Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Summer Vacation

When I was a kid and the teacher asked everyone to go around the room and share what they did over their summer vacation, I’d groan, roll my eyes, and contemplate the relative pain of banging my head against the wall, measured against listening to 22 eight year olds describe in great detail the caterpillars they caught, and their super cool family trip to Albany.  Not that I had anything stellar to share myself.  My summers were spent with my awful (grownup wonderful) brothers in our far out in the country house and zero neighborhood friends.  We spent the better part of July and August tying sticks together, and watching Nickelodeon.  I don’t think anyone else in the room was riveted by my recount of the previous 8 weeks either.  A couple of decades have a tendency to change one’s perspective though and now I’d love a forcefully captivated audience with nothing better to do than listen as I relive the sweet sentiments of my summer.  And while I can’t tape your eyes open and brace your face toward this screen (though that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?), I’m guessing you all have lots of grown up things you wouldn’t mind putting off to make time to read all about the places I went and the things I did this summer.  So, here ya go:

Ireland:  Three years ago, I promised myself that at least once a year I would travel internationally.  I’ve stuck to that promise, almost exclusively by traveling somewhere for work, spending the vast majority of my time in meetings or praying for the hotel wifi to connect, and rarely seeing the light of day.  Still, I always make time for at least a few excursions, and Ireland was no exception.

Dublin is a cool city.  It feels more or less like the love child of Las Vegas, and Boston.  Or, given Dublin is the oldest of those cities, maybe they’re siblings. Boston is the overachiever, Vegas is the wild child, and Dublin is the kid people tend to forget to send high school graduation cards to. I also saw a teensy bit of the Irish country side, which is beautiful, and very green, unsurprisingly… but that’s really all I’ve got to say about that.

Camp Everyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing me complain that I never got to go to summer camp.  I remember my mother trying to dissuade my interest telling me the food wasn’t good there (#fatkid4life) but that only moderately quelled my interest and it’s something I’ve always regretted not doing.  This summer I finally got to go, as a counselor, and honestly, I think I had more fun as a grownup than any of the kids there.  We sang songs, ate s’mores and collectively reveled in the starry sky above.  There was no boss breathing down my neck, no deadlines to meet, and no need for makeup or traffic updates.  We didn’t have cell phone service or cable tv, and not only did we not care, we were, dare I say it in Silicon Valley, all the happier for their absence.  For seven days everyone looked each other in the eyes when they spoke, expressed their appreciation with hugs and hand-written words, and more or less functioned as generous, loving human beings.  Re-entering the 21st century was jarring, and would have been more painful were it not for the people I know and love in the “real world” who, whether at camp or not, are so readily willing to sing silly songs, and give spontaneous hugs.  

Crystal Lake: Thirty years ago my mom and her two best friends dragged their husbands and five snotty kids, (plus one on the way, me) to a campground in Garretsville, New York.  The place was called Crystal Lake but Murky Swamp would have been a more accurate nomenclature.  For many years we met there annually but after a while riding the same mile bike path got old, and the pig race at the county fair inexplicably lost its lustre.  So, in the late 90’s we changed our meeting spot to a sweet weekend home one of the moms snagged along with a second husband.  We like the house, and the husband too, so everyone still congregates there every few years.  In the good ole days we’d sneak, and then later on openly mooch free booze off our parents, but, as it does, the tide has turned.  Since social norms dictate a grown adult showing up empty handed and eating someone else out of house and home is considered “rude”, we now bring the booze.  Other than that absolutely nothing has changed.  We share secrets, inside jokes, and some of the best and sweetest memories from our childhood.  When it’s time to leave, the mothers cry, everyone hugs, and the yet to depart group gets left on the porch to talk, lovingly of course, behind the backs of whomever just honked farewell at the top of the drive.

