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  • 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!

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 5

    I am surviving. Not quite back to thriving, but surviving. So much crazy-making distraction right now. I'm really working on budgeting my engagement time and clinging to my lifesaver of a daily routine. How about you? 

    Thinking About:

    • Kogarashi. Someone added me to a Twitter list with this name. I'd never heard the word before so I did some research. Kogarashi means "leaf wilting wind" in Japanese and refers to the cold wind that lets us know winter is coming. Yeah, not exactly a list you want to be on. I have been re-tweeting an awful lot of progressive apocalyptic viewpoints so I suppose being added to this list is warranted. I prefer to think about it as being presciently aware of what's to come.

    Thankful For:

    • Everything I took for granted before. Talk about a smack upside the head! These initial non-Obama weeks have knocked the wind out of me. I've been trying really hard to be grateful for what we had and hope that the world's belief in the good parts of us is still there and will carry us through. Despite the general and pervasive cynicism in my core being, I am actually an optimist. (Shh! DO NOT tell anyone.) There's a tiny voice inside that always whispers: "things will get better; hang in there." Always. This usually means I have a tendency to stay too long at the party, which has cost me dearly over the years. This time, it's sustaining me. But, seriously, if you tell anyone, I'll deny it.

    • A husband who brings me pizza instead of chocolate on Valentine's Day. Enough said.

    Watching:

    • Sing Street. You all HAVE to watch this movie! It's very John Hughes and it has all the good 80s music in it. Even Spandau Ballet! Basic premise is: boy meets girl. Boy wants to impress girl. Boy tells girl he's in a band. Boy then tries to figure out how to form a band. It is so good and will improve your mood by film's end. 

    • Spy in the Wild. What is the budget for this show? The Mr. and I are mesmerized by these animatronic critters they place all over the world in animal habitats to SPY on real animals. Spy Otter is my favorite!

    • Riverdale. I am a sucker for teen dramas. Although a show based on the Archie comics did not seem like an interesting premise, it has pulled me right in with it's mysterious intrigue, creepy twins, and unsolved murder. 

    • The Missing. Season 1 was good, but Season 2 is FANTASTIC! It's twisty and engaging and confusing just enough to make you wonder what the hell is going on in every episode. The full season is available on STARZ.

    Creating:

    • New statement necklaces. I've been getting ready for Jamaica and usually end up buying a few (ok, A LOT) of new stuff for the trip each year. However, I made a commitment that I would take actions that would lead to less stuff and more money at the end of the year. I have a bunch of once-loved necklaces that I took apart to create just the right color combos for this year's outfits. Kinda proud of myself for that!

    Reading:

    • Carve the Mark. I'm a few chapters in and am really liking the sci-fi vibe and sparkly ethereal environment in this book written by Veronica Roth of Divergent series fame. 

    • The Daily 202 and The Optimist from The Washington Post. As part of my effort to edit my world calamity intake, I've cut out a lot of reading. These two are terrific, though. 202 is very wonky and has lots of analysis and the guts I like. The Optimist is about everything else. ALL THE GOOD STUFF, friends. Like CBS Sunday Morning, or as we call it, The Happy Show.

    • Alt-POTUS 45 (@IfHillaryHad) twitter feed. Written as if this was Hillary as President tweeting about her day. Funny. Always ends with what she assigned Bill to do that day. One of my favs:

      "DAY 26: Still no Russian spies in my goddamn WH. Told Ryan/McConnell that they're fucking jokes. Sent Bill out to pick up some succulents."

    • Discover by Revue. In past editions of Clamshell,  I mentioned a number of newsletters that I read. Check out this source if you want to find more newsletters on all sorts of topics.

    Listening:

    • Missing Richard Simmons podcast. Did you know he hasn't been seen in public since February 15, 2014?? The guy hosting the podcast used to be a Slimmons regular and even became friends with Richard. He's taking us on his search to find out why Richard dropped out of the public eye and stopped talking to his friends. I am SO intrigued!

    • Twice Removed podcast. This isn't a Skip Gates kind of ancestry inquiry. The host takes a famous person (who is in the studio) through his family tree and finds a LIVING PERSON they had no idea they were related to. That person is hiding in another booth listening in until the big reveal. SO much fun! (Also I discovered my podcast player, Overcast, has a speed up feature that doesn't make people sound like chipmunks but cuts the listening time down. LOVE IT!)

    • "Enjoy the Silence" by Ki:Theory from that Ghost in the Shell trailer. This is one of my favorite songs ever. Definitely takes me back to a time in my life that was raw. As if Depeche Mode wasn't emo enough, this version takes it to the extreme. And that movie? I'm in! Remakes all around.

    • The "Stranger in Paradise" podcast episode of Radiolab. Trust me when I tell you that this story about raccoons in Guadeloupe is worth your time. 

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Trader Joe's Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil. So my doctor tells me I need to lose some weight (but my cholesterol is down despite all that butter and cheese I shoved in my face this past month!) Olive oil is a big part of that effort. I've never really liked salad dressing so I often drizzle my spinach with this and then grind some sea salt on top. Makes it taste like bacon. Whatever it takes, right?

    • Pink House Alchemy Cardamom Syrup. True confession, I bought this for the Mr. for Christmas, but I seem to be liking it the most. There's a recipe on the bottle for a daiquiri that contains rum, this syrup, and lime juice. Hey, my doctor said women can have seven drinks a week. That's one a day!

    • Epic Pork Cracklings, maple bacon flavor. So we won't tell my doctor about this one but they do come in a small bag. If you need some serious comforting, grab these. They leave some of the fat on the skin before they fry it into a puffed up crunchy crispy bit of pig. It is crazy delicious!

    Learning:

    • About foreign policy. The Crooked Media guys are literally carrying me through the wretchedness. Their newest podcast, Pod Save the World, is entirely about foreign policy and I am learning so much. Check out the first episode with Jake Sullivan, who was AT THE TABLE for the secret Iran deal talks. 

    Hyggeing:

    • Daily fires in the fireplace. Mid- to late afternoon is my time to sit down and enjoy a bit of quiet time. I've started throwing a log on the fire every day to help set the tone for that sacred time.

    • Snuggling on the couch by the slider door with my sheepskin and fluffy blanket staring at nothing. Coincides with the above daily fire.

    Loving:

    • Method Body Wash in Lilac Blossom. This smells like a bottle filled with hope. Transports me to spring, which will be here soon, right?

