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  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 25

    March can really jerk you around. Not only did we have to adjust to Daylight Savings Time (seriously, just leave the time alone!), but we had Mercury Retrograde almost the ENTIRE month! And we had a full moon and the spring equinox on the same day. I also celebrated a birthday and now I only have TWO YEARS to plan my Blow-out Jubilee (title in progress.) The snow and cold came in like a lion, too. But now it's all lamb-y and I am super happy. It's also the time of year when my calendar starts to fill up with the word "opening!" And, tomorrow, we are off to JAMAICA! Spring energy is flowing!


    Thinking About:

    • Injustice. I am doing all I can not to brood. I believe in karma. A person cannot put that much negativity into the world and not have it come back at them. I just want it to happen in this lifetime so I can witness it. Learning to live with the possibility that this won't happen is a goddamn struggle.

    • Being a Pisces during Pisces season. Us Pisces are super emotional and spongy so when we're in our own season and everyone else is also feeling emotional, the effect is amplified. My colleagues used to call me "The Onion" at work because people would cry in my office all the time. There were terrible, painful cries like the man who burst into tears, covered his face with both hands, and wailed that he had disgraced his religion, ancestors, his entire country! (The thought bubble over my head read: "Fuuuuucccckkkkk.") Best thing to do during Pisces season is to hide as best you can (and maybe not hang out with me.) To my fellow suffering fish, hope you made it through another one unscathed!

    Thankful For:

    • Distractions. I am so grateful to be fortunate enough to travel to Jamaica tomorrow for vacation but also to have spent this week packing and getting ready instead of wringing my hands and sighing deeply all day. Also, grateful for Paddington and Paddington 2which I watched the day after the report was submitted, but before that stupid Barr memo came out. And for the crispy rice The Super Mr. made me and the hearty walk on the beach we took with Stephen that weekend.


    Watching:

    • Shrill. That first sequence of scenes where she is wearing silver shoes and is loving on her dog and then pulls her shirt over her knees to stretch it out stopped me in my tracks. Oh my God, SHE IS ME! So many familiar moments in this short six-episode series cut right to my heart. ALSO! This article about how they had to make or alter most of her clothes because they couldn't find stylish plus-size clothes for her! 

    • True Detective, Season 3. I had no intention of watching this one, but I kept reading that it was good. There are three timelines that phase into each other abruptly so be ready to adjust to that. The storyline is disturbing, but the ending is just right!

    • Three really good action series where you learn something about the world. Jack Ryan. It took us a while to get through this because it is so stressful. We were deeply involved in caring about the fate of several of the characters. Also, Carlton Cuse directed this! The Widow. I love the way this show reveals it's secrets. The ending was a bit white messiah-ish, though. Secret City. Both seasons of this Australian political intrigue show will pull you in. 

    • End Game. Grab a huge box of tissues before you press play. This Oscar-nominated short (it's less than an hour long) follows several people at the end of their lives and the different paths they choose for hospice. I'm a fan of the Zen Hospice Project, which is featured.

    Creating:

    • Rediscovering my lists in the li.st archive. I used to publish a "20 Things I Googled This Week" list, which was really a precursor to Notes. Inspired, I've decided to resurrect a monthly list in this section. 

      I recently saw a thread on Twitter about imagining a college do-over -- you get to do the same four years again, but knowing what you know now. Here's my first "List of the Month":

      What I Would Do Differently If I Went Back to College Now:
      1) major in environmental science/biology instead of art history and SAVE THE WORLD
      2) study abroad junior year, on an island, scuba diving
      3) avoid a small handful of people who individually brought me nothing but grief 
      4) not be the rush chair for my sorority senior year
      5) mend my relationship with Sarah a lot earlier (didn't happen until I moved to Boston)  -- she died almost eight years ago now of ovarian cancer
      6) cultivate friendships with a few people who turned out to be my kind of people
      7) avoid fraternities and encourage two of my friends to report things that happened to them there
      8) talk over the boys in class 
      9) be better prepared and have better outfits for the Tri Delta National Convention in Palm Desert (boy, was that eye opening in a which-one-is-not like-the-others kind of way)
      10) be better about my vegetarian phase (or rather my cereal and pasta phase)

      What would you guys do differently? It's a fun exercise and can really help you see how you've changed and what you value now.

    Reading:

    • City and regional magazine newsletters. I started following Texas Monthly after reading several interesting stories about the border wall and about Beto. From there, it expanded to San Diego (Claudette from Top Chef  looks different! and she has a James Beard award nomination), Sarasota (mid-century modern architecture and J. McLaughlin), Portland, Oregon, (for 20 years, "float fairies" have hidden glass-blown floats along the beaches of Lincoln City for people to find!), Chicago (even with a Tiger Woods golf course, Obama's Presidential Center is creating a few concerns about it's impact on the South Side), Charleston (meet the Crabbin' Queen!). I've been drawn into the local stories and have been learning about what it is like in Toronto (super high rents!) and the controversy around Drag Queen Story Time in Houston.

