Tag Archives: travel

From the “Vicarious Traveling” Travelogue

15 Jul

blog imag swedish fish

Friends went to Sweden which means that parts of me also went to Sweden (my mind as well as my inner tall, blonde, multilingual, weirdfish-eating self).

My favorite part of the trip was returning home and attempting to incorporate the concept of “fika” into my life.  “Fika” is a daily Swedish coffee break except coffee is not required and it often lasts for over an hour.  It is time spent socializing, unwinding and having a not insubstantial nosh.  A sort of high tea but with lots more umlauts.  A respite, but with dried fish included- like surströmming or tatami I washi.  (Thank YOU Wikipedia!)

Imagine if employers in the US authorized an afternoon break with food and friends and World Cup bonding and such.  They would be just like the unauthorized breaks we take in the morning now, except those can sometimes feel edgy as people really seem to want coffee with the half and half that was right in the breakroom refrigerator as of 5PM yesterday.

Then imagine a job where folks stand around the water cooler while holding ceramic mugs talking about non work-related things like reality tv, sports or standardized testing and know that I would no longer be working there by now (assuming that I passed the background check).  I like people but I hate prolonged small talk.  Who am I kidding?  I hate chit-chat of any duration.  Even if it means avoiding work.

I do appreciate the spirit of fika though, as I believe that we all need to individually reassess and relax a little during the middle of the day or possibly earlier in the day or most of the day, even.  Some would call that being “underemployed” but I’m going to go with dreamer/fika.

When I told Spouse that we would begin fika-ing ourselves silly during the middle of the day while The Boy was at school, he may have misunderstood.

Next day, he showed up for our first fika bearing gifts of champagne, chocolate and a Lyle Lovett CD (don’t ask).

And when I busted out the knäckebröd and lärtsoppa och pannkakor, he didn’t say much either which is everything you could want in a fika.

With lingonberries on the side.

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Mon Regime fou Francais (My Crazy French Diet)

18 Jul

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Eat dessert twice a day (space it out if desired).

Follow with: unlimited cream, whole milk, whole eggs, coffee (see “unlimited cream”), bread, cheese, beer, wine and crepes.

Stroll for miles because it’s beautiful and because you can.

Smoke like there’s no cancer (or tomorrow).

Visit the burial sites of Seurat, Chopin, Morrison, Wilde, Molière and others.

Return 4 pounds lighter with the dust of a thousand souls in the cuffs of your pants.

Cost: $1,000 per pound.

(Only €850 per kilo though!)

Repeat as necessary.  And it will become necessary.

ParentStrong

18 Oct

New parents are the best: devoted and vigilant and filled with worry.  From holding meetings to discuss the baby’s sneeze to examining diaper contents as if each bowel movement is an episode of Law & Order and that diaper contains all the evidence Ice T needs to crack the case wide open.  (Side note: I know it’s wrong, but Ice T is attractive in a dirty kind of way.  And being wrong just makes it right.)

New parents are exhausted.

Spouse and I are still recovering from the first few sleep deprived years and The Boy is now a teen (we will forever call him “The Boy” however, as not only are nicknames one of the few perks of parenthood, they are also mentioned in The Bible: “And God sayeth unto Ron Howard: “I calleth thee Opie and thou shall leadeth Goober!”) or something like that.  Yes, God uses the exclamation point- He knows a fine literary device when he sees one.

Then, one day, Spouse and I had an epiphany.

We were traveling on business and The Boy came along because, like most new parents, we were unwilling to let someone “unqualified” babysit him- like his grandma, for example.  Plus The Boy was eighteen months old and we didn’t want to miss a moment-they grow up so fast.  Oh, they don’t move out in a hurry, mind you, but they do seem to eat lots of food and need bigger clothes on occasion.    

