Halloween Costume Prophecies

The first time I went trick-or-treating, I was dressed as a dalmatian puppy. In what can only be described as ironic, just a few years after that my neighbors' newly-adopted actual dalmatian would lunge straight for my face when I tried to introduce myself to it, sending me into immediate panic and explosive tears. The nip it gave my ear (which quite possibly drew no blood) ultimately led to the expulsion of that dog from my neighbors' family. Their son (my friend until this incident) would remind me of that fact for years to come. The whole experience left me with a pronounced sense of guilt and shame in my own anxious sensitivities... and confirmed a long held suspicion on my part that I was a cat person.

Reflecting on this, I began to wonder: How many other Halloween costumes would prove weirdly premonitory upon retrospective review? The answer, it turns out, is quite a lot of them. If you look the right way....

The Fairy That Was Not Thumbelina
Ah, the great costume debacle of '94. I had a humble request: I was 4 years old and I wanted to be a tiny person. Specifically, I wanted to be the tiny person from this film. My poor mother, unassuming and obliging as ever, ordered the "Thumbelina" piece from whatever costume catalog we had lying around that year. Two days before Halloween, what should arrive at our doorstep but a generic tulle-covered monstrosity that bore no resemblance to the blue-gown / flower-crown ensemble of my dreams and every resemblance to the most boring fairy princess ever.

The prophecy? This was clearly a precursor to every other fashion let-down in my future: from my annual school-picture-day dreams of bouncy curls (which always devolved into shapeless poodle-poofs by photo time) to the day I discovered my legs were too short for off-the-rack jeans. Sigh.

Woody (from Toy Story)
By the time I hit first grade, I was in firm denial that I wanted anything to do with fairies and princesses and was instead pursuing bugs, baseballs, and all things boy. Since I grew up with brothers and on a block full of boys, I quickly fell victim to the stinging dismissal of "You can't, cause you're a girl." So I bought sports cards with my allowance and I stopped wearing dresses outdoors and I developed a talent for eating insects. As my best friend at the time was soaring on a sparkly wave of princesses and pink, I wound up living a kind of double life between dolls and dirt. And the outcome was that people stopped taking me seriously.

To circumnavigate a potentially serious investigation of gender bias and identity, let's just say that my Woody costume, which involved a not very well-concealed ponytail, borrowed cowboy boots, and a jumpsuit sized for someone four inches shorter than me, predicted an ongoing obsession with reinventing myself  -- and an inability to convince anyone of its permanence.

Hermione Granger
Let it be here stated that I did Hermione right. This was the year before the first Harry Potter film came out. We were miles from accepting the gorgeousness of Emma Watson into our collective image of Hogwarts' greatest brain. The Hermione of Rowling's books possessed two defining characteristics: "bushy brown hair" and "rather large front teeth." So I crimped my hair and got a buck toothed half-face mask. Well-meaning candy distributors spent most of the night trying to comprehend who I was between my mask-muffled voice and doubtlessly mispronounced first name.

Besides an obvious prognosis of my destiny as a book-obsessed, rule-abiding nerd, I think this costume accurately forecasted a fast-approaching tumble into puberty. That mask's chipmunk cheeks were all the suggestion my body needed to bring on three straight years of baby fat.

Punky Kitten
I was particularly proud of this costume, because it was one of the first years I worked with face paint. My mom took a bunch of pictures before I headed off to a party with some high school friends, and she later told me that the employees at Costco Photo Center (God bless 'em) wanted to know who did the makeup for "that amazing cat face!" At the party, a friend of mine, for no reason I can remember, told me I was freaking him out and to take off the paint and my wig and to "stop being a crazy cat lady."

I am no longer on speaking terms with that friend, and I've since repeated this costume three times.

I'll leave that one to you.

Almost two years to the date I shared this costume on Inspirsession, I would be living in New York, watching the glamorous women of Park Avenue clutching their fancy designer purses and teetering on expensive heels toward the call of various midday appointments.

I -- humbled and unemployed, my brain sore from drafting too many cover letters and probing too many sides of my personality toward people-pleasing interview speak, scarred and stitched over as I reconstruct my own sense of being -- feel green. Green: inexperienced, simple, slightly ill... but also: fresh, budding, full of life.


