on 2016

This is a week for reflection. For lazy mornings on the couch and quiet days in the office. For increased coffee consumption and left over Christmas cookies to accompany each new cup. For movie going and Netflix binging. For top ten’s and best of’s, recaps and repeats. For goal setting and dream chasing, careful analysis and reflection.

What did we accomplish this year? What did we do? How did we do it? How did we spend the last 365 days? Did we spend them well? Did we spend them well enough? Did we do enough? Accomplish enough? See enough? Be enough?

Did I write enough? Absolutely not. And so I’m here, at Trident Booksellers, at a table for one enjoying a Vermont maple latte, two eggs over easy and a side of homemade corned beef hash, reflecting. I should note, it’s 7pm on a Thursday evening and technically I’m “spinning” in a 6:30 ride at the studio down the block, but today’s my first day back to reality after a nice little semi-staycation and I’m not quite ready to jump back in. So I closed up my umbrella and took a premature right turn into a book store infused cafe on Newbury St. and called up the studio to tell them to open my bike to the wait list.

Reflecting on this year evokes a strange wave of emotions that I’m guessing many can relate to. I did a lot of things. Some things that I feel so happy to have experienced and some things that I certainly wouldn’t mind forgetting about. I traveled across the country, climbed a volcano and slept under the stars in Hawaii. I ate more fried chicken in Nashville within a 4 day stay than I have in all of my 24 years of existence, combined. I found the one Dunkin’ Donuts in all of North Carolina and completed a killer 14 mile hike in the Great Smokey Mountains, fueled only by fruit snacks, rationed beef jerky and the promise of semi cold Gatorade in the trunk of a rental car at the bottom of the mountain. I went to the beach a lot, drank iced coffee with my mom a lot, dreamed up schemes with like-minded gal pals and inspiring creatives and took an unintentional break from dating. I saw 8 live shows, including Beyonce, Guster and Lord Huron. I started and did not finish a few hundred books. I started and finished Sweet Bitter and Yes Please and The Girls. I learned to knit and came so close to finishing my scarf, now eleven months in the making. I developed an addiction to Reply All and I acquired a decent yoga mat, which I’m proud to say I use somewhat frequently. I should also mention that I quietly changed the name of this little piece of the Internet of mine, with help from Draper & Carr.

But I’m getting carried away. In summary, I visited a lot of places and did a lot of things and still, it’s been a strange year. Because while I was doing those things and seeing those places, here and there and on the go, some shitty things were happening all around me. I’ll spare you from another “2016 was miserable” OpEd, but it needs to be acknowledged, because man, was 2016 tough.

But as with anything, we reflect so that we can improve. Or at least I hope that’s the action that comes next for you. We live and we learn. We do better, we do more and in some cases we do less. We acknowledge, we accept, we advance. We treat ourselves to impromptu eggs over easy and homemade hash and in turn, award ourselves with a rare quiet moment; time to write and wonder and to reflect. To do whatever it is that makes us tick, whatever it is that makes our hearts happy.

In 2017, I’ll keep moving. Doing things and visiting places. Traveling outside of my comfort zone, doing more and doing better. Challenging myself and my surroundings and continuing to search for a flawless and efficient morning routine. I’ll keep searching for my purpose in this world while simultaneously searching for ramen joints in this city that I have yet to discover. In 2017 I will move onward and upwards and I hope you will too.

Here’s to all the good that found us in 2016 and to the great that awaits.

Little Anne’s Big Adventure, Plus Pete: Part 1

2016 has really taken me places. From Hawaii to North Carolina, with stops in Portland, Rhode Island, Philadelphia and Nashville, I’ve traveled more this year than ever and for that, I’m pretty grateful. I haven’t always appreciated travel in the way I do now, trips to Alaska and Prague were lost on me (due to a. being five years old, and b. being a twerp high schooler) and traveling to the cape has become so comfortable, so familiar, that it hardly feels like travel at all. So NOW, with the promise of a money train that arrives on time every single Wednesday morning (i.e. a paycheck) and a very generous vacation policy, the world is quite literally at my fingertips. Travel near or far, is a beautiful thing, whether across the globe or to a neighborhood next door.

All of this of course relevant because I recently returned to Boston from a two part vacation to Nashville, Tennessee and North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. My brother Pete came, too.  

