I’ve got vacation on the brain. It is all I can think about and therefore all I can write about today.
Hubs and I are flying to Tampa next week (Coronavirus be damned), where we will meet up with one of our long time couple friends (Hubs’ first college roommate and his wife, Lynda) and drive a rental car to a 2 bedroom condo in Siesta Key. Where we will stay for 5 days.
There, we will be celebrating Hubs’ 50th and our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary.
Beyond having our flights and VRBO booked, no other plans have been made. Which is what makes me so excited about this trip (the element of surprise, you know). All four of us have agreed on our priorities while there: lounging on the beach, sipping ice cold adult beverages, and fishing in the ocean. That’s it. No further expectations.
The fishing part is all Hubs’ idea. Not that the rest of us goons hate fishing. It’s just that Hubs adores it. He and I went on a charter boat fishing when we traveled to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We both enjoyed it tremendously.
Lynda’s husband is wary of the “devil sun”, as he calls it. He will be slathered from head to toe in sunscreen, wearing a Minnesota Twins baseball cap and reading a newspaper. That is how he rolls, and we all know it.
Lynda and I will enjoy ourselves some chit-chat between our spates of attempting to catch “the big one”. Snort-laughing all the while. That is how we roll.
Of course, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit there are scenarios in my head of what we might do between the fishing, soaking up the sun on that white sand beach, and downing frozen fruity cocktails. Like kayaking, eating fresh seafood, and souvenir shopping (in tribute to my mom, Bonnie, who never failed to bring us all back tchotchkes when she came back from vacations).
And with the time I’ve left before this vacation, I’m going to be working on a playlist. Cool thing is, my office mate gave me a water bottle with a blue tooth speaker implanted in the cap. So I can take my bottle of cold *whatever* with me wherever we go, unscrew the lid and sync it up to my cell phone and together we can all jam out.
First song I will add to this playlist is going to be this David Byrne song that I discovered by accident. I was in awe of his performance with his talented troupe on SNL the other weekend, and it occurred to me that beyond the major “Talking Heads” hits, I wasn’t very familiar with his music. So I used google to grant my wish of listening to his music and this came up. As I was listening to it, I thought to myself that this is a perfect song to sit and listen to while on a beach in Florida with our friends. Then I looked at the name of the song.
Recently I changed my primary work password to “GOODJuJu!!”
And I don’t care that you all know it now. What on earth would you do with it anyway? Break into my office, type it in and read my totally uninteresting emails? Go ahead, knock yourself out.
I think this is the best password I’ve ever come up with. Every time I type it in, I remind myself that my daily goal is to spread light in all my interactions with others. Not like I achieve that goal on the regular. But I try nevertheless.
Since I’ve shared my work password, it makes sense to follow the thread of spilling secrets. Tell you about the stuff that I’ve been doing to gain clarity for myself as an ambitious and creative writer.
Don’t get too excited. It’s all really just baby steps. But I think they still count for something.
First secret: I partook in David Sedaris’ Master Class online for Storytelling and Humor. Truth be told, I signed up for this class because of the “storytelling and humor” part-not so much for David Sedaris. I can’t say that I don’t like him, I do; it’s just that I knew of him but hadn’t read anything he has written. Still haven’t, actually.
Signing up for this class was something I did to help me learn in more detail how I can improve my creative writing. My ability to tell humorous stories that people can relate to and appreciate. It was a purely selfish investment that I decided to make in myself. And I have no regrets.
I had have great interest in interacting with the “community” within this online class. I’ve introduced myself, entered a piece of my writing in a contest even. The prize in this contest is David’s feedback on your piece. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m not going to win. And this is not me feeling sorry for myself or me being fake humble. My life is too good and blessed for that shit.
I’m not a great writer. I might be, someday. Or not. Either way, the joy writing gives me will not be overtaken by feelings of self-doubt about my ability to grow my readership on this blog or elsewhere.
I would estimate that it took me 3 hours, within the span of 5 days, to decide which piece I should enter for this contest. That’s how I found “Grammerly”, because in order for my piece to be accepted for consideration, it had to be under 600 words.
