Florence + The Machine said it best.
Dog Days Are Over can mean so many things to so many people.
But to me it means summer is over.
I woke up this morning at 7 a.m.
7 a.m. on a Sunday! WTF? I feel like my Nana. Actually, if I were my Nana, I’d have slept in like a bear this morning. Nana rises at 5 a.m.
Maybe it’s because I ran a practice triathlon yesterday. And by practice triathlon, I mean I swam 60 laps in the North Shore Pool, followed by a 3-mile run, followed by a 14-mile bike ride — a repeat of the last two weekends.
Maybe it’s because I went out to dinner with friends last night to a trendy Italian restaurant with an hour-long wait, which we spent wisely at the bar, drinking vodka cocktails.
Maybe it’s because I’ve got one week left until my second triathlon.
(Yes, I signed up for a second triathlon. I told you I would.)
I don’t know how familiar you are with Florida weather in August and September, but it ain’t fit to move in. The way I used to feel in a Buffalo after a long hard winter is the way I feel in Florida after a long hot summer. The Florida summers are my Buffalo winters. Any time anyone in this state dare comments on the bleakness of Buffalo, I tell them sweating for five months and shivering for five months takes the same depressing toll on the body.
I need to be outside and moving. Got too much energy to burn. If something gets in the way of that, I get pissy.
So the second tri is Oct. 3 on Siesta Key Beach. Next Sunday.
This time I roped my four-foot-11 spitfire sister, PK, into doing it. We gave ourselves two months to train — a whole 30 days longer than the last time I trained.
I figured training with PK would be a good excuse to spend more time together. Under normal circumstances she avoids my many requests to run, bike, kayak and/or do yoga together. Like many fitness fiends, I think everyone shares my love of physical exertion. I’m annoying like that.
But under “triathlon training” circumstances, PK would HAVE to be my workout buddy.
I still can’t believe she enthusiastically signed up for this thing. It cost $100 to register and PK is famously cheap.
While our training regime has been a little too lax for my liking, it has consisted of some weekend marathon swimming/running sessions.
PK has made enormous progress.
Her swimming has evolved from an awkward goggle-less doggie paddle to a full-on flutter-kicking crawl stroke, goggles and all. Yesterday she swam 50 laps this way.
A treadmill-runner, PK was unaccustomed to pounding pavement, so when we ran our first three miles outside (in the blistering heat) she walked frequently between runs. Her first three miles (back in August) took 42 minutes. Yesterday she cut that time down by almost 10 minutes.
I’m very proud of her.
Yesterday she told me she loved swimming so much she thinks she’ll stick it out after the tri is over. She’s become an underwater torpedo.
As for me? I’m ready for Tri No. 2.
Last night as I crawled into bed, my limbs and muscles exhausted, my head fuzzy from drinking, I told Joe that when I’m running, or biking or swimming, I’m 100 percent focused on getting from point A to point B, which is unusual for me. To not be distracted. To be fully honed in on something. To be fixated. Determined.
I’ve found that racing thoughts evaporate in the act of racing.
I think straighter when my heart rate is up.
PS. Photo by laura.foto.
Check out my guest post on Rosey Rebecca: I write, therefore I am.
Rebecca dropped me an email last December, revealing that she stumbled upon my blog by Googling “boyfriend sleeps past noon.” Turns out her significant other is a Rip Van Winkle too.
That, coupled with the journalism thing, coupled with the SUNY College thing means Rosey Rebecca and I have a lot in common.
She eats way better than me, though.
This chick’s organic dietary habits will drive you to rid your kitchen cupboards of any and all things processed.
When Rebecca asked me write a guest post on writing, I thought, how on earth can I relate this to healthy living?
And then something an artist told me years ago came to mind:
“If I didn’t paint, I wouldn’t feel normal.”
Voila! I WRITE to feel normal. If that ain’t healthy living, I don’t know what is.
Joe loves Dove ice cream bars.
Under the chocolate ice cream, there’s always a quote from some Joe Schmo from some town in the United States.
