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.

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

Things to admit

  • I feel like a whiny, privileged asshole every time I write about my tiny house.
  • I love my people — my family, my friends, my colleagues — but I don’t like people.
  • Los Angeles vs. San Francisco? Los Angeles, all the way.
  • I work in tech. I’d rather not.
  • When it comes to underground dance music and culture, I’m stubbornly stuck in the 1990s and secretly hate anyone who tries to tell me that today’s “EDM festivals” are amazing. They’re not. Fuck off.
  • I’ve got fantastic story ideas. I suck at actually executing them.
  • I’m a mediocre writer. I’m a much better editor.
  • I think about death and my loved ones — a regular worry, but rarely expressed.
  • I don’t feel I want children of my own, which is both relieving and freeing — but there’s a sadness there, too.

Slush pile

Haven’t dealt with a submission slush pile in many, many years. Nothing new here. Common sense.

  • If you nominate your own blog, publish some posts first. Just a thought.
  • Be specific. Telling an editor to “browse your site” is not the way to keep their attention.
  • Share a link. No one will visit your site and then search for the title of a post.
  • Don’t regurgitate your bio. Don’t summarize what you write about. Point to one piece you want me to read, and tell me in a sentence why I should read it right now.
  • Don’t insult the person you’re trying to get to read your work.
  • Don’t complain about how other writers aren’t as good as you.
  • Don’t tell me you deserve something.
  • Read what you write. Typos aren’t attractive.
  • Be succinct. I don’t need to hear your life story.
  • Be timely. Don’t suggest a post about something that happened last week.
  • Be relevant. But know that your work can be relevant but still passable.
  • Do your homework. Read the publication to which you’re submitting.
  • Don’t call me sir.
  • Or madam.


On my To Do list, but not sure when:

  • Buy property that will fit our tiny house (and a few more structures) (Edit: Completed 7/18/2016)
  • Run a small inn with my husband
  • Develop and run a weekend writing workshop
  • Work with kids again
  • Work at a shave ice shop in Hawaii while being a kayaker’s or stand-up paddleboarder’s part-time assistant
  • Use our future teardrop trailer to explore the US and sell something
  • Have a job that doesn’t involve staring at a laptop screen all day
  • Write The Book I’ve been meaning to write
  • Combine some or most of the above

Tiny housewarming

If we had a tiny housewarming party, these are the remaining items we’d put on our list:

  • A step stool that is high enough for me (5’2″) to comfortably reach the boxes in our storage loft, but small enough to put away (eg, foldable). (In an ideal world, it’s not totally ugly, but most of the step stools I’ve seen aren’t going to win design awards.)
  • A pair of outdoor chairs: comfortable to sit and work with our laptops for a few hours during the day, but also lounge-y enough to read or just gaze out at the view.
  • A side table of sorts that doubles as a bit more storage for miscellaneous daily-use items (car keys, sunglasses, wallets, etc.), which can fit in the front corner next to our front door. (Bonus points if it has wheels.)
  • A mattress, as I’ve got bruises on my sides from sleeping on our loft’s wooden floor this week. New mattress, I am ready for you. (Luckily, our two twin XLs are coming today.)
  • Solar outdoor lights: at night, it’s quite dark but not impossible to see, and I actually hate flashlights and prefer my eyes to naturally adjust to the dark. A few mini solar lights along the plot might be nice, though I’m still debating whether they’re necessary.

I’m sure there are a few more things, but those are the main wishlist items.

Pet peeves

  • When complete strangers try to add me on LinkedIn
  • When people I know who I’ve never worked with try to add me on LinkedIn
  • When people add me to their “travel blogger” lists
  • When someone else introduces an error into my copy
  • When photographers I enjoy following become brand whores on Instagram
  • Hashtag overload
  • In professional situations, when someone email-introduces me to someone without giving me a heads up first
  • When someone emails me for help or advice, and I take the time to offer it, and I don’t hear back from them (even a quick thank you)
  • Big internet personalities who are hardworking marketers but mediocre writers
  • Never really getting gifts for milestone events (like marriage or buying a home) because we approached them nontraditionally
  • The tech industry
  • The travel blogging sphere
  • The tiny house blogging sphere
  • San Francisco
  • People who are constantly negative (a bit like this list, ha!)