Archive | November, 2019

Something I didn’t think to be thankful for – until today.

29 Nov

There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Bob Dylan that goes something like, “Be grateful for what you don’t have that you don’t want.” I’ve always appreciated that twist on gratitude because when you think about it, we dodge a LOT of bullets in life.

This morning I was reminded of that quote shortly after Alan and I set out for a post-Thanksgiving walk. As we stepped out onto the street, the air smelled delicious, like someone was grilling a pile of hamburgers over an open flame, which is a bit odd for 10am on a Friday. I speculated that it was probably the bar down the alley behind my place, which often smokes brisket on its back patio on game days. Alan, unwilling to take my word for it (and perpetually curious), decided to investigate.

So I stood on the sidewalk, patiently waiting while he walked down the alley. I saw him approach the pub’s patio and pull himself up to the tall wooden fence, trying to look over. And then I saw him slowly moonwalk away from the fence, dragging his left foot as if he’d survived polio, until he got to a pile of leaves. Then he started wiping and stamping both feet. Clearly he’d stepped in something.

As he approached me with a grimace, I asked, “Did you step in dog poop?”

He shook his head, looking shell-shocked. “More like human poop.” He paused. “That was clearly a homeless person’s bathroom. Don’t ask me how I know.”

I nodded, shoved my hands down in my pockets, and silently gave thanks for NOT being ruled by my curiosity for once and NOT having to contemplate burning my sneakers on Black Friday. And with that, we walked away, one foot dragging with every step.

#gratitude

It’s time to NOT talk turkey!

28 Nov
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My friend Marcy texted this to me. She knows I hate the word moist.

For the first time in ages (maybe ever?), it’s just Alan and me for Thanksgiving this year, and I have to say, while I usually enjoy holidays being about family, this year it feels wonderful to just take a time out for the two of us. We’ve both had hectic falls, and between my work trip to LA and his two weeks in Michigan hunting, we barely saw each other this month.

So how do we plan to celebrate since we’re not tethered to others’ expectations? Well, for starters, we haven’t even asked ourselves the question that most people probably discussed ad nauseam yesterday: what time will we eat? Because the answer (whenever we feel hungry) doesn’t really matter when you’re only coordinating two people.

Also? We’ve totally scrapped the traditional menu. I’m not a big fan of turkey, and while I enjoy the side dishes (specifically: mashed potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes), I make them all regularly, so they don’t feel like a special treat to get all excited about. Fortunately, Alan’s easy-going and also a bit of a foodie, so he was totally game for a menu overhaul.

Here’s what we landed on: whole roasted branzini, lemon risotto, and a shaved brussel sprout salad. I’ve never roasted a whole fish with its head on before, and Alan’s never made proper risotto from scratch, so today’s focus on food is more on experimentation than it is on eating. (Which is probably a good thing, since we might end up ordering a pizza if our experiments go sideways.)

[Ethical side note: when people say they don’t eat anything that had a mother, does fish count? To my knowledge, they just lay eggs and abandon them, so I’m including them in my guilt-free column because I’m judgmental and that’s not very maternal.]

Food aside, the other benefit of it being just US: we can stay in our pajamas all day. No dressing up and making ourselves presentable. No posing for family photos. Just us in pjs with Miss Moneypenny and a fire. And since I’m a nerd, we’ll be working on the second installment of “Hunt a Killer” (a monthly mystery box) at some point during the day, because nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like discussing crime and naming the criminal.

I guess in that sense – talking about criminals – our holiday won’t be that different from most Americans this year. We just won’t be arguing about it.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Pool rhymes with fool. Coincidence?

20 Nov
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Photo by Sabrina Schulz from Pexels

The year I turned 40, I celebrated by logging over 100 miles in a pool. Not all at once, but over the course of the year. (I know, not nearly as impressive, but c’mon – when did YOU last swim 100 miles?!) I wasn’t a daily swimmer, so I’d hit the pool twice a week and knock out a mile each time. I enjoyed the routine because it was both a form of meditation and reflection and it kept my waistline in check without much effort.

So when’s the last time I swam a mile? Um, probably the year I turned 40. Sadly, I abandoned the habit shortly after I hit 100 miles. I can’t remember the TOP reason I stopped, but I do know it was some combination of the following:

  • I stopped my gym membership to rejoin a yoga studio.
  • I started growing my hair out and was tired of it breaking in my cap and getting discolored from the chlorine.
  • I heard a story about how much pee is likely in a public swimming pool.
  • And then I saw a study that said most people getting in a pool have a nickel-sized dollop of poop on them. Yeah.

