I was stoked to finally see that Frances Ha arrived on Netflix. I read about it a bit and listened to the WTF podcast with Noah Baumbach, and it sounded intriguing. Honestly, though, I wasn’t sure if it was a good intriguing or a bad one. I’ve still never seen Girls, and I just generally consume the idea of people annoyed with overdone millennials being too self aware or needy or whatever. But of course, given that I am one, I figured I’d at least relate or see some mirroring. Well. This movie definitely made me cringe a bit, but only in seeing things that are so true to life. We are all awkward at times, but especially so in our twenties. As I’ve hit 27 in the last week, I know that I’m still developing as a person. However I also know that I’m less afraid to do and say weird stuff, even if I’m still painfully aware of what doesn’t land in a group setting. Another strong point (maybe gleaned from the movie) is that even if you know your life isn’t all together, the self awareness doesn’t help you fix it any faster than life is going to let you. Can you tell I’ve been through a lot of these feelings in my life?!
Frances is quirky and cute and whimsical in a lot of ways, and people like her and are kind, but that doesn’t make her invincible or endearing to anyone. She gets lucky and she fails, and you can tell when people are merely tolerating her out of kindness. I mean, I cringed at the whole “tell me the story of us” line to Sophie or her dashing about like a maniac to get cash at dinner, but a lot of it felt true to life without much heavy handedness. If you don’t quite feel like an adult yet you just do shit that feels adult until you reach your limit, like in the opening when she breaks up with her boyfriend by making up excuses why she can’t move in and tries to just walk out. Awkward adult and non adult times. I still feel like I’m in that phase of growing up and learning the kinds of people and behavior you’re willing to tolerate, and how to keep certain friends in your life even as you take on different roles. When things really aren’t working out, Frances just powers through and keeps telling herself that it’ll all work out. That she’ll get what she wants eventually. Or that it’s only a minor interlude that she can’t afford to live in the city or the dance company she works for is letting her go.
The question of “what do you do?” is a great way to get to know someone but also probably not as apt a question these days. You never know if someone is working to pay for their outside activities that fulfill them or are still struggling through years of underemployment or whatever. When I was unemployed and meeting new people I hated that question. It’s easy to spin it and cover for yourself (thus making me cringe at the unnecessary seeming awkwardness of Frances’ responses to many things in the film, but hey they’re trying to send a message) but it can still sting. And I did like how this is presented when the question is brought up:
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” she says.
“Because what you do is complicated?” they ask.
“Because I don’t really do it.”
It can be a hard question to answer, whether you don’t like what you do or you feel like you have to qualify it for whatever reason, or because you do more in your free time that doesn’t make you money but makes you happy. This exchange is right after a particularly messy fight with her former/best friend Sophie as Frances refuses to accept that her friend is growing while she’s stuck in place. And right after this she decides to go to Paris for two days thanks to a free apartment offer. And it sucks. She walks around, calling a friend who doesn’t get her messages until she’s back in NYC, and just mopes about Paris. When I imagine the wonder of hopping a plane to a foreign country for the hell of it, I can honestly see that this is the stark reality of that bold move. You can’t just force whimsy and adventure into your life if you’re not feeling it.
Toward the end of the movie you kind of see Frances evolve in the way she talks to people and addresses the world around her. I think it’s easy to hold on to the quirky and silly ways we talk about things or people to avoid ownership or seriousness. Instead of calling Sophie her twin or some elaborate description, she finally just admits she’s her best friend (and probably realizing they’re very much their own separate identities now).
Why yes, I did spend the better part of my evening tackling this table assembly project. Now I am officially one step closer to having a sewing corner! Next step, browsing Craigslist for a sewing machine. Then comes the fabric browsing and the project brainstorming and all the fun clothes I can make for myself and my friends and… the world! Right? Right.
While I’m currently awaiting more funds becoming available to create my sewing corner — I currently have a chair, that’s one piece! — I’m finding other ways to channel my creative energy. A few months back I got inspired by a silly concept J was talking about one night, and thus the Eggplant Stripper was born. I love coming up with silly and absurd ideas, and now I’m able to take them one step further than just riffing on a conversation. I’ll never be a gifted artist, but I’m working on mastering my comic styling. If only I could figure out where my colored pencils are hiding.
Plus, my running has been put on hold since I ramped up too quickly. I will be cheering in Shelburne this weekend, and will still consuming all the Heady Topper and crepes I can find anyway. I’m bummed but working on healing right now.
And hey, it’s Halloween week, and I can’t wait to bust out the big group Archer costume my friends and I have planned!
Welcome to my new home in Troy:
Well, it has been quite the busy and exciting month since moving into my new Troy apartment. Just as the heat wave was breaking I spent the day (along with the lovely strong BF and friends) moving my belongings and sweating up a storm. And because it’s me, I ended up smashing my hand in a door frame on the last piece of furniture.
It has taken time to clean up the place and get settled. It has also been way more of a pain to get basic utilities set up, as well as an oven that actually works fully. But hey, it’s pretty darn great compared to where I was. My commute is much less headache-inducing and I love having such a large space.
A new couch has been ordered. The kitty has a fancy new cat tree. I have a bedroom that is too large for its own good, and so my next step is to create a sewing corner. For years I’ve been saying I wanted to get a sewing machine and reignite that hobby in my spare time, but I’ve never had the space or the means. Work has been going well (plus a raise, heyooo!) and I’m in a good place to start doing more at home.
