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For Frank

I moved to town when I was 9 years old, and while sometimes I think I must have come off as a bit of a freak to the local jeweler (what kid is this interested in jewelry?), mostly I think my passion for his work must have delighted him. 

I always planned to follow in his footsteps, to become a jeweler. Life happened differently, of course, but when I finally wised up and decided to pursue my dream, even if a bit late to the game, it was Frank whom I called to get advice about training options. He'd gone to GIA, so I did too, and while a perfect end to this story might have been me buying his store, a slightly less perfect ending is me winding up in the sparkly industry of gems and jewelry after all; of seeing Frank at various tradeshows throughout the country; of being able to talk shop with this man I've long admired.

Me wanting to make him proud could be a classic case of someone meaning much more to me than I did to him, but I still hope on some level that I succeeded; that the thought of this Graduate Gemologist's clumsy start as a shy salesperson cleaning fingerprints off the jewelry cases of his store made him happy. I dedicated my second book to him ("For letting me in, for showing me the ropes, and for always being so sparkly.") and after he read it, he told me he hadn't realized my time in his store had meant so much to me. But that's the thing about life, about plugging along doing the thing you are passionate about, however ordinary it is to you. Because you never know who you are influencing, what young person is taking note and making plans based on the appeal of your everyday. You never know when your ordinary will be someone else's sparkle. That's what Frank was to me. And I will miss him.

If you are a professional, I encourage you to find a young person who finds your ordinary sparkly. Be a mentor, a friend, and let's do what we can to pass our passions down the line to those who come after. And if you knew Frank, my hometown jeweler, I trust you feel as lucky as I do.



It’s early. The part of the relationship where he sends me flowers and I shave my legs a lot. I’m sure both of these will change as time goes on, but for now, it’s that delicious beginning I spoke so fondly of in Fooled. The part where you’re not far enough in it yet to have botched it/discovered a dealbreaker/gotten cold feet. The part where you’ve got nothing on him but unadulterated hope.

It does become harder as we get older, I think. Harder to give up the “me”-ness we get so attached to as long-term singletons. Harder still to not become pessimistic about love, even as you’re beginning a new relationship. Because odds are, it won’t work out. If you’re a long-term singleton, it literally never has. It’s not so much the trite notion of it only taking one that buoys me up, even though it does. It’s that hoping each new relationship is The One is really the only chance we have that it ever will be.

So try. Don’t worry about keeping other options open, about hedging your bets, about back-up plans. Don’t worry about the last time, about all the times, about the time yet to come when you might lose him. Don’t worry about time at all, or eggs, or about what you think you should want. Want this. Nothing else. And maybe you’ll get it.



It's like this. January sucked. So I checked myself into the Marriott in Anaheim for what felt like a much needed retreat. I meant to spend the bulk of the weekend at Disneyland, but a hot bath and a king bed are tough to walk away from. I meant to get some reading done, but this room service menu might be as far as I get. I meant to do a little writing, but this blog may have to suffice.

Retreat in its noun form can of course refer to a place of calm or quiet where a person can rest and relax. That's certainly what I had in mind for this weekend. One could argue that my own house is enough of a retreat already...I mean, isn't it pretty much always calm and quiet? Yes and yes. But no one there will cook whatever I want from a menu. No one there will make my bed. No one there will clean up after me. Or my cat. No one there will give me rewards points for booking a stay. Nothing about a person's every day life feels very much like a retreat.

We can't forget, however, that retreat has other meanings, and in my current state of feeling nothing short of gutted by the havoc January has wreaked, I can't help but think of the definition that implies the act of withdrawing; of recognizing impending defeat and getting yourself the hell out in order to regroup. (My words, not Webster's.) Like I said, January sucked. And its implications will spill into February, into spring, summer, and likely affect my entire year in a way I am not at all prepared for.

