Home for the Holidays

I live in a teeny tiny town in a part of the state that’s largely ignored. For whatever reason, the south coast of Massachusetts has lagged far behind other areas in terms of commerce and development. Even tourism–which the region is prime for because of its beautiful landscape and miles of shoreline– is basically nonexistent in comparison to other parts of the state. We don’t get the crowds that flock to the cape. And we don’t have enough industry to support any significant growth in the year-round population. So that all translates into fewer amenities for those of us who call the South Coast home.

It’s pretty sleepy, but a few times a year our little community comes alive with a spirit that’s bigger and greater than anywhere else I’ve lived. There are three town events that bring us together- a town party in August, a big Halloween celebration in October, and my favorite by far, the Christmas Stroll in December.

25189064_10212086597893434_8395926673328631804_o

At the Stroll, Santa comes chugging in by boat, and then spends the rest of the afternoon spiriting kids through the village in a horse-drawn hay wagon. The town is packed with people of all ages milling in and out of the festively decorated little shops that are offering good cheer. Sounds of the season (in the form of the elementary school band) waft through the air as you greet friends and neighbors at every turn. Yes, it’s like a Norman Rockwell painting come alive. And I’m not even kidding.

I love to travel, and I often think longingly of all the years I lived in the city (and count the ones until I can return) but there’s no place I’d rather be on a cold December afternoon than in the middle of this picturesque little village, listening to my son pound out Jingle Bells with the rest of the 4th grade band, standing elbow to elbow with friends and neighbors as we sip spiked cider and watch our teenagers flit from here to there, arms linked and smiles wide. It’s like for one day, you can forget about everything else that’s happening outside of our 26 square miles and just be joyful.

FullSizeRender
Hey there Jaime!  Always happy to see you!

FullSizeRender[1]
It’s called the Stroll because you do a lot of strolling.
FullSizeRender[3]
We’ve got a few pretty little shops like this. This is Kates Simple Eats. You can go there and eat, and it’s pretty simple. But also pretty great.

IMG_5568
The fourth-grade band plays first, followed by the more accomplished 5th & 6th graders. It’s kind of like when the Lumineers opened for U2 at Gillette this summer.
IMG_5575
The set is kind of interesting- they play all the Christmas classics like Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Row Row Row Your Boat. But then they do end with a resounding rendition of Jingle Bells followed by the finale of the crowd pleasing Little Drummer Boy. Well, at least I think it was Little Drummer Boy.
IMG_5574
My son plays the drums. He practices at home a lot. It’s awesome.
IMG_5579
Hi Santa. We’ve all been pretty good this year. Ok, well not ALL of us. But most of us. Some of us. All right, honestly, NONE of us have been good this year. But 2017 was awful and brought out the worst in everyone. We promise to be better in 2018.
IMG_5581
I love decked halls.
IMG_5584
And I love Prosecco in my cider.
IMG_5589
Cocoa, cookies and Santa hats for all, except that guy. He didn’t get the memo, I guess.
IMG_5596
If you had cider or cocoa at every single shop you might just float away or at the very least feel like I do today (which is not so good).
IMG_5598
We draw all the big names in entertainment…
IMG_5585
Big names and holiday stars…even Rudolph! The Grinch comes too, but I avoid him because: good vibes only.
IMG_5595
It’s really amazing and wonderful to see so many people on Front Street. This is approximately 2000% more foot traffic than you see on a normal day.

This year it’s especially important to embrace the feel-good days.  The days filled with small moments that make your heart swell. A smile exchanged, a laugh shared, a warm hug- the little things that are actually bigger than you think.

Community matters and communities united in a common goal can do so much. If we all commit to focusing on making positive changes and respecting and supporting each other, the world will be a lovelier place for everyone. We can and should commit to core community values that instill in all generations the importance of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance and living joyfully. Yes, John Lennon- we can all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.

Gah! And double Gah!

I promised myself I was going to stay away from writing about politics or that awful person who is systematically destroying democracy and stripping millions of people of their basic human rights. But I’m sorry to say that it’s impossible. I know it’s so much nicer to look at pretty vacation pictures, but that’s just not reality right now.

It was so nice to be in Europe, away from the daily deluge of gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing news coming out of Washington. It reminded me of a quieter, gentler time- way back in oh say 2015.  But all good things must come to an end, I guess.

Logan Airport has conveniently installed large screen televisions in the long corridor that leads from your disembarking gate to customs so that you can immediately be caught up on all the things you were trying to avoid while you were away. As we walked down to re-enter reality this is the headline that screamed out at us:

“Trump calls Warren ‘Pocahontas’ at event honoring Native Americans.”

Welcome to AMERICA people! I hope you enjoy your stay. But you probably only will if you’re white, male, straight, and Christian (preferably evangelical). The rest of you be damned.

You straight, white, evangelical males will have a fabulous time in America, because guess what? Anything goes! Especially with women! You can disparage them with condescending remarks, you can disrespect them with sexually charged innuendos, and you can even cop a feel here and there if you want. It’s all good because women are LIARS. Right? When they reveal situations like this the real victim is the man being accused because he didn’t mean it. It was just locker room talk. He was just being a “guy”. And women are inferior and stupid so they don’t deserve respect from the male species. And they have boobs. So yeah, go ahead and try to get some.

Look, here’s the current situation in America. We have a President who has been accused of sexual misconduct on 19 occasions. 19!!!! And, he’s adamantly supporting electing to the Senate a man (and I use that term loosely) who has 8 allegations of sexual assault of his own. 8!!!! Against minors, no less. Girls!!! What kind of message does that send?

There have been many high profile revelations of sexual misconduct over that past few months. Obviously, I don’t need to point them out here because you know about them. It’s impossible not to because day after day the news headlines are littered with them. All of those have ended in the accused being fired or resigning from whatever powerful position it was that they used to manipulate, belittle and abuse their female victims. My question is, why did the accusations against Trump not matter? Why the hell is he immune to consequences of his despicable actions?

