Technically, this is how much time went by from the moment I found out I was pregnant with our only child to this exact moment in time: Twenty-three years, seven months, and five days.
Realistically, this is what it felt like: one hot minute.
They always say if you want life to go by quickly go and have yourself some children. Just like when people would tell me to enjoy the baby years because they were the easiest, I didn’t believe them.
But by holy hell they were right. To sound like a total cliche in which my life sometimes seems to be based, I blinked and here we are.
Maybe I blinked twice.
Last weekend we celebrated the graduation from nursing school of that only child. This was after she went through two years of preschool (“we have plenty of time … she’s only three”), thirteen years of public school (“ok so preschool went fast but seriously we really have plenty of time”), four years of an undergraduate degree (“wait, how did that happen?”), and a year of nursing school (we knew that one would go quickly, it was only a year after all — thank you, nursing school, for not surprising us).
That’s twenty years of some kind of schooling, yet here she is on the precipice of adulthood. Of having a real grownup job with a paycheck. Of paying taxes and having health insurance. Of credit card bills and rent to pay all on her own. Maybe even a mortgage one-day-probably-sooner-than-we-think-because-why-not.
So, what’s next? Marriage, and then children? Grandchildren to make life whiz by even faster? I’m having a hard enough time dealing with menopause.
(If you thought children made you feel old, go and see how you feel when you have to put on your readers to pluck the three inch chin hair that lord knows how long has been standing there at attention for all the world to see. But because it’s grey and your eyesight isn’t what it once was, you just walk around without a care in the world like nothing’s up. At least if it were black that baby would have shown up like a beacon on a cloudy day and been taken care of two inches ago.)
Yes, that was a run-on sentence but I’m at that age where I can do whatever I want. Go ask any of my buddies down at the Senior Center.
Anyway, how did all this happen? I only found out I was pregnant two blinks ago.
I am not really sure where I picked up my love for food. It’s not like I was born into a family of chefs. I was brought up on bologna sandwiches, Steak-umms, and tuna casserole with toast. I have an aunt who takes great pride in what I have dubbed her “Buster Brown” pot roast. And my grandmother would always put too much thyme into everything.
Full disclosure: I was in my late twenties before I realized she put too much “thyme” into her food, and not too much “time” into her food. For years I thought if you didn’t get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible your meal would be a disaster and everyone would sit around the table admonishing you for using too much effort.
I may not know where I picked up my love for food (making it is a whole different story), but I can tell you when it started.
I was in high school when I developed an irrational obsession with cafeteria pizza. “Cardboard” is what most of my peers referred to it as. Turns out I liked cardboard and their loss was my gain.
Luckily for me, I had a metabolism that lived on the Autobahn. These days my metabolism prefers to take the slow lane on Rural Route 9. Although I can no longer eat what I want without repercussions, I still do so with abandon.
I’m always hungry. I wake up hungry. I usually go to bed hungry. Food is almost always on my mind. Right now, I am thinking about when I can eat again. And I just had dinner. In my mind, I am scouring my refrigerator because I’m too lazy to get up. And from the looks of it, a call to Uber Eats may be in order.
You know how you feel after a Thanksgiving meal and you declare you are so full you are never eating again and then don’t for at least another day? Not only does that not happen to me, I don’t understand it.
The only time I’m not hungry is when I have a stomach bug. And even then I’m thinking, “what cracker would go well with my ginger ale?”
The newest thing I do is cry over a really good meal. Most recently was just last month over a bowl of lobster bolognese. Let me repeat that: I cried over a bowl of pasta. I don’t even cry at Hallmark commercials.
I also have taken to moaning out loud when I eat food I highly enjoy. I just can’t help myself. It kind of pops out of my mouth like a burp ramped up on rocket fuel. It’s quite embarrassing.
So, there you have it. I like food and I cannot lie. From toast to caviar. There isn’t much I won’t turn away.
Except black licorice. Black licorice tastes like the deep recesses of Hell and Hell is where it should stay. Oh wait, black licorice isn’t really considered food, is it?
As I sit here on this 130th145th158th182nd 221st day of hiding out from Covid-19, I have had a lot of time to think. Actually it’s not “thinking” per se. It’s more just weird and useless crap that worms its way into my brain and settles there until I get it out of my system.
