Sunday, November 30, 2008

Seeking adventure

I'm still adjusting to life in the suburbs. Make sense, I've only been here (officially) for two months. As part of my denial that I live in a community where people think of themselves as "neighbors" if they live three towns away and everyone wears pants with little whales stitched on them I've begun fantasizing about living in New York City.

I'm originally from Central New York and have always had a little chip on my shoulder about New York City. I've been there maybe a half dozen times in my 38 years on this planet, and I've been utterly overwhelmed by the scope of the Big Apple. A friend once said to me, when asked how she managed to live in New York City, "It is like a series of small towns. The eight block radius around your apartment is the small town in which you live, and the eight block radius around your job is the town to which to commute daily. Everything else is superfluous."

So why New York City now? I was explaining to GPA earlier today that I crave both the size and possibility of New York City, but also the small scope. New York City doesn't have grocery stores that are acres in size, it is possible to get to the drug store without having to jump in the car, and your neighbors are people you could interact with every day without having to go out of your way. And, as you travel between the "small town" where you live and work, you are reminded that New York City has MOMA, SoHo, The Colbert Report, the Cloisters, Zabars, and Tavern on the Green. There is a possibility of adventure every where you look.

Here in the suburbs where I now make my home most of my 60 minute commute is filled with images of chain stores, billboards, Dunkin' Donuts, and traffic signs. While there are beautiful views, there aren't many possibilities for adventure. This is what I crave.

It isn't likely I'll be moving to New York City anytime soon, or even back up to Boston. I choose this because I love BMG and I love the way I grow through our relationship. But I need adventure to help me feel alive. I need to feel like every day isn't like the day that came before it.

Any suggestions?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thumbs down: Barnes and Noble

As many of my faithful readers know I am recovering from foot surgery. On my first solo foray out of the house in about two weeks I went to my neighborhood Barnes and Noble to return two books - one I bought to entertain myself while recuperating and the other I bought accidentally as a Christmas gift. Why I was returning these books is boring. What isn't boring is that Barnes and Noble would take neither back because they had both been purchased more than two weeks ago. They knew the books had been purchased more than two weeks ago because I still had both receipts and the books - because they were unused - were in pristine book condition.

But, back on July, Barnes and Noble decided to take no returns after more than 14 days. Not even a store credit (which I would have gladly taken). When I commented to the store clerk that I hadn't been aware of the policy change, she replied snarkily, "It was very well advertised. This should not be a surprise to you." A black cloud had been hanging over my head most of the day so I snapped back, "I have better things to do than read press releases about store return policies changing."

And now, I'm never shopping at Barnes and Noble again.

And here is the funny part. In the same trip I also returned two pieces of clothing to Kohls that I DIDN'T have a receipt for. They customer service people were so pleasant. I gave them the credit card I used to pay for the items and they were able to research when I purchased the pieces (tags intact) and the price I paid, and then promptly issued me a credit on my card. Pleased with this interaction I shopped some more and ended up buying more than I had returned.

D'uh Barnes and Noble! Good customer service means good customer loyalty.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"All I want for Christmas... a picture of Obama because he is the greatest president EVER." So reads the Christmas list of my four-year niece, MCK. I'm hoping I can get a friend to get me a signed glossy photo from the campaign (I'm aware they are a little busy to be worrying about fulfilling the sweet albeit random request of four year old girls). Otherwise, I'll spring for a life size cutout of our 44th president, which will become her favorite present from her favorite Aunt.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thumbs down: Karmic invasions during post-op recovery

CAUTION: Graphic surgery details below

I had what I THOUGHT was minor surgery last week. And I was wrong. Eight days after a bunionectomy and metatarsal osteotomy I find myself still woozy, unable to walk with any normalcy, and generally feeling fragile.

