Tag Archives: Friends

The Last Weekend of My Twenties

I like the drama of that statement, as though everything will somehow change on Thursday.

I get that age is a state of mind, but thirty just sounds so adult.

Like it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing.

I know, it’s always time for that.

Ironically, I picked a pretty grown-up way to celebrate.

A house, close friends, dogs, and the ocean.

No dirty thirty or roaring twenties to go out with a bang.

However, it was perfectly me.

Quiet, peace, laughter and the sea.

Here’s to a new decade.


Weekend Weekend Weekend Weekend

Ready to buy this place... Anyone want to invest?

Want to invest in this place with us? Maybe dreaming is not always such a bad thing…

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The Perfect End to An Endless Summer

Tomorrow is the very last day of summer break. After that, two days in Santa Cruz for a teacher retreat, a day to prepare my classroom, and then three days off to celebrate the final weekend of my twenties with friends (and dogs!) at a beach house about two hours north of San Francisco. Life is full and good to the point that I don’t have much time to lament summer’s passing.

Yesterday, a dear friend threw me an early 30th (or second 29th as she prefers to call it), and I have to say it was the perfect farewell to summer. We sat in her parents’ gorgeous backyard, sipped sparkling lemonade, and talked for hours about her life in San Francisco and mine, here. It was the kind of afternoon that does not need to end, filled with organic green clay masks, pedicures, and swimming, exactly the kind I long for whenever summer begins, that existed so freely in childhood, but now only appears here and there, unexpected though always desired.

If only I knew how to create that feeling more often– four hours on a Saturday could always feel never-ending in that beautiful childhood way. Time manipulation will always be my most coveted super hero power. So, as I ramp back up for 31 new little faces and a pile of revisions to my book, I am also determined to hold on to yesterday afternoon in a way that makes all time stop for a moment whenever I would like.

bday bday bday

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Mt Shasta: When Friends & Family Collide

I wrote this post from my laptop up at my mom’s. No Wi-Fi left time to reflect. However, when I got home, my original words were no longer enough. This time I went to Mount Shasta for five days, a record maybe. Usually I stay a couple nights, but during my visit in May I finally connected with nature, so this time I wanted to stay a little longer.

It's hard not to fall in love with such a glorious place.

It’s hard not to fall in love with this view.

This is more what Mt. Shasta usually looks like for me-- a space of solitude and hiking.

What Mt. Shasta usually looks like for me– a space of quiet hikes and happy dogs. As the picture proves, I still got these moments, but also a whole lot more.

This time, my mom invited a friend of mine from work, with her kids, to join us for the last couple days. This woman is incredible. She gives everything she has to children—her three biological, two adopted through foster care, and the hundreds who attend my K-12 school. She is magic. Sometimes she stands in the back of my room to lend an extra set of eyes, other times I send her kids for one of her special talks. They always come back respectful, ready to learn.

I told my mom about my friend, how she has believed in me even when I have not believed in myself, how she dreams of starting a house for foster kids graduating from high school, how she makes backpacks for the least-fortunate children at our school, filled with tooth brushes and other life supplies. Touched, my mom invited her to bring her kids to Mount Shasta to camp.

Part of the reason it has always been a space I have kept to myself is because Mt. Shasta is filled with a lot of lessons for me, some easier than others.

Mount Shasta has always been a space I have kept to myself because it is filled with a lot of lessons, some easier than others.

Before I extended the invitation, I was not sure what she would say. Mount Shasta has always been my secret place, a land of family only. I was not sure if anyone else would get it, but she did, without me even having to explain anything. She has a gift for understanding people’s thoughts. I should have known she would fall in love, too.

Our worlds are different, but our hearts are the same. Some days we talk and talk after school, leaving others wondering what we are up to—the secret, we laugh and cry and keep each other going. I decided what the heck. If my mom wanted her to visit, then I wanted my friend to decide for herself if she wanted to enter a different universe.

