Posted in Dating, entertainment, friendship, fun, happiness, humor, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, random, relationships, women

Quirks, Baggage, and Funky Thoughts

baggage

If you are single, and you think you have resolved nearly all of your issues and have arrived at some plateau where the dilemmas of the common man no longer ruffle your feathers, I highly recommend you run out and get involved with someone. Especially if you want a good laugh. Because I PROMISE YOU, the minute you add that new person to the mix, along with a good dollop of whatever emotions happen to tag along, you will be just amazed at the weird acrobatics your brain can (and probably will) do.

I want to preface this by saying that the man I have had the absolute pleasure to find myself spending time with is incredibly attentive. He keeps in touch, he is basically an open book, and he is kind. All of these are things I doubt I would have been able to tolerate at any other phase in my life- I mean really, nothing ever turned me off more than a man who liked me back. You know the old story about how “men like the chase”? Well, I guess I am a man, then, because that was always my M.O. I loved the chase. One might even say I went out of my way to find unavailable men just to up the challenge a little bit.

As a matter of fact, I worked so very hard at that chase, and at convincing (or trying to) the man that I was perfect for him, that very often, I forgot to check in with myself to see if I liked them. Like, really liked them, beyond the thrill of the conquest. As you can imagine, this has created some problems for me. It has also created weird dynamics in relationships that lasted far longer than they ever should have. I have a lot of “go away, I can’t stand you…wait, come back, I love you!” situations under my belt. I didn’t understand it when it was happening, but I knew it was unhealthy and weird. I don’t really understand it now, and I don’t think it matters. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I’m too old for that shit.

But I do still have some things to deal with. I am so lucky that I am older, wiser, and totally hip to what is happening in my thought process while it is happening. That doesn’t make it any more pleasant of course, nor does is make the feelings any less real, but…at least I can see my thoughts for what they are- made up scenarios in my brain- rather than believing them to be the truth and letting them run rampant through my life, wrecking everything.

A perfect example is this recent non-event that my brain made into a big old deal: We had tentative plans to hang out at my house one evening while Cam was gone. We never hang out at my house, by the way- I don’t know why…okay, that’s a lie, it’s because my house is a freaking mess, that’s why. Anyway, due to circumstances beyond our control, we couldn’t nail down anything ahead of time, and were playing it by ear. No biggie, right? I had a text at 7:40 in the morning saying “I’ll let you know soon.” And that was it. Normally, I get a call or text midday, at least. This particular day, nada. Okay, fine. That’s fine. By three in the afternoon, I’m getting worried. I refer back to previous texts to see if I said something unreasonable? Pushy, maybe? I begin to over-analyze everything, all the while telling myself I’m being ridiculous. At four, I send out an exploratory text. “Hi. How’s your day? I’m almost off work.” HINT FREAKING HINT. Thirty minutes crawl by, then “Busy. How about you?”

Sigh. Men. You gotta be direct sometimes. But I wasn’t there yet. “Same. Got a lot done, though.” Annnnnd…nothing.

At five thirty, Cam is long gone with her dad, my house is more spotless than it’s been since I moved in, and I’m laying on the couch, half sulking, half convinced that it’s over, he hates me, I did something wrong, I…wait. Wait, wait, wait. What in the hell is going on here? I sat up, paused the TV, and took a good hard look at my crazy ass thoughts. First of all, I’m ashamed to admit that it got that far in the first place- this is a perfect example of old behaviors and baggage floating to the surface like the bloated corpses of relationships past that they are. Secondly, if I needed an answer about something, it was my job to ask- why was I pussy footing around? I quickly sent out another text- “Hey, I need to know what we are doing so I can plan my night- you coming over or not?” Easy. Third of all, had there been any indication whatsoever that this guy was the kind of person who would just ghost me on a whim? Absolutely not. So why was I not giving him the benefit of the doubt? And why was I literally just sitting there, waiting for him to call me? Jesus Christ, I’m a fiercely independent, self-sufficient, forty four year old WOMAN.

So, I got up, threw my shoes on, and headed out the door to get some frozen yogurt as a reward for all my hard work on the house. When I got home, I realized I’d left my phone on the charger, and sure enough, had missed a call from him and several messages. He’d had a busy day, he was sorry, call him back, he was getting in the shower and heading over. So…all of those mental theatrics were for NOTHING. An utter waste of my time and energy. I laughed (worriedly) at my own ridiculousness, and carried on as if nothing had happened, because…nothing had happened. Lets see how long I can retain that lesson.

