Friday, January 29, 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. Looking at this coat lying on top of my vacuum cleaner on the floor of my closet earlier this week made me cry. Like CRY. Arms folded. Head down. Sobs. Prior to this moment, I'd been sitting on my couch for a solid half hour pouting and feeling sick and overwhelmed and sloppy and ugly and bad at everything. Finally I said to myself, "I'm going to hang that shawl collar coat that I wear twice a year up in the bedroom closet." Reason being if I hung that shawl collar coat that I wear twice a year up in the bedroom closet, it would make space on the coat rack for the coats I wear more regularly. If I could put the coats I wear more regularly on the coat rack, they'd be off the kitchen chairs. If they were off the kitchen chairs, the kitchen table would look nicer. Maybe then I'd actually sit at the kitchen table instead of standing up next to it while I eat. If I ate sitting down, I'd feel like a normal adult and become a happier, nicer, more organized person who wasn't overwhelmed, sloppy, ugly, and bad at everything. I'm moving that coat immediately. WATCH OUT WORLD. Nope. No. The closet rod chose that moment to give out and the coat that I was pinning my entire future happiness on fell to the ground in a heap. It was THAT kind of a week. 

2. I think 50% of my wardrobe is comprised of striped cotton T-shirts with varying sleeve lengths, so this post thrilled me yesterday. The H&M top included here is among my most favorite articles of clothing I've ever owned. It is perfect in every way and today is payday and I might need to order a fresh one. Even though the shipping will probably be more than the cost of the shirt.

3. Some pretty frightening things happened in Brookline, MA this week very close to where I work part-time and VERY VERY close to where several of my friends live. Shooting. Stabbing. Bad. I was concerned, to say the least. When I learned that it was a targeted crime and not a random violence spree, I felt so relieved. Oh thank goodness. The gunshots that were fired in that neighborhood I'm in 3 to 4 times each week and that several of my friends and their CHILDREN were in WHEN IT HAPPENED were intended for a specific person. Phew. Phew? Isn't that a little bit messed up? Is that even how you spell "phew?" Yes, everyone I know personally is safe and fine, at least physically. But shots were still fired. People were still hurt. And I just sort of took a deep breath and went back to my business. It's not healthy to obsess over these things, but my reaction made me feel funny. I need to think more about this.

4. Salmon! I'm on a salmon kick. I'm going to make this recipe and this one, too. The highlight of my "crying over spilt shawl collar coats" week was the late dinner I had with three of my wonderful co-workers following a reception we held at a beautiful facility in Boylston, MA. I randomly ordered salmon and it blew my face off (in a good way) and I was the happiest girl in Central Massachusetts. Maybe it was the salmon, maybe it was the company. I swear, working with people you adore can make even the most challenging weeks seem a little bit delicious.

5. I haven't been in very many "the crowd leapt to their feet" situations in my life; the last one I can recall was in March 2004. But this past snowy Saturday I took myself on a date to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform, and at the end of the final piece "the crowd leapt to their feet" with good reason. This was a downright baller performance by a cellist named Johannes Moser. I was seated next to two college students who (I learned through the power of eavesdropping) were both studying cello, and they were FREAKING OUT. I was seated behind a small group of individuals who every few minutes would look at each other with their eyes WIDE open and swoon because they were very clearly FREAKING OUT about how handsome and expressive and animated this cellist was. (They weren't wrong. Not to diminish this man's musical prowess, but he was pretty easy on the eyes.) I honestly can't tell you one shred of technical information about why this performance was so spectacular and why I was FREAKING OUT. I just was. I didn't even read the program book. Sorry, classical music nerds. Sometimes you just want to relax and take it all in. What a wonderful night that was. I've never seen anyone play the cello like that. I will be back, BSO. I hope Johannes Moser will be, too. Also, my ticket was only $20. Check this out.

Friday, January 22, 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. 

Where are you, new apartment?
1. I'm kicking off an apartment search. North End only, of course. My apartment is too cold - yes even for me - and my neighbors are starting to irk me fairly regularly. It's been three and a half years. It had a good run. Onto the next one. 

