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  • The Secret to My Success (and my summer list)

    When I entered kindergarten, my mother told the principal: "I have one daugher who is here to study. And one who is here to have fun." So it was perhaps surprising that I've spent the last 16 years in a place that has the highest concentration of overachievers on the planet. I learned very quickly that I would never be the smartest, most educated, most well traveled, most connected person in the room. It took me a long time to figure out my own superlative and, when I did, I realized it had magical value. Chief Slacker in Residence may not seem like a title to aspire to, but, in that sea of bests and mosts, it was a perspective that was useful to a group of Type A's hopped up on stress. Here's what they'd get in a conversation with me: 

    Do you really have to do all those things? Why don't you pick just two or three? Do you need a break? When's your next vacation? That sounds complicated -- how can we make it easier? There really is no deadline with this, so take your time. Maybe you want to change your hours, work from home a couple of days a week? What can you throw overboard? Oh, that's too hard. Let's do something else.

    Turns out being the One Who Was Here To Have Fun was the key to my success. My mom is a prophet. And with that in mind, here's my Summer is a Verb 2015 list:

    • be outside
    • take time to enjoy each summer evening
    • read 20 pages a day (inspired by this)
    • honor our summer traditions (like our 8th annual family barhop!)
    • take lots and lots of photos
    • explore our new world on the lower Cape (the lower Cape, while counterintuitive, is the portion farthest from the mainland)

    For those of you who are thinking this is a very vague list, you are right. I keep a running list of all sorts of things I'd like to do (and each fits into one of these six categories). But I have time. I can pick two or three. I'm taking a break. I'm here to have fun.

    Happy Summer!

  • Thoughts on Moving to a Sandbar

    photo: East End tidal flats at low tide

    I've written this post six times since we moved to Provincetown a little over four months ago. One version was all yay-I'm-the-luckiest-girl-in-the-world (TRUE) and the next detailed all the unpleasant surprises (record snow requiring shoveling four times a day, wild animals tormenting Stephen, a complicated partially wooded yard to care for, the amount of bird shit left on our deck furniture every day), listed all the things that have broken (microwave, our car), all the things we had to buy (microwave, additional car, wood for the fireplace, more wood for the fireplace, a dishwasher, a grill, deck furniture, a shovel, a vacuum), and the endless list of things on the To Do List. 

    I thought we'd be completely settled in by now because I have imagined this life for a long time. Provincetown was my home before I moved to Boston when I was not only in my 20s, but in my EARLY 20s. When everything was about the person I wanted to become -- where would I live? what would I do for a living? who would I marry? would I have kids? what great adventures were in store for me? And now that I am The Person That I Would Become, coming "home" has been a mixture of unexpected feelings and in-your-face practicalities that never appeared in any of my daydreams. 

    I had envisioned stress-free days writing and reading, eating lobster rolls, taking long peaceful walks with Stephen, and wandering through town on my own taking photos of anything that caught my eye. I've had some of that, to be truthful, but not nearly as much as I had envisioned. Recently, someone said to me, "well, you're on vacation." Living where you vacation is not the same thing as being on vacation (see above.)

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    The other day I think I finally accepted the chaos that is created by uprooting your life twice in 10 months and what that can do to your sense of equilibrium. When the Mr. and I decided to move here, we agreed on two intentions:

    1) We wanted to simplify our lives.

    Our life in Hingham was the most complicated it's ever been. And after moving here one week before the first blizzard hit and all the WTFing began, I thought we had made a turn in the wrong direction. I've since come to believe that "simple" does not mean the same thing as "convenient." 

    The number of decisions I have to make in a day, the number of people I have to respond to, the number of things I have to finish have all been vastly reduced. The pace of my day is comfortable and self-directed. And even though everything we ever needed isn't delivered to our front doorstep by someone else and we're doing the errands and housework that we used to pay other people to do, our overall objective for our life is simpler: stop striving and straining and enjoy it.

    2) We'd be all in.