This one comes from Flora in Milan, Ill., which is an hour and half away north of where my friend Ricci grew up.
I thought I’d share.
It’s sage advice coming from a popsicle stick.
Have a great weekend.
Say hello to Jane.
If you’ve not met, let me properly introduce you:
Jane was the BEST magazine ever. This issue –– the PREMIERE issue –– was (and still is) my favorite issue of any magazine ever.
Jane is why I became a journalist.
Jane and Mark Twain and a couple of other things.
But mostly Jane.
Jane was the brainchild of Sassy Magazine’s founding editor Jane Pratt.
Jane Pratt was my idol.
The magazine premiered in my favorite month (September) in 1997, with my girl Drew Barrymore on the cover.
I’ve had a girl crush on Drew for a long time. Turns out so did Jane. The two dated in the early 1990s.
This issue has moved with me six times over the course of 13 years. That’s my copy up there. I scanned it. It remains in pristine condition, except for a few pages I foolishly cut up in 1999 to decorate the cork board in my bedroom.
My sophomore year of college, I tore out the best first-person essay ever written from the pages of this premiere issue. It was penned by Powder actor Sean Patrick Flanery and it was a beautiful sun-drenched piece of writing. One of my journalism professors had asked us to bring in a prized possession. I brought in this story, shoved in a manila folder. When my classmates looked at me cross-eyed, like how can your most prized possession be a magazine story? I replied that it wasn’t the ink and paper I was attached to, it was the story that wouldn’t leave my head.
I could have brought in any number of possessions, but this one seemed the most worthy. At the time nothing filled me with more passion than writing. I wasn’t cherishing a trinket. I was cherishing a dream.
I’ve still got the story. It’s stuffed in the same Rubbermaid bin that contains the above issue of Jane.
When Jane ceased publication in August 2007, it’s readership was devastated, but not surprised. By 2006, the magazine was an emaciated version of its former self. Jane Pratt had resigned as editor-in-chief and issues had become increasingly difficult to find.
The magazine business is as much a cutthroat corporate beast as is any creative mass market industry.
I understand why Jane folded. She was too smart for her own good.
She was wicked, misunderstood, goofy, open-minded, cutting when need be and flowery when the topic warranted it. She was snarky before I even knew what snarky meant. She cared about fashion enough to pass as hip, but not so much that she snubbed the joys of thrift store shopping.
I recall Jane stories the way Joe recalls movie lines.
I remember in one issue, the magazine ran a scathingly honest profile of country diva Faith Hill and a back-of-the-book essay on why it’s far more interesting to wear a giant pink rabbit costume for Halloween than it is to dress up as a slutty nurse.
Every so often I come across a Jane writer’s byline in some other magazine and I run to Joe with the book flung open like I’ve just unearthed a diamond from the crusty earth.
It’s no secret that most magazines for women are dumbed down, fluffed-up, prissy, neutered wastes of paper. The puffy, always-glowing celebrity profiles make me gag. The writing is banal and packed with cliches.
If I had an older sister like Jane, we’d start fires with the pages torn from dim-witted women’s magazines.
We’d have a freakin blast.
PS. In 2002, Adweek Magazine named Jane Pratt “Editor of the Year.”
Mothership drew this cartoon of me, Joe and the pug on the back of an envelope a couple years ago.
Let’s call it The Jam Session.
Those of you who know Joe, know he loves to jam. He’s awesome at it. He even has this little jam face. All good guitar players have one and Joe is no different.
The first night I met Joe, he played me a song on his guitar.
It was a song he made up earlier that day, prior to meeting me and a gaggle of friends at a downtown St. Pete restaurant.
It was a slow song, a dreamy song, the kind you drink coffee and cook pancakes to. We would do this a few months later, after the dating dance had begun. But at this moment Joe was a stranger with framed concert posters on his walls and an odd bar of Lava soap in his bathroom.
The song, so you can hear it in your head, was the kind of sweet little number girls get squishy over. Boys know guitars make girls swoon. It was a nice treat and the perfect cap on an otherwise perfect night.