Besides work and Netflix specials, there isn’t much else to do. I mean, I guess I could clean out a closet or two, but you know…Netflix.
Here I go:
The way 2020 is going, I wouldn’t be surprised if it killed Santa.
You know you’re lazy when you don’t want to take the time to flip over when laying out in the sun. This past summer my body looked like a reversed mullet — party in the front, business in the back. I even have the lingering handprint just below my left knee to prove it.
Is it true the powers that be are adding “irregardless” to the dictionary? I don’t know anyone who is happy about this. Except my hubby. He likes that word and is quite pleased with himself to be part of “the movement.”
Even though I am a self-proclaimed extravert, I do not like people in my personal space. Thank you, Coronavirus for making this possible.
The pen I was using when I started working from home on March 12 is finally running out of ink. Two thumbs up to the Hilton Garden Inn’s writing utensils.
Paying over $500 for a pair of sneakers that have zip ties attached to them is about as dumb as spending $200,000 to go to Mars.
I seem to be spending more time on Google looking for cool masks to match my yoga pants than I do actually doing yoga.
I’ve noticed when I don’t shave my legs, my legs stay crossed. It’s like natural velcro.
Why can’t I look as good as my Snapchat filter?
I decided I’m going to throw all the mirrors in my house away. Except the one in my bedroom. That one makes me look like my Snapchat filter. Disregard random thought #10.
Remember when we had the threat of murder hornets?
What murder hornets? I don’t remember any murder hornets.
First it was toilet paper. Now it’s paper towels. What will be the next unattainable thing? If it’s Netflix, I may have to reconsider that trip to Mars.
When you resort to wearing your retainer all day to stop yourself from snacking, you probably should seek help.
My dog can’t wait for me to go back into the office so he can continue to lick all his private parts in peace.
I never thought I’d be as excited as I am these days to go down the cleaning aisle at the grocery store. Finding Lysol wipes is as exhilarating for me as reaching that ever elusive itch in the middle of my back.
I don’t care what side of the fence you are on, you have to admit these fly memes are kinda funny. Come on, they are.
There really is so much more where that came from, but I have run out of time. I have to go do something productive. Like look for paper towels. Or at least figure out how to make them.
Remember back in the day when we could go do fancy things and wear fancy clothes? Like, for a wedding or formal dinner? Ho hum, me too. I sure do miss you, any year before 2020.
Although I have to say I have grown quite accustomed to wearing yoga pants and not wearing a bra or makeup — with my hair up in what I call a messy bun, but may look more like the home of a black-billed magpie to you — I sometimes long for somewhere decent to go besides the McDonald’s drive-thru and ShopRite.
Somewhere to go where I can actually take the time to put on makeup and look presentable enough to see the Queen. Or at least her housemaid.
Unfortunately for me, the little black dress requires some extra help these days. And it comes in the form of the household name called “Spanx.”
The Spanx I do not miss. Although it does lie in wait for me — sharing a drawer with my most private undergarments — I do not look forward to shoehorning myself into those items again anytime soon.
One of the last weddings I attended was that of a nephew. This was before I lost weight (and gained it back again, as I do). I took the time to curl my hair with the same hot roller set my mother used in the ’70s, and applied my makeup with such precision anyone could have confused me with Michelangelo during the painting of the Sistine Chapel, I’m sure of it.
Everything looked good from the head up. In my opinion, anyway. Now to do something with the below-the-neck portion of myself. I couldn’t very well go to this event bodiless now, could I? No, that most likely would have stolen the bride’s thunder.
My little black dress fit like a glove — you know, of the O.J. variety. If it didn’t fit, then why didn’t I quit? Because, like I said, I had something in my arsenal that I hoped would help.
Enter The Spanx, stage left.
Now, of course, like most women in my situation I have more than one to choose from. I have the high waisted brief, the bodysuit, the shaping cami, the thigh slimmer…just to name a few.
Now, to make the excruciating decision of which garment to wear, umm, under my garment. I tried on several and quickly discovered that just one pair of Spanx wasn’t going to cut it.
It was made abundantly clear there was only one way to tame the beast. And that was to double up.
In the end I decided on the bodysuit and the high waisted brief (yes, it’s as sexy as it sounds). The bodysuit OVER the high waisted brief to prevent the brief from rolling down my body like a roller shade.
