Tip Jars Stress Me Out

Tip jars stress me out. They wink at my wallet, from unusual crannies, not excluding public restrooms. I feel pressure, when peeing, whether I will tip the attendant, when she hands me a towel. Anxiety rises to the brim, when paying for coffee. Do I tip all my change, or stay true to my finances? photo

My jobs provide perks, over fluffy checks. I have a pennies worth desire to climb corporate ladders, of assumed financial stability. I have seen folk with Benjamin deficit, when the market tanks, and fold like a bill when selling homes, which were rarely a depreciating asset.

I prefer adventures.

24 hour European treks, priceless ski days, afternoon naps in dollar green grass, and flexible work schedules. I don’t save nickels for homes, or sparkly coins.

I travel.

Now.

In a frugal, airline employee style. If I waited until retirement, it’s possible my dimes may not fall in a row. Perhaps, it not a recommended financially intelligent way to live, only tooth fairies know how long our quarters will glisten.

I cannot ignore tip jars advertising for college. College shaped me. I wish everyone to experience such opportunity. I understand the flip side of this tricky nickel, remembering my path, distinctly teetering, like a spinning coin, over which avenue to choose. I had little desire to spend additional time, calculating at a desk, until I was crammed, like a sardine, in our green and wood paneled station wagon, listening to my brothers spark, returning on holiday. It sounded so cool. I could feel his energy. Sense his growth. I wanted that, before I could pinpoint what it was, on an intellectual level.

Exploring Alabama, meandering to a beach, (my 49th visited United State!) I slowed my wheels, to purchase sunscreen. A little boy was sitting in extreme heat, with a plastic Halloween bucket, asking for change. It broke my traveling heart, looking into the face of such a young boy, asking so politely, with southern manners, and drawl.

Homeless hold torn signage at intersections, making me feel awkward, like crying during a Lifetime movie. Charity tins, at drug stores, with childrens’ photographs, unzip my change purse. Local fire departments scoop change from my dash, into oversized plastic boots. Can you say no to cute firemen, with shiny engines?!

Knowing how tricky it is to support oneself, if I can’t tip generously, I envision the employee, hungry, hoisting a baby upon their bony hip. Moral dilemmas remain ajar, most everywhere I venture. I prefer European style. Pay what the bill says. Period. No pressure, no math, no qualifying work quality. Simply, no added stress, following an evening of local fare and laughter.

I am generous when it comes to dining tips, but when handed an empty, environmentally unkind plastic cup for coffee, do I owe you for your efforts of simply moving your arm?

Charity disbursement is confusing. I’m not sure who is legit, or whom I am truly helping. Tell me friends, what side of this coinage conundrum do you find yourselves? I get overwhelmed.

I want to help others along my journey, but I also wish to protect my personal long term investment, which is my heart, growth and adventures…

A Monk On A Scooter

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A robe trailed in the wind behind an upright figure in motion, a monk was riding a scooter. A monk on a scooter has never wheeled through my imagination, it was adorable. A juxtaposition between a world of materialism, one of simplicity. Trying a new experience, I spent a weekend at a monastery, exchanging work for hospitality, among Buddhist nuns and monks.

I volunteered to help build a staircase Thich Nhat Hanh will walk upon. Entering the woods, a monk and I exchanged language tips and smiles. I shared bug spray, which he sprayed over his corn cone hat, making me giggle. A truck met our team providing tools and wood. We dug for hours, playing charades due to language barriers, and utilized tools that cut roots beneath the soil. In attempted Vietnamese, I counted; moe, height, bob, as we carried tarps filled with dirt. Something felt real there. Perhaps escaping reality, immersed in the moment, genuinely cherishing time with others. Stopping for a break, a monk opened a bag of Doritos. The red and orange marketing, a funny visual against natures background. Sunlight peeked through the pines as we enjoyed watermelon, and sipped brown rice tea. By dinner, dirt covered me head to toe, kind laughs echoed from underneath their hats.

My mindfulness practice leads me toward serenity. Seeing, listening, noticing things in a different light, as if for the first time. I read self-help books, over Self magazine, tossing old patterns like a yoga mat, extending, inviting new perspectives on this life. As I sat that weekend, thoughts internalized beyond noise of the universe, to my breath. Birds chirped with clarity, as sunshine warmed my face. My eyes focused upon purple leaves, splitting rays of sunlight, above my gaze. A meditation bell chimed in the distance. Lying upon my beach towel, care turned toward awareness of pink puffy clouds, against a blue sky at dusk. An exact reflection of colors on my towel.

