Vacation, now what?

Vacation! There was a point at which I didn’t know if it would happen. We had unexpected passport crisis.  I was having visions we wouldn’t get to go at all. I was freaking out. Then I read the Yelp reviews of the NYC passport office. Yep, the YELP REVIEWS OF THE PASSPORT OFFICE SAVED MY SANITY AND HAPPINESS. (Talk about a sentence I did not think I would ever write…) Originally scheduled to depart Friday, we spent the weekend in purgatory/at home. Finally we were able to meet our family in Toulouse, France. We missed out on a couple days in Paris, but we were just happy to be out of the MF country.  We were greeted at the airport with open arms and tasty snacks from a Parisian bakery. I’m not sure which I was more excited about. 😉 Andrew hadn’t seen his uncle in 30ish years, so I clearly had never met him. He ran to us! He and his wife were such gracious, loving, hilarious, patient, and happy hosts. We made a lifetime of memories. I could go on and on about the details of the trip, and maybe  someday I will recount the highlights, but today I’m dwelling on the, “So that’s done, now what?”

I missed the last two weeks of the school year with this trip. School is out. I’ve had my vacation. Andrew is in California for work this week and I’m alone. I’ve done the laundry, unpacked/put away 96% of our things, bought groceries, filled and Amazon Pantry box, started running again, chatted with my sister, chatted with some friends. So, now what? The last two summers a move has been brewing right around this time. Moving was my excuse. Moving gave me plenty to do. Moving took time. Moving was stressful. Moving was exciting. Moving let me cut myself some slack when it came to my next professional move.

There is no moving this summer. Thank the Lord. This also means it is time to face, head-on, the question. So, now what?

Today I looked at my usual round-up of job websites and logged into LinkedIn for the first time in ages. I browsed. I day-dreamed of a commute to midtown or lunching in Washington Square Park. That was enough for today. I’ll get there. Or I’ll get somewhere else.

IMG_2479
Simple things can be perfect things. A door in Gordes, FR.

 

A new day

Today the sun decided to shine today. And it was good. It is good.

I just re-read what I wrote yesterday. I still have those feelings and anxiety, but again…LITM. Wait, that’s not a YOLO-type acronym you say? Live in the moment…LITM. This correlates nicely to my saying yes mantra, which my husband reminded me of when he told me this morning to go back and re-read this.

I don’t know what I’m going to do after we get back from vacation. That’s ok. I’ll be ok. I’m a lucky one who is privileged enough to have many of life necessities and luxuries, so my internal struggle sometimes needs some perspective. I had some perspective today, thanks to the sun.

 

As I mentioned yesterday, we are headed to France on Friday! We are celebrating my in-laws’ 40th wedding anniversary! We will be in Paris for a few days and then spend the rest of our trip in the southern region, specifically Albi. We have a short road trip planned to Provence as well and I am really hopeful we’ll get to see some early lavender blooms even though we are going a week or so before they really start to pop! This is definitely one of the biggest vacations I have gone on and with 6 of us being together for nearly two weeks there will surely be some crazy times. We’ll leave crazy up for your own interpretation. 😉

I’m going to start round 1 of packing tonight. Round 1 is usually titled “piles”. Anyone else familiar with packing in rounds?

Or?

I have started writing a post three times so far today.

They began:

“Today I feel like a loser…”

“The first year I was underemployed…”

“Do I even deserve a vacation?…”

I have a lot of negative self-talk happening today, currently battling it with some Brandi Carlile and LaCroix Pamplemousse. This is my last week of subbing for the school year because we go on vacation on Friday (woohoo!). That also means I need to start to think about what to do job-wise. I can keep subbing next year. Or not. Or? Or? Or?

Gah, I hate these times.

Vacation has been planned for quite a while, but I can already sense that when I return I’ll ride the vacation high for a couple days and then walk off the cliff into shallow pond of “Well now what?” and I really don’t like to swim in that pond.

 

First handshake, last high-five

Things I never would have gotten to do if I wouldn’t have left my school counseling job in Iowa and started moving around the country with a weirdo:

Go to a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert  on a Thursday afternoon in March. I randomly put our name on a waiting list the week before. Much to my surprise, I got an email that tickets were avaliable and we seized them immediately. They were free and Andrew usually can sneak away for a couple hours (or 5 in this case) without worrying about putting in for PTO. Don’t get the wrong idea…he worked until 9 p.m. after we got done with the taping and continuously works more than most people I know, so he ain’t no slouch.

