Friday, June 8, 2018

Quote Wednesday? At a Time Like This?!

My life is just a little bit bizarre right now.

But that isn't out of the norm. The main reason I started and kept this blog so well (if I do say so myself) for so long was that I wanted to document things. I wanted my (almost) full range of emotions to be stored in a public space forever. Okay, so maybe not those last couple of things but yeah to the rest. It's nice to look back and not actually have to re-live so many of those moments again. It's like eating a Costco teriyaki bowl but someone took out those disgusting green beans (gag).

I'm currently staying with some friends who have only known me post-Grenada and post-California days. It's been fun to hang out and talk more. Grenada typically comes up and because it is such a strange and foreign thing- I jumped on the blog to show some pictures. Of course that led me to the rabbit hole of Grenada posts. Many many Grenada posts about so many things. I'm so happy I took all that time to document those strange tales and feelings. It reminds me that life is simultaneously lemons AND lemonade. It's not bad then good. Ugly then pretty. It's just life.

Ross and I have been racing around almost non-stop since March. Every weekend (and some weeks) we have been flying and driving all over. Life is locomotion. And I can't stop thinking that. Maybe because of this quote:

Image result for life is locomotion the flash

"Life is locomotion. If you're not moving you're not living. But there comes a time when you've got to stop running away from things and you've got to start running towards something. You've got to forge ahead. Keep moving. Even if your path isn't lit. Trust that you'll find your way." 

It's late and I'm not particularly interested in addressing the bits that call me out for running away from my problems #tooreal, but I love the quote. And that seems to be my style. I've gotten pretty good a forging ahead. Forging isn't a nice cute clear cut path. It's messy. It's chaotic. It's often rushed. But it implies importance and intention. And I like that. In life, sometimes it is all you can do to keep moving. Even when it is the hardest thing to do. Even when the path isn't lit. Because we just have to trust that we will find our way. Sometimes we find the way, sometimes we just keep forging. Maybe life isn't locomotion. Maybe we don't have any destinations.... but rather constant motion in a positive direction.

Friday, April 20, 2018


My last couple of posts have been very much stream of conscience type posts. No in-depth editing or pretty photos (no photos at all, really). It’s the idea of maybe… getting something off my chest while simultaneously making a record of it. I didn't even really finish my last post. But it seems particularly relevant to what is on my mind right now. 

Being an adult is all the rage these days. You see all sorts of posts and articles and quizzes about "adulting." It's a weird thing, being a grown-up. I feel like it just sort of happens one day, with all these milestones in between that make it seem more real.

One of these milestones that has been on my mind lately is tragedy. When you're little, and even as a young adult, you feel invincible. Of course you suffer from crippling self-confidence and poor decision making skills, but overall I think there is a sense of freedom and invincibility that you can't appreciate until it is less present. When you're young true tragedy seems so distant and irrelevant. But as you get older, it seems everywhere. All around you. In the people you love the most, and even people you only barely know.

It might be the prevalence of social media. I'm not sure. But life seems to change quicker and quicker and it only takes an unsuspecting moment for everything to crumble away. It reminds me that every day, every moment, is a gift.

It sounds corny. But for once I'm not being sarcastic or hyperbolic. It wrenches my heart to see tragedy in the lives of so many people I know. I used to think it was so dramatic to hear "old" people say, "hold your loved ones close, you never know what might happen."

But maybe that is what growing up actually is. Becoming the people we always rolled our eyes at, and realizing they were right all along. And realizing that there is only so much that we can barely begin to understand in this big-wide-(sometimes tragic and sometimes beautiful)-world.

Monday, March 26, 2018


There have been times in my life when I felt like I was floating.

I'm not an artist, and I'm not even much of a doodler, but I remember exactly where I was in the summer of 2010 when I drew what it felt like. I was living in El Salvador, doing a summer internship for 3 months. It was a crazy experience for a number of reasons and I remember at the end of summer drawing a cartoon Kristen in an over-sized dish-soap-style bubble over a desert filled with threatening prickly cacti. I distinctly remember this crazy feeling of happiness, like it was too good to be true. The feeling of life being great but it all melting away any second, like an ice cube under the summer Sonoran sun.

