‘sTrueth! A good time was had by all.

The Daily Life Text

Jim and I spent the weekend at the Trues’. I had a ridiculously busy Friday that involved a ton of networking (which, it seems, could be a full-time job even if you’re not actually following up on any of the networking with anything concrete); took some time off for lunch with a friend here in White Plains; and then bolted home to throw some final few things in a bag and drive up to Boston to squeeze in an overdue visit to an old friend before heading out to Melrose via the convoluted-but-beautiful Route 1. (Evans: Are you reading this? You are next.)

(Only in Boston would a relatively straight course end up looking like a misguided bowl of noodles.)

This route goes over the Tobin Bridge, by the way, which is stunning, to say the least.

photo: Estrip.org

Anyhow. We went to visit my friend Sarah, who had her baby boy, Jesus Jr., back in late December. I don’t know why there is only this photo of me, Jim and JJ and none of Sarah, me, Jim, and Jesus Sr. It seems people disappear when there are babies involved.

Baby Jesus is cute. He is just like the teddy bear he looks to be, warm and squashy and round.

Jesus and Sarah took us to the really great Village BBQ, where I had beef brisket, and Jim had…something I can’t remember. Jesus had hot wings whose flames could only be quenched by tequila, and Sarah had an entire rack of ribs. Have I mentioned that Sarah is but a mere waif? I never understood where she put the food. For that matter, I’m not sure where she put Jesus Jr.

Then it was off to the True household for a promised weekend of mountain biking.

That didn’t really happen. I mean, Jim and Colin went, and came back suitably muddy. The story is that Jim executed an awesome endo, but there were no photographs. However, as these were the photos that happened that night, I think it’s obvious that everyone had a good time. Indeed, Jim look properly relieved to have gotten out of the afternoon with nothing more than a good endo story to tell:

We girls went to hot yoga instead. It was very, very hot, although I know it wasn’t the 100 degrees on the thermostat. It was aggressive and I had some sort of aggressive woman next to me who flexed her hands wide open when she was doing Warrior and jumped back and forth with an annoying plip plopping noise whenever our instructor said to “jump or step back into upward facing dog.” You could see her tendons and she seemed to be very competitive. Anyway, Carli lost the lid to her WaterBox and it went rolling in a lopsided confused way underneath me before she caught it, which sent me into fits of snorting laughter that, thankfully, no one but Carli heard, I don’t think. This must be why Carli and I look so composed in this photo, because all of the giggling snorts had been sweated out of us.

Lily is a right proper angel.

Most days Carli is, too. I said most days.

Later on that night there was watching of the most ridiculously gleeful movie ever, The Hangover. Bradley Cooper has incredible hair in that movie. And that’s all I’ma say about that.

Photo: David Gabber, TopNews.in

Er. What happened just now? I got distracted. Oh, right, the weekend.

Perhaps one of the most clichĂ©-and-yet-not moments of the weekend was when Colin dragged out his home videos, made back when he was, oh, I can’t remember, eight or so. People. You’ve never seen home videos like this. To be fair, they were shot by someone I think was an aspiring filmmaker (not Colin, but a childhood friend of his). There are sound effects and visual effects and great costumes and fake fighting and everything. They are from “Peter/Paul Productions,” with a proper nameplate, and they. are. hilarious. Seriously. I think I might have liked watching clips of those better than I liked.

Bradley.

Cooper’s.

Hair.

What? Ahem.

Okay, so we knocked off to bed shortly after that, as Jim had to get up the next morning to ride in the King of Burlingame time trial race. People. Watch the video. Sometimes I cannot believe Jim rides this stuff. Sometimes I am sick with envy.

King of Burlingame Time Trial

Other times I look at that and go, “Agh, mud, trail erosion…eeeEEEeee…bridges!” In this case, I was not around to see the actual race; I was inside the car, trying to get a head start on editing the newspaper. We left shortly afterwards, and stopped on the way home to consume what would eventually be The Bane of Our Existence.