So, see, I need this weekend. I needed to retreat to this retreat, and while I'm not sure what the next several months will bring, here's what I do know: tomorrow I'm ordering waffles for breakfast and will ride Radiator Springs no fewer than three times. (Unless I decide to stay in bed, in which case, just the waffles.)


What's in a Year?

What is a year, really? There’s that iconic Rent song, of course, that boils it all down to love—probably a more accurate measure than we realize. But if you really take a look at a year, what is it?

Is it measured by the things we do? Six jewelry trade shows, one sunrise hot air balloon ride, two book parties, one eclipse viewed in complete totality, four holidays with family, one stolen suitcase, three days at Disney with a nephew, one international vacation, forty mini gingerbread loaves baked, one dear friend’s funeral, one NBA finals game attended, two resolutions kept…

Or is it better measured by the things we don’t do? Twelve more eggs lost, the man I should have let go sooner, or maybe the one I didn’t keep but should have, the zoo membership not renewed, work projects not completed, books I didn’t read, chapters I didn’t write. Do these things carry more weight when taking inventory of our five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes?

Sometimes it’s easy at the end of a year to feel more haunted than happy; more regret than resolve. And you should know me well enough by now to know that this is usually the camp I sit in. It’s not that there’s anything irresistibly romantic about melancholy (read: it is the very definition of irresistibly romantic), it’s that there is value, at least to me, in pining for what might have been. What we do not accomplish. What we fail to achieve. To me, it gives us the opportunity to evaluate how badly we want it. And failing either makes us double our efforts to get or achieve this thing, or it allows us to let go of what turns out to be less important than we first thought.

I only set two resolutions in 2017, and I hit them both. I’m very proud of that, however minor they are in the grand scheme of my life. In addition to resolutions, however, I always write a letter to myself in preparation for each new year. It’s part encouragement, part tough love, and in general serves as a road map for the kind of person I want to be in the upcoming year. The letter that sat taped to by bedside table each day of 2017 was written last Christmas Eve while sitting inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. There was a pretty significant personal change I wanted to make this year; a rather toxic situation I counseled myself to get out of. I remember tears spilling down my cheeks as I rested my head against the cold cement of a cathedral column while composing the letter. Yet early on in 2017, I had already failed in my effort. And I won’t say it didn’t affect me greatly to wake up each morning and see my letter, knowing I hadn’t taken my own advice. But failing at this has brought about the doubling of effort I spoke of a moment earlier.

Something else that helps me in the wake of regret or falling short is to expand my perspective beyond a single year. It’s less about what’s in a year. It more like, what’s in a life? I was able to spend a few days in my hometown over Christmas, something I rarely do, and it was incredibly grounding to be amongst people who have known me since I was a child. Our lives are about everything we do, see. And the foundation we set is large; it is always present, regardless of how any individual year shakes out. We’re more than the sum of our years, so keep that in mind as you resolve, refocus, and reprioritize for the next five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Happy New Year!


Life is Beautiful

I attended the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas last month. Ironic then that the man who opened fire at the Route 91 festival a week later was supposedly in a rented B&B a week earlier, looking over those of us at the Life is Beautiful festival, ready to make his move if he saw the right opportunity. I remember thinking to myself that it would be a particular blow to humanity’s morale if at the very fest where the beauty of life (art, culture, ideas, music, and, naturally, food) was being celebrated, a large contingent of it was taken. For my own sake, I remain grateful the shooter didn’t pick my festival, and remain horribly sad and disturbed that he picked any festival at all. I mean, should any of us have to spend these festivals—or any event with large gatherings—worried about this? What’s beautiful about that kind of life? 

It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot, and I know others have too. I’ve never heard more people remark about their uneasiness (to the point of changing future plans) at attending large events. I’ve never seen certain of my friends so down (to the point of not feeling up to their normal activities). “It’s a numbers game,” a lady at work mentioned after the Vegas shooting. Implying that the randomness and general uncommonness (when compared to how many concerts and festivals happen in the world every day) suggest you’ll probably be OK. But that hardly feels comforting. And even though we accept the possibility of our demise every time we so much as get in the car every morning, I understand our collective pause over this. I do.