“Grammerly” also informed me that my piece was at an 11th to 12th grade level. So clearly, there’s room for improvement.
After doing a bit of editing on the piece I chose, I gave it a couple of days, then went back in to see the one comment made on my piece. It was “I feel like there’s too much information in this piece. I’d like to see it pared down to it’s bare bones”. He was spot on. I veer into the rabbit hole of verbosity in both my speech and my writing.
Whether or not I go back in, make some major edits and re-submit is up in the air. I honestly don’t know if that’s even allowed or appropriate. Or maybe it’s expected?
For now, though, I just want to share what struck me most from being a student of this class. The following is taken directly from the notes I made to myself as I participated in this class and worked through the accompanying workbook.
David’s “work spaces”. Loved the imagery. Made me think that I could write about my ideal work space. Like a “she shed” type deal.
Tuning into your surroundings will open you up to moments that could become stories and the parts of your world that belong in your writing.
“I don’t like to write about people I don’t like”. I concur, David. Neither do I. So I won’t. Period. Hopefully this declaration doesn’t come and bite me in the ass later.
David has a conversation with every person in line at his book signings. He also writes thank you letters. He’s such a nice boy.
Take incidents and stitch them together for a story. I love the creative reference of stitching. Also, following threads. And rabbit holes.
Paint a mental picture in a readers head. Go to readings?? David said he learned a lot from doing this. A lot about what not to do, that is.
Now onto my second secret (or is it my third? That’s subjective, I suppose): During the time I was taking this class, I received an email announcing spring 2020 dates for the Listen to Your Mother shows.
Let me back up for a sec: I first heard about this annual event in 2016 from a local-ish “mommy” blogger named Stephanie. Essentially, LTYM is a franchise that is locally produced in various cities in the U.S. Primarily women get up on a stage and read original pieces on the theme of “Motherhood”. A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales goes to charity.
I instantly loved this whole concept. The idea of others sharing their personal stories about motherhood, a topic dear to my heart and which I have much to say about, really intrigues me. I knew I wanted to be a part of it, someway, somehow.
So, with David encouraging me to do readings, I started considering applying to be part of the cast. I congratulated myself recently when I realized that I could simply click on the “word cloud” I have featured on my blog’s front page and read all the posts I have written on one particular topic.
But then after reading the few posts I have published that featured “Motherhood” and then proceeded to view video clips of past LTYM speakers, I was overcome with self-doubt. I mean, if this is is all I’ve got to offer and these are examples of my potential “competition” why the hell should I proceed?
Now is the part of this post where you might expect me to say something along the lines of “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” or “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Both of which are 100% true.
However, while I’m not closing the door to auditioning for LTYM, I’m also not necessarily doing it this year. At least not with any of the pieces about motherhood I have published on this blog.
I think it’d be wise to heed David’s advice: attend readings. For me, it’ll be the LTYM show this spring. See what it’s like. Take notes. Make some connections.
Hubs and I are back from our trip to Washington DC now.
What I didn’t do
In case you were wondering, no, I did not find myself swept up in a crowd of protesters demanding impeachment for our Bullshitter-in-Chief.
We did not make it to the charming Mrs. K’s Toll House for dinner. The only option for reservations for the night we wanted to dine there was 7 p.m. and that is just too late for supper for the two of us. Next year, we told ourselves, we will plan ahead to ensure we get a table there at a reasonable hour.
What I did do.
While Hubs was busy with work meetings, I embraced my lazy side relaxed. As in, woke up when I woke up. No alarms were set. Took my sweet time getting ready for the day. Indulged in some writing and reading. Caught some morning tv while sitting on our king-sized bed. Probably consumed too much HGTV.
I also talked to strangers.
One morning after breakfast, I chatted with a red-headed woman, her husband and probably 21 year old daughter on the one working elevator. I saw they were heading to the 9th floor, just like me, so I struck up a conversation. Asked them if they were here on vacation. Woman said they just came to see a concert the previous night and are heading home that day. The concert was “The Cult” (an 80’s band, the woman told me; despite being a teenager in the 80’s I’m not familiar with their music) and “Spirit Animal” which she and her daughter just started getting into. I got so lost in the conversation that I almost followed them to their room. It was an “Ope, wrong way!” sort of moment.