    • Goodreads Deals. I just discovered this! You can sign up here to get an email with special Kindle (and other eBook options) deals. Usually for $1-$3! AND if you keep a list of books you want to read on Goodreads, they'll email you when one of those books is on sale.

    • Baby Foot. I've cut out regular mani/pedis since moving to the Cape and use this crazy gel in a plastic boot stuff at home. Be warned: your entire foot will peel (including the top) and usually a week or 2 AFTER you use it. So plan accordingly. Nothing worse than skin hanging off your feet at that special occasion.

    Eliminating:

    • My toxic morning routine. Morning news + vitriolic Facebook feed + rabbit hole of Twitter links = a very angry, cranky, and completely unproductive me! I still watch GMA, but only the first hour, and then off goes the TV. I also try to cut off FB at 8:00 am and then not revisit until later in the evening (THIS IS SO HARD!). I'm replacing all of it with silence (or podcasts), writing, and getting straight to what I need to do that day. 

      Sidebar: I just want to go on record as saying I am supportive of anyone who needs to let loose with a finely crafted political rant on Facebook. What irks me more are the people scolding anyone who posts anything remotely political. They come across as completely unaffected by -- or worse, uncaring about -- the turmoil around them. I call them the Puppies and Unicorns crowd. PU!

    • Where I express myself. Considering the above side bar, I've been grappling with social media frustration. Since this is a space I created for myself, independent of anyone else's expectations or rules, I'm going to use this space to share. Which means a likely more frequent posting schedule. (Also, these are getting very LONG so shorter and more frequent seems better.)

    Expanding:

    • My eBay shop!! Again, working on my less stuff, more money focus this year. There are now over 60 items for sale, with more to come. Below is a sampling of some of the items there. Check it out and feel free to send me a "best offer" idea if you want to haggle! I'm open.


    • New Tag line for Juniper Disco. I recently changed the tagline on my website to "Dive in!" from "Amusements for people who would rather be poolside." I'm in more of an action mode than an escapism mode these days. Small change, but a better reflection of what people will find here.

    • My first pair of Birkenstock's. Even in their resurgence in the 90s and more recently a few years ago, I avoided them. But now that I have issues that require appropriate footwear, I've had to rethink this. So I bought myself a pair through eBay -- the shiniest pair I could find. I now own teal metallic ones to replace my super cool teal metallic flat sandals I can no longer wear.

    Planning + Organizing:

    • Outfits for Jamaica. You'd think I'd have this down by now, but I don't. I'm struggling a bit this year trying to figure out what to bring. I usually go with a basic dress or linen pants/solid top and then go big with the shoes and accessories. I have swimsuits and kaftans all set, though. That took like 10 minutes. I think I'm just wanting to be comfortable this year and am a little sad about my shoes.

    Resisting:

    • What has surprised me the most. It's not the level of corruption, hate, and insanity that comes from the White House.  We saw so much of that on the campaign trail. But these two things have left me with my jaw regularly hanging on my chin:

      1) The Off the Charts Incompetence. I've worked with Capital N Narcissists before (lucky me, right?) and they are usually able to be at the top because of the highly skilled, best-in-the-game people they surround themselves with -- the people who keep the trains running and clean up after them without complaining. Capital N's have a knack for finding people who will crawl on their knees through glass to please them. He seems to have the Uber Lackey part covered but not the Best in Show. This is what makes me certain that it is only a matter of time before the whole thing crumbles. Stay out of the way, friends, and be ready to swoop in and fix things. But, LORDY, what a colossal fustercluck!

      2) GOP Ostriches. Despite the complete obstructionism we saw in the Obama years, I am still knocked to my knees by the la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you of the GOP in Congress -- especially around issues that impact us COLLECTIVELY as true believers in American democracy.

      Chaffetz. Ryan. McConnell. If not the American electorate, the Universe will take care of you. I hear those who do nothing in the face of evil are on Floor 9, Ring of Hell.

    • Critical Reading.
      @RoguePOTUSStaff on Twitter. Unconfirmed, of course, but these tweets are REALLY interesting if this is what is going on inside the WH!
      "The Best Thing You Can Do for Democracy in Trump's America is Read."
       
      Working on it.
      "Seven Presidents are Better Than One: Why the Oval Office Needs a Round Table." Intriguing. Radical. Sensible.
      "Peter's Choice." Another look at the Trump phenomenon. One teacher's view of one of his students.
      "What It's Like to Work for the National Park Service Right Now." I've long wanted to be a park ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore. My husband says I've totally romanticized it. But now they are badass rebels! Still, those uniforms ...

    • Action.
      "52 Things You Can Do in the First 52 Weeks of the Bad Guy's Presidency." Action items!
      "This Website Allows You To Send Pizza to Protestors Around America." Totally up my alley.
      Swing Left District RESEARCH Sign Up. ATTENTION INTROVERTS: here is the perfect opportunity for you! Swing Left is focusing on turning swing districts to the Dems. They need people to do reseach on these districts and you can sign up here!

    Until next time, my friends! Keep on keepin' on.

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 4

    This week is the beginning of the end AND the beginning of the beginning. Change is hard. Especially change every ounce of your being is fighting against. I'm going to put a lot of extra effort into grounding myself, being thankful for where I am right now, and steeling myself for what is to come. Do whatever you can for yourselves this week, friends, and if you need a distraction, read on!

    Thinking About:

    • Friday. I won't be watching any inaugural activities. Although, I thought maybe I should since Hillary Made-of-Steel Clinton will be sitting there a few rows from the action, watching the whole thing up close. If she can do it, I certainly can from the safety of my couch with a bottle of vodka in my hand. BUT I decided I can't watch it happen. I can't watch the Obamas walk away. I can't bear witness. I just can't. So I've been trying to think of a good way to spend that day (here are some ideas.) I'll likely keep the TV off and figure out my outfits for Jamaica. That always makes me happy. How are you spending the day? 

