Friday, July 27, 2012

30-Before-30 Update: #12 Consecutive Sunset and Sunrise

Given events both local and national, I, like countless others, spent last week meditating on the fleeting nature of life. Nothing like a little tragedy to immediately swing the roots-and-wings pendulum back in the direction of your roots.

I (try to) subscribe to the notion that the universe gives you exactly what you need when you need it, and this weekend was evidence enough. A few of my close friends gathered at a cabin on Au Train Lake to spend the weekend floating, eating, gossiping chatting and wrangling 3 dogs of varying sizes and spunkiness.

I see Anna and Allison pretty regularly--at least bi-weekly for pup walks, dinner and obsessing life discussions. After spending several years visiting Jackie almost-annually in NY, she recently moved to Ohio with her husband. While we don't see each other often, I've long considered her one of my tribe. No matter how quickly time passes, we pick up like we just saw each other last week.

As you would expect of friendships that bloomed in a small town, our four lives have overlapped in many ways: Allison and I went to kindergarten together and have many memories from 1989 and beyond (including playing with fire on New Year's Eve, 1992, right around the corner from where her parents were playing cards). Anna's sister, who joined us Saturday night, used to babysit Jackie as a child. Jackie and I belonged to the same church (I am a C-, I am a Ch-...) and youth group from kindergarten on. This culminated in an epicly ill-timed attempt at sneaking out at church camp....literally bumping into our Pastor on his nightly walk about 20 yards from the dorms. The only thing more uncomfortable than that moment was the time he brought it up in a sermon.

In high school, we four were all part of a group of two dozen or so girls who all hung out and did awesome things including but not limited to putting underwear over our clothes and doing the macarena, buying sheet-cake-sized Rice Krispie Treats from GFS for each slumber party, and driving to Family Video pre-driver's-license. (Seriously, who chooses Family Video as the destination for an illegal joyride?) Anna and I, along with three other friends, passed a notebook of notes between classes and had regular "dinner" parties consisting of penne, canned sauce and frozen daquiris. Four of us five still have regular email chains to keep in touch with life's milestones and mundanities. Allison and Jackie went on a "fake-ation" to Florida during spring break one year and "came back" with some awesome braids and a killer fake tan. (The rest of us were fooled for about an hour.) When Jackie's family moved after sophomore year, we took a few trips to see her and were able to stay in touch (read: throw an out-of-control party while her parents attended her grandfather's funeral).   During college, Jackie, Anna and I interned in New York together. Our lives have weaved together in all sorts of fashions spanning more than 25 years--exhibiting the ebb and flow that friendships naturally embody when they survive from elementary school to college and beyond.

So clearly I think theses ladies are something special, which is why this was the perfect opportunity to cross off one of my 30 goals:

#12: Watch the sun rise and set consecutively with someone special.

While it sounds kind of romantic, when I wrote the list I wasn't setting that kind of goal. (How can you, really?)

The reason I added something so vague (see: "someone") to my list is that it just sounds so darn relaxing, doesn't it? No matter how that was played out, how could it go wrong? It turned out to be exactly what I needed--a little pause button during an over-scheduled summer during which *I* am pushed to the bottom of my to-do list.

As you'd expect from the equation of friends + dogs + food + sunshine, awesomeness ensued. Drinks were mixed, belly laughs were had, ideas were incubated, memory lane was walked, and life was paused, if only for 48 hours or so. There was some 6am sunrise/Olympics watching (GO PETE!), some midnight sauna career strategizing, some ex-boyfriend bashing, some dietary & digestive commiserating and encouragement (Jax: kombucha [comb-boo-cha] and quinoa [keen-wah] -- there's some links for you), some plan-hatching, some analyzing, and some celebrating. Tales of revenge-egging cars, prank-calls, and striking out douche bags at company picnics were recalled. We received a brief history of the global diamond industry, a training on spinal disc bulges and several gluten-free vegan cooking demonstrations.

There was not nearly as much debauchery as you would assume from reading those early memories--we must have matured over the years, though there was fire playing, midnight walks around the grounds and an illegal joyride of sorts. (No egging though.)

It's extremely humbling and grounding to be surrounded by people who knew you when you had braces, who know your family history, who talked you through your first big break-up, who have seen you both fall flat on your face and conquer the thing you never thought you could. Consider this one a big win for the roots.

Big thanks to Anna's generous client and Anna for making this weekend possible.

Somethings you just know you can count on. Like Verizon wireless and good girlfriends.
Happy girl.

Ruben says, "Ahoy! I see bagels with lox ahead!"

As the final light of the orange and yellow sunset ducked below the tree-lined horizon, I looked around at the happy faces of my three dear friends, reached down to give my tuckered out pup a squeeze, and I realized why I'd set this goal: I wanted at least one day in these busy few years to pass having savored each and every ray of light.

Note: I admit I took *some* liberties with the, ahem, timeline of this weekend, but our lips are sealed. After all, what happens in da woods, stays in da woods. Aside from the Instagrammed hearth, all photos by Allison and Jackie.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Loving What Is

Recently, an old classmate posted a picture I was in from the last day of 8th grade, and another friend tagged me.

That's me in the orange!

My choral class was tasked with entertaining the 8th grade class and their families at the graduation brunch. We sang "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan, and I clutched my best friend Jamie's hand and tried not to cry.

I have always been sentimental, and I hate to see things end.

Beyond the initial flood of memories from that day and era, three things occured to me when I saw this photo.

First, I loved that dress. I loved the double french braids. I loved those socks. I loved those Delia's sandals. But holy cow, do I stand out or what? No matter. I loved that dress.

The second thing to occur to me is something I've been thinking about in the week or so that has passed since that photo was posted. Please don't mistake this as a fishing excursion for compliments, but damn, look at that body. I was hot.

