it’s time to buy my own island

this afternoon, on my way to work, i watched as two strangers both pulled over in a busy intersection to stop traffic. if you have ever been to ocean pines, you are aware of the goose population and their cavalier way of travelling the roadways without a care for the large rattling machinery that is hurtling toward them. two geese and their eight fuzzy babies were spread out across four lanes of heavy traffic because only two of the little ones could make it over the median strip. the others were scrambling while momma goose was honking in every direction.

one kind samaritan held off the cars while the other tried to encourage the remaining goslings over the concrete hurdle without touching them. after a few moments where i sat drop-jawed at the existence of human decency, the geese were all ushered across the street safely. then i realized that i should have been videotaping.

in these combative days where i am seeing too much ugliness from people, including some whom i love, it was just really great to witness utter kindness. there have been several instances in which cars have struck one of our winged neighbors and simply kept going. it gave me the warm fuzzies to know that some people don’t suck.  they took time out of their busy day to help some birds who some see as a nuisance.  would i have mustered the courage to put on my brakes and do the same if i had been first on the scene?

and then i noticed that i was the only person out of the twenty or so cars stopped who rolled down their window and gave these people a “good job, guys!” and my happy little bubble was burst, my cynicism restored.  everyone else just sped off to their important lives and were probably more irritated by the delay than emotionally affected by the compassion.  what a thankless act, being kind.

sometimes, i don’t wanna play here anymore.

coffee cup wisdom

i apologize if you ran into me today.  it was a shit day.  i had a bad attitude and i took it out on nearly everyone around me, except for the paying customers.  a girl’s still gotta eat. after work, i was hoping that some retail therapy would cure what ailed me, but that, like other things in my life these days, fell short of expectation.  when shopping fails to elevate my mood, i know something stronger is afoot.

as i wandered the aisles of sparkly cheer, i could feel my funk being exacerbated by the impending holiday.  my financial situation means sparse gift-giving to those i love. i’m single again.  i am suddenly one cat short of my usual brood.  all in all, bah humbug does not even begin to cover it.

and then, amidst the salad spinners and the “kiss the cook” aprons, i found this.  or rather, this found me:

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a coffee mug.  a three dollar, mass-produced-in-china piece of clay.  a utilitarian vessel hanging on a wall of hundreds just like it.  and somehow, even though blue isn’t my favorite color, it reached out and smacked me in the face.  it cut through all of the “keep calm”s and the “life is good”s and actually said something that i could hear.

make it happen.

because only i can.  i can bitch about my job, and my bills, and the stagnancy of my soul, but that brief release isn’t going to fix a damn thing. i can drown myself in bad tv and good wine, and the next morning will still begin the same way.  unless i do something about it.

we all need to wallow from time to time, and the length of said wallowing is different for every person and situation.  in the end, only i can decide that it is time for action.  only i can say that tomorrow is not going to be another shit day.

i don’t make resolutions

for realsies though, do people still go through the motions of these hollow promises every year?  yeah, we know.  you are going to eat healthier and go to the gym more.  you are going to watch less tv.  you are going to shed the negativity and find the bright light in every day. you are going to stop being so lazy and chase your dream of professional writing.  ok, so i say that one every couple of months.  but at least i am smart enough to know i am just fooling myself and that the lure of the couch and streaming episodes of “american horror story” will always prevail.

that being said, i don’t want you to confuse this entry with a resolution.  this is just my bi-annual attempt at self-motivation.  this attack of inspiration’s timing just happens to up the cheesy factor.

if i am going to go anywhere with this blog, i need to actually, like, write in it, and stuff. on a pretty regular basis.  in order to do that, i need to share the banal details of my daily life with you lucky people and hope that you find me somewhat entertaining enough to force my thoughts upon your friends and any other bored strangers.  so without further ado, i present to you…

“still life: new year’s day 2015, 4:37 a.m.”