It hit me, though, how much I still have to mature in this area. I have never been very good at it, relationship stuff. It scares me more than anything. At the same time, I realize how lucky I am to get to be here right now, in the midst of all these heady feelings. I’ve waited a long time for this, not even realizing that I was waiting for it. So why not enjoy it? Why not recognize that every time I start trying to plan it or place expectations on it, it doesn’t feel good anymore, and when I just let it unfold, it does? Because the truth is, I can’t say what will happen or what comes next- really, no one ever can. But I can squeeze every bit of joy out of what is right in front of me. And that in no way involves me sulking on my couch, waiting for my phone to ring. It means trusting that, no matter what happens, I’m capable of being happy…and that means it’s safe to relax and enjoy the good things in my life.

 

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Posted in Dating, friendship, happiness, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, relationships

Spectacularly Exhausted

Spectacularly Exhausted

It is 5:50 a.m. on Sunday, and I think I had about 45 minutes this morning where I felt like ‘oh, I finally got enough sleep! Today is going to be great!’ Before the (now familiar) veil of exhaustion tumbled back down over my head.

Honestly, I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe there is a Deer Tick stuck to my scalp, or in some nook or cranny that I can’t see, sucking out my blood while simultaneously infecting me with Lyme’s Disease? Seems far fetched, but…Jesus Christ, I’m beat.

As I sit here, contemplating my lethargy, it occurs to me that my legs and hips are sending little pain-signals up to my brain, my knee muscles hurt, and even my feet are a little bit sore. The feet are truly the least of it. My lower back has also been a bit…I don’t know, it feels crooked or something…since I woke up. I can attribute that, at least, to a night of sleep that more closely resembled death (I imagine) as I do not think I so much as disturbed the covers last night. Although I did wake up on my back, and I know I never, ever fall asleep that way, so…I must have moved at least once.

The rest of it, though? Well, I can place the blame evenly in three places. One would be the trampoline. Despite the fact that I absolutely qualify as a middle-aged woman at this point, I cannot seem to resist the call of that damn thing. My daughter always wants me to come watch her jump (kids need an audience for EVERYTHING, don’t they?) and despite my protests that “this time, I am only watching!” I can never make it more than five minutes without joining in. It’s just so much fun! So much fun, in fact, that I can’t even recognize it as exercise. Oh, but it is! If you don’t believe me, ask my knee muscles- not my actual knees, but the little muscles around and behind them- that is where the pain is. Perhaps it is low impact, but that’s not the same as no impact, and again, I’m kinda getting old, you know? Still, I highly doubt I’ll be stopping anytime soon.

The second would be the guy…let’s call him Mr. E (get it? Myster-y? Hahaha! I kill me.) for now, shall we? He’s killing me. Like, maybe for real. Yesterday, he took me out to the middle of fucking nowhere in like 90 degree heat for a “walk” through a veritable desert…with NO WATER. “Do you always hike without water?” I asked. “Quit focusing on the lack of water.” He replied, “And yes, I do. It makes it more interesting. You appreciate it more when you get it later.” Okay, first of all? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Second of all, he probably just forgot the water. He forgot it last time we hiked, too, but I remembered. We ran through two giant bottles of water on that hike, and it was through a shaded forest, so…yeah.

Anyway, I’m mostly joking around. I mean, it’s true, we didn’t have water, and it was really hot, but it was a great walk. I hadn’t been there before, and getting out in the sun really helped the ever present, bone deep tiredness lift for a while. Right up to the moment that I realized I had A.) forgotten to wear sunscreen, and B.) was on antibiotics that specifically instructed me to stay out of the sun. Oops. I remembered about a mile and half in, when I noticed I was…rather pink. “Do I look like I’m burning to you?” I asked. “We better turn around.” was his (alarming) response, once he took a good look at me. I spent the rest of the walk back run-walking from shade tree to shade tree, and there just weren’t that many to be found. “I’m not like other girls.” I reminded him, “I’m like one step above albino.” “Poor little cracker.” He said. (I googled to see if that term was offensive-not for me, I am obviously not offended. But for any of you. I have determined that it really should not be.)

