A Simple Saturday Morning

So some days the weight of frustration is like an elephant sitting on my chest, and it’s been holding me down for so many hours that even when I finally move out from under the crushing impact, it’s still hard to catch my breath. It takes a little longer to let the bird out of the cage, to feel my wings spread and the breeze wash over me again. But when it does, I feel a wave of gratitude. It’s easy to neglect the simplicity of carefree breaths sometimes, when your brain doesn’t feel like it short circuited and you’re left with all the frayed wires to make sense of the mess. On this simple Saturday, I’m thankful for exactly that.

Really what’s better than a group of people sitting around a table in the evening, with good food, good drinks, and plenty of laughter? And my days have been full of that lately. Whether it’s in my kitchen, or my parents’ kitchen, or a restaurant. There are few things I love more than laughter, (and music.)

This morning I went for a little run. It’s overcast, the sky is full of gray clouds, but the air isn’t too heavy yet. (For a Saturday morning post sun-rise in July in North Florida.) It’s nice to have those moments again, where my own time is carved out from the world, this little piece of solitude. It used to be about time, and distance but not lately. Lately it’s just about enjoying the whole activity, getting to do this thing that’s my instant ticket to clarity – no matter how short lived.

Maybe today will see some beach time. Maybe it’ll see some crafting. Who knows? But I hope your Saturdays are sweet, and simple and your hearts are full of carefree easiness of summer.

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The Magical Land of Bonnaroo

I’ve been attempting a text post for Bonnaroo, and it is just so hard. There are too many words, and simultaneously – not enough. I can tell you this: Bonnaroo is like Neverland. My Neverland. It is this complete judgement free zone, and no one cares about anything. Worries? They got dropped off somewhere on the interstate. Anxiety? Poof. Self-conciousness? Yeah, right. You’re on the middle of a 700 acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee where the temperatures near 100 and the sun blazes down on you, no one cares what you look like. The happiness will radiate out of every inch of your skin. There are miles of glowing happy people, all coming together for an ultimate common bond – the music. Ever since I can remember, (like seriously elementary school you guys,) I have felt like I was born in the wrong decade. My own parents, my best friend’s parents, have all agreed that somehow I ended up here, but I was made for another time. Well, it turns out that even though it’s 2013, even though we live in this crazy land of technology and nonsense, and stupid boxed in desk jobs – there’s this place carved out from the rest of the world. A mecca for the flower children. Once we arrived, I never wanted to leave. Who cares that you camp in a tent for four days? That you don’t take conventional showers? Um, no one because we’re all on the same page. Honestly this was the most blissful state of mind I’d reached since my study abroad stint five years ago. And this is different because then? There were things I was trying to escape still, things that I was happy to have a freakin’ ocean and continents between, but now? I am happy with life, I am content, my heart is full and bam it overflowed. To share this experience with one of my oldest friends of life? Priceless. The memories we made, the music we jammed out to, the strangers who became friends? They’re all irreplaceable moments that I turn over in my mind hundreds of instances a day. I felt like I had, “found my people” you know? Now, the withdrawals are real. We got back to Tallahassee early Monday morning, after driving through the night post Tom Petty show, and the pangs haven’t dissipated. I just wanna throw a bag in the car, and runaway and be a gypsy hippie. Plus, sleepovers are one of my favorite things (up there with grocery shopping with boys,) and I miss my adventure partner. This was definitely one of the best life decisions we could’ve made!

So now, is the perfect time as any to share a few photos with y’all and eventually even if they’re a mess I’ll just post the texty entries, so you can see my words, hear my thoughts:

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers of Books I’ve Read

Seeing as I just mentioned a few posts back on Meg Says that I will admit to judging books by their covers, today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is very fitting! These are in no particular order, and this was hard enough to narrow to what I did even including an honorable mention section. I’m even typing this post early so I won’t be tempted to scan all the link-ups and pour over the ones I missed.

Top Ten Favorite Book Covers of Books I’ve Read

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
While I don’t own this edition of Little Women this is one of my favorite covers. I love this whole reprint Penguin did of classics. The scissors though, and what they represent? (Remember when Jo chops off her hair?) Understated but beautiful.

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson
When I think about books and covers I remember from elementary school this one comes to mind. You’ll probably notice a trend of either summer/water/love related covers attracting my attention. Plus, the pops of color and the fact that it looks like a watercolor artwork or something? Swoon.

The Help by Kathryn Stocket
Kathryn Stockett is a Phi Mu Alumna (my sorority) and our symbol is the quatrefoil. That little purple design the title is in? Love the simplicity of this cover and the fact that everywhere I went while this blew up the best sellers lists, I was reminded of my sisters.

Paper Towns by John Green
Even though Paper Towns isn’t my favorite John Green book, I absolutely love this cover.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
It doesn’t matter that this isn’t really how I picture Belly, Jeremiah, or Conrad in this story. I am a sucker for sun bursts. You know, by this cover that there’s an epic tale of romance brewing underneath and before I read this story every time I walked in a book store or the library I was immediately drawn to the cover.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I love the simplicity of this cover as well. I know that lime green book from anywhere, it’s always easy to snatch it off the shelf too. It may sound stupid but I refuse to buy the edition with the movie poster cover art.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
This screams of the things I’ve already told y’all I love. Bike rides, summer romance, the beach. I pre-ordered this one (not based on cover alone, but my Sarah Dessen love. I admit though that the cover increased by anticipation ten-fold.)

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Clearly

This was one of my favorite books growing up, and so while the cover isn’t anything fantastic, it brings back sweet memories. It was one of my go to stories. Rainboots, hello!

The Jolly Mon by Jimmy Buffet
This story, and Trouble Dolls have some of the coolest illustrations, ever.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

I feel like this is just an iconic cover. I love it and everything it makes me think of as soon as I see it on display.

BONUS because duh!

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
I would love to own like every cover edition of this novel, but luckily I do have one that looks like this old and weathered that I found at a library book sale.

Honorable Mention:
(A few more covers though I can think of about fifty-seven that I want to add!

I was looking for that other Ramona cover and found this, and oh my goodness I’m in love.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Not only is this story incredible, (and has one of my favorite quotes) but the cover has a snow globe!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Another classic cover. I remember my mom reading this one aloud to us.

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Tera Elan McVoy
I love ice cream, and hot pink and teal are two of my favorite colors. The title involves the word “summer.” This one was a no-brainer.

Bloomability by Sharon Creech
This story holds a dear space in my heart as well, and the cover gives me the warm fuzzies. It SCREAMS adventure!

OK, OK I am limiting myself to just ONE more:To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I imagine Scout looking like this, so I think that’s part of why I’ve always loved this particular cover of TKaMB.

Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics that Will Make Me Pick Up a Book

It’s Tuesday again, and I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon with The Broke and Bookish and clue you in on ten key words or topics that will pique my attention enough to pick up or buy a book. (Most generally, “pick up.”)