By the time Spouse and I boarded the plane we were tired.  Tired of answering endless questions- “The floor?  In the airport?  I think it’s terrazzo.  The ceiling?  In the airport?  It’s, uh, … it’s airport ceiling; go ask your father.”  We were tired of wiping down hands and faces and surfaces while keeping one eye on our luggage and using the other to find, pick up and discard random food from the floor before The Boy ate it- like pretzel rods, for example.  NOW we had to keep him occupied during the four-hour flight.  

If only there was a way to keep The Boy entertained, dry and safe from kidnappers while getting the rest we needed. 

DING!  The captain turned off the seat belt light and I remember unlatching The Boy’s seatbelt.  

I woke up to an entire planeload of passengers giving me the stink eye.  Sun Chips were strewn everywhere.  That I awoke, however, indicates that I had previously been sleeping.  Spouse too.  And The Boy was happy and warm and sprinkled with just the right amount of tiredness to allow us to pick him up and whisk him through baggage claim, tantrum-free.  Oh!  The high fives we exchanged.

Eventually, The Boy got older and wandering up and down tiny aisles and/or kicking the seat in front of him became boring, so Spouse and I needed a new method of safekeeping/resting/slacking.

Also the cost was killing us.

When The Boy turned six, Spouse and I discovered that there was always someone participating in a nearby 5/10K race who knew (and would tend to) our child.  Plus those courses were so well delineated and supervised, it was virtually impossible for a child to go missing.

Which is how Spouse and I came to enter all the races we could find and were perfectly happy to finish dead last in every one. 

We strolled (often for hours) and held hands, talked, laughed and threw cups of water on the ground while The Boy wandered around the finish line eating orange slices, bagel halves, granola bars and yogurt while also throwing cups of water on the ground with no one to stop him.  And we all got matching t-shirts.

Now that The Boy is old enough to stay home alone, Spouse is considering entering a race and tracking his time.  For real. 

As for me, I’ll be home watching Law & Order.  Someone’s got to represent the dark side of ParentStrong and I am dedicated to this family enough to do it.

My Long Beach Island Vacation

30 Aug

Staying with family is a great way to save money on a hotel room and a quick route to Regressionland- make a left at the corner of “I’m not getting back in the car to drive over and see your new kitchen; you haven’t been to my house in twelve years” then a right at “it’s probably not a good idea to put sugar on the baby’s broccoli” and there you are: the teenage middle kid trying to keep quiet and go unnoticed.  P.S: nothing I say matters anyway, so why even bother?

And while on the subject of adolescence, nothing is more scary than watching The Boy’s moods shift with the tides.  It’s “Goodfellas” and “Sponge Bob Square Pants” rolled into one gritty peanut butter sandwich (“this has sand in it”) washed down with paper cupfuls of lukewarm Vitaminwater.

So when remaining silent was no longer an option and I asked The Boy why he hated having to hang out with me and he responded that he, in fact, “does not hate me right now,” I felt that the six hours of driving and the never-ending schlepping of beach toys and coolers was well worth it.  The constant flow of money (in one direction) is simply the price you pay for truth.

Speaking of truth, here’s a tip: when your wife asks you to tug on that part of her swimsuit that she can’t quite reach, don’t yell “Hoist!”.  It makes her feel self-conscious which results in her sitting on the beach desperately flipping through damp, hand-me-down Oprah magazines in an attempt to overcome self-consciousness (and become a better friend) while completely forgoing all thoughts of swimming which, to me, is the primary reason for vacationing at the ocean.

Otherwise why not just put a sandbox in the backyard, download a “crashing wave” app and sleep on our own scratchy, low thread-count sheets?

Question: why is it always too late to realize that the people who I went away with are the people I need to get away from?

And why didn’t anyone tell me that Priceline has rooms at LBI starting at $119?  My relationship with my family could have remained dysfunctional, but well-intentioned, and I wouldn’t be sitting here now wondering if we are still invited for Thanksgiving.

Assuming that The Boy doesn’t hate Pilgrims by then either.

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