The monks and nuns were inquisitive-like kids in adult frames, yet In monastery, so respected, so dignified. Every 15 minutes a clock chimed, reminding you to literally stop what you were doing, and breathe. Simple concepts laminated upon paper in my bathroom reminded me to send kindness toward my tired eyes, pale face, and normal grudge at such an hour. I breathed in. I breathed out. Taking care of myself, my cell remained stowed as “priorities may have shifted” during this experience.

Walking silently toward the meditation hall, a deer darted behind, hooves startled me. My jaw dropped entering the hall, one of the most serene and beautiful spaces I have been in. Sitting upon cushions on a gorgeous bamboo floor, I felt healing energy. Incense and light through large windows added to the awe. I wanted to take in every moment. Unfortunately, at this 5 a.m. hour, my eyelids had an alternative agenda.

The air felt different there. Nature displayed a sharpness I have never experienced. Vietnamese dinners with savory broths, eaten in mindful silence, allowed appreciation of flavors, and digestive ease. Following each meal, we washed dishes in silence. Under the moonlight, I relaxed, completely, in a hammock. The moon appeared brightly into sight, each time it swung right.

Entering the shop, an original print on rice paper, by Thich Nhat Hanh himself read; breathe my dear, stopping me in my tracks, bringing tears to my eyes. The nun behind the register said softly; “His energy is on that paper, isn’t it?”

It was just a weekend, but an experience I will never forget. It opened my heart, a little more, toward embracing life’s ups and downs, like a peaceful staircase in the woods….

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My Love (of syrup)

Liquid Gold
Liquid Gold

 
Morning sun poured light over wooden porch beams, like syrup over a warm stack of pancakes. Warmth bounced into the kitchen where I met my first love…fancy grade A maple syrup. Golden comfort cakes flipped above a hot griddle, neighbors raw holstein milk settled in a jar, matching color with an adjacent stick of butter. Liquid gold removed from the refrigerator glistened in early light.

My favorite maple stood roadside, dignified watching over us for years at the bus stop. Her girth gave assumption she withstood time, holes drilled yearly for spout relocation and healing. During mud season, inches of snow blanketed the ground. I was sent to collect sap, perhaps reason I was harvested. Boots stretched above knobby kneecaps, bundled to my Mom’s approval I ventured into the elements, scampering for warmth, white pails in hand. Trampling through knee deep snow a challenge, as I day dreamed of sap lines and electric heat. I trudged maple to maple removing lids, pouring sap, and returning buckets to their spigots for next gathering. Some trunks produced more than others, like furry neighbors at milking time. Mindful not to slosh precious drops by hitting pails against objects, I carried them with care. Tree debris swam upon the surface, soon to be cooked off. Boiling over the basement wood stove, I counted between sap drips off a homemade wooden spoon, which would indicate completion. It took hours and tons of sap to create a half gallon, filling our cabin with natures sweet scent. An all natural product nothing added but sap, degrees and care. Aunt Jemima, you are motor oil. I do not like your thick darkness, such mock up of the real thing. Some prefer you, therefore I shall leave you be.

It’s time to come clean with a sticky situation, here is my truth: I drink syrup. I’m not talking the occasional lick my plate clean, when no one is looking. When the crave emerges, I sprint, to capture the container, tilt it high and indulge. Shot glasses full of golden delight makes me feel rich, smoothly coating my digestive tunnel delivering natures love. This is my nemesis, my addiction, the affair I cannot quit. I halted syrup intake cold turkey for 8 months after recommended I eliminate sugar as a stressor, but I relapsed…big time. Perhaps it better to have a happy heart, in love despite colon conundrum? How can 53 natural grams of sugar trigger belly pain? Wait, that’s per serving?! Let’s just ignore quantity, shall we?

Each Christmas I receive a gallon of liquid gold shimmering under the spruce, with a bow on top. A twist off, the only barrier between taste buds and euphoria. Hugging the bottle in rapture, I give thanks running to lock it in my vehicle before it gets lost in holiday shuffle, and driven to a city. I have ran out of syrup maybe twice in my life, threatening to send this country girl to rehab.

