Time to recharge

Bamboo forest on the Pipiwai trail in Maui - Permanent Riot blog

Sometimes life is so big and crazy and full and exciting that I don’t even realize that I haven’t stopped to breathe lately. Lucky for me, my husband knows that I won’t stop running until I literally burn out and crash, so he scheduled a vacation for just the two of us for this past weekend. The two of us spent four days on Maui. Let me say that again. FOUR DAYS. Just the two of us. It was amazing. You guys, I haven’t been on a trip with my husband that wasn’t for work or attending a family event in… oh… EIGHT YEARS?! Needless to say it was pretty fantastic to get some time together and I am feeling super relaxed and revitalized. I can’t wait to dig through my pictures and post about all of the amazing things we did… but for now here’s two quick pictures of the bamboo forest along the Pipiwai trail. I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere that felt more magical. If you can get there, do it. I promise you won’t regret it.

Time to recharge

Nasal gazing (or how my nose was broken by my son and then my doctor)

Permanent Riot

I know that my broken nose doesn’t need it’s very own blog post. From what I’ve read it’s the most common facial injury. But just because it happens to people worldwide on a daily basis does not make it any less disruptive to me and my nose. What I should be doing at the moment is sleeping, but the splint on my nose prevents me from breathing through said nose, so instead I am breathing through my mouth. And all this breathing through my mouth is leaving it dry, chapped and icky feeling. So much so that I find myself waking every hour. So instead of going right back to sleep, I’m going to take the ill advised route and write a middle of the night blog post – and tell you how I came to have a twice broken nose.

It all started with an overly excitable almost 5 year old and his dislike for going to sleep. We had just gotten home from a week-long trip away from our house and it was our first night back in our own beds. Paul has a track record of injuring people with his bedtime squirrely behavior and hard head; both Ben and I have suffered many a split lip from his wild head bobbing, so it’s really a wonder that we weren’t more on the lookout for this sort of situation.

Everyone was ready for bed – teeth brushed, jammies on, stories read and songs sung. The only thing left was a tuck under the covers and kiss goodnight, but Paul was hiding under his bed and giggling about how he wasn’t going to get into it. He thinks these kind of situations are games – the scowls of disapproval don’t make it any less fun for him and what he’d like more than anything would be for someone to crawl under after him and drag him out. So instead we told him that he was welcome to sleep under his bed and started to shut the door. Which (predictably) led to a shriek of NO and immediate jumping into the bed. He was lying face down (and I’m sure you can see where this is going) when I walked over to give him a kiss. Right as I bent down he decided to whip his head up and – CRACK.

My hands flew to my face and I’m sure I screamed involuntarily (rocking on the floor and clutching my nose) for a solid five minutes. I remember thinking “all of this screaming surely isn’t a good idea. I must be scaring the kids” but I was totally incapable of stopping the screaming even though I knew that I should. It just hurt too much. Once I was calmed down enough to get a few words out (at this point Ben still wasn’t sure what had happened) I told him “I think he broke my nose”. The snapping noise was so loud and sharp that apparently to him it had sounded like Paul had slapped me in the face. Once he realized that it was actually the sound of a breaking bone he turned a bit green and had to lie down for a minute. All the while Paul actually seemed to be the least fazed of anyone, and Amelia was quite distressed with all the yelling.

Once he had collected himself a bit, Ben realized that I needed to go to the doctor and that taking three kids to an ER at 9pm was probably a recipe for disaster- so he called my mom, who rushed right over. Reason #3,452 that we are so lucky to live near my parents! The urgent care facility we went to was predictably crowded and slow, but every employee we met was inexplicably polite and helpful with a dash of cheer thrown in for good measure. We took a seat and had a chat and if it weren’t for the throbbing pain and bag of ice on my face it could almost have passed for a date.

When the doctor finally arrived, he confirmed that my nose was broken and told us that there wasn’t much he could do to help – I would have a follow up with an ENT in a week and was sent home with a prescription for pain medicine and a list of symptoms to be on the lookout for. He also warned me that much of my face and the area under my eyes might become more bruised and swollen over the next week, something I was not looking forward to. The funny thing was that the next day the area under my eyes was not bruised or swollen, and neither was any other part of my face, save for a small bruised area on the bridge of my nose. As the days went by the bruising went down even more and by the time my ENT follow up visit rolled around, both Ben and I had convinced ourselves that it looked almost entirely back to normal. There seemed to be a bump lingering on the bridge of the nose but we figured that must be a bit of residual swelling and that the doctor would almost certainly just give us the all clear for me to go home and carry on as usual.