    • This time next year. I just read (actually skimmed) an article suggesting that you figure out how you are going to evaluate yourself at the end of the year. I looked at my 2017 list and saw that most of the things on there were grouped around a few themes. So here's what I came up with:

      This time next year, I will ...
      1. be physically stronger
      2. have less debt and more savings
      3. have less stuff
      4. have used my free time to learn new things through reading and online classes
      5. have established a daily writing and photography routine

    Thankful For:

    • Local places that stay open in the off-season. This time of year can be pretty brutal in this town as we go down to just a handful of open restaurants and bars. There are three that I am especially grateful for:
      1. Spindler's. They just opened this past summer and are planning to stay open most of the winter (with a few weeks off starting this week.) The winter food menu is filled with things the Mr. and I want to try, like creamy chestnut bisque and ricotta gnudi. 
      2. The Canteen. If you've been to Ptown, then you've definitely been here. This will be the first time they stay open in the winter. And not only that, they are serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 7 days a week. AND they are offering delivery after noon! They also lowered their prices to accommodate the year-rounder budget. I admire their community spirit so much!
      3. Blackfish at Local 186 winter pop-up. Last winter, Blackfish, a restaurant in Truro, set up shop in Local 186 for a few months. They also had a super fun trivia night downstairs in the Grotta bar once a week. We're so excited they are back again this winter!

    Watching:

    • Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang. WOW!! I watched a few of the sequences several times over. This is the most amazing artwork I think I've ever seen. And it's done with FIREWORKS. And super colorful biodegradable powder. Check it out on Netflix. 

    • Sully. Even though you know what happens, this movie had me so tense. It is a wonderful movie about the most incredible situation. The footage of the real people and the real incident at the end will leave you in tears. What a story!

    Creating:

    • A birthday hat for Stephen. Keeping with my commitment this year to use what I already have, I'm working on a special birthday hat for Stephen. I usually buy these things because I am a terrible consumer of stuff. This year, the cordless glue gun I got for Christmas will be put to excellent use!


    Reading:

    • "Obama: The Ocean President". I'm having such a hard time letting this man and his family go. The ocean is our lifeblood out here and I am so grateful for his creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of the Cape. I can't imagine we'll make much progress under the new guy, but I am hoping we can maintain what we have. 

    • The Long+Short magazine. I'm always looking for new sources of interesting information. There is a lot here for you to explore. Work is centered around themes such as "Spaces" and "Margins" relating to innovation. They have a newsletter you can sign up for, too.

    • News and Guts. If you follow Dan Rather, you already know this is his latest project. I'm all in when it comes to that man and I can't wait to see what investigations he brings to light.

    • Al Jazeera English. It is humbling how little I know about current events in the Middle East. The reporting this organization does is always eye-opening and I am finding their perspectives on what is happening here to be really important. If you haven't already, I strongly suggest you add it to your regular reading feed.

    Listening:

    • "The Disco Demolition Night" episode of the Undone Podcast. This podcast takes stories from history and finds new and unknown threads of the story that continue long past the headlines. This one has everything: disco, baseball, racism, entrepreneurship, chance, and house music.

    • Curio.io. I will admit that sometimes I just cannot focus long enough to read some of the really interesting articles out there. With Curio you can listen to someone read them to you while you do the dishes! Articles are from The GuardianAeonLapham's QuarterlyThe PointNautilusThe IdlerOpen Democracy and other premium publications.

    • Beastie Boys/Daft Punk Mashup. AMAZING! My favorites: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" and "Disco Breakin."

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Hot cocoa with tahini. I've been adding a spoonful of tahini to my hot cocoa these days. It adds a slightly nutty flavor and a whole lot of mouth-feel. And probably some calories, too.

    • Toasted panko bread crumbs. I somehow have become obsessed with toasting panko in a little olive oil and sprinkling them on everything! Mostly, I like a little crunch on my pasta or my mashed potatoes. But I even tried it on some reheated pizza. 

    Learning:

    • "Outdoor Photography for Smartphone." This is my January class from Skillshare. It's taught by a photographer for Surfer magazine and is something I do almost every day. So far, I've learned some new tricks and tips.

    Hyggeing:

    Loving:

    • Free eBooks with Amazon Prime. Not sure if you are aware of this, but if you have Amazon Prime, you get to choose a free eBook every single month. Sign up to get the monthly email. They give you several selections to choose from. 

    • Francis Mallman's instagram feed. I've been obsessed with this guy since I saw him on Chef's Table. There is something so appealing about food cooked over an open fire in Patagonia made by a gaucho chef wearing a poncho who reads books aloud to his family and serves his food by candlelight in the outdoors. 

    Eliminating:

    • Stuff. So I've started listing a few things on eBay. I have quite the resort wear collection that I really need to whittle down and I also have shoes I won't be able to wear anymore (mostly wedges and super flat sandals.) I SOLD my first pair yesterday and am working on posting a few things every day. I have some Kate Spade, some J Crew, and a few Calypso St. Barth sandals to photograph and post.

      If you want to see what's up there now, my eBay page is here. It's very rudimentary right now, but my goal is to make it more appealing by the end of the month. I'll likely switch over entirely to a fixed price model in the coming week. For those of you reading here, click on the Best Offer button and I'll give you a break if you mention you saw this on Juniper Disco.

    Expanding:

    • Side Hustles. So I don't actually have a Main Hustle just yet. Minor detail, but I have found some easy ways to make some extra cash. This is one that might appeal to many of you:

      Achievemint
      . Have a FitBit? Might as well earn some cash for all those steps you are taking. I love that you can kind of just set it up and forget about it. ALSO!!!: You get an extra 250 points if you sign up using my special referal link here. 

    Planning + Organizing:

    • Lifetime Travel. I want to pose this question to you: have you put any thought into your Absolute Must places to visit? After last year's events, I realized I really needed to get serious about planning those important once-in-a-lifetime trips. The older you get, the more physical limitations are going to spring up. It IS going to happen to you, my just about or actually middle-aged friends. I'm not talking about the oh-that-would-be-cool locations. I'm talking about the my-soul-will-ache-for-all-eternity-if-I-don't-get-to-go-there destinations.

      Here are mine (Pinterest board links included for you to visually peruse):
      1. Sardinia. Oh, magical Italian island with the crystal blue water and rounded-by-the-wind stones, how I MUST see you. This may be a milestone birthday trip.
      2. Uruguay. I blame Tony Bourdain, Francis Mallmann, and House Hunters International for this one. Steaks over the fire. Gauchos. Ponchos. Open terrain. Socially liberal culture.
      3. Spain and Portugal, especially Barcelona. Tapas and architecture. Architecture and tapas.
      4. Croatia. Clear blue water.
      5. Cross-Country trip of the US. Mostly: Lake Tahoe, kitschy road-side attractions, Fallingwater, seafood shacks, Big Sur, swimming holes, and Mackinac Island.