And I'm not talking like, "Oh this is a fun weekend." I'm talking about the stuff dreams are made of. Moments when you forget you live in an imperfect world filled with responsibilities and tomorrows. Because the reality is that most days don't feel like that at all. Even the good ones.

I can remember other times since, in Grenada and Redlands, and here in Phoenix too. They are moments when life seems somehow suspended. When the happiness of the moment overtakes the uncertainty of the future, the bills of tomorrow, the sorrows of yesterday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Hello Again

Also known as, "The Post Wherein Kristen Blogs Again and Divulges Her Darkest Secrets"

Obviously it has been a hot minute since I've been round these parts.

2017 honestly sucked a bit. 

And I can say that, because it is March now and I'm safely out of the biased, "Aww let's reminisce about past and future!" part of the new year/ January. 

In 2017 (which I may eventually post about) I started a new job, which turned into a full time+ endeavor that honestly, wreaked total havoc on my life.  There were lots of good times and fun adventures, to be sure, but it was also kind of a total s*** show. 

But anyways, let's get to the part where I tell you about my flaws and insecurities. 

Lately I have found myself increasingly anxious and irritated. I figured it was probably just because I work remote and get cabin fever being at home all day. I get sick of looking at my stupid apartment and stupid furniture and stupid everything. 

But after some thought, it dawned on me that there was likely a different contributing factor. 

My brain thinks it is time to move. Not in a metaphoric or athletic sense. My brain is trained to move at least every 2 years. Since I've been an adult, 2 years is the maximum time I have ever spent in one place. I really think my brain is ready to go through a Match, or otherwise receive a new assignment, then pack up my life and get going. 

But it's more than that. It's that I'm hungry for a fresh start

A few years ago this fear actually struck me, "What if I get so accustomed to moving around that I can't NOT move every couple years? What if I can never settle down?"

And here we are. So in the absence of assigned change (don't worry that comes next year). I am thinking I might make some updates to my current garage sale/thrift store/junkyard furniture. Stay tuned! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

W is for Wild Wild West: Tombstone Gunslingers

Arizona is an interesting place. As I am getting my footings I am learning more every day. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I got here. I had heard all sorts of things and made this mash up idea of what Arizona was, and I've just been going from there. If there is one thing I am (currently) sure of, it is Arizona is extremely proud of it's wild wild west heritage (and probably continued culture). Since we were down in the area we figured we might as well head just south to the old west town of Tombstone. Being a red-blooded American, it only made sense.

Being the early birds we are, we got there pretty much way before anything was going on. But that worked out because we headed to the visitors center and got a super helpful paper map. Plus, I could get my fill of those travel brochures I crave like crack cocaine.

We roamed around for a bit, in and out of the fun tourist shops. Of course I ogled all the turquoise jewelry and leather purses. I also debated if Ross now needs a bolo or cowboy hat. Because #arizonaresidents

Don't forget the kitschy stuff.

And in case you need a skinned animal face, or are in the market for a Tombstone "guard dog."

But overall, the must do in Tombstone is to see a live gunfight. There seems to be a bit of contention and debate about which one to go to. We settled on one a little farther down the street that took place indoors. Because, "everyone knows the gunfights took place inside saloons and hotels, NOT outside in the streets." Also, this one claimed to be the most accurate depiction of the Tombstone gun fights with plenty of historical context.

I'm not gonna front. I was really into it. Our seats were front and center and the actors cowboys did a great job. It was also interesting to learn all the famous stories (because, you know, it is the most accurate depiction after all).

It was fun to walk around the streets and read all the signs they have that describe the history of the town, including where all the famous gunfights happened.

It is interesting to imagine what life would've been like here in the 1880s. The OK Corral is probably the most famous when it comes to live gunfight depictions. They have their cowboys walk the streets, straight out of the Hollywood movie!

