journal

Category
  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 15

    We have a wreath on our door and a small undecorated tree sitting in the middle of our living room. It's not that I'm not feeling it. The thought of putting it all away again in a few weeks makes me feel so very weary. Plus, I'm determined to keep it chill this month. How about you? 

    Thinking About:

    • What I would grab in an emergency. This article, detailing what people who had to flee the fires in California took with them, got me thinking. I will admit that I have a "go bag" of practical items stored by the front door -- actually two (one for Stephen's gear). Other items I would gather: every disco ball I could carry, a small blue vase I've had since I was a child, my plants, Glitter Fox, my swimsuits, my sequined clothes collection, and a Hubley dog bookend that was my Nana's. Have you thought about what you would save? Maybe we should make a list.

    • The burden of being an empath. What a relief to finally find something that describes how I experience the world. I always thought there was something deficient in me when I found myself devastatingly overwhelmed by other people's tragedies, the never-ending interpersonal conflicts, their life-threatening health challenges -- especially when it was my JOB to carry these things. Since I left HR, moved out to a tiny town, and have limited most of my daily interaction to my husband and my dog, I have felt a gazillion times better.

    Thankful For:

    • Female medical professionals. I recently had minor surgery. When I walked myself into the operating room, I looked around and realized I had an all-female team. It was very empowering to be surrounded by their energy as I crawled onto the table. Next thing I knew it was snack time (which I was apparently VERY enthusiastic about.) I felt so supported by that team and feel lucky I had that group of women caring for me that day.

    Watching:

    • An Honorable Woman. If you have not seen this yet, clear your schedule. It's a riveting political thriller that captures you from the very first horrifying scene. I don't want to spoil any of it for you so I'll keep this vague. But, be prepared, it's painful.

    • This short film about how Heather Day creates her artwork. She schleps her art tools out into remote areas of nature. The results -- as well as the process itself -- are stunning!

    • Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Friends, I have a confession to make: I am Christmas-movied OUT. They made too many movies. TOO MANY! (However, for the adventurous and/or foolhardy here's a companion drinking game. We're planning to turn it into a bingo game for the family when everyone is here over the holidays.)

    Creating:

    • My niece's advent grab bag. If you've been following along for awhile, you know that I put together a (not so little) advent grab bag for my niece every year. She gets to pick one of 24 wrapped gifts to open each day of December, leading up to Christmas. It's become one of my favorite things to do each year! 

    • My 2018 calendar on Artifact Uprising. I gave up on my regular search for the perfect calendar a few years ago and now make my own using my Instagram photos. It's easy, quick, and the calendars turn out great! Tip: be sure to use the editing tools provided to lighten your photos. I forgot to do that last year and the photos ended up a little dark!

    Reading:

    • Cassandra daily newsletter. I find it fascinating to see what the youngsters are up to these days. For instance, millennials want to live where they work. As a former live-in nanny, I can tell you that there are a million reasons why that is a bad idea. (Like if you want to leave your job, you have to leave your home, too.) Anyway, Google and Facebook are building DORMS for their employees. Subscribe, so you can learn about these things, too.

    • R. Eric Thomas' newsletter. He is saving my life right now. He makes me laugh, as the kids say, out loud. If you like snappy, slightly bitchy commentary on the week's events, you'll love him, too!

    • The Secret Lives of Color. Ever since I was a kid collecting paint chips at the store, I have LOVED color. These short histories of colors -- like cerulean and celadon and heliotrope --- are really interesting.

    • Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese. I've been on a bit of a Native American/First Nation wisdom search lately. Not sure if it's because I've been learning more about the Wampanoags around the Cape or the fact that I just finished the last season of Longmire (I still don't understand why I LOVE that show.)

    • Nina McLaughlin's time-limited weekly Novembrance column in The Paris Review. November has always felt a little sad to me. The days are short, the sun barely rises in the sky, and everything turns BROWN. But there is this: "The eleventh month, getting darker, getting colder, echoes our own eventual winding down and gives chance to live in the richest, deepest way."

    Listening:

    • "Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65%." AND there is a ten song Spotify playlist linked in there that includes the ten most relaxing songs on the planet. 

    • Anjunadeep 09. My favorite compilation is back for a 9th go-round. (I still think Anjunadeep 02 is the best one.)

    • The Polybius Conspiracy podcast. Boy was I PISSED when I found out this was mostly fake! I will admit that towards the end I Googled it because I was starting to get suspicious. The dialogue seemed a bit off. If I had known it was not a documentary from the beginning, I would have skipped it.

    • Colorsplash Mixes. You've probably figured out by now that I like electronic music. It's probably an 80s-kid thing. Each one of these playlists has a color-themed title. If you like house music, you'll love these! Beach Glass is a good one to start with.

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Collagen. I will admit that I overheard a conversation at my salon that made me want to try this. They were raving about how thick the client's hair had gotten. And all because she adds a couple teaspoons of powdered collagen to her coffee every morning. I'm doing the same.

    • Mandarin oranges. Is there a more perfect snack for this time of year? I like the ones from Trader Joes -- super tiny and very sweet!

    • The annual holiday menu tryouts. Every year around this time, the Mr. tries out new recipes for Christmas. So far the stars have been: Cranberry-Hazelnut Green Bean Salad and an amazing hominy casserole.

    Learning:

    • New words.
      -chthonic. adjective. concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld
      -effulgence. noun. radiant splendor; brilliance
      -prolix. adjective. (of speech or writing) using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy

    • Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals. I told you I was on a Native American wisdom kick. I learned how to discover my animal guides. There are nine of them, but two walk through life with you. The thought of my right and left guides -- a hawk and an opossum, respectively -- walking into the operating room with me amuses me to no end. 

    Hygge-ing:

    Loving

    • Cocofloss. Remember when I said how much I hate flossing? Well now I'm obsessed with it and floss constantly. This floss is better than any of the other kinds I've tried. I especially love the strawberry version, but the cara cara orange is fun, too. 

    • Ren products. I recently treated myself to a very personalized facial at Supple Apothecary in Orleans. My skin has been problematic since I started some new medication in late spring -- lots of weird bumps and these tiny little tears on the surface. The facial was perfection, Alison was so sensitive to my situation, and I left with products from the Evercalm and Vita Mineral lines that have vastly improved my problems. Locals, get yourself there!

    • White Noise app. The night before my surgery we stayed in Hyannis. I brought ALL my pillows with me and recreated my home oasis in the hotel room, did my final round of Preparing for Surgery meditation, and then set my White Noise app to "ocean waves" to play all night. While I didn't have the best night sleep of my life, it was WAY better than I usually sleep right before something super scary. 

    Eliminating:

    • Moisture from my car. I've only used DampRid when we travel to warm places where I hang it in the closet with my clothes (after a week that thing is FULL of water.) My car was feeling a bit humid so I hung one in the back seat. It filled slowly with water and it definitely made an improvement.

    • TouchRetouch app. You know when you find the perfect set up for a photo but there is car parked next to it or a person standing in the way? This app REMOVES those things! 

    Expanding:

    • Inner Snow Days. The world is so turbulently upsetting right now. I've been craving silence. And super cuddly soft warm clothes. I'm cranking the heat and nurturing fires in the fireplace. I've started using my selenite wand to cleanse my TV (because that is where all the ugly lives). And incensing my space. I'm cleaning out cabinets and dusting up a storm, discarding anything that is blocking my chi. And treating every day like I'm a kid who just found out she's having a snow day!

    Planning + Organizing:

    • More surgery. In this era of health care terrorism, I wasn't sure if I would share any of this here. It feels unsafe. But not sharing would feel slightly dishonest and I come here to express my truth. So I've decided to share the fact of it but not the details at this point. It's not minor. And it's actually more than one. Most of 2018 will be about healing for me. In the meantime, I'm preparing myself (emotionally, mentally, and physically) and my space (putting up all my disco balls where they'll catch the light, cleaning, testing out the new remote control recliner that will be my bed for awhile, sorting through my clothes to find those with zippers and buttons down the front and trying on my silver glittered turban for when my hair is super gross because I won't be able to shower FOR WEEKS.) 

    • Mercury went retrograde AGAIN (December 3-22). Here's "How to Handle a Holiday Retrograde." 

    Fur Mama-ing:

    • Auto-shipping from Chewy.com. Even though we try so very hard to buy local, Stephen's food and snacks are just too expensive. I have an auto-shipment scheduled to come every 6-8 weeks with his Blue Buffalo food and his favorite treats. 

    • Defending against coywolves. The other night I pulled into our driveway after dark and walked down to get the mail. A shadowy figure ran past me down our street. "Coyotes" out here have mostly wolf DNA. They are big and they are aggressive. I took Stephen out later that night and the thing came running right at us. Luckily, I had this super compact flashlight with me that has a strobe feature and it turned and ran the other way. 

    Resisting:

    • I returned my Al Franken audiobook. I'm super mad at him. Because he's a yucky jerk and we needed him. (I exchanged it for Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View because a Galaxy Far, Far Away has been my place of refuge all year. Unless of course Luke turns out to be evil in this next film, then I am DONE. I've had enough Men-Who-Suck.)

    • Critical Reading.
      "Four Quitters Walk Into a Bar ..." "I mean, speaking for myself, I loved my job. I was more than content to be a bureaucrat for the rest of my life. And, frankly, I hope to go back into public service when the coast is clear." (Aren't we all just waiting for the coast to be clear??)

      Rufus Gifford is running for Congress! I really hope he gets elected. And not just because his husband was a vet in Provincetown in the summers and fixed my boo boo's paw when he cut it on an oyster shell. 

      "We'll Be Paying for Mark Halperin's Sins for Years to Come." "Halperin is the single journalist most responsible for Donald Trump." Ugh.

    Extra Credit:

    I'm planning to post more frequently in the weeks leading up to my surgery, because after that, I may need to take a break. Or I may be so bored, you'll see me here every day. Thanks for reading and good luck with your holiday preparations!

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 14

    Early fall routines are my favorite. The weather is still mild-ish, the days are a decent length, the summer people have left to go back to their lives, and I can go about my business in peace. I've grown to love this time of year and the simplification it brings with it. Because things have been unbearably yucky "out there," I've also been blocking out the world and focusing on my own tiny footprints. Here's what I've discovered:

    Thinking About:

    • Driving under 35 mph. I like driving slow. Every other person who lives in Massachusetts does not. When we moved out here I felt like I could relax into my normal driving mode -- slow and deliberate. Now that all the tourists are gone, I can putt-putt around at my own pace. It's so liberating!

    • The giant cockroach in my dream. It was enormous and kinda looked like a Devil's Purse. And, it is a good omen!: "Cockroaches are usually a good sign when they visit your dreams. They are the ultimate survivor of everything. This means you can survive anything too with a little integrity and tenacity. When they appear they bring messages of success through perseverance."

    • College. My niece is in the process of choosing where to go to college next year. It's gotten me thinking whether or not I would choose to go to the same school again. College is where I learned about the disparity in gender power, starting with the time a guy on my freshman floor picked me up, turned me upside down, and put me in a trash can. It was not empty. I was wearing a SKIRT. My second choice college was a Seven Sister and I've often thought it may have been the better choice

    Thankful For:

    • October is the new August. The amazing weather we've had lately has been such a gift! I cannot believe I have been wearing shorts and flip flops -- even into the evening, after the sun has gone down. 

    • Walking in soft sand again. It's been about two years since I've been able to do this. My particular injury, which causes my chronic pain, makes it difficult to maneuver on less than solid ground. But I am being super careful, taking slow steps, and engaging my core the entire way. I'm nowhere near where I used to be, walking the coast for hours on end. But I am glad I can see some of my favorite spots again!

    Watching:

    • This video about performance artist, Butch Locsin. The bright skulls, colored smoke, and Mexican culture references are mesmerizing!

    • Robot Chicken's The Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking. Robot Chicken does a mean parody, no? We still break out with "Go for Papa Palpatine!" every now and then in this house -- and we've recently been singing "Go for Papadopoulus!" My favorite part of this one: The Negan dance.

    • Nobody Speak: Trials of The Free Press. When Gawker first started, I read it every single day! But this doc isn't really about Gawker. It's about depraved individuals with money and a vendetta. Scared the pants off me!

    • The Bold Type. I wasn't planning to watch this show because I thought it would be annoying in the way that Girls was annoying. BUT I read that there was an episode on genetic testing and hereditary cancer that was really good. After I finished that one, I immediately backed up to episode one and watched the rest of them. I especially love the boss, Jacquelyn. She is everything that I wish I had in my early career -- encouragement, support, mentorship, an easy sense of style. With the exception of one person, it wasn't until later in my career that I had female bosses like her. (And also for the record, I am more of a Nancy Meyers person, than a Nora Ephron person.)

    Creating:

    • A personal health journal. I've never been one to keep a journal. Tons and tons of lists, yes, but hand-written journals, no. This may seem odd because this space is basically that. I bought a great journal and a super cute pen or two. I kept notes while I was going through the worst of my pain and was able to find interesting patterns. Now that I am on a new health journey, I'm using the same concept to keep track of things.

    • My sparkly light up unicorn Halloween costume. Oh boy! I was SO excited about this! There were sequins, sparkly materials, light up parts, and an awesome wig. As we walked to Tea Dance, lots of people took our photo.