In reality he took one glance and told me that my nose was crooked. He could even tell by looking (despite the fact that the red marks and bruising had gone) exactly from which direction I’d been hit. Once he checked out the inside of my nose he confirmed that the break had left one side of my nasal airway obstructed and that the best way to fix it was to reset it. Reset. Such a harmless term for what they actually do, which is to break your nose again and shove it back into place using pliers. They gave me two options for the resetting – either to do it in office that same day with only local anesthesia, or to schedule it for several days later in the hospital under general anesthesia. Now I am a complete and total wimp when it comes to anything remotely surgery related – which is why I fought tooth and nail to avoid a cesarean section with the twins. So telling me that I could have the procedure done under general anesthesia was not a bonus for me, but terrifying. I opted for the in-office procedure and went back to the lobby to wait for them to get ready. Both the doctor and nurse assured me that the worst part would be the injections of numbing medication (one above my nose, one in each cheek, one below the nose and then inside each nostril) and I have to agree with them. Having long needles shoved into your face is pretty darn terrible as it turns out. But the only real sensation during the resetting itself was a lot of pressure and a few unpleasant cracking nose (there goes my nose again).

So here I sit, wearing a nose splint and wishing that I could carry a sign that says “it’s not a nose job”. I can’t tell you the number of sideways looks I’ve gotten in the last day and a half. I made it over 30 years without breaking a bone in my body and what finally did it was my son’s hard head. I find that kind of funny. I get to remove the splint after a week and go back for yet another follow up with the ENT in two weeks. Just in time for the end of preschool, start of summer and the preparations for our upcoming move. Here’s hoping that the next follow up goes more smoothly than the last one… and that this is my very last broken nose.

Nasal gazing (or how my nose was broken by my son and then my doctor)

Some thoughts on springtime, growth and change

I am a Californian born and raised. I grew up in a land without snow where even the summers are mild. As a result of our year round temperate climates, the seasons of my childhood were more defined by holidays and television commercials than actual palpable changes in weather. It took moving out of state to a city with real snow and freezing temperatures to really realize what much of the world sees in spring. To me, the whole year was full of color and life and greenery… it was only after a stark winter of cold and white and bare branches that I understood the magic of a spring blossom peeking up through the frozen ground.

But somehow this year, maybe because I’ve been spending more time outside, I have started to realize that even California has spring. It’s a much more subtle change. You can see it in the blooming of my very favorite yellow flowers all along the roadside, and you can see it right in your own backyard in the amazing new growth on every single bush and tree. Even though many of them kept their leaves throughout our mild winter, they are still reaching for the sky in the springtime. Growing and changing at an amazing rate.

Thoughts on spring and new growth - Permanent Riot - a blog by Katy RegnierI have been spending a lot of time in our yard soaking up the sunshine and marveling at the magic of springtime. And in all of my plant-gazing I have noticed something this year that I had never seen before. In almost every plant, big or small, the new growth of spring is different from the old growth in every single way. It’s lighter or brighter or a different color entirely. Sometimes it has a different texture or shape. But you can always, always tell what is new.

Thoughts on spring and new growth - Permanent Riot - a blog by Katy RegnierI have been making a lot of changes in my own life lately and a lot of them have made me feel awkward, self conscious or conspicuous. I want to try or do something new. I want to change. But that feeling of newness is easy to confuse with a feeling of inauthenticity. We are constantly reminded to be true to ourselves, to show our real personalities and express our true opinions. But sometimes the things that pique our attention, the things that we want to try and learn and do, will not be the same things that our selves of yesteryear would have done. We might like to try painting but brush it off saying “oh but I’m not artistic”. Says who? Maybe your old self wasn’t artistic but who’s to say you can’t learn? Just because something doesn’t fit perfectly into your current definition of self doesn’t mean that it can’t fit into the ever-evolving definition of your new self. We are growing and changing every minute of every day.

