It is the last night in my apartment. I’ve been in a sleeping bag for two nights now, which I should get used to: I leave for the Appalachian Trail in 11 days. It’s always a bit odd for me to leave a place. I always have to say “goodbye” to the space I’ve called my own for months on end – right before the moving truck pulls out, or my parents’ car, or the boyfriend with the UHaul. I take a few moments just for me, thank the space for hosting me so well, and shut the door.

This time, I’m shutting the door on something much more major. My life is about to change in a very real way, and in ways I can’t even imagine yet. I’m going “off the grid” – or, as off the grid as one can be in our age of cell phones and iPads and data plans. According to my insurance, it would be easier for me to go abroad than to stay in the country while I hike. I can’t get any prescriptions in advance – no way no how – though I explained to them at least three times I would  be without access to a pharmacy for 6 months. Someone had even told me they could do 3 months, but never entered it into the system. I pleaded, the pharmacist pleaded: no exceptions. This makes things a bit more interesting.

Today was my last day in the office, too. I take a leave of absence for the next 7 months. It was very weird. I made my goodbye rounds after a lunch out. It reminded me a little bit of leaving camp: I know I’ll be back, but I work with some really great people, and I’ll miss them. There was not much left to say, really. It’s been said, variously, at different times and places.

“Good luck, have fun, be safe.”

“Yes, I will.”

On to my big adventure.

With that comes the leave of absence from this blog, too. I’m already trying to keep up with 2 other Appalachian Trail (AT)-related blogs. And besides, all of life’s tomatoes for the next several months will hit me while I’m on the Trail.

My main blog while I’m hiking is here.

I’m also contributing to Appalachian Trials.

Au revoir. I leave you with this quote:

It starts as an uneasy sleep, a deep restlessness. That’s how it began for me. Perhaps for you, too.

Underneath the slick, secure, same surfaces of daily life, “things” begin to stir. Soft whispers are heard, faintly, in the heart; a restlessness moves in the solar plexus. These stirrings, easy to ignore at first, remain as tenderly persistent as a plant pushing through asphalt. The restlessness seems like the enemy within, threatening to blow up the status quo.

And, of course, it will. That’s the news I want to convey.

But it is no enemy. It is, in fact, the very best friend you have.

– The Ordinary Adventurer, by Jan Leitschuh.

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Guys. This morning I actually woke up when my alarm went off, and did not hit snooze, not once. In this case, “there’s an app for that!” is proving true (at least, for day 1). “Sleep If U Can” makes you take a picture before you go to bed. Then in the morning, you have to go to the same place as the night before and take the same picture to turn off the alarm. You can try hitting the volume buttons down, but this only lasts for 1 second (I tried). So this morning, I woke up to a song I set, and managed to make my way to the bathroom to line up the faded image of last night’s photo and take a new one. It only took me one try, and by then I was already in the bathroom…so put my phone down and showered. I even tried making the shower a little cooler than usual, since that’s supposed to be healthier for you, too. Baby steps. Still, it’s the first time in a long time I can remember waking up and starting my day when the first alarm goes off. Hopefully I keep this up! It really would be amazing to wake up, get up, and go. Snooze doesn’t do anyone any favors besides wishful thinking.

I was in the office early, then, and was pretty productive. Then I walked home – the 3.7 or so miles – in almost exactly an hour, and later went to yoga. Which felt amazing. The second time was so much better. I’m definitely learning, and feeling good. I was ready for bed by the end of it, both from being tired and also incredibly relaxed. When our instructor leaned down and said “Namaste” to us, no one moved. We all just wanted to stay there, maybe curl up, fall asleep…

But it was not to be. Hoping to start another good day tomorrow, and then catch my writing group!

All kinds of things are coming together these days. I’m starting to feel more settled, somehow. Maybe from moving, maybe from other things.

The major coming together of the month was my brother’s wedding! I realized I never wrote about that. Everything about it was beautiful and perfect. I’ve never seen two people so much in love. Maybe I’ve just never been in a wedding, so didn’t get to see everything up front, but wow. These two. Add to that a beach in Hawaii, and you’re golden. It was stunning.