And yet.

We must live our lives.

So I flew to Albuquerque over the weekend and took in the hot air balloon festival with an estimated 80,000 other people. It’s not that it didn’t occur to me that it would have only taken one of them to make tragedy for the rest of us, but I pushed through those side-minded anxieties and took in the world from a sky-high balloon as the sun rose. There were balloons in every direction up there, everywhere, all of us rising together in a mass ascension. When it comes to memorable views, I’ve never seen its equal.

The bottom line, see, is that life really is beautiful. It’s beautiful every day. I hope we can remember that. And I’d rather go out on a hot air balloon at sunrise than sitting in my house worrying about the state of the world. But maybe that’s just me.


The Best Nine


I spent a good chunk of time at the airport this morning sifting through all my 2015 photos looking for the 9 that I considered the best...the 9 that made me the happiest and also were the most representative of my year. I'd seen all the #2015bestnine stuff floating around, and not until I actually asked someone about it did I find out that people were not, as I had thought, using Pic Stitch to create homemade versions of their own self-dubbed favorite 2015 pics; that these best nine were actually auto-generated by a website and based on the 9 Instagram photos that were the most "liked" by your followers. Somewhat less charming, but still, I suppose it's a pretty good collection.

2015 was an incredible year for me. One that saw me read a record number of books, finish my own third manuscript, become a gemologist, transition my career, and move across the country. I basically crushed it. To the point where I'm struggling a bit as I sit here making goals and resolutions for 2016. It's not that I worry that no year will ever top it, it's more that so much on my life to-do list got accomplished. Particularly on the gemology front. Becoming a gemologist and then moving my career in that direction was something I aspired to for so many years, and now that it's happened, now that I've done it, I simply don't have another similarly-sized dream to replace the empty space this has left in my dream bucket.

It's a good problem to have, surely. And isn't that the whole point of dreams and goals? To achieve them? I believe that. I do. But as a person who thrives on having that next big, dreamy thing to be working toward, I am, quite frankly, feeling a little lackluster about the upcoming year. Given that I may be staying put for a while in this lovely sweet spot that my 2015 dreamy actions have put me in, I'll need to spend some time figuring out what comes next for me. Big things, small things, things I haven't even thought of yet. My hope for you, my dear friends, family, and readers, is that you are able to do the same, and that you revel in the process. Happy New Year, indeed.




It's gotten to the point where I don't watch the news anymore. I can't. I won't. It depresses me, frightens me, maddens me. The downside is that I rarely know what's going on in the world, but sometimes this seems like the better alternative.

September 11 was a terrifying day. It may not have seemed completely real to me from the safety of my college dorm room on the other side of the country--bodies falling, burning, this was the stuff of fiction, of movies. I still find myself trying to block out the overwhelming disturbia that sets in every time I'm reminded of the events of that day; that people purposely brought those towers down. Earlier this summer I attended a small short-film festival, and it took until about halfway through the longest of the films to realize that it--following the stories of a flight attendant on a plane, a businessman in an office, and a firefighter in the city--was about 9/11. The sickening disturbia set in like it always does, such that the film's final scenes--the flight attendant crying and whispering to air traffic control about their low altitude, the firefighter's concerned glance to the sky overhead, and the businessman's look of both shock and solemnity as he looked out the office window to see a plane headed straight for him--have not let me go.

I'm not actually recommending avoiding watching the news. It's a wimpy and irresponsible thing to do. We have to be in the world. Since I've been thinking about The Giver (Game-changing Books), remember that the Elders' stance was that it was better to shield people from the pains and sorrows of the world, even if it meant the people could experience and feel nothing...even the good, wonderful, and lovely. Or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie about a process that allows people to erase their memories, particularly of other people. I love watching our protagonist, who's had a bad breakup, fight to reverse the process once he's realized that if it means losing all memory of the person he once loved, it's not worth ridding himself of the heart-wrenchingly painful parts of their relationship.

