Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down. Anything that revolves around a lot of food, friends/family, and reflection on what we're grateful for just makes me happy. 

I've been in a little bit of a negative zone as of late - work has put a tremendous amount of negative energy into my life recently, there are things in my personal life that are just piling up and seemingly endless, etc., but I love that I am able to push all of that aside and forget about all the bad things when I start to brainstorm the things that I'm thankful or happy for.

It's necessary, because sometimes my life feels like this:

I asked my students to write about something they're thankful for and one of them wrote, "coffee." This student was chastised by the rest of the class because they all said, "That's ridiculous! You should have put down family, etc." (okay, okay - I teach in an inner city - there were other adjectives they used besides ridiculous).

I told her that if coffee is what can help her get her day going, if it's something simple that brings her joy - she has every right to be thankful for coffee (because God, I am so thankful for coffee). 

On days when I'm feeling low or upset/frustrated, I've been writing down ANYTHING that I'm thankful for. I set a timer for three minutes, and I just jot down anything that comes to mind so that I can focus on being positive versus negative.

The important thing is to take the time to realize that no matter how much life is sucking at the moment, there are things, people, memories, instantaneous circumstances, that can make you happy. To me, when I think of the things, people, places that I'm thankful for, it always brings me the biggest sense of joy - which then becomes something else that I'm thankful for.

This year, I'm thankful for...

Coffee.

My family, because even though they drive me up the damn wall, I know they'll always be there for me and that they mean well in the long run. Plus, they're hysterical.
 

My condo, and the fact that it comes with a heated garage.
It's been 30 degrees as a high this week - knowing my car swears to me that it's 65, and therefore heats up quickly is amazing, especially coming from my parent's house where I did not make the garage cut.


Music.
I am listening to music at least 50% of my day. Nothing makes me happier than a great artist or song.

Wine.

Ryan Gosling.
I am just so thankful he is alive and perfect.

Friends.
Because I really do have the greatest friends, who are there for me always and make a point of checking in.

Literature.
Give me a good poem (and a good glass of wine), or a great book (and great cup of coffee), and I am set for an afternoon. I'm so thankful that I have a love of reading, and of teaching it.


Craft beer.


My job.
Another instance of something that is a pain in my ass 75% of the time, but that deep down, I truly love and am so grateful for.

Defiant.
 Being a regular at a brewery means that you get to try new beers, that they have your food order committed to memory, and if someone bothers you, it's a very big deal.

Games.
My friends have been so into game playing lately, and I am all about it. Between trivia (which was the bulk of my Maine trip), board game nights, playing "werewolves", which is the complicated version of Mafia, and attempting to play some game from New Girl called True American - it's been real.

Oktoberfest.
Which will get a designated post, because it was the best two Saturdays ever.
 

There really is so much I'm thankful for - I could write a novel with the things that I have scrawled in my journal, but these are the biggies and the ones that have repeated.

What are some of the big and little things you're most thankful for this year?

I love you all - and it should go without saying that I'm thankful for all of you and the relationships that have been formed with so many of us. You're the best - enjoy the day!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Summer, Part Deux.

My last summer post didn't even get us remotely into August - this is why I absolutely need to do things as they happen, versus playing catch up after the fact! So many fun things happened though, that I know I'm going to want to look back on. 

This post is going to be VERY photo-heavy, so I apologize in advance! 

1. The Guster/Ben Folds concert.

Oh my god, to put it mildly, my friends are OBSESSED with the band Guster. I think they've each seen them play like, 10 times? Maybe more, but I don't think it could possibly be any less than that. When the boys found out that Guster were playing at PNC in south Jersey on July 20, they bought tickets (in MARCH) for the show, for all of us to go. I like Guster (and the majority of my listens to them was from The OC), but wasn't a big Guster superfan, but then I found out that Ben Folds was also playing with them, which upped my excitement to a huge degree. 

We got there super early and tailgated, which included a remix of the beer + Twizzlers phenomenon, which was just as good as ever. 

