Monday, December 25, 2017

Holiday Letter 2017

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!!!
Iceland, March 2017
What a 2017, friends. It has been a very mixed bag of jellybeans, some tasting of blueberry and some of sour milk.

The world we live in feels a little more every year like a smoldering compost heap about to burn down the barn while everyone’s in the front yard pruning the roses. I am overwhelmed when I think of all that is bad and broken on the Earth. It feels socially irresponsible to consciously stop paying attention to the daily details but I have had to for my own peace of mind.

The key lesson for me this year was to focus on being a force for good in my immediate surroundings FIRST.  Really that’s the best we can hope to do, isn’t it? And if enough of us do it, the positive energy we radiate outwards will overlap and reach into the barren places.

Listen, I don’t know what that means either, the tag on the teabag this morning said Perfect Energy, so I’m feeling in touch with the universe.

Anyway, we’re here to talk about ME. Here is the story of my 2017:

It’s been a year full of exciting TRAVEL. In March I explored the fairytale/Viking nation of Iceland with my brother Sam and two dear friends.  In August, I rented a cabin in the woods of Brown County, Indiana with friends, and we camped like queens. In September, I took a work trip to the gorgeous province of British Columbia. In a few weeks, my whole family will be celebrating Christmas in Boston.

It’s been a year exploding with BABIES. My sis continues to win the family house cup by announcing she’s expecting a second child. She’s not alone, I did a study* and there’s been a 63% increase in babies among friends, family members, and random people I follow on Instagram.  2017 was a banner year for propagating the human race, my friends.**
Let’s keep the trend going-- the world needs more purity and innocence.
Don’t look at me though, I killed two houseplants and a gifted rosemary bush is slowly wilting from inattention.

It’s been a year of MOSTLY POSITIVE CHANGE.  I switched travel agencies, making for the first time a job change within the same industry. (What? Building a career?) It’s been just over a month and I’m wondering why I waited so long to make the leap. I am so much happier! I have health insurance! No one wastes an afternoon arguing with the entire office trying to figure out who broke the toilet seat in the employee bathroom!***

I briefly went paleo. How brief? 4 days.  One night I demolished half a head of roasted cauliflower and had such a terrible stomach ache afterwards, I ate a grilled cheese the next day out of spite. I haven’t looked back.
(I said mostly positive change, remember.)

I think I’ve finally taught Grampie how to stop burning microwave popcorn, so you’re all invited back to the house on Sunday nights again.

I went zip lining not once, but TWICE, which is a huge deal because I am terrified of heights/my feet leaving Earth. YOU GUYS, the second time was between two mountain peaks.  I mean, I cried at the end, but I still did it. I CAN DO ANYTHING!! The trick is to start screaming before you leap.

British Columbia, September 2017
What will 2018 hold? For the world, I’m not even tempted to guess. I think it won’t matter, as long as I greet each day as an opportunity, rather than an obligation.

Sorry, I had another cup of Peace Tea.

I’m so so thankful for my family, my friends, clean water, air, and sunshine. I’m thankful I can digest gluten. I’m thankful for replacement hormones that appear to be stopping my distressing hair loss.
I’m thankful for all of the things I have that I do not deserve.
I’m thankful for plants and dogs and babies.
I’m thankful for deep, abiding fellowship.
I’m thankful for mercy and grace.

I hope I can keep all of these things in 2018. I hope that if I can’t, I have courage in the face of adversity, and patience and faith in the face of the unknown. And you too, my friends.

I love you all so very much.

Please enjoy the enclosed page of photos from my travels. I have no babies or dogs for you to hang on your fridge, but you will note the shot of me standing pompously in front of a float plane, overcompensating for all the other areas in which I lack.

Have a sparkling day,****



*No I didn’t.
**Listen, I just got up from my desk to stretch, accidentally elbowed a lady and a baby fell out. Just now, I mean it. His name is Isaiah Succotash and his parents are over the moon.
***It was Patricia (fake name) and everyone knows it. 
****The best email I got in 2017 was from a Parisian hotel concierge who finished a very business-like exchange with this delightful phrase. I’ve included it and this footnote to drive home the fact that I am so cool, hahaha ok I’ll stop.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Illustration by Ina Hattenhauer

Hello, and welcome to the new and improved Hither & Yon

*hands you an ice cold bottle of Smartwater™*

As you came in, I’m sure you noticed the new title graphic. Isn’t it divine? The ampersand is in the latest shade of yellow from France.

To our right, you’ll see an updated sidebar, with a photo of the author that was taken sometime in the last three years. Fabulous!

If you click on her face, it will take you to her ‘About Me’ page, but that hasn’t been updated in the last three years, so don’t. I mean you can, but I have it on good authority that she is no longer a fan of vintage suitcases OR Polaroids, so it’s wildly inaccurate.