The third bit of blame lands squarely on ME. I have been burning the candle at both ends. I have been going to bed much later, but getting up as early as ever. I have been trying my hardest to plan activities with friends, plan activities with Camryn, to play as much as possible, and have also added an entirely new human to my life. This is most definitely a good thing, but it is also a new thing, and new things in my life are always a bit…challenging for me.

I have been 100% single since sometime in 2014, I believe. Prior to that, I was at least semi-single (still waffling back and forth with the ex) for about a year. So it’s been a long time without…all the stuff that relationships require of us. Just the number of times per week I have to shave my legs now has skyrocketed. The makeup I am applying. The sheer amount of time spent thinking about a person in this way is…kind of hilarious. And freaky, to be honest. And awesome. Really pretty awesome. I spend more time on the phone talking than a teenager…maybe a teenager in 1993. I don’t think current day teenagers actually realize they can use their phones to speak to people in real time.

BUT, and I cannot stress this enough, I am sooooo okay with it. If I have to be tired, so be it. I’m always one jump or hike or conversation away from rallying again. And really? I had given up hope that I’d EVER be here again- I just didn’t think it was possible. I thought I’d have to, eventually, when I really got so lonely I couldn’t stand it anymore, settle for the company of someone who was…so-so. Instead, out of nowhere, I find myself hanging out with this guy who is just…the best. Every once in a while, I can’t help but pause and wonder how in the world this even fell in my lap. And I mean, that’s a pretty good thing to wonder, right? How you got so lucky? Because I feel like I SCORED.

So yeah, I’m tired. I’m wiped completely out. But I’m also deliriously happy most of the time. And I think that’s a pretty decent trade off. Don’t you agree?

Posted in Addiction, adventure, family, friendship, happiness, Life, Musings, People, recovery

Beautiful

beautiful

The past five years of my life have been a trip and a half, honestly.

When I moved into this house, four years and four months ago, I was at the end of the worst relapse I had probably ever had- it only lasted five months, but it was a doozy. So much so that I can’t even remember the sequence of events prior to its beginning. How long was I clean before that? I dunno. It might have been a year? Nine months? Really, I’m just not sure. The years between 2011 and 2015 were a messy patchwork quilt of good days and bad days, struggle and victory, way way up and down down down.

Ugh, I’m so sick of talking about that part of my life. I really am. But, you know, it’s part of what makes my life so incredibly beautiful today, so I can’t leave it out completely. A month after I moved in here- on April 15th, 2015- I used my drug of choice for the very last time. The night before, I’d had a terrible fight with my sister and my daughter, and I knew I was out of control, but I was so fucking angry that I couldn’t seem to control myself. The next morning I went to work and I was NOT OKAY. I remember sitting at my desk, barely holding it together. Someone said something to me- “Not having the best day, huh?” or “Someone’s having a rough morning.”, and I couldn’t, I just could not possibly hold in my tears anymore. I remember crying in the bathroom stall, shaking and trying so hard to get my heart to slow down. I knew I needed to do something drastic, and that it had to be TODAY. There was no more putting it off. The fears I had about being found out were suddenly not nearly as big as my desperation for help.

Ask anyone in recovery, they will tell you- desperation is an addicts saving grace in moments like that. Desperation is the friend who helps you find your way out of the mess you are in. And so, just like that, I started over. It wasn’t a new thing- dear Lord, I’d done it a million times before. But this time, it stuck.

For the next several years, and you know this already if you’ve been following along for a while- I went through some intense shit. I had no idea at all what a “normal life” was supposed to look or feel like, I had no idea how to function as an adult woman. Everything from the way I paid my bills to the things I understood about relationships was dysfunctional and…for lack of a better description, fucked up.

Even though I was clean, my life did not magically improve overnight. Lots of things in my life got better and easier, but I did not stop using drugs and voila! – life was suddenly perfection. Nope. If I’m being honest, if anything, it kinda got worse. It’s sort of that thing where, when you are deep cleaning your house, and you’ve been at it for a while, you’re getting tired, and you look around only to find that it looks about ten times worse in the middle than it did when you started. You’ve dragged everything out from the cupboards, closets, under the bed. It’s discouraging, right? But anyone who has done this a time or two knows that it always looks worse when it’s getting better. That’s how it was with my life. I dragged alllll the stuff out into the open, and I was dealing with it. It SUCKED. It sucked so hard sometimes that I am sure the only reason I kept going was because I didn’t know what else I could do. The idea of using again never occurred to me- that door was firmly shut. So, I soldiered on.

