dude. A minor set back in my journey back to Boston that could have been a really terrible end to my vacation but actually turned out to be pretty awesome. It resulted in one bonus hug from my host and dear friend, Brae, an extra 40 minutes in Hilo, a hilarious sprint through the Honolulu airport, busted flip flop and all, and a beautiful view of Hilo’s Rainbow Falls.

rainbowfalls.jpg

Standing at the gate unable to board my flight, I felt a very calm and unfamiliar feeling of “oh well” mixed with an all too real frantic feeling of “dad’s going to kill me”. There was just something about Hawaii that made peaceful content speak louder that frantic chaos.

If you’re still reading, thanks! I’ll admit, selfishly, I wanted to be sure I wrote this post so that my memories from Hawaii existed not only in photographs and in my head, but also in a very tangible space on the internet. This is probably one of my less exciting stories, I wasn’t too thrilled with the pics (not enough faces and food) and I still don’t believe that my words here do my trip very much justice at all but I am forever grateful for this experience, for the sights I saw and for the people that showed me around, welcomed me into their home and tried so hard to get me to stay forever, dropping me at the airport a mere 6 minutes before take-off…

Without one very special old friend and a few new ones, this trip would not have been anything close to what it was, so endless thank you’s to those guys. They truly put the “BIG” in Little Anne’s Big Adventure and gave me a whole lot of memories that I will cherish forever, and for that I am forever grateful.

New Year, New Me

…No, seriously guys… this one time in 2016 I sat across from my brother at Shake Shack eating pineapple and a green smoothie that I brought from home…new. me. 

It’s day 27 of 2016 and, I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve made a pretty huge dent in my lengthy list of reasonable resolutions. At last year’s end I was feeling pretty worn out. It had been a long year. A lot of shit went down, especially during the last four months or so. For one reason or another, I kind of lost sight of myself, and I was counting on 2016 to put some much needed pep in my step.

I’ve been thinking a lot about order and organization, purpose, passion and general health and wellness. I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier and I’m dropping my gym membership because it doesn’t make me happy. Hitting the treadmill felt like a chore and on the 2 or 3 days of the week that I didn’t get to lace up my sneaks, I was feeling really, unreasonably guilty and down on myself. (So now I’m spinning, as is a bit the bullet and purchased a package at Velo-City in a basement studio off Boylston Street in Back Bay and it’s AWESOME). I’ve made a promise to myself to read the 6 books I purchased at Target in 2015, I’m listening to Podcasts and I finally downloaded 25. I’m also making time to eat breakfast and I’m living by the “one minute rule”; if a task takes less than one minute to complete, do it now.  No more clothes draped over desk chair with their hangers left behind in the closet, no more morning coffee cups in the sink, clean dishes in the drying rack, winter coats thrown across the love seat in the living room. I’m telling you, It’s life changing. I’m off dating apps, because they’re ridiculous and I’m one click away from booking a solo trip to California this spring.

2016 is My Year and it’s off to a pretty great start.

A few things not listed above; knitting, hand-lettering and floral arranging! I’ve picked up three new hobbies in 2016 and have met some pretty incredible ladies who are following their dreams and kicking some serious ass along the way. I’m sharing their stories right here over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

More soon…XO

TGI(blog it)F(orward)

…to put it simply, TGIF: Blog It Forward Edition.

‘Tis the season for gift giving and gift getting and splurging a little on things that sparkle. But let’s not forget, ’tis also the season to give back to those who need it most, whether it’s your bff or a stranger in the Dunkin’ line. Today I’m challenging you to spread the #FriYAY joy, any way that you can think of…BEACUSE my friends Elizabeth and Alex have challenged me to #BlogItForward.

This month, Wayfair will donate $50 to Habitat for Humanity for every blog that proudly displays the official #BlogItForward badge (look right!).

Get Inspired. Spread Kindness. Make a difference. {you can read more & grab a badge for your blog here}

Need some ideas for nice stuff to do that will no doubt make people smile?

How To Change The World and also, 20 Things We Should Say More Often should do the trick.

Anyway, here’s what I’m doing to spread holiday cheer…I wish it was something grand and extraordinary, but really, it’s quite simple.

I’m listing to JB’s Under The Mistletoe album during my morning commute, at full volume without head phones. You’re welcome, everyone on the Green line.

This month and beyond, I’m making a conscious effort to say “hello” and “thank you” each and every time I board or depart an MBTA train.

For those unfamiliar, the Boston public transportation system gets a LOT of flack, and (sometimes) rightfully so. The MBTA had a pretty rough winter (but didn’t we all?) and it’s about 1,000 years old with little to zero updates since it’s original creation. It’s far from speedy and, I mean, just look at this map…

map

It’s very confusing (at least I think so) and may not always be timely, but it also gets me where I need to go on a daily basis and for that, I’m very thankful.

Side Note: I’m not very timely ever, so who am I to judge punctuality??

So let’s be sure to remember that each and every train is operated by real people with real lives and real stories and real good days and real bad days, even when you’re cold and it’s raining and T just doesn’t seem to be coming…ever…all of that is still true.

And this is important because a vast majority of Bostonians, especially “millennials” like myself, relay heavily, if not entirely, on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to get from Point A to Point B, or should I say, from The Green Line to The Silver Line.

So I take back what I said earlier. This is pretty simple, that’s true, but I also think it’s pretty grand and maybe even a little extraordinary, purely because of how infrequently it happens. A smile can go a long way and a friendly “good morning” or “thank you” can turn a persons day around; whether that person has been operating a train since 6AM, pouring your coffee, or just passing you by.

Between now and December 31st, I’m challenging my foodie friends Amanda (who’s been busy doing all kinds of good in the restaurant biz. this month), and my dear friend Janelle to #BlogItForward. Write a little ditty about something you did this holiday season to spread joy or give back, stamp the Wayfair badge on it and hit publish. It’s really quite simple.

As for the rest of you, get out there and do something awesome today! You don’t have to write about it, but you can help too.

Happy Friday, friends!