It’s with a mixture of sadness and relief that I say I will be taking a break from this blog. For how long? I’m not sure. Why? Let me explain. (It’s a long one. I have many thoughts.)
I started this blog just a few days after moving to San Diego to document my journey as an East Coaster-turned-San Diegan. I wanted to find cool shops, delicious restaurants, scenic hiking trails, great coffee, and more. It has served me very well. It forced me to get out and experience a city in which I had no friends, no family, and no job. It was speed dating.
But this wasn’t a passion project. Seasoned bloggers say, “Never start a blog to make money,” but from Day 1 I wanted this blog to make money. Of course I wanted to do so organically, but making it a business was the goal. I’ve already done the just-for-fun blog thing—first about food in New York City and second about backpacking around the world for a year. With My SoCal’d Life, I was ready for the big time.
In many ways, building the blog was easy. I was freelance magazine writing from home, had very flexible hours, and attended events for work that I could cover on the blog. Slowly, surely, and naturally, I built a brand, point of view, and voice. Cut to this summer: I started getting opportunities to monetize—not much, but a stepping stone. At the same time, I took on a full-time writer position at San Diego Magazine. Now I was juggling a 9-5 office job, freelance work, and a blog that was growing.
These last few months have been awesome in many ways—a stable job! an expanding blog!—but in other ways it’s been a huge struggle, whether it’s because I never had time to unwind, was constantly multitasking, or asking my boyfriend to take photos of me in some ridiculously posed manner. I felt like I was missing out on life and its simple pleasures. I felt like I was suffocating and gasping for air because I wasn’t getting the downtime that everyone needs to feel sane. I was becoming grouchy, distracted, forgetful, and a bit anti-social, too.
It took getting out of San Diego to realize I had to make a choice. I was in New Orleans for a press trip and started seeing various signs that I should take a break from the blog. It’s a bit of a long story, but the end result was like coming out of a fugue. I needed to let go of something because I was doing too much of everything.
I took these last two weeks to see how it felt not to blog. It was sad, and I felt a bit like a failure, but quite honestly, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. Two weeks later, I’ve decided that the blog is the thing that has to go.
On the practical side, my full-time job and freelance writing generate money; blogging, less so. On the abstract side, I’ve been watching blogging devolve in a direction I don’t like and I’m not sure I want to be a part of it at the moment. The numerous hashtags, the ill-matched sponsored content, Loop giveaways, the hyper-stylized Instagrams—it can come across as wildly phony. I don’t think it’s coincidence that at the time the brilliant Socality Barbie Instagram account debuted, I decided to take this blog break. I wanted to give the gal behind this Insta a virtual high five when she said: “People were all taking the same pictures in the same places and using the same captions. I couldn’t tell any of their pictures apart…I get it, it’s pretty to look at. But it’s so dishonest. Nobody actually lives like this. And it’s so overdone that it’s becoming boring.”
But guess what? I’ve done it, too! I’ve styled my lattes, typed the copious hashtags, and made Teddy pose with me (though he likes following me around anyway). The tipping point was signing up for a sponsored post that in the end would’ve seemed very off-brand. (I didn’t end up going through with it.) And look, I understand that bloggers gotta get paid. We’re writers, photographers, graphic designers, stylists, publicists, and videographers rolled into one. It’s hard!
But do I have the energy and time to devote to it, to grow this business in an organic way but still have beautiful photos, frequent social media updates, and creative content? I do not. And I don’t mean to slight the industry because some bloggers do an exquisite job of naturally infusing sponsored content, like A Beautiful Mess, Advice From a Twentysomething, and Wit & Delight. And I like looking at beautiful, well-styled images, too, if it feels real-ish. I’m not a hater, but at this point I’d rather be an observer than a contributor.
Some friends have said, “Why don’t you just blog once a week or once a month?” Frankly, I get my fill in other ways. I write about San Diego for work already. Perhaps if my blog was about fashion or music, it would be a nice escape, but writing about the same topic for all facets of my life became boring. Now I’d rather spend that time expanding my mind in a different way—reading a book, volunteering with Teddy, trying a new hike, etc. And it’s not like I’m swimming in free time; my freelance work keeps me busy in the #werkafterwork grind. I’m kind of amazed I was doing a blog on top of it all!