Therapy and twelve step meetings, self-help books and more introspection than anyone should probably ever subject themselves to- that was my life. But it HAD to happen that way, I am sure of it.

In January, I did something that freaked everyone out, including myself. I quit recovery. I dropped out of NA, and decided I didn’t want to live by those rules anymore. I haven’t said much about it here for a few different reasons. In the beginning, it was mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen to me and I was scared- after all, I have spent the last twenty or so years of my life being told that there is no middle ground for someone like me. Jails, institutions or death. Recovery or relapse. Once an addict, always an addict. But I didn’t want to be sitting in those rooms twenty years on, talking about the sad shit that happened in my old life. I didn’t see the value in it anymore. It seemed…kinda weird. And I had a hard time believing that it was wrong of me to say “I’m done with that life forever.” when I knew it was true, FOR ME. I started to wonder if constantly discussing the life I’d lived before was…like poking a wound, keeping it fresh instead of letting it heal. It seemed counter- intuitive to me. So I stopped.

I am happy to report that, as of this writing, I am doing just fine. In truth, I am doing better than I ever have in my life. I am happy and whole and healthy and free of all the prepackaged ideals I leaned on so heavily in the beginning. I’m not saying they weren’t useful or important or really good for me at some point, because they were! I would never fault anyone for sticking with what works for them. But THIS is what works for me, and I am so glad I took a chance and struck out on my own.

What works for me has nothing to do with what might work for you- this was the other thing that made me keep quiet about this leg of my journey. I would never recommend to another recovering addict to try another way of life. This was an extremely personal, and risky, decision that I made that happened to be right for ME.

I have spent this summer hiking in forests and playing in rivers, jumping on our trampoline, and watering my garden. We’ve flown on planes and played on beaches on both sides of the United States. I’ve laughed with friends, eaten dinners with ocean views, gotten butterflies in my stomach and remembered how to kiss. I’ve gone to parties and picnics, seen movies, gone bowling. I’ve had sun-tan lines and dirty feet and wild hair, and probably gotten about a thousand more smile lines around my eyes. And you know what? I’ve never felt more beautiful in my entire life.

Because I’m living my life the way I have always wanted to- by my own rules, not because anyone else has told me how it should be, or how it should look. And for the first time ever, living my life the way I want to doesn’t come with a cost or with terrible consequences. It comes with a feeling of peace, happiness, and contentment. That is the most beautiful thing of all, I think. I am so grateful that I was brave enough to make it through those hardships, strong enough to do the work that needed to be done, and confident enough to believe I could get here…to exactly where I am, right now.

 

Posted in adventure, family, fun, happiness, health, inner peace, kids, Life, motherhood, People

Heavenly

I know, I know- it’s been weeks now since I’ve written a word here. Well, to be honest, it’s been weeks since I’ve published a word here. I’ve now written three complete posts that I opted not to share with the world (more on that later), and I am worried that you guys might think I am off on a bender or murdered or something.

Truly, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, I’ve just been ridiculously happy lately. Ever have times when it just seems like all the stars have finally aligned in your favor and it is just smooth sailing? I mean, it’s kinda rare, right? But that is precisely what the Gods have seen fit to bestow upon me these days, and I am 100% here to receive it.

The night before last, I was taking Lucy the Lab for a stroll- it was 7:19 (I remember glancing at my watch) and the sun was still shining…I had a tank top on and was enjoying the warmth of it on my skin- for some reason I have really been into soaking up the sun recently, something I never remember doing much of before. Anyway, Lucy was happily sniffing and snuffling her way through every shrub and flower on the street, I was happily taking in the sun rays and stretching my legs, and behind me, Camryn was happily chatting away about the Pokemon she was catching. That’s when it hit me- I was completely content. Not just in that moment, although that was a perfect moment. But just…in general. There is not one part of my life that is giving me trouble right now. Everything is good.

Now, if I wanted to nit-pick, I’m SURE I could find something that wasn’t good enough- my house, for instance, is never ever ever ever clean enough. But, shit- I am really trying. Every day, I put some effort into it in some way, and that somehow winds up making it feel more acceptable to me, you know? Because before, there were days…okay, weeks, even- when I would just get off work and lay on the couch and HATE the mess but feel unable to do a single thing except hate it. So, even though it’s not great, it’s still better.

