FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA Coming Feb. 2, 2021

Exciting. Things. Are. Happening!

My debut young adult novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA, will be coming to a bookstore near you on Feb. 2, 2021! This has been such a delightful labor of love and I’m still in SO MUCH SHOCK that it is really happening (!!!).

Thank you so, so much to all of the incredible people in my life who helped me to achieve this dream of becoming a published author—but especially to the wonderful agent Tamar Rydzinski, who really believed in this book; and my amazing husband, Bill, who never once doubted me and also let me steal parts of his life and fictionalize it for profit. He also made me a gorgeous new, official author website.

I’m truly the luckiest.

Also: Can we take a second to appreciate THE COVER?! I am in such awe, and I’m deeply grateful to the phenomenally talented artist Ericka Lugo for creating it.

I can’t wait for you all to meet Charlie!

xo

On Living in a Pandemic with an Almost-Toddler

The world has changed since I last wrote. Right now, we are two months into quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic and I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined our lives going this way just a few short months ago.

So, uh… let’s catch up?!

In January, I returned to work full-time, Maya started going to daycare, our family adjusted to our “new normal,” and I could not stop stressing about the work/life balance: how was I ever going to be a good mom when I was spending so much of my day focused on work? And was I bad person because I liked my job?

I had barely let myself settle into those feelings before our “new normal” become something entirely new when on March 13, 2020, my employer announced it would be going remote.

I was one of the lucky ones, able to shift to working from home relatively “early” in the process and fully able to do my job from home. That week, Maya was out of daycare because she was sick, for which I was secretly grateful because Bill and I didn’t have to make the tough decision regarding whether we should send her in. Days later, her daycare closed, too, and Bill’s job went remote, and suddenly we were all three home again and our dog, Obi, was like, “THIS IS THE GREATEST EVER.”

Two months, many stresses, a few meltdowns (from me and from Maya, let’s be real), and soooo many bottles of wine later and here we are: surviving. Obviously I am tremendously lucky, and I know this. I’m not sick, none of my immediate family members are sick, I still have a job, I am able to care for my baby, I’m even working on an abbreviated schedule right now (10 hour days, M-F, though I do still work my two weekends per month as well). My husband is working with me. Our dog is living the freaking life. We have food and clothes and shelter and water.

Buuuut this is an emotional time, a scary time, a stressful time, a trying time, and I’m not immune to that. Like everyone else, I miss my life. I miss my family and friends. I miss going out to dinner with my husband. I miss exploring. I miss buying overpriced iced coffees. I miss not being angry at a society that prioritizes profits over people and its members who won’t wear a mask or stay home because it’s “annoying” or “boring.”

And this whole raising an almost-toddler while my husband and I are working full-time, too? Not easy! Some might say this is why things like daycare exist. Crazy. Most days I am just happy to collapse on the couch by 8 p.m., wine glass in hand, and recognize that my heart is still beating. Another day done. CHECK. Glug. Rinse. Repeat.

And, yes, I said almost-toddler, because that’s the other thing—Maya is suddenly on the brink of toddlerdom and I’m not happy about it! When did that happen?! And where did my tiny little baby go?! At 10 months old, Maya is a daring adventurer who loves to eat dirt (literally) and climb and fight naps and steal your food. She is FAR from being a baby. Where is the complain department? Time went by way too fast.

So, in that way, it can be kind of nice sometimes. Not the pandemic thing, obviously.

But if we’re talking silver linings, looking for things for which to be grateful? I’ve got to say, getting to watch my kid grow every single day is pretty incredible. Sneaking in extra snuggles is delicious. Playing extra games of peek-a-boo and pretending to eat her little hands and chasing her around the house are all things I’m so grateful I’ve gotten to do. Plus, date nights with my husband, extra belly rubs for my dog, not having to wear a bra. All great.

The world may be pretty bad right now.

But right here, in this house, with my little family, it’s pretty good.

I hope you can say the same and I hope you’re all surviving okay. (And if you’re struggling, please know that’s okay, too.)

xo.

FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

I’ve had two dreams since I was a kid.

  1. Fall in love with a funny, hot guy.
  2. Become a published author.

I got to check number one off my list a long time ago, lucky to have fallen in love with my person at just 18 years old.

