Deviate

November 11, 2015

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One of the benefits of being your own boss? Well… boss/employee/temp worker/janitor/etc. At the drop of hat, you can take a vacation. There’s no paperwork to file. No human resources to report to. Unless you count your family group text message thread.

Mom & Pop: Heading out on three week road trip to Austin City Limits Music Festival! I promise to avoid areas with a high concentration of kidnappings and/or bear attacks, and to return with all (okay most) major organs. I’ll also buy you postcards and forget to send them.

It’s easy to get comfortable with our daily routine. Kind of like riding the Peter Pan attraction at Disneyland on repeat. Sure it’s predictable, but it provides just enough excitement to prevent our deviation. Monotony is not an objection but a comfort to riders, and years might pass before we realize we’ve been circling the same tracks. Not even Michael Jackson spent that much time in Neverland.

I’ll be the first to admit I enjoy my day-to-day, week-to-week ride. It’s comfortable. It’s fun. There’s a terrifying amount of uncertainty involved with disembarking. Will it inconvenience me to try something new? Be expensive? A long wait? Finally, will I be tall enough/brave enough/have a strong enough stomach to ride that ride? It might be daunting, but at some point you have to unbuckle your seat belt and signal for a stop. Otherwise you’ll never find your Splash Mountain.

I was convinced mine was waiting for me at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Texas this year. Be an adventurer, I told myself. A road warrior, a wanderer, a modern-day gypsy that showers. Road trip there! Practical advice and concern be damned. Irresponsibly meager planning is more than sufficient. And just like that I was off on a three-week, 12-state, 6,000 mile solo adventure.

The result was equal parts terrifying and rewarding, but entirely unforgettable.

That’s how life should be, right? Like your first time riding Splash Mountain in the front row.

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Recaps from the road to come.

xo

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Count

November 5, 2015

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Over half a year has passed since I spontaneously discovered unemployment. I prefer my verbiage to “I lost my job,” because those four words imply I’m a victim. Or that I had my job and then haphazardly misplaced it. But there’s only one thing I lose sight of and that’s jackets, at the bar, after a few gin and tonics. I think we can all agree “impromptu sabbatical” has a great ring to it.

A lot can happen in six months. Celebrities can meet someone, get married, adopt three ethnically-diverse kids and get divorced. While the rest of us do considerably more average things like grow three inches of hair, ruin our blood pressure playing fantasy football, and suffer through the graphic deaths of our favorite characters on the latest season of Game of Thrones. Six months seems like ample time to adjust to a change in employment. To have a dramatic, empowerment-fueled epiphany; one inspiring moment that could be stretched into 90 and underscored with mediocre dialog for the Lifetime Movie Network.

Sorry to disappoint the LMN audience, but that’s not my style. I remain true to the pain in the ass I entered the world as, twenty-some years ago on my birthday. I’m consistently behind schedule. Mom dealt with me dragging my heels from day one. But really it was my dad who discerned it. “Lydia,” he spoke gently one day, “you’re not great with change.” Truer and more euphemistic words have never been spoken.

I can’t say where my aversion to change comes from. That’s for my future therapist to conclude. These days I try not to fight my internal flaws anymore than my external ones. So I’ve been working with the same chest size since age 14… I could argue that circumstance with reality, but it’s exhausting. And despite my flawless (team captain) debate skills, I’m guaranteed to lose. It’s much more rewarding to embrace these personal attributes. Whether they’re physical, mental, emotional. However big or size A small. In that light, I’m not averse to change, I’m loyal. I love what I love. I invest 100%. I’m obnoxiously faithful.

Six months of spontaneous unemployment has passed, and the only thing I’m sure of it’s time to stop counting time. I’ll leave tallying the days to the fictionally imprisoned or shipwrecked. You know, characters you’d see on Lifetime Movie Network. I’ve forgiven myself for maintaining an ambiguous “next steps” plan. Math is cool and all, but these days I’m only concerned with counting happiness.

1… 2…

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Exult

June 29, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.03.40 PMIf you’re a girl in this world (or boy) people love to pass judgment on your sexuality. Especially if you work in the entertainment industry. My first month working in morning radio I was labeled the “23-year old virgin” and my personal life exploited accordingly. I was expected to be naive, not smart. Clueless, not confident. Everyone had an opinion on my sexuality and what I should be doing with it. Date him. Have sex already. Wait for marriage. Give up spinster. My skin grew from paper thin to George R. R. Martin installment thick. At times words stung but I still appreciated every listener contribution. It was a job, it was entertainment, it made people laugh and it wasn’t entirely real.