Whenever I see a tiny Dixie cup, it reminds my heart of my first love. We took field trips as kids to the local sugar shack; my neighbors. We learned the process on a larger scale, in a maple candy eggshell; collect sap, boil it forever, and out comes natures magic! Anticipation built larger than confirming a dream vacation, as callused farmer hands passed me a Dixie sample. My little paws surrounded the cup with all my might, so silly boys could not steal. I drank natures heaven, then skipped to the bus for a high energy ride back to school.

I wish there were syrup bars similar to brewery tours. You could explore the forest bundled with friends, sampling various grades upon heated fuzzy bar stools, as local musicians played. Donations could be given to land owners, and sap gatherers of all ages. Syrup, if you are my first and last love on this journey, I sweetly accept. 🙂

Altitude And Gratitude

IMG_9022His words brought comfort but it was challenging piecing syllables together with clarity. Comprehension caused enough distraction to transfer my focus to the simple act of walking. Two little words: altitude sickness. Dark clouds hovered in the distance in unknown direction, the day crept later. Step by step I told myself I could do it, to go big or go home, as if filmed for an inspirational video. Inner dialogue a product of survivalism being the youngest of four. Hazy consciousness imagined myself anywhere in the world, hydrated, splashing toes poolside sipping frozen fruity fun. I felt drunk without cause, or known way to improve symptoms. Four days prior I swam in the Gulf, sea level. Today, I summited South Arapahoe, Colorado. Her peak beautifully severed the sky at 13,343′.

The hike up was magical. My friends gave options to turn back, but the view had me wanting more. I felt good for a flatlander in the Rockies, despite the occasional cartoon heart leaping from my chest. Trails in the horizon could be seen cut into the hillside at Winter Park. Snow capped peaks appeared brilliantly, layer behind layer as we gained elevation. Nature displayed her beautiful tapestry, seen only by hikers, birds or aircrafts. Turquoise glacier water and June snow captured my gaze, as if a calendar photograph came to life. Backcountry skiers left me in awe enduring such a trek carrying gear for a sliver of vertical. At least one full hour we hiked straight uphill, no slalom, no switchback, no traverse. I don’t love hiking, but few of my most physical feats in life have been climbing peaks and treasured memories with those who have trekked beside me.

Sunlight perceived brighter than normal, the alpine glow pierced my cranium which already felt snug between vice grips. Colorado wildflowers displayed their preciousness. I was surrounded by such good energy with these friends as if minutes, not 14 years had passed since seeing them.

Upon the descent we reached a snowy area, siphoning energy pulling whichever foot sunk inches deep. Body parts stopped working cohesively, similar to a rusty bike chain. I felt like an orangutan, swinging arms in delirium. Motor functions began to deteriorate. For all I knew, I was replica of a thoroughbred in a Muybridge slow motion film. Perhaps galloping across a prairie racing cowboys on a ranch would be my next adventure…It was going to be a long descent in my dreamy pace. My friends were so patient, so kind. With the ill display I was about to share, anyone in their right mind should have abandoned me with the marmots. I understood the concept move to improve by continuing downhill, yet each cell in my body yearned to collapse upon the earth alongside a flower or moss covered boulder to wait out my nauseousness. I wanted to get sick to feel better, but only hiccups and dizziness sustained. I could have been at an all inclusive swim up bar listening to Buffet play over a Bose PA.

I wanted to research the science behind what my body was enduring. Symptoms started with a headache, transferring to challenged motor skills. The simple act of speaking or sipping water caused nauseousness. I was informed little grows at the summit, making me grateful for pressurized cabins in flight. Discomfort made me feel vulnerable, aware of each decision, shifting attention inwardly to take care of myself. Yet another reminder lately to secure my own oxygen mask prior to assisting others. Tree roots exposed themselves displaying a beautiful gray hue. Time felt stagnant but nature seemed to come alive, as if placed in a scene from Alice in Wonderland requesting my awareness. A cute marmot peered at us inquisitively, another sat upon a rock chirping. The terrain was rugged, alternating between waterfalls, mud, grass, boulders and snow, each requiring concentration. My travel sneaks didn’t have appropriate treads or waterproofing for such terrain, I hiked in wet socks for hours. We meandered through low brush and prickly trees that cut my ankles. All was a hikers high until we did some foot skiing which shifted things. My front roll and bum slide tumble downhill were worth the gained footage and belly laughs. I felt completely alive and present. No humans other than the three of us in close proximity for hours. Completely immersed in natures beauty, then it hit me…I got sick, and I got sick, again. Carrots came forth leaving my insides raw. Eyes became puffy, hands sore upon whichever surface I fell on to with little warning, in a not so classy downward facing dog.

