I suck at being alone

03/29/2010 at 8:21 am | Posted in Thinking, Travel | 13 Comments

You know that mom fantasy, where you just get in the car and drive as far and as fast as possible? To wherever. As long as it doesn’t include a crying baby or a dirty house? That fantasy dogged me for the first few months of Small Fry’s life, when in the throes of postpartum depression, I could hardly conceive of how anybody would want or need me. I craved the open road.

Since I’m better, the fantasy has mellowed out. Now a shadow of its former larger-than-life self, the fantasy mostly involves simple pleasures. Peeing alone. Sleeping through the night. Freedom to eat whatever I want whenever I want. Collapsing into bed when I get home from a long day at work.

I got to live out the fantasy this weekend. Don’t hate me.

With M’s blessing, I booked a room on the coast for one night. Well actually, it was a room on an interstate a few miles from the coast, but close enough.

I could not wait.

My life right now is pretty much in the crapper. Huge personal issues, an illness that won’t quit, a bad back.

I was so sure that escaping everything for one weekend would be just the remedy. To get some sun on my face. To get a break from being mommy, wife, worker. To make my own choices (gasp) and enjoy the simple freedoms that suddenly became luxuries when I entered motherhood.

So it surprised me that I couldn’t stop crying as I drove out of town. That not only did I not escape my worries, but that they all crowded into the car with me. Guilt came along for the ride, too. And eventually, Loneliness.

I tried everything to feel happy. I even found an all-80s radio station. But despite Cyndi Lauper and Tears for Fears, my thoughts raced harder and grew more twisted as the drive wore on.

There were a few highlights, though: retail therapy (spring shopping for a toddler is too much fun), discovering jets in the hotel bathtub, sitting at the bar at the local fish house eating and watching basketball, catching an episode of Entourage.

And even though it was cold and freakishly windy, I enjoyed my treks on the beach:

I heart this pier. Good memories.

The foam was out of control. Clung to the beach until the wind pried it loose.

One of the more interesting things I've found on the beach. Looks like a shard of tile. I like to think it drifted over from Italy.

This is the spot where M proposed to me. Sigh.

But I could not wait to get home. I missed my family and thought about what they were doing at every turn. It was all I could do not to make a call or send a text.

Crazy, right? Totally crazy.

Any mother would give her left arm to be alone at the beach for an entire weekend. Believe me, I know this. I’m not ungrateful.

Just disappointed to have blown such an awesome opportunity.

Anxiety: 536. Suzanne: 0

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Renourishment

01/20/2010 at 3:04 pm | Posted in I take too many pictures, Travel | 1 Comment
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Emerald Isle is the beach of my childhood. We spent a week there each summer for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, I visited and was shocked at the amout of erosion on the west end of the island. Waves lapped up against sandbags stacked along the support beams of several houses, as if they might slip into the ocean with one good gust of wind.

Curious to see how things looked last weekend, my girlfriends and I walked along that end of the island. And boy, am I glad to report that the beach is huge, thanks to a renourishment project still seemingly in the works. Whew.

Imprint

01/19/2010 at 10:45 pm | Posted in I take too many pictures, Travel | Leave a comment
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“Frends 4Evr”

01/18/2010 at 9:48 pm | Posted in Friends, Travel | 5 Comments
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I’d like to introduce you to the honorary fifth girlfriend on our beach weekend, Big Blue Bertha. She’s more than just a gigantic sectional sofa. She was our home, our landing pad. We hardly left her cozy, faux-suede embrace.

The weekend was wonderful. Exactly what I needed. Pajamas and “leisure wear” were the designated uniform, and showers weren’t required. We all harbored serious envy over mama-to-be Kristen’s sock monkey pj’s.

We ate and ate and ate. And the conversation flowed non-stop, breaking only for sleep, movies and one unfortunate basketball game (what’s up with the freaking Tar Heels?).

In between Cheetos courses, we scarfed an amazing chicken marsala dinner prepared by Laurie and yummy breakfast burritos that Kristen made. The cheese consumed — both real and processed — was epic. We also hit Morehead City for some fried shrimp on Saturday night. I’m still full.

Also, the reading was pretty intense. Serious literature of course.