Thoughts on spring and new growth - Permanent Riot - a blog by Katy RegnierIt is so easy to get caught up in defining who we are and what we like to do, but it’s important to realize that our notions of self can and must change. I certainly don’t want to wake up on my 60th birthday and realize that I am exactly as I was on my 30th.

In noticing the color of the leaves that are growing in my own backyard I have begun to realize that all new growth – be it on a tree or in my own life – is by the very nature of being new going to be distinguishable from the old. It would be silly to expect a seamless transition from one stage of life to the next. So of course we are going to feel conspicuous as beginners when we are learning a new skill. Of course it will be possible for outsiders to see that we are growing, learning and changing. But what is important to remember is that soon enough, even by the very next spring, that new growth will have somehow mystically blended into the old. What once felt foreign and new will soon become an established part of ourselves. And if that isn’t the magic of spring, well then I don’t know what is.

Thoughts on spring and new growth - Permanent Riot - a blog by Katy RegnierAll images courtesy of my iphone 4s. They say the best camera is the one you have with you…

Some thoughts on springtime, growth and change

On love, hate and TED talks.

Did you watch Amanda Palmer’s TED talk yet? It’s all over the internet – people loving it and saying that she “won TED” (since when is TED something to be won?) and other people griping about her and her eyebrows (really, you have time to complain about someone else’s eyebrows on the internet?)

I watched it a few days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it – and it’s funny. When I watched it for the first time it was from clicking on a link in another blog and I had no idea who this lady was (so sue me, I don’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of popular culture). I thought she seemed a little nervous at first, I thought her intro reminded me of the movie “The Giant Mechanical Man” – I thought a lot of things. But she built up steam as she was going along and I was really, really with her by the time she got to the end of her message. I wanted to know more, I wanted to see who this person really was. So I googled her and found her blog.

She’s clearly got a big personality, and one that other people love or hate, there don’t seem to be a lot of in betweens. And as a response to all of the hate side, she wrote this article on internet hatred.

And all I have to say is – if mean spirited comments and articles can makes this woman – a punk musician with raging success and an army of fans – if it can make HER sad, what defense do the rest of us have? I mean that’s kind of the point of her post, but it was pretty shocking to me. I kind of always figured that if you get to a certain point and enough people love you (and shout from the rooftops how much they love you, and give you their hard earned money for the product you’re selling) that you must eventually become immune to negativity. I guess what reading her post has shown me is that there is no such thing as immunity to hate. Hate hurts, no matter who it’s directed at and who it’s coming from. No matter if it’s in your face or on the internet. There’s just no reason for it. It makes people sad, end of story. And it’s a really hard thing for me to wrap my head around that people might WANT to make someone else sad.

Last week I had a post featured on another blog and that post got some negative comments from one particular reader. Not a polite criticism of my work, but an attack on myself as a person as well. It was just one silly comment out of dozens, and it wasn’t even someone that I knew, but it was enough to put me into a serious funk and start to really doubt my self worth. So how can one single comment have so much power? Especially when given a bit of distance and time to reflect, it was clearly not worth shedding tears over. In thinking it over I keep coming back to the same word – vulnerability. When we share anything of ourselves online, we are inherently making ourselves vulnerable. Which brings me to another of the TED talks. This one is (after so many viewings and re-viewings) still one of my all-time favorites. It’s by Brené Brown and it’s on exactly that word – vulnerability. It’s amazing – seriously, go watch it. She writes and talks so much about opening ourselves up to experiences and living wholeheartedly. The part that always sticks with me when I read her work is the idea that you can’t just numb the hard feelings – in order to really live, we need to experience both the highs AND the lows. Her newest book is called Daring Greatly – she talks in it about not being afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid that your ideas might flop, some of them will – but that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to try. And I’ve been all on board with that, but I wasn’t ready for hate.

