I Choose Jimmy Choos

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's still hard to believe my dad's been gone more than two years now. We just did another raucous Thanksgiving with the fam. This time Raz's parents joined my big clan over the mountains. It was great fun, as it tends to be. We watched my uncle shout at the TV while the Seahawks stomped the 49ers on their home field. We cheered as my cousin's almost-two-year-old daughter chewed on a turkey leg. We recreated a classic photo. 

In waves, I missed my dad, but in more of a dull, aching way instead of a sharp one. My big, crazy family does that. They make it hard to sit and sulk, to feel sorry for myself in any way. I love them for that. They don't even know they're doing it. 

And, sitting at the adult table, right next to my mom, was her now fiance, George. It didn't feel weird, or really that sad even. He honors my dad - brought him a wreath before dinner. Dusts the snow from his grave. He's Papa's new obsession. He talks apps and techy things with Raz. He knows he'll never be a replacement and he doesn't try to be. He'll do.

He waited until Raz and I were about to leave for our honeymoon five months ago now to propose to my mom. I picked their wedding date. 

And, one day, when Melanie and I went to the downtown Seattle Nordstrom Rack to shop for content, I found these. 

80% off. $150 from $795. No joke. They are my first pair of Jimmy Choos. (If my math is wrong, remember I majored in English.)

They probably won't last all night. They're for a very special occasion - my mom's second beginning. One she very much deserves.

Just last week, I found her some similar Badgley Mischkas. $69 from $175. When I texted her a photo of them and asked "You want?," she wrote back "Grab. Thank u."

Today's the last day of the Nordstrom Rack Black Friday weekend event - an extra 30% off all red-tag clearance. My Jimmies were on clearance. Just goes to show, the more you go, the more you find. As a girl I went to college with once said after returning from an unplanned overnight rendezvous with a former fling, "Could be good, could be baaaaad."

Rack merchandise has taken me through every big life event - weddings, funerals, interviews, parties. My mom's second wedding will be no exception.

Hope your holiday was wonderful!

Manhattan Beach Life is a Life for Me

Thursday, November 20, 2014

There are so many times in my life I have wondered if things were real. And I'm not talking Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. I'm talking moments, places, experiences. Good and bad. Thrilling and irritating. Manhattan Beach is essentially my new mystical Easter Bunny. Can something so magical and absolutely mind bending be real?

Last weekend, I met my sorority BFFLs in this fantastic little beach town for one of our annual girls' weekends. While my BFF complained that she "hates LA," I strong-armed her into visiting this perfect section of the coast by telling her it was cheap for her to fly down (she lives in San Francisco) and that driving her former employer's rented mini van to pick up her former coworkers from company events downtown LA does not a well-rounded LA experience make.

It worked.

I've been to LA a few times - I wrote about one of those times on this little slice of the Internet. Like a lot of mini Washingtonians and Idahoans, I thought I would grow up to be a California girl. I've since changed my mind, but given the easy flight and access to Vitamin D, I hasten to turn down any opportunity to wear flip flops unironically.

You may have seen me complaining on Twitter about the completely offensive cold front we had last week in Seattle. So when Friday arrived and I knew I was headed to balmier climes, I could barely maintain the necessary focus to get through my day. 

And when my moment in Manhattan beach finally arrived, it was sweet indeed. Time with my BFFLs and my momma, cute beach shops, ocean, CREAMWICHES (cookie ice cream sandwiches) and sun coupled with overall slow, easy living did me riiiiight. 

I'm not saying I'm packing up our new house and snow birding down south, but I sure am tempted. Did I mention they love brunch there? I'd really like to know how people get any work done in that kind of sun.

I also told Raz that when the time comes, Manhattan Beach would be the perfect spot for a babymoon. ;)

Herewith, a small photo journal of my new paramour, Manhattan Beach. For more, follow @whitpopa on Instagram, because we all know I'm going to get Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder right quick and will need to post some emo #tbts in a valiant effort to get over myself.









P.S. There aren't many hotels in the area, so I highly recommend airbnb. We had a great experience and I already have a wish list full of beach houses for next time.

Some potential discussion questions:
-Is life in Manhattan Beach real?
-Where do these people get Christmas trees?
-How is the beach so deserted at night?
-How do they keep it so clean?
-Which one of the beach house owners who clearly isn't living there full time wants to let me squat in exchange for watering their plants and occasionally dusting? Seriously, though.

What's next on your weekend getaway list? I can't help myself when it comes to fun little vacays, especially when sun is involved. 

