Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Five @ 5 - Couchbound Edition

1. You know when you meet someone new and within a few minutes of talking with them you realize they are EXTREMELY savvy and you'd do pretty much anything they recommended you do? I have a new co-worker like this, and last week when I started feeling sick she recommended I get myself some Manuka honey. Have you all heard of this? It's pricey - $35 for an 18-ounce jar (to me that's pricey), but after five days of a horrible sore throat and visiting the doctor today only to be told that what I have is viral and I'll get over it eventually, I was happy to plunk down my cash and try this magical honey. BOY, am I glad I did. It is like nature's Chloraseptic spray. I take that back. It is nothing like Chloraseptic spray because unlike Chloraseptic spray, Manuka honey actually WORKS. I took a teaspoon of it - that's not true - I ripped the lid and seal off of it and feverishly shoved a giant blob into my mouth as soon as I got home from the grocery store. No lie, it cut down on my pain almost immediately. After I'd calmed down a bit, I made myself some tea and added a little honey to it and things only got better. If you get sick this winter, do yourself a favor and get this honey. Apparently you can also use it topically to soothe bug bites and cuts. And, it just happens to be from New Zealand - the birthplace of Jam.

2. I want leg warmers. If I hadn't just spent $35 on honey, I'd treat myself to these.

3. I made up a recipe this weekend. I'm calling it Faux Pho. I used to LOVE to eat Pho Ga from Pho Pasteur when I was sick so I basically took everything I used to love and thought I could taste in that and put it in a pot and cooked it. This is NOT real pho. Not even close. Hence the name, Faux Pho. Here's what I did: boil a gigantic boneless/skinless chicken breast in salted water with a whole shallot peeled and cut in half (it was all I had in, you could use any onion.) Take the chicken out after 20-ish mins (leave the water in the pot) and shred it with two forks. Add one Wyler's chicken bouillon cube (I know) to the pot along with a cup or two of water. Heat that up. Grate a fair amount of fresh ginger - ginger makes me feel better - and add that in. Slice up a few cloves of garlic and cook them in a little oil in a separate pan until the slices are golden, then throw those in. Add the shredded chicken. Add some lime zest. Add some Sriracha - a teaspoon-ish, more if you're REALLY congested. Or if you're nasty. Add a tiny bit of soy sauce. Let all of that hang out and simmer a bit. Soak some rice noodles in hot water until they are soft - 15 mins or so. Put the rice noodles in a bowl and ladle the broth/chicken over the noodles. Top with cilantro if you have it, scallions, and a hearty lime squeeze. Eat. Immediately feel a little bit better.

4. There are SO many movies out right now that I'm dying to see. On my list for my holiday break - Jackie and Manchester By The Sea.

5. Two weeks from today it will be 2017. Aside from the fact that we are (probably) going to inaugurate a complete and total moron as President, I REALLY cannot wait to get started on a new year. 2016 was a rough ride for me and seemingly for everyone else, too. I'm not ready to dive into my reflections on this awful year just yet, but I did dive into making plans for sending it on its way. I decided I wanted to spend New Year's Eve alone. I'm taking myself to a class at North End Yoga that will run from 10pm to midnight on December 31st and then I'm going right to bed. I'm getting up on January 1st and doing my favorite thing on the planet (teaching fitness) followed by my second favorite thing on the planet (feeding myself.) What are you doing?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday Five @ 5:30 - PM Edition

When Harry Met Sally
1. I only watch two TV shows: The Bachelor/Bachelorette and Law and Order: SVU. I don't like most of what's on these days. I loved 30 Rock. I liked Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's first season, but if I'm honest I thought the second season was blah. I tried Grace and Frankie and lost interest. I HATED the couple episodes of Downton Abbey I watched. I don't really know what Game of Thrones is. I'm just not a TV person. But I want to scream from the ROOFTOPS about NBC's This Is Us.  If you aren't watching it you absolutely need to start. I'm only three episodes in and I'm hooked. There is a Mad Men-style twist at the end of the first episode that will blow your entire mind. I still have chills. Get on that.

2. So everything at Old Navy is basically free right now. Not really. But 50% off isn't bad. I'm getting a second pair of these leggings. I CANNOT SAY IT LOUDLY ENOUGH: Old Navy has the best leggings in the universe. Do not spend more. Do not. I'm also getting this and 5 of these.

3. I'm so sad and angry about the election that I can't form polite, coherent sentences and talk about it like a compassionate, intelligent, thinking, loving person just yet. I'm in a blind (devastated but somewhat controlled) rage. There is literally no one I won't offend with what I really have to say about all of this, so I'm going to pretty much leave it alone. The one thing I will say about it is that it's changed me. I don't yet know if it's for the better or worse. I felt something snap in my heart at 3am on November 9th when I saw that HRC had conceded. I can remember the exact feeling. There was this little "click" (onomatopoeia?) in my heart and I fell down on my living room floor in a heap and cried harder than I have in probably eight years. It shook something loose in me and I'm not the same version of myself that I was when I stood in line to vote with my mother on the morning of November 8th. In some ways I feel like I have more patience and compassion, in other ways I feel like I LITERALLY can't look at anyone. I'm introvert-ing more than usual. I definitely don't believe in Santa Claus anymore. So-to-speak.

4. Deep breath. Hey. It's the holiday season. That's great. Yesterday I got to teach Thanksgiving Day classes at Healthworks. I freaked out BIG TIME about what exactly to teach, but it ended up being a blast.  When I mentioned to a few non-Healthworks friends that I'd be teaching on Thanksgiving they seemed shocked that people would want to go to the gym on a holiday. It got me thinking. I so do not think of Healthworks as a gym. And I REALLY do not think of myself as a fitness instructor. It never occurred to me during my classes yesterday to mention burning enough calories so we could all eat Thanksgiving dinner later and not feel badly about it. It was more about kicking off a holiday doing something we all really love to do. I'm going to keep teaching from that place.

5. What's your favorite holiday movie? I have been watching When Harry Met Sally basically on repeat for the last week. It's not TOTALLY a holiday movie but it kind of is because it ends on New Year's Eve. Actually, there are at least two New Year's Eve scenes and they purchase a Christmas tree at one point. It counts. I'm also into Love Actually. I can't stand White Christmas. I'm sorry. I tried. Meh.

Have a wonderful weekend, all.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Let's do this.
1. I walk by this new boxing club in my neighborhood a few times each week and through the window I can see people going absolutely nuts on these big punching bags. I've been feeling absolutely nuts lately, so I decided I needed to try it. Title Boxing Club North Station, I will see you tonight.

2. I shared this on Facebook earlier this week, but it can't hurt to blast it out again. Everyone go make this for breakfast right now. This recipe has completely addicted me to chives, I want them on everything.

3. It just needs to be November 8th. I can't look at the internet and I also can't look away. I want to know what the polls are saying and I don't. I want it over with. I want to celebrate HRC's victory, have a cathartic cry, hug my mother, walk home, and go to bed.

4. I'm so HAPPY to have a weekend off starting in 10.5 hours. I love being busy, but wow I need a little break. In addition to my first attempt at boxing, I'm going to wash my comforter, take yoga, visit Tom at Miniluxe, try a new restaurant, FINALLY go see the Boston Public Library's renovations, and finish the great book I'm in the middle of. I'm most excited about washing my comforter. Nothing is better than clean bedding.

5. Sigh. It just needs to be November 8th. Happy Friday, all.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

1. I had two good friends get married in the last two weeks. I was a bridesmaid in one wedding and a guest at another. The highlight of both experiences was seeing my friends so happy. These are two lovely and completely badass women who I genuinely adore and respect and who married dudes who have made them both amplified versions of their very best selves. Good job, you two. Anyway, also on my list of highlights from these two beautiful events was my (far more shallow) first experience with something that has really changed my life: the gel manicure.