    Reading:

    • "Trollhattan" in Granta. An intriguing and totally disturbing article about a murder spree at a school in Sweden, where murder sprees don't happen.

    • "Dirty John." OK, I actually listened to this, rather than read it but LORDY is it a terrible story. So addictive, too!

    • "Our Minds Can Be Hijacked: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia." This has become a bit of an obsession of mine and I'm tossing around the idea of giving up Facebook and Twitter entirely in 2018. I've already removed the apps from my phone, which has helped me cut back on my time there a lot.

    Listening:

    • Katy Tur's Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat the Craziest Campaign in American History audiobook. If you want to know what it is like to be confused and abused by Trump, this is it. I'd totally hang out with Katy -- she swears a lot, owns her mistakes, and wasn't cowed by the Abuser in Chief. 

    • A Killing on the Cape podcast. I have been enthralled by the murder of Christa Worthington in Truro since it happened. As you can imagine, having it occur so close to where we live, and with people we see from time to time around town as characters connected to her story, make it even more compelling. The first two episodes of the podcast are out -- they do a great job describing life out here on the edge. 

    • Midnight Pool Party. "Because disco will never die." If you need to add more upbeat positive dance-y music to your life, download a few of these! This is one of my favorites.

    • The Junot Díaz episode of the On Being podcast. These gut-punchy words: "I’m a child of blackness. Blackness was not meant to survive, and we have survived. And we have thrived. And we’ve given this world more genius than we have ever received." 

    • Tanika Jones' Soul Run. This has become my laundry-folding soundtrack. You'll be singing and bopping about while you fold your socks!

    • The Larry Summers episode of the Freakonomics podcast. I'm pretty sure I am one of the few Larry Summers enthusiasts in the world. He became president of Harvard shortly after I started working there and, despite his many stupid comments, he made an otherwise stuffy world pretty darn interesting. I forgot how loud he talked (even in elevators) and about that curious cadence he uses with a bunch of words shoved out his mouth in spurts. Anyway, Larry is brilliant -- even if he is offensive. Fascinating listen.

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Sweet potatoes. I've been baking a sweet potato for lunch almost every day since fall begin. I've been cutting it in thirds and trying different toppings on it. So far, tahini, white beans/garlic, honey/red pepper flakes, and butter with cinnamon are my favorites. I also bought this potato scrubber to help with my daily fix.

    • Apple and cinnamon water. For real. Cut up two apples and add two cinnamon sticks to 2 liters of water. Let it sit in the frig for an hour or so and you've got an incredible fall-ish drink.

    •  "A Cabinet Full of Crunch."  "If you’ve ever put away an entire bag of salt and vinegar chips in one sitting, know that you’re not alone—but also know it’s not totally your fault." Finally, absolution!

    • Ghee. We've been using it as a substitute for butter on our morning toasted goodies and in our air fryer. I'm still not sure if it is better for you or not.

    Learning:

    • New words.
      -anodyne. adjective. not likely to provoke dissent or offense
      -calumny. nounthe making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone's reputation; slander
      -kakistocracy. nouna system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens

    • The Hustle. My sister and I had this awesome disco album and we would do The Hustle in the living room, while we played the record on the giant furniture-sized record player (which is forever linked to a scar I have on my right foot when I misjudged the amount of space I needed to complete a cartwheel.) It's a great time for a refresher!

    Hygge-ing:

    • Love this Basic 7 for Autumn: "More sleeping, reading, hiking, reflection, soup, movies, night skies." I think that about covers it, don't you?

    • Adding extra blankets to the bed. Even with the warm days, it's still getting somewhat cool at night. I started sleeping so much better after I put on that extra comforter!

    • SmartWool socks. I pick up a few year-round when they go sale on Zulily. They are the best socks for warmth without that gross sweating thing that happens.

    Loving:

    • My October horoscope.  Unless you are a Pisces, you are probably not going to care at all about this but I will tell you it is totally accurate. Fellow Pisceans, take note!:

      "Since September 9, 2016, Jupiter has been in Libra and your eighth house of intimacy, intensity, privacy and psychological processing. You've been in some form of energetic cave or cocoon, doing a lot of deep emotional work.

      ... From October 10, 2017, until November 8, 2018, Jupiter will be in Scorpio, a compatible fellow water sign that rules your ninth house of travel, learning, entrepreneurship and global connections. Visionary ideas could take flight ...

       Jupiter only visits this part of your chart every 12 years ... so don't squander this bohemian cycle, during which you're invited to roam free, explore and experiment. This is a year to take risks and try new things without locking yourself into any one particular direction.

      Consider the next 13 months to be "field research" for when Jupiter moves into your structured tenth house next November. Then you'll be ready to choose a defined path. And you'll be so glad you crossed a few things off your bucket list beforehand!"

    • Instagram's Collections. I recently read that Instagram is the most psychologically damaging form of social media. But it's always been my favorite. I find it inspiring to see what other people photograph and I use it as a mini-blog to keep track of things I do each day. I was so excited when they made it possible for you to save other people's photos and then double-ly thrilled when they made it possible to organize those photos into collections. I have ones for book recommendations, places on the Cape I want to visit, food that looks amazing, adorable animal videos, and a whole host of other inspirational ideas. I've also found better communities here for my different issues than anywhere else on the interwebs.

    Eliminating:

    • The li.st app. RIP. I forgot I used to post weekly "20 Things I Googled This Week." Here's my full archive.

    • Facebook Ads. Aren't you totally livid about how Facebook manipulates us? If you go to settings and find the ads section, you can see all the things they've collected on you. You can also DELETE most of it AND change your settings. It takes some time to do but I feel so much better after clearing it all out. (ALSO! Check out the "Is Facebook Spying on You?" episode of Reply All and it's accompanying instructions: "How to Avoid Being Tracked by Facebook.")

    Expanding:

    • Hitting every beach in Truro. These amazing weather days have made it possible for Stephen and I to go on daily exploration adventures. We're in the process of visiting all the beaches in Truro before it gets too breezy and chilly to do so. One of the weird things about town-owned beaches out here is that in most towns you have to be a resident or staying in the town to visit their beaches in the summer months. But off-season is free game!

    • Getting a library card. I don't have one and that is disgraceful -- especially since our town library has been ranked in the no. 1 spot for libraries it's size for a number of years!

    Planning + Organizing: 

    • "The New Decluttering Trend is Called Swedish Death Cleaning and We Tried It." I'm pretty sure my Nana did this for decades. It's kind of extreme but I'm certain we've all thought about what might be left behind.

    • Changes to my Life List. When I first made one it was enormous. A few years later, I published an edited version. But lately, I've really been interested in more meaningful things -- meaningful to me that is -- and less adventures out in the world. I'm not sure I'll publish a new list but here are the kinds of things I've been thinking about: foster/adopt more rescue dogs; share my story; contribute to medical research; make art in public spaces; be a writer.

    Fur Mama-ing: 

    • Safety orange gear. You can hunt on Cape Cod National Seashore land. Like most of the year. I'm terrified of getting shot so Stephen and I have some bright orange gear that we wear. He and I both have vests. And I have a knit cap.

    • Cape Cod Dog Squad. I stumbled upon this amazing dog specialist's Instagram feed and I am so sad that she doesn't take dogs from Provincetown for her daily pack retreats. Stephen would have a blast swimming in the ponds, hiking the trails, and hanging out with all those dogs!

    Resisting:

    • Don't you feel like this year has been one long Hogwart's Sorting Ceremony? We're seeing people take their place in Slytherin every single day. I can't keep up with the Twitter accusations, firings, resignations, indictments (ok, THOSE, I'm all over.) It's like karma was on vacation for a year and is just now cleaning out her email box. 

    • Critical Reading.
      Biden's Briefings. These are generally short (less than 10 minutes) and cover a wide range of topics. Joe hand-picks them so you know they are good!

      Eminem finding the words to express what we all have been feeling. Brilliant and so deeply angry. 

      "Harvard Students Tell Us What They're Learning from Sean Spicer." "My proudest moment as press secretary was getting the opportunity to give people tours of the White House."
    • Action.
      Take down Paul Ryan. "We can take that gavel from his little tax-cutting, Ayn Rand-loving hands and we can send him packing!"

      Subscribe to the Fight Fire with Phire: A Daily Digest for the Overwhelmed newsletter. I've been weeding through all those political newsletters and alerts I signed up for months ago and limiting them to the ones that are informative and positive. This one is a keeper!

    Extra Credit:

    Stay strong, everybody! Until next time.

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 13

    These days it doesn't take much to send me back under the covers, googling medical terms, and hiding from the world. Last week was grey and super windy as Hurricane Jose twirled and whirled just off the Cape. This week it's 80 something degrees and humid. Everything seems disjointed, out of season, and just off. Even the things that usually soothe my soul, like snuggling with my boo or planning our next trip to a warm place, aren't working. Writing often helps. So here goes ...

    Thinking About:

    • The devastation in the Caribbean. One of my Facebook friends was on the first flight to PR. I cheered her on as she posted photos of gathering her mother and bringing her right back to Boston. She shared a video of everyone clapping when the plane took off. It was the first bit of good news out of Puerto Rico that I've seen. Please, please help if you can. Here are some resources:

      -Watch this list of Caribbean tourism updates. Best way to support their recovery is to go visit when they are up and running. We usually bring donations with us in our suitcases (a lot of resorts have "pack with purpose" programs so you can bring exactly what is needed in each area.)
      -How to Help Victims of Hurricane Maria
      -What You Can Do to Help the Caribbean Now -- and Later.
      -Give to The Sato Project. Before we found Stephen, the Mr. and I put in an application for a sato named Muffin who had been rescued by this group. Muffin ended up being adopted by her foster mom and we were rewarded with His Cuteness, Stephen. But I've continued to follow the efforts of this incredible rescue group.
    • This tweet from Anne Lamott: "Don't let anyone get you to hate them." Just sit with that a moment. 
    • When things come into your life just when you need them. It's amazing, isn't it? I'm going to have to be cryptic here (at least for now) but I was listening to a podcast that I listen to only occasionally and at the very end was an interview with someone who had just gone through what I was currently grappling with. I cried. And then I followed all the breadcrumbs left for me in that interview and found my way through some of the struggle. 

    Thankful For:

    • My Cape Cod medical team. When I lived in Boston, I lived RIGHT NEXT to the best hospital in the US and was surrounded by the best medical professionals anywhere. But I rarely needed them. Fast-forward to our move to the Cape, and all of a sudden I needed doctors and specialists for all sorts of issues. I've amassed a team of thirteen now and every single one of them is TERRIFIC! There's something about the care that is a little more accessible here, a little less factory-ish. I get more than 3 minutes with them (swear to God, one appointment I had with a dermatologist at MGH was less than that -- and included her freezing something off my head!). And they are getting to know me as a person, not just my medical needs.

    Watching:

    • This video for Above & Beyond's "My Own Hymn." I kind of want to live inside it! And I highly recommend all of Above & Beyond's music when you need to feel some positivity in your life. Someday I will go see them live.

    • Gaga: Five Foot Two. I watched this the day it came out. I am grateful I do not have a chronic illness like she does, but I do have chronic pain. I am amazed by her artistry, the way her mind works, and how much of an inspiration she is to people. She suffers, though. It's tough to watch.

    • The Sinner, Top of the Lake: China Girl, and The Five. What a triumvirate of intriguing murder mysteries! Line 'em up for some good binge-watching.

    Creating:

    • My chronic pain library. I've been busy behind the scenes writing content for the chronic pain section on this site and have just published a resource list. I spent so much of the past two years figuring things out on my own and would like to share this with people who need it. There's more to come, including my own pain story, how I manage "painsomnia," a list of tiny lifestyle changes that have added up to big impacts for me, travelling with chronic pain, and other topics.

    Reading:

    • Dangerous Boobies. There's nothing funny about cancer. But this young woman makes the fear of getting cancer very real and actually very funny. While I chuckled through her book, I cried through her docuseries, "Screw You Cancer." I also recommend you read "Know Your Body, Know Your Risk, Know Your Plan" to figure out what you need to do now to get on top of breast and ovarian cancer. 

    • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I've only just started this but I am finding it mesmerizing. I always thought surfing would be an amazing thing to do, but I'm terrified of sharks. And those jerks are all over the place out here. One was only 10 FEET from the shoreline last week. That's two of me!

    • Moominsummer Madness. Did you read the Moomin books when you were a kid? It's kooky and kinda weird but I just love those plump Moomins.

    Listening:

    • The audiobook version of Hillary Clinton's What Happened. Oh boy! What to say? I felt like I needed to hear her read me this story so I opted for the audiobook. You can really tell what pisses her off the most. I was especially compelled by the chapters on the Russian intervention. I've always deeply admired her, have been in her corner, and will continue to be, no matter what anyone else says.

    • Sincerely, X podcast. These are anonymous TEDtalks! The stories are potentially dangerous or embarrassing or hurtful to the people telling them so the identities of the storytellers are protected. 

    • Grapefruit Sound Lab. These guys came to Ptown this summer (I missed them when I was in NYC.) I love their 80s New Wave sound!