I could go on and on. Because of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s just one of the many, many, many reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to lead our nation. But it’s my hot button today, and it’s the one that’s got me riled up. I went to bed thinking about Al Franken’s resignation speech where he said this:

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” 

Did you hear that? “…with the full support of his party“. And that my friends is the long and the short of it.

Maybe we can be a little hopeful that the high profile sexual assault scandals that ended in swift and severe punishment and public outcries of outrage (Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer) will result in changing the tide of acceptance around what can be ignored and what must not be, but we’ll see. We’ll see next Tuesday in fact. All eyes on Alabama.

There’s so much more I can say, but this is exhausting. Hopefully, my next post will be pretty pictures of somewhere lovely where I’m pretending that the reality of living in America under the “leadership” of a deranged pig isn’t happening.  Til then, melancholy greetings from Trumplandia.

644390-time970

I see London, I see France…

This Thanksgiving we traded turkey, stuffing, and mashies for wine, cheese, bread and surprisingly good pub food. Bucking tradition to travel this year seemed to be a trend if my friend’s Insta and Facebook feeds are any indication. Lots of people headed north, south, east, and west to celebrate sans pumpkin pie or a doze in front of a football game. We opted to spend a few days in Paris and London before heading down to the middle of France, where we are fortunate enough to have lots of family to spend time with and a house to stay in. Our house doesn’t have wifi or a tv so an extra bonus is that the kids actually have to talk to us! Woohoo!  They pretend to be annoyed by it, but it seems to me like they might actually enjoy our company.  I know–weird, right? Anyway, here are some highlights and recommendations from our latest family adventure.

IMG_4303
First of all, fly Iceland Air. It’s usually the least expensive way to get to anywhere in Europe, they have nice new planes, and the Keflavik airport has cool Icelandic gear for sale, and really, really, really expensive but drinkable coffee. This was probably our 12th trip via Iceland, but all we’ve ever seen is the airport. We need to fix that because Iceland is pretty amazing (you can tell from the flyby and also the 20 infomercial “documentaries” available during your flight). Even the safety video is so beautiful it makes you want to stay.
IMG_4318
We flew into Paris and stayed overnight with my husband’s cousin. This is the entryway to her apartment. I took a picture of this because I love the floor, and the doors, and also I just love that it’s in Paris.
IMG_4319
But then you have to climb 4 flights of these stairs with all your bags because the elevator is only meant for really skinny French people with no luggage.
FullSizeRender
This is Martine- our welcome committee and the cutest dog in Paris. I am also convinced she can jump higher than any other dog anywhere. She’s like a circus dog. You can’t tell from this picture because she’s pretending to be calm, so you’ll just have to believe me.
IMG_4337
Friday mood.
FullSizeRender (34).jpg
Rue Montorgueil is my favorite street because there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from and if you’re wandering in the middle of the road half-dazed from lack of sleep you won’t get hit by a car because it’s pedestrians only.
IMG_4346
We decided to combat our jet lag by walking from Les Halles to the Eiffel Tower – not a short stroll even on your best day, but you get to see lots of Paris landmarks, like the Louvre.
IMG_4371
My kids were mortified that I took a picture of this statue because he’s naked but he looked about as tired as I was just then, so I felt like he was a kindred spirit.
IMG_4380
The Musée du Quai Branly has an exterior living wall so you can experience something cool as you walk by even if you don’t have time to visit the museum itself.
IMG_4377
You even get to see art, like this Olmec piece!
IMG_4382
Everyone loves Paris in the springtime, but Fall is pretty great too.
IMG_4429
The next morning we headed to the Garre Nord pretty early so we could catch our train to London. Yes, that is a bear with wings. The French are interesting.
IMG_4455
We dumped our bags and headed out to explore London town. Wild food and festive aromatherapy- what more could you ask for?
IMG_4465
So many pubs, so little time.
IMG_4466
Rokit is the best vintage store in London. My daughter loved rummaging through the old t-shirts, shoes, coats and other goodies. I spent most of the time alternating between feeling like I’d found old friends and feeling depressed because vintage now means all things from the 80s.  By default, I think that makes me vintage too. Sigh.
IMG_4459
There’s always something to celebrate in London! Girl power! Also, cheese!
Lowlander02
Lunch was in a pub. Isn’t this cute? Plus the pints were tasty. And the food was good. Yes, really.  We were the first ones there because we were on Paris time (or Boston time?) and we were hungry!
IMG_4489
Every time we visit a different city, or country, or really anywhere that’s not home there seems to be some sort of car show or exhibit happening. Even though my husband is a huge, huge fan of all things automotive he swears this is just a coincidence. But I’m not convinced because it happens every. single.time. Case in point- the Ferrari: Under The Skin exhibit opened at the Design Museum just days before we arrived. I wanted to go there anyway, and I did think this particular exhibit sounded pretty good, so win, win.
IMG_4498
This is how Ferrari’s look before they become actual cars.
IMG_4494
Ferraris really are beautiful…
IMG_4514
Vroom vrrooooom
IMG_4521
I love race car driver helmets. I don’t know why, but I do. I also love race car drivers. Have you seen Rush? No? You should, and then you’ll love race car drivers too.
IMG_4581
The rest of the museum is worth a look too. I mean, the building alone is an inspiration.
FullSizeRender
See?
IMG_4530
Designer, maker or user- which one are you?
IMG_4544
Ah- the design love triangle. Can’t have one without the others…
IMG_4552
Design is everywhere and influences everything. Think about that.
IMG_4550
Life in a nutshell.
THE UNION TAVERN, CLERKENWELL
How lucky are you when a really great place like the Union Tavern is right across the street from your hotel? Dinner spot!
IMG_4607
Haha- no! We didn’t stay at the Ritz but on our second day we met our friend Paul right outside because it was close to the tube station.
IMG_4609
We didn’t even mean to, but we got to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace- or more accurately we got to see the backs of heads of tons of people watching the changing of the guards.
IMG_4611
Eh, hello there Queen Elizabeth.
IMG_4622
We spent some time on the South Bank of the Thames. Insider tip: get the Fast Pass for the London Eye and plan to explore a bit while you wait for your timeslot.
IMG_4628.jpg
Blue sky and sunshine in London? Yes, it happens!
IMG_4639
My daughter would not be happy if she saw this picture, but she’ll never know so…heh heh.  Anyway, this was lunch at Wagamama. I have a hard and fast rule to never eat in a restaurant we can go to at home when we’re away, but everyone loves Wagamama, including me. Rules are meant to be broken anyway, right?
IMG_4642
But then when we left Wagamama we saw this place – the British think of everything! Lunch in an igloo? We could have done that! But yet, I wonder how steamy it gets in there with 5 people breathing and eating and etc?
IMG_4682
Watercolor view of Big Ben and Parliment. Big Ben was under scaffolding, but still pretty.
IMG_4645
I am in love with books. Like completely in love. So, it was really fantastic to discover Books Under the Bridge. A tiny piece of heaven.
IMG_4650
Browsing is so much fun…
IMG_4647
I also love old maps, and they had loads.
IMG_4640
Say hello to Liam Flanagan. He’s living my son’s dream.
IMG_4660
We were going to ride some city bikes, but we ran out of time. Good to know they’re here though.
IMG_4670
The Brand Academy is definitely worth a stop- chock full of products made by emerging artists and designers. Good stuff!
IMG_4663
All the colors.
IMG_4671
If I weren’t a procrastinator by nature (and if I’d brought a bigger suitcase) I would have picked up some Christmas gifts…
IMG_4676
Holiday market finds- love me some colorful lights.
IMG_4674
Here’s Paul! We hadn’t seen him in eons- so it was great to spend the day with him, and get yelled at together by ornery baristas at Nero Coffee.
FullSizeRender[1]
I actually hate Ferris Wheels and looking up at this extra, extra tall one felt really intimidating BUT…
IMG_4689
You can’t skip the London Eye, so up we went!
IMG_4734
And it’s so worth it! You get your own personal pod (well shared with like 10 other people) and you feel like you’re headed to outer space.  The views are unparalleled.
IMG_4694
Mid-flight selfie fail.
IMG_4739
The group below us was having a champagne party. Dang it, we were one pod too early…
IMG_4728
Here I am channeling Mary Tyler Moore.
IMG_4748
And this is that unparalleled view I was telling you about.
IMG_4751
That was fun!
IMG_4755
Just walking around is a feast for the eyes, especially when the sky cooperates and gives you this.
IMG_4763
You know there aren’t actually phones in these things anymore.
IMG_4764
Here’s my pretty little London pic.
IMG_4770
Buckingham Palace at sunset…
IMG_4797
Shop goals! When I was in the business of flower making I dreamed of having a shop like this…
IMG_4787
The kids wanted to know how many pubs we were going to visit. Answer: as many as we could fit in (which was 6 in two days).  When in London…
IMG_4783
Being in London near Christmas is extra great because this town takes it’s holidaying to the next level.
IMG_4784
It was only November 19 but there were lights and festive decorations everywhere.
IMG_4808
It made me feel a little anxious and inadequate actually because I know my own decorating won’t be done til approximately Dec 24th.
23363501
Dinner Sunday night was at The Wilmington. We opted for the traditional Roast. I can’t tell you how amazing the food was, you will just have to go and taste for yourself.  Yorkshire Pudding and all the rest.

