• Family Dynamics

    Take Us to the Snow

    When I was five years old, my dad promised to take me and my sister to the snow. We lived in a suburb of Los Angeles, and the idea of snow was as foreign to me as the idea that people lived anywhere but California; I knew it in the abstract, but when I tried to solidify it in my imagination, it dissolved like so much mist. The memory of my dad promising to take me to the snow is one so old that I don’t actually remember it anymore; it has been repeated so often over the years that it has the cemented certainty that oral tradition imbues a story. Long…

  • Depression is a Bitch

    I Am Not A Grown-Up

    The most unexpected part of being a grown-up is how little I feel grown up. My life does not in the slightest resemble the one I imagined for myself (well, except for the handsome husband part––shout-out to Mike!). Although Happily Ever After does not exist, I keep chasing it down, believing that once I’m “there,” then I’ll finally be a grown-up. When I was a girl, I was seven going on 40. Or an old soul, as some call it. I could not wait to grow up, so I could be free. Free to travel the world, free to do what I liked without permission, free to drive to the…

  • Family Dynamics

    What If

    “Should we wait for Emile?” I ask. Grandpa doesn’t slow down, and each steady stride of his equals three of mine, even though everyone tells me I’m tall for my age. “No,” Grandpa answers. Emile is my sister. It’s pronounced “Emily,” but everyone always says it wrong. She is two years younger, and we fight a lot. She is annoying because she follows me around and always messes up my side of the bedroom. She was still putting on her windbreaker and shoes when we left. Grandpa told her we’d be on the beach walking toward the point, although I would rather just wait for her. When we pass the…

  • Sunset
    Adventureland!,  Off to See the World

    Surprise Neighbors, Or Why I Love Camping

    “Shoot, I forgot the tinfoil. For the baked potatoes.” I looked at Mike, who kept his eyes ahead on the path’s gentle curves. It hugged the ocean, the way back to the campsite. “That’s okay. We’ll figure something out,” he said, pulling Rusty to heel. “We can use two pans to create an oven for them. Stick it over the fire.” “I didn’t bring pans,” I said. “None of the meals I planned included anything that needed a pan.” “What about the chili?” “You don’t need a pan for chili. You just set the can over the fire.” “Oh. Well, we’ll figure something out.” “We can ask someone at the campsite.…

  • General Lunacy

    How to Plan a Camping Trip, Natalie-Style

    Schedule your trip to immediately follow a major holiday. This way, you ensure the maximum amount of stress while you’re preparing for both the holiday and the trip. Make sure you over-commit during the week prior to your trip.  Volunteer to lead neighborhood activities such as, oh, Easter egg dying, purchasing food for said activities and commit to several hours right before you’re supposed to leave. Forget items on your shopping list so you have to go to the store/library multiple times throughout the week, including on rushed lunch breaks. Also make sure you no longer fit in any of your camping clothes. This ensures that you will have to…

  • Adventureland!,  Family Dynamics

    Camping on the Beach

    One of my favorite times of year is fast approaching, and I am feeling the customary combination of giddy anticipation and frazzled nerves. No, I’m not talking about spring break – that ship sailed long ago (and my do I miss those days). Sometime between February and April every year, my entire family goes camping at the same location we’ve been going to since long before I was born. My grandparents took my dad and aunt and uncles when they were still toe-headed kids with scraped knees, and my initiation took place some time around my first birthday. Ever since, we have gravitated back to this quiet place at the edge…


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