When we got into the show, people from PNC were selling upgraded tickets, so after we found our standing seats (in the grass, up on a hill) Justin decided to go check to see what the deal with the tickets was. Turns out, for $10 more each, we were moved from the standing area (which was in direct sunlight, on a 100 degree July day) to the sixth row! It was incredible, and the boys were so adorable and excited. 

View from the sixth row:

After Guster and Ben Folds' set, while they were transitioning, we were made aware by Justin's date that Guster was playing an acoustic mini concert on an off-section of PNC. We hurried over there and got to hear four more songs of theirs, and Edwin and I met each of the band members, then got a picture (and I got a hug) with the drummer. They were incredibly accommodating and stayed to make sure that everyone had been taken care of.  When we got back to our seats and looked to the side, they were all sitting in our row! 

It was a really great show and night, which definitely made me very open for the back to back Guster shows Edwin, Justin, and I are going to Thanksgiving weekend in Brooklyn. 

2. August then rolled around...
which brought another road race down the shore (this time just for the day, not an overnighter). Since Edwin was working alone, I tagged along and we made plans to hang out at the beach, go out to eat, etc. After the finish of the 5k (at 9:30 a.m.), word came out that all runners and workers of the road race were invited to a local bar for free brunch... and $2 Blue Moons. I'm not one to start drinking at 9:30 a.m., but for $2? Yes, please.

Tell me runners aren't the best athletes. 

After our way too early Blue Moons, we traveled more south to Point Pleasant, NJ to the Tiki Bar, which all our friends had raved about. It was pure Jersey Shore, ambiance wise, which is not a positive thing, but they did have delicious oysters, fish tacos, and fried green beans! All I want from life is more oysters. 

3. Portland, Maine. 

Traveled to Maine to visit Brian in Portland!

Early morning pancakes and home fries, while I cried over my hangover. 

I don't have a ton of pictures from up there, because we were just having such a fantastic time DOING things. We went to a ton of restaurants, bars, sights.. we played a ton of Trivial Pursuit, drank a lot of tea, drank more beer, and had so much fantastic vegetarian/vegan food. I was in awe of how veggie friendly of a city Portland is, and how easily walkable it was.

My  Airbnb home included breakfast every day - homemade scones, fresh yogurt, fresh fruit, and a Thermos of coffee. It was amazing - and came in the cutest picnic basket!

Our first stop (where we went again the next day) was Silly's, and if you are in Portland, you NEED to go there. We got a pitcher of Lobstah Ale, and I got the vegan grilled cheese, with caramelized onions, tomato, and mango coleslaw. 

The rest of the day included trips to Homegrown Teas, where we sat for over an hour loving every second of being in Sarah's adorable little tea shop. The tea was the greatest that I've ever had in my entire life, and everything is made on site by Sarah, the owner. It's another must if you're in the Portland area! 

Brian sleeps VERY late (read: noon at the earliest), and Edwin is up very early (read: 7 a.m., 7:30 latest). So we were up with nothing to do, so we decided to explore Portland and happened upon a Farmer's Market right near the house where we were staying!

This one table offered one kind of smoothie only, made just from seasonal fruits that were from their farm. It was the best smoothie ever, despite turning my entire mouth purple. 

We spent another night at Brian's friend's house where we BBQ'd, played Kan Jam, and laughed from the time we got there until the time that we left. 

The rest of the trip included eating a TON, laughing a lot, and walking the entire length of Portland (seriously). 

 Brunch from Local 188 - I have home fries, and a bagel with lox, because I was not about to break my Bagel Sunday tradition. 

We had J. Lo as our server at Local. 

We went to Silly's for milkshakes a second time, and after that we decided to wander, where we happened upon a used bookstore that was filled with awesome antiques. 

Our final Portland dinner was at a place called Flatbread, which served amazing pizzas and had an open kitchen with a huge brick oven. It was what dreams are made of. 

The "Punctuated Equilibrium" pizza - goat cheese, onions, olives, red pepper... we all decided that next time. we're ordering two of these. It was so damn good.

Did you go on any trips or see any concerts this summer? Have you ever been to Portland?

Phew, to finally catching up on summer posting!

Currently listening to: Dancing Shoes - Arctic Monkeys