After London, we headed back to France. I think I’ll share some pics of that in a separate post because this one is getting kind of long, dontcha think? Stay tuned…

Escape to Vermont

If you want to get away from it all for a while, I’ve got the place for you. Head on up to Manchester, Vermont where you can breathe deep and disconnect from everything. I felt lucky that I had minimal cell phone service and no wifi when I was there because it really forced me to enjoy the weekend for what it was- calming, peaceful and oh so far away from the noise and craziness of today’s world.

IMG_7620
We started our Saturday with a quick run (well not quick exactly… so let’s just call it a run).
IMG_3816
There were lots of roads like this. Naturally, we had to stop a lot (to take pictures you know– not for any other reason like being winded or anything like that- though I will point out that it’s very hilly in Vermont).
IMG_7627
Hildene is worth a visit- we reserved some time mid-run to explore the grounds and drink in the breathtaking setting and amazing views.
IMG_3899
Views like this.
IMG_3825
this,
IMG_3830
and this.
IMG_3832
Seeing this made me want to learn how to be a dairy farmer and open up a cheese shop.
FullSizeRender
For certain I’m romanticizing farm life, but how could you not–standing in this spot?
FullSizeRender[1]
After the run we spent a lot of time drinking coffee and looking out at this. The golden glory of Fall.
IMG_3851
Later we headed out for a hike in these ridiculously picturesque woods to work off some of the jitters that were a side effect of a long, lingering morning of coffee drinking.
IMG_3876
I feel like a Thoreau quote would be appropriate here.
IMG_3853
Like maybe: “I took a walk in the woods, and came out taller than the trees“. I checked afterward, and I was still 5’2, so…maybe I did it wrong?
IMG_3852
One of my favorite Thoreau quotes is “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see“.  So don’t just think of these as trees, ok?
IMG_3869
We made it to the falls. They were a little less impressive than we’d imagined.
IMG_3871
But still, it’s always good to have a destination (and a turnaround point!)
IMG_7639
This weekend was actually a book group field trip that we spontaneously decided to do one night after reading a book that was completely unrelated to Vermont or nature in any way. We were missing a bunch of ladies, which was too bad because they’re all pretty awesome and unique and special. I love spending time with women who inspire me.
IMG_3877
After we made it out of the woods we stopped at this really fantastic bookstore (Northshire) because we felt it was appropriate for a book club trip and also we needed books. Well, maybe we didn’t need the books, but we wanted them. Anything goes in Vermont.
IMG_3886
Manchester has lots of buildings that look like they belong in Vermont.
IMG_3888
See what I mean?
IMG_3887
And shopping is very cute in Manchester.
IMG_3893
Drinking wine and watching the sun sink behind the mountains was alright, I guess.
IMG_3902
We went to Gringo Jacks for dinner and it was really good. Funny story: I’ve only been to Manchester one other time, maybe 13 or 14 years ago and I ate dinner here. There are other restaurants in Vermont, I think. But this one has tacos.
IMG_3905
Also, it’s cozy and they serve really good margaritas.
IMG_3930
On our way home Sunday we stopped at the Vermont Country Deli for the best dang sandwiches around.
IMG_3928
They also have lots of other stuff.
IMG_3933
Like maple syrup, for example.
IMG_3934
Maple wine (um, ok).
IMG_3936
Maple seltzer (I’m sensing a theme).
IMG_3941
Maple candy. It was only after I left that I remembered my daughter loves these. I didn’t buy any. Oops.
IMG_3946
Maple. Maple everything.
IMG_3810
So that, in a nutshell, was my weekend escape to Vermont. It was super relaxing. I highly recommend it. Disconnecting is good. Very good indeed.