In trying to make sense of the whole experience I’ve been finding a lot of common threads in uncommon places. Brené Brown and Amanda Palmer don’t have a whole lot in common, other than both having delivered popular TED talks at one point in their careers, but I think that we can learn something from both of them. The best lesson I’ve learned so far is that not only do I need to be ready to fail in the sense that I might not be successful, I need to be prepared for the fact that my failures might become personal. It makes sense that in a world so diverse, nothing is universally loved. The world would be a pretty boring place if we all had the exact same taste, so I wouldn’t expect that everyone would love what I write or do or make. But I am only now realizing that even beyond not liking what I do – some people might actually hate what I do. And that even if (when) that happens I can’t let it define me or my work any more than I should let failure of any other kind define me. It’s so hard to let hurtful words just go without dwelling on them, but I know that moving on is my only option. Creating beautiful things and trying to fill the world with goodness and love is the only way for me to be. Sorry haters, this girl only has love.

On love, hate and TED talks - Permanent Riot

On love, hate and TED talks.

Happy Anniversary, my love

The end of September just seems to keep getting crazier and crazier. I always have dreams of a big anniversary celebration – a big vacation (a second honeymoon in Moorea would be divine but I know that’s probably a few years away) or at least a night away in a hotel – but then life always seems to have other plans for us. This year’s “other plans” involved the joyful welcoming of my newest nephew to the world. I wouldn’t have traded that for anything… I am SO happy to have him in our lives.

So instead of going away for the weekend we had family time and Ben and I got a few hours to ourselves on Sunday to have a lazy lunch on the beach and go for a walk. It’s funny how this paradise can be right next door all along but you just drive right by without stopping… as we were walking along I remember thinking how beautiful it all is, and how people in other parts of the country might dream of a walk on one of our sandy shores… yet here we are just a few miles away every day of our lives. Pretty darn lucky if I do say so myself.

We finished up the day with a drive up the coast and a stop in my favorite coffee shop for a bit of an afternoon treat.

When I think about the fact that this is our sixth anniversary, it somehow seems impossible. Our wedding is like this glimmering moment in the distant past… so many million lifetimes ago… how much has changed. I cannot remember what life was like before we were together. I’m not me without my love. We are part of a unit, a family, a life we’ve built together. How could so much have happened in just six short years? If so much has happened in the last few years I simply can’t imagine what is coming in the next six – or sixty for that matter.

I love you so, my dear. I cannot imagine my life without you and without our family. Happy anniversary, here is to everything that’s next. I’m so glad you’ll be by my side through it all.

(wedding photo by the image is found)

Happy Anniversary, my love

Almost equidistant {ramblings}

Yesterday I took the kids to Target to get a few things that we needed. Target is like mommy mecca – they have pretty much everything you need in one place. Including (most importantly of all) a Starbucks – because when you are toting around a lot of kids you surely need an afternoon pick-me up.

Having everything in one place is extremely important for me. The length of any trip is not measured by how long it will take me to actually do an errand, gone are the days of sprinting quickly in and picking something up. For me, a shopping trip is measured in terms of how long it takes to get three kids to pick which toy they want to bring in the car, to put everyone’s shoes on, to get three kids buckled into various carseats and settled in with their water or snack or whatever it is that they might need for that trip. It’s finding a double cart (or really – a triple cart) because (heaven forbid) if we can’t find a double cart then someone is going to have to walk and I just know they will walk at the speed of a glacier and complain the whole way about how they wish they could be in the cart. So we find a cart, we get strapped in, we set off, ignoring the stares as people try to wrap their heads around the idea of my mammoth boat of a shopping cart, full to the brim with tiny people.

So Target it is, with one of everything (though maybe not the best priced or nicest) and a latte for mommy.

We pulled into the parking lot yesterday and I immediately knew it was going to be crowded. People swarming and circling around the two rows closest to the store, praying to the parking gods that a spot would open up when they could just as easily park two rows down and walk. I did just that and carried Edie while holding on to Amelia’s hand. Paul gripped tightly onto Amelia and our walking spectacle traversed the parking lot – hollering “chugga chugga choo-choo” the whole way. If I make train noises, they stay holding on.

When we got inside I realized what all the crowds were there for – back to school shopping. How could I have forgotten? It was the first day or first week for so many schools. All the moms and kids wandered the aisles, supply lists clenched in their fists. Back to school. Paul and Amelia are going to preschool but next year they will really have the first day of school. First day of Kindergarten. How did it come so soon? I wandered into the bedding aisle to let the kids pick out a set of sheets for their big kid beds (yellow stripes for Amelia, blue with polka dots for Paul) and saw yet another group shopping in Target that day. College freshmen shopping with their parents for dorm room essentials.