    Living in the burbs for a year while still maintaining our usual lives in Boston left us with a neither-here-nor-there feeling. I'm still working on this since I have one foot left in Cambridge for work, which will continue a bit longer than originally planned. However, I'm way more Here than I am There and, after June, my time commitment will be limited even further. Whenever I do make the final transition, the next step will be something small and something local. No more world stage organizations and agendas for me.

    Being all in has mostly meant that we wanted to be an active part of the community. The Mr., being the outgoing extrovert that he is, is making friends all over town (bartenders holding the highest percentage of that group.) Stephen has started his own fan club here and is often greeted by name as we walk down the street. I'm just happy to follow along in the path they both forge for our Provincetown lives.

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    I crave routine. Crave it, need it, hope for it, yearn for it. But until we truly settle in and all the newness fades in the ethereal Provincetown light, I am content with noting the adjustments we've made in the short time we've been here:

    • I've stopped wearing Spanx. And eye makeup. Ok, I'm not really wearing makeup at all now. I've even let go of my gel manicures. (But pedicures and hair color are non-negotiable. Gurl, please.)
    • I'm fine leaving the house in my yoga pants or with unwashed hair piled on top of my head. I've started looking at my closet and thinking what do I actually WANT to wear? (Not what can I get by with at work? or what will other people be wearing? or what is appropriate for this event?)
    • Stephen now often sets the pace for the day. Sleepy? We nap. Ready to play? We play. Wants to go out? We go out.
    • I've gotten used to the foxes running in front of me from all corners of the neighborhood. They hardly register at all anymore. Unless of course, Stephen is there and does his bonkers LOOK EVERYONE! EVERYONE! I MEAN EVERYONE!!!! THERE'S A FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! bark.
    • My visits back to Boston have become painful. I hate being separated from the Mr. and from Stephen.
    • We walk on the beach twice a day -- the town beach is only two blocks from our house -- and it's become perhaps the first foundational piece of an actual routine. Weather and tides dictate the timing and the location of these walks and it's nice to be bound to nature's rhythm and not the MBTA schedule.
    • I now drive an SUV. Which is completely stocked with sunscreen and hats, both of which are necessary for all the time we spend outdoors. I even moved a giant bin of both next to the front door -- a place that used to hold my fully stocked commuting bag.
    • I've stopped using filters in Instagram. How could you possibly improve the light out here? I want my photos to look like real life. And real life has bright colors.
    • "Buying local" has taken on new meaning for us. We want -- no, NEED -- to support those who live and work in this remote town. Their livelihood is our livelihood. 
    • We are really good recyclers and Saturday mornings now include trips to the transfer station.
    • We've grown accustomed to having to use the words "husband" and "wife" to explain our relationship. People are always surprised when we tell them we live here (and we're not just a straight couple visiting town). Sometimes we let the confused ones suffer as they try to figure it out.
    • But mostly, mostly I've been cleaning the house. I miss having a cleaning service. But I do have a new vacuum cleaner.

    Sidenote: For those of you who may have missed it, CBS Sunday Morning did a wonderful piece on Provincetown. I've watched it at least 10 times and I tear up every time I watch it because it just gets this place. You can view it here: A Walk in Provincetown

  • Jump on in. The water is perfect!

    Welcome to the new Juniper Disco!

    The idea for a new web site was incubated in the Bahamian sun more than two years ago. I was sitting in a pool chair staring at the palm trees over my head and thinking about the one thing I do well: I'm really, really good at vacationing. I thought about how much of my life has been spent in and around pools and beaches. How most of my closet is filled with tunics, caftans, and sandals. How joyful I feel when I'm on the Cape and in the Caribbean. How much I like to share my experiences with others and encourage people to find their own little moments of sun-filled bliss. From that daiquiri-induced musing -- there may have been a conch fritter or two as well -- "poolside" emerged. 