The fact is, there is good all around us. It might be harder to see, it's certainly not publicized as often or to the same extent, but it is there. And even though each day something in the world can be counted on to bring me down, something else equally reliable is the rate at which something--some kindness, some action, some thing of beauty--inspires me. May those moments carry us through. And may we never forget.





I know I've been overwhelming you with books posts lately, but wouldn't you know it that just after posting my top ten books (Top Ten Books that I Love), I've read a new one that just might bump something else out. And at the risk of subjecting you to a book reviewy post (isn't that what Goodreads is for?), I simply have to say that if you are a single girl--or anyone who thinks reading about significant female writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who bucked tradition by staying (or at least preferring to be) single--you simply must read this book.

Let me be clear. I'm not one of those women who loves to hate on marriage or shout about how I don't need a man. It's true, I don't need a man and have most of the time found being single preferable to being in a relationship (the exception being the one time I was in love), but I am still a person who wants to be married. In that if I could choose for this, my life, to go any way, I would choose to someday have the opportunity to be married. So in that regard I don't relate as much to the author and her "awakeners'" single-or-bust mentality.

That said, our society could use a crash course on the single woman, and this book was consequently a fascinating and refreshing read. Because spinster didn't used to have such a negative connotation. Interesting then that it--spinsterhood--has over the course of time transformed into the one thing every girl hopes will never happen to her. And why exactly is that? How is it that we've come to believe that ending up alone is the worst possible thing that can ever happen to you? A question made even more blatantly ridiculous after reading about these remarkable, interesting, and fascinating women who not only achieved success and acclaim without a man by their sides, but also didn't spend decades of their lives drowning in the sea of societal pressure surrounding marriage. (Sister ain't got time for that, and, quite frankly, neither do you.) And that's what our society--or, at the very least, the minds of female singletons--could use less of; this constant drone of marriage and when it will happen and where it will happen and with whom it will happen and if it will happen and how many eggs I'll have left when it happens and what if there are no eggs left at all when it happens and maybe I should freeze some just in case it happens and on and on for the rest of the days of your bag lady, multi-cat owning unfortunateness. If you ask me, that is what sister ain't got time for. So get on with it. Life. Yours.


A Very Disney Day



I've recently learned that if a Disney employee actually wishes you a "very Disney day" that they are, in essence, flipping you off. But that aside, I did want to mention as a follow up to this post (Disneyland Annual Pass: Yay or Nay?) that I did get the pass. And for my inaugural pass-holder visit, I was lucky enough to have my brother in town to be my partner in Disney crime. We opened the park (7:30 AM), we closed the park (midnight), we owned the park.

This brother is almost a decade younger than I am, so I wasn't around for much (read: any) of his growing up. I actually had two brothers who were still kids when I left home, and it's one of the reasons why I was such a blubbery mess the morning I drove away, college-bound. Because I was going to miss so much. Of them. Of their games and concerts. Of their laughs and mischief. Of their bedroom door that I'd always pass while on the way to mine...a door completely covered in stickers that I'm pretty sure my mom has never been able to remove.

This was probably the most time my brother D and I had ever spent together as adults (so naturally we went to Disneyland), and while sometimes it can be jarring to think of my younger siblings as having long passed me up (in size, in major life milestones), the way I most often think of them is as the two little boys I used to read Harry Potter chapters to. Fitting then that the family picture I keep framed on my nightstand is a circa 1998 Splash Mountain photo. My brothers, ages 7 and 9, wear priceless faces. One of blatant disgust and the other of sheer terror. Someday I hope we'll be able to recreate it, but even if we do, I doubt I'll ever like any family picture more. It's partly because of the priceless terror faces, but it's also because they were kids. I guess we all were, in a way. And it was magical (yes, I said it) to be with one of them again at the place where you sort of always feel like a kid. Looking forward to your next visit, D.




