Brain dump on Thursday

I sat down to write a “five things on Friday” post tonight as a way of saying “hey.” Of letting you know that I’m still around. Of giving my creative muscles a much-needed stretch. But I only made it through one thing before I got winded and had to go back inside. Nothing seemed interesting enough—or, if it was interesting, I couldn’t come up with a clever way to talk about it.

That creative apathy has been my reality lately. I write a tweet, stare at it for a minute or two, and then delete it for being dull or cynical. I mull over a blog post for weeks, draft it in a 20-minute flourish, and then condemn it to the drafts folder because it’s too twee or too whiny or too much information.

I’m not going to say that it’s because I’m OMGSOBUSY because c’mon. We all are. I’ll just say that by the time I walk in the door every night, I have exactly enough mental stamina left to press the buttons on my microwave. And then……. A Facebook feed full of “likes” is too much noise. A day’s worth of tweets is too overwhelming. A social engagement is too stressful. A book or a blog post is too much work. Give me Fixer Upper or give me bed.

Today was very much the same, but with a very unexpected bright spot smack dab in the middle. So here I am, feeling just inspired enough to spend the evening writing a few words worth sharing. It may not be a finely crafted list of five thoughtfully curated things, but it’s a way of saying “hey.” Of letting you (and me) know that real events—interesting events—are taking place, in spite of my occasional unwillingness to notice:

Texas pasture

  • I went to Texas two weeks ago, and it was absolutely glorious. I always forget how strong the sun is down there. How I can feel the prickly scorch on my skin after just five minutes outside. That’s what really struck me this time. I might not like overwhelming heat, but I don’t like wearing winter sweaters in May, either. What I do like is eating brisket tacos on a quiet patio as a warm wind rustles the leaves overhead. That is the Texas moment that I carry with me as I trudge through the freezing rain on my way to work in the morning.
  • Sean and I are going to Ireland in June. We didn’t have a vacation planned for this year and we didn’t have a vacation planned for this year and then all of a sudden we did. Nine days driving around the Emerald Isle, drinking Guinness and eating cheese and sleeping in B&Bs (unless we’re sleeping in a castle instead).
  • Every single neighbor in our townhouse owns at least one dog now. When the front door opens, it sounds like we live in the local animal shelter. It’s too much noise for two quiet cat people. We gots to go, y’all.
  • I have a new obsession, and it’s called Tiny House Hunters. As someone who feels like she’s bursting out of her 750 sq. ft. apartment, do I understand why otherwise normal-seeming parents would move their two teenage girls and twin babies into a 600 sq. ft. house? No. No, I do not. But I absolutely celebrate their willingness to pursue their tiny dreams in front of cameras for the world to see.
  • As an avid consumer of podcasts, it’s important that I share two of my newest favorites: FiveThirtyEight Elections, which is co-hosted by Nate Silver (the statistician who’s been predicting state-by-state election outcomes with startling accuracy since 2008) and will help you make sense (or probably not, because it defies logic) of our country’s slow and painful devolution into Trumpland. And The Popcast, which is all about pop culture and is hosted by two hilarious Southerners who will help you forget (at least momentarily) about our country’s slow and painful devolution into Trumpland—when they’re not comparing Herr Donald to the Smoke Monster on LOST, that is.
  • As of 10:30 tonight, I am no longer a grad school widow. (At least until June when the summer semester starts.) Just like last May, we have a full schedule of events planned—from a celebratory weekend in the White Mountains to Red Sox games to a quick jaunt to Philadelphia. It’s nice having my buddy back full time—however brief it may be.

A life update

hello there

Are you there, blog? It’s me, Sarah. You know, the girl who used to post updates pretty consistently [ed note: consistently=every couple of weeks, and I was ok with that]. But lately I’ve been MIA, and I blame work.

My job took a 180-degree turn while I was in Africa, and every day since the day I got back has been a big blur. For the first few weeks, I was working until 7 or 8 at night. Eventually, I managed to start leaving around 6 or 6:30, and that became the new norm. Not to mention, my job got much more creative, which was cool! But it meant that by the time the daily grind was done, I didn’t have any brainpower left to be productive. (This blog isn’t the only thing that’s taken a hit—I’ve also whiffed on birthdays, friendships, and social engagements. Anything that requires me to be alert and interesting, basically.)