      Give it some thought and let me know what is on your Absolute Must list!

    Resisting:

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 3

    Happy New Year, everyone! I am jazzed up and ready to go. So let's do this!


    Thinking About:

    • 2017. This is the first year that started without that usual fresh! clean! slate! optimism of every other year. Even our drunken NYE toast at midnight ended with "until the bombs start falling." While we are all learning to live with a heightened base line of anxiety, I decided to make a goal list this year that would give me a framework to cling to. It took only a few minutes to come up with 17 specific things I wanted to commit to for 2017. Here's a small sampling:

      1. Use what I have. (like reading the books already on my Kindle)
      2. Listen to podcasts during the day. (rather than have TV on that I'm not watching)
      3. Sell or donate extra stuff in the house and get rid of our external storage unit. 
      4. Write 5 days a week.
      5. Never use the new President's name or repost his words. Refuse to be a part of his propaganda mechanism.

    • Forest bathing. I once heard that if you see or hear something at least three times, you should pay attention to it. I kept seeing references to forest bathing (a Japanese concept) and have become quite enamored with the thought that spending time in nature can be considered luxurious enough to be categorized as "bathing." For a quick hit on the topic, read this article.

    Thankful For:

    • Holiday time with family and friends. It's not always Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood with us and it can feel unruly enough that I ask myself every year why we choose to host. But we do laugh. A lot. This year was all of that and I'm grateful for it.

    • My endodontist. Just before Christmas, I started to feel a terrible pain in my jaw all the way up to my ear. Turns out my filling had fallen out and I had an infected tooth. My dentist sent me to the best specialist out there who was able to do a root canal in under an hour. What was supposed to be a two-visit procedure was done in time for me to enjoy our Christmas Roast Beast! And I felt very little pain during and after the procedure. Yay for smart people who go to school for a million years so they can fix us!

    Watching:

    • The OA. I'll try to keep this spoiler-free. I SO loved this show!! It pulled me in and messed with my head and then whacked me in the face and dumped me back out confused and inspired and wondering what just happened. Watch it and see if you can shake it from your head afterwards.

    • The 100 (Season 3). As a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica and a total AI-skeptic (I even refuse to speak to Siri and removed that Cylon from my phone), I am finding The 100 to be a great story in the BSG-tradition. 

    Creating:

    • Pom pom rug. I started making one over the summer when I was stuck in the house during my flare-up. I hope to have it done this winter.

    Reading:

    • Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders. I have had this book of short stories on my list forever. They are whacky and at times hard to figure out but they are intriguing. The first story about an attempted abduction continues to unsettle me.

    • Latterly 2016 Anthology. With essays from independent journalists around the world, Latterly has gathered their best from the year like "They don't want food. They want seeds" (about Haitian mistrust of institutions).

    • A Year to Clear. I like year-long projects. One of my favorites was the 365 Photo Project that I completed several years ago. This one is all about space-clearing, which seems to be especially relevant to me right now. I like having a prescribed format that details something for me to do each day in making progress towards the goal. So far, it's a lot of thinking. 

    Listening:

    • Radio Lab's More Perfect podcast. I am learning so much listening to this. Each episode features an issue or case that impacts the Supreme Court. The first episode on the death penalty and lethal injection had me hanging on every word. And the episode entitled, "Kittens Kicked The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer," will have you laughing while you learn some important history about the court itself. You may even find yourself singing the theme song the rest of the day.

    • The Ta-Nehisi Coates episode of The Ezra Klein Show podcast. I found myself rewinding parts of this discussion so I could hear it again. I have Coates' Between the World and Me on my 2017 reading list but I'll read it with different eyes hearing his thoughts on it.

    • Anjunadeep 08. I'm a longtime Anjunadeep compilation fan. There are a few tracks at the beginning that I don't care for but, after that, it settles nicely into that trance-producing background music perfect for writing or reading or doing absolutely nothing.

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Thrive Market. Even though we try to buy local, it can be hard to get some things in the offseason out here. I've been a member for over a year and order some speciality items from there every couple of months. My favorite items:

      1. organic turkey bone broth -- I make a super easy lunch meal out of this. I boil it with some ditalini and then add olive oil and parmesan chunks. Eat with some buttered crusty bread and you have yourself a hygge of a lunch.
      2. Lesser Evil Organic Himalayan Sweetness Popcorn -- It's made with coconut oil so you have that slight coconut taste with a salty-sweet flavor. Unlike anything else I've tried!
      3. Epic Chicken Sriracha Bars -- Oh my gosh are these good! They are perfect for travel snacks -- lots of protein, lots of flavor, and it feels like you've eaten a meal.
      4. Nutiva Organic Hazelnut Spread -- GREAT organic alternative to Nutella. Better for you and they have a yummy dark chocolate version.

    Learning:

    • Skillshare. Another intention I have for 2017 is to take a Skillshare class on something new every month. They have a special for the first three months of this year: 99 cents for three months of access.

    Hyggeing:

    • Sitting in the almost dark with only the glow of the fire and Christmas tree lights.

    • Living in fleeces, yoga pants, and wooly socks.

    • This Gingerbread Maple candle.

    Loving:

    • This Jojoba Oil. I read an article that said that jojoba oil is as close to our natural facial oils as you can find. So I started using it as a moisturizer every day. Stephen is constantly licking my face so I was worried that anything I put on my skin would harm him and this stuff is safe. A little goes a long way!

    Eliminating:

    • Non-essential TV. I am a story junkie. I'm trying to shift away from having the TV on in the background (terrible habit) and put on music or podcasts. There is so much fantastic TV these days, though, so I'm working on getting rid of shows that I've been watching out of habit (yep, even the Kardashians!)

    Expanding:

    • My support efforts for fellow chronic pain sufferers. I recently joined a Facebook group for people who suffer from nerve pain similar to mine. There are over 18,000 members. 18,000! I've started responding to people's posts with my own experience if it seems it might be helpful.

      I'm also learning how I can get more involved in advocacy for pain research through the American Pain Society. Did you know that there are 100 million people who suffer from some form of chronic pain? And the NIH only spends about 1% of its budget on pain research initiatives? With the anti-research/anti-science administration about to take office, it's even more critical to get involved right now! 

