Friday, May 29, 2009

No Place Like Home

I cannot believe that I have been back in Massachusetts for a month. Somehow during the time I was readjusting to my surroundings, reconnecting with old friends, and hunting for jobs, the entire month of May flew by. I realize I haven't written much about being home and truthfully it is because I am still accepting the idea of being (and staying) home. But if you're wondering if I'm happy here, I am.

Sometimes when I walk around the same shoreline I walked around as a kid, I can't help thinking to myself, "This is exactly where I am supposed to be." It's hard not to feel like you belong in a place like this. The Atlantic Ocean has been as calm as a lake lately; the beach at night has no one else on it. I remember when my friends and I would take midnight strolls around the neighborhood during sleep-overs and we'd never encounter another soul (which was probably a good thing since we usually went out dressed up in ball-gowns...don't ask). I think about how lucky we were to grow up in a place that felt like the whole coastline belonged to us...and that we, in turn, belonged to it.

I've been spending a lot of time with my old friends since my return. When I am with them I feel like the three years I spent in California were like years I spent in a dream. It's like I lived an alternate ending to a novel that no one else read or like I was frozen in space for three years only to return back to where I left off. It's not to say that I didn't grow or learn from my time in San Diego; I just think that whole experience is probably meant to be some kind of "secret" shared with a small group of people including my family, Tommie, and those who flitted in and out of my life out there.

I will always look back on my time in CA fondly but I knew that place wasn't "me" no matter how badly I wanted it to be at times (mainly how badly I wanted the surfers to be for me). When my family first told me the news about moving to California I remember feeling a little shocked but also happy. In my gut I felt okay with the news so I knew that was where we were supposed to go. So, no matter what happened to us there and whether we all leave San Diego (my parents and sister are still there), that was the right move to make at the time. The decision to move back home also felt right so I know things will work out. I am home and I am where I'm supposed to be right now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Follow Thoreau With Your Dreams

A lot of people lost sight or had to give up their dreams over the past few years because of a failing economy and a weakened government. Perhaps, though, the real tragedy was our own attitude before the collapse: We expected, even relied on outside sources to attain our dreams...we relied on high paying jobs at careless corporations, relied on investors looking to make money, banks looking to take money, and we relied on our government (which was already in debt), but all these people and institutions had agendas of their own; they didn't/don't care about our pipe dreams and we can't expect them to. If we are talking about my personal dreams than I am the only one who truly cares about them and therefore the only one who can attain them, and if my dreams are so luxurious that it is impossible for me to reach them at least mostly "on my own" than that's my own fault for desiring so much. Greed is a tricky bugger. Now is the time to take back our dreams, take ownership of them, pare them down to the simple root of what we need to live happy, comfortable and peaceful lives and to take thoughtful steps to get there.

At the conclusion of "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau, he had the following to say about man following his dreams. I think it's interesting that after spending two years in the woods (leaving in 1847) he picked this as a key lesson he learned from his experience and that over 100 years later, the almost "Buddhist-like" advice he offers still holds true:

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guacamole for Dummies

To put my cravings for real (San Diego-style) Mexican food at bay since moving back to New England, I have been making my own guacamole on a weekly basis. It doesn't make up for the bland tacos they serve around here, but it helps. I make the simplest guac ever because I'm not much of a cook...why cook when I have Tommie around to do it for me?

Here are the simple steps:

- Start with one or two ripe avocados. Slice them in half, take out the pit, and scoop out the middle. Mush ("mush" being the technical term here) it in a bowl, mixing in the following ingredients:

- A bit of lime juice (I don't believe in measurements)

- A little salt

- 1 clove of garlic (minced)

- I have been cheating and instead of chopping up tomatoes and onions (which I don't care for anyway), I scoop a little bit of Trader Joe's Fresh Salsa into it, which has small, flavorful diced tomatoes and onions already in it. (*Not every TJ's carries the same items so this might not be in every store.)

- Let it chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes (I place it in the freezer to speed things up...I'm hungry).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One Plant At A Time

Today, some potted plants...
(Rosemary, Basil and Cilantro from Wolf Hill Home and Garden Center in Mass.)
Someday, a garden...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Slumdog Love Story

When a movie gains a lot of hype or wins a big award I usually stubbornly avoid it knowing that things that most people enjoy, I don't typically find amusing; I can be such a curmudgeon. But tonight I was glad we decided to rent Slumdog Millionaire which won Best Picture in 2008. It was well put together, had you rooting for the underdog (or slumdog, in this case), and above all it was a great love story. My criteria for a great love story is the Peter Parker (Spiderman)-kind, where an unlucky kid catches a larger than life break while never losing sight of the girl of his dreams. It makes me grin. A bad love story is the James Bond kind where the pompous rich guy who already has everything insists on having all the large-chested women too. It makes me gag. Slumdog Millionaire was the good kind...a chivalrous hobo doing everything in his power to reunite with his childhood sweetheart. A love story and a hobo...definite winner in my book!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Voice of Spring

"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night." ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What's Old Is New Again

One of the things I was most looking forward to coming home was taking advantage and appreciating the natural beauty New England has to offer. Growing up here I didn't have a sense or a good reason to like the place I lived in; I was born here and I didn't have a choice about growing up here, but moving back was my choice. A friend of mine who also moved back home after a few years said she's happier now that she has learned to love this place and make it her own.

I find myself looking at maps of the North Shore like I've never seen this place before...and many parts of it I haven't. Many other places I haven't visited in 10 or so years. Today I saw Chebacco
Lake marked on the map in Essex and recalled going there with my mom and grandparents as a child. I had felt like it was two hours away when in reality it's about a 20-minute drive. We took Maya to the shoreline today and coaxed her to wade in but she's a southern Californian pup who seems to prefer the tumultuous waters of the great Pacific over the suspiciously clam waters of the lake disturbed only by the equally suspicious splashes made by big schools of fish.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I. Love. Lobster.

This is the good stuff.

Every time we're home (rain or shine) we book it to Roy Moore's on Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Mass. You eat your lobster (or other fresh sea food) "in the rough" on a small back deck that's perched over an inlet in the harbor. You sit on converted crates while seagulls squawk below for scraps. Moore boils the lobsters as you order in the sea water from which they came, making them soft, salty and delicious. West Coast rock lobsters just don't compare. At $15 for a pound and a half it's a good deal too. Tommie also enjoys a small basket of smoked salmon for $3.
Maya made out like a bandit. It was one of the first beautiful warm days New Englanders have seen in months and they were in an especially good mood. One of the workers asked if Maya wanted a treat and proceeded to give her a chunk of smoked salmon which she gobbled up happily. She then batted her puppy dog eyes at strangers on the deck compelling them to share pieces of their lobster with her.We could all get used to this.