I think life can really be divided into two phases: before seeing George Clooney in real life and after seeing George Clooney in real life. I've just entered the latter phase. Do I look different?


No. 1 Seed


I love March Madness. I really do. Considering that I much prefer the NBA to college ball, it really all just comes down to the competition of it all; the fact that with a bracket, I get to have my own say. And I like winning things. Especially coming off of my Oscar season ballot (which, incidentally, didn't do so well for me this year...stupid Birdman sweeping in and winning everything), I'm partial to major events on which I can wager a guess...and potentially perform better than all my friends. (Note: I have only won a March Madness pool once, and it was quite possibly the best day of my life.)

Of course there's a more wistful reason why I love March Madness, the simple reason being that doing well requires you to bet against the odds. True that no 16 seed has ever beat a 1 seed, but there also hasn't been a single year where all four no. 1 seeds made it to the final four. So, see? It's a competition that actually requires risk-taking in order to be successful. And to me, that's a good parallel for life. Of course, you're talking to the girl that recently quit her job in order to pursue a dream, so of course you're going to get that from me. The point is, we should take more risks. The trouble with the bracket is that there are so many potential upsets that it's hard to know which ones to choose. And so we go with the safest, surest path (picking all no. 1 seeds) because we're not sure what else to do and we just want to minimize the damage.

I'll certainly be the first to admit that no one is ever sure. You can research, you can have hunches, you can have favorites, but at the end of the day, you can't know. You just have to start picking. And if you pick only the top seeds, you are guaranteed to be wrong. Guaranteed. So think about that. Not only as you fill out your bracket, but also as you approach this next season of life. Pick a few upsets. They might pay off.


We Are So Young


For all the time I’ve spent thinking about what to include in my routine were I a stand-up comedian (for some unspoken reason I feel compelled to be prepared for the hypothetical scenario of the mic being suddenly thrust upon me), I’ve only ever been able to come up with two jokes. The first involves the notion of more athletic coaches following baseball’s suit and dressing in the uniforms donned by their respective players. Bela Karolyi in a leotard? Come on, that’s funny.

The second joke has to do with the wigs worn by noblemen in eras past. You know the ones. Long, poofy, curly. Downright feminine, and always either white or brown. You never see any depictions of graying wigs. No brown with a few stray grays. No salt and pepper. No gradients when it comes to this notion of follicle maturity. Which means that at some point then, a man simply flipped the switch. And can’t you imagine a formerly brown-wigged man showing up to work one day suddenly donning a mound of the brightest white? “Rough night?” his comrades would ask.

Because I am not a stand-up comedian—please thank whatever Deity you subscribe to for this—this second joke actually gives me pause. Because I am a writer, it sends me into a bit of a pensive and aching analysis of youth—how and when it ends, and the much more haunting question of who decides when it ends? What is the threshold for being young?

Like much of the world, I was moved by the late Marina Keegan’s final essay, printed in the university newspaper just prior to her graduation from Yale. It’s not just that her words—“We are so young. We have so much time.”—became so cruelly ironic when she was killed in a car accident five days after graduation. It’s that her message continues to turn my stomach into a pit of schoolyard angst over whether or not I can still include myself in Marina’s collective “We.”

She wasn’t talking to me, of course. I’m no longer twenty-two. Aside from age or college—something that categorizes us as young by default—how do we know if we still qualify? As long as the workers in Times Square see your small frame and hand you a booster for your theater seat? As long as the guys behind the counter at Artichoke Pizza call you “Doll” on your way out the door? As long as your eyes are clear and your muscles strong and your back straight? As long as you are not old? Does not being old equal being young?

Marina offers an interesting perspective on the matter, one much more satisfying than the ice cream cone of belief that equates youth to how young a person feels; how young he acts. Cautioning her fellow classmates against the notion that it is ever too late to “begin a beginning” or that “we must settle for continuance, for commencement,” Marina makes a connection between youth and possibility. “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.” Think about that. We are so young.