    Planning + Organizing:

    • Excursions in Jamaica. I have spent every one of my birthdays since turning 40 in Jamaica, except for one when we were in Mexico. I've done something cool every year like a private dinner on the beach, had jerk chicken and a lobster fresh from the sea with locals in a shack, watched the cliffdivers at Rick's, toured around Negril's bars on the One Love Bar Crawl bus, and had the best taco dinner in the world that cost us all of $13. I'm looking at things like handfeeding hummingbirds, floating around a bioluminescent lagoon, and having a fancy-more-than-$13 meal at Half Moon. Luckily my birthday is early in the trip so sand gravity will not have a huge hold on us quite yet. It all depends on my physical condition that day so we'll see how it goes!

    • Operation Bubble Wrap. The only way I'm going to make it to Jamaica and back is if I bubble wrap my entire body. I've been trying to work out the logistics of not being able to carry heavy bags, but needing to bring extra support items -- like my folding cane, waterproof inflatable pool pillows so I can sit comfortably in the sun with my fruity cocktail for more than 15 minutes, heating pads, and heavy-ish orthopedic sandals. I may need to do several trial runs here with my suitcases before we travel in March.

    ******

    I've added a new section below that covers all things political, controversial, and/or potentially upsetting to the kumbaya, can't-we-all-just-get-along, I-want-my-Facebook-feed-to-be-nice-again crowd. But that's not you, right? You're strong enough and engaged enough to read it.

    Resisting

    • Anti-intellectualism and populism. I've been reading about Poland's strong populism movement and it's subsequent transformation away from democracy. I've been thinking about all those books I read about China's Cultural Revolution and the destruction of so much of the best that humans add to this world. I watched the movie, Woman in Gold, a film about Nazi-stolen art and the fight for repatriation. I even read this slightly light-hearted but actually serious article that blames the TV show, Friends, for our current situation and calls for action to protect the nerds. And I've been thinking about the stark contrast between that guy I went to high school with who keeps posting memes about liberalism being a mental disease and climate change being fake vs. well, everyone else I know who is interested in the world. It's made me recommit to reading and learning and supporting others who do the same. 

    • Critical reading. So much good reading out there right now. Here are the articles that had the most impact on me recently:
      "Want to Actually Change Someone's Mind on Social Media? Do This." Apparently, it's possible.
      "Anthony Bourdain: The Post-Election Interview." Reassuring in it's pessimism.
      "How Trump Could Slow Medical Progress." Terrifying.
      "The Anxiety of a Strong Mexican-American Neighborhood." Real people, real consequences.
      "Putin's Real Long Game." If you read just one, make it this one. (Also, High School Guy, give this one a shot.)

    • Action. For those of you who kept telling me that you support same sex marriage, now is your time to prove it. You insisted there was no reason to worry about this under That Guy. YOU WERE WRONG. Read up on the First Ammendment Defense Act here. Seriously, read it! Basically, it allows anyone who has a "moral conviction" about how you live your life to discriminate against you. And don't think you'll be protected if you live in a cool state like Massachusetts. 

      There are currently 172 co-sponsors in the House, and 37 in the Senate.

      PLEASE contact your rep to make sure they know you want them to take a stance against FADA when it is reintroduced in the House! And for those of you who told me you supported same sex marriage, now is your chance to prove it to me. So make those calls!

    I'm hoping these posts will be more frequent this year. There is a lot going on in this world and we need to support each other. And suit up! We've got work to do.

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 2

    "Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?" -Mary Oliver

    I've written and re-written this post about a dozen times in the last month, and every time it felt off. Too angry. Too full of resentment. Too much WTFing and "those people"-ing. Too stunned. Too devastated. Seems those emotions are never going away so I might as well dive in. I should warn you, I considered naming this edition "If You are Angry and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" since it's quite current-political-state centric. It also covers my usual topics so if you are here for my favorite apple juice recommendation, read on!

    Thinking About:

    • Resentment. So let's get real here. The post-election period for me has been totally and completely about facing my resentment. It's deep and it's pervasive and it falls into three significant areas:

      1. Resentment of Narcissistic Sociopathic Asshole Men Who Always Get What They Want No Matter What Even Though They are Horrible Human Beings and Are Too Arrogant to Know They Need Daily Intelligence Briefings
      2. Resentment of Women Who Betrayed Hillary Clinton
      3. Resentment of People Who Allegedly Resent Me, Which is Apparently Everyone From Ohio to Montana

      Ok, there is one more: 4. Resentment of Kellyanne. (UGH!! That Kellyanne!!) I cannot believe how much of my energy, time, and attention has gone into this resentment over the last few weeks. I'm trying really hard to move out of this phase but, as ugly as it is, it is the truth of where I am.

    • What to Do Next. The one thing this election and pre-inaugural period has made me (besides angry) is outspoken. Every time I think "I should just keep this to myself", I picture Hillary Clinton in those debates -- being talked over, stalked, called names, lied about, attacked -- and I open my mouth or I write that comment or I post that article. I'm reading everything I can get my hands on. But I'm kind of just spinning -- every issue is important, everyone ever considered an "other" is vulnerable, the world is about to burn to the ground. It's like I've started an epic never-ending battle of Whack-A-Mole and never ever getting the satisfaction of connecting the giant hammer with the little orange rodent. With that said, as I shift through the debris of my hopes and dreams, I seem to be zeroing in on First Ammendment issues and the Democrats' soon-to-be revealed strategy to save us all (right? that's coming? right? RIGHT??) Which leads me to ...

    • Doomsday Prepping. So remember when the avian flu was imminent and on our doorstep? I stockpiled food and water and supplies, created a go bag, and watched I Am Legend like it was an instruction manual. The Mr. indulged my problem and even nicknamed my little corner of the closet of just-in-case, The Chicken Kit. I've loosened up quite a bit since then, mostly because I've accepted whatever happens, happens but I find myself once again prepping that Chicken Kit.

    Thankful for:

    • Sleep. Until chronic pain changed my life, I was a pretty good sleeper. It's taken almost a year -- and a highly ritualized sleep routine with heating pads, ice packs, and an army of strategically placed pillows -- to get back to a fairly restful night. I do not take it for granted anymore and do whatever I can to make sleeping one of my top priorities for good health. So grateful to wake up feeling rested, albeit stiff and achy. I'll take it. 

    • My daily routine with Stephen. For months now, I've been taking Stephen to the dog park in the middle of the day and then we go for a drive through the dunes, stopping at Herring Cove to look for whales and seals before we drive home. We see them about 40% of the time and we shout and point every single time! 