We did see daylight. Saturday was too beautiful not to take a walk on the beach. We came across a gaggle of pre-teen girls running around, doing cartwheels and cheerleader jumps near the surf. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this declaration they’d scraped into the sand:

I also got a ton of sleep. Two mornings in a row (two whole mornings!) of waking up on my own terms. Bliss. But the best part? The best thing about this trip simply was being with my friends. Laughing. Being silly and not giving a shit what we looked like. Sharing joy and commiserating with each other on the not-so-joyful experiences in our lives.

Letting go. If only for a couple of days.

Cheetos and wine

01/18/2010 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Friends, I take too many pictures, Travel | Leave a comment
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The ladies retreat rocked. Girls gone wild, for sure. The photo below says it all. More later …

(Taken by Kristen)

Escape

01/15/2010 at 11:54 am | Posted in Friends, Travel | 1 Comment
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For me, this has been one of those weeks that grabs you by your underwear and yanks it up over your head. Yes, my life right now is like a giant bully, giving me a perpetual wedgie then stealing my lunch money for kicks.

So it goes without saying that the mini-vacation I’m about to embark on could not have come at a better time. Just four of us girls, an oceanfront place in Emerald Isle and a whole lot of fruity mixed drinks. We’ve dubbed it a “ladies retreat.” With any luck, we’ll stay in our pajamas all weekend.

I won’t have Web access, so you’ll have to wait until Monday for all of the gory details. Sappy movies! Cheetos and chocolate! Walks on the beach! Scandalous.

And no wedgies in sight.

Thank God.

Reminder

12/22/2009 at 9:09 am | Posted in I take too many pictures, Travel | Leave a comment
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Bubbly

12/21/2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in I take too many pictures, Travel | Leave a comment
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Chestnuts roasting

12/16/2009 at 9:31 am | Posted in I take too many pictures, Travel | Leave a comment
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1,000 words because my trip to NYC was that awesome

12/15/2009 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Friends, Travel | 7 Comments
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Where do I begin?

I could write an entire book on the food alone. The eating was that prolific. The shopping also was wonderful, especially after we stumbled upon two lovely little holiday markets. And, of course, the city was all decked out.

Which means I took about six thousand pictures.

Seriously, I deleted about 50 while I sat in the airport waiting for my flight home. And in doing so, nearly missed the final call to board the plane. Yes, I was that annoying person holding things up. Running across the slick tarmac, rain pelting my face, clutching to my chest a stupid suitcase whose retractable handle wouldn’t work. What I first interpreted as a friendly smile from the baggage handler, I now realize, was more of an amused grin. Like, there’s a crazy lady barreling toward me. Should I brace for impact?

At that point, I was cold and drenched, but it didn’t matter. The city was awesome, and as always, a loud, edgy, irritated host. But, New York, I love you still.

My adventure began with a visit to Mamaroneck, where I witnessed firsthand how VERY different little boys are from little girls. My friend Kristen has the cutest, sweetest kids. And, man, do they know how to play. The couch became “the nest,” a pillow fortress that provided hours of entertainment, and surprisingly, no broken bones.

Kristen’s husband Jim whipped up an awesome Mexican dinner (my favorite), and scored extra points by heating each quesadilla on a baking stone in the oven. Don’t even get me started on dessert. A delicious tart with loads of fresh fruit on top. Amazing.

We had a really nice time catching up, drinking wine and shopping around town. My visit ended with a pit-stop into an Italian bakery. I nearly missed my train into the city (sensing a trend here?) while agonizing over my decision. Cannoli? Eclaire? What’s a girl to do?

I made the train and sat happily in the last row eating my pastries and looking out the window. I was the only one not buried in a book or newspaper. Tourist.

Walking off the platform and up the ramp into the main terminal at Grand Central Station was breathtaking. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face, especially when the laser light show started up on the ceiling. I considered lying down to watch, like so many children were, but thought better of it. At nearly six feet tall, with luggage and a grocery bag, I undoubtedly would have tripped someone and gotten my ass kicked.

Julie arrived minutes later, and we grabbed a delicious lunch on the dining concourse. Hale and Hearty soup for her, kosher hot dog for me.