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this is a photographic encapsulation of working in the service industry.  this is sitting on the couch after a crazy hectic night of ensuring that all of your customers had an incredible new year’s eve celebration.  this is eating frozen pizza in your sweatpants after serving a seven course meal full of international delicacies that you didn’t even get to taste.  this is your girlfriend being left kissless at midnight.  and this is only one night out of the year.

there are so many things i have missed over the years because of my career choice. i didn’t attend thanksgiving with my family for nearly a decade, and christmas is usually celebrated in january.  weddings rarely take place on a tuesday in the winter, so during my busiest season of the year i have to feel like a jerk for choosing my bank account over witnessing the happiness of my closest friends.  my birthday gifts are usually a lame text message sent in lieu of my presence at the shindig.  concerts, shows, vacations: these are all luxuries afforded those who don’t work weekends.  and it’s a major bummer.

no, this is not a pity party.  i am usually very content with the work that i do.  i know that i’m damn good at it and not enough people get the constant affirmation of that fact in other fields.  and the money, well, the money is amazing and is by far the biggest reason i have never left the job to go sit in an office somewhere.   it also affords me a freedom that a “real” 9 – 5 job would not allow.  but i am all too aware of how much i waste all of my free time.

hence this non-resolution resolution.  prepare yourself to be annoyed by the resurgence of my blog posts.  if i know myself at all, i know this fire may only burn for a few weeks.  if i slack off, feel free to yell at me.  if i am boring the fuck out of you, please speak up. i may or  may not care, but i at least need to know.  if nothing else, i need to reveal the results of my jello shot delivery research that took place over a year ago.  professional procrastinator, at your service.

vacation with a side of ethics

I am easy to please when it comes to vacations. I don’t need a lot of activities and adventures. The last thing I want is an itinerary. All I ask for is a beach and a good book, healthily interspersed with fruity cocktails, good food and lots of napping. I recently returned from my second trip to Jamaica and I gotta tell you, that place does not suck.

All-inclusive resorts are the ultimate in relaxation for lazy vacationers such as myself. Eat whenever you want at one of five different restaurants. Drink whenever you want from a bevy of beach, pool or club bars. Go snorkeling, get a massage, play beach volleyball. Or don’t do anything at all. Sit on your ass and ignore the world. Nobody cares. The only schedule you need to know is when the jerk chicken shack on the beach opens and your nose will figure that out. Take off your watch. You’re on island time now.

This trip doubled as a much needed technology detox for me. Hi, my name is Kim and I am an internet addict. I can easily spend an entire day sitting in front of my laptop, only standing up to go to the kitchen or the bathroom. I am a time-waster extraordinaire and have the butt-shaped indentation on my couch to prove it. If you see me without my cell phone in my hand, it is probably because the battery is dead. No mobile device on the market can keep up with my addiction. I am constantly texting and checking Facebook to see what I could possibly be missing at any given time. It is a serious problem.

International roaming rates are ridiculous and even my level of dependence could not be justified at that price. The resort where I stayed offers 90 minutes of free wi-fi per day. Somehow, I managed to survive. I sat in the lobby for sometimes less than an hour a day just to get my fix and let my mom know that I was alive. It was, dare I say, refreshing. Unplugging from the online world gave me time to socialize with real live people. Gasp! I walked the coastline and took in the beauty surrounding me. I read half a book in a day. I slept better. I felt energized. Damnit, this is the part where I am supposed to learn a lesson and apply it to my daily life, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, a Caribbean vacation does not come without a cost, and I am not simply talking about the credit card bill.

The moment when I stepped off the plane, I was smacked in the face with the fact that, despite the booming tourist industry, Jamaica is a third world country. The roads are poorly paved and planned. The flow of traffic seems like chaos. When I first saw the windowless shacks propped up on cinderblocks that litter the countryside, I assumed that they were abandoned. Well, we all know what happens when we assume. This is how most of the locals live. A majority of these hovels are without power or furniture. They serve as shelter, and shelter alone.

Many of the homes look unfinished with rebar jutting from the roofs and half completed paint jobs. Our tour guide explained that the people of Jamaica do not borrow from banks in order to construct their living spaces. When they have some money saved up, they build until the funds run out. Then they work toward saving more money so they can build some more. Doesn’t sound like a horrible plan, really, until you realize that the majority of the locals, especially the resort workers, make around $50 USD per week. And to think, I get pissy if I don’t walk out of work with over $150 in my pocket after a single night.

