Hug a redwood: achievement unlocked

26 Nov

Sometimes you don’t know what you really want until it’s right in front of you.

The minute I got to San Francisco, I knew: I couldn’t leave this city until I hugged a redwood tree.

Sure, the delicious dumplings were also noteworthy, as were drinks with friends I see hardly ever, and getting to hang out with my ridiculous west coast colleagues.  But there was a redwood-sized hole in my heart that only a hug could fix.

So on Saturday, Dan (my high school prom date), Steven (his fiancé), and I headed out into the Muir Woods for a redwood adventure.  If you’re in the area, do not miss this park – it was everything I dreamed it would be and more.  The trees were so enormous and so different from the pines and oaks back in New England.  The canopy above looked like a caricature of itself, with small pinwheeled branches reaching toward the sun.

And even without going off the path, I got to hug and climb inside not one but half a dozen redwoods, having my own Ferngully moment of appreciating these trees that are older than everyone I know, older than most of the states in the union, and still reaching toward the sky all the same.

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Hugging a redwood for the first time! (with Dan peeking over my shoulder)

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My walking buddies, Steven and Dan

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Redwood canopy, as seen by a short human

Achievement unlocked – now on to the next goal!

 

Redefining traditional – response needed!

25 Nov

My friends and I have been mentally preparing for Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast, including running through our family recipes and traditions.  In doing so, we found that the Thanksgiving meal we were picturing was all different.  Sure, we expected this when we lived in London and no one had heard of this wacky holiday, or in college where people came from all over, but surely three women raised in one small town would have the same menu in mind… right?

Wrong.

So now I want to know – what’s on your required list for Thanksgiving?  Does it ever change?  Are you allowed to help with the cooking?  Are we the only family that doesn’t religiously eat squash, and can anyone confirm that turkey really is better when deep fried?

Here’s our family menu for 2013:

  • Turkey (always)
  • Stuffing (always, made with bread, apples, onions, eggs, etc. – no cornbread (!!), no meat (??))
  • Mashed potatoes (usually?  I feel like we’ve gone without)
  • Gravy (always since Grandma Boo Boo has joined us!)
  • Cranberry sauce, homemade AND canned (always)
  • NOT broccoli casserole (retired for 2013, though it may resurface at Christmas)
  • Caesar salad (almost always)
  • At least two kinds of vegetables (always)
    • Butternut squash with kale and pumpkin seeds – recipe here
    • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • At least two kinds of pie (always – I believe that other kinds of dessert are acceptable traditions but should never replace the all-American pie)

What’s on your Thanksgiving menu?  Post what YOU think this meal entails – and your favorite recipes, if you’re willing to share! – below!

I came, I saw,… I’m not going back to crossfit

24 Nov

I love a good health trend.  From novelty races like the Color Run to switching to agave instead of honey in my tea, I find that while health and exercise trends might not actually make a huge difference in my life, it’s fun to change things around now and then to keep myself energized.

So I was ready to love crossfit – to have some reason to shell out $200 a month for a new gym, to make some new friends, to stretch some new muscles.

And I hated it.

I write this from the morning after a free crossfit demo in Boston’s Back Bay, courtesy of City Sports.  I can’t move most of my body, so I guess that’s supposed to mean that I had a good workout.  But really, it just makes me mad.

Mad that during the hour-long session, we got lectured for half the time about how crossfit is going to help us with all aspects of our life, like “reaching for flour at work” (are we all bakers??)… something I can’t even do in my soreness.  Mad that it was marketed as being about your own strength, your own 100%… but the rest of your team isn’t allowed to go on until you finish those burpees.  Mad that when the small medicine balls ran out, we had to use one that was double the size, and just deal with it.  Mad that when I asked for an adjustment because my hip flexor was killing me, the trainer said “There’s really no substitution… I guess you could do push-ups if you really needed to,” implying that instead I should just tough through it.  And REALLY mad that after an exercise session that was supposed to be about working brand new muscles, we were given zero minutes to stretch after – no instruction, no finale, no warning about how important it is to properly cool down these new muscles, just “Don’t forget to check our onboarding program!”

