Visitors

#45daysof, or Adam Kimble in Claremont

This weekend we had visitors.

They were unexpected and joyous and dashed about our house, a little group of sleek-headed, very effective, very friendly otters. (I have established this week that otters are not naturally friendly. They are cute for the sake of survival. But that is another post.)

Well, three of them were sleek. The last, standing head and shoulders above me, was one Adam Kimble, and he was not sleek. He is bearded and bushy and grinny, all teeth and goodwill, and he is, even as we speak, running across America in an attempt to break the current Guinness World Record.

This is Adam at the Gobi March last year.

This is Adam at the Gobi March last year. (photo: Adam Kimble)

Adam is not an ultramarathoner, historically. He only came onto the scene two years ago, but since then, he’s placed in the top ten several times, and last year, he won the famed Gobi March. He’ll take 45 days to run across the U.S., and if he does it, he’ll be the the first person ever to break the GWR, besting the current record by a day and a third. (That record has stood for 36 years, and it’s been challenged a handful of times.)

Here is where we marvel at the fortitude of a guy who’s setting out to break a world record. And then we marvel at the fact that Adam will have to average 68 miles a day in order to make his preferred time. And then we think about the organizational skills of Adam’s core team of five people, who will manage everything from his nutritional intake to his social media presence.

But really, as I look back on our weekend with Team Bearded Sole, three things strike me:

1. I have cool friends. We got to hang out with Adam and his mates this weekend because Josh, one of their crew, is a friend of mine from ShelterBox. Although I’m never surprised by how awesome my friends are, I am always pleased to discover more great people because of them. Josh will be with Adam the entire trip. You can read more about him here.

2. Niceness is underrated. So many times when we meet people, we look for different things to say about them: “She’s sharp!” “What a striking look about him.” “Interesting background,” we might say. I don’t think I’ve heard someone say, for a long time, anyway, that someone they’ve just met is nice. I love nice. We should all be nicer. Team Bearded Sole is definitively, fantastically, nice peeps, from conversational skills to manners to all-around greatness to be around.

3. Forty-five days is a long-ass time. When I was training for Ironman, I thought to myself, what am I going to think about for those 16 hours they allow me on the course? And when we were training (I think Ironman is my biggest commitment yet), I always knew there would be a day off in the training schedule coming soon. I have never done anything hard for 45 days in a row.

So I’m signing up to “follow” Adam on his 45-day quest. Every day, today and for the next 44 days, I will produce a watercolor drawing of some sort. (Look for the hashtag, #45daysof, at Instagram and Twitter.)

I think Adam is after living the best life he can. He wants to inspire others to do the same. I also think that, in order to reach this best life, you sometimes have to do things that are a little bit hard, even if you naturally love to do them. So I will try my hand at this, and see what outs.

For Adam, it may be the besting of a Guinness World Record. For me, it may be a pile of 45 crap drawings. Or, it might be some gained watercolor skills. Either way, it’ll be fun.

Which, incidentally, seems to be the other part of this trek across the United States. Just in case, you know, you were wondering what it would be like to spend 45 days, doing something you love, with some close friends in an RV, mucking across a great, wide-open country.

Run, Adam, run. We’re with you.

Would you like to join me in #45daysof? Pick something you’d like to do for 45 whole days. Make it a goal. Tell me in the comments below. 

This is Adam's route. You can live-track him from his web site.

This is Adam’s route. You can live-track him from his web site.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

An Open Letter to My Mother’s Chihuahua

Dear DaiBee,

You are a wee thing with many contradictions. It is my hope that you can help me to sort some of these in speedy fashion.
Hopefully these things can be resolved with minimal brain power on my part. Seven days with you has exhausted me.

1. You will only eat one kibble at a time, and then, only if your food has been topped with Sprocket kibble. You turn up your nose at fresh cucumber, pomegranate seeds, and blueberries, all of which Sprocket eats with impunity. And yet, you will happily gnaw at a petrified piece of fig on the ground, right next to your own poo. You’ll eat it particularly quickly if some other creature (bird, raccoon, squirrel) has taken its share and then discarded it. Same goes for random seed pods. Don’t look away. You know what I’m talking about.

