I was told to go where the wind would blow

I made a decision recently. I pretty big one. A secret one. Well, not really a secret, not an intentional secret, just a decision nobody knows I made. Nobody really knew was being made. It's made me happy and sad. And in a strange way feel like I'm grieving.

I decided not to go home in January.

For as long as I can remember, I came to New York for the holidays. And when I couldn't come for the holidays, I came in January, often around my birthday. New York in the winter is my favorite. New York in the winter makes me so happy I could cry. The warm weather we're having makes me want to cry in the opposite way. Last January I reversed the migration. I went home to California for a little over a week in January. I flew to Vegas for 48 hours 10 days later for my mom's wedding. In May I went to BiSC, went home to California for TWENTY FOUR hours to see my best friend because her father was dieing and then again, ten days later flew to California for 48 hours to see my little brother graduate high school (THANK EFFING GOD, IT WAS A CLOSE CALL THERE FOR A WHILE). So by June I had made 4 round trips across the country. That's kind of a lot.

Most of the practical reasons I'm not going home in January are financial. BiSC registration happens in January. I don't have paid time off, so going home right after the holidays is a little rough. One of my close friends is getting married in Massachusetts in the Summer but the bachelorette party is probably going to be in Vegas or California. I can't afford more than two cross country tickets in one year. And I can't afford more vacations. Either BiSC or the bachelorette party will probably be combined into a longer California home visit but there's no reason for me to go home in January.

I always came to New York in January because I hated missing the holidays here. Because I missed Central Park covered in snow more than anything. Because I love to ice skate and that's hard to explain to people that've only ever done it indoors. I went home to California last January because there was no way I was missing my little brother's 18th birthday. This year he turns 19, I turn 27. Who the fuck cares about that? (ok, I care about the 27 more than I thought I would care about officially entering my late 20s, but whatevs) I don't need to go home for the rain when I can stay here for the snow.

I can go to Sonoma County in the spring. When the weather is perfect and the hills are still green and I can see more stars in the sky than a New Yorker could ever imagine.

But the real reason I'm not going home in January is because I live here now. I don't really know how to explain it. It's just a step. A step in growing up. A step in changing and letting go. I live here now. This is my life. I migrated cross country every winter so I could have a brief moment in the place my soul felt still. My soul is still. I'm settled. Or at least as settled as one can be at this age. I don't need to reverse it.

I'll go home at some point. I'll go home when my heart can't stand to spend another moment away from the roar of the Pacific. When I miss the streak of the Milky Way the way I miss my father. When whiskey at 4am on the lower east side doesn't taste as good as whiskey at 4am in a barn. Or by a fire. I'll go home when I can't stand another moment without being behind the wheel of a car.

I'll go home and my baby cousins will be taller than me. My little brother won't live there. My best friends dad won't ever talk to me about cooking or travel again. The old tiny black Moxie cat I left with Lara held on, snuggling by Lara's father's side and now she's gone with him. The big black dog that was always excited to see me at my aunt and uncle's because he knew I'd take him for a walk won't be there either. I'll have a step dad I don't even really know. There will be a tiny person at the home of my friends whose wedding cake it seems I just made yesterday.

Other things will be the same. The Peet's coffee in my grandparents' house. The charred edges of toasted pain au levain. The milky way and highway 1. The fog rolling into the valley.

I'll go home. And I'll visit. And I'll realize it really isn't home anymore.

My Own Personal Fillory (Part Two)

In my own personal Fillory,

Bartenders stop taking your money but give you booze for free.

Sugar snap peas grow year round in massive piles everywhere.

It's always pool day in Vegas.

It always smells like the California coast and redwood trees.

Teleportation is real.

In my own personal Fillory,

I'm never nervous about talking on the phone.

Either eating an entire avocado (or three) or an entire pineapple as a meal would be a nutritionally valid choice.

Concerts would always be scheduled around when I had time and would never ever be sold out.

If it became clear during the course of a date that either party wasn't interested you'd just be magically teleported out.

Flour and sugar bins would always refill themselves and everyone would always use real butter.

In my own personal Fillory,

Time could be suspended for the purposes of finishing a book. Or to be able to spend enough time snuggling in bed.

Also, I'd have somebody with whom to snuggle in bed on the regular.

You would never have to wait more than a month between seasons for tv shows.

