Blessings by the Pound

The summer is flying by in a blur of good work, awesome trips, and rolling heat waves! But as the old saying goes, I am:

Too Blessed 2 Be Stressed

One clear highlight amid the menagerie: meeting Paula Poundstone at a Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me taping in Chicago!

Paula Poundstone with adoring fans in Chicago

The suit? “You never know when you’re going to have to serve ice cream.”

She is as divine as I expected; perhaps more. I mean, just look at her suit!! I was so happy to have decided on the striped top that day. #twinsies

Until the next dispatch, big summer blessings to all.

A late summer toast to old friends, new books, and… Ragnarök?

The Tricksters Lover

I’ve been friends with the hilarious, curious, adventurous, and all-around lovable Samantha MacLeod* since I think third grade. We grew up together, playing anthropomorphized tigers on the playground right up until adolescence, getting into some real questionable music in junior high, and eventually self-publishing a book of our high school poetry before parting ways at college-time.

In the years since then, we’ve both seen the world as WWOOFers (she in Italy and me in Belgium), held a few real questionable jobs (she was a barista at the University of Chicago Divinity School coffee shop, Grounds of Being; I threw my body and soul into many “healthy patient clinical trials” in Boston), and have now settled into pretty awesome lives in our respective climes: she’s a Maine-based mom of two with a kickass chemist husband; I’m a good-times Brooklyn girl who gets to work in my pajamas by day and plan my wedding with the world’s handsomest bass-playing vegan bicyclist at night.

I’m so tickled and happy that Samantha and I have stayed friends all these years. (The fact that I can’t find any e-photos of us together should be no comment on the quality of said friendship! I attribute that mostly to digital cameras’ nonexistence for the first 20-ish years of our knowing each other. To make up for this awful dearth, I am happy to present instead this adorable photo of Samantha’s daughter carrying their cat Maxwell Finnegan up the stairs in the summer of 2013.)

Toddler carrying cat

Girl with cat

Now, a new chapter (pun annoyingly intended) has begun in Samantha’s life, and I want to shout it from the rooftops: she’s a serious published author with a juicy new paranormal romance heating up the shelves!! You can find The Trickster’s Lover right here.

Classic Samantha, the book combines a grad student’s wavering commitment to a career in Norse mythology with a scandalous visitation from Loki, “the enigmatic and irresistibly sexy Norse trickster god.” Mayhem (and many steamy love scenes) ensue as protagonist Caroline wrestles with her choices, her sanity, and Ragnarök—the mythical apocalyptic battle that will ultimately submerge the world in water.

On the grounds that she is a fantastic human being and because capping your summer reading list with an unusual and super-hot book like this sounds like good advice, I hereby urge y’all to order a copy today! And check out Samatha’s blog. It’s also really hot, in the way that funny, clever, and endearing things are really hot.

*Not her real name! Who knows when this romance author might want to run for President?

That fresh “new client” smell

I’ve long been a fan of homesharing upstarts Airbnb. Since 2010, I’ve been renting my place out to fabulous people—packs of Mormon girls from Florida, film students from Korea, and gap year couples from Australia—whenever I go out of town for a spell. And for almost as long, I’ve booked my own one-of-a-kind getaways from Iceland to Budapest to upstate New York using the site. Win-win!

AirBnB host Oliver Aguilar at his home in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, IL. May 9, 2016. Photographer: Christopher Dilts / AirBnB

This is Oliver. More about him in a moment. (Photo credit: Christopher Dilts for Airbnb)

As a lifelong hippie, I immediately appreciated the business’s founding premises of extending hospitality to those we don’t yet know, and a waste not/want not approach to space and resources. And as a lifelong Frugal Fannie, I also immediately appreciated the extra income I got from renting.

So you have to imagine I was pretty stoked to start writing for Airbnb recently. They’re growing like crazy, and wanted an extra hand to help publicize the many events they throw and shout their hosts’ stories from the rooftops.

Writing my first few pieces for the site was super fun and brought me back to a basic truth about what I do: attending events, talking with people, and then summarizing the experience in words is one of my very favorite kinds of writing. It’s one of my very favorite things to do, period!

In the past couple of years, my freelance work has taken many directions: narrative writing like this, copywriting for websites, editing papers and reports… I’ve liked it all, but my work with Airbnb has helped illuminate for me that I want to prioritize this kind of people-and-place-based work most of all. It’s entertaining, it’s educational, it’s tactile. And it’s often the easiest type of work I do; the writing and editing usually flows the smoothest. That probably says something in itself.

So thanks, Airbnb, for this breath of fresh editorial air. And thanks to all my fellow hosts—like Oliver, Hans, and Seamus—for being so darn friendly, and so very photogenic!