The blog has given me a beautiful thing—a platform from which I could explore my city and use it as an entryway to freelance writing. It was a lesson in branding, a vehicle to shape my voice, and a way to make friends. But when it feels like a chore, it’s time to step back. So that’s what I’m doing. Like I said, I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I’m sure this time away will be time well spent. (Just last week I laid in bed at 8 p.m. to listen to the rarity that is rain in Southern California. And then I passed out at 9 p.m. And it was amazing. We all need a little do-nothing time in our lives.)
What can you expect now? Instagram, which is essentially micro-blogging. I will continue to contribute there because I love that platform. It’s a place where I can share my favorite restaurants, beaches, experiences, pictures of Teddy, and the occasional styled caffeine beverage. I hope to see you there.
So until I’m back, thanks for reading, commenting, sharing, and loving. I’ve grown in many ways because you lovely people have kept reading. And the blog has been such a big part of my San Diego move, so big that I felt the need to write a novel about hitting pause :) Thank you for the love. Big hugs. xx
The best things I ate, saw, and did in August:1. Weekend getaway to The Garland Hotel. We—Teddy, too!—spent a night at this stylish boutique hotel in L.A.’s North Hollywood nabe this past weekend as part of a work assignment. There were so many fun design details, including this cool butterfly wall, movies played nightly at the pool, macrame decor in the restaurant, and a mini dog park for pooches. More to share on this in a few weeks.2. Bridesmaids at The Pearl Hotel. This was my second time at the retro San Diego hotel’s weekly poolside movie screenings, but this time I was with a bunch of friends watching Bridesmaids, which is really the best kind of movie to watch with a big group. All those quotable lines! On a sappy note, moving to San Diego in 2013 without knowing anyone was hard and making friends from scratch was even harder. To think I went to this with nearly a dozen people who are now such lovely friends of mine was very soul-satisfying.3. Best of San Diego party. A great memory for a few reasons. One, it’s my favorite of all of San Diego Magazine‘s events. Two, I really love that $30 Forever 21 dress. And three, Eaman and I hardly have pictures together anymore—mostly because I tend to take pictures of Teddy and overhead shots of lattes, whoops—so it was nice to get a framer with him.4. Meeting Teddy’s brother. Randomly running into Teddy’s long-lost brother while walking around North Park? AMAZING!5. Travel segment on KPBS. I’ve done radio before—I did a live play-by-play of Will and Kate’s royal nuptials for ABC back when I lived in New York—but last week’s segment on KPBS was my first radio clip in San Diego. I chatted all about last-minute Labor Day travel. You can listen to the full segment and watch a shorter TV spot here.
I’m sure many of you are either ducking out early for the long weekend or mentally checking out if you’re staying local. I’ll actually be heading out to New Orleans tomorrow, so I’m signing off a bit early this week. See you next week! xo
I wanted a dog for 20+ years. I dreamed about having a dog, cried about not having one, studied dog encyclopedias, read training manuals. In short, I was obsessed. But I also knew to wait until the right time and right city before making that dream happen. More power to the people who can manage big dogs in New York City, but it didn’t seem feasible to me. Then when we landed in San Diego, I didn’t waste any time. Three months after pulling up to our new home, we went to look at litters and found our sweet Teddy boy.
Though initially we were exhausted puppy parents who failed at bringing him out with us—do it; it’s amazing socialization for them—we now take him almost everywhere. And lucky for him, San Diego is a doggy wonderland. There are tons of dogs parks, three dog beaches within a 20-minute drive, cafes that welcome pooches, ice cream specifically prepared for them, shop owners who keep treats on hand for four-legged visitors, and more. Teddy is one spoiled pooch.
So in celebration of yesterday’s National Dog Day, here’s a round-up of our favorite dog-friendly spots in the city: read more
Reading: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s amazing. AMAZING! Adichie is such a skilled writer who can balance pain, laughs, insight, and quick wit. (No wonder Beyonce sampled her TEDx Talk in “Flawless.”) Given how much people have hyped this book, my expectations were high, but all the praise is warranted. My copy is due back to the library this weekend, so now it’s a race to the finish the last 100 or so pages. Pretty sure I’ll be sad to be done with this one.
Traveling to:L.A. this weekend for work/play, New Orleans next week for a blog trip (!), Malibu at the end of September for a wedding, and likely Catalina in early October. After a relatively quiet August, the travel ramps up yet again. Woot!