And the thing is, I don’t want to nit-pick. For once in my life, I just want to recognize this miraculous gift of delightful happiness, and enjoy it. I’m not even doing that weird thing where I realize I’m happy and then panic and try to figure out how I can trap that happiness and make it stay forever. Nothing scares happiness away faster than my clingy ass trying to dig my worried nails into it and demand that it live here forever now. That’s not how happiness works, I’m pretty sure. Right? I mean, let me know if I’m wrong.

Last weekend, on a five a.m., coffee-fueled whim, I ordered a trampoline. My 8 year old has spent more hours huddled in a dark room with her eyes on a screen this summer than I care to tally up. Not only does this make me feel like a lousy mother, but it makes her…act differently. She gets weird and grouchy and withdrawn. I’ve been trying to make sure we do lots of outside things in the afternoons, but it doesn’t feel like enough. The world that I grew up in- leaving the house the minute the neighbor kids were up and spending the entire day outside, riding bikes, skating, doing God only knows what- that world doesn’t exist anymore. At least, not around here. I thought a trampoline would be a good idea.

So, I got a trampoline. A really, really big trampoline. It got here yesterday, and Cam’s dad came by and put it together last night. We still need to put up the safety net, but I can assure you, we did not let the absence of that stop up from bouncing for a good two hours last night. The best part of all is that Aisley happened to be home, so it was both my kids and myself, jumping and laughing until the sun went down. The trampoline was not a good idea…it was possibly the best idea EVER.

So, what is it, exactly, that is making life feel so damn perfect right now? Well, I think trying to figure that out is where I generally go wrong- I think the tendency to examine and analyze and dissect things kinda ruins them. But I’m sure all the sunshine and walking and time spent outside isn’t hurting. I’m positive all the fruits and veggies and water and exercise is helping. The effort I’m putting into work and my house has to be part of it. Oh, and did I mention I’ve been kind of seeing someone? Yep. That is definitely not hurting my attitude at all…but I’ve decided to keep that mostly to myself for now (hence the unpublished posts I mentioned earlier). I figure I’ll know when it’s time to share more- not like me to keep quiet, but there you have it. I am capable of change. 🙂

So I’m off to start another (hopefully) excellent day. Enjoy these pictures of us jumping on our trampoline for the first time ever.

Posted in adventure, escape, family, kids, Life, People, travel

Into Massachusetts!

I have been the absolute worst about following up since I have been home, and there is really no reason why, other than my work schedule has changed and adjusting is always hard for me. So please, accept my apologies, and enjoy these photos from the last leg of my trip to the East Coast!

So, we took our time on our way to Massachusetts- got lost on a few detours to find bathrooms, and ended up having the best time on the winding little roads past beautiful homes interspersed with amazing houses, and of course, the requisite cemeteries every few miles. I am endlessly fascinated with the graveyards on the East Coast, and could spend days just reading the headstones. I know that sounds morbid, but really it isn’t. I love the history and the artwork on the stones, and…well, I’ve always loved cemeteries. They are peaceful and beautiful, and the ones in Maine and Massachusetts are super cool.

I think this is in Kittery?

There are woods like this everywhere!

Another beautiful graveyard!

From Maine to our place in Rockport, Massachusetts, was only about an hour and a half drive! For me, a born and bred Californian, this is mind-boggling. It takes hours and hours to get out of California, but on the East Coast, I was in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts all within the span of a few hours! I was trying to take a picture of some river or another and missed the New Hampshire sign, which bummed me out, but oh well!

Me, missing the New Hampshire sign.

The little air bnb that my mom rented in Rockport was just perfect. We both felt like it was the most comfortable little house, as if we’d been there a million times already and were just returning. It felt like going to grandma’s house, if you know what I mean. That first afternoon, we dropped off our stuff and strolled into Rockport. The funny thing is, I’d been there only eight months before, but somehow missed a ton of the town. In my defense, it was freezing cold when I had been there in October, and we were on the opposite side of town searching for beanie’s to warm our frozen ears, so we weren’t really strolling very much.

Our little rental house. It was perfect!