And now I can cross number two off of my list, too! Absolutely THRILLED to follow up on my book baby news and share that my debut young adult book FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA has been picked up by Holiday House Books!

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It has been a wonderful labor of love and is finally coming to fruition thanks to the endless efforts of my agent, the incredible Tamar Rydzinski of Context Literary Agency!

What a literal dream come true. Someone pinch me.

More soon!

xo.

Things I Did (and Wore) in May 2019

First and foremost: how amazing is this header photo? Bill and I stopped by the Happy Place exhibit in Boston in May and got a ton of great photos, including this one that I will cherish literally forever.

As my pregnancy has ticked on, I’ve continued to take lots less outfit photos than normal. It’s so true that pregnancy takes a toll on your body and your self image in ways you can’t anticipate—and as I’m also recycling the same outfits over and over, I find myself looking at the rest of my closet with total yearning. Sometimes I’ve even attempted to put old outfits on completely forgetting that they won’t fit at all and get disappointed when they don’t look right. Well, duh, you’re growing a baby?

For the month of May, I spent much of my time with friends, wrapping up the semester/commencement season at work, writing, and making the most of my weekends with Bill and Obi: visiting the local zoo, making a day in Boston, running to Ikea. I also celebrated my 31st birthday!

Here’s some of what I wore.

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Tights: WeLoveColors
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Purse: TJ Maxx
  • Shoes: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe Julia
  • Kimono: Amazon
  • Shoes: DSW

And here’s a glimpse into what I did.

xo.

All Bellies Are Good Bellies; All Bodies Are Good Bodies

Just a reminder for the soon-to-be mamas—especially plus-size or fat soon-to-be mamas—out there, in case you needed to hear it…

In case some people have made you feel like your baby bump isn’t desirable

Or it’s too big

Or it’s too small

Or it doesn’t “pop” the way it should

Or it “pops” a little too much

Or it’s a B-bump rather than a traditional round bump

Or “you don’t even look pregnant!”

Or “Oh my God, you’re about to explode!” 

Or your stretch marks feel too prominent

Or you struggle to get off the couch

Or you can’t reach your toes

Or you feel disgusting

Or you have moments of, “For how much longer can I do this?”

Or you hate the way you look

Or you love the way you look but others make you feel like you shouldn’t

Or whatever—

Your body is good. Your baby bump is good. Your belly is good. You are good.

That’s all.

xo.

Baby Showers: Over the Moon with Gratitude

I’ve been feeling super grateful lately, especially as I’ve celebrated Baby C with not one but two baby showers recently.

Truth be told, I was dreading my baby shower. I do not do well as the center of attention in a room full of people where all eyes are on you. That’s one reason Bill and I straight up eloped

But I knew my family was really excited about the addition to our family, so a baby shower felt right. I was feeling really, really fortunate that so many of my loved ones wanted to share in our joy and to celebrate me and Bill and our soon-to-be new addition to the family. And that deserved a little celebrating.

So, with the help of family, we were able to pull together a truly lovely baby shower that kept some traditions in tact and bucked others.

There were no games, the venue was described as “different” by some, and little to no pink despite 1) us having a girl and 2) pink being my favorite color. But we kept the important things: good company, good food, and good gifts. What more can you really ask for?

I got to do it all again, too, when my work family threw me a baby shower, too—and on my 31st birthday, to boot! Talk about a celebration.

Bill and I are still feeling so humbled by the outpouring of love, kindness, generosity, and support from the crew of wonderful family and friends around us as we’ve inched closer to Baby C making her triumphant debut. They say it takes a village, and we have felt that so hard these last few months as everyone has reached out to figure out how they can help—from sharing their gently-loved baby items to pitching in to help with house projects to contributing to baby’s wardrobe or nursery or straight up offering good vibes.

To our people: thank you. Baby C has no idea how lucky she is!

xo.

What I Did (and Wore) in April 2019

Let’s be honest: the last few months have been wrapped up in All Things Baby. Even before I got pregnant, I told myself I wouldn’t let myself get so wrapped up in having a baby and becoming a mom that I’d forget about myself, my hobbies, and my life.