Target has graciously provided lists at various spots around the store. Tear-off sheets with reminders about everything you need to make your dorm life comfortable. Body pillow? Shower caddy? Butterfly chair? I can’t believe that parents are duped into thinking their kids really NEED any of this stuff – but then again I had it all when I was a freshman. I can so vividly remember that shopping trip with MY mom. Wandering the aisles of Target, grabbing one of everything and wondering how my life would be once my parents shut that car door and drove away, once they boarded the plane and I was left, alone, in a new state with no friends. The memory seems so fresh that watching the 18 year old kids peruse the shelves I can actually still feel those butterflies in my stomach. But then it hits me – I’m almost as close in age to the parents as I am to the kids. Woah.

I quickly do the math and right this minute it’s been 12 years since I started college. Assuming all goes well and Paul and Amelia start kindergarten next year and graduate high school on time – we are 14 years from their freshman year. I am almost equidistant. I’m standing in Target, straddling this gap between college freshman and parent of college freshman and I begin to panic. They can’t be that close to college. I feel like I was just there – how can we be THAT close to their first day? I remember my mom collapsing on a bench in a mall in Rhode Island while we were going on a mega shopping spree for my brother for his freshman year. I was still in highschool at the time. She just started crying and said “what if he needs a bandaid?!” I laughed for years at that memory – well if he needs a bandaid, surely he’ll find one. Now I get it. Now I REALLY get it. I’m sure I’ll understand all the more painfully once I get there myself. Luckily I have 14 more years to treasure, 14 more years to prepare. But I’m not sure you can ever really be ready for your babies leaving home.

Almost equidistant. It’s crazy. I don’t know how time got to be so fast. I finish up the shopping trip and push our titanic of a shopping cart back out to the cart corral. We grab our bags and make our chugga choo-choo to the car. I take a deep breath and try to remember – today might be hard, tomorrow might be harder. But they will both be gone so fast. I can’t afford to forget that.

Almost equidistant {ramblings}

because I love Ira Glass..

A friend of mine shared this amazing video with me – someone animated a piece where Ira Glass is talking about storytelling that I’d heard before as an audio clip – but it’s so much more cool as a video.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

I get so easily frustrated by that gap between TASTE and TALENT… in pretty much everything that I do… but I just keep doing it… someday hopefully the gap will get smaler.

because I love Ira Glass..

Learning to breathe again

This post is going to fall squarely into the “ramblings” category. Sometimes I’m tempted only to post the things that I feel are going to be popular – my crafty projects or recipes I like, the kind of things that make you feel good. This post might not make you feel good. But this is my blog and I started it as a place to write about my life. This is my life. And it finally feels like the right time to write about it.

The last few months have been hard. Extremely hard. Our family had relocated to the east coast for a year while my husband finished up grad school. While there I became pregnant and we were under the gun to not only find a new job for Ben back home by the time we moved but we were also looking for a new home to buy. And taking care of almost three year old twins… and oh yeah… did I mention the pregnant bit? We were extremely busy. That’s about the time that my blog fell off the map and posts became less and less frequent (before stopping all together). In the end of July, while in escrow for our new home and almost two months before my due date, my water broke. I was 33 weeks pregnant. Our daughter Edith was born one week later at 34 weeks on the dot. The day that we took ownership of our new home and the day before we were scheduled to move. Miraculously she was completely fine and required no NICU time. She was just small and needed help to learn to nurse. Since our twins were born at 34 weeks and spent 2 weeks in the NICU, getting to bring Edith home with us when I left the hospital felt like winning the lottery. It was both exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. Really?! You’re going to let us take this teeny tiny brand new baby home with us? Are you sure?

