A New Year

I turn 22 on Sunday and it feels very weird. Even writing “22” looks strange. Is this what 22 feels like? I only just got used to being 21! I think I’m an adult now. This means I’m definitely having ice cream for dinner.

Like I said, I turn 22 on Sunday and I am a mix of emotions. I love birthdays and all the joy that comes from being granted another year, another candle, another wish. Birthdays demand both a carefree celebration (whatever shape that takes for you – mine is setting up to be a champagne infused brunch and I am not exactly fighting it) and also a moment of introspection. Is this where I thought I’d be? Am I working towards the best, most authentic version of myself? Am I cultivating real joy?

Is this where I thought I’d be? In a word? No. In four words? No way in hell. I never imagined that at 22, I would get to live in a city I’ve been dreaming about for years. Yet here I am, sitting in my apartment with wall-to-wall windows that offer me a daily sneak peek into the comings and goings of my fellow city dwellers. The morning commute pulsing as one, all united in the battle of the transit. We share silent glances of mutual understanding every time we get accidentally shoved into one another on the metro. We chose this. We own this.

In addition to having the chance to live in my beautiful, iconic city, I also work for a big company, with name recognition and benefits and all the things I never imagined I would have right out of college. As an undergrad, I planned to pursue non-profit work, intoxicated with the idea of being the change I wanted to see in the world. My internal cover letter read like a vagabond manifesto. But I am not doing the world a disservice by working hard at a job that ultimately makes other peoples’ jobs and lives easier and their organizations more impactful. And bonus points that my company also places a genuine emphasis on generosity and service, with year-round volunteer projects and opportunities to improve our local community. It’s a win-win and I don’t even have to live in a yurt.

Am I working towards the best, most authentic version of myself?  I think so. I’m trying. Everything right now is a discovery and through all the noise, I try to find that quiet space where I talk to myself (usually in the kitchen while I’m making breakfast or dinner, if we’re honest) and work through things out loud. Budgeting is teaching me about my real priorities. Reaching out to old friends is teaching me about the sanctity of real connection. Taking leaps of faith toward new friends is teaching me about being intentional. Working through a career program for my job is teaching me about long-term planning. I am learning, learning, learning and it feels amazing. And the only test comes in living out my best self in that moment. I won’t ever have all the answers and I hope I never do. How boring to go through life knowing everything about yourself. I hope that when I die, I’m a little old lady tucked into a warm bed, still a little bit of a mystery.

Am I cultivating real joy? I am. I am. I am. Joy down to my toes.

22, let’s do this.

Advertisements

16 Hours in Kansas City, Missouri

This trip so far has been a total whirlwind. Towns zoom by the window as arid desert turns to cresting hills which then even out to flat, flat plains. I never know what day it is, or what date, and everyone is too nice to constantly correct me so it has been Tuesday for three days in a row now.

We just left Kansas City, Missouri, and now we’re en route to Nashville! We have a 9-hour drive ahead of us and we definitely should have started out earlier but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from Kansas City, which is something I never thought I’d write. If you’re looking for a hidden gem in the middle of nowhere, America, Kansas City is your ticket.

Nestled right on the border of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City neighborhoods have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for rustic charm or trendy artist scenes. We stayed south of downtown right by Martini Corner in a recently renovated Victorian home that I found on Air BnB. The home was nothing short of spectacular, with wooden floors and high ceilings, but the hosts really blew us away with their genuine warmth and interest in making sure we had a great time. The house is owned by a French couple (Frederique and Fred!) who have lived all over the world and now split their time between KC and Brittany, France. When stateside, they’re busy to putting together their new business venture, a food truck selling gourmet crepes, as well as running a translation company and hosting (and befriending!) travelers from all across the globe.

Once we had settled, Molly and I headed to Barrel 31 on the actual “Martini Corner” where the whisky list was longer than the menu and the playlist was on point with its collection of Beatles, Jackson, and Earth, Wind & Fire favorites. Their rendition of a Moscow Mule was made with bourbon and the menu was full of classic American fare with a Missouri twist.

Then! As luck would have it, Henry and his mom were also in Kansas City on their way back to Ohio. Not meeting up one last time wasn’t even an option so after a quick drink and crazy delicious pork belly BLTs (for me) and a super French Dip sandwich (for Molly), we touched base again at a local Mexican place. I love seeing friends interacting with their parents and getting to know where they come from. To me, it just adds a new little dimension to who someone is, and Henry’s mom is unsurprisingly nothing short of wonderful. After a few short hours of margaritas and travel stories, it was time to go our separate ways, but both Molly and I were so happy that Henry could join our cross country adventure for a little while!

