blog

Let's try this again...

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Dave about a whole variety of angsty, annoying, stressful things, when all of a sudden I interrupted myself mid-thought and said, “Also, I think my blog died. Or maybe I killed my blog. I might be done writing.”

His immediate reaction was an effusive, comical “NO! You can’t do that!,” which led us down a wandering rabbit hole of conversational tangents and sidetracks. As we pulled into our garage, his always-sage advice put a nice, neat period on the end of the conversation: “I think you should just try it again. Write a little bit, a few times, and see where it goes and how you’re doing, and just give it another chance.” As usual, Dave was a voice of reason in the shitstorm of my over-analytical, Type-A control freak mind…and so here goes.

In the weeks (months, really) that I’ve been away/checked out/off the blog grid, I:

  • had a brutal year-end at work

  • served jury duty (a disappointment of epic proportions, ugh)

  • dealt with car issues

  • took an off-the-record weekend trip

  • moved

  • threw several unwarranted tantrums

  • lost 15 pounds (mostly due to stress/lack of regular eating)

  • and now have my annual mid-October brutal head cold.

I’ve been kind of a nightmare to be around, frankly, and haven’t really been myself for awhile. The circumstances above have conspired to make me doubt a lot of things - why I’m here in California, what I’m doing with my life, how others treat me and what I deserve from them. I’m actively trying to live up to my oh-so-failed New Year’s intention for the year - “be open” - and realizing how hard that is for me.

Do I miss writing? Sometimes. A lot of the time, actually. I’ve been doing a lot of writing off the blog, mostly for me as I work through some of this self-analysis. But I miss the records I’ve created of the beautiful, positive, memorable things I do here. When I look back at the sparseness of the blog over the last year, it’s bittersweet - I know so many wonderful things have happened and I’ve done so much, but not seeing it here is both a testament to how full my life has been and an indictment of my own laziness and lack of effort. I’ve been writing here for five years now (as of last Sunday, actually!), and this has been my longest dry spell since the six weeks immediately following breaking up with Jon back in 2014, the infant days of Minneapoliz. So here we go - let’s call this a recommitment to, as Dave so aptly put it, “just trying it again.”

Thanks for sticking around, campers - more soon :)

Ruminations on the future of MinneapoLiz (and a few funny photos)

A serious meditation below, but please enjoy the collection of outtakes from this Thanksgiving, when all Jodester wanted was a "nice photo of all three kids together," and we gave her these. Sorry Mama Bear! We love you!

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Lately it seems like every time I sit down to write anything, it leads off with the caveat of "I'm sorry it's been so long, blah blah blah BUSY STRESSED SO MUCH TO DO" - and that's really started to bother me. I'm trying very hard this year to say what I think, in the spirit of being open, so here goes: I think a big side effect of this move and new lifestyle is that the importance of this space for me is starting to dim a bit. I still love to write, and I still find it incredibly cathartic and gratifying to put something out here that seems to perfectly encapsulate what I'm thinking at any given time. Those times, however, are less and less frequent as my workdays are busier, my social life is more fulfilling, and my life in general is lived more off the page than on it. 

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This is a shift I didn't foresee. Since the moment I sat down and started writing this blog, it took on a momentous significance in my life. I used it as an anchor point of sorts - a place to process a major career shift, a lodestone and confessional while working through a horrible breakup, a digital exercise book that forced me to chronicle and create in equal parts. I treasure the memories I've captured here, and the different ways that blogging has forced me out of my comfort zone. 

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Why the sudden apathy, then? For the first time in a long time, my precious 24 daily hours are rife with other, more appealing ways to spend my time than writing. Unlike my previous job, I actually work full days here - and in the lulls in my day, I take lengthy walks and explore Stanford, or pop into a yoga class, or get lost in the art museum(s) on campus. After hours, I'm cooking and feeding a very hungry and effusive roommate, or spending time nurturing nascent friendships, or devouring books in our hot tub, or indulging in the kind of shenanigans that are so quotidian that they're hardly "blog-worthy." 

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In short, although this is getting really long, I'm happy, but in a different way than I've been for a long time. I'm happy in the mundane, unremarkable way that doesn't need to be voiced to be manifest. Maybe a better word would be content? I am at stasis - a point of equilibrium where, though life isn't perfect, it's balanced. Apparently, part of that balance bears the implied consequence of much less writing. 

I think a lot of this silence comes down to discipline (or a lack thereof), frankly, and that disgusts me to a certain degree. An anecdote: in second grade, I vividly remember our teacher trying to explain the word "lack" to the class by making us go around the circle and say something we lacked. While other seven-year-olds offered up things like "crayons," "trucks," "chocolate milk," I, being a precocious enfant terrible, threw out "I lack discipline." I couldn't understand why every adult in the room laughed, but the statement has held true all my life.

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I am not a naturally disciplined person - it takes an enormous amount of effort and fortitude to change a habit or check off an onerous to-do list. Once I commit to something, though, and get into a routine, I tend to cling to it with a tenacity that would belie the lack of discipline I claim. Writing this blog has been one such instance - I built a very rigid process out from 2014-16 in which producing blog posts was a part of my day as inexorable as brushing my teeth. That changed in 2017, along with so many other momentous changes. While I feel like I should want to get that back, I'm not sure I entirely do - which leads us to this massive rumination. 