The first day became a beach day, which was lovely. Spread out, chill out, read, nap, check out the water and fish. And with nearly all my favorite people. My other brother and his family (super cool sister-in-law, two precious nieces), parents, boyfriend and his family, my new sister-in-law, aunt, cousin…

There were chill days, adventure days around the island, rehearsals and dinners, volcanoes, the wedding itself. Getting ready. I’m so excited to see pictures! There were some precious moments: getting “Bridesmaid” shirts from the bride, figuring out hair and makeup, my dad coming in and out – I think the photographer got one of both him and the bride fixing hair in the mirror -, the first look at her in her dress, helping her get her train into the pickup truck she drove to the wedding (oh man. Amazing). Watching her watch my brother, my brother sitting faced away from her at the front. Distracting her when she kept saying, “I look at [him] and I’m gonna start crying.” For goodness, sake, I almost started crying then! Walking in with my other brother, the ring they both bought me for my 18th on my hand. Listening to them say their vows, watching them just be so, so in love. The delicious food, the hilarity of the dancing.

Pololū Valley

lava

lava

So that trip was amazing. In every way. Took a day to run around practically the whole island, then slowed down to one of the most delicious meals out I’ve ever had, with this guy who continues to make me happy.

Things are coming together.

Today, for example. I was finally able to go to a yoga class this evening, for the first time since realizing there were classes my company would pay for through a gym membership. I’ve been wanting to go for a month or more. Tonight managed to open up enough that I went. I’m pretty intimidated by gyms, so it was nice to go in, be pointed in the right direction, and join others who were learning – getting direction for a workout. That’s the other thing about yoga. It’s hard, but it doesn’t quite feel like working out. And it’s a nice balance of workout and meditation for me, my own getaway from the madness. It was a pretty small class tonight, and for the most part I didn’t feel judged. Though there was that time I was stretching the opposite side as everyone else…

Then there is the continuous, seemingly-in-vain attempt at getting into a morning routine that I like. Ideally, it includes meditation, eating breakfast, writing my novel, showering, and making some try to look nice rather than running out the door. ONE of those things might start to happen, which might spur on the others. Baby steps. There is a local writing group, and some members also either write early or would like to. So it’s looking like some of us are going to create a kind of phone/e-mail tree to wake the others up when they want. If we all want to get up around 6am, then one has to and then calls the others. Maybe they call three times every five minutes and then stop. Or something. But that could be really awesome.

I also recently discovered and then tried out a super fast breakfast-making operation. You can bake eggs into hard-boiled-ness. Requires a muffin tin and eggs. Sunday night I bake-boiled a dozen eggs at once, leaving me an easy breakfast of 2 eggs each morning. If you keep the shells on, they’ll last about a week. Take them off, and it’s 2 days. Ready? Pre-heat oven to 325F (350 if your oven runs a touch cool), put one egg per muffin space (this prevents them from moving around too much), and then bake for 25-30 minutes. So far, I’ve found the yokes tend towards one side when you’re done, and there are some pinprick brown dots when you peel them. Neither is reason for concern. Between that and the occasional Instant Breakfast (provided I both have milk and it’s not gone bad), I might start eating breakfasts. The bagel place by work will still tempt me on occasion, I’m sure, but I’m trying to get away from the intake of carbs in the morning. The Internet* says it’s not good for your day energy. So there. So…there…toasted bagel with cream cheese. :-/

* Side note, my morning goals have been set for a long time before I saw an article like that. I already know TM, or transcendental meditation and love it. Etc. Carry on.

Writing, breakfast, meditation is sure to follow. As long as I don’t go back to sleep. I’ve gotta finish this novel before I leave for my hike, and time is decreasing rather more rapidly than I’d prefer!  That, and maybe weekly yoga, and then maybe weekly writing group (evening). Ohmygosh. Keep breathing. But that would be really great. This could be really great.

What a perfectly lovely weekend. Friday was a late working night, but a bunch of coworkers and I all went out for sushi for dinner. It was a lot of fun. I constantly find myself lucky to be there (long hours and all).

