Taking a Break

Good morning ladies and gents- it is 11 a.m. and I am officially a little more wide eyed than I was 10 minutes ago. As an early riser, I feel like I already missed half of the day, but I’m going on a whim here and saying it was my body begging for some rest. My page was quiet because I went on a mini-vacation to Montauk to go camping at my friend Beth’s site for a few days. I had to remind myself that I’ve never been camping and I also do not like bugs, but I felt confident that I would be into sleeping at a camp site by the beach. Plus, I have never been in Montauk and I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

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me- that barrier island off of Long Island in the green that says Long Beach.

Montauk..keep going east with with your eyes… keep going… keep going… don’t stop going. It’s that last dot. 

We arrived on Monday at Hither Hills state park on a perfect day, but as someone that has never been to a camp site and definitely not one at the beach, I felt like a kid all over again. In my heart and mind I knew we would be sleeping in tents and people would have campers everywhere, but I couldn’t actually process that until it was all around me. What do you mean there are communal bathrooms and showers? Did you say we are lucky if we get hot water? And we sleep in tents?Hither-Hills-State-Park-864x400_cNow, it was clear to me from the start that this was not glamping (glamorous camping), but I was excited for a chance to try something out of my comfort zone. I should also mention that Beth’s family and family friends were there as well, and her mother is by far the most organized and prepared human I have ever met. Hands down. They had everything from the practical camping necessities like bug spray, sun block, and water to the fun things like board games for night time. Hell, Franny even organized costume and theme nights with prizes. Sure, we got rained out for country western night and raccoons may have eaten the ribs, but this woman is prepared.

What to expect if you camp in Montauk?

Monday: We arrived to sunshine and immediately hit the beach for some volleyball. When the weather got cooler and the sun began to set, we traveled as a group to Montauket restaurant to enjoy the sunset.

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We headed back to the camp site to prepare dinner- delicious fajitas, and play Family Feud. We spent the night hanging out, drinking beer, and laughing. As we called it a night and walked back to our tent, I said to John: wouldn’t this be the perfect place for a horror movie? Which led to an over-analysis of every branch hitting the tent from that point forward.

Tuesday: The next morning we woke up to rain- Forrest Gump style, torrential, upside down and sideways, rain. When life hands you rain, go to a winery. Fun fact: Long Island hosts some great wineries out east. I donned a bright yellow poncho that said “FREE PONCHO!” We arrived at Wolffer Estate Vineyard ready to enjoy some classiness. I sashayed in, looking like a sexy ass wack job in a poncho. It was a moment that felt like the music stopped and everyone stared at us. Because damn did I feel poor.

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What I’m trying to say: There were a lot of boat shoes and gingham shirts. I quietly took off my poncho and secretly wished that I had just thrown out my three year old, pilling, Forever 21 t-shirt. Because, Talia, you cannot be forever 21. Let it go. We ordered wine and cheese plates and pretended to know the difference between an oak barrel and fermentation and enjoyed ourselves. I would be a good rich person- so, let’s get on that.

By the time we arrived back to the campsite the weather had started to die down. Suffice to say, country western night was a no go. The overalls I bought that random day for no reason were still of no use to me, but we ate the works- minus the ribs… damn raccoons. We spent the rest of the night inventing a new game and ultimately heading to a restaurant to play trivia where we enjoyed screaming at anyone we thought was cheating by using their cellphones. We did not win trivia.

Wednesday: On our final day on the campsite we took a mini tour guided by Beth. We stopped at Ditch Plains so my friend Mark could go surfing, we checked out the famous Montauk light house, and stopped through town. When we got back to the campsite we enjoyed our last hours on the beach. some surfing (not me), others lounging (me).

I could get used to camping. I could also enjoy glamping. And being wealthy. So if you or a friend know anyone that would like to adopt me, my number is 1-800-555-5555.

** glamping: glamping

Marmalade Skies

Why is it so challenging to capture a beautiful sunset?10982850_10101804355414242_7238045040149848758_nThe kind of sunset that made beach goers and volleyball players pause their games to watch the sky light up in bubble gum pink, fuchsia, and gold. Last night I wrote about the connection between those that go to Bikram yoga, despite whatever difference we have on the surface. When we stand under the same sky, as the sun sets over the seemingly endless ocean, I love the light in peoples eyes. It’s the same wonder we all once had as children.

Step Right Up

Have you ever woken up feeling more appreciative than you have felt about life in a long time? Warning: That was me this morning, so, I suggest you stop reading if you despise the happiness of others. And then quickly find a therapist or a hobby because you have some stuff to straighten out. 

To be cliche, I have always felt like life is similar to a roller-coaster in that it’s thrilling, terrifying, exhilarating, and sometimes nauseating all at once. It’s because of the ups and downs, isn’t it? I am an emotional person and I have always been an emotional person, but I love feeling it all, making me receptive to the good as well as the bad. At times when I’m feeling particularly wallow-y, I imagine myself as an artist feeding off my own negativity to fuel whatever creation I’m currently working on. And I can use my occasional cynicism to truly appreciate the loveliness that surrounds me as well. So you could say that I kind of revel in the twists and the turns and the unpredictability of it all. And that’s what takes me to where I’ve been.

