My Print Debut

While you’re out and about this week, do me a favor. If you spy a snazzy looking Sports Illustrated with Khalil Mack on the cover, pick it up and turn to page 60. Recognize anybody?

Angie Six Writer Sports Illustrated MMQB Issue

I’m beyond thrilled to have a piece in the The MMQB issue of Sports Illustrated. You can find it at the airport, your fancy bookstore, the gas station, your dentist’s office … basically EVERYWHERE. As I never made it into the magazine as an athlete and my swimsuit photos keep getting sent back, seeing my writing in print makes me pretty proud.

Be nice, do your thing and dream big. You never know where it will land you.

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The Beauty of Egg Roll Season

You can smell them before you see them. It’s the fragrance of carbs hitting hot oil. But underneath the ubiquitous deep fried smell that goes hand in hand with an outdoor market or fair in the summer, there’s something else. An exotic smell that you don’t usually expect when you catalog the odors of Indiana fried foods: egg rolls. For as long as I’ve been visiting the Fishers Farmer’s Market, Mathoo’s Egg Rolls has been there. When I strolled by the first time, I was amused. Egg rolls? At 9 a.m.? Sandwiched between the guy tossing bags of sweet corn to customers and the vendor selling every part of the cow you can imagine, she seemed just a little out of place. Perhaps knowing this, she offered samples. This woman was no fool. She knew all you needed was one bite of her freshly fried egg rolls, dipped in her homemade sauce. One taste and you wouldn’t be chuckling anymore. You’d be handing over your wallet.

Mathoo's Egg Rolls from Fishers Indiana Farmer's Market

It didn’t take long for the doubters like me to turn into weekly customers. The following year there were no samples. If you wanted to know if the egg rolls were worth buying, you only needed to look at the line. It was always there, growing as the morning went on until the saddest words in the English language were delivered to the poor, egg roll-less souls: “Sorry! All sold out today!” When she folds up shop for the day, you know you won’t be able to get your egg roll fix again until the following Saturday (unless you foolishly sleep in). When the Farmer’s Market packs it up for the season in the crisp and cool days of fall you panic a little. You see, they don’t sell egg rolls out of a brick and mortar store or a roaming food truck. Egg roll season, while a blissfully long season by farmer’s market standards, is over when the market is over. And while your belly may enjoy a little break in November, by December you’re jonesing for more. The opening day of the market in early May is kind of pitiful. Strawberries if you’re lucky, radishes, some tender greens here and there. But that first bite of egg roll, always ripe and perfect after months without that taste in your mouth, is a beautiful thing.

Last spring, we spent a week in California. It was our first visit out west, and we were thrilled to try foods and restaurants we don’t have in Indianapolis. Driving through LA, I spotted a Shake Shack. I’ve had it before, but Mike and the kids were Shack virgins. As we tore into our burgers and shakes, we mused about how wonderful it would be to have one in Indiana. The idea isn’t crazy – it is a chain, after all, and there’s one in Chicago. Eating that first egg roll of the season shortly after we returned from California had me second guessing our wish.

The beauty of the farmer’s market egg roll and the Shake Shack burger, along with the countless other foods we crave and make travel plans around, is the anticipation. It’s remembering the taste, the people you shared it with, the “otherness” of your life when eating it. Whether it’s the way food tastes better when your on vacation or when the season of your life while consuming it is different, it’s something that can’t be easily replicated. The egg roll itself isn’t a work of culinary art. It’s an egg roll … a well-made, freshly fried egg roll, sure. But it’s still just an egg roll. It tastes magnificent because no matter how much money you have, no matter how much you need one on January 17th, you can’t have one. It’s the same with a Shack burger, or the shrimp you boil in your beach house, a Sonic cherry limeade on a road trip, or the ice cream we used to eat in the Malley’s gazebo in northeast Ohio. You can replicate any of those things at home, or open an outpost next to all the other familiar chains on the highway. It won’t taste the same.

I’m human and terrible at waiting for things, and so I still long for certain shops and restaurants to open in my hometown. And living near Indianapolis, it does happen. I got my wish and a Container Store appeared a few years ago. I can get in my car and ten minutes later be eating a freshly scooped dish of Graeter’s ice cream. Next fall I’ll be able to ride my bike to an IKEA and feast on lingonberry juice and Swedish meatballs. I’ll gladly trade in our Zaxby’s for a Raising Canes. But I also recognize that having these things available at a whim takes away their specialness. No longer do I block out two hours to walk the aisles of Container Store, or feel the delicious anxiety of wondering whether I want a scoop of Black Raspberry Chip or Bourbon Ball. I can pick up a cute container to organize my office supplies on a Thursday at 9 a.m. I can come back tomorrow and get whatever flavor I didn’t choose today.