Hours later we arrived at the truck, slid into flops and dangled legs off the tailgate gazing at our accomplishment. We boosted ourselves stiffly into the vehicle and headed down the windy dirt road. Oh my goodness, I was hesitant to inform them of my other dear friend; car sickness. It crept upon my current layer of discomfort. I asked my friend to pull over if I raised my hand. Hand shot upward, unfortunately having to dodge a vehicle cost me seconds, and my friend a clean exterior. Head lurched out the passenger side window, too sick to feel embarrassed, then exiting his ride I watered the dry soil. A bus drove past on this rural road, leaving them with a tourist visual on altitude sickness. I was flooded with dry erupting pain. I was a volcano lacking lava. Ooh, reminds me of a Buffet song…Hands swollen like water balloons, bloated, stiffening, what was happening in my body, or better question, what wasn’t?! Each bend along that dirt road my friend drove so patiently and courteously. Dinner plans were canceled, instead returning to his home where decisions were made to take care of my immediate needs of a shower and rest. His wife welcomed me with open arms in my state of delirium. My body had an alternate agenda over my intended red eye. Appreciated shower water trickled over fresh ankle cuts, water pinned to hot.

I woke in the middle of the night sore and nausceous, but packed my carryon with a smiling heart. My friend drove me to the bus station and stood with me in the wee hours to ensure the DEN bound bus arrived. In a situation such as this hike vulnerable to altitude, I quickly respected climbers, and appreciate people with considerable kindness. Some don’t deplete you, like oxygen above 13,000′. A treasured few take care of you boosting your spirits above the clouds, when you need it most…

Inspiration In 26.2 Different Shapes

26.2, what a horrid number! I barely achieve twenty-six minutes under my sneaks when I hit the pavement. Running and I are not best of friends. I rarely remember to stretch, thus impact from the sidewalk shoots electric shocks up my shins. After shin pain dissipates, cardio ache jogs into my lungs.

At the first intersection I turn uphill. If I were to stop for the signal to morph from a hand to the walking man, it would halt my motivation. Muscles would atrophy, and pull me back to the couch. It takes only strides to curse my uphill decision. I giggle, pondering if drivers can decipher if I am actually running or not. Just when I need it most, my trusty iPod dies. No!! How did I self motivate back in the day, prior to my first Walkman?! Surely listening to my gasps for air won’t help. Of course it died just when I was getting pumped to “girls just wanna have fun-un!”

I succeed up the hill. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it focusing on beautiful Victorians and house projects locals were completing. I don’t want the responsibility of yard or garden work, house renovations or cherubs in little red wagons. I am the happiest non committed renting tenant the world has ever known. All is pink scented shoelaces in my world, until writing the rent check makes me want to vomit. What if future Mr. Handsomeness asked me to relocate to the Fiji islands overnight, how would I escape the wrath of a mortgage? What if I decided to jump on the Peace Corps track? I am one happy unattached Nike wearer who prefers to travel and ski, over trips to Home Depot. Any hoo, by this point in my run, I am sweaty. I sweat over two things in life 1.) talking to cute boys, and 2.) exercise.

Let us pause to remember poor Pheidippides prior to the option to “run on Dunkin.” Why would anyone want to replicate such distance voluntarily? In addition, if I were a man why would I want bloody nipples with the need to apply band aides to avoid chafing? Again, another reason I don’t intimidate runners by training for marathons.

It had rained all week, the morning unseasonably cold. Snow fell in the mountains that day. I grabbed an umbrella and went outside to cheer. The cop car rounded the bend, first racers moved down my street wheeling by, arms like Rocky. I saw the passenger cruise by I had assisted off our aircraft the previous night. He lacked mobility in his legs. Athletes wore trash bags, gloves and costumes. I clapped, my hands soon frozen. Some ran past and thanked me. Thanked me? All I did was crawl out of bed and put on a hoodie. Some of them courageously faced this challenge for the first time. Others raised funds for charitable causes, few possibly ran anxiously since the Boston terror. So many smiled, giving me energy by sharing theirs. I was in awe. People of 26.2 different shapes and sizes were participating. They filled me with chills of inspiration. One was a grandfather in khakis plugging away in the cold damp rain. Athletes inspire me. Following the final competitor, I walked inside stunned by roughly 8,000 athletes who left ME inspired that chilly morning…