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Nashville was cool but not necessarily my favorite place in the world. If you’re headed there soon or thinking about it, here are some of my favorite places to eat spots.

  • Five Daughters Bakery: Go here, eat these donuts, thank me later. I never used to really consider myself a donut person, but honestly, I’m not a monster so who am I trying to foimg_6582ol? I’m a donut person. Donuts are good and these shouldn’t even be in the same category as your average donut. The 12 South location was just a block or two away from our Air BnB, so I was lucky enough to be the first in line on a quiet Thursday morning, opting for the sea salt chocolate frosted and a coffee from across the street at Frothy Monkey. I took a video of the experience aka me eating a donut on a sidewalk by myself, cause I literally couldn’t wait to eat it, and if you missed that, well I’m really sorry, cause I didn’t save it and it was out of this world. Neon signs, subway tile and a whimsically painted brick wall were icing on the cake, or frosting on the donut, if you will.
  • Martin’s BBQ: It’s too soon to talk about this, the memories hurt too much…still mourning the loss of Martin’s in my life. The corn bread was weird but the beer was good and the everything else was…just…I can’t. Go here, to the downtown location and sit upstairs in the partially uncovered beer hall, at a picnic table near the pit room. You will be so happy and so well fed nad hopefully you will take a selfie with your brother as nice as this one: img_4857
  • Yazzoo Brewery: We stopped here to kill some time before a nearby Darlingside concert (not country, but take a listen because they’re great) in The Gultch and it was fantastic. A really informative tour of the local brewery and good beer. Go here, do this.
  • Hattie B’s Hot Chicken: The line moves quickly so don’t even think about turning img_4773away. Also, hot chicken is HOT, so don’t try to be all tough and fearless. Order medium heat, plus one hot tender, to see what all the hype is about and you will indeed see what all the hot chicken hype is all about. Again, you can thank me later. As far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with sides so do your thing and enjoy.
  • Pinewood Social: Cool place, good drinks, v instagrammable, fancy lil’ bowling ally in the back and a good playlist streaming through the speakers (not country). We didn’t eat here so…moving on.
  • Grand Old Opry: Gotta do it! I wish someone had told us how very far outside of the hub of Nashville it is (maps too, I img_4629could have checked a map…) and I’m still not exactly sure what it is or why it’s so iconic (is it too late now to say sorry?) but we celebrated the Opry’s 91st birthday (!!!!) with THE Brad Paisley (sorry, who? jk) and witnessed a “G.O.O moment” with coutry music rising star, Mo Pitney. If that isn’t worth the $30 Uber I don’t know what is.
  • Oh! and Edley’s I almost forgot about Edley’s: Our very first meal in Music City, nestled right in the heart of 12 South, where we (aggressively) ordered a heaping plate of BBQ nachos, 3 carnitas tacos, a pulled pork platter + sides and sweet tea and bourbon x2. It was wonderful, maybe even equally as good as Martin’s, and a very good way to start the trip.

Nashville is a great place for eating and Pete and I like to eat so the above list should come as no surprise to many of you. We opted mostly for good food, completely bypassing the country music museums, hall of fames and historic venues (aside from the Grand Old Opry) and most times, we could be found discussing dinner plans before lunch time. Neither of us country fans, despite a childhood filled with Willie Nelson, George Strait and Garth Brooks from dad’s car stereo, the fame of Nashville was a little lost on us. That said, we did explore the Vanderbilt campus, mingled with locals at a Penn State game watch and peddled a pedi-tavern near the Country Music Hall of Fame, so I mean, it wasn’t img_6583completely lost. You can bet we also hit Loveless Cafe and Biscuit Love (order the Bonuts, skip everything else. Jk order everything else, too) and a few honky tonks on Broadway, Acme Feed and Seed, a favorite for some good tunes (again, not country) and some kind of delicious frozen beverage available on the roofdeck. We drank beers and Bushwacker at Winners and Losers, downed some classic, southern Pickle Backs and ate as much fried chicken and biscuits as we could possibly handle (which ended up being slightly traumatizing so maybe quit while you’re ahead on the fried chicken and biscuits).

We were pretty ready for some wholesome, fresh air fun in the Smokies by the time our days in Nashville came to an end.  More on that next time. Go book you flight to Nashville and eat some extra BBQ ribs for me.