Actually, now that I review this list, I’m pretty confident that the final bullet point was the catalyst for my abandoning the pool. I mean, I kind of just dry-gagged just typing it.

And yet – I decided to get back in the pool last week. Maybe I’ve gotten more comfortable with human waste (I haven’t) or maybe it’s that my clothes are fitting too tightly (they are), but for whatever reason, I decided to get back in the pool. 

So here are my observations after a 5+ year hiatus: 

  • I can no longer swim a mile without stopping. That shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. A good reminder that if I want to be able to do something at 90, I better not stop doing it now!
  • Miraculously, my suit still fit, but I think that’s mainly because the elastic is shot. While doing the breaststroke I had to look down to make sure I wasn’t *literally* doing the breaststroke – the top of my suit was so loose it felt like I was swimming topless.
  • I still managed to lap someone (who even got in the water after I did!), which made me wonder when she had last been in a pool.
  • Someone had spilled Chewy Mini SweetTarts in the pool and:
    • It was recently enough that they still retained their color;
    • They were on the bottom of the pool – I was surprised they don’t float; and
    • It was a confirmation that children regularly (and recently) use the pool and don’t respect the rules, which means they are probably ALSO peeing in it and NOT showering the nickel-sized dollop of poop off their butts before entering.

So now I’m at a crossroads:

  • Do I go all Sheryl Sandberg and “lean in,” knowing that this form of exercise likely entails ingesting poop? (And yes, this metaphor actually works on a lot of levels – she’s currently defending Facebook for not taking measures to prevent election interference, so…)
  • Or do I throw in the towel on swimming?

Stay tuned.

Go on, sniff my hair – it’s delicious!

10 Nov
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From the LUSH website.

When I travel, I take a bar of LUSH shampoo with me. That way I don’t need to use the hotel shampoo, which keeps one piece of single use plastic out of a landfill or – just as likely – the ocean. The added bonus is that LUSH products smell delicious and lather up like a beast. The only (potential) problem? The shampoo bar I like has all kinds of seeds and fibers imbedded in it. I’m not sure exactly what purpose they serve, but…

…When I rinse my hair it often looks as if I’ve just used my hands to toss a quinoa bowl, which isn’t exactly what you’re looking for out of a shower. Kitchen? Yes. Shower? No.

…I fear that if I don’t rinse my hair well, I’ll become a walking bird feeder, doomed to a fate similar to Tippi Hedren’s. I imagine having to windmill my arms to fend off a flock of hungry sparrows.

…I wonder if I’m clogging up the plumbing by sending these seeds down the drain. And for the seeds that end up in the bottom of the shower and don’t go down the drain – what does the housekeeping staff think?

…On the positive side, in a survival scenario, I’m 80% confident I could eat my shampoo for the nutrients.

Are you sold?

 

Observations from the Road

6 Nov

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Editor’s Note: I recently “quit” Facebook, so I expect I’ll be writing here more frequently since those thoughts need to go somewhere. As a result, you can expect my posts here to be shorter, less structured, and even more narcissistic than they may have been in the past. You’re welcome?!

Since leaving full-time employment three years ago, I’ve tried to really dial-back my travel and reduce my carbon footprint. I’ve gone from flying monthly – or more – to only 1-2 times per year for work. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress. I consider it a badge of honor that I’ve lost my “elite” status with airlines’ rewards programs.

That said, this week is one of those times: I’m in LA to facilitate a client’s annual offsite meeting for a team of 25 people. I’m staying at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood, which literally backs up to the terribly tourist block that has Mann’s Chinese Theatre (home of the Oscars), the star-lined sidewalk, and dozens of guys in superhero costumes, trying to persuade you to take a photo with them for cash.

Last night, eager to get my steps in after spending six hours on a plane, I set out for a walk in the neighborhood behind the Magic Castle. The homes there are nice, and many of them have large privacy hedges lining the front walk. I sometimes bring shame to my naturalist father because I get a bit skittish about critters in nature. Had he been with me, last night would’ve been one of those times.

I kept hearing crazy rustling noises in the bushes as I walked. In DC, I would’ve dismissed them as rats. But because I’m in California? The obvious conclusion: a bobcat. Never mind that I’m in the heart of LA. And because I don’t have it in me to be like that guy who killed an attacking bobcat with his bare hands, my solution was to walk in the middle of the street where I could see it coming.

Of course, it didn’t come to that, and it probably WAS a rat. Or a lizard or something. But it definitely got my heartrate up – which is, you might note, the purpose of exercise anyway. Mission accomplished.