2. Hey. Take a banana. Chop half of it into chunks throw it into a sauce pan with some melted butter. Let it caramelize, few mins. Add a dollop of peanut butter, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 2/3 cup almond milk. Lower the heat. When it's done, top with a bit more peanut butter and the rest of the banana sliced up thin. Eat. 

3. I finally watched Black Mass earlier this week, so this video really cracked me up just now. Incredibly accurate, but I'll still see any Boston movie that comes my way multiple times. There's nothing like seeing the restaurant you have lunch in most weekends in the background of a car chase.

4. Fun fact: I've never really liked going to museums. I know. Sorry. I've even worked for two of them, and I felt like a fraud the entire time. But last month I impulse purchased a yearlong membership to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I sort of figured I'd go once and that would be it, but I literally cannot get enough. For me, the magic of the Gardner Museum is not the collection, it's the museum's story and the way each visit makes me feel. It's a complete escape from reality - doesn't hurt that there's a palace in the middle of the building, I suppose... Sometimes I'll go and not even really look at the art. I'll just sit in the courtyard and breathe, get a glass of wine and something to eat, and leave. I feel so comfortable and relaxed and happy there. I think it's important to have a space outside your home where you can escape/think/not think/breathe/reset. I'm so happy the Gardner will be that space for me this year.

5. My first month of no dating is drawing to a close. I'm noticing a few things - I have more money in my bank account, I haven't gone over on my cell phone data plan, and I've forgotten that other people still date. It seems like an odd concept to me. Self-centered much, Ann? A friend mentioned to me that she was going on a third date with someone but he seemed disappointing and not that interested in her. It baffled me. People still do this? Shudder. Why?  Initially, I subconsciously flipped my hair and felt like an emotional badass. I have my shit together now. I know when something isn't working for me and I simply don't do it anymore. Then I got nervous. What if I never date again? What if it becomes such a foreign concept to me that I just decide to be alone? Is that badass or just bad? 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Set it and forget him.

When my last boyfriend and I broke up and he moved out of our (my) apartment it was, of course, somewhat sad. I was going to miss him even though we were 500% wrong for each other. He was a kindhearted person, came from a nice family, and was patient and brave enough enough to live with me in the world's smallest one-bedroom apartment for an entire calendar year plus two weeks. 

I didn't hate living with him. Okay, maybe I hated it a little. But in some ways it was nice to have another human being in my home for a year. Company during blizzards. He forced me to actually recycle properly so my conscience was a bit more clear. Someone to split the electric bill with. He'd replace lightbulbs as SOON as they went out instead of waiting until we were down to one working bulb for the entire apartment and on the verge of living in complete darkness like I do. Do I sound like a jerk? Maybe. I'm about to sound jerkier though, because one of my favorite things about living with him was that he cooked dinner on Monday nights. 

Monday is my long day. I arrive home between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. after working all day and then teaching two hours of fitness classes. (I'm not complaining, it's the highlight of my week.) When I arrive home I walk in the door and immediately feed my obese cat so he doesn't burn the building down. Then I stand in my living room with my coat on and stare into space for a solid 10 minutes because... I just do. Then I have to get in the shower. THEN I start cooking. At the end of Monday I need a BIG meal, not some microwaved Amy's lasangna and a glass of tap water. I need to EAT. So it was really nice during the year I lived with my ex-boyfriend that I could text him on my way home and he'd start cooking. 

Over the past year and few months since he scooted, I'd often wished I could figure out a way to have someone head over to my apartment at 8:30pm every Monday night and throw a potato in the oven to bake or turn a pot of water on to boil so I could come home and be a bit closer to dinner. I know what you're thinking. "Can't you just make something on Sunday and eat leftovers? Can't you make a big batch of chili and freeze little containers of it and microwave them?" Nope. No. I cannot. I'm never going to regularly have my shit together on Sunday enough to make big batches of things and portion them out into little "grab-and-go" containers and baggies. I'm never going to be a person who brings her lunch to work everyday. Not happening. The end. 