The town center is jammed with ramshackle shops advertised with hand-painted signs claiming “cold beer joint” and “hair braids.” Every produce stand vendor and jewelry maker alike vie for my attention. They want my American money and they are willing to show me things I’ve never seen before in order to get it (That is a direct quote). Buying from the locals is a nightmare for me. I want their handcrafted goods. I want to support their local economy. However, between my guilt complex and my severe bartering ineptitude, it is just best that I smile and walk away.

When we get to the resort, my conscience kicks into overdrive. Here I am, about to be waited on constantly by a staff of people who seem more happy to be at work than I am about being on vacation, and all I can think about is how spoiled I am. The people employed there have no other goal than to make me comfortable. Service with a smile is an understatement. They literally break into song while serving what must be thousands of frozen concoctions a day. I, too, work in a resort town, and I promise you that I have never been happy to pick up a blender.

I tipped generously over my four days in paradise, but I didn’t see many other tourists following suit. I would not have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t given twenty bucks a night to Dalton, the bartender who was happy to serve 30 woo-woo’s at a time. He is a better man than I. Of course, that means I got preferential treatment from most of the bartenders: Some things are universal. It made me feel good to know that I was helping out individuals who deserved respect for their hard work and long hours, but it also made me wonder where all the money we vacationers pay to stay there is going. Straight to the top, I guess. The rich get richer… Boy, that sure sounds familiar.

Don’t get me wrong, Jamaica is a diverse place scattered with mansions and ghettos alike. Just like America, there are the affluent and the underprivileged, and I am definitely one of the lucky ones. I have worked hard to be able to own a house and countless other “things” that are considered purely luxury. Perhaps when visitors travel to Ocean City, they consider me one of the unfortunate ones who is forced to meet their every demand for a couple of beer-soaked dollars left on the bar.

I will definitely be returning to Jamaica in the future and I urge everyone who can to do the same. Despite the moral conundrum, I could not have asked for a better breather from my daily life. There is a peace and friendliness there that I have never found on beaches in the states. I could have done without the excess of Speedos and saggy boobs, but I think I have our European neighbors to thank for that.

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if “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts

I hate exercising. I loathe it. In fact, I don’t think there is anything that I dislike more in this world, except for maybe rapists and shitty tippers. There is no logic for my hatred, no horrific experience that has scarred my psyche. Well, there was that one time in my college gym when I watched my roommate lose her fingertip in between two plates of the rowing machine, but I digress.

I have never truly been a sporty person. One season each on recreational basketball and softball teams do not an athlete make. Feel free to ask my father about the week when I tried out for volleyball. He will regale you with tales of hellacious bruises, insurmountable fatigue and ceaseless complaining. Still, in high school I loved popping Bryan Adams’ So Far So Good into my walkman and running around my hilly neighborhood. Some of my favorite activities were playing tennis and basketball at the local playground and wandering forest trails and streams. I biked and walked everywhere in college, took aerobic dance classes and participated in my fair share of Frisbee related activities.

Nowadays, no matter how many times I wake up on the couch to a 4 a.m. P90X infomercial, I can not shake my lethargy. I still love a good bike ride, but usually under the guise of a bar crawl. Warm days often inspire me to pop in the earbuds and take a walk around my neighborhood, but I wouldn’t call my pace energetic. If I manage to drag myself away from the Food Network and let Jillian Michaels scream at me for half an hour, I feel amazing and proud.

But, aye, there’s the rub: that infernal “if” known as motivation.

I love the post-workout euphoria. I feel accomplished and strong. I drink more water and have unexpected energy. I am super productive in general chores and household tasks. The cobwebs in my cranium seem to dissipate. That’s right kiddies, you heard it here first: Those damn scientists really know what they’re talking about. Yet even with all of these benefits, the hardest part is talking myself into taking that first step. Oh, if only I could let you in on one of those conversations. They always take longer than the actual task at hand and usually involve a whole lot of but-I-don’t-wanna’s and just as many be-a-fucking-grown-up-and-do-it’s.