I could control the weather. It would mostly be 85 with no humidity. Or snowing. Except when I'm falling asleep and want to listen to the rain.

There are 2am yoga classes.

In my own personal Fillory,

Contentment is enough, life isn't hard and every risk taken is only met with reward.

(Also, kittens. Lots of kittens. Everywhere. Nobody is allergic. Puppies too. AND WE COULD ALL HAVE BABY POLAR BEARS AND BABY PENGUINS AND THEY'D BE FRIENDS. OH MY GOD GET ME TO FILLORY NOW)

Good Girls Don't Wear Sequins

BiSCswagOk, now that we've gotten all that talk about FEEEELINGS out of the way, let's have some Real Talk about the awesome shit that comes with being a BiSC attendee. This (maybe not so) flattering picture of me was taken by my roommate/favorite person Dominique in our fancy Flamingo Go Room which had a MOTHEREFFING tv in our bathroom mirror. Guys, I don't have cable (YEAH, I SAID IT. LOOK, I WAS RAISED WITHOUT TV SO YOU CAN GO SIT IN THE CORNER AND JUDGE MY PRETENSION WHILE I JUDGE YOU WATCHING DANCE MOMS AND WE CAN ALL BE HAPPY WITH OUR JUDGE-Y LIFE DECISIONS). I don't even know what to do with a tv in the bathroom mirror, we turned it on once while we were doing our makeup, it was confusing. See also: comfiest beds ever and multi nozel shower.

WARNING: The Go Rooms and the regular hotel rooms at the Flamingo are really not the same. I stayed in one of the regular ones in January and it was actually kind of more like Motel 6 quality. So don't go booking hotel rooms at the Flamingo and come bitching at me because you got the cheap option.

IMG_1234At the bottom of the bed is my giant pile of SWAG. Missing from the giant pile of swag: the free drink by the pool coupon sponsored by GelaSkins. It's missing because that wristband means I just came back from the crazy Flamingo Go Pool. Which is the adult pool. (No, not THAT KIND of adult pool) As in the pool where the booze is. And the fancy VIP day beds. And the waterfall to swim under and then end up in a nifty grotto. Also, where we played never have I ever for toys from Babeland. Are you wondering how things could get more ridiculawesome? So was I at this point. Pool day already seemed like the best day of my life but then IT GOT BETTER.

One word: ZUMANITY. Sexy Cirque du Soleil. Hilarious and amazing and naked. Also incredibly disturbing. Well, only the crazy contortionist that kept popping things out of sockets and shit was disturbing. I actually had to cover my eyes. Then dancing, dancing, dancing. Happiest when dancing in sequins and 4 inch heels. Until I'm tired of the heels and have to switch to sandals. Whatever. Happiest when dancing in sequins.

527798_512844919445_193400044_30188068_163346545_nWait, did I say happiest when dancing in sequins? I might've meant happiest when wearing sequins and eating waffle fry pulled pork nacho... I don't even know how to describe these, but Sara and I managed to start a trend that apparently had like 40 people eating these piles of amazingness the next night. Seriously, what is happening here? Why did we each order our own plate? This is insanity. Also, this is 3am.

HI, now it's time for sleeping.

In case you are unaware, breakfast is my favorite meal. by which I mean, breakfast foods are my favorite because I almost never eat breakfast. So buffet time on Saturday where I got to eat bacon, sausage, french toast, waffles and potatoes was pretty much my idea of heaven. I may've also made it boozy thanks to mini bottles of Skyy. IMG_1242The only thing better than regular brunch is boozy brunch.

The next epic adventure was to the roller coaster on top of New York New York that Alberto insisted did not exist (SPOILER: it exists) but for some reason agreed to join Dominique, Kelly and me in walking to the other end of the strip to go on it. Or to prove us wrong. I 67% think he was hoping to prove us wrong. I really love roller coasters, but also am unable to keep my eyes open on roller coasters which probably defeats the purpose of going on a roller coaster on top of a hotel. BUT WHATEVER, I went on a roller coaster on top of a hotel because that's the kind of shit you do in Vegas right before you play Pac-Man battle royale and the world's biggest version of fruit ninja. Clearly I chose the right group for the afternoon. For those of you playing along at home, at this point I have gone multiple hours without booze in Vegas, a situation I find mildly intolerable because apparently I'm really easily over stimulated which doesn't mix with Vegas without alcohol. BUT DON'T WORRY.

