Supernormal?

I am not this woman. Nor will I ever be. I could torture myself for not having her 5’11’’ willowy frame or for the daylight that cannot be seen streaming between my thighs when I walk. I could curse my reflection for a lack of sinewy arms and a concave stomach. I could beat myself bloody for the dewy, pore-less skin and silky, disgustingly thick hair that I’ll never have. I could pout endlessly that I am not a supermodel…

OR…

I could accept that I was born a normal girl to a normal middle-class family in the middle of normal America. It was not my lot in life to strut down catwalks in the latest fashions, party like a rock star drinking champagne until 3 a.m. and sleep past noon for that necessary “beauty rest.” Personal trainers, chefs, estheticians, dieticians and all kinds of other “ticians” are not at my beckon call.

It was my lot in life to go to college, get an 8 to 5 job, slurp my coffee from a travel mug given to me by the bank when I opened my meager account, grab Subway on the go for my “power lunch” and watch episodes of The Office while folding laundry in my modest 2 bed/2 bath house. This was my lot… just like the other 90% of America. OK, I don’t honestly know the actual statistics. But there is some kind of ridiculous majority out there living exactly like I do.

Our idea of a good time is tailgating before watching a baseball or football game and eating pizza and drinking beer with our equally normal friends after its over. If we’re fortunate, the occasional tropical, exotic or adventurous escape is something to enjoy and forever cherish… all the while knowing—as we sit at that charming café or under that umbrella at the beach—that this is, in fact, NOT OUR REALITY. Our reality is lurking just around the corner… waiting to kick our ass upon our immediate return.

But it’s not all bad. I get to exist on more than egg whites and sugar free Red Bull for a daily diet. There is no punishment or excommunication for gaining 5 pounds while on vacation and not taking it off for another 6 months. There is no paparazzi camped outside my home waiting to snap a picture of my all-of-the-sudden-suspiciously-fat butt or catch me in some compromising situation. And no one looks at me cross-eyed for sporting last year’s trends.

I don’t know why we as women are so hard on ourselves for not looking like we stepped from between the pages of Vogue. No one asks us to. No one expects us to. We do it to ourselves. Maybe some of us do it to each other. But really… It is NOT our job. Our job is just to be “normal” so that they can be “super” — and what in the world could be wrong with that?

Now… would I trade places with her if given the chance by my fairy godmother? Probably. But until then… I’ll just get the towels out of the dryer and reach for another slice of pizza… and the remote.

"Normal" me... in a "normal" seat... at a "normal" Red Sox game.

 

Out of Touch

Last night I was perfectly content sitting on my couch and NOT multitasking. I was doing one thing and one thing only. Watching Seinfeld re-runs. I was not on the phone or the laptop Facebooking, Twittering or blogging. I was just sitting there—like a tree stump dressed in grey sweatpants and a weathered In & Out Burger t-shirt—and it was glorious.

It was at this point that I saw a commercial for the newest ipad. The commercial showed a woman about my age, in the Apple store, looking at the shiny new gadget the salesman had just presented to her. She cautiously grasped the ipad like it was the Holy Grail and the moment it was in her hands, she was immediately transported to all of these exotic locales.

She traveled to remote sun-washed beaches, gourmet, five-star restaurants, rockin’ night clubs, casinos and both National and International landmarks. And all the while, she never looked up from that damn ipad. Apple’s selling point being that this device can go with you wherever, whenever and you can stay connected.

WTF?!?! Helloooo!!! You're in P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E. LOOK AROUND!!!

I’m sorry, am I the only one who has the desire to visit remote and exotic sun-washed beaches, gourmet, five-star restaurants, rockin’ night clubs, casinos and both National and International landmarks for the sole purposes of getting away from AND staying OUT of touch with the world? I mean, there’s a reason that the freakin’ screen savers and wallpapers on these things have pictures of Fiji and Mt. Kilimanjaro on them. Duh.