Country: Tim McGraw

I was also semi-spontaneosuly invited to go catch Tim McGraw Saturday night with some friends. We piled in and got there early for some tailgating. Veggies, hummus, chips, guacamole, cherries, cheese, pepperoni, drinks. I’ve been to a few country concerts, but haven’t tailgated at one until now, and let me tell you, the people-watching is fantastic. Country brings the dirty, the stunning, the shirtless (or, near shirtless, both sexes), the jeans, the intense American pride (people practically dressed in flags, bandanas, you name it, it’s got stars and stripes), the sundresses, the popped collars.

Also apparently top hats.

top hat

This guy was fun to watch throughout. He was having a great time.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect for our lawn seats.

sunset

The concert itself started a little slow, to me, but got going quickly enough. It wasn’t a rock-out (to be fair, the last one I went to was Keith Urban), but it was a fun, sing-a-long time. It was nice to sit there and enjoy it, take the music in, the people, the views. He sang “Live Like You Were Dying” towards the end, which was great. Can’t go without the classic. He hardly even needed to sing; everyone has had those words memorized for years.

We did a small post-concert tailgate while waiting for the cars to clean up a little. They weren’t moving; we were sitting eating and drinking. I think we got some jealous dirty looks from some of the drivers. When we did decide to get going, it was easy.

Camp: Nokomis DC Reunion

I am a summer camp kid. Starting at age 8, I started going to a sleepaway camp on an island in New Hampshire, called Camp Nokomis (no-Koh-miss). I continued there, became an Aide (first year Counselor in Training, or CIT), CIT, and then staff member. It is an incredible place, and taught me so much, instilling values I carry with me today. There is a bond between camp people and particularly your-own-camp people, that is unlike anything else. So through this, one alumna hosted a DC reunion for all the Nokomis gals. It was so fun, meeting new alumna, finding connections – you were my counselor in 12! – and making new ones.

noko1

We looked through old camp calendars, photo albums, played camp-themed charades, and talked about what had changed – or not – through the collective time we were there.

noko2

There is no way to fully describe Camp to a non-camp person. It’s a beautiful thing, and made for a great way to spend part of my day. One of many camp songs:

“You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis,

you can tell her by her walk (wiggle wiggle).

You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis,

you can tell her by her talk (giggle giggle).

You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis by her sportsmanship and such (bang bang).

You can tell a girl from Camp Nokomis,

but you cannot tell her much! (how true)”

Tracking how I’m doing on those resolutions…

Jan 1: Woke up, stayed up for awhile, fell asleep for an hour, then woke up for good. Had a day off from work so this isn’t as bad as it sounds. Managed to meditate twice, and made crepes and pasta for meals. Check.

Jan 2: Woke up at my alarm, meditated, used most of remaining crepe batter for breakfast. I’d prepared homemade lunch last night and put it in the fridge. This is a big step up from my usual of eating out, fast-food, or ramen in the office. Began hour of writing…and discovered that somehow Dropbox had not saved my latest version of my novel. A chapter and a half (of pretty good writing, mind you) were suddenly gone. Heart dropped to stomach. This is pure horror. I figured I’d do a desperate check – I’d written those words on my old computer, which I still have. Maybe Dropbox failed? So, I booted that up and went to the file – the same one I’d just opened on my new computer – and somehow that chapter and a half appeared. If you’ve ever written a long piece you’ve been working on for months…you might have some sense of the utter relief I felt. Quickly, I emailed this version to myself and re-opened it, saving the new chapter to my current work-in-progress. Phew. After work, I made dinner. Stayed up late (hardest habit to break). Then, I decided to sync my novel to my iPad and maybe bring it to my favorite breakfast place and write for an hour before work, without lugging my laptop. Confused about why it was not “taking” my morning’s additions, I booted up my laptop and checked there – no additions. Why? Why? It was like the horror from the morning, but worse, since it seemed there was no way to fix it. I submitted a trouble ticket to the software company, but doubt there’s anything they can do. This is perhaps not a good start to my writing-time resolution. Meditated before bed….which wound up being at 2am.

Jan 3: The being up until 2am thing really screwed with me. Since I couldn’t really write anyway, I wound up resetting my alarm over and over until 2 hours later. This resulted in a 5-minute shower, grabbing my bag, and running out the door. No meditating, no breakfast, and since I had planned on rolling my burritos in the morning, no lunch. Well, lunch became ramen at work. I grabbed a bagel and iced tea before work. Then “dinner” became the happy hour for work (definitely falls under the bad-for-you category). Once home, I tried all the steps the software company suggested but to no avail. That chapter’s gone. I meditated, set my alarm, and fell asleep.