With the start of the school year approaching, I felt myself getting off the ride of summer and it was like this insane adrenaline high that was disappearing. I felt vacant and the end of summer began to feel like a never ending Sunday. Dramatic, I know. But it did- because I felt unprepared and sensitive and nervous…and full of irrational fears such as: What if I forgot how to teach?! dun…dun…dun…

And so as the first week approached and then passed I was able to get back into the swing of life and predictability. And closed-toe shoes. Which completely suck, by the way. I met my students, and gave hugs to work friends that I haven’t seen since June. It was so easy to remember why I chose this profession from the get-go and how powerful of a career teaching is. And just like that I climbed out of my hole of insecurities. And, clearly, I did not forget how to teach.

 

This morning as I did monotonous tasks such as laundry and grading, I thought over the weekend I just had. One with laughs, friends, as well as a volleyball tournament in memory of Michelle O’Neill, a young woman, only 24 1/2 when she lost her battle to cancer (http://monfoundation.org/). A full day event, we spent the entire day on the beach with the sun beating down on us. I had forgotten my umbrella and two hours into the day I recognized I was being foolish for sitting in the sun. A kind group of people offered me theirs and I spent the remainder of the day when we weren’t in the ocean or on the court hiding from the sun. Once a month I allow myself to get angry at lupus- that bitch. A friend asked me earnestly, what is lupus? I explained the disease. Embarrassed that I was explaining something I live with to a person that is also a cancer survivor on a day that was for a young girl that had lost her life to her battle. And I was humbled. Humbled by his question and a discussion on life and appreciating the one we have and how envying the life of another does nothing for anyone because we all have our ups and our downs. Every person has their own story. 

And on this Sunday, despite the day on the calendar telling me that it’s still summer, I walked outside to a strong sun and a cool fall breeze. I took in the air as I temporarily stepped away from my work to turn over the laundry. I’m so fortunate. 

 

A Generic Title: Catching Up on Life

The best thing I could have done this year was give myself the summer off. It’s a wonderful perk of teaching if you allow yourself to pause- most of us don’t. In fact, I’m a workaholic and I usually don’t know how to stop. But I now know that if you have the ability to take time for yourself, you should.

Here’s how I envisioned my summer would go:

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All day, everyday. Mixed in with a ton of gym time, run time, and yoga time.

Somehow none of this came into fruition because I have managed to be busy every waking moment. Until now. At this exact moment I’m sitting on my couch watching multiple (as of right now 5) episodes of Laguna Beach re-runs. Why didn’t I watch more of this in high school? This show is hilarious.

So it’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s just that reality tv has been killing it lately and my thoughts are all over the place. So, let’s fulfill the title of this post.

Let’s see- I did some quality family time:

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And quality friend time:

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And quality food time… Pictures need not apply. I can’t even look at the amount of french fries I have ingested in the past week alone. French fries are the best food group, hands down. Clean eating has never been my forte.

And quality ghost time. Or lack thereof. John and I stayed in Jim Thorpe, PA for a few days to get away from the noise of life. We chose Jim Thorpe based on recommendations of friends for a good rafting spot. Our goal: chill out and stay active. Contradictions = my life story.

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As we walked into the “haunted” hotel, the automatic doors immediately scared the bejesus out of me. I couldn’t even pee alone. Literally peed with the door open and my foot holding the door, just in case a ghost decided to lock me in. I don’t mess around. I may have slept with the lights and television on for two nights. There was no reason for any of this of course and obviously, John was out cold both nights. Despite my sleepless nights and awkward bathroom moments we had an amazing time. We did a 13 mile bike ride one day and rafting another. Unfortunately, we learned they only release the dam for white water rafting on the weekends so it required much more labor for us.

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Another trip is in order for the fall, so book your cabin/tent now. A bear encounter in the woods is much easier for me than a ghost encounter. Unless there are ghosts in the woods. Then I’ll take a five star hotel.

And so I’m pretty into my life right now, but there are some things missing- like running. Between you and me, I have been such a slacker lately. I know why too. I’m not going to lie. Excuses. They are so easy! And in the summer there is so much going on and so many French fries to eat. Now that I’ve said it I think I can get back on track. I need to get my ass in gear and sign up for another challenge or I’m going to fall off the wagon entirely. You’ve been there too, don’t judge. I wish I could say I’m going all in today but I had a volleyball scrapple last night- a team member ::coughejcough:: landed on my foot with his elbow. Clearly, my immediate response was:

“How much do you weigh?!”

But seriously. It hurt. And now I’m bruised, but not broken. And yes, everyone made fun of me for my hobble off of the court. But dammit, I persevered and played for the rest of the night! And actually hit a few balls over the net… Which is a huge task for the resident LVP (least valuable player) of the Atomic Bombs. Get over the name, we know it’s not PC. We are working on future team names- any suggestions will be considered.

So, I shall try to go on a run today, but no promises. Fortunately this time I have a better excuse than the one I gave John yesterday- I am possessed by the ghost and she hates working out. Until next time, my friends.

Eye of the Storm

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The sky was black- all wind that once existed in the air appeared to stand still. Fire engines blazed in the not too far distance. We all joked were certain that this was the apocalypse.

The sky opened up and my team continued to play, not phased by the storm.

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The sky lightened. The games continued on. Everyone got a story out of it.