Except it wasn’t. You know, brilliant.
Have you ever worn armor? The kind that is made of steel? Me neither. But I imagine it must be pretty darn close to what I created for myself that day. It was total torture.
Once I got everything pulled on and pulled in, I thought I looked pretty good. But what I didn’t factor in was sitting down, bathroom breaks, the damage I was potentially doing to my internal organs, and umm, living.
I’m not really sure how the ladies of the 18th and 19th centuries survived this nonsense. It’s a wonder the corset survived more than a day let alone several hundreds of years.
Also, I don’t know who came up with the cliche, “beauty is pain,” but she should have her tongue cut out.
Fun fact: Can you believe a woman invented the first corset? She probably died of internal bleeding.
Not a mere few hours prior I was channeling Michelangelo. Now I was channeling a pregnant women overdue with a literal village. Bending at the waist was a near impossibility. It was not going well.
Trying to use the facilities was a whole other story. Although unintentional, I was suddenly a physical comedian. Lucille Ball had nothing on me. Unfortunately, the show was wasted on the inside of a 2’x2′ bathroom stall.
Anyway, I survived the night. Mostly because I gave up and pulled the darn things off altogether. I could hear the collective deep sigh of relief from my ovaries to my liver.
These Spanx may not have fit nicely under my little black dress, but they sure did fit nicely in my little black bag.
One year ago today, I wasn’t exercising at all, I was lazy, and a major couch potato. I was the textbook definition of that word that I hate most: Sedentary.
My flexibility was so bad I would wonder how I was going to do something as simple as push myself up from a sitting position. Time and time again I put off going to the gym in favor of going home and relaxing because I had a bad day and “deserved” it.
I drank something alcoholic every single night of my life and woke up every single morning groggy and with a bad attitude. I basically didn’t care about anything. I wasn’t depressed, but I wasn’t happy either.
I ate all kinds of bad crap. I hardly ever ate a vegetable. I suffered from high cholesterol and terrific heartburn, but I didn’t seem to care. I liked to eat and dammit I ate what I wanted with the reckless abandon of a teenage boy. My weight was the highest it had ever been and was climbing.
I fought with my closet every morning over what to wear, which inevitably made me late for work. I never packed a lunch, prepped a dinner ahead of time, and more often than not I’d go to the grocery store with a list in my head and not on paper. That never ended well and often required me to hit the store again because I forgot something.
I had no good habits. I never wrote which is something I adore. I was addicted to my phone and social media and would choose that over doing something else that I adored: Reading.
I never planned a thing in my life. I flew by the seat of my pants because that’s the kind of person I said I was. The problem is, it didn’t work for me.
A year later I exercise and stretch consistently. I wake up early to do yoga most mornings. I eat right and track my food. I have developed so many habits that not only work for me but have helped to improve the quality of my life that include simple things like packing a gym and lunch bag and picking out my clothes the night before.
I plan out my exercise and meals. I even plan out when I’m going to write and read. I go to bed early to be sure to get a good sleep and wake up before the sun comes up with no problem.
When I think back to that girl I was a year ago, I feel bad for her. I no longer think of exercise as a chore but something I actually look forward to. It’s something I do to improve my life, my flexibility, my mind, and my body. My mindset has changed from being irritated that I need to exercise to wondering how I could ever not do it.
In the past year I’ve lost weight, lowered my cholesterol, and have controlled the terrific heartburn. I have learned about self care and how important it is. Today, I almost want to say, “I don’t even know who this person is.” But I know who this person is. It’s ME. It’s who I always was. I was just bogged down with negative thinking, laziness, self doubt, and no self control.
Is it perfect all the time? No. I’m human. But the difference is now I just pick up and continue on. Instead of throwing it out the window and starting again “on Monday.” Or worse yet, “next month.”
But I did not do this alone. I joined a fitness group online. This group of amazing women, run by a badass instructor, helped me to achieve what I thought was unattainable.
You should join me in the war to combat unhealthy living. It’s really pretty awesome. I would not be here saying this if I didn’t see with my own eyes what it did for me.
You don’t have to be a mom or even have young kids still at home. It turns out, that was really just an excuse for me to not take care of myself. Being an empty nester for 3+ years didn’t change my attitude.