But the winds of change are blowing, and I’ve made a commitment to leave by 5:30 every night and do something to take my mind off work in the evenings. Like blog about work, obviously. OR about the other things I’ve been up to since I fell off the face of the Earth, like:

#csaproblems: Another reason I haven’t had time for anything in the evenings? My CSA. I always seem to have a crisper full of expensive vegetables (most of them leafy greens) that are on the verge of going bad, so as soon I get home from a long day at the office, I have to get busy cooking this or that. I’ve made more soup and eaten more squash in the past two months…good Lord, help me. (If it sounds like I’m complaining, that’s because I’m definitely complaining. Look for a full breakdown of my CSA experience in a couple of weeks after it comes to a merciful end.)

Chinatown, USA: My favorite grad student recently got accepted into a study abroad program in China, and ever since then our house has become a hub of Chinese news and culture. He’ll be gone for two weeks in January, and I’ll be in Boston—in the cold—praying that he’ll be be able stay in touch from behind the Great Firewall so I can live vicariously through his updates. (In other news, it’s time for me to start planning a vacation of my own so I don’t shrivel up from jealousy.)

No stress for you: Said grad student isn’t home very much during the week, but when he is—and we both want to unwind together—we know just who to turn to: Jerry Seinfeld. Sean’s a long-time Seinfeld fan, so he loaded a few of the very best episodes on our tablet for the flights to and from Tanzania. We watched all of them…and just haven’t stopped. It’s such a silly show, but silly has been exactly what we’ve both needed recently—and I’ve loved every second.

Farewell, fall: Sean and I had an epically New English fall. We picked apples and we went to the fair and we leaf peeped and we were really quite proud of ourselves for taking full advantage of the season this year. Technically, I suppose, there’s still a month of fall to go. But now that daylight savings time has ended and it gets dark at 4:30 (UGGGGG) I’m officially in winter hibernation mode. We have one last New England adventure planned—to celebrate Sean’s dirty 30(!)—and then that’s it. See ya in six months!

I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies but it was worth the wait: It’s a rare movie that does as good a job of telling a story as the novel it was based on. So imagine my surprise when I walked out of The Martian last weekend beaming ear to ear. I LOVED the novel—I may even be so bold as to call it my favorite book of 2014—and the movie was such a faithful adaptation that I loved it almost as much. (Still, if you haven’t experienced either one, read the book first. It’s always the way to go.) 

Football things on Friday

What’s that you say? College football is back? How did that happen? It seems like I spent most of last year—and all of last August—obsessing over the coming season. (And if my TimeHop app is to be believed, I’ve spent all of August obsessing over the coming season for the past eight years.) But somehow the most wonderful time of the year snuck up on me in 2015.


1st down: Admittedly, it’s tough to get hyped for football when you’re busy getting hyped for (and subsequently enjoying) an African safari. But a more sinister influence may have been involved, too: winter.

For the first 26 years of my life, the start of football season meant that fall—and a break from 100+-degree temperatures—was nigh. In my 27th year of life, when I was brand new to Boston, the start of football season meant that fall—and its associated New English delights (Crisp weather! Leaf-peeping! Pumpkin beer!)—was nigh. But in my 28th year of life, the start of football season has me worried that winter—and its associated New English miseries (Blizzards! Six months of cold and darkness!)—is nigh.

It’s not that I’m not looking forward to football season—I am, after all, a red-blooded Texan and an SEC grad living in the most fall-tastic region of the country. It’s just that my excitement has been tempered slightly by what comes next.

2-point conversion: But never mind that! I’ve got three and a half months of gridiron greatness ahead of me before the worst of winter sets in, and I’m going to enjoy every last second. Clear my calendar, barricade the door, and turn off the phone because the main event kicks off tomorrow, and Sean and I aren’t leaving the house. No, seriously, he told me we’re not even allowed to pick up pizza. Delivery or death.

3 and out: Good thing I’ve already got our game day eats planned: bacon-egg-and-cheese stuffed biscuits in cream gravy while we’re watching ESPN College GameDay in the morning; buffalo chicken dip and maroon and white brownies while we’re watching literally everything else.

4th down: Including, of course, the fightin’ Texas Aggies. I’m cautiously optimistic about this season, and not sure what to expect from our game tomorrow night. But that didn’t stop me from being the only girl in New England to proudly display my school spirit on #CollegeColors Day today.

5(0) yard line: That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the previews that started on Thursday. North Carolina v. South Carolina? Check. TCU v. Minnesota? Check. Baylor v. SMU? Check!

Extra point: I’m participating in my very first NFL fantasy league this year, and it will surprise no one that I drafted Aggies almost exclusively. (Including the Broncos defense for Von Miller.) With so much maroon on the roster, Team Ur Going Meown is bound to win the tiara.cashin_out_manziel_gif