The navigation is mostly the same, with the addition of a slideshow of her Instagram photos, so you can see she’s still alive when it’s been weeks between posts.

Hopefully it won’t be weeks between posts anymore, but let’s be real, you can put a fresh coat of paint on a leopard, but it’s still a leopard. Now it’s just super angry because it’s covered in paint. Don’t do that to animals, you guys. I can’t believe I even have to mention it.

So what do you think?

I love it, I all-caps LOVE. IT.

All the props to Kelly of Kiki & Co. Creative. She knows what she’s about. Check out more of her work here.

Anyway, that’s all really.

I’m sorry for speaking in the third person earlier; that was weird. Also, I don’t have any Smartwater™ for you. Go get a drink from the faucet, don’t be wasteful.

I’ll be back later with a post on my trip to Iceland (finally).

Ok bye! ;)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Happy Weekend

Because of the Independence Day holiday, the work week was short, but somehow I arrived at Friday evening just as worn out.  I'm particularly thankful for friends who meet me for lunch in the middle of a crazy day and let me hold their adorable baby. I'm looking at you, Janet and Charlie.  Other things that brightened my week include long July evenings, 2 Corinthians 3, and unsweetened iced tea.

Also, here is some stuff I clicked on this week and liked:

+ I scream, you scream, we all scream, "I'M CHARLENE!"

+ There is a store in New York that only sells pencils and pencil-related things, and between that and bagels, I think the universe is telling me to move to NYC.

+ I might be turning into one of those people who uses natural deodorant but I'm not willing to try them all and subject people to that process, so thank goodness for this girl who already did.

+ In defense of small towns as a long weekend vacation destination

+ As much as I'd love to be one of those people who subscribes to minimalism, this design trend way more accurately encapsulates my personality.

+ A song for your weekend:  "To Build a Home" - The Cinematic Orchestra

Just like Charlene, if you need me this weekend, I'll most likely be looking at pictures of baby goats. Or in this case, reading about ducks up to no good. Oh animals, you hilarious things.

Take care of yourselves, friends.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
    And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 
    If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)

Friday, June 16, 2017

To Rowan, Two Days into Life

It’s called acute renal failure, as if we have been particularly blessed.
“This is fatal, but isn’t it darling? It was chosen especially for you.”
As if the Alzheimer’s was merely a dressing gown, worn for twelve years,
exchanged at the last minute for a painful, shimmering evening dress.
Oh Rowan, I'm sorry you've come in the midst of all this.
You’ve just arrived as Nana is leaving.
You, a little dinghy, fresh in the water,
bobbing by a battered frigate
Limping into harbor.
The soldiers have long deserted,
Leaving only the current to push her home.
What are we to do? What am I to do?
I’ve excused myself to cry in private three times today.
Why do tears feel like they can show up without an invitation?
Does it look like I have time to cry, now, in the middle of a conversation about airline tickets?
I want to stare at your sweet face for the rest of my days.
I want the newness of life to erase the pain of loss.
But I am at work and you are in Texas.
Squeaking and grunting and seeing only grey shapes, inches away.
I am glad you are brand new.
I am glad you are too smooth and round and soft for grief
or love
or loss
or joy.
You don’t even know words, only sounds.
The sound of your father’s voice and your mother’s heartbeat,
Sounds to grow on.
“Acute renal failure” means nothing to you.
And now I have to go home and pick up the house
Scrub the bathroom
Place clean sheets on the beds
and take stock of the pantry.
There are faces and voices arriving,
To hover, whisper, reminisce and smile.
And wait.
And I have to pretend to care about their comfort,
their sleep,
their appetite.
When all I care about is Nana.
And you
And the quiver of your bottom lip,

As you sigh in a dream.

Written June 16, 2016, 2 days after the birth of my nephew Rowan, and 2 days before my dear sweet Nana finished her earthly journey

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Things That Aren't Real Problems But Annoy Me Anyway, Part 2

Image via

Back in 2013 (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO), I wrote about minor inconveniences, as I live a full and comfortable life uninterrupted by undue hardship or tragedy and this is all I know. It was not a comprehensive list, as in the intervening years I have come upon more things to whine about, and so here we are.

+ People who slow way down (or heaven forbid, come to a complete stop) on entrance/exit ramps fill me with an incandescent rage so blinding, my eyelid twitches. I am immediately transported to medieval times, in full chain mail atop a horse, screaming, "MERGE OR DIE, SIMPLETON!"

Now to break this down, I am always usually running late, so having to come to a stop in a place where I normally seamlessly transition lanes makes me thirty seconds farther behind schedule than I've already accounted (and forgiven myself) for.

+ Bathroom stall doors that swing inwards, particularly in airports. What is the deal with that, getting in is ok, but when I'm trying to get out, stuffed in there with all my worldly possessions, trying desperately not to touch the toilet or anything else, the last thing I need is the door scraping across my midsection. Were I of a more athletic form, I'd climb atop the toilet (stepping on a paper seat guard of course) and vault over the frame entirely, executing a dismount worthy of Olympic Gold circa 1996.