Now imagine that was your reality. Not your work but your everyday life. Listening to strangers weigh in on your sexuality, label you, judge you, tell you who to love, who to have sex with, who to marry and grow old with. Years of being told you should be someone different – that you should change. Would you be able to face opposition like that and still remain confident in who you are? There are incredibly brave people that do.

No one should have to battle though. I want my kids to inherit a world where judgment is voiceless. Where girls aren’t reduced to stereotypes on the FM dial. It’s a future where assumption and prejudice have been hushed to library silence, and they can wander through the book stacks, holding hands with whoever they please.

Marriage equality is a reason to celebrate. Inclusion and love are occasions to exult.

xo

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Catch

June 19, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 10.28.07 PMYou either have the best father in the world or you don’t. It’s a magical, occasionally cruel truth. My dad is the extraordinary kind. He raised four kids with big hearts and clean criminal records. And by raised I mean is currently raising. Parenting is the only job from which there is no retirement. No 401K, no dental plan, no Federally-enforced vacation days. It’s a pretty thankless career too. Except for one day out of the year when we try to repay years of support with a card or gift. Every other day is about us. It’s Kids Day twenty-four seven, 363.

There are countless time’s I’ve said “thank you” to my father for his unconditional love – for the overwhelmingly huge gestures of support he’s shown me down to the simple dedication of his time. Like every moment he pledged to playing catch with me as a kid. Thanks always sounds inadequate though. In this rare instance words fail me. It’s at these moments when my dad leans over and grabs my hand to say, “It’s what we do. You’ll understand when you have kids.”

Maybe dad. Maybe years down the line when I’m teaching my kid to catch with two hands on the ball in the alley behind our house, it will hit me. I’ll understand why you worked a job with long hours, nonexistent pay and a reverse pension plan. But until then I’ll keep trying to say thanks the best way I know how – by being the kind of human worthy of such love.

Thank you poppa. Happy Father’s Day. I hope I make you proud.

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T-Shirt: Thrifted // Denim: True Religion (Homemade Cutoffs) // Shoes: Converse // Watch: Michael Kors

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem – once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. Al Gallagher, 1971

xo

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Brew

June 17, 2015

Brew DefinitionFor three years I was a professional earlier riser, caffeine addict and coffee brewer. The girl with coffee grounds wedged under her fingernails and the scent of French Roast following her around like unwanted perfume. Measure. Grind. Brew. Pour. Repeat. I could fill a 5-kilo roasting machine with reasons why I loved serving coffee. First because it gave me (my only) edge. Lydia… legal drug dealer. Second because I coveted coffee as an art. There was always something to study or to master. But mostly I loved the long hours, poor pay and barista milk burns for one reason. I saw how easily 12 ounces could light up someone’s world.

Most of us brave a daily routine with bustle and crowds. Amid long waits and uncomfortably packed spaces one can easily feel anonymous. Insecurity exacerbates feelings of smallness. Some of us end up shuffling through days feeling entirely forgotten or alone. As a barista I realized coffee wasn’t the only way to make customers happy. It was more significant to make people feel heard. Measure. Grind. Brew. Pour. LISTEN. Repeat. My theory was that even on your most abysmal day, when you found yourself doing the depressed Charlie Brown trudge all the way to get coffee, if someone engaged you as a friend and handed you the perfect drink before your mouth formed an order, well then your day would have to defy all laws of physics to continue being abysmal. It just would.

These days I brew coffee for one instead of one thousand. There’s no shuttles, no carafes. Just my small, three-button machine and a single cracked cup. However modest the operation, for me brewing coffee is always a celebration. And not just the welcome home parade I always throw for caffeine. Coffee brings people together. It inspires happiness. Twelve ounces can light up someone’s whole world remember? Even the darkest roast. Even on the gloomiest day.

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TANK: H&M // SCARF: Vintage // WATCH: Michael Kors // Ring: Rocksbox

“If I go anywhere, and I don’t have my coffee, I don’t drink coffee. When I travel, I carry it with me – and I ask hotels to grind it and brew it for me if I can’t have it in my room myself.”

Grace Hightower

xo

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