Charleston: August in Charleston means you simultaneously swim in the humidity and bake in the heat, which is fine by me because it’s a permanent excuse for a bad hair day, and all that sweating is enough to convince you that the quarter mile walk to the bakery has more than earned you the calories in that biscuit the size of your head they serve for breakfast.  Folks are so nice you find it hard not to forgive their inability to admit defeat over a war fought two centuries ago, and the ocean is just warm enough to make you wish you could stay there forever.  Whilst visiting, I ate in some of the city’s finest restaurants, and ordered wine by the bottle, not the glass, basking in the glow of financial stability only savored by the childless late twenty-something.  It was, to be more succinct, my vision for adult Disneyland.  

The best part about summer vacations these days though, is knowing there’s no school year to dictate what comes next.  Life is full of fun stuff one can choose to compile into an obnoxious blog post, so look for the sequel: My Fall/Winter/Spring Vacation, posted whenever there’s a lull long enough to think of something clever to share.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Things Single People Never Want to Hear

You’d think by now I’d be sharing a list of things my endearing though eccentric boyfriend/husband does, or, in a darker timeline, posting my 1000th kittens in mittens selfie on my knitting blog , but I’m not that lucky and I’m not that crazy, respectively.  Instead, this post is dedicated to a discussion on my single status, more specifically, the angles of it I wish to God people would stop trying to discuss.  

I oftentimes find myself on the receiving end of completely unsolicited feedback regarding my love life and I just don’t understand how we’ve come to a place where this is socially acceptable.  It seems unfair, because when someone tells me they’re in a relationship, I never respond with “that’s ok, you’re going to beat those divorce odds” or, “you know what, I know lots of people who still have social lives after kids!” Or  even “have you tried not staying in every weekend?  I think you’d like it”.  So, it seems particularly inconsiderate to be barraged with all the things I should be doing differently in order to land a man.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, feel free to peruse the list below:

Things single people never want to hear

“Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone”.  There’s a lot wrong with this statement but let’s start first with “don’t worry”.  Never tell a single person “not to worry” because 1.  you’re assuming we are worried and 2.  if we are worried, saying ‘don’t worry’ is essentially the least helpful, and most obnoxious statement one can utter.  Instead, be honest with yourself and the person you’re speaking to.  Say something like BEGIN WORRYING IMMEDIATELY YOU DELINQUENT RELATIONSHIP HACK.  This is less infuriating, and frankly more genuine than “don’t worry”. 

“You’ll meet someone” assumes we live in a fair and just world.  Nope.

“You’ve got plenty of time”.  What great news, as I assume you’re an expert on my uterus and lifespan! Thanks so much, this is incredibly helpful!  Oh wait, you’re neither of these things?  Alrighty then.  

“Have you tried online dating?” You use these words, but what I hear is “you’re terrible at socializing and require a computer  program to squeeze some semblance of a personality out of you, so that other people who also have no persona, can send you creepy emails and share strategically shot photos that in no way depict what they look like in real life”

“Maybe you’re too picky”. Perhaps you’re right.  One moment while I find the reset button on my personality.

“What do you do when you’re by yourself?” Coupled friends, is there some element of cohabitation that makes it impossible to recall survival in the single environment?  Or have you lost all sense of balance and require each other to hold you up and walk room to room?  Perhaps your televisions, bath tubs, cell phones, e-readers, and cars have all malfunctioned or fallen into a state of disrepair?  When your significant other is not home, do you stand in the silence of your living room wondering whatever will become of you?  No?  Me neither.

One final note; my signature line when people ask me if “I’m seeing someone” is to respond with “Nope, dying alone. I’m on the dying alone plan”.  That’s not me fishing for a compliment, or advice.  It’s my attempt to 1. be funny, 2.  indicate I don’t want to discuss my single status further, and (optional) 3.  leave room for you to tell me all about the 25-35 yr old 5’10”-6’3” gainfully employed, slightly burly man friend you have that you think I should meet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Costco, You Beautiful Bastard

People ask me all the time why I, a single woman working at a company that provides 10-14 free gourmet meals per week, has any need for a membership at a bulk superstore.