He didn’t sing. Just strummed this song, a short song with a lullaby of a refrain that repeats and folds over itself like a quilt.
I was sitting in his apartment on his old futon, wedged between four good friends who no longer live here. We were all fairly drunk. I was slurring inappropriate stories that I would never have told in front of mixed company had my tongue not been coated in vodka.
I was being myself. My roots were exposed.
It was because I was comfortable.
This was because of Joe.
Eventually my roommate passed out on the futon, curled up in the fetal position. Two years and eight months later, after he had moved to Philadelphia, my roommate would get ordained to marry Joe and me on top of a hill in Ellicottville, N.Y.
But none of that had happened yet.
In that moment we were just a cluster of friends in an old apartment with dark hardwood floors, telling stories and taking turns trying to play Joe’s guitar.
It was cool out. I was wearing a purple scarf around my neck and a green scarf in my hair. Joe remembers this.
We had all lost track of time and the night had rolled on thick with throaty laughs; the way nights with friends tend to do.
My insides felt velvety. I didn’t think it was possible to feel so snug with someone I had just met.
I had gone out begrudgingly that night, but at 2 a.m. there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
That little song Joe played for me, did I mention it was an original?
It became my song.
On our wedding day, Joe stood under an arbor and played it as I walked down an aisle made of scattered mulch.
He looked dashing. He always looks dashing when he’s playing his guitar.
I wasn’t nervous.
I felt warm and sunny and light and comfortable.
Every time Joe plays me that song I think of our beginnings.
His futon. On top of a hill in Western New York.
My insides turn to velvet.
Recently, he played it for me when I was standing in the front yard, tugging weeds out of our vegetable garden. He walked out the door, guitar tucked under his arm, strumming for all the neighborhood to hear.
Curious, our neighbors moseyed over.
I didn’t even notice they were standing there until the song was over and they applauded.
PS. Happy anniversary, my darling rock star. I’m the luckiest gal in the universe to have snagged you. Have you ever thought about giving our song a title?
Hello Lance lovers,
You lovable, quirky lot.
It needs to be said that I write 50 percent for me and 50 percent for you.
If it weren’t for you, I’d be a proper lady, a reserved lady. Actually, I’d be a Luddite, blissfully unaware of social media and the stronghold it has on everyone’s lives. I’d be a true technophobe, which means on top of being inept at operating my remote control, I’d also be inept at Facebook. But a blogger who rejects Facebook is like a sitcom actor who renounces television.
Facebook is how I’ve reached many of you.
Just when I think I should keep my stories to myself, one of you sends me a sweet note that says something like, “I love your blog. I enjoy your stories. Your writing makes me laugh.” Or, “I appreciate your heartfelt sentiments on the subject of cockroaches.” Or, “I once accidentally used my dad’s toothbrush too.” Or, “Where can I find the shoes you wore for your wedding?” Or, “I also love the smell of my dog’s paws.” Or, “I sent my friend a link to your exploding television post. Her husband recently installed a ginormous flat screen in their living room. She’s about ready to blow it up herself.”
Your feedback warms my heart.
Two readers on opposite sides of the globe once wrote me near-identical emails describing near-identical dreams they had about me. Both readers dreamt they had visited me in Florida and I forced them to sleep outside in a tent. Maybe it’s because I love tents. (Last year I posted a series of stories about camping across the country with the pug.) Or maybe it’s because I’m actually a miserable Broom-Hilda who gets off on torturing house guests.
I’m not, but man did I love these coincidentally perverse dreams.
If it weren’t for you, I’d write everything in my journal and lock it away from the rest of the world. I’d keep stories and inane observations to myself — or I’d just bore my husband with them.
A friend recently told me she seeks out Lance when she’s feeling sick or sad. She pulls up posts when she’s curled up in bed with her laptop and a runny nose. Lance is like her pint of Häagen-Dazs.
How flattering is that?
So thank you loyal readers. I savor your compliments (and even your insults).
