lemons.

,

Sorry, guys. I know it’s been a while. Depression is fun like that.

But anyway.

When life hands you lemons…

make your version of a medicine ball.

The medicine ball, if you’re not familiar, is a concoction that you can order at Starbucks. (I love all the Instagram love for the drink in this article from Teen Vogue, which also has the exact recipe.) It consists of lemonade, water, jade citrus mint and peach tranquility teas (AKA my two favorite!), honey and, if you’re feeling fancy, peppermint syrup. It’s SO GOOD. Sweet and tart and refreshing and soothing. It’s basically the ultimate cold-weather version of an Arnold Palmer (which, if you didn’t know, is half iced tea and half lemonade).

BUT.

When you’re home and need some of that lemony goodness but don’t want to drag yourself to Starbucks, you use what you have in your pantry and get to work. Sure, tea with lemon and honey are nothing new, but it’s nice to feel like I’m doing something special for myself.

Tea_2017

A big squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a little extra honey, and peppermint tea mixed with ginger peach green tea (which is not shown in this pic, but which I added just afterwards) make for a really tasty treat. Of course, if you don’t want the caffeine from the green tea, then find another option or leave it out. The only thing I really did wish I had at home was the mint syrup, but I’m still very happy with the warmth and comfort this drink provides.

And, fuck it, I’ve been such a neglectful blog mistress that I’ll give you a song, too. It’ll come as no surprise that I’m still obsessed with James Blake’s “The Colour in Anything”. The latest single, “My Willing Heart”, has the most divine video featuring a very pregnant Natalie Portman immersed in water and contemplating life in a beautiful room. Somehow, it all makes sense and fits the vibe of the song perfectly. Blake’s music always makes me feel like I’m drifting off to somewhere deep and safe.

It’s those little moments of comfort that make life feel good.

[sic]

 

 

 

Advertisements

almost like home.

Flash back to the holiday season. A day in that weird week between Christmas and the New Year. I meet up with a dear friend of mine in Philadelphia. First, some writing time on the SEPTA train. The rhythm of the train gliding along the rails is so soothing; maybe it’s because I’m a New Yorker. The train is your chariot in New York. It will take you anywhere.

 

My friend and I meet in The Dandelion Pub, a charming British gastropub that makes two Anglophiles feel right at home.

After all, they serve Ribena soda.

 

IMG_20161228_123337

So fizzy. So sweet.

 

IMG_20161228_123344

These colors! I’m in love.

I chow down on some pickled beets, and my friend generously gives me a bit of her bread because three toast points is not going to cut it.

 

IMG_20161228_123436

An amazing meal, but I’m going to need some more carbs for that tapenade.

It’s a cold, gray day, but we still walk around, visiting the (now closed!) Arterial Agents for  vanilla lavender lattes and some treats. It is so sad to discover a gem only for it to disappear shortly afterwards. That’s kind of the whole point of this blog, though. So many things fade away, but I can still keep a record of them and, in some small way, keep them alive.

 

IMG_20161229_154230

Arterial Agents, I miss you!

 

After some excellent thrift shopping, we once again stop for coffee, this time at Chapterhouse. (I’m well aware that I have issues but have no plans of lessening my caffeine dependency.) I warm myself up with a Dominican mocha, and we challenge each other to timed writing sessions. Breakthrough! Maybe it’s the chill vibe of the café. Maybe it’s the writerly camaraderie. Maybe it’s the caffeine. All I know is, the scene I had been working on to no avail for days suddenly springs forth, as if the movie playing out in my head is racing down my arm and through my pen.

IMG_20161228_161059

 ****

I find myself thinking about that day a lot. On that day, I started feeling, in my gut, what I wanted my life to be. I started to remember what real friendship feels like. Most of all, I really understood how the energy of a city recharges me.

Not bad for a day of walking with a friend.

[sic]

 

 

 

 

nourished.

I’m making a solid effort to cut back on spending and, thanks to my handy dandy finance tracker, I realized that the thing I spend the most money on is food and drink. I’m frugal when I do go out to eat, but I’m still a sucker for takeout and writing sessions over a good breakfast at a café.

 

Brekkie_3317

 

IMG_20161203_091836

If I didn’t write it while chomping on an egg sandwich, did it really count?

 

IMG_20160916_125550

Okay, sometimes I get a little wild and go with an almond croissant instead.

 

Bubble_Tea_march2017

And sometimes, I don’t need food at all, just some creamy, dreamy taro bubble tea.

So, I’m working on eating at home as much as possible. All day long, I worked, taking breaks to cook myself quick, cheap meals.

