Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Was that a Tsunami?

Yesterday we left our safe little harbor (Cape Cod Bay) and decided to take on the mighty Atlantic. Our thought was at ages 6 and 13 the kids could, and wanted to, handle a little extra excitement.

Fast forward through the packing the car ordeal, paying $20 for parking and schlepping across the public beach for a 4x4 square of sand. (You see the one great thing about the Windy Gulch shack is the private beach location on quiet bay).

We edged into the bone chilling water and squealed along with the kids at the pounding surf and undertow action. Thrilling, right? Well little 6-year old C wanted badly to try her boogie board in the surf. Aunt Wenderina was up for the challenge of showing her how it was done...almost.

I caught a wave that I swear was the size and speed of a tsunami. At the crest I looked down...way down...and as my mouth opened and an unholy scream squealed out, I thought this will not end well for me.

A few crashing waves and sandburns later my loving hubby rushed to my rescue sure I was going under for good.

I feel a little like Dorothy - no need to search farther than your own backyard for happiness. Lesson learned. Never wander away from a perfectly happy little place...at least not without scuba gear.

7-Year Itch

This is our 7th year vacationing at the Cape with our friends and their kids. The very first year, their youngest was only 6 months old. Each year is both a testament to, and a test of, our friendship. Good weather or bad, good mood or bad, good kids or bad...all bring ups and downs like a marriage.

Luckily our 7-year itch is not about the people (unless they are tiring of us!) but about the location. Specifically the run down little beach shack quaintly named Windy Gulch (pictured at right with best friend LH) that is starting to wear on our nerves. This year the standard ant infestation and cranky plumbing was joined by a persistent pungent stench in the bathroom and a rogue field mouse in the attached cottage.

Nostalgia aside it's time to scratch the itch and check the real estate offerings.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Starbucks Moment

On Fridays I promise myself that if all the stars align I can stop at Starbucks for what is loosely defined as "coffee" (more like a coffee milkshake). The final hurdle occurs as I coast up to the corner light...if it is red, but my car aligns with the plaza entrance I can do it...if green (or I'm not aligned) I have to keep on moving- Starbucks is not in the cards for me today.

Today was one of those days when everything worked perfectly and I sailed on into the parking lot and through the doors enjoying my little gift to myself. Once inside I placed my order - mocha light frappacino grande please - and awaited the reward. As I stood to the side of the service counter I glanced around and saw the typical single in the corner reading the paper, a couple of suited businessmen shuffling papers and balancing a laptop, and then my eye was caught by an older couple at the back table. They each had a coffee and a muffin, were dressed in casual summer wear, and had the chairs pulled snugly together. Between them on the table, amongst the coffee paraphernalia, was a newspaper neatly folded to the daily crossword.

As I watched, I noticed their puzzle rhythm was like observing a little dance. Obviously a long-practiced ritual, they shared a pencil, alternated reading the clues and writing in answers, and were content within their own little world. I'm not even sure I can adequately relate the charm in this scene, but it touched something inside of me. A desire for some peaceful moments - shared with someone I love - two minds working as one and a lovely summer day with all its possibilities stretched out before me.

I left the Starbucks with a smile and thought tonight, when my husband and I finish the rapid-fire packing for our vacation, I'll share this scene with him. Thankfully I know he will grin and enjoy the scene as I paint it and hope as I do that we will share some similar moments in the next couple of weeks...and in the years to come.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Original "Scatter"

As the Vacation Readiness Momentum continues, I found myself trying to keep track of all the little things at work and home that needed to be remembered. After AmyBow commented on my posting that I was much more together than I gave myself credit for, I tried to re-evaluate. Truth is...I'm just really good at appearing together. Maybe that is just as important?

My father used to be called "Scatter" at work. My mother and I learned this when some of his work colleagues got together for an event. Afterward we asked him, "Why Scatter?"..."Well," he said importantly, "It's because I get annoyed with the guys just standing around shooting the breeze at work. When I see a gang of them wasting time I come up and say - Hey you guys - Scatter!"

