Tag Archives: musings

Living (too) large

You know how they say “travel is broadening?” Well, when it comes to the size of my ass, I’d definitely have to agree. Seriously, I’ve taken to referring to my hips as “croissant” and “pain au chocolat.” Whatever. I don’t regret eating a single slab of pâté or hunk of Camembert. It was vacation.

Now that I’m home, though, I’m actually feeling the need to downsize a bit. And I’m not just talking about the size of my hips. You see, one of the things that struck me during my travels was the simplicity of how Europeans live. Both apartments where we stayed, one modern and one in a more aged building, were built on a much small-scale than their American counterparts. Honestly, it made our American tendency to accumulate seem downright vulgar.

Let me give you a couple of examples…

The bedroom closets are really compact to accommodate much smaller wardrobes than those of the typical American. I’m talking maybe 2 ½ feet of hanging rod space and a handful of drawers. Coming home to my walk-in step-in closet and double-sided rolling clothing rack embarrassed me. Why do I have so much frigging clothing?

Both flats had lovely, updated kitchens. If these kitchens are any indication, Ikea seems to dominate the market and I am definitely going to consider going that route myself when I address my tired kitchen cabinets. Both kitchens were well laid out and contained more than adequate storage for the limited number of necessary items. That being said, neither kitchen had extraneous space, merely enough cupboards for cookware, dishes, glassware and some pantry items. Why do American kitchens require so much space?

One of the apartments we rented had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a combined kitchen, dining and living room. The other had 2 bedrooms, a large loft sleeping area, kitchen and combined living/dining room. There was one bathroom. I don’t think either of these apartments exceeded 800 or 900 square feet. Why do new American homes need to be nearly three times that size? Who convinced us that we should aspire to maintain, heat and clean such large residences?

Time for me to minimize.

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Filed under Europe, house, musings, Observations, travel, vacation

Advantage – taken or given?

imageEleanor Roosevelt once said that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Do you think we can apply this logic in a broader sense to situations in which we feel advantage has been taken of us? Do we somehow give permission to people to take advantage of us?

There are particular incidents in my life that continue to bother me despite the passage of time, usually because I failed to assert myself. I essentially gave someone an opportunity to make me feel inferior because I failed to stop them. When I think about those occasions I find myself replaying the scenarios, inserting a response that I only wish I had conjured up during the original altercation. You know, the perfect retort just too late. I want a do over.

The older I get, though, the less frequently I feel the need for a do over. I’ve learned that the discomfort of directly dealing with a person who is threatening my sense of what is fair or reasonable, is less damaging than perpetually looping the incident mentally afterwards. Ultimately, it’s better to give someone a piece of my mind than to allow them to just take it.

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Filed under aging, musings, relationships

Shoulder season

imageIf you’re an outdoors exerciser, you’ll probably agree that we’ve arrived at shoulder season – or, as I like to call it, ass season. As in, falling on your ass if you’re not cautious because it’s so damn icy. We’re somewhere between skiing and running/cycling season and each day brings the question of which activity will be best attempted in conditions that seem to vary daily.

The golf course has deteriorated into an icy landscape, complete with bare spots and piles of dog poop. I skied it Friday and it was treacherous. After walking it on Saturday, I reluctantly concluded that ski season was over. I consoled myself with my first run in weeks – 5 slow, wet and slick miles. My quads are screaming today, so I guess I guess we can call this shoulder, ass and quads season to be accurate.

This morning, there was an unexpected (to me) period of snow. Fluffy flakes quickly accumulated and frosted the icy snow changing my prospects for the day. A ski it would be.

Work last night, an obscenely early soccer game (7:30), and the time change had combined to kick my ass, confirming the appropriateness of my naming the season after the gluteal region. After a nap between fresh flannel sheets, I felt prepared to attempt the golf course, hoping that the trails would be improved. It proved to be beyond my expectations.

The sun had softened the snow’s crust and the newly fallen flakes had filled in the worst of the divots. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the ski was sublime. Although I am generally conscious of being present in the moment, I focused even harder on experiencing this ski, imagining it as being my last of the winter.