Holy shit. I was hesitant for years to get one. It sounded weird to me that something could stay on my nails for weeks at a time and not chip. But I had two weekends of weddings and time for only one manicure, so I tried it. Where have you been all my life, gel? I'm sure you're terrible for me. But I don't care. I didn't realize I needed you. My friend Katie had given our mutual manicurist, Tom a heads up that I was coming in for my first gel manicure. When I arrived he looked thrilled. "FIRST GEL!" He was right to be that excited. I couldn't believe how shiny and perfect my nails looked when he was done. But the best part was the effect the no-chipping had on me. Not that I typically spend all my time worrying about my nails, they usually look pretty blah, but it was SO nice to have some part of my appearance look reliably nice for two whole weeks. It made me feel better about myself. Even if my hair looked sad and I'd forgotten to use the lint brush before leaving the apartment, my nails looked good and that meant I was a grown-up woman with her act together. If you haven't tried it, you should. Miniluxe will even remove it for FREE when you get tired of it.

2. Fall makes me want to cook. The blogs have been teeming with awesome recipes lately. I'm planning to make thisthisthis again, and ESPECIALLY this in the next couple of weeks.

3. I rolled the dice with my fitness teaching this fall and decided to take on more classes. Being busy with teaching keeps me on track and out of trouble, and (best part) I get to eat more. Last night I added my final class. I think I've ended up with the best five days of teaching I could have imagined. Sunday, you are the hardest working group of human beings in the city. Monday, you are my lobster. Tuesday, you are the biggest and most wonderful surprise of my year. I didn't know I could smile quite that hard while sucking wind. Wednesday, you fill the most enormous studio at The HW to the brim with your energy, and I want to hug each one of you at the end of class. And Thursday, I can already see your wheels turning and it amazes me how quickly you put my words into action. I can't believe I get to do this work five days in a row. I really can't. I laughed out loud walking through the Prudential last night thinking about the fact that people actually pay me to teach fitness classes. I feel like I should pay them. I don't know what I'd do without it.  

4. "He's fearless. And always had a chip on his shoulder."   I enjoyed this.

5. I feel so sad for a friend of mine who lost his beloved dog this week. I saw the news on Facebook and my heart broke a little. I had to go to the ladies room and have a quick cry. I think there's something really special about having a pet. I have a cat. He's an old man and he has diabetes and a thyroid condition. I have to give him insulin injections and thyroid medicine twice a day everyday, exactly 12 hours apart. (Minus the two nights each week when I don't have time to come home between work and my classes and my wonderful father comes over to shoot and medicate the little big man. Thanks, Dad.) I don't LOVE that Buster is as sick as he is, but in a weird way it makes me feel good to become even more responsible for his well-being as he ages since over the years he's been so responsible for mine. I really think our four-legged family members take care of us just as much as we take care of them. I'm glad I'm a pet person. I'm glad I prioritize my little big dude. If that makes me a "crazy cat lady" I'm 500% fine with it. I think people who love animals are the best people, and the friend I mentioned above is one of the most loving pet owners I've ever met. I'm sending a ton of love his way this weekend, you should too.

Happy Friday, all.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lick-Your-Bowl Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I got an INTENSE craving for roasted red peppers on my way home tonight, so I threw this together and crossed my fingers and it came out AMAZING. Blew my entire face off. I don't have a face anymore. I also don't have a photo of my dinner because I devoured it immediately and literally licked the bowl. Everyone go make this.

Fresh pasta of any shape. Maybe not spaghetti, I feel like spaghetti wouldn't be the best here

12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers - mine were just Trader Joe's and had been in the cabinet for at least four months

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 giant or 3 medium garlic cloves minced

salt + pepper + sprinkle of dried basil

Throw some olive oil in a little frying pan, turn the heat to medium, and cook your minced garlic until it's sizzling a bit. Drain the roasted red peppers and throw them into the pan on top of the garlic. Just leave them whole and stir them around with the garlic. Let them cook about five minutes. Dump all of that garlicky deliciousness into a blender or food processor and puree it. Throw it back into the pan. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and stir slowly. Let it all hang out over low heat until it's good and warm. Add a little salt, pepper, and dried basil to taste. Cook your fresh pasta and mix it with an obscene amount of the sauce in a bowl. Top with some freshly grated parmesan if you have it. Which you should. Everyone should always have a wedge of good parmesan in the house. Eat. Lick your bowl. Happy sigh. You're welcome.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Cash. Try it.
1. Do you all meditate? I'm starting to feel like I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't do it regularly. I'm an anxious person and so I've always thought meditation would be good for me, but also impossible. I have to relax and clear my mind so I can relax and clear my mind? Sounds... great... Anyway last week I was VERY stressed out and feeling like crap, when I came across this video that explained meditation in a way that really worked for me. The key message is that your mind absolutely will wander, it will go nuts, but every time you bring it back into focus it's like a bicep curl for your brain. You will get stronger/better at it over time. I tried it. After I got my giggles under control, I made it through 5 minutes and I did feel a little better afterwards. I might do this more often. (I haven't done it since.) (Sigh.)

2. So there's this new thing I'm super into. It's called cash. Have you heard of cash? When you go to pay for something in a store or restaurant or coffee shop, the cashier tells you the total and you hand them this little slip of paper called cash. It has a dollar value attached to it. The cashier then immediately hands you back the difference and you leave. You don't have to stand there for an eternity and wait for the chip reader to function, you don't need to hold your phone in the exact right position for the LevelUp scanner to read it. It's amazing. You should try it. Like really, try it. It shouldn't take 10 minutes to pay for two items in CVS. Let's go.

3. Gluten free friends. I want you all to come to the North End and go to Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shop because guess what? They just started carrying gluten free fresh pasta that will blow. Your. Face off. $10 for a huge bag. It doesn't turn to mush when you cook it. It doesn't fall apart when you mix it with sauce. Pasta dignity. Here is what you should do with it: sweet Italian sausage in a little frying pan, brown it. Add one clove of minced garlic. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Shut the heat off. Pour in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and then throw a handful of spinach or arugula in on top of that. Stir, and it will wilt. Boil your baller pasta for 4 mins, throw that in on top of the greens and sausage, sprinkle some pecorino in so the sauce will stick, mix, cook it all on low heat for a few, eat. Happiness explosion.

4. I turned 37 yesterday and it was such a relief. I think I do better with odd years. Even years always kick the shit out of me. 24 was a rough ride. 30 was a disaster. 36 was brutal. On Wednesday night I sat on my couch and stared at the clock at 11:59PM waiting for 36 to be over. As I sat there and reflected on the year, I realized that at least a third of what went wrong wouldn't have happened if I'd listened to my gut. Two-thirds I had no control over, but one third was on me. WHY do I not listen to myself? Ugh. Anyway, when the clock finally hit midnight, I ate a cupcake (thanks, Little Ally!) and decided that 37 is not going to be perfect, but it will be 33.3333333% better than 36. That I can manage.

5. I just got this sweatshirt and I wish I could wear it every single day. Old Navy really just nails it in the fall.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reindeer Games

When I was in the 7th grade I was cast as a reindeer in The Nutcracker. I was NOT happy about it. Prior to this I'd been cast twice as a child party scene guest and once as a polichinelle—two roles that were WAY higher on the Nutcracker food chain. Reindeers tended to be on the taller side, and were too old for the cute young kid roles but not yet experienced enough for the big kid roles. Reindeers were Nutcracker Jan Brady. They didn't even dance. They wore white antlers and pulled a sleigh onto the stage during the snow scene, dropped the Snow Queen and King off in "the forest" and exited stage left. A little while later they pulled the sleigh across the stage to the wings on the other side. I can't remember why? Probably so their parents wouldn't complain that they weren't onstage long enough. At the end of the snow scene they pulled the sleigh back onto the stage, picked up Clara and the Prince, made a U-turn, and peaced out. My mother tried to make me feel better about all of this by saying, "Joyce Kulkawik says she likes the snow scene the best almost every year!" I was, at that time, (and still am) a HUGE Joyce Kulhawik fan, but no. Not having it.