I’m guessing they were from New York or New Jersey based on the woman’s accent. I wondered if they drove here or flew. I wondered if this quick trip was planned months and months ago or if it was maybe more spontaneous, like last week. Maybe the daughter was online and happened to see that “Spirit Animal” (she was wearing their shirt) was on tour in DC last night. Maybe she showed her mom a video of one of their songs and mom said “let’s do it!” and off they went to share this experience together. I think they have a close relationship. I hope they appreciate it, because the fact is many people don’t share any closeness with their adult children.
While in line at Burlington Coat Company, a hispanic woman showed me a package of lotions and body sprays she had purchased. She said she was going to break them up and re-package them for 4 people. I told her that was a smart idea. She noticed right before she was going to check out there were holiday gift bags hanging on racks for purchase. She briefly considered it then said “no, I’ll get those at the Dollar Store”. I told her that’s what I would do. She thanked me.
Later, while shopping again (this time at Marshall’s), I was behind a middle aged black man in a leather newsboy cap. He asked the cashier if the color of the winter coat he was about to purchase was blue or black. He said he’s colorblind. I piped up and said I often couldn’t tell the difference between navy and black too; however this coat was definitely navy blue. He went on with his purchase and a couple of moments later, asked me if the gray towels he was going to buy were gray. I told him that they indeed were.
The art I saw
One of the days I was there, I took the Metro into DC to do some exploring. I found myself looking at a lot of art. I don’t think I fully realized just how much I appreciate art until this day.
I snapped pictures of the pieces that I especially appreciated. The ones that made me think. The ones that drew me in. Here’s a few samples:
I also visited the National Portrait Gallery, enjoyed a delicious burger and beer at Dogfish Head Brewery with Hubs and our friends John and David, and visited The National Museum of Women in the Arts, where I was awed by an exhibit from Judy Chicago entitled which depicted Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief. Click this link for more info if you are so inclined: https://washington.org/event/judy-chicago-end-meditation-death-and-extinction It was absolutely stunning and emotionally moving. I’d share picture of it, but photography was not allowed at that exhibit.
The most important “take away” for me from this trip to our nation’s capital is that I must return there next December, as, thankfully, this is an annual work trip for him.
Ok, let me start with the obvious. I’m going to be in Washington, DC soon.
I am serving in the role of Hubs’ “plus one”. He has to be there for work. I am tagging along and will have the luxury of unsupervised time in our nation’s capital.
I am one lucky broad.
As I write this, I’m in the midst of what is best described as the “Holiday Gauntlet”. Hubs and I are going to be tremendously busy with wrapping Christmas presents, decorating the house, and baking cookies to send to friends and family far and wide, until we get on that airplane. The point is to wrap it all up before we go.
This means the time I have to create an itinerary for myself while in DC is a bit limited.
There are certainly some “must do’s” swirling in my head.
Here are but a few:
Visit the Newseum
Get myself a Snickerdoodle McFlurry from McDonald’s
Have dinner at Mrs. K’s Toll House
Visit the museum of American History
Visit the National Portrait Gallery
Seeing a classic holiday movie at the AFI theater near the hotel we are staying at (Choices are “Holiday Affair” and “Miracle on 34th Street” neither of which I’ve actually seen). I am very open to your opinions on this btw.
I recognize that the above list is pretty random and maybe even a little tame. There’s a reason for that, beyond having the better part of 3 days to myself while I’m there. I’m using my guiding macronym here: Keep It Simple Sister. Because I rather like the idea of going at my own pace when I’m on my own in DC. Ensuring I’ve enough time to write. And sleep. And catch up on my reading. And use the earbuds I’ve had forever and a day and never used so I can listen to podcasts I downloaded on my cell phone.