Also, you are terrified of ice cubes in your own water bowl. If it is in your bowl it is safe to eat. How can I help you to understand?

IMG_0234

2. You yap yap yap for no particular reason, and then, when shown the thing that is making the noise that made you yap, you stand stock still and refuse to go anywhere. This is not normal behavior. You have HUGE EYES. Can you not see these things are not bothering you?

photo 2

2a. You don’t do anything without scurrying–freaky little claws on my laminate floor–and yet, when we go to walk you, you sometimes lock your legs and refuse to move. This is not good. This makes your walks very short because they take a REALLY LONG TIME.

photo 3

3. You are so little. And SO loud.

4. When you see something you are afraid of, you stand in the middle of the street. (???)

5. You need to pee at 4:27 every morning. (This is not a contradiction; this is just weird.)

6. You are growing on me, like a fungus. But if I counted the number of times you annoyed me, they would probably just about even out the number of times you have been sweet.

I think that is enough for now. When you have sorted yourself out, you are more than welcome to all the shriveled figs in our backyard. But don’t blame me if you’re out there, chewing on some dried fig, and you end up a snack for the rock doves.

Love

Auntie Yi Shun

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

We went to Joshua Tree

and all I got were these lousy pictures, and a couple of days with a bestie. :)

Also, this remarkable series, which I am calling “Peter Stalking Things.”

Actually, it has been a nice few weeks. I had a visit with Aileen to Hermosa Beach (I’d never been before). We spent a good long time strolling in sand, disturbing sand flies and dodging them at the same time; and then we sat on her balcony and talked, and then we went to dinner. It was exactly what we would  have done if we were back in New York, if we were on Coney Island or something.

I don’t even think I wrote about the Speakeasy Literary Retreat in April, did I? Or about the great experience I had as a panelist during the Mt. SAC Writer’s Weekend, did I?

What a terrible blogger. I used to blog something like five, six times a month, did you know that? I kind of miss it.

The news lately has been all-manuscript, all the time–I’m querying my thesis novel, in the hopes that it’s good enough to find representation, but one can’t be too hopeful about such things.

Hm. More later.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

A writing prompt, after a fashion

I saw someone very special the other day. It was someone I only see once every six or seven years, apparently. She is lovely and it never seems like any time has gone by when we do see each other, and I think this is part of the reason why:

Well. Not this exactly. But stuff like this.

After an awesome backwards dinner (we had dessert first), we strolled back to my car and spotted this, um, tableau in a shop window. We then proceeded to riff off of it for a good ten, fifteen minutes. It’s nice to find people like that with whom you can do such things.

We came up with a number of possibilities. (If you can’t really see it, the scary-looking devil-child is holding a set of antlers behind his–its?–back.) The horse is actually an old rocking horse, and it has a hole through its neck where, presumably, the reins used to go.

The various scenarios we came up with:

“Hello horsie. Would you like something sweet?”

“Well. I have these fine antlers. But I really would like it better if you were a unicorn, so…here.”

“Ah. I see. The hole in your neck. Here’s something to plug it with.”

“My Frankenhorse is almost complete. I have shed the barnacles of my childhood by making a mere plastic rocking horse into a carousel horse. Now it remains only to unicornize it. Oops. I did not mean to de-antler that buck on the way here.”

Now it’s your turn. What do you think is going on here? My totally subjective choice of winner gets a bag of Swedish fish mailed to them. I’ll try to make it the multi-colored ones, but you’ll get standard red if that’s all I can find.

“Submissions” close December 31.

Special thanks to Shey, my once-every-seven-years friend, for making this happen. Hopefully we’ll see more of each other now!

 

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Madcap

This past week has been utterly non-stop.

Last Thursday I went to Connecticut for the annual Go Red luncheon, in support of awareness of women’s heart disease.

Later that night, I picked up my good friend Nicola from the bus station.

From Thursday night until the following Tuesday, we had a packed schedule that involved me getting up early in the morning to work so Nic and I could mess around town and see art and go for walks in the woods; things we like to do together. It was nuts. We went to MOMA and hung with friends and saw a reading and hosted a visitor and had dinner with 10 of my nearest and dearest, and then we hosted dinner for 10 at my place on Saturday night.