Though I haven’t done anything of those things, I did slightly underestimate just how much time goes into getting ready to have a baby. There’s a lot to do to get ready and I worried I’d hate it or feel like it didn’t fit in with my life at all or that it would be hard, but the transition has felt surprisingly… right.

As a natural planner (and overanalyzer, overthinker, etc.), I’ve liked making lists and having concrete things to work on as Bill and I have prepared to welcome a baby into our lives. But I guess I hadn’t realized how much things have shifted until I’ve looked back on what I’ve been up to and realized that much of it was centered around this new little life.

Bill and I have had lots of conversations together about how we want to make sure that we maintain our identities, both as individuals and as a couple, even after we add a new person into our family. We’re so excited to meet her, but also don’t want to completely change the life we were already really, really happy in. I can already feel the collective eyerolls from some parents: “Well, just you wait!” But we’re trying to look at having a baby not as something that will change everything about the life that we had before, but as something that will make the amazing life we already had even better, richer, and fuller in ways we hadn’t imagined before.

Obviously a lot of our time will be focused on that little thing called “raising a child.”

But it’s also important to us that we exist as people outside of our parental identities. I think that’s important not just for our sanity, but for hers, too. She should have two fully realized people as parents, who have interests and hobbies and friends and full, robust lives so she can determine what she’d like her full life to look like, too.

It’ll be an interesting balance as we forge ahead.

Especially when April was a month where our activities were pretty heavily baby-focused:

  • Took a “babymoon” to NYC
  • Buying myself a “push present” (AKA just spending money on myself) in the form of a beautiful new Nikon camera
  • Teaching myself to use said beautiful new Nikon camera
  • Feeling baby move regularly for the first times and capturing it on video
  • Taking some new headshots for my author life 
  • Getting a fresh new haircut
  • Desperately trying to teach myself how to do a salon blowout at home—and failing
  • Setting up the nursery
  • Savoring Beychella AGAIN with the release of the Homecoming documentary (love you, Bey)
  • Working a lot
  • Celebrating baby with a baby shower! 

The babymoon ended up being a blast. With me in my third trimester, we didn’t want to venture too far, but we also wanted to have a nice little weekend where we could focus on the two of us and get away from all things baby. (Sorry, boo thang.) We settled on New York City because I really wanted to take a trip down memory lane at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The story goes like this: Bill and I were friends before we dated. Senior year of high school, we shared a mutual friend, an English class, a gym class, and an art class. In art class, senior students traditionally took a field trip to NYC to check out some of the museums there, so sometime in the spring, he and I were part of the group of students who traveled up to the city. We found ourselves at the Met, where we were given an assignment (pick a piece of art to write something about), and we eventually ended up exploring part of the museum together.

I still remember what I was wearing—a white tank top, a pink stripe shrug that tied around my waist, some jeans. It was chilly inside the Met. I made a comment as such. He offered me his jacket.

I like to say, “And the rest is history,” but the truth is this: I turned him down on wearing the jacket, but I feel like a little piece of my heart opened up that day to the possibility that, hey, this cute guy might like me.

At some point, he asked me to hang out with him and his friends and go see a movie (Mission Impossible 3, in case you were wondering) and we had a really, really fun time. So, I got brave, too, and invited him to my birthday party, where we spent quite a bit of time chatting that night and having a good time.

Days later, with our senior year winding to a close, we swapped yearbooks. I wrote a totally boring, run-of-the-mill, “stay sweet” over the summer kind of message, but when he handed me my yearbook back, he told me not to read it right away.

When I worked up the courage to check out his passage, it turned out there wasn’t a message at all, but lyrics to a song by my then-favorite artist John Mayer:

Your phone was really broken
I tried your number twice
And if you need confirmation, baby I understand
It’s alright if you want me to…

The next line, left unwritten: Tell you you got my only heart.

RIGHT?!

And then, over AOL Instant Messenger, Bill asked me if I’d ever seen the movie Hustle and Flow. When I said no, he asked if I’d like to see it. I said yes. We set up a date for June 17—which is now our wedding anniversary, too, and could also be the day when we said hello to our little coconut. (My due date is June 19.)

So, yeah, it was nice to be nostalgic and take that trip down memory lane at the Met, even all pregnant and swollen as I was.

We also spent our baby moon with stops at the American Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, Levain Bakery, and Shake Shack (obviously). It was a really nice weekend.

