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Reality re-entry today was smoother than anticipated, and for that, I am thankful.

We work so hard, and then we work so hard to relax (endeavoring to  endeavor less?)…and before we know it, we’re working hard again. It’s such a shame we can’t somehow bottle vacation essence and hold it up to our ear like a seashell and hear the pounding surf or stick our nose in it and get a whiff of relaxation when we’re trapped in a cubicle or a sales meeting.

Dock Post Reverie

Dock Post Reverie

My well-deserved break was simply wonderful.

Phase One: a road trip north.

We drove north via “the back way” (meaning complete and blissful avoidance of I-95).

It had been awhile since I had driven That Far in one  trip…. and remembrances of road trips past reminded me that nothing can bring you and your mate closer together – or further apart – than a 13-hour car ride.

This was the first time that we had driven this length of time together, so there was no telling what was going to happen. I kept my expectations low in order to avoid disappointment. I was rewarded with no traffic hassles, good conversation, no missed exits (so….no irrational turning around and driving back…but, that’s another lifetime, another story).

Two pieces de resistance on this sojourn:

1. The Meanyburger at Arlene and Tom’s Diner in Port Jervis: burger, layer of cheese, onion, layer of cheese, tomato, layer of cheese, bacon, layer of cheese…and bonus:  the bun’s toasted. Super yum.

2. Visting Nina and her brood as they set to depart from 39 Briar for temporary lodgings at The Pineapple Inn. Details relative to a mom, a dad and three kids moving into a no-tell motel while home renovations are underway are available at the Pinapple [sic] Chronicle.

Phase Two: utter collapse.

This is the part of the trip where gears shift and systems fail (e.g., you sit on a lounge chair on the deck, doze off and wake up four hours later covered in pine sap).

It’s a necessary phase (or, at least that’s what I told myself).

Phase Three: regrouping.

There were a whole bunch of things that fell under Phase Three.

1. Reconnecting with wonderful Kehonka friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in anywhere from 5-28 years (none, by the way, had slept with my former or future husband….but: again, that’s another lifetime, another story).

Signs of good, enduring friendships include the ability to reminisce and catch up and then STILL have that feeling that we should meet up again….sooner, rather than later.

2. Unplugging (yes: rockin’ it: analog-style).

Honestly, sometimes I feel bad for my friend’s kids. My generation is truly the last generation to have an analog and digital existence. I remember the days before Pong and answering machines and microwaves and cable TV and iPods and cell phones and Facebook and all that……..and I LOVE to be able to be UNPLUGGED for a few weeks a year.

Full disclosure: I watched a little TV and I obsessively checked my personal e-mail every morning (and thank God I did….how else would I have known that a huge chunk of my team at my “real job” got sacked during my absence?).

For counterbalance: I forgot my iPod charger and earbuds (so, no “Big 80s” playlist for 10 days) and I also forgot my cell phones (mom’s overnighting them so I should have them back tomorrow….which, given my phone aversion, is way too soon).

3. I also went CRAZY with the whole reading thing (no Kindle for me: give me paper and ink, please).

Summer Books

Summer Books

Finished reading Jen Lancaster’s “Pretty in Plaid”: not the non-stop laugh riot that “Such a Pretty Fat” was, but I snorted enough while reading it to make Francesco ask what was so funny.

A House in Corfu: A Family’s Sojourn in Greece by Emma Tennant = Peter Mayle meets “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Lovely, lovely, lovely. All the moreso since we were in Corfu less than a year ago. Reading it reminded me of how much I would like to move away and write about the experience (but maybe not quite like Nina and The Pineapple Chronicle).

I’m always looking for ways to sharpen my axe, and I am in a “success literature” groove, so I started working my way through Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking.” It’s not as easily digested on a lounge chair with faux 7&7s as  Jen Lancaster’s books: so maybe this shouldn’t be packed in your beach tote. Save it for the dead of winter.

A stack of pass-along books came via a client, who loaned me a some of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Novels, including “One for the Money” and “Two for the Dough”. I don’t normally gravitate to mystery novels, but I love to have a good laugh. The first installment introduces Stephanie Plum, unemployed lingerie buyer-turned-bounty hunter. Janet has a gift for capturing all of the glory that is Trenton, New Jersey and its inhabitants, from big hair to awesome pizza to overbearing mothers and nosy neighbors.

And – because I love all things British and I don’t want to remain the worst-read English major EVER, I started Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Black Arrow: A Tale of Two Roses,” which was written after “Treasure Island” and before “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Again: not exactly a beach read. This book cries out for a rainy night or cold evening.

Phase Four: recharging.

How does one recharge while one is unplugged? Seems counterintuitive, in a way, but it’s possible in an analog vacation.

Balance: the bane of my existence.

So: the trifecta of perfection for me = balance = work + creative endeavors + exercise.

Pre-vacation: work was kinda getting hairy (in a good way), but there was still room for creative endeavors. Exercise, however, got kicked to the curb.

Vacation: Exercise Strikes Back.

I barely photographed.

I never wrote.

Work? Pffft. Fuggedaboudit.

I swam. I hiked. I kayaked. I swam some more. And in doing so: I blew off about a month’s worth of steam.

It felt great.

Now that I’m home, I need to work on that balancing act. Again.

Phase Five: simple pleasures.

….in no particular order

Eating raspberry pie

Picking fresh blueberries

Paddling with loons (the birds, not crazy people)

Going to the hospital street fair and scavenging the White Elephant and book tents (who knew a town had so much GOOD JUNK?)

Napping

Lobster rolls

Listening to the loons at night (again: the birds, not crazy people)

Watching the full moon rise over the lake

Hiking up a path that ends with a spectacular view

Eating ice cream on the town docks

Napping. MORE NAPPING!

Playing UNO ~ and winning.

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