I arrived at the Wang Theatre on Reindeer Cast D's first day of performances, and made a beeline for a folding chair in the corner of the child performer holding pen backstage. I yanked on my stupid white ballet slippers, folded my arms, and began my sulking. A girl who I recognized as a fellow reindeer arrived a few minutes later and sat down nearby. She was close enough so that we could have chatted, but far away enough so that if we didn't, it wouldn't have been too awkward. Occasionally, we'd glance at each other and look away if we made eye contact. I didn't want to talk to her because the fact that I was a reindeer meant the entire Nutcracker experience that year was going to be terrible. In my mind I was a Boston Ballet School loser. I didn't want to get to know anyone or appear to be enjoying myself for even one second, because then everyone would get the impression that I thought being a reindeer was something to celebrate, and they'd think I was pathetic.

So this other reindeer sitting nearby was making me nervous. To be honest, I was getting bored and wouldn't have minded a chat, but then I'd appear to not be miserable. I decided to stay silent and get back to having fun next year when I'd, hopefully, have a more impressive role. I looked at the party scene kids playing cards and unwrapping their Secret Santa gifts and missed being one of them. I saw a group of girls who were part of the Tea divertissement in Act 2 walk by our room with black ballet slippers and their hair into two buns and was so overwhelmed by their coolness I could have passed out. I think some of them were chewing gum. IN THE THEATER. If they saw me enjoying life as a reindeer they'd definitely laugh and I'd definitely never recover. I even saw the other members of our reindeer squad clustered together at the far end of the room talking and laughing and doing the occasional little jump or pirouette. "What for?" I thought. "We're just going to pull a sleigh around a stage and go home. You need to practice and warm up for that?" Ugh.

Now I could feel the other loner reindeer looking at me. I told myself to not engage, to stay silent, freeze, and look down at my stupid white ballet slippers. But then she abruptly uncrossed and crossed her legs and turned towards me and said "So what's new?" I can STILL hear her saying it in my mind. Lauren was her name. I was startled and relieved at the same time and I unfroze and answered her. I asked her a question. She asked me another question. We laughed. I acted like a normal person. It wasn't horrible. No one seemed to be laughing at me. We eventually wandered over to join the rest of our reindeer squad.

It ended up being a wonderful Nutcracker experience for me. Probably the best one I ever had if I'm measuring things by how happy they make me. I got to know a really nice new group of girls my age, there was no sense of competition, and I got to wear a dusting of glitter on my face. I also do think the snow scene is the best part. I'm not sure if anyone thought I was pathetic for enjoying my time as a reindeer because I forgot to look around and check. I'm going to guess they either didn't notice or didn't care. Thank you, Lauren, wherever you are.

Fast forward 25 years and oh look, I'm still me! This time I'm not avoiding making new friends and enjoying being a child performer in a ballet production, I'm avoiding writing - something I really love to do, just like I loved ballet and being onstage.

I haven't been writing because I tend to write about my life, and life hasn't been the best the past few months. I haven't been at my best. And I've been reluctant to write anything because I knew it wouldn't be the best either. I didn't want anyone to read anything I wrote and think I was pathetic for thinking it was good enough to put it out there. Dumb. No one cares. No one cared if I liked my smallish part as a reindeer in The Nutcracker. No one would care if I shared a mediocre blog post about my diabetic old man cat and how his new insulin schedule has turned me into a morning person and I kind of like it.

I appreciate that a lot of you have reached out over the past few months and asked me when I'd be posting here again. I've been at home for several days now recovering from a little procedure I had early last week - I'm 100% fine and it was more inconvenient than serious - and I've been looking at my laptop really wanting to write something. Finally, I did. Thank you for reading it. I'm going to skip apologizing for it, and I hope to be sharing more words with you soon. Happy Sunday.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Happiness Snowball

Yesterday New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman brought me back to life. What do I mean by this? Have you ever had a day or a week or a month or a year where something just HAS to give? I've had four occasions in my life where I've hit that point, and all four times I've had a moment therein where I stop, close my eyes, and ask for... something. Who am I asking and what am I asking for? I'm not exactly sure. Help? Sort of. Guidance? Maybe a little. Am I praying? Not really. Meditating? Nah, I'm way too anxious to meditate. Anyway, I had one of those moments yesterday around lunchtime, and 45 minutes later Julian Edelman saved me. 

A friend sent me a message saying she'd heard he was in the restaurant in the lobby of my office building having lunch. Holy shit. Today? Did someone hire him to do this? (As a point of clarification before I continue: Julian Edelman is my #1 celebrity crush. I think he is handsome, funny, talented, and perfect in every way. I will marry him. Watch.) I immediately threw some lipstick on, stood up from my chair, and walked to the elevator with one goal: eye contact. If I can look Julian Edelman in the eye, I can bounce back, I will know the world is not a lousy place, I will brush myself off and get back in the ring. I figured I'd just walk in there looking like I knew where I was going and see what happened. If they asked me what the hell I was doing, I'd lie and say I was considering the restaurant for a private event and wanted to see the space. Easy. I got myself down there, nodded confidently at the hostess, and walked in a very authoritative circle around the bar. I stopped 10 feet away from my future husband's table and pretended to check my phone. Not working. Only the woman sitting diagonally across from him looked at me. Probably because she was excited that someone was seeing her at the same table as Julian Edelman and wanted to watch the jealousy bubble up around her. I'd do the same thing. I needed him to look at me, so I got a foot closer and just stared at him until he seemed to notice my creepy self doing so, LOOKED RIGHT AT ME, and looked away. Julian Edelman looked at me. Sure it was for one second, but I locked eyes with my celebrity athlete dream man on one of the worst days I'd had in a while and it helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I don't want to go into the lame details of why I had a rough few weeks, I don't feel like wallowing in it anymore. It's done. I think locking eyes with Julian Edelman for one second helped because it reminded me that I have tons of things to be happy about - his chiseled face, for example. But also, my good friend who adores his chiseled face just as much as I do and the fun we have swooning over him. Thinking about that led to me think about all the other fun things I do with that friend, which led me to remember how much I love teaching at Healthworks, which led to me think about how excited I am to learn all the new choreography I have to learn in the next two weeks, which got me thinking about teaching on the Esplanade this summer, which led me to think about maybe organizing a little dinner at 75 Chestnut after one of the classes, which reminded me how much I love a good steak, which got me thinking about cooking in my kitchen and how happy it's always made me, which got me thinking about how much I love the North End and how fortunate I am to live in such a cool neighborhood and so close to my family. Happiness. Snowball.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I very easily lose sight of all the good things in my life when something big goes wrong. I'm SO bad at remembering all the other pieces of the puzzle, how nicely they fit together, and what a beautiful picture they make. This was a rough one, I don't want to beat myself up for having a hard time getting through it, but I did lose sight entirely for at least a little while, of all the really wonderful parts of my life. So thank you, Julian Edelman. Thank you for looking at me and coaxing me back towards happiness and reminding me just how lucky I am.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. Why can't you walk into a market and buy a quarter cup of fresh cilantro leaves? It is literally 2016. You can order a 3-course meal and a human being to clean up after it by glancing at your cell phone. I can't buy a quarter cup of cilantro? If someone started offering this as an option I'd be a customer for life. Anytime a recipe calls for cilantro I get stressed out, because what the HELL am I going to do with all the cilantro I'm required to buy? Who could use this much of it before it turns mushy and slimy and gross in three days? Sometimes I've thought to myself, I live in a neighborhood full of restaurants, maybe I can just walk in and ask the kitchen if I can buy a handful of cilantro leaves from them....? No. Anyway, Sunday night I made this recipe and was left with a giant pile of cilantro staring back at me, so I did the following and it was DELICIOUS - one cup of fresh cilantro, the juice of half an orange, the juice of a whole lime, 1/2 cup olive oil, tiny garlic clove minced, salt and pepper. Throw all that into a blender and puree it. Voila: flavor party salad dressing. I put it all over some baby kale. It made enough for four salads. Do it. 