Flight Fiascos Over Foie Gras

As abruptly as an F-16 takes off, people question my career at social gatherings. Despite wanting to pretend I’m a heli pilot in Switzerland or diving instructor in Australia, I admit I work for an airline. Once the truth settles like dust upon the tarmac, I slide into fuzzy slippers and grab a first class cocktail. I am in for an earful of precious travel nightmares, memories from Zambia to Newark. These hounds spew unprovoked airline stories on me, like de-icing fluid sprayed upon bubble shaped windows. Why do we assume this process seamless? Handsome Harry’s, pretty Penelope’s, we are flying! These metal cans, as my friend describes them stay in the air most often, which I think frankly magical.

While vacationing the job inquiry depletes my holiday spirits, like a siphon from an Embraer fuel tank. To avoid appearing on the news by going “airline” and embarrassing my mom, I smile politely and listen as passengers jab at the industry. My job does not define my heart or character, it provides the opportunity to pursue my passion to travel.

The next time you fly, please take care to remember the bodies resembling people behind the ticket counter and gate podiums are real live humans. Some even have hearts attached to their procedural hands, tied to enforced rules. We are the face of the carrier who provide our benefits and your ticket out of dodge. After 5 years and 343 days in the industry, I still don’t have the jet power to control the weather, WiFi speed or ATC.

People enjoy sharing fiascos. When passing Foie Gras at high end functions, I have overheard sagas of flights from dancers in Nantucket brights, elevating above decibels from the band. When ski instructing, travel tales of woe trickle down my ear canal, slowly like a Joey snow plowing on green terrain. We all complain at times how the industry operates, but it is amazing what these tubes do, allowing us to see the world.

Irregular travel adventures make it real, memorable, fun. Seamless trips are like middle seats. I think if we all, myself included embraced the irregular operations in this lifetime, we would be better equipped for life’s unexpected turbulence.

The Boathouse

City clock chimed 4, consciousness slowly aware of spring birds gently wishing me well, as warm air tickled my skin through open windows. The simple tones of feathered friends, and the aura of this hour reminded me of rowing workouts in college. Like a power piece, thoughts pulled me into future months where I have the opportunity to spend priceless hours at one of my favorite places, the boathouse and with her owners. Their character speaks more to my heart than the prestige of a boathouse along Boathouse Row. Where I store my single wooden hand built (by me!) shell, she is the only vessel of her kind. There are no racks of racing shells, or whirling flywheels from erg pieces in an adjacent room. No trophies upon mantles. Here, lifejackets hang alongside fishing boots and row boat oars. Her red exterior has withstood winter winds and intrusive flooding. Structurally, she is held by cement blocks. Penny candy sold from an ancient register where kids count coins to make purchases. You can buy live bait for fishing or gummy worms to snack on. You can play a piano, eat burgers, or savor drips of melting ice cream watching the sun set softly across the lake. Interior tables allow lakeside dining near tanks of curious turtles. Bikers exit the bike path to enjoy a slice of this heaven, while sipping refreshing drinks.

Driving toward the boathouse, I travel between waterfront homes I have seen immersed during flooding. Massive logs remain lodged into the surrounding shoreline, reminding me of local resiliency and community. The sun warms my left side, ears catch lyrics from records bellowing from the boathouse. Certain oldies remind me of cassettes churning in my grandparents Buick. My grandfathers enormous chiropractic hands would tap to the rhythms on the dash, as my gram drove sending winks through the rear view. A beagle runs his little legs alongside my car welcoming me. I park inhaling deeply, mindful of my current surroundings and the instant peace. Being here takes my heart back decades, time stops. A sign hangs nailed to a tree posting launching fees, as the sun kisses the lake with her afternoon sparkly light. I hear my friend, and owner yell my name, he meets me shirt tucked into high waders, with a grin that lights his face. He grabs to hug me tightly, planting a wet kiss upon my cheek. I find his sister, of equal age and spirit and say hi. She tells me about family and questions my work and love life. I turn up my nose, smiling and prance toward the water. Judging from the NOAA site, and calm wind in the trees, I jot my destination out as the lake, not river. A flat water day is rare and fully taken advantage of. I respect and pay attention to weather, within minutes winds can turn transforming the lake from kitten to lion, leaving me like a pencil in a big sea.