As for some of the things that I wore, you’ll notice I started taking less body photos as my body has grown to accommodate the baby bump.

Sigh. Obviously part of that is feeling uncomfortable in this New Body.

And part of that reason is because I’m in the same 5-10 outfits over and over again because that’s all that fits!

We do what we can. 😉

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Outfit details

  • Scarf: Payless (I think?)
  • Tank tops: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Leggings: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Tank top: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Old Navy
  • Purse: Marshall’s
  • Necklace: 25 Central
  • Leggings: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Dress: 25 Central
  • Shoes: Payless
  • THAT. HAIR. THAT. BLOWOUT: Ochoa Salon in East Longmeadow

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Hair: Ochoa Salon

xo.

What I Did (and Wore) in March 2019

Last I wrote, I’d just taken a trip to California. It was great to see my parents in their element and to spend some time in the sunshine, which I desperately craved after an already long winter.

And now as I write this it’s like, summer, dudes. Because apparently I can’t keep up with hobbies!

But I am super grateful for phones at this point in my life because I can look back on March and see what I did, and it was a pretty good month.

Anyway, what was I up to a few months ago?

  • Traveling to California to visit my parents before Baby names her debut
  • Seeing “Queer Eye”’s Tan France live at Smith College (yes, he was just as lovely and good looking in person as you imagine!)
  • Getting a 3D ultrasound of Baby (these things are kind of freaky, right?)
  • Planning the nursery
  • Celebrating our first baby Obi’s 7th birthday—Bill and I tried to give him an extra special day, as it’s his last birthday before he has to be kind to his baby sister, so we were a little extra (see pics below)
  • Seeing the first signs of a baby bump
  • Nabbing the newest iPhone
  • Celebrating some fun news with my husband
  • KonMari-ing the crap out of the house after binge-watching the Marie Kondo series on Netflix
  • Spending quality time with friends and my little nephew, O

 

 

(Side note: WHY do the circular image galleries look all stretched out on WordPress?!)

What a great month, y’all! And I captured almost NO outfit photos. Here are a few, though some are not the traditional mirror selfies.

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Outfit details

(Probs needed an undershirt beneath this tank top, but oh well.)

  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Sweater: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Target
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Target
  • Sweater: Mom’s closet, duh
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Tank tops: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Nike
  • Dog: Rescue — adopt, don’t shop, y’all

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Outfit details

  • Scarf: Hearst Castle
  • Cardigan: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Old Navy
  • Leggings: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Payless

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Tracking a small baby bump!

Outfit details

  • Maternity top: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Maternity jeans: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Payless (RIP)

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Outfit details

  • Top: Marshall’s
  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Shoes: DSW

Also, shout out to my goddamn phone for helping me keep track of what I’ve done with my life and when. Remember when you used to have to keep track of everything by journaling? Or, like, remembering? Now, I feel like my phone and its photos offer such an in-depth look at my life—at what I was doing, wearing, feeling, experiencing, and exploring—that I rarely need to write, which is good and bad because writing is kind of my first love.

Photography seems to be one of those things you can just kind of do. Writing is one of those things I have to actively make time for.

So, when things get hectic, guess which one falls by the wayside?

Don’t worry, though, writing. I’ll always come back to you.

xo.

Things I Did (and Wore) in February 2019

Thank baby Jesus that February is done and gone. I could deal with the winter if it was just, like, December and January. But that it extends into February? The AUDACITY!

I have serious pregnancy brain, too, meaning I can hardly remember what I did in the month. (Can still feel the harsh cold on my numb cheeks, though.) Thankfully, there are iPhone photos to remind me that I actually had a lovely time:

  • Celebrating Galentine’s Day with friends
  • Celebrating love on Valentine’s Day with my husband at our favorite tapas restaurant, Bocado (and, yes, we did take tons of photos of that food)
  • Enjoying Wormtown Brewery (beer for Bill, watching Bill drink beer for me)
  • Organizing the baby’s room and all of her magnificent clothes
  • Receiving the best gift ever for baby from a friend/colleague in the form of a Backstreet Boys hair bow (I’m just modeling it, I swear)
  • Fawning over our OG baby, Obi
  • Peeping up at the giant Super Wolf Blood Moon

Here’s what I wore, which was mostly just shades of the same thing…

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Shein, a place I actually do not recommend purchasing from because they cannot get proportions right and the sleeves on every single thing I purchased where a nightmare.
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

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Outfit details:

  • Dress wif pockets: 25 Central
  • Leggings: Kohl’s
  • Boots: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Target — dreamysigh. I just love this dress.
  • Cardigan: Target
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

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Outfit details

  • Top: Shein (again, DO NOT RECOMMEND)
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

And what I did through pictures!