Years later, one of his work colleagues told us it was actually because he was a bit of an infamous scatterbrain.

I knew my Dad pretty well, and I always thought he was pretty together...so I tended to think his first story was the right one...but then again, maybe I've inherited my ability to just SEEM together from him. Miss you Dad.

Poison or Refreshment

I admit it. I'm addicted to Diet soda. It's probably the only consistent "diet" thing I consume - usually in combination with some yummy not-so-diet hostess treat from the vending machine.

Years ago, I heard that NutraSweet (or aspartame) had been linked to memory loss. I've been feeling a little like I have a memory issue lately and out of curiosity today, on my 4th diet Pepsi of the day, I Googled NutraSweet-memory loss. Here's what I found:

"A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame:(2) Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson's disease, alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

The book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of "chemical poison."

{sip}... hmmm... {sip}...hopefully this is something that I won't remember for long.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vacation Readiness

One of the anxieties I think I inherited from my mother is getting ready for vacation. I swear I can work myself up into a real lather just trying to remember everything I need to pack, washing and drying every piece of clothing I have (regardless of its usefulness on vacation), getting every work task complete or organized to pass along, finding some poor hapless victim to take care of my maniac cat, leaving notes for the cleaning lady, etc.

You would think I was heading off into the sunset for an epic round the world 1 year tour, vs. a 7-10 day vacation within 5 hours drive of home. Can I really not understand that there is not only a washing machine waiting for me at the rental house, but also a grocery store, drug store, wal-mart, etc.?

My mother always used to (and still does) book family vacations 6-12 months in advance, purchases vacation insurance, and insists on paper airline tickets. She has installed a multi-layered safety system at home to ensure there will not be any flooding in her absence. Granted, after experiencing some of the potential basement/family room floods I get the reason.

So, is it any wonder that in the weeks leading up to vacation my sleep decreases, my headaches increase, my nausea and acid reflux kicks in, and vacation seems more than it is worth? Yet year after year, I pursue the elusive rejuvenatory effects people tell me you should get from a vacation. What is that definition of insanity?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Anti-Road Rage

I listen to books on tape on my commute. I can't tell you how greatly they have helped in curing my road rage. My commute is less than 22 miles, but worst case scenario has me clocking upwards of 1.5 hours of roadtime. The tapes allow me to focus on a story, get into the cadence of narration rhythms, enjoy the length of the commute because it gives me a few more chapters to enjoy.

The side benefit has actually been stealing a few moments to actually appreciate the drive. Parts of it are actually quite pretty, including the 2+ mile length of the Tappan Zee Bridge as it spans the Hudson River. There are moments when it is simply breathtaking to ride across the river and cast a view in one direction to see the boats marina'd in the shade of Hook Mountain; cast it in the other and see the Palisades rising up and the tallest of the NYC skyscrapers softened by the morning or evening mists.

Finding a way to bring my first love - reading a good book - into that car has given me more peace and enjoyment than I could have imagined. Now if only that bridge in Minneapolis hadn't collapsed...

My friend, anxiety.

Ok. So. I am 40 years old...and anxiety has been my friend for most of those years. Since I've shunned therapy for all 40 of those years, I decided to try blogging as a journaling technique to explore my inner psychoses. In typical anxiety fashion, I both hope no one will ever read this, and yet I fear no one will ever read this. After all, if a blogger blogs in a forest....

Today I think I'll start small and reassure anyone who does stumble in to my forest that I'm not completely paralyzed by anxiety and housebound in fear of any society contact. I'm actually pretty highly functional. I hold down a good job, I manage 10 people, I'm happily married, and overall have a pretty normal life. So what, you may ask, is the reason the subject of my blog is anxious moments. I guess it's kind of my way of recognizing they're there - underlying everything I do, say, think, and feel. The why, as my friend SPENCE would tell me, is the real thing I'm afraid of facing.

So hopefully, journaling out there on the web for everyone to read will start to help me dig out the why, find a little enlightment, I'm sure some wry amusement, and maybe a co-dependent or two.