ordinary monster days: in pictures [05.16.13]

A little photo update on the last few weeks…

Winterstar + @ecc1977

R.T.’s band Winterstar played a show at the Currier Museum. (Note: you should check out that music if you’re into experimental/noise and/or are in the mood for something a little different.)

Sunny Saturday hoop action.

Hooping in the park! And welcoming springtime…

Springtime dandelions.

Beautiful scenery, beautiful human. @onewordheadline

A flower with a bee on it. #nofilter because this couldn't possibly be any more beautiful to me. #spring #nature

We got new tattoos!

@onewordheadline getting tattooed by @mandydesjardins.

R.T.’s is a cover-up of a bird he got when he was younger. Now it’s lovely autumn leaves. Isn’t it pretty?

The tattoo R.T. got yesterday. The tree is a cover-up. (Used to be the outline of a bird.) Photo and tattoo by @mandydesjardins (freehand because she has mad skills)

Mine: song lyrics by Neko Case.

My new tattoo.

John K. Samson. Puffed up.

As I mentioned the other day, I adopted this little dude — a 6-month-old timneh african grey parrot we named John K. Samson. He’s my little feathered best friend. He has a playgym on my desk and he hangs out with me while I work, doing crazy things like this:

It's a pity that you don't have appendages that would keep you from falling on your back like a klutz, bird.

I trained him to wear a harness. It took 8 days and a lot of patience, but it means I can take him on all sorts of outings. He’ll probably chill at the beach with me this summer. Really.

Zero to harness in 8 days. Wore it for a walk downtown and back. Very proud of our training this week. #birdinthecity #africangrey #portsmouth

And other slices of life…

Breakfast by my brother-in-law.


We biked & trekked around Parker River wildlife refuge today.

Adorable ice cream/crepe shop.


R.T. looks sleepy. Stephen looks smiley. (Weird.)

A little bit country.

Jess the baker. @overyonder


Diesel is sulky because he wants to be outside. I think he has the right idea.

Waiting for Springtime

The little park there is of my favorite places in Portsmouth.

It’s been two weeks since we said the last of our goodbyes and loaded everything into our moving truck.

My love is tired. 48 more hours of moving. And then unpacking. #NHbound

Leaving Detroit.

The move was… eventful. The moving truck broke down just outside of Syracuse, New York. I ended up going on alone in the car while R.T. stayed and waited for roadside assistance. The last leg of the drive was really snowy and windy and terrible.

Nevertheless, we made it, and we’ve been getting settled in slowly but surely.

Arriving before the truck & husband means I don't have any furniture or food, but I do have these jerks and my #filofax.

Today. #slowlybutsurely

R.T. took a part-time job working with our friend Tory. It’s been strange not having him around all the time, but it’s working out well. I like that it’s given me separation between work time and personal time.

Visiting with the Bobbetts and Lady Peju.

Delicious honey panna cotta with grapefruit, served by Joel & Peju.

It’s been so nice seeing our friends here and falling in love with this little seacoast town all over again. We’re a little under a mile from downtown Portsmouth, so we’ve been going for a lot of walks.

Cloudy & calm.

Excited pup. We miss @onewordheadline this morning, though.

Downtown. Winter rain.

It’s really picturesque here, yes? Still, I can’t wait until these are spring photos. I’m really longing for bicycle rides, and hooping in the park, and days at my beloved Atlantic.

In the meantime, my days are filled with work as usual. I have one opening for a blog design this month, and I have spots open in April for one Microsite and one (re)Brand Experience.

Thanks for coming on this little photo journey with me. If you want to keep up with me in real-time, follow me on Instagram or Flickr.

Ah, February

R.T. and I are preparing for our move back to Portsmouth, New Hampshire (from Detroit, Michigan). Things are crazy busy. I thought I would pop in with a little slice of life update for you.

New England.

He's trying to get a little blogging in this morning. Canine content strategy, yo.

In mid-January, we spent a weekend in New Hampshire with our friends Tory and Tucker. The goal of this trip was to secure housing in the area. That didn’t happen — but, serendipitously, we found a place just after returning to Michigan, and with Tucker’s help, we had the lease signed a week later. (I am nervous about moving into a place we haven’t seen ourselves, but I’m sure it will be fine..?)

Friendship of Salem.

Cemetery in Salem, MA. #latergram

My cute friend Cassy. #latergram

While we were there, I took a day trip to Salem, MA to visit my dear friend Cassy. I look forward to many adventures with her once we’re back in New England.

Flowers from my sweetest husband. @onewordheadline

I turned 29 on January 31st! My husband bought me flowers for the first time to celebrate the occasion. So sweet, yes?

I could probably only have more paint on my clothes/feet/hands/hair if I'd painted myself intentionally. Yay, moving prep.