Though perhaps that is the final irony here… The place in which we’ve arrived on the evolutionary ladder of man vs. technology… If you’re toiling at your desk… you dream of Fiji or of standing in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. But if you’re actually IN Fiji or standing in the shadow of Kilimanjaro… you want to be at the office?!

I don’t know about you, but if I had the time and resources to travel to far-flung corners of the globe and visit the types of exclusive destinations that this chick was inhabiting in the ipad commercial… I would take that flat, wireless, super-sleek, state-of-the-art, hi-speed, touch-screen piece of crap capable of keeping me “connected” 24/7… and fling it as far as it would go.

10 Reasons Why Its Funner To Be a Kid at the Zoo

For an animal lover and avid people-watcher, a visit to the zoo never gets old, no matter your age. However at times I find it far more entertaining to watch the children at the zoo, rather than the animals…

For example: I once witnessed a little girl throw an AMAZING tantrum (screaming, wailing, arms flailing… the whole bit) all the way from the Northern Trek down to the African Savanna… and no one even blinked. I have to say, I envied her a little. I mean, let’s be honest people… sometimes it WOULD be nice for it to be OK if you had a total and complete MELT-DOWN like that in front of everyone. No questions asked.

But this little red-faced, siren-sounding, tantrum-throwing child-coming-down-from-an-extreme-sugar-high not only entertained me, she inspired me. My envy of her led me to think of some other reasons why it is WAY better to be a kid at the zoo than it is to be an adult. So here goes…

1. You get to be chauffeured around everywhere in a plush, shaded stroller or fun little red wagon.

2. You can dress up like the animals and people think it’s cute. No one thinks it is “weird” or “just-trying-to-get-attention” or “wacky” or “deranged.”

3. Everyone moves out of YOUR way so that you can have the best view of the monkeys throwing poo at one another.

4. You will not be made fun of or teased for spilling ketchup and mustard down the front of your shirt and walking around all day sportin’ a stain on your chest.

5. When you talk to the animals no one thinks it is “strange” or “just-trying-to-get-attention” or “questionable” or “sad.”

6. It’s totally acceptable and not “dirty” to ask questions like: “What is that kangaroo doing to that OTHER kangaroo?”

7. No one yells: “Hey!” or “Get down from there!” or “You’re too heavy!” or “You’ll break it!” if you climb up and sit on the railing to get a better look at the tortoises.

8. If you make random animal noises while standing in line for the bathroom or concessions no one thinks it is “odd” or “just-trying-to-get-attention” or “curious” or “psycho.”

9. You can be covered in cotton-candy, having the bestest, stickiest, finger-lickingest time of your life and no one looks at you funny. You do NOT have to carry your cotton-candy home in a concealed plastic bag and secretly devour it at 10 p.m. on the couch in your living room, sitting next to your cat while watching re-runs of Seinfeld… with the blinds drawn.

10. And finally… as previously mentioned… You can throw an elephant-sized fit whenever, wherever and whyever you want to and no one thinks it is “scary” or “just-trying-to-get-attention” or “immature” or “narcissistic.”

How To “Vacation” Every Day

I walked in the door and the sandy, muddy shoes would tumble to the floor. The carpet—soft beneath my bare and tired feet—felt absolutely luxurious. I immediately started to run hot water in the tub while peeling off the rumpled clothes of the day. Sinking into the warmth that soon enveloped this weary traveler, I felt both cleansed and relaxed at once.

My toes wandered to the spigot, playing peek-a-boo above and beneath the water. Staring at and beyond the mirrored reflection of my brightly-polished toenails was my only entertainment … and it was more than enough. “Ahhh sweet, sweet vacation”  I thought to myself and closed my eyes while the stress of the days leading up to these precious few just melted away.

And then it occurred to me. This isn’t some fancy jacuzzi with high-powered jets and a special tray for trashy novels and fruity cocktails. It was a standard, run-of-the-mill bathtub… and I have the exact same one at home. AND, I just happen to have hot water and carpeting too. So why don’t I indulge in this most glorious and peaceful of practices more often?

That’s a really good question. Why don’t I?

And for that matter, why don’t I also…

Drive with the sunroof open and the windows rolled down? Enjoy more wine with my meal? And take my time while eating it? Listen to my favorite CDs instead of the crap they offer up on the radio? Go for a walk and leave my watch at home? Eat ice cream from a sugar cone? People watch … and then laugh at them? (Oh wait, I already do that.) Discover the beauty in the common intricacies of nature? Put my feet up, sit still and turn my face toward the heat of the sun? Set down the remote and pick up a book?

I guess I think I’m in a hurry. There’s always too much to do and not enough time to do it. I couldn’t dare pause progress in order to do such frivolous things. But here’s the truth … there IS time, and I CAN do these things—I just don’t arrange my life in such a way as to make them a priority. For some reason, Americans tend to believe that we must take time off from work, spend money, pack our bags and disappear to some far-flung corner of the globe in order to truly “get away from it all.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT. I happen to adore far flung corners of the globe.

HOWEVER… a few weeks ago, while on vacation, I learned that many of the BEST things… many of the most treasured things were the things I could have been doing all along… If only I made the time.

I Hate Camping

I remember the day with startling clarity. It was the day that I finally accepted my disdain for camping. I was in the mountains of New Mexico, gazing out across a picturesque valley with a deep blue lake surrounded by lush pine. The water was sparkling in the sun like a thousand white diamonds while a cool breeze caressed my face… and I was elbow-deep in nasty, tepid, grey water… washing dishes.

“I think I hate camping.” I said to my friend who was sunning herself on a nearby picnic table. Now, to convey the actual weight of this statement coming out of my mouth you must understand something. My ex and I owned a camper. A REAL camper, loaded down with all of the trappings for camp life… from the fireside cookware to the pump-it-yourself travel toilet (which never got used anyway because no one wanted to clean it). And the friend that I was speaking to was one-half of the couple that we always camped with.

“Seriously?” she asked me. “You don’t like camping!?” Her voice raised an octave and cracked as though I had just confided in her that I was, in reality, a Russian spy working undercover in America’s desert southwest.

“Yes. Yes I do.” I said matter-of-factly with a growing air of confidence. “I mean, look at us. We are on VA-CA-TION (said extra slowly and loudly for maximum emphasis and effect). We took actual time off from work to come all the way up here, set up camp, don filthy flannel and sport greasy hair only to do DISHES in nasty water, sit in the dirt and stare at one another. IT’S WORK. It’s all work (again with the slow yelling for effect). And I can be doing this WORK at home. Except that at least there I have hot running water and an actual toilet that flushes and clean, soft things in which to wear, sit and sleep on!”

She sat on the picnic table staring at me in utter shock and disbelief while I poured out my dirty little confession. I didn’t care if she disagreed. I didn’t care if I offended her. It was my moment. My epiphany. WHY must I love camping? Who decided that humans should just LUUUUUUUV camping? Because it sure as hell seems like everybody does. Or at least that’s what they tell you. It’s what they want you to believe so that you will think they’re this outdoorsy, tree-hugging, adventurous individual capable of just “goin’ with the flow” and bein’ “one” with nature… Well, it’s a load of crap. And if they think it, they should just admit it. Like I did on that day.

It was a thing of beauty I tell you. Making peace with the fact that I did NOT enjoy this thing that I was supposed to enjoy and not being afraid to say so.

So today, for anyone reading this, I’m going on public record and proclaiming that I DON’T LIKE CAMPING!!! Why should I set up an entire HOME outdoors when I already have one indoors? Why should I wash my dishes in gross, tepid water, carry a damp roll of toilet paper under one arm and a shovel under the other while trotting off to the bushes to “do my business,” sleep downhill with my head or other critical body parts on a rock (when tent camping at least), schlup around camp all dirty and smelly with nappy hair and covered in scratches and bruises from aforementioned bush-peeing or rock-sleeping? Hmmmm?