 

Shakes Head, Again (and Again)

Buv2lMdCYAEuQxX

I wonder how many times this year I’ve said “Are you fucking kidding me?” Probably at least a thousand, and 95% of them are in reaction to something I’ve read or seen about Donald Trump or other Washington happenings. Every day I think to myself, it can’t get much worse or more ridiculous. But then, dawn breaks and guess what? It actually does get more ridiculous and there’s something out there that is even worse than the last worst worse. Sometimes I feel like we’re all living in the Truman Show. Who’s watching us and laughing their asses off as they play puppeteer and orchestrate scenarios that are making us a nation full of people riddled with anxiety, fear, and divisiveness?  And can we please just roll the credits already? Good morning, good afternoon, and goodnight!

Here’s the latest in my “are you fucking kidding me?” lineup of moments. It’s a little excerpt from the super articulate, confidence-instilling dialog between Lou Dobbs and Trump during Wednesday’s interview. I’m going to totally gloss over Dobbs telling Trump that he is “one of the most loved and respected” presidents “in history” (because: bahhhh bahha bhaa haahaaa ha. Ha.) and skip to the really enlightening parts:

On China, in response to Dobbs question about his relationship with President Xi- TRUMP: He’s a powerful man. I happen to think he’s a very good person. Now with that being said, he represents China, I represent the USA, so, you know, there’s going to always be conflict. But we have a very good relationship. People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he’s called president also.

Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president. But we have a very good relationship and that’s a positive thing. And it would be good to have that relationship with Russia and other countries, too.

On border relationships, sovereignty and our economy (in response to this question): “How in the world are we going to be able to deal with all of these issues if you — if you cannot bring the Republican party together?”  TRUMP: I really think they’re coming along. I really do. I think they are coming along. One thing you didn’t mention which you will mention and I know you talk about it is the power of the pharmaceutical companies.

DOBBS: Oh, yes.

TRUMP: We pay so much more for the same pill, prescription drugs than other countries. You go to Canada — people go to Canada to buy prescriptions.We pay for the exact same pill, made from same plant, the same company, we pay in many cases, many, many times more than they’re paying in other countries. So we’re subsidizing the world in terms of prescription drugs. It’s ridiculous. And it’s going to stop.

The problem I have is these companies give so much — I mean the contributions are massive, just massive, the amount. But we do have — there are a lot of good people that are seeing what’s going on. And I think we’ll be successful in that. Next week, I’m going to be declaring an emergency, national emergency on drugs.

The opioid is a tremendous emergency, what’s going on there. The drugs pouring into the country have gotten — and I tell you what, we’ve made a big impact. But still, we need the wall. You know, part of the reason we need the wall is for drugs.

On Tax Reform (in response to this question): “What do you expect the impact to be for working men and women, the middle class, those who aspire to be in the middle class?”  TRUMP: You know, we’ve done so well. Pretty much record-setting, certainly record-setting for nine months in so many different ways. Nine months of a presidency. But you look at the market, how well it’s doing, so you’d say well why do you have to do anything. We can actually do better. And I think we will do better. We are going to have so many jobs created by what we’re doing. And you know, we’re going to have companies that aren’t going to be leaving our country anymore.

You look at what’s happened over the last 25 years, you go down and take a look at Mexico—and see how many car companies have built these massive factories in Mexico. Not here. We want them built in Michigan, and Ohio, and our places. And they just leave, and they fire everybody, and they go and open up plants. That’s not going to be happening anymore, plus they’re going to be penalized in many different ways if they do it.

And here he explains how he spends his time when he should be focused on actually getting shit done (note major eye-roll on the shout out to Fox, Sean Hannity and of course loyal Lou): 

TRUMP: And the good thing about social media is that I have so many millions of people, so many — I guess, 128 million. You could add up — you know, you add up all the different platforms — massive social media. At least I can put out — it’s not that I want to do that. I’d rather not do it. I would love to not do it at all. But at least I can put out the truth. And I can put out the real word. And people agree. And if you look at the level of approval of the — of media — of general media —

DOBBS: Right.

TRUMP: if you look at it from the day I started running to now, I’m so proud that I have been able to convince people how fake it is — because it has taken a nosedive. —

DOBBS: Yes. And —

TRUMP: Except for your show, of course — and Sean, and a few of them. Right?

DOBBS: Yes.

TRUMP: There’s some very good ones. And I have to say, Fox has treated me fairly. And I don’t mean good, but they’ve treated me fairly. I don’t want to be treated good. I just want to be treated fairly.

Gah! NONE of these answers make any sense.  They are either completely off topic or completely incoherent, or just totally inaccurate. If he can’t even answer questions that were lobbed at him by one of his most loyal and enthusiastic supporters, how can he address or provide thoughtful and effective solutions to any of the other pressing issues we’re facing as a nation and a world (ahem, North Korea)?  ALSO: I remember back in November when people were saying “Oh give him a chance, he’ll become more Presidential”. Ok, it’s been almost a year. He’s had lots of chances. When is this miraculous transformation going to happen? Someone–anyone–please tell me. And, answer my question directly and concisely. Is that too much to ask?

 

Runcation Destination: NYC!

