Posted by: Sally Ingraham | December 6, 2011

Am I having a mid-20s crisis? Well…..probably.

I spent the month of November giving myself eyestrain and headaches and a crick in my neck. Which is to say, I spent the month of November researching MY NEXT MOVE. You may recollect that back in September I claimed that I might be deploying to Antarctica for a winter job serving food and wiping down tables at McMurdo Station. This did not end up happening. I didn’t PQ in time, so from the squashy couches at my dentist’s office I watched Antarctica melt away. And I discovered that I wasn’t too upset about this. It turns out that just applying was the thing I needed to do. It was the first step, and now wanderlust is roaring through me and it turns out that I have lived in Maine for 17 years and that is quite long enough.

I want to go back to New Mexico, where I was born, or to the Pacific Northwest, where there are whole states that I have never set foot in. I am packing up my things (whittling my possessions down to a few essentials) and hitting the road in January 2012. Still not entirely sure where I’ll end up, but that’s not really important. To GO is the thing, and my destination will make itself known to me when it’s meant to.

Of course I do have a few things simmering on my burners. I will go practice my cooking skills at my parent’s home, being my Mom’s personal chef and harassing my youngest sister for a few weeks (I especially want to take her down to Boston for the 37th Sci-Fi ‘thon!) Then I have to get out to Las Vegas for the wedding of one of my best friends. I hope to learn some natural building and permaculture design skills at Aprovecho in Oregon at some point in 2012, hopefully as soon as March. By the summer I hope to have located some type of fun job, be it interning on an organic farm or working in a national park (I’m thinking Mesa Verde, or Yosemite, or Denali). I might try for Antarctica again next fall, or something else might come up. Who knows? I could even come back to Maine.

The important thing is for me to meet and get to know some new places, encounter some new people (or perhaps meet some people face-to-face finally?), and point myself towards a different type of lifestyle. I want to get out of the restaurant and retail industry. I want to work with my hands, draw my Sarah Bone comic, cook food made from veggies I grew myself, learn how to brew beer, read and write more and do it better, and take many, many, many pictures. Somehow I want to do all that while existing with fewer possessions and living on less money. How will I do this? I have a few ideas, but it will mostly be trial and error – as it should be.

The thing for the moment is to START, to GO, to make the NEXT MOVE. I’m keeping an open mind, and I am certainly open to suggestions. I probably sound a little nuts right now, because I am – caught up in the excitement of the whole thing. 2012 is going to be a hard, fun, brilliant year.

Until then I have another month of work, Christmas presents to make, all that whittling of possessions to do, and a hefty amount of blogging that I want to accomplish. Should be a whirlwind December.

Because I love lists, here’s a list of things that are inspiring me and keeping me excited about all my many different thoughts for the coming year:

Anthology Magazine – Every issue is packed with pretty locations, fun design/crafting ideas, and stories about people building small businesses and doing the things they love.

Faythe Levine – She made a documentary called Handemade Nation which follows the diy/handcrafts movement and goes into detail about a whole slew of small business owners and artists doing, again, the things they love.

Tiny House Blog – A current obsession of mine is tiny houses – anything under 1,000 square feet, but preferably dwellings under 200 square feet. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company makes some particularly snazzy ones. Ever since I build woven stick forts as a kid, I’ve wanted to build my own house – and I love the idea of making the most of a space that allows you to have a tiny footprint on the planet. I definitely see a cute, tiny apartment in my future – perhaps someday an actual tiny house?

Little Free Library – Speaking of tiny, check out this project to put thousands of little free libraries around the world!

Urban Homestead – A family home and micro-farm in Pasadena.

Smitten Kitchen – Anytime I need some inspiration in the kitchen I search this blog for ideas. Deb comes up with such fun recipes and presents them along with pretty pictures and amusing/interesting stories.

How About Orange – And just tonight I came across this super fun crafting blog which will surely be the inspiration for some of my Christmas presents!