The place isn’t perfect, but it feels more like home than any place I’ve lived in a long time. And it’s my home for the next year, and it can only get better.
Once upon a time, I used to like running. But I also liked playing tennis. And dancing. I was never very good at committing to one thing in high school. Looking back, I wish I had started earlier trying to excel at one sport. But over the years I’ve spent my time bouncing around new challenges, returning to running from time to time. Last year was the first time I actually started to get serious about running, creating a routine and improving my endurance. But then I hurt myself. Twice. Recovering from injury and then starting a new job with a long commute in the winter completely destroyed my momentum.
But then the spring came. I started to get back out running again. And then I met a cute guy named Jeremy (ooooooh) who encouraged me to do more. He went running with me and helped me stay positive. He then signed me up for a 10K race. Because hey, why not? I like challenges, and goals, and having something to look forward to. So I started training for my first race.
I don’t like feeling like I’m slow. Years of reading running blogs and seeing fast friends post results on Facebook makes me very competitive. But I’m coming to terms with accepting my slower pace and achieving endurance for longer distances. As an injury prone person in daily life, taking it easy is advice I can’t take often enough.
Anyway. Suddenly 10K weekend was upon us. We had a crew going out to Cooperstown to camp for the weekend. On Friday night, we accidentally all got a little crazy and didn’t exactly get the best night of sleep. Saturday we road tripped out to our camp site, filling up the car with food and belongings. The night was ridiculously cold for a weekend in August, so sleep was once again not ideal. But we all got our butts up at the 5 o’clock hour, prepping with bagels and coffee. I ate practically nothing, as my stomach is known for causing problems before big events. I pretty much felt like a bag of nerves, the anticipation ticking away, until we started.
Lucky for me, I started out running with Jeremy’s sister, who is a bit slower than me. Which was very helpful because we immediately started out way too fast, so she alerted us to slow down. Starting too fast is still a problem for me. After three miles, though, I was ready to pick up the pace. The race course was pretty much up and down with hills, and my legs were not pleased. But I kept up, trying to pace with some other people who seemed to be going as fast as I wanted to. However, during the last mile my left knee started to lock up. I’m still working on having a horribly tight IT band and considering 5 miles was the most I’ve ever run previously (and only twice), I’m not terribly surprised.
I powered through the pain and came through the last downhill to see Jeremy and the crew cheering. It was a great feeling. From cheering at other marathons I know how exciting it is just being on the sidelines, and even in this small race with few people cheering, it was still exhilarating. Best of all, I got to be part of the last cheering wave, and then we laid around to recover. Plus Jeremy won a sweet bat for finishing first in his age group! I finished 63rd of 72 people running, at about 1 hour and 4 minutes. Wooo soooo fast. Pace-wise I ended up where I wanted, and hey, we all have to start somewhere.
Afterward we went to Ommegang for beers (whoops don’t do a tasting first when you haven’t eaten) and lunch. It was a great weekend and has sparked my interest in racing for the future. Up next: potentially a half marathon in Vermont. We’ll see how that goes…
Certain moments in your life often feel like they’re reminiscent of the past. It was only five years ago that I was finishing up college, living in my adorable studio apartment in Corvallis, Oregon, looking ahead to the future. I was interning at magazine part time, trying to finish my degree with some sanity and also making time to party my face off. I was already making plans to move to New York City after graduation. I was full of anxiety and even developed a bad case of acid reflux from the stress of it all. Plans fell apart and problems arose, but I just kept on planning.
The Big City Move: I blindly forged ahead, packing up my life and driving back to California with my parents the day after graduation in June. One month later I arrived in NYC with just two suitcases, crashing on my friend’s couch with no clue what I was going to do. It couldn’t be a bigger cliche considering the good fortune I had in the city. I had a generous friend take me in, I found a job at a cool and crazy start-up in a fancy building, I found amazing roommates in a great Brooklyn apartment… I know, I’m rolling my eyes too.
Then the start-up went under. I lived the unemployed and confused life while traveling my problems away. Something got away from me in that time, but I can only believe it helped and didn’t hurt me in the end. After three years living the NYC/Brooklyn life, I moved upstate.
Albany, the Capital Region: Not long after I found myself in this city, fate took care of me again when I launched into a whole new phase of my life. A new friend swooped in, leading me to a new neighborhood and a whole world of great people. I was treading water in a steady job, creating a life and identity of my own in Albany. Then I made the choice to stick around longer for a shinier, career-improving job. Of course, there were sacrifices to be made. Commuting an hour each way to work is exhausting, and yet not a unique or unjust experience. My social life suffered but the right people stuck around.
Yet here I am, once again powering through anxiety, decisions and change. Life is funny that way. July 15 is the day in 2008 I showed up my friend Steph’s doorstep in NYC, ready to take some big chances. Today I officially have the keys to my new apartment in Troy. Top floor, spacious, quiet and clean. I’ve committed to another year upstate, and I’m diving right in. I’m joining dance and fitness classes, and I’m getting back into volunteering. If I’ve learned anything from my nomadic times, community and friendship are the most important aspects to a place feeling like home.
Next steps are scary and every choice is a gamble. I’ve already faced many upheavals along the way, wondering about my choices, often feeling alone, and even wanting to give up or start over. But I’ve always managed to get through it. I’m not the same naive 21 year old who jumped coasts with a few suitcases and boxes. It feels good to be actively making a choice instead of passively moving with momentum. I have a plan for the future, and I’m looking forward to making the most of my extended time in upstate NY.