Top 10 Autumn Munchies

Well, it's just about time to go grocery shopping again, so I'm cheating and turning my list into a post.

Likely due to evolutionary hibernation habits, every time autumn comes back around my appetite swings back into action. More often than not, I want carbs and more carbs, but I try to keep things in balance with some good fruit and veg too.

Here's what's at the top of my munching list this season:

1) Dark Chocolate
     Chocolate is pretty much a year-round thing for me, but there's something that makes me extra choco-cheery around fall. (Probably an anticipatory childhood holdover from the sugar-rush trick-or-treating brought each year...) I've started keeping a bar of 85% dark chocolate around the house to appease my seasonal sugar cravings, savoring just a square or two at a time. Looking forward to this little treat gives me a reason to avoid less satisfying sugar-bombs throughout the day -- though I can't say I always adhere to that reason!

2) Cider
    Yesterday I found a coffee shop here in New York which offers hot cider by the (plentiful) cup for about $3. As someone who's never quite developed a palette for straight coffee, this was a delightful alternative pick-me-up. If you really want to up your cider game, buy yourself some spices and get your wassail on. It sounds fancy, but it's easy to prepare, and it makes a classy addition to any holiday get-together.

3) Candy Corn
     Does this really need justification? I'll tell you one thing: I've learned not to let myself buy candy corn anytime beyond the month of October (and even then I usually limit myself to one bag.) Once those flood gates are open, it's a slippery slope toward year-round addiction. I'm also that person that loves candy corn in rice krispy treats or popcorn balls. Give me those tri-toned crack pockets in any form -- I can't resist 'em.

4) ABC Juice
    Apples, Beets, and Carrots are all at their best this season, and it's a great excuse to juice them for all they're worth. If you have your own juicer, combine 1 large apple with 1/4 beet and 1 large carrot. You might add a 1/2 inch of ginger if you want some extra kick! If you, like me, have precious little counter space and/or no money to put toward such a contraption, try sticking these items in the blender, then pushing them through a mesh strainer to bring out the juice. The extra pulpy bits might be a great addition to...

5) Quickbreads
     There's really nothing else I crave more this time of year than fresh-baked bread (of any kind!) J has been diligently baking a weekly whole wheat loaf for our sandwiches and toast, and it always surpasses the store-bought stuff to a laughable extent. I'm a dessert fanatic, so my baking exploits gravitate more toward quickbreads -- the stuff that basically tastes like cake. Pumpkin, carrot, and spice breads are fall classics, but I also like to mix things up with chocolate avocado-banana or zucchini walnut! For more texture, top your breads with roasted pumpkins or sunflower seeds. Mmmm....

6) Wild Rice and/or Lentils
     Stick these in a crockpot with lots of yummy veggies + stock and fuhgeddaboutit.

7) Sweet Potatoes
     You probably think your mom has the best Thanksgiving recipe for these bad boys, but the truth is, mine does.

8) Chai
    If you have not discovered the wonder that is the chai tea latte, I implore you to go to your local coffee shop right now, settle in with a book, and sip away. If you care anything for spice, I have no doubt you'll love it. Once you've attuned your palette, experiment at home to find the right blend of sugar and spice -- or make things cheap n' easy by purchasing a carton of Oregon Chai. Then -- when you're ready, young grasshopper -- find a restaurant like Taste of India in Seattle, order the bottomless cup, and prepare to shorten your life expectancy one whole-milky swig at a time.
9) Apples
     Another food that doesn't really need an introduction, autumn is obviously the best time to cook, can, or eat this fruit straight. A long-time subscriber to the PBnJ, I like to take slice extra-crispy apples up thin and put them directly into my sandwich in place of jam. It's a perfect complement to those days when you wish you were just back in 3rd grade, listening to your teacher read while you colored the afternoon away.

10) Pumpkin
    I couldn't very well end the list without addressing the squash that instigates sheer mania every September. While I've certainly fallen victim to the pumpkin love (Pumpkin Ravioli? Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels! Pumpkin Pop Tarts?! Trader Joes, what are you trying to do to me??!), this year a friend served me straight-up roasted sugar pumpkin with tahini, and I remembered why this vegetable is so incredible in the first place. I even spent the next day munching on the roasted seeds. Do yourself a favor this year and skip the processed stuff for the real thing!