    • This month's reading list. I've done a bit better this month and got through two books: How To Be a Good Creature (I sobbed the entire way through the book, see Hygge-ing section), and When My Brother Was an Aztec, a book of poetry that I had started awhile ago. It left me both amazed at what a person can do with language and pained by the content (much of it is inspired by her brother's drug addiction.)


    Listening:

    • The Dropout podcast. Let's just talk about the best person in this whole thing, the professor of medicine from Stanford who was all BITCH, PLEASE! from Day One! Girlfriend was not fooled by Elizabeth's intense commitment to Gatsby-like deception! I also watched the 20/20 special and The Inventor, the HBO documentary. It was WAY too much Elizabeth, so just pick one and skip the rest. 

    • Iditapod podcast. You guys! I know I mentioned Blair Bravermann and her #uglydogs before, but I had no idea how emotional I would be when she crossed the finish line with the dogs I had come to know through Twitter. And I followed along through the Iditapod podcast the whole time. Also, huge hugs to the dogs who refused to move after the musher yelled at one of them (He lost a five-hour lead because of it. If only this would happen to all the screamy people in the world.) 

    • Mile Marker 181 podcast. A young woman was killed in a single car crash in the most horrific way ... or was she murdered by her friend? Yes, the Lifetime movie plot drew me in, but I found the investigator/narrator's style and earnestness with which she pursues answers for the family to be the real hook here. 

    • Podcast episodes:
      -"What Happened to Lindsey Graham?" episode of The Daily. I was surprised by this take on crazy Lindsey's sharp veer off the cliff.
      -"Why Didn't Mueller Decide on Obstruction?" episode of The Daily. Still not sure. Give us that report!

    • The Eurovision 2019 songs! All the countries have released their songs for May's competition and I have started culling through them for the gems! I like the dance-y songs with catchy choruses and/or a satisfying drop. So far, here are a few that I like: "Say Na Na Na" from San Marino (um, where???). "La Venda" from Spain. "Chameleon" from Malta.

    • RavenKis' version of "Rollercoaster" and Tame Impala's "Patience." I added both to my Poolside Mix. Because I'm gonna be POOLSIDE in 24 hours!

    • GMA changed their morning song. Someone over there must have read my last post about how GMA's song is all terrifying because they CHANGED IT! Now it's mostly cymbals crashing while the "G" moves dramatically around the screen.


    Eating + Drinking:

    • Bread broth recipe. This is so ridiculously simple and I eat it at least once a week for lunch. Using grapeseed oil or avocado oil, sauté some garlic (I use lots and often cheat by using the stuff in a jar). Add a drained can of Northern white beans (Trader Joe's has good ones). Fry until crispy but not burnt. Toast some thick, hearty whole grain bread. Heat up the chicken broth. Place the toasted bread in a shallow bowl, pour the heated broth over it and top with a generous helping of the white bean and garlic mixture. Eat with a salad and you have a balanced quick and easy lunch! Tip: I make the beans ahead of time and use them in several recipes during the week.

    • Malt vinegar POWDER. Did you know it comes in powder form? Try it on green beans. 

    • Roasted buffalo chickpea bowls. You can make just the chickpeas, sprinkle them with blue cheese crumbles, and eat along with baby carrot sticks for an easy and tasty snack. I don't add the butter to the buffalo sauce -- extra calories no one needs!


    Learning:

    • 16 Personalities. I am a huge fan of the MBTI. (INFJ here.) This is one of the best sites I've found for discovering and learning about your personality type. They add a fifth component, Identity, which is either assertive (A) or turbulent (T). I'm an A. The free materials are really terrific and every now and then I'll get an email them on a certain topic for my type. The most recent was "The Problem with Mind Reading," which my type is pretty good at.

    • Recycling bottles with the caps ON. First they told us to take them off, now you are supposed to leave them on! And not crushing cans before you place them in the recycling. We've been doing this single stream recycling thing all wrong apparently. Here is a good guide in case you want to make sure more of your stuff actually gets recycled and doesn't just get thrown in with the rest of the trash because you messed it all up!

    • The New York Times copy editing quizzes. These are challenging, but in a good way!


    Hygge
    -ing:

    • I spent my entire birthday just reading. It was glorious and I highly recommend finding a day when you commit to only doing that. Here's just one of so many passages from Sy Montgomery's book that wrapped me in a warm hug: 

      "Being friends with an octopus -- whatever that friendship meant to her -- has shown me that our world, and the worlds around and within it, is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom -- and is far more vibrant, far more holy, then we could ever imagine."

    Loving:

    • Wobble cushion. Working my core muscles is a key component of managing my back pain (and preventing it from returning.) I sit on this when I'm at a desk or kitchen chair and often stand on it when I'm working in the kitchen. Every little bit helps!