    Watching:

    • Before the FloodThe science behind climate change is so advanced now that they know EXACTLY what we need to do to not destroy our planet. Some of the places Leo takes us in this documentary are horrifying. The synthetic crude oil plant and the palm oil forest destruction will make you weep. Please watch this and do whatever you can to help the cause. FIGHT, people! Otherwise, we all die.

    • This is UsI've needed tissues for every one of these! I'm fascinating by the storytelling in this show and, even though I know I'm going to have my heart broken, I look foward to the next bit of the unravelling in each episode.

    • EyewitnessThis show is such an interesting mix of unbearable suspense, smoky ethereal visual language, and sensitive storytelling about two young boys who discover they are gay and witness a murder. Yes, watch it!

    • Search Party. I binged this in one sitting, torturing my husband who had no interest in this show about self-indulgent millenials who go looking for a missing person they barely knew from college. Elliott is my favorite character, naturally. And for us Gen X folks, Parker Posey is fabulous in it, also naturally.

    Creating:

    • My niece's annual advent bag. If you've been following my blog for a bit, you know I put together an "advent" bag of 24 goodies for my niece to open each day of December leading to Christmas day. I spend all year looking for little presents to include. This year's is pretty good, I have to say!

    • A personal experience guide to chronic pain. When I first started having pain symptoms I had a lot of trouble finding any practical information on the internet. Most of it was either "it will go away in 6 weeks without doing anything at all" or "I've had it for years and my life has been forever damaged by it and nothing helps so you're doomed." There are so many things I wish I knew and so many things I learned the hard way (and seem to keep learning, the hard way.) I'll be putting this information up in a separate section here on Juniper Disco for those of you who may find it useful.

    Reading:

    • Dan Rather on Facebook. I always liked Dan Rather, maybe because he looks a bit like my dad. I find him insightful, intelligent, and strangely calming. So glad he decided to join Facebook recently and share his thoughts and information with us during this awful time. We need our Fourth Estate veterans.

    • Latterly and Quartz. I've found these two alternative news outlets to be a great foil to the weak reporting we're seeing most places (except The Washington Post, they are killing it!).

    • Upstream by Mary Oliver. It's been hard for me to focus on longwriting these days (see the election.) Mary Oliver's latest book of essays has been just the thing. My favorite? Her essay, Provincetown, of course!

    • The Seasoned Year. I found this web site late in the summer and have been loving her writing ever since. I find myself drawn to the in between spaces of the changing seasons and she is so good at capturing the feeling.

      From October's Letter from the Land
      "I love these in between times because they’re so unique; paying attention feels most rewarding right now. Autumn is unique to time and place; change depends on the minutest variations in temperature and atmosphere."

      For more on seasonal shifts check out these resources: How to Nourish Yourself During Autumn and Staying Healthy with the Seasons.

    • Also, here are more of my favorite newsletters that I forgot to mention in the last post! With Love and SqualorReading My Tea LeavesBe More with LessDaily Worth, and Hitha on the Go.

    Listening:

    • In the Dark podcast. While the podcasters were researching this cold case story of a missing boy, the perpetrator came forward and confessed. How they tell the story knowing now what happened is really intriguing -- the focus is on what was missed, rather than who did it. 

    • I am LOVING the music on Scream Queens this season. All that fantastic 80s music that we forgot about it. Like "Dancing in Heaven" by QFeel. And Echo & The Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon." And one of my all time favorite songs, "Only You" by Yaz.

    • This "Black Beatles" song almost cost us the trivia night championship title. I'm obsessed with it and have it on repeat in the car as Stephen and I drive through the dunes every afternoon. Stephen likes to yell "Black Beatles, bitch, me and Paul McCartney related!"

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Red Jacket Fuji Apple Cold-pressed Juice. This is the best-tasting apple juice! If you ever come to my house to visit, just bring me some of this juice and we'll be friends for life. You can get it at Whole Foods.

    • Ginger and Turmeric Tea from Trader Joe's. I recently read that researchers were looking into the possibility that nerve pain like mine may actually be caused by bacteria. Interesting concept and reason enough to drink anti-inflammatory teas like this one. Warning: it's yellow and does stain if you aren't careful.

    • The Mr.'s new holiday recipes. Every year the Mr. adds new items to our holiday feast and he makes everything new in advance so he can tweak it for the big day. Luckily, my moms are helping with the tasting so I'm not the only one consuming the calories. So far, he's hit it out of the park! I'll see if he'll let me share the new recipes here next time.

    Learning:

    • Spanish on Duolingo. The Mr. and I decided some time ago that we would spend the later part of our years somewhere warm. We both took Spanish in high school and are using this app to brush up on our language skills, should we need to accelerate that evacuation plan.

    Hyggeing:

    • Adding extra blankets to the bed.

    • Digging out the hats, scarves, and mittens and putting them in a basket by the front door.

    • Wearing this fuzzy sherpa fleece. One of the first things you'll see when you step into my home is the blinding glare of light reflecting off 1,000 disco balls. Next thing you'll notice are the flokatis and fuzzy sheep's wool pillows, foot stools, rugs, throw blankets. This fabulous find is like wearing my own personal flokati.

    Loving:

    • Samorost 3. I'm not a gamer by any stretch, but I loved the original Samorost. It is so visually unusual and the nonverbal, nontextual action is magically weird. I can't wait to explore more of it's fantastic worlds. Also, I am TERRIBLE at it.

    • My ceramic tea travel mug and my knit travel mug cozy.

    • Eau Thermale Avene Cold Cream Lip Balm. I am one of those people who tries every lip balm out there. I have a giant jar filled with them. This is my favorite and is really effective if you have a dog that is licking the moisture off your face 24/7.

    Eliminating:

    • The Challenge + The Real World. I have watched every single episode of both The Challenge and The Real World (and Road Rules, for that matter). 28 seasons of The Challenge. 31 seasons of The Real World. Since 1992. That's 24 YEARS! 

      But I am giving them up on principle. The last few seasons have truly angered me -- Bananas' psychological abuse of women and people he perceives as weaker than him, the reckless exploitation of Cara Maria's volatile (and quite frankly frightening) relationship with crazy abusive Abram, and the deliberate selection of a racist-seeming housemate and the production's manipulation of the other cast members, which turned into collective bullying. Talk about deplorable. 

