Wednesday, January 28, 2015


We bought flashlights, candles, beer, and ramen packets. We filled the bathtub with water. And then...we got, like, 4 inches.

Nevertheless, the subway was shut down and all non-emergency vehicles were ordered off the streets by 11p.m. Monday night. Last night someone told me people were playing beer pong in the street in the East Village. That sounds fun.

Still, fun to go out Tuesday morning when there was no traffic and the streets were blanketed. Here's my neighborhood post-"storm."

Nothing the Golf can't handle

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Doing Dartmouth

Last weekend we drove to New Hampshire to see my cousin who seems to have landed the best of both worlds: a research job at an Ivy located in an adorable New England town. Not a lot of fancy jobs in small towns these days, we're happy/proud of him.

Here we're walking around Brook's big old backyard of his centuries-old farmhouse. This was my first time driving north of New York City. On the drive over, I added three more states to the tally of ones I've been to (Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts). As a West Coaster, I'm not sure the novelty of being able to drive in five states in one day will ever wear off.

The small towns here are so different from the ones I know in the West. They all have pretty, steepled churches, central greens, and all kinds of lovely old houses. As we drove through the States, we also drove through accents. Those too are much more concentrated here. 

On Sunday, we walked all around the Dartmouth area, which made me want to be an undergrad again, carrying around a bunch of books and coffee, studying the weekend away. 

In the afternoon we stopped by a bar for beer and a scotch egg, and admired all the post-church bar goers in their sport coats and knit sweaters. Definitely preppier Sunday attire than how we do in Oregon.

We went out to Mexican food in the evening and caught the end of the Seahawks-Packers game from the fourth quarter onwards, easily the most exciting football I've ever seen. And it was nice to be three Northwesterners celebrating in Patriots territory...

Also on Sunday, we toured this old Shaker house (compound?) in Enfield, New Hampshire. Before last weekend, I mostly only knew Shakers as celibate makers of nice furniture. (There are only three of them left now). 

The docent told us how industrious they once were and what a boon to the local economy all the Shaker activity was. Shakers were also exceptionally progressive about gender roles, design, and adopting new technology - not things I expected to hear about a strict religious sect.

From what the guide said, their numbers started to wane around the Industrial Revolution, when new technology meant there was less to be gained from communal living. 

More of Brook's backyard

James photobombing my nature shot.

It was a fun trip. We're excited to get out see more of this part of the country.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Holidays, Revisited

This weekend we are headed to New Hampshire to see my cousin, ye olde Dartmouth professor. And I suspect I will have more photos to post from that excursion, and can thus no longer delay my Christmas/New Year recap. See below, you can probably deduce what's Oregon and what's Alaska:

It was good to be back in Anchorage for the first time in 6 years. I don't have many friends left there, but the ones who are still around have pretty cool jobs. One is a bush pilot. One is a petroleum engineer; she gets to travel a lot. 

While waiting for my flight up in Portland, I looked around the gate and realized how un-Alaskan I look these days with my peacoat and ankle boots. Alaskans are casual in the extreme. Driving around Anchorage, I was reminded of a thing I saw in Alaska as a kid and still exists today -- which is middle-aged women in sweats or jeans and loose t-shirts, no coat, who do their errands in apparel the rest of the country would only deem appropriate for warmer climes. 

I felt even more like a tourist once I was on the ground and had the urge to do all the tourist things: Look through art galleries for native art (none of which I could afford); we drove out to Girdwood one day and I made James pull over several times to take photos (but they turned out okay, right?!).

But I'm not a tourist. In fact, one evening James' family and I all went over to someone else's house for a big multi-family dinner. A woman who'd married into the family looked so familiar, but I couldn't place her. Finally I worked up the courage to ask her for the run down (who are your siblings? where'd you go to school?) Turns out, we'd gone to elementary school together. In fact, we were in the same class for a whole year and I attended her birthday sleepover. I could remember all sorts of strange facts about her, once I knew her maiden name - like that during sixth grade her family had vacationed to Fiji. Anchorage is still a small town.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 Reviewed

Hoo boy, it's almost the middle of January. Here I go:

Austin: 8 months
New York: 2.5 months
Florence, Oregon: 4 weeks
Humboldt County, Calif.: 2 weeks
Marfa: 1 weekend
San Antonio: 1 night
New Orleans: 3 days
Alaska: 3 weeks in summer, 4 days in winter
Tennessee: 1 night
Georgia: 1 night
Virginia: 1 night
Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey: driving time
Mexico: shore time on 4-day cruise from Texas

I am possibly forgetting one state from our big moving drive.

Things that happened:
Freelanced for a full year
Went sailing in southeast Alaska
Camped on a pot farm
Published in print for the first time since 2012
Ate a lot of breakfast tacos
Took improv classes
Saw a lot of music and comedy
Went floating in San Marcos
Did a fair amount of yoga
Read Middlemarch
Moved to New York
Joined writing group(s)
Went back to Anchorage for the first time in 6 years
Finished a draft of a novel
Rolled the dice one more time on grad school 
Crashed a small group lecture by Salman Rushdie
Randomly sat next to someone on the New York subway, complimented her on her Feiyue sneakers, realized we knew each other from Shanghai

Sometimes freelancing was stressful and hard. I'm still not comfortable about the stability of my situation, but it's a world better than where I was a year ago. And freelancing allowed me to travel a ton this past year, something I hadn't expected, but was awesome. 

After my piece in California Sunday Magazine, a couple people reached out to me about working with me. Up until this point, it's been a whooole lotta cold pitching. Although I am now 28, my first year back in the US felt sort of like being fresh out of college again since I came back with no network, an unknown quantity. I am still always telling everyone I may need to get a day job, but I am also more optimistic about freelancing evolving into a long-term thing. 

2014 was my first full year back in the US. I had a lot of fun being a tourist in my own country, I feel more engaged with what's going on here now, and I'm excited to be living in New York. I saw friends from high school I haven't seen in many years. My best friend is getting married this year, and I'm happy I'll be around to celebrate. 

2014 Resolutions Revisited
1. Eat right and exercise (I did fine? I guess? Barring serious health problems, I'm less interested in seeing this as something to "work on" (damn you, pervasive culture of women's magazines!) I exercise sometimes and I like vegetables, some people would probably say I drink too much coffee, but whatever.)

2. Curate what I read better. (I read about a dozen books last year and a ton of short stories. I still probably waste too much time online, but I spend less time reading stuff on Facebook now because I find it so overwhelming. I realized this year that even friends I keep in close contact with miss my infrequent Facebook updates, so it doesn't even seem like a very good platform for keeping up with people.)

3. Finish the novel (I finished a draft? I think I was operating under the delusion I would be done with it. Maybe this year.) 

4. Write diligently (I could've been better. But I did a lot.)

2015 Resolutions
1. Make more money: I would love to believe I'm exiting the bumbling beginning phase of freelancing. I hope this year to get to a point where I'm doing money like an adult, i.e. saving some of it.

2. Writer better things: Fiction and Non-fiction.

3. Get better at cooking Chinese food, so I don't have to drop $50 every time I want a proper Sichuan dinner.

4. Pick up the scrapbooking habit I dropped in high school. I've traveled so much, but it's no fun revisiting pictures on the computer. 

5. Explore the Northeast. We're going to see my cousin in New Hampshire this weekend. We want to go to Maine and Niagara Falls, we hear the train ride up to Montreal is beautiful in autumn. There's a lot to see.