I was not sure what it was going to be like—whether my friend and her family would feel comfortable with strangers, whether she would even say yes. But, she did and I’m so grateful for her courage. We cooked hot dogs over a fire pit, shrieked at frogs (okay that part was just me), waded in the lake, and stared at the brightest moon I have ever seen. After I left, she and her kids stayed and played at the lake, my brother rowing the canoe with her youngest child singing the entire way. When it was all over, I got two phone calls, one from my brother and one from my friend, both full of happy stories of what I had missed.

Simon and I share a similar view of camping. Pretty, cushy chair in netted room required.

Simon and I share a similar view of camping. Pretty, cushy chairs make anything more appealing.

Preparation for our campfire.

Preparation for our campfire.

The lake has the coolest water playground for kids. I wish I could have stayed to watch my friend's family play.

I wish I could have stayed a little longer to watch my friend’s family play, but I’m also glad I left because their phone calls made me realize our connection is now a family one.

This weekend I am thankful for friends and family who encourage us to be brave and open our hearts to each other, for my newest sister and my wonderful nieces and nephew. Maybe we should let our worlds collide more often.

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Those absurdly beautiful moments…

As I walked down the little country path with my arm through my father’s, the lace hem of my wedding dress was gathered in my other hand as not to pick up too much dirt along the way, the sun glittered through the trees. Time stood perfectly still for just a moment, my entire life suspended in two parts, one married and one not. My closest friends and sisters smiled back at me, their bohemian tresses moving in the wind. We giggled as we walked, careful of the uneven ground in satin heels, giddy over what was happening, my dad’s tight squeeze of my arm.

I wanted to walk just a little slower, to savor those moments before my dad gave me away, but also a little faster to see Alex’s face when he first saw me, his bride in the dress I carefully hid for months. I floated, euphoric, tethered to the ground only by the twinges of melancholy that come with the arrival of life’s most anticipated milestones. I was my father’s little girl and my soon-to-be husband’s wife. Everything at once. Tears and smiles, past and future, present.

Last night as I remembered the peace I find in my wedding day, this memory surfaced to the top. For months afterward, I would sit in my cube and look at the pictures, reliving those intense feelings, the happiness they brought even on the most stressful day of work. Weddings may only span a few sweet hours, but the memories are lasting magic.

Photo credit: H. Starkey

With my dad on our unexpected hike to the ceremony site. Photo credit: H. Starkey

Photo credit: E. Heizer

My beloved friends and sisters as we waited to walk across the bridge. Photo credit: E. Heizer

What are your most absurdly beautiful moments? Do you escape inside them, like I do?

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Time Goes by in a Blink

I have been waiting for some sort of moment to blog about for the last couple days, but instead I have struggled to keep up with time. Even in doing less, time escapes me. I do not understand why time spent with family and friends is the time that moves most quickly. It does not seem fair.

This weekend, my family went on our annual San Francisco Christmas trip, the one I looked forward to back in November when we stayed in Union Square for our friends’ wedding. It was a blur. Shopping, dinner, brunch, movie, done. As we walked back to our hotel from dinner on Saturday night, I had to remind myself to put my arm through my father’s as not to lose some part of the tradition.

A bit of deja vu from a month ago and every year for the past 25 years...

Seems so familiar… 25 years of the same view.

To add to the sense of time folding over on itself, here is our annual family Christmas pic in San Francisco five years ago.

To add to the sense of time folding over on itself, here is our annual family Christmas picture in San Francisco six years ago.

This year.

2012. Amazing how six years changes things– my sister all the way to the right has a four-year-old son, my sister all the way to the left used to be the little one in the middle, my brother apparently now smiles, my sister two from the left brought her boyfriend this year, and I am married. What will the next six years bring?

Sunday night we raced home to attend a Christmas party with friends. Standing around talking about babies and weddings to many of the same people I have known since elementary school, there was no clearer expression of time passed. Weren’t we just the little ones making gingerbread houses and driving our teacher crazy the day before winter break? Now I am that teacher…

Monday I scrambled to clean the house and wrap the last presents in time for Alex’s family to come over for dinner. Then I blinked and it was Christmas morning. I staggered the opening of each present as not to let the experience pass by too quickly. My dad sat to my right and refused to open any until the rest of us had finished. We were on the same page, yet somehow it all managed to become part of the blur as well.