The first few months at home with the new baby were rough. Since Edith was early she wasn’t big enough to nurse effectively and it was a never ending cycle of nurse, pump, bottle feed, repeat. She wasn’t nursing well until she was around 2 months old. We were also in the process of trying to settle into a new house. We had just started falling into a routine at home when our whole world was turned upside down yet again. My sister, who was pregnant and due in December was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and put into the hospital for monitoring. After a few days of monitoring she was discharged home, only to return to the hospital a day later to hear the devastating news that her son had passed away. He was born sleeping on October 25th, she was 33 weeks pregnant. There just are not words to describe the loss of an infant. Cruel, gut wrenching, life changing, indescribably unfair. There just is no way to explain it and no good way to deal with it. He was a living breathing human being, one with a whole family waiting to welcome him to the world and show him all of its wonders. And yet suddenly he was gone.

I literally feel like time stopped that day when I heard the news. I was sitting at home on the bed in my room with the baby. I heard Ben walk into the house and wondered what he was doing home so early from work. “What a nice surprise” I thought. And then he opened his mouth “Allison lost the baby”. I screamed. I sobbed. I didn’t stop screaming or sobbing as I ran around the house throwing things into bags. We had to head up to my parents house, up to the hospital, we had to be there and we had to be there immediately. I didn’t know what or why I was doing anything. I was just doing. And sobbing. And screaming. I don’t think I’ll ever get the images of those next few days out of my head. Of seeing my sister and her husband in the hospital. Of the sign they put on her hospital room door. Of all the crying and all the sadness. I don’t know how we survived.

I literally just went through the motions of living for months after that. I would get up and get dressed because I had to get up. I had to get dressed. The kids needed a mom and the baby needed to be cared for. If it had been up to me I would have buried myself under my covers and never come out. I literally don’t know how my sister was able to continue carrying on. She is an amazing woman. She continues to live and breathe because she has no other choice, but she does it with such grace and such composure for someone who has been through so very much heartache. After a few months I started realizing that something wasn’t right with me. I literally kept thinking that things were the same as the day that I heard the news… I wasn’t mentally moving on. My world was still in October. Still back in that day. I was still the mother of a three month old baby… but time was ticking on without me. My baby was now almost 6 months old. I just didn’t know because I was totally numb. I went to a doctor, I started getting help. Figuring out what was wrong with me and how we could make it better. I started doing yoga again and seeing an acupuncturist. And slowly, bit by bit, I started feeling alive again.

I’m finally now starting to see bits of my old self coming through. It has been a long and rough road to get to this point, and I know that there is still a long way to go, but I now feel like I will be able to get there eventually. I can now laugh and smile and enjoy my children and do it without guilt or sadness overshadowing my joy. I don’t believe that we have entirely arrived at our “new normal” but I feel like we are getting there. And I can see myself returning to a life where I can start doing the things that I love. I want to start blogging again. I want to start working more and crafting more. I want to start living more. What is the point of life if it’s not to live it?

A few weeks ago we went to the beach at sunset with the kids. Nothing will make you feel more alive than spending a golden afternoon in the California sun… it’s truly invigorating.

I finally feel like I’m learning to breathe again. And I really, really needed the air.

Learning to breathe again

I’m so terribly busy and important…

I know I haven’t blogged over here in a while. It’s just because I’m so … well … busy. We’re moving in just over a month (how is that possible?! a month already?!) and pretty much life is chaos right now.

I have a few new things I’ve been making that I really just need to go ahead and finish so I can take pictures of them and pack away the supplies before we go. I’m almost done with Paul’s quilt and I have another quilt I’ve been making as well. I also just tonight finished up Amelia’s party outfit for Sam and Tai’s wedding which, if I do say so myself, is pretty fabulous. I think I’ll take pictures of that tomorrow so I can show it off. Because really who doesn’t want to see pictures of Amelia in her new party dress and matching bloomers. Oh, and did I mention I made two of them, one for her and one for her cousin? Yes, I am that crazy. Crazy. Busy. and Important 🙂

I’m so terribly busy and important…

A serious dose of nostalgia {ramblings}

Ben and I just got back from a trip to Texas. Not just Texas, but Houston specifically. And while we were there we went and visited our alma mater, Rice. Now – we graduated (the first time) over 5 years ago and haven’t been back since our second graduation which was 4 years ago. I knew that a lot had changed in the meantime (new dorms on campus, a new coffee house and new gym) and I was prepared for those changes. What I think surprised me was how unprepared I was to see the things that HAVEN’T changed.