2. Fun Fact: one of my absolute favorite movies of all time is Look Who's Talking. The summer I was 26 it was available OnDemand for free and I watched it 1,589,364 times. I was living in a closet-sized apartment in the Back Bay. I'd walk to Bangkok Blue on Boylston Street and get Drunken Noodles, go next door to Store 24 and get a liter of Evian, and walk home to sit on my bed in my nightgown and eat my spicy food and chug water and watch Look Who's Talking. It was literally my favorite thing in the entire world to do. I met Olympia Dukakis a few years ago because the agency I work for gave her an award and I planned the awards ceremony, and I nearly passed out from excitement because she plays the grandmother in Look Who's Talking. Anyway, it popped into my head last night and now I'm dying to watch it. I think this scene is one of the sweetest, most romantic things that has ever happened in the history of movie-making. 

3. I said "no" a lot this week. This is something I've been REALLY bad at for a REALLY long time and I'm sick of it. No mas. A couple days ago I typed up a list of my things to say no to, put on my big girl pants, and sat down for 30 mins and sent all of the NOs out. A few of them backfired and were terrible, but saying no felt pretty luxurious; like your ear popping when you have a really bad cold. Does anyone else struggle with this? I hate hurting feelings. It's funny, I was talking to a new friend last night about a time where I got back together with an ex-boyfriend I really didn't like all that much. I didn't dislike him. I just... didn't like him? We reconnected and went out for a drink, and I sort of thought it was just a nice time catching up. Nope. He came at me with all of the feelings. All of them. So I proceeded to date him FOR A YEAR AND A HALF OF MY LIFE, because I couldn't hurt his feelings and say no. I'm going to work on this "no" thing because I'm pretty sure all of the "no" I've avoided saying over the years has gotten in the way of a few yes's. I don't know what the plural of "yes" is. I've only had two sips of coffee and I just can't look into it right now. Sorry.    

4. My friend Katie has pretty excellent taste. She introduced me to the kale salad at Cinquecento and the vinyasa scarf, and she is as passionate about the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons as I am, so when she says something is terrific, I tend to listen. This week she RAVED about this new 305 Fitness thing that recently arrived in Boston. Apparently it's a fusion of dance and high-intensity interval training, it's REALLY loud, and there's a live DJ in every class. Sold. I'm trying it tomorrow morning. It's at the David Barton gym near the Park Plaza if you're interested.

5. Do you ever get the sense that you're at a moment in your life where you're surrounded by the very best people and you want to freeze time and keep them right where they are and as they are forever? I felt that way all week. From overhearing a co-worker's phone call at the tail end of the day about her broken refrigerator where she was so firm but elegant but feisty it made me smile, to bearing witness to a good friend's absolutely spectacular road rage in a very rainy traffic jam, to taking the BodyPump class of a ridiculously talented young lady who used to take my BodyPump classes, to running into my dad at the library in my neighborhood and seeing him look so content, I just wanted to hug everyone this week. If you're reading this, I probably wanted to hug you, too. 

Have a good weekend, all.    

Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

We got one!
1. I've given up Uber as part of my crusade to be smarter about money. It's been three weeks to the day, not one Uber! Those of you who really know me understand that this is huge. I have no self-control and was using it WAY too much. I took the slogan "Everyone's Personal Driver" a little too literally. Anyway, I did need to get home very late at night one night during this first few weeks of Uber-free living, and I called a cab. People still do this! My conversation with the cab dispatcher made me think of this scene from Ghostbusters, because he sounded so shocked to hear from me.

2. Am I weird for feeling like it's too soon for a movie to be made about the Marathon bombing? I assumed one would be made eventually, but this is bugging me. If they're filming now, they probably started scouting locations a while ago when it was REALLY too soon. And it seems like they can't wait to get it into theaters. December? Maybe I'm a party pooper. Maybe it's too close to home. It just feels too soon.

3. I'm craving really good ricotta. This lemony deliciousness is going to be dinner on Sunday. I love the part about putting the bowl over the pasta pot MacGyver-style.

4. On Monday morning this week I went for an actual run outdoors. I did it because on Sunday afternoon I BOOKED it from Trader Joe's to an about-to-leave green line train, and when I sat down on the train afterwards I felt zesty and healthy and awesome and wanted to feel that way again as soon as possible. I have to say I really enjoyed my early AM run. I was only out there for a little over 20 minutes, but it was such a therapeutic way to start the day. I live alone and it was nice to see other human beings so soon after waking up, nice to see my neighborhood and smell the bakeries getting up and running, and really nice to get some fresh air in my lungs and a little sweat going before getting ready for work. (Side note: how wonderful is the feeling of being really sweaty and gross and then getting really really clean? Heaven.) There were, however, two horrifying parts of the run: first, the quiet few seconds between the songs I had blasting in my headphones where I had to hear what my breathing sounds like when I run. Wow. Second, running by and making direct eye contact with a gentleman I went on a disappointing date with last year who was on his way to work dressed all nice and smelling terrific while I was a makeup-free, just-woke-up, huffing, galloping, disaster area. Whatever. I ran and it felt really terrific and I'm going to keep doing it.

5. The iPhone weather says it's going to SNOW not once, but twice in the next week and I am thrilled. Spring stresses me out. Spring is an indecisive pain in the ass. Spring is wishy washy. You walk outside and it's so windy your skirt FLIES up over your head. You sneeze constantly. You cannot figure out what to wear. Summer isn't my favorite, but at least summer is just hot. You know what you're getting with summer. Winter. Same thing. It's cold. Done. Fall is just gorgeous and perfect and untouchable. It is the Tom Brady of seasons. Spring can just go away. I'm excited to have even a little snow. I'll make tomato sauce to celebrate.  

Happy weekend, all.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Failure To Launch

Every quarter I get to learn new batches of choreography for two of the classes I teach at the gym. I download two hours of video, two hours of music, and two books of notes, and then I memorize all of it. I essentially teach myself to teach it. The week that all instructors begin using that new choreography in class is called "launch." Our next launch kicks off this Sunday.

Tonight I finished teaching my two Monday classes and was UP HERE. I was in such a great mood, I wanted to hug everyone, and I was ready to go home and eat everything in my refrigerator and relax. Then I remembered I actually needed to leave the studio, get myself cleaned up and out the door, and put my headphones in ASAP so I could get back to studying new choreography. It's the week before launch, my friends. My laptop will sit on top of the washing machine in my bathroom while I put my makeup on in the morning so I can watch and listen to the videos for a bit before I leave the apartment. Every walk to the T, every trip to the water fountain at work, every elevator ride, the entire time I'm cooking breakfast, my commute home, all of my free time belongs to learning this new stuff. It owns my brain. I will suddenly yell out "shoulder WHIP" on the street if I remember something. I will slowly rock back and forth in my chair at work thinking about deadlifts and their timing. I will look a cashier at CVS square in the eye wordlessly for an awkwardly long time and then say, "step touch."

It's a process, and tonight I was in the I DON'T WANNA phase with it. Arms folded. Pouting. Brazenly listening to a song I'm considering for Zumba instead of the 27 songs on my to-learn list. Looking around the train at all the lucky people who AREN'T fitness instructors and who get to just go home and shut their brains off and and laugh at their TVs and brush their dumb teeth and go to sleep with smug grins on their faces. WAHHHHHHH!