BTW, I’m digging myself out of a backlog of posts, so expect a few in the next couple of days.

xo!

Favorite Books of 2018

Read any good books in 2018? I definitely did. Here are a few of my favorites!

Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson

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It’s hard to write a book that dissects feminism, cuts to the heart of racism and sexism, and also makes you want to pee your pants because you’re laughing so hard. “Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay” is very that, though. Phoebe Robinson is brilliant and hilarious, sharing personal essays that will make you laugh until tears are streaming down your face while you’re on your miserable 45-minute commute to your job driving through the country backroads of western Massachusetts (Amherst is not easy to get to, guys). Each essay was excellent, but I’ll admit it: hearing all about meeting Bono was my absolute favorite. I highly recommend the audiobook for this, too. Though you miss out on some of the photos (you can just stalk her on Instagram to find them!), you get to hear Phoebe read this aloud as it’s intended. Plus, there’s nothing better than when she starts to laugh at her own jokes.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words by Michael Ausiello

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You’ll need tissues for this one — a moving, real-life love story of TV writer Michael Ausiello and photographer Kit Cowan. Ausiello moves seamlessly between the building blocks of his relationship with Cowan to the present-day horror of what it’s like to find out that the love of your life is dying from cancer. This book will gut you and you’ll find yourself hoping that the title was a mislead, that the hero really doesn’t die in the end, and you’ll be shaken to the core when he does. Still, it’s a beautiful story about life, love, grief, and the adventure of being in a relationship with your person. It devastated me; I loved it.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

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Michelle McNamara has a way of weaving together details about the Golden State Killer in such a way that, at times, you forget you’re reading about a serial killer — but in the best way. Though the book is a true depiction of McNamara’s obsession, it also tells a lot about McNamara, too, from her childhood to what attracted her to this case to her process. Learning about her search is every bit as interesting as the details of the case itself. But fear not: if you’re a true crime lover, the book is every bit as chilling as you think it is; there were parts that gave me chills. I only wish McNamara was around to know how influential her work was.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

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I’m so pleased that this will be a series. “Shadowshaper” is a fantasy young adult novel that tells the story of a young girl named Sierra who uncovers a supernatural world. It’s hard to describe the plot without spoiling anything, but the Goodreads description had me hooked:

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “Lo siento” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra is a great YA character, the kind that you can see so much potential in and root for over and over. The pacing of the book is great, with a great balance between the action and focus on the story’s relationships. The book is exciting and spooky and has supernatural elements that feel pretty believable. All in all, a great read!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

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It is can be tricky to tackle mental health in a tactful but real way in YA novels. Erika L. Sánchez does it beautifully. She writes of grief and loss, of loneliness and despair, of family and growth in lovely ways. But I am truly grateful for — and impressed by — her no-holds-barred portrayal of what it’s like to deal with depression as a teen. Julia is an unforgettable character with wit and spunk; she’s tough, but lovable as she searchers for the truth about her older sister Olga, who passed away, and may have a secret life Julia never knew about. The book perfectly combines grit with humor as it covers important themes like the immigrant experience, mental health, cultural expectations, family pressure, and chasing your own ambition.

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

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This was perhaps my favorite book of the year. It was a book that truly transported me; I could picture and feel everything Nicole Chung experienced so fully, despite my life being nothing like it. The book is a memoir of Chung’s life and of her search to learn more about her biological family, set against the backdrop of her own life and motherhood and experiences with her adoptive family. The writing in this book is breathtaking at parts and so vulnerable. Chung’s feelings are ripe and raw for the reader’s consumption and her story truly moved me like a memoir hasn’t before.

What were your favorite reads from 2018?

(Book photos credit to Amazon.com)