Breakfast: I usually make eggs for myself (shocking, I know), but today I wasn’t in the mood, so I went with my other obsession as of late, waffles with peanut butter and strawberry preserves. I also made myself a big ole cuppa Bustelo sweetened with caramel creamer.

 

Brekkie_March2017

Seriously, I find myself actually craving this breakfast fairly often. Also, these would be great with some fresh fruit.

 

Lunch: Ramen. The comfort food of my youth, swooping in once again to save the day.

Ramen_March2017

And I still got my egg fix today. Added protein for the win!

Dinner: I jazzed things up a little by making some jasmine rice. I added some amazing black beans that I made via this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. These legit may be the best black beans I’ve ever eaten. Don’t tell my mom. (Trust me, though, I am a huge fan of canned beans. They would work fine here, too.) Throw in some chopped green chilies and sour cream, and you have a quick, cheap meal. Oh, and I also threw some dashes of hot sauce on it for good measure after I took the picture.

Rice_Bowl_March2017

Surprisingly, I not only got a decent amount of work done, I also managed to read a couple of fantastic articles.

The New Yorker: Jia Tolentino’s criticism of the gig economy hits the nail on the goddamn head. A sample: “At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.”

Catapult: Melissa Febos reminding me to put myself and my writing first. I am a perfectionist, and  it’s so easy to forget to forget that when I have a million things going on in my life. This article is the stern talking-to I so desperately need at times. And I really, really, REALLY need to read Abandon Me and Whip Smart. Tell me you wouldn’t want to read everything this woman wrote after reading this: “Patriarchy (and institutional bigotry) conditions us to operate as if we are constantly working at a deficit. In some ways, this is true. You have to work twice as hard to get half the credit. I have spent most of my life trying to be perfect. The best student. The best dishwasher. The best waitress. The best babysitter. The best dominatrix. The best heroin addict. The best professor. I wanted to be good, as if by being good I might prove that I deserved more than the ephemeral esteem of sexist asshats. ”

Belly and brain sufficiently nourished, I think it’s time for me to unwind. You know, I’m starting to really love this blogging thing again. Maybe I’m shouting into the void. I don’t know. But at least I’m saying something.

Until next time,

[sic]

 

 

 

 

every single night.

Lack of sleep + early shift = tired Jessa.

I’ve been writing today ever since I got home from work. Lots of false starts. Those are always so much fun. Pitches, the novel, other assorted super secret works-in-progress: none of it is sticking.

I assure you, I am not simply writing this blog to procrastinate. Honest. I actually have a point. (Plus, I’m hopeful that blogging will get my brain moving a little faster.)

In the midst of my sad scribblings and bleary-eyed Twitter scrolling, I came across a playlist Lin-Manuel Miranda made called “Write Your Way Out” because Lin-Manuel is everything and always knows how to make the world better. Always. The flow is impeccable (obvs), but I really got hyped when I saw Fiona Apple’s song “Every Single Night” on there. And SAUL WILLIAMS!!!! You guys, it’s like he knows me.

So, I listened to the mix and got some more writing done. Not much, but every word counts.

And yeah, this song is basically my brain all the time. (Have I posted this video on here before? It’s a possibility. I’m not sorry.)

Must. Not. Nap. Maybe I’ll switch on over to his salsa playlist. It is magnificent. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you need to GET ON THAT. The opening song is “Amores Como el Nuestro”. Need I say more? I was ¡WEEEEPPPPAAAA!-ing all over the place listening to it the other day.

Okay, enough blogging now.  I have to face the page and get shit done.

[sic]

flashback to fall: home.

Flea_Market_ILOVENY

I’ve been homesick again. Is there ever a time when I’m not missing New York?

Cut to:

A Sunday in September. Visiting New York. Hungover but happy to be back home and determined to spend the day outdoors.

After drooling over pictures of the pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company, I knew I had to head there for brunch, 90-minute wait be damned. Yes, that is the price you pay for competing with all the other hungover New Yorkers for a brunch spot at a small, popular restaurant. (But sometimes, the universe is on your side and you end up waiting only an hour, and you get a super charming table in the corner.) I may have wanted pancakes, but what I actually needed was a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.

Flea_Clinton_Baking_Co

And, while I couldn’t eat much of it at that moment because my stomach was being uncooperative, the bites I did take were amazing. (And in case you were wondering,  yes I did have it wrapped to go and shoveled it in my mouth at around 6pm when my hunger came roaring back.)

I also managed to taste my friend’s chicken and waffles. OMG. So good.