Tuesday Nic left for Boston, part of an East Coast tour she’s doing, and although I moped a bit on Tuesday afternoon, feeling like the house was awfully empty, there was–and is–plenty of work to be done.

Then this morning happened. At 8:10 or so I was walking the hound in the park, getting ready for my dentist appointment, and checking my e-mails. One from ShelterBox HQ was in the queue, asking after my availability for an as-immediate-as-possible-departure to Peru to respond to flooding.

I replied that I could go, returned the hound to home, went to my dental appointment, and on return to my desk, one side of face drooping from Novocaine, called in to confirm readiness.

I got confirmation from the team lead a scant hour later and started making arrangements. I was excited–I’ve never been first team in before, and never been on a recon trip, and the team lead is a good friend.

And then I got asked to stand down.

All of that is fine. The SRT member who is replacing me speaks Spanish and has responded to a Peruvian disaster for us previously. He is absolutely the right choice.

But do you know what? In the midst of all my preparation and dashing about last week, I realized that with the call to stand down came a small bubble of breathing space. Into that bubble came rushing in all the phone calls to friends I’ve been putting off because I’ve been too busy; all the small things I like to do that have gone undone because I have been too tired; all the meaningful correspondence I’ve been wanting to reply to.

“Stand down.” The order is more meaningful than I thought. Sometimes, a girl just needs to stand down. What a disguised blessing.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Kickstart My Heart, Part II

So. While I was headed down to the gym earlier tonight (at 10:30! What a joke!) I was struck with the most certain terrifying thought that if I didn’t write down all of the wedding weekend festivities, I’d just…forget.
I mean, hey, we all say things like, “It was a night we’d never forget,” but…well, a girl gets old. Stuff falls out and between the cracks. And besides, I want to share this with peeps who weren’t able to go.
So I’ll give you the rundown of the weekend now. But in the interest of space and your own sanity, I’ll save the rumination for later. There’s a lot to think about.
Got that? Boring timeline now; potentially boring reflections later.
Okay. So when last we left this blog, it was Wednesday afternoon and Lara and I were picking up Ms. Jody. We collected a bizarrely baggage-less girl, and although gullible me just shrugged when Jody waved her small carryon backpack at me and said, cheerfully, “dress and shoes, that’s all I need!” it proved to be that the airline had lost Jody’s luggage.
So we spent part of the trip out of Vegas trying to find mobile phone spots in which Jody could bark at the airline, trying to figure out when her luggage was going to get to Death Valley. We had a minor detour during which we stopped at WalMart and Michael’s to pick up some odds and ends*, and then it was finally, finally off to Death Valley. We checked into our individual rooms, said hi to Jim and Scott and Nichole (Jim’s best man and our officiant, respectively), and then, delight of delights, got a text that Peter was already at the resort, family in tow.
We met Peter for drinks and some light eats at the Corkscrew Salon, and then hot-footed it back to my suite to put together gift bags. This included some small disappointments: The letters I’d had the resort print out came out in a different, decidedly non-1920s font, despite my spending some time having chosen a specific look, and I forgot to add the location of the post-race BBQ to said letter, so Jody spent some precious time and energy writing the location on each of the 52 gift bags. Nuts. This might be why the scene in our room looked like this:

[photo: Jody]
In the end, though, everything looked OK.
photo: cousin Rachel, wicked w a camera
It felt a little bit surreal. I’ve never undertaken such a large-scale “craft” job, unless you count the time I made all those bracelets for Terry, and that was just with Jim helping. This time, having two of my closest friends nearby, felt strange, especially with Kim Kardashian yammering in the background. I still don’t know why Lara chose that channel. But I said I wouldn’t ruminate.
Okay. So. The next morning we gathered for breakfast and then showed Lara and Roj (he’d arrived earlier that morning) and Jody around the ceremony and reception site, and then, with Scott and Nichole and our friends Kathy and Jeff in tow, we finally set off a little after lunchtime for a trip to the nearest sites available to us, Badwater Basin, the Artist’s Palette, and…something I can’t remember right now. Oh, right, the Natural Bridge.
Here’s Badwater.