What makes young people so young is not only the myriad of choices still to be made, but also the ability to change course—perhaps drastically—even after those choices have been made. Using this criteria, then, I’d wager it could encompass a much larger percentage of the population if only we would stop looking at our decisions as undoable. Stop looking at our books as written, our paths as taken. It’s the reason why I’m in New York in the first place. To pursue the career I always wanted, even though it’s many years after I envisioned pursuing it. So late to the game am I that I’d be foolish not to admit that the odds of it not working out in my favor are much larger than slim. But I’m trying. Because I can. And if I’ve learned anything from Marina Keegan, it’s that I wish I would have been like her from the beginning, resolutely declaring my future occupation to all my friends: “Like, a real one,” she told them. “With my life.”

I may never stop wishing to be young. Never stop clinging to the collective ease and carefreeness with which the youth of this world can adopt. Indeed, they can’t help themselves. It is theirs. The way it once was mine. And, to some extent—We are so young—still is. Or maybe, like Tennyson’s Tithonus, I will inevitably tire of life’s longevity. Either way, I’m sure there will come a moment when my wrinkly, post-menopausal self will no longer need to be young.

I can only hope that by then I will have come up with a few more jokes. You know, just in case I need them.


Writer's Block


I don't have it. Not really. True that I've written shamefully little since moving here (I have a day job, I have a new city to explore, I'm still working on my gemology certification, etc.), but the main reason for my low post-NYC-move word count, and I'm embarrassed to admit this, is that I'm stalling. Is that a thing? Writer's Stall?

The chapter I'm in the middle of writing right now is such a downer, see. And it's not even the one where the protagonist is abandoned by her love and left alone and devastatingly heartbroken. It's the one where the protagonist is making really stupid choices. And since you all know who the protagonist in all my books is, I find it much harder to relive things you brought upon yourself verses things that happened to you that were outside of your control. If he was going to leave, he was going to leave.

This book is also proving a bit slippery in terms of overall point and purpose. Crucial, I know. I just need some sort of Aha Moment about how these chapters and themes should be arranged and tied together. In the meantime though, I suppose I will press on. Continue writing. Ever grateful for the distance I--er, the protagonist--now has from some of these chapters.


Olive Kitteridge


I'm currently reading Olive Kitteridge (and no, it's not because of the new mini-series...what do you take me for?), and I must say I'm impressed with Strout's character development skills. Some of the people in the book only get a few pages, so to be able to convey enough in those pages to leave your readers not only understanding a character's background and motive but also wishing they could keep reading about said character is a skill indeed. 

Oddly, the one person I don't find myself wanting to know more about (or connecting with at all, really) is Olive. You could say she was dealt a bad hand, but you could also say she's just not a very nice person. I was however drawn to the passage where she looks at a childhood photo of her husband. She imagines telling his kid self what will become of him. "You will marry a beast and love her. You will have a son and love him. You will be endlessly kind to townspeople as they come to you for medicine, tall in your white lab coat. You will end your days blind and mute in a wheelchair. That will be your life."

It's an overly simplistic summation, surely, but the reduction is still true. In that it is composed of true statements. And what struck me as I read this passage yesterday is that for all of us, the same sort of summation can be made someday. It's not the short length of the summation or its oversimplification that has me so pensive, rather the setness of the paths we ultimately take in life. It may seem like there are decisions to be made (and there are), but at the end of the day, there is only one way things are going to shake out for each of us; one series of decisions that will lead us to one end state. That will be our lives. Yours. And mine, too. 


Storytelling: NYC Edition


They are the most human part of us. Stories. They are why I write, they are what I like to write, they are the only part of an otherwise boring lecture or presentation or sunday school lesson that will make an impact on me in any way. I'm sure if you think about the lectures, presentations, and sunday school lessons that have made up your own life, you'll agree that stories trump all.