    Eating + Drinking:

    Learning:

    • New words.
      -revanche -- noun. revenge; especially a political policy designed to recover lost territory or status
      -discorectangle -- noun. Or, a stadium, is a two-dimensional geometric shape constructed of a rectangle with semicircles at a pair of opposite sides

    • Being Fearless Conference from Omega Institute. After 9/11, I went to the first of these conferences in NYC. I saw amazing speakers like Carolyn Myss, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mia Farrow, and Valerie Plame Wilson. This year's is totally ONLINE and costs only $5! Here's the incredible line up: Van Jones, Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, Cornell West, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Opal Tometi, and more.

    Hygge-ing:

    • Yep we're done summering and are back to hygge-ing! Storm preparations seem to have cut short our deck time as we put stuff away a bit earlier than usual. Our tomato plants are just about done, some of my summer plants are turning, and the leaves are starting to accumulate in the yard. This year, though, we have a LEAF BLOWER! No more raking and sweeping the deck!

    Loving:

    • Pouches designed by independent artists. A unique clutch can totally make a simple outfit extraordinary. Since I can no longer wear super fancy shoes, I've turned my attention to this little accessory. Here are a few that I found (and I bought the Frida Kahlo one in the large size!)


    Top from left to right:1. Cool Giraffe 2. Mid-Century Lime Green Minimalist Sunset 3. Frida Kahlo Portrait
    Middle from left to right 4. Surrealists 5. Orange in a Rainbow 6. Sunny Rainbow 
    Bottom from left to right 7. Indigo Floral 8. Hipster Hillary 9. Orange Split Sun

    Eliminating:

    • Wedding ring rash. A couple of years ago I started to develop a rash under my wedding bands. Apparently, it's pretty common. For me it usually happens when I'm not careful washing my hands and get soap stuck under there. I have to go without my rings for a bit and I've found a little Lucas Papaw Ointment on the rash helps.

    • Noise. I'm super sensitive to noise and finally bought myself some industrial strength noise-blocking ear muffs. I wear them when I'm writing mostly, but sometimes for reading and sometimes just to give myself some space.

    Expanding:

    • New FitBit. The Mr. bought upgraded our Fitbits and I have to say I love being able to see how much of each type of sleep I've gotten. The other night I spent 28% of my time in REM sleep and woke up feeling super refreshed! Wish I could figure out how to make that a nightly thing.

    Planning + Organizing:

    • My Three-Day Reading Marathon Retreat. I did not plan ahead well enough on this one. Originally, I was hoping to recreate the reading vacations I used to have in the summer. When we lived in Boston and we'd come to my moms' place here in Ptown for vacation, I always arrived with a tote bag filled with books. I would read 10 in a two-week period. Now I barely read 10 in a year. I also didn't have more than three days in a row in the summer that didn't have obligations. Turns out I'll be having some enforced down time shortly, which may lend itself very well to a reading "retreat."

    Fur Mama-ing:

    • Easy Walk Harness. Stephen, all 28 lbs. of him, used to be a nightmare to walk. He'd pull constantly on his harness, like a sled dog trying to get to whatever was in his sights at the moment (usually a squirrel or a seagull.) I switched out his usual harness for this one, which attaches in the front, and we have not had a problem since! It completely changed our walking experience. 

    • Early greying. So Stephen is just about 4 years old and his muzzle is greying. It's on my list to discuss with the vet next month at this annual visit but I, of course, checked it out online. Turns out greying before 4 is common in anxious, reactive dogs. Stephen is most definitely NOT that. (As I write this he is four paws in the air on his back, snoozing away.) In any case, I read that playing light classical music is very soothing to dogs. Turns out Stephen loves it and we both have super chill days when the music is on.

    Resisting:

    • My finger hovered over the "deactivate account" button on Facebook again. My latest frustrations were around the fact that I saw very few posts about the healthcare battle or the lack of attention on the plight of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. BUT people came out of the woodwork to share their opinions about the NFL protest. Did this happen on your feed too or is it just mine? 

    • "The First White President." Ta-Nehisi Coates is right again.

    • Hellbent podcast. You all know I LOVE my Crooked Media guys but sometimes they can just be a little too, you know ... bro-ish. The ladies at Hellbent give the same kind of commentary with just a little less of that guy thing.

    Extra Credit:

    Thanks for reading! I hope to be back here soon with more recommendations and distractions!

     

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 12

    Um, Summer? Where did you go?? My favorite season whizzed right by this year and I'm not quite sure what happened. In years past I spent the end of Labor Day Weekend sobbing on the boat back to Boston but now that we live here, I am ELATED that we have Townie Summer (you all call it fall) and we can get back to the small town life cadence after the crowds.

    Thinking About:

    • Surviving the chaos. It's been all-consuming lately, hasn't it? It takes an enormous amount of energy and effort to keep the current insanity from burning up all that is good in our world. Our brains and spirits need time and space to heal. I've been fantasizing about living an off-the-grid life like Aziz Ansari. Short of that, I've made significant changes in what I allow into my life and it has helped:

      I've hunkered down -- spending time with people I like, spoiling my dog, tending to my plants, and enjoying my natural surroundings.

      I took Twitter off my phone. No more scrolling through other people's panic.

      I massively limited what shows up in my Facebook feed. The truth: I unfollowed 75% of what was in my feed. It's down to mostly videos of dogs.

      We started watching Frasier re-runs instead of the news. I get my information elsewhere and in small doses.

      I've reintroduced daily dance parties into my routine.

      I've figured out what I would normally be spending my time and energy on if things were normal and just do that.

      What are you guys doing to keep your lives from imploding these days??     
    • My inner city mouse. Part of my hunkering down has included staying in Provincetown as much as possible. I hate leaving it. Last month, however, I went to NYC with my sister, niece, and one of her besties. I had some time in Boston and was able to reconnect with that part of myself that loved that life. I don't miss it, oddly, but I do appreciate the ability to go somewhere, be surrounded by people, and still be anonymous. I loved that. Here, everyone knows everyone. There is no privacy. But I wouldn't trade this for anything -- even if I have replaced alerts on my phone for the next red line train with alerts for the latest great white shark sightings.

    Thankful For:

    • Living in a town with a pet-friendly emergency shelter. I cannot imagine how terrifying it is to have to leave your home in order to save your life. And I cannot even begin to fathom how devastating it would be to have no place to go with your pets. The photos from Houston and the Caribbean have been incomprehensible. I just can't get my mind around the tragedy, and the heroism, and the ENORMITY of it all. I've started updating our disaster plans and have focused on this helpful resource: Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets.

    • Stephen's morning squad. Because the afternoons have been too warm for my little boo, we've been heading to the dog park each morning. We found the most wonderful pack of local dogs that hang out there at a certain time. I LOVE watching them play, Stephen has a blast, and the people there are fun. Even if I'm in a mood when we pull into the parking lot, I'm always lighthearted and joyful when I leave. 

    Watching:

    • Okja. I sobbed throughout this whole film. SOBBED. The whole 120 minutes. Bonus that Steve Yeun is in it and I loved reading about his experience in this film! 

    • Jim Carrey: I Needed Color. I'm jealous of this man's brain. Imagine being so unencumbered by norms that you get to be super freaking funny AND an amazing artist! I especially love his sculpture, which isn't featured as prominently in this short video. Look for it!

    • This video of blue whales feeding. At the top of my bucket list is "See a blue whale." I'm not sure if I'll ever be lucky enough to see one.

    • Schlock. I've been glued to my set watching junk TV this summer: Siesta Key (not quite Laguna Beach but I'll take it), Below DeckBachelor in Paradise (Dean is a dog), Famously Single, and The Challenge (how about that Veronica and Rachel news?) As they say, hashtag sorry not sorry.

    Creating:

    Reading:

    Listening:

    • The "Rachel Maddow Fixed the Piña Colada" episode from The Sporkful. Rachel has some very specific ideas about cocktail garnishes! Here is her piña colada recipe. 

    • Local Provincetown Summer DJ Chris Hamilton's Disco House mixes on Mixcloud. Set 1 and Set 2. For when you just need to bust a move. And for when you want to bust a move while washing the dishes: RuPaul's Essential, Vol. 2 on Apple Music.

    • The Maggie Haberman episode on Longform podcast. Surprising. She's not what I imagined. But I did clearly get the burden that she carries being the person that Trump will talk to in the press. A fascinating listen!

    • Moon Boots' First Landing. I'm a fan of most everything on the Anjunadeep label. This one has been my poolside soundtrack lately.

    • Afropop Worldwide podcast. Even though this has been around for awhile, I just discovered it. I'm catching up on all the episodes featuring music in the Caribbean or any sort of reggae. The episode, "Island Divided", is especially interesting and discusses the painful history between the two nations on the island of Hispaniola, Haiti and the DR.

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Truro Vineyards Rosé. Finally, a wine that both the Mr. and I --and pretty much anyone else we've ever served it to -- like. It's straight down the middle -- not too dry, not too sweet. Just right!

    • The Mr.'s blueberry handpies and tomato jam (made with ingredients from our own garden). He has been making these all summer and they are delicious!! 

    • Trader Joe's Coffee Syrup. I am guessing there are a ton of things you can do with this. But I just pour it over vanilla ice cream. Sometimes, I add a little chocolate syrup for a mocha effect. SO FREAKING GOOD.

    • Halva and tahini from Seed + Mill. Friends, if you are in NYC, brave the crowds at Chelsea Market to find this little stand in the corner. Or, just order some online.

    • Swedish sweets from Sockerbit. Raspberry rhubarb skulls, strawberry and vanilla twist licorice, rainbow sour patch ribbon. Do not -- and I cannot stress this enough -- DO NOT even think about trying the salty licorice

    Learning:

    • New words: 
      abecedarian -- adj. arranged alphabetically; noun. a person who is just learning; a novice.
      cavil -- verb. make petty or unnecessary objections
      heresiarch -- noun. the founder of a heresy or the leader of a heretical sect. (from this amazing interview with Roxane Gay.)

    • "When Your Plane's Engine Catches on Fire." I was once asked to be the "fire marshal" for my office. It came with a red hat, a clipboard, and responsibility for everyone else. I declined, telling them that they would see that red hat running away down Mass Ave before they even knew something was wrong. Sharing this with all of you so you don't get in my way. 

    Summering:

    • My new favorite sunscreen for when you don't want to feel like you are wearing sunscreen. It's a Japanese import so it takes a few extra days to ship (although you still get free shipping with Amazon Prime). I carry it around in my bag and use it when I'm walking around town or at the pool. (It's not waterproof in any way so you must reapply regularly if you are a swimmer.)

    • First pedicab ride in town. Ever. And then my second. Third and fourth. Not sure what took me so long since I was always a let's-get-a-cab person when I lived in the city.

    • I never got a beach pass. Which means I haven't been to the National Seashore during the day since the end of June. And it's the first time I've been without one since the 90's! With the parking lot mangled, I just didn't feel like fighting the crowds this year. And we have plenty of shoreline on this side of town.

    • Pontoon boat. FINALLY, we rented one! The Mr. had a gaggle of his college friends and their families here for a day and we all went out and puttered around the harbor. I would totally do that again and, honestly, I'm not quite sure why we never rent boats. Probably the same reason I never got that beach pass. 

    Loving:

    • That eclipse. I will admit I had NO intention of looking at that eye-burning apocalyptic event. The Mr. got a bunch of special glasses and left one for me, just in case. Curiosity made the cat go blind, as they say, and I couldn't resist peaking at it. SO FREAKING COOL! And while you were all listening to Bonnie Tyler, Stephen and I had this on repeat.

    • My Prime Day purchase. The Mr. bought an Echo (which I refuse to speak to. Cylons.) and a new Kindle Fire. Me? I bought a FAN! And I love it more than anything!! It's trained right on me when I go to sleep.

    • SFMOMa's "Send Me" Art by text. So clever and a great way to see some art. Favorites so far are "Caribbean" and "Aqua." 

    Eliminating:

    • Ticks. One morning I woke up and found a TICK attached to the back of my skull. So freaking gross! Luckily I had just seen the short film, Tick Days, and knew about the tick testing they do at UMass. I also knew I had just two weeks to have the best opportunity to treat potential Lyme disease. Those guys turned it around quickly and sent me an email with all the info. My tick had NO diseases. WHEW! Check out this article on climate change and the spread of Lyme disease. And for tips on how to keep yourself safe, read this.

    • So I guess we're not going to Mexico any time soon. Murder rates up in 2017, reports of tainted alcohol at some all-inclusives, photos in my Facebook groups of armed guards roaming the beaches in PDC, new safety guidelines at the airport for all flights into the US necessitating a 3 hour pre-flight arrival time (its already a fustercluck), and the recent addition of Quintana Roo to the State Department warnings (Also, what State Department? Is anyone left to do these things properly?) I'm so disappointed. And I blame that jerk in the White House.

    • Decluttering Burst. This is a really cool idea. The goal is to get rid of 100 things (10 from your junk drawer, 10 from the medicine closet, etc.) I'm setting aside some time this month to do it!

    Expanding:

    • You may have noticed a design change around here. It took me maybe 20 minutes to complete. Virb, who hosts my site, makes it so very easy to manage these types of changes. Let me know what you think of the new look!