Photo: Lara


Yes, yes, that’s me and Roj tasting the water. I daresay, I think my plank is better than Roj’s, although I will confess I had a dangerous time of actually getting up from the dip that was required if I was going to taste the wine of the desert.
Here, I like this photo:

Photo: Lara


And here’s a photo from Lara’s camera of our group. Lookit all the friends!

Jody and Lara and Roj and I went back to the Inn, where Jody and I went to sit by the pool and chatted up the race director, and then we ended up deciding that it was a good time to head up to the bar with Lara. The text messages started coming in then; Jen and Ken; Kara Andersen, and Jim stopped by, and I know there were one or two others, but I cannot remember now.**
Dan and Audrey arrived then, and we had drinks up in my room, and then eventually my parents and my brother and sister-in-law pulled in, and after getting them all settled in, we went out to dinner down at the Ranch, where we ran into a whole bunch of other friends, like Ed and Kathleen and Peggy and Amalia and some other people*** and it began to sink in just a little bit that everyone was gathered here for a reason.
It was a most delicious sensation. But I digress.
The next day was race day. We got up and dragged ourselves down to race start, where, oh! joy of joys! My parents AND Kara’s were waiting, to take pictures of the race start, and we heard that Lara had indeed decided to undertake the marathon with Jody and Jim’s brother Jon and his trainer TJ. The half-marathoners were me, Roj, Kathy, Jeff, Kara, Rachel, Ed, Kathleen, Peter, and Dustin. And Jim decided he was going to do the 10K. Here’s this lovely lovely race photo!

Kathleen and I ran almost all the way together. I’m sure I was holding her back, but by mile ten my hamstring was seriously jacked up and I told Kath to go on. We had a nice run together, anyway, and I enjoyed the company and stopping to take photos and the scenery and all of it. I do love that race.
I came in nowhere near where I wanted my time, but there’s not a whole lot you can do about crap training.
Roj won his age group, and Jody won her age group in the marathon, and and and … well.
After that, we stumbled back to the hotel and did stuff I can’t remember, like…ummmmm. Gosh. I really don’t know. This is awful. I know I was with Jim. Maybe we were looking for my parents. Maybe we hung out with my brother? Maybe we hung out by the pool again. Or maybe I went down to the Ranch to hang out with Jody. No, that’s not right, cos I was back at the Inn in time for rehearsal.
Yes, rehearsal!!
Here was our wedding site, pretty much:

Photo: Alan


If you look real closely you can see all the chairs set up for the ceremony in the upper right hand corner of the photo.
So rehearsal happened, and then there was a post-race BBQ where there was a ton of roasting and a ton of laughs and just some really good times and apparently the cameras didn’t come out until, at 8PM, it got windy and we all repaired to the bar at the Ranch.
Oh. My.
It was crazy buffoonery and there was rather too much drinking for the night before a wedding, but hey, what the heck. You only live once.
Jim went to stay in another room (why? why? I will never understand this), so when I woke up hungover then next morning at 5:45, having been awakened by the howling whistling wind, I totally freaked out. And I called Jim.**** This is the problem with outdoor weddings, you see. Things could Go Wrong.
Well, they didn’t go wrong. The wind died down, we took our pre-wedding photos, which included a little bit of this:

Photo: Nichole Donje


and some of this:

Photo: Scott Allinson


and finally some of this:

and then we went back to the Inn and put our feet up for a wee bit, and then there was a ceremony and some vows and then there was this:

Photo: Matt Siber

Photo: Scott Allinson


And then there was an Epic Fricken Party with the best friends in the world and a pretty good after-party, and that’s all I have to say about that for now, cos this post is SO LONG.
But I will risk a bit of rumination and just say here that it was one of the two best weekends of my life, for a few reasons. One, everyone who was there mattered. Really, really mattered. And two, it was the best ever for its normalcy. Think about it: We had drinks and dinner, we ran a race; we had a post-race BBQ, and then we had a big event and everyone went home happy.
This is the way every weekend should be.
Next post, some Deep Thoughts. Well…some thoughts, anyway.