    As most of you know, the Mr. and I are living YEAR ROUND in Provincetown now. (I know. Pinch me!) It's the perfect time for a new crisp, clean space that focuses on the poolside lifestyle while allowing me to chronicle all the other important moments in this little ole life of ours.

    Here's the NEW stuff you will find:

    • The poolside section focusing on the Caribbean (sortable by country), Cape Cod, "everywhere else," and my favorite resorting tips (including my ongoing battle with a fear of flying). 

    • A section for my photo series work. Already there: colors, shapes, and patterns of Ptown, my annual "The Mr. Contemplates the World" posts on the Mr.'s birthday, and my favorite series of posts possibly ever: my vacation diary from 2013.

    • A journal section for the random musings clunking around in my head. I carried over my chronicles of my path through grief after losing one of my friends to cancer as well as my healing through the Boston Marathon bombings.

    • Lists, lists, and more lists. In the coming months I'll be posting my completely revised life list. You can already see the list of things I accomplished on the current list. ALSO, I'm working on moving over every list I've ever made on Juniper Disco with the goal of ultimately making 100 lists.

    • Since I often do my storytelling through Instagram, you can follow my feed directly through this site.

    • And for those of you looking for the old Juniper Disco and things I left behind (like most of my life in Boston or the weekly Random posts), you can click through the tumblr link, head to the "archive" link at the bottom of one of the old tumblr posts, and see every post I've ever made since December 2010.

    I hope you'll grab a fruity umbrella-garnished frozen cocktail and join me poolside for a little fun! Thanks for swimming on over here!

  • Art, Heart Worm, Grey-shingled Houses, and Pineapple Drinks

    (originally published on December 23, 2014)

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    So I've been rather absent from this space the last few months. Let me explain. Life has gone something like this ...

    Put life on hold to prep for the re-opening of the museum. Plan out complicated wardrobe and transportation logistics for 16 opening events in 10 days. Curse moving to Hingham. Take Stephen to vet where he tests positive for heart worm. Freak out. Move to a Cambridge Airbnb for first half of opening events. The Mr. takes Stephen to get chest xrays and he tests positive again. Freak out. Finish out opening events. Collapse. Eat all the food the Mr. makes. Sit on the couch and stare into space. Stephen goes on antibiotics for a month. The Mr. gets awesomest job offer on the Cape. Freak out. Host the in-laws for Thanksgiving and travel to my sister's for the holiday. Tell my bosses about the move and work out a general plan for work through June. Find a place to live on the Cape in less than a week. Finish Christmas shopping. Pack for the DR. Experience the bumpiest flight ever to Philly. Almost pee my pants. Enjoy 6 days in Punta Cana. Get a tan and forget about everything. Return home and thank my friend JR for watching my boo boo. Finish out work before winter break. Take Stephen to vet for first of three awful heart worm shots. Buy every chew toy ever made. Attempt to keep him still and cry every time I put him in his crate. Decorate for Christmas. Clean apt for guests. Finish wrapping presents. Plan out the holiday cheese board to end all cheese boards. Snuggle Stephen until his pain meds kick in. Start thinking about what to put in storage, what to give away, and what to pack. Freak out. Make a gratitude list.

    Gratitude List

    1. That my husband found a really awesome opportunity that he is going to love.
    2. That that opportunity takes us to the CAPE!
    3. That we somehow found an awesome place to live in Provincetown right around the corner from my mom and N. And that the place has a giant fireplace and deck. AND that it has grey shingles with white trim and a red door and blue hydrangeas and a crushed sea shell driveway. 
    4. That we have the means to manage Stephen's heart worm treatment and that I have the flexibility to take care of him for the the next 10 weeks of his painful treatment.
    5. That when he's through it and able to resume activities, he'll have the beach and a huge dog park to run around in. Plus the dog-friendliest town ever to welcome him back into the world.
    6. That I work for such awesome people that they immediately agreed to creating an even more flexible arrangement for the remainder of my time with them.
    7. That I got to be a part of such a big deal and with super awesome people. And only cried once during the whole thing.
    8. That we were able to take some time away and go to a really warm and sunny place.
    9. That most of my family will be here in a couple days and Stephen will be loved on even more.
    10. That one of my most deeply held dreams is becoming a reality -- living every day of every season in my favorite place in the whole world (and that there are only 77 days until we return to my second favorite place, Jamaica!)