Flea_Clinton_Baking_Co2

And I sucked down a lemonade because the thirst was real, and the tartness was strangely soothing.

Flea_Clinton_Baking_Co5

Then, it was time to head to DUMBO, where the Brooklyn Flea was set up, offering its usual mishmash of awesomeness.

I knew it was going to be a good day when I saw this:

 

Flea_Market_PRPOWER

WEPA!

 

Flea_Market_Alphanumeric

Every writer’s dream.

A healthy helping of childhood nostalgia, coming right up!

Flea_Market_GarbagePailKids

Flea_Market_GPK2

 

Flea_Market_MyLittlePony

I’m not saying I purchased these sneakers because they reminded me of the My Little Pony dolls I treasured as a kid, but I’m not not saying that, either.

Also, I’m kind of mad that someone stole the perfect title for my future memoir:

 

Flea_Market_Memoir

I didn’t buy it, but I wished I would have at least flipped through it. Ah well, the cover will have to be enough for now.

After strolling through the market, we hit up West Elm, where the universe once again not-so-subtly spelled things out for me.

Flea_Market_WestElm

But neither the Flea nor West Elm compare to the real feature of DUMBO: the view.

Flea_Market_Waterfront2

 

Flea_Market_Waterfront

Flea_Market_Skyline

Flea_Market_BrooklynBridgePark

I know there are roughly 2385739457345 thinkpieces out there about why New York is either the best or the worst place in the world, and that’s fine. I’m not here to add to the pile. I just really miss home.

[sic]

 

scenes from a snow day.

I didn’t sleep well the night of the storm. The constant tap-tap-tapping of sleet and the violent winds shaking my windows made it hard for me to settle down. I already knew that my job was closed for the day, so it wasn’t the usual anxiety I’ve experienced in the past, where I’ve stayed awake planning what I would wear and how I could avoid slipping and falling. (Constant vigilance.) There was the creep factor, certainly, but I sometimes find that comforting.

Finally, I drifted off, and when I woke, I gathered my supplies. A good book to curl up with, my journal to get some much-needed writing done, my planner to help me stay on track, my laptop to keep up with the world (and play some good music) and tea (because obviously).

Snow_Day1

I also took the time to make the perfect breakfast…okay, lunch. I have been terrible at eating breakfast lately. I chalk it up to early shifts at work, where I basically run on coffee. I know, super healthy. (Get off my back, mom.)

Smashed peas on toast. Trust. So cheap, so tasty. Add hard-boiled eggs and a sprinkling of cheese, and you have total toast perfection. I started eating peas on toast thanks to Leanne Brown, whose cookbook Good and Cheap has become my kitchen bible. (I raved about this book on HellaWella nearly two years ago. It’s amazing, and it’s free, guys. You really can’t go wrong.) And The Kitchn has the best method for making perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Snow_Day2

Snow_Day3

After my usual visit to Twitter, I indulged in some court television, and then I got down to writing. Oh, writing. You ever have a scene that is so integral yet will not come together? Well, that’s basically been my life for the past few weeks. (Yes, weeks.) I can visualize the scene in my mind, but I can’t find the words. Maddening! So, I stopped, took a breath and actually outlined the trajectory of the scene. Don’t ever underestimate the power of actually asking yourself the hard questions when you write. Sometimes, you need to stop and think, what is the point of this scene? What does this character want? What does each character involved know? Yes, those are things you probably asked yourself at the start of your journey when writing a story, but don’t discard them just because you think you’re far enough along that you should just be able to get the information out and keep it moving.

Also, writing yourself a little pep talk doesn’t hurt.

Snow_Day6

Dinner was pure comfort: spaghetti aglio e olio with Gardein meatless meatballs. Simple, cheap and tasty. Go with Ina Garten’s excellent recipe. Trust me. The Barefoot Contessa has never, ever steered me wrong. It comes out perfect every single time. I am well aware that my shoddy, poorly lit picture doesn’t do this amazing meal justice, but I was excited to eat and am aware that my flat lay game is never going to approach Instagram-perfect status. (Progress, not perfection, y’all.)