IMG_1243Thankfully Minus 5 ice bar had us covered for the afternoon. Sadly we weren't allowed to take any electronics in or I'd have fifty million pictures and have tweeted so many clever things. Or just talked a lot about how one of the rooms made me feel like I was in Narnia because of the trees etched into the ice. Did I mention that everything was made of ice? And have I ever mentioned my lifelong goal of staying in an ice hotel? This did not lessen my desire to stay in an ice hotel. We had our picture taken in a giant ice throne so that we could yell "King in the North!" but it turns out most people sit in the giant ice throne to get a picture with the Vegas sign because when we came out the woman was all "oh, you have the picture in front of the Vegas sign" and we were like "what are you talking about, lady?" because we thought we took our picture on the ice throne and are possibly too nerdy AWESOME to notice Vegas signs . Oh well.

(Side note: I'm kneeling in a really short skirt in an ice room because I was sitting the same way as Alberto and Kelly and the photographer said "You need to sit in a more flattering position, can you kneel?". And I wanted to say "Whoa dude, just how badly do you think I want this photo?" but I hadn't finished my second margarita so I wasn't feeling quite that sassy yet.

Post side note: the drinks, which were served in ice cups, rocked my socks)

More buffet. More eating all the Le Bon Garçon caramels in my gift bag. Then slowly getting ready for the Mad Men party. IMG_1245Where, you know, NBD, we just skipped a giant line to get into Chateau, the club on the roof of the Paris hotel from which you can see the Bellagio fountains go off. It was only so awesome that we all had to take a minute to tweet/facebook/foursquare/etc about it. That's all.

IMG_1249I mean, how adorable is everyone in their 60s duds, on their phones? It's pretty great. Anachronism win. Cue more dancing. Have I mentioned that I like dancing? No, really, I really like dancing. I need to go dancing more (at all) in New York now that I work normal people hours. Who wants to be my dancing buddy? Let's just go ahead and assume this girl does. IMG_1247
Yes, this is kind of an awful picture because it was dark and we were using the front facing camera, but I don't even care. And now we've reached the point where this post is just going to devolve into pictures. You're welcome.

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In Real Life

IMG_1235When I was thirteen I went to my first Unitarian youth conference. I arrived at the UU church in Aptos with a few close friends and with no idea that I'd be meeting 80 or so people that would change my fucking life. I spent the next eight years devoted to that community- organizing, mentoring, participating and holding. It was cuddle puddles and 4am talks of spirituality, sexuality, social justice and which semi permanent hair dye was the longest lasting (Special Effects still wins, BTW) and days of sleeping as little as possible to soak up the amazingness of the people around me and the feeling of safety that came in that space. When I aged out at twenty one after deaning our week long Summer camp with my two best friends, I was ready. It wasn't my space anymore and it was time to let the youth I tried so hard to mentor as well as I remembered being mentored step up and take my place.

I was a left with a hole in my heart much larger than the one that causes my murmur. Don't get me wrong, those people are still my closest friends and I still very much identify as a Unitarian (even if my current church attendance record is about once a year), but that feeling of community, that feeling of (yes, I'm going there) intention has been missing from my life.

Last weekend I met 59 other bloggers in Las Vegas. 59 other people who also in some way expose themselves for the entire internet to judge. 59 other people who I felt like I already knew without having even met the majority of them before this past weekend IN REAL LIFE.

We use that term a lot, us bloggers, IRL, as if the internet isn't our real life. It's funny, because I think for so many of us it is. The internet is where I'm unabashedly me. Where I am all the things I keep myself from being "too" in real life. Too emotional, too excited, too passionate, too ready to break into dance at the slightest provocation while wearing a sequined dress, too, too, too. The magic of meeting internet people in the real world is that they already know the real version. I don't feel like I have to impress anybody or hide anything because, look, EVERYTHING ABOUT ME IS RIGHT HERE ON THIS BLOG, from my worst decisions to my best decisions, from my struggling with my childhood to my thankfulness for my supportive family, from the bell jar days to the days where I want to shout from the rooftop that life is wonderful, it's all here. All of it. So trying to pretend to be anyone else is just stupid.

So this weekend I got to relax into being me. I got to meet some of the most wonderful, supportive, silly people I know of existing. I spent as much time awake as possible and went to sleep Sunday morning with the sun rising and the birds chirping, only to wake up a few hours later and have to say goodbye. The kind of goodbye that was filled with happy sadness.