Here is one of the presents I took my time opening... And, yes, I was that excited to get a vacuum cleaner.

Here is one of the presents I took my time opening… And, yes, I was that excited to get a vacuum cleaner… Further proof life has changed.

Yesterday and today were filled with visits with friends. Brunches and lunches and afternoons spent drinking tea and laughing. This evening I am certain that the fastest way to pass the time is in the company of those you love. Seems a bit ironic, doesn’t it? The moments we most want to savor are also the moments that pass most quickly.

I hope you are having a lovely end of the year in the company of those you love. If you are anything like me, I also hope you take a moment or two to yourself to help slow it all down. I leave you with a couple of my favorite pictures from the last few days in an effort to hold onto the good moments a little tighter.

And, of course, it's not Christmas without Simon in a santa hat.

Of course, it’s not Christmas without Simon in a santa hat.

My youngest sister and my nephew, this picture is pure love.

My youngest sister and my nephew, this picture is pure love.

Five years from now, she'll be 21 and in college... A very strange thought!

Six years from now, she’ll be 22 and almost done with college and I’ll be 35… Here’s to enjoying all the good moments from now until then!

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Patience is a difficult lesson

I remember hearing once that we are presented with the same lesson over and over until we really get it. If this is true, my current lesson is definitely related to patience and progress. Maybe that’s what I get for questioning the old saying, patience is a virtue. I still stand by the idea that sometimes it’s good not to be patient. However, this season of my life seems to be all about patience. Patience with my writing, patience with my teaching, patience with myself.

My love for writing has not waned, but my belief in myself wavers all the time. The description of my book is an eternal work in progress. I tweak a little here, a little there, a little better throughout time, but still not what it needs to be. Expecting Happiness also deserves a revisit with what I have learned in the past couple months. Naga (my NaNoWriMo project) was off to a good start but now I’m questioning whether my foray into fantasy was just that, a temporary adventure. I get that every word is progress, it just feels unbearably slow sometimes.

Teaching. Is. Hard. I was telling Alex last night that I feel like a big part of my job is improv. Sure I plan my lessons, but when it comes down to it, no script is ever going to work. Real life is messy. Kids are messy. Their ingenious questions redirect my plans all the time. Yes I’m getting better, but teaching is not something you just work hard at and then are instantly great. In fact, it was the first thing in my life where the correlation between hard work and success wasn’t immediate. Then you add in a pilot teacher evaluation system where I am graded on rubric after rubric and I start to feel a little less than stellar. I know it will pay off, but the progress is much slower than I’d like.

Me. Patience with myself is harder to define here, open to the world. There are just certain aspects of my life that I expected to be different by 30. No, 30 isn’t here, but it feels like it’s knocking on my door.

The lesson in all of this, progress takes time, little by little, bit by bit, day by day, hour by hour… The important part is continuing to put in the work that will eventually get me wherever it is I am headed. But here’s the best part. Thanks to this blog, I don’t feel alone in this. From my heart, I appreciate each and every one of you that is accompanying me on this sometimes slow journey, from friends and family in real life to friends on the other side of a computer screen. Thank you.

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Grown-Up Halloween

If you like my writing, you’ll love Katie’s. Check out her new/old blog that she moved from Blogger to WordPress this weekend:

Grown-Up Halloween

Yes, I’m slowly convincing every blogger I know in real life to make the transition…

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Social Media, Politics, and “Friends”

It’s that time of the election cycle. Our feeds are full of political opinions. A friend of mine posted an article about how easy it is to offend our virtual friends on Facebook. This made me reflect a bit on how we project ourselves to the virtual world. I personally don’t mind all the opinions, even if I often choose to stay on the sidelines, piping in with likes and comments instead of starting the discussions myself.

The way I look at it, if someone wants to unfriend me or stop following me for my beliefs, that’s fine. Makes me wonder why I’d want to be connected with someone that doesn’t respect me for my differences in the first place. Likewise, I have shed a few connections over the years for their consistently hateful ideas, which has only left me feeling lighter in knowing that those people don’t belong in any facet of my life.

