Thursday, September 13, 2012

A post-vacation world

So we are back from our Italy vacation. We were gone for ten days, but it feels like three weeks. Just what you want from a vacation!

What is it that I love about traveling? Honestly, this is not the cool bohemian answer, but I love organizing and planning. I love problem solving and navigating. I also love anything that keeps my mind focused in the present moment. All of these things are required when exploring a new place. This was an often repeated scenario on our trip: walking in circles examining our map every two blocks looking for the exact piazza our friend recommended to find the best tonnarelli cacio e pepe pasta. By the time we finally reached our goal, the feeling of achievement paired with the absolute loveliness of the piazza as well as the divine taste of the pasta was perfection in that moment. That's what I love about traveling.

As we re-enter civilian life back at home, these small things don't mean as much. Going to the farmer's market in Italy was an hour long affair - tasting things, attempting to communicate with vendors, marveling at the beauty of, well, everything. Here, it's a quick swing by Trader Joe's and back - not much thought, planning or marveling. Things can just feel a bit duller - like the colors in Italy were vibrant and amazing and the colors here are muted earth tones.

I don't mean to be negative. I don't want to be negative. I am happy to be home. By the end, we were getting tired of all that planning - packing up to get to train stations, driving in Florence traffic (omigoodness, terrifying!), sleeping in strange beds. Home is good and our life is good. I just want to find a way to make the colors here more vibrant. How do you bring a little vacation back with you? How do you keep that sense of wonder in your everyday life?

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Being newly married (just hit one year!) one of my key observations is that while at times you can feel like one cohesive, glorious, in-sync unit, other times you feel very much separate.

You are separate, but not so much so that you can forget about that glorious unit you want to come back to - and so it becomes a balancing act. This is a nuance that I hadn't fully experienced before we were married, and one I'm still trying to wrap my mind around.

As it so happens, I picked up My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme, the other day. I've been devouring every mouth-watering description so far! The thing that is standing out to me more than her lovely descriptions of Paris and more than the delicious details of her cooking is the relationship with her husband, Paul.

He is everything you would want in a spouse, and everything you would want to be as a spouse. He introduces her to new ideas and places. He rejoices in her successful experiments and quietly endures the failed ones. He engages with the world around them with the same curious enthusiasm as Julia herself. And he encourages her, endlessly encourages her, to continue. He sees that for her to not follow her passion is simply not an option.

There are times when he refers to himself as the "Cordon Bleu Widower" he sees Julia so little. Another time he writes in a letter to his brother how amazing it is to watch her work in the kitchen. He adds, of course, if he wants to see her the only way to do so is by watching her in the kitchen.

I wonder if he ever felt that they were out of balance during those times? I wonder if he ever struggled to give her that endless support? I wonder how they kept that glorious unit (and by all accounts, it was GLORIOUS) afloat and healthy.

While I find Julia Child amazing, inspiring and absolutely lovable beyond words, I'm really inspired by the strong, quiet and loving fortitude that Paul Child seems to exude. It's something that I aspire to in my own relationship.

p.s. We just returned from Italy last night! More to come...

Friday, August 17, 2012


I've really felt the urge to be connecting with people lately. I always feel best when I'm with  my close friends or family and really connecting. Everyone is present, sharing what's happening in their lives and listening intently. There is an easy, relaxing flow of back and forth.

I grew up with a community like that around me all of the time. As a young kid my mother and I* lived upstairs from her best friend, Sharon. Sharon had 5 kids of her own and it was a smorgasbord of fabulous kid fun growing up. My mom's other best friend lived across the street, and there were always parties, pot-lucks and gatherings. Us kids spent most of those gatherings doing serious spy-work, reporting back to command and conducting secret missions to swipe more cookies off the dessert table. We lived in a world that felt fully independent, completely our own for the making and endlessly fun.

It's this kind energy in a group that makes me feel most at peace and happy. Everyone is together and at ease. No one is overbearing or dominating the conversation. People flow in and out of conversations with each other. If there are kids**, they are running around with the collective group's eye on them, but no one parent hovering.

I've always been after this elusive community feeling. In my 20's I started "church shopping." This was not so much because I wanted to find God, but I because I felt like church offered a sense of community that can be so hard to find these days. In college, I loved coming home to the knit shop my mom, aunts and grandmother used to go to. All of the women would sit around the center table, knitting, talking and laughing. Even now, I go to regular yoga classes and yoga retreats to see the same smiling yogi faces and feel a part of a community.

I'm starting to toy with the idea that instead of looking for community and finding it in something else, that maybe I should start creating it myself. I'm not sure what that means or how to do it, but I'm thinking I'll make it my secret mission - perhaps I can enlist some serious young spies to help me out...