Hotel check-in was a breeze. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square for FREE. Because I’m a famous blogger. No, really, M and I earn points with our credit card and have a stockpile.

The hotel had just been renovated, and it was beautiful. Clean, modern and very comfortable. The pint-sized rooms made me feel like a bona fide city dweller.

We spent Friday afternoon in Rockefeller Plaza and ate dinner at John’s Pizzeria. Delizioso!

I’m not embarrassed to say that we were back in the room, tucked into our beds, snacking on Trader Joe’s cookies, by 8 p.m. that night. Now that I’m a mom, any vacation involving a bed and a TV is my idea of heaven.

Saturday morning, Kristen met us for more sightseeing/shopping around Rockefeller. Then, Julie treated me to Tavern on the Green. The brunch set ranged from kids in jeans to women in full-length fur coats. The restaurant was beautiful and surprising. Part Graceland (hall of mirrors!), part Gone with the Wind, it was a fun experience. We were seated in the main dining room, surrounded by windows. Julie ate a wedge salad and pumpkin bisque. I devoured an omelet with goat cheese and caramelized onions. With a side of bacon of course.

On our way to meet our friend Simone, we walked along the southern border of Central Park and directly into this little tent-town of shops and restaurants. Handmade goodies galore! YES. I knocked off a bunch of Christmas gifts.

With Simone, we cruised 5th Avenue. The windows were spectacular. My favorite was Bergdorf Goodman. I continued snapping away inside the store until a very intimidating security guard approached me. All he did was shake his head. Not a word parted his lips. But the message was loud and clear. Put the camera away or I break your knees. Yes, sir.

The adventure got even funnier when we noticed a little commotion in front of the Juicy Couture store. Two dudes dressed in kilts were posing for photos with passersby. Was I going to get in the middle of that? Hellz yeah!

So I gave the camera to Simone and jumped in between the fellas for a quick pic. Keep in mind that the temperature was probably no higher than 20 degrees, with a wind chill that practically peeled my face off. These guys were in kilts. With dainty pink umbrellas. How could I resist?

We made our way toward the Rainbow Room for a drink with a view, but alas, it was closed. So we had the brilliant idea to take a quick peek at the tree. On a Saturday night. During Christmas.

BIG MISTAKE.

We had no problem getting into the plaza from the side, but when we attempted to walk ONE BLOCK to see the front view, with the angels and the skaters, we got trapped in a huge crush of people. Impatient, angry people pushing each other and ramming their strollers into my ankles. For a brief moment, I actually feared for my safety. An elderly woman got knocked to the ground right in front of me. Simone, Julie and I managed to stay fairly near each other, so at the first opportunity, we pushed through the crowd, crossed the street and didn’t look back.

Dinner that night was at Tony’s Di Napoli in Times Square. Three words (two words?): family-style Italian.

Simone talked us past the bouncer at the door blocking people from entering because they were booked up. Our luck continued, and we nabbed a spot at the bar. Two glassed of wine and an appetizer later, Simone had befriended the host and we were seated.

Our chicken parmigiana feast was incredible. The sangria was even better.

On Sunday, we took the subway downtown and hit Century 21. Then, Ping’s in Chinatown for lunch, where I thoroughly enjoyed my first Dim Sum experience, eating my weight in shrimp dumplings. The rain didn’t stop us from a brief walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy. I understand now, that in addition to huge eyebrows and a hearty appetite, my tendency to over-decorate at Christmas comes from being part Italian. There were six-foot-tall wreaths, bedazzled Santas and lights as far as the eye could see!

On a quest to find Crumbs Bake Shop, we took the subway over to Greenwich Village and happened upon Washington Square. So beautiful and quiet.

Finally, with cupcakes, luggage and the spoils of our shopping in tow, Julie and I made our way to LaGuardia via the bus service out of Grand Central.

By that point, I was ready to get warm and dry. And, beyond ready to hug M and Small Fry.

But, man, what an awesome adventure. It’s hard to beat Christmas in New York.

(Click on the image below to see more photos from our trip. I promise I did not load ALL of them. You can thank Flickr’s space limitations for that.)

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