Personally, I'd like to know why any person, single or coupled, would opt out, assuming there's a Costco location within a 100 mile radius.  Where else can you find an eight person inflatable raft, 2 carat diamond earrings, and a case of coconut water all in the same place?  The moment I step foot into this big beautiful bastard's entryway, my adrenaline starts pumping.  I flash my membership card to the retiree at the door, lock a cool grip on that school bus of a shopping cart, and I’m off.   I navigate my way through aisles of appliances, produce, paper goods, and freezer food.  Bulk bargains! Organics! Luxury! Consumerism, hooray! And long after I'm home, and I've found the last nook or cranny in which to squeeze my wholesale haul, the savings satisfaction still courses through my veins.

Not sold?  Let me share with you what it is I buy, and why it's worth it.

Shampoo/Conditioner: The Kirkland brand is top grade.   I have been to enough shi shi salons to know this stuff is the real deal, and it costs nearly the same per ounce as most Suave products.  It’s like having the choice between the McDonalds Dollar menu, and dinner at Le Cirque, for $1.15.

Q-tips: When I was little, my mom used to tell me the generic brand of Q-tips, ("cotton swabs" for those of you who wouldn't even know what the hell to call those things if it weren't for the name brand) were just as good as the box with the capital Q.  This was, of course, a bold faced lie, but my therapist tells me this is something I should stop holding against her, so let's assume some consumer report fabricated the claim.  My own inability to avert penny pinching left me with substandard swabs for many a year.  That is, until Costco entered my life.  If you come to my home today, in need of ear canal cleansing, you'll be swabbing with the good stuff.  You're welcome.

Booze: If you're looking for premium vodka, find the Grey Goose at Costco, then shift your gaze two feet to the left.  There should be a tall bottle of Kirkland signature premium distilled.  Put that in your cart and never look back.  If you're looking for microbrew beer, pick any variety case, then find a friend who likes the 4 bottles of stout that come in it  (or I guess you could just like stouts....).  If you're looking for party drink, (Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light) grab a 36 pack and scoff at the thought of paying eight more dollars for six fewer cans anywhere else.

Cupboard staples: You don't need a quart of vanilla extract, or a pound of bread yeast?  Who cares?  Even if you throw half of it away, it's STILL one quarter the price you’re paying the McCormick Mafia.  Consider cooking from scratch more frequently, or reverse cup-of-sugar your neighbors.  Just start knocking on doors asking if people need baking soda for anything.  Clarify that it's baking soda and not cocaine.  Maybe reserve this activity for when the cable goes out.  Actually, this sounds potentially dangerous.  On the record, I don't recommend this.  Off the record, I don't even have cable so if you want to do this, record it, and send me a link to the video, that'd be swell.

Organic Spinach:  Spinach is the only thing at Costco that is actually sold in a week supply container for my household of 1, which confuses me.  The spinach tub cooks down to about 4 servings.  Based on literally every other consumable good, I would expect them to sell the stuff in garbage bags, but they don't.  And it's still 75% cheaper than the grocery store, go figure.  

Active Apparel: Spending a ton of money on clothes you sweat in is stupid.  Sporting dumpy schweaties next to the one straight man in your spin class is a wasted opportunity.  Throwing a fashionable, though brandless zip jacket into your cart next to the 30 pack of toilet paper is nothing more than logical.

Underwear: I get how parents dragging their screaming tiny humans might forgo the socks and undies aisle at Costco, opting for the extra five minutes in line for a dollar ice cream cone the size of their tot's head because 1.  it's delicious, and 2.  these aisles are narrower and more prone to product/tiny human avalanches.  Single people, however, have no excuse.  I own Costco camisoles in every color of the rainbow, and my underpants drawer is quickly rotating toward Felina, a brand I've never heard of but that rivals Victoria's poorly kept secrets at one fifth the price.

It should be noted that I am in no way affiliated with, or compensated by Costco Wholesale. Additionally, it occurs to me that I have more to say about a store than I do the environment, world politics and modern medicine combined, which makes me question whether a reassessment of my life choices may be in order.