It’s not easy to access the water like a typical boathouse. I carry my 23 foot shell toward open water with uncertain footing upon driftwood and washed up debris. There is no dock to rest oar locks on or to step in with finesse. Instead, occasionally sinking knee deep in muck, I struggle like a clumsy spider attempting not to flip or allow the wake to pummel me full force into the rocky riverbank, giving fishermen a show.

When spare time and energy permit, I help rake leaves and pick up sticks prior to mowing their lawn around leaping frogs. Following these tasks, and cursing manual labor over rowing blisters, I sit on the swing and look out at the lake. Kids jumping off the bridge bring me smiles remembering college. I immerse my heart and mind into this summer paradise, playing with boats, water and spending time with her owners. Perhaps spending time, without a time frame is what feels foreign, or perhaps it is the people themselves who bring out the magic. I am always in a better place after time spent here.

Fishermen chat near shore, a vintage Coke sign hangs lakeside as a point of reference upon my return. Boaters with motors are sparse today, my focus rests upon technique. Driving with the legs, not burying my oars or rushing the slide. Strangers sit at communal picnic tables taking advantage of this beautiful public space. It’s a place impromptu square dances, card games, and live folk music can pop up. One evening after de-rigging, the owner grabbed my sweaty hand, led me all smiles to the boat landing and began dancing with me. Dancing with my buddy to an old record as the sun went down was one of the sweetest memories.

A guest book signed of comments explains the joy of finding this treasure time forgot, where you can rent a rowboat with your sweetie. This is no place for watches or deadlines, customers wait patiently for a burger or for the owner to finish a conversation with friends or folks renting gear. His sister told me their parents would sit together each night watching the sun set. Their parents believed everyone in the community should have access to the lake. These siblings continue to share their paradise to all who can find the boathouse, this special place at the end of a local dirt road…

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Menstrual Madness

My abdomen collapses into a fetal position, dizziness increases lacking iron. Cramps creep into nooks of my spine I never knew existed, I can’t sleep. Balls of pain won’t cease fire despite my bff, Midol. TV ads portray fluffy white happiness during this time of the month, do consumers fall for that crock? In my menstrual madness, there is no leaping off feather beds, skipping through green pastures or frolicking bunnies. I used to get embarrassed admitting I get a period, but I do. There, the tampon is out of the wrapper. I am a woman, yes, I admit it. A favorite quote from my dear friend is “I have the right to be irritable, I bleed out of my…..” well never mind this is no anatomy blog…

The workplace expects you to keep 100% efficiency between visits to the restroom. It’s not acceptable to sprint from a corporate presentation, in business attire when reality flows. National debt could be diminished if women did not purchase such paraphernalia. It’s for the bloody birds.

Shopping, I surround womanly products on the grocery belt so shoppers won’t know “I bleed from my…” you wouldn’t believe how many times Murphy’s tampon law goes into action, with items needing a price check. Products flash at me painfully, like a disco ball at an awkward school dance. A cutie in line stands behind me, waiting. I start to sweat. He’s not looking at the beauty mags or gum, his gaze falls full fledge upon my products. The secret is out, he knows I am a woman who bleeds. Surely, that’s no conversation starter…

I want Apple to create an app to kibosh monthly flood gates. Why must women bleed like animals in the wild? I understand prairie days, but it’s 2013 friends, lets make some leaky leeway. Ladies, raise your tampons surrendering with me. There is no point, I don’t want kids. Done deal, zip it, tie it, cut and solder. What rebellious act did some chick commit back in the day anyway, causing such suffering for all womankind? In this case acceptance is for the birds. Who wants to sit on a bloody catchers mitt enduring cramps and internal chills. I’m over it, I’m done, call a plumber, plug it up. How awkward it becomes on a chairlift or flying when this intrusive liquid insanity arrives.

Yes, I am pms-ING! I am not giving excuses for my current state of irritability while sulking in self pity, but there is a hormonal shift that occurs, boys. It’s not an excuse for women to act without regard toward others, however a tampon size of compassion goes a long way. I get tired of being cranky before, during, after, well occasionally emotions seep through a months entirety, like a bloody pad.

Recently, my car dash warning light read TPMS. Was my ride sensing my mood or was it my tire pressure monitoring system? Even my dash annoyed me that day, understandable only to those who “bleed out of their…” During this time of the month, I can spiral in a complete state of menstrual madness, but like water trickling downstream this too shall pass…until next month, when I will yet again, bleed out of my…..