Neurotic Thoughts I've Had

Have you ever wanted to get inside someone else's head? If only to assuage concerns about your own bizarre thoughts and tendencies? While no one's requested access into mine lately, I'm going to share some personal neuroticisms with you anyway. Mostly because I have no heartfelt words of wisdom for you today, and partly because I love making lists.

Thought #1 (eating a snack): I really do love making lists. I wish I could have a job as a list maker. Then I'd be able to list my lists as a great big list through my listserv and enlist list-lackeys for my guest list at parties. Lovely.

Thought #2 (in bed): What if this building caught on fire, and I couldn't get my window open? Or what if I could get it open, but the little latch on the bars outside didn't work? Could I fit through those bars? There's no way I could fit through those bars. Could I open this other window and shimmy down a tree? That tree's so far away! Maybe I could Spiderman leap onto it. Why is there this unspoken feeling that if you were to jump into a leafy tree it would cushion your fall? Branches are rough, solid extensions of wood. If you hit one with enough force, you'd straight up break something; if you miss one, you're flying, no, falling through the air toward certain death. In the morning, I will definitely check that window.

Thought #3 (after failing to coerce the sunbathing cat out of the bathroom): Is it, like, a really indecent thing to pee in front of a cat? I mean, dogs indulge us with their bodily functions on a regular basis, but cats usually keep it to themselves -- pending on how well-concealed their litterbox is, of course. I could just pick her up, but she looks so comfy there on the bathmat... I'll just... Don't mind me... There we go. (...) Why are you looking at me? (...) Cat, stop. (...) This is definitely never happening again.

Thought #4 (on examining a Trader Joe's pumpkin pop-tart): I wonder how many apparently cancerous things I have put into my body since I was born and which of them will end up being the death of me.

Thought #5 (staring into closet): Hey, Purple Pinstripe Blouse... what do you think you're doing in front of Tank Blouse? You're a completely different style and weight than him. You belong next to Chambray here. Get back in line. And while we're at it, LBDs, stop crowding Princess Silk. I know we had to make some adjustments with all the men's shirts that landed here last week, but really there's no need to divert from the method. Really, now, who's responsible for this?

Thought #6 (while doing yoga): In all seriousness, which am I going to regret more: not wearing gorgeous shoes while I still had the legs for them or giving myself really bad bunions?

Thought #7 (watching Children of the Corn): What if my single greatest acting achievement is something on par with Children of the Corn?

Thought #8 (before bed): (creates calendar appointment) (sets travel time) (sets reminder alarm) (sets second reminder alarm) (closes app) (opens app, just to double check it saved) (sets phone volume on high) (closes phone) (plugs phone into wall) (opens phone) (opens email) (double checks appointment time on email) (closes phone) .... Did I set my alarm?

Here's hoping your October isn't half as scary as what's going on inside my brain.


The Last of the Really Great Grown-Ups

I recently read an article in the New York Times examining how America's definition of adulthood has changed and diminished over the course of history. The author examines several manifestations of this, mostly under the umbrella of the ongoing fall of the patriarchy.

While I'm told I have the face of a high school sophomore, I've been something of a curmudgeon-in-the-making for as long as I can remember. At 7-years-old I was completely obsessed with Elvis, and I refused to accept my friends' avowals that The Spice Girls or N*SYNC were half as worthy of my attention. After Elvis came The Beatles, and after them came anything and everything from the 1980s. It seemed I was forever chasing some other generation's pop culture.

In recent years I've learned to give the artists of my own generation more of a chance, but it hasn't changed the fact that I'm terrible at "the bar scene," and I have a strange enchantment with the sort of activities regularly embraced after retirement: knitting, taking long walks (and sits) in the park, going to the library, and happily holing up on the weekend with a newspaper crossword puzzle and a bowl of soft caramels for company. I'm not single, but if I was I'm pretty sure I'd be terrible at dating. I've long since mourned the loss of partner dancing that involved more than rocking back and forth and shaking your most charming asset. I have little patience for people who lack basic social graces. And last (but certainly not least), I'm continually flabbergasted at the kinds of clothing which recent generations have deemed appropriate to wear to a) work, b) the theatre, and c) any other social occasion worthy of their time.