There is a storytelling organization here in NYC that I am just becoming acquainted with. I attended one of their events a few days ago (at a beautifully charming venue, the stairwell of which is pictured here), one featuring stories from World War II. Most of the storytellers were in their late 90s and lived through it, the war, and between stories of escaping Belgium and traveling on foot through France (it took a year), setting off explosives and being shot in action, flying planes to help train new soldiers, racial discrimination even after arriving home from serving our nation, these men and women were positively captivating. Not because they were expert storytellers, but because life often needs little fanfare or finesse in order to shine through.

Harry Truman's grandson told the final story of the evening. Not a veteran himself, but he's often asked to speak on his family's behalf whenever the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings approaches. He told of a tender experience meeting a Japanese woman whose grandfather was killed in the bombings. This led to more involvement, more introductions, and Mr. Truman Daniel ultimately ended up attending a memorial ceremony in Japan a couple of years ago. What struck me about his story was the lack of hate or animosity between countries. Rather, there was love. Kindness. Comfort. Strength. And how fitting that what the families of the Japanese victims want most of all is that their stories be told. So that we never forget. So that we never do this to each other again.

I was entertained, uplifted, and most of all, I was moved. You could get that way from a theatrical production, maybe a play or a movie. You could get that way from a well-done novel, too. The difference is that this stuff really happened. It has a sense of meaning beyond anything people could dream up. It's real life, in a story.



Three Bucks, Two Bags, One Me


Ok, so it was more like 3 bags (plus a backpack and my cat), but I arrived in NYC this week, this time to stay. You could say it's been a long time coming. You could say it's risky. Or crazy. You could say any number of things and you'd probably be right. Because I have no idea what this city holds for me. And between all the noises from the neighbors, the outlandish produce prices (I've decided to cut out all produce in order to keep my Brazilian waxes...stay tuned for a future post entitled From the Desk of the Clinically Malnourished but Smooth), and the overall comprehension of living here being very different than vacationing here, this will certainly be an adjustment. But it has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, so while I don't know how things will ultimately shake out, what I do know is that I can see the Empire State Building anytime I want. And sometimes, like tonight, that is enough.



For Cleveland


Yesterday was a big day for me. I left a city I loved. I know there are many who have put in much more time in much grander cities, but the thing about my six years on the great Cuyahoga is that Cleveland gets under your skin. Into your pores. It starts to grow roots inside you, even if your roots already exist somewhere else.

I'd never had my own city before Cleveland. I grew up somewhere, went to school somewhere, but neither of those were really my own. And think about that for a minute. A girl from small-town west coast. Far from home, didn't know a soul, no experience driving in snow. I felt like I had every reason to hate it. To want out. Not to say there weren't moments when I did (like how about every moment of this past winter), but what I wasn't expecting was this alarmingly fierce sense of loyalty that would develop in relatively short order. I mean, when you see montages of your city displayed on the jumbotron prior to sporting events and they give you goosebumps, you know it's got a hold on you.

I'll spare you the sap by simply saying that I'm pretty sure I will always feel like a Clevelander. I think when you leave a big enough piece of yourself behind, that can't be helped. Cleveland. The place where I became an author, an aunt; the place where I fell in love, then fell apart; the place where I discovered yoga, adopted my cat. It's the place that first made me feel like I was my own person; that my life was mine to make. It's a realization I now take with me to a new city, where a whole host of new opportunities, experiences, and (inevitably) mistakes await me. I'm looking unequivocally forward, but if I occasionally stop to look over my shoulder, I pray you'll indulge me. If you'd ever lived in Cleveland, you'd understand why I'll never completely let it go.




Less > More


So, I'm reading a book right now called The Joy of Less. I'd lump it into a "tell me something I don't know" kind of book (full of principles such as "when one comes in, one goes out," and "narrow it down"...these are not earth-shattering concepts) if not for the fact that absolutely nobody is actually living this way. We get it; we can read a book like this and know we are the guilty ones for having so much crap we don't need--don't even use--yet what we cannot seem to do is get rid of it. The crap.