*these included some gift bags and an item of clothing which I will er, reflect on later.
**See? How awful is that? I’ve already started to forget! If someone out there is reading this and was there, could you remind me?
***Seriously, brain is for shit.
****It would have been so much easier if we had been together, so I could have just pounced on him and yelled, “MAKE IT STOP!” instead of doing it over the phone.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Kickstart My Heart

Last night, one of the students in the class I’m teaching on the essay wrote about one of the moments that she’ll never forget in her life. She relived the two days leading up to her wedding, and how special they were, in part because of her father’s cancer’s remission and the homespun nature of her wedding. These things combined allowed her to experience her father as if they were just leading casual normal lives, instead of prepping for a major life event on the heels of a narrow scrape with death.

Her recounting prompted me to recount my own wedding week, although I’m not one to air things like planning details and information on color choices and whatnot. After all, Jim and I have been together for so many years; it seemed almost a superfluous task, to tell everyone we know and love that we’re  together and committed. It’s hardly a newsflash.

But that’s another story, another argument, and the fact is, when we set out to plan this event, we did it with the full knowledge that what we were planning was an event to honor our friends and family, and the role they’ve played in our lives. What we got was so much more than that, and so quintessentially us, that I fear we’ll never be able to plan a better event.

The whole thing started, as do so many, with a sporting event. I’d run the Death Valley Marathon two years ago, and been rapidly enamoured of the place and of the event; it’s a low-key gig with no starting gun, no big finish banner, no TV coverage. The landscape is ridiculously gorgeous, the entire venue, indeed, perfect, and we wanted all of our nearest and dearest to experience it.

So we planned our wedding around the race and around the Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch.

Lemme tell you, there is something tangibly delicious about sharing something you love with people you know will appreciate it. As always, there was some worry, because Hello! Death Valley?? Even the name is off-putting. But whatever.

Wedding week started off with insanity. I didn’t know if I’d make my flight out because of a massive storm that was brewing and threatening to cancel a ton of flights, so I left twelve hours early. That was interesting in and of itself, and if I needed any more proof that Jim’s practice of making lists was the way to go, well, let’s just say that if I hadn’t made the list, I’d probably have forgotten everything that mattered. It turns out I didn’t forget anything–quite the reverse! I had so much stuff that we couldn’t find one or two things.

I got into Vegas, where Jim was already spending time with Scott, his best man, only three hours late. Not bad. Crashed into bed and slept for a whole three hours before I had to get up for a 7AM conference call; then went back to bed. Vegas was CHILLY. So not cool. I mean, cool, but not in the way I wanted.

Jim left the next morning to get to Death Valley, and I was left with a nice quiet day with which to wander around our hotel, get to know it, book appointments and hunt down various needs, and then, after an hour or two of work, Lara arrived. Oh, joy!! We’re in touch quite a bit via things like chat and Twitter, but we only get to see each other once a year, so it was nice nice to have her in person. Our suite at the Hard Rock had a wet bar and some nice stereo system, so we chilled with a beer, and then, just as Lara was needing to really get to sleep (it was 4 AM UK time), we went out for dinner.

There is something really heartbreaking about watching a friend fall asleep in her salad. We each had a margarita and then crashed into bed at around 9:15. Yes, yes, we did.

And if that doesn’t sound very Vegas to you, guess what we did the next morning? We ordered room service, admired the view of the parking lot from our hotel room, finally tottered off to our manicure appointments, and then spent the rest of the day in the strip malls looking for things like craft supplies and outlet malls.

We did, however, find a gorgeous dress for Lara and a really cool top for me, and then it was back to our suite for a quick change and a civilised glass of wine, and then off to see “O” at the Bellagio. Dinner later at Noodles, and then back to our suite again, where we sat up and chatted until midnight.

How lovely!

Do you want to know why there are no pictures of our brief time in Vegas? I’m convinced it’s because we were too busy taking advantage of the proximity of good friends. That, and the combination of too many things to do and the need, for me, at least, to preserve the memory in my head and heart rather than on film nullified the desire for photos.

We did room service yet again the next day, quite happy to be lolling about in our big fluffy beds with pillows all around and the weak February sunlight filtering through the screens, meandering from room to room when we felt like it. It was lovely. Really and truly lovely. And then, before we knew it, and after a lot of messy packing on my part, we had just enough time to scoot over to the Bodies exhibit at the Luxor.