Rockport is incredible in cold weather, but it is PERFECT when it’s warm. We spent some time on the little beach right before town, then wandered around Bearskin Neck (pretty sure that’s what the street is called, for some odd reason) and looked in the shops. Eventually, we were starving to death, so we decided to eat at Roy Moore’s Fish Shack, mostly because they had items other than seafood on their menu- at that point, I was sick of seafood and needed something else! I had a BLT, Cam had her normal cheeseburger, and my mom had the lobster mac & cheese. I was all lobstered out. 🙂

Our first foray into Rockport.

To be honest with you, the next few days are all kind of a blur to me now. We did spend one afternoon in Salem which was cool! Funny thing is, I loved Salem so much the first time I was there but it was too crowded for my taste in October- going back in June, it was much less crowded, but after seeing so many beautiful places in the preceding days, it wasn’t as awesome as I remembered. Maybe it was the Fall magic that was missing? I did get to visit the Salem Witch Museum, which was very cool, and Camryn REALLY liked it there. We also visited Salem Willows, a super old-timey park with old rides and an arcade. I got sunburned like crazy that day, and we were very tired by the time we headed back to the house. I believe Cam and I stayed in that night playing dice while my mom went to town and ate dinner alone.

All Salem & Salem Willows

We spent a lot of time just driving around, looking at houses, to be honest. I’m really glad my mom was into that, too, because it’s just so much fun back east. Even though it’s all in the USA, it couldn’t be more different than California- and that’s what makes it so incredible!

You can’t get a bad shot in Rockport. It’s beautiful.

We never made it to Boston, and we didn’t do the walking history tour at night in Salem like I’d hoped, but I was more than willing to let those things go just to enjoy the little town where we were. We walked so, so much and just did a lot of sightseeing, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way it all worked out.

Before I knew it, it was time to head home. I was glad to be back, but I will always, always love New England- and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one day I called it home.

Cam took this one. Headed home!
Posted in Life

Travels in Maine, Part II

Okay, so…I left off after a day spent at the beautiful Wolf Neck State Park, I believe? I didn’t even mention the breakfast we ate that morning in an old restaurant on the edge of Freeport, the nice people we chatted with, or the big old frogs we were super lucky to hear (they sounded like ducks, you guys! We were searching that little pond for ducks!), and then finally, to see, in a little pond beside the restaurant.

One of several very noisy frogs…these are frogs, right? Or toads? I really don’t know the difference.

Anyway, after a long day out in the sun, shopping, sightseeing, and hiking, we headed back to the hotel. We had promised Cam that we would take her to Palace Playland, the amusement park at Old Orchard Beach, but unfortunately, we hadn’t planned it out too well, and found out that they closed early on Sunday and wouldn’t open up again until the following weekend. Hazards of showing up on the East Coast before summer truly begins, I suppose. I felt so bad! Camryn did that thing where she cries quietly with gigantic eyes…so much worse than a temper tantrum, I’ll tell you that much. But there was nothing we could do about it- except bribe her with swimming in the hotel pool. So that’s what we did. We got her some goggles, and we headed to the pool.

Camryn, living her best life, in the hotel pool!

After a little while of swimming and a longer while of sitting in the hot tub, we got dressed and went looking for food. This was the one regretful meal of the trip. It was one of those things where you’re hungry and exhausted and a million miles from home, so you just put your reservations aside and roll the dice on a place that looks like a dive, because, hey! You might get lucky! Well, this time, we did not. The place was called JJ’s Eatery, and from across the street it looked okay. Up close, however, the entryway was littered with plastic condiment cups and ketchup smeared across the sidewalk. Not great, but okay.

I don’t want to dwell on the whole experience, but lets just say this- I am the least squeamish person, I swear I am. If I am having misgivings about a place, it has to be pretty bad, and I was. I honestly think it might have been the first time I’ve ever felt worried about eating somewhere. For whatever reason, neither my mom or I were willing to voice our concerns, though. I ordered (eventually, when someone came around) a drink, some steamers (clams) and salad bar. I thought I’d try to keep it light. Any worries I had were quickly ramped up when I headed to the salad bar and caught a glimpse of the kitchen. It. Was. Filthy. Garbage overflowing the can and all over the floor- simply dismal. The salad bar, while sparse, was probably the best part of my meal. To summarize, the clams were some mutant species I’d not seen before (and hope never to again) and were slimy and filled with sand. It took a million years to get our check, and I left with an unfilled stomach, BUT, mercifully, I had also lost my appetite, so that was good. Oh, and my mom ate a bug while we were there. It landed on her fork right as she paused to finish speaking before taking a bite, and she ate it before we could say anything. It all happened very fast. Cam and I swiveled our heads to look at each other in disbelief, and we all laughed very, very hard about that. We will not be returning to that fine establishment.

