We're getting there. In a flash of productivity I emptied out those last few lingering boxes last night and boy what a difference a few boxes make in a relatively small space. Paper and cardboard also invite/harbor those bugs the South is known for, so there's a very practical reason to banish them from our apartment. It's slowly starting to resemble a place someone would live in and call home and what a relief that is. Next up: clearing clutter from surfaces and hanging our art.

We've accumulated a lot of lovely, unique art over the years and my favorite way to display it is through densely arranged collage walls. The bigger the wall the better. I like the aesthetic of a cohesive collage where the art provides the color, so I've replaced/painted all our frames to be either black or white. (Black is usually living room art while white goes in the bedroom/hallway/loft space/etc.)

I like art to be our wallpaper, but I'll be honest: I've never tackled such a small space. I oscillate between thinking it will look cozy or completely overwhelming. I'll have to follow my gut on this one and have the spackle on standby should it go the latter direction.

Husband leaves for a business trip this coming Monday, returns home on Friday, then both him and Kiddo head to California indefinitely the following Monday. Husband and I made a goal to go no more than 6 weeks without seeing each other, but I don't know when I'll see Kiddo next. If things go well with his internship—and I hope they do—it could be Christmas. And though I'm so grateful for this opportunity before him, our whole family dynamic is about to change. It's weird, sad and wonderful all at once. To be able to embark on this journey that involves rigorous study and very little free time without the guilt of neglecting my family is a gift. Mom guilt is no joke, you know? Wrapping my head around all this is another matter entirely, however.

My goal over the next two weeks is to wrap up lingering homework, explore our new neighborhood, and relax. Read! I'd love to devour a book for pleasure. I'm also going to put some business casual outfits together, (re)start a long-term Whole30,  and establish a low maintenance beauty routine that fits into this new climate. Though I'm not out in the sun a lot, my skin has already taken on a more golden hue which necessitates some new foundation. My skin and hair are totally different here, both good and bad, so it's time to adapt product-wise. I've been primarily makeup-free since my LASIK procedure in early June, but I like feeling a little more polished most days. I think it will help me feel put-together and create a sense of routine I so desperately need.

Also on the list? Sleep hygiene. I've yet to fall asleep before 1a since we left the PNW. Time to create a routine around bedtime as well.

Here are some things I've seen, heard and bookmarked this week:

While unpacking the living room I caught up on Molly's new show, Girl Meets Farm. It's adorable, of course.

3 Ways To Keep Humidity From Ruining Your Hair // I'm currently using Living Proof's Nourishing Styling Cream, which I've had for a while, but I'm eager to try Kate's other suggestions.

This simple embroidery hoop wreath tutorial is so, so lovely.

Rethinking the concept of happiness. (I have read and reread this post. Profound + thought-provoking. I've always struggled with society's definition/expectations when it comes to happiness re: what it looks like and how to obtain it.)

For the homebody moms out there. (Me.)

I have a tub of Lush's Big shampoo—I love sea salt shampoos—and look forward to trying this one after I use it up. (via Ashley)

One of our favorite restaurants in Portland—Batter Griddle & Drinkery—serves a bonkers good chicken and waffle. Husband always mused over the buttermilk syrup they served on the side. A homemade version recently landed in my blogroll.

After a lot of research I decided to replace my old Patagonia messenger bag with the Räven 28 Backpack by Fjäll Räven right before we left Portland.  I hadn't put it to proper use yet, but this week I walked to a nearby coffee shop and holy moly it's comfortable! (Dandelion is currently sold out, but I'm in love with it's bold, cheerful color...a departure from my normally neutral tones.) I highly recommend this backpack.

I started the Something in the Water audiobook on the tail end of our road trip and play it while I unpack. I can't to see where the author goes with this story. (Intrigue from the start!)

First piece of mounted wall art: my DIY faux succulent wreath (on the wall above our bed) // Pottery Barn has a ready-made version.

Have a great weekend!

Seen, Heard & Bookmarked: The Art of Settling In

Friday, July 13, 2018

We made it! A kid, a cat and a dozen or so houseplants all made the trek from Portland to Atlanta. Husband and I are only slightly worse for wear, both physically and emotionally. Now we are on the other side of the move—the side which goes mostly unconsidered until you're in the thick of it: unpacking. Though we downsized our belongings considerably, our apartment is feeling very small right about now. IKEA + some strategizing and we'll get there.

The packing, the goodbyes, the 5-day road trip, the movers unloading all our belonging, the piles of boxes...it was all so, well, intense. What's left after the dust settles is exhaustion and all the emotional stuff you didn't have the bandwidth to process. Melancholy begins to set in. I'll admit: the first couple days were rough. I miss my friends. My neighbors. My coworkers. The normalcy. The lump in my throat didn't want to budge. We left a place we loved. People we loved. We had created a life for ourselves—a life we could have lived long term—which made it the hardest move we've made to date. Today is one week to the day since we were handed the keys to our new life and things are looking up.

