Ready for spring

After going on trip after trip after trip, my husband and I always say we’ll stop traveling for a time, so as we entered 2017, we had clear, travel-free calendars through the spring. And then somehow, I agreed to go on a work trip to Salt Lake City last week. And in a few days, we’re driving up to Lake Tahoe for the holiday. Then I’m off to Nashville for a team meetup in April and then a bachelorette weekend for a dear friend in May. That takes us into early summer, when we’ll be off to the Mediterranean.

This is what a travel-free 2017 looks like. And I’m not complaining, but it’s just funny how traveling just happens. There is no need to plan.

* * *

I’m looking forward to spring — these Northern California storms and atmospheric rivers from the Pacific have been surprisingly severe, and while it’s great we’ve gotten so much rain in the past few months, Mother Nature has dumped it on us all at once. Part of a tree fell on our house during one of the first big storms in January so we had to fix a hole in our roof, and we also dug a temporary trench in our yard to divert floodwater from our neighbor’s property. Fortunately, though, our little lot has held up relatively OK compared to all the damage we’ve seen throughout Sonoma County, caused by massive flooding, downed trees, and mudslides.

I’ve started a few posts here and there over the past month that I’d abandoned — mainly about how we adopted two adorable cats last month, or anxiety over the state of the US and the world, or the familiar feeling of apathy in my “professional” life, and whatnot. It’s gotten harder to string sentences together for a blog post, and I’ve noticed I don’t feel that urge to share my thoughts — or my life — online, with both people I know and don’t know. When I sit down at my laptop to post something, whether on a blog or Facebook, it increasingly feels like I’m in a phony, forced moment — like I’m siphoning what’s left of my thoughts, and the words that appear on paper are residual.

I have never really felt this way with Instagram, where I post regularly, which — I suppose — is a testament to its instantness. But even there I find my habits evolving — growing bored with pretty travel and tiny house snapshots and opening up to sharing simple moments around the house and during my week. Perhaps those more frequent mundane shots are a way to fill in the holes created by my thinned blogging presence, I don’t know.


I’ve really changed in the past year, finding new ways to spend my free and personal time. I’ve surprised myself, actually. I’ve moved on from writing, which was once something I had to do. It used to make me happy. But at some point this year, instead of sitting in front of this screen, wondering where the words went, or feeling bad because I had nothing to say, I stopped questioning it and gave myself permission to pay attention to other things. It felt right; it felt like it was time. And so, as I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been working out regularly and absolutely love it, and I’ve also discovered that I enjoy cooking and potting.

And I really welcome these changes, these new habits. Parts of me have felt stagnant — the not-writing-and-feeling-that-I’m-supposed-to-be writing indeed contributed to that — but I’m glad that I’ve become curious again.

There are a number of other things I’d like to do, try, or get back into in 2017.

  • Taiko drumming. I watched a taiko demonstration several months ago at the Buddhist temple in town and grabbed a card for a free first class. I’ve yet to go, but it’s on my list for January. Watching and listening to the performance, I felt like I was part of it, just sitting in the audience; I can imagine how powerful the experience can be if you’re actually helping to create it. The blend of a physical workout, music, and the element of meditation and trance very much appeals to me.
  • Surfing. I’m going to the Big Island soon, just for a week, but I hope to have time to take a surfing lesson — it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but have been a bit scared. I have no skateboarding or snowboarding skills whatsoever — and in fact am terrible at both — but I love stand-up paddleboarding and love being on the water. I also plan to return to Hawaii in July, when my parents will be in Kauai, and am considering going to a surf camp (of course, this depends on if I enjoy the lesson).
  • Watercolors. I took a watercolor class in eighth grade, which was taught by my beloved French teacher. I learned so much, from stretching the paper to picking out paints and brushes to various techniques. I don’t think I was any good at it — much like how I’m crap at drawing today — but I enjoyed the process immensely. I remembered this class on a recent drive — a woman had set up her canvas at the edge of a vineyard a few minutes from my house, and she was painting a lovely country scene.
  • Gardening. I’ve recently started making soil and potting succulents, which are sprinkled around the house and on the deck. We have construction work beginning next week to excavate and level our lot, and I’m looking forward to having a big playground of planter boxes, raised beds, and all sorts of pots. I have felt so ignorant all of my life not knowing much about gardening and growing food. I’m excited to learn.

Current interests (or, recent browser history)

  • “potting soil for succulents”
  • “floating wall shelves”
  • “10×12 sheds”
  • “tall, narrow arc floor lamps”
  • “Westworld season 1 episode 2”
  • “Westworld season 1 episode 1”
  • “best-rated lounge and reading chairs”
  • “pendant lighting installation”
  • “what is NyQuil D?”
  • “how to make tomato cream sauce”
  • “origami squirrels”
  • “geometric acorns”
  • “Airbnb jobs”
  • “how to make cajun spice mix”

It seems I’ve been preoccupied with my house, cooking, my next tattoo, and Westworld, which we finally started watching last night.