Otherwise, the last several weeks have largely consisted of packing, painting, and other preparations. We’re downsizing from a 3-bedroom single-family bungalow with a full basement to a small one-bedroom apartment. This has meant letting go of so much of our stuff. This will be the 20th time I’ve moved in my adult life (just over 11 years). Given how often I move, you wouldn’t think I’d be all that inclined to carry a lot of junk with me — but I have, in the interest of keeping ‘memories’. As I was going through stuff this time, I finally realized that memories live in our hearts/minds, and therefore don’t need to be represented by material things. I found myself even tossing out photos of people who’d been in my life for only a short while. (Photos! That feels so… blasphemous.)

Preparing to say farewell to my family again has been really, really difficult for me emotionally. After a decade away from them, this year has brought so much growth and healing. They are some of the best people I know, and being far away from them is going to bring me a lot of heartache. My mom said recently, “Letting you go will be easier this time, because you have a great husband and I know he’ll take care of you… but also so much harder, because now you’re my friend.”


But I am looking forward to being back in my favorite seacoast town, especially as a couple of my dear friends are preparing for the arrivals of their firstborns. I’m aiming to position myself as the helpful and enthusiastic friendaunt.

In studio news, I’m booked well into spring, working with a whole new cast of passionate, creative women from all walks of life. I feel so grateful for how quickly my schedule is filling.

I’ll return in mid-February with updates on our new home and news of our blossoming seacoast adventures.

where i am lately

AM walk with my little fam.

I’ve been in a quiet place mentally for the last few weeks. I keep wanting to show up and share things with you – our wedding and honeymoon trip in Vermont, married life, preparing for our next move, all of these big transformations that are happening in my life and within me specifically.

But I just feel quiet.

The season change is hitting me particularly badly this year. Maybe it’s just because I’m in the midwest after being on the east coast for all of my adult life. It gets light much later here at the edge of the time zone, and this has been a tough adjustment for me as an early riser. I feel like I’m just not waking up at all.

Whatever it is, I’m in a very ebb phase of the ebb and flow.

It’s okay. It’s where I am. I’m showing up from that place. I hope you’ll join me here.

Pending nuptials & autumn in New England

Waiting. #weddingdress

By the time most of you read this, I’ll be in the passenger seat of a Honda Civic headed east to New Hampshire. We’ll stay there for a few days, then head to Vermont for our sweet little honeymoon vacation.

When I come back, I’ll be Mrs. Randall Tyler Tompkins! I’m planning to still go by Leah, though. You know. (HEY-O! Pretend that was funny.)

I’ve been a bit strung out on stress for the last ten days or so. I had a dress crisis the weekend before last. It’s all worked out now, but things were pretty tough for awhile. In the end, all I needed was my mama.

My mom working on my dress alterations. #love

Corset back conversion - half done.

Isn’t that always the way?

Fun Leah fact: I’m a size 10, except “up top”. I have a lot going on in the chest region. I’m a size 16 there. Last week I genuinely pondered whether or not it was really that big a deal if my dress didn’t zip all the way up. I bought an expensive strapless longline. I bought REALLY expensive Spanx. In the end, my mom took out the zipper & converted the back into a corset-style lace-up. It’s really, really beautiful. There will be photos of the finished product eventually. (Melissa is taking our photos!)

So, anyway – I’m off to get married & then for some fun and relaxation! There are still a few days to donate to our charity:water campaign if you feel so inclined.

Happy-hearted elopement-planning

I’ve had a bad head cold all week. This is, shall we say, annoying. I have lots of coding to do. I was, as my new superhero friend Kim says, “badassing” my way through developing the new Curly Girl website/e-shop (coming soon to the internet near you) before the world’s most terrible head cold struck. Now instead of badassing, I’m just trudging. It’s a real bummer.

Nevertheless, I have a heart full of joy & gratitude. R.T. and I have been planning our elopement, which takes place in just under two months. This is a lot of work, and we’re not even doing anything! We’re planning the tiniest, tiniest little ceremony in which our friend Marie officiates and the fabulous Melissa Koren takes photos. This is happening in New Hampshire & we’re not having guests or a reception or any of the hullabaloo. But there’s still plenty to do!

I.E., taking R.T.’s tux to the tailor…

At the tailor. #elopementprep

… Ordering my dress, booking our post-elopement stay (honeymoon?) at a Bed & Breakfast in Vermont, and ordering our wedding bands (see: mine, his).

My wedding band, like my engagement ring, is from this etsy seller, who R.T. tells me is an absolute delight to work with.

(Sidenote: I’m totally in love with this ring.)

So, this happened. #engaged

After we dropped his tux off at the tailor yesterday, I said, “Yay, all of our planning is nearly complete!” and he said, “Right, minus, you know, the legal stuff.” Oh, right. We have no idea how to navigate our way through that maze, but I guess we’ll figure it out. I’m taking his last name – a decision we came to after months of trying to chose a new surname for the two of us to share. We did decide on one, actually, and then R.T.’s mom pointed out that there’s a lot of legal junk involved in changing your name as a guy. (Annoying.) We were willing to put forth the effort, but it turns out that in Michigan, you have to have lived in the same county for a year before you can petition the court, and that won’t be true for us until about three months after we’re married. So. I’ll be Mrs. Tompkins after all. (Yay!)