That was your chance to wow me, crossfit, and you blew it.  I’m going back to Zumba, boot camp in the park, and 5ks where costumes are required – at least they don’t hurt me.

Video

Music Monday: Ten Minutes Ago

4 Nov

This weekend, I brought some magic back into my life courtesy of “Cinderella” on Broadway. From row G (thanks TKTS!), I got to celebrate the rags-to-riches musical with a bit of a feminist and “Occupy” twist. I would have loved to see even more agency from Cinderella – she takes her shoe when it falls off the first time, then carefully places it on the step when she actually wants the prince to find her, but at the same time she hands the politics book to the men to read instead of just telling them what to do (if you want to show the people you’re listening, establish a democracy).

Still, the costumes and the drama and the joy of finding something that fits – whether it’s a leadership role, a revolution, or a perfect glass slipper – stuck with me long after the final waltz ended.

Here’s one of the best songs from the show, the Brandy TV version. I dare you not to have this stuck in your head all day!

Love and politics

7 Oct

I love politics (though not when people can’t get over their petty stuff and insist on standing in the way of progress just for the sake of being jerks…).  Still, even a shutdown can’t stop my excitement for the upcoming Massachusetts special election to fill Senator Ed Markey’s seat, especially because:

  • One of the great guys running is a real progressive who has stood up for women, equality, and justice his whole short life
  • He’s also married one of my good friends over the weekend (and threw one hell of a wedding!)
  • He has the cutest, most honest and endearing campaign ads ever

 

He may look like he’s running for class president, but he’s the real deal – Carl Sciortino is going to be great for our Commonwealth and our country.  Vote for him on October 15!

Goodbye 26, goodbye 27, hello love?

5 Oct

Where did the last year go?

It was full of adventures, tears, tasty food, triumphs, and life lessons.  Since my 27th birthday, I lost my Grandma Sugarplum, one of the best people I’ve ever known and someone who inspired me to cook, read, and love relentlessly.  And just a few months later, I ran across my first (and far from last) half marathon finish line.  I got to help three great friends celebrate their weddings, with one final fall wedding ahead this evening.  I played two seasons of softball, got a promotion, had my heart broken, read great books, drove down Highway 1, and tried out for a game show.  I also got to spend tons of quality time with the people I love – from shopping at Target with Grandma BooBoo to running with Mom to going to baseball games with Dad to laughing my butt off with my sister and making last minute plans with my awesome friends in the city.

Since I set myself some goals last October, I have done them all except leaving the country.  Given how much else I did that I never thought possible, I’m going to call 27 a victory.

Now, what’s ahead?

Living up the single city life – every moment with friends while we’re still in the same place, every frenzied playoff season (go Sox!), every office pie day, every morning run on the bike path.  Hopefully flying a plane for the first time.  Ideally leaving the country.  Definitely celebrating as two best friends (my sister, Kat, and Priti) each marry the loves of their lives, with perhaps more weddings yet unplanned (you never know!).  New risks, new dates, my first full triathlon, volunteering at camp, and checking more items off my 5-year bucket list, since I only have 24 months to finish it all.

And really trying to attend to every moment that I’m in.  Even if that moment is waiting for the ridiculously delayed red line because our city’s transportation system is falling apart.  A friend’s partner recently died at a young age, and it reminded me how grateful I should be – for youth, for love, merely for life.  So this year, I’m going to honor her and myself – past, present, and future – by really being grateful for these moments, no matter how late I might be for work.

Thanks for sticking with me these three years so far – let’s go out and live a little!

*Bonus points for anyone who gets the musical reference in the title.

Climb every mountain

1 Oct

IT’S MOUNTAIN DAY! (and I totally called it!)

The best of all holidays – that one random, crisp fall day where obligations are canceled, tests are delayed, picnics are packed, and ice cream is consumed at the top of Mount Holyoke.  And to make it extra special this year, the government is joining in the shutdown as well!  How friendly of them.

I will be enjoying this day by sending love to all my MoHos, eating ice cream in Cambridge at 6:30 (text me if you want to join!), and trying to get outside for some fresh air later.  How will YOU spend this Mountain Day?

For more on why I love Mountain Day – I even gave my commencement address about it! – click here.  And add your own memories in the comments!

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