As I write this, it is my late grandmother's birthday. Today she would have been 83. Though she relaxed her generational expectations with the best of them, she still never set foot outside the house (even to Safeway!) without her makeup, nylon stockings, and a head of expertly pin-curled hair. Perhaps it was the patriarchy that enforced these standards from the start, but I like to think that later in life she had enough spirit to resist them if she'd wanted. It was never about status -- in my life, I never saw her shop beyond the realms of JC Penny -- it was about putting her best foot (and face and hair) forward for those she respected, which was most people. She cared about how she was perceived because she cared about those perceiving her.

I think we have much to learn from the generations before us -- and (forgive me, Mom and Dad) particularly any generation before the Baby Boomers, who single-handedly introduced t-shirts, festival culture, and the word "dude" into daily life. While there's no denying the strides that more recent generations have made in other aspects of life (civil rights, environment, and technology come immediately to mind), I do think bringing greater awareness to our manners, posture, clothing, and conversation could only serve to ensure respect toward our fellow human beings.

For my part, here are the general rules of adulthood I try to adhere to:

1) Be realistic about your finances. Learn to budget and live within your means. Learn to support yourself independently.

2) Embrace candles. Adults always seem to know when and wear to place these, and it always makes a difference. (This applies to all kinds of decor, actually.)

3) Learn how to tidy your living space on a regular basis. We've all experienced the roommate with no concept of cleanliness, and nothing screams "I STILL NEED A MOTHER" quite like the scent of sour milk in abandon cereal bowls.

4) Practice the art of thank-you writing. An email is great, but a letter is better. Everyone likes to receive mail.

5) Dress for you, but dress as the most presentable version of yourself. If you like t-shirts, you don't need to don a suit. Just consider swapping your nostalgic cereal logo tee for a tailored henley when the situation calls.

6) Take responsibility for your actions. I'm the queen of creative excuses, so this is probably the hardest for me. Apologizing and admitting you were in the wrong is not only a sign of maturity, but of humility. And, let's face it, we could all use a little more of that.


Make New Friends, Keep the Old

One of the more exciting occurrences since I made the move to New York has been the opportunity to reconnect with old friends. And by "old" I mean high school old -- people I met in Spokane. There's certainly an irony in having to move across the country to find the people I grew up with, but I guess all roads lead back to NYC.

I've noticed a funny phenomenon when it comes to considering old friendships, and I don't think I'm alone in thinking it: Rather than accepting that we simply fell out of touch, I always assume something went wrong. I make up all kinds of excuses why I ought not to "bother" people who, for one reason or another, fell out of my day-to-day life.

They've probably become a different person, I reason, or they'll expect me to be the same person, and they'll be disappointed with who I've become. 

I probably did something to offend them that made them stop contacting me on purpose. I shouldn't rock the boat.

Maybe there was some reason we never got along in the first place, and it came out in the wash already, and that fact has been lost in the tricky fog of friendship nostalgia.

Friendship Nostalgia: a longing for "the way we were;" the desire to return to a specific moment in time with a friend. Don't we all share a little of this?

Like most people, I'm not perfect. I have lost friends on purpose (and if you're reading this right now; no, it probably wasn't you!), and friends have probably lost me on purpose. In my younger years I wasn't very good at apologizing or expressing my own feelings of anger and hurt. I had two younger brothers who were always ready to punch it out, then forgive and forget without ceremony. There was an unspoken understanding that no offense would last through the morning, and for a while I applied that principle to my interaction with all friends.

Of course I ran into problems right away. I still remember a girl in elementary school who, in the middle of a dollhouse disagreement, serenaded me with a song about how to get along and talk about our feelings. I think she made it up. To date I can't think of a time I felt more uncomfortable around someone my own age. I actually wanted the floorboards to open and swallow me up.

On another occasion -- and this was in high school, mind you -- a good friend was irritating me at lunch. Some primal mode of sibling battle kicked in, and I struck her across the arm. What I thought was a light smack, like you might give a puppy when it pawed at a child's face, made my opponent reel back with an astonished "Owwww!" and I immediately felt embarrassed. Clearly this was not the way to solve post-pubescent problems. I'm lucky that this friend had a sense of humor and brought it up when I was too mortified to confront the issue. It gave me the chance to apologize like a rational human being, and today we're able to look back on the situation and laugh.