Last weekend my friends I ran the Brooklyn Rock n Roll half marathon.  We could have picked a race closer to home, but we’d heard good things about this one and well, if we’re being perfectly honest, we’re more about the party that happens after than the actual running part of the race, so making a weekend of it was too hard to resist.

Runcations are perfect because you get in a really good workout, you feel really proud of yourself and amazed at what your body can do when you insist on it, and then you go out and indulge for the entire rest of the weekend and not feel bad about it. The afterglow of personal glory lasts for at least 24 hours and you can use your caloric deficit to hit the town running (figuratively speaking, of course, because obviously, you do more than enough running at the race). Plus you can button your skinny jeans! Always a good way to start the night.

Anyway, the Rock n Roll series happens all over the country, and though there were many tempting options we chose Brooklyn because we could drive there and because we all love NYC. Usually, when we go it’s all fun and no run so even though we make a habit of hanging out there whenever we can, this trip was something new for us. I’ll tell you about it in pictures:

IMG_3415
We hit the road at around 1:00 after a frantic morning of trying to fit eight hours of work into four. No time for lunch. Good thing Tina brought the Skinny Pop.
FullSizeRender (29).jpg
Oh yes we did, obviously.
IMG_3423
Have you ever tried to drive to the Javits Center at rush hour? Let’s just say it’s not a good idea. Plus there’s nowhere to park. We made it to the expo to pick up our race bibs with like 30 minutes spare. My friends weren’t sweating it, but I was having a heart attack.
FullSizeRender (3)
Hudson Yards is pretty amazing. We got to take a nice long look at it as we sat in gridlocked traffic.
FullSizeRender (4)
Hi there, New Yorker. Thanks for perfecting the art of the 19-page article.
FullSizeRender (24)
We finally made our way to the Upper East Side, where we were staying with a friend (a lovely, tolerant friend who doesn’t mind when you invade her space with way too much shit for 2 days). This restaurant on 2nd Ave is a gold standard if you like German food, but don’t worry we didn’t eat there (brats+running=bad)
FullSizeRender (25)
We went to The Penrose instead. They have good beer (carbo loading!!) and we had fun watching the after-work pickup scene in action.
IMG_3487
We had quite an adventure getting to the start from Marisa’s apartment because we had the misfortune of picking the one cab driver in Manhattan who had no idea how to get to Brooklyn. How is that even possible? And why didn’t we just get an Uber?  But, no worries- we made it with plenty of time to take this all-important before pic. Thumbs UP!
IMG_3435
We’re here…now let’s run.
FullSizeRender (23)
This is the only picture I took during the race, and I think it was an accident.
IMG_3477
13.1 DONE! Let’s share this moment with everyone on our social media feeds! We usually keep our shirts on for our selfies, but clearly, others have different ideas.
FullSizeRender (9)
It was only a Mich Ultra, but it was beautiful.
rr
We look like badasses don’t we? Also, I’m happy to note that I remembered to put on deodorant.
IMG_3492
We hung out with Tina’s crazy friend who flies all over the country to run Rock n Roll Halfs with 30 other crazy people. They flew to NY Friday night, ran Brooklyn, chugged a few beers and then hopped on a plane bound for Denver where they were going to run another half on Sunday morning. As I said, they are crazy.  I would say “goals” but this actually would never be a goal of mine.
IMG_3455
Though that medal is pretty sweet.
pict
That’s the Hollis Brown Band behind us. They were really good and they have gigs all over so you don’t actually have to run 13.1 to hear them play.
FullSizeRender (19)
After the after party we hobbled out of Prospect Park and headed over to wander (slowly) up and down 5th Ave in Park Slope. We found this place for lunch (Gristmill), which had really great food and the people were so nice. Like really, really nice.
IMG_3469 (1)
How can you say no to farm fresh gelato that’s as good as nature?
IMG_3474
Actually, I did say no because what I really wanted was some caffeine. Kos Kaffee had just what I was looking for- excellent coffee and super nice people. Again with the nice people. Is that a thing in Brooklyn?
FullSizeRender (21)
I really appreciated the fact that the only pumpkin anything in here was an actual pumpkin. I’m so tired of the pumpkin spice craze.
FullSizeRender (31)
After we relaxed for a hot minute back at Marisa’s it was time to hit the town again. Amy went to see a friend and Tina and I drank cocktails at a rooftop bar.
FullSizeRender (11)
We take our cocktailing very seriously.
FullSizeRender (27)
Next up dinner: Is it sad that we care more about the ambiance than the food? We settled on Zia Maria in Chelsea. It was pretty, and the food was good too- so win, win.
FullSizeRender (12)
It’s too bad that we don’t have any fun together…
FullSizeRender (14)
After dinner, we decided to go study Millenials in their natural habitat so we went to The Biergarten at the Standard.
IMG_3536
When in Rome…or a Biergarten.  When we first arrived we thought we had the stamina to last all night, but alas, this boot was the end. Come to find out, we’re not as young as we used to be.
IMG_3543
Sunday morning we needed to head out early, but luckily we had enough time for coffee.
FullSizeRender (7)
Mellow Yellow Coffee and Vibes– honestly could there be a better place for a rainy Sunday morning hang when you’re sore, a tiny bit hung over and not really ready for your 4 hour drive?
FullSizeRender (15)
One thing I LOVE about races is the camaraderie and good spirits you share with fellow runners. We met a lot of really great people and were reminded time and time again over the weekend that there is still so much good in the world. We just need to channel that and work together to preserve and protect it.  Does that mean we need another RnR run? I think, yes! Where will we go next? Well, stay tuned…

 

Everything we need to know, we learned in elementary school.

240_F_126465296_ieANptdMpgI8ozuUVbqAWKkWVQREIF1rMy son is in fourth grade. At his school when one kid does something wrong, it has the power to change policies for every child in that school (or in a particular classroom at least). For example- remember the fidget spinner craze? Well, in the beginning, kids were allowed to bring them to school as long as they didn’t play with them during class. And the kids were all happy, heading off to school with fidget spinners nestled comfortably in their pockets. But then one day one kid just couldn’t help himself and he took his out during math which caused a disruption and ruined the lesson. The teacher got annoyed and guess what? No more fidget spinners for any kids in school at all, even the ones that followed the rules.