I love to do all SORTS of outdoorsy things. Fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, SCUBA diving… the list goes on. In fact I’ll try just about anything… once. But when I am done with my adventure for the day, I want to order dinner from a menu and for someone else to set said dinner on a warm plate in front me. I want to sleep in a fresh bed surrounded by endless, fluffly layers of down-filled goodness. I want a hot shower and clean underwear. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

In one way or another, if you are going away somewhere, camping or otherwise, you are most likely taking time off from work, packing your things, and spending money. Therefore, why shouldn’t my precious time and money be spent paying SOMEONE ELSE to do the dishes?

The Post-Vacation Funk

post vacay funkI just returned from a glorious, much-needed, 8-day vacay up and down the New England coast with my man… and yes, it was A-MAZ-ING. However… it is now official. I am in the midst of a full-fledged, hard-core, post-vacation funk. And I am here to tell you that the fabled funk is very real and I would argue that it is an inevitable occurrence in the life of any vacationer.

All the fun you’ve been planning for, saving for and laid awake with great night-before-Christmas anticipation for … is over. The photos are now in your camera instead of the brochure and the t-shirt is hanging in the closet.

Mind you, the funk does not occur overnight. Rather it seeps into your conscience slowly and before you know it you are completely mired in it. Suddenly you find yourself knee-deep in the reality that you are neither: A. Independently wealthy, or B. Free from the obscenity that is Responsibility … with a capital “R.”

When you first arrive home—a weary traveler surrounded by the familiar sights, scents and sounds of your “stuff”—you can’t help but experience Dorothy’s “There’s No Place Like Home”  feeling and sleeping in your own bed (on the memory foam that still remembers you) is blissful.

The next day comes and whether at home or the office, it is a flurry of activity. You’re answering emails, returning calls and taking care of household chores with that rested, happy glow that only a true getaway can provide. You’re still sportin’ the chilled attitude that comes from spending 7 days in flip-flops and you are recounting the details of your adventure to anyone who will listen. People expect that you will not exactly be “at the top of your game” since your head is most likely still in the clouds (or on the beach, or in the mountains, or by the pool, or at that really cool bar you found) and minor errors and gaffs are swiftly forgiven.

Day three brings with it the bi!@# that is reality. The alarm sounds for the second time since you’ve been back and you suddenly remember that this was why you went on vacation in the first place … to escape that d@mn alarm and the daily grind that follows it.

Day four is the same as the third only worse. The alarm clock hits you like a punch in the face reminding you that yesterday was not a fluke or a joke or a drill or even a bad dream. YOU. ARE. NOW. HOME. And it is only Wednesday. This is when you begin to play a sadistic little game with yourself that I like to call: “Where Were You Exactly One Week Ago Today?” And a word to the wise about playing this game: The non-vacation version of you will always wind up the loser.

By the way… exactly ONE week ago today… I was still in bed… but whatever. I’m not playing.

By day five you understand your fate, but you do not necessarily like it. Anger builds. You can’t stop playing the “Where Were You Exactly One Week Ago Today?” game every time you open the empty refrigerator, notice a heaping pile of laundry, encounter a pair of sad and sandy flip-flops lying lifeless on the floor or walk past the growing stacks of mail and dwindling supply of saltwater taffy on your dining room table.

It is at this point that you begin to entertain wild imaginings about how you might achieve the life of a full-time vacationer. What if I just disappeared?  What might the consequences of that be?  How much DO they pay those people who change sheets and fold towels at all those charming, little B&B’s? Is it hard to learn how to make saltwater taffy like the guy in the window at that quaint candy shop on the pier? Is it too late to get a degree in Recreation or Hospitality and Tourism Management? Am I too old to become a deck hand?

They say that there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. They are not necessarily experienced in order. The bereaved might vacillate between the five for several weeks or months languishing for a time at one stage or another. So far I think I have experienced all of them and it has yet to be one week.

Hopefully by the time I unwrap and consume the last piece of taffy, I will have quietly accepted my life just the way it is. It’s either that or you will likely find me behind a glass storefront in a hairnet and white gloves, pulling taffy for tourists.