This is all to say I'm not pulling these excuses out of thin air. I've made mistakes, and because I am a perfectionist, I'm sure that every "straw" is the last when it comes to friendship disputes. But them I'm forced to question whether this sort of anxiety is universal... and something we're all just not talking about. This hearkens back to an earlier post on recognizing fear. When we own what we're afraid of and choose to face it, there's no reason we can't bear our souls to those we once related to and see if there isn't still friendship to be fostered there.

Curiously enough, the people who I have the pleasure to reconnect with in New York share a striking personality trait: self-assurance and the intrinsic ability to imbue it in others. Maybe this is less surprising than it seems; after all, it takes a certain kind of person to move far away from home and start their lives in an enormous city that regularly dashes dreams like bugs against its skyscrapers. But as someone who's lived under the tyranny of the infamous "Seattle freeze" for the past six years, it's tremendous to discover people -- not just one, but a whole collection of them! -- who are not only interested in what you want out of life, but will also go out of the way to help you realize it.

In a way, these are the people I've been looking for my whole life -- and how funny that they've been in my life all along. Somewhere along the way, we just lost one another's addresses.

I'm not ruling out the fact that reunion itself is a form of nostalgia. There's a certain excitement in suddenly being able to reference memories with someone who doesn't need the Cliffnotes version of your past. Still, whether we make a point to meet regularly or we lose one another once again in the throes of reality, I will never forget the people who came out of the woodwork this first month to make me feel at home.

If you have a chance to rekindle a once-cherished friendship, don't let anxiety get the better of you. Don't feel too cool for reaching out to someone who liked you even when you were a lesser version of yourself. Don't act like you've outgrown them (unless, of course, your therapist tells you you have.) You may be surprised how easily things fall back into place. Chances are they will remember your better qualities -- the ones that brought you together in the first place -- and be generous in reminding you of them. They will assure you that you'll be okay, because you've really been okay all along.


First Impressions of New York City

It's been nearly three weeks (wow!) since my arrival, and I'm slowly beginning to put together the pieces of what makes New York, erm, New York.

I could state the obvious here: most places are crowded, cockroaches exist but recede in the light, cabs are not an economic form of regular transportation, and just about everything you can imagine is more expensive.

But I wanted to think outside the box a little. So, without further adieu, here are the top five random things I've noticed as a newcomer to NYC:

(1) When you walk down Madison Avenue, you are almost guaranteed to see most beautiful man and/or woman you have ever seen. Five. Times. Over.

This could be like a special charm for single people. Ye will take yeself to the crosspoint of Madison and five-and-fifty... Ye will turn on yer heels to face the building of the sky, and when ye turn back forward, by the light of the midday sun, ye will see a most beautiful being emerge from the door-with-four-faces. But beware! These creatures are of this earth. They sport expensive shoes and carry designer pens in their leather satchels....

Then again, maybe everyone just looks better in a suit.

(2) The best time to go to Trader Joe's (the one on 73rd, at least) is on Friday at 1:30pm.

For those of you responsible people with day jobs, I, your thoughtfully unemployed friend, have solved the burning mystery: When are you guaranteed to satisfy your pumpkin-product craving of choice without a 20-40 minute checkout delay?

The answer is, conveniently enough, right after your workday lunch break. This of course is when everyone else has returned from their workday lunch break as well, and the stores have settled to host a much smaller dose of NY citizens -- the self-employed, the curmudgeonly old folk, and the still-figuring-out-the-job-thing-ers, like myself.

You're welcome for not really solving your problem at all.

(3) The majority of people here are helpful, encouraging, and pleasant conversationalists (at heart.)

Like most people from the west coast, I was living under the blanket assumption that our citizens possessed the best personality in all of America. What's not to love about a laid-back, easy-going hippie/hipster who keeps to himself? Tolerating some mild passive aggression every once in a while isn't the worst thing in the world, right?

But the more time I spend here, the more certain I am that we west coasters -- Seattleites in particular -- could really stand to learn a thing or two from our east coast brethren. NY locals may bypass the courtesy of excusing themselves when they bump into you (they're going places, man!) They may hustle you along when you spend too much time pondering exactly what bagel schmear you'd like (is there really a wrong choice here??) They will most likely set you straight when you ask something completely preposterous ("Is there a cheap place to get brunch around here?") But if you ask for help -- or hell, even if you're just standing around looking like you need it -- sooner or later someone will offer it.