Doesn’t it look benign? And lovely?

It was, at the time. And then, four hours later, it was not, as Jim and I were rapidly overtaken with horrible food poisoning. I still haven’t decided if I can write up a Yelp review of this restaurant. Jim has fond memories of it from his days working in Groton, CT at Pfizer, but…oh, le sigh.

Anyway. So our wonderful weekend fizzled to a stop, as we both, in separate rooms, moaned our ways through the night (we didn’t know if it was flu and didn’t feel like passing it back and forth to each other). Jim gamely went to work Monday morning and I moaned my way through all of Monday and into Tuesday morning and now finally feel 100%. I am convinced that the hot yoga which made me sweat out all of the water in my system contributed to a slower recovery time for me.

Anyhow, we’re already halfway through the week, and I ahve a ton of work to do, because I have a houseguest coming Friday and things to do in the city tomorrow evening, I think, and then I am going to Haiti on Sunday.

Yes, I’m going to Haiti on Sunday. More on that later.

Bradley Cooper’s hair!

What?

P.S. Carli made this thing out of WikkiStix. I have never heard of them until this past weekend, but I was suitably impressed:

A life in six eBay items

The Daily Life Text

This weekend I spent some time working through my closet and dresser. Both are jammed full of items I was sure I didn’t use very often–life has changed a lot in the past few years and I’m a bit of a packrat, especially when it comes to clothing. So I went through both and set aside a stack to Freecycle and a stack to eBay, and was left, at the end of it, feeling very tired and pretty drained.

I think this is because going though all that clothing was a lot like going through pieces-parts of my life. It wasn’t until relatively recently (1996?) that I started to like clothing and figure out what worked for me, so going through clothing is like watching my life move before my eyes. Giving it away is a little bit like giving away pieces-parts.

Here’s what’s in someone else’s hands, or floating on the Interwebs, as we speak:

1. Peach Banana Republic handkerchief-hem dress:I wore this dress exactly once and bought it something like eight years ago. Originally, I purchased it for a friend of mine’s 60th birthday (we were all asked to wear pink to underscore an inside joke) and ended up going with another outfit instead. I wore this instead to a friend of ours’ 30th birthday. This is the first time Jim and I had ever been to a party together where we both knew the person being celebrated. And this is the very first time I ever saw my girl Anna in something other than spandex or sweats. Obviously, me and Anna’s relationship has changed quite a bit since then, veering more towards the above than anything in spandex. 🙂

2. Red Benetton suit

I’m not sure what possessed me to buy a suit in bright red, but it worked for me. It was definitely a power suit of sorts, even if I did look a little bit like a realtor–or Nancy Reagan, eurgh. If I still fit into this suit (when I bought it I was at my trimmest, a svelte 128 and neurotic), I’d perhaps dress it up with something other than the black tank top I usually wore it with, but back then, it was enough to be busy all the time, working, effectively, two jobs–one for a not-for-profit and the other for a career I wasn’t sure I wanted–and living a crazed social life. Life was fun, outrageous, and more than a little uncertain and inelegant. Life then was a lot like this suit.

3. “Jog and die” T-shirt

So. This is interesting, this one. This is probably the most recent acquisition to go (2006?). First of all, it shrank in the wash.

See? It is teeny tiny on me (I’m on the right). Second, the time I bought the shirt, I must have been feeling very aggressive: On the front of this tee it says, “Jog and die.” At the back hip it says “yes it hurts.” I like the sentiment of this tee, but the reality is, although I’ve been heard swearing profusely on race courses in the past, that was all for show, some kind of sick need to be heard exerting myself. (I bet I was a grunter in the gym, too.) I’m not an uber-aggressive athlete, and on the days that I do feel aggressive, I tend more to seethe quietly on the inside and be internally annoyed at either myself or competitors. I’ve found, for me, that swearing does help, but swearing quietly helps more. It’s what I’ve settled on, and I don’t need to shout about it as much as I used to. So–out it went.