I’m sharing because we all deserve to take better care of ourselves. Also, the deal is amazing. And no one loves a good deal more than I do. Also, I’m cheap as they come, just ask DH.
The next course begins on January 13, but the cart is open now.
So, who’s in? (Click the link below for more information)
The profile picture I use for my blog, Instagram, and Facebook page is of me when I was five years old. Although this particular outfit is not made by hand, the bows to tie my hair up in pigtails are.
She didn’t spin the wool herself, but my mom cut off foot-long pieces of yarn from a skein of red wool she had hanging around the house, and tied them using her best basic double knot.
She liked to knit. She never made anything extravagant, but we had enough afghans and winter scarves to last a lifetime. It was good to know we wouldn’t freeze to death.
She also liked to sew. But more on that in a minute.
When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money. It wasn’t like we were an anomaly. This is the way it was for everyone we knew. We were an Army family. We hung out with other Army families. We lived amongst Army families.
In retrospect, the signs were clear. Typically, Santa’s toys don’t smell like bleach. And our weekly jaunts picking up other people’s discarded items along the curb on garbage day most likely wasn’t just an “adventure.”
Then there were the handmade clothes.
I can still remember going into the local fabric store and purchasing patterns with my mom. I remember the tan colored paper McCall’s patterns laid out across the kitchen table. The shears that were meant for nothing but fabric. And the straight pins that would inevitably stab us if we moved too much while being fitted for the perfect polyester red and blue plaid bell bottoms that we were all going to be forced to wear.
After my dad retired from the Army, we moved to a small town about an hour north of New York City. As if being the new kid at school wasn’t bad enough, wearing “Mom’s Special” was the icing on the cake. For me it was a pair of stiff denim gauchos — made stiffer with a can of extra crisp Niagara starch spray, or so it seemed — and a checkered shirt that came equipped with its own elastic neckline. You know, so I could hang myself with it if it got bad.
On my first day of school, Mr. Levi called my name to stand at the head of the class. I must have looked like a dark blue Acute Triangle to my fellow students. These were followed up by a pair of white knee socks and black and white saddle shoes which, unbelievably, did not catch on. Apparently, saddle shoes should have been left behind in 1956. Trying to bring them into 1979 just wasn’t going to happen.
A trend setter I was not.
Although I don’t have an actual photograph, I can still close my eyes and see myself standing there. With barrettes to hold back my long blonde hair, and a wide-toothed half smile that I’m sure said “please don’t throw anything larger than a whiffle ball at me” all over it.
I must have been a sight. I’m certain I was the only kid in my class to don clothes that were stitched by her own mother’s hands.
And you know what? I didn’t realize it until years later, but I was also the luckiest kid. Because my mother took the time to make clothes for me. Who needed Jordache jeans anyway? Well actually, I did. But I don’t want to talk about it.
I don’t know if I ever wore that outfit again. Even though I adored those gauchos. Peer pressure gets the better of you even at the tender age of twelve. My mother made them with love and I will forever be grateful for that.
But an elastic neckline, mom? Just so you know, there’s the crew neck, the boat neck, the scoop neck, the V-neck…shall I go on?
I live in New England where the weather can be unpredictable. There are often times when I have come upon the problem of what to wear. Especially this time of year.
I mean, I am certainly no fashionista. Just ask my daughter, nieces, and well, anyone who has half a sense of style. The consultation of a color chart to make sure black goes with white is quite necessary in my life.
Please remember I’m from the 80s where you matched your socks to your pocketbook, so getting dressed is as difficult for me as putting a square peg into a round hole.
But I’m not talking about my fashion sense. Or lack thereof.
I’m talking about clothes you wear according to a change in the barometer. It’s not like headaches, and colds, and painful knees aren’t enough, but we also have to worry about our attire.
It’s October here. You know, like it is everywhere. Last week I wanted to pull out my riding boots. The ones I’ve had since 2008 because I have thick calves and these days it’s nearly impossible for me to find boots that I can zip past my ankles.
I googled “when is it appropriate to start wearing boots” and my answer was, “October.” Do you want to know why I googled that? Because I woke up sweating and it was only 6 o’clock in the morning.
