Zen and the art of Label-Peeling

Beer Labels
I peel the labels off of my beer bottles.

I started my habit in college. I usually carried a notebook and sometimes stuck the labels, still a little sticky with leftover glue, into the pages. When I got home from the bar, the labels would be dry and I could fill in the blank space with snarky observations and snippets of eavesdropped conversations. Later, when I started dating Josh, I would scribble goofy notes on the labels (the more beers I drank, the goofier the notes), passing them to him across the table. Now, I’ll fold a label over and over until it becomes a thick little square that I can flick down into the neck of the bottle. Sometimes, if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll try and remember how to make a paper crane.

I do it because it’s satisfying. There’s a certain release when I’m able to get a label off in one rip-free piece – like a long sigh after a deep breath or the end of a good stretch (the kind that takes over your body and contorts your shoulders and back and face and voice against your own will until the stretch is done).

I do it because it’s a distraction. If the table conversation doesn’t interest me or if I’m feeling like biting my nails down to painful little stubs or if I’m in the bathtub and my head is swimming with thoughts and worries and to-do lists, I can concentrate on peeling this one label from this one bottle until conditions clear.

I do it because it takes patience. With most bottles, you can’t just charge in and swiftly peel the label in one piece. You have to wait, let condensation soak in to the paper and loosen the glue. You have to start in one corner, getting a big enough piece that you can gently pull in the rest of the side. If you rip your first try, you’ve got to move to the other side, tugging a little more gently or maybe just waiting another five minutes for the glue to ease its grip a little.

I don’t meditate. But I have this thing, and this thing works for me.

Today was long, and I am so tired. Treating myself to Spinal Tap on Netflix and nice, cold Angry Orchard for a nightcap.

Something I reminded my grandma of today and I’ll remind you of tonight: the reason they always tell you on airplanes to secure your oxygen mask first before helping others is simple. You’re no good to anyone if you’re not taking care of yourself.

Be kind to everyone. Be kindest to you. Even if that means old familiar movies and admittedly girly drinks.

She used to be mine

A little while ago, I read a webcomic about how every big decision we make splits our timeline into two branches – on one branch, you continue as you are with the decision you made. And on the other branch, an alternate version of you splits off and starts living with the effects of the other choice. Read the comic here if I’m not making any sense.

Anyway – I tell you that to tell you this. Somewhere out there in a parallel universe is a version of me who majored in Musical Theatre and is living in some metropolis, auditioning and doing odd jobs and waiting on the one role that she was born to play. And if, in that parallel universe, there is still a Sara Bareilles, and IF parallel Sara Bareilles (maybe her name is Paralleiles) is still writing the book for a new musical based on the movie Waitress, then parallel me is doing whatever she has to do to be in the original cast of that musical.

Mom and I heard her sing this song from the show at her concert in Charlotte earlier this summer – and I can’t stop thinking about it. Some version of me was born to sing this song. 

Skip to around 2:13 for the start.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and transcribe all the lyrics and chords so that I can bring to life my new dream of belting this out for the whole world to hear.

code like a girl

I had to get up in front of a bunch of middle schoolers and talk about our new website today. My five minutes included a live walkthrough of some of the new site’s features, and being the community-building-girl-power-tech-ambassador-nerd that I am, I decided to take the advice of one of my coworkers and do a little subliminal cheerleading via my desktop wallpaper (visible to the students at the beginning and end of my talk for about 10 seconds total).

So I made this:


You can click the image to download the full size 1440 x 900 version and do a little subliminal cheerleading of your own.

More information on (and FOR) girls who code (or WANT to code!):

Made With Code (their resources page is fantastic) | Girls Who Code

September Goals


A bunch of my favorite bloggers posted their September goals today [exhibits a, b and c], and I’m jumping on board, too. Autumn always feels more like a new year than January to me – probably because I work in education, where our years do start over in August. The reason doesn’t really matter – all I’m trying to say is that today feels like a good time for some New Year’s Resolutions.

