On September 11, 2001, I was a junior in high school in Washington, DC. I had second period free, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to think much of it when the fire alarm suddenly rang as I caught up on homework by my locker on the Pink Floor.
As the students gathered on the lawn, in accordance with our standard fire drill practice, I got my first inkling that something might actually be wrong: the Headmistress never participates in fire drills. What is she doing here? And why isn’t she smiling?
In the moments that followed her brief comments about what was happening in New York City, our lives — and the world at large — changed forever. We went on lockdown as the Pentagon was struck, and we comforted each other as we worried for parents and watched the smoke rise in the distance. Which target might be next? How were we going to get to our homes? When would phones work again so we could check in with loved ones?
I don’t need to recap that day any further. We all had similar experiences – especially those of us who were in DC or NYC. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I recently learned a rather poetic way of describing morning people vs. night people – are you an owl, or are you a lark?
While I’m not quite a night owl these days, I always wished I was a morning lark. I do enjoy mornings – once I’m already up. I struggle to get myself out of bed, and for no good reason. I get plenty of sleep, have very little to burden me in terms of responsibilities (i.e., no kids or dogs), and overall I am a healthy person. But when that alarm goes off, I just want to snooze some more. Five more minutes please!
It’s cliché but true – the ocean does wonders for both the body and soul.
When I lived in California, Okinawa, and North Carolina, I knew I took it for granted that I lived by the sea. I knew I would miss it when it was gone. I always appreciated it, and realized how special it was, but by the time I hit the one-year mark of living in DC, I was craving salty air and sandy toes something fierce.
Of course, the global pandemic has made every potential getaway more complicated and guilt-ridden than before. But when Chuck’s parents said they wanted us to join them for a few days in Kill Devil Hills, NC – and promised they felt comfortable exposing themselves to our cooties to such a degree – of course I jumped at the chance to escape.
Once again (or maybe as always), there’s a lot of negativity floating around social media today.
I was aware of the “origins” of the black-and-white photo challenge on Instagram before I got my fourth nomination and decided to go ahead and participate, and I say as much in my caption by highlighting the appropriate cause. I put “origins” in quotations because — although a form of the challenge traces itself to an awareness campaign around femicide in Turkey — it has actually taken many forms since 2016 and no one knows for sure where this particular strain of viral, monochrome activity came from.
But setting all that aside for a moment, let’s pretend it really was just about solidarity with women who inspire you. Before women were made aware of additional context, that’s what it was. Is that so wrong? Seems as good a reason as any to post a selfie!
And yet, the communal backlash was almost immediate, as I suspected it might be. There has been no shortage of #womenshamingwomen for posting a photo that made them feel strong or beautiful, and then nominating other women they admire. Plus, nearly every woman in my network who participated promptly promoted the “right” cause as soon as they were made aware of it.
It seems that even now, in all our attempts to be inclusive and “woke,” it’s still not really okay for a woman to love herself. We learned something new and lifted each other up in the process, and to me, that’s a win.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by my man, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Earth laughs in flowers.” You can find it all over my social media profiles, and I even considered getting it tattooed somewhere on my body, I love it that much.
I’m sure no one is surprised, given my incessant floral photography and love for both Earth and laughter. I don’t even know how I found it, originally – probably on Pinterest, or something extra #basic like that. Although I knew it was an Emerson gem, I had only ever seen it standing alone — never within the context of a larger piece of writing. Until now!
Hey y’all. It’s been a minute. No, it’s been a YEAR. Except, wait. It’s only been just-over-half-a-year. Feels like decades, you know what I’m saying? But now I’m just being dramatic.
I don’t need to re-cap the debacle that has been 2020, but I do want to pop in to say that it’s time for a personal re-brand. If you’ve followed me a while, you know I went from Pink Piglette, to Bad Kitty, to Keep Calm & Have a Cupcake, to the Gypsy Kitty Diaries. Each rendition of me was right for the time and place in which I found myself. But this year, given my ongoing and imperfect attempts at self-improvement, I’ve decided to move on from Gyspy Kitty and tell my story through a new lens (or filter, if we truly want to keep this 2020.)
So, real talk.
I fell behind on documenting some very exciting travels in 2019, but that won’t stop me from reminiscing here and now on the Gypsy Kitty Diaries 🙂
For two weeks last summer – just about one year ago, to be exact – Chuck and I explored Italy with his darling family.
Now, all countries are too diverse and amazing to squeeze into one trip, but Italy was especially frustrating in terms of the limitations we had to impose on ourselves. Still, I like to think we did quite well. Chuck and I started out on our own in Como before driving to meet family in Tuscany and then wrapping up in Rome. Check out our highlights!
I hope that everyone reading this is actively engaging in social distancing, for the greater good. Your excuses of youth and vibrancy mean nothing to the elderly, the healthcare workers, the immuno-compromised, the asthmatic. Stay home, if you can.
I know, this is all so very, very strange. And I honestly hope that social distancing and quarantine will ultimately prove “alarmist.” But, I’d rather that be the case, than the alternative of under-reacting and increasing the number of illnesses and death.
The hardest part, in some ways, is that it’s springtime in DC! There are so many things I had planned, and now everything has been cancelled or closed. What that means is more time at home, and more time to write, share, reflect. Soon, I’ll share a much belated recap of my trip to Italy! And Utah! I’ll also likely share some thoughts on the virus and its various implications, because I certainly do have thoughts on the matter.
In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, watch out for the more vulnerable, don’t go crazy at the supermarkets, and take your vitamins! Last but not least, enjoy these pretty photos of springtime in DC. Parks and gardens may be closed, but I am blessed to have magnolias, daffodils, and other blossoms in abundance in this sweet little Capitol Hill neighborhood 🙂
Perpetually looking for the beauty in everything,
… because I know for certain it’s always there.
It’s pretty hilarious to look back on early evidence of my journey towards a plant-based lifestyle. There is plentiful hemming and hawing as I gradually convince myself to exploit animals less, making various justifications and exceptions along the way. Recently, I even stumbled upon my handwritten journals from high school, in which I lament the way vegetarians made me feel guilty for eating meat (early cognitive dissonance FTW!)
Even now, I am not 100% plant-based. I eat exclusively vegan at home, but make allowances when I’m at a restaurant, traveling, or a guest in someone’s home. In those instances, I typically compromise to vegetarian or pescatarian levels. In other words, I’m still working on it.
But, I am far more “radicalized” today than ever, and I speak up passionately for the cause. That said, I am perpetually conflicted about it. Not about veganism itself, but about my advocacy. There are days when I feel horribly guilty about “telling people what to eat” or about pressing my viewpoint on others. I remind myself that it’s less and less a matter of opinion. The more we learn about animal sentience, environmental degradation, health, global hunger, and climate change, the less we can dismiss veganism as a lifestyle choice or dietary preference. Now more than ever, it’s an existential and moral imperative. Continue reading