So here’s what I’m saying about experience vs. photographic evidence. Obviously, photos are meant as memory aids. Some really skilled photographers can produce evocative evidence of the things that happened. But in some cases, the photo just can’t even come close to the actual experience, and it’s even depressing to think of how do try and capture, at least for a lumpily unskilled sort like me.

Case in point? The Bodies exhibit. Obviously we weren’t allowed to take photos in there. But I’ll never ever forget discovering it with Lara, each pointing out the sheer wonder of the things, and marveling at the beauty and work of some of it. I also will never forget me sniff-sniff-sniffing, faucet-head-o-rama, and Lara going, “Do you want a tissue?” I don’t know why. It was a particularly tender moment, only underscored by the fact that Lara didn’t, in fact, have a tissue to offer.

Eventually we went to go pick up Ms. Jody at the airport. And I’ll leave the rest of the trip for another post, because the rest of my day beckons.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Photo crazy

Is it art?

Sprocket doesn't think so.

I call this one "study in noodles"

We went to the PepsiCo Gardens with Jim's family.

I like this sculpture of a bear crawling out of the pond.

I also like the filagree pattern this tree casts on the ground.

Wow, look at the pooch on me. Not the dog, the belly.

Lillies! I like!

big fat tadpoles were on every stalk of the lily pads.

Love this angular tree trunk. Dunno what happened to it.

I went to Philadelphia last Wednesday. Nice city. Great clients.

The sky over White Plains on Friday evening was wonderfully Hudson-River-School-like.

I caught Jim mooning over this deluxe edition of Stratego.

We took our friend Anna, her soon-to-be stepsons, and her fiance on a hike in Harriman. Here are the stepsons.

Here's crazy dog Sassafras, Joe, Anna, me, El Jefe, and Sprocket,

Sprocket got wet.

I went into the city yesterday to meet my friend Alexandra for lunch. She was in from Chicago. We had a picnic on the High Line and I got a burnt nose.

The MTA set up a TV in Grand Central so everyone could watch The World Cup finals. Beat sitting in a sweaty bar.

Perfect clouds again over White Plains

Look! The Ritz-Carlton building is the same color as the sky! Or maybe it's just a reflection. :D

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

In the mud

I have read a lot of words these past few days, working on the local paper doing some copy-editing and writing for them, and then reading a working draft for a friend of mine. Busy is good, but the past few weeks have left me with very little inspiration for my own work, or even my essays, which are due in a work or so for the MFA applications.

So here’s a photo dump.

We went home on the 22nd for the hols and spent the night before going back to Claremont with my brother and his fiancee, Laura, making sugar cookies.

They were not the most perfectly shaped things:

Xmas trees, not shrubs.

Xmas trees, not shrubs.

And then we frosted ’em.

finishApparently I enjoyed myself.

pigI also got smacked down for making this cookie, which was, in Laura’s words, “Not your best work, Yi Shun.” Hmph.

To be fair, Laura added the weird white drizzling.

To be fair, Laura added the weird white drizzling.

Then we went home to Squaremont on the 23rd. We went to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, where I’d only been once before. I thought it absolutely gorgeous. There is something really magical about a desert garden and the sheer variety of desert plants.

I've forgotten what this is.

I've forgotten what this is.

This is a manzanita berry shrub. Isn't it gorgeous?

This is a manzanita berry shrub. Isn't it gorgeous?

Winter sage, paired with manzanita berries. Love the contrast!

Winter sage, paired with manzanita berries. Love the contrast!

Fishbowl!

Fishbowl!

My town is best known for Mt. Baldy, which serves as our everyday backdrop and has nice bowl skiing when it’s not dusty and dry out. I haven’t been there in years, but the view of it is always in my head.

memtbaldy

Adrianna spent the night on Christmas Eve (we banished mom to the living room and Jim, Adri and I cooked). Mom got drunk later. I didn’t get nearly drunk enough.

testing the tonality of her wine glasses.

testing the tonality of her wine glasses.

We had a very active Christmas Day. We all exchanged presents and then we went for a walk in the hills with like, a gazillion other people who all had the same idea.

pneguinparents

My parents look like bookend penguins in this photo. adorable. I look like a treetrunk.

And then we picked up Kara and went to Laguna Beach to sample some incredible Japanese food. First we had more exercise in the form of a nice walk along the beach.

