Outdoor People

Meeting Wood and Luv over the weekend was a real treat for me and Billy. We drove out to their cabin in the woods of Pennsylvania and, although it’s trite to say about people you’ve known on the web for a long time but are just meeting for the first time, they were exactly as I’d imagined them. Only way cooler. Which is saying a lot, because I had high expectations for the weekend!

These are the type of people I want to be when I grow up. We arrived in time for lunch and then headed out to Gettysburg for some history and hiking. Then it was back to the cabin for the much-anticipated dead rats. Dead rats, for the uninitiated, are scooped out jalapenos filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and grilled over an open flame. The fun was trying to figure out whether the bite you took that is burning your face from the inside out is a hot jalapeno or a mild one. They were delicious!

Dinner was likewise delicious, and we followed that up with a game of Five Crowns. I started off really well in both games we played, but I think I finished second place each time. Billy… well, the most we can say is that he gave it his all. I think he may have set a record for the worst score ever, but even that is something to be proud of in some way, right?

We sat in the hot tub under the stars for a while and enjoyed the silence of a fall evening. And then we settled off to sleep in the darkest, quietest room I have been in in a very, very long time. I slept all the way until 9am, which for me these days is absolutely unheard of. There’s something to be said for peaceful, warm, welcoming homes.

We woke up for some NYC bagels and muffins and then we were off to the nearby park to play disc golf. We did pretty well, I think (for us). I threw about 20 over par, which is probably way better than the last time I played when I didn’t even bother to keep score. The one part of the day I’d probably take back was when I threw my hand directly into a nearby tree while making my toss. That one still stings a bit.

After frisbee, we tried our hand at geocaching. I’d always wanted to try this, and it was fun! The first cache was a bit of a challenge to find. We must have looked around for a good 20 minutes for it before we thought of MOVING rocks to look under them. That cache gave us the location of the second one, which held the actual prize. This one was a bit easier to find, and we walked away with a Boy Scout patch. Then it was back home for some amazing tomato soup (yummmm!) and burgers. Somehow, after that, we had to leave.

I think what struck me the most about the trip was how much at home I felt with them. For people I had never met before, they welcomed Billy and me in as if they’d known us their whole lives. What a special treat, and I hope someday to return the favor.


On thinking young.

It’s Saturday morning, I’ve been up for an hour, and it’s still dark outside. When did I become a morning person?

OK, not only that, but it has been 85 days since I last had a drink. People who know me must be looking at me and scratching their heads wondering, “what the fuck?” I know I am.

I’m trying to see this as me opening myself up to new opportunities. Do you know how much you can accomplish between 5-8am when you’re not heaving into the toilet with a hangover? The world is so quiet at that hour, even here in Queens. I can have a simple breakfast and catch up on some knitting, or bill-paying, or correspondence. I am going to make a great little old lady when I grow up.

Just for the record, I am still very much a thrill-seeker. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Blowing the dust off

I’ve only got about 10 minutes before I’ve got to head out to work. I haven’t done much writing lately. I guess it’s redundant to say so, since it’s pretty obvious if you look around here that there’s nothing new posted. It’s the same old story, I guess. I’ve been busy, blah, blah, blah. Add it to the cacophony of other folks out there saying the Exact Same Thing. (I’m sure I could find examples if I had the time to look.)

I kind of miss being able to sit down every day and put some thought into writing something witty, something interesting, something fun, something honest. It’s been years since I’ve done it with any sort of regularity. Maybe this is part of getting older? I don’t want that to be an excuse, though. We aren’t victims of our age. We’re victims of our excuses. And I regret that age is so often used as an excuse to languish rather than a reason to flourish.


Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a whole day just searching for one beautiful thing to remember it by? Sometimes it must be easier than others. But imagine if you collected 365 days of beauty and you could flip through it when you were feeling low, and keep adding to it to keep it – and you – alive.

In mid-July I started snapping photos with my Hipstamatic iPhone app with the idea of doing one a day, every day, for a year. I’ve done these 365 day projects before and I think the farthest I’ve ever gotten was under 200 days. But I figured, what the hell. The worst that happens is I end up with a bunch of interesting photos to string together in a sequence. How can that hurt?

So far I haven’t missed a day. For those who don’t feel like counting that high, today is day 64.* And yes, I have an app to tell me that, too.

But what if I up the ante for these next 301 days? What if I say to myself that I will photograph one beautiful thing every day with my fake toy camera (phone)? What will I end up with at the end of a year? Will it lift me up on days I’d rather not open my eyes? Will I crumble under the pressure? What if I can’t find one beautiful thing every day? Is that even possible?

So many questions. But I am not one to turn down a challenge.

*I realize that there are more than 64 photos in my set, but that’s because I started and stopped this project a few times before I really got on a roll.


I have spent a lot of time on this blog not writing about my mom. Mostly it has been to protect her privacy. But I feel now that if I don’t get through this post, all the things that follow without it will be a fraud.

Right now, I’m pretty sure my mom and I are not speaking to one another. It’s been about three weeks since we last spoke, and when she joined Facebook a few days ago, she friended everyone in my family… except me. Having leaned on each other most of our lives – though I am only speaking for myself – it’s not exactly been the best couple of weeks in my life.

If I had to guess, it probably has less to do with the sum of money I wouldn’t lend her and more to do with the way I told her I wouldn’t lend it to her. I probably could have been gentler in telling her no. But I also think I deserved a bit more respect than I got in response.