So, last Thursday, after three days of subbing that was capped of with a brutal day in PE, we met up for a lunch date/free food from work and headed to the Ed Sullivan Theater in Midtown to embark on an experience we knew very little about. Would we be first in line? (I highly doubted it.) Would we be last? Would I be cold waiting outside? (Duh, of course.) How long would we actually have to wait before going inside? Before getting seated?

Disclaimer, we are by no means Colbert die-hards. I think the man is genius. I love watching clips of his show. He is wicked-smart. He is kind. He is genuine. He is hilarious. He lives in New Jersey. But my problem is that his current show is on at 11:35 p.m. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Just that it would require me to stay awake until 11:35 p.m.

We got in line around 1. It was a sunny day. It was pleasant in the sun. We did not get to stand in the sun.

We waited outside until around 2. We were then ushered in to a snake line in the lobby of the theater. We were warned about using the restroom now or forever hold your pee. We watched clips of old episodes on TVs that occasionally cut out and we could barely hear. We were then briefed on the dos/don’ts of being an audience member. We couldn’t take our phones out. Don’t ask Stephen for an autograph or selfie. You can’t save seats. We will seat you. Get into it, really into it. You make the show. He feeds off your energy. Goooooo team!

It was obvious by our spot in line we would not have to sit in the balcony (although these seats would be cool in a different way). We entered and a kind man with very funky, stylish, mismatched Nikes told us to go left and then take the first right. Left. Right. Walking. Motioned to keep walking by a nice-looking woman in a Colbert Show parka. I almost stop because she keeps motioning but I’m thinking, “We can’t keep walking, that’s the front row.”

She finally gives us this look of, “Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but yes, you are, coming up to the front row, so just hurry your asses up so I can get on with my job.”

We file in. We are laughing. What? Oh my gosh. Repeat.

We are in the front row! The MIDDLE of the front row. Like I think if I counted the chairs in the center section of the front row, we were mathematically the median.

We were “warmed up” by a comedian who pulled some zany and very enthusiastic audience members on stage. Dude, people are weird! And this guy let them know it in a loving way, and I loved that. Anytime there was down time we were pumped up with jams. Good jams. The kind that you want to play at a well-DJed wedding reception. We were told repeatedly to be three times louder and more excited than you think you are or need to be. It has to translate to people at home. If you think you’re laughing, laugh louder. They don’t add in applause or laugh tracks. Our reactions were what people would see and here that night at home. So do a good job, gosh darnnit!

Eventually the same friend with the mismatching Nikes came back out to tell those of us in the center front row that it would be likely Stephen would come up and shake our hands or give out high-fives. Do NOT grab him. Do NOT hold on to his hand. Do NOT pull on his arm.

Then we met and were entertained by the in-house band Jon Batiste and Stay Human. They were awesome.

Then there was a short Q & A with Colbert himself. He really is so cool. No one in our audience asked really good questions. Of course one guy asked a political question. One person asked…they were so lame I can’t even remember. When he came out for the Q&A it was like a practice run of the start of the show. So I got a solid high-five.

Sidenote: They tell you ahead of time, like on your ticket, that the studio is “chilly”. Chilly means freezing cold to someone like me. For almost the entire taping my coat was on my lap being used as a blanket. At the last minute I put on a blazer over my cardigan and Thank the LORD. My hands were ice,  meaning my wedding ring was loose. Loose enough for Stephen’s high-five to bring it past my middle knuckle. Not that I every want my wedding ring to fall off, but if Stephen Colbert’s high-five knocked my wedding ring onto the stage and there had to be a big to-do where Stephen himself found it and apologized and then re-told the story on air, I wouldn’t be mad. 

Then it was finally time for the actual show to start! We watched the cold-open. We excelled in our laughing. And then, Stephen literally ran out from backstage directly to me! I got the first handshake. Man his hands are soft and smooth. It was nice. Andrew was on my left, but Stephen moved to my right. Oh no! But…then he came back and Andrew got the last high-five before he started his monologue. First handshake, last high-five. New family motto.