The third thing that occured to me was that I was completely insecure. (I mean, check out my body language: "Nothing to see here, folks." For someone standing in the front row wearing a bright orange dress, I sure look like I want to fade into the background.) As an early bloomer who filled out years before her peers, body image has always been a huge issue for me. Many trips to the mall; many drives home from the mall in tears. There ought to be a sainthood for mothers who spent as much time as my mom did, gently saying, "Let's try another store."

It wasn't that I was overweight at that point; I recognize that in retrospect. It's that "age-appropriate" clothes did not fit me, and I wasn't ready to move to the women's section. I just couldn't find much that I liked that fit me appropriately. So when I found a bright orange dress that I loved.... :)

I think everyone has those issues. Whatever they are for each of us, they never really go away. Not completely.

So it's these issues that I still face 15 years later at age 28, as my body fails me over and over. I am still learning to accept what is. But whether I'm 11 pounds up or 8 pounds down, I will never take my body for granted again.

I hope that someone posts a picture of 28-year-old me in another 15 years (at age 43, cripe!) and I hope only two things occur to me: "I loved that dress. And damn, I was hot." Life moves too quickly for insecurity.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Love [The] NY [Times]

God, there have been so many articles recently in the The New York Times that I have devoured. Articles that I find myself thinking about the next day at breakfast, or emailing to friends. Articles that I want to discuss, at length, with a vodka-soda and a highlighter.

Here are a few that have really made me think recently:

"The Wedding Effect": Maggie Shipstead writes about how other people's weddings can impair your own judgement, for better or for worse.
"I’m 29, squarely in the middle of that heady span of years when the tempo driving the game of conjugal musical chairs has suddenly accelerated and summer weekends are spent zipping around the country watching friend after friend tie the knot. There is something numbing about all this marrying."
"Friends of A Certain Age": Alex Williams writes about the difficulties people have making friends as they get older.
“My ideas of friendship were built by ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Diner,’ ” he said. “Your friends were your brothers, and anything but total loyalty at all costs meant excommunication. As you get older, that model becomes unrealistic.”
"Nora Ephron Dies at 71": I didn't realize how many movies she had made--and how many books she had written! My Amazon wishlist just got a shot in the arm. But what struck me was how Meryl Streep remembered her:
“You could call on her for anything: doctors, restaurants, recipes, speeches, or just a few jokes, and we all did it, constantly,” she wrote in her e-mail. “She was an expert in all the departments of living well.”
If that's not how we all wish to live, grow old and be remembered, I don't know what is.

P.S. Two other non-Times articles I found enchanting: An Excerpt from 'I Remember Nothing' (Huffington Post) and Moving On (The New Yorker):
"Things change in New York; things change all the time. You don't mind this while you live here; it's part of the caffienated romance of the city that never sleeps. But when you leave you experience it as a betrayal... It seems like the moment you left town they put a wall up around the place, and you will never manage to vault over it and get back into that city again."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Girl Crush: Sarah Kay

You guys, I love me some Sarah Kay.

I came across Sarah by way of TED. I love me some TED.

Sarah Kay is a New York poet, performer and spoken word poetry teacher. What I love about Sarah is that you learn a lot about her through her art. You see who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be, all from a few minutes of spoken word.

For that reason, I'm not going to tell you much about this girl crush. She can say it so much better than I ever could.

Here are my three favorite videos, but don't hesitate to spend some time poking around her website and getting to know Sarah a little better.

"Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air."

"There is a girl who still writes you. She doesn't know how not to."

"I've been thinking for far too long with my heart instead of my head, and I think people might be starting to notice".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Qualities I Want In a Dude; And Why I Don't Need Them

Sure, I have my deal breakers: No anger management issues. Emotionally available. No laziness. Must love dogs. Uses capital letters when appropriate. You know, the usual.

But the list of 'that'd be nice' gets longer the more time goes by. The more guys I weed out, more obscure traits come to the forefront and are labeled as questionable. These are qualities that are not necessarily deal-breakers, but we're not talking six-figure incomes or a six-pack, either. I'm picky, not shallow. Rather, these are those in-between things that would sweeten the deal and, in some cases, make my life a hell of a lot more convenient.

So, for giggles, I started keeping a list of traits that would be nice in a partner, beyond my deal-breakers. By doing so, I kind of proved them to be obsolete. Here are some good, fun reminders that I'm doing just fine on my own terms AND that love is blissfully blind:

Would be nice: A strong back. Who will move a dresser if I drop an earring?? Someone to lug the groceries inside would be nice, too.
Why I don't need it: I've lived alone this long (since 2007). They make moving discs. I have a rockin' physical therapist who taught me my limits. And I'm learning how to ask for help!

Would be nice: Similar diets. The thought of cooking two meals each night kills me. And I've never cooked a steak in my life.
Why I don't need it: It's 2012. He can grill his own damn meat. And I'm fairly certain anyone can learn to love quinoa.

Would be nice: No pteromerhanophobics or, in English, fear of flying.
Why I don't need it: I like car trips. And I have a mother and plenty of friends who'd want to hop a flight abroad with me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. Henley will love the company.

Would be nice: No sports fanatics. That all just seems like so much to learn! Plus, the downs in football have been explained to me 100 times. I only know that there are four of them. And right now I am definitely second-guessing that...
Why I don't need it: Maybe the right blue-eyed boy hasn't explained them yet? Plus, I kind of like Super Bowl parties. And the final four is pretty fun. And sports bars have vodka. And they probably make documentaries about athletes that are probably interesting. Probably.

Would be nice: No pet mice.
Why I don't need it: Eh, go ahead and move mice-lovers to the deal-breakers column.