But then I remembered the first time I ever heard the term "launch" and it made me rethink my quarterly tantrum. I was a member of the gym for which I now teach. I was really new. I was just starting to get interested in this new dance class called BodyJam. I loved it because I'd taken ballet pretty seriously when I was a kid, and it felt really good to dance again. The instructor, Brooke, who is now a close friend of mine but who at the time I felt was WAY too cool for me to speak to, told us that later that week there would be a special class where they'd teach us some brand new choreography. There would be three instructors, they'd have some sort of theme, and there would be a disco section. Sold. This shit was keeping me alive and I HAD to be at this launch thing. I left the studio, I wrote it down, it was on.

Snag. This was NOT the best time in my life. I had depression. I'd been laid off,  I was not coping well, I was overweight, I was smoking a lot, I was drinking a lot, I was dating someone who wasn't the best version of himself at that point, I was really sad and angry, and I was struggling to see a way out of it. This new class was the first thing in a long time that made me feel like I was going to be alright. I was so depressed sometimes I couldn't even look straight ahead. Truth. This class made me look up. I was going to that launch thing no matter what.

Nope. I was sitting in the courtyard across the street from my apartment building when I realized it. I'd had a terrible night the night before and stayed inside most of the day. I crept out to smoke a cigarette. I felt awful. I was super hungry. I was all puffy from crying. My ribs were killing me. Everything hurt. I brought my notebook outside with me so I could do some writing and saw the note I'd written that said, "Special Body Jam launch class Back Bay Friday." I was so sad. I missed it. I missed the new stuff. I missed the disco. The theme. The three instructors. I missed it.

I'd love to say that this was the moment that changed everything and that right then and there I stood up and threw my cigarettes in the trash and dumped my boyfriend and became the picture of health. Not so much. It wasn't immediate, but I do credit BodyJam with bringing me back to life. A few months later, I was taking a class and Brooke, the instructor I mentioned above, sort of stopped what she was doing and looked out at the class and said, "I love what I do." I remember thinking, "I want to feel like THAT." After class I got online and wrote down a list of every single BodyJam class the gym offered. I had nothing but time. I was unemployed. I could take that class everyday except Wednesday. Eventually, the schedule evolved and I could even take it twice on Thursday if I wanted to. Sometimes I did.

Then one day I was standing outside the studio at the gym's brand new Coolidge Corner location on a Sunday morning waiting for my class, when a girl named Berkley came up to me and said, "Hey, you sometimes go to Back Bay, right?" Someone at the gym actually KNEW me. From another location! A healthy person in a gym knew ME. I think I turned nine shades of red and was so beside myself I nearly fainted from excitement and walked away to pretend to fill my water bottle. From then on I started to feel a real sense of community from this class and this gym. I started to "make the first move" and introduce myself to people. I moved from the back row to the front row. (NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THE BACK ROW, BACK ROW PEOPLE!)

Maybe a year later I registered for an initial instructor training for BodyJam. I had NO intention of ever actually teaching it, I just wanted to learn more about this hobby I loved so much. The training was in Bedford, MA. Not too far away. (Okay, fine, my parents drove me.) (My mom loves the TJ Maxx in Bedford.) The first time I stood up to present during the training I didn't feel nervous at all. I felt calm for the first time in... ever?

To this day, the second I put the microphone on my head at the beginning of class I feel better. I feel like me for the first time all day, I know exactly what to do. I feel like I can 100% be myself. And I feel like I lose the ability to think about anything or anyone outside of the people standing in front of me and the things I need to teach them. It is so relaxing to totally immerse yourself in something and forget about everything else. I'm so bad at this, and so thankful to have teaching be this kind of escape for me.

This was why at the end of my classes tonight I'd completely forgotten about my studying, about launch coming up next week, and about all the things I need to memorize and perfect before then. But as I was sitting on the train heading home pouting and defiantly listening to Ricky Martin instead of Diplo, I remembered that lousy day in the courtyard. I remembered how sad I felt that I'd failed to make it to launch, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I leaned forward in my seat like I was secretly practicing a deadlift at my desk and got a bit choked up.

I haven't missed a single BodyJam launch since that terrible courtyard day. Over the past four years I've participated as a member, I've danced alongside more senior instructors as they taught new choreography, I've launched with other members of our Jam team, I've launched by myself. I even picked up another certification along the way. Two of them.

I got to the gym tonight and there was a flier on the studio door for our special launch event coming up this Sunday. My name was one of the four listed as teaching at the event. I sort of glanced at it and made a sarcastic comment about the photo that was used since it was of an EXTREMELY fit woman, i.e. NOT me. But later on the train when I was thinking about all of this, I got really emotional about that flier because there was a time when I was really devastated to not be in the room for launch, and now I was going to be at the front of the room for it.

That said, teaching is not about me. I'm conscious of the fact that each time I teach, there could be someone in the studio having her version of a "courtyard" phase. There could also be someone in the room who simply had a crappy day and who really needs to dance her face off and/or lift really heavy things and then go home and sleep and get back in the ring tomorrow. Sometimes people come to just like... exercise and burn calories and stuff. Anyway. It's my hope that I can create a space where all of those things can happen, and where my participants can feel strong, safe, empowered, and creative; where they can forget every single horrible or wonderful thing happening outside of the room, and see where that might take them.

BodyJam 60, 62, and 70 launches; Zumba on the Esplanade

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blow Your Face Off Sesame Ginger Chicken For ONE

This will never be a food blog. I am not a skilled food person. I have no business sharing anything food-related that I've made up with any of you. This recipe is super basic and will probably bore everyone, but it was SO GOOD I made it two days in a row and had to share just in case any of you hadn't thought of combining things this way.

I'm trying REALLY hard to get my financial act together. A BIG part of that is breaking my embarrassing habit of spending money I do not have and eating nearly every meal in a restaurant. Yesterday I arrived home after a really nice day out with my family feeling kind of tired, kind of hungry, kind of lazy. My knee-jerk reaction was to take myself to the bar at Benevento's for some gluten free penne a la vodka and two glasses of Cabernet to the tune of $50 with tip. But then I remembered that I make very little money and I have a credit card to pay off and I need to snap out of it. So, I took myself to the butcher and got one skinless, boneless chicken breast and told myself I was going to figure something out for dinner with whatever I had in. $3.50 for dinner. It's on.

Here's what I made:


One boneless, skinless chicken breast sliced into strips or chunks, whatever you like
1/2 cup uncooked rice of your choice
One scallion chopped up
Half a lime - if you have it, if not, no worries


Teaspoon of peanut butter - Skippy is fine, don't overthink this
One clove of garlic minced
A tiny bit of Sriracha, or more, some like it hot
Drizzle of sesame oil
Bunch of soy sauce - the majority of the marinade should be soy sauce
Fresh ginger grated right into the marinade bowl, not a ton

Put the chicken in the marinade and stick it in the fridge for 30 mins.

Cook the rice according to package directions. When it's ALMOST done, zest a little bit of lime over the pot and stir. Shut off the heat, keep it covered, take it off the burner. Just let it sit.

Heat some olive oil and a dash of sesame oil in a little frying pan for a minute or two.

Dump the chicken and marinade into the frying pan and cook it

Put the rice in the bowl you intend to eat out of. Squeeze your lime over the rice.

Throw the chicken on top of the rice.

Sprinkle an obnoxious amount of sesame seeds on top of the chicken.

More lime, if there's juice left

Sprinkle the chopped scallions on top.

Eat it all with a big glass of really cold white wine.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. I plan to make this Thai Peanut Burrito Bowl for dinner tonight. Have I had it before? Nope. But it sounds so delicious, I already plan to make it again on my day off this Monday. Do I actually have a day off this Monday? Nope. But I can FEEL a snow day coming on. The last time I checked the iPhone weather still had snowflakes on Sunday and Monday. 

