Thursday, February 27, 2014

- Spring Break 2k14!

Today I drove home at 2:30 and heard on the radio that we had already reached our high for the day at -5 degrees.  Then someone told me that this is the coldest winter in the Twin Cities since 1978.  This is the coldest winter of my life.  And even if I had been born here in 1983 - and lived in Minneapolis all of my life - this would STILL be the coldest winter of my life.  Truth bomb.

They have been brilliantly sunny days though.  There's this beautiful part of the morning - in between 7 and 8 - where the sun shines through the windows and floods my apartment with the most transcendent light.  And then I always leave my sliding glass door a little bit open because back in December when it froze open and I slammed it shut, I slammed it shut on my finger.  And broke it.  So now I just don't bother closing the door all the way.  It keeps the air fresh and crisp in my apartment.  But the sound from highway 100 that drifts in can almost sound like the ocean.  So for the brief moments after I wake in the morning, there's this light and this sound and I can almost convince myself that I am in a Caribbean paradise.  But as soon as I think that I'm there I wake up and realize that I'm not.  And then I realize where I am instead.

But in a month, I won't have to wish myself there.  I will be on St. John and it will be 85-88 degrees and I'll be snorkeling or laying on a white beach or drinking a painkiller or maybe all of the above.  I have never in my life needed 8 days of unadulterated warmth this badly.  

To be fair, there are some things that I've really enjoyed doing in Minnesota lately.  Shopping in record stores.  Cross country skiing that one time.  Heading to the conservatory to listen to aggressive folk music.  Watching the Six Nations while cuddling on the couch with Emma and drinking tea.  But, that's pretty much it, especially when most of those things require driving on slippery anxiety inducing road conditions.

So, am I ridiculously excited that today is one day closer to my Spring Break Getaway?  You betcha.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

- 31

Today I turned 31.  I dislike saying that.  I feel weird about being 31 because that just can't be right...can it?  This year was the first year I've lied about my age.  It was with a wink and a nudge and a joke about how amazing it was that I magically quit aging - but those are all just a bunch of tactics used to avoid the truth.  29 is wrong, but 31 doesn't feel right.

Last night I realized that my birthday and the Winter Olympics overlap.  And I couldn't remember if that has ever happened before.  It's happened EVERY TIME there's been a Winter Olympics.  Okay I lied again, technically the Winter games of '88 in Calgary started on February 13th.  In fact the opening ceremony of Vancouver was ON my birthday, and maybe it's a sign of my age, but I can't even remember how I celebrated that birthday.  How have I never made this connection before?  Two events that I love (well I'm kind of falling out of love with aging) occur at the same time every 4 years.  This realization makes me feel more special than I am probably entitled to feel.

Because I am ALL about the Olympics.  I will watch any event at any time.  I will watch ALL of the events at ALL of the times.  Bob Costas' voice elicits some sort of pavlovian response in me.  (I'm not sold on Matt Lauer, but I also could hardly stand staring at that raging eye infection.)  During the last Summer Olympics I watched the games at work in conference rooms, because I have no shame.  And a nasty habit of becoming an "expert" on said events (shout out to the biathlon) based on what I pick up from the commentary.  Then, I "bestow" this knowledge on anyone who will listen to me talk about it the next day.  I could probably win a gold medal if there was an event for "passing off something that you heard from an announcer as your own smart observation to a coworker".  I'd at least be on the podium.

My love for the Olympics is why I was hit hard when Shaun White didn't podium yesterday.  This seriously affected me all day yesterday and this morning.  I mean what the what? I can hardly believe that I'm 31, but even that seems more plausible than Shaun White NOT getting a medal in a sport that wouldn't be what it is today if he didn't participate.  And let me be just take a minute to be clear - I do not follow Shaun White.  I haven't checked in with him since Vancouver.  He plays in a band that played at Lollapalooza last year; a festival that I almost went to.  I had no idea until I saw a prime time special on him 2 days ago.  Even if I had gone I doubt I would have had any idea that he was there because so was Mumford and Sons and last year they were my everything.  Right now though, Shaun White is my everything.  (I do have a soft spot for redheads.)  My heart broke last night as I watched - even though I had followed the competition during the day and knew the results - I was hoping that somehow I could will a different outcome.

And because I am now an expert on Shaun White I will tell you that I think, for the first time in his career, he is having some confidence issues.  He has had some downright nasty falls trying to land those big tricks.  Haters are talking about how "old" he is and wondering if it's time for him to "pass the torch".  He has a lot of pressure placed on his shoulders to ALWAYS perform, because up until this point, he has.  I mean you guys...sometimes I have a hard time going to my cushy job where I sit at my computer and move from meeting to meeting all day.  Then I come home and I'm all tired and don't have the energy to cook so I end up eating popcorn for dinner.  That was how I spent yesterday...while Shaun White was competing for a gold medal.

So, due to my passion, I got a bit angry when they kept saying that he failed to defend his gold medal.  You don't get to defend a gold medal.  You win it one year and that doesn't mean anything 4 years later.  You either go out there and win it again or you don't.  Yesterday, Shaun White almost won it again.  Almost doesn't count, but there also shouldn't be a "but" in his career.  He won two gold medals.  It's not three but it's more than pretty much everyone who ever drops into a half pipe will ever know.  He's still amazing - and I don't think that this is how it ends for him.