I'd accepted that I'd eat dinner at 11pm every Monday night. Until today. Hello, CROCK POT. I'd never owned one until my brother gifted me one this past Christmas. They seemed... not for me. Crock Pots are always marketed to "working families." So in my mind, they were for people who owned cars and had 5+ mouths to feed and who bought 900 pounds of chicken at Costco every week and had refrigerators large enough to accommodate that chicken. People who had L-shaped couches and Fios. People who knew their neighbors. Not me.

But what could be more useful to a person who lives alone and works late than an appliance that literally cooks for you all day and has dinner READY when you arrive home? You don't need to muster up the energy to say hello to it, to tell it about your day, or to ask it about its day. You can still stand in your living room with your coat on and stare into space for 10 minutes and no one will tell you you're a weirdo and to hurry up and shower. It just sits there on your counter, quietly keeping your dinner warm. Not overcooking it, not shutting off and turning it cold and congealed. Just keeping it warm for when you're good and ready. 

I don't understand why Crock Pot isn't marketing itself to single people. Even the little one I have says, "Perfect cooking capacity for a couple or small family" on the box. They should change that to, "Perfect cooking capacity for a single woman with a large appetite who works hard for the money and has earned a huge dinner. Let us open that wine for you. Go sit down, you gorgeous creature. Look at all you've accomplished and it's only MONDAY." Why not put that on the box? I'd have purchased one years ago. 

I wrote a Facebook post yesterday sharing with my friends that I was about to put a toe in the Crock Pot water. That sounded gross. Anyway, 50 people "liked" that post which, for me, is huge. People are PASSIONATE about Crock Pots, as well they should be. I arrived home tonight and my apartment smelled incredible. I had my coat-on decompression time. I fed my obese cat. I cleaned myself up and put on my flannel pajamas and poured my wine and ate the best beef stew I've had in a while. I had three things to wash after dinner: bowl, spoon, wine glass. I put the "crock" itself in the refrigerator to store the leftovers, threw the base into a cabinet, and was done for the day. I want to SCREAM FROM THE ROOFTOPS how amazing this is. I saved so much time tonight, that I was able to sit down and treat myself to writing this post. I never have time to write on Mondays. I'm up until 12:30 a.m. pouting and washing my cutting board and two wooden spoons and three pots. 

I don't mean to diminish the importance of my ex-boyfriend in my life. He was a lot more to me than the person who cooked my dinner on Monday nights. He is a sweet person and I met him for coffee two weeks ago and it was fine. No hard feelings, no bad blood. I also don't mean to diminish the value of living with someone you're in a relationship with or saying hello to them at the end of your day. I'll do that again, eventually. All I'm saying is that sometimes, as a single person, I tell myself that there are certain things I can't do or own or attend. Things that could make my life easier, more interesting, more joyful. I won't go to that New Year's Eve party because it's all couples and I'll stick out. Who cares? I shouldn't take myself to Sportello for dinner when I get that giant check from all the extra teaching I did because I can only go on Friday night and it will annoy them to have one seat taken at the counter instead of two. You're a paying customer, Ann. Just go have your bolognese and enjoy it. I'm destined to eat dinner at 11pm every Monday because I have no one to turn my oven on and bake me a potato. Not anymore! I no longer need a boyfriend to make Monday night dinner a relaxing reward instead of a tedious project. I can set it, and forget him.

So hey, Crock Pot. You aren't hurting for fans, that's for damn sure, but you're missing out on a sliver of the market that could and really should love you. Start marketing to single people. We need you just as much as "couples and small families" do, if not more. 

** Yes, today is a holiday and I didn't have my usual Monday, but due to unconventional work and gym commitments I was just as busy and arrived home just as late. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Wide Open Spaces

The first time I had a panic attack I was in a barn in Missouri. Like a real barn. Not some barn a hipster from Brooklyn has her wedding in with globe lights and wildflowers and recovered wood tables and no bra. An actual barn. I was 25. I was wearing red peep toe shoes. They still had the sticky Marshall's price tag on them and I felt really badly about that. But I was in a barn and a big brown horse was staring at me. I panicked because how do you get out of that situation? First, the horse needs to stop staring at you. Then you have to get out of an actual barn. How do you make that happen? Are you on a farm? Do farms have addresses? Should you call your dad? How the hell would he find you? Where the HELL are you? You're in the actual state of Missouri with a tall, really good looking guy who is SO wrong for you and his mother, the owner of the horse, who yesterday bought you a set of polka dotted bowls at a craft fair, so now you feel like the devil because you want to get away from her (and her son) and it's the actual worst and a horse is STARING AT YOUR FACE judging you. That horse knows what you're thinking and he does NOT like you.

