journal

2016
  • 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!