The same thing happens in the recess line when one kid breaks the no pushing rule, or on the playground when one kid violates the no tripping policy. It means all kids lose playtime, or all kids have to refrain from playing soccer on the blacktop. It seems unfair, but there is a reason behind it.

Kids know this. They know that the rule is good until someone breaks it and then it has to be re-evaluated. The rules are put in place to protect ALL the kids, and when even one kid threatens the safety of other students or damages the learning environment with his or her actions, then the rules are modified so that they can continue to offer the intended protection.

In Las Vegas on Sunday night 59 people were brutally murdered and more than 500 injured by a 64-year-old rich white American citizen with an arsenal of guns he bought legally. He had the right to own and bear these firearms because that’s the current law.

My question is, if we change the law of the land for a fidget spinner violation, why can’t we consider changing the law of the land when we suffer devastating loss of life like we did in Las Vegas (and Orlando, and Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook, and all the other in-betweens)? Why, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, is now NOT the time to talk about gun control? Why? It seems to me like the perfect time. The LAW as it currently stands is not working.

The Second Amendment was drafted in a long-ago era when society was vastly different than it is today. I understand the importance of and agree with preserving citizens personal rights but I do think it’s time (way past time actually) to layer that with reasonable restrictions designed for modern day society that protect people as a whole. There is no good reason why any civilian citizen needs an automatic weapon or assault rifle. No. Good. Reason.

The best way to stop gun violence in America is to drastically reduce access to guns in the first place. How can you argue with that? Less guns=fewer deaths by guns. It’s a simple equation. Read this article if you need a little convincing of that. And, if you still don’t agree, ask me for more. There are many, many studies that show that stricter gun control translates into significantly fewer homicides, a lower suicide rate, less domestic violence and fewer incidences of violence toward police.

My heart aches for the victims and their families and I’m so sad for all of those who lived through the horror of that night. A night that even though they survived will forever change them (believe me, I know).  And the sickening reality is, this is not going to be the last time it happens.

Next time it might be me, or you, or your neighbor. Your child. What do you have planned this weekend? Something fun? In a public place? Will there be guns?

Think about it. And then, take action. It’s a small step and we have a huge mountain (of NRA money) to climb, but at least it’s a start.  #actionforlasvegas

This. Is. Unacceptable. Period.

170922-hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-sg-1520_0b277c1cfcac0b5764da20dbd9856eaa.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Ok, Ok. OK. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of that man in the Oval Office who is play-acting at being the leader of the free world. But I have tried- really I have- to find positive things about the current White House situation.  The thing is, there isn’t really anything that makes me feel good about it. And every day it gets worse.

I read Stephen King’s IT in high school. I remember sitting up in bed late at night, wide eyes glued to the page, heart pounding, fingers gripping the edge of the book, teeth gnawing at my bottom lip, night after night as the book got creepier and creepier. I tortured myself by continuing to read because I just couldn’t leave it where it was- I needed to know that there was a resolution, and I was hoping that in the end all the bad would disappear. So, I kept on turning page after terrifying page until one night I couldn’t take it anymore and I threw the book clear across the room, where it banged loudly against the wall that separated me from my sister and landed, pages askew, on the floor where it stayed for days and days and days.

I’m telling you this because the way I am feeling about Donald Trump is pretty similar to how I felt when I was reading IT.  And now, I’m at the point where I throw the book.  But now, it’s even worse, because… because…this. is. not. fiction. Holy shit.

If I write about everything I’ll be here for days, and I have dinner plans tonight, so let’s just recap what happened this week, shall we?

  1. He spent the first part of the week tweeting a lot about the NFL and spent some time trying to convince people to boycott football games. Football games! I wonder what Kim Jong-un did on Monday.
  2. Next up, he tweeted a bunch of disparaging remarks about John McCain for not supporting the Graham Cassidy bill. You know- that health care bill that, in a nutshell, basically would just take money away from states that voted for the Affordable Health Care Act and gives it to ones that didn’t.  The one that would provide $243 billion less Medicaid funding than the current plan. The one that would leave millions of people uninsured. The one that more than 300 health care advocacy groups opposed. Yeah, that one. I wonder if he had time to read it. Cuz, you know. Twitter.
  3. The tax reform idea- OMG. I can’t even… but I will. I guess. He had the audacity to announce that this plan would benefit the middle class, and from which he would not benefit at all. Guess what? The tax “framework” raises rates on the lowest tax bracket (the poorest Americans), lowers rates on the top bracket (the richest Americans), and includes all kinds of giveaways to the rich. The day it was released, Trump said, “I don’t benefit.” except that’s a lie because…the Trumps will personally save a BILLION DOLLARS if this plan is enacted according to the New York Times’ analysis. Yes, you did read that right. A BILLION DOLLARS. 
  4. Puerto Rico. Where to start? There were lots and lots of tweets like this:

 Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico. Massive food & water delivered. Docks & electric grid dead. Locals trying…..really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly!

AND THEN THIS. THIS IS WHERE I THROW THE BOOK.

This is what he tweeted today, followed by a flurry of tweets about how the press is getting it wrong, Dems are evil and the rescue mission is actually the best rescue mission ever.

  The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump..Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

this-photo-of-mayorcarmen-yulin-cruz-wading-through-waters-in-san-juan-following-hurricane-maria-ha
This is the Mayor of San Juan

Um, ok, excuse my language but are you fucking kidding me? Please get off social media, please stop stroking your ego and patting yourself on the back, please stop acting like a disgusting pig and start doing something. Something real. These are HUMAN BEINGS. THEY ARE AMERICAN CITIZENS. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

I get it. There is big water, ocean water surrounding Puerto Rico, so yeah, it’s a complicated and difficult problem to solve. But, normally when you are President of the United States you face difficult problems head-on. You understand that solving these problems are your responsibility and you own them.

