Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Camper

I got back yesterday from a weekend camping trip in cold, rainy Maine. Despite the torrential downpours and the frigid 45 degree nights it was by far the best camping trip I've ever been on. Funny how that happens sometimes.

I went with four of my oldest friends and three of their significant others. I left my family behind for a weekend of uninterrupted girlfriend time. We gals have been friends since freshman year of boarding school where we spent our formative years helping to raise each other in a dorm. We saw our parents often but spent the majority of our time living together, and as a result we are all extremely compatible, and the best of friends.

The rain did pour, some critters crossed our paths, and Jane and I spent the first night layered and cocooned in so many layers I could barely lift my arms, yet still worried about frost bite as the water dripped into our tent. Not the ideal camping scenario, but it didn't faze us in the least. Kate and Mike brought a virtual camping "living room" complete with cabinets, a stocked bar, and a covered screen house. Our ever-handy friend Caleb whipped up bacon, eggs, and pancakes on his trusty camp stove, with coffee so good it could warm up even the iciest of knuckles. These are clever people, and I don't know how I will ever camp without them.

I always forget just how good it feels to spend time with them until we are all together, and when it comes time to part ways it never fails to make me heartsick, like leaving a childhood home after a long overdue visit. We spend our days and nights laughing incessantly, and telling jokes that require only one word to set us off. It feels like these women know me better than I even know myself, I can be completely open and honest with them, they really get me.

I couldn't help but spend half of the weekend planning our next adventure together. It's in my nature to plan for the next reunion, to guarantee that it will happen and as soon as we can. (I have long since held the title of "Captain Fun", although I'm not sure how true it is anymore). I need to know that this dose of girl time will be back around before I can forget the happiness in my heart from this trip.

Can't wait to see you again soon girls!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Night Shift Blues

I was commiserating with my brother this morning after he had just gotten off the night shift at the local diner when I started pondering the effects of working the night shift. I have been working 12 hours nights at the hospital for the past four years and while it is, indeed, the best job I have ever had, the hours certainly do take their toll.

Take this week for example. I worked on Tuesday until 3am, got to bed about 3:30 and then was rudely awakened my my young son, who found it urgent that I join him in the bathroom at 6am while he moved his bowels. Life doesn't stop for the night shift. I then worked Wednesday night from 11pm to 7am (although this is a lie, our shifts actually end at 7:30, and often much later). I slept for four hours during the day yesterday while my kids played with a babysitter. Those four hours of sleep are by far the deepest sleep I am capable of these days.

I am like a corpse after working, completely passed out before my head even hits the pillow, drooling on my drive home and often slapping myself hard across the face to keep from drifting off behind the wheel. The level of exhaustion experienced by a night worker can only be compared to that of a long distance runner after a marathon (minus the adrenaline). Nobody understands this, unless you've done it you just don't get it. Painfully tired.

The problem lies (no pun intended) with the vast disruption to the circadian rhythm that I notice when I try and get a regular night sleep at the same time as everyone else. Last night I went to bed at 9:30, unable to keep my eyes open, but was then awake every hour after about 1am, only to be dragged out of bed like a mouse by a cat when the kids wanted pancakes. Torture. No wonder I feel so crazy sometimes. 

I always take into consideration my colleagues with young children who sometimes stay awake all day after working to care for their kids, out of necessity or sheer insanity. I will do anything to get out of staying awake any longer than necessary, sometimes trying to hide from Sofie as I come in the door (please God, not another hug! Just let me sleep!) I feel for these friends who do not get to experience the sheer joy of diving between the sheets in the morning for a few glorious hours of peaceful slumber. Despite the exhaustion I feel at the end of the shift, there is nothing quite like it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Coming Out: The Lesbian Phase

Doesn't everyone have a time where they have experimented with sexuality? A period in one's life where you want to explore your options and see what's out there, experience something new, and figure out what feels right for you. Tonight I was reminded of my own brief phase as I was cleaning out my jewelery box and came across a few choice items that sent me flashing back to my teen years.

At the ripe age of 15 I thought I knew everything. I was a sophomore at Northfield Mount Hermon, one of western Massachusetts' most elite, and as many of us know, liberal prep schools. This means that there were a lot of rich kids in really tattered clothing, various concoctions being snorted and smoked, and a whole lot of coming out. I was lucky to be in a place where the majority of my friends were gay, bisexual, or otherwise undecided and open on the issue of sexuality. It seemed like every day someone new was celebrating "Coming Out Day" with a big announcement of their own, and embracing their new found same-sex partner in earnest public displays of affection. Who was I to be left out?

I started attending pride marches with my friends, chanting loudly in time with the beat "We're here, we're queer, we're not going anywhere!" I donned jewelery purchased at such events (hence the treasures I found tonight) like freedom rings and earrings with two women symbols intertwined. I figured that if all the other people around me were wearing them I should probably get on board.