I'm using crap as a general term here, but the teensy bit of heartburn I feel as I sell, toss, or give away upwards of 90% of what I own is that my stuff is, in fact, not crap. My stuff is nice. So shouldn't I keep it? Don't I deserve to keep it? Haven't I worked hard to get to a point where my house is full of these nice things? While I'm sure there will be a moment after the move where I look around and say, "What happened to all my stuff?" and perhaps even shed a tear or two over being so stripped of belongings, my mantra through all of this is, "Something is only useful if it's being used." And most of my stuff is not. 

And let's also not forget that our stuff doesn't define us. Which can seem counter-intuitive. Because I can point to almost everything in my house and tell you a story about how it came to be mine. And there's a lot of life woven into these stories. Some of these stories are so significant to me that parting with the item will simply not be an option at this point, and that's OK. My point is simply that we must never get confused about what actually constitutes a life, and we must always remember that experiences trump possessions any day. And my hunch is that owning less actually facilitates more in terms of experiences. We have more room in our lives, in every sense of the word. That is what I'm looking forward to most.


Like Father, Like Son. Like Brother.


There’s a part in Jeweled where I mention my brother’s wedding. How at the time, he being so much younger than me, there was a part of me that was sad about him passing me up in terms of major life milestones. It’s just not something I had ever pictured happening, him getting married first. Of course, now he’s been married for almost 6 years. (Me, still single.) And this past week he became a father. Talk about major life milestones.

It’s not sadness I feel this time at having once again been passed up, but it does make me think. And not just about my dwindling egg count. No, I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother. And every time I’ve heard him say “my son” this week, it’s like I hallucinate back to a much earlier time in our lives. Quite frankly, I don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t know how it is that back then has become so long ago; so far-removed. It’s not that I want it back, not exactly, because I think it’s kind of nice as we’ve all settled into adulthood, become Real People. But for my brother, his new arrival does mean a permanent pivoting. Toward the future and his new family. It’s wonderful and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And yet. I think I’ll miss those over-the-shoulder glances he used to throw my way, toward the homebird nest and our idyllic childhood. Something tells me he won’t be looking back quite as often now.

(And as long as I’m reminiscing about years gone by, let me say, and I can’t stress enough how crucial this is, that I also don’t know how the corners of my eyes have gotten so wrinkly lately. Should I be doing something about this?)


The Jewelry Effect


It doesn't have a great effect on book sales, I can tell you that. In fact, full disclosure, it's a bit discouraging how much more difficult it is to sell Jeweled than Schooled. Especially when very close to all people who I've heard from who have read both say they actually like Jeweled better. (Even the San Francisco Review liked it better. See this post:The 5-star Book Review ) But out in the world, to the general public, convincing them to read a book that looks every bit like it will be entirely about jewelry is not easy. Even trying to describe Jeweled has me fumbling over my words. You just can't sum it up as concisely (or as universally relatably) as a book about school. Let's try it, shall we?

It's my life in jewelry.

It's life from the eyes of a jewelry lover.

It's a look at the jewelry industry through the eyes of a jewelry lover.

It's a look at life, love, and family through a series of stories and reflections about jewelry and the impact it has on all of us.

It's a series of stories about jewelry and the effect it has on life, love, and family.

The life, love, and family is sort of what gets lost here when I find myself explaining to people what Jeweled is about. Remember, that's what one of my early readers called me up about as soon as he'd finished reading...that the back of the book did nothing to capture the true sentiment of the book, which is actually about life and love.

Still, I like Jeweled better. If for no other reason than it is much more unique to me and my life and passion. I mean, how often do you meet a girl who throws jewelry-themed parties where the guests are forced to play matching games involving diamond cuts? (And how often does said girl become secretly appalled when all of the guests positively *suck* at this game? I mean, what self-respecting adult woman doesn't know that April's birthstone is the diamond? Or that the skinny, football-shaped cut is called a marquise?) Next time, they should read up beforehand. I know just the book.


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