The details of our argument are not worth getting into publicly. It’s not about taking sides, or getting in the middle. I wouldn’t expect that from anyone. But I think it’s also fair to say that we’ve both suffered a loss, here, and a significant one. And whether it’s real or only my perception, I’ve really felt quite cut adrift from the rest of my family as a result. Maybe I deserve it. I don’t personally think so, but then I’m probably a little biased.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is try to look forward and focus on my own life, the one I’ve been neglecting in my worry over my mother’s well-being. I’ve turned around and realized I’m 31 years old and hey, I’m married, too. When did that happen? To say that Billy and I are reconnecting is an understatement. It’s been wonderful and difficult all at once, and that, I suppose, is marriage.

We’ve assessed our debts and come up with a plan to pay them off in their entirety within the next 10 years. It involves sacrifice and dedication, but so far in the last two weeks, we have made incredible strides. Eating home-cooked meals has helped. Not drinking has also saved us heaps, in more ways than one. Because, yes, I am back on the wagon, and it has been great.

My job is blossoming into a career, and although most days when I get home I need an hour or two to lay in bed and recover from the mountains of stress I encounter at the office, I have to say that it’s a job I do truly enjoy. It’s challenging, and always pushing the bar, and I feel like what I do makes a difference. And, it helps to pay our debts. Right now, I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Billy and I are considering a move in the next year or so. New York City is one of the best places in the whole world, no doubt. But it has a way of churning our souls, and after nearly 15 years, our souls are ready to sit back on our porch in the country and watch bees buzz amid the daisies. Right now, it’s hard to say what we will be able to afford, both financially and emotionally, but a front-runner is Ithaca, NY. We are also looking a bit closer to home, but nowhere specific. It’s nice to finally start seeing plans take shape, though, and to know that we have choices.

And as I think of the family I have lost and potentially lost, between my father’s death and my mother’s illness, I can’t help but think of the possibility of starting anew with a family of our own. It doesn’t seem as farfetched as it did several years ago, somehow.

Even with all these developments on the horizon of my own life, I can’t help but resist the change a bit. It’s always been my affliction – wanting my world to change, but being afraid to actually change it. But, now is the time. As they say, when a door closes, a window is opening. And maybe I’m ready to seize the moment after all.


It’s been a good weekend so far. Saturday I ended up spending the day in, knitting and watching football, on account of Billy’s bum foot. It must really be bothering him, too, because he made an appointment to see a doctor tomorrow, and let’s just say he would only do that if the only other alternative was getting out the hacksaw.

Yesterday I managed to get out to the beach one last time, and it was a lovely day. We have a routine pretty much down pat at this point – leave Queens at 9:30am, arrive to Hampton Bays by 11:30, stop at Tully’s (gosh, they don’t have a website!) for some deep fried awesomeness, brave the flooded roads, and arrive to the beach by noonish. We hit the restroom at 4:45 before they close at 5, and then usually back on the road by 5:30. It’s friggin’ awesome. Yesterday’s trip was no exception. The cooler weather (mid-70’s) and high wind (seriously) kept most people off the beach, so it was quiet (with only one or two exceptions, and you know who you are). I was surprised when I got home, though, that my hair wasn’t sticking out permanently to the left side of my face. It was, however, what one might describe as a rat’s nest. I tried to brush it out when I got home but gave up mid-brush. I think the brush may still be in there somewhere.

I also did some knitting yesterday. I’ve started a pair of socks, as well as a baby blanket. Again, I don’t really have anyone in mind for these projects, but I was getting to where if I didn’t have something to knit right away, I was going to be quite unpleasant to be around. And I became instantly relaxed. I love knitting, almost to an unhealthy degree. At the very least, it’s a productive hobby, because when I finish a project, I’ve got a gift to give! And a handmade gift is generally much appreciated, in my experience.

Today I’m thinking about how the summer is starting to wind down a bit. I am looking back to my list for the year (which, by the way, has been a great reference to keep me focused on FUN things and not CRAPPY things) and thinking about how I’ve done a pretty good job so far! Some of these things won’t get done this year (I’m thinking getting to the cherry blossom festival in DC is probably out this year, since it was in April), but they will be good goals for next year, too. I think it’s time to add a few new goals for fall, too. Things like:

  • learn how to play “The Entertainer” on the piano
  • go to the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival
  • go pumpkin picking
  • bake a peach pie
  • carve a jack-o-lantern and light it on Halloween
  • make chili in the slow cooker, watch Rudy, and drink apple cider on a college football game day
  • go for a fall foliage hike

I can and probably will come up with more items for the list, too. But this is a good start.

It’s past my bedtime. Again.

And here I thought I was getting into a good groove again. Ah well. No time like the present to break a trend.

Again, lots going on and very little time to appreciate it, less write about it. Big news of this week: Wednesday was my five-year anniversary for McDonald’s sobriety. I am really quite proud of myself – it was a 90-day challenge back in 2005, but when that 90 days ended, I found I really had no desire to go back to it. And I really haven’t missed it, either. In the last five years, the only fast food I have eaten has been pizza, Subway (but only a handful of times, and I hated it each time), and once I went to Roy Rogers with my aunt on the way up to Vermont because it was the only food on the highway. I had a chicken sandwich and a salad. It was gross.

I can honestly say that I don’t miss the grease and that I feel healthier for making this choice in my life. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to McDonald’s, unless it was the last place on earth and I was starving.

I’ve been getting very caught up in the moment and trying to do what’s “right.” This has meant late nights at the gym and trying to cook all my meals and get to the supermarket, all after a long day at the office. I come home tired and wasted from the effort. So today I gave it up, came home, took a nap, and have puttered around doing nothing of importance.

EXCEPT: Today Billy and I officially paid off all of our credit card debt. That just leaves another $49,000 (give or take $10 grand) in debts left to pay off. Hooray! I am still waiting to stumble onto that money tree – I should have figured out how much I spend on McDonald’s and put all that aside into savings to pay off my debts. Now that would have been special.