Finally, I decided it was my turn to make an announcement. The day had come to announce to the world (namely my mother) that I was bisexual. Never mind that I had never been kissed by anyone, let alone another girl. I felt in that moment that I had to keep all of my options open and let everyone know to be ready for whomever I picked (or maybe more accurately, who picked me). I waited with baited breath for my mother to come home that evening so I could bombard her with my news. With my voice loaded with seriousness I entered the kitchen:

"Mom, I need to talk to you"
"Okay", she said, one eyebrow grazing the ceiling.
"Mom, I...I...I just think you should know that I am bisexual" the words flew out of my mouth with a gasp before I could stop them.
My mom looked at me before cracking a smile "That's nice honey, I am too. Isn't everyone?" She turned away from me and continued peeling potatoes for dinner.

So much for my big announcement, I thought as I slunk back into my room. The problem with living in a liberal family is that you can't shock the pants off of anyone unless you are going to announce your candidacy for the next Republican primary.

It turns out that I am not really very bisexual. I have always seem to have chosen male partners and that has worked out just fine for me, although I do often have that fleeting thought of "would my life be easier if I was with a woman?" Maybe or maybe not, I will probably never find out, but there is always this little voice inside my head that reminds me to leave my options open because you just never know...

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Very Boring Age

This week I turned 31. Not much to say about 31 except that it means I am officially in my 30's. I'm not sure how I feel about this, it may be a little depressing. Some older, wiser women in my life have said "That's great! Your 30's are wonderful, so young! So vibrant! This is the best time of your life!" I am taking that into consideration.

I was so lucky to have the lovely mother group I hang out with on Wednesday surprise me with a beautiful brunch birthday party. They showered me with flowers, food, champagne, and cake. What else could you possibly want for a birthday morning?

Last night I went out with Francisco and my best friend Jane for a rocking dinner at Mama Iguanas in Northampton. It was restaurant week in Noho so there was a bit of a wait, but the margaritas at that place go down so easy it makes the time fly by. I did feel a twinge of regret this morning at around 3am when I awoke doubled over with stomach pain. Maybe next time just chips and salsa with the tequila and not a 3 course meal. I think it was the chocolate cornbread pudding that did me in. Overkill.

I feel good, healthy, happy, if not just the littlest bit hungover. I spent today gardening and turning the yard into my own private Eden, thank you Dad and Mom for the gift of perennials for my birthday. It's looking good.

Thank you everyone for making 31 feel a little less scary.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cruisin' the Dunes on Block Island

I just got back from a 3 day jaunt over to Block Island, a 3 by 7 mile stretch of paradise twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island. With my mom by my side and my kids (as always) along for the ride we were ready to start the summer.

We bunked at the National Hotel, an old Victorian era hotel with a great view of the ocean and a rocking bar and restaurant. The National is not known for its spacious rooms or air conditioning so I was not sure how family friendly we would find it, but I was surprised to find that we were quite comfortable there.

After first rejecting our 4th floor room with the gorgeous view (I have to say that I am the type of mom who will do anything to avoid carrying a child up 4 flights of stairs) we settled in to a comfortable garden view setup just one floor up from the lobby. Fine by me.

We spent a lot of time on the beach (is this obvious?) and the best thing I have to say about that is my utter amazement at my son, who at six is mostly obsessed with all things plug-in. TV, computer, video games at a friend's house, tiny ipods, you name it, he loves it. The best part of spending time on the beach with him was watching how little he needed to keep himself entertained for hours. I pack light when traveling to beaches (as in towel and sunscreen only) and Nathan made himself at home with just the sand, surf, and sea creatures he could scout out in the wake. This is the true testament to what children really need, and anytime I am feeling pressured to buy one more toy or some other plastic crap, I have to be reminded of the sheer joy that comes from spending time outside on the beach.

Our second day on island we rented bikes from a local bike shop, seemingly a harmless and fun family activity. Wrong. Biking around Block Island is not for the weak or the young (as in six). We made it (creeping along) maybe a 1/2 mile before Nathan collapsed into a heap on the side of the small winding road (no bike trails on this undeveloped patch of land) and cried "I can't do it anymore! We must turn back!" So it goes. If you're going to bike on Block Island, be sure you know your cyclists or you may be in for a huge waste of time and money. Grrrr.

Today we made up for lost time by renting a jeep to tool around the island and check out the spots we had missed. This was the highlight of the trip, and quite possibly of my children's lives. What says fun to a kid like riding around in a bright red convertible in the summer sun, screaming "Cruising the dunes baby!" at the top of your lungs. Clearly there is nothing like it, and now Nathan is insisting I look into trading in the van for a sportier ride.

Some gorgeous beauty on Block Island, I would definitely recommend checking this place out (although if you are bringing your kids also bring your car and maybe even rent a house to avoid eating out for every meal). It was refreshing to visit an island that has still avoided the built up commercialization that so many places are overrun with. With my skin taut from the beach and the smell of salt in my hair I will sleep well tonight knowing that summer has officially begun.