Of course we had to try some local sasparilla. You can tell Ross liked it.

And is it even the wild west if you don't get a picture in a coffin? 

South of Toughnut Street there is this "Old western town" with kiddo activities like panning for gold and mini golf. We had to make our way back north so we left without checking it out. ;)

I feel like there is definitely a "crowd" that likes these kind of things. I'm not a die hard fan, but it was still fun to have the time to check it out and enjoy some of history and action! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

K is for Kartchner Caverns

Awhile back when I was planning various travel itineraries, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico was on the list. Ross has always wanted to go, and now that we are in Phoenix it is a much more feasible trip. Still, an 8+ hour trip is usually more than he has time for. So when my sister in law Jen told us about Kartchner Caverns south of Tucson, Ross was pretty stoked.

Just about with everything, it was a last minute trip but I made it work. Saturday morning I made some calls since it was too late to reserve tour tickets online. Once we had some assurance that the trip wouldn't be a total bust, we packed up.

In true Petersen (okay, Kristen) fashion we stopped and got some donuts at our local donut shop. Not quite as artisan as our L.A. shops. But this strawberry donut face still has be cracking up, so it was worth it.

It was a little after noon when we rolled through Tucson so it was the perfect time to pick up a Sonoran-style dog! This super small shack-like establishment serves up some pretty tasty dogs. Plus, when in Arizona, you must do as Arizonans. Normal hot dogs on normal buns are no longer acceptable.

After that we bore farther south to Kartchner Caverns State Park. Ross and I were both really confused and pleased to see the desert so... lush! I was expecting Breaking Bad style tumbleweeds blowing across the Sonoran desert.

The cacti were in bloom and the bright orange was definitely a little birthday gift to Ross! I guess this area is the site of the

Ross is such a sweet guy. He surprised me and bought ME a gift from the gift shop. On HIS birthday no less! Aren't they awesome?

After hanging out in the visitors center and checking out their awesome displays we headed out to meet our group for the cave tour.

Once you all gather you take this little tram up to the entrance of the cave. They give you this huge long lecture about not touching the walls of the cave, or looking at them too severely (kidding), and maybe if your body is on fire you still can't touch the cave walls because surely you will kill everything in the cave and the whole ecosystem will come crumbling down because you are a human and have hair and dead skin everywhere and shouldn't even be in the cave to begin with. Kidding. But not really. You are still a terrible person if you touch the cave walls. So they open this huge doors that protect said delicate cave ecosystem and it releases this hot stanky air that makes you feel like you might die. Then you go through these misters that wet down all your dead skin and hairs so that you aren't shedding everywhere in the cave. As intense as they were, I think that is a pretty clever idea!

Then you wind through this network of really nice paved trails to take you into the cave.

We took the Rotunda/ Throne Tour. It is an easy, paved 1/2 mile walk. And it was every bit as amazing as we had hoped. It was really dynamic. You start off seeing a few formations and they do their thing where they explain the different formations like sheilds, popcorn, bacon, stalctites (and mites) and my new favorite, soda straws! It is always fun to hear the science behind them. There was this wide, low room and the ranger tells you all about how the cave was discovered, and you can see a 45,000 year old pile of bat poop, if that is what you are into.

So you wind around a little and then you end in this large dark cavern and take a seat on one of the benches. And then the presentation began! There was audio and slowly, parts of this huge formation lit up to finally reveal "Kubla Khan," the largest natural column in Arizona at 58 tall! It was truly amazing. Of course you can't take photos in the cave (you'd probably send the whole state of Arizona into ultimate peril and eventual death), so I guess all my memories will need to stay in my brain and you can just go google it.

After the cave tour we hopped over to the local Safeway and picked up our absolute favorite travel food- fried chicken and massively large potato wedges! The whole state park area is very lush because it sits in a riparian zone. So we found a perfect picnic table and chowed down.

