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What I learned on my vacation... [Dec. 5th, 2012|10:00 pm]
So, I survived the week of hysteria leading up to me taking a week off for vacation. And have just about survived the dreaded first day back.

Here’s what I learned on vacation: I can gain a pound a day. Despite doing energetic things like walking for miles, exploring the zoo or Dinosaurland (don’t judge; kitsch is very important to me on vacation) or kayaking through surf and mangrove swamps. Oh, sure, I over-indulged. Food and drink is also very important to me…always. And vacation is an excuse to…who the hell am I kidding, really, an excuse to not feel GUILTY about the mashed potatoes with cheddar, bacon and sage. But clearly guilt burns calories, because there is no way in hell I ate THAT much more on each day, that it would amount to a freaking POUND of fat added to my personal hip doughnut.

Lack of stress. That’s it. The only explanation I can come up with. That’s why I have to be stressed out all the time, people, or I’d be as big as a house. Happy is inherently not good for me.

What else did I learn? I don’t miss cable, that’s for sure. Most of the week I had better things to do, but for two nights I was on my lonesome, and I thought, oh, you know, I could kick back and watch….wtf? It’s all crap. A hundred channels of crap. I’m not going back to cable until they have like a four channel package. At least then I could say “augh, four channels and it’s all crap!” and it doesn’t sound so bad. I just can’t flip through channel after channel of Jersey Shore, Suddenly Single, Honey Boo-Boo, Cops, Real Gypsies, Real Tattooed Guys working on Motorcycles, Real Tattooed Guys with Moustaches, Real Mouthy Chicks Who Need to Get a Life, Pampered Expletives Who Need to Learn What Real Hardship is, augggh! It made me want to bomb my own country. In between, re-runs of shows I’ve seen before, shows I never want to have to watch again, and a Walking Dead marathon that I got sucked into despite not having started the discs for season two yet and now they’ll feel all wonky because I’ve seen the last two episodes of season three…or the first half of season three…or something.

The next night I picked up the remote, sighed in disgust, picked up my glass and the bottle of wine and headed out to the dock. And I sat there, happy as a clam for THREE hours, watching the little spot where the docklight shone down on the water, peering at the water and shadows and trying to identify what I was seein, from brief flashes as they surfaced or swam by. Plenty of shrimp, certainly, baby crabs (they swim upside down and with their claws pointed forward so they look like tiny swimming banjos), what I think were sea trout, a bunch of small fish I couldn’t identify, mullet, catfish and even a cownose ray who swooped through twice and made my night. I’m sure if that were outside my door every night, it would lose some of the thrill…but still, beats the hell out of reruns of When I Met Your Mother.

I did learn that I could probably talk myself into subscription radio, though, as I’m never going to have the time/patience to provide my own music and I really, really need to have that going on a car when I’m by myself. And never being driven by Ronnie Mervis to switch stations before my ears bleed, but instead switching because I want to hear a different kind of music? Could be my Christmas present to myself.

I also learned that hanging out with a couple of charming people for several days and then being left on my own with no one else to talk to amplifies my own personal charming to near lethal levels. Admittedly, I had an assist by virtue of being in Florida during a seasonal lull, so it’s easy to shine when halfway through dinner, you’re now the only person in the German restaurant, and you and the German waitress start making fun of the German music videos playing and then she’s sitting down having a glass of wine with you, and then the chef comes out and by the end of the evening, there are hugs and tears and a slice of black forest cake in a box because you will want it later, ja? And then the next day when you’re at the zoo, geeking out with the volunteer at the Pet/Feed a Ray Tank, and he actually goes in the tank to fetch a fallen cownose ray tooth because while they usually save them for school programs I look like someone who would really appreciate having one. (And he’s totally right; it’s very cool.) And then you pass by later, on your way back from communing with the manatees, he calls you over to introduce to the curator, and you all geek out some more and you get introduced to all of the rays personally, and then the curator asks you out on a date…and you're torn between thinking that it's a damn shame you'll be on a plane by then, and...no, wait, there's was no TORN, just a damn shame I was already going to be headed out of town. Or not, because seriously, child, you can't tell me a cute male marine biologist is having a hard time finding a date no matter HOW slow the season is.