    Happy holidays to all of you! May your own little whirlwind of a life be filled with joy, gratitude, furry faces that trust you no matter what, and really awesome pineapple drinks!

  • The One You Never Saw Coming

    (originally published on December 15, 2013)

    Hee! Hee! This is going to be good!

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    OK, everyone, SIT DOWN. I have some big news. Actually, not one but TWO really, really, really big life changers to share with you!

    Drumroll ...

    Before we get to that, I did tell you I had changes coming. And change takes energy. Energy that usually goes to this blog. No excuses, but these things have been in the works for awhile and I haven't been able to say a word. Which makes it hard to blog. So sorry!

    Now that I cleared my conscience, here we go ...

    I am no longer in human resources. I will repeat. I AM NO LONGER IN HUMAN RESOURCES!  I'm feeling light as a feather, skipping my way to my new job (which is awesome!), and smiling like a lunatic. 

    I think the best way to share the evolution of my feelings about my former profession is through song: I went from feeling like THIS most days (NSFW -- don't listen without earphones, unless you want to end up in the HR office) to finding a happy, healthy perspective like THIS.

    You can bet I will now be using this phrase just as much as all of you do: "You should talk to HR about that."

    And ....

    The Mr. and I are moving. To the suburbs! As in, NOT IN THE CITY. I wish I could see your face. Jaw dropped, huh? Yeah, I've seen that in real life when I've told people. But, but, but ... What about Boston, Juniper Disco? What about Boston? (Major gold stars if you got the Pretty in Pink reference there.)

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    This glittery city mouse is moving to the home of Talbots. To a town that rhymes with gingham. Next to "New England" in the dictionary is a picture of our new town. This is my Baby Boom moment, people! (Minus the baby, the high-powered career, and the apple orchard, but you get what I mean, right? )

    And don't worry about us. Well, worry about the Mr. He's never ordered food through a drive-thru window. Seriously. Ok, you can worry about me, too. I have had a freak out moment or 50 (What are we going to do without our concierge? Who is going to call me a cab? Wait, do they even HAVE cabs there? We have to buy a car? What time are we going to have to get up now to get to the airport?? Who is going to shovel all that freakin' snow? Can I keep my 617 area code? Oh my GOD!!! The PTOWN BOAT! How is that going to work?? HOW AM I GOING TO GET HOME FROM THE CHER CONCERT???)

    Truth is we're only 12 miles out of the city and we'll be commuting to it every day by boat. A boat with a bar. Only a few steps from where we'll be is a commuter ferry to Boston. Because we'll be living by the water! And we clocked it: 11 minutes to a legit beach. And less than 45 seconds to the pool. The best part of the plan: we'll be adding a dog to our family over the coming year. In my mind I've already dressed it in green turtleneck sweaters, pinched it's cheeks while snuggling it closely, bought it a toy lobster, and named it GoGo Elizabeth Mooney. (The Mr. is not exactly on board yet with that last one, but we'll get there. The other option I've given him is Tebucky Culpepper.)

    You can bet Juniper Disco will be chronicling our adjustment to the burbs. Since we'll be in the city every day, there will still be lots of shiny Boston bits. And complete freakout moments. Seriously, do they have cabs?