I haven’t even gushed about the guests yet…Hugh Jackman! Cate Blanchett! Another actress I’d never heard of, but who had sculpted arms, nice teeth and famous parents! The Cate Blanchett interview was a surprise because she wasn’t on the episode we saw, but they needed to tape her interview during our time. Fine, I guess we will stick around. The Flaming Lips performed. They were weird, but at least if I was going to see a band I didn’t really like it would be one with a man on a unicorn and two people in astronaut suits?

Here is proof we had our glory moment. I will watch this video anytime I need a pick-me-up. What you don’t here in the video is Andrew’s baritone yelling/cheering. I wish you could hear it because it is an interesting juxtaposition to his child-like jubilant bouncing and clapping. And, while at the time, in the furry of it all he didn’t feel like he got a real high-five and was slightly envious of my handshake. We can all see from this video evidence that he did get a high-five. First handshake, last high-five.

(WordPress just informed me that I don’t have a fancy enough plan to put the video right here in the post. So I linked it above and here are some still shots, so you can get the idea.)

The whole point of going to this taping was not to get on tv. We had no expectation of that.  I’m working on saying yes and this time it turned out to be really really really fun.

Softball + Life

My least favorite question in social situations is “So what do you do?”

I internally cringe when answering. I also, since I’ve had practice over the last five years on crafting my story, usually read from my mental script. If I have a prepared speech, it is easy to speed through the details and not give the asker an inch to maneuver and make me feel ashamed or embarrassed. And there have been good stretches of time since we started moving around where I have answered that question with confidence. But, usually, I offer up my answer much like I used to pitch in softball. I let go of the ball (in this story the ball = my answer) and then I turn my back and duck. Preferring that, if I’m going to get hit, I get hit in the back of the head rather than my face.  I answer their (your) innocent, well-meaning question, then I internally hover and turn around, hoping the line of questioning is finished.

Let’s go on a trip down memory lane. I played softball until 8th grade. In my small town we were primarily in a slow-pitch league, but the last couple years I played we also were our town’s first ever fast-pitch team. In that league we played against mostly bigger towns 90 min. away, but our t-shirt uniforms were teal, our team name was the Marlins, and we were sponsored by the local hardware store.

Before we were the Marlins and playing fast-pitch (which, as a “pitcher” I’m not sure anything about my pitches were “fast” except that I swung my arm around crazily vs. just lobbing the ball in the air), we were purple and had sleeveless uniforms – trailblazers! My mom, Brenda, coached with her best friend, Brenda. We were good. We played towns in similar size or even smaller. Sometimes our fields were an oasis along gravel roads. We could have very well literally played on some gravel because that dirt was NOT very nice to your upper thigh when you slid into home.

Rural areas are blessed with few options, making my some of my food memories very vivid. The only “fast food” that was usually on the way home from our games was either Subway, Taco Johns, or Dairy Queen. Hot Eats, Cool Treats. Potato Oles. Footlong Pizza Subs. All God’s greatest gifts.

During one summer softball season, there was also this trend where friends and I wore around boxer shorts like they were today’s lulu yoga pants. We were tired of wearing black mesh shorts for every GD activity and I guess this was our way of expressing ourselves? The boxers HAD to be the ones with the small button to close that… you know…opening. And if they were too big you rolled the waste-band. The flannel ones were the best. I swear there was a time I wore the boxers IN a game, but maybe we never wore the boxers for an actual game, just practice? Thinking on it more, seeing my mom was the coach there is no way I wore BOXERS in an ACTUAL game. Right? No way.

And the footwear…Almost all of us who played softball played soccer. This meant you already had soccer cleats, so why would you get special cleats for softball? That would be silly.

All of my wardrobe and pitching shenanigans aside, in the slow-pitch league we were gooooood. And when we switched to fast-pitch, even though we were a much smaller town, we were competitive and able to hold our own in a league with bigger teams with things like tryouts! As much as I despised pitching, I liked playing the infield and I could, to quote my mom, “Hit the snot off the ball.” One time in a tournament I hit so many home runs (remember a home run doesn’t have to go over the fence) that the other team accused me of being too old for the league. Ha! Keep in mind we played the same set of teams over and over, summer after summer, so you know who to expect. And I was not too old, I was just better than them.  I mean Ken Griffey Jr. was my icon at the time, what did they expect?!