A bunion, not to be confused with Binion's, is a deformity in the way the big toe grows - rather than being straight it grows at a wacky angle, causing a knob to become pronounced on the the instep of one's foot - usually at the part of the foot that is already the widest. Generally speaking, bunions aren't bad, unless they hurt for no apparent reason (e.g. tight shoes) or if the deformity becomes pronounced. Well, my deformity on my left foot was becoming pronounced enough to drive that big toe under the second toe leaving blisters on the bottom of the second toe. And it occasionally hurt for no reason in spite of the fact that I usually wear orthopedic (although stylish) shoes.

So, I had a bunionectomy and metatarsal osteotomy. My foot surgeon put a 2.5" slice through the top of my big toe, shaved off the knobby, deformed bone (that's the bunionectomy) and then sliced the bone in my big toe wide open and placed a pin in it to keep it straight. After a week of generic aching made less severe by a surgical boot, crutches and percoset, I finally got the chance to peek at the toe when I visited the doctor for my first post-op appointment. My poor tootsie had a handful of small but angry bruises on them. But, it mostly looked fine. The doctor said it was healing great and I could now (a) get it wet (hooray - shower!), and (b) begin putting full weight on it. "You mean, no more crutches?" I asked. "Nope" he replied. "What about driving?" "Fine with me," he said. "Jogging?" "Okay, no jogging. But you COULD be jogging in as little as three weeks.

So, that good news, coupled with the fact that the first week hadn't been THAT bad, I decided to start walking around (at home) as I normally would. As normally as I COULD. My foot muscles are so tight from a week of elevation that they aren't as compliant as I would like. And, for most of the next 24 hours I was okay. Not ready to go dancing or return to work (lots of stairs), but feeling like this recovery thing was going to be pretty easy. And then, tonight, while standing at the kitchen counter depositing a mint chocolate chip covered ice cream scoop into the sink I instinctively pivoted on my foot and torqued it bad enough to cause me to yell in pain and immediately begin crying.

With me home for 8 days and BMG operating almost exclusively out of the home office, he and I have been lovingly bickering most of the last week. But, when I yelped he immediately popped up, hugged me as I cried, found my crutches, got me a percoset and some seltzer, and got me settled back on the couch with my feet again elevated and iced. And, three hours later, it is still aching from a tiny tiny pivot on one part of one foot.

BMG asserts that hammer toes are caused by pent up anger. And there is a part of me who believes this setback in my recovery bravado is karmic payback for eating the (reduced fat) mint chocolate chip ice cream after drinking two glasses of wine and reveling in the three (or was it four??) slices of pizza I had for lunch and dinner. Stupid karma!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I'm a loser

I stumbled upon this poem by Elizabeth Bishop. It feels like it characterizes the part of me who is trying to let go of being so perfect, so tightly wound, the part of me I call "The Closer".

One Art - By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Thank you Mr. Caldwell

Mr. Caldwell, my 7th grade social studies teacher, clearly recognized my Pulitzer potential. With his encouragement, I wrote a prize winning essay comparing and contrasting present day (1983) toy culture versus colonial era toy culture. I got to read my essay aloud to the members of the Syracuse Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at a tea and cookie ceremony in a Syracuse-style manse somewhere on the campus of Syracuse University.

Evidence of my genius is in these brilliant excerpt:

"...Guns have also changed quite a bit. Back in the colonial period boys usually had their own real guns. From what I have studied, they didn't have toy guns. The boys may have used gun-shaped sticks or their hands, but they did have plastic toy guns like we have now. The boys were also the only ones who were supposed to use guns. Nowdays it is different. Both girls and boys play with guns, but real ones are not allowed in our present day community..."

And this gem.

"...The difference between board games is great. Back in the colonial period board games were very simple compared to the board games we have now. There were no fancy mechanisms that move your playing piece for you. The games did not have credit cards or intricate thought fancy electronic gimmicks were included."

Mr. Caldwell died in what we were told was a single car crash during the spring of my 7th grade year. I would like to let him know that I am grateful for the way he encouraged me, and I felt proud to be a good student in his class.