    Planning + Organizing

    • Second Summer (aka Townie Summer, aka Local Summer). I'm thinking about doing a whole post on this because the months of September and October are the BEST out here at the edge of the world. It stays warm-ish, the sun is pure brilliance, and the crowds thin down from a if-one-more-stroller-pops-in-front-of-me-I-am-going-to-lose-it to oh-look-a-parking-space levels. Check out my "This Month" at the bottom of the page for a glimpse at what just September looks like for us!

    Fur Mama-ing: New section for all you fellow dog mamas and papas out there!

    • This simple attachment that makes it easy to rinse off the sand and saltwater after Stephen swims. We have two of these and it has made our lives so much easier. When you live at the beach, your dog gets wet and sandy pretty much every day. Attach this to a 2 liter bottle filled with water. I leave them outside our door (water warms in the sun) and then transfer them to the car if we're heading out.

    • This poop bag holder attachment for walks. This is such a simple piece of plastic but it has made our walks to nowhere so much more pleasant. Instead of carrying Stephen's stinky poop bags on long walks (with no trashcans in sight), I attach it to this little contraption and have my hands free for the rest of the time (to take photos of course!)

    Resisting:

    Extra Credit:

     

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 11

    Summer, summer, summerTIME! Summertime! Can you feel it??? It's been glorious around here lately. Sun twinkling off the water. Honeysuckle wafting along our little clamshell path. Sandy toes all day long. Gardens in major bloom. (Speaking of, I need to up my container game. You should see some of the ones around town!). This is my season, friends, and I am bursting! 

    Thinking About:

    • Blocking out the noise. I read this account of someone who quit Facebook and I loved everything in it! And all of it happened within SEVEN DAYS. Last August I took a break from Facebook and Twitter and I got so much done. I made a list of 50 things I wanted to do before the end of that month and I managed to finish 30 of them before a flare-up took me out of the game.

      All that garbage in the larger world is dragging me down so I'm focusing on this wee speck of a place for the rest of the summer. I'm not quitting anything but putting Twitter on hiatus and checking in on Facebook maybe once a week will be helpful. I'm turning off the news and the TV in general. Getting back to writing, reading, listening (not giving up my podcasts!), and wandering around outside while the days are long suits me quite nicely.

    • Cultural appropriation. OK, this is a tough one. And, I have to admit, it's a topic that confuses me. They should call it cultural misappropriation. I watched this from Ijeoma Oluo and it made me question some of my own choices. I love embroidered tunics that are Mexican in style, but I get that buying them from J Crew is problematic. J Crew makes money, not the local artisan who learned how to embroider from her mother using methods and traditions passed down through generations. I know this is a million times more complicated than what I stated here so, if like me, you want to continue to learn more, here are a couple articles:
      -Food and cultural appropriation.
      -7 Things You Might Not Realize Are Cultural Appropriation That Are. 

    Thankful For:

    • Our morning visitors on our deck. There is this adorable chipmunk that comes to eat his breakfast every morning. OK, it's stuff I put out for him, but still. I love watching him stuff his cheeks and then scamper off. Which he does on a loop: stuff, scamper, stuff, scamper. I even forgive him for digging in my fuschia. And the birds -- bluejays, cardinals, catbirds, sparrows, nuthatches, tufted titmice, chickadees -- have started to gather on the deck, waiting patiently for their snacks to arrive. I've come to appreciate them all. They are like my little outdoor pets.

    Watching:

    • Films at the Provincetown Film Festival. For years I would buy a pass to the festival and marathon my way through as many films as I could (sometimes five in one day!) but last year's issues with pain changed all that. I missed the festival completely last year and I decided to take a more sensible approach this year and see only a few. Here's what I saw:

      -Lost in Paris. I just loved this film! So funny. So charming. Kinda a cross between Wes Anderson and Mr. Bean.

      -The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha was an icon of the LGBTQ movement and she was found dead in the Hudson River. The film follows an inquiry into what really happened to her, revealing some deep, deep ugliness towards transpeople, even among the gay community. Netflix bought this so you'll be able to watch it soon.

    • The Keepers. It's incredible storytelling and so, so painful. A murdered nun -- an unsolved case -- and tales of horrible abuse. And coverup. (If you have watched it, here are some things that have happened since the series premiered. SPOLIERS!)

    • Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King. I was wholly unprepared for how funny and deeply wise his standup commedy/Oprah-like opining would be. Set aside some quiet time so you can really listen to what he has to say.

    Creating:

    • A weekly morning walks post on The Gram. We recently switched up our routine so that I have Stephen's morning walk. I love the relative quiet (and I do mean relative) of the mornings here and I take photos of everything. There's such good stuff so I'll be posting a bunch of photos once a week to share what I find.

    • A list of movies I want to rewatch. I'm feeling the need to dive into the familiar and coccoon myself until the meanies go away. Amiright? Here's my summer comfort movie list so far: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pecker, Amelie, Saturday Night Fever, The First Wives Club, Funny Face, Monsoon Wedding, Remains of the Day, Lost in Translation.

    Reading:

    • Al Gore in Interview. "All I'm doing, all I have done for 40 years, is spend time with the best scientific experts, gain their confidence, and take advantage of their patience in explaining things to me over and over again in progressively simpler language that I can understand, so that I can read it back to them and get their sign off, where they say, 'Yep, that's it, Al. You've got it.'" 

    • "Eurovision Serenades a Continent in Crisis." Because I cannot let it go.

    • "12 Seconds of Gunfire." Take a deep breath before you read this. "In each shooting’s wake, the children and adults who die and those who murder them become the focus of intense national attention. Often overlooked, though, are the students who survive the violence but are profoundly changed by it."

    • "Rachel Maddow: The Rolling Stone Interview." She hangs out in Ptown.

    Listening:

    • Ezra Klein's interview with Masha Gesson on The Ezra Klein Show podcast. As much as anyone, I want the Russia thing to bring the whole sham of an administration down. Masha who is an expert on Putin and Russian stuff has a different perspective. Important listening.

    • Chromatics' "Cherry". Pang-inducing. So melancholy. So 80s. Like a John Hughes film.

    • Side Hustle School podcast. If you have any interest at all in starting your own little income stream, check this podcast out! Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Nonconformity tells us a 5-6 minute story every day about someone who started a side hustle -- from chicken saddles to fish tank reviews -- and makes additional income from it. 

    Eating + Drinking:

    • These delicious sticky rice chips. I am a big snacker and I especially love salty crispy and crunchy stuff. These little snacks are like the crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan. And they soak them in watermelon juice before crisping so they have a slightly sweet flavor. Really tasty!

    • The perfect crisps for your soft cheeses. They have thin slices of apricots in them. Super crunchy but with a bit of sweetness and perfect for a chevre or a St Andre. And for your summer snacks on the deck!

    Learning:

    • New word.
      -ostreaphile. noun. A lover of oysters.
    • The Alternative Tarot Course. I've still been drawing my daily card from my tarot app but I really want to learn how to do it myself. It's complicated and this course appeals to the rule-aversion part of me.

    Summering:

    • These essential items. Summer is my thing, as you all know, and I've invested a great deal of time and experience in finding just the right basics for the pool (or beach.) Here's what I'm using this summer:

      -the best sunscreen for your face, lips, and the rest of you 

      -the PERFECT beach/pool/resort bag. I have searched for years for just the right bag -- stylish, big enough to hold a ton of stuff, and water-resistant (I HATE when the pool drippage seeps into my bag when it's on the ground.) AND it folds into a small rectangle that you can easily pop in your suitcase but isn't flimsy like a Baggu. It's a super sturdy bag.

      - these waterproof zipper bags for organizing your stuff inside the above bag. I carry two: one for the messy stuff and one for the stuff that can get ruined by the messy stuff.

    • "Here's Why You Should Skip the Cheap Flip-Flops This Summer." See my last post with alternative suggestions for summer footwear.

    Loving:

    • "How to Apply Glitter Nail Polish the Right Way." Ohhhhh, that's how you do it?

    • Papa Velour. That man is everything. My heart was bursting watching his reactions to Sasha's performance (I had my hands in the air in touchdown formation every time she did a reveal, gasping from the awesomeness!). Follow Papa's Twitter

    • Writing Routines newsletter. Even if you aren't a writer, you might find this newsletter interesting. Lots of advice for when you need to write anything, which applies to most of us.

    • This somehow simple yet totally magical charcoal face cloth. I've noticed recently that it's harder to exfoliate my face -- it's both in need of regular attention (I guess cells don't turn over as quickly as we age) and more sensitive than ever.  I use this every day and I definitely feel like my skin is smoother because of it, and not red and raw.

    Eliminating:

    • Overpacking. I am a big believer in cross-packing (half my stuff, half the Mr.'s in each suitcase, just in case one goes missing) so I end up with twice the amount of stuff I need. This luggage audit article is helpful if you have the same problem.

    • Bone spur in the jaw! Again, file under "Why Don't They Tell You These Things?"  So it appears that after all that painful dental work, I have developed a bone spur which is growing out through my gum. If it doesn't correct itself, which apparently it can do after it just spontaneously and for no reason smooths over or it BREAKS OFF IN YOUR MOUTH, I head back to the oral surgeon for it to be filed down. 

    Expanding:

    • Dealing with webtroversion. I'm a total webtrovert (introvert in real life but extraverted online.) When I first started sharing more of myself on the original Juniper Disco, it would freak me out when I was talking to people and they would refer to something I wrote, as if we had had an actual conversation about it. I was taken aback, every single time: "Wait, I didn't tell you that! Oh, right, you read it on my blog." Still freaks me out.  

    Planning + Organizing:

    Resisting:

    • Seems there is SO much nastiness out there. The tax cut bill (some actually call it a "healthcare" bill.") The shooting at the Alexandria baseball field. The Investigation. Mitch McConnell's dangerously competent evilness. GROSS tweets. The fact that Russia is ok, but not Cuba (help me out on that one.) Jared Kushner's voice. But, all I want to do is read Roald Dahl books, watch Sliding Doors, and eat cheese dip. We all need a freakin' break from this!

    • Critical Reading.
      "A Couple of Reasons I've Been Depressed Lately." David Sedaris feels the same way we do about 45. He's just way funnier.

      "Why Donald Trump is Like This." "A lot is really explained by his self-image as a mischievous bad boy who gets in trouble but who has a certain charm to him, almost like a Dennis the Menace." Um, "CHARM?"

      "Power Causes Brain Damage." "Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury(!)—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view."

    • Action.
      Get digitally secure. So I recently got a notification that someone had my password and tried to log into my Google account. They blocked the bastard and quickly changed my password. So now I'm super paranoid. There are three steps listed in this newsletter you can take to make sure people aren't looking at your stuff. Jerks.

    Extra Credit:

    • George Church's narcolepsy.  "His condition has persuaded Church of the benefits of, even the need for, neurodiversity, meaning brains that work differently from most others. The world needs people with high-functioning autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder and, yes, narcolepsy, he has come to believe."

    • "Unanswered Questions About Tamerlan Tsarnaev." Like was he an FBI informant?

    • "America Made Me a Feminist." "But the American woman is told she can do anything and then is knocked down the moment she proves it." Paulina Porizkova's (the model, remember?) opinion piece is an eyeopener. I find myself thinking about what she has learned living in different countries about the power of women.

    Thanks for reading! Happy, happy SUMMER!!

     

     

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 10

    My dog, Stephen, regularly lifts his head up from a deep nap to stare at me when I am writing. If I ignore him, he climbs on my lap and kisses my face. I'm guessing there is some sort of biological change in me when I get in the writing flow that he senses and DOES NOT LIKE. I've had to endure many face kisses to write this post -- a sacrifice I willingly take to bring you interesting tidbits!

    Thinking About:

    • Dare I say it? Optimism. Friends, I'm wondering if you all felt a shift in the world when 45 announced he was pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement (or is it an Accord?) ? Or maybe the shift was really in the following moments when humanity condemned him and those who had the ability, pledged their money and their resources to ignoring him and moving on with what the rest of us need to do. For me, that was THUNDEROUS. The moment when I realized: he does not matter. It was so freeing! 

      Confused about what happened? Me, too. Until I read this. But I take GREAT comfort in that last line: “It’s when the whale spouts that he gets harpooned.”

      And, you better believe I am making Comey testimony snacks and drinks this morning. The albatross around our American neck may soon be nevermore. (Hashtag literary bird allusions.)

    • The bombing in Manchester. I'm experiencing such a strong reaction to this. Those of us who lived in Boston in 2013 know exactly what that city is going through right now. While the world moves on, it's just starting for them. The feeling of your safe space being violated, a strong urge to reclaim it, and the realization that it will never be the same. There will never be a Manchester for them without that bomb.

    Thankful For:

    • The Provincetown Fire Department. Just before we crossed the bridge on our way back from my niece's dance recital Memorial Day Weekend, I started getting photo texts from our friends -- each one scarier than the last. A fire broke out at a restaurant in the center of our town and quickly spread to three others. Ptown is mostly made up of wooden buildings and are as close as they can possibly be to each other. And our fire department is entirely volunteer. They managed to keep the fire from spreading any further, but in the end those four businesses were destroyed. Our town rallies around its own, and with the help of our community, most people have found jobs elsewhere and money is being raised to help all those affected. 