And as I left Las Vegas and headed for a mini visit in California, I realized I had found my people again. I realized that this blog and the community I get to be part of because of it has done for me what church conferences did for me as a teenager. It has helped me grow and gain confidence and support others even when exposing the weakest version of myself. It's helped me stay in touch with who I am while nudging me towards the person I want to be. It's given me a whole helluva lot of people to whom I would say my guest room is always open and I'm always available for talking in the midst of a crisis.

When Lara picked me up in San Francisco and asked me if I was sad the weekend was over, I said "Remember that end of con feeling? When you were sad that you had to leave everyone but ready to not be sleeping on a church floor anymore? It was like that. Except Vegas was the church floor".

To my fellow BiSC-uits, I can't wait to see you in real real life because I'm sure as hell not waiting an entire year for the church floor that is Vegas, let's plan a get together soon.

Like, maybe tomorrow.

Bits & Pieces (the second)

Social Life/BiSC:

In the last week, I met Adam, Sara and Bob, which means, along with Rachael, Dominique and Nicole, I have met 10% of the people I'm going to Las Vegas with in May. And I have to say if everybody is both as awesome and attractive as those six in real life, it's going to be the most overwhelmingly amazing experience I've had in a long time. Also, I'm really gonna have to bring my A game.

I made some moderately stupid decisions in the last week so that I could meet those people. And by moderately stupid, I mean I went out twice in the last week once knowing I was getting sick and once knowing I was still sick and should be sleeping instead. The result was working with a fever last Sunday and feeling likc if I had to stand for one more second past ten hours of work I might die for most of the week. But you know what? That's the great thing about being an adult. I consciously made those decisions knowing they weren't the best idea and I accepted the consequences and the only asshole to blame was myself. And then I spent pretty much all of yesterday in bed, spent today at AMNH and wandering through Central Park, came home, took a nap because that's what my body said we should do and pretty much feel like a human again. So I think, overall, worth it.

CA v NY:

It turns out you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take the California out of the girl. My pastry cook is giving up cigarettes, soda and fast food for Lent and everybody tells her it's crazy while I'm like "that's awesome, it's really not that bad". And not to pat myself on the back for not having bad habits I never picked up, I just call that normal life. I think most of my friends back home do too. It still weirds me out that the chefs I work with eat fast food. In fact I'm so not used to people eating fast food (with the obvious exception of In'n'Out) that even non chefs eating fast food surprises me. I mean, this week I'm concerned that I'm eating organic yoghurt from humanely treated cows and bread made at a coop because they come all the way from California and I think that's a perfectly normal way to think about food. I guess it's all relative to what you're used to. Hella NorCal, yo.

Boy Stuff:

I really will make out with anyone when I'm drunk. Pretty sure Sara asked me if I would make out with like 5 different people the other night and I said "yes" everytime. Sober me would not have said "yes" that many times. Sober me is now back in charge of my love life. The "don't get drunk on the first date" rule that Michelle gave me is now in effect. Despite being single for a whole year my friends have been shocked the last few weeks when they've asked about my dating situation because there currently is none. At all. Haven't gone on a date in three weeks. There are no boys that I'm currently regularly sleeping with. (I know, it's weird for me too) I am however, currently writing 6 paragraph messages to a guy on OkC that I genuinely want to be friends with. Or more. But most of the time when I go on dates from OkC I'm kind of forcing myself and I feel like I'm putting myself in such a contrived situation because I don't know if I would always go on dates if I had met the guy IRL whereas this guys seems like somebody I would actually hang out with in the real world. So that's possibly exciting.

New Year's Goals:

I'm currently losing weight at a rate of approximately two pounds a month. Did you know I was trying to lose weight? Probably not. Mostly because I think it's the most boring thing ever to read about on other peoples' blogs and because I'm a small person I feel like people will want to punch me in the face if I complain about my weight. But look y'all, I'm a chef which means my weight has actually been somewhat of a constant struggle since I went through culinary school. It also means part of the reason I don't weigh a lot more with what I eat is because I am on my feet cooking for ten frakking hours a day and lifting fifty pound sacks and running up and down the GD stairs. Anyways, with some portion control and stopping to make myself eat actual food instead of just randomly putting whatever cookie is closest at hand in my mouth when I realize I'm starving, I'm slowly but surely losing weight and starting to feel a lot better about my body and not hate the way every piece of clothing I put on fits. Which is good, because I really don't have enough money to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Dairy is the devil. I've gone back to pretty much cutting it out entirely and feel so much better on a day to day basis.