When we got back to our house for the night, our hosts were sitting outside with another couple and invited us to join them on the deck. Over wine and candlelight, we explored what life is like around the world, sharing our experiences and laughing through all the stories that exposed the very human side of each of us. It was so wonderful to connect with Fred and her husband and their friends and discover how similar we all were in our pursuit of lives that are meaningful and rich in memories. Not to mention the genius contraption Mr. Fred made out of a bungee cord so that he could rock the baby from across the deck.

Before we knew it, it was 1am and high time to tuck away our stories for another day. Choosing these home stays over hotel rooms has added so much to our trip and I hope more people start traveling this way in the States! If you are ever in Kansas City, do not miss the opportunity to stay with Fred & Fred on Charlotte Street!

This morning, we abandoned our good intentions of hitting the road early and instead made our way to The Plaza (Fred told us we couldn’t visit KC without at least going to see the Plaza!!) and as we wound our way around the town, gazing at all the Spanish-inspired architecture and the abundance of colorful planters, we realized why. The Plaza is like a creative mercantile district, full of quirky shops and lots of art. With the oppressive heat that is ever-present on this trip (except for the blessed town that is Flagstaff, AZ) we couldn’t say no to dipping our feet into the big fountain in the middle of the Plaza and taking a moment to cool down and also reflect on how much we’ve seen and accomplished in just a few days.

Afterwards, we found this amazing coffee shop/restaurant called Cafe Gratitude, where the entire business is set up not only to feed its customers but nourish its community. Everything on the menu is named something inspiring; Thrive could be an organic pesto sandwich and Worthy, a cold pressed juice. I ordered the “Grateful” bowl, which was shredded kale with brown rice, black beans, and a garlic tahini sauce. The bowl’s cost was donation-based, meaning you paid what you chose for the food and the profits were donated to a local hunger fighting initiative. We both ordered different kinds of juice (Rich and Worthy) and Molly tried their house made banana bread. The food was so fresh and delicious that I would have paid more! Molly and I really loved the vibes we got from Cafe Gratitude and if I’m ever in Kansas City again, that place is on my Must Do list.

And now! We are on the road again, 400 miles from Nashville.

California to Arizona, and Arizona to New Mexico

Things that are difficult: making time to blog when you are driving cross country over a short 7-day span. Things I feel need to be documented: everything. Do you see my blessing and my burden here? (Side note, I’m currently blogging from the car! Technology wows my mind every day.)

Our last full day in California was Saturday, which in reality was only 3 days ago but feels like a lifetime, that’s how much we’ve squeezed into our trip! Anyway, on Saturday we met up with Molly’s godmother (more like a darling fairy godmother) and her sweet grandson for lunch at South Beverly Grill in Beverly Hills

Lunch was wonderful (I had a grilled tuna Niçoise salad and wow!) and the conversation was even better. Molly’s godmother Annabelle is an absolute treat, so full of life and grace and candor. I’m so grateful to have met her!

After lunch, Molly and I headed to Rodeo Drive. It felt like a newer, brighter version of the Champs Élysées but with palm trees. Naturally, we took a lot of photos, tried on some beautiful clothes at boutiques (emphasis on the “tried on” part) and ended up buying designer water from a famous water sommelier (I’m not making this up) because what else would you do in Beverly Hills?

We also managed to snag some delicious coffee and celebrity sightings at Albert Coffee.

Then! Sunday morning was upon us and it was time to pack the car and hit the road after breakfast and church with Molly’s parents. With paper maps and iPhones and GPS in hand, we started off for North Carolina.

Here’s a little summary of what went down over the next 24 hours:

  • Stopped in Needles, CA where the pavement and the air and the… everything was ridiculously hot and not a single soul lived there. Absolute ghost town. So eerie.
  • McGuyvered some PB&J sandwiches in the car.
    Got our kicks on Route 66. We think. Route 66 is kind of difficult to follow the closer you get to Flagstaff because it says west when you want to go east and it’s complicated. So we really only got our kicks for a little bit, but that’s ok.
  • SAW GREEN! For the first time since leaving California, we could roll down the windows and feel a cool breeze wash over us. Between the fresh, luscious smell of the pine trees, the stunning visuals of it all and the welcome drop in temperature, our senses were completely overwhelmed.
  • Lots and lots of car singing and dancing (as much as you can strapped down by a seatbelt – hi, parents!)
  • Rolled into the town of Flagstaff which is adorable and funky and we instantly loved it.
  • Stayed at the charming and historic Hotel Weatherly on N Leroux St which we highly recommend to anyone wanting to stay in downtown Flagstaff! It’s also rumored to be haunted which is always bonus points in my book.
  • Met up with Henry! He’s making his own way back to Ohio after a summer in Arizona, so we merged the beginning part of our trips and grabbed dinner at a sweet local spot called Lumberyard Brewery. (Would also recommend!)
  • Woke up at 3:30am and drove an hour and a half to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise.
  • Proceeded to have our breaths taken away. You can read about it here.
  • Hit the road again, this time en route to Albuquerque, NM! On the way, we saw… not much.
  • Spent the night in Albuquerque at a cozy little spot I found on Air BnB after dinner at Il Vicino on Central Ave. We had great pizza and local beer from their microbrewery and eventually found ourselves exploring topics on everything from favorite movie to most cringeworthy moment. Friendship, while not evolutionarily necessary (as we talked about), is a really beautiful thing and trips like these are made so much richer by the company you share it with!

And now we’re off again! Coffee, another round of PB&J, a quick prayer of gratitude, and one final look at the big ABQ. Oklahoma City, see you in a few hours!

 

A Grand (Canyon) Morning

As young adults, we sort of spend our twenties stumbling around, trying to figure things out. It’s not dramatic to say that these years are defined by our unrelenting pursuit of meaning and answers. Why are we here? What’s our path? What is living, beyond getting out of bed before hitting snooze a third time and trying not to mess things up too badly before bedtime?

I think we found a few (out of a million) answers yesterday morning. Living is meeting up with friends on the other side of the country from where you met, pulling into Flagstaff, AZ, and instantly loving it. It’s hitting the road at 4:15am and driving an hour and a half to watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. Living is getting to see the sun inch, inch, inch up from behind the highest peaks, pouring morning into a new day, giving the canyon a soft glow at first – and then suddenly illuminating the sky so brightly that you have to force yourself to look away, if only to avoid permanent blindness from staring at this giant ball of beautiful light.

It’s taking talked-about plans and turning them into realities.

To say yesterday morning was a life-changer is nothing short of the absolute truth. It was awesome in the most literal sense. Visually striking and powerful and humbling all at once.

These are the things we stay alive for.

– Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets’ Society.

It wasn’t completely serene – on the way there, we spotted a giant elk with a full rack on his head. This animal was monumentally large – I had never seen anything like it! Unfortunately, we only caught a glimpse of him because we were in a serious race against time to make it to the overlook before the sun actually rose and we didn’t get any photos! That elk only exists in our minds now… But I think that’s okay.

Moments like these can never be replicated in their entirety. Time changes everything and everyone and I feel so grateful that we all had the physical ability and the luck and the commitment to a crazy early wake-up call to stand (and do yoga!) in awe of the entire experience. Grand Canyon, I will definitely be back.

TL;DR – Molly, Henry, and I went to the Grand Canyon at sunrise and it was amazing.

West Coast Wanderings

It took me 21 years, but I finally made it to the west coast.

I didn’t realize just how desert California is (at least southern California!) until I was flying into LAX and catching glimpses of the hot, dry landscape below. Visually, the scenescape is dynamically layered – tall palm trees jut out from rolling hills which melt into staggeringly beautiful mountains. Cacti abound and colorful flowers make even more of an impact against their accompanying brown surroundings. Everything is dry. Compared to the lush greenness of Pennsylvania, California makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

After Molly picked me up from the airport, we headed to Santa Monica pier, where we sneakily scored some free parking and where I got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time

It was stunning. It was the PACIFIC OCEAN. I ground my feet into the sand and let the water from this part of the world wash over them. We took pictures. We laughed. We watched the sun turn the sky orange and dip behind the mountains and I realized that I had seen the sun rise in the east, and watched it set in the west, and everything felt right.

Also featured: a free concert (hosted by MySpace of all things) and my first time getting up close and personal with a boa constrictor.

After the sun had quietly tucked itself away, we headed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, to check out the light installation in the front. You know, the one from No Strings Attached where Ashton Kutcher brings Natalie Portman a bouquet of carrots on their date? Be still, my heart.

On Friday morning, Molly’s parents took us on a tour of their neighborhood here in Pasadena, and then we headed to the Rose Bowl stadium for a hike. We started off walking the loop around the stadium, then hit the dirt path for a more challenging and rewarding exploration of Pasadena. I can’t get over how great this place is – on the water, with plenty of places to hike, and constant sunshine. (See also: droughts, forest fires, earthquakes yadda yadda nobody’s perfect) But seriously, is there anything better than the view from the top of a hike?

Thoroughly energized and sweaty, we headed for water and “Pasadena toast” at Molly’s parents’ favorite coffee spot in town. It’s new and adorable and their toast with avocado and jalapenos is definitely something to write home on the blog about. So delicious. If any travel editors are reading this, please know I am available for almost immediate hire in the event you need a cross-country taste tester.

THEN! After getting ready to resemble presentable humans, Molly took me to the best place in Pasadena for smoothies (behind the Rock It studio on 54 W Green Street) and then it was off to Vroman’s Bookstore where we wandered and wound our way through the stacks, sitting the floor poring over coffee table books on India and tracing our upcoming route on giant maps. Bookstores were one of my first loves and we’ve maintained a solid relationship over the years. Vroman’s did not disappoint with its endless selection of reading material, locally made cards and crafts, and the nerdiest, best literary accessories.

We had some time before dinner so we made our way to the Norton Simon Museum. Admission for students was free and the museum felt really accessible – open and sleek without feeling pretentious. We snaked a path through 17th & 18th century European paintings where cherubs and nipples abound, and then descended into the underbelly of the museum to explore the current exhibition. And because luck had been on our side all day, it just so happened that the exhibition on display was “In the Land of Snow” – a show dedicated to Buddhist art of the Himalayas. Oh, what’s that?  The perfect display for two yogis who also desperately yearn to explore Asia? I see you, universe.

By the time we made it back to the house, Taco Night was upon us and we feasted on the tastiest homemade tacos ever and watched the 1963 classic “Charade.” After the movie, we headed to Old Town Pasadena for fresh frozen yogurt and a little nighttime exploration. We ended up at a Speakeasy which you entered from an alley with a tiny red light marking the entryway and a password you gave to a bouncer in the back kitchen. Well played, Pasadena.

24 hours left before we hit the road! More posts and definitely way more photos by Molly and WITH Molly coming!

Dear Philadelphia,

Dear Philadelphia,

You really know how to strip a person down to their core, don’t you? Lucky for me, you also know how to teach that person to build herself back up again.

I hope this letter finds you well – and I hope it finds you better in the future. From the Schuylkill to the Wissahickon, and from Center City to Germantown, I have experienced the best and the worst of you and I am still figuring out how I feel about it all.

Philadelphia, you taught me more about myself in three months than college and studying abroad combined. I learned that I am resilient and resourceful – both in the kitchen and on the job, and actually in life. Because of you, “figure it out” has become my ultimate life motto, guiding me through housing fiascos and uncomfortable situations and big projects at work. You taught me that distance is completely relative and bears little meaning in relationships that are cultivated in love rather than time spent together.

You taught me to get over myself. A vital lesson for any twenty-something! Repeat after me: I am not the center of the universe and I am owed exactly nothing from this life. In the same vein, I am not above any circumstance and sometimes life will just slap you hard, and you have to get over it. Readjust. Move on. Start again. I learned how important it is to channel the bad into creativity, to sweat it out, to ugly cry and then wipe my cheeks and get on with it.

I think I became my own best friend (in addition to the wonderful, fabulous, beautiful, clever, and hilarious best friends that I do have!) because I ended up spending so much time alone. I took myself to dinner and to the museum, to church and to the bar, and I thoroughly came to understand what it means to be truly comfortable with yourself. I built myself up, little by little, through conversations with strangers-turned-friends and afternoons where I did nothing but wander and work through my own thoughts. I learned what kind of person I am (read: totally flawed) – I once paid for a stranger’s coffee and a couple of times put money in a meter that had expired for someone else, but I still avoid eye contact with homeless people, buy my groceries at Target instead of the co-op, and leave the water running while I brush my teeth… So ultimately when it comes down to it, I am moderately okay human being but I never would have known this without you, Philadelphia. Thanks buddy.

What else? I think you made me a Phillies fan. You did not however make me an Eagles girl. You radically changed how I feel about my arms because the HEAT in this city made wearing anything other than sleeveless tops a mortal sin. As a result, my arms were on display all summer and exactly 0% of the universe’s population cared. My arms never have to go to sleeve jail again! You also gave me a pretty sweet sports bra tan from running outside all the time and this is the first summer I don’t have a farmer’s tan. For that, I am greatly indebted.

Philadelphia, you remind me of a bawdy wench from a sailor’s tale; you’re dirty and you’re flirty and you always have great beer nearby. Usually in a pop-up garden. Often filled with crunchy hippies. And I love that about you.

If you were to give a future Philadelpher some advice, I hope it’s this: Perspective is everything. Look for the positive and the beautiful because they both exist everywhere, in all corners, but sometimes you have to be intentional in finding them. Find the humour in everything – if you’re not laughing, you’re doing it wrong. Pick joy over grief because it’s always a choice, not a symptom of your circumstance. Actively seek out adventure; make a bucket list, ask locals for their favourite spots, and actually follow through on what you want to see and do. My favourite memories were forged through weekends of exploration and just going for it. Finally, don’t be afraid of the unknown. (So cliche! I can hear the eye rolls through the screen.) I was nervous to move to a new city where I would know exactly one person, to take a job that I had basically pushed my way into, to live in a neighborhood that wasn’t exactly ideal. And it was hard, that’s not a joke. It was really effing hard. (Did I mention how hard it was?) BUT I MADE IT. And I made the most of it and the best of it, and I have no regrets ragrets. Not even a single letter.

So here’s to you, Philadelphia. Thanks for being the best worst ever.

xoxo,

Lillian

A Lucky Saturday

Where to begin? I am halfway through a Sunday following an absolutely magical Saturday, knee-deep in writing for work but finding myself distracted by the need to write about yesterday lest I forget all my favourite details. So I’m stopping my little “clock-in/clock-out” app for a minute or two and doing some writing of my own. (The perils of being a ghost writer mean that you produce prolific work, but nobody actually knows.)

Yesterday was absolutely magical. I don’t know what it was – luck, the universe, God, the leprechaun from the Lucky Charms box? Whatever it was, it was on our side the entire day. After arriving to the subway mere seconds after missing the train we needed, an express showed up that took us exactly where we wanted to go, no exchange necessary (which would have been the case if we had made the earlier one). After catching the express, we were on our way! To the hotdog festival.

Yep. I went to a hotdog festival.

I won’t lie, it rocked my world a little bit. From Chipotle to Old Bay, there was a hotdog creation to suit every (non-vegan) palate. Our first foray into the world of gourmet hotdogs involved spicy sriracha slaw and upon first bite, we knew we were in the right place. Behold, my tastes:

The Bahn Mi hotdog from Bridget Foy’s was phenomenal and I never wanted it to end – it should have won first place in my opinion! Instead, the “Sea Dog” won first place, which was a weird combination of surf & turf on a hotdog. Interesting taste, but I wouldn’t try it again. However! I did ask them where I could buy water and the lovely owner just handed me a bottle and told me to have a great day, so they got extra points for being so sunshiney. Also, the deep-fried hotdog was a mistake. We needed to try it because of the HYPED-UP line of people waiting for it, but it was too greasy and I stopped after two bites.

The beer queue was hilariously long but we bought tickets for it, so we stood and chatted to the people around us, petted some actual dogs, and planned the rest of our day while constantly reminding ourselves “We’re at a hotdog festival! This is hilarious! And delicious!”

We weren’t about to wait in line again, so we stocked up on Victory Brewer’s IPA when we finally made it to the makeshift bar. The perfect refreshment for a long afternoon of eating (remind me to re-read this post when I am 300 lbs and wondering how)

Once the festival died down and the kegs were rolled away, we decided to roll ourselves on over to the new pop-up garden at Spruce Street and Columbus Blvd.. Philadelphia is obsessed with turning urban spaces into little pocket parks and Spruce Street Harbor Park was getting rave reviews on all of our favourite lifestyle websites. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint and if you find yourself in Philly anytime before August 31st, get yourself over there and take advantage! It’s free to get in and boasts cozy hammocks, a beautiful light installation in the trees, a floating bar and restaurant, beer tents, and swan boats for rent at Penn’s Marina! So naturally, we made sure to do it all.

 

I have to admit that we struggled a little bit to get the swan away from the dock at the beginning; coordination was not on our side. We eventually got the hang of it though and nicknamed our swan boat “Shelbi,” laughing for about 97% of our time on the water and avoiding some near-misses with families in kayaks. The rental was only supposed to last for 30 minutes but by the time we disem-swanned, it was close to an hour – we had completely lost track of time on the water. Up on the dock, the guys running the show told us that they were going to call us in a while before, but because we were nice to them at the beginning, they let us stay out for as long as we wanted. Being kind gets you everywhere, friends.

IMG_2479

After our jaunt with Shelbi, we had somehow worked up an appetite again and it was off to Franklin’s Fountain for a dinner of ice cream! One of the true joys of being an adult is getting to have ice cream for dinner and no one can tell you otherwise.

Franklin Fountain is an absolute landmark in Philadelphia and has been ranked and rated so highly that I was absolutely buzzing to try it! When we got there, there was a line around the side of the building but nothing too intimidating, so we hopped in the queue and began dreaming up the perfect sundae.

The ice cream shop is a throwback to the dessert experience of the early 1900’s, featuring not only fresh ice cream, but malts and housemade soda waters, too. I wish I had the capacity to eat a sundae but I didn’t want to end up throwing half of it out, so instead I ordered a scoop of honeycomb with a scoop of chocolate and some whipped cream on top. The honeycomb (my favourite, favourite, favourite ice cream flavour) was perfect. I was really surprised to see it on the menu because it’s not a common flavour, but it was lovely and creamy and just the right amount of sweet and crunchy. The chocolate was a little too rich, but I’m glad I tried it. I also ordered a pineapple soda water and the spectacular syrupy taste brought me right back to my childhood.

Our sweet coma beckoned us back to Spruce Street Harbor Park, our full bellies and tired feet yearning for a hammock under the stars. When we got there, our luck continued and we got to see the Camden fireworks across the water! After that, we managed to snag a hammock and swung our way into the night.

And then, lucky us, Emily’s boyfriend picked us up from the park and we avoided having to ride creepy SEPTA at night. He’s a rockstar.

Overall, the day was nice and warm, but not too humid. I wore a new dress and got the tiniest touch of sunburn which had turned into little golden patches on my shoulders by the time I woke up this morning. And at every turn, we were greeted by the possibility of new adventure.

So that was my Saturday, forged in luck and carried out with all the joy of two girls happy to be alive and happy to be best friends.

Weekend Warriors

We are, what’s termed, weekend warriors. Approaching 5pm on a Friday with so much gusto that you’d swear we had been living in a cave for a week, we fling ourselves into everything Saturday and Sunday has to offer. And while there are the occasional midweek events, the weekend is where it’s at, my friends. It also just so happens that here in Philly, there is something to do every weekend. So we do it.

Last weekend was really great. I mean, it was really, really great. There was Friday night dancing and mingling at our favourite bar on the water, epic Saturday brunching followed by serious pampering involving hot stone massages and Phillies-Nationals game tailgating with old friends and new. Sunday’s feature story involved sleeping in, going for a long run around the neighborhood, and watching the World Cup finals over craft beer and crazy-delicious nachos. I slept well on Sunday night because I had no other choice – I had lived so thoroughly that my body was ready to surrender to a long night of sleep in preparation for the busy week ahead.

As much as I try to live well during the week, I just can’t escape the release I feel on a Friday evening knowing full well that I have nothing but opportunity ahead of me. Yoga on the pier? Yes please. Dinner at the new place down the street? Sign me up. Oodles of time for reading and running and and exploring and Netflixing? All kosher to me.

I originally wrote this post last Monday evening, sweltering in our living room and desperately trying to find respite from the heat under a weak fan. During the heat wave, I would daydream myself to places where it was midnight and cool and by the water. In reality, my legs were sticking to our leather couch and I had abandoned all hope of ever wanting to curl up by a fire again. Unfortunately, my phone somehow ate that post and it was lost to the cyberspace gods, a sacrifice at their hands for my unrelenting refusal to plug in my phone as I worked to finish the blog before the battery died. So here I am, a week later, finally with the time to rewrite it but none of the mental capacity to remember everything I said. I know there were photos and a long manifesto on the ire I felt towards the perpetually rising temperature. Aside from that, I can’t remember anything else and this will just have to suffice.