  • Summer Summer anything, I’m like hello sunshine book nice to meet you! A YA summer “romance” novel? All over it. Think the “Summer” trilogy by Jenny Han for example, or Sarah Dessen’s Along For the Ride (among others!) Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Probability of Miracles.
  • Road Trip I am all about it. Oh they’re going on a soul seeking road trip journey? Count me in! Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour really set the bar for this category.
  • London or England Immediate attention grabber – no question. This one spans the genres.
  • Boarding School I never had a desire to go myself really, (well maybe temporarily in like fifth grade or if it meant someone was sending me to England or Australia) but put in a book? It’s like extended summer camp, or college for teenagers. Think Looking For Alaska, The Shades of London Series, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn.
  • Summer Camp. So much potential all over the place. I LOVED Terra Elan McVoy’s The Summer of Firsts and Lasts.
  • Running. These days if it’s fiction or non fiction, and they mention running a lot? I’m hooked.
  • Public Transportation. If a character rides a subway, the tube, a school bus, a plane, taxi – frequently in the story? I wanna read it. They’re obviously gonna meet all kinds of characters on these adventures getting around! (That’s what sucked me into Eleanor and Park and Dash & Lilly’s Book of Dares, 13 Little Blue Envelopes.
  • Coming of Age. I’m a sucker for these. If it gets compared to Catcher in the Rye or The Perks of Being a Wallflower I’m gonna wanna see how it measures up.
  • Mix-Tape or Vinyl. The music nerd in me is instantly attracted. (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Love is a Mixtape, High Fidelity.)
  • Dystopian. Now, I definitely don’t read all of them that I pick up but if a book has something even semi-dystopian going on about it (but less super natural) I’m intrigued. ThinkThe Hunger Games (obviously) but also end of the world-ish ones like How I Live Now or The Age of Miracles.

What about you? What attracts your attention with books? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned, or do we have key words in common? Let me know!

Throwback Thursday: Hampstead Heath Edition

OK, I’m sure you get tired of hearing it because I know I get tired of the thoughts that are on repeat in my brain about one thousand and seventy-two times a day, but I have a basically constant “missing” feeling for Hampstead Heath. It’s one of my most favorite spots I’ve ever been, on this whole entire planet. One morning during our study abroad semester my friend Lizzi and I decided to go exploring. It turned into an all day affair. We hiked, and climbed trees. We took about nine million photos. She brought her “death packet” (this project for a class where you learn about grief and coping with death and in the process you’re supposed to plan the arrangements for your own funeral – morbid sounding, I know.) I brought homework, and a book of course. We spread out blankets by the pond and watched the ducks, and loads of people gallivanting. Later when we got lost traipsing through the woods, we waited quietly listening for the sounds of passing cars, and eventually made it back up near the street where we found an ice-cream cart! (Re-reading captions on Facebook I’m reminded that the man at the ice-cream cart sang “God Bless America!” when we ordered.) We explored more and eventually ended the afternoon with hot crepes. It’s honestly one of my favorite days, I can remember. Pictures don’t even do the vast expanse of greenery justice but I’ll share with you a few. Also, I think our album titles are pretty indicative of this location’s magical powers “The Wilderness with Ice Cream,” “Heavenly Hampstead Continued” and “700 Acres of Bliss.” (PS: my favorite leopard print 2 pound sunglasses from Primark that got crushed at a Blink 182 concert make an appearance in this post!)

Almost every single Saturday, without fail, I wake up and wish I could take a little jog in the park and a picnic to this breath-taking spot.

If I had a teleporting machine, it would probably be exhausted from the number of trips I’d take to this place.

Summer Self

I’ve spent a long time wondering if this is one of those “me” things, or does everyone have a summer self? Your summer self, is the bolder more spontaneous version of whoever you are for the other more lackluster, less adventurous seasons and months of the year. Your summer self acts upon those moments that take the “twenty seconds of courage” (yeah, I’m referring to We Bought a Zoo…what’s your point?)

Do you remember the feeling you get lying awake, restless, the night before the first day of school at the end of every summer? Sometimes, I imagined that crazy adventurous things would happen those last hours before my lids got too heavy and I fell asleep before it was time to start whatever “adventure” lay ahead of me for the following year. Those 180 days filled to the brim with not always equal parts laughter and tears, anxiety and carelessness. You know, I had visions of my crush tapping on my window, or that I’d see fireworks light up the sky, or an army of lightning bugs would illuminate the backyard. Obviously, I wasn’t a hard kid to amuse. Minutes and then hours would tick away, (I had a white digital clock sitting atop a book shelf behind my bed…) those red analog numbers just flashed in the dark, and opportunity slipped away second by second. But then you know I’d convince myself – this year would be exciting. Maybe we’d get a new foreign exchange student, or I’d get a boyfriend, or I’d write a book, or math wouldn’t suck anymore. Or I wouldn’t stress myself out about grades or be self-conscious. That I’d say yes more, and the year would be full of making a katrillion happy memories.