Anyway. I’m really happy and really excited to see things taking shape. I’m glad that we decided to do something simple instead of trying to wrangle our two sets of friends and families into one place. (Most of our friends are in NH; my entire family is in Michigan — except, of course, my dad, who is still in the Middle East.)

It’s all coming together. So nice.

We’re also using our upcoming nuptials as an opportunity to raise money for Charity:Water, so consider donating, if you would. (More on this to come.)

Time for more Advil Cold & Sinus and then more code-trudging. And later, a nap. (Send me healing vibes.)

On sending this peace-loving granola liberal's dad off to war.

My dad’s uniform, taken on the drive to drop him of to report for duty.
I said goodbye to my dad last week. He, a master sergeant in the US Air Force, will be spending the next eight months on a military base in the Middle East.

My family knew a year ago that he would likely be sent on this mission, and it was a big part of mine and R.T.’s decision to move to Michigan when we did. He got his official orders in March, and we’ve spent the last couple of months preparing for his departure.

This has been a really difficult thing to wrap my head around because, as the title of this post might suggest, I’m not exactly the pro-war type.

Hey, by the way, did you know that we’re still at war? I can’t tell you how many people have recently said to me, “Your dad is being deployed? I thought they were bringing the troops home?” Wrong-o.

But the truth is that I haven’t been paying attention, either. With all the things I have to stress out about on a daily basis (uh, I’m thirty pounds overweight, hello! My life is a constant tragedy), I guess I forgot to make “unjust war” and “killing innocent people” a priority. I genuinely don’t know what the point supposedly is. And you know, I’ll just be honest – I think I prefer my ignorance. I recently set about reading some articles on the status of the situation so that I had some clue about what my dad is going through, but I (selfishly) can’t handle it. I’m choosing to go through this on a “need to know” basis. This situation has nothing to do with me, except that my dad is there and that effin’ blows.

I am not a patriot. I’m not an American in the way that some Americans are — maybe because I’m not a PERSON in the way some people are. I believe that lovelovelove is everything like a good artsy-granola gal, but I also believe in boundaries. I believe that I can have gratitude for the good you’ve done for me without supporting everything — or anything — you do after that. I believe that respect is a two way street. I’m not going to be bullied into giving any person, entity, or institution my unconditional approval.

I’m probably not actually allowed to rant about all of the reasons that I’m so sad and so angry that this government — who I’m truly disappointed in — gets to take my dad away for this chunk of time. If you had to guess, you’d probably come up with things like “the war on women” and “the right to marry” and you’d be on the right track. I feel like too many of the people I love are at war for their very basic rights, and now this very significant person in my life is at war for what is, as far as I can tell, no good reason.

But for as frustrated as I am, I’m at least as sad and worried. In his most recent e-mail to me, he said, “It’s safe here, but that could change at any moment. We know that and have to be prepared.”

I’m grateful that he said it. My dad, like most of the men I know, is the pat-on-the-head, everything-will-be-fine type. I’m the give-it-to-me-straight type. I have this need to acknowledge the thing that’s eating at the backs of our brains: He could die there. He might not come home.

When my thoughts go there, I remind myself of this: He could die here, too. It’s of little comfort, obviously, but it’s true. Here, death isn’t looming quite as close, and it wouldn’t be caused by an unjust war, but he could die on any day of any week — any of us could, right? All of this is very fleeting.

That’s perhaps the one good thing that has come of my dad’s deployment. As we prepared for and experienced him leaving, we all started to open up. There’s been a lot of spilling open these last few weeks. There have been a lot of “Thank you”s and “I’m proud of you”s and “I love you”s. My parents have been married for thirty years and took this chance to say all of those things that remain unsaid when we get caught up in the day-to-day. I got to tell my dad that he’s my original hero and how grateful I am that he saw my potential and made sure I saw it, too. Maybe I never would have said that to him if it hadn’t been for this.

My dad is not on a peace-seeking mission, but preparing for the mission he is on brought a lot of peace to my family. It’s not enough, but matters in it’s own small way.

I’m proud of him. I’m proud of every soldier whose heart is in the right place. I’m proud of every parent, partner, and child who has given their loved one to the military, especially those of us who don’t believe that this is a means to any desirable end. Especially us, because it’s certainly harder when you don’t see a greater purpose in this longing, this losing. I guess we can’t know, though. Maybe our soldiers are changing the world in small ways. Maybe they’re just changing someone’s mind.

I truly do believe that lovelovelove is everything. But I think we could use a lot more of it.

I love you. I’m proud of you. Thank you.

‘Til they all come home (and a number of other selected military cliches),