I quickly looked at the weather app, and saw that I was sweating for a reason. The temperature was going to climb up to 90 degrees. Certainly 90 degrees in October is different from 90 degrees in August. Right?
Not really. No. Actually. It’s not. I suspect I would have looked silly in boots when it was still technically flip flop weather.
I had to forego my entire outfit — the one that included my beloved boots — and hit the closet again to see what I was feeling. Well, what I was feeling was a sundress and sandals. But that didn’t seem appropriate.
I realize the alternative is to just wear nothing, but I’m afraid the little fact that I went into work wearing nothing but my birthday suit would cause heads to turn, and not in a good way. I would most likely lose my job and end up in jail for indecent exposure. Although I always thought going viral for something would be fun, this is not what I had in mind.
If there were still newspapers, I can only imagine the headline. “Middle Aged Woman Loses Mind and Job Over What to Wear.” With a picture of my face on a body that has been blurred out by Photoshop. All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop.
I guess that means I have to wear clothes. At least to work. Back to the drawing board. So, does black go with white?
Yesterday after work I went to the gym like I do and I saw a friend down there exercising. I went over to talk to her and in the process, lost an end of the rubber earpiece thing that attaches to my earbud.
I dropped to my knees frantic to find it. I retraced my steps all the way back to the locker room. I wasted a good ten minutes of exercise time because I was desperate not to listen to the music the gym was playing — country.
If you know me, you know I am the absolute opposite of a country fan. I would rather listen to Ben Stein on repeat for a month straight than be forced to listen to country music.
Unless it’s old school like Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline. Does this make me a hypocrite? I think not. There is a VAST difference between yesterday’s country and today’s. There just is, so don’t try to fight me on this.
Most people in my life enjoy the stuff. I have countless friends who love it. DH’s family — every single blessed one of them — seem to only listen to it. It is on every one of their car radios, and playing at every single bleeping family event.
A few years ago, two of my sisters-in-laws and a couple nieces even drove me to Tennessee in the hopes of a massive conversion. It was country music everywhere, all the time, for a week straight.
Did it help?
No. In fact, I believe it pushed me even further away. Which is as possible as pigs sprouting wings.
I know what you’re thinking. Especially those of you who love the stuff and can’t see where I’m coming from or are insulted by my little anti-country music rant.
You’re thinking, “Suck it up buttercup. Everyone else likes it, so you need to join the club.” And to that I would ask the question my dear parents bestowed upon me every single time I wanted to do what everyone else was doing.
If you told me to jump off the Brooklyn bridge, would I?
No, I would not. Because I know jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge would most likely kill me. And so would listening to country music.
After enlisting the help of my friend and the gym trainer, it couldn’t be found. Finally, I threw my hands up in the air and gave in. I wasn’t going to go home because I couldn’t listen to my own music. I wasn’t going to abandon my daily workout because I was going to be forced to listen to Today’s Country. No.
I had to put on my big girl spurs and get to doing my thing.
There are two types of people in the gym: the ones who workout to the music de jour. And the ones who listen to their own music. I never understood how anyone can workout without their own theme songs, but who am I to judge? It’s what makes the world go ’round, right?
To each his own.
One thing I discovered about myself yesterday was that music is a very large part of setting myself up for the energy and the motivation to exercise and to exercise hard.
Was my workout up to par yesterday? No. I was cranky and severely annoyed. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t feel like exercising. I did it, but I wasn’t happy. I even got off my elliptical 1.3 minutes sooner than usual because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Also, the blood running out of my ears was making a mess.
I have gotten to a really good place in my relationship with the gym the last few months. I have worked hard to create a habit that I actually enjoy. I have worked hard to get to a point where when I enter the gym, I don’t curse, make ugly faces, and sigh deeply over the fact that my body — inside and out — isn’t perfect and that I even have to spend my time doing this thing called “exercise” at all.
You know, kinda like the fact that spinach and brussel sprouts can’t taste like Big Macs and donuts.
My earpiece thingy may be lost forever, but I will replace it, cement it where it belongs, and never, EVER be without my own music again whilst at the gym.
And if there is a freak incident and it does happen again? I will have a back-up. On top of a back-up. On top of a back-up. On top of a…get my point?
Have you ever embarrassed yourself so badly that you aren’t sure how you can ever recover? For me, there are too many such moments to count. But my most recent incident makes me either want to put a bag over my head or lock myself in the bathroom for life.