If this is the classic Quarter Life Crisis, at least I can laugh at it with Erik Schoenek. And try to avoid doing this:
Quarter Life Crisis comic
And please someone stop me before I end up doing this…!:
Quarter Life Crisis comic 2


  1. Good for you for your plans, Sarah! All sound worth exploring, and there’s probably no better time than your present age for a major life upheaval. 😀 I’m looking at cutting back acquisitions next year, too, but we’ll see how that goes…

    • Thanks for the encouragement Richard! I think I will take “before” and “after” pictures of my piles of stuff, just to see how well I really do. It can be hard to get rid of things even if I haven’t touched something in 2 years… “It will come in handy sometime” and “I’ll just have to go out and buy it again” are such good arguements!

  2. i have someone for you to meet: my friend joel who works on an organic farm in oregon (his site which he tries to keep up w/ : also –randomly– i read today about Costa Rica looking for coffee bean pickers. anyway, we’ve friends around the western half of the US, so let me know if you need any introductions (couches/contacts) in various areas.

    i am very excited for you and i wish you all the best in your adventures. like Richard, I agree that this sounds like no better time!

    • Thanks very much for the link! It looks like your friend Joel is doing something very similar to what I’m thinking. I’ll have to add him to my list of inspirations. Thanks also for your offer of networking help. I’m really very excited about going off the deep end!

      • well, I sent Joel over here, so he wouldn’t be unfamiliar if you were looking for contact/resource (though he knows me as Leslie) 🙂

      • Thanks for doing that. 🙂

      • Hey Sarah! Might I say that I heartily support your plans for the new year. You don’t sound crazy to me at all–unsurprisingly, since I’m into similar things. In fact, your fourth paragraph sounds eerily similar to some of the things I’ve written in farm internship applications.

        There are a lot of amazing farms out here in the NW–you’d do well to intern at any of them. I did my first internship in 2009 and I just seem to continue farming. It’s a bit addictive once you’re into it. Particularly the lifestyle changes.


        P.S. Thumbs up for the Buffy-referencing comic.

      • Glad to meet you Joel! After a quick perusal of your blog I was excited to see that you’ve done essentially what I want to do, and are succeeding at it. So encouraging.

        Just tonight I heard back from Aprovecho so it looks like I will be heading out there at the beginning of March to be a natural building apprentice for 3 months. I can’t wait to get started on this new adventure.

        I kind of feel like I need to stock up on my TV watching in preparation for a period where it is less accessible. I need to watch a couple seasons worth of Buffy! and rewatch favorite Doctor Who episodes! and finish watching Twin Peaks! and…!

      • It’s definitely a bit of a different way of life, but you can absolutely make it work, and I’m a firm believer that it will pay dividends both now and particularly in the future.

        I hear great things about Aprovecho and we had a couple WWOOFers who came through the farm this year who had either visited or worked for a brief time there. I imagine their natural building apprenticeship will be excellent.

        The TV watching will almost certainly tail off, though I don’t imagine you’ll miss it too much. I’ve been tempted a few times to snag my Buffy DVDs while visiting Portland to bring them back for winter watching. Yet there are so many books to read and blog posts to write and hikes to take and as it turns out, I’m so far working a fair bit more than I expected for the winter (though we’ll see if that holds.) So Buffy will have to wait, which is not a bad thing at all.

      • Much as I enjoy TV shows and movies, I am always grateful in the end when they are not readily available – I am so much more productive in every area of my creative life. I’m looking forward to having the distraction eliminated for awhile.

        Ironically, the characters that I tend to admire the most and the skills they possess and the activities they spend time doing are far removed from the lifestyle that I currently lead (the one that lends itself so readily to having the time or inclination to glue my butt to a couch for an afternoon). If picking up some of those skills and embarking on a more active and involved life means losing the TV – I’m pretty darn sure I can make the sacrifice!

        Great to hear that Aprovecho’s reputation goes before them. I’ve gotten a really good vibe from my communications with them thus far. Should be good.

  3. Your post makes me smile with your desire to explore and go and discover. I spent my mid-20s in Germany, teaching with the Department of Defense, and those were some of the best years of my life because of living abroad. I understand that desire, and I’m glad you’re planning on Getting Started because if we don’t fulfill our dreams as they occur, we may never have the chance.

    • Exactly! I like that – fulfill your dreams as they come. I would love to live abroad at some point. My Dad travels to Germany frequently for work and always comes back with amazing photographs… 🙂

  4. Best of luck with your adventures in 2012!

    • Thanks so much. 🙂

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