    Watching:

    • First of all, why is all the good stuff being released at the same time?? And just as summer is starting?? I'm dipping in and out of so many shows right now but I did manage to finish the new season of House of Cards. It's no longer shocking, given, well you know, but it is still seriously good drama!

    • All the President's Men. I've watched this film several times but somehow it never sunk in just how much time it took to unravel the Watergate details and just how many people didn't believe there was any there there. Worth a re-watch!

    • National Bird. This doc about the US drone program and the impact it has on the pilots who fly them (and who also drop the bombs on the people they see from the sky) is pretty intense. One woman in the film stated, "I lost part of my humanity since working in the US Drone program." It's a tough one to watch. 

    • King Charles III. Based on the Broadway play, this adaptation imagines what will happen if/when Prince Charles finally takes the throne. It's BRUTAL. And the actor who plays Prince Williams looks a lot like Jared Kushner. 

    • This Eurovision gem from 2007. I can't stop watching these Eurovision videos on Youtube! This one is SPECTACULAR!

                  Creating:

                  • An update on my disco ball necklaces. I've been so slow in getting these off the ground. I did find a source for the perfect size disco balls and am learning how to make my own beads. My goal is to get a few up on Etsy to sell by the end of the month.

                  Reading:

                  Listening:

                  • The "Lea in Trumpland" episodes on the Strangers podcast. While I am kinda tired about all the focus on the Trump voters, I've been mesmerized by the first two episodes. Lea is fearless, swears when necessary, but she listens and is straight about her own opinions. It's everything you want those Facebook discussions to be, BEFORE they devolve into but-her-emails/he's-an-asshole barb trading. 

                  • Al Franken's new (audio)book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. He crushes Ted Cruz. CRUSHES.

                  • All the music in the second season of Master of None. I'm purposefully working my way through this season because it is SO GOOD. That dating episode? Genius! And the music is spot on. 

                  Eating + Drinking:

                  • Salads and Spritzs. I just started taking a medication with a lengthy list of possible side effects including weight GAIN. I mean, can I get a break here, please? So it's salads and spritzs for me this summer.

                    I'm thinking this might be my Summer 2017 drink, the spritz liscio:  "Simply add a splash of homemade syrup or fruit liqueur to a base of white wine and soda, and garnish with abandon." Also this grapefruit spritz sounds yummy.

                    And I recently bought Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists (based on the blog) and consulted the NYT Cooking complete guide on "How To Make a Salad" for inspiration. The Mr. discovered this delicious salad dressing, Panera's Asian Sesame Vinaigrette Dressingwhich I am practically chugging straight from the bottle.

                  Learning:

                  • New words.
                    -manufactory = noun. a factory (Oh, ok. Why not just use "factory"?)
                    -vitrine = noun. a glass display case

                  • About California Prop 65 warnings. So maybe I'm the last one to the party again, given the passage of the bill in 1986, but I am now learning to look for these warnings on food and things like shampoo that I buy online. Amazon shares this: "California's Proposition 65 entitles California consumers to special warnings for products that contain chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm if those products expose consumers to such chemicals above certain threshold levels."

                  Summering:

                  Loving:

                  • Kishu charcoal water purifier. This is the water bottle fix I've been looking for for years! We drink a lot of water in this house, but we buy water in (gasp!) plastic jugs. Even though we recycle like a boss, I feel so guilty about all those plastic bottles. But NOW I just pop one of these into a pitcher and fill it with tap water. They last for four months (if you boil them once a month) and come in four different sizes, including ones for your pet's water dish and your water bottle. And after four months, you can reuse it to absorb odors in your frig or break it apart and put it in your garden!

                  • Jet Set Sarah. Let me give you several reason why she's one of my favorites on The Gram! 1) She travels all over the Caribbean to resorts FOR A LIVING. 2) She wears the coolest brightly colored clothes! 3) She's letting her hair gray naturally, too. We're twinsies. Check her out!

                  • Cucia Earth lava pumice stone. Again, I'm trying to keep my pedicures to a minimum. This pumice stone is the best I've found!

                  Eliminating:

                  • The brown stuff on our baking sheets. For sometime now, we've used the quarter-size pans from Williams-Sonoma. Perfect for our just-the-two-of-us needs and you can fit two side by side in the oven. But that brown stuff is so hard to remove. So I tried this. And it works!!

                  Expanding:

                  • eBates. Are you guys using this yet?? My theory is that companies are already tracking your browsing and buying activity on their site so you might as well get paid for it. If you are really savvy, you can get cash back on hotel rooms, all your holiday gifts, and extra cash if you wait for double savings. I've received about $100 since December. And what is even better, if you use this link, we both get money!

                  • Our salsa garden. The Mr. and I planted tomatoes and peppers in the garden beds in the back of our home. We went with a variety of different types since we have no idea how well they will do here. Our soil is pretty sandy, as you can imagine. I'm also in the process of junglefying our deck for the summer. I'm pretty psyched with how it is going!

                  Planning + Organizing:

                  • SUPER SILVER SUMMER REDUX (or #silversummer2)! Summer planning as an adult is an art. If you live in a northern climate, it's really hard to squeeze in all the fun things you can only do when it's warm, yet somehow leave enough space for completely unstructured time. If you've followed this space for awhile, you know I used to do extensive lists and have never, ever completed a single summer list. That won't keep me from trying! Here's this year's in visual form.

                  Resisting:

                  Extra Credit:

                   

                  Thanks so much for reading! See you back here in a few weeks! 

                   

                   

                   

                • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 9

                  It's amazing how much happens in two weeks (OK, three weeks) these days. George Jetson tried to tell us what the future would be like and I find myself yelling, "JANE! Stop this crazy thing!" at least once a day. 

                  Note a few changes in this space:
                  1) "Hyggeing" is temporarily changed to "Summering" for obvious reasons, and
                  2) I added an "Extra Credit" section to the bottom to capture all the interesting bits that don't fit into my fixed categories. 

                  Thinking About:

                  • Being closer to 50 than 40. I learned a lot of interesting science factoids when I worked at the Harvard Medical School. One of the most pertinent pieces of information gleaned from that era is that we experience "aging spurts" -- just like a growth spurt, the opposite happens. 

                    The past 18 months have been one giant leap forward from relative youth and health to no-one-told-me-THIS-would-happen aging. It's lead to all sorts of change adjustments, like accepting that I can't go for long walks on the beach like I used to or that the ease of never thinking about how you are feeling is gone forever. It's also made this health care debacle very real. As we age, things break. It happens to all of us so thinking about health as some sort of stasis is ridiculous. What is immoral, wrong, evil, and just plain douche-y is believing that people who need help paying for health care (um, MOST of us) aren't deserving of assistance because it is their fault somehow. The GOP is soaked in their denial of privilege and leaving little drips of it all over our democracy. More on those bastards later.

                    And in case we all need to find alternative health care, read these articles: 
                    -"When the American Medical System Failed Us, We Turned to Mexico."
                    -"Innovative Medical Treatments in Mexico."
                    -
                    "In Jamaica, a Push to Market Island Getaways -- with a Side of Surgery." 

                    Also, for the record, I would like it to be known that two doctors have told me in the past couple of months that they thought I was 35. (My first thought was, "AWESOME!" My second: "Wait. Didn't you look at my records??")

                  Thankful For:

                  • The opportunity to watch Louis Masai create a mural in our town. Sometimes I am amazed by the talent that this tiny little town attracts (like Randy Rainbow who is coming in August! Start thinking about what I should say to him. I don't want to look like a weird fangirl.) Definitely check out his work online and, if you are in town, drop by the Harbor Hotel to check it out yourself.

                  • Our safe haven. There are a couple of local blogs that I read and this one post, "A Tumult of Emotions -- Spring 2017," is really helpful in understanding how our community is impacted by 45's administration and how Ptown has always been a safe place for people who have been ostracized.

                  Watching:

                  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I may be the only one who hasn't read this book, but after seeing the film, I'm interested in learning more. Specifically, what is the deal with the legal issues around using someone's tissue without permission? That seems wrong. Also, that Oprah! When she commits, she commits. (Did you see her on Ellen's coming out anniversary show. I cried. And, on my gosh, Michelle!)

                  • The Handmaid's Tale. I signed up for a free month of Hulu just to watch this. I've made it through all the episodes released so far and I cannot say I am loving it. The story is epically courageous (I read the book) and the visuals are gorgeous, but I HATE THE STORY. Mostly because it is too easy to imagine as our future. So much has been written about the show/book and I found this article particularly interesting: "The Handmaid's Tale is a Warning to Conservative Women." (I should also mention I binged 11.22.63 and am in Season 2 of The Mindy Project, which is saving my sanity. Hulu may be here to stay in our household.)

                  • Frontline's The Fish On My Plate. This guy stopped eating "land meat" and only ate fish for a year. He wanted to see what would happen to his body if he increased his intake of Omega 3 (because we're all apparently eating too much Omega 6 from soy, corn oil, processed food, or "land foods.") The results are intriguing and mercury levels come into play. In the end, it proves this truism: everything in moderation -- and stay away from the really bad stuff. Not sure why we keep looking for better advice.

                  • Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown season 9 opener on Los Angeles. Tony keeps getting better and better with his socio-economic political views on food and culture. Focusing on East LA, "chicanos," immigration, and what it means to be an American, the first episode will knock you over. Take a look at the companion web site Explore Parts Unknown to go deeper into the topic. Also bonus points for watching NatGeo's LA92 with tons of real footage from the LA Riots, the most destructive civil disturbance in American history. And my favorite food doc ever: City of Gold about food critic Jonathan Gold and his approach to reviewing family-owned shops in the ethnic enclaves of LA.

                  • Eurovision 2017. Oh my! What an extravaganza!! My two favorites were Greece and Israel -- mostly because I would totally add their songs to my Mixy Mix Mix playlist. The songs are super danceable, in an early to mid 90s kind of way, none of this annoying dubstep crap. This was my first time watching and I was dazzled, completely confused after the voting started, and totally disappointed when the winner was announced (yawn!). But I am adding this to my annual Must Watch list.

                  Creating:

                  • Home videos for Instagram. My dad took a ton of home videos when we were kids and he converted them all to CD some time ago. I'm in the process of converting them again and recently posted a little clip of my first sail on the Hindu back in 1973 and a Mother's Day tribute to my mom. I'll share more over the coming weeks.

                  Reading:

                  • You Don't Look Your Age ... And Other Fairytales by Sheila Nevins. I saw the interview with her on CBS Sunday Morning and let's just say I was FASCINATED. Mostly because of her incredible impact in the documentary industry, but also because of her style. And that she looks so young. Plastic surgery, clearly -- but not the Gloria Vanderbilt version. I also ordered the audio book because she enlisted an awesome list of people to read each chapter (Meryl Streep, RuPaul, and Martha Stewart, to name a few.)

                  • Saipua's May 3, 2017 journal entry. I so appreciated this journal post for the way that it incorporates the horror of the Trump world into her daily accounting of her chores. "Nature is full of things that we can all agree on and I trust the power of that more than anything these days." 

                  • "Junot Díaz Talks Dominican Identity and the (Complicated) American Dream." I know, Junot Díaz again. I appreciate his world perspective and the Dominican Republic fascinates me (first colonized city in the New World, that horrible Trujillo era, it's relationship with Haiti, and it's super mix of cultures.) It looks like I am going to miss him when he's in Ptown later this month (DRAT!) 

                  Listening:

                  • Longform's interview with S-Town's Brian Reed. It's fascinating to hear what the producer and host was thinking only 72 hours after S-Town was released -- before he was aware of how popular it would be, before the backlash, before the critical reviews. Most of the interview was about how the podcast was made and the decisions around structuring the story.

                  • The Messenger podcast. If you are looking for something truly unique, this is it. The podcast centers on Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee, and his life inside the immigration detention center on Manus Island, which is run by the Australian government. The interviewer is unable to talk directly to Aziz so they converse through 30-second messages left on each other's voicemail through WhatsApp. He's been there in limbo for years having been told to settle in Papua New Guinea (which is not equipped to support refugees) or go home. The story is still unfolding so catch up soon.

                  • Conkarah's cover of "Chained to the Rhythm," "Sweat," and his new EP, Timeless Love.  Reggae cover songs just in time for summer.

                  Eating + Drinking:

                  • The 5:2 "Diet". Technically this should be under the "Thinking About" category because I haven't actually tried this yet. The premise is that you eat 25% of your normal calories two days a week. Beyond weight loss, it is supposed to have a number of benefits. I first thought it was nuts, then I read this seemingly unrelated article: "How to Fight Cancer (When Cancer Fights Back.)" This theory of treating cancer aims to turn it into a manageable chronic disease and uses the same feed-then-starve approach as the 5:2 diet. Anyway, the connection intrigues me.

                  • The Mr.'s fresh salsa. He makes salsa from scratch with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice. It is BETTER than the pico de gallo we've had in Mexico. SO, SO tasty!