In general, you relish finding solutions to problems because you want to make the world a better place. That’s your goal. Making the world a better place. What was it that John F Kennedy said? Something like…

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

That’s all I have to say right now.  I hope the restaurant we’re going to tonight has really strong drinks. I can’t take the reality of today right now, and I need a break. Tomorrow I’ll pick the book back up and stick with it until the merciful end. But tonight I’m throwing it against the wall.

 

Trippin’ down the PCH during a really crazy week filled with things I want to ignore but can’t…

FullSizeRender (30)Yeah, so we were on vacation last week when the awfulness of Charlottesville unfolded. The fact that it happened is sickening and disheartening, but the worst part is that our “President” couldn’t muster enough dignity or human decency to call it what it was or disavow those who were responsible. Ugh. But as I said, we were on vacation when he was not doing what he should have been doing if he were any kind of real leader or moral upstanding citizen. Sooooo… instead of going on and on about how disgusted I am with his response(s) and the state of the White House in general (except bye-bye and good riddance Bannon, you pillar of racism!!) I am going to show you some really pretty pictures of the really amazing road trip we took while all that was happening.  And yes, I do feel a little guilty for experiencing so much beauty during such a dark time, but I also feel like it was a constant reminder that there IS good in this world; that there are really decent and lovely people out there. Also it was really nice to escape to the Pacific Coast and gaze out over the beautiful ruggedness of the cliffs and be hypnotized by the vast sea and just disconnect from everything for a little while– to recharge and renew my resolve to be better and to do more to help ensure the world is a nicer place for everyone.

We drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 7 days- here are the highlights and places I recommend you go to if you ever find yourself driving down the PCH and the 101.

IMG_1267
I haven’t been to Lombard St in 20 years. It’s still as twisty as ever and lots of people were either driving down it or walking up it. We just took pictures of it. I like the view from the top.
IMG_1250
This is where the streets of the world meet the avenues of the mind.
IMG_1259
City Lights has books, but also so much more. You really just have to go to see what I mean.
IMG_1276
Chinatown was cool! We were going to have Dim Sum, but then we ended up finding a good sushi place on the other side of Union Square, so we didn’t really experience it like we should have…but it’s ok because the sushi was really good.
IMG_1286
I went for an early morning run down the Embarcadero.  It was beautiful and I met a lot of homeless people (not really, but I did befriend a cute homeless dog).
IMG_1290
They don’t call it Fog City because it’s sunny…
IMG_1323
One day we rented bikes and rode from the Ferry building all the way down the Embarcadero, past Fishermans Wharf and up through the hilly (!!!) Presidio, then over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.  My calves and my buns still hurt from the memory.
IMG_1297
While we were waiting for the bike rental guy to show up we checked out the Ferry Terminal Farmers Market.  It was fabulous- fruits and veg, coffee roasters, baked goods, meats, cheeses, live music and YES!! flowers. Flowers make me happy.  Especially when they come in tin cans.
IMG_1336
This isn’t Muir Woods but it looks like it, right? It’s Andy Goldsworthy’s installation in the Presidio. I thought it was amazing. My kids thought it was just a bunch of tall trees and logs.
IMG_1329
This is in front of Lucasfilms headquarters which is also in the Presidio.  It’s the world’s largest, and also the world’s smallest Yoda fountain.  It might be the world’s only Yoda fountain (but I’m not really sure).
IMG_1346
It was still very foggy which might have been a good thing because riding over the bridge was a little scawwwy.
IMG_1366
There were a ton of people in Sausalito, but we muscled our way through the crowds and rode down the road out of town to check out the houseboats and that was pretty neat.
IMG_1426
Habitat goals. Also #supportthearts
IMG_1429
I could totally live here.
IMG_1456
We took a ferry back from Sausalito because really a one-way bike ride over the bridge is plenty. Plus…that view.
IMG_1476
This was my Rice a Roni moment.
IMG_1478
I left my heart in San Francisco (no I didn’t, but that’s a good caption for this pic, isn’t it?)
IMG_1490
One of my favorite stops was in Pescadero, CA. It is a little tiny town in between here and there and there’s not too much to see but they have this brekkie spot that was pretty awesome.
IMG_1485
Pretty awesome, as I said.
FullSizeRender (28)
Actually, there was something to see in Pescadero…this sweet ride in front of this cute coffee shop (which is across the street from the not cute, but awesome breakfast spot).
IMG_1608
We tried to drive all the way down to Pfeiffer Beach but the road was still closed. We did manage to see some beautiful sites in Big Sur anyway.
IMG_1704
Ahhh… so pretty.
IMG_1695
Did I mention how pretty it was?
IMG_1689
Super, duper pretty.
IMG_1666
We like to ride into town with the top down…
IMG_1716
We drove the Pebble Beach 17 Mile Drive but no one was really impressed.  My son pointed out that this cypress is actually not that lonely because there are other trees really close by (cropped out for effect).
IMG_1745
We were lucky enough to be in Carmel for the start of the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The streets were filled with millions (billions?) of dollars worth of beautiful cars.  I love the Porche 911 most of all.
IMG_1757
I also have a soft spot for VW’s (especially buses). True story: We had an orange VW bus for a few years when I was a kid and when my parents sold it I cried.  I still miss that car. We drove it up from Georgia to New Hampshire and my sister and I both got food poisoning at South of the Border. Also, we bought fireworks but we couldn’t light them in NH because it was illegal. But my dad might have anyway. Ah, memories…
IMG_1739
Indeed.
FullSizeRender (29)
Quick stop in Santa Cruz…
FullSizeRender (27)
We saw surfers, sea lions, and even a giant whale.  It was kind of great.
IMG_1761
We all LOVED San Luis Obispo. What a fun, laid-back cool ass town! We stayed here and you should too, if you like hip, loft style apartment living.
FullSizeRender (32)
We saw the SMEG and immediately felt right at home, except this one is black and ours is orange, so this one is way cooler.
FullSizeRender (33)
Every apartment comes equipped with one of these, and there are stacks of records to choose from.  We took turns playing d.j.
IMG_1773
Here’s my daughter, she liked the free Wifi.
IMG_1792
Feeling good in SLO
IMG_1796
I liked this building. I hope Cody Johnson had fun playing there.
IMG_1826
Also, I liked this coffee shop (Kreuzberg).
IMG_1831
Except I got chai instead of coffee.
IMG_1845
Bubblegum alley is really gross.
IMG_1846
Really gross.
FullSizeRender (31)
We went to Pismo Beach and caught some waves. This is me surfing (just kidding).