Snow_Day4

After all that, I took a brain break and watched some YouTube tutorials. I am really enjoying the informal vibe of Kim Thai’s Chill Chit Chat makeup tutorials. I love how the room doesn’t look perfect and that Kim uses a good deal of drugstore cosmetics. She talks about things like buying makeup on a budget and her life as a student. It all clicked when she said in the video I watched that she is a Communications student (shout out to all my fellow Communications people!) with a concentration in Marketing. Essentially, Kim Thai is a master at marketing herself, which has resulted in partnerships with brands including creating false lashes for newcomer Cake Face Beauty and a moisturizer, the cleverly-named Wanderlush, for cult beauty brand Ofra. And she’s not stopping there, now working with Benefit cosmetics and plans to continue her education and branch out into fashion videos. I love seeing the next generation have goals, ambitions and talent, and it’s inspiring to see someone decide to take a chance and have that pay off. She also has a weekly vlog, which I haven’t watched yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if her friendly, approachable demeanor carries over to those as well. Check out the video below and tell me you don’t feel like you’re just hanging out with a friend:

Then, the Maddow show tweeted that they had Trump Tax Returns, so I fell down the Twitter rabbit hole, but I managed to disengage after a while and find my happy place again with episodes of Bob’s Burgers and The Golden Girls.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more writing to do…and some court television to watch.

[sic]

 

 

summertime. sadness.

(Yes. I have already skipped a day. I’m doing great at this whole challenge thing.)

While we are still in this weird winter with its spring-like interruptions, I’m already dreaming of summer.

Maybe I’m hoping I’ll be out of whatever shitty mood I’m currently in by then.

I keep thinking about the time I went to the pool last summer. Did a little lounging, a little eating, a little reading. All these little things I love so much that feed my soul.

I swear, no food screams summertime to me more than franks and fries. A lifetime of barbecues and summers spent at Coney Island has conditioned me to crave these things whenever I’m out in the sun. (Also, lemonade. SO GOOD. SO TART.)

pool_party_lemonade_hotdog_june2016

I finished this book months ago, but it has stuck with me. I go back to it much like I do with Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things.

pool_party_a_little_light_reading_june2016

And then there’s me, blissfully chill and drowsy. (Confession: I inserted and deleted this picture, but I’m putting it back because my skin may look blotchy but dammit, I felt really good in this moment. Woo, insecurity! *throws confetti*)

pool_party_selfie_june2016

 

I need to be near water. I need to be surrounded by warmth and sunshine. Summer is what, three months away? No sweat.

[sic]

let it happen.

Yes, it’s the season of Lent. That time of year I should be giving something up to atone for all the ways I’ve fucked up since last Easter. I’m currently eating Cheerios out of the box as I’m writing this; I’ve also become a little too accustomed to noshing on bags of granola and calling it dinner. Maybe I have subconsciously given up adulting for Lent. Then again, I have anxiety disorder. My entire life consists of beating myself up for perceived fuckups and fears of all future fuckups to come. I am Lent personified.

I liked last year’s Lent challenge and did well blogging regularly for that time. I’ve decided to do it again. So, where do I begin?

In this totally Bizarro World we’re currently living in (thanks, GOP!) I’m finding it more important than ever to take solace in the little things. (I’m also finding it more important than ever to obsess over Twitter, but that’s a story for another day.)

So, I’ll start with a song.

Tame Impala is a band I tend to forget about until someone brings their music to my attention. Recently, someone sent me a playlist that included “Let it Happen” by Tame Impala. I cannot stop listening to it. Running, writing, zoning out, cleaning – there it is, simultaneously energizing and soothing me. Hypnotic and frenetic and visceral. I’d post the actual music video, but it cuts the song to a radio-friendly length of just over four minutes, and you really need to immerse yourself in the full nearly eight minutes of aural goodness.

So, let it happen (it’s gonna feel so good).

[sic]

 

sparks.

I am full of…ideas? desires? distractions?

My writer brain is firing on all cylinders…and shooting off in a million directions. Fireworks. Pretty in theory, but in practice, the lights are blinding.

I’m feeling frantic, like I have to write ALL THE THINGS right this very moment. Like my blog posts have to be perfect. Like I need a plan.

Yes, plans are great, and I’m learning to focus on putting the work in to get more done with my writing. But the fear of being imperfect has a way of holding me back, and all I’m left with is the chaos of my mind as it tries to catch up with all of these sparks.

It’s exhausting. Maybe it’s a side effect of anxiety, maybe it’s a cause. All I know is that I have to find a way to merge my badass idea-generating machine with my inner worker bee. I’m getting there.

I’ve pulled away from social media. Too much clatter. Noise. Distraction. It can feel a little bit isolating, but I’m also learning to live with the bursts of inspiration, to catch the glowing sparks and harness them without being burned by the terror that sometimes comes with creation.

I still haven’t come up with a word to define a year ahead. Maybe I don’t need one. Maybe all I need are the words already living inside of me.

[sic]