Instead of seeing the barrage of opinions put out into the online universe as overkill or offensive, I see the Internet as a useful, natural filter for deciding who I really want to have in my online sphere. Sure there are plenty of relatives and coworkers and old friends and acquaintances I do not agree with, but as long as the dialogue is kept respectful, I like that there is a place in this world where they can express themselves openly and I can know them a little better.

This whole idea that we should not have hard conversations with the people in our lives gets under my skin. If we cannot have them in real life, as the article points out is often the case, then I am happy they can occur, even superficially, in the virtual sphere. The only way the world changes is if we start to listen to each other and understand our differing perspectives a little better.

I know it may seem like all the political noise does not really change anything, but I think it does, little by little. When I was in high school, gay kids were beat up, and no one publicly said anything to stop it. Now, all those same kids are grown-ups with Facebook accounts, and suddenly it is pretty mainstream to speak up for gay rights, (even if some of these adults are still on the other side of the fence). This shift in dialogue is just one example of how putting ideas out there can make other people feel safer in voicing their opinions too.

So, as your feeds fill up with ideas you may or may not agree with, I encourage you to be grateful a space exists where people actually speak their minds. Maybe eventually it will make people brave enough to start having important discussions in real life too. And, if nothing else, at least it shows us where the people in our lives stand, whether it be on the left or the right, or in a space of wanting to say nothing.

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Life is short.

Yesterday I arrived home from work and sat in the car, letting the NPR story finish, attention caught by a piece about apartment rents in San Francisco. The economic analyst in me still lives beneath the surface. That and I often sit in the car to let a story finish.

This time, however, I looked up to see Alex coming to my window. Odd, I thought. Maybe he is wondering why I am still sitting here, alone in my car.

Then I saw his face and I knew something was wrong. My thoughts raced, he didn’t want to talk until we got inside. I couldn’t wait.

“Is someone dead?” I asked, a bit panicked.


Before I even had time to ask who, he told me. A friend’s wife. Her heart stopped without explanation as she sat in the car in front of her house before she came in from work. Unexpected. Tragic. Heart breaking.

Now before you offer your condolences, please know, they are misdirected at me. I am deeply saddened by our friend’s loss, but I only knew her from weddings, brief interactions. For me, the sadness is in knowing how devastated Alex’s long-time friend must feel. This is the guy who was a big brother to Alex, let us borrow his super-fast Mustang to drive to prom, helped me learn to work on my own 5.0 Mustang a year or so later.

I cannot even begin to imagine what he must be feeling right now. How deep his grief must be. She also had a son.

Life is so unpredictable, so fleeting. Since Alex shared the news with me, I have been haunted by this quiet whisper of nothing lasts forever, nothing is certain. For Alex the haunting is something more jarring. It changed the way he looks at me. His eyes clinging to the present. His friend’s forlorn words on the other side of the phone still fresh in his mind.

There have been other losses in our relationship, but this is the only one that has ever made him look at me differently. That alone has followed me around all day, tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me. Life is short.

Tonight I just want to remind you to hold those close to you a little tighter and tell them you love them. That’s my plan.

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Fall Break Escape: Visiting Our Old Life

Three years ago, Alex and I moved from Berkeley to Sacramento, an hour and a half away. While we were happy to trade in our tiny one-bedroom apartment for a little more space and a lot more time with family, we also gave up things we really loved about living in the San Francisco Bay Area: close friends, amazing restaurants, a wide range of weekly events, walkable urbanism, proximity to the ocean…

Every break I have from school, we venture back for a couple days to reconnect with our old lives:

Friday night we stayed in San Rafael, following a leisurely drive through Wine Country. As soon as we reached our hotel, I begged Alex to jump in the car to make the trek 25 minutes further so we could watch the sunset over Muir Beach. What I didn’t realize was that the beach is angled away from the setting sun, so instead we enjoyed the dimming light, remembering how often we used to come and sit in the same spot when we lived in Berkeley. It was our spot to imagine the future. I guess it still is.