I pretended to have heat exhaustion which, honestly, wasn't too much of a stretch since it was over 90 (70) degrees. I got into a pick-up truck with the tall, really good looking guy who was SO wrong for me and he pretended his stomach was upset so his family wouldn't know I was losing my shit. His stepfather drove us back to their house where I paced around the living room shaking and wringing my hands and telling him over and over again that I was totally and completely fine. I wished he'd go away, and that made me feel worse and panic more. 

I really really didn't want to go to Missouri. The tall, really good looking guy who was SO wrong for me had invited me to come home with him and meet his family about a month prior to this panic attack - three weeks into dating him. I'd lied and said I couldn't afford it. So he went ahead and bought me a plane ticket and surprised me with it. I felt like a horrible person for not wanting to go. I didn't want to fly. I didn't think we were right for each other. I didn't want to be away from my job and all that came along with it at that time. But this was what girls got excited about. A boy likes you. He wants you to meet his family. You should go. So I went. I bought a bathing suit because his family had a pool. I bought a cover-up. NO! That was five years later when I went to Illinois with another guy who was wrong for me. No cover-up. Just a bathing suit. I was thinner then, I guess. Cover-up never entered my mind. 

ANYWAY. It wasn't all bad. In fact, there was one night in Missouri where I remember feeling no panic at all. It's one of my most favorite memories. It was my third night there and we were all in the backyard playing board games - so much togetherness, right? Barn. Games. Neighbors coming over to play the games. Enough already. Anyway, once the board games died down, I ended up in a lounge chair with the tall, really good looking guy who was SO wrong for me. We were facing away from the rest of the group just sort of looking at the yard and sky and, as nauseating as this sounds, I'll never forget the view. Ever. It was the biggest, most breathtaking, spectacular, orange-est sky I've ever seen. It was HUGE. Limitless. I didn't know you could take a breath as deep as the breath I took looking at that sky. I felt like I could get up out of the lounge chair, start walking, and go right over the edge of that sky and fall into it and be totally fine forever and ever. It was a complete and total absence of anxiety. Something I hadn't felt in a long time and have felt only a few times since. I remember wishing that I could stay there and ignore all the shit taking up space in the rest of my head and heart and be a nice, normal backyard board game-playing person who didn't mind temperatures over 70 degrees and liked to look at the sky with her tall boyfriend. I'd make the Dixie Chick's "Wide Open Spaces" my theme song and buy jean shorts and sit in the sun and learn to drive. I'd have done almost anything to hold onto that sky and that moment where this tall, good looking guy who was SO wrong for me was SO right for me. 

Two days later I came back to Boston. A week and a half after that, the tall, good looking guy who was SO wrong for me "accidentally" found himself in my email and saw a message I'd sent to my mother where I said he was annoying me and I wanted him to leave me alone so I could watch Law & Order: SVU in peace at the end of my day. We broke up a week after that. Shrug.

While I was in Missouri, his mother who bought me a set of polka dotted bowls introduced me to a really sweet red haired girl who was coming to Boston for a summer ballet program and asked me to take this girl under my wing. That really sweet red haired girl is now married to the tall good looking guy who was SO wrong for me. They run a ballet school in Missouri together. AND I'M BITTER AND ALONE AND COLD IN NEW ENGLAND WITH AN OBESE CAT AS MY ONLY COMPANION. No. I'm kidding. Well actually, that's kind of true. I am. But I like it. I like it just as much as they probably like what they're doing. 

