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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.