My intention here is to ensure I’ve not overplanned myself so much that I don’t take notice of my surroundings. It’s DC, after all. For all I know I could be riding the Metro and end up sitting next to Bernie Sanders. Or Nancy Pelosi. Or the notorious RBG. Note to self: ponder what you might say and/or questions you might ask if this type of opportunity presents itself. One never knows, right? Maybe I’ll be sitting innocently in a coffee shop and overhear a private conversation between 3 Republican senators about how much they want to impeach Trump but they don’t have the guts. I could find myself being a fly on the wall who pulls out her handy dandy chromebook and captures the experience for this blog. Or better yet, the woman who appeals to their better angels and convinces them to do the right thing. Ha!
Or perhaps I accidentally become swallowed up in a swarm of protesters protesting against the Bullshitter-in-Chief. Now that would be an interesting blog piece, right?
So clearly I must keep my wits about me just in case.
I found my old metro cards from previous times I’ve been in DC, so I’m ready to do some exploring!
After traveling by air last week, I appreciate the sign posted at the Milwaukee airport (and per Hubs, many airports in the U.S. because he travels way more than me).
Because I’m relating to it on a deep level right now. I’m knee deep in the “recombobulation zone”.
What put me there, you may wonder. This very meaningful weekend I just spent in Wisconsin with the people I love so much. Some I am related to by blood; some I am related to due to the wise choice I made almost 30 years ago to marry into this family.
People, if I’ve learned anything in this life, it is that when you marry a person, you marry their family, too. For better or worse. Through thick and thin. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
But clearly, my emotions were discombobulated and I’m now unpacking them. Spending quiet time outside on a lake in Wisconsin got me thinking of my parents. The reality of both of their deaths really started to hit me. More and more, I find myself thinking of them and what they would think of what we are doing, saying, and about how life is going for the rest of us still in our human form on planet Earth.
For the rest of this post, I will be focusing on the positive take-a-ways from the Davis family Wisconsin cabin vacation, however. I may be on a strange and up and down path, but my name is Pollyanna after all (or not).
Allow me to bullet point it, in the interest of time and K.I.S.S. (Keep. It. Simple. Sister.).
Our grandson is growing by leaps and bounds. He is high-spirited, intelligent, and curious about the world around him. I wish I could see him more often. His biggest concern re: starting Kindergarten this week? That for lunch he will be served pork chops every. single. day. Who knows how this got lodged in his 5 year old brain, but the fact of the matter is, he hates pork chops.
Despite her pessimistic “realist” outlook, I cannot underestimate the wisdom of my wonderful mother in law. Mental note to self: talk to her on the phone on a more regular basis.
The sight of small children and deer mingling melts my heart.
Women over the age of 40 can be truly badass. Take my SIL, Mary. She’s 47, in great shape, both inside and out, has a huge heart for all living things, and she’s furthering her education while working full time.
Choices a person can make in life can produce unintended, uninvited, and unpleasant consequences. But it’s a spectacularly hopeful thing to witness someone at the beginning phase of turning a rotting lemon into sweet lemonade.
Spending time outside with the ones you love the most, with no high tech distractions, just the smell of a campfire, the feel of a breeze on your skin, talking about life is just oh-so-good for one’s soul.
Witnessing your grandchild being introduced to fishing by your fisherman-at-heart spouse is a true delight.
In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.
This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.
I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.
Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.
And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.
Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?
I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.
Here’s one possibility:
Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.
I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.
I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:
Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:
For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:
Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.
What do you think-do I have a shot?
More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!
My “Kindness Jar”, which I wrote about here, ended up being a bust in 2018. Don’t ask me why. It’s not because I stopped noticing the kindness of others around me, or because I did nothing kind for anyone at all this past year. I guess I just lost interest in documenting all the kindnesses. It started to feel like I was just repeating what I had done the previous year with my “Happiness Jar” (same jar).
So in mid 2018, I just stopped doing it. And truthfully, I hadn’t given my old jar much thought since then.
However, on New Year’s Eve, as Hubs and I were sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix (OMG-you must watch Black Mirror), feeling a little buzzed on craft beer, we began talking about what could be lying ahead for us in 2019. Hubs declared that the word for 2019, the word that would be mantra for the year as we plunge into our 29th year of marriage would be this: Adventure.