This time my imagination of the future included a need to own the teal house overlooking the beach… Alex quickly pointed out that we could paint any house on the beach teal, but that seems beside the point.

Woke up ready to cross the Golden Gate and head into the City for brunch and the Bluegrass Festival. No matter how many times I cross this bridge, it’s always magical.

A little SF mural flair, Guernica style.

Delicious brunch at Zazie’s with friends. Made us feel like locals, like maybe we were home again.

A very grown-up game of Go Fish while we waited for the Lumineers at Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park– a completely free music festival, (and just one more reason I love San Francisco).

Lucky hand of Go Fish!

Doing a frightening job protecting our precious piece of real estate as the crowd rolled in for the Lumineers– Golden Gate Park was packed but beautiful in the sunshine!

And, what we waited for– one of my favorite bands, the Lumineers. Sitting on Alex’s shoulders, listening to lyrics about love and family, I felt momentarily at home in a sea of people.

Ironically, as much as we love to visit the Bay, I am not sure it will ever be where we call home again. Odd, right– to love a place so much and not want to live there? I still need something a little quieter, a little more laid back… Somewhere I can imagine raising my own family. Thanks Lumineers for searing that word family into my head tonight. I leave you with some crudely shot footage that makes me smile. Life captured briefly, imperfectly, but still beautiful. So show me family…

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Old Friends, Love & Weddings

On my birthday, a big package awaited me on my doorstep.  Tearing it open, I thought wow, my friend Erin knows how to send a birthday card.  Then, as I unwrapped the super light box, I realized it was instead an invitation to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  Pretty much the cutest bridesmaid invitation I had ever seen!  She sent an adorable, personalized hanger to hang our bridesmaid dresses, complete with a little tag reading, “Will you please hang with me on my wedding day?”


Weddings seem to come in cycles and Alex and I are currently on an upswing.  The last was 2009, the year we were married and attended five weddings.  In two weeks, Alex’s friend will be married and I will attend another friend’s bridal shower.  This sweet, childhood friend that sent the bridesmaid invitation will not be married until next fall and I cannot wait.

I love weddings.

The year I planned ours, I woke up excited every morning for what lay ahead.  Now, I’m excited to accompany another friend on this journey.  She and I first met in elementary school and bonded over our quirky shyness as middle schoolers.  We liked the same boys, stayed up late giggling uncontrollably, and developed code names for everything.  Even though years kept us apart as we got older, we always easily reconnected when life brought us back together.

Tonight I’m feeling grateful for old friends, love, and weddings.

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My Alter Ego is Named Grandma

One of my goals for this summer is to be more spontaneous, to go with the flow, to allow new experiences to wash over me, instead of avoiding them.  Sometimes I joke that my alter ego is named Grandma.  She enjoys curling up on the sofa with her dog, reading good books, and going to bed around 11PM.  She has even been known to fall asleep in her chair with company over, and she often avoids unscheduled activities.

Don’t worry.  I do not have multiple personalities.  I just have a part of myself that is very set in routines, plans, managing expectations.  I’m alright with this because I think it is important to know what you like and to not always do things just because you do not want to disappoint others.  However, I also do not want to miss out on exciting parts of life just because I did not plan for them.

So, yesterday, on a whim, I climbed into my car with my husband and my dog and drove to Berkeley for lunch to celebrate the birthday of one of my nearest and dearest friends, Liz.  We picked up fried chicken sammies from Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland, (which is absolutely amazing and a must-eat if you’re in the area).  Then, with the help of another one of my nearest and dearest, Jen, we surprised Liz on the Berkeley campus with a picnic near her office.

Mind you, this may not seem over-the-top crazy, but it was spontaneous and required some effort to get down there, two things that Grandma doesn’t like.  So, I’m happy to report that I successfully overcame my alter ego and had a lot of fun in the process.  Our picnic was delicious and it was awesome to hang out with friends in the town we used to call home, (and miss dearly!).

Now, for the next adventure Grandma is dreading, a five-day road trip to Olympia, WA and back, for roller derby, dirty Portland bars, and that magnificent Oregon coast…

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