Eventually, when I moved to Iowa, I quit softball because it was in the same season as soccer. And as baller as I was at softball, I was actually better at soccer. (My ego is feeling gooooood today, can you tell?)

Dang, I just hit an in-the-park home run.  I win.

Softball nostalgia aside, when people pitch me those questions I don’t like to answer I’m trying not to turn and duck. I try to answer confidently, sometimes defensively, preemptively rationalizing my position to them as I go because I feel my answer will be judged and not met with a ohhhhs and ahhhhs. Hit the ball at my face, at the back of my head, at my knees, wherever. Life is good and I’m doing ok.

Galentine’s – Ladies celebrating ladies

Friends from college are coming! It has been 10 (gasp!) years since we graduated. Our class reunion is coming up this spring, but we already knew not all of us could make that event. So, we took matters into our own hands.

I have seen the five of these beautiful women all individually or in smaller groups a handful of times over the past few years. Moving around the country to places where friends already live sure helps with that! But, I was thinking about the last time all six of us were in the same place at the same time, and it was nearly five years ago at one of our weddings. I was married more recently than this wedding, but at the time of my wedding one of our friends lived in Amsterdam. Then, two years ago we got together at a friend’s family lake house in Texas, but by this time another friend had moved abroad to London, so we were still at 5. We decided on meeting in NYC this year because two of us this here, one lives in Philadelphia, one in Minneapolis, one in San Francisco, and one across the pond in London. For the two farthest away, NYC is in the middle. When we started planning this weekend, there were numerous emails exchanged and even some spreadsheets involved. It basically came down to this weekend or July if we were going to all get together. The last time we got together, weather caused some rough insanely terrible travel situations for a few people, so we were hesitant to have people book flights in February to New York City. And here we are in the biggest snow we’ve had this year, waiting for friends to arrive tomorrow. (As I write this, I’m home because there is no school…anywhere on the eastern sea board. Winter storm Nico, you will not hold us down!)

A couple weeks ago I looked at the calendar and then saw something online that reminded me about Parks and Recreation  and their notion/proposed national holiday of Galentine’s Day. Straight from the show:

I immediately sent my friends a Buzzfeed link to 25 million things you should know about Galentine’s Day. (Side note: that post is from 2015. In today’s current socio-political climate, I’m sure Leslie Knope would have some major new zingers and I imagine her celebration truly would be a recognized national holiday.) Because we are meeting so close to Valentine’s Day and we are ladies celebrating ladies, I’ve decided to have a little fun with things. Tomorrow all my friends are coming over for a dinner and then we’re having a good old-fashioned slumber party. It was the perfect excuse to craft and make goodie bags. So, here are my creations, I even busted out the glitter.

 

img_8930
If you don’t get the description and animal reference, then you didn’t read up on Galentine’s Day. 😉
img_8933
Goodie bags filled with snacks and love.

Have a great weekend! Ladies celebrating ladies, persistently. Channel your inner-Leslie Knope and spread the love!

 

 

 

Subscribed.

Are you a podcast person? I am. I think?

What qualifies someone as a “podcast person”? Paying to go to live-recordings of a podcast? Planning a weekend getaway around a live-podcast taping?

Not that we’ve done either of those things slash, we’ve done them both.

For me, it all started with This American Life. (Really, you too? You don’t say…) I still love Ira and co., but the podcast universe has vastly expanded beyond replays of NPR shows. There is a podcast for everything. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me feel smart. They make me feel dumb. They make me feel nerdy. They make me feel cool. All. the. feels.

I recently decided to add a few more podcasts to my usual rotation, some on the suggestions of friends, some on the suggestions of strangers in the iTunes store. One of the first new ones I listened to was an episode of Hidden Brain. I walked around Manhattan nodding my head in agreement and wanting to tell strangers on the sidewalk, “THIS IS IT! THIS IS HOW I’VE FELT ABOUT WORK/JOBS/CAREERS.”

I started writing in this space as a way to flesh out my life as it related to my working-self. It is hard to articulate those feelings. It is hard to felt understood when surrounded by wildly career-successful friends and family. I felt stuck.

So, if you want any indication as to what I’ve been feeling, trying to say, or want to thinking about your own identity, listen to this. I hope you get to nod your head half as much as I did.

Hidden Brain: How Silicon Valley Can Help You Get Unstuck