Eating: At home more. I went through a few weeks of constantly eating out, partly because I was too tired to cook and partly because I was wholly uninspired. This Martha Stewart blistered eggplant dish was a particularly memorable meal and perfect for summer.
Watching: The Wire. One episode in, I’m not totally won over yet but am curious to see why people call it the best show in the history of television. I’m also watching my Real Housewives (of Orange County and New York) because there’s no better mindless entertainment after a long, hard day.
Exercising: Differently. As much as I loved going to a yoga studio, with the amount I eat out for work-related events and meetings, I wasn’t getting the burn I needed to balance out all the calories. It wasn’t about weight; I simply felt unhealthy and sluggish. So I joined Fit, an admittedly fancy gym that offers spinning, weight classes, yoga, barre classes, and more (I get a discount rate through work). I swore off gyms after OD-ing in New York City and also because San Diego is such an outdoor activity kind of town, but I needed efficient workouts. I like doing my weekday morning classes and then adding in long walks and hikes with Teddy on weekday evenings and weekends. #balance
Working on: Purging. It’s funny that for two years of working from home, our one-bedroom apartment (which is a decent 600 square feet) seemed like the right amount of space for me, Eaman, and Teddy. Now being home only on weekday evenings and weekends thanks to a full-time office job, I find the space totally claustrophobic. Maybe it’s because the novelty has worn off. Maybe it’s because I can finally separate work from home, and really need home to be an uncluttered sanctuary. Either way, I’m getting a lot of satisfaction out of walking around the apartment and tossing (into a bag for Goodwill) items we don’t need or hardly ever use. Decluttering my space has done wonders for decluttering my mind. I also plan to check out Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Have you heard of it? It seems like a bible for minimalists and manual for hoarders.
For this month’s issue of San Diego Magazine, the annual Best of San Diego package, which highlights the best of the city’s food, drink, shopping, and more, I rounded up five of my favorite neighborhoods and the top restaurant, bar, and classic fave in each. There’s the Italian eatery Catania in La Jolla, a cool brewery in Barrio Logan, my favorite home boutique Pigment in North Park, and other goodies. You can read the full story here.
And tomorrow the magazine will be throwing its annual Best of San Diego party at Liberty Station’s NTC Promenade. I was on the news yesterday to talk about a few of the vendors that’ll be there—you can watch the clip here—and I must’ve done a pretty bang-up job because tickets are now sold out. (I kid.) If you’re local, I hope you got your tickets—see you Friday!
We’re spoiled in Southern California with al fresco weather nearly year-round, but that distinct summer vibe—think flip-flops, beach towels, late sunsets, and barbecues—is hard to replicate in the others seasons. That’s why I’ve been fighting my laziness and making sure I tick off all the summer goals I made mental note of in June. Things like heading to Sunset Cliffs to watch golden hour on a weeknight or hanging out in Imperial Beach on a Friday evening when the farmers market turns the pier area into one big block party. And also picnics, tons and tons of picnics.
There’s no shortage of good picnic spots in San Diego, from Balboa Park and Mission Hills’ Pioneer Park to Windansea Beach and even the area outside our baseball stadium, Petco Park, but my favorite is Kate Sessions Memorial Park in Pacific Beach. The wide, grassy space (on a sloping hill) has trees, ocean vistas, skyline views, and a very lax policy on keeping dogs leashed (you didn’t hear it from me). It’s also where I chose to ring in the big 3-0. It’s a really special, really beautiful spot.So with the spirit of summer in mind, here are six steps to to plan your next picnic party: read more
A place for a quiet cup of tea and petit, crustless sandwiches this is not. Breakfast Republic, the new North Park eatery dedicated to morning fuel, is bold, brazen, and a little in-your-face. The front patio is a mix of wood, steel, brick, and chalk. The interior palette consists of red, greens, and yellows. And the rooster motif? Let’s just say they weren’t afraid to play up the “cock” pun. In sum, it’s barnyard chic-meets-North Park hipster.
And Breakfast Republic’s menu is equally flamboyant, with pancakes in flavors like Oreo, churro, and mint chocolate chip (choose three different varieties to make the very awesome pancake flight), veggie tostadas, jambalaya, S’mores French toast, and a beer and sausage sampler amongst other items. There’s also Cafe Moto coffee and 20 beers on tap, along with a chance to buy some Breakfast paraphernalia, like tees and their very cute coffee mugs.