I'm thankful for that tall, good looking guy who was SO wrong for me and who hacked my email and read the snark I sent to my mother about him. He gave me one of my most favorite memories with that sky. I thought of him three months ago when I was in Provincetown by myself looking at the ocean and the sky (pictured above) and feeling totally content. I closed my eyes and took a really deep breath and there he was. Not in a creepy way. I'd never call him or reach out or try to bust up his marriage to the sweet red head, I just took a minute to remember the good stuff he brought my way and then I let him go. 

I've always been a person who wants to burn shit down when it ends. I don't want to remember you, think about you, acknowledge you, or believe you ever existed. Go away. You didn't last forever, you probably hurt me, so now you don't exist. I want to knock that off. I think it's important as we move through life and relationships to remember that just because it didn't end in forever, it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep a little piece of it. Over the years I've subconsciously collected the special ones, despite the things they did or I did that resulted in a parting of ways. I'm thankful to them for the things they said that made me laugh, the people they introduced me to, and the wide open spaces that helped me breathe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What do you really want?

Today I played the lottery for the first time. Wait, let me take that back. I don't know if I "played the Lottery" or if I "played Powerball" or if I did something else. I don't even know how to talk about this. Are they all the same thing? One seems national, the others are regional? Whatever it is, this big $1.5 billion thing everyone is trying to win, I spent $2 today in an attempt to win it.

I'd heard buzz about it in recent days, but I wasn't sure how to enter/play. First, I asked my Facebook friends. Then I asked a few of my co-workers. I remembered that the store in my office building's lobby had a big blue machine on the counter and I think it had something to do with the Lottery so I figured I could "Powerball" there. 

It was so much FUN. I picked my own numbers. I can't believe some people let the machine pick for them. I chose my mom's birthday, my Nana's birthday, the number of my BodyJam training release, and my lucky number, 21.  I immediately assumed I'd win, and I let my mind wander...

I started small. First I'd pay off the $2K credit card debt I have left. Okay fine, the $2700 credit card debt I have left. Don't judge. Money and budgeting are not strengths of mine and sometimes your laptop dies. And sometimes you just absolutely cannot cook dinner and need to go out to eat a few hundred times. Then, the $169.74 Beth Israel invoice sitting on my kitchen table that doesn't REALLY have a serious actual due date on it, they just want you to pay it soonish. After you buy the new dress you need (want) for your work event next week. I'd go get my Wisdom teeth out. But I'd pay for a BALLER anesthesiologist to knock me out cold even though I don't need to be knocked out cold I'm just deathly afraid of novocaine and really anything dental, hence I still have my Wisdom teeth at 36. Those are things I lie awake at 4am thinking about. So once those were squared away and I had a clean slate, I'd go BIGGER. 

I'd move. Well. No. I already live exactly where I want to live. Maybe I'd buy a slightly larger bit of property, but I'd stay right here in the North End. 

I'd build my own gym where I could teach my fitness classes! Except, I wouldn't. For better or worse, I already teach exactly where I want to teach. And I already teach exactly who I want to teach. I'd stay right where I am. I'd just take an Uber to and from the gym. Who am I kidding? I already do that 75% of the time. Sorry, environment.

Charity? Probably. But first I'd take care of every shred of need that anyone in my family or innermost inner inner inner circle had. Small. Large. Whatever. My people come first, and if that makes me selfish or shortsighted I really don't care. 

Jeans? I'd like some new J brands. My brown boots are looking a little worse for wear. 

Once I started thinking about high-end denim and new ankle boots, it hit me. I'm pretty happy with my life as it is. I like where I live, where I work, who I know, and what I look like. There's nothing I'd change all that drastically other than debt and some long overdue oral surgery. (You can't buy Julian Edelman's love.) 

Maybe I'm pathetic, but the only thing I can really point to that I'd like to make a substantial change for is writing. So, day job, I love you more than I've ever loved any full-time job I've ever had. But I'd have to let you go. I'd buy myself a nice new chair for my desk, I'd throw the gorgeous blanket my Aunt Charlene knit for me over my legs, and I'd sit and write and write and write.

This is so silly, and we're all going to lose. But it was fun and clarifying today to let my mind wander and think about what I'd do if the possibilities were almost endless. What would you do? What do you really want?