2. Speaking of the iPhone, I was halfway down Hanover Street yesterday morning when I realized I'd forgotten mine at home. I kept walking. I wanted to try having a day away from it. My life didn't change. I didn't have an epiphany. I didn't get a lot more accomplished at work than usual. But I loved the break. I don't even really like my phone all that much, but I am hopelessly addicted to it. And seven times out of 10 when I pick it up and look at it I feel either anxious, annoyed, or more bored than I was before I picked it up. It's useful, sure, but it's so distracting. One of my co-workers and her friend played the fiddle in our lobby for a half hour around lunchtime yesterday for Saint Patrick's Day. Usually I would have had my phone with me. Taken a picture. Probably hit the little button at the bottom to check the time and see if I had any messages a few times. It was so nice to just sit there and listen. I knew they were going to finish playing at 12:30. I didn't need to look at the time. Later on I went to dinner with my parents and we had a really gorgeous meal. This was a very special treat, we went here. Anyway, as we were winding down three seemingly very nice people sat down next to us, ordered, and got right into their phones. It was so funny to really see what we all look like. This is a nice restaurant (thank you, Mom and Dad) and the food is just stunning, the dining room is really elegant, it's not like sitting at Otto by yourself at the end of a 12-hour day scarfing a pizza before you get on the train to go home, it's a special occasion restaurant. I felt so bad for these three people. I wanted to take a picture of them and show them what they looked like. But I didn't have my phone with me, so I jumped right back into chatting with Mom and Dad and enjoying the beautiful space.

3. I am so excited to watch this documentary about Nora Ephron that I almost want to run out and buy a TV and get HBO.

4. A few weeks ago in a span of 48 hours I went through a break-up and on a first date and I'm not even dating this year. You see, both the break-up and the first date were friend-related. I met up with a girl I went to elementary and middle school with and who I've gotten to know via Facebook. We finally decided to take the friendship out on dry land and sit down with some Italian food and wine and get to know each other in real life as adults.  It was SO much fun. The very next day I had a friendship-on-the-rocks come to an abrupt end. Sad on one level, an enormous relief on another. Anyway, since that week I've been thinking a lot about my friendships and what I've realized is that they're somewhat fluid. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I don't have a "best friend" and I've never really had a clique. Do people still say that word? NO. It's "squad" now. I've never been part of a "squad" but I've always had a lot of people in my life who I'm very close with and talk to A LOT. When I was in high school I had three friends I considered my closest. They kind of knew each other but they ran in different circles. When they'd hang out with their "friends" I was sometimes invited, and sometimes I wasn't. Recently I had a person who I consider a pretty close friend tell me she was excited to introduce her new boyfriend to her "friends." This did not include me. Hey, at least I know where I stand. That sounded bitter, but I'm really not complaining. I'm just noticing. If I had a crisis, I know I have 10 people I could go to immediately, maybe more. Not everyone can say that. It's 5:50 a.m. and I've already received two "good luck" texts from friends regarding something I have to do today. But out of those 10 people, I've only known two of them for more than five years. Again, NOT complaining, just noticing. All of this just has me wondering, am I weird because I don't have a DJ Tanner/Kimmy Gibbler-style lifelong friendship? Am I weird because people I consider very close friends don't typically consider me to be part of the "friends" category of their lives? What if I keep going like this and when I'm 90 (fingers crossed) and probably still haven't met a man to marry, I can't find any "friends" and then I'm REALLY alone??? Am I going to read this in 10 years and say, "Oh shut up, Ann. Take a deep breath and get a real problem?" Probably. It's just something I'm noodling on.

5. Sometimes you can't come up with five things to write about because your cat throws up in the middle of writing #4 and now it's just time for coffee. It just is. Have a great weekend, everyone.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

The One

I've been searching for The One for years, and I've been disappointed again and again. I've tried to keep my hopes up that it would happen, but recently I decided to give up. I was never going to find The One and it was okay. There were other things in life that made me happy.

All of this changed for me over the past five days. I found The One! I was looking at Facebook last week when my eyes drifted off to a little photograph on the right hand side of the screen and it just happened. I fell in love. I knew immediately that this was it. After years of disappointment, it was happening to me. To ME! 

Obviously, I am not talking about a man. I am talking about a water bottle. 

Isn't it perfect? I ordered it immediately. It's everything I've ever wanted. I've tried several times to be a good person who "goes green" and carries a water bottle instead of buying plastic bottle after plastic bottle, but each time I was disappointed. This thing is PERFECT. I don't have to squeeze it so it'll never dribble all over me. There's no straw to get gross and weird looking from me chewing on it in meetings when I'm feeling anxious. I just open it and drink. Then I close it, and IT IS A VAULT. It will not spill in my bag like the horrible glass one I got at Whole Foods that leaked and ruined my cell phone. Speaking of glass, IT'S NOT GLASS, so it won't shatter if (when) I drop it. It's not dishwasher-safe so it won't make me feel bad for not having a dishwasher. You can't tell from the photo, but it has a little sparkle to it and that just thrills me. It's not a bright color so I won't get sick of it. It has a super subtle logo on it which is perfect because I can't stand logos.I keep gazing at it and turning it over in my hands looking for a flaw. None. Not one flaw. It's perfect. For me. It's The One.  

The silly little lesson for me here is that I don't have to change who I am and what I like in order to have a water bottle. Or really anything worth having. I don't like straws. I don't like logos. I don't like bright colors. I'm going to hurriedly throw this thing in my bag at the end of a 12-hour day and I'm going to need it to be on my team and not leak all over my phone. That's me, and I'd rather have no water bottle at all than the wrong water bottle.

Stay thirsty, my friends.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. The highlight of my week was going to the dentist. I don't say this to imply that I had a bad week, I say this because it literally was the highlight. I'm terrified of the dentist, and I've been pretty bad about going regularly. My last visit a little over a year ago went VERY badly and I waited until now to get back in the ring. My 11am appointment on Tuesday this week began at 8am when the Actual Dentist - like the person in the white coat who comes in at the end and examines you and talks loudly and blesses your cleaning - called me on my cell phone to introduce himself and ask me if there was anything he should know or anything he could do to make me more comfortable during my first visit. I was honest and told him I had horrible anxiety, I hadn't been in a while, I really didn't trust or like anyone in his profession, and I was sorry in advance about the crappy morning he was about to have. He told me he liked my honesty. When I arrived for my appointment a few hours later, the hospitality continued. They gave me a tour of the entire office like I was a staff member and it was my first day. They made small talk to put me at ease, but also kept it real and asked me multiple times if I was feeling anxious and how best to share information with me so I wouldn't become more anxious - why don't more people do this? They offered me water, headphones, sunglasses, an eye pillow, lip balm,  and AN ACTUAL BLANKET. They spent 2.5 hours with me and I never felt rushed, I never felt like my questions were ridiculous, and as the minutes ticked by I started to have fun. FUN. At the dentist. At the end of my appointment, the Actual Dentist did that elbows on his lap/hands folded/leaned forward pose like he was about to say something important but wanted me to feel like he was on my level and we were in it together, and told me that there are probably 10,000 people in Boston who are also scared to go to the dentist and to please spread the word that it doesn't have to be that way,  and that he doesn't care if people come to his practice, he only cares that they go somewhere. I almost started crying it was so beautifully said. Is this guy a salesman? Probably. But I don't care. I have a dentist. FINALLY. I'm going back. I can't WAIT to go back. If you are like me and terrified of the dentist, you have to go here

2. I'm reading this book and almost every page is making me roar with laughter and nod in agreement. No one is better than Nora Ephron.  