I love this photo! Two of my favorite people are smiling!

I love this photo! Two of my favorite people are smiling!

When we finally got back to New York, our friend Dave was happily ensconced in our place awaiting our arrival. Then Dave left and Jody arrived. We spent a lot of time doing this:

sitting on the couch in our PJs, I mean, not picking at split ends.

sitting on the couch in our PJs, I mean, not picking at split ends.

And then there was New Year’s Eve. Alan and Helene came up to a very loud place in White Plains. We ate a lot of food and had some margaritas and then we exited the madness, but not before this photo was taken.

NYE2And then the next day we went to Jen’s for a New Year’s Day party

NYD

And I think that’s quite enough photos for today, don’t you think? Meh.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009: New person

New person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

I am really, really behind on this one. I’ve been thinking about it for a really long time–there are several new people in my life currently, people I’d really like to give a shout-out to here, but I must confess that the person who sticks out like a big bruised thumb is not new at all.

I speak of one Colin True.

typicalcolin

this is colin. yeah, he's my person of the year. you got something to say about that?

Why pick Colin? The answer is manyfold. First, our relationship is indicative of the randomness that makes up the best of friendships. (I met one of my closest friends to date on a subway platform.) Second, I am a firm believer in serendipity. Third, I am also a firm believer in asking for something you want. Fourth, I believe in networking. Finally, I believe in the concept of working on your true passion.

Here’s why Colin fits all of these parameters:

1. Random humor: We met while I was working on ARFE, a not-for-profit dedicated to making the environment a key priority for outdoors athletes. His company, Timberland, was a key sponsor via their SmartWool and GoLite brands, and Colin was a part of that. One day, in confirming a meeting, I riffed off some random old English–something stupid, like “My good sir–I am herewith confirming our rendezvous at the hour of blah blah and at the watering hole of so-and-so…” Imagine my surprise when Colin replied in like fashion, even throwing in a farmboy (The Intern) and signing himself Lord of GoLite. I about crapped in my pants laughing. I wish I’d kept that stupid e-mail.

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Among Colin's favorite activities is mocking dead people!!

2. Serendipity: Years later—and I do mean years—I was sitting at the airport in Phoenix, on my way to Las Vegas for Interbike, when I had a thought: Would GoLite or Timberland, and therefore, Colin, also be going to Interbike? I sent a text message. Alas, Colin was no longer with GoLite or Timberland, but he was in the Phoenix airport. Yeah.

Here is just a glimpse of what happened at Fat Tire Narnia. Don't you wish you were there???

Here is just a glimpse of what happened at Fat Tire Narnia. Don't you wish you were there???

3. Just ask: Colin and his lovely family included Jim and me on an invitation to Fat Tire Narnia. We speak, of course, of the famed weekend that involves mountain biking, good beer, and friendship. Of course we said yes. I never expected that we’d be included in Colin’s initial invitation, but I’m glad it happened. Much hilarity ensued. You never know who’s going to say yes, and what will come of it, but you’ll really never know if you don’t ask. Jim, too, learned a lesson here: Be brave, get to know new people. Perhaps you will meet someone who will kick your ever-lovin’, mountain-biking patootie, finally.

4. Networking: Ours is a winding path–ARFE had its heyday in 2006!–but I’m glad we stayed in touch. There are many new opportunities, some work-related, others not, to be had if you just ensure that you stay in touch, and life is so much richer if you can let your brain free-associate. People are whole packages, gifts to be opened. Everyone out there has something to offer you, and it behooves everyone to consider that in our everyday interactions.

5. Work can be your passion: Colin is a trail-runner, a mountain-biker, a snowshoer. His family shares his passion for all of these things. More important, in the time I’ve known him, Colin has worked on Timberland, GoLite, at CitySports, and now is a key player at a new company called Waterbox. Waterbox is going to be a raging success because Colin and Canice, the founder of Waterbox, live the lifestyle they’re preaching, at the intersection of style, art, and the outdoors.

Family True. Happy! And outdoors! Imagine that!

Family True. Happy! And outdoors! Imagine that!

Colin’s wife Carli is a teacher, and she, too, follows her passion. I hope their daughter Lily does the same with her life. She’s got great role models.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.