After a lot of traveling in September and October, I’ve been recently enjoying a quiet existence mostly at home and — despite getting sick — finding happiness in new things. I’ve become indifferent about and uninspired at work, trying to remember what I’m passionate about and what I’m actually good at, if anything. And like many, I’m tired and terrified about this election — all the noise, all these things on the internet that are ultimately unimportant to me.

Focusing my attention on what’s in front of me. The leaves, my family, my friends.

Our lives in Google Maps

Inside Google Maps, there’s a past, but not all the past. There’s a future, but not all the future. There’s no present to speak of; no matter how recent the image, it will never be now. And yet the gaps heal themselves, and hide themselves. If you’re looking in New York, San Francisco, London, even Berlin where it will always be 2008, you are likely to find your destination. If its past is patchy, if its present is lost, will you notice? Will you care?

— Jess Zimmerman, “A Life in Google Maps”

I really love this Catapult essay on Google Maps, memory, place, and life’s ghosts.

Last night

My birthday was last week, so my parents took me and my husband to dinner last night. The check arrived in a small ornamental box. My dad grabbed it.

“What’s inside?” my mom asked.

“It’s Striper,” my dad said.

Striper is my cat, who died when I was 21. Her ashes sit on the fireplace mantel at their house, in a small ornamental box.

We laughed.

He is so funny and endearing in his own way, my dad.

First seven jobs

  1. Salvation Army employee (age 16, when I was way into thrift store shopping, but my mom didn’t like my shift lasting ’til midnight and I quit after one day)
  2. Babysitter for hyperimaginative three-year-old (17)
  3. Tower Records cashier (18-21, oh those glorious summers)
  4. Peer tutor at Loyola Marymount University library (20-21)
  5. Barnes and Noble bookseller (21-22)
  6. Film/book reviewer and reporter at local daily newspaper (21-29)
  7. Reader/teaching assistant for 6th grade language arts teacher (23-28)

(In response to the #firstsevenjobs hashtag on Twitter.)


Current obsessions, in random order:

  • Pallet platform deck
  • Other things you can make with pallets
  • Types of fences
  • French drains and more elegant graywater disposal
  • Growing a wildflower meadow
  • Mulch landscaping
  • Modern rustic chalet interiors
  • Leveling a yard
  • Semi-circular driveways
  • Garden sheds


Yesterday, my left shoulder temporarily dislocated during the most safe and relaxing position of my workout: child’s pose.

After 15 years of ignoring this condition, I realize I now have a problem.

I was in my favorite class of the week — Saturday morning PiYo — and as I fanned my arms above my head and adjusted into Warrior II pose, my shoulder did its thing. That annoying thing it has done occasionally over the years, and which it has done more frequently over the past few years. The bone dislodged, which was incredibly painful. I quickly bent down on my mat, massaging it, hoping it’d slip back into its socket. Ten or so seconds later, it clicked back into place, and — because I’m an idiot and think my body can handle it — I resumed.

I figured it was safe to do so, since we were now cooling down in our final minutes of stretching and resting. Lie in child’s pose, with your hands stretched out on the mat. Stretch your right hand under your left. Then your left hand under your right. And now, back to center.

And with that, my left shoulder dislodged again — in child’s pose, of all poses.

After class, I couldn’t even roll up my mat.


It took a while before the bone slipped back into place the second time; I showed one of my instructors and she told me that my shoulder was subluxated. I’ve never known the term for this, even after seeing a physical therapist in my mid-twenties (who then showed me a number of band resistance exercises to do regularly, which — of course — I never continued).

So, yeah. My name is Cheri, and I experience chronic shoulder subluxation, and I have avoided doing anything about it for 15 years. Subluxation, technically, is when the humerus — the bone of the upper arm — is temporarily dislodged from the socket. The difference between dislocation is that subluxation is temporary: the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint eventually place the humerus back where it should be.

I fear, though, that having experienced this since I was 20 or so years old, the connective tissues are too weak and damaged to fully heal, and I may have to do more than strengthening exercises to make the joint more stable.

I missed class yesterday, and am resting again today and likely tomorrow; in the past, after my shoulder pops back in, it takes a matter of minutes for the area to feel better. But two days later, my shoulder is still quite sore, so I don’t think I’m working out or lifting weights for the next several days. As I’ve written here over the past several months, daily exercise has become routine in my life again, and it has made me happier and healthier.

It sucks to injure yourself doing something you really enjoy.