                  • "Why You Should Put Salt on Your Fruit." Salt is my magic dust. I put it on everything, even ice cream. And it is especially good on that summer-est of fruits, watermelon. 

                  Learning:

                  • New and forgotten words:
                    -anodyne = adjnot likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so

                    -insouciant = adjshowing a casual lack of concern; indifferent. (As in "Does Marine Le Pen not understand that being French is all about being insouciant, not shouting endlessly about how terrible it is when women wear veils? The only article of clothing a Frenchman should be against is the sock with the sandal." )

                  Summering (formerly "Hyggeing"):

                  • Our first drinks in the white adirondack chairs at The Red Inn and on the deck of the Aqua Bar. The opening of the outdoor spaces is one of the best things about late spring around here!

                  • Opening parties! As a way of recognizing the locals, a lot of the town's bars and restaurants have opening parties to celebrate the beginning of the season. This town loves free food!

                  • First tea. This year we are getting townie passes, which is like gold around here. 

                  Loving:

                  • My new Friend of the Pod tshirt. Finally, I am official.

                  • Eloquii. Curvy girls, this is for you. And if, like me, you are also short round/petite fat, do not despair. We have options. There are new items on this site almost weekly and there seems to be a different deal almost every day (you can keep up by subscribing to it's email list). I held out for 50% off and free shipping. Also, try ASOS Curve -- most of the sequin section in my closet has come from there. And if you are feeling the least bit anxious about swimsuit season, this clip from American Housewife should help!

                  Eliminating:

                  • Weeds. First, UGH! Second, I've decided to approach it as a daily battle. Every day, I knock out a few weeds. I've been spending no more than 20 or 30 minutes each day, taking a small section of the yard and getting rid of those pests. Sometimes I just grab a few as I'm putting Stephen in the car for his dog park adventure. Saves the health of my back and, over time, I hope it keeps things under control. We'll see who wins the battle this summer!

                  • More stuff! My eBay store is doing pretty well and for the most part I've had a good experience with it. My cousin has an eBay business so I got lots of great tips from her. I've had to figure out when to bargain and when not to, the ins and outs of postage, and how to deal with a scammer. I'm still adding inventory, so check back to see what I have available. I'm now getting to some of the really good stuff that I've been on the fence about parting with. Send me a message if you want to bargain on any thing you see.

                  • Update on the silver hair. First, thanks for all the positive comments! If you are thinking about it, just know that I have saved a ton of money and time. It took awhile because I refused to cut my hair short. I just put it on top of my head (and hid the weird stuff as best as I could.) Also note that you should buy special shampoo and conditioner for silver hair. There are rows and rows of men's hair products available in my town, but only a small section for women so I had only one choice. I need to find a more natural formula. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

                  Expanding:

                  • My rescued cactus paddle is having a baby! I have a very cool prickly pear cactus that a squirrel attacked by ripping off one of it's paddles, chewed on it, and then decided he didn't like it and left it on the chaise lounge to die. Jerk. Anyway, I replanted it and cared for it and this year, it has a new little appendage growing!! Hooray!

                  Planning + Organizing:

                  • Trip to NYC with my sister, niece, and one of her BFFs. We're looking for total non-tourist stuff. We'll be staying in Chelsea and so far everything revolves around sweets, coffee shops, bagels/bialys, secret gardens, outdoor murals, architecture, and Muji. Love to hear any recommendations that fall into these categories.

                  Resisting:

                  • I wanted to talk about so many political things in this issue but, once again, I am stupefied. I had cool things to say about NAFTA. And I had a very emotional dressing down of the irresponsible and reckless GOP jerks who voted for that horrible AHCA bill, or The 217, as I call them. But, LORDY (as Comey would say), I have no words for the fustercluck that is swirling around DC ... except, "JANE!! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!!!"

                  • Critical Reading.
                    "Even Republicans Admit We Are Headed for Universal Health Care." "'I would predict that in less than seven years, we'll be in a single-payer system,' acclaimed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer told Tucker Carlson."

                    "The Strange Psychological Power of 'Fox & Friends'." 
                    "It’s an us-against-them mentality, delivered with a smile, the hosts so relentlessly cheerful that they sometimes seem giddy, as if they’ve just stepped out of a party at Mar-a-Lago."

                    "Will Hurd is the Future of the GOP (*If he can hold on to the toughest seat in Texas.) "He denounced Trump during the campaign, distancing himself in particular from the candidate’s rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. He voted against Ryan’s health care bill in early May, knowing the toll it would take on the many poor, isolated constituents he represents. And he has emerged as perhaps the most vocal opponent of Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border, which he argues would hurt trade, send the wrong message and fail to keep out intruders."
                  • Action.
                    Open comment period on National Monuments. I've been seething that the Big Jerk wants to open up our national parks to development. I mean, I AM LIVID. The endangered list includes the first marine national monument in the Atlantic. GRRRR!!! There is more information on this here. And instructions for commenting here. First deadline is May 27!

                    Swing Left. In the 24 hours after The 217 voted for AHCA, they raised over $1 million to fund opponents of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House. Every time I get pissed off, I give money. 

                    Politico Massachusetts Playbook. It's clear that much is shifting back to the states under this administration so stay informed about what is going on in your state. Politico has a really informative and thorough newsletter that covers all things Massachusetts. They don't have one set up in every state but there are also New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, and Illinois newsletters available here.

                    Amy Siskund on Medium. She's keeping track each week of the things happening around us that are changing, as you may have seen is recommended by experts on authoritarianism. Week 26 is sobering -- 93 items on the list in ONE WEEK!

                    @ObamaPlusKids on Twitter. Just photos of President Obama with children. Trust me, you need this in your feed.

                  Extra Credit:

                  • The Pudding. Subscribe to this "weekly journal of visual essays." Displaying data in a visual way is awesome and it is amazing what people who have brains like this can do.

                  • Two stories of women using their hands to create amazing things that machines cannot make. I have said before that I have a huge fear of cylons and am very interested in the things that only human beings can do. Because those things will save us. Check out The Life-Saving Weaving of Bolivia's Indigenous Women and The World's Rarest Pasta is Made Entirely By Hand.

                  • Le Sigh. "A newsletter for people who are Le Tired of the internet." If you need to tap out for a bit, you'll learn all you need to know about pop culture from this low key, almost analog newsletter.

                  So I know I said I'd do these every two weeks and this one is a little over a week late. There was SO MUCH to write about that not only did I jam pack this issue, I almost have the next one done, too. See you back here in a week or so!

                   

                • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 8

                  Hey, there! It's been two weeks and here I am keeping my commitment to post these bi-weekly. Super proud of myself for sticking to a schedule. Here's the latest ...

                  Thinking About:

                  • Martha Beck's YouTube video, "The Pyramid and the Pool: Why Things Are Better Than They Seem". While peace of mind is probably a long way off for most of us these days, hope is something we need to keep our lifeblood pumping through our veins. And the message in this video is all about that. My favorite part is when she talks about how an arrow needs to be pulled way back in the bow before it can zing off at a rapid pace. Hope we're as far back as we can go and the moment when we fly forward is just about to happen. Any minute now. I'm waiting. Go ahead. Zing. Forward. Still waiting.

                    (Before you watch this, let me warn you: Martha Beck is a little weird. She says some things in funny voices and can come across as rather woo woo. DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU. She also uses science to defend and illustrate all her ideas. So no matter what side of the brain dominates your functioning, she knows how to explain her ideas so you'll get it.

                    I've also spent a Kripalu weekend with Martha and I can say she is the real deal. She radiates a rawness that made me seek seats in the back because I could not handle being so close to her up front. It is hard to explain and it does not come across in the video at all, but she is definitely vibrating on a different energy level than the rest of us.)

                  Thankful For:

                  • The right whales in our waters this time of year. Almost every day I end up somewhere where I can search the horizon for these super rare whales that hang out right off the beach each spring. They seem to have drawn large crowds lately and I feel bad for the people who arrive on a foggy day or a day when the whales have moved around the corner to feed. I see the hopeful visitors bundled up outside their cars with their giant binoculars scanning in desperation and I know today is not their day. I'm beyond grateful that I live here and have so many opportunities to catch these whales in action.

                  • That short spell of warm weather we had. Sunshine and mild temperatures change everything! We took the covers off our deck furniture, put the cushions out, and brought the flower pots up so I can start recreating our jungle retreat for the summer. We even spent the afternoon outside, sipping cocktails, reading magazines, and listening to music. And we had our first day drinking excursion in town. Summer, I cannot wait for you to arrive!

                  Watching:

                  • Newtown. This is one of the most heartbreaking documentaries I've ever seen. You probably can guess which side of the gun control issue I fall on, but you might not know that I grew up in gun country, where the first day of deer hunting season was a school holiday. Most people I knew had at least one gun in their house and the first time someone handed me a loaded gun to fire was when I was in first grade (by my best friend's dad at their hunting cabin. I refused.) I was the same age then as many of the kids who died in the Newtown shooting. 

                  • Great Big Story. You may have discovered some of these short videos yourself. I see them on Facebook and Twitter frequently. The topics are intriguing, usually positive, and beautifully shot. These three are especially wonderful: The Handmade Art of Tarot Cards, Mutts in Paradise, and More Than Dance: What It Takes to be a Hula Champion.

                  • Fire Island. OF COURSE I'm watching this! A few quotes from the first episode that I think they lifted straight from MY life out here in Ptown. 1. "She wants to go to tea, honey!" Pretty sure this is said at least once a week in the summer around here. 2. "They're like making out on top of me." Been there. 3. "Are you the ones who have a disco ball in your yard?" I've been asked this exact question quite a few times. 

                  Creating:

                  • Disco ball necklaces. SO, I made a proto-type of a necklace that I've been searching everywhere for, could not find, and decided to make myself. I'm thinking about maybe selling them, too. I'm operating in stealth mode right now but I'll definitely share them with you after I get a few more proof of concept samples together. 

                  Reading:

                  "Reading is not the thing you squeeze in with your other important tasks, it is the important task." - Ryan Holiday

                  • The California Sunday Magazine. I just discovered this magazine and it's longform stories about California, Western US, Asia, and Latin America. I subscribed to the email list so I could stay current on new articles. This article about chef Daniel Peterson and his not necessarily successful quest to bring healthy fast food to neighborhoods like Watts was the first one I read.

                  • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. When people ask me what my favorite book is, I always say Crime and Punishment (currently $.99 on Amazon if you want to read it!) I read it once when I was 17 and have been terrified to read it again, certain the effect it had on me was limited to that very specific set of circumstances in my life. Books are meant for select moments in our lives and now, apparently, is the time for me to finally read Murakami. This book has been on my I MUST Read This List forever. I'm reading as little as 20 pages a day to make sure I don't get overwhelmed and run away from it. I'm all in, though. I subscribed to the Murakami email list and am listening to the playlist for the book as recommended.

                  Listening:

                  • Offshore podcast. Season two started several weeks ago, but I am still making my way through season one. Focusing on the killing of a local by a white recent arrival to Hawaii, the podcast reveals the very complicated issues around race there. 

                  • The Handmaid's Tale on Audible. I read this book in college and really loved it then. Now that the Hulu series is about to premiere, I figured I'd revisit it. Claire Danes is the narrator and we know how well she does tortured female roles.

                  • Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University podcast series "Seeing White." I was curious about this series and was sold when I heard Chenjerai Kumanyika ask why white people cringe when they hear the phrase "white people." Another eye-opener on race.

                  Eating + Drinking:

                  • Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe's. Here's a little recipe I created: mix whipped cream cheese, shredded cheese (I use a blend of asiago, romano, and parmesan), and a sprinkling of this awesome seasoning. It's great with chips or pretzels and I bet it would be terrific with some crisp celery. I've also added diced ham to that mix on occasion. Also, looks like you can order it from Amazon.

                  • "Microwaving Your Tea Makes It Healthier." WHAT?? If you say so, I'll do it.

                  • The grilled romaine salad at Victor's with orange cranberry vinaigrette and baked goat cheese. I know this is only accessible if you come to Ptown, but the Mr. and I loved it so much! Another super yummy new menu item in town this season: the fava bean hummus, chickpea and olive tapenade, and whipped ricotta with grilled bread at Strangers and Saints. Delicious!

                  • "The Surprising Ingredient You Should Be Adding to Your Eggs." I tried this and can't stop now. Except I use coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute.) It gives your eggs sort of salty sweet flavor. 

                  Learning:

                  • A new word. "Jeremiad" -- a long, mournful complaint or lamentation; a list of woes. Don't ask me to pronounce it.

                  Hyggeing:

                  • Method Kitchen Gel Hand Wash in Thyme. I've been finding excuses to wash my hands a lot. This stuff smells so good!

                  • Stephen sleeping in our bed. This is the ultimate hygge and I cannot believe I didn't mention it before. One of my favorite, favorite things in the world is when Stephen curls up in bed, his head on the Mr.'s pillow and his backside tight up against my back. It's the ultimate "I trust you. I got your back and you've got mine."