The interior trails, particularly the Coca-Cola, were beautiful and easily negotiated. Jeter and I explored a new path or two and when we completed our long loop it seemed we both felt pleasantly fatigued.  Regardless of which part of my body feels sore, that soulful place inside me feels satisfied.  Time for a glass of wine.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, running, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

Ugly Girls – a(n ugly) novel

Ever start reading a book and get a sense pretty early on that you’re not going to enjoy it? What do you do? Push through or bail? For much of my reading life, I’ve opted to push through and have, on occasion, been pleasantly surprised when something shifts or clicks and the book becomes enjoyable. Well, that was not the case with Lindsay Hunter’s Ugly Girls.

If you can imagine a social issue, it’s in this book – alcoholism, poverty, prison conditions, stalking, social network deception, violence, prostitution, vandalism, theft, promiscuity and hypersexuality, adultery, incest…yep, all in this 229 page novel.

When I initially began the book, I was put off by the somewhat confusing narrative – the characters’ names were not indicative of gender (Perry, Jamey) and the alternating voices took a while to become distinct. I stuck with it and was somewhat rewarded by the quality of the writing, which really wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an equally redemptive moment in terms of plot – this story just became increasingly more bleak and dark. I don’t think there was a single happy scene or genuine laugh in the entire book.

If you’re into sad stories, complete with boatloads of wasted opportunities and stomach turning interactions, read this book. Just be sure to keep some hand sanitizer nearby.

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Filed under Books

Love, me

Image: //www.techiy.com

Image: //www.techiy.com

Don’t even approach my body unless you’ve first been between my ears. I’m 48, not 18.

True love isn’t roses and chocolate. It’s starting my car on a winter’s morning or bringing home pizza on a Friday night.

Love is buying me the Sunday paper on Saturday so I don’t have to go outside on a cold morning.

Love means being able to continue to believe.

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Filed under aging, holidays, love, musings, relationships, winter

Counting (on) friends

If you peek at my Facebook account you’ll see that I have more than 700 virtual friends. Pretty impressive, right? Thanks to the wonders of social media, I am absolutely swimming in friendship!  Look a little closer, though, and you’ll discover that many of my friends are people I don’t really ever see, except for online.  Whether it’s due to distance or time, we simply don’t really have occasion to be together in real life.  Does this mean we aren’t really friends?  How do you define a true friend?

Over the years, I’ve learned that the number of friends I have isn’t really that important.  No, that’s not really how I measure friendship.  You see, it’s not about the counting of, instead, it is very much about the counting on.  True friends are the ones on which we can rely upon to do as they say and follow through on their promises, regardless of how infrequently we actually see one another in person.  Those are the people who add immensely to our lives.  Each day brings a new opportunity to be that kind of friend.  Count on it.

 

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Filed under friends, relationships

Thoughts after seeing American Sniper

I’ve seen a number of movies in the past month or so, three of which have been based upon books. American Sniper is the only one in which I felt the movie didn’t accurately portray the author’s experiences with real accuracy.

I admire Chris Kyle’s patriotism and willingness to sacrifice his life for his country, but the violence he exhibited away from the battlefield made me uncomfortable. It also left me wondering if such an innate streak of violence is what makes a soldier so successful.

The scenes depicting the gun battles were horrifying. I struggle to believe that after all of the supposed evolution of our species we have no other way to resolve conflict.

I have no problem whatsoever with Chris’ description of his enemy as being “savage.” Anybody who is willing to sacrifice a child’s life to harm another can only be described as such.

I am incapable of doing anything other than closing eyes when I am confronted with images of torture and physical aggression.  It isn’t that I don’t want to know about it, I simply can’t watch it without feeling physically ill.

The fact that there are (were) people like Chris Kyle who have such a powerful patriotism that it causes them to feel drawn to helping to eliminate threats to our country and citizens is remarkable to me.  Undoubtedly, he was a hero.

The choice between country, God and family, for some, isn’t easy.  I admire the commitment Chris Kyle and other members of our armed forces made to our country and wish it had been rewarded with appropriate post-active duty attention and care.

It doesn’t matter how many “kills” he had in battle.  His life was really more about taking care of people (his brother, his family, other soldiers) than it ever was about taking people out.  RIP, Chris Kyle.

 

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Filed under Books, Movies, musings