Today I am 31.  In 4 years Shaun White will be 31.  If he chooses to rock out that Olympic half pipe one more time you can bet your ass I will gladly spend my birthday cheering him and everyone else on.  Because I love a come back.  And the underdog.  And the 15 year old phenom.  And the heart wrenching emotional story.  The Olympics are a magical time; as bad as 31 feels right now, it's comforting to know that 35 will happen during South Korea...this is after all, a pretty great way to spend every 4th birthday.      

Saturday, November 23, 2013

- Rock Me Mama

Did you know the song "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show is co-written in by Bob Dylan? The chorus is something he wrote but never quite developed into a full song and it wouldn't have seen the light of day if the right person hadn't picked it up at the right time to turn it into an anthem of the 2010's.  I didn't know any of this until tonight when Kelsey and I talked about the song because we heard it played not once, but twice, in two different pubs in Killarney. I never thought in a million years that I would go to Ireland and hear the lyrics "and I'm thumbin' my way into North Caroline".  It was a little bit bittersweet to realize that even here, on the vacation of my dreams, it's so clear where home is.

Anyways, today has been a whirlwind and I'm guessing it's a testament to jet lag and Smithwicks that I'm even still awake enough to coherently tell you about it.  I keep forgetting to capture the sights on my cell phone but here are a few animal centric moments from today...

First there were the horses that we found in the fog during our morning jaunt through the Gap of Dunloe:
Then there were the sheep that we saw on every hillside but it was still surprising to find them so close at hand on Valentia Island. The Skelligs in the background weren't so bad either. 
(Skelligs are those tall rocks sticking out of the ocean. One time some monks looked at those rocks and said "hmmm that looks like as good as place as any to call home" and then they lived there until the 12th century. Trading seal meat with passing ship crews for grain and writing out historical records on vellum. Congratulations, you just learned something. Side note over.)

But mostly today the coastline stole the show. Ireland is beautiful in a way that I've never seen before. End of story. No "buts" or explanations needed. 
I can't wait to see more.

If you don't get the song reference then watch this link. And if it ever comes up it's probably best that you lie to me and just act like you knew what I was talking about all along. And for the love of Jebus, if you didn't know about this song until Hootie covered it, it's probably best if we never talk again.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

- Bon Voyage

The past three days have been so stressful because as it turns out there's a lot to do to prepare to leave the country for 9 days. You know, ridiculously essential things like sewing sequins to a sweatshirt or dealing with your first world problems. I wasn't prepared for all of the hullabaloo (side note: that is one of the best words EVER) because sadly, I haven't done this as an adult. Okay I guess I was 18 (or nearly? I can't remember that far back) when I went to London and Paris with my highschool class but that just doesn't count. 

It is a little bit embarassing to have this kind of first happen so far into my adult life. And a little bit scary; because once this can of international travel worms is opened, it can't be closed. And I may never have money again. But I feel like its worth it to find out just how much better Guinness can be. 
The American control. Because you hav to set a baseline. And I lost those 5 lbs jut so I can gain them back in Guinness consumption.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

- Winter is Coming

This song is one of those that you hear and just instantly love.  It's this years Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Home.  Or a newer Magic by Rabbit.  It's totally a Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root.  It instantly feels like your favorite pair of leggings.
If you don't have a favorite pair of leggings then it's like I don't even know you anymore.

If you can listen to that song and not smile then I definitely don't know you anymore.

I spent so much of this past summer under "the big hot sun" that I actually got a tan for the first time in years despite all of the sunscreen I wear.  Summer took forever to get here but when it did show up, it put on a perfect performance.  With encores into October.  OCTOBER!  This song feels like summer did.  If it's played on just the right day, even after summer is over, it brings back a memory so vivid of spectacular weather that you fan feel it.  The day feels a little bit warmer.  Things look a little bit brighter.

But October also skipped right over Fall and moved to "Early Winter" all too quickly.  All of the sudden we had a good 2.5 weeks straight with highs only in the 30's.  The sun was no where to be found and I had a really hard time liking anything about my life with that sadness outside.  But every Friday, miraculously, the sun would come out.  (It was a literal "Here Comes the Sun" type of moment).  And the temperature's would rise to 50!  The perfect weather would last all weekend.  Each time, for those three days I would do as much as I could to soak up the rays.  It was like trying to bank time in the light so I could get through another gloomy week if necessary.

If ever I forget about how great it was to have the sun stick around for so long (by Minnesota standards), I remember on days like today.  Today was the first day of winter.  The first time there were winter weather advisories and lots of different kinds of precipitation falling from the sky.  It was the first day that Emma and I had to walk in "The Weather".  I tried to psyche myself up for our walk by picturing in my head this idyllic scene: Emma and I strolling along the sidewalk while big white flakes floated effortlessly to the ground all around us.  The wind was still and it was comfortably cold.  Instead it was a new version of hell.  Little ice chunks were pelted at our faces leaving our skin stinging in the blistering wind.  We haven't walked that fast in a long time and the only thing that kept me moving forward was this song and the memories it contains.

I will carry this song with me through the next 5 months of winter (That's right Old Man, you can stay until March but then it's time to make room for Lady Spring) because as soon as that uke kicks in the happiness is palpable.  And that's the kind of thing I'll need to feel when there's a -15 windchill and my snot is freezing in my nose as I walk to my car after work.