So here’s what I’m going for this month:

Celebrate my 29th birthday on the 29th! Not sure what I want to do just yet, but ideally our plan will involve spending time outside with my two favorite boys.

Read one fiction and one non-fiction book. I had a super-stressful August at work, and I found that I was reading every night as a way to unwind and disconnect from my stress. Work has since settled back down to manageable stress levels, but I would like to keep up the habit. I just started The Hundred Year House (fiction) and I still need to pick my non-fiction book. I’m thinking All Marketers are Liars or Show Your Work.

Exercise regularly. Yoga via the Yoga Studio app daily and building back up to running with c25k three times a week.

Photograph more of my life. I recently changed over from my big Rebel t1i to the smaller, lighter Canon EOS M, and I want to start using more than my iPhone to take photos of more than Henry – although Henry photos are never anything short of delightful (exhibit a: pictured above, his reaction to Cheerios the other morning).

Build a simple web app with my newly acquired TTS coding skills (my last class is Wednesday). I’m not an expert yet by any means, but I think I have the skills to get started and figure things out as I go.

Improve my skin-hair-nailcare routine. I’ve gotten lazy about the basics like washing my face and using moisturizer, and I’m lucky that my skin hasn’t retaliated…yet. But I’d like to add some stability and better care to my current routine (which is, essentially, brush your teeth and go to bed with plans to deal with today’s mascara tomorrow morning). As a first step, I used Coconut Oil for my moisturizer tonight — and if things go badly, I’m blaming Joey.

There we are. I’m looking for a way to add accountability with a splashy goal-setting printable. Pinterest hasn’t come through for me just yet, but if you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Sweet Sweaty Sunday

Left: sweaty, but happy | Right: trying to keep Henry cool by any means necessary

Just got back from the US National Whitewater Center, where we planned to see Langhorne Slim (Henry’s First Concert!) – instead, we melted into puddles of goo during the opening acts and goo-traveled back to our car, Alex Mack-style, answering the call of the Air Conditioning before Langhorne even took the stage.

Despite the sticky heat, we had a blast. The USNWC is awesome, and if they had a little more shade available, it would be an absolutely perfect place for a concert. Dogs and babies are welcome, which is always a plus, and the rapids run straight through the park, so you can watch rafting groups and solo kayakers brave the waters even if you’re only there to drink beer and adventure vicariously through others. There’s also a zip line running through the park, which would have been a perfect way to catch a breeze on a night like tonight.

Since we had Henry in tow (and babies are for some reason discouraged from ziplining), we opted instead to drink a couple of beers (just us, not Henry) and craft a makeshift canopy out of our stroller and a couple of blankets until we just couldn’t stand the heat any longer. And then, we sucked it up and sweated it out for the hike back to the car.

Henry has been out since we buckled him in to his car seat, Josh is downstairs drafting his fourth fantasy football team, and I’m hitting the sack as soon as I publish this post. Good Sunday, team.



After some breakfast, catching up on my feedly, and drinking a couple cups of coffee,  Josh and I worked on the kitchen and the living room until Henry went down for his morning nap. I was still tired, a little achey, and generally feeling pretty ho-hum toward the prospect of a sleepy Saturday spent tidying up and watching Netflix.

But THEN! My phone buzzed! And it was my sweet friend Julia, telling me she had a few hours between flights at the Charlotte airport! So as soon as he woke up, Henry and I loaded up and headed toward CLT-Douglas to save Julia from spending her afternoon stranded in the terminal. We headed to Whole Foods for a delicious lunch on the patio.

Julia is the kind of BFF you read about in books – no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other, talking with her feels like putting on my favorite, softest t-shirt.

She snapped the above photo of Henry and me as we were leaving – it’s one of my new favorites. I love Henry’s subtle side-eye. (Josh teaches him tricks. But the half-judgy shifty eye? I taught him that.)