4. Laundry by Shelli Segal LBD

Every girl needs a little black dress. Somehow, I settled on this one for my 25th birthday. It cost me an arm and a leg at the time, but I loved it, and it was by far the most daring–and, at the same time, classically shaped–item of clothing I owned. The thing is 32.5 inches from top of shoulder strap to end of hemline. There are no photos of me wearing this thing. Probably for the better.

5. Gap linen dress, ca. 1994

Sweetheart neckline, nice lichen-green color. I purchased this dress in Boston, I think, on my very first real job. (I guess by “real” I mean it was out of state and my mom didn’t get it for me.) I was an intern at the Atlantic Monthly and had free rein to purchase what I wanted to, since I was also working at a $5.75-an-hour job at Brookstone in Copley Center. It was a great summer. I had a terrific time, and came home with items like this and a long-distance boyfriend. It was a little bit big in the bust and a little short in the leg, and I only wore it twice. Also, I was a bit of a chunky monkey back then. Anyway, I think, after years of wearing boyish plaid or struggling to find something that really worked for me, I went a little girly-nuts in the opposite direction. (As I recall, I also came home with a pair of vegan Mary-Janes.) The last time I wore this dress was out on a picnic with friends with Lincoln Park after a trip to the zoo in 2007. The best thing about this dress? There’s enough material in the skirt that you can sit cross-legged and not expose the world to your undies. I will miss this dress when it goes. If it doesn’t go, well…I’ll probably wear it again.

6. Thomas Pink plaid shirt

Another item from the working days. Each of the four years I worked in a high-paying job in the city I went out and purchased two Thomas Pink shirts. I went for the trimmest fit, since I had by then figured out what my body shape was and liked it, and was just getting into colors. I favored narrow button plackets and deep or French cuffs. My first pair of cufflinks was based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design and made from sterling silver. They were like a talisman. The year I left my job, I lost them. Anyway, I was introduced to Pink by an ex-boyfriend, a guy whose parents were Old New York and who Knew About Such Things. I bought this when Pink still made their shirts in Great Britain (they’ve since moved their production to Myanmar, or summat), and so I don’t buy them any more. Anyhow. An era gone. I’m not sad to see this shirt go; I never much liked it, and a good friend of mine once asked if I was going to a hoe-down when I saw him for lunch in it. Sigh.

Speaking the gospel

The Daily Life Text

Okay. I have been thinking about this post for a really long time. I’ve been speaking to audiences since I started ARFE, and now, as I’m working with ShelterBox, I speak at least once a week. And in January I gave one of the most important speeches of my life.

At first, this post was going to be very simple: I love public speaking! And then I was going to say a few words on why and all of that. But I let it roll around in my head a little bit more, and percolate (burble, burble) a bit longer, and then, on Tuesday evening, as Jim and I were watching The Biggest Loser, I had a brainfart: this is not just about public speaking, and why I love it. It is about all the things it can do for you, and how good it can make you feel.

I know, that sounds insane. Isn’t public speaking  one of the most common phobias, or something like that? I’m going to tell you briefly why it shouldn’t be.

1. You are speaking about something you care about.

Even if you’re terrified of public speaking, the fact that you’re talking about something personally meaningful to you is a huge boost. Take advantage of it. If you aren’t speaking about something you feel invested in, get someone else to do it. Really.

2. You know your audience.

This sometimes has to be accomplished on the fly. If you walk into a room and it’s all stern-looking suits, make sure you speak  their language. Likewise if it’s a bunch of college students who’ve just rolled out of bed.

Many speaking engagements are preceded by a meal of sorts, or at least some lag time. Get there early, and use the time wisely: Observe the people at the table; mingle; get to know the people in the room. Ask questions about the group. Engage from the first minute. And, for God’s sake, do your research. Take every advantage you can.

Learn to read body language. Reading people on the fly is immensely useful.