I do not have a stat counter or any kind of fancy analytics device to track who you are, where you are or when you read. What matters to me is that the stories mean something to someone somewhere. The freedom to write for a nebulous audience invigorates me. Each time I write a post I feel like I’ve rolled up a message, stuffed it in a bottle and tossed it out to sea.
The message washes up much quicker this way. If I were really a Luddite, you’d have to wait years (and live by the ocean) to read something new.
My friend Dex asked me to shoot some photos for his modeling portfolio.
So at 9 a.m. on a balmy August morning, we hit up my favorite alley in downtown Sarasota.
When we’d had our fill of alley shots, I suggested we head to a quiet spot on the downtown bay front.
I picked Centennial Park because it’s grassy, waterfront and relatively underused. As expected, the place was empty. Other than a homeless dude, who emerged from taking a bird bath in the park’s public restroom (and sat watching us on a bench for three minutes), we garnered no attention.
If you live in Sarasota and you’re unfamiliar with this park, I suggest you check it out. It’s at 10th Street and U.S. 41, not far from the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Although it’s mostly used for its boat launch, it has one of the best underrated picnic spots in all of downtown.
Oh, and did I mention Dex races this Ducati?
Matrimony didn’t physically change my life.
Joe and I had lived together for almost two years before we got married.
Before he’d even proposed, we had purchased a house together and vacationed alone together. From the day we first cohabited I began packing him a tuna fish sandwich every morning before work and in return he began making the bed. This arrangement has been going on for three years.
For an impulsive person with irrepressible wanderlust, I take to domesticity like a fish to water when I’m in love.
On our honeymoon, I met a couple in their 60s from Detroit, who told me they spent the first year of their marriage getting to know one another. He worked as a supervisor at a Ford plant and she was a housewife.
Every morning for a month she would wake up at 6 a.m. to cook him breakfast before his shift and every morning for a month he would force himself to eat it.
It was painful.
“I finally had to tell her I don’t eat breakfast,” he said.
“All he wanted was a thermos of coffee,” she balked.
“I eat breakfast more now that I’m retired,” he countered.
“But how was I supposed to know?” She exclaimed. “It’s not like we talked about breakfast before we got married.”
This blew my mind.
For those of us who shack up before marriage, the first year of matrimony takes on a different sort of feeling. I knew Joe didn’t eat breakfast three dates into our courtship. By the time he popped the question, I’d vacuumed up his toenail clippings no less than a dozen times.
The transition from live-in girlfriend to wife was subtle, but no less educational.
Here’s what happened to me:
In the months after our wedding everything Joe and I did as a couple suddenly seemed more official. More serious.
We were a married couple grocery shopping. A married couple watching Jeopardy. A married couple shopping for Christmas decorations. A married couple arguing over whether it was worth the extra buck for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise instead of the store brand.
As a result, I became more serious.
I felt like someone I had stamped the word adult across my forehead in bold, black ink. The weight of this perceived label caused me to spin into a toxic spiral of anxiety.
I worried about money. I worried about the future. I worried about fertility, drinking water, health insurance, car insurance, my savings account, his savings account, our credit card balances and the fragile state of the industry in which we both work — newspaper journalism.
I worried about APRs and PPOs, 401Ks and other acronyms I know nothing about. I worried so much the pug’s face turned gray.
I worried in my dreams and I worried in my pipe dreams. I worried I hadn’t achieved enough as a single person, all the accomplishments I had yet to cross off my list, all the countries I had yet to visit.
Joe had fallen in love with a free spirit and married an old crank. I held onto my last name because it was the last bastion of my former lighter self, but I had strangled my former, lighter self by fixating on things I couldn’t control.
One day, not long ago, it dawned on me that while it’s important that relationships mature, it’s equally important that they stay the same. And by that I mean, there are a million reasons why two people fall in love, none of which have anything to do with how well you look while carrying the weight of the world.
If marriage is about growing old together, then the best thing I can do for mine is drag it out by staying young.
Some women appear to have it all and I spent a year agonizing over whether I could too, until I came to the conclusion that having it all is not a literal feat, but a figurative one.
Having it all is making peace with it all. The first year of my marriage taught me that.