3. Confession: I'm bad with money. Are any of you bad with money? Not just, "woops, I overspent a little this weekend" bad with money, or, "oh goodness I'm paying my cell phone bill ON the due date, that was a close call" bad with money. Like BAD with money. It's gotten to a place where I spend money as if I don't even like it. I spend it relentlessly, like I want to get rid of it as quickly as I can. Worst part? I don't have a whole lot to show for it. I don't run out and relentlessly buy groceries or even clothing. I don't really ever take vacations or travel. I don't sit on my couch at night with my computer on my lap feverishly paying my bills as soon as I receive them. I rarely buy the basic things I actually need. In fact, I've realized that I HATE spending money on basics. I'll stand in CVS looking at the price of trash bags, and the ones that cost $8.99 will scare me. "Mmmmmm. That's steep." But $80 on dinner and drinks I don't need and probably won't really enjoy all that much on a random Tuesday night? That's no big deal. Turns out? It kind of is a big deal. It adds up. It's a self-destructive habit and it's been a problem of mine for years. Those of you who socialize with me have probably noticed that I can be a little... extravagant. That needs to change for a while, or forever. The thing that's snapped me out of it and started me (hopefully) on a path to righting my financial ship, is the realization that I'm not even made happy by most of the things I'm throwing my money at. It hit me on Saturday night, again on Sunday night, and MAJORLY on Tuesday night. So, I looked back at 10 weeks of my bank statement and wrote down every expense I deemed an "extra" meaning things outside of the basics I've now admitted to myself I hate spending money on like rent, groceries, and bills. I'm a terrible person, really. The list was alarming. I then broke that list into two - 1. things I actually enjoyed or that were gracious/socially necessary, 2. things I either didn't enjoy or that were due to disorganization or laziness. Less than a third of the ridiculous amount of money I'd spent went to things I actually enjoyed or felt good about. I've thrown a lot of money away so far in 2016. It's amazing how much damage you can do to yourself if you're not paying attention. The silver lining for me is that I've been doing this for years, ending up in the same place, and never understanding how I got there. I acknowledge that this is a somewhat pathetic realization for a 36-year old woman and that some of you who own your homes and cars and/or who are raising children or have a responsibility to someone other than yourselves are probably rolling your eyes. That's fine. I'm rolling my eyes, too. But better late than never. I predict in about a month I'll turn the news on and see a story about Boston's restaurants suddenly suffering a downturn in revenue, with a side story that Uber drivers are reporting a major drop in business and that it's unclear if the two are related.  I am the WORST. 

4. So now that I'm going to try and be a normal, sane person who understands that you don't actually need to eat every single one of your meals in a restaurant and who is in the beginning stages of digging herself out of a money pit, I'm on the hunt for some tasty but inexpensive recipes. I started with this one. I've saved it in my email for years because I thought it sounded so delicious and easy, and last night it became a reality because I actually had all of the ingredients in my house already. Who knew? I didn't. Sigh. Sidenote  - I think someone could write an article about literally anything, and if I liked the layout of the page and the accompanying photos I'd run out and do it like it was the most exciting thing I'd ever heard of. Someone could say, "Take two pieces of bread and put them in your toaster. Push the button down. When the button pops back up, that means the toast is done. Take the bread out of the toaster, put some butter on each side, and eat it." If the page was cute I'd have toast for every meal for a month. Financial crisis - solved.  

5. Relatedly, I'm going to see this group perform next Friday and I purchased my ticket entirely because I randomly saw a Facebook post of theirs, clicked on it, and was immediately in love with their website and the way they announced their new executive director. Don't they sound neat?

Have a good weekend, everyone. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. Hi! So, I missed a week of Friday Five @ 5. I had nothing to say. Well, I had plenty to say but it was all kind of boring and/or a bummer and I really couldn't get out of bed at 5am. Or 6 or 7am for that matter. Sometimes I have a week or two where I struggle. I'm sure at least a few of you know what I mean and can relate. I'll leave it at that.

2. I've decided to start exercising on a regular basis. Yes, I'm a fitness instructor so it's odd that I'd say I'm going to START exercising. But teaching, while challenging physically, is not exactly exercise for me. Honestly, it's better. It's the best. It's the happiest part of my life and for a while I thought, well, there's my exercise. Not so much. Because for me the most significant benefits of exercise have nothing to do with my body and everything to do with my mind. The whole reason I got into this game was because six years ago I turned to exercise at a really rough time. I was sitting on my parents' couch thinking, "okay, what the HELL am I going to do?" and my web browser found its way over to the Healthworks website. I started by doing a few sessions with a personal trainer who reminded me how to move my limbs and that I had muscles in my body. From there I stumbled into group exercise and fell in love with BodyJam and felt better and better by the day. I love to exercise because I'm challenged in a really distracting way, I'm calmer, my stress decreases, and my ability to focus during all the other parts of my day increases. I also just really love movement. When I'm teaching it's technically work. It's WONDERFUL work that I love more than anything, but it's not all that calming. Anyway, I'm trying barre and yoga since the four classes I'm fortunate to teach each week have me me bouncing around and lifting heavy-ish things. So far, so good. Yay exercise.

3. I didn't know it was okay to have garlic for breakfast, did you? After noticing a Facebook/Instagram post by this lovely and very knowledgeable lady, I copied her and recreated her breakfast of eggs, bacon, and garlicky chard. And it. Blew. My. Whole. Face off. Garlic for breakfast. Try it.  

4. Fuller House. It's not going to be raking in the Emmys. It's not going to change anyone's life. It's just so entertaining and wonderfully corny and nostalgia-filled, and sometimes that's enough at the end of a long day. I've already done plenty of thinking today, I've already had plenty of drama, just make me giggle and send me on my way. I highly recommend watching this gem. Also: John Stamos. To this day. Have mercy. 

5. I used to dance. I was pretty serious about ballet as a kiddo and took ballet classes for fun during college and in my 20s. It had its ups and downs as all things do, but overall I absolutely loved it. I stopped when I was 26. A few weeks ago it occurred to me how much I love ballet, how much I miss it, and how happy it once made me, so I'm going BACK. Ten years away, long enough. I'm ready. I mean yeah it's WAY too late for me to be a serious dancer, but I can sure as hell take adult beginner ballet classes and refresh my muscle memory and enjoy some live piano accompaniment and make some new friends on Saturday afternoons. I registered for a 10-week class and I start later this month. Why not?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. This post is going to be quick and dirty because in the next 60 minutes I need to pack, set my cat's thyroid pills out on the table, eat something, take my trash out, caffeinate, dry my hair, and head to South Station so I can be on my way to MAINE. Oh thank goodness for Maine. Portland, to be specific. My plans include lunch at Eventide Oyster Co. by myself so I can introvert (it's a verb now) and think and put too much horseradish on everything, and then I'm off to time spend with two of the most wonderful children in New England and their family. To the right: the three of us the last time I visited. One branch of my father's side of the family lives in Maine. These are my cousin's children. I adore them. I cannot wait to see them. And their parents, aunt, grandparents, and dog. My heart might burst. 

2. One of my co-workers mentioned last week in passing that the first thing she does every morning when she wakes up is drink a large glass of water. Before she even gets out of bed! This blew my mind, so I tried doing it every single morning this week and I have to say, it did make me feel better. At least physically. A little hydration and self-care before your feet even hit the floor sets a good tone for the day. I will keep on doing this.

3. I took a few days off from Facebook this week. I just felt like I should have some space from it and try using it less. It was anticlimactic. I didn't feel all that different. I also realized how many of my friendships and relationships are Facebook-based, and I genuinely missed people. I don't know how I feel about this. Is Facebook evil? Is it ruining genuine friendships or sustaining them? I wonder if when the telephone was still a somewhat new invention if people asked themselves, "Is the telephone evil? Should I get a handle on my use and really try to write letters to my friends more often instead of relying on this technology?" 

4. This soup is happening for me on Sunday afternoon. How simple and delicious does that sound? I love anything with white beans in it.