Dramatic? I think not.
I started making exercise a habit of mine earlier this year. It was a New Year’s Resolution that actually stuck (I also joined this amazing online course that helped to seriously motivate me, so I can’t take all the credit).
As a woman in her 50s, I was really starting to see and feel things happening to my body that I did not want to see and feel. Bingo wings and a behind that practically hits the back of my knees are just two examples of phenomena that have occurred.
Add in tight hips, pain in my lower back, and the inability to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. The latter makes me want to give up and stay there until I die because it would take less time.
After a year with my current place of employment, I finally started taking serious advantage of the free gym. I am now an active member and go just about every single work day.
Note to self #1: when you go to the gym nearly every single work day for nine months, you might want to make sure your gym bag AND gym clothes are fresh.
I started noticing my gym bag was a little ripe a couple months ago. I thought it was my sneakers, so I started throwing them into a plastic bag. Problem fixed?
And then I realized something.
It wasn’t my sneakers.
What happens to clothes that you hard-core sweat in almost everyday? They start to take on a life of their own. I wish I could be one of those cute, perky girls who barely breaks a sweat and when she does, she still smells good.
But I’m not.
I stink when I perspire hard. It doesn’t matter how much deodorant or body spray or baby powder I use.
Last Wednesday (I remember the exact day because I have PTSD) I pulled my workout clothes from my bag and oh.my.dear.god. The odor that hit my nose was akin to something the cat dragged in.
But because I really wanted to get in a workout I put them on — against my better judgement — and went and did my thing.
Note to self #2: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT turn on the wall fan that is behind you when you know you smell like Fluffy’s latest conquest.
After about 20 minutes on the elliptical, the man on the machine in front of me turned around and gave me a look. Then it hit me. About as hard as it hit that poor guy.
People could smell me. After about another two minutes, he moved along. The paranoia in me was running deep. I stuck my face down into my shirt and inhaled. Even though I already knew. I knew like I know my own name.
Note to self #3: If your own stench makes your toes curl, then you’ve got a problem, Houston.
I finished my workout and high-tailed it out of there, although it was a little too late.
I should have gone home as soon as I took those clothes out of my bag. These are people I see in the halls at work.
Needless to say, I spent the better part of last weekend de-stinking my gym clothes, gym bag, and sneakers. Although I feel more confident I won’t smell too badly anymore, I’m afraid I have stained my reputation (pardon the pun).
It’s too late for me, but it may be not too late for you. Below are some tips to stay fresh as a daisy, although you most likely have more common sense than a goldfish than I do:
Hang your workout clothes to dry after the gym. Because putting them into a hamper wet is just asking for it and is the beginning of all your problems.
Speaking of hampers, keep these clothes in a separate one. Or a bucket. Or the garbage. Burning them is also an option.
Before you wash them, turn them inside out. For obvious reasons. I, apparently, am not familiar with Captain Obvious.
Do not put them in the dryer ever. Heat + Odors = Disaster.
Wash them with a 1/2 cup of vinegar sometimes. Vinegar, the Miracle Liquid. Good for everything from a sore throat to washing your windows.
Wash your gym clothes separately from all your other clothes, in cold water, and detergent specifically made for said clothes. This is not the occasion to try to save time. Or water. Or electricity. Or soap. This activity will not help to reduce your carbon footprint. But it is reducing pollution, so take your pick.
Store your sneakers in a bag that is vented, hanging from the outside of your gym bag. That person walking by you will not appreciate it, but he will just have to take one for the team now won’t he?
Drop a couple dryer sheets in your gym bag. By a couple, I mean fifty.
Spray your sneakers with some kind of odor refreshing spray. I picked up Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X. The can is already half empty and I bought it three days ago.
Repeat all of the above for as long as you live or suffer the consequences.
So, my friends, there you have it. Some words of wisdom from the apparent not so wise. I had ten ways to get it right, and I didn’t even get one. I was never a good test taker.
Now go live long and prosper, exercise almost everyday, and stay odor-free. If you can’t stay odor-free, just don’t turn on the wall fan.
Eight hours. That’s how long it takes to fly nonstop to Rome from New York. But after you factor in packing, traveling to and from the airport, and going through customs, it feels more like eight days.