      I'm glad some of the cast members have decided to break the silence and voice some of their frustration (see Susie Meister and Sarah Rice's Brain Candy podcast. Susie is also writing a book on the topic.) This article is pretty good, in case you are interested.  

      (NOTE: Rumor has it that CT AND DEREK will be on the next Challenge which, UGH!!!, means I will watch one more. But then I am out!!)

    • Unfriending. Time to get real again. I unfriended six people. Unfriended and blocked. Some people think this is bad form, cuts off communication with people you might be able to influence, and provides you with information that you might not hear otherwise. Bullpocky. I cut those six because they each posted something I found ridicuously offensive. My feed, my decisions.

      I was certain all my rah-rah Hillary stuff would push some people away but it never happened. Until she lost. Then I was unfriended by three people. One of them is someone I know from college who owns a gun and lives in a state that has terrible laws. One was another college acquaintance who lives in my home state. The other is a high school friend who actually was in my close circle of friends. He never posts to Facebook so I was surprised. Their feed, their decisions. Guess you are wondering how I identified them? My secret. But they also were blocked. I started my policy of blocking people after I had someone I knew from high school unfriend me and THEN contact me to see if I would help her husband get a job at Harvard. Yeah, no.

    Expanding:

    • My meditation routine. When my pain was at it's worst this past summer I turned to the You are Not Your Pain guided meditation program. Chronic pain changes your brain patterns so that you experience it differently than you did before  -- your system is primed to feel pain (of any kind) more quickly and more intensely. This particular program works to create neural pathways that counteract those negative changes. I did it every day for a while and often would have it on repeat throughout the night as I drifted in and out of sleep. I never made it a habit, though, and am working on getting to that point.

    • My extreme self-care plan. (Again, see election.) I've added daily spoonfuls of black elderberry syrup. More hot tea. More water. Extra epsom salt soaks. Lots of warm and fuzzy doggie snuggles. Short naps. And, most importantly, I'm starting to monitor what my brain and eyes consume. It's so hard because I really want to read everything!

    Planning + Organizing:

    • Our return to Jamaica! I shared last time that we were cancelling our Cabo trip and postponing our Costa Rica trip. We still wanted to go away in March so I had to do some super sleuthing. I found an IDEAL vacation scenario that limits all the things that can make my nerve pain flare-up:

      1. direct flights no longer than 4 hours with extra leg room and aisle seats (sitting in one place is the kiss of death for me and I have to stretch a lot and get up and move around)
      2. flight times that allow me to do my critical morning routine (we usually take the first flight out to maximize our vacation time but these leave later in the day)
      3. a short transfer time to the resort (no bumpy 2 hour rides)
      4. flat landscape with few stairs at a small resort (last time we went to Mexico, the resort was huge and I was in pain from walking in cute but non-supportive shoes)
      5. a decent price -- it's a brand new resort in Montego Bay and we got a pre-opening special 

      I've been following the resort Facebook group and the reports seems to be really good now that they've been open a few weeks. We're both looking forward to returning to our favorite island! Yeah mon!

    Thanks for reading! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! 

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 1

    Oh, hey, there! I've been missing this space and am making an effort to get back to it. Truth is I've never really been gone -- I've written over 25 draft posts in the past year or so. I just haven't hit "publish" in some time. With this post, I'm dipping my toe in slowly using a format that other bloggers (or whatever we are calling ourselves now) use. You'll find it somewhat reminiscent of my weekly Random Series

    Thinking About:

    • The election. Sigh. I'm with her. Like you, I've had every feeling on the emotion spectrum and I'm ready to vote NOW. I'm skipping this next debate and I'm actively doing everything I can to remove his voice and his words from my life. I gain nothing from continuing to listen to him so I'm turning inward and towards like-minded people. I worry about what is next for us as a society and, like many women, I'm tired of staying quiet. 
    • The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere. Did you see that sneak peak??? I gasped at the end! I have this feeling they are taking Daryl from us -- Norman Reedus has been giving off some weird vibes in interviews lately. However, he did use the word "we" the other day in talking about this upcoming season. Maybe because I've conducted hundreds of exit interviews, I know people start to use "they/you" and "me", rather than "we" as soon as they give notice. It's some sort of psychological separation preparation. Anyway, we shall see very soon. (And how about that latest issue in the Whisperer Wars? SO GOOD!)

    Thankful For:

    • I've had a tough run this year with chronic (and debilitating) pain. Right now I'm grateful I'm currently in a low pain period and that I've learned to manage it for the most part. I still live in fear of a sudden flare-up (I've had four in a year) but I have a responsive medical team, a pretty large toolkit of countermeasures, and a much better understanding of how my body reacts.
    • My dog, Stephen, and I have been able to go on little adventures this fall. Sometimes it's just a romp at the dog park, a long drive through the dunes, and a few serene moments looking for whales and seals. Other times it's exploring new places, depending on how I'm feeling that day. I'm grateful to be mobile enough again to enjoy our time!

    Watching:

    • With All Due Respect and The Circus: Inside the Greatest Show on Earth. Back to that election. I am finding that I cannot stomach most news channels anymore but these guys are entertaining, fair-ish, and focus more on the strategy around the election process. WADR is on Bloomberg Politics every day at 5:00pm (EST) and The Circus is on Showtime on Sundays at 8:00pm (EST). It's worth going back and watching all the episodes on demand. It is FASCINATING!
    • Longmire. I am not a cowboy hat kind of person but this show is really entertaining. I started watching because I love Lou Diamond Phillips on Talking Dead, my weekly therapy show. And I love that Starbuck is on it! I'm on Season 2 and am thrilled there are 3 more seasons to binge after that.
    • The Hallmark Channel. There is nothing safer or more heartwarming than a good Hallmark Channel movie. I've been eating up the fall movies and am ready for the holiday season to start with the first movie on October 29. It's terrific counter-programming to the election coverage.

    Creating:

    • My Halloween costume. Halloween is a BIG deal in Ptown. I've heard they have a group of people practicing the Thriller dance to perform on the streets at random times that weekend. This year, I'm building my costume around a colorful payette sequinned kimono I just had to buy. I also have a large feather headdress. 
    • Election Night outfit. Our Election Night plans changed recently (see below) so now I have to make some Hillary Victory gear to wear on Election Night. I'm thinking a glitterized Hillary-circa-1992 headband that's multi-dimensional and lights up!