5. I don't even know what to say about the BodyJam class I taught last night. I realize I am paid to teach and I'm there to serve the participants and ensure that they get a great workout, but sometimes I feel like I should be paying the gym and not vice versa. I believe I gave my crew a good and safe workout last night, but there was something about this class that was also so special to ME. Maybe it was the people in the room, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the time in the week (maybe it's almost my time of the month?), but I really never wanted it to end and I felt lighter than I had in weeks when it was over. Sometimes I feel shy about how much teaching BodyJam means to me. It's a simple 55-minute cardio dance class, but it is is like the savior that keeps on saving. I don't know what I'd do without it. I hope the people who take my classes know how spectacular I think they are and how much teaching them means to me.     

Okay. I'm going to Maine now. Everyone have a nice weekend. Bye.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. This has been a weird week. Not bad. Just weird. I feel foggy and not like myself. I'm also LATE writing this thing. I'm hoping for a super boring week next week where nothing happens and I can autopilot myself through work and teaching and go home and be a hermit and make tomato sauce and read my overdue library book with my hair in a pile on top of my head.

2. Lipstick. I want to buy ALL of it. On Wednesday night my friend Katie had me try on something called Girl About Town by Mac and I'd never felt prettier. I've been wearing the same lipstick shade since I was in the actual seventh grade. THE SEVENTH GRADE. Black Honey by Clinique. Don't get me wrong, it's a really nice, classic shade. It's not really a color though, it just sort of enhances the natural color of your lips. Girl About Town was like POW. Lately anytime I see a picture of myself I think I look like an elderly man. This made me look like an actual girl. So this weekend it's on, I'm buying tubes and tubes of it. New lease on life. 

3. Speaking of Katie, if any of you know her please do not tell her this or she will get the Beygency after me, but Beyonce isn't always my favorite. I like her very much, I enjoy her music, but I'm not always blown away by it. However, this week I am! Formation. I cannot stop listening to it. The second I heard it, I wanted to choreograph something for my class to it, and it took me no more than 15 minutes to know exactly what that choreography would be. Alas, I've also noticed a LOT of heated debate about it and am struggling to find a "clean" version of the song. So, if anyone wants to come over to my apartment and dance in my living room with me, please let me know. This might be my favorite thing I've ever created.   

4. This video will never ever ever fail to make me laugh.

5. I realized this week that I have been watching The Bachelor for almost 15 years. I watched the Season One finale in my very first apartment in Brighton while literally standing up and holding a rabbit ear antenna on top of my television set. Because of all the static, I could only see half of Alex Michel's face when he rejected Trista. I don't own a TV nowadays, but I have a Hulu subscription just so I can watch The Bachelor. I love it. I love every single minute of it. I love The Bachelor. I love The Bachelorette. I love Bachelor in Paradise. I love The Women Tell All. I love After The Final Rose. I love the new Bachelor Live. I loved Bachelor Pad. All of it.I had a moment two summers ago where I was in my bed watching Bachelor in Paradise on my laptop, eating popcorn, and drinking a glass of white wine and I started to CRY I was so happy. Not like, a little choked up because I was feeling so content and peaceful. Like noisy sniffly crying to the point where my then-boyfriend came running into the bedroom to see what was wrong with me. It makes me that happy. And this current season is SOLID gold and you should be watching it. I wish I was a smarty pants Downton Abbey or House of Cards person. I tried Making a Murderer and could only deal with six episodes before I quit. It bothered me that all of those people began their phone conversations by saying "Yeee-aawwhh" lazily. Even though it's a "reality" show, The Bachelor is a complete and total escape from reality for me and I will continue to love it until its final Final Rose.   

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Five @ 5

Every Friday I will wake up at 5am, put myself at my desk, and write about the first five things that pop into my head. An effort to make sure I post something at least once a week. If you want to write you should write. 

1. It is snowing. IT IS SNOWING. Light and fluffy but relentless and substantial flakes. And? I have a day off today. A full and complete day off from both jobs. My body clock longs to stay awake until 3am and sleep until 11am, so that is exactly what I did and that is why Friday Five @ 5 is Friday Five at Noon today. I love waking up to the sound of a plow and that weird light creeping under the shade that let's you know there's white stuff happening outside. I jumped out of bed, threw some metabolic diet cat food in Buster's dish, put a coat on over my pajamas, put a hat on over my scarily large hair, and flew out the door to come here and eat and drink coffee and write this thing. Luckily, I carry a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in my bag because I could not get outside fast enough and forgot to brush my teeth. Gross. I can't help myself. Snow is my favorite. To me it means you have permission to walk slowly, to never change out of your really ugly but comfortable shoes, and to cancel your plans and stay in your nest. These are a few of my favorite things. 

Come on.
3. Last night I made a new friend and learned a new game. I stopped in at Vito’s on my way home to eat three tacos and catch my breath after a long day and while I was there I met 24-year old Alan. Alan is a very nice young man and a fellow North End resident. He is the first male to introduce himself out of the blue and speak to me in a bar in close to three years. Congratulations, Alan. He had me play this game called (excuse the language) "Marry Fuck Kill." Sounds nice, right? I had never heard of it, but I asked a few friends of varying ages if they’d heard about it and they had, so I guess I just live under a rock. Basically someone names three people, and you have to decide which person you'd marry, which person you'd f$%*, and which person you'd kill. He said it really fast, "Gronk, Brady, Edelman. Marry, Fuck, Kill." Ummmmmm. What? No? He persisted. I settled on doing all three to Edelman. Gronk seems too silly and nice and pretty for me to do anything to him with a straight face. Brady is an incredible athlete and I adore him and worship him like the good New England girl that I am, but he doesn't seem human to me. I feel like I could do all three things to him, or to a REALLY expensive, top-of-the-line kitchen appliance and it would give me the same type of feelings. Edelman is... yeah. All three. 

4. I'm making these cranberry white chocolate chip scones this afternoon and I'm going to eat every single one of them before Monday morning. My friend Ally mentioned them to me this week and I've been hyperventilating with excitement ever since. How GOOD do they sound?

5. Yesterday I cried in an elevator really loudly for 10 seconds. I love my job. I love our mission, I love my bosses, I LOVE the people I work with, and I love being busy, but I broke yesterday. I was trying to carry an awkwardly large box of flip charts, an awkwardly large bag of event supplies, my own bag, and my phone because I was mid-email when I got out of my Uber and entered my office building. I was exhausted. I stopped at the security desk that I walk by every single day, and told them I didn't have enough hands to dig out my badge and could they open the gate for me. Nope. No. They could not. So I tried to maneuver my one free finger into my bag to get my badge, and I dropped my giant box of flip charts and they exploded all over the floor because they were falling apart already. The security guard did not offer to help me pick them up. I collected myself and got in the elevator and lost it. I hope they have a camera in there. Sometimes I hope they don't because I occasionally use my elevator time to practice choreography for the classes I teach and I don't need the guys behind the desk seeing me shoulder whip, but yesterday I really hoped they saw me bawl my eyes out. I know rules exist for a reason. I appreciate that we have a security team keeping our building safe, ESPECIALLY with the way the world is nowadays, but sometimes you just really need someone to cut you a break. 

On Tuesday night I was teaching a dance class and about halfway through I noticed that one of my participants was wearing Uggs. Big big no-no. Huge. The rule: indoor shoes only. In my work as a fitness instructor, I'm big into rules. You don't get to take the class if you don't have a ticket. You HAVE to shut your phone off if you're in the room or leave it up at the stereo podium and walk yourself up there to check it if you need to keep it on. If you arrive after the warm-up you can't stay because it's not safe to do the workout without a proper warm-up, and I don't want anyone injuring themselves. I love rules. I delight in them. But I could see and sense how badly this girl in Uggs wanted to be there. She didn't even have a real shirt on. Between songs I made a joke about her choice of fitness footwear and she timidly said that she'd forgotten her whole bag but really really didn't want to miss class. I let her stay. Maybe I'll get written up. Maybe I'll get fired. But this wasn't laziness or a lack of respect for the rules, this was just someone who clearly had a bit of a rough time getting her shit together that day and really needed to dance. So I let her. I hope she had a better time the rest of the week for having been there.