Sunday, July 30, 2006

Things I learned this weekend

Green Herons make the oddest mating call. It sounds like a foraging pig.

My favorite italian ice flavor is lemon. I can't change it. Always was, always will be.

I am happier and more satisfied when I read more and watch t.v. less.

I actually enjoy the beach.

Johnny Foodmaster is surprisingly calm on Sunday afternoons, especially compared to Whole Foods on Sundays.

Wellfleet oysters are the best oysters.

Sometimes just letting things be is the best thing to do.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Clink of the Glass

One of my favorite summer sounds is the clinking of dishes and glasses through open windows. People's voices occasionally rise through the noise, but it is the clink of porcelain and glass that I like best. It reminds me that people are living--eating, drinking, and sharing companionship. It's easy to forget that during cold and grey New England winters, and I try to soak up as much of the outside action as I can during summer's all-to-brief stint here.

This oddly makes me have something in common with former Alcatraz Island prison inmates. Even though I toured Alcatraz at least 10 years ago, one story always stuck with me. As part of the tour, I was able to listen to recording of a former inmate describing his days on the island. With longing and deep nostalgia in his voice, he described how much he looked forward to New Year's Eve in prison. It seemed that the Saint Francis Yacht Club hosted a huge party every year, and due to something about the air and water that time of year combined with the large number of guests, would allow the prisoners to hear the party sounds across the Bay--clinking wine glasses, women's laughter, and big band sounds. He said he would never forget those sounds as long as he lived. They reminded him that there was life out there.

Now, trudging through New England winter weather is certainly not as bad as being locked up on Alcatraz for years on end, but I do feel some empathy with Prisoner Number 12495. I hope I can remember the sounds of tonight during the cold harsh days of January.

Friday, July 21, 2006


I went to the gym for the first time in quite a while last night. I should be going much more often, especially since I'm not working this month. Unfortunately, my utter and lovely lack of structure has turned me into the ultimate sloth.

Every day I tell myself that today is the day. Today is the day that my summertime health regimen begins in earnest...and then the day passes, and of course I've figured out every possible way to avoid setting foot anywhere near the Central Square YMCA. I have to go to the grocery store today, and I can't possibly do both those things in one day! That would be humanly impossible. I then beat myself up about my lack of focus and motivation. It doesn't help that I see other women on the street with sleek biceps and toned calves in their hot weather wear. They clearly can make it to the gym, and they probably!

So yesterday I finally did it. I went to the gym. I reconciled myself to my guilt, said what the heck, and just made myself go. I went to swipe my card at door and request my two towels (it had been so long since my last trip that I couldn't remember if I had any waiting for me in my locker), and waited for my picture to come up on the attendant's computer screen and get buzzed in. To my great embarrassment, a big green alert message came up on the monitor: CUSTOMER HAS NOT BEEN IN CLUB FOR OVER 30 DAYS.

What? I mean come on! I know it had been a while, but 30 days? Make that over 30 days? I'm sure my facial expression registered my embarrassment and surprise, but the polite attendant only smiled and kindly handed me my towels. "Uh, thanks" I said sheepishly and snuck through the door as she buzzed me in.

Ugh. what's the point, I thought. I'm clearly done for now. Why bother? Clearly I'm not made for the gym. Why even try? Once settled on my favorite elliptical machine, I calmed down a bit. I got into the groove and started to look around a bit. It was quiet in the gym since it was pretty late, but there was a smattering of people running on treadmills and at the weights.

And you know what? Most of them were older and shall we say, a bit more Rubenesque than I am. My embarrassment left me, and I started to push. If other people can make the effort, so can I. We all have our insecurities, especially physical ones. That's life. Now I can't guarantee that I'll go again today (although I'm still telling myself that this morning), but I can cut myself some slack. I think that's going to get me going to the gym more frequently than anything else.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dinner for Seven

I enjoyed the company of six very different, but very interesting women last night. All former co-workers, they ranged in age, life trajectories, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and politics. Even though we are all quite different, and at different stages in life, we still all get along quite well.

I arrived at dinner expecting a simple and nice meal, but I was pleasantly surprised by both the range and depth of food and conversation. It all converged to create quite a mix. Conversations topics ranged from one participant's recent breast cancer to another's very recent motherhood. In between we discussed the state of U.S. Education, reality television, gay rights, and our favorite local restaurants. Mojitos, a lovely cheese souffle, colorful salads, corn, and a Rosie's birthday cake completed the mix.

This evening reminded me how important woman friends are (not that I needed much reminding), and how helpful it is to get other people's perspectives and advice, especially from those with different life experiences. I've been thinking a lot about community lately (how to create it, engage in life more, and what I want my life to look like), and last night solidified its importance for me. My community is here, I just need to make sure I continue to nurture and appreciate it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A change of heart

I went to the Cape this weekend. For those not up on their Massachusetts vernacular, "the Cape" is also know as Cape Cod, and is that part of New England that narrows into a penisula into the Atlantic ocean and looks a bit like a hook. It's a vacation mecca, and this is where people wear tiny whales on their pants with little to no irony.

I used to hate the Cape. I found the preppiness both annoying and intimidating, it always takes much longer to drive there than one thinks it will, and the endless fudge shops and tacky galleries left little to be desired.

I love Martha's Vineyard, but because I lived there for a few summers and because its island location isolates it from some of the hustle and bustle of the rest of the cape (this is even more the case for Nantucket), and it has a more bohemian feel than the mainland cape, I generally feel more comfortable there.

So, I was bracing for the worst this weekend. Instead, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Much of it could be attributed to the company on this particular journey, but I found the Cape more delightful than I ever had in the past.

The purpose of this excursion was a bird/whale watching trip. We drove down on Friday night and arrived at about 7 p.m. We walked around Hyannis (a touristy and slightly honky tonk town), and settled on a fancy dinner at the Black Cat. It was a pleasant respite from the rest of the noisy clam shacks.

We got up the following morning and were on the boat by 6 a.m. Although the departure time was a bit early for my taste, we did get to see a lot of birds. I focused on the whales--humpbacks and fin. It was pretty amazing. A humpback breached right in front of us and two finbacks came right along the side of the boat. All told we probably saw at least 15 whales.

Back on land, we napped for a few hours and then went out to explore again. We embraced the honky tonk nature of the town by drinking some beer, eating ice cream, and playing miniature golf and skee ball. I heart honky tonk. To balance out the tackiness, I was also pleased to find a cute store that sold very pretty silkscreen t-shirts.

The next day we headed out to Sandy Neck Beach and walked along a marsh trail where a coyote darted out in front of us. Eventually we made it to the beach and changed into our bathing suits behind some sand dunes. We spent a good hour in the water and on the rocks and then trekked back to the car. We finished out the day by watching the World Cup in a British Pub.

All in all, the weekend was the perfect mix of natural and more material pursuits. The Cape never looked so good to me.