Now, that got me excited. So excited that I was prompted to come up with a new use for my old jar. In 2019, it’s going to be referred to as the “Adventure Jar”.
This is not to say that we are going to write down an adventure we had each and every day. That would be ridiculous. And likely disappointing.
Instead, we are going to individually jot down, when the moment strikes, one small (or big) “adventure” to pursue in 2019. As I told Hubs, the “adventure” need not be anything huge. Or costly. Or terribly time-consuming. It could be anything from “let’s go for a hike somewhere we haven’t been before”, “let’s try that new restaurant”,”let’s write a blog post together”, or “let’s visit the Sand Dunes in Moab”. Simple, doable, new-to-us experiences.
The only real requirement of this plan, as I told Hubs, is that whatever the chosen “adventure” is, it has to be something that we have not yet done as a couple. Something new.
Then, on perhaps a weekly or at least monthly basis, we will pluck one of our little notes out of the jar, then proceed towards the chosen adventure.
We started living out our “adventure” mantra this past weekend, in fact. As we did nothing of any real interest during the Christmas holidays, and on account of Hubs being furloughed (because of a stupid wall no one really wants besides that big dummy in the White House) and him being stuck at home every day essentially since 12/22, we decided to go on an overnight adventure.
In the spirit of being adventurous, I approved Hubs’ suggestion that he could do all the packing. That way, he could simply pick me up from work promptly at 2 p.m. on Friday (have I mentioned how much I love my part time hours??) and we could be merrily on our way.
This was indeed an exercise in trust.
Now, this blog is called “Pollyanna’s Path” and I do endeavor to exhibit as well as inspire a positive outlook, so all I’m going to say about the whole packing thing is on a scale of 1-100, Hubs got a solid 80. I’m not entirely certain that in the future I would be quite as willing to trust his ability to remember every essential thing (essential according to me that is) I need to go from looking like a troll doll when I wake up to looking like a reasonably decent member of polite society. But we’ll see.
Okay, so we drove 1 hour away to Idaho Springs, Colorado. The primary point of us going to this specific locale was to enjoy some time soaking here. We did that on Saturday. It was soooo relaxing. And serene. And comforting. And romantic (despite the 50 + people of all ages, genders and nationalities frolicking in the warm, soothing water all around us).
On Friday night, we stayed at this sweet little B&B. It was cozy, the bed was comfortable and breakfast on Saturday morning was quite a treat. An unexpected added bonus was the chit-chat we had with the other two married couples over this breakfast of quiche, hashbrowns, ham, and toast with homemade jam. They were all close in age to Hubs and I. They all had grown children. They were also seemingly hungry for adventure, just like us. We chatted about places in Colorado the couple from California could see before they had to fly home on Sunday. We chatted about having grown ass adult “kids” and how things are different for today’s millennials than back when we were in our 20’s. We talked about the legalization of weed (general consensus: alcohol is far more dangerous in our society than weed ever could be).
During our convo with these other couples, I was told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Hubs was told he bears a striking resemblance to this guy:
The ironic thing is, Hubs and I recently caught the movie “Vice” (I give it mixed reviews) and started getting into “Black Mirror” (mentioned above) and this particular actor, Jesse Plemmons, was in both of them (and of course in the movie “Game Night”-pictured above-which we really enjoyed). Upon seeing the first episode of “Black Mirror” I told Hubs that this guy looks like he could be his younger brother. His less-good-looking-than him younger brother, of course.
We also enjoyed a nice, “neat”, glass of whiskey at a local bar in Idaho Springs. And we couldn’t leave the place without scarfing down some awesome “Colorado style” pizza at the original Beaujou’s. They have a bottle of honey on each table to dip your crust into to enjoy as a little dessert.
This little getaway was very refreshing and re-energizing for both of us. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hubs as this year goes on.
What’s in your “jar” for 2019? Or maybe you have a special word, as Hubs and I now do, to guide you through this new year? Please share in the comments!