When we landed in Houston it was a bit like having deja vu. You know you’ve been to this airport before, down this freeway before, on these streets before. Everything is just a little, well, hazy. We went straight from the airport to one of our favorite cheap sandwich shops in midtown where the banh mi was (thankfully) just every bit as delicious as we remembered it to be, and then headed off to Rice’s campus for a quick peek before meeting a friend for drinks. Had I known how disorienting the trip to Rice were going to be I might have voted to put it off until we had a bit more time to decompress. I’m really not sure what I *thought* it was going to be like walking back onto the campus – and I have been trying to come up with a succinct explanation of the feeling I had when I got there ever since it happened, but I’m still not quite sure how to describe it.

The first thing I noticed was that Houston (and the campus in particular) is so much more lush and beautiful than I remember. When I first moved there as a freshman I remember thinking how ugly it was (and I still don’t think it’s as beautiful as San Diego) but a few years in Los Angeles have put it into an entirely different light and I can now see that it’s just overflowing with gorgeous old trees and it really is quite striking. We didn’t have much time so we parked on the loop and put on our flashers outside of Anderson. Just stepping out of the car into the sticky heat with the sound of blinking hazard lights brought back a flood of memories and I hadn’t even stepped foot in the building. We walked up to the back door, expecting it to be locked, but it easily swung open when we pulled the handle. Inside the school was in a state of transition – half of the studios looked as if they’d been cleared out for the summer while the other half looked like at any minute they might be filled with students, working and talking and generally creating chaos. Seeing it all again was like waking up an old part of myself that had been somehow sleeping for the last 4 years.

When we moved out of Houston back in 2006 it was hectic to say the least. We had just come back from a semester abroad and were planning our wedding. We were finishing up our final semester of studio and looking for our first “real” jobs after school. We were doing all of this while subletting a small apartment from another student and looking for a real home in Los Angeles. All of my energy was focused on getting out and moving on. The crazy pace continued after the wedding – I quit my job and started my photography business, we decided to try to have kids and I ended up getting pregnant with twins. The last two and a half years have been filled with more insanity than the rest of my life combined and I guess I just never stopped to look around and see where my life was going. It’s not that I think that my life went in the wrong direction – I’m quite happy with where I am right now – it’s just that I had never really stopped to glance back at where I came from. Being in that building was like all of the sudden being the 20 year old version of myself again. Remembering what it was that I loved about being an architecture student and how many hopes I had for the future. It was a bit of a shock to the system to say the least.

I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I started rambling at full speed (much like I’m doing now I’m sure) and telling Ben how I wanted to come back and take pictures when we had more time. He said “oh yeah because the last time you were here you didn’t know anything about that” to which I gave an insulted harrumph. I had taken photography classes in high school, didn’t that count for anything? He graciously reminded me that while I may have known how to use a camera, my life didn’t at that point revolve around the camera. My lenses hadn’t yet been a way for me to see and express my views on the world. Fair enough. I’ll give you that. So on Sunday afternoon, just before heading off to dinner and the airport, we revisited the campus with camera in hand. I wanted to make sure to remember all of the little things that had become fuzzy in my memory after all of the years I had been away.

Like the shape of the handrail as you walked up the stairs

Or the way you always saw people across the way on that funny little balcony landing.

The way that people always stopped to look down into the jury room from above

Or all of the gorgeous natural light that flooded into that room

The crazy mishmash of chairs that were always floating around the building and the way they sat in a huddle, like a critique just let out and everyone was in such a hurry to get to dinner that they couldn’t be bothered to put them back

That funny motion detector light that someone installed as part of a project, and the way that all the students after all of their years left an impression on the building

The weird spaceship lighting in the long white halls

And the porthole windows

To go with the round nubby floors

I also wanted to remember the things I hadn’t ever noticed, like how the color of the overhead lighting was so warm compared with the crisp cool light streaming in through the windows. So deceptively cool in tone that you might actually forget that it was sweltering hot outside.

And the brick hallways

Or tree lined walkways

How many countless times I’d walked up them and never stopped to think about how pretty they were. I was always so BUSY

A serious dose of nostalgia {ramblings}