Since this is Ross's big 30th birthday I made it an even larger deal than normal. I gave him 30 presents leading up to the big day (including the cat shirt, pictured), and I went on Facebook and begged and pleaded all his friends to send him a birthday card. Since he isn't on Facebook he misses all the birthday wishes and I wanted him to feel loved and appreciated and missed on his special day!
It was so cool to see everyone send cards and presents. I felt loved too! My personal favorite is Asher's birthday card to him.

We poked around in the visitor's center a little bit more, and now there were no kids trying to get bat ear pictures I could get some with minimal shame. 

We got super lucky and happened to be there on one of the few weekends they offer night hikes. We were pretty excited about that and signed up right away. 

Yes, I did make Ross carry around that Happy Birthday balloon on his backpack. 

The hike was so pretty, and if I may reiterate- LUSH! The ocotillo were covered in leaves and there were tons of them. 

During the hike you had really great views of the area and we wound down near a little creek bed. 

Of course we had to Pokemon Go at least a little.

During the hike there was this optional portion where you could hike up a ridge/ foothill and see the entire valley below! Everything was glowing as the sun set, and you could spot little clusters of rainstorms in the distance.

It was a great spot to take pictures too! Every one was taking turns taking pictures for each other. I love hiking because you meet really friendly people. Notice Ross proudly holding his birthday balloon (probably something I made him do).

We had to eventually climb back down to meet the rest of the group who didn't come up with us, but it was pretty difficult when all we wanted to do was stay up there and marvel and feel the cool breeze.

It has to be one of my favorite hikes ever. We had fun talking to the park ranger for the rest of the hike and we ended in complete darkness. Funny how quickly it can close in on you. Overall the hike was about 3.2 miles. 

After a very full day we still hadn't sang happy birthday or had any birthday treats. Birthday chicken and potato logs just doesn't really count. So back to Safeway we went and we picked up some cupcakes! 

Back in our motel room I sang happy birthday and we enjoyed a cupcake. Then we attempted to hang out in the hot tub only to realize it was never actually getting warmer and we had been sitting and conversing with strangers in lukewarm water form probably an hour or so. I don't know why hotter water makes that situation more appropriate but somehow it does. The people were funny though, and the man was telling us all about how he grew up in the area and spent his childhood discovering caves and ditching school to swim in the underwater pools. That's legit. 

I really hope Ross had a fun day, even if I always force him to go on adventures every spare minute we get. Tomorrow we want to head to Tombstone before we head back home. 

A couple full-size photos since the collages are poor quality.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lazy Day with Mom

When I was younger I didn't really, "keep a journal." I had a journal, that sat on a shelf, and sometimes on lazy Sunday afternoons, it would come out, pen in hand.

Buuuut then I would realize that I had missed writing about really a lot of important events. Sometimes I would remedy this by leaving approximately the right amount of pages for said entries, and write about what was current (you can bet I never wrote about those important events). Other times I would be so nervous about leaving the right amount of pages, that I would just give up and put the journal back on the shelf. Then, other times I would forget the empty pages/important events, and just write an entry on a loose scrap of paper, and tuck it inside the cover of the journal. 

You can see that from the beginning I've have a tenuous relationship with documentation and journaling. What I am, of course, saying is- you can't blame me for my sparse appearance on my own blog.

The more fun life is, the less time you have to sit around and type on a computer. The less time you have to worry about editing or uploading pictures or making collages. And, you know, I really love that. Constant motion. 

Just a few pictures: 

And speaking of constant motion.
1. Moving & settling in
2. Spontaneous road trip 
3. Ross starting work
4. Unpacking (totally different enough from aforementioned 'moving').
5. Familly visit and..
6. Ross's White Coat Ceremony
7. Visit to California
8. Impromtu family reunion
9. Return to Phoenix
10. Family visit

And in the blink of an eye I've been in Phoenix just a week shy of TWO MONTHS! Typing that made it more real....