This move is a good thing. An exciting thing. I'm thrilled for this next chapter. And you know what? In a few short month (weeks, even) this life will begin to feel normal, too. The blunt edges of change and heartbreak and self-doubt have begun to soften just a little bit with each passing day. New joys will be discovered and a routine established. Still, it's important to recognize the unsettling nature of this in-between phase. The period where I wake up in the morning to unfamiliar surroundings. I don't recognize my belongings in this new space. I don't know where to put the plants without them withering in protest. I have no idea how two bathroom boxes will fit under one small vanity. Once the storage shortage is worked out and some art is hung, I have no doubt this space will begin to feel like home. It's the in-between, you see, and I'm in it.

When you are on the verge of the post-major-life-change melancholy it's important to find routine. Husband urged me to get out of the house for a few hours the other day and I'll admit: a couple hours spent paying bills and returning emails from a coffee shop down the road did wonders for my outlook. Before heading out I dug my blow dryer out of a miscellaneous bathroom box so my hair somewhat resembled my own mop for the first time in over a week...at least until I stepped outside. (If you have fine, shoulder-length, wavy hair and live in the South, send help.)

This particular apartment—our apartment—was slated for remodel when we put down our deposit back in April, so last week we were handed the keys to a practically new unit. And that's nice. Neither of us have been apartment-dwellers in 12+ years, so for the past few months we've been thinking back to the shabby spaces of our early adulthood with more than a little trepidation. This is nothing like that. Still, returning to apartment living after all those years has left us to relearn the etiquette of living above another person's home. Don't drop that box! Walk quieter! Turn down the television! I am perhaps overly concerned with being a considerate upstairs neighbor—that will moderate with time, I'm sure—but no one wants to be that guy. The one whose noise level prompts a note of complaint left on the front door.

All in all we were so fortunate in finding a place to live. The complex overall is perfect for us. It's within 2 miles of the college and has one of the most reasonable commutes of all the places we looked at. It's established and tree-lined and has a sunroom that's just right for Mario's office. There are walking trails and the whole esthetic is very lovely and tree house-like. It's quiet. It's a mere 5-minute walk to restaurants and grocery stores. It has all the amenities one could possibly need to live a comfortable life and I feel so lucky to have landed in the right place at the right time.  Looking back, we needn't have worried that it would all work out. It typically does no matter how much we fret beforehand.

Our new washer and dryer were delivered on Saturday, so I'm making my way through mounds of dirty laundry sorted onto the living room floor. We sold our old set back in mid-June, so it's been a while and we've been sweating a lot; we've reached critical mass if you know what I mean. (Side note: we went back to a top loader and it is bomb.) The ritual of doing laundry—sorting + washing + folding—all feels very normal. I'm looking forward to drawers full of clean clothes which is not something I normally consider. (Clean laundry = normalcy + routine!) All that said, I'm dressed in something besides cutoffs and a wrinkled t-shirt today so I'm feeling pretty normal-ish. Also, I found the box containing the contents of my underwear drawer a couple days ago, so I no longer have to borrow my husband's boxer briefs.

I'm going to admit something: I've been quite apprehensive about starting over socially. I received an orientation binder in the mail before we left, which includes the profiles of all my cohorts. It's a young class this year and I find myself stationed as the second oldest in the group (though there are still a lot of people also in their 30s). Age has never been something that has been on my radar. Truly. I don't dread birthdays and we have good friends that are much older and younger than us. People generally warm to me and I have no reason to believe this will be any different. I suppose it's good old vulnerability at facing this big, life-changing, scary endeavor that is behind my sudden insecurity, but nevertheless it's been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. With Husband and Kiddo leaving for California in a couple weeks, I'll be flying solo to the family-friendly events. Vulnerable.

In an attempt to remediate these feelings, I put myself out there and posted to my program's FB page in order to connect with my future classmates. My hope is that we can meet up and become familiar with each other before orientation. Those of us without family can sit together at events. Sure enough, I got an overwhelming response from others who not only want to meet up in the coming weeks, but will also be sans significant other for one reason or another. Historically this sort of thing hasn't come naturally to me—putting myself out there socially—but I'm leaning into my discomfort + anxiety. Moving to a new place is hard + uncomfortable + lonely and I'm working to temper those feelings with proactive behaviors. Act the way you want to feel is my current mantra. Bonus: perhaps I'll stumble across the perfect anatomy partner before classes start.

So. This is the story, exactly one week in, of how I changed everything for the perfect reason. It hasn't been easy, but it sure will be worth it. Melancholy be damned! The next several weeks will involve last minute paperwork, writing essays/book reports, exploring our neighborhood and Atlanta as a whole, and finding that perfect place to study. There's a coffee shop within walking distance of our apartment that serves avocado toast. I know.

Until next time, friends.

P.S. If you get the opportunity to road trip across the United States, do it. It's gorgeous. Minus a cat and a moving truck that only goes 40mph on hills. But seriously. Do it.

Post-move musings

Monday, July 9, 2018