 

Halfway To Where?

I am halfway through my internship experience in Philadelphia.

…What? How? It feels like just yesterday I showed up in this city, bewildered and wide-eyed and excited to get going. Although life had some serious lessons lined up, I feel as if I have earned a place in the City of Brotherly Love; I’ve fought hard to be here. I have certainly paid my dues and now here I am, halfway to my end date and caught off-guard at how quickly the time has passed.

The real question I’m asking myself is: Now, I’m halfway to where? I have to look forward! I have one more semester of college left and I can’t help but think that if this experience has gone by quickly, no doubt my last semester of school is going to absolutely fly by. I intend on making the most it; I am committed to soaking in every little detail that my undergrad life has to offer. Looking further than that, I am also already busy making plans for January 1st which feels both a lifetime and a week away.

I’m neither nervous to graduate nor intimidated by the real world. I feel pretty confident that I can keep myself alive outside the confines of my beautiful, supportive campus. If I’m being honest, I’m pretty excited at the prospect of getting to choose my next step, my next adventure. I’ve got plans, my friend. Plans to see the world and experience it on an immersive and sensory level. There are countless avenues to explore and opportunities to research, all of which I am lucky enough to have the privilege to consider. I respect that I am in a great position; I wish not only to do well, but to do good.

Halfway to where? Well, I don’t really know – all I know is that I am currently in this chapter, some days hanging on for dear life and other days walking off the track like Usain Bolt (HAHA, that was a slow-runner joke). Nobody knows exactly what the future holds but right now I am exactly where I am supposed to be. In 6 weeks, I will be there, too. And in 6 months, I will be there again – hopefully embarking on the next chapter.

I can’t wait to start writing it.

But Why?

The other night, tired after another day of what felt like an uphill battle just to “be”, I thought about walking away from this blog. I thought about finally converting it into a book (only 6 months overdue) and then deleting it. All these doubts flashed before me – what is the point? Does anybody read this? Why would I document these little days against the backdrop of a world filled with big events and monumental changes and actual famous people who others want to learn about? Who cares if I write?

I care. Lillian, you care, I reminded myself. I have this spot because I am frantically attached to writing – every single day I have a million thoughts in my head that I need to express, even if they are only to myself. I try keeping journals but my hand can’t keep up with my brain. But typing? I am a pretty fast typist – probably because I’ve been typing away at a computer since I can remember. Just for reference, I just took one of those online tests and I got 89 WPM. These fast fingers of mine can better transcribe my mental jargon into letters faster than my wrist can and it hurts significantly less after an hour. And while I know it’s more romantic to scribble away in a journal, I am a typist (but still carry a notebook around for notes when a keyboard is far away!)

I get discouraged from writing online when my days are not what I am trying to shape them to be. When I run out of inspirational quotes and my store of mental stamina, I find myself holding back from publishing pieces that are rife with all the honesty and heartache that comes from being human. Then there’s also my language. I hold a special affinity for the F-word in a way that, to me, is at once both unladylike and ruinously feminine. However, I also yearn for employment after graduation, so for obvious reasons I censor myself. You’re welcome, parents.

Blah, blah, blah anyway – my point is that even if nobody reads this, I’m going to keep writing on it. See? I’m just talking to myself. Which I embarrassingly do a lot – I talk to myself all the time. While cooking, while curling my hair, while doing just about any solo activity. I guess I just find my own voice soothing 😉 I am also a big fan of the self-pep talk, so that happens a lot.

So here I am. Did you know this past April marked THE SIXTH YEAR I have been blogging?! I started on Tumblr (which I still have, though sorely neglected) and now here I am on the big kahuna, WordPress. Have I made it? Does this make me a real blogger? As much as it makes me sound like a pretentious hipster, I can’t help myself from saying that I started blogging before it was cool. It was a lame thing, dudes! Only introverted nerds with weird Dr. Who fetishes kept blogs when I started out. It was uncharted territory with terrible layouts and a grammar Nazi on every corner. It was glorious and isolated; it felt downright raw in contrast to the sacchrine online personas we’ve cultivated with every filtered Instagram picture and untruth we post.

Let’s be real! is my new blogger battle cry. I am a veteran, after all.

Now I’m rambling but whatever it’s my blog!