                  Loving:

                  • RadioPublic curated podcast lists. I've found so many one-off podcast episodes to listen to through their weekly curated lists. Like the Hidden Brain episode on stereotype threat featuring real life examples from professional poker player, Annie Duke (episode 3). And the two-part ArtCurious feature on the relationship between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

                  Eliminating:

                  • Chemically processed hair. I last colored my hair in August of 2015. This week the last of the brassy, colored hair was cut off and I felt free! My silver seems to be limited mostly to the front and top (not quite a skunk streak like Kitty Bartholomew, but close enough.) When I put my hair up, it looks mostly brown. Either way, I like it!

                  Expanding:

                  • Our social calendar. With everything opening up again, the events around town have started to fill up my calendar! This past weekend we travelled down a dirt road to the Cape Cod Modern Trust open house at the Kugel/Gips House in Wellfleet. And Twenty Summers, a wonderful arts program held in a studio barn just up the road from where we live, starts soon. There is also a festival of public art set around town in natural surroundings and the weekly Friday night art gallery strolls start again. I should mention I've added a new widget at the bottom of each of my pages here that lists some of the fun things I have planned for the month.

                  Planning + Organizing:

                  • Our late fall/early winter trip. Location is still TBD, but it is definitely going to be to a country where Spanish is the primary language. I'm constantly planning trips and have maybe 20 or so in various stages (it's kinda my hobby.) I'm excited about this one because it may be quite different from the ones we usually take. Meaning we might split our stay, we might not be in an all-inclusive, and we may start trying to get a feel for what it might be like to live there. 

                  Resisting:

                  • This is the space that I usually use to express my view on some recent 45 shenanigans. I will be honest, I've had to shut it all out lately. I can no longer engage without feeling like I've been outfitted against my will with some serious lead shoes, my arms strapped to my sides, while the worst itch in the world is creeping down my back and I CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT IT. It is disheartening and soul-crushing. And it hurts like hell. All I can do is yell STFU at the screen any time he comes on it. Which I do. WITH GUSTO.

                  • Critical Reading.
                    "Can Democrats Cuss Their Way Back to the White House?" Whatever works, I say! (Also, see above.)

                    "Mexico's Revenge." 
                    Our relationship with Mexico is complicated and important. More so than I realized thanks to this article. "Unwinding this relationship would be ugly and painful, a strategic blunder of the highest order, a gift to America’s enemies, a gaping vulnerability for the homeland that Donald Trump professes to protect, a very messy divorce." Unfortunately, the man is not afraid of divorce.

                    "America's Most and Least Popular Governors."
                     Interestingly, the Top 10 are all Republicans. The most popular one (with a 75% approval rating) is our governor, Charlie Baker, who I will admit I really, really did not want to like. But I do, despite a couple of his missteps. For the most part he is fiscally conservative and leans rather liberal on social issues. He used to head up Harvard-Pilgrim and is well-positioned to understand the health insurance issues in our state. Recently, I received a solicitation to commit to supporting whatever Democrat runs against him in the next election, because apparently partisanship is everything. I declined. How does that game help anyone?
                  • Action.
                    STAT newsletters. These emails keep me informed about the latest news in the cross section space of politics and health.

                    Climate March. Our small town of 3,000 is having it's own climate march and rally on Saturday. I read that there are buses coming from all over the Cape. When you live at sea level, climate change is a very real issue. Our livelihoods depend on the health of the oceans, a robust fish and whale population, federal investment and care of the national seashore, and continued protections of the environment. And when our towns are underwater, guess where we'll move? Inland. Red Staters, the "coastal elites" will be moving into your towns. Better go march.

                  See you all back here in two weeks!

                   

                   

                • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 7

                  Last week I had two wisdom teeth removed. I know, I was supposed to have those out ages ago. I just didn't do it. It was my first experience with IV sedation and I was OUT, like they promised. Not only out but, because we were talking about Jamaica before they slipped the magic nose mask on me, I thought that we were all in Jamaica when I woke up. They should have that stuff available for airplane flights! Anyway, I've been convalescing, eating SO many mashed potatoes, and thinking about and consuming a lot of stuff that I'll now share with you!


                  Thinking About:

                  • S-Town podcast. No spoilers, I promise. John B. McLemore has been sitting with me since the first few seconds his voice played in my earbuds. His curiosity, his brilliance, and his special talent for turning a phrase -- all so extraordinary. If you haven't listened to the podcast, make sure you have some time cleared on your calendar because you will want to get through the whole thing as quickly as possible. It's worth a second and even third listen the whole way through, too -- especially the first, second, and last episodes. John B. will change you.

                  • Jamaica's Minimum Wage. When we traveled to Jamaica a few weeks ago, we met some locals who had day passes to the resort we were staying at. One of them told us she worked at Half Moon Resort and we had an exchange about how Jamaica is paradise for us and the US is opportunity for them. We've seen the living conditions, the small roadside shacks, the lack of amenities along the seaside roads on the north and west coasts of the island.

                    The Mr. did some research on the minimum wage in the country and it turns out that an hour of my pay is equivalent to two weeks of a Jamaican's pay. Even taking the cost of living into consideration, that is some serious disparity. It is also some guilt-producing knowledge. I'll probably never figure out how to reconcile it for myself and will always feel discomfort when we travel. We ended up tipping anyone who did anything for us there. It's definitely the American thing to do but is it the right thing to do? 

                  Thankful For:

                  • Backhuggar and inflatable pillows. The last time we traveled, I had a serious pain flare-up and was really nervous it would happen again in Jamaica. But it DID NOT! Woo! I used my Backhuggar lumbar pillow on the plane (it's basically velcroed to my ass in real life as well) and these awesome waterproof cushioned pillows on my pool chair. If you have back issues, especially lower back pain and sciatica, I highly recommend you purchase these for your next trip. 

                  • Season openings! So many places are opening up in town and this special time between now and late May is to be savored. The weather is a bit better, the town is almost at full throttle, but there are only small crowds floating in and out on the weekends. We can still find a parking space, walk down the street without sighing loudly, and drive around without me swearing at the tourists. (Addendum: I swore at one yesterday. He was driving down the middle of Bradford Street, wheels across the yellow line! Our roads are super narrow to being with. Jerk.)

                  Watching: 

                  • 13 Reasons Why.  Lucky for me, the release of 13 Reasons coincided with my oral surgery so I binge-watched a bunch that day and the Mr. joined me for the rest the following day. He kept exclaiming, "this is awful!" But he did not move from that couch until it was finished. And he is NOT the fanboy type. The story gutted both of us.

                    Also, six hundred gold stars to Dylan Minette who played Clay in the series. He is the brilliant mind behind the musical selection. Joy Division, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Alarm, Yaz -- all had me right back in high school myself. (If you are going to click on any link in this post, click on this one and make sure you play through all the songs. You can also buy the soundtrack on iTunes, but it's only an edited selection. I added a few more from the link to my playlist.)
                     
                  • Samurai Jack. A new season! I watched all the old episodes back in the day so I was psyched to see that we had some more trippy stories, weird creatures, and FANTASTIC artwork to view. The old theme song, performed by Will.i.am, is back, too.

                  • "Inside Japan's Tricked Out DIY Truck Culture." I am so disappointed that we don't have this kind of truck culture here in the US. I mean, all those trucks and not a single flashing light. I'm going to guess you'll spend most of the time while watching this short film picking out which truck you like the best and then planning what you'd do if you had your own. Because I totally did.

                  • Mexico Diseña. I watched this Project Runway-esque series on the flight to Jamaica and it turned out to be the perfect airplane entertainment. It's subtitled, so you can figure out what is going on even if you can't hear it super well over the hum of the plane, and each episode is only 20 minutes, which is about my max attention span on planes. I also really love the Mexican aesthetic, which was on full display in the show. You can watch it on Netflix. (Also, yay for being able to download stuff on the Netflx app. I loaded up before we left.)

                  Creating:

                  • The Obama Wall. For now, this only lives on my Pinterest board but I have plans to turn one of our walls into a shrine to happier, more sane days. 

                  Reading:

                  • Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn. I started reading this story about a Jamaican woman who works at a resort in Montego Bay while sitting at a resort in Montego Bay. Super meta. And it's not a sweet, nice story either. I started to feel guilty (see "Jamaican Minimum Wage" above) and then wondered where all the resort staff went when they left the resort at night.

                  • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco. I heard about this book when Alyssa, formerly the Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama, was on Pod Saves America. I loved how she hilariously held her own with those guys and her book is no different. There are funny stories -- usually at her own expense -- peppered with little tidbits of insight into Obama's personality.

                  • Hot Pod newsletter. For all the latest on the podcast scene.

                  Listening:

                  • Reggae Disco. When we were in Jamaica, I came across a Caribbean disco playlist on Apple Music and I fell in LOVE. (But I cannot find it again! Erg!) However, I did find this little nugget available on iTunes: Hustle! Reggae DiscoCarol Cool's cover of Diana Ross' "Upside Down" is on repeat around here.

                  • Serious Eats' Special Sauce podcast two-part interview with Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus has been on my list of Chefs I Love since he won Top Chef Masters. There are some great profiles of him out there like this one from CBS Sunday Morning. This particular interview underscores how fascinating his world view is. He shared that everyone in Sweden (where his adoptive parents raised him) had a summer cottage where they stocked preserved foods because they were afraid Russia was going to invade at any moment. Better get canning, my friends!

                  • Big Little Lies soundtrack. First, let's just talk about the opening credits of this show. I mean. The music. The scenery. The kids. The font. The bokeh. Reese's satin eye mask and earrings. Perfection! Second, the series was riveting and gorgeous and horrifying. If you haven't seen it, go binge it now. Third, the music! Removed from the show, I probably wouldn't listen to much of it except the "Queen of Boredness" track because it's disco-y and I generally listen to upbeat music with either lots of electronics, a good bass, or a reggae beat. But the music is like another character in the ensemble. Moody as all hell.

                  • Thievery Corporation's The Temple of I & I. The night before we flew to Jamaica, our friends, Brad and Allen, had us over to their place in East Boston (it is gorgeous, by the way.) They are especially thoughtful people, and in addition to mixing us cocktails and feeding us a much-missed Boston delicacy of Santarpio's pizza, they had this playing in the background. Trip-hop meets reggae was the perfect vibe to get us in the mood for our journey the next day. My favorite track has become "True Sons of Zion."

                  Eating + Drinking:

                  • Pappy Bourbon Barrel-aged Maple Syrup. File this under "Things I Gave to The Mr. as a Gift That Kinda Ended Up Being For Me." This is some of the best maple syrup I've had. Probably because it's been aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels. 

                  • Fried polenta. In my quest to find something other than mashed potatoes to eat while my mouth healed, the Mr. bought me some instant polenta. After cooling it in a container and cutting it into strips (like my mother taught me), I fry it up in some grapeseed oil with a sprinkling of sea salt (Salt Bae-style) and then smother the whole thing with the above Pappy syrup. SO good!

                  • "The Best Way to Butter Your Toast." Revolutionary! 

                  Learning:

                  • "How To Speak So Your Dog Will Listen." Stephen knows sit, out, walk, kiss kiss (his favorite), hydrate (I make him drink before we leave the house), treat, cheese, toy/squirrel/whale (interchangeable to him), Grandma and Grams, Tipper, lunch, wanna go home? and sometimes up up up and stay. He will NOT recall most of the time. I can get him to do it at the dog park when no one else is around or if it looks like we're going to do something more fun. I worry about dangerous situations when I absolutely need him to come to me for his own safety. So we are going to work on this! 

                  • How to type an eñe on my Mac. OK, sorry if I'm super late to the show and everyone knows how to do this, but I finally learned so I'm sharing! Hit option + n and the "˜" will appear. Then type "n." Tildes and accents (option + e). Take that Trumpy.

                  Hyggeing:

                  • Going to bed before the sun goes down. LUXURY! I love lying there in the cool blue light watching until everything turns black.

                  Loving:

                  • Waterproof Bandaids. I will never travel without these again. On our first night in Jamaica, we went on a little walk on the beach to check out the resort and the one next door that we were allowed to use. Now keep in mind, I've only worn sneakers for the last 7 months. I had the worst blister on the bottom of my foot by the time we got back. These truly waterproof bandaids saved my vacation. I wore them in the pool, in the ocean, and even to the spa for my pedicure. The adhesive is like superglue, which was great for my needs but also hard to remove when you no longer need it. Next time, I'm bringing two boxes!

                  • Jon Lovett's takedown of Jared Kushner. A burn of a thousand suns (you actually have to listen to the "After Nunes, Delight?" episode of Lovett or Leave It to hear the full rant) but this clip gives you a tiny taste plus the FUNNIEST comments about Tommy Vietor! 

                  • AHAVA Mineral Body Lotion in cactus and pink pepper. No matter what preventative steps I take before and during a vacation to a warm climate, I come back with alligator skin. Nicely toasted by the sun, but nevertheless dry AF. I've been using this yummy smelling lotion and it seems to be working, as long as I can keep Stephen from licking it off.

                  • Super Scooty on the gram. I LOVE SUPER SCOOTY! Check out his photos and videos and you'll see why this grinning disabled pup is on my go to list for Trump counterprogramming.

                  Eliminating:

                  • Dirty messes. It's spring cleaning time! This year, I'm committed to getting the inside of the house in order BEFORE the weather gets super nice and I don't want to spend any time in it. So far it's going terribly. But here are a few spring rituals you can try to jumpstart your own spring cleaning.