Is it worth it?
Even though the customs agents ask a million times if you have any goods you’re going to sell, it’s worth it. Even with people pushing and shoving, cutting you off, and trying to sell you useless crap, it is totally and completely worth it.
Then after a day and a half in Rome, the flight to Lisbon, Portugal is another three hours. A car ride to Porto, yet three more.
Worth it. For so many reasons. One being the beauty. Two, spending time with people you adore. Three, the experience.
Anyway, when you spend an extended amount of time with the same people, you can pick up some habits from them.
I am a definite habit-picker-upper. I cannot go to North Carolina to visit my parents for even a day without coming home sounding like an Appalachian pageant queen.
So, the habit I picked up from one of my travel mates (who shall remain nameless)?
Let’s just say it’s never a good idea to respond to a “hello” from a colleague by saying “hey hoe” in a staff meeting. “Hoe” as in not what you garden with. That will be 1% off my raise come appraisal time. If I keep that up, I’ll be owing the company money. Or begging for it in the street.
Europeans are unaware of the term, “personal space.” I am the type of person who, if you are not at least arm’s length away from me, I am offended. These people will not only enter your personal space, but they will take it. And with no apologies. As someone from New York, this is an offense of colossal proportions and people should be thrown in the clinker for stealing another’s space.
The street peddlers in Rome are a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t buy what they are throwing at you, you are a “cagna.” It’s nice to know I am a bitch in another country. I felt right at home.
I pretty much can’t eat anything fried, processed, acidic, or fatty because I suffer from GERD. During my visit I didn’t have one single bout of it. Do you want to know why? Because they eat the way people were intended to eat, and not like an African bush elephant. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything processed. Everything is fresh, and the portions are small.
Dinner isn’t until at least 9PM. We didn’t eat before 10PM. The streets are alive, people can actually walk around in public with wine, the joy was palpable. I wanted to stay forever just to be able to experience this every single day.
The breakfast that we are accustomed to does not exist. Unless you go to a touristy area. The sign outside a restaurant that says, “American Breakfast here” will make you feel at home like the African Bush eleph…er, I mean, American, that you are. Otherwise, you need to be accepting of croissants, fresh breads with jam, fresh fruit, and cappuccino. Forget about a normal cup of coffee. It doesn’t exist.
Since we’re on the subject of food, there is no need to tip at a restaurant (or anywhere for that matter) because they have an actual salary and don’t get paid in peanuts. Also, you can sit and enjoy your meal for hours. The servers will not bother you and will not bring the bill unless you specifically ask for it. And when you do ask for it because it’s been six hours and you have things to do, you know, like go to bed, they will respond by saying, “Are you sure? There is no rush.”
As someone who is always rushing, it was a little off-putting at first. But by the end of the week, I realized this was something I want to do for the rest of my life. I enter a state of calm when I even think about it.
Drugs are legal as long as you are carrying 5 grams or less. The smell of marijuana was everywhere. I believe I got a contact high from it. And guess what else? There is no Heroin epidemic over there. Let that sink in.
The Sistine Chapel is a glorious site to behold. As long as you have the patience to get to it, that is. You have to walk through a maze-like museum first. We felt like beef cattle on the way to a slaughter. It was terrifying. The ten thousand signs on the way let us know we were on the right track. And once we entered the Chapel, I didn’t realize it. “Why are all those people standing in the middle of that floor looking up?” Oh. Right. Michelangelo.
Even the McDonald’s was breathtaking. And instead of a plastic three inch princess, you get a beach towel. That actually absorbs water. Amazing. The plastic princess doesn’t do that.
I discovered I like port wine a little more than I thought. Not enough to partake in it on a regular basis, but enough to sit through a tasting. The “children” in our party — don’t worry, these children are both of legal drinking age — did not appreciate it. Youth is wasted on the young.
And the piece de resistance? The afternoon “siesta.” Or in Italy, a riposo. Businesses (apart from the touristy areas) shut down. Like, close and lock the doors, for up to two and a half hours, every single afternoon. This is called self-care. And we should take a page from their book.
In a nutshell, we all need to drink wine in the streets, take two hour naps daily, eat healthy foods, and slow down. I know I would be a better person for it. Wouldn’t you?