I am the Queen of Justification perched high upon her very own Shit-Mountain of Procrastination. I’m always too tired, too busy, have too many other things to do. I ate healthily today, so a workout would simply be redundant. I have to work a double tomorrow and I don’t want to be sore. The carpet is too dirty for crunches. All of my socks are in the wash. Neptune is in the sixth house. You get the picture.

Amidst the chaos of this busy life I allegedly lead, I still manage to spend a disturbing amount of hours on Facebook. I force myself to participate in some unnecessary retail therapy at least once a week. I somehow squeeze at least 2 major Fireball fueled benders into each month, peppered with dozens of trivial forays into the land of “just for one.” If you can find an episode of Law & Order that I haven’t seen, in all of its incarnations, then I owe you a unicorn. Nope, not a free moment to spare.

Three months ago, I made plans to join friends in Jamaica for wedding/ birthday shenanigans at the end of April. I wrapped myself in the determination of a girl whose bikini season would start prematurely this year. I dusted off my kettle bells, cleaned the junk food out of the cabinets and stocked up on green tea pills. A few unseasonably warm afternoons helped to ease my lazy ass off of the sofa.

I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but April is here. I can count the amount of times I have exercised on one weak little hand. Even the threat of being half naked on a beautiful beach surrounded by dreadlocked strangers and fruity frozen drinks could not kick my enthusiasm into gear. So here I sit, a desperate woman wearing a waist-trimmer belt, wondering how sore she will wake up tomorrow after a 20 minute ab workout.

Sometimes I like to let my feminism be my excuse, which does wonders for my moral compass. I mean, who is to say that my body is not perfect the way that it is? Why should I let this patriarchal society’s praise for heroin chic dictate my actions? My beer gut is gorgeous! My cellulite is my own and no one can take that from me! I refuse to compete with an unrealistic ideal of beauty just to satisfy the brainwashed masses! And plus, if I can still manage to get laid, then what’s the big deal?

Oh, who am I trying to fool? I am a lazy piece of shit.

I spend more time researching miracle cures on the internet than I do worrying about my own health and well-being. Just last night, in fact, I wasted several hours reading about these “Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps” that are supposed to magically melt the inches off of any body part within 72 hours. Seriously. Don’t bother checking out the website as it is simultaneously encouraging and disheartening. (Who has the intelligence to create something that produces such amazing before and after photos but doesn’t have the wherewithal to make a cohesive website with functional links?) Needless to say, these wonder wraps are currently in my amazon.com shopping cart and I still haven’t convinced myself to take them out.

Let’s talk about the list of herbal weight loss pills I have taken over the years: green tea, raspberry ketones, green coffee bean, African mango, white kidney bean, hoodia, kelp, cinnamon, raw kombucha, brown seaweed. All of these are actually good for you in one way or another and I am sure they really do help your body become leaner. You know, if you actually exercise while you are taking them.

And then there is all the money I have spent on equipment. I have previously owned a Pilates machine, several stationary bikes and an elliptical. Yoga mats and blocks, kettle bells, hand/wrist and ankle weights, a weighted hula hoop (yes, it does bruise your hips after the first ten minutes), resistance bands, jump ropes, stability balls and upwards of 20 workout DVDs. A few years back, I locked in a promotional $20 a month gym membership rate. After visiting the gym at least three times a week for two months, I just started calling it my “fat tax” and went back to the couch for the next ten months.

Ugh. That’s all I’ve got. I’m incorrigible. Even after publicly confessing this to the twenty of you that are reading, I will still probably weasel my way out of breaking a sweat tomorrow. I have found peace in the fact that this is the body I am taking to Jamaica, and everywhere else. But you know what? When I get there, I am still going to strut my negligent, pasty self out onto the beach in a cute bikini, sexy cabana boys be damned. I abhorrently refuse to return from my one vacation this year with a fucking one-piece tan line.