In my first week here, one man gave me a lead on a permanent apartment, two employees offered their names for reference on job applications, and three Upper East Siders gave me unsolicited advice on where to find breakfast. These were all strangers who had no vested interest in whether or not I got to where I was going. They were just good people. And a surprising amount of them exist here if you stop and look around.

(4) The more time you spend in midtown, the more you feel entitled to the life of a well-paid lawyer.

I've decided that until I've worked out a budget and gotten my first paycheck, I'm staying as far away from the shopping smorgasbord that is 5th Avenue, Soho, and the like as is humanly possibly.

Though admittedly I've always been a window shopping enthusiast, it's rare I'll actually step inside a store with the intention of buying something -- unless of course I actually need it. When the stuff of dreams leaves the window, however, and enters the world of reality in someone else's bag, you suddenly begin to foster dangerous ideas: I could buy that too.

And usually, no you can't. Not if you want to afford rent next month. Not if want to steer clear of Credit Card Debtors Anonymous. But the perfumed people of Madison Avenue have already peppered you with their siren song "You Too Deserve A Life of Luxury" and sunk their perfectly manicured claws into your small-town heart. Suddenly you're fascinated with what kind of shoes everyone is wearing and which firm they work for. You're daydreaming about starting off your mornings in uptown bakeries while your boyfriend (read: sugar daddy) does time in his fancy suit on Wall Street.

Then, out of nowhere, you're struck with a pang of hunger, and you remember you have a stomach that needs to eat. And just like Chanel shoes, boxed risotto does not grown on trees.

(5) It's not a concrete prison.

One of my utmost fears about leaving Washington state was where I'd get my nature fix. The largest city I'd spent significant amount of time in before New York was London, which sprawls even further than Seattle and whose green space accounts for nearly half the city. I'm not exactly a "great outdoors" kind of gal, but could I really settle for Central Park?

As any new city dweller should, I started exploring. On the way to the library I ran into Bryant Park and its beautiful ring of London planes, which are nearly as tall as the building itself. In a book I discovered a map of miniature gardens dotted throughout the city. A dear friend took me to the base of the George Washington bridge, from which we spent an entire afternoon walking the length of the river -- and didn't even get to midtown.

Best of all, I've started to view the concrete passages and the towering buildings, the metro tunnels and brick corridors as beautiful in their own right. It isn't leafy, but it offers plenty of space to explore. Sort of like spelunking... with more lights.


On Fear

When I was seven years old, I taped a National Geographic poster of a jaguar to my bedroom wall. I can't remember if I asked for it directly or not, but somewhere between my dad's perusal of the catalog and its path to the the recycling bin, the giant jungle cat portrait fell into my care.

It was the first "pet" I ever had. I don't think I named it. If I had, odds are it would have been "Sam," because that's what I named everything at the time.*

For reasons I'll never quite be able to explain, I eventually began to talk to it. Not out loud; it wasn't like interacting with an imaginary friend, it was more like I'd unearthed some version of God. While I'd never been to church and I'd never been taught to pray, I figured if other people had nightly chats with a magical person then I had every right to an occasional conference of my own.

"Jaguar," I'd say, gazing into his predacious eyes, "Jaguar, today I told a lie. I told Mom that I didn't stick gum behind my dresser. I told her my little brother did it."

"Jaguar, please don't let burglars come through my window tonight and take me away. And if they do, please let me remember to take Ali Cat with me. Thanks."

"Jaguar, if you know Santa, please tell him I'd like a bed for my doll. I promise I've been good all year except for the gum thing.... Please don't tell Santa about the gum thing."

Of course my feline companion never answered back. He merely stared back at me from his side of the room. Still, beneath his nightly scrutiny I felt oddly comforted.

When my family moved across town at the end of second grade, I packed up my seraphic tri-fold and slipped it in a folder for safe transport. Unfortunately, it remained there for the next 17 years -- I never found a suitable place to hang it on my wall. And without the visual reminder, the conversations stopped.