Festive Family Fotos

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A large part of my job is taking photos. You'd be amazed how much time can be spent styling fingers and strategically angling shoes. So when my friend Amy offered to feed us in exchange for coming over and taking a picture of her little family for their Christmas card, I figured I had a small level of skill to pull it off.

I've known Amy since we were wee Delta Gamma pledges at the University of Idaho. When I talk about my sorority sisters, I like to say we've grown up together. We've seen each other through four of the most formative years we'll ever have and always miss (RIP fraternity "mixers" as Carlovilla likes to call them). We also have tons of blackmail photos of each other that keep us playing nicely in the sandbox. JK...we wouldn't do that. Or would we?

We've experienced so much that's made us more than friends. And it wasn't all paying for friendships, pillow fights and "Circle The Fat." We really are sisters. As an only kid who went from being solo with a bunch of stuffed and real animals to living in a mansion with eighty other women for four years, I'm incredibly overwhelmed by and grateful for that.

Since Amy would kill me if I blasted her Christmas card across the internet before she sent it out, I thought I'd show a behind-the-scenes moment (side note: my mom used a picture of Amy and me for a Christmas card one year - random and awkward. My grandma still has it on her fridge).

THIS is what goes into creating a happy family photo. That hand in the corner coaxing a smile out of a 85 lb puppy is Raz's. I think he's holiday a Dorito. The rest of the outtakes are all just yellow blurs of said puppy running toward us and Amy and Will trying to hold him back. Makes me think of the people with hand puppets cooing at babies behind the camera at JC Penney.

When Facebook, Instagram, blogs, et al tell you how killer everyone's lives are, remember that. It's not all perfect poses and steamed hems. There's a whole lot more going on behind the scenes...and huge puppies running out of the frame to jump up your entire body for a treat.

But it sure is worth it. And wow are we getting old. Homes and young animals? Next come babies.*


*I have nothing to announce aside from one farty little kitten.

Brittany + Doug 4ever

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This will probably be an awkward post for a lot of people. Cancer is awkward. Death is awkward. Disease just sucks. Pain is uncomfortable. It makes people fidget. I get that. So don't read on if you're already feeling fidgety.

The Brittany Maynard situation makes me sad, but not for the reason you'd think. I'm not going to get into any political conversations about right to die, or how young and beautiful Brittany was, which is surely part of the reason her story got so much coverage. That, coupled with her very big and aggressive decision, and that her life, to many, was just beginning. I actually never really like to talk about these things publicly because I spend enough time fending off political conversations with my very opinionated and intellectually curious family. As far as I'm concerned, opinions can't be right or wrong, so lobbing them at each other with the intent to prove your point just isn't worth the extra glass(es) of wine.

What I will say is this: I know first-hand the havoc glioblastoma can wreck on a perfectly healthy, amazing human. I've seen it ravage a body, tear apart a family, impact futures and devastate relationships. I've watched it come in uninvited and terrorize the person I called home for 26 years. I've watched it win.

I can't say I would have supported my dad making a decision like Brittany did. I do know he'd probably be proud of her, though. She took control. She spared her family a lot of pain - as counter-intuitive as that may sound. She forced her closest people to remember her as able and unravaged as she could. And that, at least, is incredibly courageous. When you know what I know, you see it for the gift it is.

It breaks my heart, though, because I wish it didn't exist and that no family should have to make the kind of decision Brittany and hers did, or that mine did, which was obviously different than Brittany's. We wanted as much time as we could get, and that certainly came with a unique set of pros and cons. I do, however, feel a sense of kindredness with them, and with her.

And, hey, if this story brings awareness to an unrivaled silent killer, good. It deserves more attention so maybe someday a girl like me won't have to wonder what it would have been like to have my dad here making spaghetti and eating ice cream with my future children. My hope is the potential for memory making won't be stolen from others. It's an absolutely humbling big hairy monster that still brings me to my knees when I give it too much power. It made me a better person - a person who sees these situations from all sides, with compassion and deep understanding.

So, RIP, Brittany. I hope my dad's taking good care of you up there.

And if you're a family member of someone like Brittany, or like my dad, know you're never alone, the knowledge and pain of it will always beat - sometimes dully, sometimes powerfully - inside of you. Harnessing it and sharing it is power. We are better for having faced it.

Photo: Andria Lindquist
I hope our story helps someone. If you have questions or want to know more, you can email me. I'm always glad to meet new people and, selfishly, know I'm not alone either.

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