That won’t stop me wishing for a Shake Shack or a Jeni’s Ice Cream right around the corner. But if the genie in the bottle knows what’s good for us, he’ll keep our cities just different enough to encourage us to wait and wander for the things we wish for.

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Hello Again

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Well, hello there. How are you? Let me just dust the chairs around here, open the windows and let some fresh air in. It’s been awhile since this little corner of the internet has seen any activity.

I did what I said I would do and I took a little summer vacation … and it was wonderful. I feel as if every August I reflect back on the summer that was and feel either immense relief that it was over, regret over missed opportunities, or both. This year I feel neither. Instead I am content. It was a good summer. It was the perfect mix of adventurous and relaxed. And for the first time I can remember, it felt as if I was truly intentional about enjoying the season of life I’m in right now.

Had to escape #coltscamp for a bit. It was blazin' hot. This helped.

In the process I learned that savoring where I am right now, both in the season of the year and the season of parenting older kids, involves a whole lot of letting go.

I let go of the notion that every day needs planned to the nth degree.

I let go of the idea that activities and outings are the only way to measure the amount of fun we’re having or how good of a mother I am.

I let go of my usual standards of cleanliness and perfection. (See photographic evidence below of dead flowers and a NERF modification station taking up residence on the dining room table for several weeks.) Having the kids pitch in and help, which was one of my few goals this summer, means not standing over them and explaining why one should vacuum in this precise pattern or load the silverware in the dishwasher this particular way. (Husbands, of course, are excluded from this delightful aspect of my personality.) Sometimes good enough is preferable over perfect. Actually, good enough is always preferred over perfect, something I will spend the rest of my days trying to put into practice.

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This little internet sabbatical also allowed me to let go of the need to produce work for the sake of looking productive. Walking way from creating in this space gave me room to reflect. It’s forced me to truly think about what I love versus what I love the idea of.

I love the idea of being a writer. I love the idea of sitting at my computer every day, steaming mug of coffee on my desk, surrounded in silence and pouring life-changing thoughts and ideas from my soul onto the screen.

I still love the act of writing, but I don’t love everything that goes with it anymore. And by “it,” I mean the idea of blogging as work intended to provide income. I don’t love the time it takes away from my other responsibilities and relationships. And I’m starting to think I’ve safely hidden myself behind the screen in an effort to avoid pursuing what I’m meant to do with my life.

Title this one "Mom, the amount of leg you're showing makes us uncomfortable."

This summer I loved feeling balanced, connected and in the moment. With myself, my friends and my family I had the summer I always loved the idea of and the summer I actually experienced together. I have to wonder if leaving the daily grind of blogging had something to do with it. And I’m contemplating that what I love the idea of and what I’m actually good at may be two very different things.

Reflecting in this way has been incredibly scary for me. Looking back at where I thought I was headed and where I find myself now, I feel untethered. What am I meant to do? I’m anxious, dreading the question of what I’ve been up to. Even a simple call during the day from Mike makes me break into a bit of a sweat.

“What are you up to?” he’ll casually ask.

Folding t-shirts. And fending off a mid-life crisis and my anxiety by reorganizing the LEGOs. What are you up to?

I also feel a bit ridiculous and ashamed. I am quite aware of my good fortune to have both the time and the choice to wonder what I should do when I grow up. And so I put on my very best phone voice when anyone asks what’s next, and say something chipper about exploring my options, enjoying the journey, blah blah blah. I mean, really. Who am I to complain or feel lost when there are terribly awful things happening all around us?

But what if all this caution in choosing our words, this care that we take take to put things in perspective when we think of or speak of our pain, is keeping us from feeling what we were designed to feel?

Panama City Beach

We are designed to feel shitty sometimes. And we are allowed to feel bad, sad, anxious and mad about both the Big Stuff and the Little Stuff. I know that in the grand scheme of things, my ambivalence about whether to stop blogging and my worries about finding work that’s right for me is small potatoes. But these burdens are my small potatoes, and to dismiss them doesn’t solve the deeper work I need to do to find a purpose and path. Also, small potatoes makes excellent home fries, and who doesn’t love fries?

I think this need to wrap up our uncomfortable feelings and loose ends in a tidy box, whether it’s for a story shared with everyone or the story we only tell ourselves is keeping many of us from living an authentic life. When we hustle to make everything look pretty again, it often turns out a mess.

So if you don’t mind, I’m going to stew in the corner with my basket of doubts and small potatoes. There is no lesson or witty ending just yet. I’m not going away, but I think you will notice a different feel in this space. I’m still writing, and some of that writing will still find a home here. I’m just not sure how much or how often.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Have you been through a career change or life transition that had you feeling lost as well? What helped you through it? What would you do differently if you could make those choices over again?

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