  • Boston : After

    (originally published on April 21, 2013)

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    I still haven't processed what took place here on Friday. I've never been so anxious, so nervous, so scared. Only other Bostonians will really understand what it was like. To see the streets of my ordinary life corrupted by enormous atrocities, for the second time that week. The corner where the MIT cop died is the same place where I'd get pasta once a week when I worked there. Watertown -- a quieter place, with real houses, lots of families, and young couples -- is a town where I've lived twice in my life. We heard our friends report in one by one that their homes had been searched by SWAT teams. The story of one passing his young kids over the fence he had just climbed in his backyard after the cops ordered their family to flee in the dark of the night while the firefight with the bombers took place outside their home. Learning that that kid went to school a block from where I work -- two of our friends work at that school. Boston is nothing if not connected, the circles get closer and closer the longer you live here.

    As it looked like this nightmare was going to come to an end, things started to shift back toward normal. The Mr. and I were loving the locals being interviewed on the news -- that atrocious accent and unselfconscious, agressive way of speaking. (I hope you all got to see and hear some of that!) And the interview with the guy who left his house to get some pizza and ended up near the final gunfire exchange. Because needing a pizza after being barricaded in your home for hours is something we can all understand. And those stories we heard earlier in the day were now being told with comedic brilliance. In that Boston way. And the overwhelming relief when the kid was caught.

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    The next day, like many Bostonians, we were drawn towards Boylston Street. As we hit the city streets, normalcy seemed within our grasp. The Mr. said to me, "That didn't take long," after I grumbled under my breath at the slow walkers on Charles Street. "Two blocks!"

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    We walked through the Public Garden, the ducks decked out in spring hats and Marathon numbers, the swan boats back in the lagoon, the tulips just about to bloom.

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    And then we reached the memorial site on Boylston Street. It looked like it did the day the bombs went off, minus the smoke, minus the fleeing crowds, minus the people holding arteries of the injured in their bare hands. In my mind I could see the bombs go off, I could hear the crowds, I could see the panic. And it hit me in the most overwhelming of ways. I began to weep. Like many people there.

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    The comfort dogs who visited the victims in the hospitals, Liberty and Independence, were there. Everyone wanted a little time with them. 

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    Shaken and slightly trembling, we decided a stiff drink was in order so we turned around and headed down Boylston Street to the Four Seasons. While we waited for the light to change so we could cross the street, we met a couple with a child. They were looking for the closest ATM. We learned they were from Northern California and they had come to watch the marathon. They had been watching it when the bombs went off. One of the "people in their party" had been injured. Before we parted, they asked if the train from Arlington station would take them to Children's Hospital. I felt nauseous and sick.

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    What happened next will be one of the things I remember most about this day after. We bellied up to the Four Seasons bar and ordered some drinks from Jimmy, who may very well be the best bartender in all the city. A woman and her husband came in and sat next to us. She chatted with Jimmy, claiming martinis make her sleepy as she continued to peruse the cocktail menu. "Oh, screw it!" she exclaimed. "Give me a martini!" We all laughed and continued to laugh over the course of the next hour. Grateful to be on the other side of the nightmare.

  • A few days later ...

    (originally published on April 18, 2013)

    The Mr. and I got married at Old South Meeting House where, in 1773, rebels gathered right before they stormed towards the harbor for what would become known as the Boston Tea Party. It is a place of defiance and ultimately independence. We're both "I'm doing it my way" kind of people and love the symbolic nature of our chosen location, a sort of "yep, we're getting married but we're not doing this the way you all think we should." And I wore bright green shoes. That I made sure everyone could see under my nontraditional tea-length dress.

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    Defiant. Independent. That's who we are. And that is what this city is. We are surrounded by reminders of the scrappiest of scrappy revolutionaries who walked these streets before us. It's why we laugh knowingly at that scene in The Town when Coughlin has been shot, heavily bleeding, and is clearly out of options. Jon Hamm yells out, "Coughlin, throw down your weapon." And he responds, "Fuck you!" with what may be one of the best approximations of the local accent that takes almost two decades of living here to learn how to love. Us Bostonians walk around with a little "fuck you" in our hearts all the time.

    On Friday, the Mr. and I are going on our usual date night. To a restaurant on the perimeter of the crime scene, one block from the first explosion. And when they reopen Boylston Street, we'll go pay our respects and reclaim our rightful place on that street. Alongside our fellow Bostonians. Scrappy. Defiant. I may even wear some green shoes. 