Waldorf v. Bean

Eyelids closed, soft like feathers as my weary travel head snuggled upon a fuzzy surface. Buffet ballads emitted from speakers, returning thoughts to concerts with my aunt at Jones Beach. Senses inhale Banana Boat spray, as warmth from the Long Island sun falls upon my neck and shoulders. Summer limes plunk into chilled Landshark brews. We savor coconut shrimp, and their crunchy texture. Karaoke and cover bands pre-game, scattered throughout the massive tailgating party. Summer sun evaporates any remaining stress from my system. We giggle, witnessing parrothead costumes and vehicles disguised as sharks and tiki bars. Men riding motorized coolers take laps around, sporting coconut bras. The echo from the PA can be heard in the distance. First the kick, then toms, followed by cymbals and backline. Swans circle curiously in the water surrounding the venue, as jets take off into the evening sky. Surrounded in this peaceful state a noisy vacuum startles me, what is that? Waking abruptly, I comprehend I was dreaming far from Jones Beach. I rose, groggy head lifted off my $3.00 fuzzy pajama pant purchase. Reality sunk in as I checked emails and my flight status. Perhaps, you assume I was slumbering at the Waldorf. No friends, I was enjoying free overnight accommodations in a domestic terminal in JFK. Another standby adventure, another stranded overnight.

Can you believe I scored a comfortable, unoccupied, green bean bag bed in a warm location, along with good tunes?! I did! It may have trumped a Waldorf experience. I had free wifi, an indefinite check out time, plenty of outlets, a spacious restroom, and no parking fees. House keeping vacuumed around my shoes that night, ensuring a clean stay. Departure monitors kept me updated and without need for a yellow cab or calculating traffic delays and security lines, I had more time to sleep!

The previous evening in NYC, surely someone would get stuck in traffic, allowing me to occupy their seat home, or so I assumed. However, I missed the last outbound by one available seat, one! I had flown into the city to explore with a friend for just the day. I had no non-rev anxiety about my return, immersed in the present, dusting off country mud and taking in city lights.

I have spent numerous nights in upright L-shaped pleather seats, in terminals around the world. Situations such as these may not sound ideal to the average traveler, but to me they build character, provide fun stories and a survival shell. Most memorable was the night I slept outside in the woods alone near the runway in Luxembourg, unaware my exact location until the sun rose. An abandoned tire was the only thing propping my traveling torso from rolling down the hill onto foreign Tarmac.

When stranded, perhaps try to make the most of your inconvenient, less than Waldorf comforts. Sometimes, those are the precious memories that last a lifetime.

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Claustrophobic Popcorn

I didn’t pay $11.75 to hear your occlusals crunch kernels, and strain my neck bobble-head style to view the film. I cherish the movie experience. Two hours of peace from responsibilities and thoughts. Chest pounding audio, and of course the previews. I immerse myself completely in the experience, and enjoy going alone. It is a treat, I get to see what I want.

Here’s my beef though, aka: movie hot dog…Following taking my seat, strangers act like cloned aliens, surrounding me as if the world will end if they don’t suffocate. I am baffled by this phenomenon because it happens all the time! It does not make a difference where I sit or when I arrive, a late arrival will sit in front of me hindering my view, chewing loudly and slurping Pepsi. People gravitate toward me like human magnets with brightly lit phones and massive popcorn. Who created popcorn as a movie treat anyway? Is there a louder snack out there, and why is everyone hungry at 9:50 p.m?!

I am working on not allowing others to cause such frustration, but until that’s accomplished, this is how my movie rolls. I am telling you this claustrophobic popcorn phenomena occurs each time I enter a theatre. Movie goers feed off my selfish space sharing energy and sit as close as possible, as if a test. Must we look our frustrations in the camera lens over and over, before overcoming them? Can humans be okay feeling empty space around them? Secret is, you will survive.

Tonight it was a beautiful snowy evening, not many on the roads. Joyfully, I entered an empty theatre hoping I wouldn’t be faced with spacial suffocation. Soon enough four others meandered in, like amebas slithering toward me from a science fiction film. One sat IN MY ROW, JUST FOUR SEATS AWAY!! Are you kidding? A couple sat two rows below, the last sat behind me. They ALL crunched popcorn.

Please do me a favor, inform me if this spacial claustrophobic popcorn crunching phenomenon happens to you. Until then, be well and give each other some space to chew on…

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