 

 

on change

Let’s pretend you’re reading this in the beginning of September, because that’s when I wrote it and forgot about it until now. I hope a lot of it still applies, I think it does. 


Tonight I went to yoga. This morning I had a moderate panic attack.

Let’s rewind.

I’m a summer girl, through and through. You’re like, ok tell me something I don’t know. Summer is an escape. Always has been, always will be. In high school I fled for the Bay State as soon as the clock struck 2:10 on the last day of school, leaving everything and everyone in my wake. For three all-too-short months, I beached it up, worked it out, made some money and fell in love, far away from my actual home. For three months or so, I left life as I knew it, poof, gone to Eastham in the blink of an eye, to a place that has always felt much more like home than my actual home.

For three all-too-short months, you  could and always can count on finding me at Nauset Light Beach; down the stairs and to the right, past the second life guard chair. For a few summers, some of the best summers, just beyond the big black rock. Where the cell reception is terrible and the days are endless, you can find me moving my beach chair with the sun, first east towards the Atlantic and eventually, when the day is done, west towards the dunes, watching families pack their things and haul themselves up an unlikely flight of stairs single file, one by one, the day is done.

A lot has changed between now and then. By ‘then’ I mean, those endless yet all-too-short three months of just summer and by ‘now’ I mean, a routine I’ve come to master, 48 hours to soak up the sun, 7 efficient days in the office and as many vacation days as I can spare before the first autumn leaf falls. Between now and then I graduated high school and then college and then began my first job. I moved from my parents house to a dorm room in Philadelphia and from that dorm room in Philadelphia, a home in Boston..err..a few different homes in Boston. I’ve made friends and lost touch with friends and I myself, between now and then have, inevitably, changed.

In the summer I run. Not literally as in feet to pavement, who do you think I am, but figuratively, as in I run from people, from places, from decisions and choices, from responsibilities and electric bills and messy rooms and deadlines and dirty dishes and reality. I run to a place that is familiar, easy and safe and also pretty nice to look at. In this way and many others, I am so very lucky, that’s not lost on me; to have a place that I can run to and somewhere pretty okay to return to (I’m lookin’ at you, City of Boston).

Because when you run, both literally and figuratively, you typically return to the point at which you began. Only now, you’re a bit different. You’re recharged and exhilarated, you’re tired AF and you’re out of breath. You probably don’t feel it right away but you’re stronger now and you know that. For those few miles, you put it all behind you. You’ve been challenged and you’ve changed and when all is said and and done, you’re right back where you started, only this time you’re a stronger, healthier, happier you. You ran away and you came back better.

In a lot of ways that’s what’s happens when summer is over. When you’ve stopped running and you’ve returned right back to the point at which you began. You’re refreshed but you’re tired and, inevitably, you’ve changed. You might not feel it yet, but you need to know it.

And so this morning, September 1st,  I had a panic attack. I feared that change, in myself and in the seasons. The change in my routine and in my surroundings. I didn’t want to face the end of summer and the real world ‘stuff’ that came with it. I wasn’t ready to stop running.

But tonight I went to yoga. I dragged myself away from a very intense season 4 episode of Grey’s and went to yoga. When I started class my mantra was ‘change’ because I knew I needed to face this thing head on. By the end, the word I heard repeating over and over in my head was ‘accept’. ‘Change’ was happening whether I liked it or not. I realized in that class that I wasn’t the only one feeling this anxiety and this looming dread of summer’s end. Everyone seated around me was transitioning too, into new apartments, new jobs; a new season. We all felt change, in ourselves and in our surroundings. Feeling a little bit sad and a little bit excited. A little bit ready for change and a little bit not at all. And all we could do was accept it.

Change is inevitable. Seasons come and go. Fall arrives after summer and we stop running. We walk slow, we watch the trees change color and we burry our noses beneath much too large scarves and bundle up in winter jackets. We are changed and we are better and we accept that the only way to move is forward, until summer begins again, and for three all-too-short months, we can run.

PS I basically never write about food anymore so UOAP needs a new name. How do we feel about Refined Ramblings? ‘Cause basically all I do here is ramble and I feel like I ramble well, therefor, one might say those Ramblings are Refined. Corny? I don’t know. 

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.