    • Murder She Drank: a bingo drinking game. Right? Once a month you can participate online, but I think it is the perfect activity for a bunch of friends on a rainy afternoon! Lots of bingo cards are available on the site. (Bonus: this reggae song was on repeat at one of the resorts we visited in Jamaica. The Super Mr. and I couldn't stop singing "Muuurder she wrote. Muuuuurrder she wrote.")

    • Bird saver stickers. Unfortunately one of the unpleasant parts of putting up a bird feeder is the random bird strikes on our windows (so far, no fatalities, thank goodness!) We put up these very cool UV stickers that look clear to us but are bright to the birds (because they have magic eyes and can see colors we can't!)

    • This eyeball test. Ok, FINE! I got most of them wrong. I thought they were all sloths.


    Eliminating:

    • Marie Kondo for Twitter. This site will have you go through each one of your Twitter follows individually, show you their latest tweets while removing the bio information, and ask you if they are still meaningful to you. I eliminated 122. I wish there was one for Instagram because that has gotten out of hand!

      ALSO! I muted "Trump" and "Mueller" on my Twitter feed for 24 hours and, boy, what a difference it made. All the good stuff was able to rise to the top and not be suffocated by the vileness. It was so good that I made it a permanent change. 

    • I cut three inches off my hair. Friends, I hadn't gotten my hair cut in almost a year! My hair stylist moved salons and, while Orleans is only about 40 minutes away, it was just too much of a pain. Anyway, Ptown has quite a few salons and I found one that is off the main drag, has parking, and is super chill. Hooray!


    Expanding:

    • "You Can Achieve Anything If You Focus on ONE Thing." Sometimes I can't believe how many things I used to juggle when we lived in the city. But ask me what I actually achieved. I'm not sure I could name much of anything in the last ten years we were there. I was just doing lots of stuff and ticking boxes, I guess. So when I read this approach to single-tasking, I thought I'd like to try it. 


    Planning + Organizing:

    • Post-winter activities. I just created a "Spring" on the Cape Pinterest board with things I want to do before summer arrives. There are lots of flowers and food and nature trails and local trips on it. (Spring is in quotes because we don't really have a spring here. It's not quite winter, but not quite the spring I grew up with either.)

    • Apartment Therapy has a spring cleaning project email-a-day series that you can sign up for here. It starts April 1!


    Fur Mama-ing:


    Health-ing:

    • "Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood." Curious what that superfood is? FIBER. "Fiber is the closest thing we have to a true superfood  Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers" And it's really EASY to add to your diet! Popcorn!

    • "Why do we need sleep? Israeli scientists solve the mystery." Turns out it's the only time our cells can repair damaged DNA. Before reading this I never considered that one night of bad sleep could lead to disease. Especially when your DNA repairing mechanisms are working at half speed, it makes getting a good night's sleep every single night even more important. Sleep is so magical! 


    Traveling:


    Extra Credit:

    • "How I Lost My Legs and Gained ... You Want Me to Say Something Inspiring Here." After reading this, I HAD to solve the mystery of how she lost her legs. She's very squishy on the details. She mentions how awful the accident was, says she doesn't remember it, describes other people's reactions when she tells them what happened, and shares that maybe she was at fault. I found her fantastic writing on Medium, checked her Instagram and Twitter, and Googled her. The Miss Nancy Drew in me put it all together and found this. Her story hasn't left my brain since.

    • "The Hills Are Alive." The first time I saw Laguna Beach, I was hiding in the one room that had AC in our apartment on Irving Street and was gobsmacked (also furious) that teenagers lived like that. This Vogue multi-media presentation is a masterpiece!

    • "Life, Death, and PTSD as a Ranger in the Tetons." Warning: this is disturbing. We all need to be aware of the cost of making risky choices, especially when someone else has to come rescue us. 

    • "The 'Top Chef' judges never ate Eric Adjepong's final meal. This is what it tastes like." We were routing for Eric for most of the show (although it took us longer than usual to pick our favorites this past season) and were totally disappointed when he didn't make the final. Glad he has so much success coming to him anyway!
       
    • "Revisited: Watson and the Shark." We had an art history book in our home library and I was OBSESSED with this painting. I would stare at it all the time, wondering what was going to happen to that poor person (my young mind was confused whether it was a girl or a boy) in the water. Seems I'm not the only one who had this obsession.

    • "Welcome to Birdpunk: A Subculture of a Subculture."  I like birds because they are cute, little creatures that come in all sorts of colors, sing their hearts out, have magic eyes, and can fly. Plus, they used to be DINOSAURS. That's as punk rock as it gets.


    Thank you all once again for reading! I'll be stuffing my face with fresh papaya and floating around in the Caribbean Sea looking for starfish next week. And I'll be sharing a bonus Jamaica post next month in addition to the regular Notes from a Clamshell Path. Get out there and enjoy the "spring," everyone!