3. You are a role model while you are speaking.

At the very least, you are an expert on your topic. This is an incredibly powerful idea. For 45 minutes, or whatever, you are the end-all, be-all of the reason people are in the room. Use this knowledge!

4. You can only be yourself.

No one is asking you to be anyone else. Be casual. People came to see you. Surely, that’s worth something. Big public-speaking gaffes, like inappropriate jokes, or drinking so much prior to said speech that you’re woozy and slurring, happen because you’re nervous. Little public-speaking gaffes, like too many “ums” or “y’knows” happen because you’re nervous. Don’t be. It’s OK.

OK. So now back to the Biggest Loser. They do this thing on the show where, at some point during the season, they make it so that each contestant has an opportunity to become a role model. Last season they did it twice: once they made the contestants go round getting people to participate in a Biggest-Loser-led exercise class on the Washington Mall, and, later in the season, they had the contestants speak on what it’s like to find motivation for losing weight. They had them tell their own stories, in short.

And I think every contestant suddenly felt, after watching everyone applaud and give standing ovation after standing ovation, that they were worthy of something.

How precious is that?

At a recent ShelterBox event at East Woods School

Perhaps our last snow day

The Daily Life Text

It was near fifty degrees out yesterday, so Jim and Sprocket and I went for a stroll at a nature preserve that I’ve been reading a lot about, but haven’t actually visited myself.

The Teatown Lake Reservation is in Ossining, New York. They are the hosts of Eaglefest, an annual event celebrating that most noble of carrion-eaters, and have 15 miles worth of hiking trails. They’ve been in our local news quite a bit, as they’re about to acquire another 72 acres of land as part of an open space initiative.

It was such a beautiful day out, bright sunshine everywhere, and, obviously, mud, as all of the snow that was piled up from the previous weekend melted. There were lots of people out everywhere–the overflow parking lot was full–and although we didn’t get to visit the nature center, we did have a really nice day.

I wore my slick-soled Blundstones, which proved to be a big mistake–the snow, which was wet and heavy, was also packed down in enough places where folks had walked earlier that day. Anyone who’s ever skied in the late afternooon knows what that means: mini-berms everywhere, some iced over, some mushy, some hidden under kicked up snow.

I had my twenty-pound pack on, too, all of which combined to make our 2.5-mile walk quite adventurous, at least insofar as my core, hamstrings, ankles, and knees went. Here are some photos.

I love this bridge, although I wasn’t able to capture the running water and the reflections it made on the rocks just above the brook. Jim crossed this bridge stomping at the crusty snowy bits and kicking them off, all in the guise of making it easier for future visitors to walk and not slip, but he inadvertently let loose his true intent by muttering, under his breath, “DESTRUCTOR JIMMY!” Sigh. Boys are so transparent.

I love these trail markers. They were everywhere. I was very tempted to pull them off and use them as coasters in my own home.

There’s apparently a permanent orienteering course at Teatown. Very cool. This marker says that if you turn 96 degrees from looking at the sign and walk 23 paces, you’ll find the next marker. Orienteering. The sport that proves that the universe makes sense, after all.

Why does everyone say “mossy green”? Personally, I prefer this color, which I am calling licheny green. Okay, so they’re two different colors. Still, this one is preferable to me.

Some deer had been before us. I did not take pictures of the deer poo. This was good enough evidence.

Spotted this way-cool underbelly of tree. Looks like a massive star anise. Good for a garnish on a massive cocktail.

Overlook Trail is very very short but very steep and slippery and sometimes treacherous. At some point I slid down on my rear. Stupid pack!

I liked this little wishbone in the snow. Sprocket was completely insane on the ride up there. Now he is lying flat on his side, moaning. He must be pretty pooped, too.

I hope this is not the last of our snow days yet, although it’s supposed to rain later this week, and I must confess that standing outside in nothing but shirt-sleeves was really nice this morning.

In May we will have been here a year. It hardly feels that way…!