*My mother was a single mom, but don't worry, my dad is the bees knees and rocked the whole dad thing entirely. In fact, I have an abundance of amazing parents. More on that another time.
**For the most part, there aren't many kids at my friend gatherings right now, but I have a feeling that is going to change soon and fast!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Me + coffee

I drank a small cup of decaf coffee at work yesterday and felt crazy jumpy. I kept alt + tabbing through all the open programs on my computer, never landing on one decided plan of action.

Coffee and my personality don't mix all that well. This is too bad, really, because I love coffee. I love the cozy, comforting smell. I love how artful it looks, especially those beautiful lattes you get at pretentious coffee shops. There is something relaxing and luxurious about the idea of drinking coffee.

This is not my reality of drinking coffee, however. I get super jittery and so anxious to do something that I can't actually decide on what to do. Therefore I get nothing done which makes me more anxious. I get impatient with co-workers and start cutting them off to get to the point faster. (I generally feel guilty about this snippiness later and curse that gorgeous cup of coffee!) My former roommate used to say she could tell by my emails during the day whether I'd had a cup of coffee.

The funny thing is if I am on vacation these angsty side-effects of coffee disappear. I can drink multiple cups in a day. I can have a fully caffeinated cappuccino after dinner and still sleep. (The explanation for this may be multiple glasses of wine before said cappuccino).

coffee + me + work = jumpy mess
coffee + me + vacation = relaxed lady of luxury

I suppose this is just another reason to look forward to vacation. Italy, here I come!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is it local?

I recently read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. She is a wonderful writer. I've read her fiction but this was the first non-fiction of hers I had read - just as readable and engaging! In this book, she and her family vow to eat only locally for one full year and she documents that experience. It is very inspiring and surprisingly doable.

Now, I'm super focused on buying local when I can. I've started going to the farmer's market on Saturdays. I buy everything I can there and then head to Trader Joe's to pick up the staple items you can't get at the market.

Not only does it feel good to be eating well, but it's also just a fun experience going to the market. It's always packed with people. Everyone seems so happy. The vendors are happy customers are there. The customers are happy they are making good choices. And everyone is outside and chatting! It's an old-fashioned community experience that is so rare these days.

Of course, one must be careful not to go too far with the local thing. Sometimes I fear I'm getting a little too close to this Portlandia sketch. Enjoy!

Friday, July 27, 2012

On repeat

I've been listening to "Heartbeats" by The Knife on repeat for many days. (See YouTube clip from last post to hear it). This rarely happens to me, but when it does I really don't hold back. When I say repeat, I mean repeat - over and over and over and over... Even when I try to move onto another song, I can't! It's compulsive!

But it feels so good to be SO into something that you can't get sick of it. It's such a pure, un-jaded feeling - like how kids are happy to have the same book read to them a million times. They get pure joy out of it every time and want to do it again as soon as they are done. What is that? And why does it go away as we get older?

There are very few things that I can do on repeat like that. One of them is watching the movie Dirty Dancing. I love that movie - really, any dance movie does it for me. There's something about that formulaic movie arc that gets me every time. Anyway, I can and have watched Dirty Dancing multiple times. One of the my favorite memories was after the 36-hour trip home from our honeymoon in Thailand. We were jet-lagged and exhausted. We woke up up early and turned on the TV to find Dirty Dancing playing. We ate frozen pizza in a daze and watched Patrick Swayze do his thing at 10am. It was awesome.

So I am in it with this song right now and loving every minute. Because eventually I know I'm going to be sick of it. The grown-up inside me will finally say, "Enough! Pick another song!" Until then me and my kiddo self are going to keep up this dance party.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have a seriously embarrassing confession to make. I am by no means a reality television fan. In fact, I find it mostly gross and feel icky when I watch it. Somehow, T and I got hooked on The Bachelorette this season. I know, I know - judge away! I'm not proud. However, the guy that won this season is so freakin' cool and adorable and awesome that I've had a silly grin on my face for two days now.

And, honestly, I love that silly grin, and I love the feeling I have because of that silly grin. Yes, The Bachelorette is mostly a ridiculous and brainless show, but thank goodness for the ridiculous sometimes. Last week I had been feeling heavy. There were a lot of heavy things happening around me and in the world and I was feeling it.

So I watch this funny guy charm this beautiful girl and it gives me a little bit of lightness.

I think part of my giddiness is just feeling gratitude, in general. I was single for a long time. If I had watched this show when I was single I would have felt that sad ache of wanting, so badly, to find someone that charming and fun. What makes me all the more giddy watching this show is that all the things I find so attractive and fun about this guy, I have in my husband. Instead of feeling sad about wanting something or someone like that, I feel blissed out because I have my dreamy hunk right here in my house. I already chose him and I got him!!

There's nothing like the feeling of gratitude to make you feel high, to lift you out of that heaviness and make you glow.

Plus there's this awesome YouTube clip of Jef (the winner) with his friends long before being on The Bachelorette. I mean, come on, this has to make you feel good!