  • My City

    (originally published on April 16, 2013)

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    My city. My home. My world.

    As I watched the coverage yesterday, I knew I had been changed. Just not then. That happened long before yesterday. 9/11 altered my neural pathways for life. And as I sunk deeper and deeper into stillness and into silence, some of the horrific images seared into my brain, the thought that the Mr. had been in the danger zone just a mere 30 minutes prior to the explosions, I knew what was in store for me. The signs were there. The word "motherfucker" spewing from my mouth at an accelerated pace. Scouring the news obsessively for information. Refreshing my Facebook and Twitter feeds every three seconds. Not talking. That dazed, hazy film settling over everything. Anger. Distraction. Fear.

    This morning I finally cried. And couldn't stop. One particular image of a man horribly injured kept flashing through my mind. And I wondered how he was, if he made it, and if he did, what he would be going through right now, tomorrow, next week, next year. What all of those injured and their families would be going through. All those who were there and saw the carnage. The trauma.

    We live smack dab between Mass General Hospital and the state police barracks. The sirens did not stop for four hours yesterday. This morning, they've continued. The sound of urgency and danger still rings in the air.

    At one point late yesterday, the Mr. looked at me and said quietly, "That was a close one." As he does on most Marathon Mondays, he was watching the Marathon at a local bar with his friends. It's a block from the first blast site. He left at 2:15. The bomb went off at 2:50.

    One block and 30 minutes. My world.

     

  • With Gusto

    (originally published on May 3, 2013)

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    Two years ago today, my vibrant friend, Sarah, died of ovarian cancer. In my grief, I've written about her a few times: here and here

    Her greatest gift to me has been a strong belief that life is meant to be lived with gusto, no matter what happens. 

    Today is also a Green Grass Day. After a special Sarah Sadtler Feather dance party complete with glow sticks, glitter shoes, and disco balls, I'll be leaving the house to embrace this city we both loved, immerse myself in some art (also a shared love), enjoy something really decadent (chocolate milkshake, maybe?), and live a full day. With gusto.

  • A Year

    (originally published on May 3, 2012)

    I usually measure my years like others do. By the calendar year. By the academic year. By the fiscal year. By the season. But this year was different. This year started one year ago today when my friend, Sarah, died. She was 39. Over the course of the following months, two more college friends died. One barely 40. One 38. All three died of cancer. All way, way too young.

    Grief can put a thin film over everything. It can also add a laser-like focus to the things that are important. I've wondered over the past year if I could ever be as strong or have as much clarity as Sarah did. One of the parting pieces of advice that Sarah shared was to "keep it simple." I've thought about that a lot over the past year. Thought how complex some aspects of my life are. How complicated things can be as I rush around trying to get from one place to another, balancing all the expectations, all the competing interests and all the things I want to see, do, try, taste, feel, dream, think. I've started shedding little things that don't mean anything to me anymore and have taken a huge step in unravelling some of the big things. And I'm really, really working on giving up feeling responsible for everything and cleaning up messes that are not mine. It's gotten easier to figure out what goes in the yes pile, but I'm still working on the no pile.

    Today I am reflecting on all that Sarah went through and all that she left us. I'm still pissed she's gone. Still pissed that happened to her. And I'm still sad to my core. I'm also really, really grateful for what she shared. And that she gave many of us a chance to get it right. To keep it simple.

    This post is dedicated to:

    Sarah Sadtler Feather (photo: junior year of college): The CarcinistaWith His Wife Gone, Framingham Man Has a Bittersweet Run

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    Gregg Stracks (photo: freshman year of college, Tri Delt/Phi Ep See Saw Marathon): Gregg Stracks Memorial Fund

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    Brian Supler (photo: my senior year, his sophomore year of college): Brian's Memorial Site Brian K. Supler/Entrepreneur/networker who made local impact

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