I'm still obsessed with Blue Print Cleanse juices but have mostly just been incorporating them into my regular diet instead of going all out cleanse. I would like to do another three day cleanse soon though.

Random shit:

I read all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy in two days. I would've liked it better if they hadn't been written in such a way that it only took me two days to read them. This is why I don't usually read YA books. Good stories aren't enough, I want to read that sentence that rings so very true my heart aches, that expresses an emotion so perfectly I'm knocked on my ass. I will say that it was a good story and will probably make a pretty enjoyable movie.

Best for last: My new work schedule is 10 am-8ish pm which means I might get to have a social life again. I've only had it for a week, but I think I might love it. I'm still alternating between having Sunday/Monday off and Thursday/Sunday off, which is really weird but the new hours might make it manageable.

Viva Las Vegas

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The first time I went to Las Vegas, I was 21. It was me, six friends and one hotel room. We spent most of the time mildly (or more than mildly) inebriated, I won a bucket of quarters (at the Tropicana, probably the last casino to give you buckets of change, I don't know whether or not they've finally upgraded to those boring paper slips) and we saw Love. We spent a three day weekend there, it was fun and at the end I was ready to go home and maybe not go back to Vegas for a few years.

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The second time I went to Vegas was two years later, for a bachelorette party. There were six girls in two rooms. We flew. Moving on up in the world. We were older and less poor, so we spent less time drinking forties on the strip and more time collecting all the novelty cups. We went to the top of the Eiffel tower, walked up and down the entire strip and took advantage of every offer of free booze and wristbands for clubs. Per usual, I took advantage of every opportunity to wear clothing you will never see me wear outside of Vegas. (See: sequins and everything from Forever 21) My biggest regret was not buying a sparkly flask. I'm pretty sure if that's your biggest regret when leaving Sin City, you're doin' alright. Once again, I was there for a three day weekend, and at the end I was ready to leave.

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Fast forward another two years and we get to Vegas trip three. I can't find any of the items needed to get pictures off my own camera, so here's a picture my aunt took of my little brother and me right before my mom's wedding. Yes, I'm using the term little in reference to his age obviously. I'm wearing 4" heels in this picture. True story. (Also, no, neither of us are adopted. Yes, he is my half brother. In case you just thought he was really tan which is something one of my friends actually said once. Anyways....) Vegas trip three confirmed what I already suspected, the Las Vegas strip is really overwhelming and kind of awful if you're not at least mildly inebriated and wearing sequins. But I got to spend a lot of time with my little brother, eat some good food with my family and my mom got married by Elvis looking the happiest I've ever seen her. This time I was really only there for two full days and I was ready to leave. (Oh, and I bought a sparkly flask)

You may have noticed that I like to wait two years between Vegas trips. That seems to be about the time I'm ready for the ridiculousness again. But not this year. This year, I'm going back for Bloggers in Sin City. Four days of fun and turning internet friends into real life friends.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned how thankful I am for this blog sometimes. I might not have the shiniest fonts or the largest group of followers and most of my posts don't even get comments, but I know it's made me some amazing friendships and afforded me some crazy wonderful opportunities. (Hello, being able to move to New York. Hello, all the friends I've made since moving across country)

And one of my favorite internet people turned in real life people is Nicole (ok, who am I fooling, basically all my internet people are my favorite people, but Nicole understood when I moved across country so fast I has to MAIL her her copy of the first season of Grey's Anatomy even though we only lived an hour apart in California, so you know, I don't know where I'm going with this anymore, except Nicole is great) who is the BiSC founder and organizer so I mean, obviously I've been wanting to go to this for a few years now. What makes it even better, is that Paper'd, the pretty awesome looking wallpaper app coming from Nicole and her lovely Shatterboxx partner, is refunding one person's registrationg fee! Seriously, registration fee, completely refunded and I want it. Because my tax return is probably going to be pretty great, but I'd rather spend it on sequined dressed to wear in Vegas.

So fine, yes, I just made you read an entire blog post so that I could maybe win a free spot to BiSC. But also BECAUSE OH MY GOD CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT GOING TO BiSC?!?!?!?!

Yep.