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  • Jump on in. The water is perfect!

    Welcome to the new Juniper Disco!

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

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

    Here's the NEW stuff you will find:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (originally published on December 23, 2014)

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

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

    Gratitude List

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

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

  • The One You Never Saw Coming

    (originally published on December 15, 2013)

    Hee! Hee! This is going to be good!

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

    Drumroll ...

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

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

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

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

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

    And ....

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

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

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

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

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

  • Boston : After

    (originally published on April 21, 2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • A few days later ...

    (originally published on April 18, 2013)

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

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

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

  • My City

    (originally published on April 16, 2013)

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    My city. My home. My world.

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

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

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

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

    One block and 30 minutes. My world.

     

  • With Gusto

    (originally published on May 3, 2013)

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

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

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

  • A Year

    (originally published on May 3, 2012)

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

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

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

    This post is dedicated to:

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

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

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

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  • Out Loud

    (originially published on May 13, 2011)

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    Sarah and I didn't like each other very much when we first met as freshmen in college. I thought she was loud. I'm certain she thought I was mean. And we were competing for the same attention -- such is the foolish nonsense of 18-year-old girls. Throughout college, we traveled the same paths regularly. We had the same major, took the same classes, had many of the same friends, hung out at the same frat, and pledged the same sorority (briefly for her.)

    One of the things that I remembered this past week is such a small part of our overlapping time and space on this earth. I was taking an introductory drawing class and had missed one too many classes. The sadistic professor required me to make up the class, but in a higher level course. I remember nervously taking my seat and seeing Sarah about 3 seats away. Then, one of my classmates walked through the circle of drawing desks, climbed up on the small stage, and took off her clothes. Swearing never to miss another class again, I kept my head down and drew what Prof. Meany told me to draw. And then at the end, deepening my torment, we were told to stand up and walk around to look at everyone's work. Of course the advanced artists around me had created works that were so much better than anything I had managed to scratch out. And then I got to Sarah's. Unlike the rest of the class, Sarah, who always did things her way, had drawn just the model's hand. In exquisite detail. It was extraordinary.

    Our paths crossed again when we both landed in Boston. Missing that affiliation thing from my college days, I decided to join the Junior League. The first year in the JL is considered the provisional year and has sort of a pledge class feel to it. I was excited to meet new people and will never forget standing in line to get a drink at the first cocktail party and hearing my name. Shouted out in a LOUD voice. Oh yes, you guessed it. It was Sarah, dressed impeccably as usual. We saw each other a lot during those days -- at meetings, events, functions. We always caught up on the latest in our lives and exchanged gossip about our former classmates. As life happens, we then saw each other less. I think I missed her entire first pregnancy, which we both thought was insane when we realized how much time had passed since we last saw each other. And then we lost touch completely.

    Enter Facebook. Sarah was one of the first people to friend me and we quickly caught up. She always commented on my posts and I revelled in her approval and snarky comments. She often sent me little personal messages with things she thought I'd like. The last one she sent me was titled "Snuggling on the Beach" and was a video of a woman sitting on a beach in a pile of elephant seals. She wrote "This struck me as something you NEED to see. Just amazing - I'm so jealous!" 

    We learned that we had many, many similar interests -- including that our favorite word is "pamplemousse," that we both LOVE summer with a ferocity few people understand, that we have a keen interest in recycling and plastic trash, that we love the ocean, and that we both wanted a Chihuly to hang in our homes.

    It was during the early days of reconnecting with her that I learned about her battle with ovarian cancer. I remember when she started her blog, The Carcinista. I read every single post  -- and especially her final post, "Taking the Reins" -- with the same sort of awe I had when I saw her beautifully drawn hand in art class. I've re-read them in the past two weeks and am even more amazed at her unflinching approach to life ... and death. Sarah died on May 3. This morning I went to her memorial service.

    This is my 41st post in 41 days and is the first thing I'm checking off that list. I'm dedicating my completion of all of these things to Sarah, who has kicked my ass off the couch more times than I can count in the last few years, has shown me the importance of "making memories," and has taught me how to live. Out loud.

    To hear about Sarah's incredible journey in her own voice, listen to this podcast that was recorded less than a week before she died. And please read her blog. Her words are her gift to all of us.

  • Brave and Bold Week *part five

    (originally published on November 16, 2012)

    Brave and Bold Week comes to an end with one more story of bravery ...

    I love whales. I love whales so much that I went on a three day sleep at sea trip on a no frills fishing vessel to do nothing other than watch whales! Offered through the Coastal and Research and Education Society of Long Island, the trip left from Montauk but also picked up passengers on Martha's Vineyard. At midnight. Which I thought was a perfectly fine idea when I booked the trip.

    To make the connection I took the boat from Boston to Ptown the night before and stayed at my mom's. My sister and brother-in-law happened to be leaving the next day so they dropped me off in Hyannis in the morning so I could take the ferry to the Vineyard. I ended up booking a room for the night just so I had a home base and a place to take a shower (and sleep if there ended up being an issue.) 

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    Around midnight, I found myself standing in the dark on the dock with two other people waiting for the boat to pick us up. It was one of those moments when I really asked myself what the hell I was doing. And then, like a, um ... Viking Starship, the boat arrived, lights blazing in the darkness.

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    There were only three bunks left for us and I got the last one, right next to the beer. Even though it was stormy and I ended up airborne a few times throughout the night, I slept well. Until a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that we had arrived in the Great South Channel and that a pod of dolphins was off our starboard bow. 

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    I immediately jumped off my bunk, put on some appropriate attire, and ran up to the deck. I missed the dolphins but I did get to see this sunrise!

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    To give you a sense of just how utilitarian the boat was, let me share some photos. This is the top deck where we all spent a good portion of our time. It was pretty chilly (although it was August) so I found myself needing to move down to the main deck a lot.

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    Most of the hardcore photographers hung out on the bow. Every time a whale would surface, those cameras went into highspeed mode. Click, click, click, click, click!

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    When you needed a break or had to charge your camera battery, there were seats inside. Some people even SLEPT in their seats the whole trip. And at night, the whiskey and cards came out. There's not much else to do when you are bobbing around in the dark on a boat like this.

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    The food was pretty amazing! I have no idea how the chef was able to create what he did using the minimal equipment on board. We had to eat in shifts and one night I shared a meal with the provost of a university on Long Island. Here's the eating area.

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    My breakfast sandwich one morning.

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    The man in the hat with his back to us is Carl Safina. He is one of my heroes! I had no idea he would be on this trip and he wasn't there as an expert. He was there as a passenger just like me. He spent a lot of time writing on his laptop, clearly working on his next manuscript.

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    Oh, yes, there were whales! Even when it was too dark or foggy to see them you could hear them exhaling all around the boat. It was so amazing. And we did get to see breaching!

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    And a million, gazillion birds.

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    One of the other things to do at night, after we set anchor, was to do some fishing. The crew pulled up some big ones!

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    One of the things I liked so much was the changing sky. Isn't this gorgeous? 

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    And the water is different out there. The swells are big and further apart. I found myself mesmerized watching it rise and fall.

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    This is my favorite photo of the whole trip! It captures what it felt like most of the time. Surreal and beautiful. Calm and stunning.

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    So, everyone, that's it for Brave and Bold Week. I'm in California until Sunday so I'm not sure when the next post will be. You can always follow my adventures on Instagram here, I'm more likely to be posting there for now.