                  • Unused pharmaceuticals. So I am one of those people that never takes the "just in case" meds the doctor prescribes. I am super suspicious of any and all pills. I research them thoroughly and have even called the pharmacist when I'm feeling uneasy about potential side effects. I'm cleaning out our leftovers and taking them to the police station where they have a system for proper disposal. The Cape is an awesome place to live but we also have one of the worst opioid epidemics here. Best to have those drugs in the right hands.

                  Expanding:

                  • Flossing. I HATE flossing. It's weird and uncomfortable. After my recent tooth issue, I committed to doing it every damn day and have kept that promise (with maybe a few days off during our trip and a couple of days when my mouth was swollen shut) since January 31. They say if you do something for 30 days in a row, it becomes a habit. And now I also have this super cool syringe I got at my oral surgery check-up to flush out the bits. I do it like every 10 minutes. 

                  • Driving range. No, I'm not losing my title of The Only Person In The Family Who Doesn't Golf, but I am trying to see how far I can drive without pain. Ever since I had a horrible flare-up when I drove to an appointment at the pain clinic (seriously, that happened), I haven't driven any further than the Truro line. Someone has driven me anytime I've had to go anywhere outside of town, which is annoying to them and makes me feel bad. Lose-lose. Over the coming weeks, I'm going to expand my range. To Truro and back. To Wellfleet and back. To Eastham, Orleans, and on. I would really like to get my freedom back. Plus I have jury duty in May in Barnstable, which requires a solo drive.

                  Planning + Organizing:

                  • SunCalc. The Mr. and I decided we are going to use the flower beds in our backyard this year to try to grow some food. Once again, we have no idea what we're doing but I found this really cool website that shows the movement of the sun. I'm hoping it helps us figure out what to plant there. If not, it's perfect to figure out which side of the pool to sit on during vacations.

                  • Summer List. Last summer was my 25th summer in Provincetown and I planned to really celebrate! I even had an awesome hashtag: #supersilversummer. And then I had the worst flare-up to date and was house-bound for the entire month of June, was on medication so I couldn't sip my grapefruit Moscow mules through half of July, and then had a second flare-up at the end of August. SO, I'm making a special do-over list for the summer of 2017. (No hashtag yet. Ideas??) 

                  Resisting:

                  • Syria. I will only say this one thing. Whether or not 45 made the best choice in ordering missile strikes, there are always unintended consequences when we get involved in the Middle East. We haven't gotten it right yet. And I certainly don't think he has the brain power, knowledge, attention span, or moral character to be the one who does. 

                  • Critical Reading/Watching.
                    "Mitch McConnell, The Man Who Broke America." "No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government."

                    The Circus
                    , Season 2. Despite what you may think about access journalism being partially responsible for the current state of the media, The Circus continues to provide an insider's look at some of what is going on in Washington. I've especially enjoyed the quick conversations in the halls of Congress and the before and after moments of what we usually see on TV news.

                    "World Prepares to Move on Without US on Trade." You can't control the table if you aren't even sitting there. Or, stupid is as stupid does.

                    "Calling Donald Trump's anti-NAFTA bluff, Mexico is looking to get it's corn elsewhere." SEE!!

                    Jennifer Steen Booher's photographic Health Care series. I follow Jennifer's website because she usually makes beautiful collages with things she finds on the beach. Using pharmaceutical debris from people she knows to illustrate how expensive medical care is is a BRILLIANT departure. Check it out!

                  • Action.
                    Resistance School. Those Harvard kids! Always coming up with awesome stuff. If you love a good syllabus like I do, you'll find several here.

                    Read Across the Aisle app and PolarNews newsletter. If you are still attempting to get your news from a spectrum of political views, these two things will help. The Read Across the Aisle app uses degrees of color to indicate how far to the left or right a source is and provides direct links to those sites so you can quickly scan headlines to see what both sides are saying. PolarNews comes directly to your email and selects a few topics to show how differently the headlines, angle, and coverage are on the same topic. Quick reads for those with less time.

                    The Daily Yonder. Real stories from rural America. Views are not always what you think they will be.

                    Follow Junot Díaz on Facebook. Junot seems to post links to stories I don't find anywhere else. Also, if you haven't read his books, I suggest The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

                  BTW: I'm making a commitment to publish this newsletter every two weeks, starting today.

                   

                • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 6

                  I had every intention of posting this before we went on our winter sojourn to Jamaica last week. No matter how much I plan, or how early I start, there is always one-more-thing-to-do-before-we-go. This time around, it involved an awful lot of overpacking. Lots on my mind lately ...

                  Thinking About:

                  • American Tourists. Right before we leave on our trips, I check the resort reviews on an hourly basis. Mostly I'm looking for confirmation that I'll have fresh papaya every day and for tips on where the quiet spaces are, but this time I found something incredibly bothersome. One person took the time to complain about the "homeless man" outside the wall of our resort. He even provided photos. On a separate site, another visitor mentioned the same "homeless person", sharing his name, the fact that he owned the land next door, that his family lives there, that he sells wooden carvings by the beach, and likes chicken patties. He even went so far as to encourage people to "show him some love." Guess which one is American? 

                  • The Human Genome Project. Have you ever wondered how the seemingly unrelated pieces of your life fit together? I spent a few years working at a biomedical research institute when they were working on the Human Genome Project, including that breathtaking sprint to complete the rough draft so it could be part of the public domain. Anyway, it came up several times recently. The first was when Eugene mentioned it on The Walking Dead. The second was on the cancer episode of CBS Sunday Morning. And the third was much more personal, as I received genetic counseling and considered genetic testing, which would never have been possible had that project not been completed. It is amazing how far we have come in such a short time and I worry that this administration is going to do irreparable damage to our science community and our collective health.

                  Thankful For:

                  • Modern medicine. I had eight medical appointments in February. Most of them were routine. One was scary. And I was able to see some of my insides, including all the bones and nerves in my head. All I can say is my orthodontist is a rock star because my teeth are neatly lined up in a orderly row. Also, part of my neck looks weird, which wasn't at all what we were looking at. But I am now obsessed with it. I have at least five more appointments this month and next. Depending on the results of one, there may be more. And, at least once a day, I say: "why don't they tell you these things about getting older?" I'm doing everything now because who knows what health insurance will cover next year. Make those appointments you've been putting off, friends! You never know.

                  Watching:

                  • Bold Questions from The Atlantic. These animated three-minute videos feature some wonderful people  -- like Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- talking about "the power of curiosity." My favorite is Chimamanda Adichie discussing "What Americans Get Wrong About Africa." 

                  • Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis. I'm always curious how people manage to survive the aftermath of tragedy. The lead singer of Eagles of Death Metal is best friends with the lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age (which I only know because Tony Bourdain had them on one of his shows.) This movie is as much about that incredible friendship as it is about what happened at the Bataclan in Paris that night. 

                  • Time: The Kalief Browder Story. Truth: I watch this because Jay-Z produced it. Anything he takes the time to do is worth investing in. Kalief spent 3 years in Rikers Island, much of it in solitary confinement, without a TRIAL. And he was 16 years old. Everything about that is horrifyingly wrong. 

                  • Kiki. Gosh, where do I start? This is an amazing documentary about LGBTQ youth who find their strength and home in the African American ball culture. Most of the featured people are trans. Their backstories will break your heart and their sparkly costumes and death drops will dazzle you. 

                  Creating:

                  • Disco ball purse. No idea why it took me so long to do this! I was playing around with my clutches for our resort trip -- adding a tassel or two here and a sparkly brooch there. It never occurred to me until now to attach one of my gazillion disco balls to one!

                  Reading:

                  • The Piglet 2017. I don't cook. I don't even read cookbooks. But I love following this bracketed cookbook showdown every year.

                  • "Why Humans Love Crispy Things."  It's evolutionary! All week in Jamaica, I kept saying I needed something crispy because, with the exception of the skin on the jerk chicken, nothing was crunchy. It also explains why I add toasted panko crumbs to EVERYTHING I eat. 

                  Listening:

                  • Songs from Zion from Kristine Alicia and Rorystonelove. After discovering this beautiful compilation of songs, I saw a short interview with Kristine Alicia who shared that "Zion" to her is peace. These songs are technically gospel reggae -- a lot of reggae songs are since "Jah," the Rastafarian name for God, is a frequent subject. I especially love her song "Key Lock," which is somehow simultaneously uplifting and melancholy. Also check out her video for "Freedom Fighters." It was filmed in 2015, but is so relevant to what is going on today.

                  • George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo on Audible. I recently finished his freaky short story collection, Tenth of December, just in time for his first novel and epic 166-person audiobook. Featuring people like David Sedaris, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Jeffrey Tambor, and Ben Stiller, part of the fun is figuring out who is who. 

                  • Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi "The Four Seasons." You will recognize part of this from the theme song for Chef's Table. You may remember that I have a fear of flying issue that I've battled with over the years. One of the things that helps is classical music (and TV theme songs like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Westworld.) I don't listen to it at any other time in my life but it engages the areas of my brain enough to distract it from any fear triggers. I'm sure there is some science to it!

                  Eating + Drinking:

                  • Throat Coat Herbal Tea. I developed a yucky hacking cough before vacation. In addition to some grape-flavored children's Dimetapp, this stuff really helped calm down the coughing. It's made with slippery elm (be sure to check the interwebs for any interactions it may have with other things you take.) 

                  Learning:

                  • Interesting fact: did you know that crossing your arms in front of your chest confuses your nervous system and can relieve pain?? With chronic pain, it was pretty easy to test this out. It actually works for low pain days. Adding this to my little box of tools.

                  Hyggeing:

                  • Heating my pillow with a heating pad. I sleep with a heating pad draped over my right side every night. Somewhere along the way I discovered if I turn it on and let it warm up on my pillow while I get ready for bed, it creates a nice toasty place to fall asleep.

                  Loving:

                  • CT as a dad. First, I am admitting that I am watching The Challenge, even though I said I wouldn't. But, come on! CT has a baby now! I have to watch that. Really, for all the terrible things this show represents, we at least have the positive evolution of CT from hotheaded Masshole who beat up everyone on every show to a mature-ish and responsible father. Contrast that with Bananas who started out as a d-bag and turned into an even bigger d-bag. No growth there.

                  • Sphynx 3-in-1 Anywhere Razor. This is the ultimate travel razor. It's ROUND and when you turn the dial you find a small spray bottle for water. Turn it again and you get soap. The last two turns each have a razor attached to them. Brilliant, right?

                  Eliminating:

                  • Carrying my phone around in the house. Do you do this? It's totally nuts, right? I'm trying to leave my phone in just one room so I'm not constantly checking it. Also, I lose track of it at least once a day. 

                  Expanding:

                  • Brushing Stephen's teeth. Stephen's vet has been on me to brush his teeth. Have you ever tried to brush your dog's teeth? Yeah. I started by feeding him his $25 toothpaste as a treat for a few weeks and then stuck my fingers in his mouth any time I could so he'd get used to it. We're now at a happy medium where he lets me do it but he's not super-psyched about it. For more information about why it is so important to my Boo Boo's health, read this article.

                  • Power Hour. I recently read about a technique to get stuff done, which is something that has challenged me now that I have all the time in the world to do things. It's a simple premise where you set aside one hour and crank out as much as you can. Simple, right?

                  Planning + Organizing:

                  • Next year's winter trip. We booked next year's trip already! We're going back to our favorite resort, our true love, Couples Negril. We've been there four times already but we haven't been there since 2014. 

                  • Preparation for Mercury going retrograde on April 9. Ever since the year I flew to Palm Springs on the first day Mercury was in retrograde and the whole airline system went down, stranding me in SFO for 8 hours, I plan my life around this. Call me Woo Woo, I do not care. But if you are truly interested, start with this really helpful article, "What to Do BEFORE Mercury Retrograde." 

                  Resisting:

                  • Speaking of the whole system going down, why aren't we all in the motherfucking streets??!!???

                  • Critical Reading/Listening.
                    "Is Donald Trump an Untreated Al-Anon?" One of my favorite pastimes is analyzing people and this one, my friends, this one is GOOD.

                    "5 Ways Not to Bite the Trump Hook."
                     First way: "Rather than scanning the environment for confirmation or denial of your worst fears, scan it for someone who could use a kind word or glance."

                    "How to Argue." Definitely listen to both episodes! In the first one, he shares the story of how he, a black man, befriended a Grand Dragon in the KKK. And the second one covers the techniques he's learned to talk to people who are bat-shit crazy, I mean, have different beliefs. I plan to watch the documentary about him, Accidental Courtesy, on Netflix soon.

                    "How an Immigration Ban Would Affect the Spice Trade." The things we take for granted. And, as I scream at least a few times a day now, "Trump RUINS EVERYTHING!!"

                  • Action.
                    Sign up for the NiemanLab newsletter. For interesting news about news. From Harvard.

                    Eat at a Sanctuary Restaurant. These places are actively resisting 45's deportation threats and advocating for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. They also promote a completely welcoming environment to everyone who eats and works in their restaurants.

                  Because so much is happening in the world and my brain is in overdrive, the next edition of this newsletter will be up soon. Thanks for following along!