Fun memories were made, sure, but middle school and high school (and who are we kidding elementary school, too) are tough years. I’d like to think I know myself pretty well. I’d like to think there are things I can appreciate about myself, no matter how weird or quirky. I wasn’t one to set aside the things I believed in, to blend in. It just never felt worth it. But in the meantime, my after school adventures didn’t always add up to my night before school starts butterflies of anticipation dreams.

That’s where the “summer self” comes in. Somewhere a long the way, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I was convinced that those summer months free of class and  routine responsibility, didn’t count in the big equation. That it was the perfect time for taking risks, taking chances – whether it be getting stuck on the river in a lightning storm, and hitching a ride from an old lady, or matters of the heart – those summer months were the very time to test the waters, to push my limits, to experiment with resiliency. You know, how much could I throw myself through and still come out winning?

What’s a summer if it doesn’t involve staying up all night, sharing secrets, telling stories, laughing ’til tears trickle out the corners of your eyes? What’s a summer if it doesn’t involve riding with the windows down, singing at the top of your lungs, and hunting down ice cream at one am? What’s a summer if it’s not hiding out on the swing set, under lamp posts absorbing every second of every minute? Piggy back rides in the rain? Climbing trees, climbing fences. Running until you can’t catch your breath. Riding bikes so fast your feet slip off the pedals. Stealing kisses under the moonlight. Playing cards and board games, and making music and not turning on a television for days and days. What’s a summer if it’s not holding hands in the movie theater, or under the table at the restaurant the whole town eats dinner at? What’s a summer if it’s not lying awake giggling in a tent you pitched yourself as the rain pours down outside. What’s a summer if it’s not handfuls of fireflies and making wishes as your feet dangle from a tailgate by a bonfire? Roasting marshmallows, and squealing as you chase all your fears away. Beach days with salty hair, sunburned cheeks, and the perfect amount of exhaustion. Jumping in and out of waves, getting rescued from the ones that were a little bit too strong.

What’s a summer if it’s not wet blades of fresh-cut green grass sticking to the bottom of your bare feet, running through lawns across the neighborhood? The way the water rushes through your ears as you puff out your cheeks and hold your breath under warm water in heated swimming pools. Beer spilling from bottles as you race to catch up. Golf cart wheels spinning on some new mystery tour down unknown paths. Coffee in the cemetery as you try to picture where you’ll be in five years. But it doesn’t matter because if you’re a fraction as content as you are in this moment – life will be fine.

What’s a summer if it’s not that feeling of holding hands, slicked with rain and the way your slippery fingers intertwine as you fall into the damp earth doubled over with laughter? What’s a summer if it’s not lighting sparklers off at the end of the dock? Eyes glowing with happiness that rivals the brightness of those crackling sparks of light? What’s a summer if it’s not a love not scrawled in nervous hand writing tucked into a back pocket? What’s a summer if it’s not wearing the same thrift store finds for days on end?

What’s a summer if it’s not creating and destroying, picking up and hanging up, starting over and hanging on?

It’s all the very things that make your heart fill up immediately. You know that feeling? Like sunshine being poured from a Dixie cup through a pinhole in your welcome heart.

The overwhelming mixture of possibility, of promise, of exhilaration – those moments that you swear your infinite. That these friends you’re spending these moments with – you’ll be bonded to for life.

So, I being this weird transient twenty-something that I am – am not the biggest fan of these summers stuck that don’t get the clear division they deserve between school months, and lack there of. There aren’t months by work and not working. There are days. There are weekends. But this whole summer self seems to ring true. There has to always be room for the summer self.

In case you’re wondering…the summer self makes appearances in other months of the year. You know, at birthdays, and holidays but summer is the perfect catalyst for the chaos that tips the scales between regular life, and something much more idealic and extraordinary.