Waist-deep in the brambles of puberty, I discovered a new way to cope with my fears. I pushed and lodged them deeper into the bowels of my... well, bowels. Down there, they cast strange spells across my intestines, agitating my insides with anxious flutterings. I learned to live with that too. I learned the age-old art of denial.

Fast-forward to this summer. I'm clearing out old paperwork from my room to prepare for the move to New York. I find an old binder with folders in it. I find the folder which still holds the poster. I unfold it to find the jaguar staring back at me, and I'm struck with the same impulse to confess my apprehensions. How long will it take to find a job? What if I feel lonely? What if the city rats eat me alive? What if I don't make it?

And then a funny thing happened: As soon as I started asking these questions, my mind gave me answers. I am resourceful; I know I will find a way to get a job before I need a job. I am amiable; I have every right to call on friends when I need them. I can choose to live by my own definition of success. Most importantly, NYC subway rats are not the underfed demons of 1984.

When was the last time you told someone you were afraid? When did you last admit it to yourself? Why do we waste energy dispensing alternative qualifiers for how we're feeling -- angry, sad, frustrated, "fine" -- when we know it all boils down to that four letter f-word?

Maybe because we can't recognize fear anymore. Maybe because you, like me, stopped giving yourself the space, the permission, to examine it.

In the interest of storage, I chose to recycle my jaguar poster. But in return I'm making a better effort to identify my own fears. I've started thinking of them as ghosts waiting to be exorcised into reality, to be looked square in the face and ushered earthward so that they might rest in peace.

This blog post is my first step. While I mused on how to move Inspirsession forward, two fears hit me at once: (1) that departing from the subject of style would mean failing on my journey toward clarifying a sense of fashion identity and (2) that by continuing to blog exclusively about fashion I'd miss opportunities to explore other important subject matter. So, I found a way to face these fears and turn them into fuel. I've decided my posts will still feature / be inspired by what I wear day to day, but their written content may explore other topics beyond personal style. I've chosen to work in watercolor to satisfy my long-held fascination with color.

If you feel strongly about any feature of Inspirsession, or there's a particular aspect of the blog that keeps you interested and inspired, please leave your comments and ideas below. As always, this is a work in progress. And, of course, I invite you to share your own tips for living fearlessly!

*A short list of "everything" being stray cats, story characters, paper dolls, and one perfectly-shaped apple I'd saved from a trip to Greenbluff Orchards.


Autumn Playlist 2015

Another season, another playlist woven from the Medusa-threads that are my elusive music tastes.

It's been a long time since I've posted here, and it's by no-intention-but-every-fault of my own. I greatly missed Inspirsession during my time in Europe (though One Hundred Words shaped up to be far more successful than I'd anticipated) and I looked forward to hitting the ground running upon return to "real life." Unfortunately real life in Spokane resembled nothing like real life in Seattle, and without a road map to my own future it was tricky to create one for the blog. I'm still exploring what's ahead for this space, especially now that I've landed at the doorstep of opportunity in Artistic Candyland (read: N-Y-C.)

This playlist owes a lot to some individuals that I was fortunate enough to reconnect with during my time at home. Billy Joel is long-time family favorite (so sue me), and when my younger brother surprised me with a "Vienna" piano/vocal tribute upon my return to the states I just about turned cartwheels. My other brother appropriately introduced me to "Sister Song" which, in case you were looking for contenders, probably wins the guaranteed-to-make-your-entire-funeral-party-cry award.

Watching Gilmore Girls with my mom reawakened my love for The La's guitar-laden ode. My very-hip best friend floored me when she declared "Steal My Girl" was a "total banger" and has thus given me full excuse to declare One Direction an official guilty pop pleasure. And of course there's no getting through a Spokane summer without The Beach Boys. I have a several layers of memories ensuring I never forget that.

The substantially hipper artists on this list (Sjowgren, Cheers Elephant, Rayland Baxter, Catey Shaw, Summer Fiction, and Tina Dico) are all thanks to Songza's new artist playlists. Big thumbs up to them for expanding my music taste beyond 1995.

I have no excuses to offer for the Sara Barielles hit except that I attended a hell of a lot of weddings this summer.

Happy Autumn, everybody! It's no secret this is my favorite season and I intend to soak up every minute of my first one in this big, beautiful city. What are you listening to this season? Let me know in the comments!