+ The fact that our toes grow hair on top? I'm sure it once served a biological purpose, but I have no need for individual toe sweaters thankyouverymuch.

+ This new thing on Facebook where you have to watch a 15-second ad in the middle of a 60 second video on how to make lard waffle hamburger paninis or whatever. Too far, Facebook. Is it too much to ask to watch uninterrupted a one minute video of a recipe I'm judging people for sharing? Obviously every minute of my online presence is fair game to targeted advertising but joke's on you, ad algorithms, every company that interrupts my Buzzfeed Food binge-watch gets added to a list of corporations I will never give money to.
Yes. Corporate take-down, one dollar at a time. *cackles*

+ Group text messages. It is too stressful for me to be subjected to seven other people's immediate thoughts and reactions to whatever is the topic du jour. Anyone who has ever wished to have the ability to read minds just needs to join in to a mass text chain trying to make plans, and they will be instantly cured of that desire.

+ When someone makes me feel bad, even though they made the mistake. Example: last week I was short-changed after going through a drive-thru so I went inside to ask for my change and they gave me a hard time about it.  Listen, I'm the type of pacifist who apologizes to inanimate objects for bumping into them, I don't need the added guilt of your poor character weighing on my conscience.  It know it was only $2.75 but it wasn't even my money, I was picking up lunch for someone else.  Rude.

+ How long it takes a pot of water to boil. I'm sorry, but I was raised in the age of instant gratification, so I'm going to need the laws of thermodynamics to adjust to my short attention span. End of discussion.

Well, I'm sure I can think of more, but that's enough for one day. Obviously there are much worse things than these that could cause someone to pout artfully in the sun (re: above photo), but write what you know, etc.

Tell me, what minor thing has been bothering you lately? Let us share in life's little indignities!

Monday, April 24, 2017

On not doing things, and then doing them again

Image via

Hello my darlings. My precious petals. My sweet baby ducklings.

It's been so long since I've done one of these that I don't know how to begin.
I feel like I should practice this in my old bedroom, pacing the floor as a contingent of stuffed animals looks on.

“What’s that you say Eeyore? Yes, I should probably explain myself.
Begin as I mean to go on?
You give good advice for a sad blue donkey.”

*pacing intensifies*

When we last spoke, it was December of 2015. I was a few months into a new job at a travel agency. In a twist no one saw coming, I still work there!! (WHAT? Consistency?) Nothing has really changed in my day-to-day. Same job, same basement apartment, same general lack of forward momentum.

In the last 16 months I have gained a nephew and lost a grandmother (within a week of each other, if ever there was a time of joy and sorrow interwoven).  I have gained some weight and lost some hair. (TMI? Who cares—you can see it in my face and the way I part my hair, it’s not a secret.)  I have gained complacency and lost motivation.  (This worries me the most.)

I have no less than six (6!) posts in draft that were started and then abandoned—ironically enough—on the idea that I have trouble finishing what I start.  Perhaps about twelve months ago I took on a new methodology: don’t start anything at all. Can’t be a quitter if you don’t even participate in the first place. And so I stopped doing all the things that make me interesting as a person – writing, reading, creating, maintaining friendships, even watering my plants (which was particularly cruel, the poor things). I began to simply exist – eat, sleep, work, repeat.  Praying as though it were a ritual, and not an honest-to-goodness conversation.  Interacting with others like a robot playing a human role.  Basically extending as little effort as possible to actively participate in my own life.

I recently turned 29. I have less than 365 days before I enter a new decade—the one where even by today’s lenient standards, I will officially be an adult, firmly established in my habits, good or bad. I’m scared of being thirty years old and still feeling like I have to justify why I’m not a better person.  I’m terrified of being forty years old and still making the same mistakes.

And it’s not about having the perfect job, or body, or relationship, or even about where I am in life relative to others.  It’s about being comfortable in my own skin. It’s about being able to look in the mirror at the end of each day and saying, “I did my best.”

Not, “I AM the best” (impossible) but “I DID my best” (attainable).

Now don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this blog into some chronicle up the mountain of self-actualization, with Pinterest quotes and yoga pants.  With this post, I’m merely speaking out loud to myself the need to TRY and DO. Which means writing more. And putting effort into the things that matter to me.

I’ll be back with stories, because there are quite a few to tell. Despite robot-ing my way through 2016, there are some things worth sharing. For starters, my nephew is just a pudgy little blueberry muffin of love and I have to introduce him to you.  Also, I swallowed not a small amount of anxiety and went to LAS VEGAS for a work conference last August.  I drive a Prius now (??).  And then in March of this year, I went to Iceland (cool thing alert!!).

In the meantime, keep doing your thing friends. Like DOING it though, and not just pretending to.

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