Jan 4: After hours and hours of sleep, woke up (late), meditated, showered, and got distracted by my computer. Tried eating Toaster Strudels; couldn’t do it. Ugh. Finally ate rice for lunch. Dinner was pizza as usual, before dancing. Did not meditate before bed.

Jan 5: Meditated in the morning! Ate cereal for breakfast, then out for some Shakespeare and Chinese. Didn’t meditate, just bed. :-/

Jan 6: Oops, slept in a little more. But ate breakfast, then meditated. Made pasta for dinner, and more burritos for lunch Monday. Meditated before bed.

Jan 7: I’d stayed up late again, and so slept in again. Bah. Meditated anyway, ate breakfast, ran out the door. Will meditate before bed – weekdays that’s pretty much a guarantee.

Stats:

Meditation: 11/14 times – not bad.

Writing: 1/5 – eek.

Eating breakfast: 5/7 times (rushed bagel doesn’t count; not part of routine)

Making food: significantly improved over 2012!

Well, here it is. The end of one glorious year and the start of another. Since lists seem to be the “in” thing these days, I’ve compiled a fun list of events (focused on perks) of 2012 and what I’m planning resolutions-wise and event-wise in 2013.

2012

  • Steampunk-themed contra dance party with fantastic costumes, goggles c/o la boyfriend (now of nearly 2 years)
  • Vacation to Seattle to visit cousins and play tourist
  • Finding out Dad had prostate cancer, supporting him from far away, and then having an “Adios, Cancer!” party when we found out he was cancer-free (44 radiation treatments later)
  • Incredible women’s climbing weekend in West Virginia
  • Interesting, if amusing, debates followed by re-election of President Obama (phew!)
  • Friends-filled college “reunion” going-away party
  • Vacation and travel through Peru, catching 15K heights and Machu Picchu
  • Maryland Renaissance Festival and dress-up
  • Started second novel
  • Joined/helped form an independent author’s collective/publishing imprint
  • Sent over 30 letters to Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • Spent first holiday with boyfriend’s family

2013

Resolutions:

  • Eat breakfast every morning
  • Spend 1 hour before work writing and/or editing
  • Meditate twice a day
  • Still arrive at work at sane hour
  • Make more home-cooked meals (cheaper and healthier!)

Events to Look Forward To:

  • Time-travel-themed contra dance party with boyfriend (yay more dress-up)
  • Parents visiting DC
  • Seeing more old college friends
  • First time going to Las Vegas (conference)
  • Seattle visit with cousins
  • Saturday classes for project management
  • possible Hunger Games food/watching event
  • I turn 25 (woo rental cars!)
  • Attending brother’s wedding in Hawai’i as bridesmaid
  • <Possibilities!>

And I’m so not ready for it. All that time I had, to plan more, and write down ideas, and develop a detailed outline? Nope. Nada. And now, I have 2.5 days left until it’s racetime. What, exactly, does racetime entail?

Well, for the next few days I’ll be possibly out of power and dealing with Hurricane Sandy. After that, big projects at the office are in the works. The following week sometime, I prepare for, pack for, and leave for Peru. I’ll be there, without any electronics at all, for about 8 days. When I get back, and wake up from the hours of jetlag and sleep I’ve missed, I finish one of the work projects, then have a few days here, before flying home to my parents’ for Thanksgiving and family festivities. And that, friends, wraps up my November. Oh, also, I’m supposed to write a novel – 50,000 words.

I’ve even planned “write-ins” for people in my area, at a local mall. We’ll spend 2 solid hours together, at fairly random dates, just focused on writing. Twitter will become my friend for word sprints.

But in actuality, even though I did it and won last year, I have no idea how I’m going to pull it off this year. But, I’ve got to try. And besides, one of my NaNoWriMo buds reminded me that any word count can be a victory, even if it’s not an official “win.” Well, let’s go, Hidden in Nepal. Let’s do this.

uhh..no but actually: