Sometimes I take myself too seriously. Sometimes its good to just sit back and laugh at your failures instead of dwelling on them. I am clumsy as shit, and pretty darned uncoordinated to boot. Ever see those videos of cats wearing socks trying to walk? That’s how I feel like I go through a lot of life. Fact. No biggie, though. It is what it is. I invite you to check out a couple of my less than perfect moments in surfing….. or maybe we should just call it falling? Cuz man, these are just no good at all. Enjoy and have a laugh!
Posts Tagged ‘life improvement’
I love me my daily walks. Every day I make it a point to get out and about and explore this town and really open my eyes to the world around me. I look for beauty in things I pass, and I especially appreciate graffiti and art in unexpected places. I also really dig that on my daily walks (generally on the beach) I am usually joined by beach dog or 2. Canine company is nice. Every day I seem find something new and unexpected.
Sayulita, Mexico is a quiet little fishing village/surf town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It’s about a 40 minute drive north of the touristy hubbub of Puerto Vallarta, and seemingly a perfect place to start our first attempt at living a more expat kinda lifestyle. Devon and I arrived here 5 days ago, and so far its been everything that I’ve hoped for. It’s off season here, so maybe only a third of the local businesses are open, but I am truly a happy chica with at least 3 fish taco stands to choose from for dining options. That was one of the major things I was looking forward to out of this adventure. Fish tacos, surfing on the regular, bangin’ margaritas, writing more, swimming as much as humanly possible, improving my Español, earning some more freckles on my pasty white skin (cuz you know mamacita is physically incapable of taking a tan).
So, I’ve been doing pretty well with my goals. With the exception of yesterday. I kinda earned myself a bit of heatstroke/exhaustion yesterday with an overzealous hike on the beach in the 90 degree sun with no water. Also, heat exhaustion = not fun = totally terrifying! Hydration is key, yo. So after spending most of the afternoon in bed with lots of ice water and Mexican real life crime documentaries on the tele, I woke up this morning raring to go. And then the sky opened up and it has been a torrential downpour ever since. Of course. But really, sitting on an open air covered patio, with temperature in the high 70s, watching and listening to the rain, hearing los gallos down the block, and smelling the sweet ocean air, life doesn’t suck.
The past few months have been kinda crazy; stressful and emotionally difficult for me, and it’s nice to be able to hit reset and start recharging in such a peaceful, quiet place.
I haven’t written in a hot minute, and generally I try to keep things upbeat on here. But I’ve have a bunch of things swirling around in my mind recently, and thought that it might be helpful to pick up the keyboard again. Just a heads up.
When I’m feeling sad and alone, when life feels too loud and bright and like its spinning out of control, when I feel helpless in taming things I try to go to my happy place. It’s a beach about and hour and a quarter from my house. It’s a place I feel safe and comfortable. Where I run into good people that I know who do good things. Where I can strike up a conversation, or keep to myself if I’m having a day that I want to be alone. I feel like it’s my home away from home. The best time to visit is between September and May when its cool and quiet, and most of the summer crowds have left. I surf when the surf is good. I walk the beach when the waves are flat. I take in the beauty of nature and relax into the calm of thinking only in the present.
I watch the gulls splash and bathe in the shallow shore water and soar overhead. And while they are normally little bastards who try and steal my loaded bagels, those birds make me happy to watch them doing their normal goofy seagull things. Watching the sets roll in over and over and crashing with the most calming regularity. Way better than any artificial white noise machine.
In September the air has started to cool and it feels like fall. Luckily the sun is still bright and warm and feels good on my skin. It takes me away from all the dark that has seeped into my life and that I am now stuck with the complicated task of figuring out how to replace it with goodness, and then growing from this whole thing. All of the hurt and loss and guilt. Disappointment and that which I have tried to grasp, but have been unable to thoroughly understand. So I walk and think and stop to write; to get things out of my head; to keep them from bouncing around.
Collecting bits of scattered sea glass brings back a tinge of an old fond memory, which is now too painful to dwell on. What do you do with all of those feelings, or do they just fade and you have to suck it up and deal with them until they do?
A couple flying kites. The wind messing up my hair. The creepy old shirtless man wearing guyliner, who asks to take a picture of me shortly after I’ve finishing crying behind my sunglasses and keeps making small talk about the Blondie concert he just went to.. These things bring me back into the present and remind me to keep going. To try to replace the bad thoughts with the good. There is no good result that will come from dwelling on things that I can’t control or change. My control freak self needs to just settle down in the sand, feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and sit back and take in the beautiful sets of waves rolling in and crashing over and over. Wonderfully consistent, steadily.
I love meat. I’m actually currently on a quest to eat my way through the animal kingdom. I particularly love red meat. Beef. The meat of kings, heros and champions. (Although, I don’t actually have any real proof to back that up…) Unfortunately I suck at cooking beef. I can grill a steak up pretty decently, but Devon doesn’t eat meat other than poultry and fish, so I really don’t have a ton of opportunities to cook up some fileted cow. But oh my christ do I love eating that rich juicy goodness. So it’s been a goal of mine to learn how to braise beef. I love how, if done correctly, it just melts in your mouth, and hell, if I feel so passionate about the deliciousness of braised beef, then learning how to recreate that myself is a very important life skill that I ought to learn.
Luckily my big bro, Seth is a super awesome chef, who is totally experienced at this sort of thing. I provide a kitchen and raw ingredients, and he teaches me how to make magic happen. First things first. You gotta have a huge fricking hunk of meat. We went with a cut of brisket. Brisket is perfect for this type of cooking. Generally pretty tough, but breaks down nicely when braised. Lots of fat (FLAVOR!!!) and one of the most reasonably priced cuts of meat out there (without getting into the freaky-deaky offals).
You’ll know that you’re doing it right when you smoke out your kitchen and make the smoke detector in your kitchen start screaching. (FYI: its at this point when your kitchen will start smelling like “OMFG beefy-delicious get-in-my-face-now!!!”)
After the meat is done being seared on both sides, take them off the heat to let them rest. In the same cooking pan start sauteeing a mixture of mirepoix. Then throw in some fresh chopped herbs, like rosemary, parsley, bay leaves, etc…
Then add some red wine and a bunch of of beef stock, and add back in the seared brisket. Pour yourself a glass of wine (because not only is it crucial to the cooking process, but also -hey!- you deserve it!) and pose for a picture.
Bring meat to a low simmer and then throw it in the oven for an hour or 2. Drink more wine. When you take it out of the oven it should look like this:
Take out about half of the liquid, and boil it down in a sauce pan (as shown). Try to reduce it by about half. Let the meat rest, but always keep it in the cooking liquid and veggies, because the beef will get dry out and get tough if its not kept happy in liquid. While you’re boiling down the sauce, you can roast an assortment of root veggies in the oven, and whip up some blue cheese mashed potatoes. You know, easy peasy. And slice up the brisket, slicing against the grain, and of course returning the meat to the cooking liquid to keep it moist and happy.
Put a pile of mashed ‘taters on a plate, top with a few sliced of the braised beef, throw on some roasted root veggies, and sauce liberally with some of the reduced juices, sprinkle some fresh herbs on top and BAM!!! The delicious, delicious result!
I ate so much that night, it was just obscene. But oh man, was this one of the best meals of my life, and now I (and you!) know how to recreate this magical meal of beefy goodness!
You can tell from my hair color (that has changed about 4 times since these pictures), that this all took place a few months ago. But it’s still winter, and a fantastic time to make a great warm filling meal like this. Thanks to my big bro for just being awesome in general, and also, for being a really super chef, and sharing a few tricks of the trade with me.
12 of 30 completed!
So. Let’s talk running. If you’re a runner, you’ll probably experience runner’s high, or a rush of endorphins during and after workouts. You’ll lose some weight and you’ll probably drop some cash on proper footwear and/or running clothes. So, feelings of happiness & invincibility, weight-loss, and money-loss. And just putting this out there: There is a way easier, less painful way to get exactly the same results: a severe cocaine addiction. Probably not the healthiest way to achieve those goals though. For some reason, I’ve decided to take the more difficult route & take an interest in my cardiovascular health: I’ve become a runner.
It all began one day in July, when I decided that I was going to run a 5K. 2 months and 1 svelte body later, that became a reality for me. Total insanity, for many reasons that I started to explain in this blog post. My friend Alan, owner of do52new, came across my blog & mentioned that he was running in a 5k, (the Tavern to Tavern 5k in Cambridge, ma) and suggested that I give it a go with him & his friends. So i worked and trained really hard, and taught myself how to run. Well maybe I should call it jogging….. or shuffling? Whatever it’s called, it’s not particularly graceful, but it seems to get the job done. Being able to run for a mile kinda blew my mind, but gave me a great starting point for running a 5k, or 3.2 miles.
The Tavern to Tavern 5k was supposed to occur on August 28th, but got delayed for a week because Hurricane Irene came sweeping up through New England. While I was still game to run in a hurricane, it was probably a great thing that the race got postponed. It gave me an additional week to train, and I think it greatly improved my odds of finishing. Going from running 1 mile to 3.2 miles is no easy feat, and honestly, I was only able to run the whole distance one time before the actual race. My parents were actually planning on running too, but they couldn’t make the new date. Also, Alan, the dude who initially told me to run this race, wasn’t able to make the rain-date, so it ended up being just me & Devon, and 600 other wicked hardcore strangers.
Here I am closing in on the finish line with a bunch of dudes. (I’m the -only- chick on the right with the gray & pink short shorts)
I didn’t know that people sprint at the end, so guys that I had been running next to for most of the race ended up finishing a bit ahead of me.. In fact, that kinda reminded me of this one time when I was 8 & was at a swim meet racing against a 14 year old boy & he beat me by a hair, and I was royally pissed. lol.
Well, kinda. Actually, I was just pretty much amazed & totally jacked up that I had actually finished & was able to run the entire race without stopping. That had been my main goal and I was totally in shock that I was able to do that. So cool! 33 minutes & 34 seconds of running straight up!
Yeay! Pretty cool stuff. And I believe that this is going to be the beginning of doing something like this regularly. We’re planning on running 2 5K’s a year, one in the spring, one in the fall. So, its pretty awesome that one of my 30 by 30 has resulted in a bit of healthier living.
9 of 30 Completed!
This adventure is what happened immediately following adventure #7. Basically Juice & I had been surfing on the Cape, it had gotten dark, we went on basically a fruitless (ha!) search for local organic food, and then hung out on the beach near a place that played the worst reggae music ever while we pondered our next steps. I wanted a bonfire, and we needed to figure out where we were going to camp for the night. We could camp on an ocean beach, but we’d probably be woken up super early by tons of people & the sun rising directly into our faces. Or we could find a beach on a pond that Juice had a vague recollection of… Somewhere off the beaten path, not on maps, super small, pretty secluded where the trees would surround us and let us sleep in past 5am. He called it the “secret spot”. Immediately, that piqued my interest, and we head in that direction. Keep in mind that its about 1am, totally dark. I’m sleep deprived. Juice doesn’t remember exactly where we’re going or how to get there, and the roads are all screwed up and covered with debris after a storm that had passed through recently. Luckily, we needed some firewood, so as we drove through these dark unlit side roads, we were able to stop & scavenge enough firewood to make a good size (and free!) bonfire.
We keep turning onto smaller and smaller roads. And then we get to what seems like a dead end, but it’s not, it just turns into an unmarked & unpaved road. Driving down a super narrow dirt road through the woods in the middle of the night sounds kinda scary, but oh ! it gets even better. We then come to fallen trees in the road?/path that we had to get out of the car to move….in the dark…… And a few terrifyingly steep and washed out embankments that I had to drive down, with faith that Juice knew where we were going & hoped that I had cell phone service in case I needed to call AAA to tow us out if I got stuck. But damn, you gotta love Audi’s and their all-wheel drive! Eventually Juice said that we were there & we unloaded the wood & some blankets. And alcohol. Because I certainly needed it after that terrifying drive of doom, and also, you can’t have an authentic beach bonfire without open containers of alcohol.
It was a new moon, so there was nothing lighting our way other than thousands of stars, and a tiny flashlight on my key ring. The beach was only about 20×20 feet, and there was a still silence. We were the only signs of any light or noise, so it felt like we needed to respect that serenity, talking in whispers & shutting off the car’s lights. Juice built an awesome bonfire (with my super helpful and totally appreciated guidance of course!) and we set up our respective blankets on both sides of the fire. That way, we both got a front row seat & we could also poke at the fire & bask in its warmth.
We stayed up for a few hours, talking, listening, feeding the fire. Talking about all of those wonderfully random things that only start to come up in conversation when its super late, you’re half asleep and in a chilled and relaxed state. And then the birds started getting noisy, and the sky started turning that light grey/purpleish color that it turns, right before the sun rises. That was our cue for bedtime. Right before I feel asleep, Juice said something like “Just wait till you wake up; the beauty of this place will blow you mind.”
We spent the morning swimming in the lake and catching frogs.
And then we packed up our gear & then headed out to try for another surf session. Trying to leave the “secret spot” as pristine as we had found it.
For a bonfire experience, I had expected something much closer to a beach bonfire scene from a 60′s beach party/surfplotation movie like Gidget or Beach Party. But this was really awesome in a relaxing and chilled out sort of way. I got to experience the bonfire & appreciate the setting (even if I couldn’t really see it until the next morning), instead of having to concentrate on navigating social scenes. Good times, good times. I can’t wait to do it again.
Watching a sunset on the East Coast is easier said than done. The sun sets in the west, however the ocean is generally to the east, so finding a good vantage point to check out the dwindling daylight is key. I thought that this would be one of those easy things to do during a boring week so I could check something off the list: Drive up some hill, watch sun set, go home. Nothing life changing, Easy peasy. Luckily this adventure was way more than that, unplanned, not well thought out and wonderful in its randomness and spontaneity.
So I have this friend who I hadn’t seen in 8 years, let’s call him Juice for the sake of some semblance of anonymity on the interwebs. I met Juice back in 2001 when we were both riding the Red Line from Braintree into Boston pretty late on a Sunday night. Normally I don’t strike up conversations with strangers on the T late at night (in fact, generally I advise against it), but he was carrying a surfboard and since there is no beach near the Braintree train station I was curious about what the deal was and what his story was. I struck up a conversation and the rest was history. Anyways. He moved to Californina around the time that I moved to Seattle and we kinda lost touch. Until recently that is. I’ve been on the lookout for surfing buddies & his name popped into my mind, so I decided to see if his cell phone from 8 years ago still worked. Shockingly it actually did, and he was east coast bound again, and he was looking to reconnect with adventuresome folks like myself. Funny how stuff works out like that.
Fast forward a few months. After some misfires on hanging out, I gave Juice a ring last Tuesday morning & was like “Yo. The fun time waves of awesomeness are here. I wanna go surfing. Let’s do this.” And then he was like “I’m in, but it’s all about making a trip out of it and going down to the Cape. Screw a day trip to New Hampshire. You drive and I’ll provide stimulating conversation and knowledge of the Cape geography where it relates to surf spots and illegal camp grounds.”
It was relatively early in the day, so I figure we could make it down to the Cape’s National Seashore and into the water by 4pm, and hang out in the water for a while. But I had forgotten how time flows differently around Juice, and how stuff always seems to take forever. When I got to his place he was still working on packing & he was very meticulous about it. (Somewhat randomly, I was also thrown off my game by the huge fricking beard that he had grown since we last saw each other, but that’s neither here nor there.) I just wanted him to throw his gear in my car so we could get moving, but it didn’t quite work out like that…. Although looking back at it, that’s probably for the best, since we ended up camping under the stars, so all that random shit like blankets and bio-degradable hand soap totally came in handy. My board was very excited, because it was the first time that it got to spoon with another surfboard on top of my car….
Anyways, so we finally get to the beach around 6.30pm, but then drive to 3 different beaches to find the best conditions. Finally, it’s about 7.20 and its starting to get dark, so we settle on the last beach, Nauset Light Beach in North Eastham. We throw on our wetsuits and carry our boards down the stairs to the beach, passing about 5 other surfers who are done for the day. There are only 2 other surfers in the water & then they too call it a day a couple waves after we get in the water.
It’s solidly dusk, and Juice and I are alone with our boards out in the water. (Well, alone if you don’t count the Gray Seals that were hanging out with us, swimming around us and popping up every now and then to see who we were and what we were doing in their ocean.) You can actually see the waves on the horizon way better when it starts to get dark, which is pretty cool. Looking towards the shore, the sun was setting over the sand dunes. It was a bit cloudy, and all of the fluffy white clouds had become neon shades of pinks, purples, oranges and reds. It was really magnificent. And then the lighthouse on the beach came on and added a whole different level of beauty to the setting. In fact, the sunset was so beautiful, that I had to keep forcing myself to turn around & keep an eye out for good waves to surf. It definitely wasn’t my best surf session because I was pretty distracted & in sensory overload. But, it was definitely the most beautiful view I’ve ever had while surfing. We ended up surfing till it was so dark that we could barely see the beach anymore & then we decided to call it a night & figure out the eating/drinking/camping situation. It was really a remarkable sunset. The view, the location, the vibe. I couldn’t have imagined a cooler situation to just sit & watch a sunset.
Thanks to Juice for taking so long to get ready that our surfing at sunset was a necessity, his senior surfing expertise & advice and also for the awesome company.
I’m not your typical athletic person. Apathetic is more like it. I dislike competitions. I’m not big into dripping sweat or huffing & puffing like one of the 3 little pigs. Buying clothes for function over form makes me cringe. I got a bunch of curves that are built for admiring, not moving quickly. I’m the kind of person that attracts a strong hunter type to fend off the lion that wants to eat me, instead of me running away from the lion…..
Now granted I’ve had a few forays into athletic territory. I was on my high school’s swim team. But that team was kind of like a non-competitive sisterhood, where they never cut anyone from the team, and everyone cheered for everyone (even people like me, who finished a lap or 2 behind everyone else). As far as sporty stuff goes, I also love to surf, but that’s also very different. I like prancing around in a bikini while checking out other hot surfers and then splashing around in the water, catching waves and pretending to be an tall Amazonian version of Gidget. I’ve been doing it for a couple years, but I don’t get to go that often, so I’m not super awesome at it, and I think that because of my lack of madd skills, I don’t feel like I need to really kick ass at it & impress anyone.
I think my inherent distaste for exercise can be traced back to a super depressing exercise related moment in 6th grade when we had to do the President’s Fitness Challenge, or test or whatever horrible thing they called it. We were required to run for a 1/4 mile & then our results were posted for everyone to see. I couldn’t run most of it, and ended up finishing somewhere in the bottom 10 students, along with the kids that had broken legs and were on crutches and asthma sufferers. Another failure in running was the time that I tried out for my high school’s volleyball team with my mindset being “I’m a foot taller that all these other girls. I’ll be doing the volleyball equivalent of dunking on these chicks… Oh, I soooo got this.” And then they made us run laps around the gym…..Or rather, one lap for me, and then I was done. It was all about the cardio & I had none.
And until a little while ago, I’ve had none. About a year ago, I started walking in the woods near my house as a cold season alternative to summer surfing. As I got better I started interspersing little sprints in my walks. And everyday I pushed myself a little bit more. Around that point, I decided to make this 30 by 30 list & was thinking, “Oh yeah, run a mile. Yeah it will suck, but that will be quick and easy…..”
Since I also want to do a 5k, I figured I could just find a running iPhone app, and along the way I’d end up running a mile in training for that…. So I ended up stumbling upon Couch to 5k. C25K is a really awesome app. It’s $3 and plays your own music & then will pop on to tell you to run or walk. Its like having a personal trainer who only does cardio. It pushes me slightly past where I’d normally stop running on my own. Also the schedule makes it so you only have to run 20-30 minutes every other day, which is super easy to find time for. If you can’t spare a half hour every other day, your life needs some serious re-adjusting. The workouts get harder and harder, so I’ve really felt like I’ve been accomplishing something with every session. Also, since it’s an iPhone app, the technology aspect totally sucked Devon into doing the challenge with me…. Now, THAT in itself is a miracle, because normally he’d probably rather wrestle poisonous water snakes than go running. (I’ll refer back to the 1st paragraph where I mentioned that I was built for attracting strong hunter types.)
I started the program on July 7th and it had me alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking. I thought I was going to pass out because it was so hard to catch my breath, and my leg muscles were burning. Over the last month, I’ve had great running days, and really horribly terrible days, including one where I almost puked. But today, just one day under a month after I started, I ran a mile for the first time in my life without stopping. Actually it was more than a mile, I just figured I’d keep going as long as I could.
But yeah, running a mile!!! It was hard to imagine being able to actually do that, especially only 1 month after I set my mind to it. I also don’t feel like I was pushing myself super hard. 3o minutes of not-fun, every other day really isn’t too bad. Also. It’s July and August. What idiot starts running in the middle of the super balmy and muggy summer in New England. This gal apparently. But if I can go from not running to running a mile in August, anyone can totally do it. And now I’m psyched for the 5k in 3 weeks. I’m going to be slow as hell, but it is definitely doable!
5 of 30 Completed.
In general, I’m always the voice of reason and moderation, as well as a pillar of self-restraint. Surely people would describe me as a temperate woman…… A delicate flower of staidness, if you will. So I knew that my 3rd adventure of not drinking alcohol for a month would come naturally for me and be a piece of cake.
Now, I’m a pretty awesome drunk. I’m not a sad drunk who ends up crying all night. I’m not an angry drunk who tries to fight everyone. And other than a few miss-steps in my youth, I’m not a “I don’t know when to say when, so I’m going to be puking in the bushes all night” drunk. I just become more happy and outgoing and I want everyone to be friends and get along. I like pairing wine and beer with meals. I like the ritual of preparing fancy and/or unusual drinks. I like celebrating life. And hell, sometimes I like doing stupid things and then being able to blame it on alcohol the next day. So what.
Instead of wimping out, and only doing 4 weeks, I decided to be alcohol free for the entire month of June. No hooch at all June 1st thru 30th. It has been….. well, it’s been something. Responses to me turning down drinks have generally been either “Now why would you go and do something stupid like that?” or “Wha? You aren’t pregnant, are you?”. Oh hells no. Truth be, I have a few reasons for giving it a go. One, I wanted to revisit this whole sobriety thing. I have a bunch of friends who don’t drink by choice & sometimes I don’t really get that deal, but it’s good to try and see things from other people’s points of view.
Another reason is that it’s always good for your mind & body to dry out for a bit. To focus on things with a clear thoughts and a level head. I’m part party cat, part hippy-granola eating-health nut, so I gotta keep those both nourished, and therefore the opposites in check. Somewhat related, I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks from time to time & have noticed that alcohol is definitely plays a part in that battle. As in, I’m wayyy more likely to freak out on days after I’ve had alcohol. And voila! No panic attacks for me during my dry month of June. So that was pretty awesome.
Good things about not boozing it up for a month: Never feeling/being hungover. Feeling more healthy. Being way more productive. Going out to dinner is soooooo much cheaper when there’s no alcohol on the bill.
Bad things about not boozing it up for a month: I ended up replacing my evening cocktail with a big bowl of ice cream, every day. I was bored more often. Not like that’s the end of the world, but it was a bit of an adjustment figuring out how to fill new free time. Sometimes I’m kinda a total bitch when I’m sober, so this month was kinda rough for my friends and family. Having to watch other people order super awesome looking cocktails (I’m a huge sucker for jewel colored concoctions with umbrellas and plastic figurines.) and then having to listen to them talk about how delicious they are.
Whatever. I’m not sure exactly what I learned from this experiment that I didn’t already know somewhere in the depths of my soul. Maybe this was just a masochistic exercise in self-denial. Or possibly it ended up being something life changing… But probably not. I’m not sure I’m ready or willing to swear off alcohol all together. After all, if I swore off alcohol entirely, how would i be able to taste the awesome Coq au Vin that I want to learn how to make…. (Number 11.)
3 of 30 completed.