 

IMG_1862
Santa Barabara’s Funk Zone is an artist enclave/wine tasting mecca/antique pickers dream.
IMG_1874
Here’s where we had our 11:00 am wine tasting and the kids had freshly baked scones. Win, win.
IMG_1883
Another winery. Very tropical, no?
IMG_1920
Obviously.
IMG_1888
This place made me wish we’d rented a U-Haul instead of a convertible.
IMG_1877
This store had only been open for two days when we visited.  I like that bag, and also everything else.
IMG_1926
Wine, yes wine everywhere in the Funk Zone. Yay for wine.
IMG_1923
And pizza.
IMG_1944
Onward to LA! We had a pretty sweet spot to relax and chill out at for a bit. And connect to Wifi, of course.
IMG_1942
Our pool didn’t have any chlorine- just natural stuff like copper and other minerals, so swimming in it felt really good, and also doubled as a bath. Time-saver!
IMG_1968
I took a lot of palm tree pictures. I don’t really know why except that this view seems very LA.
IMG_2149
Santa Monica Pier is prettier from afar, but it was fun to be up close too. This is the view from Muscle Beach where none of us did any pull-ups or anything. We just watched other people working out and then went and ate tacos.
IMG_1976
Here’s where we ate the tacos- Blue Plate. If you’re in Santa Monica, you should go here for tacos.
IMG_2148
And go at sunset- the view is insane.
IMG_2146
We spent our last night in Japantown. It was very sweet.
IMG_2145
And, we ate French ice cream in Japantown. I don’t know why except that it was there so we did.

Thinking of you Charlottesville and Barcelona!! #thereisonlyoneside #lovewins

School’s Out for Summah!!

FullSizeRender (17)In just a few short days my kids are going to be done with 7th and 3rd grades, and all I can think is- holy shit, where did the year go? Holy shit- where did the last 13 years go? And also, what the hell are they going to do all summer?  And, also, I’m really, really jealous of them. And, also, I haven’t even bought this year’s supply of sunscreen OR bug spray. And the bugs are supposed to be very, very, very bad this year. And also, I don’t think I have a bathing suit that isn’t stretched and faded to the point of being embarrassing.  And also, I haven’t even cleaned out our beach bag from last summer yet.  I shudder to think what I’ll find. A pound of sand? A half-eaten candy bar? A single water shoe? Some crab carcasses? Waterlogged magazines and books? Yes, probably all of that. And also, seriously, what are they going to do all summer? I mean, they are both signed up for sailing and camps here and there, but the days are long, and the potential for shenanigans is high, at least with my daughter.  My son, I’m not so worried about- I can picture what he’ll be doing in his free time:  read, lego, repeat.  But my daughter… well, I’m sitting here letting my imagination run rampant.

The summer I was 13 my parents sent me to Mexico City to visit my friend, Erin.  Erin was my next door neighbor when we lived in Panama.  We were inseparable in 5th and 6th grade. But, she moved right before 7th grade; her lovely family replaced with one with two bratty kids that weren’t nearly as fun. I made some hard-earned babysitting money off of them but that’s all they were good for. They told me I smelled and that I needed to shave my legs (which was probably 100% accurate but made me hate them all the more).  It was a long year without her. Also, I wasn’t too thrilled about moving to Alabama (after living in paradise for three years it seemed like a crappy hand to be dealt) so the Mexico trip was presented as a way to soften the blow.

I was only there a few weeks, but we did a lot.  The things I remember most are: stealing her parent’s car and joy-riding around the city; meeting up with her older brother’s friends to drink “cokes” that made me feel giddy and nauseous; making homemade aloe face masks that left us rashy; visiting like 200 museums with mummies and pyramid replicas; spending a dusty, hot day at some Aztek ruin that I didn’t appreciate at all; staying up til all hours of the night watching highly inappropriate movies; throwing up in her dad’s car on a windy mountain road heading to Ixtapa; eating tortillas hot out of the oven from roadside shacks; sneaking out and smoking cigarettes on the beach when her dad went to bed; throwing up in her dad’s car on a windy mountain road on the way back from Ixtapa; and wishing her cute older brother would get back from wherever he was already (I had a mad crush and he was the first and only boy I’d ever kissed). He never showed, but that was still the best vacation I’d had in my young life.

So this is why my mind is going to all places crazy right now. I do not want to imagine my daughter driving, drinking, smoking or kissing this summer. Eh gahhh!  But left to her own devices anything could happen, right?  She is the same age I was that year and look how I spent my time! It was probably a good thing that I moved to Alabama after that and spent a miserable year friendless and mopey, listening to Elton John sing Sad Songs Say So Much and pining for my old life.  It definitely tamed the wild side that Erin introduced me to.  But what’s going to tame my girl’s wild side? Wait, does she have a wild side??!! Ugh… I don’t want her to find out. Not yet.

FullSizeRender (16)Our town isn’t nearly as exotic as Mexico, but there are similarities- there’s a beach for example, and boys, and cars.  We even have a museum of sorts. And we do kinda buy into that free-range-kid philosophy to a degree.  I like that both my kids have their independence and that they can take off on their bikes to meet friends at the general store, the beach, the playground, or any of the other local hangouts around town.  I do trust that my daughter will make good choices.  But we’re getting to the point where those good choices are going to be harder and harder to make. How much freedom do we give her? Enough to feel independent, but not enough to get into trouble? But what does that even mean? Here we are, entering into another phase of parenting and I am completely unprepared.  I don’t even have bug spray. And the bugs are supposed to be very, very, very bad this year…