I don't know if I'll keep blogging for the immediate future, let alone forever - I miss writing when I don't do it, but do I miss it enough? Is the cost worth the benefit? Do I gain enough from this investment of time and energy to justify forcing myself to make it a priority again? This doesn't even scratch the surface of my thoughts on this topic - vanity and self-importance, privacy versus authenticity, honesty against the desire to protect others. We'll see what shakes out in the next several months, but for now, I'm going to promise myself (and you) at least this: no more apologies for my absence, and no more excuses for why I'm not writing. 

Thanks for enduring this extremely self-centered essay, and for being here and who you are! I appreciate you!

four years!

Four years ago I signed up for a Squarespace two-week free trial. I taught myself to code a website (in the most rudimentary and experimental of fashions). I picked out a blog name, wrote a cheesy, oh-so-basic bio, and hit "new post" for the very first time. 

MinneapoLiz is four years old today. Looking back, I can't believe I've been writing this blog for as long as I was in high school, and in college, and at Travelers. Four years is a solid timespan, campers...the kind of timespan that typically culminates in diplomas, or graduation parties, or commencement ceremonies. Here I sit, though - no diploma in sight, no recognition or celebration or graduation to the next step forthcoming - and I find myself contemplating just what this blog, in all its iterations, has given me instead.

Reading back through four years of posts, it almost feels like this continual chronicling of my life has been a collegiate progression. My "freshman year of blog," with awful formatting and cheesy rambling about playlists and the boyfriend and finding my way. A sophomore year of growing pains and breakups and, oh god, most basic of all basicness, starting the Brunch Challenge. And a junior year of friends and travel and drinking and socializing way too hard, way too often...and loving every minute of it.

Three years of very distinct life phases, which bring me here to this "senior year" of sorts. As with college, "senior year of blog," for me, heralded a sea change. I've never lived away from Minnesota, with the exception of my (similarly monumentally significant) four years of college. Here I sit on the balcony of my California apartment, watching palm trees swaying in the breeze and smelling the salt of the bay mingle with wildfire smoke and my coffee. And had you asked me this time last year, or the year before, or, goodness, the year before that whether I would ever be here in this place, I don't think I could have even conceived that it was possible. 

And there you have it - a shift which, I think, really just goes to show how much I've grown. It's like sitting in the stadium on graduation day, black gown sticking to my sweaty shoulders, remembering what it was like to sit in this same crowd of my classmates during the Freshman Welcome Mass. I vividly, viscerally remember that moment - looking back with nostalgia and pride at the evolution and adventure of the last four years as I sat there at the end of it all. With this blog, I have put four years' worth of nostalgia down on paper, virtual though it may be, and I can revisit "freshman year of life" with a click of a mouse. I can look back at brunches with girlfriends, vacations with my family, inside jokes and stressful days and my continual stumbling quest for happiness and fulfillment, and, with awe, see how far I've come. 

From where I sit, that's the most beautiful thing about what I've done with this space. As I always say on this day, I'm incredibly proud to have kept this space up for as long as I have, and to have committed to continually experimenting and re-evaluating and challenging my own conceptions of what I can do here. Happy fourth anniversary to my beloved blog, and to all of you, thank you so much today and every day for reading, reacting, and giving me so much joy in this bizarre, lovely adventure.

Three.

Three years ago, after brunch with Hannah, I came home and started a blog. Today, nearly 500 posts, thousands of readers, and two redesigns later, MinneapoLiz is celebrating its third anniversary, and I couldn’t be prouder.

I started to write this blog in a season of unhappiness and lack of direction, and since then have grown (and grown up) immeasurably. It’s so gratifying to look back on the past three years through blog posts, and not only see what I chose to share, but to remember what I didn’t share. So many posts hold subtext for me, or trigger a memory of a back story…heartbreak, stress, fear, and lost friendships, but also revelations, joyful moments, sheer silliness, and personal triumphs. Above all, the thread I most appreciate seeing is a true, bone-deep gratitude for the people in my life who have had my back, stuck with me and supported me in everything I do…both on and off the blog.

While this space takes a ton of work to maintain, it continually forces me to pay attention to my own life, and has taught me how to be present in a way I don’t think I ever have been before. Believe me – even when it goes quiet around here for a while, I’m living a life that is truly full and rich, and I attribute a lot of that to MinneapoLiz forcing me out of my own comfort zone. With that…here’s to another year of adventures, friendship, and exploration, and here’s to you for sticking with me throughout. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading, today and any day! 

A redesign!

Things are looking a bit different around here these days...after nearly a year and a half of messing around with a new layout behind the scenes, I finally bit the bullet and redesigned the blog! (Again!) 

My original blog layout was comically awful, and I fell fast for the more streamlined look of the next iteration. That pencil-sketched skyline and the clean black-and-white were just so much better than the first design...I legit had a photo as the background with a sheer text box over it. YIKES. 

This one, though, is special to me because it's built around the gorgeous logo and header that my ultra-talented sister Emily designed for me! The watercolored skyline is her work...I have the original hanging in my gallery wall...and the digital text she added is just perfect. I'm utterly in love with it, and so thrilled to finally use it here! 

In addition to the header, she's extra-proud of me for finally getting over my love for printed literature and transitioning to a sans-serif font. Apparently serif is SO 20th-century and the internet only wants to read sans these days. (Should've put the whole thing in Comic Sans, Papyrus and Curlz MT just to give her hives. Someday...)

Still working on some formatting and linkage issues, but playing behind the scenes with this layout was messing up the current one, so here you have it. New design for another new season of life in the land of ten thousand lakes. Check it out and let me know what you think (or if you know how to handle CSS code better than me!)!