Not hamming it up for the camera. This reaction was real.
Big, slimy, sandy, phallic plate of NOPE.

The following morning, it was raining, but nothing crazy. We got dressed and headed to Portland. We hoped to take a Ferry ride out to some of the islands, but once again, our poor planning and out of date online info made that impossible. Darn it! I was really looking forward to a boat ride. Instead, we wandered around Portland, which is a gorgeous, clean city- it was like if San Francisco and Boston had a sweet little baby city together, and drank in the sights. There are marvelous views to be had, and so many cool shops and coffee places. Unfortunately, I was a bit grouchy and I’m not my best in any city- the traffic and pace are rough for me, especially if I don’t know where the hell I am- so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I might have if I were…someone else, I guess.

Portland- the bay, the houses, and this one little street.

We did get a chance to visit the Longfellow House museum in Portland, and, though I thought for sure Cam would be bored with the whole thing, she really enjoyed it! That kid is full of surprises. The house is filled with not just period appropriate furniture, but the ACTUAL furniture that was in the house during the life of Longfellow…or, more precisely, his sister, who had refused to have the house updated in her lifetime. The kitchen had been left in it’s 1700’s condition, even though she’d lived there in the 1800’s. She really didn’t like change, I guess.

The garden through a window at Longfellow House.

I had to come back & edit this in because I totally forgot! We also took a drive out to the Portland Head Light Lighthouse. We didn’t stay long, but what a beautiful drive, through a gorgeous neighborhood, and into a breathtaking old fort, I guess? Hell, I don’t know…it was just super gorgeous, whatever it used to be. 😂

Portland Head Light Lighthouse.

The absolute highlight of the day for me, though, was the evening. We went back to Old Orchard Beach to freshen up, and then we went to meet up with my long-time friend Derek, who had moved to Arundel, Maine (neighbor to Kennebunkport) about two years ago, with his lovely wife, Krista, and their two daughters. We did get rather lost on our way to them- my GPS took me to a neighboring town. We knew something was wrong when it told us we had to get out and walk the rest of the way! Hahaha!

Eventually, though, we did find their amazing home, and trust me, if you’re going to get a little lost, the countryside of Maine in June is not a bad place to get lost in. Again, it was so green and wooded and pretty. After lots of hugs, and a tour of the property, we all piled into their two cars and headed out to dinner. I believe we ate at the Arundel Wharf restaurant? Anyway, we had a FEAST. God, it was so good to be with friends! What a relief to visit with people you know and love when you are so far away from home. I had something called Shoreman’s Pie, which is kinda like Shepherd’s Pie, but with lobster, scallops, and shrimp in a cream sauce, topped with truffle mashed potatoes. Yep. It’s as good as it sounds. A wonderful time was had by all, and Derek very kindly paid for everything, which I did not expect, and it was so sweet. The views from this place were incredible! The sunset over the little harbor, the whole vibe…so nice.

Derek, Krista, and me!
Shoreman’s Pie. With one bite missing. Oops.
The whole crew
Dude, come on…so beautiful! Arundel Harbor.
Arundel Harbor
These sweet girls.

Best of all, their littlest daughter, Gabby, has always gotten along well with Camryn, so they were thrilled to hang out. Their older daughter, Jules, is incredible with the smaller girls. I just enjoyed their company so much, I’m really glad we made time for that. After dinner, we went for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and Krista and I took some silly photos and let the kids play in the grass outside the shop. Arundel is ridiculously picturesque. It’s one of those places where you already want to come back to while you are still there. It felt like I was on the set of Gilmore Girls or something, I’m not kidding.

Krista said I looked like a cartoon character here. I do not disagree.

 

Krista, with both upright & upside down Sundae poses.

 

Seriously, could Arundel be anymore perfect?