    Reading:

    • FiveThirtyEight.com. Yes, more election stuff! I check this page several times a day to see how Nate Silver and his gang are crunching the numbers. Apparently, I am not alone.
    • Email newsletters. Every week I look forward to reading the newsletters I subscribe to from various writers. There is something more intimate about their writing in these -- perhaps because the trolls can't comment. Here's a few that I like: Zen at PlayOf a KindThe Smash, and 3191 Notes.
    • How to Live a Good LifeI just started this and am planning my week around finishing it. I like a good self-help book, especially when it's built around a concept that speaks to me. Who doesn't want to live a good life?

    Listening:

    • Keepin' It 1600 podcast. Yes, even MORE election stuff. This one has me belly laughing all the way through. It features four former aides to President Obama — Jon FavreauDan PfeifferJon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor -- who are super smart, know their stuff, and are hilarious together. Warning: if you don't have liberal leanings, you might not find the humor in it.
    • The Magic Pill. This 10 minute podcast is all about exercise, but I promise you it will inspire you to do little things that turn into big things. There are 21 episodes of really interesting tidbits about how just a little bit of movement can improve your health.
    • And speaking of podcasts, I just switched to the Overcast app to listen to these. It's easier to organize your listening (playlists!), especially if you are like me and listen to all sorts of random stuff.

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Apple cider. I've been drinking it by gallon. Yes, I know how much sugar is in it. I don't care. (Bonus tip: The Trader Joe's Spiced Cider is fantastic when it's heated.)
    • Pear mules. Hat tip to my friend, Allen, for discovering these. I'm switching out my summer grapefruit vodka for pear vodka and adding a little ginger beer and some simple syrup. DELICIOUS!
    • Immaculate Baking Company cinnamon rolls. We used to live right behind a Whole Foods and since we left Boston, haven't done much shopping there (the closest one is 45+ minutes up Cape.) But occassionally we have to make trips to the big city of Hyannis and I grabbed a roll of these. SO cinnamon-y! The best in a tube I've ever had!

    Learning:

    • Online courses on finances. One of my commitments this year has been to pay more attention to my finances. I hate talking about money so, so much. I know enough to pass for an adult but it's time I get better versed. A couple of courses so far: Heal Your Money Karma and 5 Steps to End Regrettable Spending.
    • The Tarot. Not sure why, but I've gotten interested in learning more about tarot cards. I started using the Golden Thread Tarot appwhich allows you to pull a card each day and log your response to it. It's really interesting and is eerily reflecting what is going on in my life. I'd like to learn more and plan to buy a real deck and keep learning through this online course: Read Tarot Cards Like a Pro.
    • My succulents had tons of babies this summer and I'm learning how to harvest and repot them. I think everyone will be getting succulent babies for Christmas this year!

    Hyggeing:

    • Fall scented candles lit at all times.
    • Fluffy ivory blankets in a basket in the living room.
    • Roaring fires in the fireplace more nights than not.

    Loving:

    • Provincetown in the off-season! I'm parking under "no parking" signs, trespassing on private property to satisfy my curiosity, and walking confidently into restaurants without a reservation. We're starting to catch up with our winter friends and the off-season activites -- like trivia nights -- begin in a couple weeks. 
    • Canopy. Have you seen this site? People find the coolest, most design-y things on Amazon and then post them in one place for you to peruse. No more culling through the ugly.

    Eliminating:

    • With the uncertainty of my ongoing nerve pain, this has been the year of missing out. I've had to cancel so many things, including a September retreat in Sandwich and the entire film festival in June. And we are, alas, cancelling our trip to Cabo in November. The flight is too long for me and, since one of my flare-ups was on our last trip to Mexico, we're playng it safe. I've somehow learned to deal with disappointment this year and am now prioritizing day-to-day wellness over carpe diem fun. It's hard, though.
    • Normal footwear. No more flat sandals for me, friends. I've been replacing my shoes with orthotics and supportive sneakers. It's been hard to find cute shoes that meet my new criteria but I'm taking it as a challenge. If you find any, please send them my way. I will not be wearing ugly shoes.

    Expanding:

    • My exercise routine. One of the things that helps the most with my nerve pain is my regular stretching and core strengthening routine from my physical therapist. I do it every day -- no matter what. I'm also getting my steps back up. It used to be really easy to hit 10,000 steps each day before my pain but now I struggle. I hope to get back to a place where I can easily get those steps in again.
    • An income gig. Notice how I did not say job or career. I'm totally changing my approach to work and am looking to build more of a portfolio career --a little bit of this, a little bit of that  -- for now. 

    Planning + Organizing:

    • I'm currently in the last stages of the post-summer switch over. We still have some warm days in October (70 degrees this week!) so we don't put everything away until November. This past summer, I planted over 50 PLANTS in planters around our deck and front porch. I'm trying to figure out where to put some of them inside our house now. I hate to see them die.
    • I've been thinking about doing an online sale of some of my summer sandals and clothes that I can no longer wear. I've seen Instagram auctions but I think I might find a way to do it here in some way. If you wear a size 9 shoe, you are in luck because I have tons of never worn or barely worn super cute sandals to share. Stay tuned.
    • We booked a trip to Costa Rica for next spring but we're thinking we need to postpone that for another year while my body continues to heal. While I have no interest in ziplining or things of that ilk, I do want to see toucans, sloths, and monkeys while we are there. So, I am currently in research mode for a new destination within a four-hour or so flight range. I think I may have found it but if you have any ideas, please let me know!

    I hope to make this a regular (monthly? bi-weekly?) series and to push out some of those drafts I've been saving. There are photos of two amazing trips to Mexico we took, a pretty intense and personal tome on a family issue we faced this past year, lots of info on my battle with pain that I think others might find useful (it was hard to find really helpful practical advice when I needed it), and various observations about life out here at the end of the world. So thanks, DJT, for compelling me to share my thoughts and writing again!

    Oh, and I started a new section here at the bottom of each post that gives you a little list of the things I have planned for each month, sort of like my Calendar posts from years past.

    Thanks for reading! See you back here in a bit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Happy Summer!

  • Thoughts on Moving to a Sandbar

    photo: East End tidal flats at low tide

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

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

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

    *******************

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

    1) We wanted to simplify our lives.

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

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

    2) We'd be all in.

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

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

    *******************

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

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

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

  • Jump on in. The water is perfect!

    Welcome to the new Juniper Disco!

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

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

    Here's the NEW stuff you will find:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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