Now part of me thinks it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I planned a vacation down there and no one else joined me. And part of me thinks that really, best NOT, because you know me, I’d get all “let’s test this” and next thing you know there’d be a biker bar….and what I plan is never nearly as felicitous as what just happens. Or disastrous. Which is the problem, isn't it? Plus, let's face it, I can't take all the credit for putting me in such a happy confident, charming place. Ah, I am my father, my grandfather's child...morose Danish bastards till someone lights us up and then, oh, look, there's a bonfire! Whee, emotional marshmallows!

I also learned that being around someone who rolls well with difficulty – if by difficulty I mean, oh, hey, the toilets have backed up and here we are on vacation with no water or bathrooms and now Mere's got to adjudicate between municipal vs. plumber plus deal with a needy, depressed neighbor – allows me to stay mellow (for me) and on an even keel. It’s hard to explain the relief of not having to stress out over someone else stressing out. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, good for you...if you do, right? How cool to just manage your own batshite crazy? In order to feel at all aggro about losing a day of vacation to babysitting these guys, unshowered and having to drive to McDonalds to use a bathroom, I had to poke and prod at my irritability. And even then, I could barely manage a temporary huff. Thank goodness happy makes me fat, or I'd want more of it.

I was also reminded...because I have learned this, and do embrace it, but from time to time, the me that is small-minded and shallow gets pissy because I am ALWAYS (drama queen...at best, often) the one who reaches out. Who hasn't seen someone in forever, and reaches out, has a great time, then time passes, and I think about poking the person, getting together, and think "you know, the last four times I'VE been the one to initiate contact...and it's always me. Why can't THAT person reach out to me?" And I let that bullshit grab me by the short hairs, and fold my arms and say "they know where I am, if THEY want to get in touch."

And I wish there was an app that would smack me upside the head at that very moment. For starters, so expletive what. Is this a contest? Is it COSTING me something to reach out? No. Do I have a good time or am I glad I did, when I do reach out? YES. So what am I waiting for? To make the other person bear a fair share of relationship work? For heaven's sake, it's a friendship or familial tie...let that expletive GO. I almost missed the opportunity to share a bottle of wine and two hours of laughs with someone I maybe see once a year because, what, it was HER turn? I spend an hour and a half with elderly relatives I haven't seen in two years and it means the expletive WORLD to them. A couple of hours. And it was a huge CHORE to set aside that time?

Make the time, make it YOUR turn, ALWAYS. If they want to avoid you, they can. But at least you didn't let something important slip by because you were too...proud? Selfish? Whatever's keeping you from making that phone call, sending that text, slipping that note under someone's windshield, mailing the postcard...tell it to take a hike and get on with your life and the people you value.

[User Picture]From: pyratelady
2012-12-06 04:12 am (UTC)
Ah, Ronnie Mervis. Those ads crack me up. He's the Liberace of diamond retailers. The fact that my engagement and wedding rings are actually from Mervis amuses me even more.
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[User Picture]From: dreamaastrid
2012-12-06 12:37 pm (UTC)
We often think "you know, the last four times I'VE been the one to initiate contact...and it's always me. Why can't THAT person reach out to me?" and Dave and I have come to realize that is just the way it is. It is always our turn.

We are the ones who reach out most of the time and we have quite a few friends (both our best friends) and relatives (parents & sibling) that just aren't the reachy out and call first types. They'll call us back if we call first, but for example it seems like the only time my dad calls first is if someone is in the hospital or just died. But if I call I have a hard time getting off the phone with him 'cause he'll chat for hours. But I call him a few times a week and love talking to him. And whenever I have lunch with my best friend I always walk away happier, but 90% of the time I initiate the call to see when she can do lunch.

And when we call relatives and they say "Why don't you call more?" we always respond "That works both ways, you can always call us. You have our number right?"

Edited at 2012-12-06 05:11 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2012-12-06 12:43 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: giantsloth
2012-12-06 01:00 pm (UTC)
Emotional marshmallows for everyone!
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[User Picture]From: fountaingirl
2012-12-06 05:23 pm (UTC)
Awesome post. I, too, can gain air weight from nothing just randomly, I hate that.

Also: *reach* *reach* *reach*

Wanna do dinner sometime in the coming weeks? Out, my place, wherever. Or barring that if time is of the essence, coffee?
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[User Picture]From: queenmaggie
2012-12-06 07:13 pm (UTC)
I love that advice. AND...I'm going to take it. I have *so* experienced your inner monologue, and dammit, you are right. it isn't a contest and it doesn't cost a damn thing. brilliant...just scintillating. And I think I will be the happier for it.
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