 

After we’d finished there, Derek went ahead with the kids, while Krista showed us around town and took us out to Kennebunkport to see the Bush…what? Compound? Is that what it’s called? Anyway, it’s a big fancy house that is built out on a rock outcropping over the sea. Very nice. The scenery there reminded me exactly of parts of Ocean View Boulevard here in Pacific Grove, mixed with a little Carmel and Pebble Beach.

The Bush Hideout.

 

The bench where people spy on the Bush Hideout.

 

The neighbors to the Bush Hideout. I didn’t want them to feel left out.

 

After a little time visiting back at their house, it was time for us to go. The little girls exchanged addresses and agreed to be pen-pals, which is the best thing ever, and after more hugs, we headed out, far happier than we’d been all day. And that is how you know you had a really good night. When you head home smiling and full of that joyful feeling that comes when you’ve spent time in the company of really good people. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Maine, and that is saying something, because Maine is AWESOME.

Posted in adventure, Dreams, family, Goals, Life, photography, travel

Travels to Maine, Part 1

I would like to start this post by saying this: As much as I love Massachusetts, I loved Maine even more.  After some time to let the whole trip settle, I can tell you exactly why- Maine is PERFECT for me. It has all of the beauty and charm that I love, but like a quarter of the people. Now granted, it was the very beginning of summer in the little tourist town of Old Orchard Beach where we stayed, so I’m sure it gets busier as the weather continues to warm, but I promise you, it was one of the best places I have ever been.

The weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there- there was one morning of rain, but it didn’t last, and it wasn’t enough to prevent us from exploring. The little Inn I rented online (always a gamble when you don’t know the area and you don’t really know what you’re going to get) was small but spotless, and it was literally half a block from the beach. I could stand on the step of our room and see the sand.

This is the little place we stayed at. It’s actually much cuter than it looks here.

The first thing we did once we checked in and dumped our stuff was to walk to the beach, of course. My mom nor Camryn had ever seen the Atlantic ocean, which might not be a big deal to some, but it was to me. To think that that very morning I’d flown off from the edge of the Pacific, and a few hours later I was standing on the opposite side of the United States- that’s so cool to me. Cam splashed around a bit and we stretched our legs, then headed in to clean up and find dinner.

My mom and Cam, enjoying their first visit to the Atlantic

At the recommendation of the clerk at our Inn, we ate at a place called The Shack, which is right on the edge of the Palace Playland, a small amusement park that reminded me a lot of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We sat outside on the upstairs deck and had the first of many, many seafood dinners. I had a lobster roll. You know what? I am not a huge fan of lobster. I’ve tried it enough times now to know for sure that I prefer crab any day of the week, but whatever. It was still yum. The best part was just being there, in a brand new place, with my mom and my daughter. It is still such an amazing thing to me, that I get to make these plans and achieve these little dreams of mine.

The Shack in Old Orchard Beach

We turned in pretty early that night and I was up before everyone else, naturally. The cool thing about being on the East Coast is that I wake up at an almost decent hour there! If I’m out of bed at three at home, it’s six there, and the sun is already up! So I took a little walk by myself through the neighborhood- and it was a neighborhood, as we were at the very end of the hotels. The houses were just stunning, and the greenery and flowers blooming were spectacular. I was so overwhelmed with joy at the natural beauty, I couldn’t stop smiling. I picked a really, really good time to go to Maine, I think.

Some of the sights along my first walk in Maine

I found a little store in Ocean Park and bought some coffee and cinnamon rolls, and some juice for my mom, then headed back, chatting with a few people who were out and about. When I returned, my mom took off, and I got Cam ready for the day. That day, we drove to Freeport, but found that it was mostly full of outlet stores, which was not really what we were looking for- we can do that anywhere. But in one cool store, the lady asked us if we had been to Wolf Neck State Park, which we had never heard of. We decided to check it out.

Major score! First of all, the drive there was worth it even if the park had sucked, which it didn’t. The neighborhoods in New England are really something to see- each house more amazing than the next, so old and well-preserved. Even the new houses are made to look like they are old. I really like that. The park itself was gorgeous. The trails were flat and easy for all of us, and the forest and ocean and all the little islands you could see from the trails were so, so cool.

Can you believe how green this place is? This is all Wolf Neck State Park.

I have never seen green like the green I saw in Maine. I have never seen the ocean look so much like a lake. I have never seen so much forest two inches from a bustling town. If I was going to move to the East Coast, I think it would definitely be Maine for me.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Maine!