But I started this post with the intention of documenting #10 on the list! My sister and her husband had to leave the party early, but luckily I get got a few more days with my mom. Unfortunately now that number is down to just 1.5 days. Which makes me really cranky, but what can I say? I really like the lady.

Today was a simple day, and therefore not much in the way of pictures (ugh- lots of words and few pictures!).

I am thankful for a mom that lets me be lazy. Maybe a little too lazy though, because by the time I was up and ready to go, it was a little late, but we headed out with a plan.

First stop was the Desert Industries thrift store in the next city over. As I say again an again, being from LA, us folks don't mind driving. So drive we did. This thrift store is really top notch and brand-spanking-new. Does that make me sound like a thrift shop weirdo? I guess I am.

What everyone's thinking and this box is saying about thrift stores: 

I of course found some great treasures and mom re-arranged the whole book section while I was trying on clothes and finding treasures. As you will soon learn from our previous adventures- she is a book junkie. But it is well supported with her extensive knowledge of literature. So there she went, making sure that Angela's Ashes wasn't mixed in with the children's books and that My Father's Dragon was. She might do house calls for the right price.

After that we went to Chino Bandido. Of course a "Triple D"! I kept this one up my sleeve so we would have to option of doing something a little closer to home if we wanted. I have only been once before but the food was amazing, so I wanted to go again.

The woman at the counter was super helpful and even gave us a few different samples! I love how friendly people in Phoenix are, have I mentioned that lately? Chino Bandido is a really fun place to eat because not only is the food packed full of flavor, but you have the option of Chinese or Latin American style food (oh, and even a little Caribbean!). You can choose between getting the entree as a rice bowl, quesadilla, burrito... or a combination! I'm not yet sure if this is an indecisive person's dream or nightmare. Between the two of us we got Jen Red Pork, Jade Red Chicken, and Emerald Chicken, with rice and black (Cuban style) beans.

Once again, everything was delicious. I decided that the difference between good food and great food is a single word, "flavor!" Good food tastes good, great food have flavor. Flavor = party in your mouth. And Chino Bandido has that. Added bonus that their awesome panda bandit statue is a Pokestop (not like I would be interested in that at all or anything...).

My favorite part of the meal is when my mom reached for the cookie, thinking that it was just an almond cookie or something, and was blown away by the fact that it was a perfectly soft and delicious snickerdoodle. As if the meal could get any better! :)

On our way home we stopped at a bookstore. But turns out it's closed Mondays. Boo. 

We headed back home after that, I wasn't feeling 100% anyways and sometimes you just need to sit in a cool apartment after running around. Mom and I brainstormed ways to transport this dresser that I bought (just BARELY did not fit in the car- uggghhh!). By then it was too late to do our last activity, so we just hung out.

Since Ross was awake earlier than usual (did I mention my nocturnal bat husband is doing night float right now?), my mom thought it would be a perfect time to go eat at a Triple D over in Glendale. 

When we got in the car: the temperature read 121 degrees. Maybe if there was more government regulation in this stare we could make it illegal. 

Unfortunately there is no convenient freeway that shoots you over to downtown Glendale (freeways are admittedly on of my favorite parts of the Valley). But we took the half hour drive on surface streets only to find that HAUS MURPHY IS CLOSED ON MONDAYS. Yes, we should've known better and checked, but such is life. I just want to eat German food on a bench in front of a giant soft pretzel!!! 

Odds were in our favor though, because there is another Triple D, just two doors down!! Buut, as the odds were evidently NOT in our favor, that place was closed on Mondays too. Lesson of the story is: Don't go to downtown Glendale, AZ on Mondays. But if you do, you might as well stop at the comic shop in between the two closed eateries and pick a few awesome $1 comics.

We made the slow drive on surface streets back and luckily still had plenty of awesome leftovers for dinner. My mom is so chill so we spent the rest of the night hanging out and watching movies. It was a lazy day and I am so grateful that my life is filled with flexible happy people that can easily roll with the punches.